1. What is a “role-playing game”?
You remember playing cowboys and indians as a kid, right? Make-believe fantasy games where you were taking on the role of someone you weren’t, be they the town sheriff, a jungle explorer or Luke Skywalker? Role-playing games take that idea a step or three further and provide not only a setting but also a framework of mechanics and rules by which you can play any number of such characters. Most role-playing games are played indoors, around a table, using dice, pencils and paper. Each player takes the role of a fictional character, also known as a “Player Character” or “PC” and plays out a series of adventures whilst taking on the personality and role of their character. The game is guided by a game-master (“GM”, or sometimes “Dungeon Master” or “Referee”), who determines the relative success or failure of the characters actions using the mechanics particular to the game is being played.
Role-playing games come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Most table-top RPGs have a single rulebook and a number of expansion books that provide additional source material about the game setting. These games are commonly set in fantasy or science-fiction worlds, though more recently there has been an increase in the number of “alternate reality” games based around “what-if” scenarios – “what-if” magic still existed in the world in Victorian England, for example.
2. What is “live-action role-playing”?
Live-action role-playing, or “LARP”, takes the action and mechanics out of the players imagination and off the paper, and into the real world. Players dress up as their characters, equip themselves with the same equipment their characters might possess, and physically act out the characters actions. Strict rules govern physical contact combat, ensuring safety and good practice is always adhered to. Most LARP events are run outdoors in woodlands or large areas of private land (with the landowner’s permission). Some events are held indoors, especially free-form events, where the plot often unfolds around a single situation such as a dinner party. The popular “Murder Mystery weekends” can be thought of as simple LARP events.
Combat and conflict in LARP games is usually resolved by either a simple, quick game mechanic such as “Scissors-Stone-Paper” or by engaging in physical combat with safe, foam weapons. These weapons are made from thick foam such as pipe lagging (“boffer weapons”) or fibreglass core and high-density foam covered with latex. This provides an element of realism whilst maintaining the most important element of any LARP game – safety.
3. Is Wyldlands a table-top RPG or a LARP system?
Wyldlands is both. The game was originally written and play-tested as a LARP system, however, since deciding to publish the game commercially and realising the market for pure LARP systems is limited, the game designers have worked hard to integrate the live-action elements of the game with more traditional table-top role-playing.
The game setting is based around pre-Christian Britain, in what we describe as the Golden Age of the Celts. Notably, the period spanning from around 300 BC to the first century AD, in the Christian calendar. Players may take on the role of characters such as woodsmen or hunters, or the more fantastic roles of faerie sorcerors and violent, Fomorian berserkers.
The live-action aspect to the game plays heavily on the myths and legends of the era, and player characters are quickly embroiled in the tribal politics and conflicts that make up the game. Whilst the emphasis is heavily biased towards dramatic roleplay, combat is often the outcome of many encounters. The combat system can be executed quickly and with deadly effect, taking into account factors such as armour and attack type. Emphasis is, as always, placed on safety above everything else.
The table-top system seamlessly integrates with the live-action system. Characters can be moved between the two quite freely, and character advancement, based on gaining “experience points” is balanced between the two. The advantage of this integration is that referees and players can create a dynamic, persistent game world that can continue around the characters during winter months. The game can be played in real-time. The table-top mechanics use a pair of six-sided dice to resolve conflict and determine the outcome of actions.
4. LARP sounds dangerous. Is it?
Not if played correctly. Sure, accidents can happen but in our experience, they are very rare. In two years of play-testing, we only had two minor injuries, and one of those was down to a particularly sharp and vicious blade of grass. Safety is paramount in any live-action game or event and you will find the organisers go to extreme lengths to ensure the safety of the players. In many games, body contact is not allowed. In games such as Wyldlands, players will come into physical contact with one another during combat. Weapons are made of thick, soft foam wrapped around a plastic or fibre-glass core. When a blow strikes a target, the blow is “pulled”, meaning that the force of the blow is not followed-through to the target, but the weapon is bounced lightly off their body. As long as the target is aware they have been struck, the blow is considered successful.
Other risks may present themselves as a result of the environment a game is run in. An referee establishes a fixed route around an adventure site, avoiding any potential hazards and never organises an event in a dangerous location such as in a quarry or near deep water. At least one organiser should possess first aid skills and referees carry mobile telephones and first aid kits with them as they oversee an adventure.
Wyldlands includes an exhaustive safety checklist as well as advice on how to make safe weapons and a list of reputable, foam weapon suppliers.
5. What do I need to play the game?
For the live-action game you will need a group of people interested in playing and, we recommend, at least two people per player to act the roles of the non-player characters and monsters. You will also need costumes, equipment, weapons and a suitably sized area of land, or a building, in which to run your game. Advice on manufacturing your own weapons and equipment, or purchasing from suppliers, can be found in the Wyldlands rulebook. The adventure supplied with the game, “Shadows over Dun Carrach” is suitable for a small group of players and non-player characters.
The table-top game requires at least one individual that has read and understands the rules to act as GM and at least one player. You will also require at least one six-sided die (D6). These are available from most hobby or games stores.
Character record sheets for the players to record the details of their PCs will be made available for download and are included with the rulebook.
