I’ve always been interested in speculative fiction. It was mainly fantasy, with the quasi-medieval setting full of sword fights, magic and the sadness of feudalism, like in the stories written by Sapkowski (best known for his book series The Witcher). I used to read, watch and try to create in this kind of genre. Post-apocalyptic fiction was far from my area of interest, I knew Fallout, Mad Max and played Neuroshima a few times without really knowing the system.
I read one or two books like Metro 2033. And then I’ve met a person who couldn’t, excuse my language, shut up about post-apocalypse, and from that moment I was sold on this crazy vision of the world.
I declined my first invitation to OldTown, the gathering for fans of „the world after the end of the world”. I had other plans, besides – to be honest – it wasn’t really my priority. As a fan of music festivals I wasn’t afraid of dust and mud and the prospect of a 72-hour larp looked interesting (how it feels to be in character without any pauses, I wondered), bud I had doubts about people. How closed was this group? Would I fit in? Will they accept me – a post-apocalyptic noob? Or would they just laugh at me because I’ve never completed Fallout.
A year later it turned out that my fears were completely groundless and coming from lack of experience. A year later I regretted not going to OldTown before. Within two hours from our arrival, we had an invitation to a great faction, a place for tents and a bunch of cool people with whom we were integrating over the beers. A few days later I knew that OldTown is the best place to spend summer holidays and that I’ll be there every year. Why?
I’ve always liked role-playing and the feeling of immersion that comes with larping. But dressing up for a few hours on a fantasy convention or a spontaneous action game just doesn’t compare with the OldTown larp. 72 hours of living in a different world, where you just become someone else.
My character was a half-wild ranger Derida, who despised all the higher technology and was a master of surviving on the wasteland. I fought with raiders, went for supplies with expedition, get into trance induced by a shaman, defended the camp during mutant attacks…
As Derida I laughed, got mad and emotional. And when the town was under attack of the zomboids, thanks to the awesome costumes and special effects, I was truly scared. There are neither books nor movies that could possibly bring such level of immersion. It’s worth becoming someone else for three days to escape the rut of everyday life.
It’s hard to find so outgoing, intelligent and creative individuals from all over Poland. Once you visit OldTown you’ll have friends everywhere in the country. Those are people who have very different jobs like pharmacists, teachers or solicitors but a great devotion to their passion is the glue that binds them.
And once a year they can meet in Kluczewo, put some old, dirty rugs on and spend time on adventures, mischiefs and drinking warm beer.
In the world that ended.
And let’s be honest, for me as a woman – a minority on OldTown – this whole event is a different kind of experience than for guys, who may seems like loud, testosterone driven bunch, but are in fact harmless and you can feel safe around them. And FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE – no woman walks around OldTown hungry or thirsty.
Chairs made of tires, tables made of bumpers, doors made of… doors, car doors. Cafeteria in an old military tent with tablecloths on tables made of pallets, candles in the old tins and the only working refrigerator. Next door – a disorderly house, they even have some old curtains for intimacy. In the centre of the town you can find a hospital with a red cross that you can see from far away. In front of the hospital – little stand of the dentist and two armchairs belonging to the local barber. Wildlings’ camp is placed across from the hospital, you can hear chanting and sound of drums there and smell smoke infused with herbs. In the faction of traders people bargain over the prices of some old jacket or gun holster.
Over all that noise and dust tower a blinking neon with only one word – HOME. Home where you go tired, thirsty and thinking only about some shadow in, so typical for wasteland, days full of the solar terror.
It’s a bar where a guy behind the counter maybe has lost his shirt but still has an extravagant bowtie, he’s a professional. Here you can sit on planks, tires, even a couch that was probably very exclusive years ago… something around a hundred years ago. If you can write – leave your signature on the wall among many other signs from the past generations. At night Home changes – from sleepy chillout bar it transforms into a loud vibrant place where everybody is dancing, laughing and drinking. Because the best things on OldTown are…
I’ve had my fun in life before, but damn, OldTown showed me what it means to have a really good time. I’ve never rode ON a military truck before, especially one with a booming sound system. I’ve also never danced on the bar (till morning, I must add). After my first OldTown nothing is the same, there is no club as good as bonfires with guitar music and endless toasts.
To conclude – OldTown is a place with the truly great atmosphere and energy, where you can meet crazy people, some of them may become your friends for life. And with whom you’d want spend time no matter how far they live. Nothing binds people together like end of the world. You can’t be sure of anything in the post-apocalyptic world. Maybe one thing – there is no time for boredom, there is always someone with new ideas and ways to make this time even more eventful.
You’ll feel like in some colourful, sometimes weird music video, with the constant party in the background. On OldTown everything is dirty, rusty and torn up. My hair are messy, my legs purple, because of bruises and the nails completely broken. And the best is – I don’t mind.
I need to warn you, there is one serious side effect called OldTown Blues. It causes acute inability to come back to life filled with showers and clean cloths. I have, for example, never fully came back from the wasteland.
A book collector, fan of the Tomb Raider and imaginary worlds enthusiast – she read Game of Thrones before the beginning of the TV series and was the grand prize winner in all Harry Potter trivia contests in her middle school. And she was able to named 150 Pokemons. Geek girl, likes all sorts of games from RPG and board games to computer ones. She studies journalism at The University of Wrocław, trying to become a writer (debuted with a short story in the anthology „Fantazje Zielonogórskie”). Works for magazine Coś na Progu and a Polish web portal Onet.