Tuhannen viillon kuolema
|Designed by||Juhana Pettersson|
|Produced by||Massi Hannula|
Tuhannen viillon kuolema (Finland, 2018, Eng. Death by a Thousand Cuts) was a larp about climate change and class war designed by Juhana Pettersson and produced by Massi Hannula. It was run in Helsinki, Finland, and based on Juhana Pettersson's novel with the same title.
The characters were divided in three social classes: the poor, the middle class, and the rich. Many of the middle class characters were working at a company called New Life that marketed climate change survival solutions for the rich. The poor tried to survive on what they could, and the middle class characters were on the verge of burnout, while the rich led comfortable lives. The idea was that towards the end of the larp, the poor would be so wound up that they would start murdering the rich.
The larp happened in several locations around the city of Helsinki (New Life office, an apartment of a poor person, a party apartment for the rich, etc.), and the players moved between the locations during runtime. Characters were created through the online system Larpweaver, where players could choose various attributes for their characters (e.g. social class, core group, etc.) and scenes where their characters would take part in (e.g. a talk show on poverty on the national media, a job interview, a party). This way, each player had a personal timetable that was built out of the scenes that they had chosen on Larpweaver. The larp featured a large cast of NPCs that could be used for various scenes.
Various design choices had been made to make sure that some murders would actually happen at the end of the larp. There was a whole group of poor characters determined to kill some rich people. They had already murdered somebody in the backstory, and they were determined to kill more people during the larp. Massi Hannula had come up with the idea of an in-game radio channel called Murharadio (Eng. Murder Radio), that was run during the larp by a group of poor characters. On the radio shows, they had angry discussions on inequality, interviewed murderers, and speculated on who should be murdered next. They also held a poetry competition, where listeners were asked to send them "murder poems" through social media.
Tuhannen viillon kuolema used the social media platform Kin for in-game social media. Players were very active on it during the larp. The rich and the poor were involved in flame wars about social inequality, and some characters and NPCs used the social media platform to incite violence. Meanwhile, the middle class characters were posting pictures of their after work drinks and composing carefully worded descriptions of their pastimes to make their lives look more glamorous and to hide the fact that they were unsatisfied with work and on the verge of burnout. After the larp, many players said that simulating social media on Kin made them reflect about the ways in which we use real life social media.
The rules of the larp stated that only rich characters could get murdered, and only poor or middle class characters could murder people. Rich characters were wearing small badges so that others would recognise them. Murders were not allowed before the last hours of the larp. They were acted out by theatrically pretending to stab the other person, but no knife props were allowed. The larp also used a "richsplaining" mechanic to portray class privilege: when a rich character held the palm of their hand up in a rejecting gesture while speaking, the poor characters could not speak, unless they physically touched the rich character. According to Kaisa Kangas who invented the mechanic, the idea was that in order to have their voice heard, a poor character would have to cross the boundary of touching the other person (which is a clear transgression in Finland where the larp was run), which could lead to escalation.
Tuhannen viillon kuolema was financially supported by The Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Designer: Juhana Pettersson
Producer: Massi Hannula
Workshops: Kaisa Kangas
Npc coordinator:Tonja Goldblatt
Documentation: Tuomas Puikkonen
Player support: Eeva Järvi
.com Official website, in Finnish.
- www.flickr.com/photos/darkismus/sets/72157700606827551/ Photo set by Tuomas Puikkonen
- Kangas, K.: "Class Privilege and Conflict Escalation". In Koljonen, J. & al (eds): Larp Design. Creating Role-play Experiences.