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I am planning on holding a 20-50 person LARP near my home in England. I would like to know other than notifying the Emergency services (police/ambulance) that I'm holding the event and where it is, what facilities should I ensure are on site? I've had quite a bit of interest so I'm thinking forward and I'm just planning what I may need to have on site when I start holding regular events (instead of just playtests).

Would it be a good idea to get someone in for catering? Drinks(non alcoholic) and food? Have players pay an in character fee for their food/drink? Or should that be included in the price of the ticket?

How many portaloos/portable showers will I need for a weekend event? What else do I need?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Definitely get a first aid kit that can cover most environmental hazards in your area (spider bites, poison oak, etc) as well as the basic cuts/scrapes/twisted ankles/etc. Don't forget to include sunscreen and hydration tablets, since most of your player base is likely not used to spending a lot of time outdoors. Make sure you know how to recognize and treat heat sickness, dehydration and over-exertion. Getting first aid training yourself, if you don't already have it, is also not a bad idea.

It's not necessary to have your event catered. Find out what your cooking facilities will be like and if open flames or camp stoves are allowed (some places in high fire risk areas will only allow small propane camping stoves; other campsites permit open fires or charcoal grills). Let your players know that they should bring and prepare their own food on site. If you'll have access to a kitchen, see if there are any players who are willing to cook for the whole group. Then just have everyone pitch in $10-15 as part of a group meal plan.

As far as drinks - water water water water water. One gallon per person per day. Drinks like VitaminWater, fruit juice or Gatorade are also a good idea, but water is the most important.

If you're planning a weekend event, you'll probably want running water and showers. For a day event, you can get by with just toilets. One toilet, plus one more for every 10 or so attendees is a fairly good ratio (at least two, because if one breaks, you want the other one as backup).

Look into campsites in your area - national and state parks, any sites your county or city might maintain. One of my larps regularly plays at a Boy Scout camp, and the Girl Scouts also have their own campsites. If we play on a weekend where the Scouts aren't going to be there, we're able to rent the site for a not-too-shabby price.

Lastly, you will need insurance. If you're running the event, and something happens to either a player or the site itself, you could be liable for any damages or medical bills. So get insurance. You can generally find a pretty good policy for around ten dollars a head, less if you sign waivers to disallow minors or alcohol. And that cost gets rolled into the ticket price for your players.

There is more information about logistics on a site I run.

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+1 for water. I've been involved as a first-aider in South African LARPs for about four years. Hydration is always the biggest issue. Put big jugs with taps everywhere, and encourage people to take at least one drink every 30 minutes. An important note: Many sports and isotonic drinks are loaded with sugar, and not suitable for rehydration, especially with diabetics around. The rule is to stick to pure water, or something that you know doesn't have sugar, or specially formulated rehydration mixes that you can get at pharmacies. –  Gustav Bertram May 13 '14 at 6:57
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By the way, the "how to larp" link is broken. –  Gustav Bertram May 13 '14 at 6:59
    
10$/head looks egregiously high to me, I would be interested to know the rates from elsewhere, in case anyone knows them. –  Lohoris May 13 '14 at 10:47

I have organized 5 LARP events of around 3-4 days length with 80-120 people each over the last years. The camp was set up in the style of a boy scout camp, i.e. tents etc.

I just listed some points off the top of my head... Feel free to ask me anything I have not answered below.

Kind of event

  • Figure out what kind of event you want to do. The span goes from full board and accommodation with 24/7 story and entertainment to everyone bringing their own food and equipment and basically just sharing the atmosphere around a camp fire.
  • Obviously the more service and story you want to provide your participants, the bigger the effort on your side. As this is your first LARP I'd keep it light: focus on getting the logistics of the whole thing down and only invest into story/quests/program as far as your resources (money/time/staff) will allow you to.
  • Some general advice for reducing (story) effort for you and staff is to let players generate their own content: give two opposing groups a reason to battle/scheme/plot against each other and your players will be happily adventuring, role playing and fighting without much effort on your side.

Staff:

  • Get some good people to help you do the whole thing. It'll be a heck of a lot of work, you'll be glad to distribute the load.
  • Make sure people are reliable and take care of their share of the work.
  • Plan redundantly. E.g. make sure your event doesn't fail if your story master gets suddenly sick.
  • Make sure staff have some breaks, decent meals and enough sleep.

