“I don’t want to be the bully” – self reflection and support to break negative patterns.

This text is written in the context of Nordic Larp and is about bullying between adults primarily, or older teens. It is not about children and teens bullying each other in a school setting. It is not about reasonable consequences to breaking laws or the rules of a particular organization or larp run. As I wrote it I realized it I needed it to be in personal form even though I hope the post can still help others.

I’m also not writing from the perspective of a victim of bullying, which I find is more common theme for texts like this. Instead the focus is about recognizing the parts of my psyche which makes me say that it’s important that I self reflect and avoid falling into using bullying tactics. It is important that I acknowledge this is a harmful side I have to me and I must do my best to counter these impulses and behaviors. I am hoping me writing about it makes other people self reflect and abstain from bullying behavior and support their friends away from using bullying tactics.

I’m going to start with talking about the mechanics of bullying in organisations and communities in general. I’ve been taking most of this from the Wikipedia article on bullying and edited on brevity and clarity. Then I move on to my personal experiences.

“It is the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception (by the bully or by others) of an imbalance of physical or social power. This imbalance distinguishes bullying from conflict. Bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three criteria: hostile intent, imbalance of power, and repetition over a period of time. Bullying is the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Bullying ranges from one-on-one, individual bullying through to group bullying, called mobbing, in which the bully may have one or more “lieutenants” who are willing to assist the primary bully in their bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as “peer abuse”. The Swedish-Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus says bullying occurs when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons”, and that negative actions occur “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways”. Individual bullying is usually characterized by a person behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.

A bullying culture can develop in any context in which humans interact with each other.

Behaviors used to assert such domination may include physical assault or coercion, verbal harassment, or threat, and such acts may be directed repeatedly toward particular targets. Rationalizations of such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size, or ability.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying


In school I was severely bullied, and yes is was physical and quite violent. One long term effect of getting that kind of treatment is that you also get socialized differently, especially from a lot of other people who were assigned female at birth. It meant that my limits on what is acceptable social behavior became somewhat damaged and it will possibly take a lifetime to work on. I sometimes refer to the story of the rhinoceros kid:

“The rhinoceros kids gets shoved, whether it walks or stands still, so in the end the rhinoceros kid will do whatever it will.”

Which basically means that if a person gets punished no matter if they fulfill or fail expected behavior, they will eventually rebel. Not entirely true, as some people turn inwards and instead become invisible, trying to avoid punishment. It was easy for me to justify verbal behavior because at least I wasn’t hitting people.

For me the worst triggers of my bullying behavior is: Sudden Anger, Fear for me and/or peers or feeling hopeless.
When I get mad enough, although I’ve gotten much better there I need to stop. I can try taking deep breaths, excusing myself from the situation, taking a walk, drink some water, maybe talk to a trusted friend.
The other is when I feel afraid/threaten or that my peers (in very broad definition) is under threat. This second one is much harder and where I feel I have often, even when I’ve tried to rein myself in both been egged on by others or my behaviors have been rationalized.
Hopelessness is often when I perceive there is something wrong, and I’m trying to stop the bad thing from happening, but I feel that the people around me “don’t get me” or arguing that “there is no problem”.

The most common response when I’ve tried to ask others for guidance have been “No Karin you’re not being a bully, he/they deserve it.” I see the point to the statement, there is a certain kind of righteous anger that can be used to handle great injustice and I think this is what they are thinking of. But for me it’s often about my behavior, what am I DOING in the situation? Me saying I think I might be going to far, is because something in me is ringing the alarm bell and I am asking for support in stopping, not validation to keep going. Sometimes I need a walk, someone checking in with me or something that distracts me.

So what do I think helps me, and what support can others who might be questioning their own behavior ask for?

