When Trends Converge – The New World Magischola Revolution

When Trends Converge – The New World Magischola Revolution

Be the change! Break the chains! Change the world!Dan Obeah motto, New World Magischola Run 2
New World Magischola is an American blockbuster larp produced by Learn Larp, LLC about students and faculty attending a wizard university in a new North American magical universe. Inspired by the hugely successful College of Wizardry larps at Czocha Castle in Poland, designers Maury Brown and Benjamin A. Morrow decided to bring a version of the larp to the United States. Bolstered in part by the media fervor around the College of Wizardry documentary[1]Cosmic Joke UK, “College of Wizardry – Documentary,” YouTube, last modified Dec 9, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW0bi_XgMY0. See also the promo trailer: Cosmic Joke UK, ““College of Wizardry – Documentary Promo,” YouTube, last modified Dec 2, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVL-ts38-Rs. by Cosmic Joke Productions that went viral on multiple media outlets[2]Johannes Axner, “College of Wizardry 2014 Round-up,” Nordiclarp.org, last modified Dec 9, 2014, https://nordiclarp.org/2014/12/09/college-of-wizardry-2014-round-up/. and by the designers’ own successful marketing, the Kickstarter for the larp raised an astounding $303,877. These funds went toward establishing the logistics for four runs of the larp in June and July of 2016 at the University of Richmond in Virginia. This article will discuss the first two runs of the game in June, where I served as a staff member and non player-character (NPC) counselor in the first run and House President player in the second.

While this article will cover some of the content of the game, the focus of this discussion will center upon the culture that has emerged around New World Magischola through intentional design and player contributions. Based upon initial blog posts and Internet discussions, the game appears to be inspiring a paradigmatic shift in many participants about the nature of larp, what sorts of experiences it can produce, and what kinds of community standards a play culture can establish. Therefore, this article will discuss the following topics within these contexts: basic game logistics, my personal narrative as a player, the progressive design goals, the consent-based play culture, and the relative success of introducing Nordic-style larp to a primarily North American audience. I will not discuss specific plotlines in the interest of protecting spoilers for future runs.

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College of Wizardry producer Claus Raasted as the Chancellor in NWM1.

While this game stands as a landmark on its own, I invite readers to consider this information as a convergence of trends that have been building for the last several years: increased communication between North American larpers and international players through Facebook, blogs, and other social media channels; innovations in North American indie game design; other cross-cultural collaborations including College of Wizardry; a greater interest in establishing safety, consent, and calibration around play; and the continued development of academic and practical publications including the Nordic larp Knutepunkt books, the International Journal of Role-playing, Analog Game Studies, The Wyrd Con Companion Book, and Game Wrap, etc. Combined with Brown and Morrow’s talents in intentional design and marketing, these factors have culminated in a remarkable experience for many of the players: College of Wizardry veterans, experienced North American larpers, and new participants alike.

The Setting: Progress, not Perfection

New World Magischola presents an environment where much progressive social change has occurred, but the result is far from a perfect utopia. Similar to College of Wizardry, New World Magischola is set in a fictional world similar to that of Harry Potter, but with an entirely new lore based in regional history and mystical traditions specific to North America.

Student attend a late-night club at NWM2. Photo courtesy of Learn Larp LLC.

Students attend a late-night club at NWM2. Photo courtesy of Learn Larp LLC.

Players start as either professors, third-year, second-year, or first-year students. Third and second-years are already sorted into one of five Houses with distinct personalities and histories: House Croatan, Maison DuBois, Lakay Laveau, Casa Calisaylá, and Dan Obeah. The larp starts Thursday afternoon with a series of briefings and workshops. Play begins Thursday night with group dining and announcements. Then, House parties take place, where the Houses get to know the first-years and decide who they would like to recruit. Clubs also meet Thursday night. Classes take place during the day on Friday, with the House draft and sorting ceremony on Friday night, as well as clubs. Classes resume on Saturday, with a formal dance that evening. The game ends at around midnight, with structured debriefing on Sunday morning.

