So You Want to Run a Larp House Larp
This document is intended as a guide to help both new and experienced larp organizers get ready to run a Larp House larp. The requirements in this document are intended to help make larp events that accessible to people from marginalized communities and to people with limited larp experience.
Larp House Values Statement
We are the Larp House and we do larps.
Specifically, we aim to provide high quality larps in and around the Twin Cities, with a focus on welcoming marginalized communities. We hope to create a space that is easy to join, especially for those with limited larp or roleplaying experience. We also work to encourage and support those who want to run or create their own larps.
We are inspired by many larp traditions, including nordic, jeepform, and American freeform. We also welcome those who want to run other types of larps.
We believe that larp can be a tool for social justice and, in pursuit of that, we work to have strong policies to help protect the safety of people in our games and our community. For us social justice means: providing a forum for marginalized voices to be heard and valued, overturning oppressive social structures, and recognizing and addressing systemic inequalities.
The Larp House Education Committee is a group of people interested in helping people learn how to organize larps. They have some experience of their own to share, and can also connect new organizers or larp writers with mentors to learn from directly. The Education Committee also seeks to create a culture of direct, honest feedback about larp design and larp organizing. Contact the Education Committee through their email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing a Larp
Writing a larp is a long difficult process, often it is easier to find an enjoyable existing larp to organize. Writing a larp is something that a few Larp House members have experience with. Contact to the Education Committee to get connected with someone who has information to share.
Choosing a Larp
Organizing a larp will take a lot of time and energy, so choose a larp that you are excited about! You can start your search by focusing on subject matter you’re interested in, a mechanic that executes on an emotion you want people to explore, or the space you have to work with.
Some Places to get Free Larp Scripts
Larp House Library
Planning a Larp
Every larp needs at minimum: a date, location, and a team of people working together to make the larp happen. Without these things, the Creative Director won’t schedule your larp.
Organizing with people you know but aren’t best friends with can be a great idea. When things get tense about creative contributions, or someone needs to be pushed to deliver on their organizer role, you need to be able to have conflicts instead of stepping around them. It is sort of like choosing roommates in that regard--choose someone you can work with above someone you like. A culture of direct, honest, and compassionate feedback is a benefit to us as organizers, to our players, and to the larps we run.
Below is a list of some of the important jobs that can occur in larps. For all the ones that apply to your larp, have someone take explicit responsibility for those items. Having an explicit conversation about roles is one of the very first things an organizing team should do.
When and Where
Without a location you can’t have a larp. Space is the single greatest hurdle for larp in the US. Some options are:
Larps are announced by email to the Larp House mailing list and a posting to the Larp House website. Contact the Outreach Committee to plan how your larp will be promoted. Use of other social media, like the Larp House Google+ page, to publicize events is optional but a good idea. Right now, this first email is the omnibus information source for the larp. The email should include all of the following things.
The Creative Director handles the sign up process for larps. Interested people fill out a Google form to be entered into a weighted lottery. The lottery is open until a time given in the announcement, usually 4-5 days later. When the period ends the Creative Director person draws and announces the results of the lottery.
Considerations for the space of a larp might include availability of air conditioning, wheelchair access, gender neutral bathrooms, seating, and proximity to public transit. Considerations of the larp design might include how much moving or standing is necessary for workshops or play.
A content warning lets people know what kind of tough material might come up during play and gives them a chance to opt-in to this experience. Larp House values informed consent and transparency over mechanical and story secrets.
Social Media Hotspots
An introductory workshop is intended get players ready to participate fully in the game. A good workshop sets a tone for the whole experience and helps players get comfortable with one another. At the Larp House, workshops have several key components:
An introduction consists of each person’s name, gender pronouns (optional), and an icebreaker question such as the reason they came to the larp today. The intent is to foster a community atmosphere by letting players get to know each other before play begins. The icebreaker question usually gives organizers a chance to name their organizer roles and to learn what in particular players are excited about.
Introduce the Documentarian or Staff Photographer for the larp. They will go over the Larp House’s 2-step Documentation Policy and ask for players’ affirmative consent to be documented. After the larp, make sure that the Documentarian has all participants’ emails so they can ask for approval of the documentation.
Introduce the emotional support person for the larp. They will go over the Larp House’s Harassment Policy. Ensure people know what types of behavior are not allowed and how they can report if something happens.
“Larp House is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religious or political beliefs, or prior gaming experience. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form. Participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event at the discretion of the organizers or the harassment committee.”
Content Warnings and the Open Door
Restate the content warnings from the announcement materials. Because, let’s be honest, not everyone reads all of the information before signing up. Also state the open door principle: Anyone can leave at any time for any reason, and we all agree to not judge someone for leaving.
Safewords and Practice
Safewords are phrases to unambiguously communicate information about player safety during a larp. The intention of these words is to make sure everyone at a Larp House event has a safe experience and to make sure someone gets help right away if they aren’t safe. A frequent choice for organizers has been “Cut” and “Largo.”
Some studies show that the existence of safety technology can give people a false sense of security. To combat this, state that safewords do not release anyone from checking in with other people about verbal and nonverbal cues. To make sure that people are actually able to use safewords, facilitators should lead a safewords exercise where everyone is able to try out using both words. Later in the introductions some facilitators have called “Cut” to give players a chance to see a word in action.
Set Touch Boundaries
Because larp is live action play, players enact all the things their characters do, including touching and being touched. If there’s 6 or fewer people you can probably get away with each person describing their personal touch boundaries. Any more, and it's easier to set a group base-line. Confirm the group baseline by asking everyone to close their eyes and raise a hand if they are comfortable with the proposed baseline. If someone does not raise their hand, reduce the amount of touching in the baseline and call for a secret vote again. If someone wants to touch or be touched beyond the group baseline they need to check in with their scene partners to make sure that is okay.
Larpers are like actors or vocalists, they do better when they are comfortable with each other and their instruments are ready to play. A common technique at the Larp House is to have warm ups that address three major areas: creativity, bonding, and focus. Creativity warm ups get participants thinking creatively by breaking down their internal filters. Bonding activities help the group feel closer together by teamwork, enforced touching, and doing something silly with other people. Focus activities sharpen the listening and communication skills of participants by setting a goal that requires intense teamwork.
Debriefing is intended to help players de-role and leave larps feeling good.
If something problematic happened during the larp or something clearly didn’t work, address it as soon as possible after play. Doing so will help participants feel like they are listened to and help organizers understand what happened.
For any questions you ask, make it clear that participants don’t need to answer if they don’t want to. If the larp is more than about 6 people, ask participants to be brief so everyone can speak. It is common for organizers to ask participants to speak about their characters in third person, as opposed to first person. Doing so helps accelerate the de-roleing process.
Written by Jon Cole in 2014.
Edited by Heather Silsbee in 2014.