This page contains out of character information

First Semester Runs

Once you arrive on Thursday, you’ll spend your first few hours on campus going through workshops out of character. Our workshops are designed to get everyone on the same page and up to speed for the game itself. It’s a bit like a miniature college orientation—you’ll get your robe and tie, your textbooks, your nametag, and so on. You’ll have time to meet your classmates (by House and by Path of study) and create or firm up character connections. The workshops give you a chance to learn and practice casting and reacting to spells, using our safety and consent mechanics, and more.

Game itself starts Thursday evening just before dinner with a welcome from the faculty. The first evening of game is meant as a time for classmates to get to know each other, catch up on what they missed over break, and so on. The Houses hold parties in their common rooms, and First Years attempt to both figure out where they want to be Sorted and to make themselves known to that House. Some drama might unfold, but for the most part things tend to be fairly low stakes on the first night.

Friday is the first full day of classes. Students are in class all day Friday, with some time off before dinner to nap and work on homework and projects. During this break, the House Presidents meet and draft the First Years into their houses. After dinner on Friday is the Sorting, the formal ceremony in which each First Year joins a house. The members of each House then take their First Years off for a secret initiation ritual somewhere on campus. These rituals, generally designed by the House Presidents, are powerful experiences. After the rituals is free time for club meetings and lots more drama to unfold.

Saturday is the second day of classes, following the same schedule as Friday. Everyone is trying to earn House Points for the Cup, please their Professors, and maybe find a date for the Welcome Formal. The free time block before dinner is a quiet time for some as they prepare for the dance and a wild time for others as their storylines reach their dramatic climax.

Saturday builds up to the Welcome Formal, the grand dance that caps off the game. The dance itself is meant to be just that—a dance party. NPCs will likely not attack the dance, and players are discouraged from disrupting the dance with drama outbursts. That said, there is always plenty of drama happening outside the dance hall, and there are often secret rituals and dramatic tragedies going on while most of the school is distracted and partying. The dance—and the larp—ends with the awarding of the First House Trophy and closing speeches from the House Presidents. The post-larp party then commences, and continues long into the night.

Sunday morning after breakfast is a soft close, a time to resolve things and take final photos with new friends. There are structured debriefing workshops, meant to help you have closure and return comfortably to life outside Magischola. Events conclude at 11 a.m. with checkout by noon.

The First Year House Draft

First year students need to be drafted into one of the five houses of New World Magischola. They are trying to find out where they best fit in, and also what they need to do to be noticed by the students who will make the final decisions. Almost every student is involved with the draft, with second years typically meeting first years and collecting intel, and the third years typically making a plan based on that reported intel. Professors who are House Monitors may also have some suggestions if they had noticed any particular first year students on the first day of classes.

There are two major ways of First Years making their preferences known: the Welcome Parties and the Ballot. The Parties happen Thursday night at 10:30 pm in the Common Rooms. First Years are encouraged to visit each of the Common Rooms, talk to the members, and get to know the culture. Second and Third Years should be meeting the First Years and recruiting them actively.

Balloting happens on Friday morning during lunch and after afternoon classes. First Years write their name and a first choice and last choice of house on a slip of paper and put it in the ballot box. The ballots will not be tampered with, either in or out of game, and the balloting process should not be pranked. The ballots are then presented to the House Presidents; no one will be sorted into their last choice, though not everyone will get their first choice.

Here are some other ways to demonstrate interest in a particular house:

  • Tell the House President and other House members you really hope they pick you.
  • Wear the colors of your preferred House.
  • Talk to others about how much you hope you are picked by X house.
  • Send a letter detailing your qualifications and adherence to the House values to the House presidents.
  • Do deeds of derring-do to demonstrate your dedication, determination, diligence and discipline.
  • Earn positive points in your classes on Friday. These transfer to your new house and the more points you have, the more attractive of a draft pick you will likely be.
  • Tell everyone you can about your hopes for being in a House.
  • “Cozy up” to second and third-years in the House you hope to be chosen for.
  • Put your first choice of House on your ballot at 4:30 on Friday.

