Sometimes, you just have to spend three hours of your evening helping a friend out with some speed crafting.
In this case, my friend J (who runs the Kishar LARP I’m part of) was feeling a little panicked by the fact that he’s got a Game of Thrones LARP to go to this weekend, and didn’t have time to make a tabard to go over his leather armor to match his house’s colors. With all the other things he had to tackle before Saturday, what was he to do?
Enter the Crafty Nerd and her trusty sewing machine! I volunteered to put my new Janome sewing machine to work and see if I could possibly crank out a tabard for him before Saturday.
You might have noticed from my post in March that I started LARPing recently, and oh how fun it is – it’s like Gen Con meets summer camp! It really is. There were two big things that were a little intimidating to me as I got started, though: costuming and fighting.
Fighting is something I can probably get better at with practice, but costuming? Most of the costumes I have in my closet are either My Little Pony, steampunk, or renaissance faire appropriate – and Kishar has an Asian/Arabian Nights mix of costuming and setting – how do I get myself costumed for this? And how do I get myself costumed in a way that everyone’s not going to look at me with pity because I’m a newbie who has no idea what she’s doing? I’m so used to just regular cosplay – I’ve got a character that I can then make a costume for, whether it’s an existing outfit that a character’s established as something they wear, or something inspired by a character (like Pinkie Pie – she doesn’t often wear clothes, heh.) Starting from scratch was intimidating as all heck.
I ended up tackling this in a couple of steps, once I got over being so overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of not only creating a character, but costuming one too.
The first thing I did: asked for help. Lots of it. J and Kasi were extremely helpful in determining what would make good costume pieces, but then again, since they run the game, they know what’s good for costuming!
Next: I cruised Amazon, Etsy, and other places to find things that I might not be able to make on my own, like elf ears. There’s a lot of places out there where you can buy LARP gear – and again, I asked J and Kasi for suggestions on where to shop, so I made sure I was getting quality stuff.
After that: I dug through my existing costuming to see what would work. The results: a fair bit of my costuming was easily repurposable for my character’s costume. Even stuff I didn’t initially think would be good, like some of my steampunk stuff (the little bag I showed off in this post about my steampunk gear works crazily well!) and a lovely bag my mom-in-law bought me for my birthday, ended up being pulled in as costuming bits.
Lastly: I made some stuff. (I mean, come on, I’m The Crafty Nerd, after all!) like my spell packet bag (which is ugly but functional) and my overdress bits (unsure what to call them, but we’ll stick with overdress). And as I went through all that, I started to come up with a fair idea of what I wanted to wear.
When figuring out my costume, I had a couple of criteria for what I’d be wearing:
one: it had to look good. I didn’t want to be the one awkwardly dressed noob at my first game.
two: it had to be somewhat comfortable. I’d be wearing this for hours, likely, while walking through the forest.
three: I had to be able to run in it. No ifs, ands or buts. I knew I was gonna have to run from monsters at some point
With those three things in mind, and a giant list of ideas added to my Amazon Wishlist, I ended up emerging with two costumes – one of which I wore to my first game!
I ended up deciding on two main costume styles: one with a dress, one with pants.
The dress outfit:
The dress, obviously: I chose this because it was light, flowy, and would probably make it so I don’t overheat while playing outdoors. Plus, it was easy to alter to make it shorter, so I wasn’t tripping over it – I ended up taking off the bottom tier of the dress, because I’m short.
Corset vest: wanted some sort of corset, but wasn’t sure I’d want one that was super-sturdily boned – turns out this one is a little long for me, but I was able to get some corsets from Kasi that work that I can also wear with this dress!
Overdress bits: I made these myself, they’re the black pieces in the photo above that look like they’re extending from the corset. I thought it’d make a nice touch to a fantasy costume – and it’s a work in progress, as I might add some embellishments to it such as embroidery.
Leggings under the dress: gotta keep my legs covered, because poison ivy/ticks/brambles are no fun. These were a pair I’ve had hanging around for years.
