Convention of Thorns is a larp (live action role play) event, held at the Polish castle of Zamek Ksiaz. During the event, participants take on the roles of deceitful and decadent vampires at the end of the 15th century.
The larp takes place in White Wolf’s World of Darkness setting and is an official White Wolf event, put together by the Rollespilsfabrikken/Liveform team in cooperation with White Wolf.
In our story, vampires are not only myths, but also very, very real – possessed of strange powers, unnatural desires and inhuman longing. Both less and more than human, they call themselves Kindred and feed off mortals.
So it has been for centuries, but now things are looking grim for the children of the night. At the end of the 15th century, the witch hunters of the Inquisition have purged most of Europe’s vampires, and the fiercely-independant clans have been forced to band together, meeting for the very first Convention in 1486.
Now, seven years later, vampire fights vampire, as this attempt at structuring vampire society has been met with rebellion and conflict, in what is known as the Anarch Revolt.
Now the clan leaders have called for a last, desperate meeting to secure peace among the Kindred. A final attempt to rally and unite the Clans of the unliving before they are destroyed.
Welcome to Convention of Thorns.
As a player at Convention of Thorns, you and more than a hundred and fifty other participants will get to leave reality behind for a few days, so you can step into the world of vampires and experience the following:
- Spend three evenings and nights at the spectacular Zamek Ksiaz castle.
- Explore the decadence of vampire society, and immerse yourself in a world of dangerous parties, shadowy power plays and monstrous cruelty.
- Make new friends and meet larp enthusiasts from all over the world.
- Be involved in scheming and political intrigue in a cutthroat world, where everything happens in the shadows.
- Fight to retain your humanity, or give in to the Beast and unleash the horror within.
- Either rent a high-quality costume from us, or bring your own Renaissance attire.
- Represent your clan in high-stakes negotiations, but remember to further your own personal agenda.
- Take our Vampire Bus from Berlin or travel to the castle on your own.
- Use elegantly simulated supernatural powers to influence arguments, defeat opponents and explore the darker sides of (un)life.
- Step into a world 500 years ago – not as a powerless spectator, but as an active participant with more-than-human powers.
- Have a once-in-a-(non)lifetime adventure, with people who share your hobby.
- Be a vampire in a 13th century castle!
October 11-14, 2018
540€ Fast Falcon /640€ Regular Raven
This includes food and lodging from dinner Thursday to breakfast Sunday. Costume rental from 150€/person is also available.
English. You do not need to have perfect English to play – but please do speak English at all times during the event. You never know who’s watching in the shadows.
To participate, you must be 18+ years old.
You can travel to the castle on your own, or you can take our Vampire Bus from Berlin. You can read more about the bus here on the page.
Convention of Thorns is produced by Dziobak Larp Studios, in cooperation with White Wolf. You can read more about us HERE.
If you are curious about something, don’t hesitate to ask. We’ll do our best to answer you. Write to us at [email protected].
John-Paul Bichard / Przemysław Jendroska
WHAT IS LARP?
Larp (live action role play) is a form of interactive entertainment, where participants dress up in costume and pretend to be their characters.
It’s a bit like improvised theater; everyone knows who they are when it all begins, but there is no script, no lines to read and no audience.
It’s pretend play for adults – a bit like when kids play, except that we have better costumes and create more complex stories together.
A larp can be about anything. It can be about vampires struggling for peace both within and without, about witches and wizards at a magical school or about servants and nobles at an English manor in 1914.
There are larps about prisons, larps about spaceships and larps about pirates. There are larps about love, there are larps about life and there are larps about good and evil.
In short, a larp is a way of creating stories together. Some last a few hours and involve just a few participants, while others last for nearly and week and bring 10,000 people together for a shared fantasy.
WORLD OF DARKNESS
All larps have a setting. Some take place in fantasy worlds populated by orcs and elves, some take place in the world of today, and others are set in the future.
Convention of Thorns takes place in something called the World of Darkness, which is a fictional setting created by the company White Wolf. It’s a lot like the real world, except that vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures actually do exist and influence the world.
In the World of Darkness, the fall of Carthage at the hands of Rome in the 2nd century BC was not just due to Mediterranean politics, but due to a brutal conflict between vampire clans and their human minions.
In this universe, the Inquisition of the Catholic church doesn’t just burn innocent women at the stake for being witches – it also kills vampires using fire and faith.
Our larp takes place in 1493, just after the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbes, and after the Reconquista has driven the Muslims from Spain. Yet, it’s a world in which humans are just pawns to powers greater than themselves – powers that live in the shadows.
