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Vision behind the Dragonbane

A larp based on Mike Pohjolas book The Age of the Storm. Executive Producer Timo Multamäki, Head of Set and FX Heiko Romu, Lead Designer Christopher Sandberg.

Our task is that to create a world out of our dreams, fears and longings – a world that will stand as a beacon in our memory to guide us.

To make this vision real you have to see it with your mind’s eye: the colourful houses of Cinderhill, the dark broodings of the witches’ brews, the bravery and foolishness of the dragontamers, the magic in the temple scrolls. And the dragon, you have to believe in the living red dragon, breathing fire, searching for that which was lost in that gruesome battle where the bronze dragon died.

You must feel the bitter tears of the dragon in your heart and strive to make this event a worthy homage to the saga that began and ended in Cinderhill during Dragonbane.

And the results of this project must be something that I, as well as everyone else involved, can and will be proud for the rest of our life. – Timo Multamäki

Dragonbane is the saga of how a dragon gives power beyond belief, at a price equally high. It is the telling of how mankind’s paradise and the happy life of the individual is governed by indifferent superpowers. Dragonbane tells us how what you own, owns you, and how peace and wealth at too high a price is worse than poverty. It is also a tale of fanatic pride, and how the end does not justify the means. In the end it is a story of how letting go of the gifts from above is the only way to realize the personal gift of a meaningful life.

The story of the tide of the dragon is a drama of an age of myth, with no set closure and no proposed violence. The tale is violent in the beginning and dark at the end, but the progress of the narrative is based on interaction and not the use of blunt force. Then, as our saga turns the last few pages, the magic ink that has written the chronicle starts to fade. The pages turn blank. What will be said and done in the final chapters is for the people to decide.

As you walk past the dragontamers pavilions and tents in burnished golden and dampened grey colours, your gaze searches into the mist. On the far end of a disarrayed farmland lies the old temple town of Cinderhill. It is a settlement of painted longhouses, around the temple spires, aflame in crimson red colours. Beyond the temple gates lies the lair. Only the brave or holy wander in there, and of course those doomed to human sacrifice. In the land before Cinderhill you see some burnt down wooden ruins of farmhouses, their denizens fled in peril or slain in recent battle. On your side of this no-mans-land the Witches are gathered. It is a situation not without tension. At the foot of the watchtower of Cinderhill the bronze dragon fell dead the day before. As you come closer a butterfly leaps into the air with two frightened flaps.

Our task is of a breathtaking scope in almost every sense. The drama that is the base for our work is a simple yet convincing story of human passions. In this framework there is room to act out most kinds of experiences: from haughty indifference to existential angst, religious ecstasy and spiritual cleansing, not to forget mundane work, heroic deeds and dark magic.

Dragonbane is constructed to appeal to a broad mass of dedicated larpers. It is traditional, in that it encompasses all the fundamentals that we have come to expect of a fantasy larp. It is also progressive in the sense that it seeks to reinvent the failed design and methods of larps past. The numbers of participants – ~500 persons – is really not a problem as such. Bigger events has been made before. The real difficulty is in providing all of them with good personas, fictitious people of Valenor that make it possible for them to co-create the illusion of the larp as a reality to live in. The dramatic structure that the game design group has created is framed to make this doable for the characters group. One point that has not been widely discussed among us is the meeting (or clash) of different larping styles from different countries and cultures. This will be taken care of by a dedicated character coaching team – coaches will meet with the players (either in IRL or virtual reality of internet), explain the Nordic, rather free-form style of larping, and develop characters in cooperation with players. The production methods are in some ways as new and untried as the drama is big. Creative minds in more than ten countries all around the globe collaborating in specialized teams for all the different parts of the game: the building of the dragon, drawing and making costumes, raising houses, constructing special effects, just to mention the most obvious of tasks.

We know already that this is the most impressive participative international project in the history of larp to date. Not because of FX, dragons and scale, but because of the level of border-crossing. Still, what makes this more thrilling than any other big fantasy larp, is the explicit aim of the organizers to reach a degree of realism in this illusory world that will spellbind even the most cynical player.

I want us to create something spectacularly different, something that will forever change the way these people view fantasy. Not because it's so different, but because it's difference makes it so good. – Mike Pohjola