In the UK we rarely have such bad weather that it stops an event. This doesn’t mean that it can’t make situations remarkably unpleasant, and of course not stopping an event entirely doesn’t mean the event isn’t made unmanageable by bad weather for some people.
At Mandala we sell masks. Wearing those masks in heat like that which we currently have would not be sensible for me, so this weekend I just didn’t. I played a human instead. The organisers of the game were sensible and let people move away from phys rep requirements when possible in order that they could continue to play their characters as planned. We also used ice boxes, spare balaclavas and hydration packs to keep people constantly drinking and cool enough to function.
For modern events this isn’t too much of a problem, and even for fantasy events water takes priority over immersion and a lot can be solved with a blanket or putting it out the back of the tent. We’ve often used a rolling water barrel, as they’re easy to move around and refill, and we have also used battery operated water pumps to make it easier to pour water from them.
This gear does tend to need to hide out the back of our IC space. We’ve previously built the pumps into IC fountains and wells which means they can be relatively easily disguised. We also have a gas powered fridge which gets cold enough to freeze cans in time for take down slushies; I would highly recommend this.
For fantasy games it’s also not hard to ensure you’re always carrying water. A fabric drawstring bag can cover any water bottle and is the cheapest and easiest way to make sure you have enough water for you to drink with you.
Shelter is vital too. I’ve wandered off from really intense encounters because they’re held out in the sun and I can’t wear suncream. I have to find something shady to loiter under or risk sunburn like that which is currently gracing my shoulders. More of a risk is heatstroke/sunstroke. It really does stop me feeling like a big damn hero when I have to walk away from something interesting to stop myself getting heatstroke and it’s certainly less fun than the organisers intended. However, it’s possible to get around this by playing characters that do wander off and sit in the shade in groups and look a bit disinterested.
Tents can become very warm in this heat. Awnings and tents that allow you to raise the sides so that you can get a breeze through help to counteract this. Our latest run of blazing heat has been unusual in that it’s hot at night as well as during the day. It is also worth looking at ideas about layering costumes to help you to stay happy as the temperature changes.
There is a tendency to drop footwear in really hot weather. Again, this isn’t a major issue in the UK. If you’re not used to walking around barefooted then get used to it before committing. And remember that feet are delicate with lots of tiny bones in them, so getting them stood on by large people wearing lots of heavy plate can be really uncomfortable for a fair while. There are some sites I will go barefoot for some games at certain times of year. It’s a bit frustrating to discover you’ve walked all the way to the toilets and are now going to have to brave walking over sharp stones to get to them or go back and find some shoes. The idea is often better than the reality.
The most important thing is that games are still fun. If people are going to have to stop, or are going to get ill because of the weather then organisers need to adjust how the game is played. People will forget to eat and drink enough, and that’s more important in hot weather than cold. Look out for each other, offer food and water if you can, and, most importantly, take care of yourself.