A battle at The Gathering
|Services||Weekend fest events with up to 3000 participants|
|Methods||Proprietary (foam weapons)|
Lorien Trust (sometimes abbreviated to LT) is the trading name of Merlinroute ltd., a Live Action Role-Play organisation that runs LARP events at Locko Park, Derby, UK. It runs some of Britain's largest Live Roleplay events, attracting around 1,200 to 1,500 to its first three events each year and around 2,500 to 3,000 people to The Gathering. It was formed in 1992, originally as a charitable organisation (hence "Trust" in the name). In 1995 it became Merlinroute ltd trading as Lorien Trust. The Lorien Trust has a well established game world, and uses its own set of LARP rules, known simply as the "Lorien Trust rules system". In addition to the four events held per year, the Lorien Trust also sanctions many smaller events to use the same system and game world.
The Lorien Trust's flagship event is The Gathering. It is held over the August bank holiday weekend. The final battle of The Gathering normally draws around 1200 players on each side. These are some of the largest Live Action battles in Europe.
The setting for these events is the fictional world of Erdreja which is described as "high fantasy/medieval".
- Spring Moot - Held on the Early May Bank holiday.
- The Great Erdrejan Fayre (GEF) - A sports championship themed event, previously known as the Heartland Games - Held on the Spring Bank Holiday (usually at the end of May).
- Summer Moot - Usually held around the first or second weekend of the Summer Holidays (late July / early August)
- The Gathering - Lorien Trust's flagship event held on the Summer Bank Holiday( end of August).
Erdreja is a relatively free-form fantasy world which imports its concepts from numerous sources including Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy novels. The LT's campaign focuses around a continental region of Erdreja, known as the Heartlands. This region is divided into ten separate kingdoms, each governed by one of the Factions of Erdreja. Each Faction takes its name from an animal associated with that kingdom. Every player character belongs to one of the ten Factions. Characters may also be members of none/any/all of the ten Guilds.
The ten factions and their main inspirations are:
- The Bears (primarily Scottish clansmen)
- The Dragons (based on Celts from Ireland and Wales)
- The Gryphons (French and Spanish noblemen)
- The Harts (English in the tradition of King Arthur)
- The Jackals (Arabic and Ancient Greek people)
- The Lions (also English, sharing the Harts' background with Viking Roots)
- The Tarantulas (mainly Drow from the Underdark)
- The Unicorns (seafaring traders)
- The Vipers (Teutonic people including many Goblins and Orcs)
- The Wolves (based on Viking cultures)
The fourteen guilds are:
- The Healers
- The Incantors
- The Bards
- The Alchemists
- The Militia
- The Bank
- The Archers
- The Scouts
- The Mages
- The Armourers
- The Watchers
- The Great Library
- The Casino
- The Corruptors
Within the Factions, players organise themselves into semi-independent groups (e.g. The Chaos Guild). Each group usually has some kind of common purpose (a military unit, for example, or a trading company), and many players will put great effort into giving their group a strong identity.
In addition to the Factions, there are also a number of international Guilds, whose In Character role is to provide training and support for members of different professions. Out of Character, the Guilds also help to administer the LT system - the Mages' Guild, for example, handles the distribution of spell-cards (OOC items needed by players of magic-using characters).
In the early years of the LT, Erdreja was conceived as an open gameworld: players were allowed to play any kind of character they wished. Over time, the problems of maintaining continuity in such a free-flowing system, coupled with the growing prevalence of LARPs with closed gameworlds, led the LT to exert some control over the types of character permitted in the system. That said, there is still a wide variety of races and character roles available to players. The races, like much of the rest of the gameworld, are drawn from fantasy literature:
- Beastkin (Beastmen, etc.)
- Urucks (Goblins, Orcs, etc.)
- Ologs (Ogres, Trolls, etc.)
- Dark Elves - Dark Elves, Drow and Norns
- Fey - Wild Fey, Seelie, Unseelie
- Wee folk (Halflings, etc.)
- Other (Which encompasses anything else a player can make an acceptable costume for, including; Golems, Genies or Garthim. Though only in very special cases are the related attributes of these races applied to the character. Along with the races there are many skills that can be chosen from to personalise a character, such as healing or spell casting.
Erdreja is saturated with magic of various kinds, and spell-casting characters are common. In-character rituals are often carried out by players to create magical items or to further an ongoing plot. In character faith is universally based around ancestor worship.
LARP in the UK
LARP in the UK is now a wide and diverse hobby, from High Fantasy Role Play (of which the Lorien Trust is a prime example) to the Steampunk genre.
In June 2011 the Lorien Trust gameworld (more specifically the bears faction forums) was found to be the 385th most visited website by the UK's Department of Transport. This was picked up by various newspapers and the BBC. In September 2012 the Sun newspaper published an article mistaking the game world for one replicating Middle Earth and The Lord of the Rings, rather than having its own fantasy setting. In October 2012 the Huffington Post posted an in depth article exploring a first-time roleplayer's view of the Live Roleplay scene from the point of view of someone attending the Gathering for the first time and interviewing a number of attendees, charting The Lorien Trust and other systems in the UK.
- Barrell, Tony (26 October 2003). "The land of make believe". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
- Sims, Paul (22 August 2001). "Nottingham - What's On". BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
- "Lorien Trust Official Site". Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 23 April 2007.
- "Department for Transport Internet Usage". Department for Transport. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
- Sanchez, Raf (29 July 2011). "Belly dancing and medieval role play: civil servants' favourite websites". Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 August 2011.
- Chapman, James (30 July 2011). "Cyberslackers of the Civil Service: Officials make tens of thousands of web visits on taxpayers' time and money". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 1 August 2011.
- "Civil servants' web habits revealed". BBC news. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
- "Lord of the Rings fans turn the Midlands into Middle Earth". The Sun. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
- Allison, Peter. "Something for the Weekend: Live Action Role-Play and the Gathering". Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
- Lorien Trust Homepage
- Lorien Trust - Harts Faction library
- BBC article covering the Gathering in 2001
- Lorien Trust rules
- Live Role-Playing Games: Implications for Pervasive Gaming, a conference paper employing the Lorien Trust as an example of a live roleplay system