  • Listen to what I’m asking. Am I asking for validation that I’m right in attacking, or help to step down and breathe?
  • I find for my self it helps to not be so quick to respond, to breathe, step back and ask for some time to think over my response. I usually put a two day limit to think about things that happen suddenly in our hobby. I do listen/read many different sources and I do try to think about people context and background.
  • It often get’s much worse if I feel my peers are expecting me to be the “fighter” in the situation and that I lack support in working on positive change. Show me I am not alone and I will be calmer. This does not mean joining into what might be a mob, but maybe calmly interject your support or validating that yes it is unfair.
  • Step in if a certain person seems to have been cast in the role of a scapegoat for something that is more of a systemic problem.
  • I try to hold in my mind that I think all humans deserve to be treated humanely. Sure, some of them might need consequences to their actions but I don’t need to use bullying to enforce or support those consequences.
  • “Am I mad at this person, or actually mad or frightened about something else or someone else?”
  • Even if I do abstain from violence it can also be important to be clear in my language and body language that I will not use violence. They don’t know my stance on violence and what goes on in my head and I can look quite mean. Sitting down is a good de-escalation, backing away from the other person.
  • My trauma is no excuse to traumatize others.
  • I have to recognize I am often the more powerful and influential than the other one. Which is why it would be bullying and not an equal conflict.

I also have some other more general things I try to think about when it comes to general mood in groups and communities that is not so much about when I’m already in a foul mood.

  • Say Hi. If you can help someone feel welcome and seen at a gathering please do so. I’ve been saved from being a ball of anxiety by having someone more established just say hi and smile at me. It doesn’t mean they have to start a conversation. Many have experience of feeling excluded and invisible in a group.
  • Don’t let someone who you’ve had a fight with believe you are still mad at them if you no longer are. I work on this a lot. It’s hard. I’ve been stuck both in not wanting to say sorry if I was factually right, and that saying sorry for my behavior feels like a fake excuse, even if I truly mean it. Or thinking the other person would be harmed even from me sending them my apology.
  • Don’t enforced the gendered stereotypes that women can’t be scary, or that a man who gets scared of a woman is unmanly.

I actually found this How to stop being a bully to be full of good advice as well.

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Nordic Larp and psychiatric disability

A community approach and discussion about the more difficult part of mental illness in a community setting and an argument against seeing mental health as something that can only be handled by trained professionals.

This a quite serious post and is set in a larp culture where larp is mostly not just seen as games and entertainment but as art and social commentary. I write this out because I know there can otherwise sometimes be strong reactions if the reader is thinking of larps as “only” entertainment and a somewhat not so serious hobby.

I choose the term psychiatric disability to mark that I mean the more severe end of the spectrum. I’m also going to be mainly discussing chronic or very long term mental illnesses that have a profound effect on the one who suffers from it and might mean having to adapt much of ones life to work with or around the disability.

In my years in different larp communities I can say that I see two main ways of looking at mental illness that sometimes exist in the same community at the same time. I wish to explore the middle ground between these two.

Minimized consequences to actions – harmful inclusion
On one end of the spectrum mental illness can be used as an argument why a community member should be spared some agreed upon consequence to their actions due to having some kind of psychiatric disability. It’s not often even confirmed if the larper even suffers a psychiatric disability. It’s not as much used as an explanation, but as an excuse of not having to subject a person to consequences. It’s not as much about sparing the individual, as it is often difficult having to administer the consequences.
It can be seen as a kind way of treating people who (might) suffer for mental health difficulties when in truth it more often just is the less labor intensive way of handling a situation. However I don’t think anything constructive comes from it and it only puts a problem of until a later date, it can also lead to much worse problems down the line.
This approach leads both to a rumor mills about what larper might have what diagnosis and it leads to cover ups of rather serious incidents in which mental health might have been a factor. This helps no one.

Consequences before there even was an action – exclusion
The other main way at looking at mental illness in a larp community is instead looking at it as a huge problem, which no one who is not a trained professional should ever even touch or talk about. It is seen as unfathomable, extremely dangerous and disruptive. It forces people who have psychiatric disabilities to either be very quiet about their problems, or risk being excluded before there even has been a problem or to be very vocal about them, outing their medical data to most of the community and also having to educate everyone who wonders about that psychiatric diagnosis. They are seen as role models and are forced to be “strong” advocates. The larpers who are in need of extra support are also pressured to design what that support should look like.

