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Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Wedding of Mike and Sarah, Part II: Bachelor Quest

Part two in this three part series involves the Bachelor Party which I planned for Mike and our friends, hereafter known as Bachelor Quest. We have a unique group of friends and so I planned a rather unique party to celebrate!

A few months before the wedding, I started giving some serious thought to the Bachelor Party. As Best Man, it was my job to plan and coordinate this for Mike and our friends, but I had never been to one before, never planned one before. One thing immediately became clear: this would not be your typical bachelor party.

When I say typical bachelor party, I mean the kind you see in TV and movies, where the groom is whisked away to some crazy wild party full of things he may not be "able" to enjoy once he's married. But that kind of party feels silly to me, especially when I considered our friend group, many of whom don't drink and wouldn't have fun at that kind of party. I envisioned some of my friends trying to have philosophical and nerdy discussions with the girls normally invited to that type of party, haha.

So, what to do with a group of nerds? Well, go on a quest of course!

I came up with the idea that the party, the Bachelor Quest, would involve leading Mike through a set of challenges, trials, and adventures. These would familiarize him with all that he has accomplished, helping him to relive good times, defeat bad ones, and feel "ready" for his wedding. 

For a couple of weeks, every moment of my spare time went into planning the big day. I sent the invitations, and requested any and all help they could provide. I specifically requested special memories they had with Mike as I wanted to weave them into the quest. I also game up with the challenges, determined the props and costumes needed to run said challenges, and worked out all the rules.

The planning was quite extensive and challenging. I was doing my best to make sure it would be a fun day for all, a special day especially for Mike, and that I had every question answered before anyone even asked. It was also difficult because I lived 400 km away and was trying to do everything from afar as cheaply as possible. I am thankful for all the help I had from friends and family.

The big day finally arrived! I had everything I needed and I went ahead to the park to set up. If anyone had stopped us and looked in the trunk, they would have been very surprised for I had several hundred feet of rope, a cloak, a foam sword and shield, and several NERF guns.

One of my friends, knowing only the briefest details of the quest, packed accordingly, as seen below.

Assembling in the field of Battlefield Park, I explained the premise and rules.

The premise was that now that Mike was all happy and ready to be married, now that his perfect life seemed right around the corner, well, now some dark force had appeared, taking it all away! He had lost his job, his wife-to-be, his house, and his friends! It was up to him to win them back or suffer the consequences. It was the job of everyone else to participate in the adventure, be won over to be Mike's friend if they so chose, and help him win the day!

The first thing I had people do was pick an archetypal fantasy "class". In Dungeons and Dragons, and other such games, a class is an archetypal hero role based loosely on what kind of special abilities you have, how you would fight. Big beefy combatant? That's a Fighter. Bow and arrow Legolas nature lover? That's a Ranger. The idea behind everyone choosing classes was to make everyone unique and provide fun benefits they could get for their choice.

For example, I knew Mike would pick a wizard, and I actually tailored many things to suit him specifically. The wizard in D&D is all about battlefield control. They can cast pillars of fire or smoke to block or obscure the enemy's path, so I gave Mike a similar ability; he would be allowed to create temporary zones wherein players on the opposing team could not go.

A couple of other funny class benefits were those given to the Barbarian and Rogue. The Barbarian is typically a character who, once/fight, can summon great rage to help them win. In light of that, I made a rule that as long as the Barbarian was running around acting crazy, he could not be harmed by NERF guns. For the Rogue, who is normally super sneaky, I said that if he held his weapon above his head, they could run for 5 seconds without being harmed. There were classes which healed, classes which which did more damage, and the class Alex chose, Monk, who wasn't allowed to use weapons. It was a lot of fun coming up with the benefits and I did it because I wanted everyone to feel special and for there to be a real variety to the experience.

There was a lot of this throughout the day

A fine, fantastic bunch of fellows!

After picking teams, the first thing I had them do was an obstacle course. My original intention was that each team would have to lead their team members through a series of obstacles and build comradery as they did so. (There were some people here who knew Mike and myself quite well, but weren't that close/familiar with everyone else)

Unfortunately, it was too difficult to set it up exactly the way I wanted, mostly because I wasn't able to see the park beforehand. Still, everyone ran around trees, flipped over branches, all good fun.

Once the teams finished, they received a puzzle, which I had help in making. Each puzzle was unique and symbolized something Mike had "lost". I must admit it wasn't good planning, relying on everyone to do the puzzle in the middle of a field, but the puzzle pieces were laminated so it all worked out. Here are the images for the puzzles.
A castle, representing Mike and Sarah's home
A rose, whose symbolism is pretty clear
A book and quill, to represent Mike's writing career
A scroll, or diploma, to represent Mike's Bachelor degree
The two teams who completed the puzzles first were set to compete against the two other teams. Our next challenge was LARP Ultimate Frisbee.

