Sorry it’s been so quiet on the blog, with moving house, the trip to Europe and getting back into a normal routine I haven’t found the time to write as much as I’d like. That said, now that I’m back from my epic European journey I’ll get straight into sharing my thoughts on the Frostgrave Immersion Tour (spoiler alert: it was rad).
I arrived in Estonia a couple of days early, mostly as I was worried about recovering from the travel and adjusting to the change in time zone. It turned out it was a non-issue, landing in the evening I had dinner, went for a quick walk (in the cold) and was straight asleep. My first two days involved copious amounts of drinking and eating, seeing a few interesting sights, for some of which I was joined by our glorious tour leader, Teras Cassidy of Geek Nation Tours. One disturbing find we made was the Museum of Puppetry, which contained many disturbing sights…
Getting on to Sunday and the formal tour kick-off, all started off well, meeting a bunch of new and interesting people and getting in some games of Frostsgrave. I’ll tackle the gaming itself in a separate post, as it deserves, and focus on the non-gaming parts of the tour here.
The first formal activity on Monday really drove home that this was going to be an exceptional experience, with our local guides (Tales of Reval – which I highly recommend you check out if you’re in Tallinn) leading us into the Tallinn Old Town (the middle of Tallinn is effectively preserved as the medieval city would have looked) and then having us close our eyes and complete a breathing exercise and “channelling your Chronomancer magic to travel through time and transport yourself back”, during which a medieval musician began playing. Then, with a bang, someone in medieval costume was in front of us, introducing himself as Brother Albert (Albert the Great) and welcoming us to the past. We then proceeded to go on a tour of the Old Town with our esteemed guide Gregorious, a medieval merchant. The experience was incredibly immersive and an excellent way to commence the tour, it made clear that a lot of thought and planning had gone into the experience. Seeing the key sites of old Tallinn and being regaled with stories from throughout the history of the city was refreshing, and was something that would recur across the week.
Estonia is a beautiful country, both the stunning Old Town, as well as the countryside. We had the opportunity to get out of the city twice, firstly we went on a night walk through a National Park and then a morning walk through a bog. The night walk was a little challenging for me, being over uneven ground in the dark, as well as being incredibly cold. Two highlights were walking across an open field (the ruins of a bronze age settlement) and hearing and smelling the sea, but seeing nothing but inky blackness where the cliff fell away, as well as visiting an old manor house, which felt like something straight out of a gothic horror setting. The weather for our bog walk was spectacular, with a little snow fall the night before making the landscape nicely white, but the morning itself being bright and clear. The terrain was spectacular, and completely different to what I’ve seen in my (albeit limited) hiking in Australia, especially the crunch of snow under my shoes and the iced over boggy pools. This was a good break from the “humanity-focused” elements of the tour and was a refreshing outing.
A further highlight for me was the fact we got two lectures on various medieval weaponry, the first as part of our tour of a ruined castle and the second over lunch at the Viking village we visited. The Viking Village also saw us have a practical component, getting a quick lesson and opportunity to throw axes, shoot a bow and throw a spear, which gave me an appreciation of just how much work goes into developing martial prowess.
The meals across the week were all great, although I was hankering for some vegetables by the end of the week, and there was also plenty of great beer to go with it.
The formal tour concluded with a final visit from Brother Albert, who appeared in a cloud of coloured smoke with booming music, clearly demonstrating his mastery of the alchemical arts. At this we were given the small trinkets we’d made earlier in the week as part of visiting a modern metalworking studio before retiring to the Hell Hunt pub for lunch with our guides (out of costume at this point!).
It’s hard to express just how much I enjoyed my time gaming and touring with the group, and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to participate. It was great to meet Teras, Joe and the rest of the tour participants and I feel like I made some great friends despite the short time we were together. I also came away with a better understanding and appreciation of history, warfare, the beauty of nature and, of course, Frostgrave. If the tour runs again, I’ll certainly be doing my best to get along, and thanks to Teras from Geek Nation Tours and the Tales of Reval team for putting it together!