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The Twilight of the Gods

“Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountain, like wind in the meadow. The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow. How did it come to this?”

(Theoden, “The Two Towers”, movie by Peter Jackson)

A lot has changed in the Broken Lands, which are now bent under the fist of those who worship the new Gods. However, in the proud and primal North a group of unruly and brave warriors fight on to keep the tradition alive. A few tired men and women withdraw into the deep of the forests in order to plan the defeat of the enemy which is crushing them. The twilight of the gods is close, nevertheless isn't the end close as well? Is an honorable death in the name of their ideals preferable to a life surviving under slavery to a different faith?

In “Twilight of the Gods” we strove to offer an epic journey through Norse myths and sagas which lie at the source of fantasy, to discover (or re-discover) ancient tales of monstrous creatures, tragic heroes, and enchanted swords.

It was structured as a mini-campaign made of two 3-day long events: “The Last Heroes” and “The Halls of our Fathers”. These events were linked but self-sufficient: players could play either or both, still fullfilling a story arc for their character.

Constantly researching game formulas, we made use of concepts in this Larp which were new to us . For the first time we tried out the idea of an 'event inside the event': by enrolling into the mini-larps “In the Eyes of the Enemy” or “The Profession of Arms”, twenty players could enter the game just for the Sunday in either weekend, as an extra character group with its own plots, integrated into the general game-plan.

We also introduced dynamic fateplay, using rune props linked to a specific secret fate, which players acquired in game depending on their course of action, thus, in a way, choosing their own destiny. We pushed harder on our special effects: a huge forest clearing illuminated with supernatural lights, where spirits' voices echoed; a ghost swimming in the flooded dungeons, screaming in terror; a realistic secret passage, activated through a styled electromechanical puzzle lock (complete with a smoke trap triggered by failure to solve the puzzle); a carpet of fog and a subtle change of banners all over the castle to suggest a shift in reality... Finally, the composition of an original theme song (a funeral dirge), used both for general inspiration and to underline some pivotal moments in the game with a great emotional impact.

This Concept spurred a huge, spontaneous player effort in costume design (almost everyone wore very well crafted compositions), and overall the event was emotionally very strong: the level of enthusiasm at the end of the story was deeply felt, especially after the first chapter, which was the most heroic of the two. Read a recount from one of our players, and Facebook comments from the first event (in Italian).

Where: the woods of Pianezze di Vialfré (Italy, province of Turin) and castle Brich di Zumaglia (Italy, province of Biella)
When: 31 May - 2 June and 1 - 3 August, 2014
Participants: 130 in the first episode, 134 in the second; a minority played both events so in the end the campaign had 228 unique players (of those, 33 had never played in a larp and 49 were new to Terre Spezzate)
Setting: low-fantasy, norse, epic
Structure: two-shot mini campaign, each event divided into acts (one per day, lasting 4 to 10 hours) with 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 treatment of wounds
Techniques: pre-written characters, introductory workshops, realistic set design, SFX (smoke, fire, light, sound), diegetic music.
Pictures: gallery 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

Born of the deep desire of some old and new members of our team to write an event inspired by the original sagas of the North, “Twilight...” represented a further step in revolutionising the way we organize Larps: for the first time we entrusted the event to the group of enthusiasts that conceived it (see full credits) without the Terre Spezzate founders taking part in the creation. With this larp, this old team taboo also fell.