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 Betreff des Beitrags: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Mo 8. Nov 2010, 12:47 
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Registriert: Mi 9. Jun 2010, 20:30
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Wohnort: United Kingdom
In the summer of 2010 I went back to America for the first time in 10 years...back to my home town for the first time in 17 years. It was an amazing holiday that literally changed my life. Part of the change was that it led me back to Germany, which I had left in 1991.



It all started with an idea to attend the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands. You see my friends back in the States had chastised me for not doing more travelling in Europe. So, I decided I needed to do some exploring and this event seemed like a fun. However, one of my UK larp friends told me that I would prefer going to a place called Mythodea, the largest larp event in the world. And so it began. I started with internet research. Scanning forums, watching Youtube videos, looking at thousands of photos.



On the ConQuest of Mythodea forums I asked if there were any inn's at the event. It would be too difficult for me to bring a tent, and since I didn't know anyone I needed somewhere to sleep. I knew there was a travelling larp inn at some of the UK events and thought there might be a German one. I was told Drachenfest had one but not Mythodea. However, a very kind soul offered to let me use one of her tents. She also rather mysteriously said that if we "clicked" she would have some great role playing for me. I was intrigued.



This friend's name is Cathrin and I have much to thank her for. She introduced me to skype and through it we spent hundreds of hours in planning my trip. We decided we "clicked" and she explained she was the bodyguard of a very important person and she was recruiting. With the help of Cathrin I created a character called Bryn (a slightly mad Dark Age Celt), met a very charming woman named Anne and joined the Household of Siobhan, Nyame of the West. At this point I was introduced to some other great people, Martin and David. We all "clicked" and I was very excited about the trip. These people would really help make the trip what it became.



As luck would have it a couple of months before the trip I fell at work and broke my hand. This put me out of commission for a bit and I worried about my holiday. Thankfully I healed well enough but could not go right back to work. My physiotherapist said exercise would be good so I decided to attend not just Mythodea but Drachenfest as well. Eleven days of larp! Plenty of exercise...



First problem was the plane tickets. I could not get them changed at such short notice. I looked at all the other forms of travel available and decided bus was the only option, thanks to advice from a mate on Facebook. It was the most cost effective and I could carry all my kit. Try explaining a latex sword and shield to an airline stewardess. Only problem was you have to book pretty far in advance and could not get a ticket for the day I wanted to go. So I would miss the first day of Drachenfest.



I got a bus from Liverpool to Hannover. The bus trip was an adventure in itself. We got to London without too much trouble. From there, things began to get weird. I changed buses at London and the person sat next to me when we left was a Buddhist monk from Malaysia. He was an interesting fellow. Shaved head, orange robes. We talked an length about Buddhism, which I have studied a bit and he tried to understand how I could have been a soldier with what that entails. He was less surprised with my current job. We rode together until we reached a town in France. Before he got off he tried to give me some of his "positive energy" by holding the palm of his hand about an inch above mine for a couple of minutes. When he left I was surprised to notice that despite his very traditional appearance he had expensive looking hiking boots on. That same French town had terrible fast food and armed guards at the bus station. The French soldiers had great looking kit, I love the FAMAS assault rifle, but they looked so young. Made me feel old.



And so the trip continued. We ended up in Brussels late in the evening. We went right through the center of town and they seemed to be having a festival of some sort. Everyone on the bus was excited about this as we were planning a 40 minute stop and were all hungry. Unfortanately the driver kept going, until we ended up in a boring business district with a large bus station. Some of us talked about taking a taxi to the festival but decided against it. I went looking for a public toilet and ended up getting directions to what turned out to be the Red Light district. I did some quick window shopping but made sure to return to the bus before it could leave without me. I thought that kind of thing was only in Amsterdamn!



Back on the bus and to sleep. I awoke in Hannover and there I met Cathrin. It was a pleasure to finally meet face to face and she treated me to some excellent German food for breakfast at her place, where I met her family and some UK exchange students. Cathrin has a lovely family and they made me feel very at home. But we didn't rest long. It was pack the car and off we went to Drachenfest.



