Larp Prep Micro Blog Series!

Packing for Divine Intervention LARP: Part One:

Food and Drink

 

Welcome to a series in which I do some short burst blogs over the week leading up to an event, as I pack my kit. I pack a little heavy for this game, you will not have to pack this much in general for your standard weekend long boffer event.


 

I put a lot of thought into how I pack for Divine Intervention. I make very detailed lists, and check them off in chunks or else my scattered brain will not be able to remember everything.

For DI, I pack considerably heavier than any of my other events, for a couple of reasons.

  • One: I am in charge of the decorations for my cabin, where the other members of my culture and I try to turn the space into a more realistic in-game home where they might live.
  • Two: This coming event I am running the yearly Fathom tournament, an in-game card game which is the most popular hobby of the people that live in the world of Aukauna. (More on this in a future post.)
  • And Three: I play a character who puts a bit *too* much stock in fashions and being prepared, so I have a variety of costumes, and hats, and jackets, and you know, anti-ghost warding implements. The usual.

But relevant to today’s topic, the community around DI is very potluck oriented. We have a meal plan, and the food is quite good, but most of us contribute snacks, in-game drinks, or light meals to supplement the meals that we get included with admission. The game world has many player group countries who pride themselves on their food and hospitality, so every episode has a lot of sharing and merriment.

The community is also very environmentally conscious, so we do our best to bring cups and plates and such, to avoid excessive use of disposable eating materials. I tend to bring enough for me and at least one other in case folks forgot their mugs.

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The whole spread for Episode Six.

So yeah, this is a lot of food, I basically put out that entire preamble so you all wouldn’t think I was eating it all.

This is what I have packed away for Episode Six, foodwise it’s actually a bit lighter than normal because of my tournament, I don’t have much cooking time. The crockpot, dried mushrooms, veggie stock, and the mountain of noodles is my low effort contribution to “Zamen Noodles” which is a silly thing my character’s country does. My character’s family recipe is actually mini pierogi, but I made those last episode.

I have two glass flasks, these are to put different drinks in for walking around because it wouldn’t be particularly in-universe to be chugging a Monster. My character is a bit of a candy addict, but also the hospitality of sweets is a very good way to ward off ghosts (or so Chantarelle thinks) which I will put into a paper bag closer to the game so they don’t go stale and also don’t break immersion. Same with the cookies, those are all for sharing.

I pack tea for when I have to take in-game potions, it’s fun to steep it and pretend I am doing something magical with it, some other players run a tea house in-game, and they provide little cubbies for the townspeople to store their mugs.

I also bring a four pack of those little Starbucks coffees as my contribution to my brother on staff every game, it’s become a little tradition. One year he dropped them as I was handing them to him and glass got in his eye. Glass bottles are not necessarily very smart at larp, but he is staff so those bottles stay at logistics. Your mileage may vary.

I also bring sparkling juice of varying flavors, (I will wash off the labels and replace them with in-universe labels) The sparkling lemonade is Lemonvine Wine, and the grape juice will just be generic wine. My character’s family makes Apple Cinnamon Whiskey (which I phys-rep with sparkling cinnamon apple juice but I can’t find any right now, the Market Basket only had pumpkin spice sparkling juice and I am sad.)

The big amber growler will contain iced coffee once I have brewed it, I whip that bad boy out on Saturday morning and it’s like I am the hero of Brink. I love sharing food, it’s such a simple way to show affection and camaraderie in a game.

For new people thinking, “what the heck, this is already too much to pack and it’s just food!” please do not worry. Most games won’t require one to bring so much just to eat for the weekend. Of course, an in-period drinking cup is very helpful for almost every larp, and I recommend it for just about everyone as it saves on disposables. My clay mug is from Sturbridge village, but the copper looking coffee mug is a cheap purchase off Amazon, there are a lot of excellent immersion appropriate drinking vessels, if anyone needs suggestions please feel free to comment below!

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As much as possible goes into my picnic basket, for transport and immersion’s sake.

I got the picnic basket at Savers, (which is a thrift store in my local area) and it is invaluable for transporting my characters food, at most games I attend. I try to pack as much as I can into containers or baskets that are not going to break anyone’s immersion, even if the packaging inside is not ideal. Some things I do have to pack into totes, but I stow them away in my car before game on.

And that’s part one of what I pack for Divine Intervention and why! I will post more this week as I pack up for the tournament and work on my cabin decor. I would also love to know how other people pack for games! Leave a comment!

Thanks for reading!

And remember that you are never too old for Make Believe!

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you.”

