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Secure In Our Masculinity Together

RPG system: LARP
Participants: 7-17 players, Open To Players Of Any Gender


✏️Ben Morrow


**Premise**: The facilitator of the masculinity support group (specifically not "men's support group") **Secure In Our Masculinity Together** has announced their pending retirement from their leadership position. In the next meeting (this larp) the members of the group will need to nominate a new facilitator. If they can't find someone willing to take up that role, this will be the final meeting. While the stated reasons for the faciliator's retirement are not unusual or even particularly interesting, the back channel going around has predominantly used the keyword "burnout" and the talk about how exhausting and time consuming the workload is to manage SIOMT has discouraged some of the members who were initially interested in potentially taking up the role. In addition to the usual meeting schedule, two additional sections of time have been set aside for "The Last Ditch Effort To Nominate A New Facilitator" and "Farewells and Closure". Members are encouraged to bring their own personal facial tissues *just in case*.

**Gender Logistics**: This event welcomes players of any gender who may play characters of any gender! Also, **this event welcomes players of any gender who may play characters of any gender!** The fictional history of this group was specifically conceived to try to create a space where members would be candidly honest about masculinity because the space feels safe enough (resisting the urge to put up a front or perform masculinity), but also be inclusive and welcoming to any person who wishes to be a member. This is tentatively imagined as membership over time voted to change the group from a men's group to a group for persons of any gender who feel masculine, and then another vote changed the group to welcome persons of any gender who feel *Masculinity Intersects With Their lives*. These two votes are considered to be etched-in-stone-history, and the question of "Who belongs here?" has been answered with finality: "Those who choose to come here belong here."

**That Said, A Caveat**: If a player wishes to play a gender or sexuality other than their own, and their driving motivation is to do this for entertainment, either their own or others, the *suggestion* is to choose to play an aspect of identity that is *more* privileged than their own. If it's for laughs, we want to encourage people to punch up.

**With That Caveat Said, Yet Another Caveat**: Gender or sexuality will not be policed in any way by anyone. Eggs crack because people start with "what if me but also not quite as planned maybe?" So, we're going to try to trust people, and by default assume that if they are exploring an identity that's different than their own that's also less privileged, that they are doing it sincerely and not merely for entertainment.

**Race**: If you are white then your character is white. If you are not white, this white person facilitating this game will not be telling you what you should or should not do with regard to your character's race.

**Theme 1**: The goals of SIOMT as a support group is for the members to help each other be the best versions of themselves that they can be. A lot of discussion is about identifying and rejecting toxic masculinity and correspondingly figuring out a "healthy" masculinity replacement, but this format (identify the toxic action/behavior/attitude, find an replacement that's an improvement) is also used for other issues that are not exclusive to, or even include, masculinity. This is the typical flow of how the support group operates normally.

**Theme 2**: Is this the last meeting? And if so, what do? The urgency of the group coming to an end will compel characters to examine and confront some of their feelings about each other and themselves. Other members that are part of their lives though the group alone? Are these people they want to remain in their lives? And if so, in what way? Likewise, the group is itself a support network that many members have come to rely on, and perhaps in ways that they are not aware of, what will happen to them without it? What will they do?

**Character Casting**: Characters will be co-created with the event facilitator. A character survey in google form will get things started, and then email correspondence will finalize core details for Pass 1. Once Pass 1 is completed, Pass 2 will connect the characters to each other through the shared history, and the Official History of SIOMT will move from the tentative and nebulous to the documented and concrete. At the end of Pass 2, players will receive the final version of their character. Characters will be:

* Flawed: This is a support group after all, and characters will have an aspect of themselves that motivated them to seek support * Reflective: All characters will have a baseline emotional intelligence necessary to be able to be aware of what they are thinking and feeling. There's stil plenty of room for challenge and struggle after that baseline awareness. Knowing what their thoughts and feelings are, they still need to figure out what to *do* about those thoughts and feelings. * Not Bigots: Nope. * Not Disruptive: Because it's so much easier to knock the block castle down than build a block castle, every character is going to have a baseline level of impulse control to resist behavior that disrupts the the meeting. Outbursts, monopolizing time, being uncooperative with the facilitator, these things that would both derail a support group's flow also disrupt the larp itself. The group's practiced methods of conflict resolution and confrontation will be briefly workshopped at game start so that those aspects of characters can come forth without necessarily disrupting the larp.

**Player Drop Out**: Tightly connected characters custom co-designed by players and the facilitator means that dropping out will make a bit of a mess of things. We'll deal with drops on a case by case basis with whatever solution will harm the other remaining players the least. If you are likely to drop out, please consider selecting another event. If you have to drop out, please do say so as early as possible. No one needs to explain or make an excuse why they are dropping out, and no one will be asked to explain or excuse.

**Player Safety and Comfort**: On the other hand, once the game starts, player safety and comfort takes priority over the game, because, well, players are more important than games. Among the tools planned for use:

* "I'm gonna take a walk." A character statement that is alibi for the character and the player to leave the game space. The appropriate response is to nod or otherwise acknowledge the statement without questioning it or trying to prompt an explanation. Hydrate, bio break, get some air, chill, reflect, any suitable need that arises. * Lookdown. A hand signal of holding one hand in front of one's eyes and tilting the head slightly forward. Ignore, move out of the way of, and unsee anyone using this signal. We don't question or ask for explanation for this signal's use either. When someone lowers the signal, their "arrival" back in play is likewise seemlessly smooth and unremarkable. * SIOMT Meeting Rules That Are Also Game Rules: No Violence, No Raised Voices. The Door Is Always Open. * This is not a final list of safety and comfort related items. As characters are finalized, additional calibration tools or guidelines may emerge.

**Conflict of Desired Experiences vs Triggering Content**: This is a game about feelings, and there's a strong possibility for those feelings to be intense. It's advised that players mentally prepare themselves to experience some form of *bleed*. That said, there's a fine line to be walked with subject matter that one player would like to explore, but that might negatively affect other players because of trauma related to that subject matter. Your facilitator will try to walk that fine line, but when that doesn't work, will come down on the side excluding potentially triggering subject matter.

**Debrief**: The final section of event time will be for debriefing. Participants are encouraged to debrief, but The Door Is Always Open still applies and everyone is free to go. Debrief's goals are for the comfort and safety of participants primarily with bleed-y thoughts and feelings, so discussion will be steered back in that direction should things meander, especially if time available becomes scarce.

Played at

Intercon U (2022)

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