Contact and Physicality in LARP: The UK LRP Digest

Contact and Physicality in LARP: The UK LRP Digest

We started by talking about direct physical action in larp. Such as restraining someone, or manhandling them. Looking at this idea evolved into an article that considered things to think about if this is to be included. You can read that article here. This spilled over into the LARPBook show.

However I was aware that this is a complex issue where the value is in more than one point of view. I was also aware of the valuable differences between different game cultures. Both in terms of genre and nationality.

In order to learn more I asked the Facebook communities UK LRP  and Larpers BFF, These were quite intentional selections. LARPBook is UK based so I wanted to solicit more information from the UK. However we’ve always been about learning from other nations. So that it why I also looked at Larpers BFF. Its a good source of international discussion.

The original plan was to put both digests in the same post. However it soon became apparent that this would not work. Simply put there was far too much comment. Using a single post would have created something that was long, unwieldy and ultimately hard to read. Therefore we are breaking things down by group. What follows is the UK LRP digest.

From UK LRP

 

Ross Allan:
Much as I’m not adverse to a bit of grapplin’, it’s not something I think should occur in LARP.

Yes, we could wear some kind of signifier, perhaps a Body Dev like coloured ribbon, but the issue comes when people aren’t as skilled as they think.

I’m well versed in pratfalls. It’s a skill I’ve had ever since I was a nipper, and I’ve never broken a bone in my body (so far as I’m aware). So one could argue that I know how to land myself.

But I’m also 17 stone of muscle, bone, lard and stupid. If someone of a lighter build tries to grapple me and I end up landing on top of them, there’s only one outcome. That’s just not worth the risk.

So whilst ‘consenting adults’ might seem the rational answer, it’s not.

Example of it going wrong? I was helping to IC restrain someone according to the rules (three people needed), and wound up with my hand cheese grattered between two sets of chain mail.

Little lasting harm done, but not something to be repeated, even though it was all well within the established and accepted rules

Simon Brind:
I’m a massive fan of larps with proper violence. As long as there is a solid escalation and de-escalation mechanic in place.

EmmM Dewey:
As I had to explain to a couple of capable chaps who wanted to try some grappling at an event I was crewing. “The test is not, can you do it safely. The test is, can a brand new player see what you did, think it’s cool, and try it on a random bloke later that evening, after a beer or so. And say said random bloke has a bad back…” (I’ve had to first aid a bloke who grappled someone at a non-grappling event. His excuse that it wasn’t time in yet, and the target was a mate, didn’t stop the necessity of us calling an ambulance.

Gareth Farrant – Kit Goblins:
Honest answer bit of grappling if it makes sense is fine… but fake punches, or headbuts and expecting other player to fall unconscious is balls (especially if its some mage type swinging) and annoys me.

Reply: Gideon Lawrence Aww… I like fake punches… but I rarely expect anyone to fall unconscious I just like the rp aspect.

Reply: Gareth Farrant Yes, but you are normaly playing some fighter type npc when doing so.. its the wimpy, bookworm type plyers/npc who annoy me (who seem to think the world have glass jaws)

Benedict Walsh
Touch not, lest ye be touched harder.

Hemming Ross
Should not happen at all. It is injuries waiting to happen.

Jayce Antique – Manticore:
From a safety perspective it’s just down to the group your with.

If you know your crowd is skilled in handling themselves with the appropriate break fall techniques , happy to take a bit of bumping around and know when to use a safe signal (normally tapping yourself several times on the chest or arm is enough) and there are enough watchers to keep an eye. It should be encouraged.

But if the crew is learning and not had much form in breaking a fall or signals- just no.

Ideally no anyway because most LARP has such a diverse mix of skill level and where they are at… I wouldn’t

Reply: Jayce Antique Also probably take on board colour coding. Have been in games where there are people that have light blue or red ribbons to signal they are trained in some form of martial art so you’re ok to proceed in some fancy grappling or weapon work. But most of those guys already now it takes 2 hits to kill someone

Reply: Brian C – k It’s down to the organisers whether they except that on site or not, not the players regardless of what they agree among themselves. Mainly because the organisers are responsible for what happens at their event and insurance etc.

Reply: Jayce Antique That’s the be all and end all.

It’s all good to suggest it but the Insurance and safety procedures you need to have is nuts to setup but once your team knows how to handle it – it becomes normal

Morgan Wilkinson
I think the bar isn’t just consent, it’s knowing the other person well enough to be comfortable working with their limits as well as your own. So anything more than very minor physical contact either wants to be discussed beforehand or to be with someone you have enough of an OC rapport with to be more or less on the same page improvising, and know what they’re likely to be comfortable with and what’s likely to hurt them or freak them out.

