March 14-17, 2024
Czocha Castle, Poland
CoW26: Back to the Roots will be our first “Classic” College of Wizardry event since 2022, and sees us return to our familiar “beginning of year” format under the gentle auspices of Headmistress Wanda O’Tattletell.
As usual with these runs, we will see students return to Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the start of a new school year, to revel in new adventures and face exciting challenges alongside their fellows. A fresh intake of Juniors will join the college, and through the sorting process find their home in one of the five great Houses. New and returning staff will welcome the students to the school and guide them through the first days, whilst enlightening and entertaining with lessons in the diverse magical fields of study.
As with all our Czocha larp events, the Head of School and the Story Team will be collaborating with you all to help bring these adventures to life; and to bring a unique flavour to this run of College of Wizardry. We hope that these words will help communicate that flavour to you, so that you can develop characters and stories that fit with the themes, feel and expectations that we have for the run.
Please note, that whilst the ideas communicated here are intended to form the backbone of the event, and we believe that aligning your stories with them will benefit both the game and your play, these are not mandated restrictions. Think of them less as rules and more as guidelines to help the entire community to pull in the same direction for the game.
School & its rules
Czocha is primarily a place of learning. Certainly, that learning is in magic, but as with all educational institutions it has rules to keep it functioning well. CoW26 will have an emphasis on education and on rules – and these rules will be encouraged, enforced and have consequences for breaking them. However, the gentle nature of the Headmistress is such that the game will not focus on oppression, unfairness or darker themes through these rules. This theme is designed to evoke the feeling of a functioning educational establishment with clear boundaries for its students and staff.
Curiosity has its price and its reward
The students (and staff) of Czocha are known for their intrepid and adventurous natures, and often this approach leads them into exciting and sometimes dangerous situations. This curiosity always has consequences, both positive and negative. It can be perilous to seek the truth, but also vastly rewarding. This theme is intended to remind us all that seeking knowledge can have a cost, but nothing of worth comes through inactivity.
The value of individuality & personality
Czocha educates not only through the lessons that its staff teach, but also by allowing its students the space to understand themselves and their place in Witchard society. It is generally an institution that places value on the intrinsic nature of its people, rather than their status or place in the world. Where discrimination exists, it is frowned upon by the school authorities.This theme seeks to encourage you to focus more on stories about the personality and values of your character than their blood status or any wondrous magical powers that they might have.
To support our themes, we have prepared some short phrases to try to communicate the feel that we expect the college to have for this run. Again, there will be room for other stories, but paying attention to these ideas will allow your plots and characters to fit the broader feel of the game.
- Personal rather than epic – the stakes for the stories in this run may have a significant effect upon the people in the school, but are not going to concern the end of the world.
- Classes are important – Czocha is a school and attending it is a privilege for most. Learning is its most important function.
- Everyday drama – relationships between friends, romances, youthful missteps and low stakes adventures are the expected dramas for this run.
- Victories & failures are significant but small – successes and mistakes are important to our characters, but are not likely to be grand or world shattering.
- Witchard authorities are a long way away – Czocha runs itself, is governed by itself and is staunchly independent. The Guardian Order and the rest of the authorities in the lore tend to leave it alone to get on with its job as a school.
- Warm and homely vibes – Czocha was created as a sanctuary, and still retains some aspects of that. This is a place that is generally welcoming and safe.
- Lighthearted amateur investigation – This is NOT a comedy run, but will tend towards the lighter side rather than the grimdark. Think Scooby Doo rather than Sherlock Holmes or CSI.
To try to be clear on some of the expectations we have for the game and its characters we offer you these thoughts on them.
- Low fantasy, few magical creatures – This is a game about Witchards at a school and intended to be populated by these. We will be limiting the numbers of magical creatures among students and staff – but you will still meet them in classes!
- Witchards are innately special, not because of their family or situation – whilst we are not limiting play on bloodlines or heritage, the emphasis will be on the specialness of your character’s personality, not their connections. That means that while your character’s family may fancy themselves important, if your character breaks rules at Czocha, they won’t be bailed out by an aunt from the Guardian Order.
