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Midwinter

A late-stage capitalist fairytale

Far away, across the snow, a little to the South of the North Pole, Santa and his elves prepare toys for all the good little boys and girls ...

JANUARY 17-19 2020, BIRMINGHAM, UK

JOLLY ELF HANDBOOK

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Read more detail about the larp in the Jolly Elf Handbook

The Jolly Elf Handbook explains what the larp is about, how it works, and which techniques we will use to play it. It is partly a rule book, partly a guide to the world of the larp, and partly a way of answering questions that you might have about the experience.

The Experience

WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?

This larp is about the ultimate form of late-stage patriarchal capitalism — Santa’s workshop — and the jolly elves who toil there to bring happiness to the children of the world at Christmas.

Some of the elves were born in the workshop, others have vague recollections of a life before they came there, but there is no time for reminiscences because there is work to do.

The society of Santa’s Workshop is repressive, with managers put under increasing pressure to produce more, and the workers and the bottom of the pile forced to work harder and harder.  All the while the will of “The Old Man” is law, and this law is enforced by the brutal Reindeer Guard and the Krampus.

The players in this larp will portray the elves and explore the pressures of late-stage capitalism and the tension between the status quo and the flames of revolution.

 

WHAT WILL YOU DO?
 

Life in the workshop is hard. Elves are expected to put in several work shifts per day. But the elves do have lives outside of work.  They fall in love and out of love, they have families. They have some time free to socialise and do their (Reindeer Guard-approved) hobbies.  And they have secrets.

During this larp, you will do arts and crafts, build toys, sing songs, and play the part of the loyal worker or stressed manager.  The system will try to control what you do, how you move and what you think. You might accept that, or rebel against it. Either way you will probably be interviewed and possibly interrogated by the Krampus.  And at the end, you will make a choice between accepting the status quo or railing against it.


WHAT WE WANT

 

  • We want to portray a dark analogue of our own society that is so driven towards profit that the people who do the work are used up and burnt out.

  • We want to explore what happens when capitalism is turned up to eleven.

  • We want to see how much people will take of being told what to do, what to believe, and what to feel, and at what point it will become too much, and whether a revolution is possible.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

  • During the larp, the elves will live and work and eat together.  Some will be workers, producing toys for the workshop, others will be their managers, trying to find ways to make the process more efficient.

  • With each passing work shift, the deadlines will get tighter and the quotas demanded will increase.

  • All the while, the Reindeer Guard will be watching for those elves who need to be added to the “Naughty List” either because of sedition, lack of productivity, or because they have forgotten to be jolly.

  • Naughty elves will be taken away to the Krampus for correction and re-education.

  • There will be meal times, times for play, times of work, and times for rest.  Other than the meal times, these will be subject to change based on the decisions of the managers.

 

ENDINGS


We are not sure how the story will end.  Either the Elves will meet their quota and the gifts will go out on time, or they will fail and face repercussions, or perhaps this year something will change.  Either way, the larp will finish after the last work shift on Christmas Eve with the Elves gathered around the Christmas tree as the ending song plays.


COMEDY?

Make no mistake, this larp will explore some very dark themes, but it will do so surrounded by Christmas music and tinsel.  It may seem absurd, or even funny, but our intention here is not to play this for laughs.  Any humor found in Midwinter will be very dark indeed.

IS THIS LARP FOR ME?

THEME

Midwinter is a larp that uses Santa’s Workshop as an allegory for exploring capitalism, exploitation and worker oppression.

 

Themes we play on include:  

  • Repression & Revolution.

  • Loss of control over your life.

  • Santa as the ultimate face of patriarchal capitalism.

 

If you want to play inside a red-and-green dystopia, while making toys, being taken away for interrogations and reeducation, inside a magical realist world where fairytales come true in the worst ways, then this is the larp for you.

