The most important thing is always the safety of the participants!
For the roleplay to be truly immersive but at the same time very safe this requires a system:
Physical safety: Be very careful and respectful with each other. Always error on the side of caution. In combat the only thing that should have contact with your opponent is your weapon, never your shield and you cant grab a hold of your opponent.
(Also always be aware of your surroundings in larp combat, break character to warn your opponent if they are about to back off into something that is going make them fall and hurt themselves)
In, for example, a wrestling match. Talk to who you are fighting out of the game before the scene starts. The sign for talking to someone outside of the game if a fist held in front of your face. Then you whisper and come to an agreement about how to play out the scene.
If you are for example arresting someone and tying up their hands use the off sign and check if they are ok with that. If they are then always tie their hands in front of them never behind, in case they fall and do not tie their hands too hard.
Perhaps they are not comfortable with being touched at all by other players which is totally fine by the way. So even before grabbing someone's arm, check if they are ok with that, error on the side of caution if you don’t know. (It should also be said that if you are not comfortable with being touched you need to play along and cooperate in this example scenario, you can’t abuse the fact that someone is showing you the respect you have asked for out of character to give your in game character an unfair advantage)
If you don’t want to have to break immersion during one of these scenes like the arrest scene try to predict it beforehand and talk to the player that you intend to try and arrest even before the game starts or if you meet the player outside the play area.
For example we have an NPC group that plays bandits - it’s highly likely they will get arrested at some point. Talk to them beforehand and check what they are comfortable with and if you know that the player you are playing in a scene with is comfortable with certain things then you can do that without breaking character and asking.
Just as important as physical safety is psychological safety. We play characters that are often angry with each other. We need to know that we players are not angry with each other. It’s extremely important that we feel 100 percent safe and loved as players in situations that are extremely unsafe for the characters we play.
So how do we do this, it’s one of the trickiest things there is in the hobby. There are a few important keys:
Always present your fellow players with options to get out of potentially very uncomfortable situations:
For example a player is standing in the middle of a camp holding a quest item. The player is surrounded by enemy forces. Being one of the enemy forces you can sense that this situation might be getting a little too intense for the player in the middle of the camp.
Allow the player to leave if the Quest item is dropped. The player can then choose if they want to stay in that scene or not.
Another very important thing is that we all know and use the codes.
We have important codes to make sure people don’t have to exceed their level of comfort.
If we go back to the example: The player who is standing in the middle of the camp can use the CODEWORD “EASE”. The players who are surrounding him or her then knows that the person is starting to feel uncomfortable and the scene needs to drop in level of intensity. If the player in the middle is extremely uncomfortable possibly even about to have a panic attack use the “OFF SIGN” A FIST IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE and just walk out of the scene of say “sorry guys I am feeling uncomfortable, i need to go”
These are the tools of the one who might be feeling uncomfortable.
But there is also a tool for the people who are surrounding the person in the middle.
Often a player who is starting to feel uncomfortable is going to experience a pressure to play along and won’t use their codewords even though they should at that point.
As one of the players creating the tension, in this case one of the surrounding players you might sense that this might be the case.
You then have a tool to check if that player is in fact ok with the level of intensity in the scene.
The way to check this is you make a circle with your thumb and your index finger and you let your other three fingers point straight out. You place this sign over your chest.(Check the video down below to see the girl doing this sign and learn more about bleed)
If the player in the middle does the same sign back to you that means they are ok. If they do not and you are sure they have seen it, it's time to break character yourself, do the off sign and make sure they are ok. (Check the video down below to see the girl doing this sign)
Another good thing is to check on especially those that your character has a bad relationship with when you meet the player outside of the game. Before and after the event are the given times to really check in with players that play enemies of your character.
Should you stumble upon them outside the play area in what is called the “off area” during the event that is also a very good time to smile and ask “how are you?”