In recent years I have seen an increasing acceptance of both Neuro psychiatric diagnosis (Autism, ADHD, ADD) and of less serious mental health issues (minor depression, trauma reactions, burn out, phobias, anxiety). But somehow this hasn’t helped or continued to also encompass more serious issues such as major depression with suicidal ideation, schizophrenia with psychotic episodes, bipolar disorder, and dissociative identity disorder.
Also there is little understanding for mutism, sensory processing disorders, addiction and eating disorders.

Writing this text I hope I can help my community to better mental health and to lessen the stigma while also giving designers and game runners tools that they can use for better outcomes. I bet there are other tools out there and I am not the one and only guru on the subject. Never believe someone who tries to sell you on the one true way when it comes to the social sciences.

Advice for larp designers and game runners dealing with a specific participant.

Realize you already have players and organizers in the community living with severe psychiatric disability. You, the reader, might already know this if they see you as a safe enough person to tell.

I find most of the work is done when going over a larp design for a specific run, when I know more about the practicalities of my venue, my schedule and who I might have on my staff. Be truthful with yourself about what needs this design, venue, schedule and staff can and cannot meet. We always work with limitations.

Set your intent and communicate it on your web page and social media. You can write things like “We strive to make this run accessible to participants with disabilities be they physical, mental, psychiatric, sensory. Please contact us to discuss your situation and we can see if we have anything to offer”. Here you can also mention limitations you already know you are working with, such as stairs at the venue, or sleep deprivation as an integral part of the design.

Don’t focus on being told the diagnosis, as that is medical data, but for participants who contact you to describe what they need and how great that need is. Sometimes it can help to also rank the needs with the participant. Is undisturbed sleep more important than regular meals? Is it more important to be stimulated and feel included throughout the game, or to have alone time?

Make a plan together, but with your as the authority. Describe what you don’t want to happen. Severe panic attack? Persistent disassociation? Verbal outbursts? Participant doesn’t eat/throws up? Write down early warning signs of a worsening mental state, both ones that are noticeable by others, and those only the participant can know about. Make an agreement they will keep a staff member updated about them. At some game it might even be possible to have them bring an assistant person who you can either give a free ticket to, or in some countries the state might cover their participation fee. Write down in the plan what you will do if certain things happen. It can be anything from “you will leave the in game area and go to bed”. “If you can’t do these things we will have to drive you to urgent psychiatric care.” (These plans are also great with diabetics and people with seizures). Knowing what will happen makes everyone more prepared and calm.

Don’t be afraid to use the plan, and do so when needed. Preventing a bad situation will actually build trust in the community. Don’t make enacting the plan a big thing and try to be very matter of fact about it. Strict but warm if you can, otherwise just use a low affective response. “As you have not eaten all day we are calling your wife, as we agreed.” The person might not appreciate it in the moment, but will often speak very well of the intervention some time after.

Participating with restrictions is also a tool. If a participant comes forward to you as an alcoholic, and there is alcohol at your game, the restrictions can be that they can’t drink at the game, and will be removed if found drinking. You can make a deal that a person will stay away from their triggers at you larp, and not use your larp to confront them. Some will have to be restricted from playing character who many others depend on.

General design advice

I myself try to design in a way where I avoid bottle necks and key persons in my relationship networks and the functions different characters have. This not only makes the games less vulnerable to a player having a mental health crisis, but also less vulnerable to over sleepers, people choosing the wrong character, someone twisting an ankle and just general late drop outs. The lessened pressure I find has a positive effect on my players mental state as well. If there is a hierarchy with just one person at the top, I design so others can fill their shoes quickly and use group based leadership where members of a groups can decide a call to action without waiting for the higher ups. I do the same with my staff, since I enjoy working with people who are open about their health issues. All jobs have two people who can do them, even if each job has a primary person who is supposed to do it, someone else is also their under study. Logistics can also be a safety host, chef can also do first aid, first aid can also do workshops etc.

