Prepare for your first weekend larp - Logistics

[size=150]Prepare for your first weekend larp - Logistics[/size]

Written & Edited by Hannah Jackson, from writings published by Teonn GM Team & Ryan Paddy

It can be a bit daunting signing up to a weekend game of larp, without quite knowing what to expect from the real life side of things. So here is some of the general logistical concepts that are common over most of the games, irrespective of the genre or rules of the game. There may be terms here that apply specifically to medieval-fantasy style larps such as Teonn, however generally the advice still applies to other genre larps.

This article assumes the reader is familiar with how the mechanics of a larp works, and uses terminology that is explained at the website. Weekend larp conventions, such as Chimera and Hydra, may have differences to what is outlined here, as they have different games running in different sessions, rather than being one big story over the whole weekend.

[ul][li]Physical layout
[/li][li] Meals and food
[/li][li] What to bring – all attendees
[/li][li] What to bring – players
[/li][li] What to bring – crew
[/li][li] Upon arrival
[/li][li] General items


[size=120]Physical layout[/size]
Generally the weekend events are held at camps, owned by various organisations such as NZ Scouts and schools. You will be in shared space, and it is highly unlikely you will have a room to yourself. Please be respectful of the privacy of others. Of course every venue is different, but generally there will be:
[ul][li]A large dining hall, with associated kitchen. The kitchen is usually off-limits to everyone except those helping to prepare food, to keep the cooks less frazzled by interruptions. The dining hall is used for most meals, refer later section.[/li]
[li]Sleeping Areas such as bunk rooms which sleep 6-10 people each. These may be split male / female, but often are not. Some bunk rooms may be just for players and become In-Character playing zones, whilst other rooms may be just for crew. Crew bunk rooms are not usually part of the play area.[/li]
[li]An Ablutions block with toilets & showers in private cubicles, a short walk from the bunkrooms, usually a separate male and female area. [/li]
[li]Another large room / hall, which is used by the GMs and Crew as the game headquarters, where briefing of the crew is done by the GM team. It is also used as a big dressing room, storing the crew costumes and weapons. Male and Female crew will usually be getting changed into costumes in this here in between scenes with the players. This area is usually off-limits to players, to avoid ruining plot plans and secrets.[/li]
[li]Various outdoor areas for game play, usually including a big open field for large combats, bush for wilderness encounters, and other natural features that the GM team may incorporate into the game as they see fit.[/li][/ul]

[size=120]Meals and food[/size]
Long larps can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so you need to eat and drink regularly and get enough sleep to function well. This can be harder than it sounds when there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening. Larp organisers try to keep meal times regular, so make sure you’re at the appropriate place and time with your cutlery and don’t let playing the game prevent you from getting fed. There may also be periods where you’re out in the wilds for some time. Having some portable drinks and snacks to take along is a good idea, getting dehydrated while running around in the woods can make you sick.

