WereWar: Chapter Three

Czocha stands. Whilst the castle has been cut off from the rest of the world for a year, the Haven Ritual has held and the walls still hold strong. Outside, however, the Necrotic Blight surrounds the castle. There has been no way out to the forest or the lake for twelve months. For those trapped inside Czocha it has been a hard year. Supplies have been intermittent – relying on deals with the Fae and the goodwill of North Vale – food has been in short supply and the survivors are tired, traumatised, and tattered.

The larp begins with the arrival of The Relief. A portal has been opened and a group of witchards comes through. These brave folk, mainly students, but a few more experienced witchards, too old or injured to be involved in active combat, arrive at Czocha not knowing what they will find or if there will be any way back out.

Magic is fading. Across the Witchard World, spells that have been relied on for centuries are failing, magical items are losing their power, and ancient protective wards are suddenly burning out. Czocha has been affected by this as well, but to a seemingly lesser extent. This has led to an increase in the importance of Ritual Magic and for Orders to turn to the darker side of their histories and explore ancient and sometimes forbidden magic.

The Fairytale is over.


As the tickets for Chapter Three go on sale at the start of September, we wanted to give you some information about the event, what you should expect and what you should not expect. This document contains important information about the structure of the event and also about some material changes to the rules and norms.

Ticket go on sale for returning players on September 1st, 12.00 CET. All others can buy tickets two weeks later on the 15th.

What are the themes of the larp?

WereWar Chapter Three is about the long term effects of war, the potential loss of magic, and relationships between magical people living through traumatic circumstances. It is not a larp about heroic witchards fighting monsters. Whilst these fights may take place, where they do there should be no expectation of victory or survival. Whilst it is possible, survival won’t come easy, and the price of victory may be too high to pay.

Scarcity

The larp will include play on scarcity – things are running out – at the start of the larp those characters who have remained in the castle will be hungry. They have subsisted on rations for many months and there is not enough to go around. This is a role-play experience only. When the incomers arrive they will bring in new supplies and food stocks. Players will not go hungry or thirsty. Our current plans are that the first meal of the larp will be a light snack to represent rations, followed shortly after the start of the larp by the first full feast the survivors have had for some significant time.

Character Approvals

We will want to see any and all characters before the larp so they can be approved. Even if a character has already been approved we want to check it again. We reserve the right to amend characters, even those that have previously been approved. This is for reasons of game balance and coherence. Please don’t retcon your characters. If your character was approved as human, that’s what they are, unless they were turned into Were during one of the previous chapters (in which case please remind us about that scene!) We do not want characters who are secretly fae or lycan without our knowledge or approval, as it will affect the balance of the larp, and it may have an adverse effect on the experiences of those who are still playing subsequent chapters. 

  • Remember, you cannot play a Were without the express approval of the Story Team. 
  • Bodiam Paladins are NPCs, you will not be able to play one. 
  • Even if your character has been approved for Chapter One or Two we need to review it again
  • Magical items, cold iron weapons, or special powers over and above that of an ordinary witchard also need the Story Team to say yes. We will always try to find reasons to say yes – unless it is Cold Iron – so don’t be afraid to ask. 
  • Characters whose main motivation is to fight against the authority of the faculty or the Guardians are unlikely to be approved.

As a part of the character approval process we will ask for some information about what your character has been doing during the course of the war. It may be that they played Chapter One and or Chapter Two and we’ll ask for this backstory. We might mine this information for plot purposes. If you have played before we will also ask about what plots your character is involved with and what they think is going on in the story. 

For new players, or new characters, we will ensure that you have a ‘way in’ to the story. 

Boffer weapons & Nerf Guns

Do not bring boffer weapons, nerf guns etc. to the larp. Whilst some magical creatures may use boffer weapons in combat, witchards do not use weapons in this larp. 