Brown playing an NPC hob. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Brown playing an NPC hob. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

With regard to the lore, the designers had to walk a fine line between wedding invented magical elements with real world historical facts and cultures in a way that was respectful, informed, fair, but also honest. The goal of this design was to create a magical universe that did not whitewash history or cherry pick events based upon the stories of the victors, but rather to directly confront the biases, hypocrisies, and violence that stain the American promise of “freedom” while acknowledging the potential embedded in that promise. In this regard, Brown and Morrow consulted with several players of color from diverse backgrounds in order to portray certain cultures respectfully, as they integrated elements into the lore from First Nations, voodoo, slavery, etc. Traumatic moments such as the Civil War are intertwined with invented magical lore to create a universe that feels both grounded in this world and otherworldly.

While these historical elements exist within the lore, the bulk of the game deals with social issues through this otherworldly lens of metaphor, allowing participants enough distance to engage with topics without triggering real world personal issues of social discrimination. Examples include using werewolves, vampires, “Unsoiled vs. Mundane” blood, and cryptid sapience rights as metaphors for real world social issues. In order to help cement these themes, all students are required to take a Magical Theory and Ethics class where such topics are brought to the foreground.

A major topic of debate is the rights of sapient creature like the chupacabra. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

A major topic of debate is the rights of magical creatures. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Many are assigned to social clubs that meet after class, such as the Sapience Advocacy group. These issues are also interwoven into character concepts in complex ways that avoid stereotypes and demonstrate their multifaceted nature. In the first run, I played a counselor who held an impromptu group therapy session as the result of inclement weather keeping us from leaving a classroom. Within this session, students shared their backgrounds: a Mundane artificer who hates Unsoiled — the higher class in this world — due to discrimination and wishes to break all the things they create; an Unsoiled whose grandparent was killed for defending Mundane rights in court; an ecologically conscious student who wants to take obsolete Mundane technology and recycle it for magical purposes, etc. By the end of this discussion, characters from multiple sides of issues were willing to expand their perspectives. The sophistication of the writing allowed for students to play “dark” or “light” according to their wishes, but to have complex motivations for doing so that often brought important discussions to the foreground.

As a player in the second run, my personal story involved playing a Light-oriented Astromancer named Sedona Winters who could divine the future and travel the astral plane. Sedona was co-House President of Dan Obeah. Aside from my duties toward my House mates and collaboration with fellow Presidents, my personal plotline involved trying to encourage my estranged ex-boyfriend to avoid committing an act that would land him in Avernus prison. These discussions centered around his feelings of determinism based upon his history in a Mixed Heritage crime family and my more privileged, Unsoiled character’s belief in free will and personal choice. Ultimately, he made the Lighter choice and we attended the formal together, but the play could have gone many ways. As sequels are planned for future runs, this storyline remains open.

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House Dan Obeah in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

The progressive intent of the design extends from the themes of the game outward to the practices of casting and the establishment of an inclusive play culture. According to the lore, when their daughter was denied attendance to the Imperial Magischola because of her gender, New World Magischola was founded by Virginia Dare and Maximilian Samson in 1635. In this regard, issues of feminism and social progress are interwoven into the school from the ground up, further reinforced by its current ethos, “New World Magischola strongly believes in diversity – of magical tradition, of gender, of race and ethnicity, etc.– both among students and staff, which has been part of its mission since its founding.”[3]New World Magischola, “About NWM – The School,” Magischola.com, https://magischola.com/about-nwm/.

The designers encouraged participants from diverse gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and racial backgrounds to apply for professor and president roles. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