In the real world, politics are often boring, slow affairs with a lot of boring talks and a lot of not-really-listening. Mind-numbing, at times. And as anyone knows, many of the real deals are struck in corridors and at parties anyway.
Vampire politics are very different. When vampires meet to discuss, they simply ignore the useless habit of mortals to sit down around big tables and listen to winding speeches. Instead, they cut directly to the social intrigue and whispered deals made in the shadows.
This means that Convention of Thorns is not centered around a series of long meetings where one vampire talks and a hundred listen. Instead, it’s a series of decadent parties where negotiations take place at all hours and in any many of chaotic and organic constellations.
The convention is named for the Abbey of Thorns, where it takes place, and that detail shows a lot about how vampires think. Holding the most important meeting in vampire history on church grounds brings a smile to most inhuman faces. The bottom line is that while the convention is a deadly serious gathering, it’s also a time for revelry and socializing. The idiotic mortal custom of separating politics and parties is frowned upon by the Kindred.
“EXAMINING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MONSTER MADE ME REALISE A LOT OF THINGS ABOUT BEING A HUMAN.”
– MOMO O’ BRIEN, YOUTUBER
NO LONGER HUMAN
At Convention of Thorns, most participants play vampires; supernatural beings who have desires and cravings that no mortal can really understand.
Playing a vampire In the World of Darkness is not just about putting on some pointed teeth and going about your business as if nothing has changed. It’s about portraying a tormented characer with an unnatural mind. Here are some guidelines:
- Vampires are larger than life. Their passions are deeper, they rages are wilder and their vengeance is more brutal. Their lusts are obscure and their morals are twisted.
- Vampires are alone. Mortals find meaning in communities and relationships. Vampires find meaning in survival and power.
- Vampires are ruthless. Betrayal and double-crosses are as natural to a vampire as doubt is to a human.
- Vampires are paranoid. Constant distrust creates a toxic enviroment among the unliving, where trust is scare.
- Vampires have long memories. Humans tend to forget things, and conflicts that were relevant last year sometimes seem silly now. Not so with the Kindred.
- Vampires are not like us. Remember that.
Inside every vampire lurks the Beast – a name given to the dark, monstrous impulses that threaten to take control if the vampire isn’t careful.
When a vampire stops looking at mortals as people, and starts seeing them as food, it’s the Beast speaking.
When a vampire starts ignoring the niceties of society and commits unspeakable actions, it’s the Beast rearing its head.
When a vampire finally gives in and surrenders her humanity completely, she becomes little more than an animal, and the Beast wins.
As mortals struggle with the concept of their own mortality, vampires struggle with the concept of the Beast.
Some choose not to think about it, while never completely forgetting that it’s there, tempting them at every turn.
Others give in to it at times, but remain in control most of the time, always fearing that they are slipping deeper down the dark path.
No one defeats the Beast. But many try.
DECADENCE AND BLOOD
The shadowy realms of Kindred society are a world apart. While mortal decadence is often about material posessions, vampiric pleasure is more often derived from projecting power.
Convention of Thorns is a larp for adults, and while we’re all playing pretend, some of the play can get dark and visually disgusting.
It is perfectly possible to enter a room where a group of vampires are drinking each other’s blood to strengthen their bond, and while no one (of course!) drinks actual blood, it may look ghastly and cruel to the outside observer.
Nakedness, simulated violence and rough social games are also possible elements of the experience. We are strong believers in creating safe spaces, where it is possible to easily opt out of scenes, but we also believe in leaving participants room to play out actions that would be considered wrong in their daily life.
This is a larp where politics, power and intrigue go hand in hand with powerful emotions, physical play and personal horror.
We do not want this to be just a journey in time, but also to another world – where vampires are more than just humans with fangs.
PLAYING A NEONATE
Neonates are the youngest vampires, though not necessarily the least powerful. They have become vampires only recently (few have been embraced into unlife more than a hundred years ago), and are not yet completely used to Kindred society.
Some hold on to their humanity as a shield, while others wallow in debauchery and sin. Whatever the character of the vampire in question, Neonates all have one thing in common; they’re the new kids on the block.
PLAYING AN ANCILLA
Ancillae are no longer Neonates, but neither are they Elders. They are no longer wet behind the ears, and have amassed both power, reputation and an understanding of how vampire society works.
As an Ancilla, it’s a constant struggle being sandwiched between the young Neonates trying to push upwards and the Elders trying to squash ambitions from above.
The (un)life of an Ancilla is not an easy one.
PLAYING AN ELDER
Elders are often hundreds of years old; crafty, powerful and always scheming. They are also paranoid, powerhungry and so used to intrigues that gaining their trust is very hard.
