Gametime run through

The game is played over the course of three days. Each day has a theme that is present in the different rites and happenings for that day. The game should be played primarily in the afternoon and nighttime, letting the players sleep during the early morning till around noon.


Thursday, arival at midnight

00:00 – The arrival
Practical: The tribes, with their elders, arrive 30 minutes apart, they should come from different directions to the sacred ground.
Purpose: By letting one tribe arrive before the other, the one tribe will settle down and take their positions in the setting. The arrival is also the encounter between the two very different cultures.
Take away: The players should feel more knowledgeable about the other tribes’ culture.
Thursday – The spiritual day

16:00 – Sweat lodge
Practical: One tribe enters the sweat lodge at a time. While one tribe is in the sweat lodge, the other starts the paint ritual (see below for more details on the paint ritual). The tribe in the sweat lodge goes on a dream journey led by one of the elders, while the other elder plays the drum. The ritual ends when the elder finishes his or her story and the participants afterwards yell their newfound name.
Purpose: By finding their name, they are taking the first step to adulthood; they now have a name, thereby an identifier.
Take away: The players should feel initiated into the game, this is a clear beginning ritual. Also the sense of change should lay heavy on their shoulders.

Technique: Dream Journey
Purpose: The purpose of the dream journey is to find a name for the character.

Instruction: The dream journey has already been done once at the first workshop, this dream journey is retelling of the last time, which also means that the participants already knows what name and animal they are going to find. The dream journey starts by asking the participants to lie down on the floor. The dream journey takes place when all the players closes their eyes and the elder begins to tell a story of a long travel through the world and all the animals in it. He then asks the participants to find out which animal appears in front of them and stays with them. That animal is now partly their name. So a person finding a reindeer would become Rein, and wolf would become Wo.

Ending: The participants are asked to open their eyes, walk out of the tent and yell their newfound name out loud for everybody to hear.

16:00 – Paint ritual
Practical: The two elders gather their tribe about them, and show them how to paint and groom each other. While the one tribe is on their dream journey, the other tribe learns how the colors is mixed and applied. The base foundation colors is a based made from blue mud. A fat hand lotion mixed with red and yellow make-up color. The mud is used as full body paint covering their whole body. The colors is applied as symbols to give each person the possibility to express their personality and name. After they had learned to mix the colors, the tribe is ordered by their elders to paint the other tribe when they come out from the sweat lodge.
Purpose: To teach the practical side of the grooming and paint technique, which is an essential part of Totem.
Take away: As a cultural tool, a well-groomed tribe member is well liked, while an ungroomed tribe member is low in the hierarchy. The grooming also gives them a build-up to sex(Ars Armandi).

Mini games:
– The stone

– The balance stick

– StickStick


Friday – The physical day

Necklace ritual
Practical: A premade necklace for each participant is needed for this ritual. In the first run of Totem we hung them in a groove, but they can be presented to the participants a multitude of ways. Each player had to take one necklace and give it to another player. In this way the players could without any word, declare alliances, love or friendship with others. But since a player only could receive one necklace, the last necklaces given, were often given out of sympathy to roles that is either disliked or low status. The elders present the necklaces to the tribe members. It is up to participants to find what necklace and to which tribes member they want to give it. A player can only receive one necklace.
Purpose By getting and the necklace from another participant, the tribemember enters adulthood.
Take away: The players should have a feeling of who likes them and wants to be close to them, they should also get that they now can find mates and fight status battles with Ars Ordo.

Prop: The necklaces were made with rather heavy stones in leather strings, so the players could feel the weight around their neck, and be reminded of their newfound adulthood, when they moved around or played.

16:00 Elders puts on masks
Practical: When the youth transition to adults, the adults transition into elders. This is symbolized by wearing masks. In the original run, we made masks out of willowsticks. But any kind of mask you feel fits will do. The elders puts on the mask in the sweat lodge and enter the game with them on, newer taking them off again before the end.
Purpose: To clearly show the transition to the players, and make the elders something strange and otherworldly.
Take Away: The players should clearly know that the adults have moved on.

12:00 – 22:00 Building the youth
Practical: The participants have to build a statue symbolizing their youth in the fireplace. They have to use whatever materials they can find. Helping them by placing some larger woodblock in the vicinity is not a bad idea, not a bad idea at all.
Purpose: By asking them to build the statue, the players will reflect on what they have lost or what has changed.
Take Away: See purpose.

