Monthly Archives: August 2009

Documentation: SonsbeekLive

What do you get when you add an American sculptor to a Danish larpwright to a bunch of Dutch larpers, and mix it all with an art festival audience? The answer, it seems, is SonsbeekLive, a series of six three-day larps held sequentially in the summer of 2008, mixing the fantasy-larp esthetic with modern sculpture and a tad of Nordic-style larp ritualizing. The larp was produced as a collaboration between Danish larpwright Bjarke Pedersen and the US sculptor Brody Condon, with the central scenography (a white tower, home to the characters) designed by Condon. The other artworks of the Sonsbeek exhibition were also assigned significance in the larp and treated as scenography by the larpers.

Photo quoted from
Photo quoted from

Plenty of interesting things to learn from the documentation: Condon’s tower, of course, is truly inspirational and shows a potential third path for fantasy-larp scenography, an alternative to both crappy-looking symbolism (rope = city wall) and work-intensive authenticity (100 volunteers and 5000 stones = city wall). Continue reading Documentation: SonsbeekLive

Ninja trick: fate envelopes (and a word on secrecy vs. transparency)

Ninja Trick (by Plushplex, Creative Commons 2.0 by-nc-nd)
Introducing: the irregular column “Ninja Trick”, presenting clever little larpwriting ideas that are easy to share.

So there’s this group in Elverum in Norway, called “De Krakilske Papegøyer” (DKP), which no-one in the Oslo scene had heard about until they’d already organised five larps. And to the sixth one, Marthe, a larper from Oslo went and returned reporting (no) what she had experienced. Turns out they were using a novel incentive they called “sekundærrolle”, meaning secondary character description: little envelopes that you opened at particular times during the larp.

Continue reading Ninja trick: fate envelopes (and a word on secrecy vs. transparency)

The player’s journey and the character’s journey

I don’t remember where this model comes from. My fuzzy memories tell me that it’s a Swedish idea, from the age before good larp models got talked about at knutepunkts and gathered in knutebooks, but I might be wrong.

The model simply states that during a larp, there are two kinds of personal journeys undertaken: the journey of the player, and the journey of the character. Both might have their high points, their turnarounds, their narrative structure. They might intersect to a great degree – the most important moment of the characters life might also be – to the player – the most important moment of the larp. But then again, it might not.

fig. 1 : the player's journey and the character's journey

Continue reading The player’s journey and the character’s journey

What larp dramaturgy is, and why you should care –

In the US and UK a dramaturge is someone who adopts theatre scripts for a given stage. That’s not the way I’ll be using the word here. I am instead using the word in roughly the same sense as the Norwegian “dramaturgi”, meaning the inner and outer structure of a play – or, in our case, a larp. The important word here is “structure”. Characters, briefing documents, rules, plots etc. are not, by themselves, a dramaturgy. It is how they fit together, and form a structure for the players’ improvisation, that makes a dramaturgy.

Continue reading What larp dramaturgy is, and why you should care –

Role-playing, larp, and what’s this blog about anyway?

Role-playing is play – improvised drama – done for the benefit of the participant/actor rather than an audience. There are many kinds of role-playing – educational, therapeutic, sexual, tabletop, online, freeform, pervasive – and many different contexts where role-playing is performed. Role-playing is “play” both in the sense that Hamlet is “a play” and in the sense that children play. Anyone who has ever played together as kids understand the basic mechanisms of role-playing. Anyone who has only role-played as a kid is also in for a couple of surprises when encountering adults role-playing.

"New Voices in Art" - a Nordic arthaus larp by Tor Kjetil Edland and Arvid Falch - photo by Britta Bergersen
Scene from "New Voices in Art", a Nordic arthaus larp about young artists opening their first exhibiton. Larpwrights: Tor Kjetil Edland and Arvid Falch. Photo by Britta Bergersen

In most places, larp, or live role-playing, started out as an offshoot of tabletop role-playing games (RPGs), a kind of role-playing where the players sit down and verbally describe what their characters do, usually aided by dice, rules and a judge/storyteller called the “gamesmaster”. Continue reading Role-playing, larp, and what’s this blog about anyway?

Who’s this “Eirik” guy, and why is he writing this blog?

In “The Prince”, Machiavelli insisted that to govern well, the prince had to be a sneaky and manipulative bastard. While I might disagree with his politics, he certainly had a point when it came to larp.

Niccolo Machiavelli : Author of "The Prince", an early treatise on larp design
Niccolo Machiavelli : Author of "The Prince", an early treatise on larp design

There’s a certain sneakiness required to do larp design well – even if you design with open cards, your players will thank you when the way that things fit together unveils something wholly unexpected. If they think that it was entirely their own doing – that is: if the players were manipulated – they will be even more grateful. Hence, the title of this blog.

Just like Machiavelli, I’m male. Similarities end there. I am 33 years old, Norwegian, resident of Oslo. I work as a consultant on interaction design and usability issues. In my private life, I am an active “larper”, one who frequently plays larps, and a “larpwright”, a designer/author of larps. Continue reading Who’s this “Eirik” guy, and why is he writing this blog?