Solutions to problems 

In WereWar there are specific ways to resolve the challenges created by the Story Team. If players choose to do something else, and if it is sufficiently brilliant it will work, but it is important to understand that players do not automatically “win”. Researching a challenge, finding out how to defeat an enemy, practising rituals, and having a plan are important. As the stakes get higher, the chances of character death become higher too.

For instance, you are facing a creature your characters have never seen before. It may turn out that flinging offensive spells at it doesn’t work as intended, and the creature seems to absorb the magic you cast. It may turn out that you will lose your first encounter with this creature because the tactic you tried didn’t work. Now is the time for thought, research, and investigation. There will always be ways to gain knowledge about the adversaries, to learn about their strengths and weaknesses, their motives and intentions, and the encounters will seldom be as easy as ‘point and sling spells until it stops moving’. Sometimes, the price of that knowledge will be a few trials and errors, with possible casualties along the way. Sometimes, as little as a trip to the library. In any case, creativity will always be rewarded, but not necessarily with an instant victory.

Diminishing Magic

One of the themes of this larp will be a reduction in the power and availability of magic. Spells and rituals that have previously worked may not work as expected. Magical items can burn out and incantations that witchards have relied upon will simply fail. In addition some ingredients and reagents used in alchemy and technomancy may be in short supply. 

Rituals

Rituals are an important part of the larp. A ritual is when a group of witchards come together to perform group magic far more powerful than an individual witchard could perform. As magic has started to fade, rituals – as a means of sharing power – have become ever more important. To reflect the fading of magic from the world, each player will be given a few magical crystals at the start of the larp. At the start of the larp, to perform a magical ritual with a Shadow GM present, a ritual group must present at least ten crystals. The more crystals used, the more powerful the ritual. The crystals are ‘spent’ on the ritual. The number of crystals required to perform a ritual may change over time.

Even with many crystals, rituals can fail. Interruptions, mistakes, confusions can all lead to catastrophic events up to and including the death of all characters. We urge you to plan and practise your rituals in advance.

Structure of the larp

There are some aspects of the design of the larp that will remain in place. Structurally you will note that characters have their Orders (Paths) and Years and are also allocated to Units. This is to allow players an easy opportunity to mix and play with different groups. Czocha remains – at heart – a school. This enables those who are playing faculty members to continue to teach or train student characters; we have put some story around this to explain what is going on. We have designed for playability rather than realism.
By design, clubs, Fireball Dragon, The Ball, and a House Cup are not a part of this experience.

Orders and Houses (and Units)

As with previous chapters, characters will be a member of one of the path Orders. The Great Houses of Czocha are a memory, but their values are not forgotten. 

Students are also assigned to Units within Battalions which tend to represent these values. Units are mixed Order groups who work and survive together. 

Only players whose characters have remained at Czocha throughout the year begin their play sorted into Battalions and Units. The Relief members of student age will have a chance to prove their worth, impress the Captains, and be recruited into one of the Battalions / Units during the game.

In place of house points, Units are awarded accolades. At the end of each day the Battalion with the highest accolade can go to the front of the queue at meal times. This represents the scarcity of food. Being at the front of the queue during rationing is a big deal for the characters. At the end of each day – with the Haven bells of midnight – the accolades are reset. 

Each Unit is led by a captain, so each Battalion has three captains.

Unit 13 – Subject to confirmation by the castle

(Seniors Only) Option to play a member of Elite Unit 13

You will sleep in a military-style dorm in the castle walls. Within the society of the castle you are acknowledged as the “Best of the Best.“  Ultimately you are responsible for the defence of the castle. Even the teachers acknowledge you as the elite Unit  inside of the school. You will receive a daily briefing from the Bodiam Paladins about what is going on beyond the castle walls. 

Members of Unit 13 were the last group of students to venture beyond the castle walls. Actions have consequences and something terrible happened during that final mission. You will receive a secret briefing before the larp. These traumatic events have bound Unit 13 together for a year, but cracks are starting to appear. This option is only available to players whose characters have remained at Czocha throughout, and who wish to opt in to the potential for  heavy trauma.

