A mysterious portal appeared in the forests of Lindon. Will the brave adventurers be able to figure out how to close it before the treants awake?!
This LARP is designed for kids between the ages of 8 and 16. It took our group of six adventurers about 90 minutes to solve. This story requires four main story actors, at least two supporting actors, and three distinct zones.
Welcome to the Forests of Lindon
A mysterious portal has appeared in the forests of Lindon. An eerie green mist has overtaken the glade. Voices can sometimes be heard through the portal.
Strange things have been happening since the portal appeared last week. Some of the forest guardians have gone missing. The trees are starting to glow and move in unnatural ways. Some of the forests’ residents have gone missing. Those that remain report strange dreams, hallucinations, and hearing unusual sounds.
Linleaf, the father of the forest, is the tree closest to the portal. Worried Druids have watched, powerless, as the mysterious green mist has utterly overcome the tree. It cracks and groans without wind and some swear they’ve heard the tree speak. It appears to have a mind and will of its own.
In desperation, the people of Lindon have summoned Adventures to help them figure out what is wrong and how to stop it.
There was a six step sequence to our LARP, which I will explain in detail below.
Before we get into the breakdown, please note that I’ve elaborated on the characters, settings and props below this section. If you want to repeat the event, you can use our notes to make it easier. Just remember that our event was more complicated than necessary so you can simplify it.
Step 1: The Arrival
We kept this event completely secret from our children so we wanted the introduction to be impactful. They spent the day with their grandparents while we set up. My husband had told the kids that there was a costume contest at the mall, so they were dressed up and ready to go when he picked them up. He said I wasn’t quite ready and they needed to return home to pick me up.
The Warlock met them at the front door when they arrived home. They thought they were running into the house to grab some trick or treating bags for an event at the mall… but instead, they were intercepted before they ever reached the front door.
The Warlock’s objective was to greet the Adventurers and lead them down the path into the backyard. Along the way, he introduced himself and the general backstory.
As they rounded the corner on the path so that the scene came into view, the Warlock introduced the glowing portal and the lit-up tree. He explains the basic information contained in the backstory section above and points out that the well-lit tree is the great Linleaf, the father of the forest.
As the group approaches Linleaf, the Ranger rushed out of the forest and interrupted the Warlock. She was searching for the four guardians of the forest.
As she approached, she announced that she just found Raspadil the rabbit but cannot find Azazel the dragon. She asked the Adventurers to keep an eye out for any trace of the dragon and instructed them to report to her immediately if they spotted any sign of him.
The ranger departed into the forest before giving the Adventurers the chance to respond. She roamed the forest, waiting for them to find her.
Step 2: Developing the Story
After the Ranger departed, the Warlock concluded his introduction. He expressed frustration that the Druids would not talk to him but he wouldn’t explain why they wouldn’t communicate. The Warlock instructed the Adventurers to check with the Druids for more information.
The Adventurers had to find the Druid in order to ask him questions. He was hidden in the darker, creepier part of the forest.
When they found him, he revealed some history about what had happened with Linleaf and the history of the forest. The druid explained a bit of the backstory contained in the character information below, specifically mentioning that the Heart of the Forest was key to solving this plight.
Unfortunately, the druid didn’t remember the exact location. The effect of the portal magic seemed to be sapping his strength and affecting his mind. He asked the Adventurers for help finding the Heart.
The Adventurers were supposed to ask around, but they didn’t follow up on that as well as I had hoped. The people of Lindon were instructed to discuss their dreams and fears, but don’t have any useful information.
Eventually, the Adventurers asked the Witch for assistance. When they asked her for help, she was very distracted and tried to shoo them away… but when they mentioned the Heart of the Forest, she became a lot more friendly.
The witch knew a spell that could help. Before she could perform it, though, they needed to bring her a dragon talon.
Step 3: Finding the Dragon (Quest #1)
As introduced at the very beginning, the Adventurers need to find Azazel the Dragon who was lost somewhere in the forest.
We forced the completion of this quest at this time by having the Witch demand the talon.
The dragon talon necklace was held by the Ranger but she would only release it to whoever located the dragon… so the story couldn’t move forward until this quest was complete.
In our adventure, Azazel was hidden under some branches in our forest. We left clues to his location using metal dragon scales scattered across the path.
We also splattered some blacklight-reactive paint near his location. In case the kids didn’t find Azazel in a timely fashion, the witch had a few “magic wands” (blacklight flashlights) that could illuminate the dragon blood so that he would be easier to find.
When the dragon was found, the Adventurers had to bring him to the Ranger. The Ranger gave them the dragon talon necklace as a reward for completing that quest.
