Curious Pastimes – Renewal 2017

Curious Pastimes – Renewal 2017

Its time to think a little bit more about Curious Pastimes and more specifically Renewal 2017. Now we covered this is in a diary format. Writing on each of the event about the previous. If you’re interested in these look to the block of diary entry links in this post. These capture the day to day and the emotion of myself personally being in and around this event. However I wanted to round off the coverage with some other points of view.

We’ve another gallery for you. These photos were taken by Steve “Flasher” Mitchell. Steve is the longest standing CP photographer and I hope you like the gallery we’ve put together here for you.

First though I think it may be idea to try and describe what Curious Pastimes is not as a series of accounts or images but as a thing. So I’m going to break this down into a few sections for you and go from there. What I want to convey is that this is a good larp to go to. It can be as deep or shallow as you like. You will find help if are new to the game and it is a game that can grow with your experience. It’s also a great place to meet larpers from other systems.

The Mechanics

The rules and mechanics are from a UK perspective a traditional skill based method of defining a character. This means it’s a points based system. Points buy skills and the skills go on a character card. Your character only has the skills that the card says it has. However this does not stop role-play.

The skills system exists for game balance, but the level of role-play in the game goes from a high level of immersion to less if that is what you are looking for. All that is expected is that you don’t spoil anyone elses game. So its simple mechanics and the level of role-play is up to you. That’s a classic British larping approach and for a large scale game it really works

The Diary

These diary entries where written during the event. Mostly written at the start of the next day between breakfast and time in.

You’ll find comments and photos for each day

Day 1: Friday

Day 2: Saturday

Day 3: Sunday

Day 4: Monday

 

Learn More About Curious Pastimes

Where Real World Meets Game World

In the game there are two areas where real world is felt. The market-place and the food vendors area.

The market place is a collection of larp equipment and costume traders who are there for the length of the event. They tend to keep long opening hours. Although costumed they are not really in character and you are paying with actual real-world cash.

The same is true for the food vendors. Although in both cases every effort is made for that need for the real (money), to have as little impact as needed. Hats off for getting this right. In both these areas its not problem being in and out of character. So great

The Atmosphere

This is the part of Curious Pastimes that I love. In fact its one of the things that I love most about larp. This is a friendly place. People genuinely want to talk to you. They want to say hi and have conversations. They want to role play.

If you like combat then the battles are extraordinary, not just due to the number of players, but due to the way in which Renewal handles the terrain it has to hand. Its a place where you move for quite while without being sure where the other armed force is. When action happens you are working in the main with a woodland environment. It feels British and Mythic.

Coming away from the action I loved how the camps felt, and In particular the first time I walked into one and it felt not like a group of people camping but like a small community living in the open. I should point out that this was one of the in character areas. There is also out of character camping for people who prefer this.

This is a simply a safe and relaxed place to be. I can’t wait to go back.

Organisation

The word here is slick. CP have been running these games for a long time. Duties are clearly laid out for the crew. Radios are used effectively and from a players point of view its easy to ask questions. CP run a tight ship.

I wanted to wrap up the diaries so that I could give an overview. I’ve stayed away from World and Plot as these are things that players need to experience. There are also good references you can look at on the Curious Pastimes website. Instead its more of a system overview. High level I admit but I am also willing to answer questions.

The Photos

 

Our total and utter thanks to Steve “Flasher” Mitchell for these photographs

The Video

We also put together this short video to try and capture the feel of the event

 

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 4: Monday

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 4: Monday

It’s our fourth day at Curious Pastimes. That means it’s Monday and climatic battle day. Time in for this day runs from 10am till 3.30pm. So it’s a short day. It’s also pack up and go home day so this make it the end of our CP adventure.

The morning is given over to the battle. The players (in this case the Lions faction), have their objective. They need to recover something special. They’ve got themselves allies and have made up an army. They are up against all the other players who either want or are able to take the field. These are now one massive monster crew.

Now here is the bit I like. Neither side is referee directed. The players must choose their entry to the battle field based on information learned. The Monster side don’t get told what to do either. The monsters are under direction from battle leaders who would normally direct their forces during faction combat. These people now get a briefing as if from the big bad and must make their own decision as to where and how they start.

The battle area at Paccar Scout Camp is wooded valley.