List your risk factors

There are som risky design choices you are welcome to make but know they have inherent risks to bring around mental health crisis in players. Designing with:

Real alcohol.
Sleep deprivation
Without bed being a safe haven.
Physically exerting your players completely
Food deprivation, unfamiliar food
Exposure to element for longer periods of time (cold, wet)
In game isolation and being expelled from the in game “home” group.
Too much stimulation for an extended time. Loud noice, bright lights, touch, temperature.
Too little stimulation, designing with boredom.
Built in stress and reliance on out of game skills.
Aggressive play, violent play that is hard to opt out of especially if it is “close to home”
Confusing materials on safety and calibration that are hard ro remember and implement.
Providing costumes without being size inclusive.
Very strict gender binary tied to out of game gender.
Pressure to play the character and their relationships as written.

are the ones I’m coming up with right now, but I think readers can come up with more. All of these must be communicated on the web page and other materials about the larp so that people can make informed decisions about if this is a game it’s a good idea for them to attend. Most self aware people are very good at self selecting out, and this is why I’ve had such good experience organizing for participants with severe (diagnosed) mental disability where we had a plan from the beginning.

I recommend it!

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Sleeping outside in march and taking a long walk

I’ve been sleeping outside a lot since this pandemic summer. It’s always been one of my favorite parts of going to fantasy larps and yet it took me several months to realize I could do it outside of larp. I don’t need a larp to grab my gear and find a spot in the woods to sleep.
I have some different set ups, one is a cheap domed tent for two people, so that I can have all my gear inside. One is a Hennessy Hammock that I got for my 40:th birthday, which I just got a DD under blanket for. The under blanket is to prevent wind from removing warm air from underside your body, because the hammock compresses the sleeping bag materials beneath you. I also have inflatable sleeping mats, one for summer and one for winter and a sleeping bag cover I can just put over my sleeping bag if I just want to be on the ground or extra protection when I sleep under a tarp.

When I sleep outside I need to take precautions so I don’t get cold, since I usually have a very low body temperature unless I’m in a period where I work out a lot. If I work out a lot my metabolism rises and I become warmer and staying warm is less of a problem.

My setup this night was the hammock, my sleeping bag and the under blanket. I also use a reflective window shield, the kind you get for your car, inside the hammock to reflect my body heat back to me. I slept in an older merino wool set, from wool power, which was also a birthday gift many years ago. I also wore fresh wool socks (always change when going to bed) and my Swedish army woolen cardigan. I slept very well, waking up to our rooster crowing and stretching realized I did not have a tense muscle in my whole body. Lovely.

I have taken to daydreamingly browse online stores who sell outdoorsy stuff. I look at the DD gear sling that you have under the hammock, longer tree straps, other kinds of tarps that can work with the hammock. I also quite often look at the wind shield that would complete my Swedish soldier kitchen, despite already owning several different kitchen systems! You can see it here.

In the afternoon I followed a local marked trail to see where it would take me, and found to my delight it does not end where the official so called “Green Map” says it does but took the past several small lakes, joined up with an official trekking trail and then I could head back via an alternative way home. It started raining as I walked, and my home knit hat didn’t quite keep the wind and rain out but it was a good walk none the less.

A hennessy hammock is pitchen between two trees. It has a rainfly covering it. Under rests a DD banket made from a material that reminds of a sleeping bag. Everything is green.
Hennessy Hammock with DD under blanket.
Lake in the rain. Surface of the lake mirrors the sky above. The lake has yellow islands made of reeds in it. Firs and birch are visible.
Local lake. Thinking of maybe sleeping here.
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Vedergällningen – queer viking horror larp moved to 2022

Yours truly

Because the pandemic is still a fact, and vaccinations are not moving along at the speed I wish, I made the decision recently to postpone Vedergällningen, not just until September which was my plan A, but to a new June date in 2022.

