If you’re going to a LARP event and you’re not sleeping in tent then there is a good chance that some kind of dormitory or bunkroom is involved. Our last article talked about camping and fantasy Larp. I’m not going to be specific to a genre here, but I do have some thoughts about sleeping in shared rooms.
A question of space?
If you’re in a tent – then no matter how small it is – it is still your space. You have control over it. If you’re in a dormitory you do not control the entire room and that can make space precious. Especially if you’re like me and and have a tendency to occupy all available space. The key I think is to be careful with your packing. Make it as easy as possible to to things as you need them. Put things in reach so that can get them and just be mindful of the space you are using and the impact you are having on others,
When you’re camping it’s pretty much of certain that you will need a torch and better still a lamp. In a dormitory there is usually a good light but you may not always be able to use it. During the day when everyone is up and about all is fine, but at night things change. Those who were first to bed won’t appreciate the main lights going on every someone wants to to to bed or collect something from the room. If you’re lucky you may get bed lights that will give you enough light to work with without waking everyone up. If you don’t have these you will need a light of some kind so that you can operate in the dark without comically and annoyingly bumping into things. My personal preference here is a small LED array – these are directional, give out enough light to be useful and can be easily put down and pointed in the right direction.
It’s may not be obvious to someone new to Larping and bunking down in a dorm but a sleeping bag can be a godsend. Some bunkrooms supply bedding but if the one you are using does not then having a sleeping bag guarantees comfort and warmth at night. If I’m ever unsure I just take a sleeping bag anyway. Just in case. Sleeping Bags have one other advantage – a full mummy style bag with a hood that can pulled around the head is a great defence against snoring. Never underestimate how loud snoring can get in a dormitory.
I’ve mentioned snoring and it is a given. Put enough people in a room and someone will snore. If that someone is you see if you can find a way to sleep in a way that minimises your noise. If you’re disturbed by snoring – see if you can take something that will help muffle the noise. The option is a snorers room – put all the snorers in one place. Somehow this seems to to work and most people get a good nights sleep. Just don’t be tempted to record the output of a room full of snoring Larpers.
Dormitories don’t usually have a lot of character. If yours is to be an immersive sleeping place that is part of the game don’t forget to take additional materials to decorate it with. If everyone attending adds little personal touches to the dorm then this can really improve the feel of what would otherwise be a fairly soul-less room.
Lets not underestimate this. Sharing a room can generate a great sense of community and bring the players of a Larp together. In a game that has little or no downtime making people share a space can really be an advantage. If you’re running a game never underestimate and this and perhaps plan who goes in which room to gain the best effect.
Dormitory sleeping is all about getting the best night you can whilst sharing with others. It can be great from a game design point of view and for developing friendships. The best rule of all in these circumstances is to enjoy some give and take.
The photo used in this post comes via Flickr User TruTourism. If you click here you can learn more about this image.
A couple of points have come up in Social Media that are worth repeating. I won’t use names (in case of objection but here are the points)
You may feel awake and desperate to talk about the game but that doesn’t mean that other people want to. Keep conversation out of the dormitory so people can sleep.
In a shared sex bunkroom don’t stare, gawp etc. It might sound obvious but this needs to be a safe place for all so keep the eyes under control.
This article was originally published in Diary of A Croatian Larper and focuses on equipment and practises in Croatia. I’d like to see more about accommodation options for LARP and invite comments and views on both the information here other ideas regarding how to accommodate Larpers. If you haven’t read Diary of a Croatian Larper – I strongly recommend it as a cool LARP Blog. – Rob
Now over to Ivan…
I’d like to talk a bit about sleeping systems and accommodations on multi-day fantasy larps – to provide a review of what is currently used in Croatian larps and what is generally available and possible, as well as benefits, downsides and costs of each option. I’ll divide it into three sections: modern, coolthentic and authentic.
This review doesn’t mention cabins, yurts, cottages etc. – which could be any of the three, depending on how they’re built and decorated. It’s focused on larps where you typically camp.
Modern tents are the first thing that comes to one’s mind when tents are mentioned. They’re widely available in all camping stores (and most general stores too). They’re compact, lightweight and space-efficient, and they’re reasonably priced – cheap ones start from around €10, but they’re typically awful – you can get a very decent one for €50. Cheap ones will not last
for a long time. Top of the line models can easily cost hundreds of euros.
