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Journal of No. 118


July 20th, 2012

Nordic LARP, edited by Stenros & Montola @ 04:47 pm


Nordic LARP is a remarkable tome. Huge in format, and broad in the scope of the LARPs contained therein, covering many of the most famous and infamous LARPs of the Scandinavian scene. Enigma rightly prides itself on the wide variety of games we've run, but clearly the Nordic folk have pushed things farther in many, many directions, some of them inspiring, some of them... explain my use of the No Wanking icon. Not that I didn't know of the general nature of the Nordic scene beforehand, but the book provides a concrete and condensed exhibit of countless person-years of Nordic LARP. aaronjv pushed the book into my hands, all but chanting "one of us, one of us". Many thanks to him for the loan.

The book covers some 30 or so different LARPs each commented on by someone associated with the game, and lavishly illustrated. Some provide play by play, while others delve into the underlying philosophy. It's kind of pointless for me to review reviews, so instead, I'm going to make a list of the games I'd want to have played in (or designed (with the caveat that most of these games have budgets that run to the tens of thousands of euros, far in excess of anything I ever have attempted, or am ever likely to attempt. Many have multi-day run-times, not to mention the multiple mandatory preparatory workshops. These things are just out of my league. Not that budget or length are in any way necessary proxies for quality.))

Föreningen Visionära Vetenskapsmäns Årliga Kongress: I love scientists, and I love nuts, and I really love nutty scientists. The meeting of mad scientists was held on a ferry crossing between Sweden and Finland, and players mingled to some extent with the other passengers.

Zombie: Rædslernes Nat: Nazi Zombies in an awesome location. I would pee my pants. In a good way.

Silmäpuoli merirosvo: Something like ARRRRRRrrrrr Pirates, only moreso.

System Danmarc: Simply awesome. They built a squatter village out of shipping containers, for some gritty near-future nastiness. And then they played a little OOG trick on their players.

Prosopopeia Bardo 2: Momentum: A five week LARP, with spirits taking over the players to carry out their strange rituals here and there across the city. A similar idea has been bobbing around in my head for a while.

Knappnålshuvudet: mainly for the idea of having 'guardian angels' that offer certain kinds of direction to the players. And again we have some crazy people and dubious therapists... an almost certain lure for me.

Panopticorp: Satire of modern corporate culture, media saturation, and the way crappy bizspeak neologisms can channel your brain. "the projects accelerated to an absurd crescendo, topped of [sic] with the Chicken McNakbah-project, designed to foster hatred against Arabs and promote anti-Semitism around the world."



As an experiment, I can make use of the handy chart in the book to tell me what kind of LARP styles I apparently like. The chart analyzes each of the LARPs on several differents scales. Oh nuts, there's too many categories to make this very useful. Probably it's better for picking out the styles I don't like. No votes for Dogma 99, not that there were many to choose from. No votes for War or Historical. Not that I really have anything against historical LARP in theory, but as reflected in the more extreme end of the Nordic-style it can become: "Endless discussions about wool and linen, sewing techniques and authentic ways of tanning leather can be heard whenever two [LARPers] get together. There is always at least an implicit propping competition going on. ... [We] sought to turn the snobbism into a positive force. The organizers helped the players with costumes by providing advance information and organizing sewing workshops."
That's just not for me.

And I'm not too keen on the most 'extreme' 'weird' 'political' 'art' 'larp's, though it does make me want to create Nordic LARP: the LARP. 49 hours of wallowing in our collective guilt for the Holocaust, in a plexiglass cube infested with Sumatran cockroaches. Somehow it's more palatable as meta-LARP. Who's in?

More seriously, there's plenty of interesting ideas here to respectfully homage rip off.
 
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From:aaronjv
Date:July 22nd, 2012 03:23 am (UTC)
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Yay!

I had hoped it would be inspiring. This is why I bought two copies, and why I am shoving it into other people's hands and making them go through it. Not all Nordic style larps are GR or Fat Man Down or Hamlet or Kapo, some sound like super-fun "Carolus Rex", the sci-fi one on a real Russian submarine (drydocked, a museum), is what I wish Starship Valkyrie would be.

And here's the thing...the reason why I say larp is art is so I can get grants from the gub'mint or foundations to do something grandiose like they did.

Running the numbers of Dragonbane, the one that took four years to prep and cost half a million Euro, charged 145 Euro for it's 500 participants (only 325 players), which is... (calculator...) 72,500 euros. That's a big, big loss. I asked about it, and it was funded by grants. Where's my socialist paradise!??!?

I'll be linking to this, the Nordics love to read about themselves.
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:July 22nd, 2012 03:50 am (UTC)
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Running the numbers of Dragonbane, the one that took four years to prep and cost half a million Euro, charged 145 Euro for it's 500 participants (only 325 players), which is... (calculator...) 72,500 euros. That's a big, big loss. I asked about it, and it was funded by grants. Where's my socialist paradise!??!?

I thought probably grants were partially responsible for reconciling the huuuuuge losses that most of the games would have had if the budget and fees were the only parts of the equation. I also wondered if player expenses were included in budget, or if that only included the direct expenses of the organizers.