I’ve told the participants who were signed up, and also informed I wish to refund all paid tickets, so we can reset the budget to 0 income. Anyone who already has gotten casted will keep their character, unless they tell us they are dropping out of the larp. I have temporarily closed both the Swedish sign up and the international one.

The plan is to restart ticket sales January 2022 so that all ticket sales are within the fiscal year of 2022. This is also when players who are already cast has decide if they want to pay to keep their casting or let their character go back into available characters.

I’ve also decided that I will use Ensemble, the character learning tool, and pay them for their work. You can check ensemble out here if you want to learn what it looks like and how it can be used. https://ensemble.nu/index.html

The migration of the characters and available characters -page over to Ensemble will probable be made in October och November so that you can read about the characters there before tickets are re-released. To both use Ensemble as a part of our web page while at the same time protecting our players integrity we will work with copies. One Ensemble-page will only be editable by me, and will be linked from the webpage, while the version where players substitute the character illustration with their own image will only be available to other players and staff at the larp.

I’m making this blog post because of a discussion in the Nordic Larp community that we are not that good at documenting the process of actually making a larp, the upsides and downsides and I want to at least help out by showing my process. I also think it helps possible participants to be kept updated about what is going on.

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Nordic Larp in the year of Covid -19 part 3

Atropos announced Another Androids larp yesterday.

The end of all things.

website: https://end.atropos.se

Runs will be played on the 7th, 9th, 11th and 12th of July. Each date is its own run.

The End of all things
In the corner between Market Street and 4th, there had always been a noodle bar. It had survived a dozen different owners and had gone through three different nations, only to experience the dissolution of the nation states altogether. 

There, people meet who are at the end of things.

Sign up isn’t open yet because they are observing the situation with the virus.

Mia Welander relased the online larp “Are you there”

“Are you there?” is an improvised, collaborative, online, multi-media-platform larp/roleplay aimed to provide distraction and entertainment during the current pandemic happening in the real world. Anyone is free to join in, and there is no sign up needed. You can participate in English, or in a language of your choice so long as there are other players able to communicate in that specific language. All the information will be in English though.

This is a story about the psychological and social effects of being isolated, as a sort of meta-story to our current reality. Both to keep us busy and less lonely, to get frustrations out, and to get some perspective on how not-apocalyptic our real life (thank heavens) still is.

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/212799176630524/

Link to the document with all the information about the larp:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/are-you-there/are-you-there/212815119962263/

Link to the character gallery: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.212814149962360&type=3

Eva Meunier released the notes from the 2019 Knutpunkt program item about “Older larpers”. You can read the notes here: Older larpers

What is an older larper? Are you an older larper? Or have you ever met one at a larp?
At Knudepunkt 2019, Mo Holkar, Susanne Gräslund and I facilitated a discussion on the topic “older larpers”.
Do older larpers have specific challenges, advantages, wishes, needs or experiences? We put together the notes from the discussions and would like to share the result with you, and of course, invite you to share your thoughts on this topic.

I myself saw a recommendation of the survivalist series Naked and Afraid and found it on Youtube. It’s about two strangers in every episode trying to survive the wilderness for 21 days, but starting naked and only one survivalist item each.
I find it helps, especially for me who am interested in physically challenging larps and nakedness. And like in a larp they can tap out at any time, even thought it might take a while to be evacuated. As the person who recommended it said “we have food, and shelter”.

Season 1 episode 3 – island from hell

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Nordic Larp in the year of Covid-19 part 2

The link to the Nordiclarpwiki-post: https://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Year_of_Covid-19

Today Sweden’s prime minister declared that Children above 16 and adults who are going to high school, college or universities will switch over to home studies and digital distance learning.

A vaccine was tested in the us for the first time yesterday, according to new outlets.

Solmukohta is looking into how to run parts of the programme online.

Convention of Thorns, which is planner for November in Polen is still on.

