The biggest larp event in the world. Over 8000 players, over 1200 NPCs, over 700 pages of plot written for it. How do you even write a review for that? Heck, there are only about 5-8 other larps in the world which have more players than ConQuest has NPCs. Huge number of people make Mythodea a living fantasy country - there's so much of the stuff going on that pretty much every player gets a unique experience.
Same as last year, I was a NPC - I joined the Swarm 1 of the Black Ice. Compared to Drachenfest's charged atmosphere, being in the out-of-character NPC camp on ConQuest of Mythodea is peaceful (if we ignore Swarms 8 and 13, which have a party setup - however, it's not noticable from an in-game area), and it gave us two days of rest and light activity to prepare for what awaited us. The familiar area, nice green grass and the awesome shade of the treeline we were close to had a calming effect. For some reason, Mythodea felt like home.
|Me, armored up as a Black Ice soldier|
In that time we also hanged out with some friends that we met. Besides our friends from Swarm 1, we hanged a lot with the Grand Expedition (organized by Rick and Anja; this time in the Camp of the West), where my wife and son would stay once the larp starts. Expedition also featured many amazing people from around the world - players from Great Britain, Ireland, USA, Germany, Israel, Denmark, Norway etc. It also gave me the opportunity to finally meet a lot of people live whom I've previously only chatted with on the Internet.
One such person is Kristin Brumley, author of the Stay in Character vlog and producer of the upcoming Basic Adventuring 101 webseries - she was in the Grand Expedition camp playing her character Iris. Another was Martin N. Straarup aka the LazyLarper, who's producing LarpForge videos. You might remember him from The Larp Group Hangouts we did together. He was with his fiancée Sophie and their friends in a group called The Kettles, in the Fire camp. They brought out their fabulous homemade mead, and I saw an episode of Cookforge being filmed...
Besides player camps, plenty of people from Copper camp on Drachenfest also played NPCs here. There was a couple of the undead players in the undead lairdom of Flowerfield, one guy in the lairdom of Corpsedale, and a girl who was cast as one of the Viinshar. One guy I met on the Expedition on Drachenfest would be a Black Ice here, Swarm 13. All these people I knew just being around made Mythodea even more welcoming than the last year.
|The Undead of Barrenbay (from official ConQuest photo CD).|
Layout of all the camps changed a lot this year, since it was a new in-character location, and there were a couple of new camps
All of this just made for a huge forest of tents wherever you went. The terrain is bigger and more varied than the one on Drachenfest (due to treelines breaking line of sight) so it doesn't feel as crowded despite being twice the size and population of Drachenfest. The city - as the one last year - is bigger than the one on Drachenfest and features more shops, so I bought a lot of stuff that I couldn't find on Drachenfest (although I couldn't find a Calimacil vendor this year on either larp, which I found odd). But really, the city is awesome - not only due to stores. There are plenty of taverns, restaurants, guilds, entertainers, several rival gangs which cause trouble and so much more. You can learn new skills, eat, drink, buy stuff both for real money and in-game coin, you can get mugged or swindled easily, you can hire dancers for your private party, buy some slaves (or sell yourself into slavery), and much much more. Mythodea's city lives, and it has its own rules and night life.
|City during the night (from official ConQuest photo CD).|
Despite the fact there's a supermarket on Mythodea (in a tent next to the city), after Drachenfest I found myself yearning for normal cooked food. So I signed up for a NPC tavern deal - for 45€ I'd get three meals a day for four days (Wednesday - Saturday), plus dinner on Tuesday and a breakfast on Sunday. Great food for the cost, and quite varied. Plus, meals were scheduled around fights and shifts.
|The Viinshar are NPCs specially cast for their role (from official ConQuest photo CD).|
Fighting NPCs on ConQuest (the majority) are scheduled around shifts. There are a few big battles (where everyone is active), and every day there's active duty, state of preparedness and rest. I should note here that this was a special ConQuest - after ten years, the first chapter of the story came to closure - so they were determined to make it more epic than ever. Last year there was only one big battle, in the end. This year there was one every day. Except the Wednesday - though everyone thought they're in for a big battle, we'd actually do a choreography (which we practiced earlier) and fall down in a "1200 people domino effect" in a power surge when Argus (big bad guy of Mythodea) opened the last seal.