We’d elected to cover the battle instead of fighting in it; entirely for health reasons sadly.

However here is the first special part of the battle feeling.

We knew where the monsters where entering from. Yet it took very little time to reach a point where we could not see them or the players.

We were in a forest with two armies made from hundreds of players and we did not know where they were. I can see why Curious Pastimes like this location. It is incredibly atmospheric. The feeling of not knowing where things are coming from is exhilarating.

Armies however are good at finding each other and it took not take long for them to find each other and combat to ensue.

At first it was running, attacks. Elements of one side or another skirmishing.

It didn’t take long thought for the main bodies of troops to find each other. Then it turned into a brutal fight as both fought for superiority. Small units would break off to fight in the woods yet the main core of the combat units kept on hammering at each other. The word intense does not really do it justice.

Eventually though the grind of battle slowed and then stopped. The opposing sides where talking. It looked as if a negotiated settlement was taking place.

Everyone held their breath. Things were quiet. Then slowly and quietly the armies moved off the field.

The combat was over. There was an attempt to gain more through ritual by one brave and determined ritualist right at the end but this too failed.

Everyone made their way out of forest.

This was not the end of the event.

Battles have consequences and the players had several hours left before time out and so started post battle role-playing. Their were things to talk about, arrange and confirm.

I liked this format of straight into battle and then role-playing the fallout from it. That really was a great idea. It’s a new format for Curious Pastimes but the feed back at the time all seemed to be positive. No doubt a deeper look at this will be taken but it looks at the moment that this is a good format.

This also marked the end of our August adventure with Curious Pastimes. We will be back for more of their events next year. But for now, before you reach the photos I really want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone at Curious Pastimes for making this happen.

Battle Photos

 

The Video Diary

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 3: Sunday

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 3: Sunday

It’s Sunday and by this point I can’t get over how busy the ritual circle has been. Rituals are an important part of this event; after all it’s full title is not Renewal. It is Renewal of Magic. Where the peoples of the world seek to perpetuate the continuation of magic in their world. Apparently there was a period when this was not done and the plot shifted to reflect that a balance had left the world.

The rituals are brilliantly done. There is a theatrical sound and lighting setup built around it and a control cabin. This runs the light and sound effects that enhance the immersion of rituals. Its also where the referee sits to judge how successful the ritual has been. This stage management makes turns the rituals into small stage performances in their own right and they are well worth watching.

I also kind of feel sorry for the ritual crew as the players are so into making these happen that there is a constant stream of them coming to the ritual circle from about 11am through to 2am.

Its also been a day for meeting people and conversation. The players at Renewal don’t just play Curious Pastimes events. They do other larps and some run somewhat systems of their own. We got the meet the creator of Green Cloaks. We’ve been talking about covering the Green Cloaks and this meeting also affirmed this and we’ll be attending events as soon as we can. He’s also a fascinating larp thinker so I am hoping that we can do an interview at this point. We were introduced by Curious Pastimes official photographer and as the conversation between all of us spun out we discussed a interesting idea regarding bringing people into larp. That is showing the social skills and benefits and larp brings. I’m not going to say more know but there is hope to turn this idea into a project and you can bet that we aim to be part of it.

There’s also a fledgling idea to build a Curious Pastimes media group. There is now quite a big media team made up of enthusiastic larpers and larp supporters. There is a hope to combine forces to be more effective.

In fact that’s not a bad idea for all larps. Do we need to rely on mainstream media when we are now fully capable of reaching out into the world with our own.

Back to the game.

There was loads of character chat going on but the main focus of the day was a major battle. The focus of Sunday and Monday are large scale battles that can easily last several hours.

This one did not go for well for the players. They lost their main objectives early on and were pretty much in trouble from that point on.

For me its nice to see a game that follows the plot and the outcomes. If things go well there are benefits, if not consequences. Bravo is what I say for following the story.

Time was spent also in the bar. So much roleplaying and conversations going on here. Its also on the main route through the site so you can see the hustle and bustle of players passing by. Its not just a place for drink and roleplaying. You can be here and be aware of that you are in place where there is a lot going on.

More than anything Sunday was a day that showed there is a lot going on.

