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These are the ramblings of Matthijs Kooijman, concerning the software he hacks on, hobbies he has and occasionally his personal life.

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Dummnoni Celtwood I

The second LARP event I've ever been to, was Dummnoni Destiny V. Not only did I have a wonderful time there, but later I came to realize that Dummnoni events are fundamentally different from every other LARP I have played or organised so far. The last time I've played at Dummnoni was three or four years back, since every event since then was either too expensive or was held at the wrong weekends...

Last weekend, a new Dummnoni event was held: Celtwood. Unfortunately I had to skip my mother's birthday for this, but this was too good a chance to let go. Finally, after years of absence, my character Maddox of the Dummnoni, was again present among the heroes of the realm. Celtwood is set in the realm of the Menapi, the Nervi and the Usipeti, three of the clans of Faerie. Every year these three clans hold a great contest, to decide who is the most honorful clan. This contest is the center of Celtwood.

Maddox, together with his wife Tegwen (played by Brenda), were asked by queen Athea herself to accompany a group of Arkeesh and old friends to go these games to investigate a bad omen seen by the queens druid.


Fridaynight

Friday started out with putting up tents, putting on costumes and then some of waiting. It was around 9 before the opening briefing started and not until 10 (IIRC) until we actually went time in. Still, since Dummnoni is an event that values ambience above all, well before time in the time in terrain was littered with tent camps, their fires, and well-dressed people, making the waiting not so bad at all.

After time in, we started outside the camp area, finishing the last part of our travel to the camp. On our way there, we encountered two evil creatures, on of whom we learned to be Kailyn (How to spell?), or "the sea hag". She was apparently leading a Fomor attack on the camp, since we also encountered two Usipeti that came searching for help against the Fomor. When we hasted to get there, however, the Fomor were already dead.

It turned out that the games were lead by one of the Fae folk, one of the unseely by night and one of the seely by day. After making our introductions to the Pooka, the unseely mistress of the contest, we visited all three clans for introductions and information. Then, we set up camp near the Menapi and got ourself comfortable.

The evening was quiet. A few rangers showed us where the shrines in this area were located: One for Anu, one for Danu and on for Domnu. Finally the games that would by held for the contest were foretold by "the future king" (not sure who that guy was..). The games that would be held were (from the top of my head, please comment if I missed any): Treasure hunt, log throwing, cooking and firebuilding, rope pulling, storytelling, archery, mud wrestling, flaming, riddles, two men running, banner battle, battle to the death. The last one was apparently unexpected by the woman reading the bones thrown by the future king (he threw the bones once more, after the final game was foretold) and another contest was added by Puka personally: A kissing contest.

Saturday

Saturday started out very nice: The Arkeesh players whose camp we were sharing had brought not only two nice in character tents, but also in character cooking gear. So, instead of just munching on our own (also very in character looking) fruit bread, we had pancakes and tea with that, both made on the campfire.

Treasure hunt

We started out with a round past all shrines, to pay our respects to the gods. We returned just in time for the start of the first game: Treasure hunt. By now, a fourth clan had entered the contest: The Sangui (spelling?) or Blood Nervi. They were a group of former Nervi who had been cast out from their clan, for reasons that were surrounded with rumours.

For this treasure hunt, four bags were placed in the forest, one for each paricipating clan, containing a number of gems. There were three different colours of gem and a set of all three colours would earn a point. During the day, the contesting clans could roam the forest in search of bags, or perhaps guard their own bags. Later during the day, the judges would check the contents of each bag and only the gems present in the bags at that (unknown) time would could towards the score. This means the only way to earn points is to put the collected gems in the bags, where they might be looted again.

I spent quite some time during the day scouting around the terrain, to get a feeling for where I could find what and to see if I could refind the site at which we encountered the sea hag the night before. While I was at this, I could also keep an eye out for the treasure hunt bags. From observing people walking through the forest, I have tried to guess a few locations for the bags, without succes. We did find one, by accident, but it was empty.

Throughout the day, different games were held with the Usipeti (the trader clan) taking the lead (except for games such as mud wrestling or rope pulling). The four participating clans were allowed to ask the non-participating clans (ie, us) to participate in one of their games for them (perhaps for payment). In the end, none of us did so (though I think the Norsk helped the Nervi out with some games), we were content with watching the games.

Attacks

Later during the day, some fomor were spotted and a number of warriors set out to destroy them. Eager to help out, Maddox ran to camp and quickly put on his armour. At the same time, I have proven that armour is the best way to protect you from combat, especially when it takes you five minutes to put it on. So, when we finally caught up with the others, all fomor had been slain already. Still, we brought two of the Arkeesh healers, something the fighters had not thought about.