I’m still working like Vedergällning will run as planned in June so we sent out the call for volunteers.
We have however looked at alternative dates when the venue is available if we have to postpone the larp.

We are living history, and I wish I could do something for all of You out there who are suffering from the anxiety of the unknown.

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Nordic larp in the year of Corona

I’m Writing this to keep a record on the open web, outside of social media where it will most probably be drowned out over time.

We will se if I will write more during this time and make more updates.

I have been working at home since wednesday, and started with an excellent distance meeting facilitated by Microsoft Teams. I have also started getting requests from game related Groups if there is anything I can do for them when it comes to practical help. Monday I’m going into the office.
The Swedish larp Convention Prolog ran as planned since when it ran 28 feb-march 1:st there were no restrictions.
Sweden has now put a ban on public gathering with more than 500 participants. And they really are illegal, organizers could even go to jail. We do not yet know how long this ban will last.

So far my plan is to still run my Queer Viking Horror larp Vedergällningen. It’s not running until june and it’s run mostly outside and we can space out participants sleeping quarters. I will keep updated on Health recommendations.

Caroline Sjövall is running her Swedish larp Bellissimo because it is a small game and still is some time off.

The spring run for Baphomet has been cancelled, read the announcement here. I hope there will be more runs in the future.

What hit the Community hardest is that this year there will be no Solmukohta. After Consulting with Health authorithies the organizers had to make the decision to cancel the international Conference even if it had fewer than 500 tickets. Their statement is here. As I have an article named Your Body is Your Body in the book this year I hope at least the book can be distributed in some way.

Charles Nielsen did as emtional support live stream and I participated via voice link. You can Watch that stream afterwards here on his Youtube

College of Wizard
College of Wizardy: Werewar One is cancelled, and was so when almost all participants and staff were on site. Everyone is out of the castle as far as I know by now, and most are home. Read about it here.
College of Wizardry in March has even more difficult news, a participant has been tested positive for the virus Covid -19. This means everyone who Went to the event has to follow the instructions that apply in the country they are in now. Read here.

The traveling larp Convention Portal 8 did run in Zagreb and had a live stream.

Not directly related to Nordic larp, but for anyone who wishes to learn more about making and participating in Digital Larps Tara M Clapper are doing additional online work. Please support Tara as she lives in the US and struggles with the extra challenges of a country where Health care is seen as a luxury. You can Watch one of the streams here at Larp Mentor

My heart goes out to all the organizers having to make the difficult decicion to postpone or cancle their events. It’s both a financial and emotional toll, and I hope the crisis will leave our communities stronger and not weaker. Take care of each other out there.
Please tell me if you know of more larps being cancelled, or if larps are still running in the future.
Tell me if you need resources or have resources that I can link.

Live long and prosper.

 

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“Social bid”-method of playing oppression in larp

Several years ago I read this article on what factors seems to influence a happy marriage or partnership:

Masters of Love by Emily Esfahani Smith

The article introduced me to the koncept of social bids as a part of human interaction.

“Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.”

This the researcher that Emily is writing about called a “bid” or a “social bid”. The partner could now choose to turn away from the partner, rejecting the bid or to turn towards them and connecting over the bid.

So I started using the method of social bids both when I was playing oppressors or when I was playing the oppressed. I saw the dynamic role play of power-differences as a kind of relationship-based play. But at most larps there was more than one partner at larps to make these social bids to, or pick up on social bids with. I’m going to move in to examples further down.

The method has flaws, if your co-player or you yourself find it difficult to pick up on subtle clues it can be very difficult to pick up on social bids. It can be made easier if you workshop it before the game and do many repeats in the workshop, or if the game agrees on some standard “social bids” that either all the oppressed characters can make or social bids all the oppressors can make.

The social bids are originally meant to be made to one specific player, I am sure you can make a social bid at a whole group but it makes it even more difficult to notice as a group that an individual is making a social bid and it can be hard to react all at the same time. Social bids are in most larps made in person but at some games they can happen by phone or by internet.

