Nocturne is a historical fiction larp, where we use real events as a backdrop to explore a story together. It is a collaborative effort where we all participate to bring our own version of events to life, and to explore heavy themes together. While characters have a historical background, they are not based on real people, but rather on people that could have existed during the 18th century.
It is not a larp about the trope of the happy hooker, or about a happily ever after. Instead it is about a harsh and difficult reality; about war, loyalty and believing in something greater than yourself.
That doesn’t mean that everything will be grim and dark. People have throughout history adapted to harsh surroundings and managed to make the best out of situations. Even though the sex workers in particular have mostly not chosen this life, they have come to appreciate the parts of their life that are good; their friendships, and their life lived without a man telling them what to do. This shaky independence is now being challenged as the soldiers take over the brothel, and that is going to be a driving force in their internal play. They face the biggest change in this larp, as they have to readjust to a new reality. The soldiers are also adapting to new situations – for some of them to war as their new reality, and for others it’s being able to leave war behind for a moment.
One of our visions is that the ”happy hooker” does not exist at Satin Dreams in particular. There are several tragic fates or complicated reasons why they are here, and everyone has their own survival strategies and ”personas” with the customers.
At this larp we want to portray a more unusual female community; a separate world where men don’t make the decisions, but women have their own power structure, relationships, conflicts and in-jokes. When the women are together they can be themselves, whereas with the men they put on a mask and play a role. Then, when the men are not there they can take off the mask and be more true to who they really are. Together they talk about their experiences and laugh together, cry a little and be comforted, or let the conflicts under the surface bubble up into confrontations. This may of course differ from character to character.
The women working in the kitchen have a safe zone of sorts. There they are free from groping hands and lewd comments, but still somewhat looked down upon by society at large. With the occupation of the brothel lines may instead be blurred, and the kitchen is not above suspicion when it comes to finding spies. Still, they maintain more of their former status and will not have to adapt as much to the soldiers being there.
The soldiers are part of a macho, chauvinistic environment where you don’t show the others your true feelings if they do not fit the image of a tough man. Though society as a whole is a patriarchy it is even more potent within the ranks of the army, where your reputation as a soldier sets your value as a man. The tough man cannot show his friends that he is scared to die, but perhaps he can cry in the arms of a whore whose silence he has bought.
The army is a brotherhood for better or worse and a soldier trusts his brother’s word above all others. As we would say in modern times: ”Bros before hoes”.
They may talk amongst each other about their experience with the women, but never in a way that would cast a shadow upon themselves. Instead they cultivate a group mentality where they objectify the women around them together.
In front of the women, one does not want to lose face, to be laughed at or belittled. And they especially will not tolerate any women laughing at them.
The local townsmen will instead help represent the regular society; being more like regular customers at the brothel, while also being able to mingle with the soldiers as they pursue their own goals. They provide a sense of normalcy in this extraordinary situation, but will also have their own connections to the army.
BIPOC characters at the larp
The role of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of colour) fates in history is often minimised and whitewashed (especially so in this time period), and we don’t want to contribute to that pattern. Despite our best research however, we are aware that we might have some blind spots as white European organisers. Therefore, we are taking extra care with these roles, and have thus chosen not to have any pre-written BIPOC characters for this game. If you as a player belong to the BIPOC community and would like to have a character matching your own ethnicity, we are happy to provide that. BIPOC characters will be tailored in accordance to player motivations, overall story and in collaboration with our sensitivity consultants. These characters will be denoted through their outfits (specific head wraps, cravats, etc). BIPOC players however are under no pressure to play corresponding roles in-game; it is strictly opt-in (and you can do this in your sign-up form). Otherwise the player’s off-game ethnicity will not be part of the larp and should not be played on under any circumstances.
We will also make some other adjustments, such as to the fiction and the on-site workshops, once more in dialogue with the player(s) in question and our consultants.
Interaction between groups:
Although the soldiers are occupiers, we want all groups to be equally proactive. It is not just the soldiers’ responsibility to create play with the brothel staff. The women may have many reasons to seek out the soldiers’ company, like getting money from them, keeping the peace, finding them exciting, wanting to spy on the Patriots, being bored, wanting goodwill, etc.
The guests need to find ways to interact with staff other than just sex. Have them entertain you, play party games, make bets, find someone to trust, blow off steam with someone or take your frustrations out on them, and so on.
We strongly encourage sensual play that isn’t straight up sex that BOTH parties can initiate:
Stripping, dancing, massaging people, sitting on someone’s lap / nook of their arm, caressing, ”lucky charm” in games, etc.
The larp has clear, defined rules for playing on sex. These will be workshopped on site, but in summary we will use theatre sex (dry humping), and use hands to symbolise genitals. Kissing will also be permitted at the larp, but it is possible to opt out.
This larp will deal with many tough themes, and players need to be aware that they are playing a system of oppression. These women are working here because they have little choice, and even though they may grow to care for their clients, they are always at the mercy of them. These women are victims of the patriarchy, and may or may not end up being survivors of the occupation. It is important to note that you can’t be a hero at this larp as a soldier – you can only be a slightly lesser evil.
Remember: As players we want this narrative, and everyone at the larp has agreed to a mutual circle of trust. We want to push these themes that would not be okay in today’s society, and we ask your help in creating this experience.
We have put together a list of themes that we will play on. Go through it so that you know that you’re prepared.
List of themes:
- Sex work
- Sexism and historical gender roles
- Toxic masculinity
- Solidarity between women / friendship and trust
- Hierarchies and internal dynamics
- Sexualized language and conduct
- Spying and danger of being discovered
- Conversations about war / violence / atrocities / death anxiety
- Strong conflicts and unpleasant situations
- Having to obey authority (brothel staff answer to the Madam, the soldiers to the commander).
- Being in a ”state of emergency”
- Suppressed fear / anger and the effort of hiding it
- Using sexuality as a weapon / tool
- Sexual assault and rape