Empire has a few things in common with a large festival. Notably from the players’ point-of-view, a lot of tents.
As we’ve months to go before the next event, and January sales round the corner, I thought I’d say a few words on the canvas constructions of the field.
Please add any reccomendations of tents that you’ve bought, good places to get them, things to avoid, and any tents for sale, below.
Buy your tent well in advance of the event. This gives you some time to put it up and down again, in a garden, the local park, whatever. There are worse ways to start an event then by trying to erect an unfamiliar tent, in the dark, in mud, but not very many.
Have a tent for your needs. This includes a weather eye towards to the weather (you can get away with quite a light tent in the summer, but you’ll still want some way to keep the rain off), enough room for you and your kit, and some storage space. I find that a “3-man tent” is a spacious pad for 1 LARPer and their kit and costume and food and so on. Smaller than that I would discommend, but it depends what YOU need, and in some cases, what you can carry.
Plan a location in advance. If camping in the Out-Of-Character (OOC) fields then it’ll mostly be an issue of finding a good spot where you can. If you need it, there is space put aside for easy access camping, but I think you’ll have to book a spot with PD in advance.
If camping in the In-Character fields, then keep an eye out on these forums and/or your national Facebook groups for the camp plans being assembled. Then when asked, supply the details of your tentage (usually size, any special requests, preferred position) to the busy people trying to assemble scores of tents into a plausible encampment. A week or so before the event, they’ll post the completed plan (again on the Forums and/or Facebook) and you should be able to pick out your camping niche. When you arrive, take that niche or as close as possible, as soon as possible.
(If you are not on facebook, get a friend to watch for you and pass on details as needed. I did this for years.)
A few useful accessories. Extra pegs, a mallet, and a blanket/old towel or something to soak up mud are obvious. What I found handy was also something to flag your tent out as yours. Sometimes an actual flag out the front, sometimes something easily visible. I threaded a bright fuschia piece of knitting through the front guyline at a couple of (OOC) camps. Made it much easier to find it again during daylight, and at night, I can reccomend an LED light (the imitation candles are good) which you can leave on inside to help find it in the dark.
Out of Character tents
Often pitched in rows on the OOC fields, these can be all colours and makes, and often people are camping beside their vehicles. Available from a variety of places, I would suggest having a poke around and buying to your budget. A few examples below:
In Character Tents
This is where it can get tricky. Consider whether or not you NEED to camp on the IC field. What will you be using a tent there for? Storage? Socialising? Sleeping? If you are joining a group that’s in play, they may already have a tent for the first two that you can grab a corner of. They may even have room for an extra bed in a corner.
But if you need your own tent (or are starting a group), ask around and check what style it is first. You can get away with plastic guy-lines and aluminium tent poles, but you’ll want a reasonably appropriate fabric: white canvas is popular, as is heavy cotton
Again, keep in mind that it’s FOR. The IC tents have a huge variation, from tiny peaked tents for individual sleepers, through bell tents which can be great for sleeping and storage, but tricky to get into, to large pavilions which can and have hosted banquets and councils. Even if it’s a group meeting tent, you may not have all the group sleeping in or near it; often a bell tent with a canvas awning is all that a good size group needs.
With the IC tents, it might be profitable to find one second-hand, and ask fellow players about whether it would “fit”. There’s also a fair bit of national variation: the bright pavilions of the Brass Coast, the striped marquees of Dawn, the utilitarian white bell tents of Wintermark… This sort of thing adds to the atmosphere a lot, so if you can pick something of suitable style and colour, go for it.
Bell tents are popular, as are pavilions, dutch pyramids, and I’ve seen a few yurts about (in Varushka, I think).
If buying an IC tent, either new or second hand, your best bet is probably to flag the advert or details up here (of Facebook) and we’ll have a look, give any advice, and perhaps ask if they have any more
Some advice on bell tents here:
There is also some good advice on this thread from last year, still valid:
As for me, I’ve had the interesting conundrum these last few years of a small child along for the ride. That meant a large dutch pyramid tent, heavy white cotton, with two rooms at the back, and a large canvas porch at the front. Enabling us to put the Small to bed in the evening, and sit out the front socialising.