Confessing, Gossipping and Confronting as conscious tools for a better larp.

2 Feb

N.B: If you are familiar with the term “narrativist” larping style, this fits into that style. If not, don’t worry about it.

Duration: 30 minutes to 60 minutes, depending on the tim you have.

Goal: Get participants to think consciously about how social interactions like confessions, spreading rumors and confronting other players  in interventions makes sure more people get in on the fun of social larping.

Phase 1: The short lecture ~10 minutes.                                                                                                 

Now we’re going to talk about a few larping tools or techniques that maybe you, up until now, never considered “tools or techniques”. For larpers with experience and/or a good “sense” of what a larp needs, this might be self evident, but our experience is that even those get a lot out of thinking about these things consciously.

First, let’s talk about confessions. Social larps typically have secrets. Characters might want secrets to stay secret for ever, but you, as players, want secrets revealed. A hidden secret is boring. This ties into an important larp principle: A character’s goals and desires are not the same as the player’s goals and desires. This then is another larp principle: When you have or find out a secret, you have to spread it around to a at least a few persons. How can you do this? [Ask group for suggestions].

  • Confess to an authority figure. A priest, a leader, someone you admire. Your character suddenly feels guilt or uncertainty and needs advice.
  • Confess to your best friend – you can even get them to promise Never Ever Ever to tell someone else. (We’ll get back to this)
  • Confess to a complete stranger – they will never be involved with this (your character thinks) so surely it can’t be a problem to confess to them.
  • Misspeak! Your character suddenly “thinks out loud” or says something that gets others to suspect that something is wrong.
  • Your character gets drunk or angry or incredibly happy and just shouts something out in the middle of the playing area.
  • Write a diary or a letter with your secret. Leave it (“Forget it”) in a place where a lot of people go. (Do not hide it, people are unfortunately often too polite to look at “forgotten papers” unless it is very obvious that they should.)

This brings us to the next technique: Gossipping or Spreading rumors. If you have a secret, you have to get it out there to more people. And, here’s the next principle: if you hear a rumor you have to spread it on to at least one (preferably more) people. And if someone tells you to Never Ever tell someone else the rumor, remember that you can always get the same promise of the next person you tell it to, and you’ll be safe: use Promise-Not-To-Tell-rumor chains. Now, what are some different motivations for different characters to gossip? [Ask the group for suggestions]

  • Spread the rumor because it’s fun to spread rumors! (“Oh dear, listen, listen, I hear the most horrible thing – did you know that they say that Sara cheated on her wife?”
  • Spread the rumor because you wish the person it involves ill. (“That Sara is no good – I have it on good authority that she cheated on her wife. She’s such a pig.”)
  • Spread the rumor because you wish the person well. (“You know what I heard? That Sara had cheated on her wife… She’s such a sweet heart, it must be the stress, I really worry for her, what can we do for her?”
  • Spread the rumor because you Simply Can’t Believe It. (“Someone just told me that Sara – our Sara! – had cheated on her wife. Why would people say such things? Make up such lies? What is this town coming to, I wonder!)


The next logical step is confrontation – or intervention. An “intervention” is a practice where people who are concerned over a friend’s behavior get together to confront the person as a group.  A confrontation can be more openly aggressive. When you have the slightest reason to do so, as a player you have a duty to start to work towards creating a confrontation with people who you have heard rumors about. Now, when you do this, try to use another important larp technique: always bring a friend along. Whatever you do, try to involve at least one other person, spreading “play” and cool scenes along. What are some motivations for creating a confrontation you might use for you character?

  • Do it with bad intentions (“Sara, you pig, you’ve cheated on my sister! Admit it!”)
  • Do it with good intentions (“Sara, we’re all here because we love you. We know about the cheating. We think you are in a bad place emotionally right now, and we’re here to support you, but also to tell you, one by one, how your behavior has hurt this famiy, and how hurt we are by you.”).
  • Do it in support (“Sara, we’re here to say that we’ve heard the rumors about your cheating, and that we of course, don’t believe them at all! We wanted to give you the opportunity to say exactly what you think about these false accusations.”) (This is, of course a good opportunity for Sara to confess).


To sum up, we have the following principles

  • A character’s goals and desires are not the same as the player’s goals and desires.
  • When you have or find out a secret, you have to spread it around to a at least a few persons.
  • If you hear a rumor you have to spread it on to at least one (preferably more) people. (Remember that you can use Promise-Not-To-Tell-rumor chains.)
  • As a player you have a duty to start to work towards creating a confrontation with people who you have heard rumors about
  • Bring a friend along

Phase 2: Exercise instructions                                                                                                                     

The participants will now larp a mini-larp in a dream that their characters are having. They can use their characters from the larp they are about to attend, if this exercise is done in preparation for a larp. The setting can be, for instance a queue for something where everyone is waiting, or maybe a party. It doesn’t matter if the participants characters would be unlikely to meet prior to the larp – tell them that this is a dream and that they are vaguely aware of it being a dream. This is a good opportunity for participants to “test out” their characters before the actual larp starts – they can test and discard mannerisms that don’t work out, for instance.

Give out x number of slips of papers with secrets (where x = (number of participants/7), approximately). On these slips are secrets. Give them out to volunteers. These are the rules:

  • The participants have Y minutes (at least 15) before all the confrontations have to be done.
  • The volunteers have to, as soon as possible, find a reason to confess the secret to a few people.
  • Anyone hearing a secret/rumor has so spread the rumor on to more people.
  • As soon as you tell someone a rumor that that person has already heard, you have to form a group of people and go and confront the person the rumor is about.

Examples of secrets are: I’ve stolen money; I’ve cheated; I’ve stolen a really nice hat/scarf/pen; I’ve lied about (a task I had to do/that I’m guilty of something) to X; I’ve gotten access to Y in an unfair manner etc.


Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any suggestions of questions about the workshop!



Susanne A vejdemo DOT se

4 Responses to “Confessing, Gossipping and Confronting as conscious tools for a better larp.”

  1. flavioschmidlin March 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm #


    I’m Flávio Schmidlin, a big fan from Brazil. I’m writing the blog Larp di Buteco ( and I’m very interested in translating this post and some others from The Workshop Handbook to Portuguese and re-posting them on my blog (with source). Do I have your permission?

    Thank you in advance,


    • Peter Munthe-Kaas March 19, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

      Hey Flávio

      You are most welcome to translate and repost stuff from this blog.

      All the best

      • flavioschmidlin March 20, 2015 at 11:53 am #

        Thank you! I’ll start right now then!
        Keep on with the excelent work, it is incredibly useful!

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