Possibilities of Historical Larp: Court of Justice in 17th-century Finland

Possibilities of Historical Larp: Court of Justice in 17th-century Finland


Talvikäräjät (Finland 2022, eng. Winter Ting) was a larp set in an imaginary village in Western Finland in the 1660s. It was designed as a part of my research project bearing the same name, where I studied the use of history in larp. The larp aimed high in authenticity: the game design was based on authentic court cases and on the most recent research on 17th-century court practices. In this article I present how we, the larpwrights, used history in game design. I will also discuss historical authenticity and how the lessons from Talvikäräjät could benefit the community for historical larp.

Historical larp and reenactment

Historical larp shares its roots with historical reenactment. Historical reenactment as a hobby emerged in Finland in the 1990s, and it was inspired by international practices, like the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA, in Finland Suomen keskiaikaseura). Many Finnish reenactors were active also in the newborn larp scene, and vice versa. Differences between these hobbies were not always clear, and the traditions had many similarities. (see Harviainen et al. 2018; Stenros & Montola 2010; Harviainen 2011; Salomonsen 2003; Mochocki 2021)

Later, both hobbies grew and became more distinct. During the 2000s, both also received academic interest. In Finland, academic studies of reenactment have concentrated on material culture (Sundman 2020; Vartiainen 2010), and the study of larp has gotten more attention than reenactment (on larp studies in Finland, see Stenros & Harviainen 2011). Internationally, the academic focus has been on reenactment rather than historical larp. Historical games have been studied, but academic interest in them has mostly been on digital games (Mochocki 2021, 7). Michał Mochocki’s Role-play as a Heritage Practice (2021) is the first monograph concentrating on historical larp.

Unfortunately, larp is usually seen as less authentic or more fantasy-like than reenactment (see, e.g., Agnew et al. 2020, 3). One of the main goals of the Talvikäräjät project was to bring together these different traditions and show how historical larp is and can be reenactment. However, it is important to remember that there are many styles of historical larp: some are more fantasy- or alternative history -oriented, and not all larps set in the past aim for historical authenticity (on different historical role-playing genres or categories, see Mochocki 2021, 93–95).

Historical larp is a reenactment practice, although larp and reenactment are usually discussed as distinct hobbies. If a larp attempts “to copy the past” (Agnew et al. 2020, 2), it is, by definition, historical reenactment. In practice, however, reenacting and larping are two different activities: to put it quite roughly, larpers play a character in the context of larp, and reenactors are being themselves during reenactment. Reenactors can have an alter ego or depict a social role in their reenactment, but these reenactment personas are usually much lighter than larp characters (Mochocki 2021, 16, 33–35, 75; Harviainen 2011).

Key differences between historical reenactment and historical larp can be found in game design and in the narrative. Larp tells a story formed in the game by its participants, but if a reenactment tells a story, it is usually scripted and does not encourage individual play. Most reenactors only depict a social role and are not actively playing a character in their reenacting, whereas character play is an important feature in larp. J. Tuomas Harviainen has noted that reenactment and larping have many similarities, and their essential difference is in the naming and framing of the action rather than in their nature. (ibid.)

It must be noted that any presentation of history is an approximation. A historical larp cannot grasp all aspects of the past: this is not a lack but a feature of all historical presentations. Artistic presentations of the past are not academic contributions, and they should not be treated as such. Since a historical presentation cannot include or ”get right” all historical features, the important questions are: what kind of choices were made in the design process, what kind of history is depicted, and how is it depicted. Presentations of the past can and should be discussed also on their historical accuracy and how they relate to academic understanding of historical phenomena, but low-level “is it authentic or not”-dualism fails to see how a work of art depicts people and cultures of the past, their motivations, and historical processes. It is important to recognize that the presentation of the past is an active choice, and these choices contribute to our understanding of the past as well as the present. (see also Mochocki 2021, 7, and Chapman 2016, 6–11.)

