I once gate guarded a camp by lying in the dark about 20ft outside the entrance. It was nice. I wasn’t initially that visible, so I had to be careful not to be stepped on and eventually I was lounging on the floor with 4-5 other people looking at the stars, occasionally interrupted by camp attacks, and a noctule bat flying overhead. It was a really nice evening. It worked IC, and apart from the sense that I was about to get squashed by an impending camp invasion it was quite enjoyable.
I spend a fair amount of my time watching things. I have been involved in ecology for most of my life. I spend a fair few summer nights counting bats. If you put 1000 people in a field a lot of the local wildlife will panic and flee, but there’s some around at quiet moments and with events I spend a lot of my own time able to just watch what’s going on, even if it’s just a wasp collecting wood pulp to make a nest.
I spent large parts of my childhood in the marshes ringing birds or visiting numerous sites of ecological interest. I was 25 before I learnt that while it was interesting to wander through a wood with someone who told them the names of the trees, it wasn’t especially normal (Species names, not the Janet and Lucy variety. I don’t ‘name’ the trees I just tell you what type they are).
I wake up early. I often bimble in and tidy a bit, and animals respond well when we are just getting on with our own thing. At broadwater the deer are often just the other side of the fence as the mist clears from the golf course. They’re huge animals. It’s a little startling to see them so close to us, and so calm. It’s one of those things that often just has to happen to you. You can put yourself in a situation where it’s likely to happen, but wildlife has to choose to be near you as well.
Events tend to be a chance to do something abnormal. You get to stay in places that are yours and you are encouraged to explore them by the nature of most games. Where you are is a major part of the game you’re playing. Most people will travel a lot further for a game at the perfect site. You’re not just a tourist, you’re very much using the location and living there. It gives you a much closer relationship with the site, and also with the wildlife in the area.
We get a much closer relationship with the weather when it can change plans and moods so utterly. We learn the signs associated with the world around us, and we learn to react to them appropriately. Most LRPers know that you need dry feet, layers, good clothes, reasonable lighting and to eat and drink regularly when camping in way that just doesn’t apply to a lot of people in the real world. We know that no one will visit a camp that’s dark. It’s not a sensible place to be. We learn the value of light, and we learn about useful light and about night vision. Some of us learn to respect the night vision of other LRPers.
Insects can be one of LRPs great annoyances. We see a lot of wasps, ants and mosquitos. They’re all annoying, painful and don’t really add to the enjoyment of the event you’re experiencing. In general LRPers agree that events would be better if wasps had never existed. Spending time at an event I’ve paid to be at watching a wasp scrape wood off a gate sounds vaguely pointless, but it works for me. I enjoyed it. It wasn’t detrimental to my fun (although my fox/hedgehog/moth/frog reaction may be less useful to other people. I suspect it’s not as immersive when I’m desperately attempting to share my enthusiasm by showing them whatever I’ve found this time. I attempt to restrain myself in these situations.)
I’ve encountered Muntjac deer on sites while building sets. I’ve shown newly emerged moths to children and we’ve watched their wings dry. I loved Bristol not because of the layout (it never seemed that useful), but because it had views. It was part of a much larger landscape filled with sunsets, buzzards, weather, and bats. I like Paccar for the woodland. For the sense of being lost among huge trees.
The wildlife is not a part of the game, it’s a part of life. I love that I have a reason to be in so many interesting places and to see so much of it. It feels strangely to admit so blatantly that one of the things I love about LRP isn’t about LRP, but then I realise that neither are the friendships, the ridiculous jokes, or the skills I learn from being in a field and having to get things done. They’re often incidental to LRP, but also a huge part of what makes it a joy.
We joke about not trampling on the bluebells, but nature and the world around us can utterly make or ruin a game. (I have no problem with you trampling on the bluebells. Only the true english ones are protected and even then you’re not allowed to dig them up and sell them.) It provides the most amazing special effects and utterly magical moments that we can’t write into any game. I tend to see things early morning before time in, and they’re wonderful moments that I am honoured to be able to take part in.