Solmukohta 2020: Shearing Sheep and Holding Ballots – Community Building in a Post-Apocalyptic Campaign

Solmukohta 2020: Shearing Sheep and Holding Ballots – Community Building in a Post-Apocalyptic Campaign

Second Year (Toinen vuosi) was a 4-part larp campaign about building a community of survivors immediately following an apocalyptic pandemic. The larp focused on community building and practical aspects of survival – how a group of strangers coordinates their interests, how norms and institutions develop over time, and how consultants build a chicken coop. The presentation discusses pros and cons of this setting for a larp and what aspects should be given special attention in larp design.

Mikko Heimola, Nino Hynninen, Jukka Seppänen

[CW] pandemic

Q&A from the original viewing at Solmukohta 2020 Online event

Jukka Seppänen We had sheep, a goat and chickens.


Jukka Seppänen We wanted the community to kinda be the main, shared character of all players.


Anon 1: How fast would anyone be ready to run a campaign like this again because of the pandemic topic?


Anon 2: I think there will probably be hoards of pandemia larps once the corona epidemic is over. People will use larps to process it.


Anon 8: One constantly ESCAPING goat


Mikko Heimola Well, pandemic and apocalypse has been a stable of literature, games, movies etc. for past few years, it will be interesting to see whether the current pandemic will boost or smother it


Anon 9: I can’t imagine apocalypse as a theme will ever go completely away, but I guess it will change.


Anon 7: I see a large potential for using the current crisis for larps both creatively and as a way to deal with it. For a long time most if not al post apocalypse larps will be heavily affected by the corona crisis, so i think it will affect it allot but not diminish it.


Anon 5: I’m the one in the red t-shirt. This is one of the many many votes my character lost. 😀


Anon 2: Many people don’t like playing situations that are common for them in real life, but close to home has its upsides, too! 😉 #vasemmistoliitto


Anon 3: Anon 5:, sorry about that 😀


Anon 6: I came on as an additional character from the second game onward and the feeling of an existing community with its own norms and social structures was very strong <3


Anon 1: Realized I had never larped in a sauna before :O


Anon 2: Did I hear correctly that two characters were shot during the game? Would like to hear more about that, like why and how it happened in-game.


Anon 7: Same!


Anon 1: GM Characters but it was unplanned and interesting.


Anon 2: But why, what was the motivation and social process behind it (in the in-game community)?


Anon 6: If I remember correctly, the characters wanted to leave the community in a way some people felt would endanger everyone.


Jukka Seppänen Anon 2: That happened, unplanned, to two gm characters. That became a large element of the following games as their friends remained and mourned, demanding for justice, whatever it may be. Also not everyone agreed to that decision.


Anon 4: The characters were apparently wanting to join the regional robbery gang and some felt they would betray or seriously endanger the community by doing so


Jukka Seppänen Even more interestingly the players had somewhat clouded memories of the situation and who shot first etc. Highlighting stress reaction in a simulated threat.


Anon 8: There were also big questions: did they mean what they said they were going to do? Was it a just a “running execution” as in who shot first? Who actually was present and who could comment on the situation?


Anon 1: Super interesting experience and really happy how it turned out (I was one of three player characters at the groove when the shooting happened, more arrived at the aftermath). Could have felt like trivializing violence but this time it was taken seriously by all.


Anon 1: This is the first photo of the aftermath. Photographer didn’t get there on time for the action…/in/album-72157697231608902/


Anon 10: I think the post apocalypse genre became popular especially during the cold war, when a nuclear apocalypse was a very real possibility. Based on that, chances are the current situation will give the genre a boost


Anon 3: Their death became one of the most important disagreements imho


Anon 2: I’d love to hear more about the dynamics in this!


Mikko Heimola The gm characters had announced their intention to leave the community with their resources and hinted they might join a pirate group. A group of players decided to stop them, and it turned violent.


Anon 2: So they were more or less spontaneously killed? Like no communal decision or verdict about it?


Anon 3: Things escalated quickly and there was no consensus


Mikko Heimola That’s a prime example of players creating unexpected outcomes that create lots of play. I don’t think we would ever have planned such an event. It was in a sense a very dumb death for them.


Mikko Heimola Which probably made it feel more genuine in the game. It was stupid. It just happened. You cannot rewind it.


Anon 2: Sounds like super interesting content!


Anon 3: That was me! Never chopped wood before.


Anon 4: Same 😀


Jukka Seppänen Key learning: consultants cant build chicken coops without help.


Anon 4: And shearing sheep is hard work!


Mikko Heimola Nino has escaped to the community site to make it ready for the rest of us, and cannot participate currently!


Anon 2: Jukka is promoting team building exercises: shearing sheep & gardening!


Anon 1: There were also “really useful” tasks, like building the watch tower xD


Mikko Heimola Depends on sheep… in the next larp we had different sheep. They didn’t just stand and let you cut the wool 😛


Anon 4: And the method we used for shearing the sheep in that game was way too meticulous! Later I (and lots of other players) watched heaps of sheep shearing videos, and a more relaxed shear would have been much faster and good enough 😀


Anon 3: I was really stressed over not having covered carrot seeds carefully enough while planting (but they did sprout)


Anon 6: With practical tasks, sometimes player skills and character skills can be at odds, when skillfull players play unskilled characters and cannot help the unskilled players without breaking immersion. Detailed instructions from the GMs help with this.


Anon 2: What kind of instructions were there?


Anon 1: I have deep dislike for skiing but did that anyway because the watch duty kinda expected it.


Anon 2: Okay, so you meant detailed instructions on how to do the task! 😀

I thought you were talking about some sort of mechanics on how to play more skilled than you are.


Anon 6: Exactly, instructions on how to actually do the tasks.


Anon 8: Slacking from tasks? Who would do that?


Mikko Heimola This covers the other game I mentioned and also discusses ingame work, but onlyin Finnish:…/ennen-vedenpaisumusta-ei…/


Jukka Seppänen All pics available here:…/albums/with/72157696573152925


Jukka Seppänen Separated into four albums


Jukka Seppänen Sheep shearing ingame:


Anon 11: Thanks! I wanted to do something like that but set in the 7th century. Nice to see it might be feasible.

This was part of the Solmukohta 2020 online program.

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