-Roald Dahl

I drafted this a few months ago when I was trying to brainstorm this blog because so many of my friends have glasses woes. This is not meant to be the authority on glasses at larp, just my own experience, and I am happy to update if anyone has input!

Larping for Glasses Wearers!

As someone who wears glasses, weighing the pros and cons of wearing them at game can be daunting, I have heard all the arguments that wearing glasses at a combat game is unsafe, might break immersion if the game setting is not one where glasses are common, they are too expensive to bring to a game where one might lose them, etc…

While there are elements of truth to all of this, I have found that there are many ways to be able to attend a LARP and still be able to see!

The safety argument:

I have terrible vision, if I remove my glasses the text on this screen turns to a gray blur. When I first started LARP I tried to pretend I didn’t need them, and I hid my glasses in a pouch and didn’t wear them until nighttime when “nobody could see them” I was predictably terrible in combat and tripped all the time. I think it’s very unsafe to skip them if you need them. I do not recommend the just not wearing them method unless your eyes are really not all that bad.

In terms of losing them, sure, that’s a risk, but I have only ever once had them fly off my head while turning around too fast in a fight. I know some people wear pretty discreet bands around the back that hold them on, the kind that you wear swimming. I also find that if I keep an eyeglasses kit around and regularly tighten the screws on the arms that they stay on very effectively.

Getting hit in the face is another argument, and this really depends on the game. Many games do not allow headshots, and if you do get thwapped in the head it’s going to be an accidental wild swing that has a risk of hurting you, glasses or not. I actually find glasses to be a safety boon sometimes for games where we are firing nerf darts, arrows, or packets, because I know I am not likely to get poked in the eye where folks who don’t have glasses have taken some pretty nice rubber to the eyeball shots. In games that do allow headshots, I suspect one might have to wear some sort of safety gear, but I have no experience with this so I will defer to those who do. (I would love to be able to edit this if anyone has opinions on glasses in full contact combat!)

Expense, and Immersion:

My advice for these concerns absolutely runs the risk of sounding like an advertisement. The glasses racket has been very effective at making us view our 300 dollar objects as possessions to be carefully guarded. A couple years ago I was introduced to a website called Zenni Optical which sells glasses at amazing rates. This is achieved by the fact that you don’t have a LensCrafters employee breathing down your neck forcing you to add on every special coating known to man. I can go to this website, pick out a pair of unobtrusive plain metal frames, (some as low as $7) plug in a prescription, pick out the no-frills lenses, and boom, a spare set of glasses for LARP. The most expensive set of glasses I have purchased from them was around $40 because I picked out very fancy gold tortoiseshell frames. (The cat eye ones in my profile picture!)

This has allowed me to have a number of spare glasses for games that I have no fear of breaking, but also, to get glasses that match my costumes or fit the setting better. I can wear plain metal frames for period games where plastic modern glasses might look odd, cool 50’s glasses for a  Fallout setting, those tinted round glasses for a steampunk wizard, there are many great options for making your glasses a cohesive part of your kit and not a thing you need to fret about hiding. As an NPC the website was extremely valuable because I was able to get different pairs for named characters so that they had an even more immersively different look than each other.

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A handful of options, (they also all come with pretty wiping cloths!)

And then the Mask issue: 

Otherwise known as the bane of Larpers with Glasses. I am still struggling with this one, unfortunately. It had not come up in some time, as I had not been a staffer/crunchy in a while, but I was recently at a very mask intensive game and I was flailing about a little helpless. Soft latex masks can awkwardly fit over smaller glasses, but hard masks are a problem. (And then again, latex masks are a pretty common allergy…)

Over the summer I attended a masquerade ball, and I did a lot of experimentation with building a mask onto a cheap pair of glasses. This worked out fairly well, but it did commit the glasses into the mask forever as I glued it on and painted/decorated around it. It was a fun project, but I did find out later that there are masks designed for glasses wearers!

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Masked Glasses Project in Progress!

And finally…

Ultimately, I think the most important thing is that you are safe and feel like you can see. Most people I game with have no issue overlooking the glasses even if you are wearing big modern plastic glasses at a medieval game. If you need them and can’t afford a spare, nobody should make you feel like you can’t LARP.

I hope this helps!

A side note, on contact lenses:

I regularly hear “Just wear contacts instead!” Yes, that’s an option for some. It’s not an option for people like me whose eyes have such dramatic astigmatisms that even specialized contacts do not work for me, it’s not an option for people with phobias of things touching their eyes, it’s just not an option for many people. So this post is for them, or for people who can wear contacts but have a hard time getting them reliably into their eyes after three days at a campsite in the woods where the running water has frozen up and their eyes are so dry the contacts feel like they are trying to insert little cups of sharp glass.