The designers encouraged participants from diverse gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and racial backgrounds to apply for professor and president roles. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Brown and Morrow reinforced this ethos by encouraging people from diverse gender, racial, ethnic, and sexuality backgrounds to apply for professor and House president roles. In this way, the design allows for multiple layers of diversity: representation in the lore makes space for the plausible physical embodiment of diverse individuals in positions of authority. In this regard, the progressive mission statement of the school is similar to many real world universities, with some enhancements.  For example, the default pronouns in the Magimundi — the magical universe — are “they/their/them”; players practiced using these pronouns in workshops, as well as gently correcting each other with a P hand signal from British sign language and a verbal “pronouns” reminder. While this practice caused anxiety for some players initially, by the end of both runs, corrections became mostly seamless and the players respected this expectation. Expanding upon principles from College of Wizardry, discrimination based upon sexuality, gender, race, or ethnicity is not acceptable in the game, with the lore conceit that the Magimundi are beyond such biases. This practice allows vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings to act as stand-ins for players to explore issues of discrimination without potentially harming players who experience marginalization in real life. This design also encourages characters to feel comfortable exploring non-traditional types of gender presentation, relationship types, and sexual orientation; all characters are gender-neutral by default and character ties aside from family relations are chosen by the players. Finally, the play culture emphasizes strongly consensual opt-in play, as I will describe in the section below.

Morrow as an NPC in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Morrow as an NPC in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

All of these factors contribute to an environment rife with potential conflicts, but sensitively written and deployed in order to create a more inclusive space for each player, specifically for players from marginalized backgrounds. Anecdotally, this space proved transformative for some players, as evidenced by recent blog reviews of the game: Shoshana Kessock[4]Shoshana Kessock, “Orlanda in the Light of Upraised Wands,” Shoshanakessock.com, last modified June 21, 2016, https://shoshanakessock.com/2016/06/21/orlando-in-the-light-of-upraised-wands/. discusses her experiences as a queer player in the wake of the Orlando tragedy; Elsa S. Henry[5]Elsa S. Henry, “Blind Lady Versus New World Magischola,” Feministsonar.com, last modified on June 21, 2016, http://feministsonar.com/2016/06/blind-lady-versus-new-world-magischola/.describes the empowerment she felt as a player with disabilities in the larp; and Tara M. Clapper[6]Tara M. Clapper, “Chasing Bleed – An American Fantasy Larper at Wizard School,” Nordiclarp.org, last modified on July 1, 2016, https://nordiclarp.org/2016/07/01/chasing-bleed/. speaks of using bleed in the game to practice interpersonal skills and process grief. Other American players have discussed the psychological impact and transformational nature of the game in a (spoiler-filled) Ace of Geeks podcast interview recorded directly after the second run.[7]Contains spoilers. Mike Fatum. “AOG Podcast Episode 197: New World Magischola – The Experience,” Ace of Geeks, last modified on July 1, 2016, http://aceofgeeks.net/aog-podcast-episode-197-new-world-magischola-experience/.

The emphasis on metaphorical social issues and discourse embedded in the design led some players to have deeply profound learning moments that I heard echoed by several players after the game. These elements combined with the freeform and consent-based magic mechanics to empower characters to explore issues, find agency, and make change in the magical reality. Brown and Morrow describe this design ethos in more depth in their documents on “Queering the Wizard World & Using Feminist Game Design in NWM,”[8]Maury Brown and Benjamin A. Morrow, “Queering the Wizard World & Using Feminist Game Design in NWM,” Google Docs, last accessed on July 2, 2016. Brown’s “The Trouble with Gender” article in Analog Game Studies,[9]Maury Elizabeth Brown, “The Trouble with Gender in Larp,” Analog Game Studies, last modified on September 13, 2015, http://analoggamestudies.org/2015/09/the-trouble-with-gender-in-larp/. and the “Who We Are” section on their website, along with other resources listed in the below sections.

Magical Ethics in NWM1. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

Magical Theory and Ethics in NWM1. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

The Mechanics: When Nordic Style Meets North Americans

LUV_9650 2Both College of Wizardry and New World Magischola are designed around freeform conflict resolution mechanics that rely heavily on player choice and improvisation; if a character casts a spell on another character, the recipient player decides the effect. The player casting should telegraph the intent of the spell through verbal description, then use a phrase of their choosing to incant while waving their wands. Magical combat is intended to only take place during duels and is therefore not a strong component of the game, although the school teaches both combat and defense. All effects should be physically plausible in a “What You See is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) environment, meaning that setting something on fire would not be plausible as fire is banned on the actual campus, but a spell may produce a burning sensation with no visible effect if the recipient chooses that response. The designers and volunteers of both larps produced a series of informative, short videos on the magic system.

