Dogma 99

From Nordic Larp Wiki

Dogma 99 : A programme for the liberation of larp is a Norwegian larp manifesto published online in December 1999. It kick-started the Age of manifestoes and is, alongside The Manifesto of the Turku School, one of the most influential and controversial texts of Nordic larp history. It was authored/edited by Lars Wingård and Eirik Fatland, the visible heads of a more nebulous Dogma 99 collective.


The manifesto has five sections: in the first, the "Vow of Chastity", seven named signatories swear to follow a list of 10 principles for larp design. Each principle prohibited a then-common practice in larp design - such as game mechanics, symbolic representation, and back story. A larp following these rules, or even a subset of them, would not necessarily be recognized as "larp" by the community of the late 90s. The second section, "Why Dogma 99?" claims that larp is a medium and an art form, declares war on "conventional larp methods" and the dominance of genre larp, and explicitly distances itself from gamism. The Vow of Chastity is explained as a tool to free the larpwright of habit and convention, and it is made clear that the signatories only comitt themselves to organize one larp according to the principles, implying that the vow of chastity describes a time-limited project rather than universal claims.

The universal claims come in the third section, "The essence of larp: a definition", which introduces the famous definition of larp as "a meeting of players who, through their roles, relate to each other in a fictional world". The fourth, and longest, section discusses the reasoning behind and implications of each point in the vow of chastity.

The final section was added for the English-language "international edition" (published two months after the Norwegian edition) and is called "The Future". In it the authors describe the long-term goals of the collective as a then-utopian world where larp was no longer synonymous with the Fantasy genre, the worst of the "conventional methods" had been abandoned, larp was publicly recognized as a medium with diverse applications, and larpers exchanged ideas despite living in different countries.


The name "Dogma 99" and the Vow of Chastity imitated and referenced the Dogme 95 manifesto, which was well-known at the time. Despite the Dogme 95 influence, Dogma 99's philosophical underpinnings were drawn more from Jerzy Grotowskis "Towards a poor theatre", asking the question: "what can be removed from larp without larp ceasing to be larp?".

Impact of the Philosophy

The effects of Dogma 99 continue to ripple outward in Nordic style larp. The minimal adoption of mechanics and emphasis on original larp premises have become mainstream. Rejection of symbolic representation (#8. No object shall be used to represent another object) is embraced in 360 degree larp design.

Excerpt from Dogma 99 Manifesto

"The Vow of Chastity

I hereby submit to the rules of the Vow of Chastity, as developed by Dogma 99,

1. It is forbidden to create action by writing it into the past history of a character or the event.
2. There shall be no "main plot". (The story of the event must be made for each players character, not the whole).
3. No character shall only be a supporting part.
4. All secrecy is forbidden. (Any participant who so desires shall in advance be shown all documents that pertain to the event).
5. After the event has begun, the playwrights are not allowed to influence it. (Any use of staging and ad hoc organiser roles is forbidden).
6. Superficial action is forbidden. (The playwrights may not in any way plan or encourage the use or threat of violence as part of the event)
7. LARPs inspired by table-top role-playing games are not accepted.
8. No object shall be used to represent another object. (all things shall be what they appear to be)
9. Game mechanics are forbidden. (rules to simulate for instance the use of violence or supernatural abilities are not permitted)
10. The playwrights shall be held accountable for the whole of their work."

Furthermore, I swear to regard myself as an artist, and any LARP I write as my "work". I stand open for criticism and wholesale slaughter of my works, and promise to apologise to my players for all that is imperfect in the LARPs I write. My highest goal is to develop the art and medium of live-action role-playing. This, I promise, will be done through all means available, and at the expense of good taste, all conventions and all popularity amongst the so-called LARPers. Thus, I take the Vow of Chastity,

Link to the original website - [1]

Games organised as a consequence of taking the Dogma Vow

The signatories commit themselves to organise, or help organise, one Dogma LARP