That’s not something you can really legislate for, or control in anything beyond a very small system, because it relies on players trusting each other and being trustworthy, and that’s not something you can police easily.
Which is a shame, because a good bit of grappling among friends is generally awesome fun. But the fact that there are people I can trust to safely pick me up and throw me around, and people who can trust me to do the same to them, doesn’t mean I can or should do that with just anyone.
I think the bar isn’t just consent, it’s knowing the other person well enough to be comfortable working with their limits as well as your own. So anything more than very minor physical contact either wants to be discussed beforehand or to be with someone you have enough of an OC rapport with to be more or less on the same page improvising, and know what they’re likely to be comfortable with and what’s likely to hurt them or freak them out.

That’s not something you can really legislate for, or control in anything beyond a very small system, because it relies on players trusting each other and being trustworthy, and that’s not something you can police easily.
Which is a shame, because a good bit of grappling among friends is generally awesome fun. But the fact that there are people I can trust to safely pick me up and throw me around, and people who can trust me to do the same to them, doesn’t mean I can or should do that with just anyone.

Reply: Robert Davies I like the bar being I’m comfortable with this thats a good idea

Maximas Von Bracey
Please note, this is very common place at fest events in Germany, ergo Drachenfest.

Reply: Jayce Antique Let’s just face it- Germany is light years ahead in LARP than most countries are. Not to mention German mentality is so much different to that of the others. They have compliance and safety hard wired into them. Seldom do we hear a game with someone recklessly getting injured because of IC combat.
Reply: John Cattes Don’t you believe it. Drachenfest is a game of 5000 nerds with swords, drinking heavily. The injury rates are comparable to those at a UK fest event.
Drachenfest is also not really representative of German LARP. It’s very much it’s own thing tailored to be accessible to international players.

Paul O’ Neill To wade in with a slight variation on the theme of physical risk in LARP…
…what are community member’s feelings vis-a-vis an individual taking personal risks at an event? By this, I mean risks outside of combat – for example, someone climbing a tree to loose arrows at monsters …or, climbing up a building to get into a first floor window (etc.)… any thoughts from organisers perspective (e.g. insurance)?
Reply: Neil Gunfield If you do something outside of the bounds of the game and injure yourself, such as climbing a tree, I doubt you would be covered by the insurance. So, go for your life! lol
Reply: Paul O’ Neill 😀 awesome! You know I will ^_^

Neil Gunfield If both are willing then, in my opinion, go for it. BUT it’s always important to check first, rather than just randomly grabbing someone.

Reply: Paul O’ Neill …but if I were running a game, and several players started taking such risks, should I be worried and intervene? If so, what justification would I have? If they injure themselves (e.g. break a leg) and attempted to sue me/us/the game organisation… as adults in the eyes of the law, I can only assume that they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on – ha! (pls ignore the pun it is a serious question)

Reply:
Neil Gunfield If it were my game, I would risk assess each circumstance as it occurred and react accordingly. If my mate, the rock climber, decides to scale a cliff I’d probably be fine with that. If my mate, the student with zero upper body strength or coordination…See more

John Cattes Depends on the game. At a big mechanically complex game like a fest I’d just say no and maybe have a game mechanic to simulate fistfights.
At a smaller game if might be possible build workshops and safety training into the pregame window so everyone can be safe. This is quite common in continental larps but very rare in the UK.

LARPBook Show Episode 55: The Flying Gimp

LARPBook Show Episode 55: The Flying Gimp

In the run up to this episode of the podcast I’d published an article about using physical force during a larp.  The response to us posting about this in a couple of Facebook groups was both immediate and interesting. As I’d suspect there are multiple points of view on this topic within the larping community.  At this he point of writing this I’m drawing to the conclusion that this is something with no absolute answer. That’s why I believe there will be other articles in the future.

But I digress the feedback gave us to devote this episode to the singular topic of physicality in larp. For a lot of the show it’s expressed as combat; but the principles remain the same in or out of a fighting context.

I have to apologise for the technical difficulties we faced in this episode regarding bringing Luke in. We’d been expecting him to join us from an undisclosed location in London via a good Internet connection, It turns out that terrible Internet was something that was not previously disclosed to Luke. As a result we’ll be reprieving the points in this show with Luke as he is our regular Health and Safety expert. Having talked to Luke at some length on this topic I feel that you may be surprised by some of the answers.

THANK YOU

A big Thank you to our lovely patrons who make it a bit easier to keep this show going.

