New player looking at kit and equipment costs

Hello, I understand that this question might be very open and hard to answer.

This is my first time doing any form of LARP event. I’m looking at the cost of the kit and equipment. I’ve dug around on a few websites and watched a few videos on the topic, but it’s hard to get a rough ballpark figure of what leather armour, shield, and weapon would cost.
Some websites hit the £1000 mark before you know it, and moving on the things like Wish.com is just a straight-up terrible idea.
Other places have recommended buying at the event, which I see the upsides to getting a feel for it and trying before you buy etc.
SO!
The abridged version of my question,
If I were to buy a fair to good quality
Leather armour - chest, bracers, shin guard
Shield
Sword
Cloak
Scabbard
What would the rough cost be?

I know you can make most things yourself, but I assure you I’m the sort of gent that still draws like a 3-year-old with a crayon, and I’m not the creative type when it comes to things like that.

Thank you for your time. I know this is a horrendously open question and will be hard to answer, maybe even impossible.

Cheers again
Foster

Firstly, welcome along Foster, to the hobby, the game and these forums!

You are correct in that buying the best is often very expensive. I would also concur with avoiding Wish: they are very cheap, and that’s the durability you’re paying for.

I note that what you’re after is “hard kit” (armour and weapons) as opposed to “soft kit” (non combat stuff, apart from the cloak.

I concur with buying at the event, ESPECIALLY weaponry. Sword/shield will need to pass an intensive safety check at the event, and alongside the benefits of getting a good feel of equipment, it’s a lot easier to get a refund if you bought the thing from that stall over there 5 minutes ago…

Note that the equipment etc on our photos and many websites tends to be the top of the market; the really good stuff. Empire costume is, by rule, aspirational: do what you can, with the budget you have (and improve it when you can), and you’ll be fine.

Additionally, if you can find a group in your target nation (there are facebook groups for each one as well as these forums) you may well make new friends happy to lend, hire, or sell spare stuff to you: many an old LARPer has a cupboard of old kit they’ll never wear again, but will happily sell for a token fee to a keen new player.

You may also be able to find decent gear on ebay or similar, look for larp kit, or even re-enactment costume. Feel free to ask us about individual bits if you’re unsure of costume details.

You may also already have found this page of our traders:
https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Traders

Now, assuming that you are anyway buying from new, I’m also going to assume that you’re after what is categorised as a suit of light armour in Empire (ask if you need a hand with this, the armour rules can be tricky). You’ve gone for torso protection, greaves and bracers. A classic look for the fast moving fighter.
How about this from Having a Larp:

Something like the hairy plain vambraces from Darkblade:

and their plain leather greaves as well

That’s £150 for some plain, generic light armour that will fit in many a LARP system, can be decorated by you, and likely last you years retaining a fair bit of value if you choose to sell it on.

Weapons: I tend to shop at Eldritch for my first stop, as they do light weaponry and I don’t trust myself with anything too wieghty.
Basic, solid swords, down to about £50.
https://www.eldritch.com/product-category/all/weapons/all-purpose-swords/
Shields on the same site go down to £55 but will always be more expensive than the swords. Lets assume you drop £80 on a shield.
Note also that your nation in play will likely have a style of shield: from the heraldic shields of Dawn to the round shields of Wintermark Steinr to the nimble crescent sheilds of the Brass Coast, everyone has a theme… (that said, a shield cover is pretty simple to make and can be painted or decorated as whatever, to make a shield fit if needed).

Scabbard… I wouldn’t if I were you. Being often custom leatherwork, they get pricey quickly. A belt loop to hang a sword off a belt will be about £10 for a pretty good one. Or ask a friends for one, the little blighters breed. I have about 7 myself…

Cloak:
For cheap end of cloaks you might want to try:
https://www.larpgems.com/robes/
or

Let’s say you drop £70 on a nice wool cloak. Keep you warm, if not dry.
(I’ll note that the cloak is the easiest bit to make a quick and dirty version or yourself. A large plain wool blanket and a big steel cloak pin [found online or at the event] will be a lot cheaper, if not as fancy.)

