Prepping For Your First LARP

Posted by Courtney Kraft on

“Ow. My feet hurt.”


First time? Should’ve worn better shoes with insoles. Should’ve dressed for the weather. Should’ve tested your air pump before deciding to inflate your mattress at 3am. Every LARPer experiences first-time regret. Like many, I’ve had to learn some lessons about surviving at LARP the hard way. Now I’m here to impart my knowledge unto you with a few things every player should know before attending their first LARP.

 

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION


Where is your LARP taking place? Is it in a hotel or on faire grounds in the mountains? The environment you play in will determine your clothing, food situation, and sleeping arrangements. If you’re playing a one-night, parlor game of Vampire at a friend’s swanky mansion rental, you’re probably not going to need to battle the elements. If you’re outdoors and camping with no electricity, then you need to do a lot more planning, especially for weather conditions. If you’re outdoors, layering is your friend.

 

THE RULES OF THE GAME


Read the rules of any LARP you attend. If you know other players, discuss your character build and ask questions. LARPers love to talk about their game. Even if you don’t know someone personally, joining their communities on social media or chat servers is an excellent way to connect with players and staff.


Come to the game with your character sheet prepared. Nothing slows down a registration line more than someone who doesn’t know what stats and skills they want.

 

FOOD AND WATER


Player:  “I can get by on a couple of protein bars and gatorade for a whole weekend.” 

Narrator: “They couldn’t.”


Food and water are literally your fuel at a LARP. Even if you aren’t super into nutrition, now is the time to be more considerate of what you’re putting into your body. Even if you’re not a combat-oriented character, you are still burning more calories than you think during play. Plan your meals to include complex carbohydrates, protein, salt, vitamins, and minerals. There was a noticeable difference in how much better I felt at game when I started bringing my own beef and vegetable stew because I had that combination of nutrients to fuel me.


As for water, always bring more than you think you will need. Electrolyte drinks are also an excellent choice. Personally, I go for electrolyte water since I don’t find the sweetness of other drinks as thirst-quenching. Ever notice how popular pickles are at a LARP? That’s because the salt and water content help you to retain fluids.


You may be wondering how to keep your food and water cold at game. I’ve learned some excellent tips for that!


  • Get an insulated cooler.
  • Create an ice block by freezing salted water in a tupperware container overnight. Leave some room at the top for the ice to expand. The larger the block, the slower it will melt. Keep this in your cooler for the duration of the game. This block will cool the rest of the container
  • To keep water cold, pour out 1-2 inches of water from any plastic water bottle. DO NOT USE GLASS. Replace the cap and freeze the bottles overnight. Remove one bottle from your cooler each day. As they melt, you will have cold water. You can also transfer the cold water into an insulated water bottle. Plus, these bottles will also help to keep the rest of the cooler cold throughout the game.



PLAYING THE GAME


The best LARPing advice I ever received was “Don’t be Batman,” meaning don’t play a reclusive loner. You may think you look cool, but after about ten minutes of skulking in a dark corner of the tavern, you will start to get bored. It’s absolutely possible to play a dark and broody character, but the fun of LARP comes from interacting with the world and the people in it.


Don’t make the mistake I made of assuming that LARP was like a tabletop game where the adventure will come to you. Instead, think of it as if you are a level 1 character in an MMORPG. There’s a whole world for you to experience, you probably know very little about it, and the only way to improve is to throw yourself in the deep end and explore it.


“What if I’m really shy?” you may ask. That’s actually pretty normal. It’s intimidating to throw yourself into an experience where everyone else seems to know what’s going on except you. The challenge is that you can’t expect people to approach you, though it does happen. If you see a group of people looking to solve a problem, approach and ask, “Hi. Can I help?” Most likely, they will say yes and fill you in. Or if you see people just hanging out and chatting, ask to sit with them and introduce yourself. LARP is a social game, and other players will understand the desire to meet people and have fun.


Another tip for shy players is to use the game’s social platforms to connect with people. Introduce yourself and share the basics of your character. Many games have smaller groups and chats for players of a certain species, nationality, or job type. Joining these groups early is a great way to build connections so that you will know some people you can play with at the game to start.

 

 
Courtney Kraft

Courtney Kraft is a veteran LARPer and geek-culture industry pro with over 20 years experience. She can also play the hurdy gurdy.

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