As many experienced North American larpers are accustomed to complex conflict resolution mechanic systems — sometimes encompassing hundreds of pages of rules — this system was difficult for some players to understand. Most North American resolution mechanics determine for both players who “wins” an encounter, whereas the Nordic style often encourages “playing to lose,” “playing for drama,” or “playing for what is interesting.” In other words, a spell failing can often lead to even more interesting play than its success.

Special NPC requested by players at NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Special NPC requested by players at NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Additionally, this system relies heavily on player-driven plotlines. While some overarching stories in the setting are seeded by the organizers or announced throughout the game, players are enabled to make change in their environment by creating their own side plotlines for people to follow, declaring magical effects have taken place in an environment, and even requesting special non-player characters (NPCs) from the staff to arrive at specific times for a purpose. For example, a character may enlist others to go on a ritual through the astral plane in order to cure their curse, declare everyone in a specific room magically unable to tell a lie, or request a special creature to use for demonstration in a Cryptozoology class. In this regard, professors are considered players, while other staff are considered NPCs with more limited goals. The vast majority of these actions can transpire without organizer assistance, with the exception of ordering NPCs, particular props, or special effects. Such a system relies heavily on “yes, and…” or “yes, but…”  improvisational play, where everyone feels enabled to present options within the environment and others should play along as they wish without shutting the other person down completely. This design allows for many and varied personal story hooks and small group plotlines, as opposed to finding and taking part in an overarching staff-run “metaplot” — the latter being a common component of North American larps.

While ultimately, the system was successful, play culture differences did emerge, as was anticipated. Organizer-seeded plotlines had a tendency to become major metaplots, as many players prioritized them as more important than personal plotlines. Occasionally, players did report feeling “shut out” of play or other players “hoarding plot.” “Hoarding plot” is a common complaint in many North American systems that include staff-run plotlines to solve, where certain players receive the bulk of the information about the overarching story and keep it for themselves or their smaller social groups. Many players are sensitive to this issue, as they perceive that individuals who receive “more plot” from the organizers hold more social status in the community.

A student interacts with an NPC ghost. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

A student interacts with an NPC ghost. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Discerning the dynamics involved in such situations at New World Magischola is difficult: Did players intentionally exclude others? Did participants not fully realize the extent to which their personal creativity could affect play? Regardless of intentions, for some experienced North American players, a sort of larp “muscle memory” seemed to kick in occasionally, where instincts from other play communities activated. Another example of this tendency is that some players tended to look for faculty or NPCs to provide “answers,” operating under the typical assumption that people who possess in- and out-of-game authority have more information and agency to resolve situations than typical players do.

Finally, even though players were instructed to wrap up all plotlines before the formal, many left the dance area to pursue plotlines anyway, including a ritual intervention that took place in a classroom on the other side of campus, a public investigation of a student accused of using blood magic, a duel outside, and other personal NPC requests. The tendency of many North American larpers to want to escalate the plotline at the “climax” of the game overtook simply enjoying the social play of the dance for many players, especially since several characters clustered around to watch these activities, drawn to the “action.”

While some players had trouble adapting to the new mechanics, many embraced the freedom of the creative playstyle. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

While some players had trouble adapting to the new mechanics, many embraced the freedom of the creative play style. Photo by Learn Larp LLC.

Despite these difficulties, the vast majority of players seemed to adapt to the collaborative nature of play, particularly by the second and third days. Interestingly, the new players appeared to adapt easily to the style, leading many of us to become surprised when we learned that they were first-time larpers. Sometimes, previous experience can lead to expectations of play that constrict possibilities rather than enhance them. On the other hand, experienced players may know how to better insert themselves into scenes or create play for others. Future runs with experienced New World Magischola players will likely run more cohesively in this regard, as the group will have a higher herd competency in the Nordic style.