END SHOW

If you would like to get in contact with the show just email [email protected], is there a topic you would like us to discuss or something cool you saw or fancy writing an article for the website then email the show [email protected].

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Contact and Physicality in LARP

Contact and Physicality in LARP

This is going to be about touching and physical contact in larp. It is not going to be portraying intimacy in any shape or form. Instead this is an examination of all things to do with manhandling of other players in character. It’s about carrying, lifting, restraining, blocking, roughhousing and generally all things to do with physically manipulating another player. Also don’t go looking for hand to hand combat rules – that’s also not part of this discussion.

What are the rules?

If I want to say pick up or physically restrain someone what are the rules? This is where we get into one of larps big problem areas. In one part of the culture there may be one set of does and don’ts. But as you travel around locations and larps these may vary. Some will say that under no circumstances will physical contact prevail. Others will thrive on it as a means to immersion and emotional reaction.

The question becomes how do we handle this disparity?

So lets break down manhandling into digestible topics and look at what we can learn.

No One Gets Hurt But…

I’m going to kick off with the idea that the only absolute we work with is that nobody gets hurt. We have a responsibility to make our larps safe. Being safe however does not have to mean wrapping the players in cotton wool. It does not mean we ban acts because there is a physicality to them. Take sports. Many sports can result in injury. These are not banned because the risks are understood. In larp we should be thinking about this lead. Work to be safe, but allow all players to understand the risks they are taking, the culture they will be playing in and they expectations that will be placed on them.

We can work towards safety but allow rough treatment if everyone understands how to behave and what is expected.

And Don’t Expect People to Read the Rules

Its an odd fact that intelligent, creative and problem solving people like larpers are also capable of making illogical assumptions. In other words – “my group has always done things one way. Therefore this is the only way. I don’t need to read your rules or policies”. That is an assumption. Due to this its also possible that rules or policies that you write down will be left unread. Why? Because people will assume how you play. Assumptions are dangerous. Especially if a game can get rough.

The answer – always find a way to brief or workshop with as many of the players as possible before play begins.

Also keep reminding them about the documentation. Especially if it is updated. Reminding people to read is never a bad thing.

Make Sure Someone Understands Safety

What you think safety is and what a health and safety consultant things safety is could well be two entirely different things.

Why? Well your assumption may be avoidance of the possibility of injury under any circumstance. The professional will be more interested in defining the circumstances. Don’t forget to a safety professional – 100% safety is impossible. Educating people, making provision for the unexpected, and following good practise’s is not. If your game says yes to a hard form of touching then getting the opinion of a friendly health and safety person is no bad thing.

Also remember health and safety legislation. It is different in different countries. Don’t expect advice from an expect of one nationality to match that of a colleague elsewhere. Always remember that local legislation always trumps what you believe if there is a difference.

Be Mindful and Respect Your Environment

If the rules say you can push someone up against a wall just remember that’s only ok if the environment your in is not inherently dangerous. Modify your behaviour according to geography or the lay of land. Should you really be shoving someone around on the edge of a cliff? Even if the policies say Yay. Mountain Rescue says Nay!

How about some training?

If you’re going to allow rough stuff in your game then it might be a good idea to teach crew of possibly willing players how to do this kind of stuff as safely as possible. If its practical consider running a workshop on manhandling. You should find that martial arts instructors are more than willing to help out.

Teach People to Trust

Ok so here’s the scenario. A bunch of crew are pulling a player somewhere. The player doesn’t like this idea and reacts with force. A tussle ensues and someone gets hurt. An act of force turning into something more competitive like this is essentially wrestling and that can get dangerous. How do you get around this. Well teach people when to yield. Give the crew something to say that will let the player know that representing a struggle is ok, but keep it calm -as you are being dragged away. In a small to medium a game a good rule is “trust the crew”. As in the NPC or Monster crew would not be trying to do something they cannot do – after all they have the information on what all the characters are capable of. So go with it.

Develop Meta Techniques

We are not our characters. It may be that you want a rough styled game but to be honest you cannot assume that any player is capable of doing this well. So if you want dragging off, picking up and pushing against walls then consider using a combination of words and actions. Let your action become not who has the strength – but who can role-play it.

Involve Plenty of People

One person physically dominating another on a one to one basis can be pretty terrifying. Always have someone else around – even if only monitoring, to stop things from going to far. If you’re going to push people around, again make sure there are several people around. The general rule here – always have someone who can call a halt or deal with unexpected outcomes.