6. What is “the Golden Age of the Celts”?
We use this phrase to describe a fictional era in Celtic history when warriors walked the lands alongside gods and magic and enchantment were commonplace. Putting this in the context of the game, the golden age is a period of learning, understanding and magic. In the history of Wyldlands it is a time of heroes and legends and the basis for tales such as those found in “The Mabinogion”. The golden age is particularly characterised by magical and extraordinary happenings, such as men marrying into faerie lineage and sorceresses that may shift their shape into animal form. Read the early tales in “The Mabinogion” such as “Pwyll meets Arawn” and “Branwen the Daughter of Llyr” as well as stories such as “The Tale of Ceridwen” to get an idea of this era.
7. Is Wyldlands a fantasy game or a history lesson?
Wyldlands is a fantasy game through and through. We have tried to adapt as much “authentic” history to our own needs in order to create an interesting and fantastic, but “historically accurate”, game setting. Note “authentic” and “historically accurate”. Wyldlands strives to be as accurate as possible, given the roots of the material we’ve written; folklore, mythology, legend, song, story and fairy tales. Most of the geographical locations we describe are in existence in one form or another today. Many of the battles and stories we have adapted are taken from recognised sources such as “The Mabinogion” and “The Irish Cycles”. Indeed, we used a great deal of research material in creating the lists of creatures and adversaries in the Realms, such as Katherine Briggs’ excellent “A Dictionary of Fairies”. We can’t be sure that faeries walked amongst men two-and-a-half thousand years ago, nor that the Fomorians were a real menace or Hobyah and Buckawns skulked in the shadows.
The best source materials you can use for your games are the ones we used when writing it. We will provide a small bibliography online, a more extensive version of which is included with the game.
8. What is “magic”?
In Wyldlands, magic is the word we use to describe the sacred power of the Goddess, the supreme creatrix whose being is manifest in everything that exists in the Wyldlands universe. When this power is channeled by skilled individuals, it manifests itself in any number of effects, from subtle healing to wild and destructive energy. This is magic.
In the real world, magic is a word used to describe simple conjurors tricks and sleight of hand. It is also a word used to describe the practices in a number of contemporary, neo-pagan religions. Magic in Wyldlands is not dissimilar to this modern interpretation of the older, earth-based faiths. However, magic in Wyldlands is not real, nor do we believe it to be real. Wyldlands is a game, nothing more.
9. What are “faeries”? Why do you spell the word that way?
Faeries are some of the main protagonists in the world of Wyldlands. They are also one of the main player character racial groups. Celtic Britain was a wild and magical place, so we’re told, and the Little Folk were some of the first settlers upon the land. There, they passed their skills and knowledge on to the mannish races. Over time, the fey bloodlines became diluted with mortal blood, and the other races such as the Elves and the Gnomes began to appear.
Faeries are not small, winged humanoids with delicate filigree clothes and elfin eyes (well, there are a few like that). Most are either humanoid in size and stature, or completely dissimilar to men in appearance. The fey are split into two courts, the Seelie and the Unseelie. Whilst the Seelie work with the mortal races, passing on skill and knowledge, the Unseelie seek to destroy, twist and subvert the mortal realms to their own ends. The darkest of the Unseelie – the Sluagh – are monstrosities, terrible to behold and capable of killing with a single glance.
We spell the word with an ‘ae’ rather than an ‘ai’ to distinguish between traditional faeries as described in folk-tales and the diminutive fairies as made popular in Victorian England. The Victorians did a great deal for faerie lore and legend; mainly, they made a lot of things up and distorted hundreds of years of stories, tales and oral tradition. We hope we’re changing people’s perception of faeries a little with Wyldlands.
10. What are “the Realms”? What are “The Otherworld” and “The Outerdark”?
The Realms is the collective name we use to describe ancient Britain, namely England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In the game, these are known as Albion, Alba, Erin and Cymru respectively. Each is further subdivided into territories, loosely marking out the tribal boundaries of various factions.
The Otherworld is the name for the spirit realm that the faeries herald from. As with the realms, it is a place of shifting borders and politics, as the Seelie and Unseelie vie for control. It is a place of natural magic and power, a mirror of the physical world where the rules of normal physics and reality do not apply. It is also home to the goddess Rhiannon; the Leanan-Sidhe and Queen of Faerie.
The Outerdark is everything beyond the veil of night. It is the deep cosmos wherein the gods dwell and watch over their children. Occasionally, and with powerful magic, a sorceror is able to touch a fragment of the Outerdark. This first occurs in 2760, when the god Balor turns from the light of the Goddess and steps into the mortal realm.
11. Where can I find out more about the game setting?
Buy the game when it’s finished!
12. Who are the people responsible for Wyldlands?
The core game was written by two people, James Forbes and Andy Belfield. The project started in the early nineties after Andy had left university. With James and Andy being housemates, they had time to work hard on the development of the game. The basic rules were written and play-tested between 1993 and 1996, during which time a number of contributions were made by the play-testers and the game world and setting was expanded upon. Andy and James had plans to finish and publish the game in the early 2000s but inevitably, life got in the way. We’re hoping to change that now.
13. How can I get in touch with you?
Check out the Contact Us page.