Character Death – Important new rules

During this larp, your character is at risk of death at all times.

In Chapter One and Two our Shadow Game Masters (GM) were there to tell you when your character was in danger, to give you an option to opt out of the risk of character death. At Chapter Three you should assume that the world is dangerous, and your character is at risk, they could die at any time. Some events are more dangerous than others; powerful rituals, trying to bully lycans, or running into the midst of a battle are all clearly riskier propositions than sitting down to breakfast. By signing up to play this larp you are opting into the possibility of your character dying.

Whilst we do not expect or encourage such things, if you wish to engage in player versus player violence in an attempt to murder another character you require the presence of a shadow GM. You are also opting in to accepting the in-game consequences of any such action or attempt.

Shadow GMs will still warn you prior to any events where NPCs may be using prosthetic claws or larp weapons to attack, so you can opt out of physical interactions.

What happens if my character dies?

In the vast majority of cases, should your character suffer an unfortunate and premature end at the hands of a Were; you are going to have the chance to do something else with the rest of your weekend, with a new character, or by joining our lovely crew portraying the supporting cast. In rare cases, where the story team sees an opportunity to use your character’s death to create and enhance the game more broadly, we may suggest another path. It might be that the reappearance of your former witchard as a ghost fulfils a dramatic necessity that we have, or that the animated corpse of your poor professor is used to taunt their former students for emotional effect; but the use of that dead character is at the disposal of the story team. Any return will be discussed with you, and you as the player who has embodied that character will be entirely at liberty to turn down the suggestion; but that suggestion will have been put forward by us.

Character types

People at Czocha are as varied as can be, but the character you’re cast as can have a big impact on your experience at the larp. In particular, your Year decides your main social group: 

Playing a member of the Relief

The new ones at the school as well as those who are returning there after a year away; members of the Relief need to find their place in a new environment. Most have just finished their basic magical education, some may be those trying to escape from other places, they are coming to Czocha for various reasons. Some want to help, others to seek adventure, some are there because they want to see the Were and understand what is going on, others have no choice and have been sent there. There are lots of rules to learn, places to explore and friends to make. Some want to make a good impression in class and gain the favour of the Professors, others want to impress the survivors and get a place in one of the better Units. 

The Relief have their own stories. Some have been touched by the effects of the war, some will have lost friends or family members. Others will have political or personal opinions about the Were, and about the war. Some will be survivors of Bothwell, Some will be innocent and filled with big ideas. Some may be damaged. Either way Czocha will be their home for the unforeseeable future. Their first task is to get to know the norms of the castle, understand how to survive, talk to as many people as possible and make sure they make the right impression on the right people. They will need to find a Unit.

The Relief does not necessarily equate to Juniors. It is possible for any character to arrive as a part of the Relief. They will probably be better dressed, possibly better equipped, certainly better fed.

Tensions between the Relief and those who were trapped in the castle

In most cases those who remained in Czocha are delighted to welcome the Relief and are excited to meet new people after twelve months of isolation. There are a few characters who – through mistrust or trauma – are wary of those they describe as ‘incomers’ but they are rare. This is intended as a designed tension for those players who wish to opt-in to conflict between characters.

Student Characters

For all of the student characters below, some of them are those who have remained at Czocha and others will be those who come in as a part of the Relief, we have designed for playability above narrative coherence. Please lean in to these ideas and find a way to make them work for your character, play on the frustrations of being stuck in the ‘wrong’ Year, or just accept it and don’t make it a part of your play at all. 

Those students (of all Years) who have chosen to join the Relief will have various personal reasons to head to Czocha:  Perhaps they are looking for someone, perhaps they seek adventure, justice, or revenge, or perhaps they are just after a world class education in magic during a time of crisis. 

Those students who have remained at Czocha are still in the same Year they were in before, some of them are frustrated about this, others understand that they are focussed on survival, and are still learning new things and are less concerned.