ACCESSIBILITY

We take accessibility seriously and we are working to make this larp open and available to all players. We acknowledge that there are many types of accessibility needs and that everyone is unique. The play area is all on one floor and wheelchair accessible. Although the work shifts will include physical labour you will be making toys we can adjust the type of work depending on your needs.  A full accessibility statement can be found on the practical page.

If you have specific needs or requirements or concerns we’d invite you to contact us at hello@avalonlarp.studio.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
 

Midwinter is an intense game, with heavy themes. We will use escalation and deescalation mechanics to calibrate the intensity of violent, intimate and other intense scenes with the NPC crew and between players. We suggest that you negotiate such aspects of the larp with your co-players during act breaks and before runtime. Do not be afraid to calibrate during play as well. It is easy to go off-game and check in to see if the other person is up for the game you have planned to play.

More information about this, and our safety processes and policy can be found on the practical page.

Image by Jonathan Haeber https://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug CC BY 2.0

The workshop

Midwinter will take place in a bleak labyrinthine warehouse set. We will set out different representations of parts of Santa’s Workshop for you to live in, work in, and explore. To include, but not be limited to:
 

  • A communal area used for eating and meetings.

  • Work Areas.

  • Santa’s Office.

  • A Christmas Tree for putting the presents under.

  • A security room for the Reindeer Guard.

  • The re-education centre - headquarters of the Krampus.

  • Tunnels and passageways connecting parts of the workshop.

  • Social Areas.

  • A wall for keeping track of who is naughty and who is nice.

There will be CC Television Cameras for use by the Reindeer Guard. and a PA for broadcasting important messages from Santa.

We also aim to provide a holiday soundscape. Posters and infographics to encourage elves to be Nice. There will be Christmas lighting throughout.

Life in Santa's Workshop

The World

The Elves

The characters of the elves will be pre-written.  In some cases they will be uncertain about their lives before they came to the Workshop.  For these characters, learning the truth about their origins will be a part of the experience.

Some elves will be workers, others a part of the management of the workshop.  Some will be conservative, or religious, others more radical.  Each elf will have number of pre-written relations.

THE REINDEER GUARD

The soliders and police force of the Old Man: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blixen are responsible for ensuring that the elves are all jolly and well looked after.  The Reindeer guard are also elves and will have relations with workers and management alike.

THE Krampus

In folklore, the Krampus is a creature who punishes naughty children who have misbehaved; rather than toys they get a bag of bloody bones, or a lump of coal. In Santa’s Workshop, The Krampus is the organisation in charge of the discipline and re-education of naughty Elves.

 

The Reindeer Guard and Krampus will be NPCs
 

Image by Jonathan Haeber https://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug CC BY 2.0

WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT MIDWINTER ...

“Not derivative.” - Eirik Fatland

"What is this, like, Christmas Kapo?"

 

“That is one bizarre larp idea.”

THE GRINCH

The Grinch are the maintenance workers, cleaners, and sweepers of the workshop. They rarely speak and are often unseen as they quietly get on with doing the jobs that no one else wants to. (Used by the event crew to move around the larp to resolve technical issues and for gamemastering purposes.)

In folklore, the Krampus is a creature who punishes naughty children who have misbehaved; rather than toys they get a bag of bloody bones, or a lump of coal. In Santa’s Workshop, The Krampus is the organisation in charge of the discipline and re-education of naughty Elves.

 

The Grinch, Reindeer Guard and Krampus will be NPCs.
 

The Elves

The characters of the elves will be pre-written.  In some cases they will be uncertain about their lives before they came to the Workshop.  For these characters, learning the truth about their origins will be a part of the experience.

Some elves will be workers, others a part of the management of the workshop.  Some will be conservative, or religious, others more radical.  Each elf will have number of pre-written relations.

THE REINDEER GUARD

The soldiers and police force of the Old Man: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blixen are responsible for ensuring that the elves are all jolly and well looked after.  The Reindeer Guard are also elves and will have relations with workers and management alike.

THE Krampus

Image by Jonathan Haeber https://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug CC BY 2.0