History of Live Action Role-playing Games - Nordic History

Nordic History

In the early 1980s, the Swedish LARP group Gyllene Hjorten started a LARP campaign that is still going strong. This is probably the first LARP event in the Nordic countries. LARP in Finland started in 1985 and Norway was initiated in 1989, more or less simultaneously by groups in Oslo and Trondheim. The first Danish games were also played in the late 1980s.

The Nordic LARP traditions, though usually invented independently of each other, have developed striking similarities and are also notably different from English language and German language LARPs. These differences are most obvious in the Nordic LARPs' skepticism towards game mechanics, a tendency to limit combat and magic - seeing these as "spice" rather than a necessary ingredient in LARP - and an emphasis on immersive environments where anachronisms and out of play elements (off-elements, such as visible cars or paved roads in a historical or fantasy setting) are avoided. The setting and roles may be given to the participants by the organizers, or suggested by the player to organizers, in either case usually based on a dialogue between the player and organizer. "character sheets", in the manner of tabletop RPGs, are for the most part not used.

When the game starts it lives its own life, wholly directed by the players (some predetermined events are often scheduled). A typical Swedish or Norwegian game lasts 2–5 days and has anywhere from fifty to hundreds of participants. A typical Danish or Finnish game lasts between four hours and a few days. Rules are designed for combat injury simulation and normally emphasize roleplaying of damage rather than abstract hitpoints (though this was not always so), featuring either padded weapons or blunt steel weapons. Each gaming organization uses custom rules, but simplicity and similarities make this less cumbersome than it would at first seem.

The annual Knutepunkt conference, first held in 1997, has been a vital institution in establishing a Nordic live role-playing identity, and in establishing the concept of "Nordic LARP" as a unique approach. A live-roleplaying avant-garde movement, which pursues radical experimentation and the recognition of role-playing as a form of art, has been connected to the Knutepunkt conferences. The scope of the Knutepunkt conference has expanded rather rapidly over the last few years with participants showing up from numerous non-Scandinavian countries. The last 2 or 3 years has seen participants from USA, Germany, France, Italy and Russia as well as from the main Scandinavian countries.

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