The Draft itself takes place after the end of classes on Friday afternoon. The Presidents make their draft picks in the following order: Laveau, Dubois, Calisaylá, Obeah, and Croatan, and then Croatan (two picks back to back), Obeah, Calisaylá, Dubois, and Laveau. This pattern repeats as necessarily (with Laveau having the back to back pick) until all First Year students have been drafted. Once all students have been drafted, the Presidents can negotiate trades. All trades must be one for one, but can include other favors, services, and so on.

On Friday evening after dinner the entire school gathers in the Great Hall. The names of the First Year students are read in alphabetical order by last name. Each student is sorted into one of the Houses, and given their appropriate tie, generally to the sound of cheers from their new Housemates. Once all students have been sorted, the Houses go their separate ways for their respective initiation rituals.

The Welcome Formal

On Saturday night at 9:30 pm, the first formal dance of the school year takes place, called the Welcome Formal. While still called a formal dance, formal dress is not enforced, and students may wear whatever they wish. There is a tradition of wearing “sharp” clothes, and to attempt to look one’s best, but still in the student’s own preferred style. Since robes are a uniform requirement at all other times, the Welcome Formal encourages students to present themselves according to their individual taste rather than to conform to a standard of formality.

In earlier times, students were required to have a date to the Formal Dance, and failure to do so was a problem that House Presidents needed to address or to answer for. In recent years, that is very much no longer the case. Students do still generally enter in pairs or trios, but without the strong expectation that these pairings be romantic ones.

House Points and the House Trophy

The competition for the First House Trophy is intense. It’s a five-way, zero-sum competition, greatly impacted by Professors implicit—if not overt —biases. Characters can find themselves going to great lengths to try to influence the outcome. Getting another house to take the blame for an incident or prank is among the most common examples of shenanigans. Every year faculty and staff insist that classroom performance is the most effective way to obtain the most points, and every year the majority of students try everything but that. Points are tracked by the Dean, and absolutely cannot be tampered with (in-game or off-game).

Students at New World Magischola can earn or lose points for their House through their performance in class, extracurricular activities, and service to the school. Faculty and staff at NWM may award points at their discretion, when they witness deeds or feats of great prowess, compassion, bravery, justice, or excellence. Similarly, they may deduct points from a student’s House when they witness acts of cruelty, cowardice, malfeasance, willful disregard for safety, or academic ineptitude. House points are tracked by professors individually, who then give their information to the Registrar.

Points may be awarded in discrete increments on the following scale from 1-5, for example:

  • 5 points – extraordinary feats of valor, diligence, excellence, kindness, altruism, or academic achievement
  • 3 points – contributing something new, innovative, standing up for others, etc.
  • 1 point- notable effort or attempt, taking a risk to grow, graciousness
  • (it’s possible to get 2 points or 4 points as well).

Points may also be deducted in discrete increments along the same scale, for example:

  • 5 points – audacious disregard for safety or autonomy, attempts to cheat, severe rule-breaking.
  • 1 point – tardiness, insolence, sloppiness, disruption, excessive competitiveness, breaking a school value.
  • (of course it is possible to have 2, 3, or 4 points deducted as well).

If more than one faculty member witnesses an event, each faculty member may award or deduct points at their discretion. This means that point additions or deductions can be compounded, or in some cases, cancel each other out. Faculty members have their preferences for the types of behaviors and achievements they feel deserve points being awarded or deducted. They may have House loyalties as well, either as alumni or as House Monitors. These preferences may not be considered fair by all students, but the fact that so many faculty members may add or subtract points as they see fit means that on balance, no favoritism can occur, or at least not for long without correction.

House Points are kept in a running tally, and are announced during each mealtime. House Points begin being tallied at the start of term at 6 p.m. on Thursday, and points may be collected and lost until the start of the Welcome Formal at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of the First House Trophy will be announced at the close of the Welcome Formal, with much rejoicing by the winning House and gracious acceptance and congratulations by the other Houses, who will have their chance again.

Throughout the more than 360 years of the tradition of the First House Trophy, it has been won by all Houses. Lakay Laveau has won the fewest times, but this is mainly because the other four houses had a 200-year head start. The competition for the First House Trophy is intense, and wide-open. Any House can take the Trophy, and students are encouraged to vie for the honor with excellence, fairness, and humility.