Some Elders still cling to their humanity, but most have long since decided that the Beast inside has its uses, and that morals are something that can be thrown off like clothes if the situation calls for it. Elders are the movers and shakers of Kindred society, but they are also the ones with the most to lose.
Eberhart von Hohenzollern
(Played at CoT1 by Leo Kristine)
(Played at CoT1 by Frida Selvén)
(Played at CoT1 Anders Edgar)
PLAYING A METHUSELAH
Ancient and extremely powerful, the Methuselahs are shadowy beings who have lost all touch with their human side. Most of them live in hiding, since younger vampires lust for their potent blood whenever they surface.
No Methuselahs are officially present at Convention of Thorns, but some walk among the lesser vampires cloaked in secrecy and direct events through underlings – who may not even be aware that they’re being steered.
NPC CHARACTERS: GHOULS
Ghouls are mortal servants that are bound to their vampire masters by blood bonds. They are significantly more powerful than ordinary humans, but are still nothing compared to the Kindred.
At Convention of Thorns, Ghoul characters are not only played by participants, but also by organizers and helpers, who need to be able to move around unhindered. It is also the Ghouls who serve the (bloody) drinks, move the furniture and fix practical problems.
THE DESIGN DOCUMENT
The Design Document is a PDF containing information about the larp. It details how to play, how the characters function, how practical issue are solved and much more.
It’s a living document, which means that it’s constantly being updated and revised. Don’t worry – you don’t need to read everything in it!
If you have questions for the DD, you are more than welcome to write to us with them. Just write to [email protected]
NOT A HISTORICAL LARP
Convention of Thorns takes place in 1493, but it is not meant to be a historical re-enactment. After all, vampires exist in this version of the world, and that fact is significantly more important than whether a costume piece belongs in the 1490’s or the 1600’s.
For participants, this means a couple of things:
- Gender roles are not historical. The larp is accessible to both players of all genders and vampires of all genders. Once you’ve cheated death, certain things matter less!
- This is a larp about intrigue, not history. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know a lot about European history in the 15th century! The important thing is what happens at the larp – not what happened in reality.
- Be tolerant of historical mistakes. If someone talks about Spain, even though Spain at the time is technically two kingdoms (Castille and Aragon) linked by marriage, it’s ok. We’re not here to lecture each other, but to play together.
- Playabilty comes first. Not only does the larp draw on historical facts – it also draws on “historical facts” from the World of Darkness fiction. Don’t worry too much about it – in the end, the important thing is that the larp is interesting to play, even if we get a few details wrong!
THE YEAR 1493
Even thought this isn’t a historical reenactment larp, we’re still very interested in using real world history as part of the larp.
In 1492, the Torah, holy book of the Jews, is printed for the first time, and in Rome, the infamous Rodrigo Borgia is elected Pope by a unanimous vote. The Moors have just been driven out of Granada, and the kingdom of Aragon has expelled Jews from eastern Spain and Sicily. Columbus has just returned from his voyage to America, and a new world has been opened up to Christian Europeans.
For the Kindred, this is a time of darkness and desperation. The Catholic Inquistion has been incredibly succesful in hunting down the unliving, and their stakes and bonfires have claimed the Final Death of 3/4 of the vampires.
It is a time of desperation and fear among the powerful elders of the night. Some say that the only thing keeping the Inquistion just somewhat at bay is that the Catholic church is heavily infiltrated by clan Lasombra. Others believe that the Lasombra are using the Inquistion as a tool to strike at their enemies.
Whatever the vampires present at the Convention might believe, they know that the next few days will shape the centuries to come.
Nordic larp is a term used to describe a school of larp game design that emerged in the Nordic countries.
Here are three common ideals for Nordic larps:
Immersion. Nordic larpers want to feel like they are “really there”. This includes creating a truly convincing illusion of physically being in a medieval village/on a space ship/WWII bunker, playing a character that is very close to your own physical appearance, as well as focusing on getting under the character’s skin to “feel their feelings”.
Collaboration. Nordic-style larp is about creating an exciting and emotionally affecting story together, not measuring your strength. There is no winning, and many players intentionally let their characters fail in their objectives to create more interesting stories.
Artistic vision. Many Nordic games are intended as more than entertainment – they make artistic or even political statements. The goal in these games is to affect the players long term, to perhaps change the way they see themselves or how they act in society.
Paraphrased from nordiclarp.org.
GETTING TO THE CASTLE
There are two ways to get to the location.