The Photos

 

The Video Diary

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 2: Saturday

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 2: Saturday

Ok so today is Saturday and time in is at 10am. Saturday and Sunday at this event are running from 10am till 2am.

For me the day started with posting the first diary and then getting over to the Wolves encampment to prepare for a planned skirmish that is part of the factions plot.

Going into this faction in the morning was something a little bit special. I’m still getting to grips with my character. I’m staying out of direct combat for medical reasons but that doesn’t stop me casting spells and supporting people in a ruck. One thing I realise is that if this was my full weekend role (as opposed to role playing and blogging), then I’d be writing up spell books and interacting more with the factions lead spell casters. The camp is set up to support new players. So once people get to know you are knew offers of help come in.

I was there for all the built up for the skirmish. There were tactical briefings, weapons checks, quick guides and also some really good story telling. In fact the story telling was first class and really helped set up the atmosphere

It was atmosphere that was the overwhelming feel of the camp. It was morning and people were cooking food, eating, relaxing and sorting out the start of the day. There was worrying about loved ones going into battle and bravado from the fighters. This felt like a real community come together for a purpose and preparing for a difficult task ahead.

Then there was the battle. The battles have been fast and furious. There are character deaths. But in an appropriate fashion. In this event the players have been storming their nemesis and that has led to tough fights. Very tough and hard one fights. That feels like the game is not being given away. Progress is being earned the hard way and that makes things satisfying.

After which it was time for a break and then a a little shopping (good prices to be found), and putting my photo head on. First period of full day light. The game did not disappoint. Lots of great costuming, people practising and also a good skirmish.

After that a beer was needed.

Good use is being made of the Crimson Moons permanent tab service. We’ll have to discuss this at some time as it really is a great service to larpers.

The day progressed with in game rituals. Seeing different parts of the event and also looking at the results of the rest of the media crew. Later on we had a really good chat about larps and weapons checking. A few terrifyingly dangerous weapons had turned up for the day.

That was also the end of roleplaying for the day for me as Stuart arrived early and we retired to the bar for few drinks and too catch up on things

The Photos

 

The Video Diary

Our apologies about this video coming out a slightly wrong. We’ll be fixing this at a later date but for some reason Facebook decided to put a video recorded in landscape orientation to portrait.

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 1: Friday

Curious Pastimes Renewal 2017. Event Diary – Day 1: Friday

First of all I want to say a big thank you to Curious Pastimes for giving us full access to their events. In particular Renewal. This is our first full year at Renewal. Last year we arrived late due to a Pirate Festival related injury.

For those of you out of the UK or who may not know Curious Pastimes run a professional campaign. They are one of the UKs largest larp companies and focus on 4 fest larps every year. Renewal takes place during the end of August bank holiday.

We’re been given a place in crew. Let me tell you that Curious Pastimes treats their crew well. There are allocated crew accommodation areas, a crew canteen that keeps the crew fed and watered, and also work areas for people working during the game, This includes the considerable media crew. Curious Pastimes takes some care in making sure there is plenty of good quality video and imagery associated with the event.

That’s the background.

How is the event going so far?

Well I mentioned the crew canteen. Well I’ve been well fed so that is a plus. The weather is warm. Fingers crossed on it staying that way. So far its been all about the setup. Crew furiously building and preparing props. Other crew running making sure everything is in place and the games operation office dealing with a stream of issues.

In other words its all hands on deck.

I’ve been testing out my video recording capability and getting a feel for the site.

Its all about the prep, and that is just the morning

Afternoon is more of the same. Time in is 7pm. Only a few people in costume early. Most are wandering around getting things done in jeans and T-Shirts. I made the rookie mistake of early costume. So got out of that.

There is a small and vibrant traders market. Lots of very nice kit up for sale and I’ve lined up some video interviews. We’ll be starting to shoot thee on Sunday. So seeing as is Friday I am afraid to say there will be a little wait.

In terms of game prep I have a new character freshly generated.

So far I am liking that I can take this day at my own pace.

So we hit time in with an enormous battle as factions fought their way onto site. Once on people settled into their own factions and the non combat role-play absolutely settled in. People also settled into the food vendors and the bar. Its a friendly easy to get involved with people atmosphere.

I’ll talk more about the layout of the event in later posts – that needs a bit more time of its own. For now though I have some photos and a video diary for you.

