Do I really need to use a rod, wand or staff to cast empower?
Can I use a wand that isn’t Larp safe if I’m using it for nothing but empowering people?
I would imagine so. I think you can only use non larp safe wands for ritual casting when you aren’t actually going to touch the person. You would need a larp safe wand, just in case you accidently hit the person too hard with it. Accidence do happen so reducing the harm can be the best way to deal with them.
Generally you only cast empower on the battlefield, and you shouldn’t take non-combat implements into the battlefield