Playing a Junior

There are Juniors who have been at Czocha for a year and those who spent the school year outside. Their experience will vary and so will other characters’ attitude towards them.

For those coming in from the outside, more than any of the Relief, the allocation of their Unit  is the most important thing that will happen to them. They will rely on these strangers for survival and yet they know next to nothing about any of them. Their first task is to get to know the other Juniors, talk to as many people as possible and make sure they make the right impression on the right people. Captains are of course the ones making the final choice, but the opinions of other students carry a lot of weight and a recommendation from one of them might be the key to joining a Unit  that will save your life. While you can try to affect your allocation, ultimately the choice is not yours, and you might even end up somewhere you didn’t expect at all. 

Play a Relief Junior if you want to:

  • Enter Czocha being inexperienced about the school, innocent, or wide-eyed and open to options
  • Learn only very little of the world lore beforehand
  • Play on fear and vulnerability or finding your place and forming a bond that will last a lifetime

For Juniors who have remained at Czocha things are very different. You already understand your place in the hierarchy and have spent a year as a Junior already. You may feel ready to move on, but that is not yet an option. Some of these Juniors are prone to taking risks, or otherwise trying to prove to those in authority that they deserve more responsibility
Play a Czocha Junior if you want to:

  • Take risks and face the consequences
  • Try to impress authority figures
  • Play on fear and vulnerability or finding your place and forming a bond that will last a lifetime

Playing a Sophomore

Sophomores coming in to Czocha may already have some experience of the war, for example the more advanced of those students transferring in from Bothwell. Their experience will be challenging because they have their own norms and bonds and these may not transfer well.

For those who remained at Czocha, it has been a year since they became a Sophomore. They are no longer the new kids, although they have been protected from the worst of the siege they have been in Units and have seen action. Their trauma is real, but at the start of the larp, with the arrival of the relief, they may feel hope, or resentment. They have new recruits to act as role models for. They will have new responsibilities – as demonstrated by the new, more advanced classes and duties. These will show the Sophomores 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 don’t have the same magical skills or opportunities as the Seniors. 

There are still hints of the school remaining; Sophomores will want to test the new arrivals in various ways to find out which ones would be the best fit for their Battalions, and try to influence the captains to get the ones they want.

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:

  • Play a rebel who has to come to terms with the harsh realities of life
  • Face difficult emotional decisions
  • Deal with the consequences of your actions

Playing a Senior

In normal times it would be their third and final school year, the time to leave their mark on history. Instead they will need to make a decision about their future. Do they stay and defend the castle or leave and face what the world outside brings?

Being a Senior is not only about power, but also about responsibility. It’s your job to support your Captains and to train the recruits for what lies ahead. Traditions must be passed on. You will shape the culture of your Order, and often you’ll be the first one your Captains 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 a scoundrel of epic proportions. What kind of a legacy will you leave behind?

Please note: None of the Relief will be assigned as Seniors.

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 Order

Playing a Captain

Each of the Battalions is led by three Captains, one for each Unit. They’re chosen by the faculty for the job for their exceptional qualities, each determined to lead their Unit to the best of their abilities, and are drawn exclusively from the Senior students who have been at the castle all year. Whilst not a part of any formal command structure outside of the school, within Czocha they are the force pulling the Orders together and supporting Unit  members through thick and thin, listening to their troubles and trying to keep everyone alive. They’re the students with the most power, but also with the most responsibilities.

  • Figureheads of the Units. Captains are visible and memorable representatives of their Orders. They organise Order meetings, divide tasks, and missions, and ensure everyone feels included.
  • Curfew patrols. There is still a curfew in place. Students are not allowed to wander outside after curfew, and it’s the Captains who patrol the halls and walls find any troublemakers; more importantly they are looking for signs of incursion or danger as the hours immediately after the haven ritual are often the most dangerous. 
  • Speeches. The speeches are short, memorable and raise the Order’s spirit before difficult and dangerous missions.

