Rule 7: a confession.

I’ve been trying to evidence this one, to no real success. You’ll just have to trust me, unless anything shows up.

I’m the one who coined “Rule 7: Don’t take the piss.”

And it’s an awful rule.

A bit of lrp history

Back in 1997, I’d just been made an NPC in the LT’s Viper faction, and we had a command group meeting. A pack of players of high-ranking characters and the NPCs getting together to go over the events of the year, maybe set some IC strategy, and talk over what had gone well, and what hadn’t. Talk got round to faction’s laws, and they got codified as:

  1. Viper doesn’t “do” Viper
  2. Don’t get caught
  3. Don’t take the piss
  4. Unless it’s funny.

On a few years, 2001 or so, I think, and I was asked to write the LT’s “Guidelines for Internet roleplaying”. In retrospect, an act of utter hubris, but the intent was OK: to try and keep some consistency in the world. My strategy was to identify responsibility – you could whatever you wanted, and it’d be objectively true up to your level of authority in the game world as a player or plot writer. So if you were Viper plot crew, and you said the news from Monte Cassino was that lawful demons have burned the city down – they really had. I can’t remember how any rules there were, or indeed what any of them were apart from one:

Rule 7: Don’t take the piss.

Straight outta Maelstrom.

Somehow, it got into Profound Decisions’ “Maelstrom” game and since then, it’s been used in a number of game systems, was the name of the UK’s larp forum for a few years, and got on Urban Dictionary. First reference I can find to it online now is part of a longer list of good larp practise here, from December 2005:

I have been quite proud of my little contribution.

However.

There’s a problem.

It’s just not a very good rule.

First issue?

Your players do have to have sufficient colloquial English to know what the words themselves mean. They’re probably OK, if English is their first language, although I’m not sure how universal the phrase is in the US. It’s not an uncommon command of language, given how good most gamer English is. However, you could do folks a favour and just use clear language in your rules instead.

Second issue? It doesn’t tell you what to do.

Either you know a game’s culture and Rule7 is unnecessary, or you don’t, and it’s no help working it out. It adds nothing to small larps, and it actively excluding for large ones.

Third? It doesn’t tell you what not to do.

Well, it does.

This book aims to describe the way you should approach the game as well as the rules you must follow.

To support this approach, the most important rule is “rule seven”, meaning do not take the piss. If an action is clearly inappropriate, then doing it violates rule seven and is against the rules of our game, even if it is not made explicit in this book.”

Maelstom rules, Profound Decisions 2004 or thereabouts.

It’s lovely, it’s got the best of intentions, but it doesn’t say what kind of thing is inappropriate. Given any two larpers can disagree about practically anything – clearly to whom?

It’s not just me. This next from Tumblr is pretty much on the money.

Basically – it’s not half as good as “Roleplay, respond to the roleplay of others, and respect any response to your own roleplaying.”

It’s a horrid little in joke which excludes folk who don’t “get it”, and doesn’t really help folk who do.

There.

Sorry.

PS: All that said, I think it worked as an in-game rule at CoW18: it’s in the rules proclamations I did for CoW18 by standing on the shoulders of giants. (Notably Liselle Angelique Krog Awwal ofc.)

Why? Because even though a fair chunk of students didn’t have a clue what it meant, they all knew I was specifically there playing to lift and sometimes – well, if someone wanted to break a rule, there always that one.

…I loved my college rules…
Image by Kamil Wędzicha
#collegeofwizardry#cowlarp

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