Opt-In Play: Negotiation, Calibration, Consent, and Safety

As mentioned above, the larp designers believe strongly in creating a play culture of inclusion, which is evident in the design of the workshops, signaling systems, in-game rituals, and debriefing.[10]Sarah Lynne Bowman and Harrison Greene, “Sample Debriefing Exercise,” Google Docs, last modified March 18, 2015, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RcsSBhlhMw8jlZqsMsQLx5azBXT1a3L9hgx85i6TJVo/edit?usp=sharing. This exercise borrows heavily from debriefing strategies in the Nordic tradition. Harrison Greene and I were honored to help flesh out some of these systems, which borrow heavily from various techniques in other communities.

Players often created their own rituals, here in NWM1. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

Players often created their own rituals, as seen here in NWM1. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

The design of New World Magischola included explicit instructions for certain components, including the content of rituals, acceptable vs. unacceptable pranks, a form for first-years to fill out their first and last choices for their Houses during the draft, etc. These elements allowed the designers to set clear expectations for tone and appropriate behavior in the hopes of providing a fulfilling experience for the majority of players, rather than leaving this content open to chance.

House initiation ritual for Lakay Laveau in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

Lakay Laveau at a ritual in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

Workshops included instruction on how to play in the Nordic style, how to cast spells, how to participate in Houses, status lines for various character aspects, “hot seat” interviewing to establish character beliefs/ties, creating an off-game buddy system, etc. We also practiced the safety metatechniques, which included the standard “cut” for stopping a scene and “brake” or “Largo” for decreasing the intensity of a scene. The game included a version the “okay” symbol system developed by Aaron Vanek and Kirsten Hageleit for clandestinely checking in with other players; players could flash the okay symbol to someone else, with that person responding with a thumbs up, a so-so, or a thumbs down gesture. We also included the aforementioned pronoun workshop with verbal and visual signals for correction, which we developed with assistance from Liz Gorinsky and Sara Williamson, inspired by their groundbreaking game about gender identity See Me Now.[11]Liz Gorinsky and Sara Williamson, “See Me Now,” Fastaval 2017, last accessed July 2, 2016, http://www.fastaval.dk/aktivitet/see-me-now-2/?lang=en. In addition, we piloted a new technique devised by Trine Lise Lindahl and introduced by Johanna Koljonen[12]Johanna Koljonen, “Toolkit Premiere! Let’s Name A Bow-Out Mechanic,” Participationsafety.wordpress.com, last modified on May 30, 2016, https://participationsafety.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/toolkit-lets-name-this-baby-bow-out-mechanics/. See also Koljonen’s keynote from the Living Games Conference, “Opt-in/Opt-out Safety Systems,” YouTube, modified on Jun 10, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bFdrV3nJA8. that we called “Lookdown,” in which a player places their hand over their eyes to duck out of a scene without being followed or questioned. 

A faculty member with the Chancellor in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

A faculty member with the Chancellor in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

Players could also leave a scene by saying, “I need to do something for the Chancellor…” without repercussions. We integrated the hand-raising technique, where when one person raises their hand, everyone follows suit and becomes quiet, as well as the “deaf applause” from American Sign Language, where people shake their hands in the air instead of clapping loudly. Additionally, players were encouraged to go off-game subtly to negotiate any sort of violence, romance, or physical touch, all of which required opt-in consent by all players involved. While some worried about the sheer amount of metatechniques to remember, players seemed to use them regularly, particularly “lookdown” and the “okay” symbol. By the end of both runs of the the larp, most players were freely asking each other for consent to hug and fluidly using “they” pronouns. Several experienced players expressed a wish to bring these techniques back to their home communities.

For player safety, the game included counselors, who players could approach in- or out-of-game with concerns. Greene and I performed these roles in the first run, with an NPC ghost serving as a counselor in the second. These roles were important release valves for some players, helping them process emotions or redirect their play. The game also implemented a Sanctuary Space,[13]Living Games Conference, “Sanctuary Space, Safety Team, and Crisis Management Programming,” Livinggamesconference.com, last modified on April 15, 2016, http://www.livinggamesconference.com/sanctuary-space-safety-team-and-crisis-management-programming/. where players could go to decompress in- or out-of-character with a counselor, a friend, or alone. Adapted from Burning Man culture and the recent Living Games Conference 2016, the Sanctuary Space provides a spot for introverted, overstimulated, or physically ill players to relax until they are ready to rejoin play.