Expensive ones will last for a few years, but even they won’t last forever. UV rays are unkind to the materials used. Repairing them is difficult, especially if one of the fiberglass rods is damaged. And last but not the least – they really look jarring in a medieval fantasy setting. Nothing ruins the illusion of being in a medieval-like environment faster than a field of fluorescent-colored plastic tents.
They are also quite uncomfortable (unless you get the big ones) – the synthetic material can’t really breathe, so cheap ones tend to have condensation issues. The thin barrier provides very little insulation, and the sun can get you up in the morning easily. More expensive, double-layered tents alleviate this to a point but they are also more expensive. If you want a really spacious model, prepare a large budget.
People typically sleep in them in sleeping bags, and on camping pads. Modern tents all typically have floors, which is both a good and a bad thing – it makes cooking or lighting any flame in them dangerous (due to CO buildup and not to mention all the flammable materials) and they’re a more unwieldy and don’t breathe as well – but they’re nearly impervious to insects.
- Good: Availability, simplicity, convenience, price (on the lower end), comfort (on the higher end), insect protection
- Bad: Least authentic option, immersion-breaking, price (on the higher end), comfort (on the lower end), durability, condensation, length of time to enter one, hard to keep clean and dry in wet conditions, can’t safely cook in them, problematic to get up in rain
- Frequency in Croatian larps: Ubiquitous
- Advice: Avoid. If you bring one, hide it and camouflage it.
Tarps are widely available and very versatile and universal. They are typically rectangular, and you can stretch them into any shape you find useful with a bit of ropework, poles and tent stakes, and sometimes not even all of those.
Tarps require bringing a few more materials with you, and they’re a bit open – any setup will be open from at least one side, so no insect protection. That will make sleeping a bit colder than the tent (unless there’s a fire in front, in which case it will reflect the heat back to you – which will make it warmer than a tent). Also there’s typically no groundsheet (except in certain setups), so if you want something on your ground you might want to bring another tarp for a groundsheet.
This is one of the cheapest and most compact camping options around. A cheap tarp can be had for 4€. Add some rope (which can double up for the purpose of setting up camp) and it can double as a backpack
With a little bit of extra money, you can get/make a canvas tarp instead. While heavier and more expensive, it’s also much more authentic, durable, fireproof and superior in most regards.
- Good: Price, compactness, versatility, even synthetic ones look better than dome tents, cheapest shelter option for a shelter of any kind (and for an in-character shelter), quick to raise
- Bad: Not fully enclosed, might depend on local materials for certain setups (unless you bring all the poles), synthetic ones are still immersion-breaking, can be susceptible to wind damage
- Frequency in Croatian larps: Common – on most Croatian larps you’ll be able to find a tarp setup like this (or as a rain fly protecting a hammock, or as an overhead roof)
- Advice: They allow camping on a budget (both OOC and IC camping), and are surprisingly comfortable and versatile. In most cases, you’re better off with a tarp than with a modern tent, and will be more comfortable in it (plus, you can make an IC one for less than a price of a modern tent). Protips: you can use your canvas tarp to hide a modern tent. You can use them as windbreak. You can use them to sell stuff on them. You can use them to create overhead roof space for a shelter against sun and rain. They are very versatile.
A lot of campers use modern sleeping bags for sleeping in their tents, as they are practical, functional and compact. But they can be used all by themselves, to sleep out in the open. However, most sleeping bags are not typically too resistant to wind and rain. If these two are an issue for the weekend you’re playing, it’s best to seek a shelter…
Or have a water/wind resistant bag, such as some military-issued ones. Or a bivy sack on top of your sleeping bag. If you just sleep in a cheap bag and no other protection and there’s a rain coming, you’re gonna have a bad time.
A good thing about carrying just a sleeping bag is that it can be rolled and put away while not in use – even if it’s got strong colors and an obviously modern look, it will not be as jarring as it’s not gonna be visible most of the day. You’ll still want a safe and dry spot for the rest of your stuff though.
- Good: You’re probably gonna get one anyway. Cheap. Can be hidden during the day.
- Bad: Not all of them are protected against weather. If visible during day, it’s still immersion breaking. You still need somewhere to put all your stuff.
- Frequency in Croatian larps: Rarely used by themselves, but it happened.
- Advice: If it’s your thing, go for it.