Not all Nordic style larps are GR or Fat Man Down or Hamlet or Kapo, some sound like super-fun

Actually, Hamlet almost made my list. That also reminds me of a funny (to me) detail from that chapter. "The use of pornography is highly problematic, even if it is vintage; in my opinion far more so than (semi) public sex by consenting adults, which was criticized after the larp." I wondered if somehow America and Scandinavia had swapped places. This was a game in which they fired guns with blanks, but a little porn is the troublesome thing?
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From:ian_tiberius
Date:July 23rd, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)
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Föreningen Visionära Vetenskapsmäns Årliga Kongress: I love scientists, and I love nuts, and I really love nutty scientists. The meeting of mad scientists was held on a ferry crossing between Sweden and Finland, and players mingled to some extent with the other passengers.

One of my long-held ideas that never quite came to fruition was a LARP at a convention/trade show for mad scientists. Wish I could have been at this one.

Silmäpuoli merirosvo: Something like ARRRRRRrrrrr Pirates, only moreso.

I...need more details.

Did I ever mention that A!P2 was run in Australia without our knowledge? We posted our rules on the web site, plus all y'all's short character descriptions, and this Aussie group borrowed it lock, stock, and barrel. Off in the Southern Hemisphere where the toilets flush the wrong way, people were running around in pirate costumes throwing rubber balls at each other and claiming to be your characters, and they all sounded like Crocodile Dundee. Trying to envision it makes me dizzy.
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:July 23rd, 2012 12:53 am (UTC)
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One of my long-held ideas that never quite came to fruition was a LARP at a convention/trade show for mad scientists.

Have you planned a theme for your wedding yet?

I...need more details.

"The game bordered on satire many times but never fell to the wrong side of the genre. It had everything I had come to expect from a pirate story - including evil zombie pirates, voodoo witches and buried treasure." They did indeed have a buried treasure chest full of costume jewelry and spray painted pennies.

I had you in mind as someone who ought to see Nordic LARP, so if we can contrive a hand-off, I think you and Karen would make good candidates for the next readers in line. Aaron the blog pirate made a fatal error when he lent his treasure to me. Arr!

Did I ever mention that A!P2 was run in Australia without our knowledge? We posted our rules on the web site, plus all y'all's short character descriptions, and this Aussie group borrowed it lock, stock, and barrel.

ZOMG, no I don't think I heard about that. That's crazy-cool, but I wish they'd at least waved and said hello beforehand.

I was fumbling around the internet the other day and saw that all the character info for The 29 Steps is online. Now that's something I'd like to see someone else run!
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From:ian_tiberius
Date:July 23rd, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
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so if we can contrive a hand-off

Yes, that would be great. If you and the Goth Gardener are done with it, feel free to send it with her this weekend (along with DVDs, apparently. :-)

That's crazy-cool, but I wish they'd at least waved and said hello beforehand.

Yeah, the only reason I found out about it is because I took the A!P2 web site down, and they e-mailed Enigma a bit later and asked if we could put it back up because they had such a good time running it the first time that they wanted to do it again, and they hadn't saved the materials. I put it back up, and asked if they would send me photos or a wrap-up email or whatnot, but I never received anything.

Now that's something I'd like to see someone else run!

Wow, that would be even weirder. Someone I've never met playing me, acting as the co-GM of the game within the game. Meta enough for even the Scandinavians, I would think.
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From:aaronjv
Date:July 23rd, 2012 07:30 am (UTC)
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The rules for the borrowed Nordic Larp book (of course there are rules) =

1. At least look at the photos, try to read the text descriptions of the larps, though the last essay in the book is, I think, one of the great arguments for "larp is art".

2. Sign your name in the front so we know who has at least borrowed it (Mr. Saltes, you, too!).

3. When you are finished, don't hang on to it but pass it on, either to someone else whom you think will enjoy it, or return it back to me so I can hand it off. I don't have anyone on the list now, but there are people I want to get it to. And preferably finish it within a month, and I'm only mildly stringent on that part.

Those are the rules. You don't have to agree with anything in there, but hopefully at least one of their larps will be inspiring, and give a better impression of what the Nordic style of larps really are. After all, they have an entry on a big boffer weekend, a Vampire campaign, and even some Call of Cthulhu larps.

Then they go into "Luminescence", which was "cancer ward: the larp" with two inches of flour all over the floor of the venue, and all players wore only underwear or their birthday suit.

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From:essentialsaltes
Date:July 23rd, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
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feel free to send it with her this weekend

We'll try! The GG is flying, and it may be impossible to squeeze it into the carryon bag.

Wow, that would be even weirder.

Not quite as weird, but I remember running across a werewolf LARP that was set at UCLA in the 1980s. (Aha, here it is.)
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:March 29th, 2014 12:05 am (UTC)
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Something like ARRRRRRrrrrr Pirates, only moreso.

I...need more details.


The Nordic Larp book is now available for free as PDF.

Journal of No. 118