Facilities:

  • Toilets are a must. I'd suggest around 1 Toilet for 30 people. Including a urinal is a good idea as it saves some time and reduces queue lengths.
  • Showers are optional on shorter events but will still be appreciated by many participants.
  • At times we also set up fire heated hot tubs but this is obviously luxury.

Food/Cooking:

--> Depending on your situation outdoor cooking maybe a good option (discuss this with the land owner first though).

  • Letting people cook for themselves saves you a lot of logistical effort, but it will cost you time as your participants will have to collect wood/start fires/prepare food/cook/...
  • Cooking for people saves time and effort on their part, but you'll need equipment that'll hold food for a big number of people and you also need experienced staff to do the actual cooking.
  • Providing water is a must if your event is longer than a day. People will need water to drink, clean their dishes, brush their teeth, etc.
  • If you want to sell food and/or drinks (or even alcohol) figure out if you need a permit

Accommodation:

  • Letting people bring their own tents is probably easiest for you.
  • If you have some big tents (or can rent some with your budget) people might also appreciate getting a sleeping space in a community tent.
  • Setting up some sort of a common room/tent/tavern in the woods/... will be greatly appreciated by your players.

Safety:

  • A safety concept is a must. Set up rules for:
    • combat,
    • out-of-combat interaction (e.g. no tying people up),
    • legal drugs (alcohol, tobacco),
    • camp security,
    • fire/light (e.g. no torches in tents...),
    • area related risks (e.g. don't go fighting on top of the cliff, ...)
  • A decent med kit is essential for small injuries. Also have some basic drugs ready for allergies/headaches/digestive problems/...
  • Have a plan for emergencies: how will you notify emergency services? Who is going to do it? Do you know how to explain them how they can get to you?
  • It is advisable to have a strategy for lesser injuries: we usually get some staff people to be designated emergency drivers. They will take somebody who got hurt to see a doctor (obviously only if it is a minor injury which does not merit calling an ambulance!). If you do this they need to know which car to use, where to drive to, etc.
  • We also always ask participants to fill out an emergency sheet: people are asked to list next of kin, allergies to drugs and their medical insurance number. If anything bad would ever happen this can save a lot of time.

Security:

  • This is not always an issue but: for our LARPs we usually don't publicly announce the exact location to anybody except the participants and staff (i.e. not on the home page/Facebook). This helps prevent curious (or even malicious) minds intruding on your event.
  • If you are close to where people live then camp security might be an issue: there should probably always be some people in the camp to help prevent theft, etc.

Weather:

  • If your LARP is outdoor (which I just assumed) the weather can really screw you over. This goes for the actual story as well as your logistics: soaked and unmotivated players can kill all all the fun. Also, breaking up camp will be a lot harder and take more time if the weather is bad and all the equipment is wet, so: Make emergency plans for if it really just won't stop raining.

Budget:

  • Figure out how much your participants are willing to pay. This should of course depend on the kind of event/service you provide (length, food provided?, tents provided?, story, etc.).
  • Make a budget. Keep money in reserve for unforeseen incidents.

Insurance:

  • Figure out whether personal insurance of your participants is enough or if you need an insurance for your event.
  • In the latter case it might be worth it to set up some association/club/society which acts as the lawful agent and which can carry the risk (sorry, I don't know anything about British law).
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Additional note for safety: make sure you have room for an ambulance or firetruck as close to the terrain as possible. Reserve a spot for it. They WILL run down your tents if they have to, but it's better if they don't have to ;) –  Erik Jun 16 at 6:19
    
This should be the new accepted answer. –  Sardathrion Jun 16 at 6:25

What you should not forget is to inform local authorities, especially if you're not on a directly/fenced private property but rather in public areas (woods e.g.).

That of course depends on the size of your LARP. The moment you plan on using a public area of any kind I'd inform the local police and answer possible questions by them in advance. Also tell them about the area the play will appropriately take place and what they'd have to expect from that. Give them also a possibility to contact you or your GM team (if any) directly, in case there are further questions or a local resident is calling the police because "there get people murdered in the woods".

If you reach a certain size it might also be desirable to have a talk with the local ambulance services (Red Cross, Johanniter or what ever you have). If you have several hundreds or thousands of players it might be interesting to ask them if they can get their own unit over for the play.

Of course also talk with the owner of the area. If you are planning on using the area more often or regularly, it might be desirable to give local residents a short tour during the LARP, so that they know what is going on there and that it is not a bunch of Satanists sacrificing virgins.

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