What is Bicolline?

What is Bicolline?


Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

The biggest medieval fantasy event in North America, and the largest thematic medieval village in the world dedicated to such activities, the Duchy of Bicolline has been welcoming medieval enthusiasts for decades for battle scenarios, great balls, and the famous Grande Bataille, which now counts more than 4000 participants.

Located in Canada, on a permanent site, it welcomes an increasingly international player base, but has deep roots in Quebec, with the majority of attendees being french speaking locals.

❧ Overview

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

Borrowing aspects of medieval fairs, live combat simulations, and live action roleplaying, it's not easy to put a label on Bicolline. It offers an immersive but casual ambience where visual decorum is paramount, with more than 200 medieval buildings, scenic woodlands and river, and historical encampments providing unmatched decors for a fantasy event.

While every participant has to dress the part, roleplaying isn't mandatory, and playing a character is fully discretionary. There is a vibrant LARP community inside Bicolline, but many are there for a more casual village experience, or to partake in the intense combats that occurs on the fields during the Grande Bataille and the battle scenarios.

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

There is no character creation rules at Bicolline, and a very simple custom dictates what can be played: If you look the part, you are what you claim to be. It's as simple as that. Most roleplaying groups make their own little lore and slap it on top of Bicolline's canon, creating a loose but organic community-based setting that includes the ideas of various guilds and long lasting player groups.

Combat only occurs on the fields or during tournaments, and doesn't impact individual characters or village life. In fact, it can be ignored entirely. The combat system is also extremely simple and well adapted for competitive mass combat with foam weapons. It's very sport-like and intense compared to more theatrical kinds of combat seen elsewhere around the world.

❧ Village Life

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

Bicolline's main event is the yearly Grande Bataille. With thousands of people bringing the Duchy to life and building shanty towns of tents and other huts, the ambience is energetic and festive day after day. Lasting a full week, and with most people sleeping on site, the event is akin to a fully blown medieval festival, with concerts, revelries, tournaments, and countless activities to watch or participate in.

While Bicolline is very family friendly; at night, it can get wild for those willing to partake, as many guilds host large parties with plenty to drink, and those aren't moments of moderation. The village seldom sleeps, and you will often find folks enjoying festivities into the late hours of the night in their encampments. Finding rest isn't an issue, but for the night owls, the night is full of memories to be made.

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

A great inn thrones as a public gathering place and serves drink to its visitors for a fee, while many small businesses operates within the town to provide food and other services to the denizens of the village. You can even find us there, as we own a shop in the building known as La Haute Garde. Come visit us in the merchant alley if you need extra clothes or gear to enjoy your week!

❧ Battles and Combat System

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

For many, one the greatest appeals of Bicolline are its large scale battles. At the Grande Bataille, fronts will counts hundreds of fighters, with often more than a thousand people holding lines, shooting arrows, or fighting on the flanks as skirmishers. War machines will also appear on the battlefield, from foam throwing catapults to ballistas launching massive spear sized foam arrows. Nothing however beats the monsters fielded by guilds, creatures such as archangels, golems, or enormous werewolves that take down anyone they strike in one blow.

It's a spectacular thing to behold, and these battles involve real strategy and troop movement among various terrain like plains, woods, and hills. The winners are often the ones that can cleverly time an assault from their shock troops or hold a good position against all odds, even if sheer number and individual fighter's prowess plays a big role as well. It's large scale combat like it is rarely seen in LARP or war games, especially with its intense and sport focused aspect that differs from the theatrical style of combat many roleplayers may be more accustomed to.

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

Combat in Bicolline is touch based and uses semi-realistic foam weapons. Hit points are divided between the head, limbs and torso. Each body part has only one hit point when unarmored, so fighters can go down in a single hit if they wear no helmet or body armor. Head protection is not only important for holding the line, but also as safety equipment, since head hits can sometimes be rough in the heat of battle, and unarmored body parts act as magnets for enemy attacks.

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

Battles are played as a war game more than a theatrical encounter, and acting injuries isn't required, as long as fighters kneel with their weapon point down when they are eliminated, and count their hit points fairly. Downed warriors can chose to remain on the field to wait for a healer, or sometimes simply walk away back to their respawning point to return in the melee. In that sense, Bicolline's combat can feel a little like a paintball or airsoft game, but played with foam weapons, and a lot more costume and acting, obviously.

The competitive aspect of combat created a bit of a meta in the game, with heavy armor, massive shields and 9 or 7 feet polearms taking a dominant place in the core of most armies. Other fighting styles find a place as support for the back lines and the flanks, or as skirmishing forces harassing the opponent's weak spots, but you will quickly learn why the phalanx was such a popular fighting formation if you try to charge headfirst into a pike line with nothing but a sword and a buckler.

❧ Bicolline's Other Events

While the Grande Bataille remains Bicolline's main activity, the Duchy also organizes other events along the year, focusing on revelries, combat, or geopolitics.

✧ The Purple Ball

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

The largest Bicolline's event aside for the Grande Bataille, it's a festive gathering counting more than 1500 attendees, with entertainment, animation, and events associated with the annual theme of the Ball. Attendees wear their most glamorous outfits and flashy costumes for this massive get together that occurs in spring.

✧ Military Campaigns

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

There is plenty of fighting at the Grande Bataille, but battle scenarios also occur along the year, with warriors facing on the battlefield for day long military campaigns. Guilds are generally divided along opposing fronts based on alliances, religion, or other points of conflict.  Furthermore, the scenario surrounding the battle often echoes big events happening on the geopolitical side of the game, like wars of independence or military conquests. These events are spaced all over the year, from spring to fall, and attract hundreds of fighters.

✧ Tavern Evenings

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

These revelry based events allow players to come to the Duchy to feast and drink at the great inn in the middle of the town. Often organized around a particular guild as the hosts, or with a specific theme that set the tone for the activities that will occur during the evening. These events are good opportunities to meet other players and also do diplomacy and scheming for those involved in the geopolitical game.

✧ The Geopolitical Game

Photo by Le Duché de Bicolline

Year spanning plans and rivalries occur on the geopolitical side of Bicolline, with guilds and nobles moving their pawns to acquire land, wage war, spread their influence and develop their domains. If only a minority of players are actively involved in this part of play, every attendee can at least contribute to this game by pledging allegiance to a guild and providing them precious manpower to begin their ascension within the Duchy. The geopolitical game occurs between the events, played online or through actions initiated during a gathering at the Duchy.

❧ Conclusion

The Duchy of Bicolline has something for everyone. It's a large event with such a wide diversity of groups and guilds any medieval or fantasy enthusiast will find there what they seek, as well as experience new things along the way. May you be into period reenactment, roleplaying, combat, or simply enjoying a week away from the buzz of modern life, the Grande Bataille is something you need to try at least once. Visit Bicolline's website to register for this amazing event!

If you want to participate to Bicolline with an organized trip, you can also visit the page for The Voyage North, a guild that welcomes international players to try the Grande Bataille.

If you want to learn more about Bicolline or LARPing in general, visit our store, talk with medieval enthusiasts, and get the gear you need!

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