The Photos

This first set of images is just a couple of scenes from throughout the day. There are some photos of the crew setting up – but I’ll avoid these until the event is over.

The Video Diary Part 1

Preparing For A Larp

Preparing For A Larp

You’re getting ready for a LARP. What do you need to do?

If you’re an experienced larper then you probably have a good routine for this, but maybe an idea here may help. If larping is new to you – well I hope this gives a little insight into the things you need to remember.

The general mantra of this article is to do a little work in order take things as easily as possible when going to a larp.

Everything Takes Longer Than You Expect it too

Remember the law of larp  preparation says
“All estimates are wrong. Time taken is always greater than you expect to be”. So if you don’t want to spinning around like a crazed Tasmanian Devil on the day you are due to travel on then consider how much time you need to get ready – and then double it.

Preparation Depends on Accommodation

What you need to take depends on your sleeping arrangements. So we’ll start with things common to all larps and then get more specific from there.

Character, Costume and You

This can start weeks or months ahead of time. Why? Character Costume and props cost money. They also may need to be made from scratch of converted from something else. There’s no point in doing this at the last minute – take your time to put everything you need together.

Once you have everything there is the character pack.

Think of this as being separate to packing your other clothes. The aim here is to collect all of your costume and props to make sure everything you need is going with you. Once you’re sure this complete your character is done. In fact double check – especially the small fiddly props that are easy to miss but essential for characterisation.

Now you can focus on any out of character clothes you need. Make sure you have changes of clothes, toiletries and anything you may need for a trip away. I always include some basic first aid materials and pain-killers. The hope is never to use them but since in larp you do things you do not normally do – it is a good idea to carry medical supplies. Interestingly although I have used my medical packs in the past it is never as a direct consequence of larping. Most of the time its via slipping on tripping on things – the kind of accidents that can happen anywhere at anytime. Never as a result of role-play or combat.

Finally the last thing you should always check is personal medication. Should you have to take regular medication make sure you have it with you.

Ok that’s the character and yourself taken care of but it does not end there

Power and Gear

The 21st century larper is oft surrounded by power guzzling devices. Most visible of which is the ever present companion that is the smartphone. Now here’s the issue. Camping can mean no power. Shared accommodations like bunkhouses can mean limited access to power sockets. What’s a geek to do?

For no power get a good rechargeable power bank.Make sure it is fully charged before you leave. Check to make sure you have cables. This will help keep your phone running for several days if no other power is about. Solar charging power banks won’t fully replenish per day – but in good light you might just get an extra days power out of them.

If you’re sharing what may be limited sockets then take a multi-socket extension cable. If you’re sharing a room with a group of people and there is one power socket then the larper with the extension is the hero of the larp.

Camping

If the event involves camping just some thoughts

Always put up your tent before the event. This ensures that the event is in good condition and also means that you know you have everything that you need in that department. You may also want to consdier waterproofing your tent. A tent can never be too waterproof. Especially in the UK where the weather can be anything at anytime.

Although the actual camping gear you take is going to be down to a combination of personal preference and the event you are going to there is no harm in trying to be organised. Here’s an idea. I’ve been returning to fest larps so I’ve built a kitchen box for my tent. This is a heavy duty storage box into which I put a camp cooker, gas, collapsible wash bowls, cooking utensils, pans and so on. It makes it easy to carry and the box doubles as a small table.

So the idea is – find a way to pack and collate your equipment that works for you and your events. Use this to prepare things in advance in order to make your life a little easier.

Food and drink

It’s a good idea to make sure you know how you are getting fed and watered. On a catered event that’s largely take care of. Though you may want to carry some snacks and drinks of your choice just in case you need a little something extra.

Events without catering mean that you need to plan out your food. Its much easier to figure out what you can cook on location and taken matching supplies than to run around at the last minute trying to find something suitable, or worse still having to dash off the larp site. Remember that this is not limited to camping events. Locations with their own kitchens can be problematical. Never assume a certain size hob, oven or even the existence of a microwave.

Think simple and think easy to cook

That way you cannot go far wrong.

Things that are too easy to forget

Lights – make sure you have one more sources of light. Such as lanterns or torches. If possible these should be in character for the event. However having light is more important. Trying to wander through a forest in the middle of night to find your camp or a toilet is no fun without a light.

