How do you costume your OC crew? You have refs, people dealing with pyros and managing encounters, and a whole variety of other people who are there for a range of reasons but who aren’t NPCs. If you have a large monster that needs extensive ref support how do you avoid it looking like you have a sea of game staff around your big set piece?
The basic option is to put your refs in hi-vis jackets. It makes them easy to spot and sets them apart from what is going on. They do tend to become fairly easy to ignore unless necessary and hi-vis are easy to acquire cheap. They are blatantly out of character which is both a good point, and a bad point. Introducing something so out of character to your game doesn’t seem overly sensible.
Curious Pastimes uses white tabards with a black R. It looks a little more IC (although that does depend what people wear under their tabard) and is fairly easy to spot. It gets easily confused with groups wearing similar black and white colours. However, there aren’t that many of those around. They’re custom made, and often named so you can tell which ref is walking away from you – except that they rarely have the right name on them.
They use hi-vis stuff for some security roles. It’s been reduced and they will use yellow tabards for roles where they don’t want players approaching and asking questions (for example if people are using pyros).
Empire have a similar system. They either have yellow and black in character jackets for people the players should approach or red and black for people players should stay away from. When running large battles they also use yellow and black tabards for extra crew. They’re not named, and there are players with kit similar to the yellow and black version (the players wear mustard and brown, but the ref jackets are made of linen and fade to similar colours). The jackets work well in that they hide the worst sins with respect to kit that is underneath them, and can have pockets for storing out of character items that need to be carried. THey’re also more than big enough to hide a radio and equipment that might be needed.
For Zap Fest we borrowed an idea from Rockets and Rayguns, who use warehouse coats and flat caps for their refs. It means they have people shuffling around looking like caretakers. The idea is good more modern events, but works particularly well for the 1950s look we were aiming for. It maintains a good in character atmosphere, is approachable, and is the sort of person that the player characters would go to when the boiler breaks down or something isn’t working as it should. We’ve also used robots for sci fi games. They were briefed to provide almost no interaction with players, as the players communicated with refs by phone and via computer.
How ‘period appropriate’ do you costume your crew? Do you distinguish between people players should approach and those they should avoid (either for safety and game reasons)?