Dealing with Death

A War of Our Own takes place in a very dangerous place. Death can happen. The characters are not guaranteed to be safe, especially if their actions warrant dangerous wounds or death.

It will be difficult to die accidentally in the first part of the game, but as the game escalates toward the end, characters may die more easily. Death can be taken on voluntarily – you can always choose a worse outcome for a fight – or inflicted as a consequence of your actions – such as picking fights with heavily armed soldiers. As the game goes on, death might be arbitrary and abrupt, much like with the lives of the people who are trying to empathize with.

But what happens when you die in A War of Our Own? There are other ways of participating in the game. But when you die, after a reasonable amount of time, your “body” should be taken out of the main play area to be buried. And then you can inform the staff as to what happened.

These methods are meant as a courtesy. Please keep that in mind as you are given the chance to use them.


The ghosting mechanic is meant to allow participants to keep experiencing the story after their characters have departed from it. Participants who are ghosting will be given a black cross or X on their forehead, to symbolize they are not there and are dead. If another participant mistakenly says they saw them, they are just a memory. If you catch sight of a ghosting character, feel free to act as if you just suddenly remembered them and move on, or dwell on their part of the story.

There is no actual supernatural element to the ghosting mechanic. There are no real ghosts there. It is simply a metaphor for the hole a death leaves behind.

Ghosting participants should take care not to interfere with the game. They are there to experience the world their characters left behind, and see where the game leads. They cannot speak or be interacted with.

Pick-Up Characters

Participants may be offered pick-up characters, or allowed to take on another persona through the game. There may be NPCs, or improvised characters you can be given by the staff. Staff will tap ghosting participants if there is need for an NPC, or may cooperatively construct a new character with them.

The Jackalope Guide to LARPing Hard and Safe, Part 2: Negotiation and Care

To quote the eminent and incredibly talented LARP designer Johanna Koljonen –

“People are more important than LARPs.”

Let me repeat that –

“People are more important than LARPs.”

Everyone got that? Good. That means the person behind the character and the story is always more important than the story or the character itself. You need to remember that person – whether it is another participant, a staff member or yourself. Taking care of the person is always more important than the LARP.

Here are our guidelines for playing hard and safe, while remembering the person.

Warnings and Negotiating

If you feel you are going to go into a deep and possibly disturbing scene with another participant, it is always acceptable to break character, warn and negotiate. The signal for going out of character is to hold up two crossed fingers and say, “Out of character.”

How to quickly negotiate during an event

  1. The requesting participant raises two crossed fingers and say, “Out of character” and then a short reason why you are opening the subject. Examples include: “Physical contact”, “Disturbing material”, “Intimate contact”
  2. The responding participant said, “Out of character, what do you want to do?”
  3. The requesting participant explains what they’d like to do: “I would like to touch your face”, “I would like to stage-wrestle you to the ground”, “I am going to talk about my experiences at a massacre”
  4. The responding participant either responds with questions or other ideas.
  5. Negotiation concludes only when both sides say, “Agreed.” and lower their fingers.

Touching a player, rough housing or otherwise engaging in contact always requires negotiation, and should be part of the combat resolution process when we use resolution then action violence system, where the result of a violent conflict is determined and then played out.

Caring for yourself and others

Sanctuary Space

A sanctuary space will be available on site. The sanctuary space will have places to sit down, rest and recuperate, as well as snacks and water. If you are in need of a break or find yourself not able to handle the situation, bow out and visit the sanctuary space. If you need an escort or help finding it, approach a staff member or ask a fellow participant. If someone asks you for help, always try and give it.

Care for yourself

You are more important than the game. Remember to regularly assess yourself, your mental state and your physical well-being. Do not do stunts or other dangerous things that put you or others in danger. Your well-being is more important than the LARP.

Here is a good self-care checklist, if you start feeling out of sorts.

Self Care Checklist

  1. When was the last time I drank water, or something hydrating? Soda and coffee do not count.
  2. When was the last time I ate something?
  3. When was the last time I sat down and rested?
  4. Am I in physical pain? Do I need pain meds?
  5. (if applicable) When is the last time I had caffeine/a cigarette/etc.?

If you need any of these things, the sanctuary space or a staff member should be able to help you.

Care for your fellow players

If you see another participant who seems to be out of it, out of breath, not entirely present – use the check-in method to see if they need help. There is never a penalty or judgment for breaking character to find out if another participant needs help, or helping them to the sanctuary space or giving them physical care.

A War of Our Own is getting some awesome attention, and we thank you all for it

It’s only been four days since A War of Our Own announced, but the reaction to it has been amazing. We are being contacted for interviews, important questions have been raised and we’ve gotten support from every corner.

We were nervous launching A War of Our Own because of its serious and controversial nature. But the overwhelmingly positive response has been a huge boost to the team.

We’re Getting Good Coverage from Good People

Several geek blogs have approached us over articles. We’ve given interviews and input on both of them, but just today, an interview with our organizer Matthew Webb has been published in Josh Heath’s Keep on the Heathlands. He asked some great questions about the game, what we see as our goals, and why we made some of our design choices.

For those of you who don’t know, Josh Heath has been a long-time proponents of using role-playing games to create positive change and foster education in the world.

Click here to read the interview


Sam Swicegood gave us a shout-out on his blog as well, Elsewhere Nightly. Sam Swicegood is a geek journalist as well as an RPG author. Check out his blog for other articles on LARP and tabletop news, geek culture and LARPing. He’s also got an upcoming project coming out next year, the science fiction RPG Cold Start.

The original developers of This War of Mine are excited, too

One of the joys of this last few days is not only 11-Bit Studios, but the team behind This War of Mine – not to mention countless others.

What’s next?

We are working on bringing on more team members, setting up the final details before ticket sales next month.

But most of all, we’re a Texan production – and our creative lead Steve Metze is currently deployed with the Texas National Guard dealing with the ongoing situation of Hurricane Harvey. You can watch him doing his work here.

Please wish him and all our friends in Houston the best – and consider donating to the Red Cross or donating blood if you are in the Texas area.

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