Cambridge Safer Spaces Waterfighting (CSSW) Rules
0 Introduction to What We Do
0.1 We fight around Cambridge with waterpistols.
This involves team-work and the occasional all-on-all deathmatch.
We announce our battles a couple of days in advance on our battle announce email list.
To join and receive the battle announce emails, email cssw-cam-safer-space-waterfighting-announce-owner *at* srcf.net.
We usually fight for around 2 hours every fortnight on weekend afternoons.
Each battle has multiple rounds in which all participants try to attain an objective: last one alive, Capture the Flag, etc.
See the Rules Options below for more.
If you are shot, you are out until the next round, unless you’re in a round for which a resurrection time scale has been set.
Rounds usually last between two and ten minutes.
We often take a half-way break for refreshments; for the Squash and in the Easter term, we will probably have a picnic with us.
We use ‘one hit kills’, which means that people are usually only hit with a few drops from the outer edge of an opponent’s fire.
By this, we seldom get particularly wet.
We only use toy weaponry that is both safe and non-alarming to the public. We fight entirely off university property.
0.2 We are dedicated to being inclusive of everyone who turns up to play in a safe and friendly manner.
We change some rules as we go to ensure everyone present can do well in at least some rounds.
For instance, walking-only rounds so that athletes don’t always win, or equal weapons rounds to not overly favour the owners of expensive toys.
This activity is good for exercise, to the extent to which you wish to exercise.
It is good to de-stress from work, and it is good so as to feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
It can be viewed as an alternative sport that is entirely free from gender and gender expression issues.
Other good such available here in Cambridge include Ultimate Frisbee and Quidditch.
We also use Nerf guns in some battles, rounds and suitable locations.
This is usually as well as, rather than instead of, waterguns.
Waterguns are better to keep people far enough away that you can dodge.
To ambush, especially ambush a whole group. And to escape.
These seldom run out of shots.
Dartguns have longer range, which is better for killing opponents, especially if they are unaware that darts are incoming,
due to surprise attack or distracted by other fighters.
Within range, however, darts are easier to dodge than water.
Darts are also better for shooting at people you are chasing.
These things also apply to stress balls if you are large enough to throw these comparably far to a Nerf gun shot; if not, just use a Nerf gun!
Some scenery is only effective cover against one of water or darts.
Turn up and find out which and why!
With water, it is particularly clear if someone has been hit, and where, because water leaves a mark.
One can ask a person to check themselves for such marks, or to check them e.g. if they’ve been shot in hard to self-check parts like the back or ankle.
One cannot shoot people while they are checking themselves or another.
0.3 We have spare weaponry that people can borrow at the battles.
You are free to bring your own weaponry so long as it conforms to our standards.
See the Banned Weapons section for details, especially about Nerf guns or similar;
in a nutshell, we disallow nerf darts or guns modified to enhance range, anything firing 34 metres or further, everything disallowed in Cambridge Assassins,
and ‘Assassins throwing pens’ as well.
Anything near the edge of what is safe (including our standards of eye safety) must be checked by an Organiser, and they always have the final say.
We may also lend weapons out for the rest of term to people who ask us nicely, so that you can practise for events and use them for the Cakefaerie Duelling activity.
So long as the weapons are returned to us in good condition, and all activity involving them is consensual and legal, we do not mind if they are used for other purposes.
0.4 We have two types of rules: Frivolous Rules of Combat and Serious Rules.
The Frivolous Combat Rules detail the rules of play, options for individual rounds, and a procedure for discussing unsure events in a friendly manner. They’re probably not completely watertight, nor do they need to be! Reading them will help give you an idea of what goes on at our events.
The Serious Rules give details on safety, security, conduct, and awareness. We are explicitly a Safer Space, and certain rules in this section go beyond what would normally be expected in any other society as a result of this.
In cases where the Serious Rules contradict the Frivolous Combat Rules, the Serious Rules are determined to have precedence every time.
1 Frivolous Combat Rules
1.1 Basic Combat
1.1.1 Weapons We Use
Waterguns and Water Status: Our battle events can be Full Water, Water with Care or No Water. Some battle events may have rounds that restrict to Water with Care or No Water. Water with Care guns have small output and are always under 40 cm long. E.g. the Water Warriors Hornet and Viper, the Storm 750 or the supersoaker xp 240; anything smaller than any of these is definitely fine too. Full Water is for larger waterguns and other water-based weaponry (e.g. hoses, water balloons). If needs be, the Organisers present decide where the Water With Care / Full Water barrier lies. If in doubt, test shots will be fired.
Some rounds also permit water rifles (these are of arbitrary size but have only up to 3 times the output of Water with Care guns. E.g. the Supersoakers xp-105, xp-310, or the Water Warriors Python, Lightning, Gorgon, Blazer, Gargantua... The other full water guns (‘cannons’) have 5 or more times the output. Most of these are actual classic CPS supersoakers.
Attack Animals and Stress Balls can be thrown at opponents. These are fluffy toy Attack Animals with no undue hard bits. If hand-held, both can be used to block, as can throwing hats. Attack Animals are more versatile than stress balls, since they can make Ping kills (see below). However, animal shaped stress balls count as Attack Animals, as can stress balls with enough animal features drawn on them.
Ping Kills: You can also kill by pointing a gun at someone and saying "Ping!" from within a metre. This avoids point-blank shots. Unlike in Assassins, it can be used in combat and does not require surprise. This rule may occasionally be turned off if it has been leading to undue amount of disputes. We also allow Ping kills with Attack Animals by making the appropriate animal noise. (You may have to clarify that this was a Ping kill if your opponent just moos, mewls, or growls back!)