[ul][li]Meals provided - Unless specifically noted otherwise, weekend games will include Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunday breakfast. Friday night dinner may be included, or at least some snacks provided. Sunday Lunch may be provided, but less likely, often depending on the venue hiring conditions, as to when the camp has to be cleaned and vacated by.[/li]
[li] Crew eating – the dining hall may be zoned an in-character playing area, so to keep the immersion for the player characters, the crew are expected to be dressed appropriately to eat there. Sometimes plot events and information may be given to player characters over mealtimes, but sometimes the crew just get to be the locals from the town coming to eat.[/li]
[li] Mealtime queuing – the size of popular larps means there is often a wait for food to be served to the large numbers of attendees. Be patient. GM and organisers are the only attendees not expected to queue.[/li]
[li]Kitchen help - The main meals are often cooked under the direction of one or two persons organised by the GM team. They will require help from other attendees with sundry food preparation like chopping vegetables, and also doing the dishes. Often there is a roster/list of attendees, both players and crew, so that everyone does a fair share of the workload. Please be prompt and helpful when it is your turn to help.[/li]
[li]Cleaning dishes - attendees are expected to clean their own dishes after each meal. There is often a sink area outside the kitchen for large numbers of people to use. In this case sinks in the kitchen are for cleaning kitchen dishes only.[/li]
[li]Snack food - The nature of larp scenes and cooking for large numbers of people, is that the meal times may be later than what you are used to. Be prepared for this by bringing your own supply of snack food. Muesli bars, chocolate, fruit, nuts, crackers. If you are a player, it is nicer for this to look in keeping with the setting, or at least be discrete about eating things from plastic wrappers to help keep the immersion for other players.[/li]
[li]Late nights - Bring your own supply of caffeinated products if you are that way inclined. Instant coffee and tea are often provided at the main meal times, but the kitchens are often off-limits at other times so the cook doesn’t get interrupted, so make your plans accordingly. Do not expect any fridge space to keep your personal supplies cold. There may be some available, but do not expect it.[/li]
[li]Water - Bring an unbreakable water bottle for carry around, and disguise it if necessary to keep with the game setting. It pays to keep hydrated, larping can be quite a physical activity. [/li]
[li]Alcoholic drinks - if allowed by the venue, are to be consumed responsibly. The aim of the weekend is to roleplay, not to get drunk with your friends. The GMs have spent considerable time and energy volunteering their time to create the game, and it is extremely disrespectful to not be able to fully participate it by being drunk or hungover.[/li]
[li]Allergies – it is your responsibility to notify the game organisers of any allergies or specific food requirements, with plenty of notice, so they can accommodate these into the meal plans. There are already quite a few members of the larp community with severe allergies, vegans, vegetarians, gluten free etc. Don’t be shy about coming forward. Otherwise bring your own personal supply, but do not expect a reduction in game cost.[/li][/ul]

[size=120]What to bring - All attendees [/size]
Make a list to remind you of what you’re taking. When you’re packing and leaving home, check each item on your list. Leaving stuff at home is frustrating.
[ul][li]Toiletries such as a toothbrush and paste, soap, a hand towel, plasters, etc. The setting may be medieval but we still need to maintain modern hygiene. Soap is especially useful for crew who frequently need to wash makeup off.
[/li][li]A towel is very handy. You may think a day or two without showering is okay, but those around you will not, especially after you’ve taken a slide in the mud.
[/li][li]Personal medications. Larpers are expected to be adult, and be responsible for their own personal health and to notify other people such as the game organisers of any relevant conditions that may affect you. This information will be treated with privacy and respect by the organisers.
[/li][li]Sunscreen & insect repellent – put these on at the start of day and night respectively, as preventative measures, rather than leaving it too late. Wearing full face paint is no protection against UV rays so sunscreen should be applied before the paint.
[/li][li]Warm clothing is needed when it gets cold at night. Bring something warm to wear discretely under your costume, and pack spare underwear, trousers, and lots of socks.
[/li][li]If the weather forecast is for rain, prepare for getting wet by taking spare clothing, especially socks (to prevent blisters) and pyjamas, so that you can get changed into something dry afterwards.
[/li][li]Sleeping bag, or sheets and a duvet & pillow. Bunk rooms for players are often “In Character” areas, so having a blanket to hide modern sleeping bags are often requested. A hot water bottle could be useful during winter games to heat cold feet. Ear plugs are often advised, because chances are you’ll end up in a room with someone who snores.
[/li][li]Cutlery and crockery, (A plate, bowl, cup, knife, fork and spoon) most games meals are in character time, so game organisers may request utensils that are in keeping for their setting. Consider non-breakable items, such as wooden or metal plates, avoid taking your best china. A teatowel is often also useful.
[/li][li] Name your gear – there is always a disappointingly large collection of lost property at the end of the game. This hassle can be avoided by good use of a permanent marker. [/li][/ul]

