My Time at Wizard School – Part 3: The Performers Among Us

Jumping off what I mentioned in our first article, the people at Albion School of Sorcery  (Moonrise Games’ four-day live-action role-play experience) were divided into players and NPCs (non-player characters). Players were the paying guests who created fictional characters beforehand who experienced the story as a student of Albion. The NPCs were performers hired by Moonrise to run the LARP, mainly as teachers. This article will tell you more about the instructors of Albion and the amazing people who brought them to life.

If the charisma of its headmaster can determine the measure of quality at a school of sorcery, Albion is one for the ages under the direction of Thelonius Anh, portrayed by Allen Turner. As tall as Rubeus Hagrid and as warm and commanding as Dumbledore at his best, Headmaster Anh was the keystone for this year’s LARP in more ways than one. In addition to running the school and dutifully following the instructions put forth by the Magisterium (Albion’s wizard government), Thelonius taught not one but two courses: Transmutation 101 and Presence and Persona. I had an out-of-body experience while participating in Thelonius’s guided meditation in the former class. In the latter, I was encouraged to dance sassily with a silk veil and tried my best. In real life, Mr. Turner is a storyteller and professor of game design at DePaul University in Chicago. His tabletop role-playing game “Ehdrigohr,” which is based on and inspired by the myths of tribal and indigenous cultures worldwide, wildly exceeded its crowdfunding goal in 2013. Turner is also an accomplished belly dancer.

The man whom Headmaster Anh ousted from the role, Albion’s new Second Master Arturo Caspian (played deliciously by actor Dylan Schaefer), is a career bureaucrat whom most players would not expect to like. He presents with a level of certainty and even pompousness behind his statements that make you think you cannot trust him and that he does not care about the students. Of course, no character at Albion was so two-dimensional as this. By the end of the LARP, my character Dysmas chose to trust Arturo and would have gone to the ends of the Earth in pursuit of the ideal that the two of them shared. Caspian also taught Astrology to the students, a particularly prescient class to sit in for two nights leading up to Albion’s climactic Lupercalia ball.


At Albion School of Sorcery, Arturo Caspian (Dylan Schaefer) explains something very important which the students are not taking seriously.

At Albion School of Sorcery, Arturo Caspian (Dylan Schaefer), right, explains something very important that the students are not taking seriously.


In our world, Joe Janes, a well-tenured professor of comedy writing at Columbia College in Chicago, is no stranger to whimsy. Yet his character Hawthorne Craw detests the whimsical. The head of House Caelum (Albion’s Ravenclaw analog), Professor Craw’s duties involved teaching Magical Ethics as well as Incantations. Rehearsing the pronunciation of spells to properly fit the scenarios we came up with in class was one of those dry, repetitive, and procedural exercises we all hate doing in school but which not even a magic school could escape having. In Magical Ethics, while my classmates and I struggled to “solve” a magical variation of the Trolley Problem, Mr. Janes successfully shielded our awareness from how important that particular thought experiment would be in-game at its conclusion. Most of all, Professor Craw may not have cared much for our characters’ silly antics, but you could not miss his commitment toward helping any of the students when they really needed him in the game, as we all did.


Hawthorne Craw (Joe Janes) teaches a class on Magical Incantations at Albion School of Sorcery

Hawthorne Craw (Joe Janes), left, teaches a class on magical incantations at Albion School of Sorcery.


Excitingly, several teachers at Albion this year were non-humans. As head of House Undas, the vampire Prudence Balladan instructed students on knowledge so dark and arcane that only members of her House could know it. Teenaged actress Molly Southgate brought an instinctive and willful presence to her 300-year-old vampire character, whose wants and needs blurred the lines between benevolence and self-service on more than one occasion. Going in a totally opposite direction, Professor Evangeline Cordelia Bay (played by the excellent Avalon McFadden), a 1,000-year-old mermaid, regaled her Magizoology class with the story of how she came to be stranded above sea level. Her tail was misplaced or stolen (she didn’t know which), and that caused her to experience bouts of forgetfulness, which she powered through using her hard-earned friendship with the magical creatures who shared her classroom as their home. Adjacent to the main plots happening at Albion this year, the location of Professor Bay’s tail (and the culprit who took it) was discoverable to players through an interrogation of the other staffers, namely Professor Cloelia Montclare, head of Solum House (played coyly and insolubly by character actress Morgan Schreiber). Cloelia taught Potions and Elixirs, Magic Castile (soap-making), and Personality of Crystals, all of which yielded items that players took home with them after the LARP.