Other harmless toy guns: We also use Nerf guns and rubber band guns. We often allow these and waterguns simultaneously, though some rounds are Water Only and some rounds are No Water Weapons. On days with a lot of dartgun rounds, there may be rounds which are not only Water with Care but also with Dart Pistols only. This usually means spring-primed dartguns with at most 8 shots loaded into them at once. What rounds with Full Darts have in addition is guns that have more barrels, machinegun type clips, flywheel motors, air pressure bladders, and/or higher accuracy.
In some rounds, people may use approved melee weapons to kill at close quarters. LARP swords, light sabres, rolled up newspaper coshes... Participants can opt out of being attackable with melee weapons, including without saying why.
For darts/bands/throwing weapons: If a person brings their own ammunition, it is their responsibility to retrieve it at the end of rounds or the event. When using darts similar to another persons’, try to keep track of how many have been fired where. If this is an issue, people might each mark their ammo in a distinct way.
Our rounds are often Water-Only, for a variety of reasons. Fights next to an environmental hazard (a river, a chainlink fence) make darts implausible to retrieve. In dusk or after-dark fights searching for darts is impractical. Fast-moving Urban fights are intended for travel from one area to another: stopping to retrieve ammunition would significantly slow the pace of the round. Fights with large numbers of people, or fights where unsure events are more likely to arise, go a lot more smoothly when watermarks can be used as evidence.
1.1.2 How to Kill People
One hit kills: If hit anywhere on your clothing or body, except when stated otherwise below, you die immediately. Note: in fighting with safe toy weaponry, most shots miss, especially when the person being shot at sees them coming or is running around.
Being Dead: If you know you’ve been ‘fatally shot’, say such as ‘I’m dead’ or ‘you got me’. Other conventions are ceasing fighting or running, holding the gun point down or placing it on the floor, sitting on the ground, or returning to the weapons pile to help look after it. You needn’t do all these things! If asked if you are dead, you must say ‘Yes’. When turnout is large and battle rounds are open combat, there are team headbands and if shot you remove this. This is very helpful with avoiding confusion and unsure events!
You can’t claim to be dead, or officiating, unless it’s true. Mimicking dead combatents is also not allowed. If you can see that an elsewise highly probably fatal hit has in fact just missed you,
the onus is on you to state clearly that it ‘missed!’.
Hits: If you think you shot someone but they remain unaware of that or think otherwise, then you can ask if they have been hit. At ours, this is a question, not an assertion, like a Cricket appeal that someone may be out: Owzat? In this case one has an Unsure Event, and further rules indicate the kind of Discussion Procedure by which we deal with these.
Watermarks: A wet patch the size of a 5p (Water With Care) or 50p (Full Water) coin usually counts as a hit. Because of this permanence, water weapons causes a lot less Unsure Events per shot than non-water weapons. This is one of the ways in which water is rather more convenient.
Hits to hand-held weapons don’t count. Indeed, you can block shots in this way. However, if your gun just deflect the shot onto you, the hit still counts. Hint: if one spots incoming darts or stress balls, one can often block them, but one can almost never block water. Modifying your weapon to increase its value as a shield is not allowed.
Hits to the hands and feet don’t count (too hard to discern: shoes get wet too and are thick, and it’s hard to distinguish between hitting a gun or the hand it’s in). Ricochets off scenery do not count as hits; ricochets of other players, while rare, kill both of you! (In the Assassins’ Guild, whether blocking is allowed or not varies from Umpire to Umpire, and hands/feet are usually valid targets, so in the present term this might be a minor difference between combat there and here.)
Only shots you fired before you died count. It is possible for one’s killing shots to still be in the air as one dies...
Limb Hits Wound is additionally the default rules option. If shot in an arm or leg, you can’t use it for the rest of the round for game actions. You can obviously still use your legs to stay away from traffic, not inconvenience bystanders etc. Elsewise, hop :) (You can always give yourself out as dead rather than use this rules option).
1.1.4 Bystanders and Accomplices
You can both passively and actively deny being a participant, until you are shot, at which point you must admit you are a participant. This is particularly relevant in ‘Urban rounds’, see rules options, and newbies or less fighty people may find this a useful way to kill more veteran fighters. Rounds needing this, obviously, have to have a signal other than taking off the team headband to clarify that they are dead! People are welcome to join any of our battles by attacking as a ‘lone wolf’ ambusher, provided that they have read our rules and, in particular, aren’t using any kind of toy weapon that may at all need prior safety inspection.
You obviously can’t go round shooting genuine bystanders. Remember a ‘bystander’ can’t shoot you out of a round without making it clear they’re not a bystander! As such, the way to defend against fake bystanders is to politely stay away from bystanders, see through disguises etc. We hold that it is people who can’t take being shot at by newer, shyer people who use this style that have the attitude problem, and not those who use this approach. For this is how anyone can make an impact without big guns, athleticism or a tonne of fighting experience. We remind people that laying ambushes round corners also results in bystanders being shot unless one gets one’s attitude and priorities right, as does fighting with bystanders in the line of fire behind one’s dodging opponent.
Accomplices - non-combatant helpers - are allowed. However, they can be shot at as much as players, and will be encouraged to become participants and be able to shoot back. They must abide by the same rules as participants, and must ‘belong’ to one or more participants, who will be held in part responsible for bringing this person along if anything goes wrong. If the accomplice becomes a combatant, this responsibility dissolves.