House initiation ritual for Casa Calisaylá in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

House initiation ritual for Casa Calisaylá in NWM2. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

Greene and I also helped write a guide for the House Presidents for creating initiation rituals to welcome first-years. These rituals were not to include any sort of hazing or other humiliating play and should create feelings of trust among the House members.

A member of Casa Calisaylá howls "awoo," the House chant. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

A member of Casa Calisaylá howls “awoo,” the House chant. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

During this ritual, first-years were assigned a second year mentor, giving players an extra connection within the game. Emergent ritual concepts included imbuing one’s intention into an item, puzzle rooms, summonings, finding one’s spirit animal in the astral plane, leading first-years blindfolded through a “wall of sound” through instruments and voices, etc. Many players reported having powerful experiences and even moments of catharsis during the House rituals. Additionally, players were warned in workshops against mean-spirited play between House members and Houses themselves. Friendly rivalries were fine, while purposeful ostracization or trash-talking was discouraged unless consensual between all parties.

All of these techniques encourage what Brown and Morrow call “Playing for Empathy[14]Maury Brown and Benjamin A. Morrow, “Breaking the Alibi: Fostering Empathy by Reuniting the Player and the Character,” in The Wyrd Con Companion Book 2015, ed. Sarah Lynne Bowman (Los Angeles: Wyrd Con, 2015), 102-116, https://www.dropbox.com/s/xslwh0uxa544029/WCCB15-Final.pdf?dl=0 and “People-Centered Design,”[15]Maury Brown, “People-Centered Design,” YouTube, last modified on June 10, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZY9wLUMCPY. in which the comfort level of members of the community is more important than the story.

A New World Awaits

Having played as a professor in College of Wizardry, an NPC counselor in the first run of New World Magischola, and a House President in the second run, I have seen the power of both larps to bring in new players, re-enchant the Mundane world, and produce powerful experiences.

Players forged new in- and out-of-game friendships, here between two "opposing" House presidents. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

Players forged new in- and out-of-game friendships, here between two “opposing” House presidents after the larp. Photo by Learn Larp, LLC.

The progressive nature of the themes of New World Magischola in particular produced a powerful sense of belongingness and purpose for many of us in run 2. Our Dan Obeah house motto was “Be the change. Break the chains. Change the world,” a Ghandi-inspired reminder that each of us is capable of social change if we use wisdom and strive toward the greater good. We also developed a five fingered, palm-open salute to show unity between the Houses; characters from other Houses could press palms together to show solidarity. This feeling of collective connectivity was palpable in both runs.

Preliminary data from a survey designed by Markus Montola suggest that player responses to the first run of New World Magischola are overwhelmingly positive, both when evaluating whether they had a “great game” and whether this was their “best larp experience ever.”  According to the preliminary results, players generally felt “psychologically and emotionally safe,” and almost all of the respondents reported having made new friends as a result of the game.

How New World Magischola will affect the world of larp in North America remains to be seen, but I hope for great things, as players from previously separated communities come together and experience something unique and magical.

Cover photo: A first year receives their House tie during the drafting ceremony, courtesy of Learn Larp LLC. All other photos used with permission from Learn Larp LLC.

New World Magischola

Date: June 16-19, June 23-26, July 21-24 and July 28-31, 2016

Location: University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia, United States

Duration: 4 days including workshops, play, and debriefing

Participants: 140-165 per run

Participation Fee: $375 to $895, $450 for a regular ticket

Website: https://magischola.com/

Credits

Producers: Maury Brown and Ben Morrow, Learn Larp LLC.

Make-up Lead: Katherine Kira “Tall Kat” McConnell. Prosthetics by Mark Mensch

Costuming Lead: Derek Herrera.

