This installment on Role-play will focus on a major component to staying In-Game; Atmosphere. The decoration and upkeep of the camps we play on is highly important in maintaining the simulated environment of Travance. While often we are required to rely on our imaginations to turn a spell packet into a ball of fire or a firecracker to a portal to another world, when it comes to the campsite, our food, and our trash there are a multitude of simple ways to turn our modern world into a tangible medieval-fantasy setting.
This is something the Director, RP Officer, and the RP Marshals feel very strongly about. To quote Derrick, the Head RP Officer, “Remember the overall atmosphere might not be important to you, but it is important to somebody else. Respect that, because I will.” Due to these strong feelings, all that I write should be read with his authority behind it, as his opinions on this matter will be quoted and paraphrased strongly within this document.
The Absolute Musts:
Probably the most detrimental thing to an IG area is the blatant presence of Out-of-game items. For a long time, this was never an issue, but lately it has started to get out of hand. People have started not to care about OOG items not only in their personal cabins, but in general areas as well. A general rule to keep in mind is that even if you personally don’t mind or care, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.
Most of the camps we play at have space beneath the beds to store away your OOG things, and this is supposed to be the general rule with such items. If there isn’t space where you are staying, or you have more items than can fit beneath your bed, it is up to you, the player, to accommodate that. This is especially true for Sacagawea, our New Jersey campsite. In such an event, you have two options. You can either hide you OOG items in appropriate looking trunks and boxes or under blankets or furs, or you can leave your extra things in your car.
An interesting suggestion made by Joe K. was to get a large tub to put all your OOG stuff in, and then cover the tub with a tablecloth. Suddenly you have a small bedside table that can be used as a display place for candles (electric only of course) or other knickknacks. When it comes to extra costuming, most cabins have places you can hang things up, and wooden, IG-looking hangers can be rather cheap to find (IKEA sells a pack of 10 for a couple dollars). This keeps the room organized and helps to air out your costuming, as well as add to the atmosphere to make it appear that someone is actually living there.
Besides being unsightly, the tangled mess of people’s stuff that often takes over all the rooms and cabins in our winter camp is dangerous, and this will need to be cleaned up in coming months to make the areas places where people can actually role-play with each other.
OOG Packaging and Food
Obviously, bringing food and drink to a game is a WONDERFUL thing. We all need the energy and the hydration throughout a weekend filled with as much physical activity as an organization like ours’ provides. I can’t think of single person that complains about extra food. However, the way that food is displayed has become horrendous. We’re all guilty of this one, but we can all take measures to improve it. All the plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and cardboard boxes do absolutely nothing for the atmosphere, and from now on a penalty will be put on anyone seen drinking or eating out of packaging that is blatantly OOG. The only place this new rule will be overlooked is in your personal cabin, but even then these things should be tucked away and hid when other PCs or NPCs will be entering the area.
As Matt White put it, “Bad atmosphere is like a gateway drug for OOG behavior.” As discussed in last month’s installment, KR is a 24-Hour game. “If people go to a cabin and open up a few bottles of Gatorade from a plainly visible case on the floor, and then eat Doritos out of a bag they're passing around, OOG talk is soon to follow.” While a little OOG conversation and snacking in your personal cabin is fine every now and then, this sort of behavior is only one step behind declaring yourself OOG when a horde of enemies attacks. Despite how OOG you might feel at that given time, you are supposed to be IG, and this sort of declaration will no longer be tolerated.
