* The 1960's saw the earliest games of Killer we are aware of that are connected to Cambridge's ruleswise.
Killer involves participants trying to 'kill' each other as they go about their daily lives, with a range of safe and harmless toy weaponry.
See here for more, including for the social value of this activity in such as campuses, uni towns and colleges. In particular, this is felt to have social value by new arrivals and by people who feel left out of other activities. Whilst the first lot may well have other activities provided for them in Freshers week, those other activities mostly centred around drinking and meeting many people at once in large groups. These things do not suit everybody, and killer games were refreshingly different in this regard.
* 1981. Rules for such were formalized and widely distributed by Steve Jackson Games. These particular rulesets have a lot of attacks in them that are highly amusing but impractical and taking a lot of set-up time. These more closely resemble the boulder-and-safe, costume kill, and try-and-get-it-licensed-by-the-umpire aspect of our own game, which produces few but highly memorable kills. Bear in mind that these rulesets are no way near as adapted to campuses, much less our own campus, than our own rules are. That is because we listen to complaints and concerns raised by the bystanders amidst whom we play, and so have evolved to be particularly nonproblematic within the town and university that we do this in.
A useful summary of this is that `assassins is about widely tasteful practical jokes between consenting participants, designed to not inconvenience or alarm members of the general public (`bystanders') who so happen to witness them.' This is widely appealing to many, whilst not causing substantial problems for anyone else in the general area. That is one precondition on killer games becoming large.
* 1980's One example of this being adopted by a university was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They are particularly relevant to Cambridge since it was their ruleset that Cambridge adopted and modified in the early 1990's. Targets were presumably issued by internal mail (similar to our UMS).
* These logistics were probably paralleled when Cambridge's CUSFS(Science Fiction Society) took up the game from MIT.
* 1989 Another `element of fun' arose from Terry Pratchett publishing "Pyramids", which prominently featured an Assassins' Guild. Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork Guild crest had the cloak and dagger, a purple line sinister and some double-crosses. The sinister and the double crosses are indeed puns. Compare for now the Cambridge Guild crest's cloak and dagger, though in part of the 1990's the Cambridge Guild used a redrawing of the whole of the Ankh-Morpork Guild crest. The below account relates this to many further instances of heraldry.
* There also then arose a practical facilitator of killer games: the internet and email. Targets were now issued by email, as well as umpires asking questions of participants in disagreement of each other, and receiving reports of kills. These were then placed on News websites, with unruly players being listed on Wanted websites for other participants listed on Police websites to 'kill' or 'apprehend'.
* 1993 It was at around this time that killer got its first entire society dedicated to that in Cambridge: the a href=http://www.srcf.ucam.org/assassins>Assassins Guild. The Founders of that are listed here. See ***here*** for the oldest surviving ruleset currently publicly archived.
* 1994 Cambridge Assassins, however, only became sizeable once some people realized the value of socfairs and of open participation rather than a pre-existing group of people taking potshots at each other. The movement that started this came to be known as Gold Assassins, who valued killer games as a means of inclusion more than as a contest to be won.
Rather, this activity can be taken to be for those who enjoy this activity for itself, and for those who value the social wellbeing that follows from this activity. A lot of different people find it enjoyable. And many value its 'meeting one person at a time in amusing circumstances' aspect and its 'what works better wins, subject to it being friendly, safe and non-alarming' aspect. The latter means not having to conform to an 'established group's sense of aesthetics', allowing for multiple social groups and individuals to play each other within the guild games.
On this basis, game size increased from 20-or-30 to 100-to-200 in Michaelmas games ever since... [90 to 240 to be more precise :-) ].
* Another early 1990's fun element was the rise of the Supersoaker range of toys based upon designs of Lommy Johnson. These weapons proved to be long-lasting and versatile for assassins ambushes, and in combats ensuing from the original attempt failing. Those coming out on top of most such encounters in the Founding generation happened to be those carrying such weapons concealed and swiftly drawable.
* In the period of the Serial Umpires (L97-E98), the Golds suggested that there be assassins events involving killing in addition to the End of Term Duels.
They also started a program of Assassins Parties, as a once per term Out of Bounds social without killing.
It is not known whether any of either of these two things occurred before 1997: none attending those knew whether there had been any such before.
The original ethos is "whoever is interested in running any kind of event or social, and does so friendlily and responsibly, is welcome to just go ahead and do so". Plenty believe that this ethos continues to be alive and well today!