- Threats are at most school wide, not world wide – low stakes threats are the goal.
- Rules are important and will be enforced – dress code, curfew, etc – these will matter and be backed by the staff and prefects.
- Limited hall passes – we want to encourage curfew play, and so hall passes will not be easily available.
- Czocha is a place of safety – death is not a thing. Please don’t write stories that culminate in the death of your character.
- Oppression where it exists is low level and personal – the school authorities encourage a welcoming environment. Bullying does happen, but is likely to be punished if seen, so be sneaky about it – or let yourself be caught!
Characters and Casting
Every participant in College of Wizardry has a character, the person they will portray at the larp. Before the event, you will be asked for your preferences for Year, House, Path and club of your character, and you can also apply to play a Staff member or a Prefect. The organisers will then assign the characters in a way that maintains a balance between different character groups. This means that you might not get your top choice in everything, but we’ll try to prioritise things that are the most important to you.
Alongside your Year, House, Path and club, you will also receive a character sheet that includes more information about your character, such as some background, personality and ideas for what to do at the larp. This is everything you need to play the larp, but you are also allowed to make changes to your character or even rewrite it completely. All edits must be submitted to the character coordinators for approval so they can make sure the changes are in line with the overall vision of this run and existing lore. They can also offer feedback and ideas for how to improve your character. You are free to add or change as much as you want, as the point of the character sheet is just to give you ideas for who you would like to be at the larp. You also have the option to write your own character from scratch, or bring back a character from a previous Witchards larp.
Relations between the characters are created by the players. Before the game, there will be many groups on Facebook for different character groups, such as Juniors, Curse Breakers, House Sendivogius or Duelling Club, where you can meet your fellow players in advance. Your own groups are the people you will spend the most time with during the larp, so they are your best chance to find friends from your former school, heated rivalries, or a crush you would like to take to the ball. In addition, you will receive access to Whispers, an in-character social media for witchards, where you can post as your character and get to know the other characters before the larp. All additional character development and relation-making is purely optional, but it can greatly enrich your experience.
Remember that there is no wrong way to play your character. Each character sheet is just a base on top of which you will build a unique person, and only you know how they think and act. It’s always alright to take your character in a new direction, even during the larp, if you find out the current one doesn’t work out for you. Your character is your own, and we hope you have fun with it!
Playing a Junior
The new ones at the school, Juniors, need to find their place in a new environment. Most have just finished their basic magical education, and are now excited to see the world of Czocha with all its possibilities. There are lots of rules to learn, places to explore and friends to make, as it’s a fresh start for everyone. Some want to make a good impression in class and gain the favour of the Professors. Others want to impress the older students by participating in the craziest dares. Most importantly, everyone wants to find out to which house they would like to belong, as it will be a huge part of their life at Czocha.
Each Junior will go through the Sorting to find out which House will be their home for the next three years. Their first task is to get to know the Houses, talk to as many people as possible and make sure they make the right impression on the right people. Prefects are of course the ones making the final choice, but the opinions of their Sophomores and Seniors also carry a lot of weight and a recommendation from one of them might be the key to your dream House. On Friday, the sorting interviews are held, and one by one the Juniors go meet the Prefects. The interview will be short, and its contents are a well-guarded secret. So, while you can try to affect your sorting, ultimately the choice is not yours, and you might even end up somewhere you didn’t expect at all. It’s nothing to worry about though, as any House will welcome you as their own and become your new family.
Play a Junior if you want to:
- Enter Czocha being inexperienced, wide-eyed and open to options
- Learn only very little of the world lore beforehand
- Go through the Sorting and have your House chosen for you
Playing a Sophomore
Sophomores are starting their second year at Czocha. They are no longer the new kids, and they’re bursting to use their new authority and freedom. Finally, they have new Juniors to act as role models for, and for the first time they are allowed to enter the Dark Forest on their own. Of course, it’s not all fun and games, and soon the new, more challenging classes will show them that they still have a lot to learn. Sophomores are in the middle of the school in many ways: they’re not quite as clueless as the Juniors, but they also haven’t been around as long as the Seniors.
