Thoughts on Safety

We’ve already discussed the specifics of safety during interactions between two players, but what about at the event level? When running an event some additional safety concerns arise. An event holder needs to be prepared. At the moment I’m not actually ready to write rules of safe play for a 4x larp. But here’s what I think is important when writing considering writing safety rules.

In 20 years of larping I have never seen a major injury which resulted from two players fighting. Perhaps I’m lucky. Perhaps the rules of safety written into larping by the time I started prevented lots of injury. I do know of one major injury which happened before I started, but within my life time. In all that time attending practice and events there have been plenty of hard hits, groin shots, hits to the face and eyes, removed piercings, blows which were a bit too hard, none of which resulted in permanent damage.

That having been said I have seen plenty of injuries when players interact with the terrain. The environment itself is really the biggest enemy, and the one we most often forget about. That old saw about ‘nature trying to kill us’ still applies in larp, particularly in combat larp. First aid for sprains, ankle rolls, cramping, and colds is by far the most encountered medical need. The game has to have rules in place to protect the physical safety of the players. “Hold”/ “Lay on” are critical to getting first aid to players and will be included.

[Edit] 09/25/2022

Eye injuries, specifically from arrows, have become the exception to that. Over the last few years playing in Bicolline I’ve witnessed one eye injury resulting in permeant scratches to the cornea. A number of similar injuries caused Bicolline to ban round headed foam arrows from play. Players are opting to break decorum to wear modern eye protection on the battlefield. For your own safety wear eye protection if your larp allows projectiles.

It might be tempting to regulate where people can play. Preventing them from moving through rough terrain. The concept of “Stay on the Path”. But creating rules which restrict player freedom seems pointless, and impossible. Also not a lot of fun. On the legal side of larp there needs to be hefty indemnification of the game system from the players. Players should be free to fight on the edge of that cliff if they want to, but not free to sue the game system if they fall off. Perhaps there needs to be rules which specifically forbid event holders from creating events which require players to jump off a cliff… That might be a good idea. But as I am likely to be the only event holder, and I will never come up with a combat that requires players to jump off of anything, it’s probably not a big deal at the moment.

Which is really the heart of why I’m not ready to write the real rules of safety yet. They have to grow over time. If you have a larp which is only 10 people, you don’t need tons of rules. There’s a good engineering rule of thumb. Every time something triples in size, you have to rework the systems it uses. Too few larps change at all, let alone overhaul how things work as they grow.

What are the ‘Must Have’s of larp safety rules? And at what number of people are they important? Tweet me your response. Or comment on the Google Plus page. Or comment on the Facebook Group.

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