|painting by Patrick Woodroffe|
Way back in 1985, my dad's family lived in a trailer near a pretty pond in the middle of the forest in rural Georgia. I would come visit during the summer and on long boring days I would go exploring around the property with my sister Jennifer when she was like 6 and I was 15.
I made a LARP out of it. We called it "Quest". She was Princess Jennifer. Her father, King Dwayne, had fallen under a magic spell that put him to sleep. Queen Brenda had been taken captive. (our dad worked at night so he slept during the day and Brenda worked at the bank during the day).
Her quest was to explore the realm and find a cure that would wake the King and return the Queen.
She had a backpack with essential equipment, a magic sword, a shield I made out of scrap wood, and some potions. I was the "Quest Master" and I would go wherever she went and narrate what was happening. She'd then act out the fights and challenges I laid before her.
The trailer was the royal castle of King Dwayne and Queen Brenda with a commanding view over all of Roney Valley (my grandfather, who built the pond and road and trailer).
The pond was the Inner Sea. The dock was the Port City. The dirt road was the trade route.
There was a smaller pond choked with weeds and trees that was the Swamp of Death.
My grandfather's memorial was the Necropolis where one might encounter skeletons and zombies.
The steep 10-foot bank next to the pond were the Cliffs of Insanity. There were caves in the cliffs (small dug-out divots) that were inhabited by monsters! A rope tied to a tree at the top allowed one to scale the cliffs.
The swampy area below the earthen dam was called "The Land of the Magic Cows". It was dark and cool and muddy and on the side of the barbed wire fence where cows could go. There was always evidence of cows but we rarely saw them during the day. You could hear them off in the field. So I said the cows were invisible and magic and ruled the forest!
My great-uncle Marion had a workshop up the hill from the pond. That was the tower of the Wizard Marion. The trailer next door was the stronghold of his warrior-defender, Prince John.
My uncle Tim's trailer downstream from the pond was the bandit hideout. Taking that dirt road was fraught with danger and ambush!
The makeshift tree house we built next to the dry creek bed near the trailer was her fortress keep where she could keep watch over the entire Roney Valley.
I drew adventure maps of the domain of King Dwayne and the surrounding realms and dangers. I wish I still had those.