Lady Evangeline takes notes while Thelonius and Constantine watch

Professor Evangeline Cordelia Bay (Avalon McFadden), a mermaid, takes notes on where her tail was last seen in an effort to solve the mystery herself. (Photo credit: Tiffany Keane Schaefer)


On the subject of Magizoology, this class was brought to life during Professor Bay’s classes by the use of puppetry, and the performer behind all of the puppets was Sofia DiGiovanni, a graduate of Columbia College who studied comedy writing and performance. The origin story of each of the characters, as told to us by the puppets themselves, was equal parts tragic, hilarious and heartwarming. Second Master Caspian, who happened to be walking by our Magizoology class, is angry with the creature known as “Groucho” over an alleged gambling debt. Their discussion turned so sour in front of our eyes that Caspian went over to Prudence’s concurrent Dark Arts class and constructed a protective amulet to shield him from Groucho’s ire. Last but certainly not least, I would like to call attention to Mar Warner and Belle Decker, also graduates of Columbia College’s comedy writing program. Warner, who played my youngest sibling Eos, and Decker, who played Ignus House head, Professor Bedelia Titus, both wielded dual roles throughout the weekend that positively hooked the players and made us more engaged in the main storyline.


Prior to my time at Albion, I met with the NPC performers over Zoom, and the transcript of that call is below. My next article will cover my fellow LARP players and their process of developing their characters!

Full Transcript with Albion School of Sorcery NPC's, Sunday, January 16, 2022

Transcribed by Katie Hynes and Marissa Osman

Eric Scull: I don’t know what order to go in or who wants to talk first, but if everyone could introduce themselves by what they’re going to be doing at Albion, and also your real-life name as well as [your] character name. If that’s a spoiler, don’t spoil.

Belle Decker: Hi, I’m Belle. I’m going to be the House head of Ignus, and my character’s name is going to be Professor Bedelia. And this is Mar. [gestures to the person sitting next to her]

Mar Warner: Hi, hello! I am actually going to be a student - I don’t believe that’s spoiling - for House Caelum. I am part of a very famous family. Zephyrus, right?

Eric: Yes! Oh, are you my younger [sibling]?

Mar: Oh my goodness, yeah. That’s me. Hi. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you. My nose is just always in a book. My bad.

Eric: Understood. Totally fine.

Mar: It’s so good to see you.

Eric: Somebody has to do our family proud.

Mar: It’s going to be me.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Alright, geez. I can feel the sibling rivalry already.

Mar: Me too. I can’t wait to explore more.

Eric: Nice to meet you both.

Morgan Schreiber: Hi, my name is Morgan Schreiber, and my character is going to be Cloelia MontClare, the head of House Solum.

Eric: Oh, okay, very cool. If all goes according to plan, that’s going to be my House. So you’re my House head!

Morgan: Yay!

Eric: Very excited about that. Solum speaks to me the most.

Morgan: Nice. Well, we’ve got some fun classes planned.

Eric: Very cool. Nice to meet you, Morgan.

Morgan: You too.

Dylan Schaefer: I am Dylan Schaefer. Nice to see you, Eric. I will be playing Arturo Caspian, who is the second master underneath the headmaster. [He] was the headmaster but was demoted to second master because of politicking. And he is not affiliated with a House, technically, as second master, but he is an Undas.

Allen Turner: Hi, Eric. I am Allen Turner, and I will be playing Thelonius Anh, who is the headmaster.

Eric: Very nice to meet you, Allen. Thank you.

Allen: It’s great to be here. I just wanted to say I’m also not affiliated with the House, but I am an ex-Ignus person.

Eric: Okay, there [are] good dynamics there.

Molly Southgate: Hi there, I’m Molly Southgate. I will be playing Prudence Balladan, who is the head of House Undas.

Eric: Hello, Prudence, hello Molly. I hear you’re also- [hesitates] Are you telling people that you’re a vampire?

Molly: Yes. This is very exciting. I get to play [with] vampire stuff. [It’s] why she’s allowed to be a professor despite actually being only 14.

Eric: Here’s a question, and it’s an out-of-character question, but have you seen Kirsten Dunst in Interview with [the] Vampire?

Molly: I have not yet, but it’s on my watchlist. Netflix recommended it [to] me before.

Eric: No pressure on that, but it’s what I thought of on paper for seeing a wise-beyond-her-years-type young vampiress. But that’s the least I’ll say. I don’t want to influence any character choices you’re making except to say that I love that movie. Well, fantastic. So, what would you guys say you are personally looking most forward to with this season - term - of Albion? Let’s start with the returning staff, so anybody who’s done this before. Is there anybody who hasn’t done this before, and this is their first year teaching at Albion?