Pranking

Pranks are a beloved tradition and can be part of the fun, as long as they follow some simple guidelines. First and foremost among these is that no one should be forced to participate in a prank, either as the prankster or pranked. This fits with the design of the game as being opt-in. Another player should always have the choice to take up the prank, or to avoid it. This is similar to the spell effects—if someone casts a spell on you, you have the option for it to not work. In the same way, if someone hands you cursed candy or a hexed note, you do not have to play out the effects—unless you want to.

Here are some examples of good ways to prank at NWM:

  • Have a note delivered with a PS: instructions that it contains a hex and the person has to perform some one-time effect.
  • Leave objects around campus that when the curious pick-up, they read instructions for a magical effect that they should embody. Put a time limit on them, e.g. “Oink! You will speak only in Pig Latin for the next 10 minutes.”
  • Send someone a candy, or treat with an attached note about being hit with a stomach jig and needing to find an antidote (there will be common antidote available with the healer, alchemy lab, etc.)
  • Put a small note with someone’s drink to say “Your drink contains a laughing potion. Its effects last 5 mins unless counteracted.”

Pranks that should never be done:

  • Theft. There will be potions items designed to be nicked in-game that are up for role-play taking to make all your secret things. You will know what these items are and they are considered disposable at the game. There will also be some in-game props that are designed for being moved from one place to another for quests and so people can role-play rule-breaking. You’ll know what these are because an NPC will introduce them. These should be returned at the end of the game. All other property, belonging to NWM, organizers, the venue, or fellow players should not be moved, removed, stolen, borrowed, consumed, etc. Props may be touched and interacted with, but should remain in the room you found them. This includes House Common Rooms. Unless you have permission from another player, please do not take anything that does not belong to you. Remember that wands are never stolen and lost wands should be brought quickly to the organizers.
  • “Trashing” a room. It is not a good prank to go in some place (certainly not a classroom or another house’s common room) and make it a mess, leaving it for others to clean up. Don’t do it. In fact, clean up after yourselves in whatever you do. You can do this in-character.
  • Physically trapping someone against their will.
  • It is never a good idea to prank on someone’s out-of-game characteristics. Don’t do it.
  • Pranking a magical effect that creates a situation where a disability, race, gender, or sexuality is the brunt of the joke is a bad idea. Just no.
  • Do not “slip” an actual potion (even if it is edible, as all potions at NWM will be) in someone’s drink. People have allergies that could be life-threatening. Again, people should have the choice to participate.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Will this be fun for the pranked person? And if you're not sure: ask. Pranks should create fun play for others, not take away from their fun or impede play. Pranks should be done light-heartedly and not mean-spiritedly. Please don't do pranks that nobody can opt-out of and that don't create game and fun situations. These are not pranks. These are annoyances.

Here is some more advice for fun pranking, compiled by College of Wizardry player Justine Jones, also of New World Magischola 1.

LESS IS MORE
It can be a lot of fun to find one of a couple hexed flowers laying around. It's not fun anymore if the whole place is filled with cursed flowers. People will just ignore it after a while. The same goes for every other prank. Also remember: You might not be the only prankster.
TEAM UP
It's way more fun to have a prankster group doing fun pranks together. Also this way it's more likely to not have too many pranks.
PERSONALIZE
Sometimes it's fun and game creating to personalize pranks. Example: Someone is behaving very much like an Unsoiled supremacist? Give them a prank letter that says they were switched at birth and are really mundaneborn!
CREATE GAME, MAKE IT FUN
Create fun and engaging situations with your pranks. The best pranks are the ones that not only you think are funny but also the pranked player thinks are fun to play out and can create game.
Good: Make someone always say exactly what they think, unfiltered.
Bad: Make someone not being able to talk all day. (This can in rare occasions be fun but for most times will not really work)
PREPLAN BIG PRANKS
You want to do something rather epic? Preplan! This definitely also needs the cooperation of involved players. Find a victim and tell them your ideas. If it's fun and engaging, most will agree. (Example: Once my very serious, only black wearing, arrogant and prejudiced character was hexed to have short bright orange hair. It was a big deal for everyone who saw her like this. But it afforded preplanning and also timing.)

Also, the organizers may need to know about larger-scale planned pranks, for safety or other reasons. We may even be able to help!

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