Published on December 14th, 2015 | by Ellyssa Kroski
A Librarian at Hogwarts
My Thanksgiving holiday was spent in a remote castle in the middle of Poland which was transformed into a school of witchcraft and wizardry for a giant Harry Potter-inspired LARP (Live Action Role-Playing game) with 150 other participants. Being a first-time LARPer I had no idea what to expect, but I ended up having the time of my life.
The organizers cast each participant ahead of time according to their preferences and role availability and provided them with detailed character bios which could be interpreted in any way the LARPer preferred. Event-specific Facebook groups were set up ahead of time so that participants could form relationships and background scenarios beforehand. Each LARPer was sorted into one of five Houses, unless they belonged to the Junior class and were awaiting the Sorting ceremony.
After arriving in Berlin, I met the College of Wizadry (CoW) bus and was transported 4 hours into the heart of Poland and into a realm of magic. Upon reaching the castle, participants were welcomed by organizers and oriented by a series of brief workshops explaining how the LARP would work. Everyone was given a robe signifying their class and a House tie with their appropriate color and led outside the castle. In an opening ceremony, all the participants crossed the bridge into the castle, and the LARP with their designated houses.
From that moment on each one of us WAS our character. We took on the personality, motivations, and character flaws of that role for the next 4 days. We each belonged to our Houses where we formed friendships, attended classes, won and lost House points, and gathered in our Common rooms. We had a very detailed schedule of classes and activities worked out for us which could be adhered to or skipped altogether in favor of side adventures such as exploring the Dark Forest, dungeons, tower, or one of the many secret passages the castle had to offer.
Daytime was filled with fantastical opportunities for learning including classes such as Arithromancy in which topics such as Golem Ethics were discussed. Potions classes were hands-on with students passing in healing exlixirs, or narrowly avoiding poisoning their professor with misguided harming potions. Dark Arts defense courses allowed students to raise demons in a controlled environment and learn how to master them, while Magical Theory classes explored questions such as who should be allowed to practice magic?
Evenings were times for adventure, exorcisms, skipping curfew, or simply sipping a honey beer in the tavern. Initiation ceremonies for recently sorted Juniors took place during one night’s activities while a student Ball was thrown for the final evening.
My classmates and I fought and evaded an angry Leprechaun whose gold was stolen, ran from a werewolf that emerged from the Dark Forest, discovered the secret Mirror Room behind the Teacher’s lounge, accidentally raised a demon instead of a Prefect, learned to Polka, and antagonized many a teacher (especially the Phys-Ed teacher who was quite a good sport!!). In short, we had the time of our lives!!
I can definitely see the applicability of LARPs in libraries including offering patrons the opportunity to explore the cultures described in famous works of literature such as Shakespeare’s works, Sherlock Holmes, and even futuristic and post-apocalyptic titles.
And here are just a few more photos:
Here’s a video and the website for those interested in participating in the LARP in Poland.
And there will be an American version taking place in Virginia in 2016 and that video is here also.