Safety and consent
During the LARP game we want everybody to have a good time. Getting injured out of character (physically or emotionally) will seriously impede on most people their good time. The following systems will help keep yourself and your fellow participants safe during the game. And when you are ever in doubt if something is safe. Please choose the safer of the two options.
The game isn't as important as the players
Try and remember in the heat of play that it's just that. Play. It is meant to entertain and although LARP can be used to challenge yourself, in the end the physical, emotional and mental safety of any participant is more important then the story we are collectively telling, the characters we are portraying and the mountains of gold we try to hoard.
Listen to instructions
Listen to the organizers when they give safety instructions. They have the final say concerning the safety at an event. Ignoring any safety instructions from a member of the organisation may lead to your removal from an event.
Talk with the organizers
Should you feel someone is playing in an unsafe way, feel free to inform a game master of this. They can discuss this with the other person.
Some participants will wear clearly out of character safety ribbons. These participants are not allowed to be physically hit. If you want to do damage to the character you stand next to them with a drawn weapon and call "HIT".
When somebody has a physical injury and the game should be stopped to provide the participant with medical attention the player itself or any other player is allowed to call "MAN-DOWN" loudly and clearly. The entire game stops at that point and everybody sits down on the spot apart from 1 person next to the injured person so we can clearly see where the injured person is. People trained in first aid will then go to the injured person and provide medical assistance. At all times follow the instructions of the organizers or first aid providers in this case.
No hitting on the head, groin or breasts.
You should avoid hitting these areas with LARP weapons at all times. Accidents do happen. If you hit one of these places by accident, quickly say sorry out of game, check if the other player is okay to continue the fight and only then continue.
No stabbing unless using stab-safe weapons.
Some LARP weapons are specifically made to stab with in a safe manner. Ask the organizers beforehand if you are allowed to stab with your particular weapon. Unless the organizers have given you permission you are not allowed to use your weapons to stab people with or use stabbing motions.
Only light touching of limbs without permission.
In the course of the game you are allowed to lightly touch other participants without prior permission. This includes shaking their hand, giving them a friendly pat on the back or touching a limb to perform magic on them. You are however not allowed to grab, hold, wrestle, push or pull your fellow participants without pre-negotiation. If you don't want people to go somewhere you are allowed to stand in front of them and you can ofcourse stop people from going or leaving by hitting them with your weapons or spells. But unless you quickly check in you are not allowed to physically constrain your fellow participants with your body.
No fighting near dangerous objects.
You should not fight near tripping hazards (Like tent-wires or riverbeds for example) or dangerous objects (for example: fire, or anything sharp or hot). If a fight breaks out near any of these objects all participants should be moved to a safe area out of character before the fight actually starts.
Tying people up
If you tie people up make sure they themselves are able to escape the situation at all times. The character is not allowed to escape, but the participant should always be able to.
Weapon, armour, shield and prop safety
The primary element regarding combat safety are the weapons. All melee weapons used during the event should be LARP-safe weapons made of foam with a glass fibre core and latex coating. All weapons should be checked by a Game Master before the event. If a Game Master deems a weapon unsafe, you are not allowed to use the weapon.
Throwing weapons should consist of a soft foam coated with latex. Most importantly, they should not have a rigid core. For bows and crossbows, you can use anything with a strength of up to 30 pounds. Arrows should be LARP-safe with a soft head.
Shields should consist of a foam core with a latex coating. Shields with a wood core are explicitly not allowed.
While most armour will be fine when fighting, you should pay attention to avoid dangerous protrusions like spikes or sharp edges on your armour. Should you wish to have such features on your armour, create them from foam and latex or in another combat safe method.
If at any time you are uncomfortable with how the game is going and want the game to stop you are allowed to use the call "NO-PLAY". This will signal to players that whatever you are going trough at the moment is real and not part of the LARP. The game should be stopped immediately and out of character communication will occur. The game will only continue if all present participants are okay with it.