That area had powerful speakers (to make the bad guys and sound effects heard), but they were still too weak for most people - as NPCs we were standing relatively close to them and could barely hear it. It was a special area (where the last seal was located) refered to as "Point of Creation".
|That's the spot (from official ConQuest photo CD).|
Its downside was that it took us three kilometers to march to it. And three kilometers to march back. In fact, three out of four days we were marching there or close to it. There was a lot of walking in general, I believe I walked around 10 km every day (in armor) only while on duty. If you're NPCing on ConQuest, make sure you're fine with walking. There's a lot of it. Luckily, there's also a support wagon and they haul water, making sure you don't dehydrate. Anyway, at the end of the opening scene Argus was captured - and there was a big battle on Thursday morning where we tried to recapture him.
|Argus caged (from official ConQuest photo CD).|
The fight lasted a long time as Argus switched hands several times (he was caged and on a cart which could be moved only slowly and with painful consequences for PCs), but we lost him in the end. There was a day break which I spent resting in the shade in my own camp, and one more action that evening. When my shift was done, I took a shower (a word of warning for the faint-hearted: Mythodea has military-style showers so you'll see plenty of naked butts if you go there, there's much more privacy on Drachenfest - but Mythodea has way more showers and you almost never have to wait). Instead of turning in early, I dressed up as one of my regular characters (Kain) and went to the Grand Expedition to hang out with my wife and other members of the Expedition (we could go out and role-play with our regular characters while off-duty, provided that we don't get involved in the storyline since that's for players).
|The mead hall of the Expedition - thrones for the Jarl and Jarlkona|
The Grand Expedition (as an English-speaking group) was easy to role-play with, and they had a great looking camp, mead hall, and sometimes some entertainment. This year, the Expedition was more scattered than the last year, and people spent less time in their camp. They often went out to do stuff together.
|Vollsanger the bard visiting the Expedition, entertaining people with his hits. My son is in the middle.|
|An Expedition adventuring party.|
|My wife as her character Salima (photo by Cecile).|
I went there every day, and since by the time I arrived it was usually dark I spent some time there with my wife and son, and when they turned in to sleep I went to the city to one of the taverns where the rest of the folks from the Expedition went. These nights were full of having fun, drinking, dicing and sharing stories.
|In the tavern (photo by Dan)|
I didn't stay there for too long though. There would always be the next day where I would have my duties as a Black Ice rakh. Friday morning we had an "instanced" assault scenario where we attacked a part of the East camp in waves for an hour. During the main heat of the day we rested, chatted together and napped. Swarm 1 is actually a nice place for a non-German speaker. Most people speak at least some English, and there's a large group of Dutch people so everything important gets translated. There were a couple of new faces and plenty of familiar ones - with a lot of nice people Swarm 1 almost felt like family this time around. Fighting and chilling together creates a lot of bonding. In the afternoon there was another big battle - the Black Ice focused on the Earth camp, which undead twice failed to conquer. We took it for ourselves and then repeled the reinforcements - returning to the camp without dying. It was the most glorious battle that I was in on two Mythodeas.
Black Ice marching in to the Earth camp battlefield... the same meadow housed air camp in 2012
and was the site of the last year's big battle
After this battle, even though we were tired we wanted more since we didn't lose... We almost begged GMs to let us have a go at another camp, but that was it for the evening. March back to the camp, showers, and another evening in light clothes, barefoot and without wearing armor. Felt like freedom, and that way I could easily limp to the West camp... This was probably the evening when I did the most role-play.
|NPC showers in the off-zone. Not the most glorious sight (apart from the crooked tree), but it's a glorious feeling.|
|Black Ice fighting in the dust (from official ConQuest photo CD).|
NPC debriefing was full of cheering and saying goodbyes. We greeted Linus (the player of Argus) one last time for all the good times we had...
...and then we got a short presentation about some stuff coming next year, and some options for NPCs but I'm not sure if that's meant to remain a secret so I won't be mentioning it :) Mythodea stayed in character for one last evening, and then in the morning we packed our stuff. There were plenty of hugs, goodbyes, and directly translated German such as "we'll see each other" ("see you"). Saying goodbye to the wonderful people of Swarm 1 and The Grand Expedition, we loaded our car, drank a goodbye slushie and started the long journey home. A couple of downsides (GM intrusiveness, ruleset change 10 days before the event etc.) were put aside as we were slowly digesting our experience of the world's biggest fantasy larp...
- All photos snapped by me and my wife are available here.
- Mythodea map, camp plan and ConQuest logo have been taken from the Live Adventure website: http://www.live-adventure.de
- Several photos have been used from the official ConQuest photo CD. Used with permission. (c) Live Adventure 2013.
- Youtube videos linked are owned by their respective makers.