Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Case for Winter LARPing

If you don't LARP in winter, that means you may not play from November through March in Ohio. Or later! But besides getting your fix, there are a few things to be said about LARPing in the winter – you should just be prepared.

A lot of games don’t run in the cold months for various reasons. If you can find one that does, this might be a good chance to try out a game you haven’t encountered yet. Check around with those games you’ve been eyeballing to see if they run in the months when your main game doesn’t. Since you might be looking at a long stretch of empty weekends, you may be able to get your fix AND try something new.

Because of the above, the games running in winter can get some bigger than usual turnouts. This can give a really unique and immersive atmosphere. LARPing with a big group gives the feeling of being part of a town, when everywhere you look you see other characters. And with new people in the mix, you don’t always know what’s going on with everyone, so there’s more to discover. Players might have to work a little harder to investigate and balance all the factions, which can make the game a little more intense. Plus, you can meet new people and learn new things! :)

In some ways, winter even helps with atmosphere. Anachronistic elements are hidden by snow, campfires roar, and the nights are long. People often look most impressive at colder games where they haven’t forsaken all their costuming and good make-up for not overheating :) Plus, everyone is huddled inside more, making it easier for staff teams to launch attacks without being seen; so you don’t always know who’s knocking at the door!

Staff people, take advantage of the above! Consider running an indoor event at a unique location. “Trap” the characters somewhere and lay on the suspense – like a murder mystery or race against time. You can even have smaller events during this time, such as role-play encounters specific to a plotline that can be done indoors, but that might not interest everyone. Make it a fundraiser and have a fantastic period feast at someone’s house.

Even if you don’t change the location, plan ahead so that your mods can be done inside where possible. Staying warm will make your PCs happy.

That said, downsides are obvious. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s cold. We Ohioans know this, but still at cold events I always saw someone without a warm place to sleep, a hat, or gloves. Like your mom always said, make sure you pack for the weather. Bring layers, and lots of extra socks. Change out elements of your costume to ward off the winter – don’t just wear the same light or short clothes! This might be a good time to add some Under Armour, a cloak, a hood, or gloves. Bring an extra pair of gloves and shoes if you can. Check your sleeping gear to make sure it’s rated for the anticipated temperature, and maybe bring an extra blanket.

If you still look at the event with dread, consider getting a hotel. Yes, I know, I used to think it was a little silly. But the older I get, the better that warm bed, shower, and good night’s sleep looks. Coming into game clean, warm, and dry can make it much more enjoyable! Plus then you are guaranteed a place to dry off and warm up.

If you’re running the event, check with the camp to make sure there are appropriate places for everyone to sleep. Ask to make sure the heat is working, if you have it, and that there’s firewood on site. Ask how many space heaters you can have before blowing the system. Alert players in advance of the weather, any needs you have (like firewood and space heaters) and any additional concerns. Try to coordinate with the food people to have warm food and drinks available. It may not seem like it, but you can still get dehydrated in the cold, so watch to make sure everyone is drinking plenty of water in some form!

Still, even all the prep and benefits in the world can't change the bare facts that it'll be cold and wet, so it's okay if winter LARPing isn't for you. Stay inside and dream of next season. :)

What do you think about playing in the winter?

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