Q: How historically accurate do the costumes need to be?
A: Not very – we definitely won’t care about details like period-appropriate fabrics or undergarments. We also won’t be picky about the exact historical period – if you don’t want to spend money on a medieval costume, but already have an 18th century/fantasy/pirate one, it will do just fine, possibly with some adjustments.
Q: Will you be able to help with costume rental?
A: We’d rather not, sorry – renting a costume in the UK will most likely end up more expensive than you buying some cheap costume online and bringing it with you.
Q: How is physical contact handled?
A: The baseline for contact without asking for consent is hugs, intimate/romantic/sexual touch not going beyond caressing cheeks, hands and hair and using a theatrical kissing meta-technique (kissing your own thumb placed on the other person's lips; we will demonstrate it during the workshop). However, the larp supports levels of consent both below and above this baseline:
It is important to play up slowly to scenes involving intimate contact (and in general any scenes that might be potentially upsetting to other players) and give other players the option to opt out or approach the scene in a way that they are comfortable with. It is always okay to ask someone for a brief off-game discussion to calibrate any aspect of play.
Q: Is nudity allowed?
A: Non-sexual nudity is allowed, though we don’t expect lots of it. If you are roleplaying your characters having sex, however, we request you keep your underwear on.
Q: Is there combat and how is it handled?
A: It is not a combat-oriented larp and there are no combat mechanics, but fights, duels and other forms of violence between characters might still occur. Like in many other Nordic-style larps, even if the characters are competing in a violent encounter, the players will collaborate to make it dramatically interesting and safe for the participants. You can pre-agree on the outcome, or play it “by ear” and decide the victor during the encounter, but it will be consensual and independent of the actual player skill at brawling or swordplay. Fighting should be slow-motion and non-contact; it will be demonstrated during the workshops, with the option to practice. There will be some larp-safe swords provided and players are encouraged to bring their own weapons, if it suits their character, as long as they are larp-safe.
Q: What is the alcohol policy?
A: There will be moderate amounts of alcohol provided during the larp. Please use common sense and do not get drunk.
Q: Is this a parody larp?
A: No! Even the “larp about larping” aspect of it is just a minor theme. "Larp" as such isn't a concept present in the characters' minds.
Q: Is this a horror larp?
A: We don’t think so, but your definition of horror might be different than ours. Your character might find the realisation that they live in the modern world quite horrifying, and there might be some elements of existential dread, but there is nothing beyond that.
Q: Tell me a bit more about the setting and the tone.
We live at the court of the Wounded King, this Castle our only shelter from the Plague ravaging the world Outside. Most of us have done so for many years – those have witnessed the gradual decay of the Castle and the Realm, now mere shadows of their former glory. Ever since the King came back from his failed crusade against the worshipers of Mammon, betrayed by his men and grievously wounded, the fields stopped yielding crops, the armies defected and there was unrest among the peasants – after all, a wounded king means a wounded land. But worst of all, the Plague entered the realm, dooming many noble souls to a fate worse than death…
The Plague makes you forget who you are and betray your ideals, it blinds you to beauty, and condemns you to a soulless world without meaning, where no-one is brave enough to dream. But we are safe in the Castle – for now, as long as the Grail keeps the Plague at bay. Drinking from it reminds you who you are, reinstills in your heart the values of chivalry, bravery and courtly love. But still, some say that the power of the Grail is waning, and every day the Plague is looming closer.
Or is this the truth?
Some of us used to be artists, free spirits, growing disillusioned with the mundane world devoid of art. We dreamed of turning the Castle into a project of magnificent scope: theatre “lived”, not “performed”! Characters you can touch, stories you can feel, smell and taste! We envisaged audiences in the castle courtyard with the siege of Agincourt taking place around them; spectators entering the characters’ bedchambers, observing even the most intimate moments of their lives. We wandered the corridors in fine garb, exhilarated to at a whim become anyone we felt like being: Prospero or Lady Macbeth, Guinevere or Mordred… The audiences never came, and yet, we stayed behind and kept staging the Charade. In the evenings, someone would pour wine – was it wine? – into an old prop chalice, and we would share it, happy to be together in this refuge from dullness and mediocrity.
In the years that followed, other people joined us, other lost souls escaping from the world outside, a world that ceased being real to us. The beauty of the Castle makes it so easy to forget about the ways of the infidels, the worshipers of Mammon, the bearers of the plague with soulless, extinguished eyes. Everything that used to grind us down, our jobs and responsibilities, our inadequacy and our impotence, is by now reduced to just an occasional flash of confused memory, or a fevered dream. But we sense that the outside world is coming back to reclaim us – for some, a fate worse than death.
What is real?
Both of the above interpretations are equally valid and everyone will get a chance to play on both of these levels, but we intend the medieval interpretation to be dominant for most of the characters, most of the time. Initially, the reminders of the more realistic interpretation will be just surreal flashes, confusing and easily dismissed – though these intrusions will escalate throughout the larp.
The intended tone of the larp is surreal, with a mixture of day to day life and Shakespearean high drama. Some inspirations are: The Seventh Seal, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, My Private Idaho, the works of Terry Gilliam, Decameron, Synecdoche, New York.
Q: Anything else I should know that could affect my decision whether to sign up?
A: We believe the larp benefits from using the black-box to play scenes from the characters’ past, future, alternate realities etc. The players are encouraged to support each other by occasionally playing NPCs in other players’ black-box scenes. It is fine to sometimes refuse a request to go to the black-box, but if you absolutely hate using the black-box altogether, The Castle might not be the larp for you.
Also, because of the multi-layered nature of the setting, it is probably not the best larp for complete beginners.
If you have any other questions, get in touch over email or Facebook.