Coven

Carolina Dahlberg 3
One of the less bloody rituals in progress. Photo by Carolina Dahlberg.
Elli, the mistress of blackboxing and heartbreak asked me to take an open spot at Coven. I’d missed the signup, so I eagerly jumped on the chance to play after all. The larp was run twice, first in swedish and then in english. Each with about 30 players and a large group of npcs. I was part of the second run.
Clara Linderland
A lot of rumours were shared via the bathroom walls during play. Photo by Clara Linderland.
The setting for the larp was based on the swedish book Cirkeln and the third season of American Horror Story, with some minor alterations to make it larpable. My friend Liv, Elli and I made up the Acting Supreme and two Seconds, the super adult leaders of the coven of teenage witches. We were so mature at age 23 compared to the rest. The story was that the coven was so small that it nearly died out, but had recieved reinforcement from other covens and the game started with getting a huge load of more or less kidnapped young people with powers. Two thirds of the characters were new witches. Before we had a chance to get to grips with this new situation we were forced to conduct trials to find a new Supreme just in time to be attacked by evil witch hunters.
Liselle Awwal
A quiet morning ritual. Photo by Liselle Awwal.
The larp was a sandbox of teenage drama and intrigue with a huge railroad of plot down the middle and the three of us on top had to steer the train along. It was a lot more work than we’d expected from signing up as players, but we went with it and spent A LOT of hours on skype before play to get everything planned out and making sense, so we had a chance during play. We had about ten fixed scenes that HAD to be prepared before play and also going offgame right before to get the last details and directions in place. So I’ll estimate about 40% of the larp was spent in a very much non-immersive mindset and 20% in a state of utter exhaustion in my case. It wore us out and not in a good way. It’s taken me about a week to get back to functioning human levels.
Isabel Baeré Pedersen
The witches chosen to participate in the Trials. Not everyone was happy to be there. Photo by Isabel Baeré Pedersen.
It was a classic case of first-time organizer entertainment paranoia. You want to make absolutely sure the players have something to do during play, so you add in everything you can find. Besides the fixed plot scenes, there was also people outside the larp that sent in-characters text messages from relations in the wider world, a creepy household staff and late night hauntings. Oh yeah, and we were teenagers with feels and magic powers. No rest for the witches!
2015-10-04 23.18.17
Getting advice from an old friend. Photo by the author.
The text larping was surprisingly good. I didn’t think I would have time to really engage with it, but once I got started and the web of outside contacts began contributing to the play I had a lot of fun writing back and forth with old friends who wanted stuff from me and threats from upset relatives of the junior witches. It did go quite a bit overboard and took the game in some problematic directions though, due to lack of oversight. I’ve got a blogpost coming with more details.
Herman Langland
Juniors messing with each other in their cabin. Photo by Herman Langland.
The other players were great, the play was super dramatic and entertaining, everyone got easily into the impulsive teenage mindset and made trouble for themselves. But not so much as to break the game, just the right amount. Especially the players of the senior witches were great at sharing play with the juniors and helping keep things going in the right direction. I’d larp with them again anytime! The only problem was that everyone ran out of steam and went to bed pretty early, so the night time play was a bit disappointing. I don’t blame them, though. They burned brightly nearly the whole time!
Hannah Merkelbach 2
Sunday breakfast interrupted by a severed head sent from the witchhunters. Photo by Hannah Merkelbach.
The magic worked fantastic. There were five powers, you started with one and you got more as you progressed as a witch, you could go pick up a new one from the organizers if you felt it made sense. Some powers were more useful than others, but all worked well in the larp context.
My main power was Mortis, the power to kill people. It’s not usually super great for larping to kill off characters, but when other people have the power to ressurect, you get to use it. Also it’s a great way to make people stop being idiotic. Others had the power of Transfero, where you could transfer injuries or emotions to others. That got used all the time. Those witches were so annoying, dumping unwanted feels on you!
Each power consisted of a key phrase to start it, followed by narration as to what was going to happen or count-down hand signs for dying and reviving. And it was always the recipient of magic that decided the outcome. It worked great, people used their powers in fun and surprising ways: One player dumped all her feelings of guilt onto me after I had chewed her out for being an idiot. So I apologized instead.
Clara Linderland 5
The author’s character pulled back from the brink of death by his true love. Photo by Clara Linderland.
We had a lot of awesome rituals. They’re usually tricky to get right in larps and often fall flat, but we started some solid basics and built on top of that. We’d prepared some fifty small rituals for various stuff, we only used a fraction, but it was great to have a store of inspiration.
We also had a fuckton of fake blood, candles and props to use during the big rituals and those were awesomely messy. Especially when we brought out the porn-sperm for the big finale. I’d also taught Monica Traxl’s technique for making communal sounds to the players and everyone pitched in with making the rituals powerful and intense.
Karin Edman 1
Two of the Household Staff. So uncanny. Photo by Karin Edman.
The witchhunters at the end were truly terrifying. If the tv-series had had the same kind of opposition, there would be no witches left i New Orleans. They had brought (blunt) steel axes and knives as well as an actual shotgun with blanks. Scary as fuck to hear that boom, your magic powers don’t seem worth much. Big compliments to the npcs for their part. The organizers taking the part of household staff were great too, they did so many small uncanny interactions while also cooking incredibly delicious food and keeping the coffee pots full and warm.
Carolina Dahlberg
This jetty saw a lot of intense and introspective moments from the witches. Photo by Carolina Dahlberg.
So in short, I really loved nearly everything about this larp, except for the fact that I had to spend most of it as an npc. I would have been okay with it, had I known in advance, but finding out while preparing for play was too much work. Still, I walked away with some incredibly memorable scenes: Interrupting a bloodsoaked ritual to replace the soul of an unborn child with that of a dead girl, killing obnoxious kids with just a gesture, summoning forth a demon from a text-message, being called back to life by my true love and cursing a charm while singing songs from Buffy. That is just top level larp experiences in my book.
Author 2
Three tired witches after the larp. Blood, sweat and tears. Plus some sperm and egg for good measure. Photo by the author.
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