I’m new to LARP. I’ve been doing Anglo Saxon reenactment for the past 4 years but after talking to someone at work, then late night reading in the Empire Wiki, it seems like I’m pretty interested in trying it out.
I’m mainly interested in Wintermark, just because I have what the brief says is their clothing. And just being a normal human, nothing fancy. I’m just looking for more info on how I would go about going to an event, joining a local group (if that’s even a thing) what the combat is like, how battles even start etc.
Anyway the more good info you think a newbie needs please send my way!
Hello and welcome! To the hobby, the game and these forums!
Firstly, alas, Empire is currently on hold while we’re in lockdown. Profound Decisions (PD, the organisers) have been confident they can get back up and running when other festival-scale activities resume. We are currently hoping for events to re-start this summer, probably later summer than earlier.
Secondly, Wintermark is a good fit if coming from Anglo-Saxon, as a lot of the styles are similar (although I’m sure you’ve noted on the brief, no religous iconography, no specifically viking stuff). Still, plenty of time to sort out kit, and whatever you wear, two things are expected: (a) there will be people there in much better kit, (b) there will be people there in much worse kit.
While you CAN play a solo character (a group of 1), I would not advise this for someone new to the system/setting. For an in-game group, you could make one with some friends and all show up as “The Brazen Shields” or whatever, or you could join an existing one. To do this, ask on these forums (especially the Wintermark one), or on their FB page.
Wintermark is huge, as the on-field nations go. You will have a LOT of company, and likely a dozen groups wanting to recruit you
For an out-of game group of local LARPers to get some practice with (LARP combat is quite different from re-enactment, obviously), your best bet is asking around here or on FB. If you give an approximate area of the country, I (or more likely someone else) might be able to make a suggestion…
Having some local friends is useful for lifts and kit lending and similar, obviously.
Going to an event:
You make a character on the PD website, and book a ticket (no physical ones, digital only). Then you travel to the site, usually on Thursday or Friday. The actual game (Time In) occurs Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, but for a minimal extra, folk can be on site from Thursday to set up tents, socialise, do a spot of shopping, and so on. Likely a good idea for your first event, as you can chat to folk.
And as you know from re-enactment, there will be many stories, friendly camp-fires, and likely singing into the night…
Now, as a new player there are New Player workshops before the game starts at 18:00 on Fridays, which I would highly reccomend. These include a setting introduction, Q&A sessions, fighting practice, archery practice, skirmish practice, and so on. Good place for making friends and recognising people later.
is pretty fast and can be brutal. As it’s unscripted, you need to think on your feet. Remember that the weapons are safety-checked foam/latex, but a lot of the armour is real(ish). Remember to “pull” your blows, even after a long messy scrap no-one should have worse than a light bruise… There is in Empire (unlike some LARP systems) no damage to call (eg “Single!” = I do you one point of damage), but there are the occasional special calls (eg CLEAVE = that unarmoured body part has now been painfully crippled).
You are responsible for keeping track of your own damage, your own “hit points”. So if someone slashes a (larp-safe) sword across your leg, it’s your responsibility to remember whether to [stagger back with a curse] or [collapse screaming dramatically].
This means that small scale combat at Empire might have characters fighting in small groups, hopefully led by someone shouting orders, dealing out damage or whatever while keeping track of their own hits and wincing as some large damage call comes from something nasty.
Large scale combat… ah the battles. While there are many skirmishes during the weekend (“we need 30 brave souls to jump through the Sentinel Gate to find that Jotun Orc Chieftan and kill him…”), there will be two large battles each weekend (“The 2nd Wintermark army needs rescue, if we can drop 600 heroes to hold the Black Skull Orcs back for a couple of hours, the army can withdraw to safety”).
Who goes on which going where is determined by the Military Council. What this means for 99% of player characters is we get told (late Friday) who is fighting Saturday or Sunday morning alongside whom, against what. If you aren’t fighting, you are expected to Monster…
If you are fighting, your nation will be wanted, briefed, armed and ready for battle, at the Sentinel Gate at 11am sharp. There are ceremonies to open it, then you pour through to engage the enemy by the hundred…
The battles in Empire are unscripted and have a difficulty decided by the Referees well before… if we win a battle, it’s down to our own organisation, preparation, discipline and courage! We tend to win half to 2/3 of them
…oh yes, the Monsters… If you are not fighting the battle, you are monstering. So you report at about 10am to the Monster tent “off-stage”, receive an orc mask and armour, and are briefed as [Grendel Mercenary company; Crimson Hydras] or whoever. Note you aren’t playing disposable minions, you’ll have objectives, commanders, morale, and motivations, same as the player characters. The best opponents are those fighting damn hard to stay alive and complete their goals… It’s a lot of fun
Often the monster crews are in place and ready when the players deploy through the Gate at 11am, the battle rages back and forth for an hour or two, before the player characters withdraw, if not before.
Oh, and there is also an official page for Wintermark on Facebook:
Anyway, I’ll shut up there and leave you to think up another few questions! Happy to answer anything!
I know there are Brighton/Hove based players and in times where there isn’t a pandemic going on there are semi regular pub meet ups. I’ll poke some people to post on here once they start up again or if there are any outdoor training sessions people want to run.
Brighton-based Empire player here
Yeah there are a few of us down this way, but I haven’t lived here for very long pre-pandemic, so can’t speak too much about the community.
There definitely was a regular Sussex pub meetup though. I forget where exactly, but a very short train from Brighton Station!