Friday September 24 - Sunday September 26, 2021

Fatal Bonds. A Noir-style family drama

Set in a Nordic-inspired, rules-light storytelling framework

Design in Fatal Bonds

Fatal Bonds is in essence a noir style family drama, set in a rules light storytelling framework with high player agency.

It is our intention through the design structure to allow for play of certain types. We aim to accommodate both the players that are very active and seek something to do with many players, as well players who look for more introspective role play. However, two main themes of the larp: family drama and noir, will have clear impact on players’ activities.

Family drama means most of the relationships and activities will be centered around the wedding, the four groups being together, and the interplay this creates. Characters will have varied and intermingled relationships that will drive their activities and play, and we will through specific events during the game create situations for players to react to that will eventually intensify as the weekend progresses. We fully expect that as secrets people hold come to light, relationships will change or be irrevocably broken, and that new ones will form.

Though each person will probably have their own thoughts on what “noir” is as a genre, we have seen it as the idea of shadows and light, dualities, and things not being what they seem, and these concepts have been a driver in our plot design. Characters’ actions and motives will often be complex and shadowed by events that occur within the event. Another powerful aspect of the noir theme is the narrative tool of turning points. In noir films you often see situations where the unexpected happens, and that drives new and more urgent actions.

We believe that larp is a great medium for being genuinely surprised, having to react to that and feeling the good sense of stress that comes from things escalating, and we have worked hard to incorporate that into the design and player experience.

All of our games are heavily buildt around player agency and the "Play to Lift" philosophy so prevelant in nordic game design. The Nordic Larp website describes this best, when they write:

”Play to Lift means that the responsibility for your drama and your character also rests on all your co-players. You have to _lift_ each other. You don’t, off game, have to worry about delivering the best speech ever just because everyone knows that your character is the best orator in the country. The reason that you don’t need to worry is because the other players will lift your character up, and applaud loudly – they will give you a win. An alternative name to Play to Lift might actually be: “Play to Let Others Win”.

Why is this so effective? Well, it is much easier for a particular individual to lose than to win. And it is much easier for me to give you a win (I happen to spill my secret in the middle of our heated argument) than for you to carve out a win (You must out-of-game-cleverly manipulate me into spilling my secret). The drama that we both want rests on the secret coming out, however – and the easiest way for us to ensure that to happen, is for me to lift you. So trust that the other players will lift you to wins, and you can focus on losing.

Consent and Safety Mechanics

Journeys & Tales LLC has various policies in place to help our events be a good and safe space for our participants, facilitators and staff. By putting them in place, we also want build a framework that allows our players to “go all out” in their roleplaying. We want to build common expectations and mechanics so players can interact and have easier, safer play with each other.

For Fatal Bonds we will be using the standard J&T policies, which are can be found in the design doc, and on our website. The players that participate in the event will also have them sent separately. And, like many larps of this size, we require our participants to sign a standard liability waiver from out the event check in.

The policies that covers our event in general are:

  • The Code of conduct – This sets out how J&T expects any of our participants, players, partners or others to act at our events.

  • Anti-harassment policy – J&T as a company and any J&T event is committed to providing a harassment free experience.

  • Consent policy and mechanics – Larp is a medium which inherently involved feelings and pushes boundaries. Our policies and mechanics around this is created to a safe environment for our players, and tailored to each specific event.

The full language of these policies can be found in our Design Document, and will also be sent out to each participant prior to the event.

Content in the game

What the game is about.

Noir Inspired

Noir films have a treasured place in American cinematic and cultural history. As a snapshot in time, they encapsulate many aspects of American culture between the 1930s-1950s. However, as they are products of their time, they have many problematic features. As Journeys & Tales operates under a banner that does not allow for these in play, we have taken some aspects of noir into this scenario and left others behind.

The Characters

In noir there are no lily-white heroes; even the best of characters are shaded with gray and shadowed by their decisions. As such, many of the characters in Fatal Bonds follow archetypes present in many noir films: the anti-hero, the femme fatale, the criminal mastermind, and the reliable, unappreciated side-kick. These archetypes existed well before noir film, and continue to perpetuate themselves in modern story telling because of their compelling nature. But as Journeys & Tales has an inclusive policy towards people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, we have flexibility to adapt these archetypes to fit a modern audience.

The Tropes

The very word “noir” inspires visions of rainy nights in a dirty city, flashbacks, and double-crosses. Fatal Bonds allows and provides many of these situations for our players, as well as others that transcend the genre. As such, there will be elements of violence and threatening situations at different times in the scenario, as well as opportunities for betrayal, secrets being revealed, and life-or-death decisions.

Family Drama

At its core, Fatal Bonds is about the relationships characters have with their families, both the ones they are born into, and the ones they choose for themselves. All characters, even those who are “Friends of the Family,” will have deep connections to others in play and long histories with one another. And, in true noir style, how one character views a relationship might be very different from the way the other person perceives it. By giving our characters long histories with one another, we want to create a rich history full of love, anger, decades-long resentments, and long-overdue romantic declarations. However, we also endeavor to make sure all players have opportunities to work with others they have connections with, in order to deepen their stories if they wish.

History Adjacent

The universe in which we have set Fatal Bonds is similar to America in many ways. Our characters will have the same technology, popular culture, and costuming that many Americans did in the 1940s. However, there are key differences that need to be addressed. For example, World War II was an integral part of the development of noir as a genre. While some characters in Fatal Bonds may have been involved in “The War” or mention it to others, WWII itself will not play a large part in the scenario. Additional information regarding many of the societal inequalities of the time will be listed below in the “What Fatal Bonds is Not About.”

What the game is not about.


As mentioned above, noir film and America in the 1940s had obvious societal issues and rampant discrimination. These have no place in this larp, and as such, we have determined that many “isms” such as, but not limited to: racism, sexism, ableism, anti-semitism will not exist in the Fatal Bonds world. Characters may be played regardless to their race, gender identity, sexuality. For more questions about this topic, please see our non-discrimination policy. The only “ism” that is present in this scenario is the topic of classism, as issues with money, influence, and power are central to the Fatal Bonds story and will be dealt with in a manner that is period appropriate.

Heavy Rules or “winning”

Journeys & Tales operates our events with a variety of safety mechanics and check-ins. But beyond that, Fatal Bonds is not a rules heavy larp, and not focused on “winning.” All guidelines and safety mechanics will be discussed and practiced before the event for the safety and comfort of all players, and can also be found in details later on in this document, as can our info on our “Play to lift” philosophy.

The Design Team

Journeys & Tales is a larp production company created to facilitate Nordic Style larps run in the US. We strive to create events with with a keen emphasis on adventure, excitement, and commitment, all of which are outlined in our Vision Statement.

J&T primarily consist of the husband and wife team of Meredith and Christian, but regularly bring in various staff, helpers, and creative consultants in both the idea generation, design, and execution phase of our events.
Read more about us on the about section of our website.