The first is easy; you just get there yourself. The address is:
Zamek Ksiaz, Piastów Śląskich 1
58-306 Wałbrzych, Poland
The second way to get there is taking our bus from Berlin. It leaves from Berlin-Tegel airport at 9.30 on Thursday, and goes via Berlin-Schonefeld airport, where it leaves at 11.00. It arrives at the larp location around 15.00.
On Sunday, the bus goes back to Berlin, leaving Zamek Ksiaz at 10.00. It reaches Berlin-Schonefeld around 14.00, and Berlin-Tegel at 15.30, so plan your flights accordingly.
Bus tickets will be available when we get closer to the larp. For questions, mail to Boruta, our Bus Boss at [email protected].
And don’t worry – there’s space for everyone!
If you need help with travel plans, feel free to contact us. We’ve helped quite a few people get to Poland before, so we’re up for the challenge!
EATING & SLEEPING
Since the larp is about vampires who can’t tolerate the rays of the sun, most of the larp is played during the evenings and early hours of the night. This also means that we have the castle to ourselves during peak play hours, and are not bothered by tourists at all, since we use parts of the castle they’re not in during the day.
It also means that we can solve issues like sleeping and eating elegantly, even though vampires have need for neither sleep nor food.
Sleeping is done in nearby hotels, and all meals are eaten there. There is of course food available during the larp in an offgame area. Lodging and all meals are included in the price.
Most of the action at Convention of Thorns goes on during the evenings and the night. This doesn’t mean that we spend the days sleeping, though! Every day, before the parties and negotiations start, we do play out scenes in smaller groups, as preparation for the nightly play. The reason we use the time like this is because some scenes work much better as Day Play scenes than during the evening.
RULES & MECHANICS
Though Convention of Thorns takes place in the same world as Vampire: the Masquerade, and the many larps using popular rules systems designed for VtM larps, we use our own rules.
Our mechanics and rules are custom-made for this larp, and are there to support the kind of play experience we want you to have. This means that while we may use terms and ideas familiar to many VtM players, we will use them in ways that are unique to this larp.
At Convention of Thorns, we try to keep the mechanics simple and elegant. If you’re an experienced VtM player, this may be very different than what you’re used to, but it also means that if you’re completely new, don’t worry. Simplicity is our design watchword! 😉
In general, the mechanics we use are there to help us create a dramatic feeling of cuthroat vampire politics and power struggles in the 15th century – including rules for combat, use of vampiric powers and safety rules.
The mechanics for the larp are presented in the Design Document, and also at the larp itself, on location.
A RICH & DETAILED WORLD
The World of Darkness setting came into being around 25 years ago, with the publishing of the storytelling game Vampire: the Masquerade. Since then, that world has gone through revisions, expansions and events both big and small. The lore about the world has grown from a couple of chapters in a book to a whole library on its own.
Naturally, Convention of Thorns draws on this lore, but since it is a “what-if” scenario placed within a fictional world, we have quite a bit of creative discretion to play around with. After all, who knows what really happened in 1493 in that imaginary world of lies and half-truths?
The important thing is that the world and its detail are something we use to make the live feel more alive, not something we use to lock ourselves into storytelling cages. The larp is meant to be a dramatic exploration of an immensely important event in the history of the World of Darkness, not a competition of “ACTUALLY…” round-table discussions.
In the end, the larp is the larp, and no matter what happens there, it doesn’t change the lore of the setting. Even if the Camarilla isn’t formed, and it all ends in (unliving) blood being spilled, it won’t affect the OWoD universe.
With that said, we’re looking forward to play!
If you wish to cover the event, write a mail to us and we’ll talk about possibilities. Since Convention of Thorns takes place in 1493, we do our best to keep film crews and photographers to the minimum necessary to create meaningful visual documentation.
This doesn’t mean that you’re not welcome as a journalist, or can do a story about our event – it just means that we need to discuss the practical side of things.
To make it easy for you, we have provided you with a little practical information:
Convention of Thorns
Zamek Ksiaz, Poland
October 11-14, 2018
Dziobak Larp Studios
with support from White Wolf
Press Contact, Organiser Team
Dziobak Studio Sales and Media
Press Contact, White Wolf
OTHER LARP PROJECTS
The team behind Convention of Thorns does other larps as well. Some are large and some are small, but here you are a couple of the other things we’re currently working on. You can also read more on dziobak.studio.
College of Wizardry
A 140-person larp about a magical school for witches and wizards.
A 135-person larp about life at a grand English manor during the First World War.
Gangs of Birmingham
An international role playing event, set in an alternative version of Birmingham in 1920, a time that gave rise to social movements seeking to end the injustice of social hierarchy.
We also do projects with a local scope in several countries, but these are international events, aimed at an English-speaking audience.
Questions? Write to us at [email protected].