Here’s a question that we’ve been seeing a lot of recently from prospective players. So to people who’ve started playing Empire and LARPing in the last few years, how much did it cost you to get started with LARPing? And what advice do you have for people starting next year?
I raided my local charity shop. Bulk cost for a couple of pairs of linen trousers, some generic tops, and some belts and tat about £30.
I went a bit mad on it when I started, but I was very certain I wanted to play a heavy armour Sentinel fighty character. I spread these purchases out over about 6 months
Butted maille hauburgeon £70
Greaves, Vambraces & pads £70
Velvet Glove tunic & trousers £50
Velevt Glove Satin lined robe £70
So yeah, £465…the only thing I changed for that character was buying a different sword at my second event from Light Armoury.
It’s hard to be cheap with armour, it’s quite common to be able to borrow weapons and you could get soft kit a lot cheaper (if I knew then what I know now😂), but if you’re certain you want to wear armour it’s hard to go cheaper than that.
If you’ve got any mates who camp and / or larp already it can cost very little.
Borrow tents, weapons, armour, system specific costume pieces. Also transport to site!
Charity shop hunt your costume basics - tunics, trousers, shirts, blankets.
Invest in your sleeping set up, your boots, food tickets / supplies - all of which can be reused for any larp system, or other event as wanted.
Do also look out for new player discounts on tickets, systems often want to encourage new players, Empire has a code system, giving a new player £15 off, and the mate who gave you the code a £15 credit too! There are also discounts for students, some low income reasons and so on, just make sure you send them a copy or screenshot of your proof beforehand and you won’t even have to queue up separately.
I stareted last year from scratch. I also had zero camping gear. Also now I have the benefit of hindsight. Please note I also had about 1k to splurge. Most people dont have that and so I would urge you to not think that this is needed for your event, or 1st character.
These are the main expenses I occured last year. Incidentals like socks, trousers and comforts not included.
I’ve rounded up my soft kit to about £50 as I got it all from Ebay and charity shops.
Camping OC @ E1 2019
3man Coleman blackout tent £80
3 season sleeping bag £40
Camping stove £20
Ic purchases for E1
Plate from epic armoury £150
Purpoint from epic armoury £90
Purchased at E1 from traders.
One sword from Andy Rimmer £80
One hammer from light armouries £80
4 way cloak from chow £100
2nd hand shield from within my nation £60
Belt, pouches, scabbard from darkblade £80
Plaquard armour from velvet glove £60
A hat because it was cold £20
Since E1 I have updated my soft kit that’s cost me £100
I bought a second sword from light armouries £80
Another sword from epic armoury £40
And for this year I bought myself a 4mtr bell tent for 400 quid…which of.course is pretty much un touched and a steel mail vest for 100 from mythlon.
As I alluded to in my first piece, you dont have to spend as much as I did in fact you can spend as little or as much as you want to. Your soft kit is important, your camping gear is important, swords and armour can be borrowed or upgraded over time.
I will add one thing, if you want to wear armour buy some chainmail. It’s really versatile
Seconded on the chainmail thing, with the right soft kit around it, it works for all nations and monstering.
Also if you are willing and want a really cheap weekend, although with a good bit of effort - volunteer.
If you have any skill with Admin type tasks GOD will be glad, If you can wield a sledge hammer safely the red caps usually need site help, Gate and traffic team need people willing to sit on a stool in all weathers and direct people, and if you have skills in makeup, costumes or design then the monster team may be interested.
Skirmish crew doesn’t usually hire newbies as you do really need some previous larp fighting experience, but you can ask if you think you may have relevant knowledge.
Of course not all positions are hiring all the time, and it will mean giving up some or most of your playing time to help, but the crew are wonderful people and genuinely happy to have those willing to pitch in, plus you get free entry and some meal tickets for your time and efforts.
Crew details here, including the link to the page of current vacancies at the bottom.
The biggest costs, for me at least, are:
- sturdy shoes
- a tent, sleeping bag, etc
and the other practical costs like transport, food for the weekend, etc.
When I started in highguard as a mage, I managed to get hold of most of my kit by charity shopping, although admitedly I got lucky. Skirt, undershirt, a fancy overshirt, belt, scarf, and a veil all came from a charity shop for twenty quid total, makeup for a draughir was about a tenner, then on-site I got myself a cloak for 40. Suplementing this later, I’ve picked up a few little props for rituals and so on, a neat little headband and some bits of charity shop jewelry, but the whole kit is still only double-figures.
