A little while ago we started the process of trying to understand what LARP Safe is. You can read that post here. Then we asked several Facebook Groups what LAPR Safe meant. It’s time to look at the answers
Safety depends on the LARP
The universal answer to "is this LARP Safe?", always has been to ask your LARP.
Leah Tardivel summed it up very nicely in this response posted on larp haven
And we shouldn’t expect it. Different games have different standards because they’re played in different ways by different people. Expecting consistency limits people’s options. Expecting clarity is important, and expecting/encouraging people to take time to find to what the standards are for each game they play is also vital. Consistency shouldn’t be the goal.
Larps operate with different requirements. Assuming that whats classed as safe in one larp is classed as safe in another can be a mistake.
Tip 1: Before starting any new larp find out what equipment and actions it classes as safe. Never make assumptions about safety
A common theme was that when it came to combat that no harm is actually done, but that coming home with a few bruises is mostly okay.
Such as this one from Luke Johnson
To me, larp safe means you’re going to get hit but not wounded. Maybe bruised. Either carry a shield or go as a non-combat character. Similarly, make sure any armour won’t hurt anyone should they run into you.
Tip 2: As you larp develop a personal sense of how you keep yourself safe. Let his help you play characters and larps that suit your personal needs.
Larp Safe Weapons
Sjors Can Rijswick gave a very good definition of a larp safe weapon and also went on to mention the manufacturer Calimacil. Here’s what he had to say
For me, a weapon is LARP-safe if it actively protects the target from harm. Foam over a fibreglass or carbon fibre core, protections at the tip and pommel to protect against penetration. Equipment likewise should allow full use but edges should be rounded to prevent injury. The hardness of the foam is an often debated subject here in the Netherlands. My personal opinion is somewhat the minority vote, as most people find Calimacil foam quite hard, I find their foam safe for responsible use. With anything, LARP safety should be measured both in gear and in correct use. Stabbing with a weapon not designed for it is dangerous, stabbing with a weapon that is designed to safely stab with special tip protection in place is safe.
It’s a good working general description of a larp safe weapon. The mention of Calimacil was an important point. Calimacil make high-quality larp equipment including weapons. They frequently appear in safety discussions as although their weapons are of a very standard; and they are known worldwide; not all larps deem their weapons to be safe.
Because the manufacturing process used leads to a certain amount of hardness. Not everyone is happy with that.
Tip 3: Quality of manufacturer is not an indication that the larp of your choice will consider an item safe
This takes us back to always talking to your larp about how they test for safety and what is considered safe.
It’s not just about weapons and props
One of the most voted up comments was this one from Matt Sofar
Depends on the system. Some use blunted metal. Some a sofa on a stick. Some no physical combat at all. So safety depends on the system. Oh and the most dangerous thing I found in decades of lrp/larp was the terrain. Trees are damn dangerous things they just jump out at folks, trip them up and/or poke them in the eye.
After making the point tha weapon safety rules cross a huge spectrum he talks about the Terrain.
I completely agree with him about Terrain. I’ve been larping since the early 90’s. One of the most consistent causes of bruises and injury that I’ve seen has always been the terrain. Whether its larger items such as trees or things underfoot that you may not notice such as roots or a sudden shift in the direction of the ground.
Tripping and falling can easily hurt you far more than any larp weapon so we all have a need to look after ourselves and watch out for others.
Tip 4: Learn to be mindful of the ground around you.
We are all a part of making Larp Safe
As a rule of thumb larpers have remarkable consciences. We work together to build things that are special and look after each other as needed. This makes larp remarkable.
This quote from Emma Dewey gave me a few thoughts on the subject
What the organisers have decided is safe, and comprehensively explained to all attendees before time in! (Years ago I was hit very hard in a fight), and objected (I was wearing many layers including leather, but the blow still hurt). A nearby player told me that that was a pulled blow because I was still standing….
Safety briefings and workshops are supposed to set the standards of behaviour for a larp. Deviating from these puts challenges our own and other peoples safety. Putting in a personal bias into the mix at best sends out mixed messages at worst actually injures people.
Mentioned earlier was do no harm. This means that if someone tells you that you are hurting them then the only answer to stop acting in a way that causes hurt. We need to answer to each other in order to maintain safe behaviour during a larp.
This extends beyond combat into all aspects of the larp. If we see good ideas in running things safely we should congratulate. If we see what seems to be a bad idea then perhaps its time to ask questions.
Tip 5: All of us are responsible for safety at a larp and we need to listen to each other
Look after yourself
This last one should be obvious but so many of us are guilty of not following it. Larps take us out of our normal routine and thought processes. That is part of the appeal after all. The downside is that there is a whole list of things that we can forget to do. Including
- Taking Medication
- Eating Properly
It’s so easy to turn ourselves into a mess when larping. This leads into the final tip
Tip 6: Take breathers and check that you really are looking after yourself. A moment of self reflection and self-check is a good thing
Will we ever stop talking about safety?
Almost certainly not. Larp continues to explore new storytelling and game style horizons. That must lead to changing ideas.
Finally, Larp may portray fictional worlds but it lives in the real world. The world never stops changing. Inevitably that impacts on the thoughts that go behind running larps. And in turn on what we consider safe in a larp.
I’d like to add special thanks to the following people who made a significant difference to this article
- Leah Tardivel
- Luke Johnson
- Sjors Can Rijswick
- Matt Sofar
- Emma Dewey