Wait. How can a wizard school be real?
Cuz you know…magic and stuff…
The trick? College of Wizardry is a LARP — or live action role playing — event. The easiest way to explain it, if you’re not already familiar with LARPs, is to say that it’s kinda like being in a movie. Or a book. And in a Harry Potter inspired world of magic, that means actually attending wizard school and living out life as a wizard. But anything can happen, and the script is written and ever changing as you play along. It’s kinda like a Choose your Adventure book where you decide the fate of the characters, and the protagonist is you.
So how does it work?
Nordic LARPs operate by using a set of rules to determine the things that can or cannot happen in your magical game world, and the rest is up to you. You leave your true self behind and take on the persona of a new character when you step into the castle grounds at the College of Wizardry. You can be a rebellious chatterbox who makes friends easily but hides a big secret or a reclusive book nerd who excels at her studies and dreams of becoming the school’s most powerful wizard. You can create your own character or have a pre-made one selected for you. You can even choose to be evil and betray those closest to you if that’s your kinda fantasy.
As this alter ego, you’ll specialize in one of five paths of magic — Guardian, Healer, Artificer, Curse Breaker, or Cryptozoologist. You’ll develop your identity and purpose around this role. Your path will also determine which classes you study in school. Yes, you will really be taking real magic courses. At College of Wizardry, the school day runs from 9 AM to 4 PM, and there are a total of 13 possible classes you can register for. Of those, you’ll enroll in 6 and will attend them every day. There’s everything from Alchemy and Herbology to Magical Defense and Runic Magic. For a detailed description of all 13 courses and their studies, see our detailed guide here. But don’t worry. Once the school day ends, there’s plenty of free time to get into mischief by seeking out quests, plots, and storylines for your character to follow.
- Related: College of Wizardry Course Guide – here’s a detailed guide to the 13 classes you can study at the real life Hogwarts castle in Poland
How it’s like Harry Potter
The setting for the College of Wizardry is much like Harry Potter. The college has five different houses, each with their own house colors, mascot, and personality traits, much like the houses at Hogwarts. And if you’re a first year student, there’s even a sorting ceremony to place you into your appropriate house. The houses compete to earn points and, ultimately, the house trophy. When you’re not in class, you can spend your time exploring
Hogwarts the castle. Rumors say there’s 16 secret passageways. You might find a room hidden behind a moving wall or bookcase. Or stumble across dark secrets hidden in the dungeon. (Yes, a real dungeon.) You can also participate in a Fireball tournament, which is a college sport not unlike Quidditch, as it’s designed for wizards and functions using magical principles. Or maybe you’re brave enough to enter the Forbidden Forest? But be careful. Just like in Harry Potter, this dark forest is off-limits to first years and after curfew because dangerous creatures lurk in its shadows. At the end of the week, there’s a yule ball grand ball where you can put on your best gown and dance the night away like Hermione in the Goblet of Fire.
And the College of Wizardry has one thing Hogwarts doesn’t have — a tavern. With real bar maids, booze, and pub gossip. If you’ve ever played Dungeon and Dragons, you’ll know that the tavern is always the best place to learn secrets to advance your storyline and adventures.
Throughout the week, you’ll meet minotaurs, goblins, ghosts, demons, werewolves, fey, and countless other creatures. Some will become your friends. Others will try to break or destroy you. But all will teach you who you are and who you want to be if you’re courageous enough to listen. And learn. And grow. The best part is that everyone’s experience is different. And you can even attend school a 2nd time and have a completely different story than the last.
So what’s it really like?
This is Our Story
Yours may be different.
The following is a real excerpt from Dragon’s secret diary, detailing his adventures and personal experiences at the school with his new pal Wandering Chocobo.
A guest post by Susanna Kelly
From Wandering Chocobo
Told in the voice of Dragon
I’d been waiting long enough, like I am sure many of you have. I never gave up hope though. Every day I would go check my mail and wait for that letter addressed to me, Dragon, with the words that I was accepted into Hogwarts. It had to come. I mean…I am a real life magical Dragon after all!
An invitation finally came for me, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. I received an invitation from my friend over at Wandering Chocobo to attend Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Poland! It wasn’t Hogwarts, but the COW LARP was just as magical, if not more. Before I knew it, I was flying half way across the world to move into a castle for 4 days where I would learn about magic, get trapped in secret passageways, fight minotaurs, and become best friends with the castle goblins!