When we got to the site I was overwhelmed. It was HUGE. A very professional booking in system at the main gate. We got a free larp magazine and some cool bracelets to show we had paid. They let us drive onto the site to drop off our kit on the usual ring road around the site. We were in the far corner from the gate and it was a long drive...which I later found out was a much longer walk. As we parked the car, we walked through a gap in the trees and I was greated by the most amazing vista of tents and palisaded camp walls.



We were to be camped with the IXth Legion in the Gold Dragon Camp. These guys and girls are almost historical re-enactors in their attitude. Awesome kit, camp and role playing. I was blown away with the suspension of disbelief and that was just with the internal group role play. The "Centurio" (I kept calling him Centurion) made a brilliant group leader. He exuded confidence and leadership ability. His "Optio" showed the same attitude and it helped make the group what it was. Everyone was friendly, especially considering I was playing what was effectively a barbarian auxilliary. I wasn't the only barbarian mind you. There was a real atmosphere of cameraderie, with shared cooking and camp chores.



Cathrin and I had missed the first night but that had been mostly partying apparently and thus we began our adventure. I was quick to go exploring the town and do some shopping. First thing I noticed was the public hot tub. Amazing. I was too shy to try it but it looked great. Next was the crossbows. Several stalls had the most amazing crossbows. Much better than anything I had seen in the UK. Then I was shocked to see "Having a Larp" had a stall. I immediately went and said hello. We discussed Moniak mead and the German larp market. Nice to see friendly familiar faces when you are far from home. Then it was time for some fried potatoes. The food was amazing. You are going to see the words amazing and incredible time and time again....believe me! Some excellent German beer then back to shopping. I found many of the latex weapons were not as good as what I was used to in the UK...and good leather armor was rare (and very very expensive) but there was a lot more plate armor and little accessories that were very cool. There seemed to be more of the little re-enactment items that make camp life better. There seemed more mass produced items, lower quality but fairly priced. It just seemed as if larp kit was more accessible. I was excited to finally find the greaves I had been searching for, Varangian splinted greaves made to re-enactment quality. Awesome!



Back to camp and before long we were doing some fighting. There was so much fighting at Drachenfest I struggle to remember each fight. Its a PvP system with 2000+ people on site...so there is a lot of chance for conflict. Essentially the whole event is a competition between each Dragon with the end results of the event determining which Dragon will rule dominant for the year. In addition to each Dragon having their own camp, some groups have their own...like the Orcs. Now these were not just green facepainted people. Most had full on prosthetics, contacts, fangs, and costumes that look like they had been made by WETA on the set of Lord of the Rings. And they fully role played the part. They were vicious!



One thing people worry about with going to Germany is the language. Not a problem here. Not only did I have people offering to translate for me repeatedly, once people heard me speaking in English they would rapidly switch to English as well. I was surprised by how good so many of these non-native English speakers were. But then, its essential at this big events to use English as many of the participants are from all across Europe. English is a bit like Common Tongue it seems. Many of the spell casting and game effects were done in English.



There was a welcoming ceremony on our first night. A big display of all the dragons, with fire and lights and music. Pretty dramatic. It was mostly in German but there was a welcoming speech done in English. It was here that I met the only Brit I saw during the trip. He was the man behind all the big tents and he was working for the event organizers. It was great to chat with him about the differences in UK and German larp.



The first couple of days passed with mostly fighting, drinking and shopping for me. I did not really get into the quests, mostly because I spent so much time with the Legion. I ended up being pretty much a soldier rather than an adventurer. There was some amazing entertainment in the evenings and I was sure to get the drinks in but I avoided getting too drunk. Except for the night I kept growling and making clawing gestures at all the girls and then having them run their fingers through my beard as I said "teddy bear" as if to explain the growling. Not sure what that was all about. I also lost an expensive hand carved wooden bowl I had bought to eat my dinner in....as well as forgot to return the clay flagons I had used to buy my mead. Each had a 5 euro deposit, so that cost a pretty penny. I hope someone enjoyed the money they got returning them.