So bearing in mind what I said above about getting some stuff 2nd hand, or hunting for cheaper stuff on site (and there will likely be cheaper stuff on site for in many categories), our totals are:
Armour: £150
Weaponry: £130
Cloak and belt loop: £80
(I’m assuming you already have shirt, trousers, belt and boots)

That’s £360, IF you go that route.

This IS an investment, and if you like the hobby, you’ll get years of use out of that lot. If you don’t, you can likely sell a lot of it on pretty well.

Not the most difficult question to answer! Ask me another!

You can larp on a budget - we have a lot of students and we do understand!

Do also make sure you have budgeted for:

  • Decent boots,
  • A warm and comfortable sleep solution (mat, airbed, camp bed, sleeping bag and blankets in whatever combinations suits you)
  • A tent that will stand up to British weather (better than the £20 festival sort form the supermarket if possible)
  • Food (money to buy it or a shopping trip and cooking facilities, or more likely combination of both)
  • Transportation to the event.
  • Ticket money!
  • Basic costume - several budget challenges have proved you can do good job for £30 and decently for budgets under that.

Do note that larp, and Empire especially, works better with more people engaged in the game so larpers are very pleased to help out with almost anything if we can.
Spare weapons, armour, shields, cloaks, tent space, sleeping gear for those travelling with no carrying space, car seat space, snacks, spare costume are not usually a problem if we know someone needs them.

Expect to buy things that suit you / your character piecemeal not all at once and spread out the cost that way. I went to my first larp with borrowed weapons and no armour, had a ball, bought a second hand sword the next year and started collecting from there.

About the only thing we can’t sort is really good boots, but I’ve had spare wellies at events if necessary!

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Geoffrey, Thanks for getting back to me, and with such an extensive breakdown, this is incredibly handy.

With the safety checks, I’ll hold out on getting any weaponry till I get there. It seems like it would be the smarter move.

In all honesty, I currently have 0 kit for larping, and I’m aiming at the July event. I figured that the soft kit would be the easiest to get hold of, although finding the right colours for Dawn might add a tiny element of difficulty.
I am going for a light leather sort of look, and I know that somewhat goes against most pictures I see about the Dawnish, but I haven’t seen anything written that leather is a deal-breaker.

Thanks again for all the links. It’s beyond helpful and a real sigh of relief to see prices that aren’t above £500

Thank you again
Foster

Charlie, Thanks for the reply.
I have boots and sleeping solutions taken care of; fortunately, my job requires good footwear and sleeping kit. After one or two cold nights, you learn not to skimp on the sleeping bag quality.

Tents are something I’m looking at now. I’m leaning towards IC camping, it might be foolish, but I figure if I’m going to give this a go, then I have to give it a go, and I assume IC camping is where you get to experience the more social aspect of the event.
I shall start making myself known to my nation and see if I can start whipping up some connections and possible deals to keep things under budget.
You might have won me one or two brownie points with the wife, so thanks again.

Foster

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Aaah!
( takes off mod-hat, puts on circlet of a Dawnish war-witch )

There are a few tweaks for Dawn…
A bright shirt and a fairly neutral pair of trousers is an easy start, and you can get away with cheap stuff from high-street or charity shop. Or indeed, you can buy stuff on site.

Dawn is definately one of those “hey new guy, wanna borrow a X?” factions. I’m not saying we could arm the rest of the player base but… we’re likely to have spares. Heck, if not for that my next event will be the first with 2 small children, I would volunteer to bring some spare stuff for you. With an eye on selling it to you for a token fee.

