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

Player places

Please note for the first event "The Day the Cow Stood Still" there are NINE player places left - so if you'd like to play please get in touch ASAP.

Edited to add:
As this is the first time we're running a Strangehaven event, it will be open to all players at the New Blood discounted price of £30.00 for the weekend.

If you'd like a booking form, please email Heather on hevpal at msn dot com.

Please note that on this occasion we are fully booked for Crew and DPC's.

Faerie - Costume Examples

Faerie is perhaps the most fluid and changeable of lands, reputed (amongst Faeries at least) to be the oldest of the Shards and the place where civilisation as we would recognise it first arose. A land with an ancient history, full of magic and mystery where nothing is ever quite as it seems, enchantments are common and favours carry more weight than money; this is the Faerie of old tales, myth and legend.

In recent times, the land of Faerie has suffered much turmoil. The Courts of the Seelie and Unseelie fell, Atlantis rose from the oceans drowning the mainland under a deluge of sea and rain. Torn by endless wars as its people squabbled amongst themselves, consequently Faerie's history is long and bloody.

The Ard-Ri
Following the union of the Shards into a single world, the Faerie people have done what they can to resolve their differences or at least put in place a structure which leaves room for talk and negotiation rather than immediate open and bloody warfare. This process was started in the years preceeding the forging of the new world by a sidhe named Finnlay, who approached the Forest Sidhe and the Water Sidhe offering to be their voice on Faerie as they had none and so those who wished it might return.

Those Fomorii who were not followers of Domnu heard of this meeting and turned up in order to offer their support. Each of these three races gave Finnlay a task to complete to prove his worth and promised him a year and a day to act as their voice and to prove himself. Finnlay succeeded in these tasks and after a year and a day, the three races agreed to give him full backing as the Ard-Ri of Faerie.

Thus, the Court of Faerie was formed and the long exiled races of the Forest and Water Sidhe returned to Faerie. Under Finnlay's rule there has been peace since the time of the Joining of the Shards.

The Unicorns
King Finnlay's clan is known as the Silver Unicorns and uses the symbol of the Unicorn as it's totem. What became of Finnlay's original clan and where he came from is lost to the annals of history, but it is known that since Finnlay emerged from the forests of Frontier, he has gained many friends and those who are closest to him have been adopted as part of his clan. Therefore, all members of the Silver Unicorns are close associates of King Finnlay, a relationship that must be established in game through roleplay.

In recent years it has emerged that the Silver Unicorns have an ancient enemy, known only as the Dark Unicorns. The Dark Unicorns live in the dark places on Faerie and keep to the shadows, only emerging to strike at their enemies. Trickery and subtefuge are their main weapons; their mages specialising in the dark arts to cast shadows over the minds of others. What their aims are, other than to destroy the Silver Unicorns, no one knows as they've resisted all attempts at diplomacy, so for now remain the sworn enemy of King Finnlay and his people. Player characters may not start play as Dark Unicorns.

The Sidhe
Forest Sidhe prefer to dwell in the wild places, where they may commune with nature; the animals, plants, insects and birds which dwell there. They make good trackers, are well versed in herbal and plant lore and are skilled with the bow and spear. They are hunters and consider the forest to be their home, frequently leading a nomadic existance and living in family groupings, called clans. As befits a people adapted to living in the forest, these Sidhes' skin is normally pale with possibly a hint of green. They dress simply, preferring to wear leather armour, camouflaged in browns and greens so they might move through their home lands without notice.

The Water Sidhe are suited to a life on the waves. They have adapted their hearing and eyesight so they can see beneath the waters, are strong swimmers and frequent the company of marine mammals. They make excellent sailors being immune to the poisonous salt which may keep other fae folk from the seas. Water Sidhe are governed by their own King and Queen, and generally prefer to keep their own company, building huge floating fortresses (or atolls) as their homes. Water Sidhe have pale skin with possibly a hint of blue, a colour they favour in their choice of garments, mixing various shades together with hues of green in layered but lightweight clothes which will not hinder their movements if they take to the water.