We had a lot of skimishes in the open fields against the other camps. I was not once attacked randomly by the Orcs or bandits...but I heard others had been. I guess I did not look like a victim. I actually wanted a mugger to try his luck. Either I would win and I could loot him or I would lose and experience PC death....which intrigued me. You see Drachenfest normally has a Limbus. This is a place you go and role play being in the Underworld. If you role play well you have a chance of returning back to the world of the living. Great idea that! But for plot reasons the Limbus was inaccessible so if killed you could role play being a ghost. You could do some things as a ghost and you had a chance to come back to the living...but there were ghosthunters who could stop this. Another brilliant idea.



In-character (IC) money was interesting. I negotiated my pay with the Centurio, and part of the agreement was that I could loot our enemies. Something the Legionnaries could not do. Sadly, the times I tried this the players would not hand over their IC money. Some claimed to not have any on them. Others just point blank refused. I found this odd, until I realized that in the German systems you can by IC money with out of character (OOC) money. Its not treated the same as in the UK, or most computer role playing games. The gold is not a point scoring system. The coins themselves are just physreps. So by looting my enemies it didnt matter if I got the actual coins or not, I then had an IC reason to go by some IC coins with OOC money from one of the many traders on site.



Most of my looting came not from the open skirmishes but from the gate attacks. Each camp had a flag. Each camp would attack another camp in order to take their flag. Having flags would benefit the owners when it came time for the final battle. To get into a camp you need to get past their gate...and that is something the Gold Dragon Camp excels at. The IXth Legion in particular has some very impressive seige engines. I complained bitterly at one point having to drag the catapult/onager (its the work of slaves! but we didnt have any...) but I was glad we had it when it came to the fight. When we made our very first gate attack Cathrin managed to hit someone in their tower with her very first arrow. It was the first shot of the attack and it had an awesome effect on morale. The Golden Shot! Storming the gate was a bit of a nightmare though. It was very packed and I hate fighting like that. I am more of a skirmisher. It was like being in a rugby scrum. There as also the issue of thrown stones. I got mixed signals as to whether or not we could throw stones back.



We also had some cool champion fights during the gate fights. In in particular was a man against a Chaos creature. The creature was huge and slow. Personally I thought he fought great. He used heroic fighting style and at one point hit the man. Personally I would have called it a killing blow, no matter how many hit points the man had, but the man fought on. In the end the Chaos creature was defeated but in spirit I still think it won. The victory felt hollow to me. There was also a duel when the Silver Camp attacked our gate. The Centurio did a brilliant job defeating a champion of Silver, a man dressed as a Hospitaller who was a skilled fighter. The Centurio's swordsmanship cemented my opinion of him as a most amazing larp group leader.



When our gate was attacked I was again impressed with the seige engines of the Romans. The defence of our gate tower and walls caused many, many casualties. And when they finally got our gate open we held off their attack in our "courtyard" with excellent combined skirmishing, line fighting and archery. I was proud to be in the Gold Camp.



The role play of the fighting was made better by the amazing role play of the healers and the injured. You were expected to role play heavily, almost over the top. There were no short cuts. People expected you to scream! Healers would douse you in fake blood, heavily bandage you, physically drag you...it was awesome! I was in our hospital at one point, badly injured. The woman playing the surgeon asked me if I wanted something for the pain. I said sure....it must have been absinthe or something because I almost threw up. She complimented me on my good role playing, I guess she thought I was faking that! My friend Cathrin got cut up pretty good in a fight with some Orcs. She had some amazing wounds put on her face by the healers. Wish I had a picture of that!



In that same fight I was near a bunch of Italians. When I told people around me that we had Italians on our left flank I heard some groans. Seems they are not that popular but I found them to be fine. I ran into some other Italians at the event, in particular one big Italian with a two handed hammer in the final battle. I fought against him for awhile, until we both went down at roughly the same time. He was an excellent opponent. Good heroic fighting style. Great attitude afterward. Was a bit strange when I was getting healed from that fight to have a German playing a Celt sing to me in English as part of his healing spell. Very well role played! Again healing is something else over there in Germany. Even a healing potion is not instantaneous. It takes about 5 mintutes for your wounds to heal.



