Welcome to the Strangehaven blog. This site has been set up for the benefit of Strangehaven players to keep them up to date on all that is happening with and around the Strangehaven LARP events. The site will be regularly updated with information about background, story, rules, characters, news, reminders, answers to various questions and anything else we think might interest players. So if you decide to play please check back regularly, bookmark us and feel free to use the comment function on any post. Many thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.

Andy, Heather, Julie and Richard

Dust - Costume Examples

The Shard of Dust was always a dry, arid, desolate land, scorched under Arak's unrelenting insane fury, or so the one time priests of the One True God would say. A dry and sun blasted land, the known areas of Dust boast sand aplenty, with crisp arid mountain ranges poking through the deserts and clusters of oases, holding the precious water of life. To help those new to Shards, we've pulled together a few examples of costumes worn by players, representing characters past and present who originate from Dust. This is intended as a guide and a starting point only, to help inspire you to create your character's own unique look.

After the Shards fused to form the new world, Dust along with all of the Shards was changed forever, but with the sands only now beginning to settle, how far those changes go on Dust have yet to be seen. With Arak dead, his temples sacked and his wealth redistributed to those strong enough to hold it, a political storm driven by commerce has washed over the populated towns found clustered around the oases. Here money is everything in this godless land, slavery is the norm and theft is a legitimate business tactic - provided you don't get caught. Meanwhile, far out in the deepest desert, this vast continent's people can only speculate at the changes wrought by the fusing of the Shards.

Dust Native Populations
The Shard of Dust was traditionally home to people suited to desert living, with the majority of the population living in towns clustered around oases such as the Tears of Nia. Trade between settlements relied on caravans which would track slowly across the ever shifting sands, following well established trade routes. Only the hardiest or most desparate would attempt to survive in the deepest deserts, where the sands, djinn and efreet combine to make travel extremely hazardous hampering any exploration effort.

Traditional dress on Dust is suited to this land's dry, arid, sand blasted place suffering temperature extremes of baking heat by day and freezing cold nights, as a result it's people's favoured style of dress is not disimilar to those worn on Earth in similar desert lands.

Head scarves and coverings such as turbans are popular, with loose folds which can be drawn across the face to protect it from the sun and sand. In the towns, merchants might favour a hat such as a fez as an alternative. Clothing consists of loose robes worn over long, ankle length shirts such as dishdasha, or a shorter shirt worn over baggy trousers. Shawls, wraps and cloaks may also be used at night for warmth. Belts are simple cords, with leather belts popular to hold pouches, purses and of course weapons.

In the traditional and more conservative settlements, Dust womenfolk cover their faces in the company of unrelated men and dress modestly so as not to draw the eye. However, dependent on occupation, some women might expose areas of flesh such as their midriff and arms, cladding themselves in layers of thin, near transparent fabrics so that they pay lip service to the need to be covered.

Prosperity is everything on Dust and its people are not shy in displaying the signs of their wealth, with both men and women wearing lots of jewellery, rings, bracelets, bangles, gold collars, necklaces medallions and earrings if they can afford them. Gunpowder weapons are not normally used on Dust, so they mainly arm themselves with swords, curving blades such as scimitars if available, bows, crossbows, knives, and bag full of coins somehow slightly smaller than they should be.

Slaves are part of the culture on Dust and are dressed to the whim of their masters. Those who are favoured vassels may be dressed to the same standard as their masters and mistresses, but those who are more lowly may dress in any rags they can find.

Photos left to right - Dust artisan, Dust Warrior, Dust Artisan.

Photos left to right - Dust Traders with slave, Deep desert dweller.

New Whitewater
In the years following the Union of the Shards, the Guild Council of Whitewater, Archipelago, made the decision to relocate their headquarters to Dust. Consequently, the Guilds, along with their subsiduaries and support personnel began the arduous task of choosing a new location to act as the centre for their operations, eventually settling on Dust. New Whitewater is now a bustling Guild Town, run along the same lines as Whitewater used to be before it returned to its piratical origins. The Guilds are full of optimism for the future, talking of expansion and opportunity in this new world, where the Guilds will continue to grow from strength to strength.

Due to the recent relocation of their primary Guildhouses, the flavour of this town and those who dwell here is still very much Archipelagan in appearance. However, the majority of the Guilds have always been cross-Shard organisations, with business interests stretching across the known world and touching on every culture where their own brand of capitalism is welcome. Consequently, Guildsmen and those who work alongside the Guilds may reflect any people or culture from anywhere in the known world. Then of course, there is the effect of the ever present desert and its shifting sands; fashions suited to the wet Archipelagan climate are less than ideal, so the always enterprising Guilds folk are starting to incorporate local dress and customs into theirs where there is an obvious benefit in doing so.

Photos left to right : Butchers Guild member, Carvers Guild Member, Local Guild employee.

