TRENTON, S.C. (WJBF) – EastWind Castle in Trenton, South Carolina has experiences like no other. The location host many events. One of the more popular things that happens on site is live action role playing, but what is live action role play?
We decided to stop in to EastWind Castle and talk to the King, Sherman Gills himself, and find out what the activity was all about.
I’m here with the King, what can people expect from EastWind Castle?
“Well, for one, I only get to wear the crown when my wife lets me, so you’re actually talking to Sherman Gills. My wife, Donna, and I own this interesting little domain, and we’re only 6 miles off of exit 18 or exit 22, I-20 in to South Carolina. We’re actually in Aiken County,” said Gills.
So for people who don’t know, what do you guys do out here?
“We created a little world here. We’ve got a medieval village sitting in the middle of twenty five acers, and this is an immersive site. So people hold events and come here to dwell in what we have going on. It’s usually medieval in design; although, sometimes we have weddings. We have all kinds of different things, functions, dances. We have an Easter egg glow held for kids here, and they have a blast out here.
How long have y’all been doing this?
“Let’s see, 2008… so that’s 15 years. We’ve been out here that long and slowly growing.”
So, let’s get in to detail about these events that go on here.
“Since we’re a medieval atmosphere, most of it is medieval. We’ve got the SCA, and they come out here. We’ve got Dagger here and Amp Guard. They’re all foam fighting and all the way up to live steel. So, it all depends on what your level of protection is to what I get to hit you with. So, Dagger is foam fighting; therefore, you can where no armor at all. You go in to the SCA, and they use wooden weapons. By the time you’re done there and you’re dealing with the Palmetto Knights, you’re dealing with live steal crashing in to your body. Now, a lot of people call this LARPing, but that’s a new word in comparison to the field of collision out here. So LARPing, live action role playing… some people don’t like that because it sounds like little kids running around cast spells, but when you take a guy who’s contact is on the level of Rugby and you tell him he’s a LARPer, they’re say ‘we’re more than that,’.
What’s the experience you want them to walk away with?
“That I can not believe that a place like this even exists. I’ve heard that so many times, and it’s become that when we see new people come in, that what we’re looking for. We want people to come here and feel all the openness, and we want them to leave with a feeling that they were able to open up in a way that they didn’t have to censor. Out there, they censor everything they do because the world is a constant critic of everything you do. Well here, it is far less. People come here and they let their shields down.”
How do you get involved in something like this? Is it beginner friendly?
“All the activities that we have out here – all the people that bring their games out here – they’re all natural bridge builders. When people come here for the first time, they usually have welcome conventions for new comers. When you first came in, you saw people being trained in the battle arena. So they’re all trained in the game to help them bridge that gap.”
So how do you sign up?
“If you go on Facebook, you will find EastWind Castle Reservations. On there is a listing of our entire year of activities. On the other side, we can also help you connect with the groups who are coming out here.”
So I got Facebook, sign up, and then when I come out here I have tutorials to help me get ready.
“A lot of groups have that tutorial to give you that pre-gap. So if you showed up for today, which today is a post apocalyptical game called NukeLanta, if you’ve ever played Fallout, they turned it in to a game with Nerf guns.”
So nothing here that would actually hurt anyone?
“Yes, now can you get hurt? Any time you have people colliding together, there are natural dangers that you have to keep up on. We are age appropriate for the contact.”
Why do you think people keep coming back?
“We have what we refer to as a non-aggression filter at the gate. If you feed on other peoples aggression, or discomfort, here you will starve, because we don’t allow it, we only feed the nicer side. Even when someone is in full drama they always have a handle on their aggression. So when people realize that, they realize they can bring their families, they can bring their friends, and they can also know that the sides of them that they kind of want to let loose. It’s safe here. So people come back because it’s an extension of their home and a place they just want to let loose.”
Gills is retired military and appreciates everyone who comes out and supports EastWind Castle. With all of our info in hand, it was time to head out to the field and experience everything ourselves. First, we talked to the creator of todays game, Steve Cee.
What is Nukelanta?
Nukelanta is a Fallout inspired airsoft, Nerf, and heavy foam fighting, live action roleplaying game.
How long has this been going on for?
“Around 8 years.”
How did you come up with the idea to do this?
“I have a paintball background, and I thought it would be more fun in costume and not just a military garb. So I love Fallout, and I thought that would make a great camping and outdoor game.”
How was it from when you first started until now?
“First, we were finding churches and paintball fields that would let us play during the day. Then, we found EastWind Castle and that was just a great relationship. He had an established community here that likes costumes and fun, so my event immediately blew up after coming here. We went from 40 to 150 people.”
It was time to start. Cee informed me the first things I needed to do was to get a cool costume and find money. So, I decided to stop in to the local shop. At the shop, I ran in to one of the locals who was willing to help me find what I was looking for. Here’s some of the highlights of our journey.
Unfortunately, that particular day I had to cut it short, but I felt like I did a lot. I met plenty of people, got armor, and almost solved a mystery. The last thing left to do was see some action. Luckily, the people at EastWind allowed us to come back to Nukelanta to see an epic showdown between two factions.
Getting the chance to pretend and just have fun was a great experience. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, definitely go and check out EastWind Castle‘s social media to find out what experience best suits you. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you out there.