LRP kit changes how you look – that’s its main purpose. You wear garb to look like you belong within the setting of your game. Most games produce briefs that tell you how to make your kit achieve this, and from these you can find out what clothes to wear to look like the thing you want to represent. These might take the form of costume guides, Pinterest boards, minimum guidelines to be a race other than human, photos of past events, or details of the period or style the game is aiming for.
Once we’ve read the guides we use that information to work out how to be who we want to be. This involves a lot of compromise, and sometimes a lot of looking at pictures. Pinterest is awesome for this. But you may find that the gorgeous fabric you have upstairs that you’ve been wanting to use for ages is just not appropriate for the role you want to play so you’d need to find something else to wear, or change to a different role.
The Orcs at Empire LRP are a good example of this. The rules say you need to have covered your face with a mask or a substantial prosthetic. Either of these means you need to have something covering your face and it does impact on your ability to see. You will need to tolerate having something over your face all day. When people think of orcs there are a huge range of potential influences they could consider. The Empire Wiki sets out which ones are appropriate. They indicate that bright green orcs are probably seriously ill, and suggest other more appropriate colours instead. There are similar suggestions that tusks and fangs are also not appropriate for Empire Orcs.
For some players, this casts the image they had of the character they wanted to play as ‘wrong’ and it is wrong for this game. There are then two options. You can change the look to fit the game, or change to a different game to fit the look, if that game exists, and it normally does, Curious Pastimes and Lorien Trust both have much less restrictive guidelines, because they’re trying to play a different game.
LRP games are often influenced by TV, Film and Computer games. This works well for a lot of games and makes people happy. There’s a large difference between most LRP games and most of their influences. Most films have maybe 1-4 main characters. At a LRP event you normally have more. There are a few games with only a small player party, but I only ever hear of them as something slightly mythical happening among cooler kids than me, and I suspect I couldn’t afford them if I did know about them earlier. When writing a LRP game you want your players to be doing the cool stuff, but you need to find a way for all your players to be doing the cool stuff without being irrelevant. It’s why we tend to try and break players down into smaller parties for somethings. It gives them a chance to be their hero.
Similarly to garb, the players often want to be the exception. Most games can handle one person breaking the rules. However, when everyone does it it just becomes a mess. This is why Empire has rules to keep the nation’s separate. They can handle a few people wearing kit that isn’t appropriate, but they can’t handle everyone wearing kit that isn’t appropriate. If people are changing kit then they should be changing it to be more iconic of the nation they’re representing so that they can increase the mass-coolness rather than further muddying the waters.
I have this a lot with sculpting. I will sculpt a beautiful nose. It’ll be perfectly symmetrical, and convey emotion and character in a way that is utterly perfect, except that it doesn’t work with the rest of the sculpt. In order to improve the sculpt I’ll need to cut the nose off and rebuild. It’s a tortured moment, but it usually leads to greater things.
If you’re trying to be a thing it’s a good idea to start by trying to look like the thing, and that might involve putting aside some ideas you were quite attached to. Something might look really amazing individually, but it doesn’t work with the whole thing. In that situation you may need to decide to change what you’re doing. You’ll get a better result in the end.