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College of Wizardry review

Today we're having a slightly different review than usual. It's a guest review written by Pavle Pelikan, another Croatian larper, about College of Wizardry - a Harry Potter based larp which took place in Poland. He traveled to Poland with two other Croatian players to take part in what is probably the most talked about larp this year, produced by the Rollespilsfabrikken and Liveform. Without further ado, read about his experiences below...

It took me some time to get this done properly, so dear readers you have my apologies for the delay.
Two weeks ago, I attended „The College of Wizardry“, a Harry Potter themed larp, set in a castle, in Poland. And when i say set in a castle, i mean a real freakin' 14th century castle!

Before i get into the larp it self, i would just like to say a couple of things regarding the castle. Czocha Castle is a 14th century museum hotel, it is very large and has a lot of secret passages, I'm not talking about fake walls from room to room, its more like a tunnel leading from the dungeons to the second floor etc. We had unlimited access to Everything! All you had to do is find it, which is easier said then done.

And now, onward, to the larp itself! This was by far the most expensive larp i've ever been to, and from what i've heard, the most expensive one in Poland. With the admission fee set at a steep 180 euros, not a lot of people could afford it. But! If you look at what you are getting for those 180 euros i'd say it's rather cheap, 3 nights in a castle hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner, school robes, a book etc. Be that as it may I still had very high expectations of this larp.

The rules were rather simple, they mostly covered how you should act/behave in your role as a student, the spell mechanics and some more info on everything.

Spell mechanics

Before I get into the spell mechanics i just wanna point out that this is a nordic larp, so it may seem weird to us in Croatia but it works hehe.

We can separate all spells into 3 groups, Offense, Defense, Utility. When you are casting an Offensive spell, you have to make a dramatic flourish with your wand at the target and loudly say the incantation. For example *waves hands and wand* Silencio! And the target is silenced. This is where the defensive spells come into play, somebody casts something at you, and you can deflect his spell with a defensive one. For example *waves hands and wand* Silencio! *waves hands* Protego!

Seems silly at first but it works, because you can cast each spell you know only once per encounter.
Oh, and you know as many spells as you can remember, plus you can make them up but it has to sound good and have a clear meaning, either in the wording or in the body language when you cast it. Now this is the interesting part, the target of the spells chooses how to react to it, you can cast silence on someone and he can fall down into a coma or can completely ignore you, it's up to them.

The characters

Lets talk about characters, there were 3 types of characters you could play.

The Student

Students were divided into 3 years, Juniors, Sophmores and Seniors. This wasnt only about their social status, it also determined which classes they would have (yes we had classes, 5 lessons each day, each lasting 45min). There were also 5 paths of study (I'll keep it short so HP buffs dont hate me :P),
The Auror – a detective, law enforcment specialist
The Curse Breaker – a disabler of magical curses, spells and artefacts
The Healer – self-explanatory
The Magizoologist – a specialist in magical creatures
The Unspeakable – in short, magical scientists

One important thing to mention is that the students were divided into 5 houses. I'll give you a short list of their virtues, theme, mascot and colors.
House Molin – Loyalty & Cunning, Jewish themed, The Golem, bronze & green
House Faust – Wisdom & Power, German themed, The Dragon, blue & gold
House Durentius – Diligence & Valor, Silesian themed, The Rooster, orange & brown
House Libussa – Foreseeing, Daring & Creativity, Czech themed, The Lion, purple & white
House Sendivogius – Courage, Honor & Diplomacy, Polish themed, The Pheonix, red & silver

Oh, and each house had 2 prefects (seniors), they were there to keep the house in line.

The Staff

Members of the staff included the professors, the groundskeeper and the janitors. Each one of these was a player as well, not an organizer.

The professors had to come up with an idea for their classes and had to give lectures every day. Each house got 2 professors as their monitors.

The groundskeeper was responsable for the woods around the castle etc.

The janitors, they run the school, they are the law and their word is final (don't ask, it has to do with the history of the school).