The Courts
The Age of the Young, began less than seven thousand years ago with the Fae as most would recognise them coming together to form The Courts of the Seelie and Unseelie. Now as the surviving Elders amongst the Faerie population could explain, seven thousand years is but the blinking of an eye in the history of Faerie and all things change. So it was that the Courts as they were fell and were replaced by a united Courts of Night and Day, controlled by two Queens, one who rules from dawn until dusk and another who precides over her subjects from dusk until dawn. The Courts are preoccupied with The Dance, an intricate set of rules and ettiquete governed by way of a Hive mind, with all Fae who form part of the Courts linked to it and under the thrall of their Queens. The majority of Faeries that you will meet on the Shards are part of the Courts and when others talk of the Fae, it is these people to whom they usually refer.

When thinking about playing the Fae, you should remember that these are the fantasy elves. For preference they like to dress in bright colours, with the nobility choosing light, airy fabrics. Women wear long gowns and skirts, decorated with beads and leaves or anything pretty and sparkly. Hair may be similarly dressed. Men favour tunics, shirts and waistcoats and a dashing cloak. Of course, practicality may act to curtail the Fae's natural tendency for high fashion, with more practical clothing being worn as required. Characterised by pointy ears - unless they choose to disguise them - the Fae love anything shiney. Weapons are typified by bows, broadswords and shields. Fae never use black power weapons and some of them are very much opposed to them being brought onto Faerie.

Photos below left to right: Knight, Archer

And below: Faerie Ladies

Photos below left to right: Hunter and Huntress, Spell caster, Fae Noble

The Fomorii

Originally the outcasts and those who had fallen from favour with the Courts, the Fomorii banded together for their own protection against their common enemy. Finding support from the Goddess Domnu, many followed her lead and were long the sworn enemy and scourge of Faerie. That all changed following the union of the Shards, as faced with the loss of Domnu, the remaining Fomor listened to the words of King Finnlay and began working towards a more peaceable life. The Fomorii are now led by their queen, Madb - once reputed to be the most beautiful enchantress in her time - and are enamoured with technology, pushing Faerie to the forefront of progress, mixing magic with science.

Fomorii can be identified by their markings, a broad black stripe painted across their eyes, they normally dress in drab washed out colours and spend little time on their appearance. Garments are often unfinished and cobbled together from whatever they have been able to lay their hands on. In a fight they will happily use whatever weapons they can lay their hands on, from satchel charges to swords... They have no issues with black power weapons and specialise in coming up with innovative designs for such.

Photos below left to right: Archer, Sapper, Engineer

The Dwarves
The Iron Delve Mountains have long been the home range of the Dwarves of Faerie. A quiet and frequently overlooked people, the Iron Delve dwarves prefer a life of seclusion and many spend the majority of their lives beneath ground in the halls, tunnels and mines that honeycomb this mountain range. Following the floods and downpour that became known as The Deluge, the Dwarves were persuaded to open their halls to refugees from the lands now under water and now enjoy a close working relationship with the Courts, under the guidance of King Finnlay. The Dwarves are known to have a King but are a private people so details about how they are organised are scant. In appearance, the Dwarves of the Iron Delves are stout and stocky, short by human standards but very broad and strong.

The McUens
Another group often associated with the Courts, but in truth independent are the Clan McUen. The McUen are a mostly human group governed by their Laird, a non-hereditary position allocated to the McUen warrior who doesn't duck responsibility quickly enough and is therefore deemed to 'be in charge'. This warlike clan, reminiscent of the Celtic peoples of Earth, prefer to spend as much time as they can having fun which normally involves partying, heavy drinking and fighting. McUens are not known for their deep thinking, but when they are done fighting, the elder womenfolk of the Clan take their men in hand and tell them what to do as is right and proper.

Traditionally, the McUens have long been the enemy of the Fomorii, due to the rivalry between their godess (Danu) and that of the Fomorii (Domnu). However, with the demise of Domnu and Danu choosing to give up her godhood for the love of their Laird, Caffrey, this animosity has waned to the point where the McUens have formed an uneasy alliance with the Fomor, sealed by the marriage of one of their menfolk to the daughter of Queen Madb.

