"Entry" nations?

[A nation that they can play to learn the game from within, and then maybe jump to a more complex one when they get bored or the PC dies]

Empire seems to be doing well in terms of attracting new players. From other LARP systems, from other hobbies, or indeed from those new to the hobby entirely. But my goodness it can look intimidating to a new player, with the wiki and the costume guide and the backstory and the stuff that’s happened in game…

And while some will have the confidence, wardrobe and experience to jump straight in on the hardest brief and costume requirements (Which I suspect to be that of the Imperial Orcs), others will, quite sensibly, look to a nation that gives them an “easy start” into things.

A relatively simple costume, an understandable and relate-able backstory, and a general concept that they can jump into without too much knowledge of the setting.

A frequent candidate for this is Wintermark. You can (inaccurately) describe (a large chunk of them) as Vikings. The costumes and accessories are easily transferred from many other games, and indeed from some re-enactment.

Recently, however, there’s been quite a lot of new players jumping into Dawn. I’ve described that nation as “Arthurian knights, with the chivalry dialled down and the recklessness dialled way up!”. And that concept and imagery of armoured knights in colourful surcoats is an easy one to grasp.

(I mean, I could blame Game of Thrones for this, but then I could also blame Vikings for the Wintermark enthusiasts…and probably wrongly in both cases.)

So, does the Entry Nation exist, or is this an oversimplification? And if so, what nations would you describe as such?

For myself, I’d say that Wintermark, Dawn, and the Marches are entry nations, Navarr and the Imperial Orcs are not, and the rest fall in between.

Your thoughts?

I’d say that none of the nations are difficult enough for a first timer that I would discourage a newbie joining them if they were enthusiastic. Imperial Orcs has a demanding costume and a very particular culture, but if you’re willing to put in that effort there’s no reason a first-timer couldn’t handle that brief just as well as a player who’s had experience at Empire in the other nations.

I’m also not fond of the “Entry Nation” concept in general, because I think it creates skewed perspectives that aren’t helpful to play.

If a new player (or group of new players) has any leanings at all towards which nation they want to play, I’d encourage them to follow their heart and dive into that nation. I trust them to learn the brief, and both fellow players and their egregores are there to help them once they rock up to their first event. If they don’t have a preference, or don’t feel qualified to make the choice, I’d sooner make a recommendation based on what kit is going to be most affordable to them or similar.

Or I’d tell them to come to my nation, which is obviously the best one.

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I don’t think there’s any such thing as an “entry nation”. In my (somewhat limited) experience, I was welcomed in Urizen three years ago and I’m still very happy there.

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The welcoming and accepting nature of all of the nations is not an issue, we’re all a friendly bunch.

It’s more: “Which of the nations looks like an easy one to start in?”, in terms of kit, brief, and concept, to someone new to Empire or indeed to LARP generally?

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Looks like or actually is?

Honestly I sometimes think that a lot of what makes the nations (I would say Wintermark, Navarr and Dawn with either Highguard or the marches as a close run thing) look like they’re good for first timers can often end up being false friends that actually can lead to people not taking the time and really looking beneath the surface.

Wintermark look like Vikings, but scratch the surface and they’re not
Navarr look like celtic-esque Wood Elves but scratch the surface and they’re not
Dawn look like Arthurian Knights but there is a bunch of other factors and ideas that aren’t

While the ‘harder’ nations (Urizen, Orcs, the freeborn would be what I’d expect to hear here) have those pits that might trip up the new player (Urizen are emotionless Vulcans, the freeborn are Persian traders, the orcs are out of LotR or Warhammer) they tend, mostly, to be bigger or at least better signposted…