There were to kind of npc roles, full time npc and part time npc.
Full time npcs were also players, they were ghosts, reporters, visiting officials etc

Part time NPCs were mostly monsters etc.

The Review

That about covers the basics, now the review and my personal experiences.

Senior Auror J. Saari, Prefect of House Molin

It all began one day when Naz droped a link about this larp somewhere on facebook. I took a look and saw they were gonna have it in a real live castle! I'm not much of a harry Potter fan, i grew up on Tolkien so HP and all that stuff looked childish to me... but hey, larping in a castle, no way i'm gonna miss that. I Talked to a few people and we decided to buy tickets ASAP. It turned out to be a good idea because after 12 hours they went viral and the event was sold out in less then a day (even though it costed 180 euros). I was contacted by the orgs about updates, my wishes, likes, dislikes etc and sometime during the end of summer i got my character,

Saari was from Finnland, before Czocha College he went to Durmstrang Institute so i decided to go heavy on the russian accent... it was a Great Success (Borat voice)!!

I decided on furs, leather and an overall victorian look and it blended in nicely. Once we had our characters, we were put in different FB groups, Durmstrang alumni group, Senior Aurors, Houses, Prefects etc... so we could form relationships. Either love or hate, something in between or just so we got to know each other. Oh! And one of the players, Thomas Mertz made a whole godamn fake facebook called CzochaBook where our characters could talk, share stuff etc, it's amazing. And this was all done a couple of months before the event.

I went to Poland with Tijana and her sister, Stipe droped out because of reasons, so we decided to take a jet and get there a few days early, to hang with the local Polish people :D. It was awesome, thanks again guys for having us. Anyhow, it was finally event time, we got there, found our rooms got dressed and went outside so we can come inside as our characters. We gathered in the great hall for the staff announcements. And the larp was underway...

I had Divination class which was held by J. Axner, which was awsome, then Defense Against Dark Arts 2 aka DADA2 by Mike Pohjola and lots of others.

We also competed for the house cup, as prefect, my job was tho whip members of my house into action and i think i did a good job. There were 5 large vases, one for each house) that were filled with colored liquid, this represented the house points. When you got some points, liquid was added and vice versa. Anyway we were in the lead the whole time, but before the end some other houses got a ton of points and got tied with us, we couldnt tell who was ahead until the very end... we came in second.

My life wasnt easy, go to classes, get more points, find a date for the ball, watch out we dont get set up and lose points, work with the aurors from the ministry and maybe get a job there when i finish school, find out the history of the school from half crazy ghosts etc.

The funny part is that the main battle with the big bad guy took place in the forest, during the grand ball, so half of the people had no idea that something was going on.

There were so many plots, i think i saw only 50% of them. But i was there for the main ones, i have a nose for trouble hehe.

I wont give out much details because there is going to be a rerun of the event in April.

This was a sandbox larp, the setting itself generated constant conflict, the rivalry between houses, the preferences of the professors, teenage drama, no matter were you went something was happening there. The organisers gave us a skeleton and we fleshed out the details and it work really well, even if it was not important for the grand scheme it provided a very rich flavor to the whole school theme. In my opinion the was a larp meant to be experienced, not played or won.

The enthusiasm of the org team was evident whenever you needed something, and they were able to motivate you just by being there. The way they solved problems, with such creativity was staggering, for example, a small part of the castle was under construction, scaffolding etc, and instead of ignoring it, they integrated it into the game. In muggle studies (a class about regular people) students went on a field trip under a cloak of invisibility and observed the muggles in their common surroundings (they workers were played by the orgs and all of the players thought these were actual polish construction worker not npcs etc). Each and every problem was met by a creative solution, quidditch was also solved this way. There was a no fly zone rule around the castle because of the werewolf problems in Germany.

It's hard to compare this to any other event i've been to, so i wont event try. All i can say is that this was one of the greatest experiences in my life and I recomend it. Like i said earlier, there will be a rerun in April and if you like larping, you will LOVE this ;)


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