The people in general were what made the event so wonderful. So much effort went into so many of the costumes and people really role played! There was much conflict at times, when it seemed appropriate but there was also a great deal of flirting which I enjoyed. Cathrin had a lot of fun as well. She spoke only English when she could and because of her character's accent many people did not think she was German but infact Eastern European (she was playing a Sarmatian). This was mostly when we spoke to traders OOC. The flirting was a bit of a surprise as it seemed the ladies liked to flirt with Cathrin as much as me and our friend Bear who joined us in the socializing.



If you've seen the HBO series Rome then you've met Bear....sort of. He plays a Roman Legionnaire and not only does he look like Titus Pullo but he acts like him as well. I love the guy! He has become a good friend from this trip and I cant sing his praises enough. There was an amazing scene one day in our camp when I found out he was going to get punished for breaking ranks during a battle. He had gotten carried away with the fighting. The Centurio said, it would normally be a death sentence but he was inclined to be lenient so he was instead beaten to a pulp with wooden logs by all the other Legionnaires. I was stunned by this! Awesome group role playing. There was also another scene where we were all paid. It felt like I was back in the Army properly. There was a sense that we were re-enacting as well as larping and I loved it.



I can't explain how amazing the costumes were. For an event so large I could not believe how high the kit standard was for so many people. And not just the kit but the tents, camps, and town. The setting was just amazing IC. We had tea in a cozy little tea house and flirted with the girls working there. Perfect for a rainy afternoon. We washed dishes in exchange for free tea. I got upset to find out the girls were making more money working there than I was fighting for the Legion. We saw a barber but I didn't trust him with my beard. There were guilds but I didn't get involved with them. There were a great many camps I didn't get into because of the PvP aspect. I was worried I would get in but not get out.



As for the camps I did see...again, they were amazing and incredible. So many people seemed to be re-enactors. I did not see OOC tents, cans of Carling, dayglow lawn chairs. I saw people cooking over open fires, people doing carpentry and actually making chairs, people cleaning armor. There were great IC entertainers wandering from camp to camp. Not to mention the town itself was just so vibrant. From the militia commander that almost arrested me and cathrin to the restaurant owner who snookered me for an altogether too expensive meal in a very plush tent. There was some lovely courteseans as well but thats a story for another day...



The event was 24 hour time in, for FIVE days! I think that helped create that atmosphere of re-enactment. I felt like I was living at the event not just playing. It didn't take long for me to burn out a bit. Silly me tried to do the event with new kit....so blisters were my result. On top of that I tried to live in my armor. I had gotten this butted chainmail, new Indian mail that was supposed to be better than the old Indian mail...but wasn't. It fell apart quickly and I had to rely on Cathrin to keep it together. I was so worried about not having the extra hits it gave me that I wore it all too often and exhausted myself. At one point I missed an early morning raid when the IXth Legion went out without armor and captured a flag by sheer audacity...getting through the gate with subterfuge when the guards were tired.



The final battle was just amazing. All the different groups out there fighting on one large field. It was a bit chaotic. I certainly felt like we were taking, losing and retaking the same ground again over and over for what appeared to me to be no reason at all. There were originally alliances. I remember wondering at one time what exactly the Orcs were going to do. Would they betray us? On that level it was incredible. So overwhelmingly immersive. I got in a great one on one fight with some Celt from the Green Camp. I was winning when I fell over. Instead of killing me he helped me up. I let him keep his life and told him to flee. This upset some of my allies, who then killed some prisoners I had taken. I was not happy about that....but was told by my superiors that in the final fight we don't take prisoners. It still does not sit well with me. We kept fighting and slowly numbers dwindled. It felt like we had been fighting for hours. I was in one of the last groups to remain standing but in the end someone had the skilled "shatter shield" and without it I did not last long. In the end we almost won. Almost.