The fomor were carrying warmaps, that indicated three warbands of fomor attacking in the near feature. While people prepared for these attacks, the games continued (even during dinner with the riddle and flaming contests). The druids consulted the gods (through the throwing of bones, I think) what should happen. The druids decreed that our people should be divided into three groups, each intercepting one of the three fomor groups.

After dinner, the dispute between the Sangui and the Nervi peaked, resulting in the total wipeout of the Sangui. On top of that, the Pooka insisted on finishing the contest with the battle to the death, which lost us another (or probably 2?) valuable warrior.

Shortly thereafter, there was some confusion about how the decree of the gods should be interpreted. Some stated that the contest pit should be protected as well as the fomor intercepted and the Norsk, this not being their own lands, did not want to just follow anyone to their deaths. After some time of discussion, a battle plan was made. The Menapi, the Nervi and the Usipeti would each form a group, where the small group of (five) Nervi would be reenforced by the Arkeesh and the Dummnoni (ie, us). Dana, clanleader of the Arkeesh asked the Norsk to help out too, but they would only help out the Nervi if they would simply ask them to do so. The Nervi on the other hand, were too stubborn and battle-ready and charged into the forest, alone.

We then asked the Norsk to accompany us instead of the Nervi, which they (fortunately) accepted. We went into the woods towards the shrine of Domnu, which we would be protecting. Since there were no real scouts present, myself (being a smith above all) assumed the role of scout together with a bard of the Menapi (though wearing chainmail and scouting is not really a good combination...). Halfway there, we received news about another group gone missing, so we had to split up. While we were trying to split up (which proved quite unsuccesful, since we simply had too few warrios), we encountered the Menapi, who had been at the Domnu shrine for blessings.

The Norsk were then sent to the Domnu shrine to defend it, while we accompanied the Menapi past the Danu shrine to the Anu shrine, to receive blessings from all three gods. Once there, we took positions to lay an ambush on the fomor warparty that was expected to pass through there. We did not have to wait too long...

Slaughter in the dark

Not so much later, we sprang a somewhat succesful ambush onto the fomor passing by. We killed the largest part of the group and managed to chase and slay the rest, although at the price of wounded warriors. I myself managed to keep clear of most hits, though I did get surprised by a troll of some sort halfway the battle.

Somewhere at the end of this battle, somebody lost his glasses somewhere. I gave the people that were searching with a candle my small maglite and ran off to my OC tent to get my real maglite. While I was there, I made a small detour past the toilets, since I feared all my efforts would lead to serious dehydration if I wouldn't get some water (again, running in chainmail is not recommended, but you gotta do something to save the world ;-p). I also asked the NPC's there to bring some bottles of water (not sure if that actually worked out, though).

When I got back, the glasses were already found, but the maglite still came in handy for searching for some other lost items. I left it there, while catching up with the group. I originally planned to get back to the camp, but I decided to follow our friends anyway. Once we got closer to our goal (drumming sounds in the distance) we met a few Usipeti, that told us they were the last ones remaining and that all others were slaughtered. They returned to camp, while we continued. When we were nearly there, we met the Norsk, who fortunately did not die out there. Together we took on the drummer there, but we were to late to prevent the Ancient Fomor from rising.

The warrior, the druid and the smith

The ancient fomor was a fearful creature, immune to our weapons and attacks. The Tuatha Dé Danann that had been accompanying us so far told us the only way to kill it was to get a sword blessed at all three shrines, while sharpening it with a whetstone at the same time. And, the sword must have touched the ancient before all this, or it would not work.

Me being a smith, I had a whetstone on me at all times. At first I proclaimed I would not take the whetstone, since I had been doing enough already, but as soon as one of Norsk warriors (What was his name again?) volunteerd his sword and a druid of the Norsk, Raven (what was her Norsk name again?), was found to do the actual blessing, I had to prevent them from getting terribly lost in the woods, so I went along with them anyway.

The way past the shrines was not quite easy, having to dodge Fomor and with the Ancient on our tails. The three of us made haste past all the shrines, half carrying Raven, since she had suffered wounds already. This is where the treasure hunt in the day especially payed off, since I now knew a back way to the last shrine. Since by then, most of our friends had retreated into the camp (at least I think so), the woods were again crowded with Fomor and this back way saved us from merciless death.