Dawn costume is defined a little by your social level: yeofolk, Knight Errant (KE) or Noble. If yeofolk you can wear some pretty generic stuff, maybe with a sash of your House colours, and look fine.
If KE you get the simplest piece of national kit, a tabard or surcoat with the Dawn colours (golden sun on royal blue). This can (and has) been made from scratch, with a long rectangle of blue cloth, a hole neatly trimmed for the head, and a sun painted on the front in fabric paint.
As a noble, you should probably have House colours and heraldry on display, and fancier stuff all round. Bit trickier to start.

Light leathers in Dawn says more Yeofolk to me, or starting KE. As with many LARP outfits, it’s about the accessories. Ribbons in the bracers, bright tabard over the plain jerkin, some sort of pretentious headpiece, you’ll fit right in. Done this myself before.

IC camping: Ah, the tents of Dawn, marquees and burgundians and bright pavilions, flags flying proudly around the Glory Square… Yeah, it’s fun, but YOU don’t need to be camping IC for it.
An IC tent is a substantial investment, in time/set-up/wieght as well as cash. You would also need to engage with the camp planning system to get a pitch.
If you camp OOC (Dawn and Wintermark should be sharing a nearby field for “off-stage” camping) but are part of a group who have a presence IC, there’s nothing to stop you leaving some kit on site, lingering in their tent etc till after midnight, swapping stories and drinks, and then nipping back to your OOC tent to actually sleep.
Given that it’s your first LARP, and first Empire event, I would discommend camping IC for the first time at least. I’m not saying it can’t be done, and done well… but with everything else, that might be one complication you could skip.

If you have any further questions about Dawn, feel free to ask. You may also like:

and of course

Facebook group for Dawn:

2 Likes

Heya and welcome aboard o/

One tip I’d mention is try second hand for anything other than weapons as you might be able to pick up a lot of what you need.

The Empire LRP Kit: Sales, swaps and wanted FB group is a good starting point
As is UK LARP Kit plus keep an eye on the Dawn FB group for anyone selling anything they don’t need any more.

One thing you might want to consider getting as a base piece of armour is a Gambeson. It’s good to have padding under armour anyway to avoid bruising and chafe so if you ever upgrade to plate or chain you’ll already have it. I picked up a Mythlon Arthur Gambeson at the start of Empire and I’ve used it for several characters and monster kit. Velvet Glove do a nice selection of Gambesons and you can get an idea of the price ranges there.

One of the nice things about the Dawn brief is that you can do a lot with a big bright tabbard with a symbol on it. Get that as a center piece of your kit and it won’t matter if you don’t have everything else yet.

Also yeah, don’t camp IC to start with, don’t worry about missing out on the social stuff, people are generally hospitable and will offer you a seat and space next to a fire. You’ll only need to go back to your tent to sleep normally.

2 Likes

Thanks again, I’ve been hunting around a starting to build a list of the kit, I think will serve it’s purpose well. You raised a valid point about the IC camping, I did see that PD have a hire tent section but I assume that has since been stopped.

Character wise I’m looking at KE, it seems to be a good jumping off point as there will be a small group of us and being apart of a new band/house trying to leave a little mark on the world.

We are looking at the June event, hopefully I will get the chance to buy you a beer, it’s the least I can do after all this help.

Hi Mark, thanks for the welcome,

I’m starting to get a kit list together, would leather over a Gambeson be viable or a redundant? I’ve seen some really nice leather chest pieces and I’m not sure why I seem to have an aversion to plate but it just doesn’t speak to me at the moment.

I’m aiming for sword, shield and thick leather armour aesthetic.

Thank you for all the help

Regards

Foster

Knight Errant is good for that. It gives you an in-game explanation for being new, asking questions, and fighting alongside different Houses. Also, KE will frequently band together to help each other accomplish their Tests of Mettle, so a small band of KE is perfectly characterful.

A note of caution here, re the armour rules. I’m sure you’ve noted the page on it (linked below), but the difference between light armour and medium armour is thickness and bulk. A suit of light armour (torso + 1 full location, in your case half-arms and half-legs) grants 2 bonus hits. A suit of light armour with one sturdy medium piece (such as a thick chest piece)… isn’t enough to become medium armour. What the extra will do is make THAT LOCATION resistant to CLEAVE.