Ultimate Frisbee is a pretty simple game to play. Similar to European Handball, the game involves two teams, each trying to move the ball (or Frisbee) to an end-zone. Players holding the Frisbee are not allowed to run or take steps, but must pass the Frisbee to a teammate to progress to the end-zone.

LARP stands for Live-Action Role-Playing, and usually involves the use of foam swords to act out fantasy combat.

So, LARP Ultimate Frisbee involved using the same rules as Ultimate Frisbee but players could use foam swords, NERF guns, and foam balls to "attack" their opponents, turning the Frisbee over to the other team. Here, the class benefits were meant to be used to give each player a distinct advantage.

At least that was the plan. I had planned on running several games but ended up only running one. The game ended up turning into a free-for-all, with foam balls and NERF darts flying everywhere, and anyone with a foam sword not "killed" ran around like crazy. I had to remind the guys a couple of times about the Frisbee, as they forgot in the midst of combat. But, it was still a lot of fun regardless.

Once the dust settled, we switched over to one of my most anticipated events: Zombie Strike! While many of us were at York University, the teaching assistants went on strike. This ended up closing the school down. Most of the students went home, and most of the buildings and facilities closed. Some of us, however, were required to remain behind to help run social events for the students who could not go home, those whose family lived too far away.

However, with nothing to do at the school, students stayed up as late as they wanted, slept in late, and when seen walking along the abandoned campus, the scene looked like something from a zombie horror movie. I wanted to create an event for the quest which symbolized this.

I placed Mike and another creative friend, David, at one end of the field.

I placed a few weapons at their feet.

I then brought all the other zombies to the far end of the field, marking off different boundaries along the way.

The idea was that Mike and David had to defend themselves against the zombie hoard. To do so, they would cast spells using their creativity which would hinder or stop the zombies. The rest would shuffle toward Mike and David trying to tap them on the shoulder. 10 taps each and Mike and David were "dead". Along the way, the zombies could pick up weapons at certain boundary lines and use them, and once the zombies were close enough, Mike and David could use NERF guns.

I acted as referee, judging the spells Mike and David created (rhymes, poems, creative prose describing what the spell should do), and then enforcing the effect of the spell on the zombies (caught on fire, a wall of rock blocking their path, turning their blood to ice, etc.).

It was a fantastically fun event! Mike and David got to feel like wizards, casting spells to stop the zombies, and the rest had a lot of fun slowly shuffling forward, acting out the effects of the spells, hopping, crawling, jumping around.

At one point, I became less generous with the spells. If the rhyme had been used before, or if the effect wouldn't affect a zombie, I declared the spell null. This caused frantic panic to rise in Mike and David as they ran out of spells. The zombies inched closer and closer...

At this point, I brought Alex over to their side. Alex is very skilled at spontaneously coming up with flowery prose and he helped renew the creative energy. With his help, Mike and David saved the day!

After this, it was time for the battle of the Evil Exes. I had secretly told Alex about this event, asking him to grab 4-5 others to form a secret team. The idea was to allow Mike a chance to think about his old relationships and defeat any negative thoughts he may still have about them. The teams were set up across from each other in the field, and we played NERF dodgeball. Last man standing wins!

With the battle coming to a close, the guys thought the main part of the quest was over, but I had one more surprise for them.

I congratulated them on getting through the day's events, on coming together to help Mike, and for helping make the day so amazing. I reminded them that one of the things Mike had "lost" were his friends and that it was his renewed friendships which were going to help him now.

On the back of each of the puzzles the teams had originally assembled was 1/4 of a QR code. When brought together, they saw this:

And when scanned with a smartphone, the QR code revealed a clue and latitude/longitude coordinates for four different items at four different locations. The original teams were instructed to dash off in their cars and bring the items back to Mike's.

Once back at Mike's, the teams revealed their items, each corresponding to the puzzles earlier. The main part of the quest was over! 
We then partied the rest of the night in our typical style: ordered in pizza and played video games.

The Bachelor Quest was a huge success! Everyone had a lot of fun, and it truly felt like a unique and wonderful experience. I was very happy to have done something so special for my friend, and have the chance to spend the day with many of my other friends.

With the bachelor party over, all I had left to do was get the groom down the aisle, and deliver my Best Man speech, right? There couldn't possibly be any more wedding planning to do this close to the big day, right?

Well, that's a story for my next post.

Thanks for reading!

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