Boots: My good ol’ scooter boots. They handle tromping around in the forest pretty well.
The pants outfit:
Harem pants: oh lord these are comfy. They haven’t made it out to an official game yet, but I bet these’ll be fantastic for running in. And they’re light, too, so I won’t overheat in them.
Scarf: this can be used as a belt, or a wrap, or to keep one’s hair back – the uses are endless! love how versatile this is.
Corset: planning on using one of the corsets I got from Kasi.
Shirt: I have a couple options here: a peasant shirt I made myself, or a peasant shirt I got from Kasi, or I could even use a tanktop if I wanted!
Kimono top: light, breezy, and setting-appropriate. I can wear the scarf as a belt over it, or wear it loose over a costume.
So there you go! For someone who’s never really done a LARP before, once I figured out how to get started, it was really easy to try and find costume pieces that were readily available, so I’ve got something to wear while I try and craft my own stuff from scratch! Hopefully this will help out other new LARP players as you get geared up for your first game!
Yes, I finally did it: I went to a LARP. A real, actual LARP.
And it was FUN.
A little backstory for everyone: when I was a freshman in college, many many years ago, a couple of friends felt it’d be a great idea to start a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP. They loved role-playing, and they thought it’d be awesome to do some live-action Vampire: The Masquerade stuff. So, they herded together a bunch of friends who they thought would have fun in a Vampire LARP, and nudged us in the direction of character creation, and then bam! LARP night at their house!
It didn’t work out all that well.
First off, we didn’t have actual character sheets – we were just told to pick a vampire clan and go with that. We ended up with a very unbalanced group, given that 3/4ths of the people playing chose to play characters from one clan. Second off, there was no combat. Or story. Just a bunch of college kids, sitting around in the living room of a former fraternity house, acting crazy and wearing costumes, drinking wine if you were old enough and pretending it was blood.
I went to maybe two games before I gave up and said “this LARP stuff really isn’t for me.”
But then I met J. And learned what LARPs are really like if they’re run well.
When I met J last year, he told me about the LARP he ran – Kishar – and said I was welcome to come to a game if I wanted to. And I ended up waffling about it for a year or so, based on my bad experiences in that Vampire: The Masquerade LARP I went to back in 2000. I kinda wanted to join up, because as you probably know, I do enjoy any excuse to get into a costume. And I was always interested in boffer fighting (where weapons are made out of foam and latex), even though I wasn’t ever sure where to get started with that. And the setting, which draws on the Arabian Nights stories for inspiration, was intriguing.
So I said “heck, why not? I’ll go to a game, see what it’s about.” And I did – at the end of March.
I wasn’t feeling super well that weekend, so while new players typically play monsters, I ended up trailing the group while they were out in the woods fighting, and taking pictures. It was a really good way to get a feel for how combat works, and to listen to the story and see some action as it happened. While I only knew a handful of people in the group, everyone was welcoming and friendly, and despite feeling pretty cruddy physically, I had a pretty darn good time.
After I absorbed everything going on in Kishar for a weekend, I ended up deciding “yes, this is a thing I want to do” and started crafting a character in earnest. My character will be Ëlinyr (pronounced ay-lin-ear), a sun elf scholar who studies and uses magic. And as I started putting together my character, I realized this is the most perfect way to get my crafty nerdiness on. Not only do I get to make a roleplay character (and therefore indulging in my nerdy side), I also get to put together a costume (which brings in the crafty side of things). And as I said earlier, you all know how much I lovemakingandwearingcostumes. Most of this past weekend was spent working on Ëlinyr’s costume, to get it ready for the next game.
So, I’m really excited about having this new place to get my craftiness and nerdiness on. As I said to J after the game ended, Kishar feels like Gen Con and summer camp combined, and it’s awesome. And who knows, maybe I’ll get Ross into it too, and we can run around the forest in costumes together!