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I do not see the idea of entry nations. all of them can be done simply and then expanded on.
wintermark, navarr, dawn marchers highguard can all get basic soft kit from normal stores, larp stores renactment or such. simple tunics plain trousers hood/fur/tabard/poppet ect to decorate and your fine.
urizen while more specific are also straight forward. tunic and robes. cloth wraps for belts and maybe some mage armor.
brass coast. walk into primark and charity shops and look for silk/demask/dyed cotton style cloths. layer up in colours and good.
varuska, wools, block colour. simple shape and colour but nice detail if possible.
orcs, you need a mask. its about £20-30 quid. then its layers and wraps. make a cool skirt/kilt thing and fo from there.
league. this is tricky. some larp shops do “landsnekt” shirts. a fancy hat, plain trousers.

these are all a first event player needs. these are what i would the bare essentials that some one could build from. thats all thats needed. yes you can do more. but i couldn’t expect a first time larper to drop the money time and effort needed to get a fancy kit off the bat.

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I really dislike the idea of ‘entry nations’; you end up with very lopsided nation balances and this further unintentionally influences the rest of the game world. As we’ve seen with Wintermark, it also affects OC elements such as camping space.

I don’t think any of the nations are necessarily ‘harder’ than the others, I’d love to see a better spread of new players across all nations but I’m not sure how that could be achieved.

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Strictly in terms of ease of obtaining kit, unfortunately there’s a huge gender difference. I think Wintermark is easiest for male kit and Dawn for female kit. Female Wintermark kit and male Dawn kit (other than the armour, which is much easier to get in male sizes) are more specialist niches.

In terms of roleplay I don’t like the idea of entry level/advanced nations. Succeeding in the League looks like it would be easier for an experienced roleplayer, but there’s no reason for a new player not to try.

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I agree on all points. Good league kit is tricky to get without making a lot of it. More so for women that is not a dress.
One thing about the role-play being easier in navarr and wintermark is they are more happy to share between them selves and co-operate.
Also Chainmaile is just hands down the best larp armour ever made. Reasonably cheep, easy to wear and easy to repair. ect. Wearing plate is great but its not a quick thing to get into.

Except that Urizen aren’t emotionless Vulcans, though. We have as much emotion as anyone else; the difference is we choose to use it wisely and in specific circumstances :wink:

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I’d have to agree that there are no ‘starter’ nations, but my experience was that worrying about costume at your first event was a mistake. I joined the League for my first event, so the three of us (I took my wife and daughter) spent the weekend in leggings, puffy shirts and leggings. I don’t think any of us were fully on-brief, but we seemed to fit in because all costume is aspirational. Also, we took masks.

Perhaps we should approach costume from that perspective; what are the simple props or accents which immediately mark out a member of each faction? When you see a mask and a hat with a feather, you think League, for example.

Go for the culture which excites you and work up to that reenactment-quality kit over time.

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I see a lot of new players coming into Navarr, which is also pretty easy to kit (throw something practical-looking together in mostly brown and green and it will do the job, someone will lend you eyeliner if you’ve forgotten to bring anything to draw on your face with).

I also don’t think ‘entry’ nations is a thing, though…

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This is very helpful and spot on. This is the first step to any new players. A list of the bare essentials/style of basics/simple accessories are the best way to advise a new player. As when they get in the field and see whats arrayed and see what to aspire to. See what is possible then they can pick and build towards something

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Well, from opinions so far, it looks like the “Entry Nation” concept is invalid.

My mistake, thank you for your observations and discussion.

Exactly, my point was that ‘Emotionless Vulcan’ was one of the common misconceptions of Urizen

I really hate the idea that Wintermark is an “entry nation”, or any other for that matter.

In terms of kit, there is an argument that some nations are easier to acquire kit for, I do not agree, there are easier elements in all nations, and there are harder ones, it’s just certain nations have garnered this attitude.

In terms of cultures, there are none of what is mentioned, Wintermark are explicitly not Vikings, along with every other nation. They are rich and complex cultures that you can that are launching points.

Kit on the other hand. I think it would be useful to do a budget kit series, like was done for Odyssey way back when. Like the “Starter Kit” for each nation. I think I might make a separate thread for that

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Wintermark LARP, guest starring… some other nations I guess?