Talvikäräjät research project

The idea to study historical larp stemmed from my own experiences in historical reenactment, larp, and academic research. I participated in my first larp in 2002, and a couple of years later started also with historical reenactment. In 2006 I began studying history, which eventually led to doctoral studies and gaining my PhD in 2020. All this time, I participated in various larps, including historical, and was involved in designing them. I also reenacted Finnish Iron Age, Middle Ages, and early 17th century, and dabbled in some other periods as well.

During my PhD, I noticed how my sources, 17th-century Finnish court records, could provide a good setting for a larp. First I thought about designing the larp as a hobby, but then I also found out about the growing academic interest in reenactment practices and historical games. The study of historical games had concentrated on digital games, and reenactment studies seemed to exclude historical role-play as mere fantasy. A research project started to form, and luckily, I was able to secure funding from the Finnish Cultural Foundation in 2021.  The project was conducted in the Game Studies Lab in Tampere University, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues there for their valuable comments and encouragement.

The grant covered one year’s work, to design a historical larp and to do research on Finnish historical larps. By designing a larp based on my historical research, I wanted to examine how academic research could be turned into creative work. The research part, which took place after the larp, involved a questionnaire for Talvikäräjät participants about their experiences both in the larp and in other historical larps as well. I also did interviews with larpwrights who are or have been active in organizing historical larps in Finland. The academic results of the study are still under publication, but it would seem that larp is an excellent tool for reenacting some aspects of the past which are harder to grasp with other forms of reenactment. In larp, there is a difference between the player and the character, which enables playing with social dynamics and power. It is also possible to design religious or magical experiences and encounters, which would have been an integral part of worldviews in many past cultures.

In this article, I describe the design process and the outcome of the historical larp, also named Talvikäräjät, designed in the research project. I will also reflect how the lessons learned in Talvikäräjät could help others design and/or play historical larps. I’m aware that similar grants are very hard to get, and being both historian and larper is quite rare in Finland. I’m certain, however, that having experience in academic research, historical reenactment, and larp, can give unique insight and can help both lay and academic discussions on historical larp and experiencing the past.

Designing the larp

As mentioned, the early modern court of justice seemed already at the beginning to be a good setting for a larp. In the past decades, academic research (Österberg 1987 being one of the pioneers) has highlighted the role of 17th-century rural lower courts as social arenas where various power structures and strategies interact, and everyone is, in principle, able to join and follow the proceedings. In Sweden, which present-day Finland was a part of from the Middle Ages until 1809, lower court gatherings stemmed from prehistoric practices of coming together to decide on common affairs and settle various disputes. During the early modern period (ca. 1500–1800), these prehistoric court gatherings (sw. tinget, fi. käräjät) slowly changed into modern courts of justice, when the role of local communities and their leaders was diminished, and the role of professional judges and unified practices was increased. The 17th century was the turning point, since the local community still played an active part in the court, but the crown wanted to unify legal practices and demanded very detailed records from local courts. Nowadays, these lower court records provide valuable information, not only about judicial proceedings, but also of everyday life, social relationships, and cultural practices in 17th-century countryside. (Andersson 1998, Toivo 2008, Taussi Sjöberg 1996, Miettinen R 2019)

Contemporary research has highlighted the role of various power structures and different voices and strategies in the court gatherings of 17th-century Finland (Toivo 2008 & 2016, Miettinen R 2019; for Sweden, Andersson 1998, Taussi Sjöberg 1996), so these were taken as leading features for game design in Talvikäräjät. Early modern proceedings relied heavily on oral testimonies, where the practices of remembering, storytelling, and interpreting played an important role. Thus, the main themes of the larp were memory, power, and community. Stylistically the larp was a court drama with systemic injustice and occasional absurdities.

The production of Talvikäräjät larp began in Spring 2021, as soon as I was granted funding. Firstly, I gathered a group of larp organizers with whom I had previously designed historical larps. We discussed my role as a grant researcher, but since other organizers were volunteers, the production was very similar to our previous larp projects. I would act as the main organizer and be responsible for the overview and historical accuracy: I could just use more time and resources than the average volunteer organizer. Other organizers chose their roles in story and character design and taking care of the practicalities.

