Culture

Global world

The world as we know it does not exist anymore. Human kind went further that we could dream of, but at some point the culture started to degenerate. How and why this happened is irrelevant, but the degeneration process was fast and destroyed everything in its way. At the larp we are far from the turning point and even if the human race is not threatened as such, what made us more than animals is almost gone. The larp is not about rebirth of culture, it is the last breaths of a soon to be over adventure. Without written language or much left of civilization no one any longer knows the saga of mankind. For each generation the songs and stories are forgotten and soon there will be nothing left.

The global world will show itself in the larp by:
– The participants will not discover why civilization ended or find machines or tools from a time long forgotten. The larp is about the regression and the old civilization is not important for the story.

– Language in the larp should be primitive. Not caveman language, but the participants should only be talking about the present and avoid hypothetical thought.

– Body language in the larp should be animalistic and active. The group structure is inspired by the dynamics of a wolfpack.

– A world where the unknown dominates the known.

Local world

In the world of Totem people live in nomadic tribes. The tribes and their culture is strong and the individual is week. The different tribes does not have much contact with each other, but once every couple of years some of the tribes are found in the same area. When this happens the tribes send their young and old to a common ritual ground, where they can experience a transition ritual together. The people in this world only experience this place twice, when they go from youth to adulthood and when they go from old age to death. The old run the coming of age ritual while they themselves experience transition into social death. The larp takes place at a ritual ground. A sacred area covered in tabu and mystique.

The local world will show itself in the larp by:
– traditions and rituals dominate the primitive society. The coming of age ritual is the centerpiece of the larp which will consist of preparations, play, trials and some central rituals.

– for children the life in the tribes is free, without many demands and for the young person, the coming of age ritual means that it is time to face your responsibility as a grown up. They are facing the responsibility of the survival of the tribe and the safekeeping of the few stories, songs and rituals which still exists.

– The players will confront a tribe with other traditions and rules than their own. Even through the tribes are alike, they have slightly different social norms and rules bound to the castes in society and it is these small differences which will be important in the larp. These elements should be developed further with the players at the workshop.

– The old will be played by npc’s or organizers. They will be a part of the players background stories as part of the tribes but will not take part in most of the play. They will facilitate the rituals, but will not participate in the status battles or be influenced by the story.

Castes

At totem one tribe (Ka Napa) is defined as matriarchal and the other (Bo Soto) as patriarchal to create interesting dynamics in the form of a culture clash. The Bo and Ka castes are the dominating parties in their tribes and the Soto and Napa are the submissive ones. The cultures are slightly different but differentiate in a few ways.

Bo and Ka
– Ka gathers the food, Bo cooks the food
– Can punish Soto or Napa
– Initially paints their symbol on Soto or Napa
– Can back up a Soto or Napa in a status battle
– The Ka or Bo with the highest status can trade Bo/Sotos or Ka/Napas with the other tribe during a specific ritual.

Soto and Napa
– Napa cooks the food, Soto gathers the food
– Can choose to paint their symbol back on Bo or Ka
– Can back up a Bo or Ka in a status battle
– Can have sex within their own gender
– Napa and Soto together chooses 1 person during the ritual, who should be stigmatized.

The stigmatized
The stigmatized is the weakest one in the group of young people transcending into adulthood. He or she will not be allowed to reproduce or participate in future society and thus is chosen to bear the stigma. They have no rights and lives at the will of the others. At the same time they have no responsibilities.

The dead
The dead are people you don’t talk to. They are the ones who have been left at the ritual grounds from rituals of the past and has experienced the social death in the tribes. They are the caretakers of the ritual grounds. It is an absolute tabo to talk to the dead and you will die socially from the act.

In the first run of the larp, the dead was not introduced. If you choose to introduce the dead, they can be used both for practical tasks and as a mood setting backdrop in the larp.

Young and old

The coming of age is the focal point of the larp. The players will move from the easy life of youth to the hard responsibilities of grown up life. These social norms are the same in both tribes.

Youth
You are defined as young as long as you can’t hunt or take responsibility for the tribe. At the time of the ritual, the tribe will decide who is old enough to go into adulthood and send them off to the ritual grounds. Certain rules apply for young people:
– They can only have sex with their own gender
– They are not allowed to groom each other
– They are not allowed to pick mate(s)
– They are not allowed to take part in status battles
– They can play freely
– They are free of responsibility

Grown ups
You are defined as a grownup when you return from the ritual grounds. The grown up life in the tribes is in a constant flux as the hierarchy changes due to status battles. Grownup life revolves around the survival of the tribe. Certain rules apply for young people:
– They have to take responsibility for the tribe
– They can only have sex with the opposite gender
– They can groom each other
– They can pick mate(s)
– They can partake in status battles
– They can go on dream journeys

Old age
You are defined as old, when you can no longer partake in the daily chores of the tribe, the status battles or if you are unable to function socially in the tribe. Old ones either die naturally or are sent away with the young at the time of the ritual. Certain rules apply for young people:
– They have to transmit the traditions of the tribes
– They are not allowed to groom each other
– They are not allowed to pick mate(s)
– They are not allowed to take part in status battles

Personal level

For the young person. The ritual is the time for self realization and responsibility for the survival and safety of the tribe. The few days at the ritual grounds will define the life of the young ones and besides the coming of age ritual itself it is the transition period where you fight for status and the right to pick mates. For the first time in their lives the young people are also stepping into the caste system of the tribes “Bo” and “Soto” and “Ka” and “Napa”, where the “Bo” (patriarchic) and “Ka” (matriarchic) castes have the tribe.

The personal level will show itself in the larp by:
– The story of the larp will be driven by a series of rituals and tests, facilitated by the old (played by NPC’s)

– The personal stories and characters are developed at the workshops, within the predefined framework of the larp. Players will create their own characters and the challenges that they want to experience within this framework.

– High status and middle status characters will follow the tabus and the traditions, while a few of the low status characters will be breakers of tabu. They will not be rebels, merely people who are unable to comprehend the transition into aldulthood and thus break tabu. These (1-3) players should be chosen during the workshop.