When someone says Kutt (Norwegian for 'cut'), role-playing must stop immediately and players who hear the "kutt" must do whatever they can to assist in resolving the situation.
Kutt is the most commonly used safety rule in Nordic larp. It is often employed together with Brems as a bare-bones structure for managing risk and handling emergencies at larp. For the players to be able to trust the concept of the Magic Circle and the Roleplaying Contract there needs to be a way to suspend roleplay, and a safeword is a commonly applied method to make this visible.
Kutt as emergency safe-word
Kutt's primary use is to declare an emergency - e.g. a players foot is broken in a fall, and the player shouts "kutt!" to tell his pursuers that he is no longer role-playing. Kutt may be used by organizers, affected players, or their co-players.
In order to avoid the "boy who cried wolf" effect words such as "off-game" are used rather than "Kutt" when role-playing needs to stop for reasons other than emergency.
Kutt as a personal safe-word
Some larps also employ "kutt" for situations that are not universally recognized as emergencies, but where the personal boundaries of an individual player have somehow been crossed and the player needs to extract hirself from the situation. This is more common at larps with some degree of hardcore play, or that deal with sensitive subject matter - such as sexuality and intimacy, violence and abuse, or mass suggestion. In such instances, players' thresholds for acceptable role-play may vary widely from issue to issue and player to player in ways that are difficult to predict in advance, and hence the Kutt and Brems rules become a personal safety vent.
For "Kutt" to be universally effective players must a) be capable of recognizing an emergency, or a moment of transgressed boundaries b) be capable of recalling "Kutt" as an appropriate response to the emergency c) be confident that shouting "Kutt" is an appropriate action d) be physically able to shout "Kutt".
There are quite a few examples of situations where one or more of the above criteria have been lacking. A player may be bound and gagged or the volume may be too loud for anyone to hear the Kutt, violating d. Kutt may be forgotten in the midst of adrenaline rush (a and b) or the player may be fearful of the reaction of co-players to having their role-playing interrupted.
In practice, Kutt also alllocates the responsibility of declaring emergencies to the person who has been wounded, or whose personal boundaries have been crossed.
For these reasons, Kutt is seen as an incomplete solution to the challenges of physical and psychological safety at larps. But some of the challenges can be overcome through pre-larp training and a supporting etiquette.
Training for Kutt
A typical Kutt training session has players practicing using the safe-word in loud and chaotic circumstances. For example, players may be asked to shout at each other louder and louder until someone says "Kutt". After a first round demonstrating the difficulties of having "kutt" heard, an additional rule is introduced: whenever someone says kutt, help them by repeating it.
- It is your right and duty to say "Kutt" whenever you think it might be appropriate
- You do not question the reason for or necessity of other players use of "kutt", neither during nor after the larp.
- If you hear a "Kutt", help out by repeating the "kutt".
- Not saying "kutt" in a situation where it is appropriate may be catastropic. Saying "kutt" in a situation where it is inappropriate has almost no consequence. Better to say it once too often.
The Kutt rule originates in Norwegian larps of the 90s, and has spread from there - as evidenced by the word (meaning "cut!") retaining its Norwegian spelling and pronunciation even when used among Finnish larpers. Similar rules have appeared in a number of other larp scenes. The more generic "time-out" or "off-game" are used to declare emergencies at larps that do not have a dedicated safe-word.