Military and other canvas tents
Military tents are often used at larps where they are commonly accepted as… not really authentic, but “authentic enough” to be used in the in-character section of the event. From small military tents to the large halls made out of multi-section tents, the military nature of such tents is often ignored in favor of the fact that they’re made of canvas and as such they’re at least plausible in a fantasy setting (which is not strictly historically defined). Together with some other tents – a couple of decades old canvas tents for regular camping, and large party tents – these are commonly used on larps.
Used and surplus military tents and tarps can be typically obtained for a reasonable price, and small tents of such type are commonly cheaper than modern tents – typically around €15-€30 range. And canvas can last a lifetime if properly maintained. Big ones are, of course, more expensive.
- Good: Cheap, durable, long lasting.
- Bad: Heavy. Better than plastic ones, but still not really authentic. Small ones are not overly comfortable.
- Frequency in Croatian larps: Common.
- Advice: If they fit the requirements of your local larps, go for them.
Good authentic medieval tents are top of the line where fantasy larping is concerned. Big ones are spacious and downright luxurious. They also look amazingly, add to the larp, you can play scenes in them and you can decorate them and personalize them to your own desires – they add awesome game space besides only providing for sleeping, and they’re awesome for scenery.
However, they cost a lot (typically hundreds of euros, comparable to high-end modern tents), they’re heavy, and they require significant transport space and setup time.
If you’re planning to build them yourself, great! You can do awesome stuff for about 100€ (or make small pup tents for significantly less).
- Good: Best looking option around, roomy, comfortable, durable, long lasting.
- Bad: Heavy, expensive, hard to transport, hard to set up.
- Frequency in Croatian larps: Rare
- Advice: If you can get them, get them. Even if they’re not required on your larps. Your organizers will love you. For being extra cool, get some decorations and furniture to put in.
This is the authentic version of sleeping bag/bivy sack that was used until not long ago. The main idea is to use heavy-duty, waterproof canvas as an outer layer. Inside, use some wool blankets. You wrap yourselves in blankets and then in canvas, as a burrito. All of it should be quite robust and able to survive rough weather and terrain. While not in use, roll it up all together and fasten with straps. Hence, it’s called a bedroll. Make your own or buy the already finished (and not cheap, you can buy a medieval tent for that much money) solutions.
Use it in a tent, under a tarp or by itself (in which case you might still be bothered by the heavy rain, but you’ll be better off than in just a sleeping bag). Historically, it has typically been used all by itself. It has some room for stuff, more than a sleeping bag or bivy (though not as much as the tent).
- Good: Good looking, comfortable to sleep in, durable, long lasting, transportable.
- Bad: Heavy, existing solutions are expensive to buy, some exposure to elements.
- Frequency in Croatian larps: Didn’t make an appearance so far.
- Advice: If you get one, you’re gonna be awesome.
Other sleeping options
Warm cloaks, ponchos and blankets can be slept in (depending on the weather), but they will not make you comfortable. They’re more of an emergency option. Carrying another blanket is always a good idea. Or if you’ve done any survival training (or if you’re a Bear Grylls fan) you can make a shelter from available materials.
Cheat mode: Play one-day larps to avoid the expense of in-character sleep gear. Or: create an off-game zone (out of sight, modern gear allowed) and off-game time during the night. These can help, but there’s a trade-off – they limit what you can show on a larp.
The first list of cool links was well received and it strikes me that continuing to list useful, fun and cool collections of larping links may be both fun and useful.
In fact I have a strong feeling that this going to turn into an ongoing series.
So lets get started with this collection of 3.
This comes from Alexs Larp Secrets. Its part of series – but actually a good place to start as this one looks at costume inspiration, colour co-ordination and costume evolution. Developing kit and the look and feel of a character and can be a bit daunting, so something like this that looks at developing a characters clothes could be really useful.
Its Nordic Larp time again. Actually this book is the latest from Knutepunkt 2014 and is packed full of articles. In fact it is 200 pages of cool articles. This page gives you the download as a PDF and getting a copy is a veritable master-class on Larp (I’ve not finished the book yet but so far – very impressed and to the point that I will call it master-class).
I met the Blastersmiths at the What’s Your Game kit fair earlier this year and they did a great job of impressing me. I liked their practical and no-nonsense approach to nerf-modding that was coupled for a g reat sense of fun and love of the subject. So if you are looking at including Nerf in your game and want to go beyond the standard kit this is a great place to go.
That’s it for this time. I hoped these links were good for you.
If you have a page you’d like to share let me know and it may well make the next 3 Cool Links
Regular readers will know that Larpbook has been following the Real People of LARP project since its very beginning. It’s now time for the next instalment. The project already has some great material but needs some more interviews. The project is being run from the University of Westminster which means that potential interviewees need to be Larpers who are based in or around London.