Step 4: Solving the Cyphers (Quest #2)
The Adventurers brought the talon to the witch. At this point, she stopped being hostile and brought them inside her hut.
She pointed them to the witch’s book. The book was actually a painted book box from a local craft store. It contained a handful of cyphers written in three different codes. The witch indicated that one of the codes was the recipe for the spell.
In reality, there were about a dozen cypher codes in the book. One cypher held all three clues that they needed to solve the puzzle. Three cyphers held one clue each. The remainders were all decoys. Some were inside jokes for our family. One was a grocery list. Another literally said, “This code is useless.”
There were floating candles all around the witch’s hut. Each candle had an image on the bottom. The cypher was intended to help them identify the three candles they needed in order to help the witch perform her spell.
When they solved the correct cypher, it instructed them to find the three things that make all plants grow. In this case, they were looking for soil, water and a sun. They had to find the right candles with those icons.
Inside those three candles were packets of cinnamon and powdered sugar. The powder was kept inside small Ziploc bags inside each candle. They had to pop the tealight off the top to pull out what was inside.
The witch gathered the Adventures by the cauldron to help mix the powders together. The kids really dug their hands into the bowl and fluffed it up so that it was a fine powder.
The witch helped the Adventurers mix it together so they could throw it into the fire. It took a little encouraging since some of them didn’t want to reach into the bowl, but pretty soon they had it ready to go!
They carried the cinnamon and powdered sugar mixture over to the fire. As they each tossed in a little handful, they watched the fire sparkle!
As it sparkled, the witch clearly saw the location of the Heart of the Forest. It had been stolen by a terrible monster with many eyes and many legs!
Step 5: Defeating the Monster (Quest #3)
In order to retrieve the Heart of the Forest, the children had to find the monster. The witch’s clues helped them discern that it was a spider. They went to the large spiderweb near Linleaf and found a large pinata there.
They attacked it ferociously… and didn’t find the heart!
A second spider slowly descended from the upstairs porch and started to attack them! Once they defeated that spider, they found the heart and returned it to the druid for further instructions.
Step 6: The Conclusion
The druid informed them that the heart belonged to Linleaf’s fallen brother. They needed to restore the heart to the shrine at the memorial. He urged the Adventurers to gather everyone so they could experience the restoration together.
Unfortunately, it was a bit challenging to gather some of the townsfolk since some of them had already started to go mad from the influence of the portal…
A short distance away from Linleaf, there were a few fallen trees on the ground with tombstones nearby. At the base of the tombstones was a wooden chest, covered in chains, where the heart needed to be placed.
When everyone gathered, the Adventurers placed the Heart in the chest.
Immediately, the lights began to flicker in a three-minute lightshow that showed the green infection being fought by a blue healing force.
When the light show ended, balance was restored the forest… and we all enjoyed some cake and cookies.
This story has four essential characters. We left most of the creative details to our friends who would play these roles, so we only outlined the essentials.
The characters are listed here in order of appearance.
The Warlock has been listening intently at the portal for the last three days. He has caught bits and pieces of an incantation. He has only recognized a few words that he has translated as “treants, awake, rise up, conquer…”
The Warlock believes a powerful druid is conjuring the portal with the intent to awaken and corrupt Linleaf. However, the druids of Lindon will not talk to him so he can’t get any of the information that he needs.
The Warlock must warn the Adventurers that if any animals have been harmed, it’s an indication that the entire forest will be in danger if the trees awaken.
The ranger is one of the wood elves of Lindon. Her home is the forest and she is determined to defend it. Her people have lived in the forest longer than any of the others.
This ranger is particularly stealthy. She moves through the trees without being seen and may surprise Adventurers who are not vigilant.
Her primary concern has been the guardians of the forest. These are the four magical creatures that are rare and unique to the forests of Lindon. Three of them have been found and are safe. When she enters the story, she will be searching for Azazel the Dragon.
The Druids of Lindon have been watching over the forest for millennia. They are close to the forest. They recognize that something significant has changed. The usual birds are gone; the new ones are haunting and strange. Many of the insects and the animals have fled. Some of the forest’s most magical animals have disappeared or died. The forest has a different feel now.
They know Linleaf is a treant. Treants are sentient trees that look like ordinary trees unless they are awakened. They are protectors of the forest.
These druids are hundreds of years old but not quite old enough to remember Linleaf themselves. Their grandparents were around when Linleaf last awoke. The tree saved their people from a terrible desolation and in return they pledged to protect it while it slept.
The druids know that Linleaf was a mighty defender of the forest and its inhabitants when it awoke 1200 years ago… but they also know that the Linleaf’s brother was slain in battle and that Linleaf started to go mad when his brother fell. They do not want the treant to awaken, especially under these terrible conditions, because his behavior will be unpredictable.
