International Witcher School LARP 2018

14. October 2018 1 By Justus Zeemann

Why „The Witcher School“ LARP?
When I was in Serbia mid of 2018 I knew I could go back to Germany and attend a LARP.
But one is not enough, so I researched and found out about the Battlequest LARP in Poland.
While reading about the people behind it, I found out about the Witcher School. I thought “If they can set up a repeating Witcher School LARP, the Battlequest couldn’t be so bad”. And it wasn’t at all!
At the Battlequest LARP a few players told me, that I should go to the Witcher School if possible. It would change a lot for me.
So back in my Czech AirBnB I checked the website and there was one ticket left. I bought it and got my spot into the school.

I’ll try to keep this report as neutral as possible, because I don’t want to spoil the fun for anybody, but if you like LARPing, you have to go to the Witcher School!
Also I’m sorry that there are no pictures. They take away a lot of great suprises you will have…
I’ve attended smaller LARPS that were amazing (from 50 People up), as also the fantastic Conquest of Mythodea with more than 8.500 players – but the Witcher School made it to #1 into my book!

A few things that helped the LARP:
Weather Start of September was the perfect temperature,  and we didn’t have any rain.
5 Elements (orga) – When I picked up the idea of how my character could handle his past ingame, they gave me more than I would have expected in my wildest dreams.
Players as also non-players – It worked out great all together! Everybody stayed ingame the whole time. I didn’t had any awkward moments at all.
Castle – I played 3 days in a real castle. Any question on this?
Lessons I learned I learned real as also fantasy-skills I didn’t have before. Knowledge that helped me ingame, will help me in other LARPs and also in real life.
Countless Memories  I made stronger, better memories here than at any previous Larps.
Language – I love to be around international people and speaking other languages.

Money:
Hands down. 400 Euro for a LARP is a lot of money, but four days in a castle including accommodation and good food 3 times a day was worth it.
It takes a lot of money and planning to set up a LARP with a felt 1on1 player to non-player ratio, pyro effects, one million candles because no electricity is used, fireplaces, monsters, stories, individual plots, teachers, rented clothes and weapons for the whole event.
So what did I pay:
Apples, Snacks, etc. bought in Czech before the event: 10 Euro
Arriving Sunday to attend the pre-party in Wroclaw, Poland:
AirBnB shared by 2: 40 Euro
Good Burger: ~5 Euro
Enough beer to stay awake and celebrate till 4 AM…….I can’t remember. Maybe 20-30 Euro?
Breakfast next day (good bakery a little out of town center): ~1,5 Euro
+ LARP Ticket itself: 395 Euro

In total it all cost was about 500 Euro.

Mobile connection:
I’m not sure how strong the connection was, as I turned it off once I arrived at the castle. It worked when I added someone on facebook after the event.

Food:
The food was good! The team that provided it did also a great job!
You got breakfast, lunch and dinner. The leftovers are placed aside, so that you could go and grab a bite sometimes.
Breakfast is an option of several kinds of bread, meat, cheese, butter, vegetables, eggs, jams, etc.
Lunch included soups, schnitzel, chicken, potatoes, salads, vegetables, bread, etc.
Dinner is likely the same as breakfast, maybe with extra sausages etc.
There could have been more fruits, but I brought my own (it’s part of my character game), so I was fine.
There is always free water to grab and fill in your own bottle (which is handed out before the game starts).
At a certain time the tavern opens and the inkeeper sells you different kinds of beer, cider and alcohol. A beer is one euro. You give your “ID“ (don’t want to spoil with too much information here) and after the event you pay your drinks when giving back/buying out the rented clothing. Super easy.

Accommodation:
It’s a castle!
It’s Grodziec Castle!
At least the one I played in was. Actually the Witcher School does happen in two locations. One as a polish only, and an international edition, so maybe they host it also in the other castle.
I slept in a shared room with 15 other people. These were the players I was grouped up with ingame also, that helped. The bed was big enough for me, the sheets and pillows were warm and clean.