We designed an imaginary village set in the Satakunta region in Western Finland in 1666. This year was chosen because the year before, ecclesiastical courts were merged into rural lower courts, which made it possible to include more varied cases in the larp. The mid-17th century also belonged more clearly in the transition period than the late 17th century, which also saw the emergence of witch trials and a new church law in 1686. Satakunta was chosen because the sources for my dissertation were from there. I wanted to highlight the centrality of the region, and not to have to explain cultural practices with peripheral location. In the village, there lived 35 player characters, who belonged to different families and groups, and had various amounts of social and economic capital. The larp was run at a weekend, and the event lasted from Friday evening to Saturday night.

The court proceedings

The court gathering was designed according to historical examples: the local community would gather to a session with many different cases. On Friday evening, we played different scenes which were connected to the cases discussed later in court. The aim was to give players the experience of being there, rather than only reminiscing about something that was written in their character profile. We also wanted to simulate the process of memory-making and remembering. These scenes took place in various timelines, and after the scenes, the game was paused for the night. On Saturday, the game was played linearly from the opening of the court until closure and punishments, with some in-game breaks for playing, socializing, and eating. Historically, court gatherings could last several days and not everyone would be so actively engaged in so many hearings, so the larp proceeding could be described as compressed reality.

Talvikäräjät ingame, photo by Karo Suominen

Talvikäräjät ingame, photo by Karo Suominen

Some contemporary judicial practices were included because they supported the role of communal decision-making. Historically, twelve local farmers would act as lay members of the court (sw. nämbdeman, fi. lautamies). They would help the judge, inform them on local circumstances, and vote in unclear proceedings. For the sake of power balance among the characters, the number of lay members was reduced to five: almost all land-owning male characters acted as lay members of the court and decided on cases involving one another. The owner of the richest farm acted as a local officer, sheriff (sw. länsman, fi. nimismies), who historically helped to organize the court gathering and had various tasks in local administration. Contrary to later periods, 17th-century sheriffs were elected among the locals to a position of trust, and only later did the post become a public office. In the larp, the sheriff also had personal storylines with his family, and he was torn in several directions in the local community.

With unclear proceedings, a practice of communal oath was used both historically and in-game. The accused could swear that they were not guilty, and if they could get enough people to take the oath with them, the judge could declare them innocent. Historically, the number of required co-oaths was usually eleven, but we lowered it to two. Thus, if some members of the local community believed the accused to be innocent, or not deserving a legal punishment for their actions, they could free them. This proved to be a very fruitful and dramatic opportunity in the game.

The judge was a non-player character, which was designed to lead the game forward and press legal solutions to the cases, but simultaneously support gameplay and the role of individual and communal decision-making. Also, when choosing authentic court cases for the larp, we preferred complex cases without clear solutions, or cases where the characters’ choices played an important role. Although the law stated a clear punishment for every crime, every character could influence the outcome. Would they testify against their neighbor, friend, or relative? Could they embellish their account, explain that they had not seen properly, say that they didn’t remember – or, more straightforwardly, lie? What outcome did they prefer? The testimonies and the verdict were then written down by a non-player scribe, resulting in an in-game court record.

Usually in Finnish larps, where characters and plots are pre-designed by the organizers, a lot of time and energy is used in cross-checking. In a game where different experiences and memories are part of the gameplay, the stories don’t need to be as coherent, and they can also change during the game. This also happened when some characters declared that some events went completely different than how they were played in the Friday scenes, simulating the formation of memories and reinterpretation of previous events, or twisting the truth.

Most of the cases were serious, but we also included potentially funny or absurd cases. When the priest was asked whether he was drunk during a sermon, or when the innkeeper was accused of selling drinks on a holy day’s eve, many players saw the hearings as humorous, and we can’t really claim it to be unhistorical. People of the past also had their quirky sense of humor. Another severe but absurd case dealt with two farmers, the owner of a wealthy freehold estate and a new settler, who, during a very drunken evening, had agreed to switch farms. This was, of course, for the settler a possibility to expand his possessions and raise in social position, but a disaster for the estate owner and his family. The estate owner tried to explain the switch as a drunken joke and eventually bribed the settler out of his claims. In the original case the court deemed the switch unlawful, since the settler had previously agreed to make the new farmstead profitable in exchange for tax reductions (the original case is discussed in Finnish in Lares 2020, 179).