Playing a Captain requires active planning and coordination before the larp with your Orders and Battalion, other Captains and Staff members. You’re in charge of the Battalion culture, traditions and many other things. You can plan events, rituals, competitions, songs or anything else you want in order to make your Unit look like its members and set you 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-Captain, the rest of the Captain team and your Order members. The organisers will also always be available to help you both before and during the game.

Play a Captain if you want to:

  • Lead your Unit, and take responsibility
  • Plan, coordinate and make decisions before and during the larp
  • Be a playmaker other students will look up to

On Prefects

There are no Prefects any more; when the Battalions were formed many of the Prefects were moved into new roles as Captains of the  Units. Some of them thrived, others were not suited to this role and were replaced. Therefore it is possible to play an ex-Prefect. This comes with no additional responsibility or power, but loads of emotional baggage to work through. 

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 also the de facto military command structure of the school. 

Part of their role is to keep Czocha going. The school has been cut off and under siege for a year and they’ve maintained a duty of care for those within its walls. 

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 Orders, being their closest contact to go to in case of trouble. As Staff, you will have a big impact on the larp content and what kind of experiences the students will have, but also 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 and responsibility
  • Plan, coordinate and make decisions before the larp
  • Run “classes” and other activities for students

Head of School

Headmistress, Headmaster, occasionally Headmastress or Headmystery. The Head of School leads the Staff, makes announcements from the balcony and has a lot of say in how the school is run. How they want to play the game is highly up to the individual, but they’re ultimately in charge of everything that happens in their school. Because of their active role in the planning and Staff coordination, they’re chosen in advance of the general casting.

Janitor / Kasztelan

Often the Head’s right hand and a memorable figure at school, their main task is the Safety of the School. The Captains report to the Kasztelan.

Professors

Each Professor runs a number of 45-minute events (probably 4-6) over two days pertaining to their specific subject or specialism. The contents of these events 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 events. 

Over the year, what would have been traditional “classes” have changed into exercises and training missions, research, experiments, and practical applications of skills. 

You can structure your events in a number of different ways:

  • Exercises – Exercises are dream-like simulations where magical creatures or even Were seem to be present. Whilst not normally lethal, these classes often lead to injuries.
  • Duty – particularly for Nightingale and Rosencrantz students, a period of time spent working in the hospital, patrolling the walls, or investigating strange occurrences. 
  • Research – you can get your students to perform research tasks or experiments – at the end of this session you will get results/answers from the Story Team. 
  • Class – a traditional class where you do things your own way

Assistant Professors

Assistant Professors fulfil many different functions, and while they have the least status among staff, they also have the least set responsibilities.  Because of the varying nature of the job, Assistant Professors can sometimes be replaced by other Staff positions such as School Counsellor, Head Healer.


FAQ

What are the play hours?

Whilst this is subject to change, our intention is that there will be plot and play after midnight, but events will finish by 2am. The school day will begin at 10 not 9 and finish one hour later; breakfast will be from 8am.

Will there be scenes of violence and torture?

There may be scenes of violence and torture at this larp. As a player you can leave at any time using the lookdown mechanic, but due to the nature of the larp, we cannot guarantee that you will not witness these scenes.

Will there be a ball?

No

Will there be explosions and/or pyrotechnics at Chapter Three?

Yes, there will be explosions and pyros in use at WereWar.

Can I play a Were?

We’ve already had several requests as to whether there is an option to play a lycan or other ‘were’ creature. The idea of playing an outsider in this setting certainly seems interesting. It could be dangerous, or oppressive, and some of you are looking for that experience. However, this is not the story we are looking to tell. For a larp to tell the story of the dispossessed or of those suffering from structural or systemic oppression it needs to be designed with that purpose. With that in mind we would prefer it if your characters were human. Whilst there may be one or two exceptions, we reserve the right to say “no” to requests for non-human/were-creatures! 

It is expected that those characters who have already been approved as Were, or who have become lycan as a result of events in Chapter One or Two will be approved to continue.