Reclamation is the first ever Martial Guilds sanctioned event run by the Lorien Trust, and intriguingly did not allow NPCs (non-player characters, in essence staff) to book and attend, which meant player-led action without guidance. Sold as a horror event, it certainly lived up to it, with creepy music and ambience in the woods at night, smoke bombs, uplighting of monsters, high-threat and high-combat with added time limit missions, this event was designed to make the player base feel frightened.

Generally speaking, as it was the Martial Guilds (Archers, Armourers, Militia, Scouts), you can expect that a lot of the players that attended were fighter types, and you would be correct. What really added to the danger was the healer to fighter ratio, which seemed smaller than usual, meaning less healing to go around. You know when there’s bad things in the night that can deal you a wound that only a certain type of healing will heal? There was a lot of that. And that’s a pretty brown-trouser moment for a lot of players.

Myself and Strange crewed the event, and got to play two of the weekend’s mid-bosses, priests of the Big Bad Eilatan (we’ll let you guess at the significance of that name), a screaming, raving, vengeful loony with the minions expected of such a villain. Alongside her were her priests, a medley of wraiths, skeletons, and banshees, and lurking in the woods themselves were pigmen, catmen, and tree and forest elementals. Mostly the unliving, the bane of goodies everywhere, but some living creatures scattered in there as well so the players aren’t always hauling out the same tricks.

A real highlight of the event from a monster and player perspective was the introduction of Eilatan on Friday night, who emerged into the fighting player base with smoke bombs and great uplighting which gave her a harrowing look. Many of the players instinctively backed off, even before they knew it was the Big Bad walking amongst them because of the special effects. Another great highlight was the effort in the set pieces. They built a spiderweb filled mine for the players to explore, complete with tunnels. A lit up obelisk as a rite focus which illuminated in stages to show how far the rites had gone. Well built and designed set pieces improve the immersion for both players and crew, although they provide a logistical nightmare in transporting and wiring in outdoor conditions.

It’s always good to see a plot team running combat encounters where some of the lesser used skills can really float to the surface. In the Lorien Trust, some players with skills taken in improving their ‘control’ skills can control unliving, elemental, ancestral or demonic patterns for a period of 10 minutes. Usually, these sort of special patterns are of a high rank, and so near-impossible to control with only one person’s spell power, however, this skill became invaluable by the end of the event, as there were enough smaller special patterns to be controlled and used by the player base during the battles – a good choice in my opinion.

The event was held at Huntley Wood, Cheadle, and is known for its vast size and luxurious facilities – there’s event hand moisturiser in the toilet block!. And showers for when baby wipes can no longer wipe the cracks of face paint from your nostrils, or you might need a little cry. As a big site, it can be easy to feel like you’re walking miles to get everywhere, but the team made an effort to make the set pieces feel evenly spread, with enough exploration and scattering of the plot items that the areas felt new and different.