1.1.5 This ruleset is also used by Duelly CakeFaeries.
Wherever the rules mention CSSW, they apply to the Duelly CakeFaeries as well, unless these are mentioned separately.
2 Serious Rules
The current ruleset contains four types of Serious Rule: Safety (staying out of Danger),
Security (staying out of Trouble), Common Decency / Friendliness Conduct Rules, and Safer Space Rules.
It makes clear distinction of which Serious Rules are Safer Space Rules, and which are Common Decency / Friendliness Rules.
While all Serious Rules are important, some of the most important are highlighted in red.
Common Decency/Friendliness Rules can be expected in many other societies, groups, activities and events around Cambridge.
Safer Space Rules go above and beyond this, so as to accommodate a wide range of people who don’t feel safe enough in most other places.
If you are a CakeFaerie or in the Sheila and Her Dog Society, the general Safer Space rules are the same for all three. If you are an Assassin, the Common Decency / Friendliness Rules are very similar indeed to the Cambridge Assassins’ Guild Code of Conduct (located in the Full Guild Rules, not just the Pocket Rules).
2.1 Some of the most Important Rules
[Unless where we say so in square brackets, these are all Conduct Rules.]
Be Friendly at all times during this society’s activity.
Waterfighting is Only a Game. Thus there is No Excuse for Nasty or Inappropriate Behaviour during the activity or over its organizing.
Real Life Issues override issues internal to our games.
In particular, Nasty and Irresponsible are adjudicated by real-life criteria.
(Being killed, betrayed, lied to or plotted against in a game are no grounds for taking real-life offence. By the same token, there’s nothing real-life wrong with 'revenge' by similar real-life acceptable game methods in other of our games.)
[Security] Our activities being only a game, they are No Excuse for Trouble or Nuisance.
In particular, do nothing illegal, or which may be mistaken by onlookers as highly illegal.
If you can’t provide a reasonable explanation for exactly what you are doing to any Porters, Fellows or Police Officers who challenge you over doing it, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
[Safety] And these are all Harmless Games. So do nothing at all likely to cause injury to anyone,
whether Bystander or participant (including yourself) or cause material damage.
To Be Involved in these societies is to Consent To Be Met.
But not a card to intrude beyond welcome.
It is a Promise that all actions carried out in connection with these societies is Grounded on Friendly Conduct.
(CSSW meet by going to Events. This and all other Safer Space societies additionally have Soc-Parenting schemes that parallel the College Parenting scheme.
Many of us additionally meet by doing the CakeFaerie Duelling Activity.)
Exercise common sense at all times. Participants are entirely responsible for their behaviour.
CSSW does not condone any course of action that leads to confrontation with people in authority.
Avoid inconveniencing other people, especially Police, the general public, Porters and other uni staff.
We are inclusive of and friendly toward all legally protected minorities: women, LGBT+, BME, the Disabled...
We are also Women’s Safety Conscientious, and Personal Safety Conscientious more generally.
Personal safety concerns of anyone present always take precedence over tactics, rules of splitting up, or weapons choices.
Note that e.g. some female participants may interpret some toy weapons attacks or actions as physically cornering people or
entering their personal space. Also, people new to Cambridge may become lost if left alone in a large urban area, and everyone has a different threshold for ‘I’m okay with being shot at by that thing’.
[Conduct and Safety: No-Force Rule] This activity is not about physical strength or violence.
There is no excuse whatsoever for pushing people around or forcing them out of your way.
Most specifically, you are not allowed to move anything that someone else is holding still.
If someone is holding a gate or door open or shut, you should not attempt to move it.
Nor can you use any strength whatsoever to grasp any weapon away from a person holding it.
Anyone breaching this rule may find any consequent in-game actions disallowed.
You are not to photograph or video people at or around CSSW events without the explicit permission of all the people featured.
[Safer Spaces] We are explicitly a Safer Space. Here is our Mission Statement and Safer Space Rules.
Raising Serious Rules concerns - Safety, Security, Common Decency, Friendliness, Inclusion, Safer Space - is No Excuse to be unfriendly.
All the rules stated for this activity apply also to the organizing of the activity.
2.2 Safety and Security
‘Trouble’, ‘nuisance’, 'harmless’, and ‘at all likely to cause injury or material damage’ are assessed as risk rectangles: (likelihood) x (consequences).
For instance, consequences include how much material damage, and, among injuries, place much more weight on those which may be permanent: eye safety, traffic accidents...
This means that some Safety and Security Rules consider very likely occurrences with relatively minor consequences, but also highly unlikely occurrences with very bad consequences.
Additionally, if a group setting up a toy weapons society only thinks in terms of likely occurrence events and very bad consequence events, rather than in term of risk,
they would likely miss out comparable risks which are 'square’: somewhat less severe consequences for occurrences that are unfortunately somewhat likely.
Remember that while you might know a weapon or action is safe, members of the public may not. Do not cause alarm.
CSSW do Not kill/shoot at/scare/annoy bystanders and always promptly and respectfully leave premises from which they are asked to leave.
Look like and act like a civilized human being :) We do not cause any actual worries to bystanders, by which our game remains tolerable. Remember: the line of fire between you and your opponent includes the area behind the opponent that is in range also...
CSSW’s activities are based on what happens to work whilst staying within the corresponding Friendliness Rules and within what the Public and the Police tolerate.
And not on things like ‘what looks good’ or ‘what better approximates real-life violent situations with real guns’.
We are not about pretending the fighting is real and not about being realistic in any detail.
Be aware that both the security forces and the public are particularly easily alarmed at present.