The event did not end with the final battle but it did dwindle down....like a candle about to burn out. The Gold Camp was filled with fun and frolic. Loads of people were playing around like kids, throwing javelins and stones at each other around the gate like a big old snowball fight. My mood was a little sour at that point because we had found a musket left unattended on the gate wall. A real musket. I couldn't believe someone could be so reckless. We handed it over to the event staff but most people did not consider it so serious. I guess my job makes me sensitive to stuff like that, or rather my job and living in the UK. Ten years ago I would not have blinked. I mean, a musket? Who is going to rob a bank with that? But now, after so long of living in a country were guns are reviled I guess it made me oversensitive. Either way it spoiled my mood.



The Gold Dragon spoke to us. He looked like a man with really big shoulder armor to me...but I was told he was the human appearing avatar of the Dragon. I would have preferred a cool dragon costume like the one Darren Stocker of Wandering Soldier made. And his speech was in German but it was artfully translated real time to me by my friends. We had come close to winning the event. We had taken more flags than any other camp in the nine year history of the event. We had done well collecting dragon eggs, although I have no idea how we did that, or what they meant.



It as then time to take things down and load the car. Some folks gave me crazy looks when I carried Cathrin's refrigerator to the car. I could only smile and shrug. It was slightly sad saying good bye to people. But I didn't say good bye to everyone. It seemed that Bear would be joining us at the ConQuest of Mythodea!



The end of part 1. In the next installment hear how Mythodea actually broke me!

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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Mo 8. Nov 2010, 13:14 

Registriert: So 20. Sep 2009, 18:01
Beiträge: 158
Great story! Im really looking forward to read part two.
Thanks alot.

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"As if killing the bard impresses us."

CQ 2011: wieder keine Ferien. Mist., JDS 2011: -, BGM 2011: ?


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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Mo 8. Nov 2010, 13:18 
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Registriert: Do 24. Sep 2009, 18:46
Beiträge: 590
To stay in the spirit of things : Amazing read ;) :D
Thank you. I can´t wait for your CoM-review :)

CU
SaM

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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Mo 8. Nov 2010, 15:17 

Registriert: Sa 10. Apr 2010, 07:00
Beiträge: 1013
Wohnort: Zühlsdorf
Romeowhiskeyone,
this is Great Storys-Coordinator Tower,
you are ready for take off at story track part 2.^^
:D ;) :lol: :mrgreen:

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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Mo 8. Nov 2010, 23:28 
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Registriert: Mo 14. Sep 2009, 18:21
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Thanks for sharing the experience. As the rather useless NPC-Seer of the golden Camp at Drachenfest I always stayed at home, so it's quite interesting to read how much fun the action outside the gates was ;) . Luckily I had CoM to get some action afterwards.

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- Denn Perfektion ist steigerbarer -


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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Sa 13. Nov 2010, 11:23 

Registriert: Sa 6. Nov 2010, 10:39
Beiträge: 8
Awesome review mate :)

Cant wait to experience it myself next yr :)


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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Di 16. Nov 2010, 09:37 

Registriert: Sa 1. Mai 2010, 17:35
Beiträge: 311
Hey, is there any chance you could copy it to the forum of the Drachenfest? That would be www.drachenfest.info/forum.
Great Reading!

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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Di 16. Nov 2010, 11:46 

Registriert: Sa 6. Nov 2010, 10:39
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Great review mate, loved it :)


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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Di 16. Nov 2010, 13:55 
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Registriert: Do 24. Sep 2009, 18:46
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Where´s part 2 ? :D

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SaM

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 Betreff des Beitrags: Re: My German Adventure (2010) part 1
BeitragVerfasst: Di 16. Nov 2010, 14:37 

Registriert: So 20. Sep 2009, 18:01
Beiträge: 158
Sorry... can't resist... Where is part two?

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CQ 2011: wieder keine Ferien. Mist., JDS 2011: -, BGM 2011: ?


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