Sex and relationships based on love are key to our culture and story telling traditions. Role-playing a close relationship can be a challenge but one that is achievable but what happens when we need to portray a sexual relationship? How do we bring that one into play?
The first thing to remember is that the act itself isn’t necessarily as important as what happens afterwards. The post initimate experience defines how the characters relate to each other. So the first thing to remember when bringing sex into LARP is to define how the characters feel each other. The positive experiences of love and closeness are powerful motivators. So are the inverse – betrayal in particular is a powerful motivator.
However to get to that point we need the act itself so here are some ideas for introducing it to a LARP.
Totally Off Camera
This is the easiest. The participants take themselves out of the game. The idea is that this a private act and so won’t be seen by anyone. There are two ways of doing this. The less immersive way it to go out of character, find some where away from the plot and other plays and simply take a break. During this period it is recommended that the players work out how their characters are going to respond to each other. Later they can return to the game and continue.
A Portrayal That Can be Seen.
This simply means that there is an act that can be observed by someone else. The private unseen act becomes something viewable. This has allows for a voyeur or a camera to witness the act and broadcast it and respond to it. In other words – other players can role-play their characters reaction. Portraying sex for the players involved heightens their own immersion in the game.
For mechanisms for doing this lets turn to Nordic Larp – and also the UKs own Gathering LARP
I’m going to start with the Gathering. I’ve not been to the Gathering for quite a few years now but on one occasion our entered in the in game brothel. The brothel simulated sex via the giving of a back massage. This struck me as being a good technique ( you’ll also find it listed in other blogs on the subject). One party gives a massage and the other roleplays the sounds or looks that should accompany sex. On this occasion humour took over as one player – who played a mute then had an interpreter talk, moan and groan on his behalf.
Next up is Ars Amandi. Ars Amandi has appeared in Nordic Larp. Ars Amandi allows the portrayal of physical intimacy or sex. It features the touching of hands to represent intimacy. Instead of talking at length I’m going to ask you to take a look at this video which explains the technique very well.
This video acts as an introduction – I have a feeling a lot of material could be written about this technique (if there is call for this I’ll happily create additional posts that go deeper into the technique.
You should note that there are other techniques out there – but these are stand outs for me at the moment.
One thing that is clear is that intimacy runs deeper than violence. Killing someone in game doesn’t seem to challenge a players emotions of psyche that much. Intimacy does appear to be very challenging and can be emotionally intense. For that reason I’d suggest that if you are going to protray sex and intimacy then you really should talk to the players about how these mechanics are going to work and also hold workshops before the game to make sure everyone understands. Hit your dead is one thing – but getting intimate requires that we are sensitive to each others feeling – and that is much tougher.
One Last Thing
We’ve talked about portraying sex and intimacy, plus the opportunities for emotional roleplay but lets not forget its importance to action.
How many action films are there with no scenes of intimacy compared to those with?
And where would James Bond be without sex?