Examples of social bids:

A thrall at a viking larp has been away doing personal play with their thrall allies. Now the player want to have some oppression play from their owner. In the fiction they often serve at the owners table and a feast is going on in the main hall. The thrall player simply gets a drink for the owner and make their way all the way to them, presenting the drink.
The offering of the drink, as if it had been sent for or as if it was a part of a daily routine is a social bid. It can be a clearer social bid if it comes with words spoken:

“Mistress, your horn, I brought your favorite.”

Also touch can make the social bid stronger. Slightly touching the owner on the arm.

The oppressor/owner could now either decline/miss the social bid by ignoring/not reacting or minimizing the interaction and just taking the horn, letting the thrall go away again. This will lead to the thrall player often feeling lost and very small out of game. Not a very good feeling.

Accepting the social bid could both be by a in game positive reaction:

“Ah! My thrall! *grabs both horn and thrall, pulls thrall into lap, chugs drink* They then proceed to showing their most precious object to all at the table and talking about all their talents.

It could also be an in game negative reaction:

The mistress looks at the thrall with a mean gleam in their eye, keeping eye contact they taste the content of the horn, then spits it out.
“what is this HORSEPISS!?” and throws the rest of the content on the thrall, and then grabs them by the hair.
“Exscuse me” to the table “I have to go take care of this”

Now the intensity of the social bids will depend a lot on what you as players have talked about before, and the general tone and safety rules at the larp.

Have you used some kind of similar method? What would your social bids be at an upcoming larp?

Modern larp:

A toxic relationship sending more and more explicit and abusive text messages to each other. Each time the other actually answers and engages with the story it will be an social bid/acceptance. No answer or minimized answer is the absence of a social bid.

Making a social bid workshop

Divide the players in small groups, 2,4 or 6. Each group should have members who will be oppressors and members that will play oppressed at some point of the larp. Ideally it will be the same pairs or groups who will play together at the larp.

Choose an everyday interaction in the fiction of the larp, that will also happen at the larp. Give them written suggestions and the props they might need. For example:

  • Servants filling up drinks
  • Prisoners getting their beds searched
  • Immigrants being interwieved
  • Prisoners of war being stripped of weapons
  • romantic partner being verbally abused

Now play through the scenes, and have the oppressed being the initiator to the beginning of the scene. Bringing the drink, standing up next to you bed with hands on head, coming to the desk of the administrator, organizing a line with hands on their heads, finding their partner and asking if they like their haircut.

Do the scene shortly. Cut. Now ask the players to do it again with a change. Maybe the oppressor is in a good mood? How do you play on that and still make it into active, engaging opression where they feel the social bids get reacted upon?
Another change can be if the oppressed is feeling filled with anger and just, have, had, enough but we still decide the scene will end with the oppressor winning?

Take the last 10 minutes to discuss if the method worked, and if anything can be tweaked for the larp.

VG-14

 

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Larp Safety Adaption

A discussion on what safety is, how it can be used and how it can counteract the original intentions. This article is not finished but might get follow ups.

Three intentions:

  • The intention for what larp safety was supposed to do from the people who initiated modern larp safety – one could argue that this is now mostly interesting from a historical background.
  • The intention for what larp safety is perceived to be by a larp culture at large (there is more than one larp culture). A culture is a set of interconnected larp organizers, players, influencers and project groups.
  • The intention for what larp safety is supposed to be, what role it is supposed to play at a specific larp.

 

I also made this pyramid with at what levels larp safety interacts with the larp communities. The lines I draw here is what I see in my head right now and these can be drawn differently by other people. I see how every level rests on the one below. But I also think the top level of the specific larp also influences how the larp culture the larp came from handles larp safety in the future. How different larp cultures interact with and interpret larp safety also influences the way the academics, influencers and international designer think and write about larp safety. Maybe I should add arrow that point up and down?
larp safety

My original intent for larp safety was mainly getting rid of the largest dangers to health, life and safety. There were actual rapists larping in Sweden, committing rapes at the larps. Putting a foot down, catching them and then supporting organizers in blocking these players from coming to the games was the first priority. There was a lot of information trading and I do hope that the biggest offenders were actually caught and evicted.