Dylan: I think almost everybody is new. Technically I’m not. I made an appearance for 10 minutes in the first Albion last year. Arturo crashed the party right at the very end. Arturo is high up in the Magisterium. Arturo’s father is actually the only human to ever sit on the Magisterium Council. So he came in at the end [and] the Magisterium was all pissed off because the students were into some hijinks. [During] the conclusion, or the halfway between that game and the next game, it was announced that the Magisterium took over the school and that Arturo was the new headmaster. And then there were many delays in the game happening, as I’m sure is obvious, and the story has changed a bit just due to the amount of time that’s passed. So Arturo has been unceremoniously demoted before being able to actually be the headmaster, so that’s Arturo’s story.

Eric: I hope he doesn’t resent the man who’s currently in the gig.

[Everyone laughs]

Dylan: Uh- That that will play out during the game.

Allen: It’s going to be fun. And in relation to that, I’m looking forward to... Thelonius is a character who was, in ages past, part of the school. He was a rabble-rouser, a troublemaker, [and] nearly got kicked out multiple times. So now, to have this person who was such a troublemaker to be suddenly put in charge makes for a very nonstandard headmaster of a school of magic. So [I’m looking forward to] just playing with that and making an odd headmaster. It’ll be a lot of fun.

Eric: I love that storyline a little bit. That’s neat to see [you] be forced to respect a title that you might not have actually respected when you were on the other end of it. That’s [really] fun.

Belle: I’m looking very much forward to the ball.

[Audio cuts out]

Eric: Oh, Belle, I think we lost you there for a second. Does anybody else hear her?

Everyone: No.

Dylan: Her sound went away.

Eric: Belle and Mar, I’m terribly sorry. I think if you can try muting and unmuting... Oh, you’re back!

Belle and Mar: Sorry!

Belle: Our internet went out.

Eric: Is the ball the same as the circus? Is that what’s happening?

Belle: I don’t know.

Tiffany Keane Schaefer: I wouldn’t say it’s a circus. It’s based [on] Lupercalia, which is a very Ignus holiday. So there is some circustry and theater that Bedelia is definitely going to be running for us. That’s the Saturday night fancy event. [It’s] like our Yule Ball equivalent.

Eric: Got it. The reason I confused it [is that] I was on the Wix site looking up the history of Mary Azar, who it says was a circus performer. So that’s my mistake. [There’s been] a lot of information in a little bit of time; my apologies. The ball is going to be great. Balls always are. I think everybody is really into it, so I think that’s a wonderful thing.

Mar: I’m really looking forward to just spending time with my twins, even though maybe we won’t be on the best of terms since they may or may not be picking Caelum. They should be, but it’s fine; it is what it is. But I’m looking forward to that.

Eric: Yeah, I think we’re all scattered to the four corners as far as Houses, and I don’t have a defense for myself yet, but that’ll be a really interesting dynamic for sure. This will be my first prolonged role-playing experience, so I’m looking very forward to that. [I] partly did a D&D campaign a few years ago [and] had fun with that, and I do a lot of cosplays at conventions and things, but this is above and beyond, next-level stuff for me. I’m really looking forward to just creating together and experiencing others’ creations happening in real-time. I’m super stoked.

Belle: Our first LARP (Live Action Role Play) was The Chronicles, but [Mar and I are] both improvisers, so it was definitely very exciting to do a three-day improv show, essentially. That was really awesome.

Mar: I think we’re a bit more prepared going in this time around. A little less nervous, too, really. [We’re] just so excited.

Eric: I don’t believe I’ve heard from Morgan or Molly.

Molly: Oh, um, well, I wish I could say I’m just most excited for everything. It’s just going to be so great to be LARPing again.

Eric: You can. That’s [an] acceptable answer. This is not a quiz.

Molly: [laughs] But the thing I think I’m most excited for, especially, is getting to teach. Specifically my dark arts class. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Eric: Oh, yeah! Well, unfortunately, I understand it’s only available to members of your House.

Molly: No, that one is for everybody.

Eric: Oh, okay. So that’s not the necromancy one?

Molly: Yeah, the necromancy one is only for Undas. But the rest of them I have no control over.

Eric: Well, I look forward to catching your class, then. Tiffany, if I haven’t signed up for that class, get me in there, please!

Molly: It’s going to be real fun.

Tiffany: Noted.

Morgan: I am pretty new to the LARP realm, so I’m excited to experience it and see how it goes. I’m also really excited about my character and getting to play Cloelia and explore that.