On Larp and Community

Content Warning: I will be speaking about a traumatic death in my family. Please do not feel the need to read this if that is upsetting to you. The story has a good message, I think, but I do not want anyone troubled by my telling of it.


I am coming up on big anniversary for me, which is a sad anniversary, but also in a silver lining, bittersweet, sort of way is also a happy anniversary.

 

I want to get the sad anniversary out of the way so that the awkward part is over and we can move on to the happy part, which is the moral of the story, but needs the sad part for context.

 

Ten years ago in September my mother died in a very sudden car accident. I did not get to say goodbye. I did not get to process it in anything resembling a healthy way. I was a disaster for a long time.

 

I was the oldest of three, I was also an adopted child, and my younger brothers were her biological sons, their father was out of the picture, and as I was over eighteen it all very suddenly fell on my shoulders.

 

(Awkward part over, thanks for sticking through it!)

 

I had begun Larping a few months before, the first game I tried was not a good fit for me, but I had just begun a new campaign with a whole new group of people over the summer. By the second event in August I was so impressed by the community that I had convinced my two younger brothers to come. My youngest brother was sixteen at the time, so our mother had to sign a permission form indicating that I would be responsible for him. A four-hour bus ride from Maine later and he was finally at his first LARP!

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This is probably the earliest Larping photo of all three Gnolls. (It’s from a Be Epic steampunk larp in the spring of 2009) Middle Child Gnolls is extremely sun sensitive, so he wears almost complete skin coverage. This was taken early on a Sunday morning and you can see it in our grump faces.

 

Then, of course, September came, and everything changed for us. I dropped my life, my apartment in Boston, and moved back to Maine as I was now the default legal guardian of my brother and tried to figure out how I was going to keep us all afloat. I didn’t forget about Larping, but it was no longer prevalent in my mind, and I probably would have quit altogether. 

 

However, something amazing happened. This community of larpers, the Be Epic community, who I had known for only the span of two weekend events quietly and without fanfare or expectation pooled money and time and sent a gift up to us, groceries and lots of frozen prepared food. It was a stunning and extremely needed offering, as our mother had been a struggling single parent working factory jobs, we were not left in a great situation. I was floored. 

 

I had never been a member of a community that would be there for each other like that. I didn’t grow up in a religious setting or have a large family support network. I had been an introverted loner with massive social anxiety for my entire twentyish years of life thus far, and this action of these people who I had NO IDEA cared about me at all made me realize that I had found my people. I had found something I didn’t know I needed all my life. I found a home.

 

And a home it has been for these past ten years. My youngest brother is now on the Board of the organization that essentially helped raise him, and he is the Game Director of the current campaign it runs. That little bit of kindness shaped who we have become as adults in a way I do not think I can ever measure.

 

I love my Larp Family.

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I don’t have a good photo on hand of all three of us now. But this is fairly recent of Cory and I.

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

When I came to realize that this spring marks my official ten years of LARP-iversary, I did a lot of thinking about how I have changed as a LARPer, the various experiences I have had, and where my future lies in the community. Over several months I have been jotting down thoughts into a journal about larp theory, my experience, the changes I have seen in the world of LARP and I am now in the process of organizing all of those ideas and stories, memories, and critiques into something I am excited to share.

In these ten years, I have been a player, I have been a staffer, I have directed my own game and many little roles in the middle. I have done boffer larp, theatre larp, and other more experimental designs that lie somewhere in between. LARP has caused me to hone skills I had before, and pick up new skills I never dreamed I would love. I have seen a lot of drama, a lot of breakdowns in communication, and a lot of failures. I have also seen beautiful friendships blossom out of this shared experience, people grow and evolve their ethics based on the challenges presented in fiction, and I have seen people successfully use social tools they attained through LARP to get them through issues in real life, be it public speaking, or conflict management, or social anxiety, the list is incredible. LARP is a valuable mechanism for fun, and for growth, a creative outlet, a social network, a community.

 

 

A sampling of some of my personas throughout the years.

Sometimes I hear people say “I have been LARPing for fifteen years and this is the way we have always done it, so it’s the RIGHT way.” I have always found those people to be a little tiresome because I find the idea of LARPing the same way for fifteen years and not changing or evolving to be a sign that one is doing it wrong, not that they are an expert. Now I am never going to claim to be an expert, I do not feel there are many LARP experts. I think LARP is an experience where we can all teach each other new tricks, and I think that I may be able to add something positive to the constant learning process by adding my voice.

LARP is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I have so many stories and thoughts to share.