Avoid behaviour that may cause you to be mistaken for a criminal, let alone a terrorist:
do not wear a balaclava or other suspicious clothing; do not unnecessarily bear weapons in public (to and from Events);
remember that even toy guns can look real in the dark or on CCTV; where possible, do not lurk suspiciously;
be particularly cautious anywhere outside central Cambridge, where university people and societal activities are less common.
You are strongly encouraged to hoard opaque carrier bags and keep some in your handbag, backpack, coat pocket etc as very portable cover for emergencies,
as well as usually keeping your gun in such a bag. You are also strongly encouraged to not use two or three foot long water guns in urban battles,
unless you have the means and discipline to hide such awkward things when and where prudent.
At present, when we fight in streets, we don’t allow Melee Weapons or Rubber Band Guns. These are OK in parkland battles.
No firing darts into traffic, or into the river, or within range of bystanders. No littering by losing or leaving behind substantial amounts of ammo...
2.2.1 Out of Bounds areas
CSSW only meets in terrains selected by experienced Safety and Security Officials, so it doesn’t presently require a long Out of Bounds (OOB) list.
They’ll mention any places within or next to the area in question that are Out of Bounds.
Our organizers will usually brief you on any particular safety or security issues in or right next to a piece of battle terrain that is unfamiliar to some participants.
All things OoB here are OoB for us (obviously excepting CSSW’s waterfights themselves).
All University or College property is also OoB. CSSW neither fight nor openly bear arms there.
We strongly recommend you carry your uni ID if you possess any.
And to only take time out between rounds ‘refilling’ in College grounds if you can conceal the weapons in a stowed-away form
and are in the presence of at least one participant with uni ID.
At least sometimes we will supply crates of tapwater.
Conceal stowed away includes the following: in a backpack, in an opaque plastic bag or inside your coat as a sturdy parcel in your arms.
2.3 Weapons Safety
Don’t use any toy guns that the Police, the Public or the Organisers consider to look like real guns.
Don’t use any weapons that bruise or are eye-unsafe.
(We take bruising to mean that there’s any mark at all half an hour after the shot or later).
By both of the preceding, actual weapons, BB guns, pellet guns, Airsoft guns and paintball guns are banned.
2.3.1 Water Weapon Safety
Be particularly careful not to crash into any waterguns, for they are hard and dense.
Clean water only. In particular, do not use river water, or water with stuff dissolved in it. Also ambient temperature water only. (A few blasters have ‘compartments for inserting ice cubes’. Don’t. And don’t fill up with hot water either.)
Water balloons cannot be used in or around the river, nor are the bits of rubber they create to be left as litter.
Water balloons in excess of half a litre cannot be dropped directly onto participants. They must rather hit a patch of ground next to participants.
We presently disallow darts as a default .
But can issue permits for licenced dartgunners as part of some challenges:
the regular participants would there have to deal with being strafed with nerf darts as well as whatever else :)
Licensed dartgunners have to have read all of our rules (general conduct and safety rules as well as dart-specific rules).
2.3.2 Eye Safety
As eyes are possibly the most vulnerable part of the body, a weapon’s potential damage to an eye limits the weaponry we use. Wearing safety masks/paintball googles is not an option because, firstly, we fight in places which can have bystanders, who then obviously don’t have eye protection. Secondly, by choice. Other groups do that elsewhere (usually requiring motorized transport and fees). But our activity is free, uses nearby accessible public locations, where we use safe and unalarming weaponry well within what the public tolerates. This choice of setting, toys and being within what the public tolerates, is important for many of our Safer Space purposes and so is an unalterable part of our Society.
We do not allow anything that has a 45 degree windless range of 34 metres or further (40 standard-sized paces).
No modified darts either. Or hard rubber darts, vinyl tipped darts, chalk darts or darts with hard noses, hard nose cores or added stabilizer fins. No ammo containing metal, stone, wood or similar.
The default is that guns modified to increase range are disallowed, because this may take them outside the risk analysis of the manufacturer. If a usually low powered gun has had minor alterations, you can ask the organizers to test it and license it if it still lies well within safety standards. Organizers’ word on this matter is final.
One cannot get a gun licensed and then make further modifications to it. Likewise one cannot use a modified gun under the pretense that it isn’t. Anything looking like it fires further than its model usually does is subject to being disallowed until tested.
We do not allow guns that use paintball technology to fire things other than paintballs.
No catapults (or other ‘assisted means’ of launching throwing weapons, such as, but not restricted to tennis rackets or atlatls!)
Do not aim at the head or neck.
Do not fire a weapon at anyone less than one metre away. Use a Ping kill instead :)
By one or more of the above, e.g. the Nerf Rival series, the WipeOut gun, the Buzz Bee Ultra Tek Sentinel, the Xploderz water-pellet gun and the Dart Zone Scorpion are disallowed.
2.3.3 Melee Weapons Safety
You are meant to only touch, not strike, the opponent.
No attacks to the head are allowed, and, if one were to occur by accident, it does not count as a hit.
Do not hit anyone in the head or neck, and do not aim in such a way that your weapon could bounce and hit them in the head.
You also need to understand and adhere to the No Force Rule. I.e. you cannot gain any advantage in close-quarters combat by putting in any strength, so little and large can play side by side both safely and fairly.
For CSSW battles, this usually means: You can never push through a parry. Consequently you need put no strength into parries either. Crossing blades is an automatic parry. And you can never grab a weapon off somebody who is to any extent at all holding that weapon.