Some cases were criminal, but some were disputes that the characters could settle in court. We hadn’t scripted any outcomes, only the requirements for conviction if they were proved in court. All court cases had some effect on the participants’ life or place in the community: some were disgraceful or made the accused look ridiculous or incompetent, some outcomes or punishments hit hard physically and economically, and even death sentences were possible, although the characters ended up avoiding them.

We chose to leave out court cases involving witchcraft. This was also communicated to players before the registration began. We felt that witchcraft cases would draw too much attention from other cases. Since there are many prejudices and popular opinions about 17th-century witch hunts, playing witchcraft proceedings in an authentic manner would require a lot of background information and a different kind of game design. This could be done later in another larp (see, e.g. The Witch Experience (UK 2022)), but for Talvikäräjät, we decided to concentrate on other aspects of early modern society.

Going beyond historical records

When we had decided the cases that we wanted to include, the design team started to build a social network around the cases. Although historically plausible, it would be boring for a character to be a random witness in just one case: so we made all characters involved in several cases as plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, or in close connection to them, feeling the weight of possible outcomes.

Although historical sources are our only way of gaining knowledge about the past, they also affect the image that we form. Many early modern historical records concentrate on land-owning men and the elite, leaving out other groups in the society. In 17th-century court records, however, many groups who are not visible in other sources, are present. Women, children, workers, landless, and the poor are involved in various court proceedings, since everyone could, in practice, bring their case to the court and testify on their own behalf. Sometimes the head of the family would plead the case, but not always. (Miettinen R 2019, Miettinen T 2012, Toivo 1998, Andersson 1998, Taussi Sjöberg 1996)

Although the larp was based on authentic court cases, we wanted to reimagine what the community around official records would look like. In the past decades, a lot of research has been done about the various groups in the early modern countryside (see previous note), and we could lean on that in character design.

Talvikäräjät ingame, photo by Karo Suominen

Talvikäräjät ingame, photo by Karo Suominen

Most of the characters belonged in a family who owned a bigger or smaller farmstead. Some had taken service in them. There were also soldiers of the Crown who were originally recruited from the countryside, some even from the village where the larp was set, and who were commonly stationed in the farmsteads during a period of peace. Some characters were outcasts: not belonging in any land-owning family, and getting their living in various legal and illegal activities. The new settler, who was mentioned earlier, had gotten himself and his servant an abandoned farm, and they worked hard to make it profitable and to raise their social standing. In addition to family ties, all characters belonged to a social group and had friends, if only just a few. Court records are written to document proceedings, but alongside that, they describe various cultural practices and networks. With close reading, they can reveal friendship networks and sociability (Lares 2020, 275, 289–293), which we wanted to include in the larp as well. Thus, all characters had various amounts of social, cultural, and economic capital and power, which they could utilize in their gameplay and find the best possible solution for their cases, if the character or the player wanted to do so.

One historical phenomenon which has mostly escaped court records is same-sex couples. How could they have existed in the 17th-century countryside? Early modern court proceedings about male sex are sparse, and they usually involve violence and abuse. A typical male couple would probably be something different, so, in Talvikäräjät, the previously-mentioned new settler and his farmhand were also lovers. There was also a female couple consisting of two unmarried young women looking for a solution to live together. The meaning of these same-sex couples was not to put into history something that has not been there, but rather to imagine how an undoubtedly historical phenomenon of same-sex love could be present in the early modern countryside. Same-sex love and affection was not understood in the period as romantic but rather as friendship. (For later examples in Finnish folklore, see Pohjola-Vilkuna 1995.)


The larp was played at the beginning of March 2022. The whole design process was overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but luckily in February, the restrictions were gradually lifted, and we didn’t have to postpone the game. We had, however, advised players not to come if they were feeling sick, and some late cancellations did happen. The Russian attack on Ukraine also resulted in a couple of cancellations, since some participants felt too shocked to play. However, we were very happy that we were able to cover the late cancellations and run the larp as planned.