This is intended as a guide and a starting point only, to inspire you to create your own character's look.

For more photographs of character costume, past and present please visit the Shards wiki.

Shards - Campaign Update (April 2007)

We'll be aiming to bring you regular updates on the main Shards campaign in this blog. Shardwide events may not always be relevant to the Strangehaven setting, but these updates comprise background knowledge for those at large within the Shards world. It is left to a player's discretion to decide if their character is privy to this knowledge or not, depending on your character's background or involvement in Shardswide events.

April Campaign Update in Brief...

The Holy Empire’s Iron Fist is now making Salem a place of fear and darkness.

Forsaken [Bloodline Living Dead] have started raiding Beggars Roost. The Argent Dawn has been called to help.

Wolfen [Bloodline Werewolves and bloodhounds] are massing throughout the Black Forest of Salem.

A power struggle within the Holy Salem Empire is rumoured together with secret political alliances within the Empire.

Anything which is different is now being listed by Holy Salem Empire as the Spawn of Chaos.

A King’s Ransom is being offered by the Empire for the true location of Beggars Roost.

The Crimson Brotherhood fleet have been spotted off the western coast of Salem.

Von Dumas has been a virtual recluse in his fortified City State of Latveria, and one can only guess what he has been planning perched high on his iron throne.

Concentration camps throughout Salem, are being built for everyone who is different including Faeries, Hybrids and true Bloodlines.

Magus is gathering hybrids around him and has formed the League of Freedom. These vow to fight for the rights of superior humanoids.

The Saviours continue to try and rescue those who are ‘gifted’.

The mysterious portals from beyond have being continuing to appear and disappear across the known world, the latest one has been spotted in Salem.

Librarian Arturo has vanished; Governor Lucius Osborne has asked all active members of the Silver Sabre Society to gather at Beggars Roost.

An Archaeological dig, dating back to the time of the Alfar has been found. Could this have been one of Athlon’s Seven Arcane Towers?

Savage Murders of Hybrids and Bloodline gifted have occurred, each victim was found nailed to a tree with the letter R cut deep into their chest.

Faerie Hive Mind is still reeling from the attack at the last event - the source of which is rumoured to be from Salem. Who or what was behind it?

Pirates, Freebooters and Buccaneers are rumoured to be searching for The Legendary Wytch Compass an ancient artefact predating the shattering. It is said that no treasure is hidden from the Wytch Compass.

Taken from the Campaign Update released for the Shards core event: A Star in the Darkness (4th - 7th May 2007).

Archipelago - Costume Examples

The islands forming Archipelago are homes to many different people, each with their own unique cultures and style of dress. To help those new to Shards, we've pulled together a few examples of costumes worn by players past and present for characters originating from Archipelago. This is intended as a guide and a starting point only, to inspire you to create your own character's look.

Archipelago, as the name suggests is a region made up of a range of small islands, with one of the larger collection of isles being The Confederacy. A constant thorn in the Confederacy's side is the Rat Run, a haven for Pirates, named for its difficult waters which make it difficult to navigate and fatal during the winter. At the end of the Rat Run is Whitewater Isle, the site of a Pirate Town, currently the domain of the Crimson Brotherhood and the Triads. Heading North, you will find the remains of the Fenris Isles and a few scattered remnants of islands once part of the proud Jade Empire, nestled up against the vast continent of Union. The Court of the Water Dragon can be found here, pulling together the resources of the former Jade Empire, refugees from Whitewater, the Five Thunders and anyone interested in free commerce.

Pirates, Whitewater and the Rat Run

The 'Pirate' look is universal and of course, those who are dressed in a typically piratical fashion are not necessarily 'pirates' in the true sense of the word. Those who might dress in a style reminiscent of pirates are often legitimate merchant sailors, privateers and self made men as well as genuine Pirates.

A couple of pictures of typical Pirates are illustrated below. At its most basic, a pair of loose trousers or breeches, a large oversize shirt and a sock hat or bandanna will give you the proper nautical look. From there you can add a tri-corn hat, eye patch, frock coat, bucket boots, long waistcoat, lots of black powder pistols, cutlass, frilly shirt, hook, peg leg and even a parrot - provided you have a suitable physrep of course.

Photos from left to right: Pirate Captain, Pirates Mates, Privateer Captain.

The Confederacy Isles, Port Rabel, Port of Saints
The Confederacy Isles are and always have been a bastion of commerce and trade, with each island having a Governor who together co-operate to form the Confederacy. The capital of the Confederacy is Port Rabel, with another well known port being the Port of Saints. Costume is typified by late 18th Century European fashions, but ex-patriots of other Shards can also be found here, drawn by the opportunities presented by the Conferacy's bustling shipping network.

