Friday, July 1, 2011

YouTube Friday: Conquest of Mythodea

I'm actually somewhat surprised that I've been able to go this long without posting a video about Conquest of Mythodea.

For those who aren't in the know, Conquest is just about the biggest LARP game in the world. It's hosted in Germany and every year over 8,000 people (1,000 of which are NPCs) and they change the world around the players for complete immersion.

I know that both Dan and Noah (common readers of the blog) have had a chance to attend the game with Joe V., and I know that Dan said that it changed the way he thinks about LARPs. There was also a fair amount of talk about it from the guys at the LRP store back when I wrote for

The obvious downside is that it's in Germany. We really need to get something like this in the US. Unfortunately, we're way too up tight to ever let that happen.

Anyways, Enjoy!


  1. I think it CAN work in America, we just don't have a producer who's ambitious / organized enough.

    ConQuest is kind of like a hybrid between a game convention and Renne faire. The producers are pulling in revenue from a number of streams: in addition to tickets to the game, they also sell vendor booth space, they manage a large number of booths, restaurants, and they sell CDs after the game which have thousands of pix and videos from the weekend. They also manage to drag in an army of volunteers. NPCs don't play for free, but they get a giant discount on the event ticket and get to buy armor/badguy uniform at basically wholesale rates.

    Then the game itself is organized into camps, each camp has its own culture and quests, but there are zillions of open-ended quest hooks lying around for anybody that's keeping their eyes open. Rather than waiting for an NPC to come hook you onto a mod, (that would never in a 5K game!) you generally get involved through a larger group.

    The campsite is kind of like an amusement park, each area is a different zone with a different kind of experience.

    One of the reasons it works in Germany is because Europe has a strong LARP tradition and people are used to seeing castles and reenactments. They also never went through the D&D=satanism scare that we did in the 80s. We DO have that audience in America, but they're organized around game cons.

    The first person to make a million bucks from LARP in America will be the guy who managed to set up something like this that draws in the convention crowd.

    In my dream game, the genre would be wide open. You'd have a setting which makes sense no matter what costume you wear to it - medieval, steampunk, star wars, random anime cosplay, whatever. And the event organizers would make it a diverse enough experience that you could have fun there even if you weren't there for the LARP stuff - you could just get lost in the booths and restaurants like you were at a game con or renne fair.

  2. Weren't we supposed to have one of those in the America's awhile back?

  3. In case someone wanted info on how it is organized

    Brad G.

  4. What about the language barrier?

  5. While it is hosted in Germany and has many Germans playing, I know that it has quite a contingent of English players.

    As Dan had mentioned, you'd probably be in one of those English camps, making the language barrier less of an issue.

  6. Most of the players are from Germany, so the game's primary language is German. It really helps to travel with somebody that speaks German and can translate for you.

    When I went, the Air camp was known as the International Camp. Lots of people from all over Europe camped there. I stayed with about 40 paladins from Sicily, but there was also a 10 person merc company from Belgium and about 200 dudes from France. Oddly enough all the people from the UK were pretty spread out, they didn't all pool into a single camp.

    One of the loose air camp rules was to speak English in public. People were very accommodating for us and would fill us in if somebody was ranting in Deutsch.

    Most Germans who are under 30 have some English in school. I had taken a year of German before going, but found I was unprepared to actually converse in German. I could order food, that's about it. Still, people were impressed that I tried. I would recommend learning some conversational German before going to an event like this though, it will save you a lot of confusion.

    The only really big language barrier I hit was when I was flirting with one of the tavern girls and she told me "I am not a girl." I laughed, and she eventually clarified: "I am not a girl ... for loving."

  7. Legitimate question: Was there beer or was the camp dry?

  8. It was Germany -- there was tons of beer! In fact, one of the quests we were on involved bribing people with mead. The orcs would have eaten us alive if we didn't give them a giant drinking horn to pass around their camp.

    There was a big name beer sponsor for the event, but it was a german company I didn't recognize. The night before game-on, they sponsored a free keg party for all the NPCs. Way to start the event on a high note!

    All of the taverns had beer round the clock. (there were 3 taverns when I was there, I heard that they're up to like 10 now)

    You could get an entire bottle of mead for 5 Euro... I think drank like 3 of them in one night and paid for it the next day.

    The culture over there is that the heavy drinking doesn't really start until after sundown. And most of the large battles happen during the day. People definitely did get drunk at the slammin tavern parties, but I didn't see anything unsafe happening.

    The after-dark city environment was absolutely peak. It was like a giant fantasy party. Thousands of people. Better atmosphere than any renn faire I've ever been to. There were multiple concerts going on simultaneously. The smell of great food. Every tavern had bards, comedians, dancers, etc. The scene is so much fun that lots of people go just for the city experience and don't even play the LARP.

  9. Son of a bitch. Now I have to go.

  10. Obviously the alcohol is one of the big differences between European and American LARPs. To some extent, this reflects a cultural difference in attitudes about drinking. But I do think there's a way to bring that party atmosphere into LARP without it automatically resulting in unsafe fighting, underage drinking, and other sketchy hijinks.

    What has to be sacrificed is the "combat anytime, anywhere" part of the game. Other than the arena (which is run by a latex weapon vendor), combat is basically off-limits inside the city - too many bystanders, merchandise, and potentially drunk people to get into a big brawl.

    This also means that the really sketchy monster races can hang out in the city without fear of being attacked by righteous paladin types. It's a big role play zone - more of a party than a game.

    I think there's also some leeway given to people who are staggering back to their camp late at night. I certainly didn't see the brigands or orcs (who do most of their game play at night) preying on drunk people. I imagine that if you're drunk, and you get into a combat situation, you're expected to surrender. It looked very self-policing, but maybe that's just because I didn't see anything sketchy happen.

  11. The statement about going wasn't just about the beer. It was about how awesome it sounds.

    I play in a game that allows reasonable drinking (like a beer with dinner) and doesn't do so during combat moments. Hasn't been an issue.