Some costume briefs this is easier than others; you can get a pretty nice varushkan or brass coast kit this way, but the league is probably a challenge.
Weapons and armour are probably a big cost if you want to take the battlefield, but that’s very much optional and there’s plenty of game to be had trading, doing wizard things, arguing about religion and scheming politically, all of which require far less hardwar.
Honestly, the OOC stuff (train tickets and camping supplies) is more expensive than making your own kit. Although, I have pretty much replaced most of my original costume after 4 events.
Soft kit fabric and craft supplies: £30
Thermal top and trousers: £20
Mug, belts and other tat: £10
=£60 for my first kit - not a combat character
OOC camping supplies: ~£100 (for two people)
Train tickets: £30 per event
Discounted first event ticket: £55
I’ve probably spent another £100 in upgrading kit and restoring an old canvas tent since.
While I think of it I shall flag up this excellent resource for finding good cheap kit on the high street - https://www.highstreetlrp.com/
I think my League costume worked out just a little over £60, but some of those costs were fabric rather than items; some assembly required. And then my weapons were… £100-200 even before I bought a Hylian sword and shield.
You want a good tent and a good weapon or weapons - like a mattress, you want to think about the best ones that meet your budget - but the costume side is really easy to do for a reasonable price. If you are camping OOC and not martially-inclined, it gets easier.
TL;DR? Charity shops and Primark, my friends, charity shops and Primark…
Mage armour, if your playing a war mage, can be done very cheaply as it has a huge range of what it can be, so long as it “looks magical”. Mine consisted of:
1 Large statement/chunky charity shop necklace: £3
A strip of white faux silk ribbon: £2
A length of very shiny gold fabric: £5
Acrylic paints w/ brush: £1
With a little time to paint runes (a lot of runes) and constelations on the necklace pectoral, the ribbon headband and the shiny fabric hero belt i made a decent set of mage armour. Its not going to look as good as a custom set of engraved and dyed artisinal leather armour pieces made by a professional, but it looks great for a tenner. Plus, you get to exercise your creativity which is always good.
Bonus points in that all of it is really light and comfortable so there is no problem wearing it all day.
I started LARPing via a student society at my university. They were able to lend me basic kit, the main thing I needed to provide was sturdy footwear and dark layers of clothing I didn’t mind getting muddy.
For my first fest event I went around the local charity shops and a few craft shops to get necklaces and shirts which a friend and I spent a day cutting up and decorating. The costume cost about £30 total. If you are a bit more confident in your sewing skills then there are some excellent guides on the wiki for making tunics and charity shops can be a source of fancy-looking material in the form of curtains (I got some for £10).
People have already mentioned factoring in the OC costs for an event, to which I would add food. You are going to need to eat at an event. You’ll need food on the way to and back from an event. The cost for this is going to be a lot more personal to you because of dietary requirements and preferences. Some people are okay organising cooking for themselves, others will want to buy from the caterers. If you think you are going to be bad at stopping for meals, look at snacks you can carry in a pouch or keep in your sleeping space.
This podcast has a great bit on how much they ended up spending from about 28mins in, but it’s also worth listening to the whole thing :).
I started really cheaply thanks to a friend taking my kit in her car and also lending me a tent. I took all my blankets and basically slept on a folded queen size 13 tog duvet. The thing I lacked was a decent cloak, the one I made turned out not to be waterproof, leading to early nights. I cut up an old leather jacket and the Eternal Family kindly lent me an enchanted chainmail hauberk.
So: secondhand boots from ebay about £12, trains about £30, ticket about £55, food about £23 plus £5.50 in bread, hazelnuts, apples and chocolate and sword £50 at the event. I had some brown and green clothes. Plus £25 on an inadequate sword on ebay which I’d forgotten to bring anyway.
By the second event I’d spent £17 on a wool cloak from eBay and that made a huge difference. Plus £20 on 2 tunics and a dress, £18 on an airbed and pump, £20 on an all weather sleeping bag, and £10 on a ride in a taxi. Then I started bringing the children and that got expensive… : )
It’s taken me 4 events and almost 2 years to buy my own armour, before what would have been Spring 2020. It will see the light!