EWN had an opportunity to sit down with the mastermind behind upcoming Nordic LARP Convention of Thorns.
Claus Raasted, nicknamed the “King of Danish Kid’s LARP,” is the former editor of Playground Magazine and the current editor-in-chief of Denmark’s roleplaying magazine ROLLE|SPIL. He has organized numerous LARPs and has been Chairman of Rollespilsfabrikken (The Roleplaying Factory) in Copenhagen since 2005. His company, Rollespilsakademiet, provides LARP resources to schools, companies, churches, libraries, and more.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Claud about the upcoming LARP based around the “Vampire: The Masquerade” universe, Convention of Thorns, premiering in Poland at the end of October.
Part Time Rogue: This isn’t your first LARP by a long shot. Tell me about some of the other LARPS you’ve done.
Claus Raasted: Well, the first thing to say is of course that I’m not doing this alone. I’m just the figurehead for our team, which consists of a lot of talented and awesome people. That said, it isn’t my first, no. I started organizing in ’95, and started doing LARPing professionally in 2002, so I’ve done a LOT of stuff. Some of the most interesting projects (apart from the newer grand projects in Poland) include a 3,500 person LARP for the Danish church, a LARP that toured Greenland teaching local kids about their own mythology and the LARP Charles Bo Nielsen and I did for Discovery Channel in 2013.
Despite College of Wizardry being inspired by popular wizard fiction, it’s not a licensed product. How is adapting a licensed world like the Old World of Darkness different from world-building in College of Wizardry?
It’s a completely different story. In College of Wizardry we’re collecting inspiration from a number of sources, and though Harry Potter is of course a big inspiration, we always make sure it’s clear that it’s NOT Harry Potter. Here, it’s a completely different ball game. It’s like creating a Three Musketeers LARP and having Alexander Dumas available to chat with. The original idea for doing a spectacular LARP at Zamek Ksiaz actually came about after a talk with Mark Rein-Hagen, so we feel very welcomed by the whole White Wolf “family”.
How familiar are you with The World of Darkness? Are you using published source material or is this being composed from scratch?
Personally, I’m not very familiar with WoD. We have people on our team who can quote WoD lore in their sleep, though, and we’re of course using material from previously published White Wolf stuff. A major influence is Vampire: Dark Ages – not because it precisely showcases the vampire world in 1493, but because some of the roots of the crisis that leads to the Convention of Thorns are very much central to Dark Ages. So if people out there are looking for inspiration, crack open those Vampire: Dark Ages books!
Have you ever played in a LARP using one of the Mind’s Eye Theater rules sets? If so, what do you like or dislike about those kinds of rules systems?
I have never played in a Mind’s Eye Theater LARP, though I have played a few Vampire LARPs in Denmark. I general, I’m very much a Nordic LARPer, and like my rules to be simple, elegant and minimalistic. I think it’s really cool how some people can manage complex rules systems while still immersing deeply into characters and stories, but I can’t do that. I’ve done a couple of rules-heavy games, and they’ve never really worked out that well for me. So while I have nothing against rules-heavy LARP, it’s just not for me.
Will there be any canon characters at Convention of Thorns, like Hardestadt or Camilla Banes?
YES! One of the great things about doing Convention of Thorns is that we get to play around with not only real-world history, but also WoD history. So of course Camilla Banes and Hardestadt will be present – just like some notorious historical figures of the day who (in our interpretation) make sense to reveal as vampires.
People are eager to find out about the rules system. Can you give us any idea what it’s going to be like?
And to give a more serious answer, the rules are going to be minimalist and as discreet as possible. We’re still in the final stages of creating them, since we wanted to wait for feedback from “The End of the Line”, which White Wolf just ran in Finland a week ago. No rock-paper-scissors though.
Tell us about the location. It looks amazing!
Thank you! It IS amazing. It’s Poland’s 3rd biggest castle, and has 300,000 visitors every year. Luckily, they come during the day, so they won’t be there while we play during the evenings and early hours of the night. It’s a castle that was originally built in the 1290s, and though parts of it are too modern to be 1493 (more like 16-1700) we made the decision to use it anyway. It’s spectacular and gives us some really wild possibilities, that we wouldn’t have had if we’d chosen a castle which was more true to the precise historical period. Plus, this means players get to live in nice hotel rooms and get great food instead of sleeping on mattresses on stone floors and sharing two showers, which would have been the case if we’d gone for a real 15th century castle.
Do you think immersive LARPs like these will ever become popular in the United States? They seem to be a very European thing.
Of course! It’s just a matter of reaching the right audience in the right way. For both College of Wizardry and Fairweather Manor (our Downton Abbey inspired larp about an English manor in 1914) we’ve had American players, and they were very happy to have come. If they could have played something similar without having had to cross the Atlantic I’m sure they would have. But maybe the American blockbuster LARPs won’t be in castles. 😉
College of Wizardry is full of side-activities to fill people’s time. Will there be anything like that in Convention of Thorns?
Oh, yes! Convention of Thorns will be bursting with activity. That’s one of the great things about using Zamek Ksiaz. We have so many rooms available that we can do some crazy shit with the location. A room set aside for human chess, with the “conquered” pieces being fed to allies of the chess players? Well, of course we have that…
Any other juicy gossip you can share with us?
I can share two small fun things: The first is that from the interest we’ve been getting, tickets won’t last long. Of course, things may go differently than we expect, but from the amount of mails we’ve been getting from people offering their firstborns, I’d say there are those out there who’ll be pressing “Refresh” when March 21, 20:00 CET hits.
The second is that we’re still not completely decided as to whether players should wear fangs or not. It’s an ongoing discussion and there are a LOT of viewpoints! 😉
Interested in learning more about this awesome upcoming event? check out Convention of thorns at www.cotlarp.com.