At the last shrine, we were assaulted by two more Fomor, which the Norsk warrior held off (using my sword) while Raven and Maddox were blessing his sword. Raven followed Norsk traditions for sword blessing and spilled her own blood as sacrifice to the gods, as she had done at the other two shrines. This time however, she did not cut her arm, but her own throat. My attempts to stop her came too late and any concerns I might have for her after she sunk to the ground had to wait until after the two of us destroyed our attackers.

I quickly put the one bandage I had been carrying all the time around her heavily bleading neck, to postpone her final breath long enough to get Raven back to camp and to the healers. Together with the Norsk, we carried her through the woods, back to camp. With only four hundred feet left to go, we both realised there were at least three Fomor on the road between us and camp. All of us (including the Fomor) stood there, silent, for at least 20 seconds, without a clue as to what to do next.

We opted for the only thing that we could do: put Raven down and fight the Fomor. After a minute of unsuccesful fighting, we had to admit that continuing this would get us all three killed and, more importantly, would mean the blessed sword would never reach camp. So, we then had to make a tough decision: We abandoned Raven in the woods and ran for camp, only to be intercepted by the Ancient halfway there. By now, we were within shouting range, so quickly there arrived reinforcements.

Thinking we had won this battle and the ancient would soon be dead, fate took yet another turn: The Ancient used a mindinfluencing spell to force the Norsk to throw his sword away, making us once again defenceless against it. Not only that, but the Ancient had also used a spell on Maddox to make him attack the Norsk warrior, which was now without a sword. Fortunately for both, another warrior appeared and knocked me out, so the spell could wear off without further ill effects.

When I recovered consciousness some time later and I did no longer hear any Fomor strolling around me, I got up and searched for Raven and the blessed sword. I found neither, so I hoped the others would have taken them both and killed the ancient. As soon as I walked into the camp, I was proven wrong: The Ancient was still rampaging around, attacking people and nobody had any idea where (or what at all) the blessed sword was. The Norsk warrior himself finally told me where his sword was: In the hands of the Ancient himself.

While making people understand that the sword in the Ancient's hands was the only way to kill it ("You mean we need to take the sword? - It's the only way! - Your nuts! - Well, we'll have to do something!"), Pooka decided to help us out a little by putting her magic to healing our fallen (but don't tell anybody! She's not proud of having actually helped people). Finally, in a desperate attempt, the ancient was forced to the ground simply by people walking into it and the Norsk managed to retrieve his sword and killed the beast.

Now the beast was finally killed, people collapsed, sat to the ground and shared some water. Everyone who was still alive was exhausted and had probably lost a lot of people he or she cared for. We shared on campfire with all the survivors (where we had 4 fires on the previous night) and sang songs for our fallen, told tales and drank mead to honour the brave men and women of the night.

Sunday

Sunday was hoped to be uneventful, but there were still some issues to attend to. Firstly, the contest was not yet finished: A winner was not yet proclaimed. Instead of the fairy that had led the games during the previous day, Titania, queen of the seely fairies herself appeared to finish the contests. The Usipeti had by far the most points and earned the contest: They could select a champion to travel to the Stone of Destiny and be a potential successor to the throne of the free races, which Queen Athea of the Dummnoni now occupied.

The Usipeti put forward their champion, Eli, who they thought of as a steady and vast ruler for the lands of the free races. Eli selected four companions to travel with him to the Stone of Destiny. In the ritual that followed, all five travelers were given the magical woads of the fairy queen, to protect them. Also, this ritual was meant to make the wyrd energy contained in the contest area flow back into the land of fairy. Unfortunately, this last effect was not obtained, as apparently the sea hag managed to redirect the wyrd energy to herself. This draining of wyrd energy, hurt queen Titania herself, making her ill and weak.

Her servants rushed us to get out into the wood and find and destroy the source of the disturbance. This we did, but their numbers were greater than we had hoped for. They did not outnumber us, but our warriors were few, tired and wounded. We managed to defeat the Fomor there, but at the cost of losing four of our friends and heroes: Dana, clan leader of the Arkeesh, Owyn McDare, bard of the Arkeesh, Connal the brave, bard of the Menapi, and 'the bear', one of the Norsk warriors (Who know's his real name?).

After carrying our dead back to camp (real OC carrying of course, as should be on Dummnoni), there was a very mournful mood. We had been victorious, but nobody felt any joy as we completed the last part of the ritual and sent Eli and his companions along towards the Stone of Destiny.

And so ends my first Dummnoni in years. But, it has been worth it, I nearly forgot how I loved playing there. It left me physically devastated (even now, two days later, I can still feel the exhaustion in my limbs) but content. Next year, Destiny IX!

 
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