So if you are a London Larper and you would like to interviewed as part of a documentary about Larp please get in touch and I will pass your details onto the makers of the Real People of Larp.
If you’re not in London and want to help this project out please pass this post around so that at some point it will end up in the right hands.
The Larpbook Contact Page is:
Look below for more information about this project.
I’ve been thinking more about the idea of building of mechanics for social reactions. It came to me that this kind of rule needs a trigger. What’s needed is something all players can see, and that could be worn easily with costume (or none if the larp is not particularly immersive). It also struck me that whatever was being worn needed to only be seen when players were close enough to interact visually or talk. In other words – it doesn’t have to be very big.
That took me to pendants. Worn around the neck pendants can be easily made and be shaped or coloured to have meaning.
The rule would work a little like this. Pendants are made for players to convey a meaning in the game. In the pre-game briefing these are handed out and players are told 2 things
- The meaning of the medallion they are wearing
- Their reaction as a character to seeing certain other pendants.
Its best to focus on what each player needs to know. Trying to remember everything could be difficult. Remembering and roleplaying to only a couple of things is much easier. The aim is to always go for quality of play so making the players life easy needs to be paramount. In a large fest style games pendants can be included in a briefing pack with written descriptions. If the game is smaller and more intimate then perhaps a briefing for the player from a game ref would be more appropriate.
Either way the end result is that players are looking for reactions from others to what they are wearing and looking at each other to see if there if something they need to react to. In theory this added need for awareness could improve the quality of roleplay when characters meet.
This can also be extended to almost any other kind of jewellery. Jewellery is worn as a display so why not use that display as a signal to others in a LARP. A cue here can be taken from ecclesiastical rings worn by the clergy. The kissing of the ring is a social ritual – a social mechanic in fact that is part of the modern world. No reason why we can’t use this as an inspiration in Larp
The pendant in the image is one I’ve worn a good many times for a certain character. Its significance was a badge of rank.
Over the years I’ve had to try and explain what a LARP is a to a number of people. It hasn’t always been an easy task. For many people (I’m focusing on the UK here) the type of play that LARP represents seems alien, childish and pointless. Yet people from all walks of life who have been (begrudgingly) talked into attending a game very often have such a good time that all they then want is their next session.
I don’t really have a good explanation for this. Except that perhaps the key is in how you introduce the idea.
Fortunately for all of this Ivan Zelac has done some homework on how to explain what a larp is in the form of collection of videos.
If you’re not sure how to explain what Larp is then click on the link, read his article and watch the videos.
The image used on this post comes via the excellent Flickr user Ralph H (Kamerakata). For more information on this image please follow this link:
Every now and then I get collections of resources or articles that are just plain useful but where for various reasons are just better suited for being displayed together rather than as individuals.
However all of these have something in common. They can all bring new ideas, or new games to you.
Lets start with Crolarper. If you’re a LARPBook regular then you’ll know all about The Diary of Croatian Larper. A good number of its articles are republished in Larpbook. However this link:
This is a pre-release interview with the creators of Treasure Trapped – a film about Larp with an imminent release. Its a timely interview with good information and a good starting point if you want to start thinking about Larp with fresh eyes, I didn’t republish this article – as tempting as it was, since I really wanted you to read this one in its place of origin.
Next up is something for readers from America – or anyone who wants to learn more about Larp in the USA.
This is a reincarnation of a previous Wiki and it looks as if this one is looking to expand and needs editors. If you think you can help you should get in touch. Otherwise its a resource to be used and enjoyed.
The third and final link is Larps from the Factory
This site contains material from the Larp Factory Book and is a collection of Larps and resources. It is nothing less than a collection of Nordic Larps and help to run and play them. You can buy the full book here, but even if you’re not sure about that its a great place to learn about playing and writing a nordic larp. If you do buy the book they also have a scheme for you help a Larper living in a country where the book is completely unaffordable to get a copy.
That’s it 3 Larps – people thinking about larps, creating encyclopaedia of larps and of course some games in there own right. 3 ways for you to get new Larp content.
I was recently part of a discussion on Google Plus regarding the seamless adding of social mechanics into a Canadian game. At the time I didn’t really get the whole point – the discussion was looking a mechanic that aided social responses. Not quite what I’m used to as I’m more used to games where all parts of social interaction are based on role-play. Evidently I needed to do more and I suspect this will mean more research and articles.