Sophomores love to test the new Juniors in various ways to find out which ones would be the best fit for their house, and to try to influence the Prefects to get the ones they want. The choices mean a lot to them, because each Sophomore will become a mentor to one of their newly chosen housemates. How are they going to guide and mold them? Will they help them with homework or show them all the secret passages? It’s also time to step up and take more charge in your clubs and other social groups. Your second year is the perfect time to start making a name for yourself, test your limits and make sure everyone in the school knows who you are.
Play a Sophomore if you want to:
- Belong to a House from the beginning, but still be on the inexperienced side
- Have a lot of freedom to explore and rebel
- Become a mentor to a freshly sorted Junior
Playing a Senior
For Seniors, it’s their third and last school year, the time to leave their mark on history. They’re at the top of the school hierarchy and proud of it, ready to put cocky underclassmen in their place. They are nearing the end of their studies, but there is still an entire year before they’re fully ready to leave the school and to start a career in their respective fields. Some might have a clear vision of what they want to do in the future, others are still struggling to find their calling. The points game can also get heated as the Seniors want to ensure it’s their House that holds the Trophy for the entire school year before they graduate.
Being a Senior is not only about power, but also about responsibility. It’s your job to make sure that your Prefects find the best possible Juniors and the newcomers learn what it means to be a member of your House. Traditions must be passed on. You will shape the culture of your House, and often you’ll be the first one your Prefects will turn to when they need a task taken care of. You have the chance to set a precedent for those who come after you, whether as a rule-abiding model student or as a scoundrel of epic proportions. What kind of a legacy will you leave behind?
Play a Senior if you want to:
- Be at the end of your studies
- Have a lot of knowledge on how the school and the world works
- Take up responsibility in your House
Playing a Prefect
Each of the five houses is led by two Prefects. They’re Seniors chosen for the job for their exceptional qualities, each determined to prove their House is the best. They are the force pulling the House together and supporting its members through thick and thin, listening to their troubles and making sure everyone has things to do. They’re the students with the most power, but also with the most responsibilities.
- Figureheads of the house. Prefects are visible and memorable representatives of the house and reflect its values, each in their own way. They organise house meetings, divide tasks and ensure everyone feels included. They also take the House points game very seriously, and will go to great lengths to make sure their house wins the Czocha Trophy.
- Sorting. The Prefects have the honour and duty to decide which Junior goes to which house. They keep their eyes open and get information from their housemates, and, on Friday, they organise the Sorting and decide which Junior goes to which House. Of course, everyone is out to ensure they get the best, most suitable Juniors, and the competition can get fierce. After the Sorting, they also conduct the initiation rituals with the help of their House members.
- Curfew patrols. Students are not allowed to wander outside after curfew, and it’s the Prefects who patrol the halls and find any troublemakers who are out without a proper hall pass. This is the time when the Prefects are truly feared – no one wants to get caught!
- Winning and losing speeches. When the Grand Opening Ball ends, it’s time to announce the winners of the Czocha Trophy. The Prefects of each of the four losing houses will give a losing speech, and finally, the winning house gives a winning speech. The speeches are short, memorable and raise the house spirit one last time before the game ends.
Playing a Prefect requires active planning and coordination before the larp with your house, other Prefects and Staff members. You’re in charge of the house culture, traditions and many other things. You can plan events, rituals, pranks, songs or anything else you want in order to make your House look like its members and set it apart from the others. It can be busy and chaotic at times, as everyone looks up to you and seeks your help, but you can always rely on your co-Prefect, the rest of the Prefect team and your House members. The organisers will also always be available to help you both before and during the game.
