Battle Mage Armour advice - first LARP

Hey everyone! I’m Holly, and I’ve been reading a lot about Empire during the pandemic. I think I want to get involved with the game post-pandemic, but due to having no experience with LARP and a very limited (student) budget, I would love any guidance on battle mage armour. I’ve already checked out some of the threads on here, and have been reading the wiki religiously, but really just want some reassurance from more experienced players as to what fits the feel of Empire and is LARP appropriate in general.

Firstly, I want to emphasise that any advice on getting cheap kit would be amazing, as though I appreciate that LARP is an expensive hobby, I’m obviously unable to raise massive funds and invest in higher quality gear. I plan on looking round charity shops for some items, as I’ve seen this recommended in other posts, and making as much of my costume as possible in order to keep costs down. Are there any other ways to keep kit as budget friendly as possible?

I’d also be grateful for any pointers on specific kit needed. Thus far I think for my base kit I’ll use a tunic, the trousers with the fitted bottoms (I’m sorry, I don’t know their proper name!), and some boots. I wanted to use a corset on top of this just to provide more shape, but based off the wiki it seems that this is frowned upon. I already have one which is a brown faux leather, so am reluctant to invest in a hero belt or similar unless I really have to, at least for my first event. Would I be able to wear the corset for one or two events, just to spread out my expenses, or is this a deal breaker?

Furthermore, for my more battle mage specific section of the armour, I like the idea of using pauldrons, vambraces and a circlet to satisfy the requirements, plus a cloak and faulds because I think they feel visually suitable for the mage aesthetic. Are there any issues with using these faulds, either aesthetically or considering the in-game history of the Marcher uprising? I understand that they took faulds from Dawnish armour designs along with other components, but hope that by using fabric it will be clear that my faulds are not an imitation of traditional armour, but are an extension of mage armour.

Finally, I want to add that I appreciate that I’ll need other components to my costume such as pouches and the like, but that I feel reasonably satisfied that I understand what to do concerning these elements. Regardless, if you have any big pointers or concerns on the wider costuming front, please let me know so I can adapt and improve my ideas.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give. I’m so excited to get involved with Empire! :smile:

1 Like

Hey Holly, one quick question have you made any decision on which nation you are playing as? (as it may open up some different options with how to do Mage armour.)

1 Like

I’m liking the look of Urizen, Navarr, Varushka or Wintermark, but honestly I’m not that set on any one nation right now, I’m trying to get a feel for their respective styles and cultures to see what I’d enjoy playing the most, and what would be the most achievable within my budget. For example, based off of what I’ve read in the Wiki, Dawn’s emphasis on shining metal armour is clearly out of my price range, and the emphasis put on clothing in the League would just draw attention to any aspects where I’ve had to cut corners.

I don’t know if that helps at all, I’m a bit indecisive because all of the nations look so good! :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Hello Holly, welcome along :slight_smile:

As well as charity shops, you may get lucky hunting around on eBay for various bits of wizard/Larp costume.

A good base layer is the best place to start, and it seems you’ve got that covered.

(not sure re the corset, but brown “leather” is likely fine…)

Mage armour is something you can make cheaply, and have it look pretty good; quite a few of the sets I’ve seen have been basic materials cut to shape and decorated…

(I wear black leather mage armour painted in my House colours and lots of runes)

If I was making some with an eye to low budget, I’d start with something reasonably stiff but flexible, such as foam, leather, or carpet. Cut this into the relevant shapes (pauldrons, vambraces, gorget, whatever), with the softer side on the skin side. Punch holes in it and thread laces or cheap belts through it, to these pieces onto you.

Then cover those pieces with something suitable (fabric, for instance), and decorate those, with fabric paint, acrylics, stitched on decorations, ribbons, whatever.

As for a circlet, if you bought laces in the harmonising colours and braided them together into a circlet, incorporating some dangling bits of costume jewellery or glass gems, that’d look pretty good.

Remember that it’s meant to look more “mage” and less “armour”… flimsy and overdecorated is fine.

Kit for Empire is aspirational: do what you can with what you have, seek ways to upgrade it, and have fun. Whatever you do, you will be neither the best nor worst dressed one there :smiley:

Oh, and don’t get too intimidated by the wiki photos: those are often the 1% top photos of folk who’ve been working on their kit for years…

I would advise picking a nation based on what you think you’d enjoy playing in it, and then work out a low-budget outfit for that one (Dawn, btw rarely calls for plate armour on the battlemages).

1 Like

Hello, and welcome to Empire! Your base kit sounds like a fine starting point (like Geoffrey, I’m less sure about the corset tbh), beyond that it would really depend on your nation. As mentioned, costume is aspirational, and can be built up over time. As Geoffrey says, it’s a good idea to pick a nation due to what you enjoy playing, and then work from there!

You say you’re torn between Urizen, Navarr, Varushka and Wintermark, as they all look so good - it’s a tough decision! What would you say is attracting you to each? Maybe we can help you towards an answer :slight_smile:

Pretty much what Geoff says. Al that stuff fits in anywhere and mage armour is easy. I’ve made both my own sets. For another system, I literally made pauldrons by painting a set of pound shop foam knee pads. I used Flexi Paint, but you could cover them with fabric instead.

One thing I did when I started was to buy a massive bag of cheap leather offcuts, a needle, thread and awl.

With that, you can make a few simple pouches, your mage armour, and maybe a jerkin or similar as a top layer. You can glue bits over the cover of a cheap notebook to make it look good, make a leather mantle to keep the rain off your shoulders etc. Since leather doesn’t fray, it’s easy to learn. I had no skills when I started, and made all of those. The jerkin was made out of 4 smaller pieces on each side, as my scraps were quite small.

Basically the only way to go wrong at empire is to be proactively wrong by wearing things that aren’t part of the nation or setting. For example, you can definitely use that corset as shaping underwear, just not really as a top layer. As the former player of a wizard who used to walk around with his IC underwear (big linen shorts) showing, you are Definitely Making A Statement if you do it :P.

Everything else sounds fine for all those nations, depending on colour. I would probably go for Urizen or Varushka, because they’re the smaller by far out of the four nations. Which means as a new player you’re more likely to bump into the nation’s plot or politics.

3 Likes

Mage armour is perfect for a budget! Here is how i made mine:

Circlet: A length of Faux-Silk ribbon with A LOT of runes painted on, tied into a headband. £2
Pectoral: A BIG/Chunky costume jewelry necklace with lots of runes and constellations painted on it. £4
Belt: A VERY Shiny, long and Wide piece of fabric with a mountain painted on it that I tied around my waist. £5

Another advantage of this armour is that it was extremely light weight and comfortable. I wore it the whole event with no problems.
You may also find this link useful for finding the main magical symbols of the world. Its worth pointing out that you can use any magical tradition with any nation. i used a lot of runes, which is quintessintial Wintermark, even though my character is urizeni. however i did get confused for wintermark once or twice because of the runes, so keep that in mind

If you want anymore info let me know!

2 Likes