Drinking Vessels – I mentioned the camp kitchen but in game cups, mugs, tankards and goblets are vital and I keeping forgetting and losing mine – so get good ones and hang onto them

Makeup Remover – seriously – do not go without this.

I’m sure also have ideas on this an I am open to adding extensions to this list as required.

 

Most of all be as rested as you can be on the run up to the larp. You’ll have more fun if you are alert and awake.

A Return to Fest Larps

A Return to Fest Larps

This is not a how to article. It really isn’t about the best way to do anything. Instead I thought it might be interesting to talk about getting ready to go back to large Fest Larps.

Once upon a time (back in the dimly remembered 90’s), I started larping. A few years into this I went to my first large scale larp – The Gathering.
I attended this off and on for a number of years. Then for a multiplicity of reasons I stopped and focussed on smaller more intimate events.

That is until 2016 when I attended Renewal by Curious Pastimes for a about a day (which instantly made me want more); and also Fairweather Manor 4. I began to realise that my absence from larger events had gone on for far too long.

So this is about a return. More especially getting ready for the Lorien Trust Summer Moot 2017 and full attendance at Renewal 2017.

Before I go on I’d just like to say that I had originally planned a 3 event cycle – Curious Pastimes Event 3, Summer Moot and Renewal. A cut foot meant that I had to drop out of Event 3. Next Year though now that I have the bug for event camping coursing through my vanes Curious Pastimes and the Lorien Trust can expect to see more of me, health willing.

Accommodation

So if you’re going to a fest larp you’re going to need a tent.

I definitely needed a new tent. My existing one was old and not really suitable anymore. It was time for tent shopping.

Although any tent will do, for a UK fest it soon became clear talking to people that the best option was going to be a bell tent. That allows the option of in character camping. Also I’ve camped off an on most of my life and I like a canvas tent. I also find that a tent I can stand up up in is really essential as a personal preference. Since I’ve got somewhat dubious balance something a bit wider also helps.

That led to my first investment – a 4m bell tent. An absolute shed load of camping space.

Sleeping in a tent needs a bed. I already have a comfortable camp cot and this year I’ve added a self-inflating mattress to it. I’d recommend that to anyone. If you have a camp bed, put a hikers self inflating mat on it. The result is very comfy

That’s the tent and I already had the bed.

If you’re camping you need a stove. I ended finding one on sale but in the process discovered more options than ever before – taking a break from something for years and coming back is a sure way to keenly observe change. This case it was the wide variety of inexpensive stoves of all sizes. In the end I opted for the type that takes a CP250 canister internally. It’s a long way from the smallest and not the hottest but it has stability on its side as it is wide, flat and low to the ground. I tend to favour stability.

I needed cooking implements. So stole a couple of old items from the kitchen (I’ll probably regret that and get ordered to buy some new by the missus!), and also some cheap camping pans.

All in all I was please by how the budget was shaping up. Sure the tent was not inexpensive. Everything else though was not. It turns out the camping basic kit set can be picked up easily and cheaply. For the record it was a combination of Amazon and supermarket sales that fulfilled my needs.

Other accessories included a table, and chair (I already had) and lamps. Like a lot of larpers I seem to have a quite turnover of lamps. Acquiring, using, losing, etc but at least means I already have some some.

Accommodation was sorted.

Costume and Character

I’m not going to use the dread word garb (if you listen to the show you may know I have a instinctive dislike of that word). However going to fest larp just the same as any other larp means costume. Now I could spend a lot of time researching the best possible character for myself. However when the situation allows I like organic evolution.

At the Lorien trust I have a large number of friends who play as Romans. Now I don’t want to play centurion but I already have costuming that could fit me into a more civilian role. So that’s the plan. I’ll play a less combatant civilian and build things up from there. Hopefully by the end of my first event I’ll have a nice character building up that I can continue to use.

Similarly at Renewal I intend to play with the Wolves and I’m already looking at a variations on a character that is older, experienced, whom no longer needs to fight but instead is closer to the Gods.