So what’s been going on

The aim here has become to get you thinking about ways you can make things feel real by physically making games more challenging whilst always keeping a watch ful eye to player safety. You may find some contrary ideas. That doesn’t make one thing right or one wrong. It simply illustrates the complexity of the topic. I shied away from how to advice – as that it part of the social contract for each larp. You have to figure out what’s allowed and how to tell players what that is. I haven’t issued health and safety advice as LARPBook is international. Ok in one country may not be Ok in another. I haven’t mentioned how to manhandle someone as that is best instructed person to person.

What I hope I’ve is made you thing about how to go about this safely in the context of your own events. And also how to far to go or not go with it.

I’m going to open this question up to the larger larp community and hopefully publish some feedback. I’m hoping there will be points and ideas that we can all learn from.

 

 

I’d like to thank Luke Pitt from L&RP Safety for discussing this topic with me at greatly helping in its outcome

The Forest Argent Larp International Player Interview

The Forest Argent Larp International Player Interview

At the end of May we visited Forest Argent – Convergence. Whilst we were there we shot some video and this is the first piece to emerge. It is an interview with two larpers from the Netherlands – Yasmijn Kok and Rein De Vries. They were attending the game as part of a trip to the UK. We’re used now to international travel for large fest or blockbuster events but travel to a club game is still a little unusual. So we thought we would ask

We ended up learning a little about the differences between larp groups in the Netherlands and the UK. It was good to see the affirmation that people will travel a long way to larp to be with friends.

I won’t say anymore. The interview can speak for itself.

 

Our apologies for the quality of Stuarts sound during this interview.

We’d also like to thank our interviewees.

Impact Earth: A Tool for Defining The Apocalypse

Impact Earth: A Tool for Defining The Apocalypse

Post apocalyptic larp is becoming increasingly popular. That’s great. But what happens if you want to run a game where you can define, the start of apocalypse in detail?. For a zombie larp you could refer to many books, films and TV shows that exist for inspiration. If you want to talk about the end of world via war there is no end of real and imagined resources to draw on.

But lets say you want to impose the same end of the world that the dinosaurs faced on mankind; or perhaps a prelude to alien invasion.

Well fear not – there is a web page for this and you can find it at

http://34.201.137.35/ImpactEarth

 

Allow me to explain what this is.

It is a tool for looking at the results of impact by meteor, asteroid and comet on the Earth. You define the point of impact (its horribly good fun to pick a city and visit all kinds of impact on it). You can also define the size, speed and composition of the impacting body. Since we’re not all space scientists there are examples to help you to define all of these variables in a reasonable manner.

Once you’ve popped these in you’ll get a Bing Map and plotted onto it you can select effects like crater size, airblast diameter, size of the resulting fireball or area effected by seismic shock. This lets you easily figure out not just the scale of the disaster but also what you might have seen or felt at the time of impact, depending on where you were.

This all makes for good storytelling and character development.

Since its easy to use you can use it as a tool to help players develop their characters. They can answer questions about which relatives and friends would have been killed, and who may still be wandering a devastated earth.

In case you’re wondering how accurate it is I’ll just mention who’s behind Earth Impact. Its Imperial College London and Purdue University. I’ll take their data as being worth playing with.

So next time you feel the need to end the Earth, consider impacts. Be it one big asteroid squishing us or marauding aliens using space rubble as shotgun shells, you’ll at least be able to say what happened.

 

 

The image used for this post is BENNU’S JOURNEY – Early Earth  and its via the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab Flickr Account. Click here to see the image and its licence.

 

LARPBook Show Episode 54: Wax Lyrical

LARPBook Show Episode 54: Wax Lyrical

 


This episode we did a little shift in format and returned to our four presenters talking to each other. As a result this very nearly became our gibberish episode.

We’d planned a considered discussion on the perils of playing a self isolating character that did not want to talk to anyone. Somehow this turned into a very Welsh Darth Vader (see excerpt below)

 

This pretty much did set the tone for the rest of tone.

However we managed to rant – don’t larp if you don’t want to talk. But then countered that with reasons why someone might want to be to quiet.

Rant number 2 was all about the overuse of magical healing

We frothed about the past considerably.

We talked about some of the differences between role playing at fest larps and smaller more intimate games. I think we all get a little bit more out of the roleplaying at smaller events but there is a lot to be said for the scale of a fest larp.

I’m keeping these notes short. This show quickly became a stream of consciousness and laughter. It doesn’t segment that well. I hope you enjoy it and let us know what you think.

 

THANK YOU
A big Thank you to our lovely patrons who make it a bit easier to keep this show going.

END SHOW
If you would like to get in contact with the show just email [email protected], is there a topic you would like us to discuss or something cool you saw or fancy writing an article for the website then email the show [email protected].

