I’ve always been one of those people who never quite worked out how to go on holiday. Instead I go to a large field and help about 1500 people spend a weekend in an immersive fantasy universe where they battle, politic, sing and politic some more.
The Easter event is always rather at the mercy of the weather (in 2012, we had snow) and this was a mudfest on a new site, so challenging in the extreme. After a year of playing a character designed to enhance the setting and welcome new players, and a year of learning to referee battles and quests (the fighting elements of the game) this year I’ve found myself tied to a computer in the ‘monster room’ – our backstage area.
My new role is to try and smooth the logistical process of getting ready props, costumes, background information (all pretty much what they say on the tin), ribbons (printed with codes which contain information about all magical items so that they can be investigated) and ritual responses (for yet more investigation). I’m also busy answering radio queries as the players check our Sentinel Gate (the portal that allows them to go on quests) with location information, and I decide whether they’ve given enough information in to get the time of a quest. In the meantime I try and keep an eye on our quest hooks (that’s the various different ways, letter, magical telegram or character on the field, that we feed the information out so players know to go and check the gate) to see if they have landed, and do something about it if not.
Exhausting, requiring more focus than I needed when running a quarter of a million pound festival in 2012 in some ways, but ultimately a great deal of fun thanks to the fabulous team I’m working for and with.
Find out more about Empire and if you’d like to join the 200-300 strong volunteer crew, do let me know. Experience can be tangential!