SUCHA, Poland — At a 13th-century castle in Poland, wizards and witches are sneaking through the halls and stone staircases of the College of Wizardry that opened this weekend for Harry Potter's devotees.
In their magic cloaks and wielding wands, some 140 wizardry fans from Europe and the U.S. are studying witchcraft and potions in the live action role-playing game at the Hogwarts-like Czocha Castle in southwestern Poland.
From Thursday to Sunday, participants will live an academic life similar to that of the students and professors of Hogwarts, enacting an original scenario inspired by J.K. Rowlings' saga about the young wizard.
However, the game — the third such one held here since November — does not follow the book's characters or story line, and organizers stress it is not connected to the Potter franchise.
"I always wanted to be able to create living worlds, like book writers do or film actors," said Dominik Dembinski of Polish group Liveform, which organized the event along with Denmark's Rollespilsakademiet, which translates as Role Playing Academy. He added that he wanted the participants to "have some influence over it."
"You want to be a part of this feeling" in this "simulation of a world," he said.
Ahead of the game, the castle's dining halls were hung with colorful banners, the tables laid with white cloths for collective meals. Secret passage ways were opened, leading to classrooms, laboratories and to other mysterious places. The participants were practicing their roles, mixing "potions" and testing their wands.
"My strategy is to put the independence of (the) college before anything else, "said Elge Larsson of Norway, as he was getting into his role of Headmaster Arrok Trantiforus. "I am afraid we will have some interference from the Polish Ministry of Magic. I will fight them nail and tooth."
All made their way beneath archways and into the courtyard, where they received game instructions from tactics of combat to safety.
"When the character starts living in the flesh ... and you have no idea where you are coming or where you are ending up, nothing beats it," Larsson said.
Similar games inspired by the British TV series "Downton Abbey" and the legend of Robin Hood are planned this year.