Both of these plans have a few things in common

  • I’m not planning to put my own creativity onto the game, I’m planning to learn about whats going on now and work within its plot and culture
  • To help get into things I will be playing with friends and not against them
  • The characters I’m playing will not be set in stone before the events. This allows space to adjust the character so it fits into how I want to experience the fest.
  • My plans allow for simple costume and props – that I can expand on using the fest traders

In other words – I’m going to try and make sure I play the fest in a way that allows me to build a character that works for me. I’m avoiding setting too many pre-conceived ideas

Also these characters work well with my existing costuming. And as I’ve suggested if that doesn’t work out there are the traders. Traders at fest games are a great resource. You can look, feel, try and buy. I fully intend to take advantage.

What Will I Be Doing

The answer to this one is quite a lot. I’ll probably come back needing some time away; or failing that a large pizza and a comfy sofa. So the plan is as follows

At The Summer Moot

  • Developing a character and playing with the Roman contingent of the Griffins Faction
  • Learning the media rules of the Lorien Trust and applying these to creating a large gallery and hopefully also conducting some interviews
  • Possibly running a video diary
  • Creating article(s) about the the event

At Renewal

Last year injury issues pushed us back to only one days coverage. This year the plan is to camp on site the day before the event starts (the Thursday). Curious Pastimes have again said I can have a working area – and I will be taking them up that. The working area will be used to edit photos and write artcles during the event. This should make for much livelier coverage.

  • I’ll be playing a character in the Wolves faction
  • Taking advantage of what I learned last year for more photos and interviews
  • Running a video diary
  • Hanging out with our Friends at the Crimson Moon
  • Writing articles and talking to / working with the other documentors

At before these events I’ll be prepping camping gear, cameras and other paraphernalia. Plus of course getting quite excited.

If you do see me at and event please come over, say hi and have chat. I’d love to meet you.

 

The photo with this post was one I took at last years Renewal.It was picked out due to the sense of atmosphere which I’m hoping to capture at these coming events.

Physical Contact in LARP: The Larpers BFF Edition

Physical Contact in LARP: The Larpers BFF Edition

We started with an article about physicality in LARP. You can read that article here. We also discussed it on the LARPBook Show.

Even before I finished this original article I’d realised two things. It was only scratching the surface of the topic and realistically I needed to learn more from the larp community to make something worthwhile.

To that end I posted in UK LRP and Larpers BFF; both on Facebook. My aim was to canvas a wider ranger of views What i got back was so useful, and well thought through that it became important not to lose those thoughts. I’ve already collated the responses from UK LRP  in a digest. You can find that here.

What follows are the responses from Larpers BFF.

Some of the points raised here especially from Tom Boeckx and Anders Wänn will need some more thought and quite likely another article.

From Larpers BFF

 

Pieter Siripik
I am just a bit curious what do you mean by safety consultant in this context “What you think safety is and what a health and safety consultant things safety is could well be two entirely different things.” or safety professional in this one “Don’t forget to a safety professional ”
Do you mean simply a dedicated person to have an eye on this, or does this have a specific meaning in your environment?

Reply:Robert Davies: I do mean having someone to keep an impartial eye on safety. I’ve been to some games where this is a thing and it seems to help. Especially with checking the play area

Sebastian Utbult
Sebastian Utbult Here’s what we did for a larp designed with heavy physical larping in mind, and I’d say it’s based on generally the same principles found at many larps here in scandinavia: Workshop (ie training) physical contact beforehand. Especially how to start “lo…See more

Reply: Robert Davies: Thanks Sebastian that’s a really considered approach to the problem.

Reply:Sebastian Utbult: Btw, our larp used “anything you could find that can be used as a weapon”, ie real stuff and no boffer weapons. Forgot to mention that another rule was you couldn’t have physical conflict while someone was armed – you had to find a way of resolving the conflict then and there (and also, remember “biggest weapon controls the situation”), either by yielding, or disengaging or leaving etc. That absolutely doesn’t work for all larps, but I found it worked really well in that specific setting and playerbase, and the rawness of violence/threats made with nailboards or real knives really added a layer of grit.

Reply: Robert Davies: I bet would be a really solid emotional reaction. Very immersive

Tom Boeckx
I’ve found these types of played (physical) conflict work best within a clearly defined rule set, and less so with relying only on trust.

One way of having implemented it in a system-light larp, included having a strength-stat (or toughness, or brawn, or whatnot) that has a rating of let’s say 1 to 3.