[size=120]Crew specific gear [/size]
The game organiser should send an email or have further game specific information on their website or at Diatribe. These are just common general items and need confirmation with the game organiser.
[ul][li] At least two changes of black or brown clothes to wear underneath costume. This is for modesty when changing in front of many people, and warmth.
[/li][li] If you have your own appropriate costume you are welcome to bring it, however it is your responsibility to look after it and to ensure it does not get mixed in with the costumes provided.
[/li][li] A belt to wear – these are good for pouches, holding weapons, and hitching up hemlines. Don’t lose it, you could wear it under my costume if it’s not appropriate on the outside.
[/li][li] A pair of sturdy medieval/setting appropriate looking shoes (black/brown boots, or black sneakers at a pinch. The Warehouse & Number 1 Shoe is a great source for this). Ensure they are comfortable to wear, expect to be on your feet for quite some time. [/li][/ul]

[size=120]Player specific gear [/size]
The game organiser should send an email or have further game specific information on their website or at Diatribe. These are just common general items and need confirmation with the game organiser. Advice for creating your character’s costume is a topic too large to be covered in this article.
It is advised that you do a ‘dress rehearsal’ of all your costume & props beforehand to ensure you have everything and that you can still comfortably move around and easily access everything. Remember you will be in your costume for many hours at a stretch, and want to remember the roleplaying not the blisters afterwards.
[ul][li]Bags to carry all this stuff in. It pays to bring two bags, one that can pass as medieval/game setting appropriate to carry stuff around during the game, and one that you can leave under your bed with toiletries and any medication or other out of game gear in it. A small pouch that hangs from your belt is also very handy for money or loot you might find. [/li]
[li] Your costume - don’t forget spare underwear/socks to go with your costume. [/li]
[li] Accessories such as hats, scarves, wigs, cloaks, belts[/li]
[li] Jewellery – do not bring valuable jewellery to larps, generally, only bring items you won’t mind being lost or broken.[/li]
[li] In-character props – paper to make notes, books, bandages, gear for your skills e.g. apothecary, armour fixing, lock picks, spell components[/li]
[li] Armour, weapons and shields – including ways of carrying weapons around. [/li]
[li] Make up – as a player you are expected to bring and apply your own makeup and remover. There are a few professional artist members of the community who may be available to ask for help & advice beforehand. Do not expect them to do this on the day, especially to the detriment of their own character preparations.[/li]
[li] Character sheet - re-read and print off a copy of your own character sheet, as they are not usually provided. Consider making a small easy reference card carried with you, for a quick check during the game. Try to memorise any key names like close friends or required phrases, such as spells.[/li]
[li] Tents - some of the larger larps may offer the option of sleeping in a tent, especially if this is more suited to their game setting. Usually you need to bring your own tent, mattress etc. if you are tenting, or organise to share with other players. Tents are usually erected before the game, allow adequate preparation time to do so.[/li][/ul]

[size=120]Arriving at the venue[/size]
When you arrive, you’ll probably find lots of people getting organised. This may seem like an overwhelming buzz and mass of humanity. This is often a stressful period for both GMs and attendees trying to get last minute things organised, or fixing up problems that have arisen.
[ul][li] It pays to get to the game with plenty of time to spare. Allow time for traffic and navigating to new places. Carpooling and sharing lifts are often arranged at Diatribe, its better to arrange this at least one week out, rather than expect something at the last minute.[/li]
[li] There may be a place where you can unload your gear, but then park your car in the designated carpark – this usually away from the area where the game play will occur for safety and game immersion reasons.[/li]
[li] Check-In - There is often a person with a list of registered attendees checking off people as they arrive. [/li]
[li] Follow the instructions of the game organisers as to where to put your gear, what to do next and where to meet. [/li]
[li] Some rooms may be pre-assigned to particular groups of people like a player faction, otherwise it is usually first in first pick. [/li]
[li] To claim your bed in the bunkroom, it is suggested that you lay out your sleeping bag on it. This also is easier to do before the game starts, rather than at bed time, when you may be cold and tired, and others may already be trying to sleep, so are not appreciative of the light and noise.[/li]
[li] Try not to spread all your bags and gear out that would take more than your fair share of the space. Bunk rooms are often cramped spaces, and due to the increasing popularity of larps, there are not usually any spare bunks.[/li][/ul]