Play a Prefect if you want to:
- Lead your house, sort the Juniors and take responsibility
- Plan, coordinate and make decisions before the larp
- Be a playmaker other students will look up to
Playing a Staff Member
Professors and other Staff members are the backbone of the larp. With the leadership of the Head of School, they teach various magical subjects, organise extracurricular activities, and guide students to become extraordinary witchards. They are at the top of the school hierarchy, both loved and feared by the student body. Some of them act as Monitors for different Houses and Paths, being their closest contact to go to in case of trouble. They also have the power to give and take House points, so staying on their good side is crucial. They can assist you in a number of areas, but disrespect a Professor, and you might end up in detention! As Staff, you will have a big impact on the larp content and what kind of experiences the students will have, but also will have your own stories and relations to explore.
Staff players form a close-knit team that coordinates all kinds of matters related to running the school in the months leading up to the larp. They discuss the overall mood and vision, school rules, lesson plans, and much more. They can also plan extra activities and plotlines if they so wish. Playing Staff means being a playmaker and having more responsibilities than an average player, but help and support from the organisers is always available.
Play Staff if you want to:
- Play an adult character in a position of authority
- Plan, coordinate and make decisions before the larp
- Run classes and other activities for students
Each Professor teaches a total of six 45-minute classes over two days in their specific subject. The subjects taught at College of Wizardry are Alchemy, Arithmancy, Beastology, Conflux Studies, Herbology, Invocation, Magical Defence, Magical Theory, Mind Magic, Ritual Magic, Runic Magic and Technomancy. The contents of the classes are entirely up to you: there are lots of existing ideas to draw from, but you can also bring in something entirely new. Furthermore, Professors work in cooperation with the helper team, and will generally be prioritised when requesting props and non-player characters for their lessons.
Assistant Professors fulfill many different functions, and while they have the least status among staff, they also have the fewest set responsibilities. Sometimes they’re freshly graduated teacher’s assistants, sometimes invited experts holding extra classes on their specific subject. Because of the varying nature of the job, Assistant Professors can sometimes be replaced by other optional Staff positions such as Guardian, School Counselor or Librarian. They are also the first in line to take over any other Staff positions in case of cancellations.
In addition to these positions, the Staff will include the Headmistress and the Kasztelan. The Headmistress leads the Staff, makes announcements from the balcony and has a lot of say in how the school is run. Because of their active role in the planning and Staff coordination, they’re chosen in advance of the general casting. The Kasztelan represents the castle itself, both physical and as a concept. Kasztelan is in charge of the Book of Points, making sure the other Staff members record the points properly and updating the points counters to reflect the current standings. Juniors get a tour around the castle from the Kasztelan and are their responsibility until they’re sorted. For this run, Kasztelan is a supporting character and will be played by a member of the Story Team, ensuring a smooth flow of information between the Staff and the Organisers.
All students of Czocha are loaned a black school robe with coloured stripes according to the Year of your character: white for Juniors, red for Sophomores and gold for Seniors. They are loose-fitting and come in the following sizes: S, M, L, XL and XXL, with the XXL being big enough for mostly anyone. You will also be provided a House tie in your House colour: purple for Libussa, orange for Durentius, blue for Faust, green for Molin and red for Sendivogius. Juniors will receive their ties after being sorted into Houses. Robes and ties are mandatory to wear during the school day, from the beginning of the first class until the after-school announcements, but it’s also common to keep them on for the entire day. After all, it also helps Staff to recognize which Year and House you are in. The Staff itself, of course, has no such limitations. They wear whatever they please whenever they please.
Other than that, witchards dress in any imaginable and unimaginable way, mixing styles from times and cultures past, present and yet to be. Hexborns in particular often tend to dress a bit old-fashioned, and many students at Czocha wouldn’t look out of place in a high-class boarding school. You can’t go wrong with a nice shirt and vest. Others scoff at such ostentation and instead sport bright colours and flowing fabrics. Obviously, mundane clothes such as rock’n’roll t-shirts are generally frowned upon, but then again a mundaneborn activist might still wear them as a deliberate fashion choice. There is also no such thing as masculine or feminine wardrobe – you wear whatever feels right to you. To top it all off, any outfit can be complemented with accessories such as a fancy hat or a scarf in your House colours.