Getting There – The Bus from Berlin and our Arrival at the Castle
Wandering Chocobo had done a lot of pre-work before coming to school. She was pretty nervous about fitting in, her character, and whether or not she would do well in school. I was pretty chill about it, even though it’s not like I spend my entire life playing make believe or anything, but I felt like I was going to ace this school year. I knew that, with my charming good looks and personality, I would fit right in.
We boarded a bus from Berlin, Germany, headed to Czocha, Poland. Chocobo was tired and fell asleep right away, leaving me to fend for myself. Everyone was so chatty and friendly, however, that I was popular in no time!
My rise to fame and Chocobo’s slumber were rudely interrupted when we popped a tire in the middle of the autobahn. The entire bus full of LARPers decked out in witchard gear had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for help. What a sight we must have been when the German police came to help — standing on the side of the highway, singing Czocha college hymns, wands out and wizard hats on! Eventually we repaired the tire and continued our long drive to Poland. The LARP hadn’t even started yet, and we were already on a wild adventure! That’s what Adventure Dragon was born for!
I nearly lost my dragon skin when we pulled up the the castle. It was everything a castle should be. I felt so many emotions stirring inside me that I could hardly contain my excitement. Just crossing the bridge and looking up at the towers, I already felt like I belonged there. I looked around, and some of my new friends were laughing with joy. Some were crying – overwhelmed by emotions. Some of them — speechless.
Entering the Castle
As soon as we got into the castle, we were sorted into our pre-determined year, house, and path for our orientation. Wandering Chocobo and I were sorted together; we were in Sendivogious as sophomore (year 2) Artificers. We quickly grabbed our robes and house ties and met up with our other Artificers. We learned the mechanics of wizard LARPing– like how to cast spells, how to defend, safe words and mental safety, how to schedule planned events, and interacting with NPCs (Non Player Characters). I could tell Chocobo was feeling much more relieved after our orientation, and even I had to admit that I learned some new cool spells to cast!
After orientation, we got into character. I am already in character, so I watched Chocobo turn into Soelle — a trouble-making, edgy witch. We gathered in the great hall, and the official opening banquet began, signaling the start of the LARP.
Thursday Night Highlight — Potion Roulette
Soelle was one of the main members of the Ancient Order of Mischief, so we had a super secret meeting scheduled in the basement museum at midnight. Midnight was after curfew. I was starting to get nervous that we would lose house points or get in trouble by the stern headmistress, but Soelle didn’t seem to care.
Secret Meeting in the Tower
From the banquet until midnight we explored the castle and met the castle goblins. They were so funny and became some of my best friends! We learned that the goblins were important parts of the game. They would spread secrets, send screamers, or help you in the game if you didn’t know what to do. One of them gave us a secret tip to avoid the tower if we wanted to live. Clearly this meant something exciting was happening in the tower, so away we went. We climbed the old stone stairs that spiraled upward, turning into rickety old wooden stairs and then a very questionable ladder. We emerged in the middle of a secret meeting. I felt bad interrupting, but Soelle was rude and just barged right in. A professor was recruiting students for a secret project. Soelle had no interest in extra school work, but we did get a hall pass to be out after midnight — perfect for our meeting!
We began to make our way down to the museum, descending several floors from the tower. We pushed the door open, just a few minutes after midnight. No one was there…. So we sat and waited. Finally, our mischief-making friends started showing up! Apparently, our grumpy prefect from our house had caught everyone out after midnight and written them all up! It’s a good thing we were late. Otherwise, we would have lost points, too! Nevertheless, we began the night’s event — Potion Roulette. Soelle brought a green potion called “dirty little secret.” She set it on the table among 20 other potions of all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells. One by one the members bravely grabbed a potion and took a sip…or chugged the potion in one gulp.
Before I knew what was happening, I was falling in love with a witch who was pretending to be a different zoo animal every 30 seconds, and I couldn’t stop myself! Soelle was on the ground, thinking she was a cat. Others were seeing night terrors. Some were confessing dark secrets. Others were laughing in hysteric fits.
Finally, someone had enough sense to cast a spell erasing all the effects. I was mostly relieved, but that was the most fun I’d had in a LONG time. We all left the museum and tiptoed back to our rooms, exhausted from the day.
Friday Highlight — Summoning a Demon
Soelle and I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for class! Well, I was ready for class. Soelle was just too cool for school. I eagerly learned all about Invocation, Ritual Magic, Mind Magic, and Alchemy. Soelle just bugged the teachers and was a sassy witch. To be honest, I was surprised she hadn’t lost us any house points yet! The nerve.
I was soon eating those words. As Soelle’s favorite class, Technomancy, ended, she grabbed me and pushed a wall behind a suit of armor. The wall turned and opened up into an outside bridge. We found one of the secret passageways! How exciting! But, it was a trap. We ran along the bridge and re-entered the castle. We were in a very strange bathroom with multiple toilets and bathtubs in the room. It almost felt like we were in the Prefect’s bathroom at Hogwarts. Then we heard some voices and peeked around the wall…right into THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE. We panicked and ran, only to find that the door from where we came only opened from the inside. The headmistress took two house points away from us and left us feeling ashamed. We were told not to enter the teacher’s lounge, knowing very well we were stuck on this bridge about to miss our next class! Thankfully, a student saw us, took pity, and helped us out.
Our point reduction was showing. At the dinner announcements, we learned that our house, Sendivogious, was in last place. Faust was winning, but there was a rumor that they were cheating and possibly bribing professors.
After dinner we decided to venture over to the tavern. We had a scheduled event with a group of Soelle’s friends in the Forbidden Forest at 11 PM. So we were killing time until then. The tavern was one of our favorite places! It was dark but warm and cozy. Lively music was playing, and the students were in relaxed character. Some interesting NPCs came and went from the bar, too. The bartenders were forced to serve us drinks by their ominous boss whom they just called mistress. Groups of rough looking werewolf hunters hung out in the back, trying to get information on who was a werewolf at our school from drunken students. They asked us, but we would never dare give up a fellow student’s name. We later learned that one of students was attacked by a hunter and was in grave danger, so someone must have given them a name.
The Forbidden Forest – Demon Summoning
Finally, it was time to venture into the Forbidden Forest! Luckily we were second years, so we were able to march right in before curfew. (Except for me — I flew, of course. As real dragons should.) We met Soelle’s friends. One of them had accidentally sold her soul to a demon a few weeks ago. She had thought she was signing a contract to sing soul music — easy mistake — but now we were on a mission to save her soul! We gathered in a circle and began the invocation of a lesser demon. He appeared before us, charismatic and handsome, despite the horns. I think Soelle thought he was hot. I would have to keep an eye on her lest she sell her soul, too! He was a very charismatic demon. He kept tempting us with “tasty offers for our tasty souls,” but everyone was so strong, even Soelle! I was so proud of her. After an intense roleplaying scene, the demon came to an agreement with Soelle’s friend, and we walked out with our souls intact.
It was almost midnight, and I figured we would be heading in for curfew, but we ran into the vampire professor, Professor Ripley. She was known for being scary and bossy, so when she asked us to accompany her into the forest to owl watch, we couldn’t say no.
We entered the forest at the stroke of midnight, and as soon as the darkness fell, both a demon and a werewolf came out of the night! Professor Ripley did nothing to save us as the students battled those great beasts. I stayed hidden in Soelle’s robe; at my size, I would be a tasty snack for a werewolf! It seemed that all was lost, as our spells did nothing to harm the beasts, when a heroic professor came out of the castle to save us! He sent us back to our rooms with no point deductions and our lives. Pretty good deal if you ask me!
Saturday Highlight — The Grand Ball
We woke up a little later than normal on Saturday. It might have been the tavern or the two late nights of mischief-making back to back, but we decided to skip some classes and try new ones!
We dropped in on first year classes, making them nervous and harassing them. We also joined a field trip with Runic Magic and Herbology to the Forbidden Forest. Escorted by two professors, we were divided up into two groups. One group — that was us — had our wands taken away. We were sent into the forest to find new wands from trees. We had to perform a Herbology ritual to ask the earth for the branch and then transfer our magic to it. It had to be straight, not frayed or soggy. As we searched for our wands, the other group had to defend us from a minotaur and a werewolf, using only runes and no spells. In a battle for our lives, we succeeded and many points were awarded for our bravery! What a fun class!
Werewolf in the Library – A Social Debate
We even decided to go check out the vampire professor’s class. Halfway through the class, which took place in the library, the walls started to creak. I held my dragon breath, scared to move. A goblin burst through a secret passageway, and she wasn’t alone! A sleepy, or no wait- an injured- werewolf was in tow. It fell to the ground right as the goblin claimed she found the wolf sleeping in the woods and brought him to us. Our class entered a serious debate on whether we should kill the wolf, heal it, or dump it back into the woods. Czocha was filled with social debates. Some students were pure-born hex-blood and hated anyone that wasn’t pure witch or wizard. Some students were vampires or wolves themselves and passionately spoke for the rights of those not pure-blood. Our class decided to do the right thing, thankfully, and we healed the wolf and put it in the dungeon where it could transform back into human for us to question later.