Fashions currently favoured vary widely, but appearance is governed by chosen profession and background. Typically, those who can afford it would opt for frilly, ostentatious shirts, coats dripping buttons, piping and trim and full length, fitted dresses for ladies of fashion. Wigs are always an option for formal occasions, whilst breeches and stockings are still popular amongst some islands gentlemen. The common man or soldier might favour trousers or perhaps a Napoleonic style jacket if they can afford it. The lowest classes and working folk will of course wear whatever they can lay their hands on.

Photo's below left to right: Rich Merchant, Noble Lady, Noble Adventurer.

Soldiers, Military, and others from the Confedaracy
Photo's from left right, Soldier, Major, Naval Officer, Navigator

Fenris Isles
The Fenris Isles were lost along with their entire populations over fourteen years ago (Shards Time) and those that remain have relocated to the islands closest to Union or are seeking what fortune they can on the high seas. The people of the Fenris Isles and their remaining displaced population are not dissimilar to Vikings or ancient Norse of Earth history. Their menfolk typically favour big beards, furs, pelts, belts, pouches, drinking horns, coloured shirts, cross-strapped leggings or trews with leather vambraces and armour when combat is expected. Their weapons of choice are axes, spears and large round or oval shields. Women favour loose fitting dresses or long tunics worn over trews and belted at the waist.

The Court of the Water Dragon
The Court of the Water Dragon is another center for free commerce, where people from all Shards can come together to make a profit with minimal interference from the authorities or the ubiquitous red tape seen in either Guild Towns or the Conferacy Isles. There is a heavy Thunders influence within the Court, with Triad links rumoured, but provided you bring in a profit, people of all races and Shardic origins are welcome here.

The Oriental peoples who have set up home here dress in style of historical Chinese peasants, loose fitting Mandarin style jackets, kimono’s, karate Gi, pajama style trousers with Chinese style peasant straw hats.

For more photographs of character costume past and present, please visit the Shards wiki.

Costume - The Basics

The Strangehaven setting is a fully integrated part of the Shards world background and players may choose to play characters who are from anywhere in the Shards world.

Shards (and Strangehaven), is a high fantasy setting with each region in the Shards representing a selection of different peoples which roughly mirror similar cultures which may have been found at various periods throughout Earth history while also incorporating an element of fantasy, myth and legend. Dependent on a character's Shard (or continent) of origin, cultural influences and any twists either introduced in play or written into your background, you should choose your costume to reflect the personality and background of the character you are playing.

Obviously, if you look like the type of character you are playing, NPCs and other player characters are more likely to react accordingly, which can make portraying the character a lot easier. How far you as a player go in achieving your character's look is left entirely to your discretion but if you do need specific advice please contact us as to what is or is not appropriate.

Some very basic tips for those new to costuming for a LARP event are...
  • Invest in a simple cotton shirt, in either white or black and a pair of black trousers or leggings as the basic under layer for your costume. For the ladies, a plain, full, ankle or floor length skirt can also come in handy as an alternative to trousers.
  • Avoid jeans if you can.
  • Similarly, avoid trainers or similar sports shoes, instead opt for plain black or brown shoes or boots; leather walking boots are ideal.
Once you have your basic under layer of clothing, you can dress it with outer layers appropriate to the character you are portraying and in-keeping with your background.

Roleplayers are usually on a continuous lookout for new 'kit' which can be used to portray any character they have in mind, but the following are your basic options when engaged in the search for more kit...
  • Charity Shops can sometimes turn up some gems for those who are looking to outfit a particular look.
  • Specialist clothing suppliers aimed at niche markets often base their garments on historical clothing and so you may turn up something appropriate there.
  • Re-enactment or living history costumers do exist, who make costume to supply the re-enactment market. These suppliers usually stock generic items and will make up any specialist costume if commissioned to do so.
  • Make your own, is always an option for those who are skilled in needlecrafts or feeling adventurous and want something custom made, just for them.
Links to specialist suppliers of costume and kit can be found in the Shards wiki.

Character Generation

Please follow this link to the quick reference sheet to character generation.

This document was written to help you create character, but you will probably also need to reference the main Ascendancy LRP rules since they provide the details behind many of the skills and attributes. They can be found here: Rules also take a good look around the main rules section starting with the rules overview

Please note the rules have recently undergone a complete rewrite and are still a work in progress, therefore certain areas still need detailing.

Anyone intending to play a Havenite character will need to send an email to Strangehaven [at] googlemail [dot] com to discuss your character before proceeding with generating a character.

As a final note, remember that Strangehaven is part of the Shards world background and you have the choice of playing any of a myriad range of backgrounds, races or professions. The quick reference sheet, rules, wiki and information we post here will help, but once you have an idea of what you'd like to play, do please contact us. We may be able to offer useful advice, fill in any blanks and answer any questions you may have.