If you want, you can also bring a more festive outfit for the Grand Opening Ball. There is no dress code, and on the ball night you can see everything from everyday wear to glamorous gowns and suits. Some just change into a fancier shirt or put on a fun party dress, some come in their school robes, and some get creative in various ways. In any case, don’t stress about what to wear. It’s the party itself that counts!
Before the event, you will receive the full schedule with more events such as club meetings, extracurricular lessons and the Sorting, as well as the lesson timetable. Details may still change, but this is approximately what you can expect to happen.
|15:00||Player bus arrives from Berlin|
Finding rooms, picking up robes and ties, settling down
Briefings: Rules and game mechanics, safety, spellcasting
Workshops: Paths, Houses, Juniors and Staff
|20:00||Free time to get into costume|
|21:00||The larp begins|
|22:00||House meetings, Staff meeting, Junior tour|
|12:00-14:00||Lunch and afternoon break|
|12:00-14:00||Lunch and afternoon break|
|20:00||The Grand Opening Ball|
|22:45||Losing and winning speeches|
|23:00||The larp ends|
|10:30||Player bus leaves|
Czocha is located in the southwestern corner of Poland, close to the borders of Germany and Czech Republic. To make your travelling easier, we will organise a player bus from Brandenburg airport in Berlin. The trip takes about 3-4 hours. The bus leaves for Czocha on Thursday morning, arriving before the briefings and workshops start, and returning to Berlin on Sunday morning. Tickets to the bus can be bought separately, and the exact schedule can be found in the ticket shop.
You can fly to other nearby cities, such as Wrocław or Prague, and from there you can get to the castle by carpooling or train. You can look for travel companions in the larp’s Facebook group. The closest train station is in Lubań, and a taxi from there to the castle takes about 20 minutes.
Rooms and Sleeping
Players sleep mostly in 3-4 person rooms. A few single and double rooms are mainly reserved for participants with specific health or accessibility needs. You can either choose to sleep in an ingame room, where you will be staying with people in the same House or Year as you, or an offgame room that will not be a part of the playing area.
We will ask for your needs and preferences in advance via a Player Form, and the sleeping arrangements will be published a few days before the event in order to accommodate possible last minute changes. After that, it’s perfectly alright to switch roommates (as long as everyone involved agrees), but please inform the organisers if you do so.
Each House also has a common room; your home away from home. It can only be entered by members of that House, or those invited by a House member. This is both to make sure the Prefects or other students staying there have a better chance at getting some sleep, but also to ensure that any prank involving a House common room needs to involve at least one insider.
Meals and Menu
Czocha serves three hot meals every day, with long tables set up in the dining halls. All meals are buffet style, so you can simply take what you prefer from the tables. The kitchen provides vegetarian and vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free dishes, and is attentive to allergies. If you have a special diet or allergy, please mention it when you fill out your Player Form and we will do our best to accommodate you.
The castle also has a tavern serving all kinds of enchanted drinks, open after the classes are over for the day. It’s a place to relax, hang out with friends, do homework and enjoy a glass of your favourite alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. The tavern only accepts tavern tokens that can be bought in the webshop before or during the larp. Please note that being visibly drunk is not tolerated at the event, and tavern staff will refuse to sell alcohol to people who have had a bit too much.
We want to create a safe and welcoming environment for you to experience the world of magic and to try out new things. All events and interactions are opt-in, which means you can always choose whether you participate or not. If you as a player are uncomfortable with any situation, you can do something different or leave without having to give an explanation. To support this, there is a set of special phrases and hand signals you will learn in the workshops. It is also always allowed to step out of character for a while and discuss how to improve the situation with your co-players. The players are more important than the story!
If you need to take a break at any time, feel overwhelmed or just want someone to talk to, you’re free to visit our player care room (also known as the Shelter) for a friendly face, an energising snack or a quiet corner to sit down in for a while. There will be a Player Care Host available throughout the event, with whom you can process your experience and feelings and find solutions if you’re having a hard time playing for any reason. For many people, College of Wizardry can be an emotional and intense experience, but there will always be support available if you need it.