16:00 Trading tribe members part one
Practical: Just after the necklace ritual, the tribe members are asked to trade a member to the other tribe later that night. The leaders of Bo and Ka are asked to decide what members they want to part with, blood for blood, flesh for flesh.
Purpose: To create anxiety and drama between and in the tribe.
Take Away: The trading is a social upheaval; a Bo will be traded into a lower status, whereas a Soto will become a Ka, and properly a weak one.

23:00 Trading tribe members part two
Practical:The ritual starts in the evening. Each tribe is sitting in a half circle looking at each other. An elder explains that the leaders now trade a member, but it is a silent negotiation. Then the elder points to the leader he or she wants to start. The leader presents the member that he or she wants to trade, the other leader then accepts and presents his tribe member. The negotiation continues until they both are satisfied with the trade, but they are not allowed to trade nobody or more members that one. A status battle might occur during the trade, if it happens and the leader shifts, then the elder lets it happen and accepts the shift in leadership.
Purpose: To create new conflict in the two groups.
Take Away: The trading is a social upheaval; a Bo will be traded into a lower status, whereas a Soto will become a Ka, and properly a weak one.

02:00 Burning the youth
Practical: The players burn the statue they have made during the day, symbolizing the last step into adulthood. While the statue is burning, the players are given a sip of a tribal drink. We made it from vodka and licorice root, but it can be made out of anything that has a strong taste. The drink is presented at “The drink”, noting more. It is up to the players to give it what effect they desire. After the drink, the elders begin to drum and lead the tribal dance. In the end the players throw the necklaces on the fire, symbolizing the final transition into adulthood.
Purpose: To make it clear for the players that they are now adults, and have a physical experience of the change.
Take Away: The players should all get that they now are adults, and that they therefor can participate in combat and mating.


Saturday – The rational day

12:00-23:00 Choosing mates
Practical: Memebers of the tribes have to find their mates before the sundown (or if played later in the year, before preperations of the Noné ritual (Se below). The mate(s) they walk away with from the ritual ground, is the the mate(s) they’ll have for life.
Purpose: To fuel the fire of conflict among the tribe members. It also shows that the way they can love and have sex have changed, and former lovers are now rivals and taboo. If the players have a hard time getting started on the mate choosing, use the elders to bait them, by provokingly asking if they still are children.
Take Away: Most of the day should center on choosing a mate, and should create more conflict between the characters.

12:00 – 23:00. The tribe alpha
Practical: During the day the two tribes should slowly figure out through Ars Ordo, how are the alphas, betas and so on in each tribe and each gender. The groups might already know who the alphas are, but it is first after the burning of the necklace they actually can test it. The hierarchy will shift through the day, and slowly stabilize itself.
Purpose: To help create rigid structure and remove the last feeling of the carefree youth.
Take Away: There might not be a lot of visible fighting, but make sure that a lot of fighting goes on, in the early stages of Ars Ordo.

00:00 Noné ritual
Practical: The tribe alphas decide on which tribes member that is not allowed to either take a mate or enter into the social hierarchy. The member is covered in ash from the burned youth and mixed with a black bodypaint by all the other tribe members of both tribes. In the end an elder gather the red color and asks the Bo or Ka who are stigmatizing their tribe member to place a red hand on the chest of the now Noné.
Purpose: To remove the weakest link from the two tribes and show the brutality of the rite.
Take Away: The ritual can be overwhelming for the person chosen to be Noné, make sure that you are observant of how the player feels, and if the player feels sad or confused, take some time to talk with him or her.

02:00 The elders death.
Practical: In the end, the elders have to die. The remove their masks and tell the tribe that they are ready to die, and that the tribes decide how they die. The tribes can chose to kill them, or just leave them in the outskirts of the ritual ground declaring them dead. Either way, the elders are now removed from the game. The elders ask the tribes to leave before the next day, when the raven craws or some other symbol. Then the elders says goodbye to each tribe member for his or her tribe before the actually killing takes place.
Purpose: To give the players the experience of being alone and totally in charge without any outside interference.
Take Away: This is the last rite, where players can express their wrath, sorrow or love. Make sure the elders give the players the change to express their feelings towards them.

04:00 The farewell
Practical: At first light, when the raven craws or whatever thing you can control, the players leave. The elders have told them to do this before they got killed. Offgame you should tell your players where they should go, and in which direction. When they leave and meet you, make sure you as gamemasters are back in your normal cloth and have a warm cup of tea or a beer ready for them. Huck, laugh, talk and the get them home to have a shower and a good nights rest in a proper bed.
Purpose: The tribes bid each other goodbye and leaves the ritual ground, and thereby the game.
Take Away: Be ready to catch players that might be emotional.