If you are Crew your base of operations is the ‘crew room’ report here for instructions. Help the GMs get ready for the start of the game, volunteer to get stuck in and offer a hand to anyone that looks like they need it, strike up conversation with others while you do.
[ul][li] Crew sometimes have an earlier arrival time to help with the game preparations. For example by unloading gear from the trailer, organise the food and kitchen, laying out table & chairs, decorating the venue. [/li]
[li] The GMs usually give the all crew members a verbal briefing on the game and scenario.[/li]
[li] They will brief and costume you for your first NPC role, so that you’re already out in the venue playing an NPC when the players enter. [/li]
[li] There may be some basic weapons training given by more experienced fighters to newcomers. Remember that crew should not fight in the crew room. If you wish to practice fighting, clear it with a GM and do it outside.[/li]
[li] Try to keep the crew room tidy over the weekend – putting costumes and props back where they should be will make it easier for the next people to find them, and to prevent damage to both items and people. [/li][/ul]

If you are a Player:
[ul][li] your first priority is to get into your costume (if you’re not already) and do any other preparation you need like makeup. Don’t wait around for the game to start before getting ready. [/li]
[li] Once you are ready to play, do offer to help out the other players, or set up the venue.[/li]
[li] If you strike costume problems or have queries about the game, do ask other the other players (especially those already ready). [/li]
[li] Don’t wander into the crew room looking for the GMs. Players aren’t allowed in there because they might see or overhear things they shouldn’t. In a way this is considered ‘cheating’ and really just spoils the surprise and enjoyment for you. [/li]
[li] If required, ask a crew member for the person you want, and/or knock at the door of the crew room and wait patiently.[/li]
[li] Usually the GMs will give all the players a final briefing together before the game starts, which will cover expectations and safety issues, and you can ask any questions then. [/li][/ul]

[size=120]General items[/size]
[ul][li] Attendance - Due to the meal planning and venue capacity logistics, attendees need to register for games rather than just turn up on the day. When you register, consider it a binding commitment that you are going to go, unless you notify the organisers. Whilst non-attendance due to sickness and emergencies are unavoidable (and should be communicated to the organisers as soon as possible), it is extremely rude and disrespectful to not show just because you didn’t feel like it. Note this information about non-attendees is often shared amongst game organisers and an ongoing reputation for this may influence their decisions in the future.[/li]
[li] Code of Conduct – NZLARPS has recently introduced a document that outlines expectations of all attendees to their larps. Most of it is common sense, and has merely been written down to remind people of the decent behavior we want to foster in the larping community. Copies of the Code of Conduct are on the NZLarp website, and should be available at the venue.[/li]
[li] Health & safety - Within the larp community we are lucky to have several professionally trained first aid personnel. These people are usually identified at the start of the game, as go-to people for any real-life injuries. There will often be a walky-talky in the kitchen in order to contact the GMs in an emergency. The NZLARPS First Aid Kit will also be kept there. [/li]
[li] Incident report – due to the increasing size of larps, many games will now have an incident book where anything out of the ordinary should be noted. These might include injuries to people, concerns of inappropriate behavior, damage to venue or props.[/li]
[li] Security at venues - In the past we have had items such as wallets, phones etc stolen from unsecured rooms at site which have easy access by general public. This has made us more security conscious about valuables. There may be a room or lockable cupboard which people are invited to have their valuables kept during the game. This is done entirely at the individual’s risk, we cannot be held responsible for any lost/stolen items. Also consider locking things in your car, or whether you need to take it to the larp at all.[/li]
[li] Game setting preparation - Players and Crew alike, make sure that you read the rule book and/or game setting. Please read the whole rule book even the parts that don’t apply to your character, as this helps to facilitate game play when someone uses an ability that your character doesn’t have . [/li]
[li] Venue clean-up – at the end of the game all attendees are expected to help with the packing away, tidying and cleaning of the venue to ensure we are allowed back again for the next larp. It helps if you volunteer for things that you see need doing, rather than just waiting to be told what to do.[/li][/ul]