Games and unexpected twists: „Settling of Rohan”
Updated: Jan 7, 2019
After moving to Vilnius, I lived for more than one year without knowing about many communities and events but after entering HEMA club, I ended up knowing about a lot of things happening around me and it was a shock how I haven't heard about them for such a long time.
As a fantasy writer, I was surprised by how many activities Vilnius has to offer. One of the communities that enclose more than half of fantasy fans is "Tolkien Lietuva". As the name implies, its main objective is to enjoy J.R.R. Tolkien's creations, analyze them through various perspectives and also create camps, projects, open events. In the beginning, I simply went to listen to various lectures/discussions, but later caught up in some much much larger scale event, called "Settling of Rohan". It was a collaborative project of "Tolkien Lietuva" and "Erasmus+".
You can read more about the project itself here: http://www.tolkien.lt/naujienos/naujienos/322-vasara-triju-saliu-tolkinistai-ikurs-rohana-labanore.html
At that moment I was kinda a fresh member of HEMA club, besides, a freshly baked writer of a fantasy book and while most of the participants either were grave fans of Tolkien, either were madly into LARP (live action role play), either both, I was a totally different case. I liked Tolkien but I must admit I am not so deep into the subject, and I have never larped before. In the beginning, I and my longsword-fencing master decided to join together and simply see how much historical martial arts work in LARP setting. Besides, all the participants were surely fantasy fans and I had a big chance to promote my soon-to-be book to three countries at once: Lithuania, Latvia, and Hungary.
I have applied for this project, got selected... and it's started to get out of hand soon after a few months till the event has left.
First of all, my friend (and a teammate as well because we have got the same responsibilities in the project) suddenly quit. I still had my own plans for the event so I stayed. We both were responsible for armor and weaponry workshops (yet again I have never done any LARP, so I was of no use), and also for sword-fighting and archery (I had no skills of archery whatsoever, and too little skills to teach sword-fighting), so I was at a loss. Both of them were taken care of by much more skilled people, I was relieved hearing that.
Aside from the game things, there were cultural evenings one for each country. I used to be a member of a band of traditional dances and songs a long time ago, also, attended musical school, chorus, and piano class. I was accustomed to singing and dance, so I volunteered to help in a cultural event. I have known a lot of songs before, but the ones I had to sing that time were unknown to me. I was happy to at least to take a part in the event this way... and then second plot-twist crashed on my head (or, rather, leg).
The first evening in the forest of Labanoras was meant to settle in, adjust to the environment, to rehearse the performance, etc. I am not sure, what actually happened to me that evening, but the next morning I awoke with a suddenly painful foot. Hence, I have unlucky events with my legs from time to time, I tried to assure myself it will be okay after a few hours or so but as time passed by, my leg became red, got swollen and it was hard to walk. I still resisted to the idea to see the doctors claiming it was not a first time to me. I sang those songs in the evening, refrained from dancing and still hoped tomorrow I will be fine, truly.
And yet it even got worse. That night I almost collapsed from pain while going to the restroom, the next morning I almost collapsed again, so I had to finally admit, I must see a doctor somehow. It was Saturday, the closest town that had a hospital was Molėtai, about 14 miles away from the campus.
Organizers took me there, but as we had expected, it was closed. The voice came out of a walky-talky: "It seems, that the reception is closed, but, well, they have a sobriologist." We could reply nothing at that, only laugh. Well, for all you to know, the programmes, offered by the current prime minister of health, was kind of from fantasy section lately, and all Lithuanians make dark jokes from every new law established.
The reception was there, however, we found it somehow. The X-ray was conducted, and a young physician claimed I have a podagra. I am a physician myself, so I tried to remain calm because from the things she told me I knew it was a wrong diagnosis. My uric-acid concentration was measured just a few months ago (it was normal), and I had no hereditary of that kind (at least, never heard about that from the closest relatives). I could only see, that my first and second metacarpophalangeal bones were not fractured and it was all I needed to know about the whole situation. My leg was bandaged and I was sent back to the campus.
As almost all people know, physicians are the worst patients. And I was not a good patient, as you already guessed. I participated in handicraft and cultural workshops, got knowledge of various things and really enjoyed them. Despite the tries to limit my physical activities to walking from point A to point B, I was boiling inside seeing people doing small LARP fights. So, ignoring my body condition, I stepped into the battlefield. My movements were restricted, but I missed the fighting spirit so much, I could not hold against the possibility of taking a weapon-like softened bat into my hands. I tried bits of archery as well and it was fun even though I was clearly lacking as an archer.