This is like a people's republic, with direct representation rather than representation via elected (or elsewise selected) officials.
It is "voluntary contributions welcome!" without any of the "obligations or rigidity of society committees".
To this day, assassins has not succumbed to the falsely normalizing 'necessity' of rigid committee posts, which are based on presuming all societies are the same and on bureaucratic and political roles being 'necessary and important'.
* In the late 1990's, the Golds came to be connected with the Sheila and her Dog Society, in that these are the two ancestral branches of the lighter hearted society based Safer Spaces, the present-day form of which is here.
Cambridge Assassins' widespread and endearing use of Killer Attack Animals is one of the ways in which Sheila and her Dog's influence is still visible today.
Other such examples include the No Force Rule, the Consent to be Met rule, and the meaningful inclusion of Ex-Cam participants.
* From around 2002 point in time onward, there came to be an IRC channel called #assassins. This came into existence as an online meeting place for some of the players and ex-players.
Unlike the above event-organizing societies, channels are not societies: they have a different set of structural elements.
Societies have their own web domains, and tend to have many of their own: email lists, soc-stalls, committees, constitutions and so on.
Channels' mani hardware is an online forum, though some also have rules, moderators and so on.
These distinctions are more confusing than usual in the case of Cambridge toy weapons activities, because none of these societies accept committees, and some never had constitutions or pooled together to run common socstalls.
- a detailed description of the computer procedures necessary to join the channel.
- a stats page.
For sure, both the above societies and the channel organized events and socials, each in their own way, occasionally jointly and quite often going to each others' activities.
Furthermore (especially to the past of this insertion), some of the college mafias were large enough, keen enough, organized enough to run their own events series. Hence add "Caius Mafia" and a few other such to the list of event providing bodies.
* Also in 2002 Live Action Role Playing (LARP) came to Cambridge. Its original name was Cambridge University Treasure Trap (2002) but in 2014 the same group changed name to Cambridge LARP Society. This activity also involves toy weaponry, albeit in a rather different setting and ethos from the assassins events described here.
This is somewhat confusing because at some other unis there is little if any distinction between the two.
In Cambridge, killing events involve what actually works rather than being a subset of role playing. People are welcome to privately imagine they're James Bond or persons from The Hunger Games, but this is not to translate to using (or wanting to use) realistic replica weapons.
Nor is there a sense of killing events spending prolonged periods of time 'in character'.
Now especially as long ago as the early 2000's there were big reasons for this, including 'in character' actions elsewhere being used as an excuse to shout at people, cause actual distress etc.
In particular, because of this the Safer Space killing event providers said No to 'being in character'.
More recently than that, both the Cambridge Guild and Cambridge LARP have substantially cleaned up their rulesets, so this issue could well no longer apply.
A separate reason for the two being different stems from Assassins and most killing events being done in public, whereas LARP is done in hired places or fields with no bystanders.
Being done in public, what the public, the police (and if in college the porters) do not like has to be taken into account rather than just the tastes of the members themselves.
Being 'in character' in public can cause a number of further problems, which LARP addresses by not doing LARP in public and Cambridge Assassins addresses by what we do in public not being LARP.
Anyhow, from here upward the organizer bodies include IRC and some members of the LARP community also played assassins and were in some of Cambridge Assassins' events as one further group that is sometimes involved.
The start of battle tournaments was in fact rather influenced by LARP, with some of these including rounds with LARP melee weapons and similar, as well as water guns. That's when Cambridge Assassins first met LARP people and compared our ideas with LARP's. Some of our and their weapons safety is similar, though our being in public means that we have a whole bunch of extra weapons non-alarmingness criteria, Out of Bounds areas lists etc.
We'll probably turn much of this block into a new webpage comparing these things. We don't currently have a such because Cambridge LARP have just entirely redone their serious rules, as have Cambridge assassins, and we'd rather the comparison between these include their present forms rather than just their 2002 forms from when these two cultures first met :)
* 2002 CakeFaerie-ing also originated in this period, as an activity during the Exam Term break from assassins whose surprise visits took on a more homogeneous form than the random silly objects and scribblings previously left by Sheila members on each others' doors. Where by 'more homogeneous', we mean cake! In fact, the ancestral CakeFaeries often carried surprise Ginger Cake, to the extent of being known as the SZS for a while (Societas Zingiberenifera Secreta).
TO BE CONTINUED ...