Eric: I’m blown away by this idea of going and getting educated and having my new friends - and all of you - be the teachers of this thing, teachers of knowledge, instructors of arcane knowledge, and stuff that I wouldn’t catch anywhere else. I’m thrilled to see what you’ve come up [with]. And thank you in advance for all of the efforts that you’re putting in all the time. I’m sure it will be rewarding [seeing] everyone’s faces and their jaws hitting the floor when you’re actually there. But for now, I can already tell that it’s going to be special because of the clear passion that’s evident. So thank you in advance for all the rehearsing that you’re doing to make this possible. Especially in dark times, troubled times. Which [is] a perfect setting for a fantasy thing. But in reality, it’s very hard to make time for fun and play. I think that’s one of the coolest things to be looking forward to for me [at] Albion, is having some safe play in an otherwise very troubled beginning [to] winter. That’s super cool. One other thing. Did you guys want to talk about what the rehearsal process has been like for you? How frequently are you meeting? What have been some surprises? How intricate do the rehearsals get? Are you talking about coming up with lines of dialogue that are going to work for the story? Or [do] you already know what the big climax is going to be? Acting it out, that stuff.

Belle: I don’t want to spoil anything, but we meet a few times a week. We’ve been on Zoom for now, but we’re mostly just getting to know our characters and doing rehearsals where you’re figuring out who your character talks to what your character likes, but now we’re getting more into building the story in the schedule. That’s not something we can reveal yet. But it’s a lot of fun. The rehearsals, I would say, are definitely some of my favorite parts of the story-building and just help us learn more about the world because everything is really created in Tiffany’s and Dylan’s minds. It’s exciting to get a piece of that and figure out what’s going to happen.

Dylan: Hey, leave my mind out of this! I’m not the one who created this thing.

Belle: Tiffany is our genius mastermind.

Mar: Very much so, yeah.

Dylan: Yeah. I think between all of us, probably, [Molly and I] are the two who’ve been NPCs the most out of everybody here. I’m the only one who’s been in any Albion before, even though I was only in there for 10 minutes. But Molly and I were both NPCs in all four chapters of the first Chronicles of the Realm storyline, which was [from] 2017 to 2019. There are four chapters in there, and the rehearsal process has really changed massively since then. It started off with just an idea of, “Hey, why don’t we do a LARP?” And people were like, “Oh okay, what is that?” Tiffany said, “Well, we don’t know. We’re just going to do it.” And now it’s really been boiled down to... I don’t want to say “a science,” but we really have a good structure in terms of starting out and saying, “Okay, this is who your character is. We’re going to spend this number of rehearsals developing you as a character. Then we’re going to talk lore, and we’re going to learn all about the world and the lore. And then we’re going to get into building a schedule and constructing the narrative.” And then it all sort of wraps up with going through and making sure we’ve built a good story for all of the players, and that’s sort of the last piece of it where we get to know all the players. Tiffany brings all of the knowledge she has with all the meetings she’s done with the players to the group, and we sort of sit down and figure out what sort of story we’re going to build for everyone and make sure that everybody has their own special arc that they get to go on. And really, I think, obviously, the game is the most fun. But the most fun leading up to the game is getting to the venue the day early and setting everything up. Hanging out with everybody and figuring out where exactly things are going to be and how everything is going to look and seeing it all come together that night and then going to sleep. Just a handful of you in this big empty castle, and then it’s like waking up Christmas morning. Only it’s like Christmas, but all the presents are lots of fun people doing a LARP with you.

Eric: I love everything about that. That sounds like a pretty [censored] staff party the day before.

Dylan: That and we’re probably going to Texas Roadhouse the night before too. So, I also look forward…

Eric: Oh, that’s already set, and you guys already planned that. Like, “Yeah, we have to.” Is there one nearby in Racine? Is that why?

Dylan: Yeah.

Eric: Is it the only thing around?

Dylan: I mean, there’s some stuff around there, but you know, we went to the Texas Roadhouse actually, for the first time, last game for The Chronicles this past October, and we had a good time. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up there again.

Eric: Yeah, it’s reliable. You know it’s a good time. Is it DeKoven [pronounces "de-KOH-ven"] Center or DeKoven [pronounces "de-KOO-ven"] Center?

Dylan: DeKoven [pronounces "de-KOH-ven"].

Eric: DeKoven [pronounces "de-KOH-ven"], we’re guessing? based on Tiffany’s face.

Dylan: No, no, definitely DeKoven [pronounces "de-KOH-ven"].

Eric: Okay, DeKoven [pronounces "de-KOH-ven"]. Okay, cool.

Tiffany: I have heard both, but I think it is DeKoven [pronounces “de-KOH-ven”].

Eric: Okay, cool. Awesome. And then Molly. Any comments on the rehearsal process for you?