I didn’t spend more time than necessary in that room – Dont think any of us did.
You stand up around 7AM or earlier, keep playing whole day and night and depending on you it is between midnight or 7AM when you see that room again. Sometimes I’d run back to pick something up throughout the day, but otherwise our days were completely occupied

Transportation:
I arrived with a car, which was kept in a locked parking lot the whole event.
There was a Bus going from Wraclaw to the castle and back before and after the event. I think it was 20 Euro, though I’m not sure.
Finding and driving up the castle wasn’t any trouble.

Security and medical situation:
I felt safe all the time (as safe as you can as an adept to become a Witcher).
I didn’t hear of any stealing, trouble or difficulties between players. Probably because we’re all a bunch of harmelss nerds.
There are first aid employees and doctors who know how to help you. But sure the next hospital was far…
Example:
A player told me that he had a problem with his wrist. I thought it was ingame, and told him I would go to check my wounds also (I will not spoil you with what happend to me). So I attended that helping character ingame and asked her if we could check out my covered wound because it’s getting itchy under the bandage. She had to ask if it is ingame or offgame, because she is a real doctor and the other player was hurt even before he attended the event in real life.

The organisation/what to expect from the game:
When you attend the Witcher School LARP, you can be a first-time-LARPer or super experienced without any fear.

Before the game starts, you get a shirt, pants, gambason, water bottle, and the things you ordered before via the internet. You are also able to buy stuff from 5 Elements (and partners?) before it starts.
If you want to, you are allowed to buy the clothes after the game.
They also try to bring you anything you build up while the game is running, and they are available for 24hours.
The maskbuilders can give you scars and wounds even before the ingame breakfast starts, so it feels like you’re really living the game.

There is also a character sheet provided to you. It is set up depending on the information you gave the crew before (in e-mails etc.). This frames your character into the game and gives you a basic story on which you can build up, also with a few suggestions how to.

To me that worked great. Sure, I’m experienced, but even the first time LARPers could work great with it and they where taken care of really well.
The small history part of my character sheet evolved into a god damned big track to follow, which ended up in involving 15-20 people, plots for other players, a big ritual with pyrotechnics and finally a highly motivated adept – which did become a witcher in the end.
On your time in the school you learn different skills from fencing, archery, ******* ******** up to ******* and ***** (you see, no spoilers here). It is just as mentally exhausting as physically exhausting.You are ingame 24h a day. (Ingame sleeping wasn’t a problem also).

The event is without any modern items. All of the light you have is from real candles and torches – I really enjoyed that.
The intense scenery, the quests and plots, the non-player as also the player-characters, the way how all is connected keeps you in the mindset of becoming this witcher/character for real. If you let go, you can dive deep into the waters of the game. Great job here.

My knowledge/preparation:
I didn’t read any of the books before this event. I also only played Wither 3 for 15h beforehand. There are story videos on YouTube about the Witcher Games which I watched numbers 1 and 2, but I didn’t get a lot of knowledge out of these. It worked great this way, because I did not have to pretend not to know certain things – I really didn’t and I could ask freely.
I’ll play the game now, which is fine, because I’m a witcher in contracts, so having more knowledge next time is okay. Next time? Yes, I’ll definitely go again to continue my story!
Edit: playing the game changed a lot after the larp. I didn’t expect this transformation in understanding and immersive experience. I also started the books. So great to keep the mood up.

(General) Tips for first-time LARPers:
– Bring something to give to other players, they are thankful, keep you in mind later, and you have something to talk about.
– Bring an in-game looking book/sheets and make notes from time to time, so maybe someone experienced will ask you about what you write and you have a another gameoption (are you a spy?).
– Stay in game all the time not to offend other players with off-time items. Don’t know what to say or to talk about? Listen and learn but don’t start offtime conversations.
– Maybe bring or order a spare shirt and pants, that could help.
– Bring or buy a belt that fits medieval/fantasy terms.
– Fit your character(s) to your real personality. He will grow with the time, and so will you.
– Enjoy the game and take your time!

Thanks for reading!