McUens dress simply, with tartan being the prevalent fashion worn either as a kilt, sash or trews. When entering into battle, they prefer to fight bare chested sporting intricate Celtic designs in woad on their flesh. They have an eye for big weapons, be that great axes, hammers or swords. They rarely carry shields since defence is for the weak and they are more likely to attack first and ask questions later.

Photos below left to right: Warrior, Smisher

Photos below left to right: Grandma, Priest, Warrior with the Ogron bloodline

And below: McUens fighting Formorii

The Dragons are an ancient and wise race of winged, reptilian people who can normally be found on Faerie. Dragons live apart from the other races of Faerie, are skilled in the use of magics and (as with the other reptilian races found in the Shards world) are capable shape changers; talents which enable them to move amongst the people of the Shards unnoticed. Consequently, little is known about the Dragons - who sometimes prefer to be known as Draken - other than they are powerful and hold the other peoples of the Shards in a very low regard. Player characters may not start play as Dragons.

The Atlanteans
The continent of Atlantis lies far out to sea, to the east of the Faerie mainland. For many thousands of years it lay hidden deep beneath the oceans, trapping its people and isolating them from the rest of the Shards. When it rose from the seabed, a devastating tidal wave washed over the Faerie mainland, flooding the land while ceaseless rain poured from the skies and Faerie drowned. In the wake of so much death, the rulers of Atlantis, known as The Monarchs marched across the Shards intent on reclaiming the lands they had held prior to their land being sunk. War raged across the Shards, but in the days following the forging of the Shards into a single world, the Monarchs were defeated and their armies destroyed.

Today, the land of Atlantis is now in ruins and no longer a power to be reckoned with. It's people are broken and lacking leadership, having been long subjugated to the wills of their masters, the Monarchs. What the future holds for this shattered people no one can tell.

Strangehaven is the name given to a tiny island which exists on the edge of the continental shelf of Atlantis. It has never been part of the Monarch empire, nor the former Faerie mainland; instead this tiny island has enjoyed a relatively independent history, having been overlooked by the peoples of Faerie down through the ages. It is home to a little known community and much of it's fauna and flora have developed in isolation, remaining unknown to modern Faerie even to this day.

The seas which surround this island are known to the local seafaring folk as treacherous waters, which have defeated all attempts to chart them. The currents and weather are erratic, following no set pattern that any sailor or fisherman from these waters recognise. Navigation is near impossible and mists can descend without warning, concealing sharp reefs and rocks beneath the blackened waves. It is a dangerous place, where time has no meaning and the unwary can sail for all eternity and never escape, or so the Atlantean sailors will tell you. Even worse, monsters and unseen horrors are said to lurk beneath the waves capable of swallowing any ship whole. So it is, that only the insane or foolhardy would deliberately sail here.

Player characters who start play as a resident of Strangehaven will find it difficult to leave the island and as such, are only suitable for play at Strangehaven based events.

This document is intended as a guide and a starting point only, to help 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 (May 2007)

In line with our aim to bring you regular updates on the main Shards campaign in this blog, please find below the latest campaign update & rumours.

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.

May Campaign Update in Brief...

Frontier has never been more of a Savage Land…

A hive of insect like creatures has been uncovered, they seem to be hostile.

A large contingent of Salemite soldiers and priests have been seen trying to make a semi-permanent settlement near the hunting grounds of the Cloud Walkers.

A military coup in Salem has removed the Church from Salem and appointed Emeric Steiner as Emperor.

Governor Lucius Osborne has put up much of his own personal wealth, in prize money, for those hunters who can bring him rare and exotic trophies.

Minerva Swan, has put up a large reward for anyone who can guide her to the grave of her Father.

Mud Men have been seen moving to the edge of their territory, rumours talk that they have begun to hunt the borders of the tribe of the Winged Carrion.

