The first small LRP events I played were organised by my faction at Curious Pastimes. The events helped raise some money to pay for some of the costs of running the faction during the main events. Given how little they cost to play and knowing what I now know about how much things cost it seems almost impossible that they could have accommodated us, fed us and entertained us for so little money.
No one runs LRP events to make money. There are far easier ways of doing that. There are people who earn a living from LRP. I am one of them. Like pretty much all of them I could earn more easily by finding a more traditional job. LRPers are willing to pay people for somethings, but not for others. At Mandala we tend to say that if we’re working in our workshop then people have to pay for the work we’re doing. If we’re on site at a game using the same skills then we use them for free. It provides a nice cut off. It’s a good solid rule that makes sure that the workshop is paid for and that we can afford to eat, but also allows us to control our own free time and provide help when we find something fun and interesting. When we run events we don’t offer concessions. I’m not open to the idea that all LRP should be kept low cost and affordable to make sure anyone can go to an event. We could budget in a small number of concessionary tickets and push up the standard price in return, but it’s not something we’re interested in doing.
The exceptions are our own games. We’re more than willing to admit that we can’t afford to pay ourselves for the props we want for our own games. Any other game would scale back and limit themselves. We don’t want to do that. I enjoy building props and costumes for games. That’s my hobby. Therefore we pay materials and workshop costs but we fit the builds in. It’s a balance, but it works. I’m aware that LRP is filled with a lot of skilled people donating time to do cool things with equipment they’ve bought themselves and often free materials. I’m often one of those people. As much as I’d like to be able to afford to work for free I do need to earn money in order to pay to live, and it had got to the point that I didn’t have time or energy to have two jobs with one supporting the other. I had to charge for time.
People are willing to pay us. We’ll exchange skills and work with some people, but for the most part people are willing to pay to get work done, whether they’re ordering a mask, a sword, or a giant creature. This is feeling a little like I’m trying to apologise for or justify earning a living through LRP. I’d like to say that’s not the case but I’m not certain. I strongly believe that LRP needs to charge more to reflect it’s true cost and I personally can’t afford to do what I do for free. While I’m willing to provide skills I have for free in my free time, I can’t do that at the cost of my workshop. We’d lose an amazing resource for UK LRP if we couldn’t pay for the workshop, and my free time is my own to donate as I choose.