Stitchers: Jenny Underwood, Robin Jendryaszek, Jennifer WinterRose, Amber Feldman, Summer Donovan, Michele Mountain, Nancy Calvert-Warren, Jennifer Klettke, Kristen Moutry, Caryn Johnson, Datura Matel

Music: Original songs (lyrics and music) by Austin Nuckols (Maison DuBois, Lakay Laveau, Casa Calisaylá and House Croatan) and Leah K. Blue (Dan Obeah), lyrics to New World Magischola Anthem by Maury Brown and Ben Morrow, music by Austin Nuckols. Other music and sound by Evan Torner and Austin Shepherd

Props: Mike Young, Carrie Matteoli, Indiana Thomas, Summer Donovan, Kevin Donovan, Gordon Olmstead-Dean, Jason Morningstar, Matt Taylor, Molly Ellen Miller, Michael Boyd, Moira Parham, Martin John Manco, Ken Brown, Dale, Laura Young, Harry Lewis, Mark Daniels, Michael Pucci, Terry Smith of Stagecoach Theater Productions, Yvonne and Dirk Parham, Jen Wong, Caryn Johnson, Jess Pestlin, Orli Nativ, Kaitlin Smith, The Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas at the Candy Factory, Melissa Danielle Penner, Jess Sole, Liselle Awwal, Nathan Love.

Helpers and advisors: Anders Berner, Claus Raasted, Christopher Sandberg, Mike Pohjola, Bjarke Pedersen, Johanna Koljonen, Anne Serup Grove, Mikolaj Wicher, Jamie MacDonald, Eevi Korhonen, Markus Montola, Jaakko Stenros, Staffan Rosenberg, Anna Westerling, Michael Pucci, Ashley Zdeb, Emily Care Boss, Daniel Hocutt, Charles Bo Nielsen, Joe Ennis, Kristin Bezio, Rob Balder, Kat Jones, Sarah Lynne Bowman, Harrison Greene.

Assistance with writing, editing, graphic design, music, art: Frank Beres, Claus Raasted, Richard Wetzel, Bethy Winkopp, Oriana Almquist, Craig Anderson, Zach Shaffer, Erica Schoonmaker, Madeleine Wodjak, Toivo Voll, Marie DelRio, Mike Young, Laura Young, Anna Yardney, Lee Parmenter, Stephanie Simmons, Nancy Calvert-Warren, Jessica Acker, Jason Woodland, Jason Arne, Harrison Greene, Sarah Lynne Bowman, Kristi Kalis, Quinn Milton, Anna Kovatcheva, Browning Porter, Orli Nativ, Rhiannon Chiacchiaro, Miranda Chadbourne, Lars Bundvad, Ffion Evans, David Horsh, Dani Castillo, Frank Caffran Castillo, Dayna Lanza, Sarah Brand, Tara Clapper, Suzy Pop, David Neubauer, Chris Bergstresser, Jason Morningstar, Evan Torner, Peter Woodworth, Peter Svensson, Daniel Abraham, Harry Lewis, Alexis Moisand, Alissa Erin Murray, Jennifer Klettke, Kathryn Sarah, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Austin Nuckols, Leah Blue, Joelle Scarnati, Dan Luxenberg, Chad Brinkley, David Clements, Niels Ull Harremoës, Adria Kyne, Emily Heflin.

Production and logistics: Austin Shepherd, Claus Raasted, Olivia Anderson, Kristin Bezio, Shayna Alley, Mike Young, Zach Shaffer, Dayna Lanza, Derek Herrera, Kristin Moutrey, Jenny Underwood, Jennifer WinterRose, Caryn Johnson, Amber Feldman, Michele Mountain, Summer Donovan, Robin Jendryaszek, Jennifer Klettke, Datura Metel, Amanda Schoen, Mark Mensch, Katherine McConnell, Chris Bergstresser, Christopher Amherst, Holly Butterfield, Uriah Brown, Kyle Lian, Evan Torner, Jeff Moxley, Ashley Zdeb, Thomas Haynes, Mikolaj Wicher, David Donaldson, Brandy Dilworth and the staff of the University of Richmond Summer Conference Services office.

