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The Stronghold of the Vanquished

"People learn more from a defeat than Kings do from triumph"     (Giuseppe Mazzini)


The placid daily life of a small countryside fortress is shattered by a foreign army. A Kingdom where many Lords are far away from their lands, taking part in a campaign of conquest, is shaken by rebellion and uprising. A daring raid forces both oppressed and oppressors to live together side by side for days in the same castle. While War hangs over plebeians' and Lords' lives, men at arms and burghers' paths cross each other unexpectedly, changing the fate of the war, and everyone's lives. 

The Stronghold of the Vanquished represented a milestone in Terre Spezzate's history and, as we like to think, of Italian larp in general. For us it was the first event to break away from a continuous fantasy campaign with a complex set of rules, a format that was feeling more and more limiting.

Having been inspired by a Nordic larp, experienced first-hand in the Spring of 2013 by some of us, we wished to propose a larp event in Italy that could be engaging from a narrative standpoint but rules-light. We wished to marry the Scandinavian style based on role-play and emotional engagement with the numbers and the production values that we've found only in the more game-centred and more common larps of anglo-american ancestry. 

Having been very successful, the event was rerun in April 2014. Indeed it also had an impact on the national scene: it was greatly talked about and in the end several other organizers put forward events inspired by the Stronghold of the Vanquished over the following months. Here you can read three reviews, or Facebook comments from the first run (in Italian).

Where:  Castello di Paderna in Pontenure (Italy, province of Piacenza)
When: 18 - 20 october 2013, rerun 4 - 6 april 2014
Participants: 130 in the 'premiere', 115 in the rerun; all in all, 199 unique players, adjusting for those who chose to play both (33 players were totally new to larping, 65 were larpers who had never attended an event by Terre Spezzate)
Setting: low-fantasy, drama
Structure: one-shot, in 4 acts of about 6 hours each; off-game night rest
Game system:  WYSIWYG, with safeword-regulated, naturalistic interaction; in-game codes (tastes, colours) without extradiegetic keywords; simple combat system with foam weapons (flat damage, one hit per 'assault' and then break and re-engage); staged, prop-aided, treatment of wounds
Techniques: pre-written characters, introductory workshops, realistic set design, SFX (smoke, fire, sound).
Pictures: gallery 2013: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4; gallery 2014: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4.

This project was realized thanks to the efforts of Terre Spezzate's long-time team of organizers, authors and set designers. New talented collaborators joined them to build sets and props and to realize the special effects. Read the full Credits here.

"An event organized with an equal measure of passion, guts, and professionalism... many things that we've seen here could and should become the standard for more traditional events too." a participant stated.