What to expect when you come to play Cirque Noir with us.

The first draft of our design document is available right here.

Social exclusion

Everyone has an opinion about the circus way of life but in 1927 that opinion was usually not a kind one. Members of a circus troupe often encountered hatred, racism and exclusion from the inhabitants of the towns they visited. Some of them even encountered social exclusion long before they joined the circus ranks.
In Cirque Noir we will explore both social exclusion from the outside world as well as within the circus ranks. We will not only explore the theme from a negative angle but also explore the positive effects exclusion can have on bringing people together. After all, Within the circus we are all up against one another, but when an outsider comes we will stand united as one.


Some parts of the circus life can be read as morally ambivalent. The circus has its own unique moral code as well as explicit and implicit social rules. Throughout the larp we try to reflect on this theme by bringing in a unique set of morals for each character. It is up to you as a player to see what side your character will be on during the game. Do they believe in the ‘’eye for an eye’’ punishment standard the circus holds on to. Or will they try to steer in a different direction?

The skeletons in the closet

Secrets are a huge part of Cirque Noir. Every character will get one during creation. It can be dark and haunting or slightly more light-hearted. However the way it comes out will define the further course of their life in some way or another. It is up to them to treat it with the necessary care; or will they buckle under its weight.

By Ork de Rooij
By Ork de Rooij
By Ork de Rooij

Cirque Noir is larp

Cirque Noir is a larp which isn’t deeply rooted in one design tradition. We have taken design elements which we deemed most fitting for the story we wanted to tell and put them together in one game. You might recognize elements from different styles.
Cirque noir is a larp where collaborative storytelling is the number one goal. We encourage and facilitate calibration of play between participants through several tools which will be explained in a workshop before the game starts.
Cirque noir doesn’t have set skills or rules. Rules available help players to navigate their characters story in the most satisfying way.

Cirque Noir is a larp about people first.

Through Cirque Noir we seek to explore themes of community, family, morality and social exclusion. We deem the chosen era of the twenties an essential part of this story. It is however not a story about the world in 1927. It is primarily a story about people who choose or are forced to leave ‘’regular’’ society and create their own home. It is about their personal struggles as well of the struggle of the circus troupe as a whole.

Cirque Noir explores the line between superstition and the paranormal

In the circus you will encounter things that balance on the edge of the unknown. Maybe it is during a session with the fortune teller, maybe it’s a sudden waft of a long gone memory that haunts you or maybe the mechanical turk knows more about you then it should. We like to explore the grey area where people will start to doubt their own mind and senses.
All interaction with the ‘’grey area’’ will be through props, lights, sound and occasionally blackbox scenes.

Cirque Noir is created to fit players with a smaller budget as well

Do not expect private rooms or luxury bathrooms when joining Cirque Noir. There will be shared (off-game) dorms as well as shared bathroom facilities. You can however expect top-notch food and a tent village suitable for performing and role-play; reflecting American travelling carnivals in the 1920s.
By picking a less luxurious location we can create a tent village while still keeping prices below 200 euros for players.

What you can expect from us

  • Cirque Noir is best described as interpersonal drama with a dose of crime, paranormal and religious themes.
  • Cirque Noir is not a Larp about high-paced action or fighting. We focus on interpersonal play. Physical conflict can be a part of this, but it will not be a main part of this Larp.
  • All players will receive input from the SL’s before the game starts in the form of a pre-written background. If you want to design your own characters from scratch, Cirque Noir is probably not the Larp for you.  
  • All characters will receive at least one personal secret before the game starts. These secrets are meant to stimulate interpersonal play and drama. It does not mean that we as SL’s will facilitate situations in which your secret will come to light. You yourself are responsible for how you play with these secrets. So keep in mind that if you keep silent about your secret the entire game and don’t give others the chance to discover it, you might obstruct the game, or take away from your own experience and that of others.
  • Although we will consider your preferences when it comes to casting characters, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to fulfill all your wishes for the full 100%.
  • There will always be an out-of-game room where you can gather yourself, relax for a little while, or discuss ideas, problems or questions with fellow players, a safety person, or crew member.

What we expect from you

  • Cirque Noir is an event for participants of 18 years and over. Play will involve heavy themes. If you know you have issues with certain subject matters or suffer from psychological problems which may impact you during play, please contact us before signing up. That way, we can assess whether the event will be suited for you.
  • We expect communication to go smoothly during the preparation phase of the event.. This also means that you will have to keep certain deadlines in mind. We as organisers will spend a lot of time creating characters and making sure the character fits your off-game wishes as best as possible. This is only possible if you keep communicating with us on a regular basis.
  • Before the game, organisers will spend money on location, props and food, and we want to make sure that enough people will attend. Therefore, ticket cancellations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and we cannot guarantee a full refund.
  • As an organisation, we would love to make the decor as immersive as possible. This means that we have to spend a lot of time setting up tents and decor. Therefore, it is much appreciated if you help us build an environment that will give you a great experience by arriving on site early and lending a hand.