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[VtM] Convention of Thorns LARP


Preaching Gaming Anarchy
Validated User
The LARP is done. I'll be writing a review of sorts once the pictures are unveiled.
Just ask questions if you need to.

(And, there'll be a re-run of sorts next year)


Evil is the new Good
Validated User
It was very cool.

Visually, it looked absolutely stunning. Location was amazing, player costumes and effects were incredible. Everyone seemed to get very into it, and it definitely looked and felt like you were there at the Convention of Thorns in 1493.

My character was Leander of Seville, a Brujah elder who was the one who had told the Spanish Inquisition about the existence and nature of vampires in an attempt to destroy his enemies. He obviously hadn't learned from Cersei Lannister when she made the same mistake, as of course once you let something like that out, you can't put it away again. As a result my character had lost his Prince-dom to anarchs and his city was in flames.

I could have played this very politically, focusing on getting allies and taking the city back, but instead, after discussion with other players, I decided to focus on his fall instead. So most of my game was about consequences really, as people began to find out what I had done and began to use that against me. The end result was that my character got tortured for a confession, put on trial (in an incredibly awesome and intense scene), and eventually sentenced to burn at the stake.

This was a pretty unusual style of play for me, as my character became more and more of a passive victim (albeit as a result of his own actions) in what was happening to him, which meant I could totally focus on the emotion and angst of it all. Interesting stuff.


Preaching Gaming Anarchy
Validated User
Right. As said above, this was a very different Vampire experience.
The set was out of this world, with Zamek Ksiaz being a immense structure, built over centuries of rebuilding and expansion. There's a reason why it had been considered to become Hitlers summer estate once the Reich had been consolidated.
Even though a lot of it was in ruins, the scale of it all set you into character in mere moments of entering.

Rulewise, the game was quite simplified, with the cool powers and playing to win taking a backseat to drama and the escalating conflicts.
A simple combat system was in place for duelling, but all other physical conflicts were pre-agreed on.
In this game, there were no secrets. Open characters meant that you could read any character and play out conflicts for the sake of drama rather than skulking around with your secrets for hours and days.

I played Premyslav Aksinin, the Elder Tzimisce who served as Scourge of Pskov, a Russian stronghold of the Old Ways. Yet, in the face of the Anarch Revolt, his Voivode had aligned himself with the most vile of enemies, the usurpers of Clan Tremere.
To my character, a serial diablerist of dozens of Warlocks, embraced solely for war against them, this was nearly unthinkable but he bit his tongue in face of annihilation by the young ones.

During the game, he did as Tzimisce are wont to do, and changed from a chained beast to a fiendish prophet of the beast, railing against the mask of humanity.
He betrayed and challenged his Voivode once it was clear that the Voivode was joining the Camarilla out of fear.
He was cursed by warlocks and lost the duel, his Voivode having no problem with seeking the aid of Tremere.
His torpid form was delivered to the Tremeres who tried to make a Gargoyle of him, only for internal strife to send him raging through the castle in a unmatched fury.

He guided the newly embraced Dracula through his first diablerie along his sire, Lucita d'Aragon, sending the soul of a classmates as well as a ancient Ventrue into the blood of the Son of the Dragon.
Through the mad ravings of Anatole, Premyslav learned of the coming of Gehenna and to the horror of the mad Prophet, the Tzimisce savoured the thought of such an apocalypse.

In whispered conversations, the creature I played tore bits and pieces of humanity from each and every young kindred he encounted.

He stood by the side of his brothers and sisters in the Clan of Shapers when they denounced the Camarilla as weak, forming the Host of Caine as a response.

In the end, he was forced to take the side of Tyler and the Anarch Revolt, due to the presence of a Brujah methuselah who with a single exchange of words pushed him into a future of bloodshed and carnage, just as he desired.

In the end, he gazed upon the Prophet if Gehenna smiling when the Jyhad once more set into motion, two armies of Kindred clashing in the centuries to come.
"And so it begins," the creature smiling said. "And so it begins." Anatole nodded in silent despair.


RPGnet Member
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Sounds incredible. :eek:

Was it all conducted in English, was language much of an issue during the game?
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herder of rampant stories
Validated User
Role-playing studies scholar Sarah Lynne Bowman has written an excellent and very detailed essay about both her experiences as a participant at the Convention of Thorns and general observations about the production from a meta-perspective.

It was just published today, so I'll leave the link to the article here for anyone who's interested.


Validated User
My tuppence (sorry, forgot this thread was here)

The Convention of Thorns was an epic experience, the most ambitious and successful LARP I've ever attended. Held in the beautiful mediaeval Zamek Ksianz near Wroclaw in Poland, the location, costuming (including rental), transport, logistics and play experience was off the charts. This was a LARP with nearly 200 participants, its own piece of classical music composed specially for it, a video and photographic crew wandering around documenting, over 40 invaluable support staff including a crew of NPC's who could be requested for scenes and 4 floors of play space.

