How Much Does LARPing Cost?
Like any hobby, live action roleplaying games require some investments to gear up, and some recurring expenses for the one participating in it. For those on a tight budget or newly entering the hobby, these costs can appear intimidating, especially if they take as reference the most enthusiastic players and how much they may spend for LARPing. Truth is, if you are willing to go that way, LARP can be an almost infinite pit of expenses, but it doesn't have to be, and you can be a perfectly valid and respectable player if you run on a budget.
How much does it cost to attend a LARP event?
LARP organizers have basic cost to cover to rent the space, buy costumes for their staff, and provide an entertaining experience for all. For that reason, there is always some kind of entry fee to access a LARP event, even if a particular one is based on voluntary work or run by a non-profit organization. However, entry cost for LARP events is often significantly cheaper than any comparable activity, like escape games or paintball for instance. For the time you spend on site, the price of your ticket is generally very affordable. In our local LARPing community here in Quebec, we can find weekend long events for 60$ or less.
Or course, the entry fee isn't everything. You will also need food and shelter. Some LARP will provide meals at an extra cost, or offer to rent space in cabins or in-game shelters. Nevertheless, these extras are almost always discretionary, since you can usually bring your own food and sleep in a tent or your car just outside of the game area. If some LARPers can be quite the hedonists when it comes to planning their meals, this is no different than camping, and you don't need to spend more than you would for food at home.
More expensive LARP obviously exists, but these events are often out of the norm, may it be because they offer access to an exceptional location, or are planned for a very small group of players and promise a unique game experience.
The last attendance cost that can vary quite significantly is transport. If you don't have access to a LARP event nearby, travel expenses can pile up, and even more so if you want to attend a particular activity in a foreign country. However, LARP as a hobby has been growing, and small local events can be found in more and more regions, making long travel less necessary than it used to be.
How much do LARP costumes cost?
The price of a LARP costume is highly dependent on the look you are aiming for. Obviously, the more intricate a costume is, with more layers and accessories, the more expensive it will get. There is also a large gap between the most basic brands of clothing and the prices of high end clothes. When shopping for clothes, some very functional LARP costumes can be achieved for 150$ to 200$. These will most likely include a simple tunic or shirt, with pants, a belt, and a low price accessory like a peasant cap, a medieval hood, or a pouch. Simple dresses also make very inexpensive costumes. Brands such as Burgschneider and Leonardo Carbone offer a great selection of affordable and sturdy LARP clothes that can be used as a base for your costumes. Over time, you will have the opportunity to add accessories and upgrade your costume, but it may never be needed depending on the type of character you play.
If you are aiming to buy some medieval armor, your costume's cost will immediately go up by a significant margin. The most basic body armors, may they be made of leather or plate, are rarely under 200$, and these breastplate are only going to cover the front of the body, not including any limb or even the back. A basic armor set is most likely to cost upward of 500$, and that would be even if grabbing only the most inexpensive pieces, and still leaving some areas unprotected. If you are on a budget, a good strategy would be to avoid creating a character that relies too much on armor. There is no point in beating around the bush; buying armor is pricey.
How much do LARP weapons cost?
Buying LARP weapons is a sensible expense, as it is the best way to acquire a safe weapon that also fits the decorum requirements of most events. LARP swords are the most popular weapon types, and many simple designs can be found under 150$. However, if you are budget sensitive, daggers and shorter weapons can present a less expensive choice, with most of these short blades being found under 100$.
Unlike high end costumes which can easily cost ten times the price of the more basic items, weapons' price don't vary as much. Apart from custom creations, even the most intricate, oversized, and luxurious weapons on the market don't go past 400$.
How to save money on LARPing
If LARPing has the potential of getting pretty expensive, there is plenty of ways to save money for those that want to enter the hobby.
❧ Borrow and Reuse
Many LARPers will accumulate a literal hoard of costumes and weapons over the years, and if you know one of those veterans, they are likely to be willing to let you borrow or buy some of their second hand gear for a fraction of the price of something brand new. Same goes if you join a LARP group or guild; these player groups will often be very helpful to new recruits joining their ranks!
Same goes with tents and camping supplies. You don't have to buy everything. Before going on a spending spree, check in with your friends and family if they have a tent they aren't using at the moment. You can also ask to share a spot with a player you know well. Many LARPers have spare space inside their tents and wouldn't mind sharing them.
For those with crafting skills or the willingness to learn, making your costumes from scratch or by modifying more basic clothes is an amazing way to save money. Some of the most beautiful and iconic looks you will get to see in LARP are in fact often less expensive to achieve than store bought sets, because they are self-made. There is a bit of a starting cost if you need to acquire many tools and crafting supplies, but after this initial cost, you only need to pay for the materials to create amazing costumes.
Crafting weapons isn't as good of a strategy, except if you are aiming for a very specific design that would otherwise need to be custom ordered at great expense. Cheap weapons can still be made with pipe insulation foam and duct tape, but that style of weapon isn't accepted in every events, as it doesn't meet the same decorum standard as latex weapons.
❧ Thrift Stores
Except for historical reenactment, most LARP are actually pretty permissive with clothing, as long as the end result looks like it could fit in a fantasy setting. It's even easier for post-apocalyptic LARPs. That means that modern second hand clothes found in thrift stores can often fit quite well to create the base for your character's costume.
Any clothes made of natural textile, without visible label, and with a cut that doesn't feel too out of place can at the very least be modified to fit in LARP. Just avoid jeans and stay vigilant to spot pretty pieces in the racks! Hobbits in the Lord of the Rings were wearing mostly modern shirts and vests, and it looked sharp!
Even a humble cotton t-shirt can be turned into a sleeveless shirt if you cut out the collar's seam and rip out the sleeves. Of course, it wouldn't fit a noble born character, but a slave or dirt poor peasant is likely to wear that sort of rag.
Also, never underestimate the power of accessories! For instance, thrift shops are amazing places to find affordable jewelry for your nobles and occultists, or to grab some cheap fur for your barbarian character.
Where to find quality LARP gear
No matter if you are looking for a last minute set for an event, to get a professionally made foam sword, or to add most needed accessories to your basic LARP set, our store holds plenty of options to gear up for LARP, from sturdy medieval clothing to leather goods, armors, and foam weapons.
Our shopkeeper team can also give you tips about how to equip your character thanks to their expansive experience of decorum and costume trends in the hobby. If you ever need some guidance, or simply to look at what kind of product exists for the hobby, we are always happy to welcome you!