Keeping Food Looking IG
The best way to get around this is to keep random IG-looking containers around the cabin. Any glass bottle with the label removed (like we use in the Inn) will do perfectly for drinks—simply keep your Dasani bottles and cans of Sprite sealed and hidden until needed, and then transfer the liquid into the bottle. Besides glass bottles, appropriate looking metal canteens and wineskins can be gotten rather inexpensively at most army surplus stores or off the internet. I’ve even seen clear plastic disposable cups that pull off looking like glass rather convincingly, and these would do fine as well. The same sort of thing should be done with our snack foods as well. Serve your crackers or chips in wooden or metal bowls or store cookies in IG boxes, baskets or tins. And if you are worried about keeping things fresh, it’s easier to disguise a Ziploc bag or some saran wrap with some cloth than the bright yellow cardboard of your Wheat Thins box (part of my stable LARP snack resume). Be creative, and often the simplest solutions are the best.
This leads us to another major problem that has been arising as of late. The clutter from plastic wrappings, cigarette butts, and other OOG food debris is becoming ridiculous. As Derrick so delicately put it, “No one here is 5, so don’t act like it!” Garbage doesn’t just kill atmosphere, it’s just rude and irresponsible. Those that stay late to clean-up on Sunday know that most of the work isn’t for the game, but in cleaning up messes other players left behind. Some might argue that it’s the player’s choice to do such an altruistic act—the answer to that is both yes and no. Yes, those players choose to stay late, but only because if they don’t, someone else will have to clean the camp up before the Ranger completes his inspection. If no one does, the game would get charged a fine, and runs the danger of entirely loosing the camp. Good camps that can handle the number of players we have are hard to find, and the last thing we want is to lose the ones we already have. Everyone that goes to KR is old enough to clean up after themselves, and it’s not fair that marshals and other helpful players have to do that job for other, less responsible people.
To insure this behavior doesn’t continue, a new penalty will be instated for littering. Anyone seen leaving cans, bottles, plastic wrappers or other garbage around and not throwing them away in the many trash cans available on the campsites will only receive one warning, which will marked on their card. The second time will result in a reduction of -5 RP points, and a third violation will equal a Rules Violation.
Why is this so extreme? For a long time we’ve tried the easy, nice way of simply asking for it not to be done, but apparently kindness is being mistaken for weakness, something we, and especially Derrick, won’t stand for. “The camps that we go to are not your personal trash bins and I, sure as God as my witness, am no one’s maid.”
Going Even Further:
Themes and Props
Hiding anything that looks OOG from plain sight is the absolute minimum we require of you—it’s up to move on from there. Besides the food solutions mentioned earlier, there are many ways to dress up your cabin and make it into your character’s own little “home”. Anything generally Medieval will do. But, if you want to make it more personal, which we encourage, think about who you character is (or group of characters) and come up with a theme. Things like fake flower garlands and wooden items work well for Sylvans, druids, and rangers, lots of leathers and furs for the Barbarians amongst us, things that sparkle and shimmer for those more magically inclined. These are just some simple suggestions, I'm sure you can think of more and better ideas. You are only limited by your imagination, so use it!
How To Make It Happen
- Many places sell simple, cheap items like trunks, boxes, vases, candle holders and other various things that can dress up a room into something more than a Boy Scout’s cabin. Some suggestions are arts and crafts stores (Michael’s for example), places like Target and Wal-Mart, and even budget department stores like Kohl’s or TJ Maxx have interesting finds in their home decorating sections from time to time.
- Old-looking books and journals can often be found in the discount sections of most major book stores (Borders / Barnes&Noble), sometimes for less than $5.
- Fabric is also a cheap and easy way to decorate—it’s amazing what some simple draping of $1 a yard fabric can do to a room if you try, not to mention the addition of a fur or otherwise homey looking blanket to hide your modern looking sleeping bag. JoAnns and Wal-Mart are often great places to find deals on fabric.
A few books, a handful of candlesticks, and a couple yards of broadcloth, and your cabin now looks In-Game. Things to make it personal are easy to find. To quote Gavin, “Even after 6 months at KR, people start accumulating knick-knacks and props. Use them however you can. The Alisandria Statehouse at one point in time was a collection of almost every 'save the world' ritual component ever gathered.”
Have fun, be creative, and we look forward to seeing what you come up with!