The structure of the game worked very well, and the schedule for court hearings led the game forward. Many cases were dealt quite fast, because the players had been advised to discuss their cases in-game before their scheduled hearing, and thus the characters only presented a shared story to the judge. In some cases, the accusations and testimonies were saved for the court hearing, which led to a longer proceeding. Although it was optional for other characters to follow court proceedings where they were not involved, many chose to sit in the room and listen to other cases.

Friday’s scenes received a lot of compliments from players, since they were an easy way to provide a lifelike experience rather than reading about past events. Some scenes worked better than others, and in hindsight, their design could have been given more attention. Players could choose whether they participated in the Friday scenes, which resulted in some uncertainties about which scenes could be played. Splitting players into groups which would begin on Friday or Saturday, or making pre-played scenes mandatory for all, might have solved the problem. For some scenes, the played-out scene formed too strong a basis for what had really happened, which limited individual perceptions and the possibilities for later reimagining. In some scenes, such as a tavern fight between soldiers that was based on an authentic description and rehearsed beforehand, the witnesses did not know what they were seeing and were thus given more space for interpretation and organic memory-making. Pre-played scenes worked best when concerning intentions and individual actions: what was said and done, what was meant by it, and how it was interpreted by others.

Although we had not scripted any outcomes for the court cases, most of them went as we had anticipated. The characters were usually reluctant to push for severe punishments, and wanted to find solutions that would suit the most. Families and friends defended and protected their own, which resulted in concentration of power and partial exclusion of the outcasts. Similar processes have been present in historical court cases. In many proceedings, the outcome was the same both in the historical example and in the larp.

The last cases of the day dealt with the aforementioned tavern fight and a theft. The tavern fight, which was planned and rehearsed beforehand, resulted in the death of one of the soldiers, who was played by one of the larpwrights. In contemporary judicial practice, manslaughter was punishable by death, but if the victim’s family would agree to financial compensation or the act was done in self-defense, the punishment would be a fine. The characters who had seen the fight chose to testify that the dead soldier was known to be extremely violent, and the soldier who had given him the final blow had done it in self-defense. Thus, the soldier was not sentenced to death but was given a severe fine, which locals helped him to pay.

The suspected theft was not solved before the court hearing, and the injured party accused an old soldier with quite loose evidence. Since the accused had been seen with an unusual amount of money which he could not convincingly explain, the judge ordered the soldier to swear his innocence with two co-swearers. He asked his fellow soldiers and old friends to take the oath with him, but none were willing to do so. Therefore, he was sentenced to cover the stolen money and pay a fine, which he could not afford, so the fine was converted into corporal punishment. The old soldier had in fact stolen the money, but he did not confess nor was his conviction based on evidence: only his reputation and his place as an outcast. For many players, this was a defining moment about systemic injustice and the cruelty of judicial practice, which they reflected in the after-larp questionnaire.

A similar thing happened with two poor sisters, who were given fines for selling drinks illegally but could not pay for them. The sisters could not get anyone to pay their fines, although most local men had been drinking in their cottage, so their fines were also converted to whiplashes. After the whipping, shortly before the end of game, one family offered to take the sisters’ children into their custody, because members of the family had fathered both children. The children did not have to live in poverty anymore, but the price was that they were separated from their mothers. This also highlighted social and economic injustices.


The themes of the Talvikäräjät larp, memory, power, and community, were present in the gameplay and produced the most touching experiences which were described in the questionnaire after the larp. Systemic injustice and different economic possibilities led to dramatic outcomes, which were supported by contemporary court practices. The feeling of being an in- or outsider in the community was present.

Talvikäräjät ingame, photo by Karo Suominen

Talvikäräjät ingame, photo by Karo Suominen

Many larp designers know that players are usually drawn towards democracy and compromise and are reluctant to push towards conflict. This might not be a lack but a feature of human sociability. Playing oppression and inequality might teach us how these processes work and are kept up also in our world, and might help in dismantling them. In Talvikäräjät, communality and the avoidance of conflicts led to injustice and systemic oppression, when some people were not seen as equal members of the community.