You cannot use guns as melee weapons. In particular, you cannot strike, parry or block melee weapons with any kind of toy gun. Bayonets, or any other kind of attaching of melee weapons to your gun, are disallowed as blatently unsafe. You also cannot simultaneously use a melee weapon while holding any other kind of weapon in the same hand. If you’re within melee range of someone and you’re holding a gun, you can make a Ping kill instead.
You can only use a cored LARP weapon if you have passed the corresponding LARP weapons safety. Even if you have passed LARP weapons safety, bear in mind that at ours you may be up against people with other kinds of weapons like light sabres, so you need to exercise more caution than usual. Also remember that parrying is different in all activities with a No Force Rule. Finally, only touching with blows is somewhat more stringent than your usual standard of ‘pulling your blows’. That said, those who know how to pull blows the LARP way are usually also those who adhere best to our safer still standard.
For now, all Melee Weapons Only rounds and rounds with a person using a Melee Weapon are Walking Only. If we succeed in avoiding bruising and head shots this way, maybe in some future term we’ll move up to allowing jogging or allowing people to run whenever they are not in range of exchanging blows. So you’d run up behind them, stop, and then backstab them. Or run ahead to block the other team further up the path with stationary fighting.
No particularly pointy, sharp, heavy or impactful Melee weapons. This includes no LARP polearms or gigantic hammers (too much momentum), and possibly some battleaxes. Quarterstaves are allowed.
2.3.4 Banned Weapons
All banned weapons so far mentioned in this section.
Realistic replica guns (that are illegal to have in public by UK Law, e.g. rubber pellet guns), or visually similar (e.g. Firewheel bandguns).
Aerosol-based weapons, including poison gas and silly string, due to allergies.
Thrown CDs, playing cards, ‘grenades’, or any other kind of fragmentary weapon or weapon which has the possibility of dispersing into small pieces.
We allow water balloons in some zones only if the mess is picked up afterwards.
Anything labelled with the word 'bomb' or similar.
Rubber balls, ball-bearings, or anything else that is hard and similarly smaller than the eye socket (> 2 inch radius).
Weapons which target the neck, e.g. ‘fake garottes’ of any kind.
Whatever else the public doesn’t tolerate seeing people firing it and/or it looks too realistic including in bad light and through CCTV.
This includes any other realistic looking weapons,
including what were unalarming bright coloured toys which have now been painted black/silver/gun-metal/camouflage etc,
and including vaguely realistic looking toy knives. This also includes LARP bows and crossbows.
Laser pointers, unless part of a toy weapon and everyone you’re likely to point it at already knows this.
2.4 General Safety
You participate in CSSW at your own risk, including that of any property you turn up with, right down to your pet goldfish!
Nobody else is responsible for stopping you from doing something silly and getting yourself hurt (though we'll do our best to help you!)
It's up to you and your own knowledge of your abilities to determine what you're capable of and okay with doing.
If you jump in the river, or throw yourself to the ground in an elaborate but leg-breaking fashion, then it's your own fault.
If you are injured or tired or feel unwell, you should remove yourself from play and / or tell an organiser.
Use common sense.
If you have a condition or circumstance that may cause a safety issue but still wish to play, consider informing the organisers
so they can tell everyone how to keep you safe. We're willing to be discreet and we don't ask why :)
To avoid falls, always wear appropriate footwear, especially if it is muddy or icy. Falls hurt more onto concrete, which is part of why we don't use melee weapons in the urban setting.
You must take the traffic seriously as a place not to fight through, stand in, or run through.
You have the right to opt out of carrying around heavy equipment during a CSSW event.
This includes not using any weapon you're not comfortable handling! We will usually establish a 'base camp' that at least one of us will always remain in sight of.
(Valuables are left there at your own risk.)
We fight all year round in many different types of weather!
If it is cold, remember to dress warmly. If it's rainy, bring a waterproof coat and / or an umbrella.
If it is sunny, consider sunscreen and sunglasses.
Spare weather-appropriate accessories will often be brought along by the organisers on days when the climate is somewhat extreme.
2.5 The Safer Spaces Mission Statement
A person is upset if they say they are, and without having to say why. Apologies are expected, as are non-repeats of what caused it."
We are explicitly a Safer Space.
Our Mission Statement and the Safer Space rules shared across all of our societies are
Please read, understand, and respect it if you wish to participate in our activities.
2.5.2 Some Interpretations Relevant to CSSW
By the form of our Safer Space Mission Statement, we are explicitly not a roleplaying club, and we are explicitly not a competition.
At ours, it’s game as in ‘icebreaker game’ and not as in certain types of ‘gaming’.
We take a decidedly secular view about roleplaying and competitivity.
While you are free to roleplay or to keep score, you are not allowed to put pressure on or coerce anyone else into doing so,
and real-life nastiness or irresponsibility will never be able to be excused by either.
(For example, roleplayers wanting to use realistic looking weaponry or being ‘in-character nasty’ are not allowed.
Nor are competitive people wanting to use unsafe weapons for game advantage or shaming people for not doing well.)
It is also not OK to become offended by real-life acceptable actions of other participants under the guise of ‘That’s not the right way to have fun’.
Meeting people and making friends, inclusion and being a Safer Space are more important than our activity or outcome.
That is, we are a ‘Why Society", not a ‘What Society’: why we do activities is more important than what the activities are (or the outcomes of games or who ‘killed’ who).
Many of these Safer Space issues, and the nature of SafeOuts (see below),
are necessary in practice for the inclusion of elsewhere little-known, understood or served, ‘legal-and-consensual and yet not legally-protected’ minorities
such as, but not limited to, Closeted people, Survivors and Socially Anxious people.
