Good deaths at LARP camp

I’ve been busy teaching children to die well with make-believe swords. More importantly, I’ve been busy showing them that “winning” a sword fight doesn’t make you the most interesting or coolest character in the scene. Relatedly, I died a lot.

Near the end of our adventure game, shortly after I had led the campers in an oath to continue my mission (defending the land from dragons), I died to the big bad. It was a scripted death. It was also, if I may toot my own horn, a good one. I was lucky enough to have not one but several people come and pay their respects afterwards. I think a few of our campers have realized that they can have a good time and make good scenes with each other, improvising a good scene rather than struggling to win.

I’ll be very pleased if that sticks.

3 responses to “Good deaths at LARP camp

    • Considering your likely population, that might be an even better lesson to convey if you can. Resilience is harder than giving up winning. And death and despair take away too many gifted kids, every year — it’s a leading cause of death under 18.

      • You are totally right on a larger scale!

        I should have given more context: I’m talking about people moving past “hey I got you” and “no you didn’t,” and acting out their wounds (and accepting that their character might die in the game). Unlike some other LARPs, our game has no “hit points” and relies on people acting out their wounds—teaching our players to go with the flow and treat foam swords as real and dangerous weapons is important. You can feel the difference at camp when people stop ignoring wounds and commit to acting them out instead: it’s foundational to building scenes of healing, or scenes in which people live with their wounds. Learning that lesson also tends to accelerate improvement in other improv scenes.

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