Note that if you are for example panicking and can't remember "NO-PLAY" you can always raise your hand (which signifies that you are out of character) and start communicating out of character that you want the game to stop in any way you wish. Or you can even just start to communicate out of character directly. "I want the LARP to stop, I don't feel okay with this scene" for example should also be taken seriously by everyone and the game should stop and only continue when all participants are okay with it. Lastly you can also just raise your hand, possibly say "NO-PLAY" and walk out of the situation. Always remember that even though your character might not be able to escape, at any point you as a participant are allowed to leave a scene or the entire LARP if you want.
It is important to note that anyone is allowed to stop the game at any point without explanation or questions asked. You don't have to feel guilty about stopping a scene. You can be proud of yourself for recognizing your limits and protecting yourself from (further) emotional injury. You as a person are more important than any LARP could possibly be.
To clarify "NO-PLAY" is meant to defend you as a participant. It is not meant to get out of a In-Character dangerous situation.
You can communicate how you feel about the emotional intensity of a particular situation with actually stopping the game using the stoplight method. The stoplight method has 3 signals which mean "I am fine with the intensity escalating even further" (green), "I am comfortable with the current intensity but don't want it to escalate" (yellow), or "I am uncomfortable with the current intensity of the situation. The intensity should be lowered." (red).
There are several ways to communicate this. You can simply say "Red" "Yellow" or "Green". But you can also use hand signals namely Thumbs up for green, A back and forth rocking flat hand for yellow and a thumbs down for red.
Don't try and hide these terms into in character speech, this will cause confusion. Saying "I love your red dress" is not using the stoplight method. If you are afraid people will miss you saying the word you can repeat the word a few times and combine it with a hand signal. "Red red red" while giving the thumbs down signal will very clearly communicate that you are communicating out of character and that the intensity of the scene should be lowered.
The green signal also has a completely in character variant you can incorporate into an already intense scene without breaking character to signal you would be totally fine with escalating the situation. Saying "Is that all you got?!" will communicate to the other participants that they can up the emotional intensity of the scene. The beauty of this sentence is that it can be said in almost all situations. During battle, while being brutally tortured trough gritted teeth, while crying and shouting at the other or sarcastically while somebody is hurling insults at you.
Also note that if "green" is communicated to you in any way you don't have to escalate the scene, only do that if you are comfortable with it. Don't keep signaling green over and over again if the other person doesn't respond with more intensity, this can be disruptive. Maybe they missed it, maybe they are not okay with escalating the scene further themselves. Both are okay.
You can ask other people to use the stoplight method by either verbally asking "check-in?" or using the "OK?" hand signal. This signal can be made by placing your index finger on your thumb, fanning out your other fingers and presenting the O shape to the other player. This signals to the other player that you would like them the verify that everything is still okay. They can respond with either "Red", "Yellow", "Green" one of the equivalent hand signals or "Is that all you got?!".
LARP can be used as a medium to explore grim and uncomfortable situations and themes or to confront your out of character fears and anxieties. However be very careful when deliberately pushing your boundaries. You do this at your own risk.
Other people should at all times respect your boundaries but it is your own personal responsibility to take care to communicate your boundaries with the above methods. It is thus your personal responsibility to use the above methods early enough to protect your own emotional safety.
The Check-in method above is not mandatory and participants in our LARPS are allowed to escalate the emotional intensity of a scene without checking in. If you participate in our LARPS you are consenting to other people pretending to be nasty to your character in a myriad of ways. If you participate in our LARP and are unable to protect and communicate your boundaries using the above methods then the other participants will not know about your boundaries and thus will have a hard time respecting them. You do this at your own risk.
You can before the LARP event (or even quickly before a particular situation) pre-negotiate specific boundaries. For example you can negotiate physical intimacy boundaries with a participant that plays the lover of your character or you can tell the other characters in your group that you would rather not be insulted when your character fails a specific task or challenge you already feel anxious about.
In theory you can even come up with certain codewords or phrases to use to signal that you would like to escalate a scene into a particular direction other then "Is that all you got?!" to signal generally being okay with escalation.