When designing historical larp, or making other source-based work of art, it is no surprise that the outcome resembles the source. Following modern-day historical research, Talvikäräjät highlighted the role of reputation, community, and wealth in early modern society. We managed to create a multivocal community with various needs and hopes, some of which were met in various manners.  Some of the accused escaped a sentence with the help of powerful friends and their own status in the community, and although some received blows to their reputation, it did not affect their position. Economic inequality became an important theme, since some characters could pay their fines or get somebody else to pay them, while others had no choice but to receive corporal punishment.

In addition to historical content, we also wanted to explore how court drama would work in a larp and how to get the cases tangible and meaningful for players. Some cases would have benefitted from a pre-played scene. For example, in one case the court had to decide whether a local farmer had killed himself or if his death had been an accident. Suicide was illegal in 17th-century Sweden, and suiciders were not given a Christian burial, so conviction would affect the handling of the body and bring shame onto the deceased and their family (on early modern suicides, see Miettinen 2019). A scene with the deceased could have helped with family dynamics and in making the possible conviction and following shame more tangible.

As mentioned earlier, the pre-played scenes were really beneficial for some storylines, but for some they limited the possibilities for remembering. In hindsight, the role, meaning, and script of these scenes could have been given more attention. But, altogether, the structure with pre-played scenes on Friday and court gathering on Saturday with predetermined slots for cases and breaks worked surprisingly well. Some players mentioned in the after-larp questionnaire that following others’ cases was a bit boring, and they zoned out or became sore from sitting; but many specified that this just added to their immersion and gave a much-needed break from playing their own storylines. We designers occasionally worried whether players were bored or if they had enough playable content. However, many players later convinced us that they had very much enjoyed following others’ hearings and seeing how their friends and relatives managed.

When using historical sources for game design, it would be beneficial not only to start from those, but also at the middle of the process return to sources. After the game, we realized that some storylines had drifted quite far from the originals, or that the originals had some points that were lost in the process. At the same time, this evolution is the result of a creative process, and helped us to create something unique.


I would like to encourage designers of historical larps to trust their sources and to read updated research on the subjects they are interested in. Contemporary historical research, which highlights multivocality and intersectional approaches, social and cultural history, history of emotions and experiences, and the processes behind communal decision-making can be an enormous help in the design process and can bring up themes already suitable for larp. They also help in seeing behind the sources and building the game world. There is no need to include everything from the past, and it is sufficient to choose the themes one is most interested in. This will also help the players in their preparation for the larp.

In historical larp, we can experience historical phenomena and activities. Gamifying history requires historical knowledge and, at some point, imagination beyond it. Historical knowledge puts the sources into their context and helps to create a world around them. When a larp, or any other work of art, is designed based on historical sources and research, it adds to its authenticity and makes it historical reenactment. Authenticity is not just about material culture but also about actions, experiences, and mentalities: and larp is a good tool for reenacting those.

Although historical larp cannot make us fully understand what people of the past experienced, it might give us a glimpse. Larp is very suitable for playing multivocal communities and many-sided storylines, and these features are easily utilized in historical larp design as well. Larp enables players to reenact historical processes and mentalities which might be contrary to modern beliefs because of the distinction between the player and the character. This is also something that makes larp an unique form of reenactment: the ability to simultaneously reenact individual characters and the community formed by them.


Vanessa Agnew, Jonathan Lamb, and Juliane Tomann (eds.) (2020): The Routledge Handbook of Reenactment Studies. Key Terms in the Field. Routledge.

Gudrun Andersson (1998): Tingets kvinnor och män. Genus som norm och strategi under 1600- och 1700-tal. Studia historica Upsaliensia 187. Uppsala universitet.

Adam Chapman (2016): Digital Games as History. How Videogames Represent the Past and Offer Access to Historical Practice. Routledge.

Jerome de Groot (2016): Consuming History. Historians and heritage in contemporary popular culture. Second edition. Routledge.

Tuomas Harviainen (2011): The Larping that is not Larp. In Think larp: academic writings from KP2011, edited by Thomas Duus Henriksen, Christian Bierlich, Kasper Friis Hansen, and Valdemar Kølle. Rollespilsakademiet.