All unarmed physical conflict was regulated by a simple rule:

If you initiate a conflict, you put your hand on different parts of their body to show your level of “strength”:
– Wrist = 1
– Elbow = 2
– Shoulder = 3

The opponent responds in kind by placing his/her hand on your wrist/elbow/shoulder to indicate their lvl of strength.

All the rest is logic itself: If you trump your opponent, both parties clearly know who the winner is and act out a mock combat, clearly knowing who is supposed to come out on top. If the difference is more than one, the guidelines/rules encouraged you to exaggerate in taking the beating. In case of a draw, you could mock combat to your heart’s desire, but no one could emerge as a “victor”.
Mass combat simply required you to add 1 to your own level for each combattant on your side.

This still calls for common sense and a good eye for spotting unsafe situations/obstacles, etc… but this is a responsibility all participants at our events have learned admirably.

Reply: Tom Boeckx Just realized this is more of a rules thing, and you weren’t really looking for that I suppose

Reply: Robert Davies I wasn’t looking for rules but this is a really interesting technique – that adds a guide as to how the roleplay should turn out. I’ll have to remember this

Anders Wänn
Interesting topic!

I think of boffers/foam-swords as a very widely spread (meta-)technique for playing violence one step away from direct touching played violence. So I read your article as if it was about boffer violence, and it made a lot of sense that way too.

Most of these points are things that I have seen the boffer larp community painfully learn over the decades. And it makes a big difference, boffer fights used to be much more dangerous than they are now. That implies that your points are sound!

(Related: Much of this applies to airsoft weapons in larps as well. Even if I think of their role as usually more simulationist and less meta than boffers. But I suspect it is because I have done some proper historical swordfighting so I notice the huge difference compared to boffers. And I assume that someone with comparable levels of expertise in proper firefights would consider the way airsoft weapons are used in larp as a meta-technique.)

Enough with the boffers and on to more serious stuff: I am missing a very important segment from your article. There are a number of factors that are much more important than rules or the actual physical prowess of other players, when it comes to how safe I feel to partake in/encourage a larp with a lot of aggressive/violent contact and themese:
– Play to win mentality
– Rape culture
– Homophobia
– Racism
(I’m pretty sure this list is longer, these were simply top of my head)
The less there are of those attitudes among the participants, the more confident I am that all is going to go well. Because those are so present in our off culture they will bleed strongly into the larp if left unchecked and unaddressed by organisers.

When I feel safe among the players, when I believe that they truly strive for my enjoyment at least as much as their own, then it is much easier to let down my guard (figuratively and practically) and get seriously involved in receiving a decorative enjoyable beating.

PS: I do not mean that it is within the scope of an article like this to write a guide on how to fix rape culture and sexism in larps. But those are certainly subjects that should be mentioned in a guide about safety and physical violence.

PPS: “teach people to trust” should probably be changed to “teach people to behave in a way that merits trust”. (NB: I’m probably missing some cultural difference regarding “the NPC or Monster crew…”. When I larp I expect the vast majority of my interactions, including violence, to be with other players, not with NPCs.)

Beth A-b
“Don’t Expect People to Read the Rules” is my least-favorite thing ever: pre-game meetings going over things I already know are extremely boring and frustrating and I hates them. I don’t know a great solution, though community-wide norms help a lot.

Reply:Robert Davies I hate boring meetings, but have also seen a lot of people turn up with no rules experience. The trick must be not to bore the regulars but make sure the new comers are ok?

Beth A-b
“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.” is entirely inapplicable to New England sports larps: the staff will be expecting the player to decide whether or not to resist, and the combat systems are designed for competition. That norm will depend a lot on what norms staff have created in the game.

Reply: Sebastian Utbult What’s a “sport larp”? I take it it’s not an actual larp about sports, right? 😀

Reply: Beth A-b Right! It is what people have been calling a particular group of larps. They are called “sports” larps because they include competitive physical combat under defined rules sets.

They tend to have narrative arcs over repeating weekends, sometimes for years, use boffers and/or bird seed packets and/or airsoft weapons to play out physical combat, have divided staff/players with primary narrative being players vs. NPCs rather than player vs. player or player with player, and have player characters created by the players rather than pre-written characters.

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