As soon, as the game of LARP had to take place, the weather changed into some rainy one. The forecast promised us that it will be raining the entire time, so we felt lucky that we had to shorten the game only a little because of the meteorologic circumstances. I already had troubles with my leg, but as soon, as we entered the forest, we encountered a real enemy, a lot worse, than we should fight in the game. Yes. Mosquitos. Everywhere. Repellents hardly worked on them. We had them in the living place as well. Usually, they turned out to be a real hassle only in the evening, but in the forest, we became a feast for millions of hungry mosquitos. If someone would ask to show us our battle marks, were there none from the other players, but there were hundreds of itchy red dots left by the natural enemy, residing in the woods and swamps.
I was chosen as a chieftain of the Easterling faction, but because of my aching leg, I could not concentrate on the role. However, I ended up volunteering to be a local game master. It was an accident and I cursed myself for taking upon this role so stupidly. I had other ideas, what I wanted to do in the game (most of them already crashed because of my body condition) but somehow, because of that unlucky condition, I had to sit back so much, that to sit inside the campus with a walky-talky was not that bad of an idea. I have never seen the other campuses of the two other factions (eotheods and druadanes), so I was a bit sad I was missing most of the main events. An NPC has almost killed me once, the "screamers" scared the hell outa everyone and there were none who knew how to fight them... Well, it was not sincere to say, nothing was going around us. At some point, the LOTR setting changed into Game of Thrones (everyone was betraying everyone, a lot of needless blood spill and political intrigues).
The game itself has also shifted from its original plan: a guy, who wanted to create a sect and divide from the main Easterlings religion became a fearsome God-like subject with too much power, our Shaman-woman started having visions not only about the crops and other resources but also about the Red Dragon...
We killed the Bad Guy in red, but the Red Dragon happened to be hiding somewhere else. The players there tricked into making the purifying ritual that actually awoken the dragon so instead of fighting some international fights everyone rose against that one supernatural being that does not belong to either of us. Because it was the only massive fight I could take part in, it was fun to watch it. I was killed in the very beginning and yet it was something I wanted to see for my own reasons as a writer of a fantasy book.
The international event went beyond the borders: I don't know whether any of us had any viewpoints to change about any other of the two nations, but English truly became a united language. It was fun to hear my natives speak English between each other even though they could speak Lithuanian. Some people tried to learn at least a few words from participants of other countries. I skipped most of those social events because I was too tired and too antisocial to be around so many people for so long. This year I had insomnia and after getting incredibly tired in the "Settling of Rohan" it hit me again. My roommate (shaman-woman Ieva whom I knew more than 5 years as I was a student and kept this contact even moving from Kaunas to Vilnius) has caught a cold and left the Labanoras a day earlier. I stayed alone in the room. It was very nice to have a room only for myself while all the rest had to share theirs with one or more people. The last day, I woke up somewhat around 4 in the morning and could not sleep much longer so went outside and walked around the campus lost in tranquility. Nothing else to do until 8 or 9 in the morning...
I had a HEMA sparring appointment with two other guys from our club in the same evening so I took three LARP weapons that were left behind by other players with me. I was asked to borrow some armor equipment from other members because I had none, so I had even more things to carry with me. It was hectic: I was terribly deprived of sleep, my foot was still in pain, because of rainy weather and sitting all day long on the bench I had an infection of urinary bladder as well, on my back were two bags: one with my own things, one with the armor, I had those three soft swords... Anyone would tell, a person in this condition could hardly learn new things and definitely shouldn't spar.
But it was me. Breathless as I was, I endured the taunts about my incapabilities and somehow finished my first sparring. I had no energy left so I said I would be able to do the LARP style fight as I wouldn't need to wear all the armor. I guess, my career as a larper ended before even starting: the first weapon the opponent has chosen was broken in an instant, the next one was not convenient enough to use it as a longsword nor as a rapier so we both had to cancel the match. Nobody needed the soft weapons so they met their end in the garbage box. That way, the "Settling of Rohan" was truly over.
Okay, not that so. My leg still reminds me about it when it gets colder. No worries. I have a tendency to injure my leg quite often so a slightly painful sole was still better than tendinitis or sprained ankle.
So, this is it. This time, really. I went to the "Settling of Rohan" mostly for the promotion for my book and I did practically none. So I am doing it now in a different way but I had this one in mind before anyway.
Do I recommend LARP? You should try at least once and decide for yourselves. You would not lose anything but may find something you might like or become mad about it.
Do I recommend "Erasmus+" projects? Yes, and one more time yes! I have met so many new people and had various experiences that despite me being super unlucky this time, I would truly try one of these kinds of projects as long as I am still eligible.
Farewell, Rohan, happy, I could see you coming alive. Participants of the project, if some of you would ever recognize a character you have created during that time or some plot twist from the game in my book, hope you will enjoy it the same way you did in the camp.
You can find the information about my book and where to buy it here: