Night falls across and evil stirs – it’s time for the Sorcerers of Southwark to Defend the City!
A quiet ecology park. A secret enclave of wizards in South London. A mystical menace lurking in the woods.
The entrance to the park deserted, except for a few muggle joggers, or are they dark wizards in disguise?
It’s time for a Fire-Hazard high energy adventure!
Fire-Hazard make high energy immersive games (mostly) with their prime adventure being City Dash. I’ll be honest, City Dash isn’t for me. It’s constant running, I don’t find it fun, despite the excellent strides forward in immersive gaming that Gwyn and his team have achieved with it.
Check it out – lots of people love it and if you want a combination of a 5k with cryptic clues to solve, you can’t do much better!
Shadow over Southwark
This time last year they announced a Lovecraftian adventure at night. Interest piqued as I first encountered Fire-Hazard as a scrappy gaming gang, playing games with Nerf guns, in the woods at night – finding the Eggs of the Alien Queen (cheap easter eggs the day after Easter Sunday), shooting Zombies, and more.
So we went. And it was wonderful! Navigating Stave Hill Ecology Park by torchlight, genuinely terrifying monsters lurking in the woods that threatened to zap our life force via RFID tags. Hiding down a muddy track as a tentacled beast searched for us. Solving clues, finding runes, entering them into our telephonic devices to score points.
A grand finale!
Fire-Hazard use a variety of technology in their games. Shadows/Sorcerers uses a website on your phone – clues appear, go to the location, find the rune (woodburnt tokens), decode it using a laminated sheet (which doubles as your map), enter the code words, score points.
Previously all players, now one player on the team, wears a pendant with an embedded RFID tag – get too close to the bad guys and they can zap you, costing your team points.
More clues arrive as time passes, or as previous clues are solved, and the area becomes threaded with runes, clues, teams, and enemies.
Like this image, but with a screenfull of locations, point values, and vaguely cryptic clues.
Stave Hill is beautiful by day. An artificial mound surrounded by wooded parkland, in turn surrounded by housing, schools etc.
It’s not in Southwark though. Welcome to Rotherhithe!
By night the views from the hill itself are excellent. It’s still not even close to Southwark.
The surrounds are dark, wooded areas, with crisscrossing footpaths, bridges, old wells, a wind turbine, coppices, cairns – it’s spooky as fuck. Great location even if it’s not in Southwark.
Sorcerers of Southwark – the Review
I’ve talked a lot about this, so on with the review.
We eventually found our starting point (they really need to issue better directions!) and were led into the Shed – a local ecology group building – which had been decked out with magical nick knacks and trinkets.
We opened the webpage, were briefed on what was to come, made sure we had torches and maps (only one map per team) a spellbook if required (hollowed out books to store your phone in – cute touch), a wand, and the wizards in residence explained the horrors that had befallen the woods.
90 minutes. Head to the locations. Avoid the 3 dark wizards lurking in the woods, each with their own powers and weaknesses. Solve the clue. Find the hidden rune. Enter the codeword. Make it back before time runs out.
Of course I wore a cloak. Of course I regretted it almost immediately as it became entangled on branches and thickets and undergrowth. Fuck you whomping willow! And it was fun.
Lots of running, orienteering, problem solving, shouting at my teammates for SHINING THEIR FUCKING TORCH DIRECTLY IN MY EYES AGAIN so I lost my night vision.
That pesky evil magic…
While it was a lot of fun, it was far from perfect. The briefing didn’t explain that the clues had more information, so for 20-30 minutes we were solving them based on 4 words rather than a paragraph of text – so go us for managing that! The dark wizards weren’t very scary, and it was impossible to tell them apart in the dark, so despite having individual strategies, the only one that worked was to run the other way. The wands did nothing and simply got in the way – recommendation, don’t take one. The signal in the park kept dropping – not Fire-Hazard’s fault, but it was annoying to be out of action for a couple of minutes at a time.
You will not find anything like this elsewhere in London.
2.8 Hours Later is no more and lacked the puzzles. As far as I know no-one else is doing anything similar to this – do correct me if you know of anything.
This is a fun, active, spooky adventure – had I not experienced last year’s I would be rating this a solid 9 out of 10, so if you haven’t taken part in Shadows Over Southwark – go and do this.
If you did play last year’s game, well, go along anyway – it’s not as good, so just go with lower expectations, have fun, save the city!
And when I say active, here are my stats.
You don’t have to run.
You probably will.
In the end we came in third. Big shout out to Peter for navigating, and Kate for going way out of her comfort zone and doing something scary, outside, at night.
Keep on expanding those comfort zones folks. Your world will get so much richer for it.
If you haven’t played the previous game then Sorcerers of Southwark: Defend the City gets a 9/10, if you have then 7/10.
We paid for our own tickets, transport, and all that jazz.
Fire Hazard also does a daytime version of the game- Wands at the Ready. We haven’t played it but looks to be more puzzley, less dark navigationey. A huge thank you to Fire Hazard Games for putting these events on! Keep up the good work guys!
Time Out made a video:
Magical Robin Bates – I used to have a Paul Daniels Magic Set
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