Molly: Yeah, I’m actually just adding on to what Dylan was just saying since I’ve been in a lot of these rehearsals before. It’s been really interesting to see the transition to Zoom. And this is almost like a more - this is not quite the right wording - but a more evolved version of the rehearsal process, from what I’ve seen before. And so it’s a lot of fun to be put back into this world and discovering how things are working in this new setting and learning new things about a whole new type of LARP with Albion.

Eric: That’s fantastic. Oh, quick, what is everyone’s favorite incantation? Magical incantation?

Allen: Oh, wait. I had something that went away. [laughs] What’s for breakfast?

Eric: Awesome! I think that that usually precedes knowledge being delivered to you. It’s a great way to summon knowledge. What’s for breakfast? And food.

Tiffany: If I could intervene a little bit, maybe a favorite type of magic. Because not everything is spoken, so that might free up a little bit for our NPCs.

Eric: Okay, I’ll re-ask the question. Great suggestion. What is everyone’s favorite type of magic outside of the game in general? What type of magic do you find yourselves enjoying the most or being enthralled by.

Allen: For me, I’m thinking about especially when I play video games, and there’s magic involved. I love things that give me [the ability to] summons. Pets and things I can pull into the world and use to manage space in the situation.

Eric: I like them a lot.

Allen: I’m a Scion. I’m one of those bad people.

Belle: My favorite kind of magic is laughter.

[Mar laughs]

Belle: The joy of laughing and sharing a joke with a few friends and just sparking joy.

Mar: I agree with that. Man, she took the words out of my mouth, honestly.

Morgan: I think elemental magic is really cool. There you go.

Eric: The stuff you [have] got to dig into a dusty old book to read about, right?

Morgan: Right, yeah. Some of it’s basic, easy stuff. And then it also can be really big, powerful spells and very back to basics.

Dylan: I think my favorite kind of magic is the magic of science.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: It’s not not magic.

Dylan: I just saw Mar totally roll her eyes at me. [laughs]

Mar: Think you’re seeing things again, Dylan. Sorry.

Eric: Uh, one thing I’ll comment on the magic of science being magical. I’m about halfway through reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the book. And what I’ve found… and that’s a great book, it’s very long, but I’m halfway through the audiobook, and I stopped doing road trips, so I haven’t picked it up again. But the more that science is involved, the more that scientific things like telescopes are involved, the more you can magic them. So there ends up being this wonderful thing whereas technology heats up, there’s more exponential growth for both factors for magic and science. And magic can inspire you to learn, do more science, and science can inspire you to do more magic, so I think that’s pretty neat stuff, to be honest.

Allen: It actually reminds me of when I was younger. One of my favorite role-playing games was this old White Wolf game called Mage: The Awakening, Mage: Ascension. And in that, science was magic. Their big idea was that magic just came down to belief systems, and the more you got, more people to believe in the parts of the thing that became the de facto reality of the world. And so the science is just the magic that people manage to trick everyone into believing; that’s the one that works. And so now we all believe in science when it’s still magic.

Eric: I like that a lot. That also reminds me. I think it’s an Arthur C. Clarke quote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” to a lesser advanced wow. That blows my mind. If we see, I don’t know, just airplanes even, how do they stay up? Science, but it depends on who you ask, where they’re from, how long ago. Well, cool, I won’t keep you guys too much longer. I think I’m basically just going to do a quick shout-out to Albion. The dates it is and where it’s located. That’s why I was asking about DeKovan, and then I’ll let you guys all go, but I really appreciate all your time. Thank you so very much, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Tiffany: Molly, do you want to say what your favorite magic is really quick?

Molly: I was going to say anything to do with the natural world and any magic that has to do with nature I love. I’ve always personally [liked] Herbology and learning about that stuff.

Eric: Oh cool, I get it soft spot for that as well. Hufflepuff here. But yeah, good stuff. I am here with the staff of Albion School of Sorcery, and I am very excited to attend term February 3rd to February 6th of 2022 at the DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin. A four-day LARP, live-action role-play, with these amazing people you see before you and more. I’m excited to be reporting on MuggleNet.

You can now purchase tickets for the 2023 Albion School of Sorcery using our early access link. Use our link and code MUGGLENETMAGIC to receive $150 off your ticket price through June 26, 2022. 

Editor’s Note: Admission to attend Albion School of Sorcery was provided to MuggleNet by Moonrise Games. All opinions belong to the reviewer.

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Eric S.

Eric Scull joined MuggleNet in November of 2002. Since that time, he’s presided over a number of sections, including name origins and Dear Hogwarts, but none so long as the recently revived Crazy Caption Contest. Eric is a Hufflepuff who lives in Chicago and loves the outdoors.