I played Avery the Duke of Amber, one half of an monstrous couple, the Duke and Duchess of Amber, joint Princes of Wessex and Mercia, Ventrue Elder and first children of Prince Mithras the near godlike ruler of the British vampires. We represented the ultra conservative Albion wing of the Ventrue Clan- staunch Mithras loyalists (if not outright cultists) they were too old, arrogant, decayed nobility who now existed only to torment each other and to thrill in the hunt for the most dangerous game- younger vampires (though never Ventrue to date). Old age had taken its toll and Avery was falling into the ennui and boredom of life eternal. Still the Convention was the first new concept in Vampiric society for millennia, so Avery had mustered one last burst of energy and activity. As the game progressed it became clear that the Duke embodied the Pride of Mithras but his wife was the Patience of Mithras.(and our sorta ally/advisor Lord Camden was a duplicitous Wormtongue to Mithras)

In many ways we were precisely the sort of monstrous Elders that the Anarchs were revolting against, but we didn't have much of an Anarch problem in London Domain(which we renamed Albion Domain since it covered 5 cities) so much as an ongoing conflict with Ireland Domain which led to some choice conflicts and quotes. We were the creaky old Establishment embodied who challenged Hardestadt for primacy of the Ventrue (ensuring my wife got the throne chair in the Ventrue Clan room to his chagrin. At one point Kjell mentioned that every time Hardestadt tried to build bridges, the Ambers would burn it down behind him). I was happy to play that role as villain and conservative so that the rest of the clan had something to react against and progress beyond. Apparently more than a few of the clan were unnerved by my hungry, constant smile in our meetings that I even went full Heath Ledger on the final night when all the monsters revealed their true face.

I haven't done much Nordic LARP, but I tried to embrace playing to lose (literally, the most suicidal Dominate command ever: "Eva the Red, you have insulted the honour of my wife so I really, really, really want you to fight me right now!" - reasoning Avery was proud, overconfident and none of us walk around with our Duel numbers floating above our characters heads). Heck I was probably the best friend Eva could have had in shoring up her support- telling the Fighting Friar of Fermanagh that "I have met God and His Name was Mithras!", and even pushing away her interrupting lover which led to confrontation with Eva and then seconds later a face off with an outraged Tyler whom I taunted for having failed to kill Hardestadt.

I loved the day play concept - semi-improv LARPing in which you can zoom in on internal questions, crystallise and vocalise quandaries or explore backstories. I had several great scenes (falling from Mithras' trust and confessing a new found sense of fear to a confessor before ripping out his throat) and really enjoyed seeing into other people's stories and backgrounds. Particular thanks to German facilitator Oliver who was great. I also pushed hard for Albion Domain play and managed to even arrange a joint Dublin/London session on the Saturday which gave great insight to each side in the conflict to the others positions and relationships and the internal Domain debates on whether to join the Camarilla. (And the ever-warming memory of Avery condemning Lord Camden as just a "jumped up little grave-robber!" with all the spite and class privelege I could muster- it crystallised the hatred I'd been nursing and led me to later agree to try to assassinate Camden (who very much was like Julius Caesar wandering through the Roman Senate, so many knives were out for him).

Another memorable experience that could only happen at this incredible game was when we basically staged a horror movie on the spooky, ruined 4th floor of the castle- we had 4 blonde peasant girls from the invaluable NPC team fleeing in terror from us and hiding as our hunting party of vampires stalked, tormented and preyed on them. We were horrible, terrible monsters, exulting in our bullying and terrorising, but it was a form of physical play - my movement becoming a loping stalking quite unlike the 2 hour Council debates that had preceded it that proved a LARPing palate cleanser and reminded us about the core horror of vampiric nature. My thanks to the whole team and Miika Saynervita for organising.

One cool out of Clan connection I'd come up with paid off- my characters mortal background was Prince of Wessex (and I'd married Darlene of Mercia and we'd had children) but I spotted that the Brujah Ancilla Gytha of Wessex was also a princess of Wessex from post 1066- and having met Nur on the bus we'd agreed to be related and would recognise the family resemblance when we encountered each other in game. We didn't see each other on the first night. Missed each other on the second night. Then finally we spotted each other in the ballroom on the last night and we had a heartfelt moment of dawning reunion, realising that I had a long lost grand daughter returned to me. Even though she was a Brujah, I admired her strength and ambition to seize the Praxis of Moscow and called her a true heir to Wessex and Nur was fantastic in portraying Gythas heartfelt tumult of emotions at reconnecting with the family she thought long dead still existed and asking to call me 'Father.' It was tender, emotional and unlike much of my more monstrous play.

Denouement came on the last night when as our slowly fraying relationship between my wife and I abruptly tore apart in an argument with Lord Camden who we were casting out of the Ventrue even as he ordered us to bodyguard him from the countless enemies he'd amassed. Suddenly 500 years of repressed married bile rose up between us and we had a shouting match behind the ballroom over past bitterness and mistakes that led to the Duchess (putting Albion first) bodyguarding Camden even as I (putting my hatred of Camden and love for Mithras first) vowed to kill him.

Our last confrontation was proper telenovela melodrama. Lured into the Ventrue clan room by my confederate Gytha, I called Camden a duplicitous snake and was about to rip out his heart when my wife burst through the door and we fought back and forth trading long nursed slights and wrongs till she smote me down, slumped on the Ventrue throne. Gytha, seeing her just-rediscovered grandparents battling emotionally begged the Duchess to spare me,and then fed me her blood to recover. A recovering Camden was about to order my death when Darlene put her foot down, stopping him before he could finish the sentence and demanding that for Albion's sake, neither one of us would die. Having cowed us both, she left, and Gytha turned to me and declared "That is the strongest woman I've ever met. I'm proud to be her daughter!"

After that, Avery was a broken man, like Samson his strength had been shorn away by the woman he'd loved who'd chosen Camden (or loyalty to Mithras) over him so he settled down at the back of the ballroom, watched approvingly as Gytha somehow turn a dance with the Baron of Moscow into the smoothest seizure of power imaginable, and declare herself Prince, and the as the party ended and noise quieted down, he slowly slid into Torpor...

Overall an awesome game- I'd come hoping to play the villain even in a game full of monsters and mostly succeeded from the reactions I got. I experienced such a wide range of emotional and play experiences and always had something to do. The experience was immersive and powerful and I would certainly come back again next year for more of the similar but different. Perhaps a character with a redemption arc this time?
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