Monday, August 4, 2014

Castlefest 2014

Castlefest  is a annual festival combining music, fantasy, cosplay, LARP, games, pagan and Wiccan elements, good foods and drinks and general recreational activities all wrapped up in a big festival in the Keukenhof in Lisse. If you have ever heard of or seen the famous Dutch tulip fields: it’s at that place. The “Castle” part is played by the small castle situated at the center of the Keukenhof park.  

At the invitation of my LFGS Subcultures  I attended Castlefest to host demo and participation games for two days.

We were housed in a massive circus tent big enough to house the Subcultures store twice over. But since Tijn obviously lacked the means and/or the will to transfer his entire store there for the three days of the festival a large chunk of the tent was taken with the demo games, most of which were sold by the store. My games were the odd one out, as they were participation games not sold anywhere, since I largely made them myself. I must have heard the question “Where can I buy this? “ at least a dozen times… Some were disappointed by my answer, some were inspired and the latter category of people most made it worth my while! Quite a few people have visited my blog the last few days to seek more inspiration and ideas.

On Saturday I hosted the Indiana Jones demo, a large 6-player shoot-and-blow-them-up game based on the airplane scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. For four games the very young and the somewhat older and all ages in between had a great, chaotic and violent time trying to make off with the Ark of the Covenant. In one game they battled each other so ferociously, that the game eventually came down to a last Battle To The Death between Dr Wu Manchu and Major Helga of the Thule Kommandos in which they slew each other, leaving no one standing to claim the Ark!

Sundays, which I expected to be a quieter day, I hosted the Ninja Raid game  which as essentially a 1-on-1 game I thought more suitable for the smaller audience. The game especially proved a hit with the local kids running around and one kid must have played it three times at least! I actually lost count of how many times we played, but it must have been at least seven games in which Ninja and samurai fanatically tried to slaughter each other in the attempt to either save or kill the Daimyo. 

One of the more creative Ninja attempts was to simply knock on the garden door and ask for entrance. To my astonishment the samurai guard actually opened the door only to be attacked by two Ninja. While the samurai wasn’t the brightest bulb in the tree, he was a dead hand with a katana and managed to kill one Ninja and raise the alarm before getting himself killed. A bitter and bloody fight ensued in the garden where most Ninja eventually died without having a chance to kill the Daimyo!

It was the first time I hosted participation games at a large festival. While the audience is obviously much more generic than at a games convention there was plenty of interest for my games and I did not want for players. It was hot and there were stinging flies (not usually encountered at a convention) and unfortunately there was a music stage 50 meters away. Despite being called “The Meadows” and “The field of folk” a lot of the performers fell firmly and loudly in the metal category which proved a strain on my ears as well as my voice, since you had to explain the game over the sound of roaring guitars and screaming vocalists. It nearly cost me my voice, but it didn’t spoil the fun though!

I have seen dozens of beautiful people all weekend, many of them in even more beautiful costumes, but the costume that really impressed me was this Armoured Bear straight from the Golden Compass stories! Two people were brave enough to operate it. And with a very humid 28 degrees Celcius this was no picknick!

Below three stalwart Subcrew members on their way to a well deserved lunch break. 

So with tired feet and vocal cords but thoroughly satisfied I returned home on Sunday evening having hosted nearly a dozen games. My sincere thanks to Subcultures and the Sub crew for having and supporting me and  providing me with food and liters of water, to Erin for the delicious fudge, to Madelief for bringing me cold and alcoholic beverages just as I needed them the most and to all the players who made the weekend a success! 

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