References   [ + ]

1. Cosmic Joke UK, “College of Wizardry – Documentary,” YouTube, last modified Dec 9, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW0bi_XgMY0. See also the promo trailer: Cosmic Joke UK, ““College of Wizardry – Documentary Promo,” YouTube, last modified Dec 2, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVL-ts38-Rs.
2. Johannes Axner, “College of Wizardry 2014 Round-up,” Nordiclarp.org, last modified Dec 9, 2014, https://nordiclarp.org/2014/12/09/college-of-wizardry-2014-round-up/.
3. New World Magischola, “About NWM – The School,” Magischola.com, https://magischola.com/about-nwm/.
4. Shoshana Kessock, “Orlanda in the Light of Upraised Wands,” Shoshanakessock.com, last modified June 21, 2016, https://shoshanakessock.com/2016/06/21/orlando-in-the-light-of-upraised-wands/.
5. Elsa S. Henry, “Blind Lady Versus New World Magischola,” Feministsonar.com, last modified on June 21, 2016, http://feministsonar.com/2016/06/blind-lady-versus-new-world-magischola/.
6. Tara M. Clapper, “Chasing Bleed – An American Fantasy Larper at Wizard School,” Nordiclarp.org, last modified on July 1, 2016, https://nordiclarp.org/2016/07/01/chasing-bleed/.
7. Contains spoilers. Mike Fatum. “AOG Podcast Episode 197: New World Magischola – The Experience,” Ace of Geeks, last modified on July 1, 2016, http://aceofgeeks.net/aog-podcast-episode-197-new-world-magischola-experience/.
8. Maury Brown and Benjamin A. Morrow, “Queering the Wizard World & Using Feminist Game Design in NWM,” Google Docs, last accessed on July 2, 2016.
9. Maury Elizabeth Brown, “The Trouble with Gender in Larp,” Analog Game Studies, last modified on September 13, 2015, http://analoggamestudies.org/2015/09/the-trouble-with-gender-in-larp/.
10. Sarah Lynne Bowman and Harrison Greene, “Sample Debriefing Exercise,” Google Docs, last modified March 18, 2015, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RcsSBhlhMw8jlZqsMsQLx5azBXT1a3L9hgx85i6TJVo/edit?usp=sharing. This exercise borrows heavily from debriefing strategies in the Nordic tradition.
11. Liz Gorinsky and Sara Williamson, “See Me Now,” Fastaval 2017, last accessed July 2, 2016, http://www.fastaval.dk/aktivitet/see-me-now-2/?lang=en.
12. Johanna Koljonen, “Toolkit Premiere! Let’s Name A Bow-Out Mechanic,” Participationsafety.wordpress.com, last modified on May 30, 2016, https://participationsafety.wordpress.com/2016/05/30/toolkit-lets-name-this-baby-bow-out-mechanics/. See also Koljonen’s keynote from the Living Games Conference, “Opt-in/Opt-out Safety Systems,” YouTube, modified on Jun 10, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bFdrV3nJA8.
13. Living Games Conference, “Sanctuary Space, Safety Team, and Crisis Management Programming,” Livinggamesconference.com, last modified on April 15, 2016, http://www.livinggamesconference.com/sanctuary-space-safety-team-and-crisis-management-programming/.
14. Maury Brown and Benjamin A. Morrow, “Breaking the Alibi: Fostering Empathy by Reuniting the Player and the Character,” in The Wyrd Con Companion Book 2015, ed. Sarah Lynne Bowman (Los Angeles: Wyrd Con, 2015), 102-116, https://www.dropbox.com/s/xslwh0uxa544029/WCCB15-Final.pdf?dl=0
15. Maury Brown, “People-Centered Design,” YouTube, last modified on June 10, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZY9wLUMCPY.

Authors

Sarah Lynne Bowman
Sarah Lynne Bowman, Ph.D. is a role-playing studies scholar and adjunct professor in Humanities, English, and Communication. She is the author of The Functions of Role-playing Games and the editor of the Wyrd Con Companion Book.
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