There is nothing more exciting and excruciating than the few weeks between a LARPer and a 3-day event. Most start late Friday night (thanks to jobs and set-up times) and go until Sunday afternoon. The most common places to hold these events are state parks that have multiple cabin/shelter set-ups for players and NPC (Non-Player Characters) to sleep. These parks are out of public view and make it so that the events can go on without gawkers. Not that I can blame them, I mean, we do look pretty badass…
All joking aside, today’s article is all about the pre-game. How are you preparing? What are some of the things you need to think about? This isn’t necessarily a to-pack list. That’ll come later, trust me. (Note to self, link this here when I make it closer to time!) How can you -mentally- and physically prepare before shoving it all in your car for a blissful 3 day? Let’s find out.
First off, you gotta have a character.
Most LARPs have 1 day events that help ease you into the shenanigans. However, sometimes your first experience lines up with a 3 day. That being said, you must have a character. Most LARPs give you a lot to choose from. Races, cultures, fighting styles, magic, etc. This will determine things that you need to get, prep for, make, etc. It also influences the costume to an extent. I don’t see many magic tossers in full plate armor. (Why would you subject yourself to that torment if it’s not needed?)
For the sake of the article we are assuming you have a solid character concept, or have attended an event and are prepping for a 3 day. I’ll add a handy list of cool things to think about when fleshing them out.
- How does my character feel about other races/cultures? (if applicable)
- What scares/embarrasses/angers my character?
- What is the goal of my character? (Wealth, power, love, etc)
- Why does my character care about x, y, z?
- In what circumstance would my character lose horridly? (Using Kuuma as an example, anything political or requiring tact she would absolutely fail)
Costume and Accessories
I’m sure I love tormeting myself over costuming as much as the next guy, but I find that my costume tends to evolve game to game. I have different ideas to add on, or think of something that will make the larp better. For example, with my costume on my most recent 1 day, I had no space for pouches due to a lack of a ‘real belt.’ I went and got a real belt that I can hang pouches on and plan on modifying my costume so that there’s less on my waist to make more room.
Pre-Edits: Metal belt attached to metal tassets, leather belt under with colored strips of fabric and leather (The strips are sewn on in multiple layers so there is no room for pouches/accessories)
Post-Edit Plan: Leather belt attached to the inside of the metal tasset belt so that there is one piece to worry about, new leather-belt with room for pouches.
Other Plans: Fix boot strap that is backwards, add more holes because i’m getting fat, make feather/beads for weapon, make sheath for daggers and macuahuitl
It is always going to happen at a LARP. Something is going to shift/be uncomfortable and you’re going to think of a better solution. The weeks leading up to LARP are perfect to make those modifications, make sure everything is clean, and to test fit for further modifications. I don’t know about you, but I gained some weight over the holiday season for sure. Things you might’ve forgotten come back to light in the weeks before a LARP due to the enthusiasm. You start thinking about it more.
Another good thing to do is hit up the local thrift shops. I’ve found some amazing finds such as treasure chests, an ornate candleholder to hold a special dragon egg that was made for me, costume vests/pants/shirts… Never underestimate the power of thrifting. I like to get ideas while thrifting, too. We recently took two big, black peacoats and seamripped the arms off at the shoulder. I sewed down the shoulders and lined them with fur. My boyfriend lined his with green trim. I was going for a wild look, whereas he wants to keep his knightly, noble look. We both did the same thing but modified it to fit our costume needs/tastes. Is there a Renaissance Festival near you? There are useful things you can pick up from festivals for LARP. Anything from costume pieces, jewelry, all the way to boffer shields and pouches to wear on your belt. This option is a little harder and needs to be timed since festivals are not year round.
Forums, LARP Groups, Letters, Roleplay
Every LARPer has different ways to cope between games. My personal preference is to write. I enjoy writing letters back and forth between characters that are willing. It’s a good way to get familiar with characters that you may not get to speak to much during game, or a good way to grow closer to the characters that you do know. I write little blurbs of my character and her misadventures across the land. Others put together groups, such as a G+ or Facebook group, in order to discuss LARP shenanigans. These places are great to run ideas across interested parties and get feedback. They’re a good resource to find places to get things you may need for LARP as well. Need a nice boffer sword? There’s a chance someone is taking commissions. “Where did you get that pouch? It’s fantastic!” -link provided-.
For Altera, little pieces of information are put into the forums to hint at upcoming games. Questions are answered and mysterious items are posted in hopes of finding out more information about them. These forums are a good way to pass the time between games. It may not be your forte, but thankfully there are other ways to pre-game that don’t involve the computer. Or typing.
There was a time, straight from legend, when I would wake up at 4am to go workout before work. Those days are long gone and while I wish I had the fortitude or time to do so again, I have to get my exercise in other ways. LARP is a great way to do so, but if you are not prepared before a 3 day you are going to get absolutely destroyed. I don’t say that to scare you, but what basically is a full day and a half of combat/running around a State Park is going to wind you if you’re not prepared. I suggest beginning to walk/run/cardio a few weeks before LARP. A few months if you really want to avoid feeling horrendous. As someone with asthma I can’t stress the importance of finding a routine before LARP in advance. Whether you have any pre-existing illnesses or not, it’s never a bad choice.
Yes, that is my boffer macuahuitl.
My boyfriend absolutely adores combat practice. I work full time and go to school full time so I’ve been neglecting him when it comes to sparring in the front yard. It is an excellent way to learn new tactics and kick ass/get your ass kicked. 15 minutes of cardio is as good as running on the treadmill at home, in my opinion. It gets you used to using weapons, fighting against someone, and strengthening your skills when it comes to fighting another warm body. LARPers hold training sessions to fight with eachother, and staff do the same. In fact, Altera is holding an NPC combat training session tomorrow but I can’t go because i’m a PC and they’re sharing secrets. Oh well. More of an excuse to get with some of the other LARPers and hang out!
We have to manage our expectations as best as possible. Plot staff are human and lead human lives. They have children, jobs, school and personal lives. While it’s really easy to forget that from our side of the fence, we have to incorporate whatever aspects of LARP we can into our own personal day-to-day. I can’t tell you how many group chats i’m in. I’ve written who knows how many short stories to connect with my character and get a better sense of her place in her particular LARP universe. I get to spar with my spouse (I’m still convinced this is how we should settle arguments, but he wins 99% of the time and I don’t want to be wrong that much).
Do your best not to explode into a thousand tiny (messy) pieces and pre-game on! I’ll have a ‘to-pack’ list closer to my actual LARP weekend. If you’re local, come on out and try us! New to larp? Come NPC and get a taste of what it’s like. As for me, I need to kick it into high gear so i’m not dying within the first hour of larp. It’s definitely a sport.