Hey, LARPers and wannabe wizards: there’s a new wizard school in town – in England, specifically, and it’s called Bothwell School of Witchcraft. Spoiler alert: if you’re interested in falconry and able to be in England from August 11-13, 2017, this might be the LARP for you. Read on:
For those new to this type of experience, LARP (live action role play, often known as LRP or live role play in the United Kingdom), provides participants with the chance to immersively portray a character in an agreedupon setting (in this case, wizard school) with a set of rules for play. It’s like being in a Harry Potter movie – only better – as you shape the collaborative story.
I interviewed Bothwell co-founders Stuart Munnich and Cameron Readman about what new and experienced LARPers can expect if they choose to attend Bothwell School of Witchcraft, how it’s different (and similar to) its acclaimed College of Wizardry (Poland) and New World Magischola (United States) counterparts, and the British history and location inspiring and informing the game itself.
Q: There are many different types of LARP play styles. Will this follow in a Nordic LARP tradition, or are you going in a different direction?
A: We aim to base this on the Nordic LARP tradition however we will blend it with some of our own ideas to make it unique to Bothwell.
Q: What types of LARPs do you normally like to play?
A: We’re not experienced LARPers ourselves, however we prefer Nordic style which is not the normal style you’ll find here in the U.K.
Q: You’ve got a really solid background in event planning. How is planning a LARP of this scale similar or different to other events you’ve done?
A: Due to our background in events planning we are good at the business side of the event planning such as logistics, operations, planning, procurement etc. All of the boring behind the scenes stuff really. However, we feel that in doing all that boring stuff the end experience, the LARP will be well organised, unique, ensure players are well taken care of and of course the whole thing is more enjoyable. We will be extending our team to include people from a variety of backgrounds to make sure that everything is covered for the running of the event.
Q: The U.K. undoubtedly has some of the most attractive locations in the world for this type of LARP. How did you select Herstmonceux Castle out of all the choices?
A: We were very lucky really. After we initially contacted Herstmonceux Castle they didn’t have any availability however due to a last minute cancelation, we were able to book them in. Although we had a few locations in mind we were amazed when we first visited Herstmonceux, driving down the track this huge castle looms out from the trees on approach. The whole thing gave us shivers and we knew this was the location for us; the helpfulness of the staff also really sold it to us.
Q: Is this LARP and its location accessible to players with disabilities?
A: The locations is a university when not transformed into the Bothwell School of Witchcraft and therefore does have modern facilities including accessibility for players with disabilities. Unfortunately due to being a grade 1 listed building not all areas are covered. We advise anybody with disabilities to get in touch with us before booking to discuss how best to proceed.
Q: Does this LARP and the game design itself focus on any specific themes, such as history, social justice, inclusion, ethics, the nature of conflict, etc.?
A: We have based the school history on the English Civil war and the LARP will have themes associated its deep rooted history.
Q: How would you describe your game design style?
A: We have taken a bit of a radical approach to our game design and are trying to bring new things that haven’t been done before. We can’t reveal too much here however the inclusion of falconry experience into the lessons is one of the new aspects we’re implementing.
Q: I love how the history of your school is woven in with the history of your country. How will this background come into play during the event?
A: We very much want to give students the feel of being at a British boarding school and therefore some of the rules such as uniform policy will be stricter here than at our sister schools. The history will be interwoven with game play to bring a unique Brtitishness to the experience.
Q: How will character creation work at Bothwell? Describe this exciting process.
A: We’ll be working closely with the College of Wizardry to ensure that the characters are consistent with the College of Wizardry universe, however, we will be bringing our own flavour and lore to the Bothwell characters. Although the character synopsis will be prewritten, we encourage those that wish to develop their character further.
Q: I was so excited to hear that Bothwell School of Witchcraft will be affiliated with College of Wizardry and New World Magischola. How did that affiliation come about?
A: When we decided we were going to run this event we decided that it would benefit the entire community if we all cooperated and shared to give the players the best possible opportunities and learn from each other. Rather than competing with each other it’d be better to join forces.
Q: Is it likely that Bothwell students will be able to participate in The Challenge? (For our readers unfamiliar with these affiliated LARPs, The Challenge is an upcoming multi-school LARP in which participants compete on behalf of their respective schools.)
A: We really hope so. If our Kickstarter is successful we’ll talk more with College of Wizardry and New World Magischola on this.
Q: Are CoW and NWM characters allowed to visit or transfer to Bothwell?
A: The majority of characters will be unique to Bothwell, however in some cases it may be entirely reasonable for characters from CoW and NWM to be attending Bothwell School of Witchcraft.
Q: Your code of conduct isn’t available on the site just yet. What types of expectations do you hope to include?
A: We are currently working hard to get our design document out before our Kickstarter launches which will include these.
Q: What kind of guidance can new LARPers expect once they sign up for your LARP?
A: We’re hoping to bring a lot of new LARPers to the Bothwell School of Witchcraft. All we’d say is want everyone to come with open mind and come to enjoy yourself. This is a friendly and open community and everybody is welcome. We’ll do the best we can to provide all the information and support for people new to the experience.
Q: If you were sorted into a Bothwell house, which one would it be and why?
Stuart: I believe I’m a Wisenforth myself due to the colours and the traits I feel are more closely aligned to my personality.
Cameron: Probably Boyeswick or Tabwen, both are houses of the strong and independent.
Ready to Attend Wizard School in England?
Keep your eyes on the Bothwell website for updated information about their upcoming Kickstarter. You can sign up for their mailing list there so you don’t miss a thing!
Can’t Make Bothwell But Still Want Wizard LARP?
New World Magischola (U.S.) and College of Wizardry (Poland) have limited amounts of tickets left for their 2017 events. You can check out my previous coverage of New World Magischola here. (I’ve been to multiple Magischola events and I’ve signed up for another – I highly recommend it.)