Music provided by:http://www.bensound.com
Patreon – http://patreon.com/larpbook
Shop: http://www.redbubble.com/ search for Larpbook
You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Youtube, Twitch and Podbean just search for LARPBook
email: [email protected]
Website: https://www.larpbook.com
You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google plus just search for Larpbook
Don’t forget to give us a five star review on iTunes

 

LARP Images from Spring 2017

LARP Images from Spring 2017

We asked the LARPBook Community for photographs of events that occurred in the first part of 2017. They responded wonderfully – thank you – all of you. So here is a collection of galleries from the UK and USA that gives you a glimpse into what LARP looks like – the Spring collection

Gisido Larp from Ohio gave us free access to their pictures, They’re a very active group and although I’m not sure exactly which event these are from – I still think you’ll enjoy them.

Altered Reality LARP plays out of Oxfordshire in the UK. Their third event “Those Left Behind” was played in April. It’s a post-apoc game so a lot of these feature the survivors camp.

This collection comes from Susan Hathaway with images from the Fear of The Dark event – “Beltane”. The game was played out in scenic Mid Wales and set the thirteenth century.

If its cowboy action you want then Beth Dooner took these from the thirteenth “The Good, the Bad & the Dead” They are a UK group. Mostly playing out of Deadwood – in Sussex.

 

So that’s four different games over two different continents. I think we’ll keep doing this kind of gallery – and with luck get a glimpse of more games in more places in the future.

Forest Argent – Convergence 2017 – and Photo Gallery

Forest Argent – Convergence 2017 – and Photo Gallery

At the end of May 2017 I was lucky enough to once again meet up with the people of Forest Argent. Before I talk about the event I’ll just explain what Forest Argent. Its a small larp based in the South West of the UK. Single day events are regular (a couple of times a month) and throughout the year there are a goodly number of weekend events. Convergence 2017 is one of the longer weekenders played across the end of May bank holiday. I need to point you at the setting for the game. Players come from one of 5 distinct worlds where travel between these worlds is known and possible. This link takes you to the world overview. This matters as its going to have an impact on the rest of this piece.

The Event

Convergence is an annual event in the Forest Argent calendar. It both wraps up old plots and kicks off new ones. This year was going to be a bit of a doozy as authorities were catching up with some players whilst others had characters that had an opportunity to blossom; if they dared. This may sound as if there is no cohesive plot and perhaps a bit messy. The start did feel a bit like that however has events built up, interacted and collided that was replaced with a sense of doom and opportunity. Players were faced with consequences of actions and ideas where played out to create new direction. More of the game setting was fleshed out.

I like this kind of game. It’s a sandbox for ideas and plot.

In fact this is one of the things that I love about Forest Argent. Its possible to anything from a lilly white hero through to a crooked dastardly villain and still have a place in the game. It allows for quiet characters to carefully move their way through the world as easily as it allows foe big characters to become living legends.

I’m not going to recount plot(s) as that really doesn’t suit this review. I will talk about scenes as interesting things did happen.

The Scenes

Attitude to Slavery:  Member of one of the attending races – inspired by (Moorcocks Elric of Melnibone tales). decided to hold a slave market. First point of friction is that not all the characters believed in this but it went ahead through sheer force of will. What happened a little later though was something else. Somehow the slaver characters learned about pinatas. Took a human slave, forced that person to eat “prizes” and then proceeded to push other characters to beat this person to death. It was a disturbing part of the game. Yes some characters objected but what was interesting to see was how many would go along with it and then later suffer from the consequences of immoral action.

Faerie Folk: A key theme in Forest Argent is that of fey folk. Not as described by Disney or the cuter end of pop culture; but as described in story and legend. In an earlier game the players had release something akin to a Boggart and now they were coming to torment the players. Played out a night in pitch darkness the crew in appropriately creepy masks and costume snuck around in the dark. Creeping up behind players, calling out to them, dragging them away and being that feared hand that stalks the night. Somebody said that this part of the game was genuinely creepy. The crew should take a pat on the back for that.

The Galvanic Zombies:  Imagine that you could use an electrical device to create zombies. Now imagine that the characters need that device. Fortunately the zombies were blind. Unfortunately they were attracted to sound. What followed was a long game of cat and mouse as the players attempted to turn off and secure the “galavanic” technology for themselves.

 

Do You Want To Know More?

If you’ve found this interesting. This is how to get hold of Forest Argent games

http://www.forestargent.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wyvernstaleslarp/

Just to clarify – Forest Argent is just one of the activities covered by Wyvernstales Larp.

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