Participants can opt out of being attackable with melee weapons, (or any other kind of weapon), including without saying why.
This is particularly relevant for melee weapons because of personal space and no-contact issues.
2.6 Using ‘SafeOut’
2.6.1 In the unlikely event that you know or feel that there is a breach of Serious Rules during a CSSW encounter,
the immediate way to deal with it is by clearly stating the word "SafeOut".
SafeOut stops all play until all participants present understand why it was evoked and that the reason for it no longer applies.
SafeOut covers all Safety and Security matters, most commonly traffic or bystanders.
SafeOut also covers Common Decency, Friendliness and Inclusion matters.
SafeOut moreover includes "SafeOut: one of us is causing it".
"A person is upset if they say they are, and without having to say why. Apologies are expected, as are non-repeats of what caused it."
is our motto when dealing with internal issues caused by our own members.
This and Rules 2.6.2-4 are Safer Space rules.
2.6.2 SafeOut is the most significant practical rule in the entire set:
if there is any Serious Rules problem, immediately freeze play and nip it in the bud.
Cambridge Assassins, your equivalent of SafeOut is TimeOut.
LARPers, your equivalent is ‘Stop the Game’ (or, formerly, and possibly still elsewhere than Cambridge, ‘Man Down’).
If you state ‘TimeOut’ or ‘Stop the Game’ instead of SafeOut, organizers will heed these as meaning ‘there is a serious rules issue that needs to be dealt with immediately’.
This covers e.g. some people feel silly or anxious using safety words in general, and are happier using ones they’ve seen successfully used elsewhere.
If at a Safer Space anyone uses any of ‘TimeOut’, ‘SafeOut’ or ‘Stop the Game’, it is Safer Space Rules which apply, and not Assassins
or LARP (or any other) rules, which don’t extend to the same range of issues. We repeat: "A person is upset if they say they are,
and without having to say why. Apologies are expected, as are non-repeats of what caused it."
You are obviously not allowed to make a SafeOut only for "game advantage" (e.g. simply to reload your gun!). But if you notice a serious rules issue at a time when a SafeOut would give you competitive advantage / disadvantage, remember that CSSW is explicitly not a competition and that serious rules issues trump any in-event scenario.
2.6.3 SafeOut can solely be used to defend oneself and not to personally attack anyone else.
Like all other Safer Space things, SafeOut is an abuse-free zone.
SafeOut's is to ensure that anybody causing upset, deliberately or otherwise, backs off and apologizes. And that there are no repeats of what caused it.
Do not hesitate to start a SafeOut.
It does not matter if you think it the matter might be ‘too trivial’, or something that ‘I could probably solve myself’, or ‘about a past occurrence’
or because there’s been another SafeOut recently or there’s been none for ages.
If you’re not comfortable making a SafeOut yourself, you can bring the issue up quietly with an Organiser and they’ll sort things out on your behalf. (Asking them "Can I talk to you for a moment?" and then immediately walking away from the group is an easy way to get them alone.) The ‘Not having to say why’
includes not having to state that SafeOut is being evoked on behalf of someone else.
You can use "SafeOut. Must leave now." if you have to leave immediately for unspecified personal reasons. Such are not to be impeded from leaving on any grounds.
2.6.4 You may not ignore or trivialise current or past SafeOuts, nor hold them against anyone in any way (e.g. gossiping or joking about it after the fact). In fact, it is technically possible to be banned from the Safer Spaces solely for disrespecting a SafeOut.
Whilst we seldom need to use it, our Disclaimer
is entirely and immutably part of the serious rules.
3 Unsure Events
Most usually, a person can check if they have left watermarks on another, without either being shot at in the process. Sometimes further discussion is required.
3.6.1 Further principles of this are as follows.
Be Friendly: At CSSW, the most important thing about these is that these remain friendly. If anyone involved considers that such a discussion has ceased to be friendly, they are welcome to evoke SafeOut.
Dealing with the unfriendliness takes precedence over dealing with the unsure event itself. Once friendliness is reassured or reinstated as appropriate, we can if desired return to discussing the unsure event.
Establishing a shared truth is the essence of discussions, not always insisting that oneself is right.
Unsure events are quite common. People move around faster than most of our safe toy bullets fly, and only notice some things, so it’s entirely possible for different people to give entirely honest accounts which don’t match up. Details of the timing of shots and where they landed are often imprecise by nature. Thus unsure events are common, even in the absense of gamesmanship, and thus in no way by themselves imply gamesmanship. So, as well as not indulging in gamesmanship, don’t automatically assume that an account that does not match up with your own is the result of gamesmanship.
It is unfriendly to call people names such as ‘liar’ or ‘cheat’. Unsure events are No Excuse for this.
A new participant not knowing about unsure events or the discussion procedure is not an excuse for not following it. In this case, evoke SafeOut or fetch an Organizer to do so, and then the new person is informed of whichever of the following are relevant: That we are a Safer Space, make use of SafeOut, have no kind of unfriendliness, that this activity quite often has unsure events, and that there is a particular procedure for dealing with these.
3.6.2 Any use of loudness, strength of personality or refusal to ask for or listen to others’ opinion are unacceptable at our activities. People feeling they’re being out-louded etc are to know they have explicit right to take the uncertain event to the Organizer, especially if they couldn’t voice their own opinion at all.
People who feel there’s been gamesmanship are welcome to tell the Organizers as well.