New exotic bloodline resources and recipes can be found and collected.

Rivalries between the Tribe of the Yellow Moss and the tribe of the Bitter Spear have already lead to bloodshed.

Rumours abound of a new Bloodline race being discovered in the Southern mountains of Frontier, they call themselves The Gynomes.

Several archaeological digs have been discovered in Frontier and the race is on the excavate them.

Frontier has become awash with treasure hunters, who if discover any of these important historical digs will no doubt damage them beyond hope.

Several trading houses from across the New World now have offices in Yogyakarta.

The Bloodstone [Bloodline Dwarves] seem to be increasing their efforts to bring an eternal winter to Frontier.

The Crimson Brotherhood fleet have been spotted putting into the port of Yogyakarta.

The Emerald Claw, champion of Frontier has been killed.

The Saurons have increased the number of sacrifices yet again, although some tribes’ whisper of an even more horrific fate awaits those who are taken by the Sauron.

The son of the chief of the Cloud Walkers, Frog-Talker-Long-Tongue has gone missing.

With talk of the ultimate hunt, many of the New Worlds foremost hunters (along with many incompetent ones) have gathered to take part.

Without the Emerald Claw, to mediated in tribal disputes tensions are high between tribes with old rivalries.

Taken from the Campaign Update released for the Shards core event: The Chained One (25th – 28th May 2007)

The Five Thunders – Costume Examples

The lands which form the Thunders or Five Thunders are host to a people who's culture, traditions and costume have a distinctly Far Eastern feel. Originally known as the Courts of the Five Thunders, this land was long split into five realms each held by a separate emperor: the Courts of Jade, Iron, Jet, Gold and Silver. Repeated wars, invasions and political upheavals have torn this land and it is now split between three warring factions.

The Empire
The Empire is ruled by the young Emperor who was granted the mandate of Heaven to rule the whole of the Thunders. He is protected and served by the Twelve Tigers, powerful heroes of the people. The Empire is a mix of ancient tradition and new technology. The culture of the Empire is similar in feel to The Last Samurai without the open warfare between internal factions.

Imagawa Shogunate
This is a land ruled by the Shogun, as such it is more like ancient Japan where Samurai rule. Heavy on mystical abilities and ancient arts of war, technology is almost outlawed as the Shogun seeks to recreate the order of the past. Daimyo are allowed to war on each other but only in secret with assassinations and raids common and the Shogun will punish those who are caught or are foolish enough to leave sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of the perpetrator. The Shogun is elected by the Daimyo from one of the five great families, the Imagawa, the Mori, the Assegai, The Kamabushi and the Kublai. Peasants do what they are told in the hope they will be born into a higher station when they die and the most shameful death is by hanging.

The Sanctuary
The final land is Kinryoku or The Sanctuary. This land is ruled by peasants and the Samurai are outlawed; any Samurai found within this land with his swords is put to death. This is a land ruled by bureaucracy and headed by a council of three, each representing one of the branches of government:- the military, the bureaucracy and the judiciary. The military control the army, the bureaucracy civil matters, while the judiciary enforce the laws set by the other two branches of government. The current heads are Shika, Kuboji and Winter (Mitsuhide Akechi the founder of Kinryoku) respectively. Every position is elected and political parties battle for supremacy. This land has thrown away all the traditions of the past and is looking for a new path.

The Kuragari
In the middle of the three lands is a great wall around the Kuragari. Manned by troops from all three factions this land is filled with various types of undead, demons, oni, human warlocks, and crazed cannibalistic warriors. No one knows who or what rules this place (if anything) but it is the only thing preventing all out war between the three factions who would rule the Thunders as they all fear what is within the wall too much to remove their troops. Player characters do not come from this region.

The predominant cultures are similar to those from of China, Japan, Tibet, India and Mongolia of Earth history, with costume and cultural examples from all these places co-existing within the same land. This gives players many archetypes to choose from such as warrior monks, noble Samurai, ninja assassins, peaceful traders, inscrutable wise men, mandarin soldiers, geisha woman and of course, the understated peasant rice planter who is really a powerful wizard.

