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.

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