At CSSW we largely don’t actually care who killed who first - that’s not a necessary part of being Friendly. The Organizers’ main input is ensuring there’s no unfriendliness. Organizers’ rulings on unsure events themselves will usually be something like the following: "Duel for it!" "You’ve had too many unsure events of late so you lose this time!" (Includes toward people who may have been indulging in gamesmanship.) "You didn’t give them their fair say, so you lose regardless of whether your facts might be more correct, because this is a friendly game."
At our activities, we do not favour assertiveness and loudness over who is right and who has demonstrated rightful skills. If stating ‘I shot you’ were to sufficient to eliminate people (as it does in cetain other places), it unduly favours the assertive and the loud. Instead, with us, all people are welcome to ask "Did I hit you?" And, if they say "No", people can reply "I wish to check if there’s water on you", and quickly carry out such a check whilst neither is a licit target for anyone else, so neither checking nor being checked result in people being unceremoniously shot (unlike in certain other places). This system is properly inclusive of new and shy people; it works better for water than for foam darts or rubber bands, so at times we may have rounds with just water. E.g. when there’s a large proportion of new participants, or after there’s been too many unsure events or any unfriendly occurrence.
If a participant’s kill, or conduct in an unsure event, are in breach of the serious rules, who killed who is between of little consequence and totally irrelevant. The infringer is given out as dead, and, in serious cases, play will be stopped by SafeOut until an on-the-spot decision is made by the Safer Space Custodians as to whether that person can continue. As well as kills obtained via disrespecting bystanders, use of seriously out of bounds areas or with unsafe/realistic weaponry, this certainly applies to anyone screaming abuse or using/threatening actual violence during an unsure event. In the event of such a difficulty, we may prefer to suspend that round,
or call it a draw rather than pass a verdict. Because we are primarily a Safer Space, not a game, it’s entirely consistent for more serious matters to override the outcome of a particular round.
3.6.3 The practical procedure for dealing with unsure events are as follows:
Kill Cleanly: If you want your kill to stand, definitely strike first, to the middle of the Target with a sufficient burst of ammunition. Else, you might get an unsure event rather than a kill. So Kill Cleanly is an Avoid! defense to some unsure events occurring in the first place...
Appeal for Hits rather than expect to have all claims granted. There is nothing wrong with appealing if you yourself are unsure of it landing so long as the Target was 'within the box’ in which the shots were landing. Most appeals for hits between experienced waterfighters are found to be incorrect or inaccurate.
If someone’s asking if you’ve been hit with water, check yourself. If they don’t believe you or they’re suggesting their water is on your back, they can check you themselves. If checking is not enough (it’s darts, their gun leaks...) then there may be a more extended discussion rather than an immediate check.
People checking themself, or another, or further discussing an unsure event, can’t be shot at until they’ve returned to their pre-discussion positions. If someone accidentally does this, then just tell them you’re having a discussion phase so the shots weren’t valid :) (Obviously, you’re not allowed to have a discussion just to get out of being attackable!)
3.6.4 Discussions are based on probable ballistics (and probable dodging, blocking) and not on assertions, repetitions, getting louder or name-calling.
Probable means reasonably repeatable.
Establish by firing (dodging, blocking) one to ten times under similar circumstances. Some common examples are as follows:
If the person says ‘I wasn’t even in range!’, test this claim by firing various shots from the same relative separation.
If the person says ‘my gun leaks’, it is for them to demonstrate how much their gun leaks where. You and others may keep track of where it does and does not leak onto. One can also repeat fire with a watergun to see if its watermarks are heavier or much more numerous than the watermarks on the target.
If the person was well within dart range and there are darts in front of them, then these probably have hit something; this still doesn’t distinguish fatal hit from limb hit from blocked shots, though. However, darts and bands that hit can still end up behind the target person by glancing.
If a person is hit from behind with NWW, they can’t comment on not being hit. They can however confirm feeling the hit. Other participants with line of sight of such an unsure event are also welcome to comment.
Keep track of where you were shot in previous rounds. Older water marks are more spread and fainter... If it’s hot and you are sweating, keep track of this too; sweat falling from the forehead can be countered with a towelled headband. If it’s raining, you’ll have to hit with more water, usually from 2/3rds the usual distance, to get clear enough watermark patterns.
3.6.5 Common scenarios in an unsure event and their usual resolutions:
For Limb-Hits Wound rounds, we define the shoulder but not the arse to be part of limbs.
If two people kill someone else at the same time, at ours you share the kill as a ‘full kill’ each :)
If two people shoot each other at the same time (within 0.4 of a second or so), the result is normally a double-kill, with both given out as dead.
3.6.6 The final outcome of a friendly unsure events discussion often takes one of the following forms:
All People involved’s accounts agree, or one party is freely willing to concede that there is actually strong evidence against enough of their suggestion of what happened, or one party does not want to go through the process of discussion for unspecified personal reasons and is happy to withdraw their claim because of this. Then the prevailing account is the Accepted Truth (distinct from the actual truth) and is not to be subjected to further counter-claims, whinging etc.
If not, in the event of each person involved having probable ballistics(dodging/blocking) points that don’t concur, use balance of probabilities to determine the Accepted Truth.
If that’s not enough either, the Organizers will adjudicate unbiasedly when possessing an account from all people involved in the incident. All Participants will likewise abide by this Accepted Truth. The Organizers also have license to reverse or nullify an agreed truth between Players if the latter overlooked any serious rules breaches.