IE, in your light armour with a medium chest piece, you’ll have 2 bonus hits, but any orc trying to cut you down with a greatsword to the chest will be dissapointed.

Incidently, this also applies to heavy armour as well (which resists CLEAVE and IMPALE); you only ignore the special call if the blow hits the actual armour. This is why some knights pile on far more than the minimum plate.

I had a lovely moment while monstering some years back when in a melee, I stepped past a knight of House Gauvain (armoured all up his front) and swept my sword down in a nasty backswing, called CLEAVE at the back of his lower leg… and felt it go [thump] into the armour on the back of his legs… He grinned and pounded me into the floor…

https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Weapons_%26_armour#Armour

The tent hire option goes live for a short period before events usually publicised by email updates and is very popular so most go within minutes I’m afraid. It will also depend on what canvas has survived the 2 year hiatus also, keeping an eye out for mice or mould on the one tent in your shed is a bit easier than checking all the kit boxes in storage, despite best efforts.

That sounds perfect!

Thank you again for all the help.
I think I’ve found a set of leather that will do. (For now, so many incredible pieces out there I wish to own.)

The thickness is 3.2mm so that pushes me into the medium armour range, which is good, to avoid the CLEAVE issue

My only concern is ordering online, by chance has anyone seen or dealt with this company and their products?

LARP Rogue Armour Basic Full Set - TheVikingStore.co.uk (going for the brown armour)

Again thank you for the help and hopefully I will meet you in the field

Foster

Word to the wise Viking Store don’t have the best reputation, so I’d avoid ordering anything from them.

5 Likes

Understood, back to the drawing board :rofl:

The traders page on the wiki might help you there, if the link doesn’t work search for their page on FB.

Funnily I recently bought some soft kit and a breastplate from armorarena.co.uk for a reasonable sum no idea as to the quality so grabbed a few variations of the soft kit in dark or neutral colours and plan to be in dawn for first event as a KE myself. I’ll have an easier time with armor due to battlemage and am making the other pieces myself.

I can however recommend darkblade for leather kit as they do great work and offers a good basic belt scabbard pouch combo. The weapon thing is definitely grab at event due to weapons testing though

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Hey Killian, Thanks for the info. I’ll have another look at darkblade. I’m growing more concerned with buying over the internet, it seems what you pay for isn’t what you get.
Weapons I will 100% pick up at the event, it seems like the best way to go from what I’m hearing.

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Having bought from Darkblade (and Chow’s Emporium) via their online shops, I can vouch for both quality of stuff, responsiveness, and generosity on the sizing*

(*- my belt and bracers from Darkblade has had to have an hole punched into it to fit me properly…and the satchel I got from him can fit a full base kit (leggings, thin tank top, socks) spare set, A5 leather bound notebook, and a ceramic 1L water bottle without issue

My light gambeson from Chow’s slightly drowns me- arm length on it is 24in, with the chest being something close to 40in

…I am also fairly petite and slim, so mileage may vary)

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Hey Squeek, Thank you for the info.
The sizing generosity is a good insight, my wife is a tiny human and it was another thing on our long list of queries.

I think I’ve solved my armour issue, there is a gent that makes custom pieces
We are now slowly trying to piece together the Dawnish look.
I never thought my weekend would be spent scrolling through websites of fantasy/medieval clothing and enjoying it.

Thanks again
Foster

Armour for small, plus size and/or female figures is one of the trickier aspects of kitting up. It’s getting better but there’s still all too often an idea that M-XL male is the standard larper and options outside that range can be a limited.

Aside from custom work, one option for smaller women is looking at armour/clothing aimed at teenagers. Mytholon is a European company with a fairly solid reputation for being the Tesco/Sainsburys of larp kit - their stuff is generic but decent and they have an unusually large kids’ range:

I can also confirm that Darkblade stuff is good and solid.

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