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Utumno written in a scraggly font
DateMay 11–12, 2012 (2012-05-11 – 2012-05-12)
Duration24 hours
LocationBotkyrka, Sweden
Participation fee40
Designed by

Utumno was a larp set in Tolkiens Middle-earth and was played in a quarry outside of Botkyrka, Sweden.

Setting and Themes

Utumno was set in Tolkiens Middle-Earth (or Mordor to be more specific) in the Third Age but many decades before the events of Lord of the Rings, and focused on exploring the chaotic nature of orcs in general and the systematic evil that is "the machine". Much of Utumno was about social status and the social- and power dynamic of orcs. Lessons from the larp are easily transcribed to our real world, like school bullying or penalism within hierarchical structures (like conscripts in the Russian army).


After the larp

The backdrop was a boot camp of sorts in the wilderness of Mordor, where orcs from all over Mordor had been press-ganged into service and were now to be trained to become soldiers in Mordors army. The larp focused heavily on social interactions between groups and individuals, conflicts arising quickly and settled even quicker, and the overall process of "breaking down" the unruly orcs and reshaping them into a fighting unit. Much of the game was about being just a cog in some great, destructive machinery. The characters were all designed to in effect have no background or history, they were all essentially brought into the world as blank slates and set to one or another gruelling, menial task before finally being conscripted into the army. The focus for the characters was all about instincts, drives and almost zero ability to think ahead, plan or even a sense of long-term consequence.

Much work and research was put into the background material, going back to Tolkien himself and keeping everything true to the original vision. Much work had to be made to clear out the modern take on orcs, like the image you get from the Lord of the Rings movies. In line with all this research Björn Axén also reinvented the "black tongue" used by many Swedish orc larpers since the 1990s, putting in an enormous amount of work and linguistic knowledge to create a working language that stays as true as possible to the source material.

Utumno was featured in an ad campaign by one of the leading brands of coffee in Sweden.

The game was played for 24 hours, starting in the evening, and was a rather high-paced and physically exhausting experience.


External links