The Optional Duel Ruel. Some Battles or Rounds’ Rulesets allow for participants to mutually agree to duel over an unsure event. This generally applies to rarer situations than who has been shot as told by watermark. Because such duels can be lengthy, this is most suited to when they’re the last two alive, and should elsewise be set up to be quick affairs with equal weapons (e.g. on very small pieces of ground, and certainly face-to-face rather than hiding). It may also help if duellists keep on saying ‘duel’ or put their team headbands round their arm so as to not be interrupted by other participants. This duelling rule will not always be in use, for some days we may well wish for many quick rounds. If a battle’s last two participants are in a duel that looks to last any length of time, the other participants are entitled to start the next round or to pair up for their own quick duels on adjacent but non-obstructing grouns, or accepting these may end in a draw when the actual duel. They may also act as unbiased corner judges for the duel. The duel’s outcome then becomes the Accepted Truth for the original event.
The concept of an Accepted Truth is distinct from an actual truth in that players can still have a sincere belief that a different scenario occurred, but must still abide by the results of the Accepted Truth. They are not required to admit they were wrong, but they are not allowed to insist they were right either. In scenarios where this disconnect occurs, the proper procedure is for everyone involved to recognise that it’s Only a Game and furthermore that there aren’t really any consequences for dying here, and to put the dispute behind them and not bring it up again, neither to whine about it, nor to poke fun at it.
3.6.7 Most importantly, this is a friendly activity, and all unsure events should be resolved in a friendly manner. Regardless of whether you feel the outcome is fair on you, there is no excuse for nastiness towards the other party, the Organisers, or anyone else at the event. Doing such is in breach of the Serious Rules.
4 Rules Options
The Organizers may well introduce such, and Participants are welcome to suggest them. The main point of these is ensuring everyone does well at least sometimes. They include walking-only, equal-weapons, staying in sight, extra preparation time, pairs where both die when one is shot, and compensatory balancing rules to even out the field (the more experienced the participant, the lesser the gun, and/or the strongest participants having to walk, hop or start at great disadvantage: such as surrounded, cornered or totally aligned against the wind. In some games people will have multiple lives, and then more experienced participants could start with less. Finally, it could be equal weapons with amount of water given to each in opposite order of experience or of success so far that day. We wish for any such changes between rounds to be brief and understandable by all: a single clear sentence.
Resurrection. Some rounds - particularly Objective-based ones - have resurrection on a 30 second or 1 minute timer. You are trusted to count this for yourself. Limbs also resurrect on the same timescale; however, dying with an unusable limb does not mean that it resurrects earlier than the rest of your body. You may choose to stay where you are or to move away from enemy players to resurrect, but you cannot move towards them.
Limb-Hits Wound. In many rounds we play, when you are hit on an arm or a leg you may choose to keep playing without the use of that limb. Real-life safety considerations must be taken into account. E.g. if you are on a road when both your legs are shot off, you can walk to the pavement but then have to crawl around if you wish to continue play. You can always choose not to use this rule by stating that you are dead.
Equal Weaponry. These rounds can be one of two types: either all weapons are of comparable type and strength,
or smaller weapons are given to the more experienced players (e.g. a Water With Care weapon in a Full Water round) so other players get a chance to shine.
If you bring your own weapon, you may be asked not to use it for these rounds.
However, we will never give your weapon to someone else to use unless you give explicit permission.
Walking-Only To favour the smaller and / or less athletic people we will sometimes have walking-only rounds. In these, attempting to stretch the definition of ‘walking’ is generally looked down upon.
Other Balancing Rules. We have many other, less-used types of balancing rules and we will also stack them on people who are doing particularly well. If we do this to you, consider it a compliment and a challenge. Examples include: Disadvantageous starting positions (downwind). Having to hop. Limiting the amount of ammunition. Fewer lives or longer resurrection times. Or having all members of a team die when one of them dies. We also use this system to accommodate people who would be disadvantaged by normal play,
including people with disabilities or broken limbs.
If you have an idea for an additional rule that you’d like to try, ask the Organisers. Generally, if it’s real-life safe, friendly, easy to explain and implement, and helps those who might normally do less well, we’ll give it a try at least once.
4.6.1 Duelly CakeFaeries' preferred option.
As many of these are interested in personal security, the preferred rules option for these is Urban (avoiding ambushes, losing tails...),
for which Water With Care is the most ideal option, sometimes supplemented by Jolt or Maverick type lower-powered dartguns.
This choice removes from contention many other issues, such as melee weapon safety, eye safety,
or larger guns overpowering smaller ones in direct rather than ambushy/chasy combat.
If you sign up for this activity, we'll tell you which places in your part of town, off university property, make for good chasing and ambushing.
4.6.2 Rules Options emphasizing Unsure Events Discussions.
The Organizers are free to declare that Discussion Phase stops all play that day, rather than further combatants accidentally piling into people having discussions. This declaration is a response to prioritizing Discussion Phase over ‘fluency of play’; in big battles, each team captain ensuring all their members know SafeOut and Discussion Phase is probably more convenient.
Similar applies if people aren’t pulling their blows enough in Melee.
If there is need to discuss pertinent safety or security issues to do with the current terrain, this will usually be a quick briefing at the start of the event. (e.g. nearby Out of Bounds areas, possible hazards or areas where weapons should be concealed to avoid attracting undue attention). If you arrive late to an event, ask if there’s anything you need to know about.
If we wish to talk about e.g. how SafeOut works or what the Safer Spaces do, we can pause for a few minutes to do so between rounds, possibly at the same time as refreshments.
4.6.2 If given more time, we’ll write something here about forms taken by the following fairly common ‘themed’ Frivolous Rules variants.
Capture the Flag
Humans versus Zombies
Admirals with Bodyguards
Challenge the Mystery Knight
Rebels versus Armies
Shields and fins for blocking.