Clothing of notables is usually colourful and highly patterned with many layers. A kimono worn by both men and women forms the basic starting point for most outfits, hair tied up for women, or pony tails (or top-knots) common for men. Samurai wear the traditional Hakama skirt like trousers, worn with a kimono belted with fabric belt or armour. Ninja wear typical pajama style pants with black gi style jacket with a black hood and when 'on duty' a fabric mask concealing the face. Women following the Chinese or Japanese style would wear their kimonos with wide belt from below the chest to the waist. Other costume options which players may want to consider, include tunics, surcoats, vest or waistcoat like garments, furs and wrapped around robes, dependent on the cultural references most relevant to your character and availability of suitable kit.

Peasants frequently choose to wear flattened connical hats woven from straw - indeed a long standing nickname for residents of the Thunders is 'Wikki' for this very reason - whilst others may choose small round mandarin hat, elaborate head-dresses, helms or to leave their heads bare as is practical for their character. Popular accessories include painted fans and tea sets, while typical weapons cover almost everything excluding blackpowder weapons (except within The Empire), with the katana being particularly favoured by samurai and the Shogunate.

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

Photos below left to right: Samurai fully armed and armoured, Major Domo or head servant , Noble lady of imperial court

Photos below from left to right: Geisha, Warrior, Trader

Photos below from left to right: Female Warrior, Ninja

Photos below from left to right: Rich Merchant, Warrior Monk, Healer

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

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

What about combat? What kind of weapons can I use?

Combat in Live Roleplay radically differs from the way combat is portrayed in tabletop games. Instead of melee being a skilled action, in which rolling a handful of dice determines success, it is much more akin to theatrical stage combat where each player physically acts out every slash, thrust and parry of the combat. Therefore, a simple set of guidelines should be kept in mind at all times...

Pulled Blows: Each weapons strike must be aimed and delivered without force and at no time should upper body strength be used in a strike. This is not intended to restrict roleplaying of blows and strikes merely to ensure safety. At no time is it acceptable to strike or aim weapons at or into the faces or genitals of an opponent. No thrusting with weapons, most LARP weapons are not suitable for thrusting anyway, however even with weapons specifically designed for the task its an action best steered clear of.

Appearance: All melee weapons should appear to be being used during combat, as would the real weapon. The reaction to any blow is crucial to Live Roleplay combat, without reaction the enactment becomes pointless making combat look farcical.

Retaliation: Players and crew must never retaliate if an opponent breaches any of the rules of combat. Instead inform a Referee who will take any appropriate action.

Equipment: Any LARP safe melee weapon is acceptable that covers a period or setting that Shards does i.e. from prehistoric clubs, dark ages axes, medieval broadswords, oriental samurai swords to 19th C rapiers and cutlass with all things in between. Examples here at http://www.lrpstore.com/LARP--LRP-Weapons/c-1-4/

The same goes for missile weapons, which should be LARP safe, low poundage bows and crossbows with suitable LARP safe bolts and arrows, core-less throwing daggers and axes etc. http://www.lrpstore.com/Bows--Crossbows--Arrows-&-Bolts/c-1-5/

When it comes to Firearms they should be cap firing pistols, blank firers are NOT acceptable nor is shouting "Bang!" and they should represent black powder/flintlock pistols, rifles, blunderbuss; examples here http://www.lrpstore.com/Flintlock-Pistols/c-1-54/

Any armour and shields in use should also be LARP safe, by that we mean no metal shields and any metal armour should have any sharp edges covered to prevent accidental injury. If you are unsure, always show a ref and they will advise you, if in doubt they may suggest a weapon or piece of kit is just kept on you for show and not used in combat.

What are the site facilities like, what do I need to bring?

A full document detailing the facilities available and suggesting camping kit etc, will be posted here soon, along with site rules on fires, access and general care for the site.

About 7 days before an event those details will be posted again as a reminder along with any special instructions or information for that particular event.