So what are the most serious injuries you have ever seen in your 15 years of LARPing?
Generally, people wrenching their knees, ankles or backs before the start of game. Someone fell over an embankment once and landed awkwardly on their head (turned out they were fine but it was a little scary). Another chap made a leaping, diving attack and landed wrong on his arm, breaking it (or was it a wrist?). Oh, someone wearing shorts tore through a mass of brambles and cut up his legs pretty good. And, yes, once upon a time, someone fell on the un-padded pommel of their own LARP Rep and cored their spleen with it, but that’s not my story to tell.
Protection! Not just for High School Health Class Anymore!
Having irreverently covered the topic of supposed safety I’ll go ahead and share some tips and tricks I’ve discovered over the years in the name of safety (maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan) and some ways you can address your play style to perhaps make your events more comfortable and less “dangerous”.
Beyond what has been noted above:
Wear Thick Gloves
I wear heavy leather gauntlets anytime I am playing a combat oriented character. These protect your hands and knuckles from stinging, accidental strikes and more importantly in a low hit point and armor game where fighters tend to go down and get back up off the ground a lot, they prevent you from scuffing your hands on loose stone, gravel, or brambles.
Helmets unfortunately tend to obscure your hearing, and in the more extreme circumstances, your vision. Both of these senses are key to a good LARP experience, especially at night. Instead of a stout helm, consider a brimmed hat. Hats enhance your outline, making you at once easily recognizable in even moderate light, while at the same time blurring your outline in stealth situations. As noted above, Hats not only help protect you from stray eye packets, but also can blunt the occasional headshot. Finally, they make us balding hobos look far more compelling!
Layers, layers, layers
Bugs and brambles are the hell of woods games. In Maine I literally watched a mosquito bite me while I was applying 97% DEET. While you may experience some discomfort in the summer months, dressing full head-to-toe offers some great advantages. It helps cut down (or entirely eliminate) ticks. It lessens or eliminates incidental poison ivy contact. And most importantly, several sets of good base layers (stretch nylon boy shorts and under-armor shirts) that you can change out over the course of a weekend will make you feel both cool and/or warm regardless of the situation.
Shin protection is a must if you plan on being a movement-based character. Over the course of a weekend you will find shin-high railings, stumps, briars and other hazards of an active lifestyle. IF you are in a post-apoc setting, get some rugby pads or catchers knee guards (although the latter tend to be bulkier). In the medieval set, invest in some lightweight leather greaves. They should be tall enough to come up to the knee, but not scoop over it which can make a weird effect when running. Greaves have a host of advantages. They make going to the ground repeatedly far easier, especially in a system with a lot of “main” or “disable” limb attacks. They allow you to stride through brush and briars, sometimes leaving pursuers far behind. They offer some (or total) protection against smashing your shins into posts and stumps. And finally, they cover up the totally out-of game boots your SHOULD be wearing entirely, completing your outfit from head to toe.
The Out of Game Boots You Should be Wearing
In game boots look great; however, unless you purchase either Son of Sandlar or Catskill Moccasins (or comparable) boots you’ll seriously regret it. At $500 or more for a pair they will, granted, last you any number of years (if you maintain them) but it is quite an investment. Or you could get a disposable, semi-waterproof pair of Magnums at Bob’s for $80 (or you could wear some bitchin’ loafers, like Truax, who runs MASI…but we can’t all be Truax now can we?). LARP subjects you to a continuous outdoor environment over the course of 36+ hours like nothing else does, except perhaps Tough Mudder. At a LARP you’ll run across gravel, jump across streams, trample through briars, and endure rain, snow and unbearable heat. Your boots will get abused from both inside and out. No matter how waterproof and breathable they claim to be (note: ALL boots absolutely made of Gor-tex and Kevlar and are completely waterproof AND breathable right up until the point they leave the store…) they will get soaked at least one event a year (note: mitigate this by wearing wool socks). I blow through an $80 pair of Magnums about every year and a half. They offer traction, comfort, ankle support and when paired with greaves look perfectly acceptable.