They are deeply concerned about this change but they cannot figure out how to reverse it. Whatever evil force is imbuing Linleaf is also sapping their strength.
The Druids are wary of the Warlock and don’t trust him. They are hesitant to explain why, but it has something to do with the fact they blame him for what happened to Linleaf’s brother.
This poor witch had a very important task to do and it could only be done on this one specific night. She’s very busy and she wants to be left alone. She’s very irritated about all the endless interruptions about this portal nonsense and she’s very bothered by this eerie green glow that is obscuring the moonlight.
The witch remains somewhat hostile to the Adventurers until she is asked about the Heart of the Forest.
People of Lindon
Some of Lindon’s residents will be wandering the forest, affected by the influence of the portal. They may be mumbling about nightmares or strange dreams, babbling in unknown languages, or hiding and creeping around the forest silently.
This LARP requires four distinct zones: the glade, the tree, the forest and the Witch’s Hut.
A glade is an open space in a forest. The opening does not have to be very large, but it helps to have some open space. In our glade, we placed the portal, fire, Linleaf and the Witch’s Hut. This is also where the Warlock was stationed and where our quest began.
Linleaf the treant is the focal point of this story. It helps to position your story so that you have one prominent, decorated tree that can easily be distinguished as the treant. We strung ours with lights that pulsed green to show the infection spreading.
We also had a few fallen trees nearby with gravestones. The largest of these was identified as Linleaf’s brother, and where the Heart of the Forest needed to be placed.
Alternatively, we could have placed the chest at the base of Linleaf and changed the story to remove references to Linleaf’s brother.
The bulk of the story takes place in the forest. This is where the dragon was hidden, where the druids and other characters lurked, etc.
The Witch’s Hut
Our hut was a simple pop-up canopy that I found on Amazon. We decorated it with a variety of vials, jars, and other props. We also had a fake fire outside the tent with a cauldron propped up on a cooking tripod.
Along the metal frame of the ceiling, we strung tons of fake tealight candles.The bottom of each candle had a unique icon, which was used in the cypher portion of the quest. We used about 30 candles.
There were a few essential props that were needed for this LARP.
The first quest involves finding a Azazel the dragon. I bought our Azazel on Amazon but it was much smaller than I expected.
In order to make it easier to find Azazel, I also bought some metal dragon scales that I could sprinkle along the path. I was a bit more generous with the scales because we had so many.
Closer to Azazel, I dripped some neon blacklight paint. The paint wasn’t really visible in the dark but it reacted strongly when a UV light was shined on it. We let the Adventurers seek the dragon for a while before the witch gave them the “magic wands” (blacklight flashlights) that illuminated the paint.
When the dragon is found, the Adventurers need to receive a dragon talon they can take to the witch. I picked up a beautiful dragon pendant necklace on Amazon that we used.
The cypher puzzle can be handwritten, so it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can purchase a cypher wheel on Amazon or make one yourself. I’m particularly fond of the pigpen cypher, so I made a handwritten pigpen cypher board to go with the handwritten codes in the box.
To make the challenge a little more complicated for my older kids, I made a series of cyphers. Most of them were useless but a few were riddles that led them to the correct solution.
The floating candles in the witch’s hut were used to hold the spell ingredients. We made them using white cardboard rolls, hot glue, and LED tealight candles. There’s a tutorial here.
Heart of the Forest
The Heart of the Forest is the most important prop of this event. It is what needs to be found to wrap up the entire event.
You’ll also need somewhere to place the Heart when it’s found. We used a wooden chest from the craft store. We placed a clay insert inside to indicate exactly where the heart should go, but that’s not really necessary.
Now that we’ve completed this adventure, there are a few things I would have done differently. Let’s break down what went well and what could’ve gone better.
First, I would’ve used less cyphers. There were way too many. My daughter usually loves them but the time constraints made them too stressful. If we did this again, I’d only do 2-3 pigpen cyphers.
Second, I would’ve prepared the photography and videos better. Despite a lot of recording, it was hard to run up and down the hill so I missed a lot of great photo ops.
Third, I think we’ll do a lot better when we’re not so worried about keeping everything secret. Some things were really hindered by the secretiveness of the event. For example, we weren’t able to test the final lightshow because the kids would’ve had questions. We’ll be able to do much better on the next one because we won’t be so worried about maintaining the secrecy.
However, it was overall a great success! We have some very talented friends who were able to really embody these characters in an incredible and believable way. They had a great grasp of their roles and I was blown away by their creativity, costumes and dedication!
My kids certainly thought it was great! As my wide-eyed teenager said, “This was epic.”