During this time (once again via the G+ Larp group) I became aware of the Last Will. A game that features a ‘natural’ return to a Western society of slavery. In this setting peoples lives depend upon their status and positioning in a more determined way than exists today. Strong and dystopian settings are not out of the ordinary in LARP but what caught my attention were the workshops. Before the Last Will commences players will have the opportunity to attend workshops that will help them how this world works.
I think this idea of a workshop and briefing is fantastic. Often (and frequently in Fantasy Larp), games can almost become hijacked when players start playing to generic tropes, rather than the to the world the game is set in. A workshop gives everyone the time and space to truly become immersed in an understanding of a game world without the pressures presented by actual play. Its also important in this case as the game very much includes human relationships as its core. In fact there is a class of character dedicated to physically pleasing another. For this to work people need time to understand and express their own boundaries as well understanding the games mechanism for accomplishing this.
I don’t know the ruleset (if there is one) for the Last Will, but this technique of letting the players explore and understand prior to play makes a lot of sense. It establishes the immersion that is going to happen and I think is a technique that could work well for a number of games.
You can find out more about the last will at:
This has also helped me start to put together my own set of rules for social mechanics
Rule 1: A player must understand what the in game society expects of the character being played
I was recently part of a Facebook discussion regarding the UK Larp Awards. It was being held in the group for Balrog games and concerned how the voting for the Larp awards actually worked. To his great credit Ian from Having a Larp explained the procedure to us. Here it is – reproduced with permission
The judges vote, not the public.
The shortlist were constructed from who got the most public nominations, then a panel of judges decided the winners from there.
More nominations (and comments as to why you’re nominating) mean more chance of getting on the short list, the comments are what’s important for the judges after that, they also look at things like your websites, forums, Facebook and other social media presence, pictures of your events and other things that they each individually think are important.
Hope that helps
It looks to me that it is all about building up a picture of each category based on public nominations and available public evidence. The good thing here is that as the awards expand so should good information about Larp events in the UK.
I know a lot of you have been waiting for these so here are the results of the UK Larp Awards 2014.
This year there were some ties for second place.
Here we go
Heart of Pargon
Vault 57 (Winner)
Mythlore, New Lands
Dark Tempus (Runner-Up)
Lorien Trust (Runner- Up)
Fools and Heroes (Runner-Up)
Dark Tempus (Winner)
Projekt Ragnarok (Runner-Up)
Larp Producer – Foam and Latex
Tallows FX (Runner-Up)
Light Armouries (Winner)
Saxon Violence (Runner-Up)
In Your Dreams FX
Producer – Leather
Battle Ready (Runner-Up)
Alex Simpson Bespoke Leatherwork (Runner-Up)
Ancestor Leathercraft (Runner-Up)
Producer – Costume
Custom Costume Company
White Star Clothing (Winner)
Gem’s Trading Company (Runner-Up)
Mark Cordory Creations
Caggle’s Catering Corps (Winner)
Appleby’s Coffee (Runner-Up)
Mandala’s “The Warper”
K8 Evans “Samael”
Casey Vandenburg’s “Sentinel of Caer Dunn”
Arty Fakes’ “Baby shoulder Dragon” (Runner-Up)
Arty Fakes’ “Elemental” (Winner)
Gem’s Trading Company (Winner)
Chow’s Emporium (Runner Up)
Having a Larp (Winner)
The Scourge, Mark Cordory @ Mythlore (Runner-Up)
The Hart, Hayley Rose Murray @ Fools and Heroes, Springfest (Winner)
Orc, Dave McKenna, Empire
Dog, James Conci-Mitchell @ Fallout 57 (Runner-Up)
Manix the Druid, Ian ‘Pod’ Flower @ Dumnonni Event
Rose ‘Kelpie’ Goldsmith
Nic Doran (Winner)
Harry Lewis (Runner-Up)
Lord of Larp
James ‘JJ’ Jones (Winner)
Dave Norris (Runner-UP)
Lady of Larp
Grace Marden (Runner-Up)
Helen Dixon (Winner)
Judges Choice General Photography Category
Barbarian Battle by Ian Heath
Judges Choice Costume Photo Category
Best Larp Metal Worker
White Rose Apparel (Winner)
Richard Phelps (Winner)
Harma Lever (Runner-Up)
Life Time Achievement
Best Overall Larp 2014