Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fighting LARP Funk

In the light of all the serious business that has been discussed lately, I'd like to go for a slightly lighter topic that is dear to my heart: stinkiness. Yes, we are usually camping in the woods, so there is a certain level of hygiene that cannot be attained. But there are ways we can fight the funk, and germs, that come with sweating in the dirt for 3 days :)

First, a few supplies can go a long way. Easy: a small bottle of anti-bacterial gel. If you're eating on the go, or just don't have easy access to running water, this can save your immune system. A lot of LARP foods are handheld: burgers, grilled cheese, packaged snacks, etc. When you think about where your hands have been at a camp without many bathrooms, and how often you eat with those fingers, well, it may just be a good idea :)

I also like to bring a jug of water and a bar of soap. You never know when you might need it. If you do have to use latrines, this way you know you can wash your hands. I also use it for brushing my teeth and washing the worst of the grime off when showers aren't available. It makes me feel better, and even a washcloth bath is better than no bath - your friends and bunk-mates will thank you!

And don't forget the simple things. Wear extra deodorant. Re-apply. Freshen your smell with a little body spray - you can get travel size for men or women at most any drug store. You may not realize that your aroma has gone a bit south, so apply lightly for the good of those around you. :)

Next, try bringing some extra costuming. Friday nights are dark and short, so putting your B-Team costume on then to get it dirty can be worth it when you get to enjoy fresh, clean garb the next day. Especially socks and undies of course, but having a cheap alternate shirt and pants can really help making you feel cleaner and smell better. Not to mention being useful if it's raining or muddy! If you don't have alternates, try hanging up what you can to air out. You could even bring some Febreeze. I also like to bring a few small plastic bags and use one to quarantine dirty clothes!

Make sure you're cleaning your costume between games too!

And finally, keep the area clean. It's not only considerate, but it helps fight down on yuck. Put away your food, drinks, and dirty clothes so they don't stink up the place! :) Bring a trash bag, or just use one of your shopping bags, where you can contain half-eaten food, wrappers, and sticky pop cans. Leaving these out attracts bugs and even animals to your cabin, which is not a fun thing to wake up to!

It's just common sense, but I've often encountered a feeling of "it's hardcore to be dirty". I'm not saying we should all live in a hypoallergenic bubble, but I'm always surprised at people who just choose not to take a few steps in the cleanly direction. And I know that showers at a camp are often kind of weird/scary - but so was whatever I rolled in last night :) Not only will it wash off the grime, but I always feel refreshed and revitalized afterward. Everyone's got different levels of what's comfortable, though.

Just a few ounces of prevention are good for you, and those around you! :) So help a girl out and fight the funk!

Got any more ideas for fighting LARP funk and keeping germs at bay?


  1. So during winter events Madrigal uses the opposite side of the campsite than usual and houses most of the PCs in this one multiroom building. My team, about 16 people on any given event, usually takes up one of the two big rooms. So, it's wet, because of tracked in snow and mud, and hot from the building's heater, and we're all in the same room and... yeah. it was pretty rough.

    And then Valerie, of SpiceMWE fame on the national forums, started bringing plug in air fresheners.

    It was like the dawn of a new age of enlightenment. Highly highly recommended.

    Btw, not a hygiene tip per se, but in the same family: Medicated powder for chafing. I use Aloe and vitamin E medicated baby powder, some people use Gold Bond. Whatever it is, it can be an amazing moment of relief when things are getting abraded. Nothing builds relationships quite like offering some powder to another rugged fighter who is clearly suffering.

  2. Boy is this an important topic!
    I bring multiple changes of costumes to every event and have found some wet wipes are essential for keeping clean.
    Typically a couple times a day I go in, change my under clothes, socks and/or shirt, use wet wipes and some scented lotion with some deodorant.
    I think even at the worst of camps with no real shower this helps at least keep me safe to be around.
    If yo are at a camp with nice showers, there is simply no excuse for smelling like death. SHOWER! Especially if you are NPCing!

  3. GOLD BOND. I damn near take a bath in the stuff every morning: underclothes, pants, and shoes (especially in the shoes).

  4. Oh, Gold Bond is, however, medicated (with menthol) so be careful around your . . . sensitive bits. Delightfully cooling can become an unpleasant "cold burn" pretty quickly.

  5. Clean up your area - I remember a time when we were running a game and our NPCs started to refuse going to the noble's cabin, because of the absolute filth in the area. They had open cans of beans and decided that they were too lazy to leave the tent to go to the bathroom, so they just went out the back of the tent.

    So in the worst cases, you may stop getting plot attention if you're that filthy.

    I will say about body spray - use sparingly and use it outdoors. Doubling or tripling the amount you use doesn't make you smell any better, and some people (ie, Jenn) are super sensitive to perfumes and may react poorly to that being sprayed around them.

  6. Awesome post, Karin <3

    Seconding everyone's suggestions so far! The worst source of cabin funk is moisture, so definitely bring a sealable container for wet or dirty clothes if you can, or a plastic bag like Karin suggested and cinch it tight.

    Scented body sprays can definitely help a bit, but like Karin said, go easy-- some people have allergies.

    For warm events, I like to bring a stack of the cheap walmart washcloths, so they can be used for between shower touch-ups. If you have a freezer or cooler, you can dampen them and throw them in there, and they are lifesavers for hot summer events.

    Also! Brush your teeth, and maybe bring some gum. Nothing puts a harsh on intense roleplay like breath that actually smells like a dragon's.

    1. To second something important:

      Please please PLEASE go easy on the body spray - people like me are allergic to the stuff, and can get a headache from 25 feet away if you drown yourself in it.

      -Matthew A

  7. A good way to help keep the stink away:

    At night, leave your nasty-ass boots and socks outside. Seriously, yo.

    Also, this if you are in a slightly enclosed area, someone can bring a box of arm & hammer. For 3.00 it isn't just for yo fridge.


  8. Wow, great tips! I'm glad I'm not the only one concerned with da funk :)

    Also, speaking of chafing - they still sell bloomers, ladies who wear skirts. I think only senior women buy them though so I had to get them at Sears last time I looked. :) Not only do they help with the chafe, but if you wear something like that you can lift up skirts without flashing anyone and get some air flow going. Good times. :)

  9. Ahahahahaha. I just love the premise of this post. ^_^

  10. Go to Dicks and invest $150 in Under Armour. Grab a few pairs of compression shorts, shirts that FIT, and football socks. Under Armour will pull any and all sweat right off your body which keeps you warm in the winter and prevents funk build up in the summer months. Avoid wearing any cotton directly touching your body. It holds water and causes chafing once damp.