Then there were the offenders who weren’t rapists, but used their out of game strength to hurt other players on purpose.

 

Now mostly this wasn’t people who had hurt others on accident, they might occasionally be contacted and told “don’t do that” and it helped. This was about people (mostly men) who methodically, on purpose and repeatedly victimized other larpers. And until then had gotten away with it because no one had the whole picture. These people when confronted would often blame others, or completely deny actions that had eye-witnesses. They might even blame addiction or mental illness, but not as something they worked on but as a fact that could not be helped.

 

I’m thinking that even though we are adverse to pitting different kind of suffering against each other I’m thinking it is possible to measure the severity of a threat against the players and organizers of a larp on a scale. Basic risk assessment. How high is the risk of this happening again? How bad are the consequences, and to how many.

 

I also think if many feel either stifled or overworked by an approach to larp safety where the intent is to cover and prevent as much pain or danger as possible before, during and after the larp event the paradigm will shift again. Larp safety will fall out of style if it does not become a useful area to assign work to. You need a return of investment.

Hopefully we can take what we learned about how to prevent some of the more severe dangers while also freeing up players and designers to take manageable risks and both play and design boldy while avoiding the most harmful pitfalls?

 

I have written about the largest risk factors that I have identified before but there is no reason to not add them here as well:

 

  • The presence of unrepentant, unsupervised repeat offenders. There is a special class of offenders who individually are responsible for several instances of out of game violence against other players/volunteers/organizers. These have often normalized their behavior to themselves and others. “That’s just the way they are” is often said about them.
  • The presence of alcohol. The repeat offenders use alcohol but alcohol also increases risks across the board. It increases sexual misconduct and the risks of out of game conflict escalation. It also makes driving from the event the next day more risque (and so does too little sleep).
  • Food safety compromised. This can be anything from a food poisoning happening to allergic cross contamination. This can be really serious because it can affect so many of the players. While some allergic reactions are noticed by the organizers, a lot of the time players don’t really want to tell anyone about their diarrhea.
  • Unsafe venues and structures. This mostly leads to physical injury like concussions, eye lesions, sprained ankles or broken bones. Players can also get lost and become dehydrated or get very cold. Very rarely they lead to death. To Unsafe Venues I also count when the toilet situation leads to fecal matter being handled in an improper way.
  • A macho culture that celebrates volunteers and organizers working themself ragged and players going far beyond their physical, social and mental limits without the proper after care. This doesn’t only increase the risk for injury but also tempers run high and friendships can break for years to come.
  • “Rock star behaviour” and  “being dependant” When one or a few larpers have several that look up to them so much that they get away with behaviour that would get others booted long ago. Or the other side of the coin when some larpers are entirely dependant on being in one established larpers good grace. The second kind is often much less exhibitonist and instead of charming the group they will work on giving newcomers everything they need to participate. Watch out if the newcomers don’t seem to really form relationships with anyone else! A good mentor makes sure their newcomer meets a lot of good people, they don’t isolate them.

 

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The sign up for Vedergällningen is open

The story: In a pre-christian Sweden a set of women and other non-men with spiritual connections to the Völvic magical traditions are visited by a crew of traumatized returning vikings and before the evening is over, the Völvas fall victims to a heinous crime.

To avenge themselves they commune with Aesir and Vaenir, the gigants and dwarves, the elvenkind of the underworld and the spinners of fate themselves. And so the vengeance comes to heed their call as they dance naked through the blackened forest.

They cannot undo what they have done and as vengeance lays waste to all, these humans who hate each other must join forces or perish against monsters and gods that but toy with their minds and bodies.

Head on over to the events own site:

https://vedergallningen.wordpress.com/

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