Tuomas Harviainen, Rafael Bienia, Simon Brind, Michael Hitchens, Yaraslau I. Kot, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, David W. Simkins, Jaakko Stenros, and Ian Sturrock (2018): Live-action role-playing games. In Role-playing game studies. Transmedia Foundations, edited by José P Zagal and Sebastian Deterding. Routledge.

Jenni Lares (2020): Alkoholinkäytön sosiaaliset merkitykset 1600-luvun länsisuomalaisessa maaseutuyhteisössä. Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat 280. Tampere University.

Riikka Miettinen (2019): Suicide, Law, and Community in Early Modern Sweden. Palgrave Macmillan.

Tiina Miettinen (2012): Ihanteista irrallaan. Hämeen maaseudun nainen osana perhettä ja asiakirjoja 1600-luvun alusta 1800-luvun alkuun. Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis 1229. Tampere University.

Michał Mochocki (2021): Role-play as a Heritage Practice. Historical Larp, Tabletop RPG and Reenactment. Routledge.

Kirsi Pohjola-Vilkuna (1995): Eros kylässä. Maaseudun luvaton seksuaalisuus vuosisadan vaihteessa. SKS.

Xenia Salomonsen (2003): The use of history in larp. In When Larps Grow Up. Theory and Methods in Larp, edited by Morten Gade, Line Thorup, and Mikkel Sander. Projektgruppen KP03.

Jaakko Stenros and J. Tuomas Harviainen, (2011): Katsaus pohjoismaiseen roolipelitutkimukseen. In Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja 2011, edited by Jaakko Suominen et al. University of Tampere.

Cecilie Sundman (2020): Perfektionistin painajainen: pukujen autenttisuus historianelävöityksessä. Master thesis for craft science. University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences.

Marja Taussi Sjöberg (1996): Rätten och kvinnorna. Från släktmakt till statsmakt i Sverige på 1500- och 1600-talet. Atlantis.

Raisa Maria Toivo (2008): Witchcraft and Gender in Early Modern Finland: Finland and the Wider European Experience. Ashgate.

Raisa Maria Toivo (2016): Discerning Voices and Values in the Finnish Witch Trials Records. Studia Neophilologica 84:sup1.

Leena Vartiainen (2010): Yhteisöllinen käsityö: Verkostoja, taitoja ja yhteisiä elämyksiä. Dissertations in Education, Humanities, and Theology, 4. University of Eastern Finland.

“The Witch Experience: What was it like to live in Orkney at the time of the witchcraft trials?“ https://brodgar.co.uk/home/the-witch-experience/, ref. Sept. 11, 2023.

Eva Österberg (1987): Svenska lokalsamhällen i förändring ca 1550–1850. Participation, representation och politisk kultur i den svenska självstyrelsen. Historisk tidskrift 1987:3.


Talvikäräjät (2022): Finland. Jenni Lares (main organiser), Mari Lehtoruusu, Ira Nykänen, Laura Väisänen, Arttu Ahava, Maria von Hertzen, Minna Heimola, Mikko Heimola, Konsta Nikkanen, Karo Suominen, and Tomi Gröndal. Harmaasudet (Greywolves).

The Witch Experience (2022): UK. Ragnhild Ljosland.

This article has been reprinted with permission from the Solmukohta 2024 book. Please cite as:

Lares, Jenni. 2024. “Possibilities of Historical Larp: Court of Justice in 17th-century Finland.” In Liminal Encounters: Evolving Discourse in Nordic and Nordic Inspired Larp, edited by Kaisa Kangas, Jonne Arjoranta, and Ruska Kevätkoski. Helsinki, Finland: Ropecon ry.

Cover photo: Talvikäräjät ingame, photo by Karo Suominen.

Become a patron at Patreon!


Jenni Lares is a historian at Tampere University. She is interested in social and cultural history, history of food and drink, and public history. In her PhD thesis (2020), she studied social meanings of drinking in 17th-century Finland. In 2021–2022, she led a postdoctoral project on the use of history in larp, Talvikäräjät (eng. Winter Ting), funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation. She is also an active larper, larp designer, and historical reenactor.