Quidditch Fireball Tournament
After our classes, we played in the Fireball tournament. Well, Soelle did. I cheered from the sidelines. Soelle was amazing! It’s a game played like dodge ball, but with magical balls lit on fire! Our house team did okay, but we didn’t win, and a win may have helped us in the house cup. Sadly, we were still losing, though
Slytherin Faust’s dirty secrets and cheating seemed to be coming out, and they were losing their lead. Even the goblins decided to start playing in the house cup. There was no way our house could lose to goblins. Though, I secretly wished I was in House Goblin! They have so much fun.
After class and the Fireball games, it was back to the tavern and then time to get ready for the grand opening ball. Soelle found a hot date with her house mate. So I guess I’d just be an awkward third wheel. I was far too shy to ask one of the goblins.
Trouble and Mischief
Just before the grand opening ball, we learned that Faust was now in second to last place, and they’d had a student expelled! She was a demon, and they’d been summoning her from the dungeon on a nightly basis! It was pretty crazy. I thought Soelle and I’d had a wild adventure at Czocha, but the more I talked to other students, the more I was shocked at the storylines that had happened– a demon summoning in the dungeon…students who were turned into Fey, only to be saved by goblin sacrifices…a werewolf student who was hunted by former family turned hunter…student duels and battles… There’s no way we could have kept up with it all! Every minute was pure magic, though. We learned that as magical as Czocha is, we couldn’t do it all.
The Grand Ball
The ball was a total blast. We all entered the great hall two by two. Waltzing music played, and the bar was open late. At the stroke of 2 AM, the College of Wizardry LARP ended, and everyone turned back into their normal selves. I, of course, stayed as a Dragon. What else would I turn into? Chocobo had a hard time adjusting. Some of the characters were really mean to us at school, and right at 2 AM, they became nice humans again. However, everyone in the castle was so friendly, so we just made friends with them out of character and danced he night away until 4 in the morning.
The next day we said a rushed and tearful goodbye to our new friends and home, Czocha Castle. The bus back to Berlin was filled with hugs, deep conversations, and lots of naps. I will never forget the friends I made at Czocha, and I hope all of Adventure Dragon’s fans get their invitation to attend soon.
Chocobo’s Closing Statement
You see College of Wizardry in the media a lot. It’s that thing everyone shares wishing they could go to in order to become Harry Potter. It’s depicted as a place you can go live out a Harry Potter-like experience in the media, but to be honest, it was so much more than that…and not even a Harry Potter experience at all. This was my first LARP, and I’ll be perfectly honest — I booked the College of Wizardry LARP event based on that media image. I do, in fact, love Harry Potter, possibly more than I love just about anything, so why not go live it? As soon as I registered and joined the pre-LARP COW community, I knew I was in for something very different than what I expected, and that was a good thing.
The characters that played in this event were so real and the social issues so close to home that the dynamics created felt more real than any book I’ve ever read. The friends I made and the community surrounding this event were something I was not prepared for. As a first time LARPer, I was made welcome from the very start. All my stupid newbie questions were answered, and I was welcome and made part of the community immediately. I had a lot of fears that I wouldn’t belong or know what the hell I was doing, but they were not valid because, whether you know what you’re doing or not, you will have a fantastic LARP. Dziobak LARP Studios are completely revolutionizing LARPing, and the attention to detail that goes into their events is just out of this world.
Experience This Adventure –
All photos on this page marked as “Defy Gravity” belong to Cryssie of Defy Gravity Photography. Thanks so much for letting us use your amazing shots of College of Wizardry 11.
And the biggest thanks of all goes to Susanna Kelly of The Wandering Chocobo for inviting Adventure Dragon to tag along with her on this amazing adventure and once-in-a-lifetime, geeky experience. All photos of Dragon and other unmarked photos of the College of Wizardry are courtesy of her amazing photography skills. You can read more about The Wandering Chocobo’s adventures at Czocha here.
Please do not copy or reproduce any of the photos on this page without permission from their owners. It makes dragons sad. And nobody likes a sad dragon. Except for maybe sad people. Away with you, you poopy pirate.