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A 'phys-rep' is something used by a LARP to phys-ically rep-resent something that isn't present at a game. For instance, in a local system I play in, a red hat "phys-reps" being invisible. (I don't know how universal the term is.)

The question at hand is how does one go about phys-repping a large creature? I've seen several attempts at this, though none of them seem to be satisfactory. Most of the methods I've seen rely on using multiple "monsters" (NPCs). But where I LARP, most of the pathways are very narrow, making this technique unsuitable.

Are there any other ways of representing a creature like a Giant or Troll, which has width as well as height and length.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Question : if the pathway IS narrow, is a Large creature supposed to fit in to begin with ? I mean, on a P&P game with minis, a Large creature actually can't fit where two Medium creatures won't. Is there any hard rule transition about this in your LARP ? (I never LARPed but it would seem like a logical decision to me) \$\endgroup\$
    – Nigralbus
    Dec 12, 2011 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are no rules for this in the LARP system we use. I'd like to fill up the path in the narrow section, whilst in others there's room for the party to surround. I'd also just like the creature to look large and intimidating! \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2011 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pureferret Have any friends who are good with stilts? \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Dec 12, 2011 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not really an option, the forest we LARP in would eat stilts for breakfast and go looking for seconds. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2011 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or good costuming skills: look at the blue monster here and a golem here \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19, 2013 at 2:44

9 Answers 9

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Take a page from The Lion King and Avenue Q

For the lion King:

Lion King Puppetry

They have puppets controlled by actors dressed to match he pattern on the coats. Instead of going for a Beauty and the Beast level of theatrical similarity, the showing of puppets-as-puppets allows audience members to choose to suspend their disbelief without needing to convince them that rubber-forehead aliens are lions.

For avenue Q, the actors playing the Monsters all wore pure black, though again with slight style changes that evoked their characters:

Avenue Q

For a larp, a puppet of the creature you're impersonating can do the same thing. Make sure that you capture its face and arms, and use the arms to give it the necessary sense of size. If you suggest details through lightweight components (ala lion king) instead of trying to render the entire monster, you can allow people to interact with it without needing to spend the time to model the whole thing.

In terms of giving a large size impression, simply model its features on an appropriate scale, and insure that the bounding features are all present. Arms, legs, and shoulders&head should be sufficient to give it a sense of size. By strapping its legs to your shoes, offset by divots, you can simulate its baseline stance and shoulder width. By having its arms on poles, you can simulate its reach, And by giving it a head, you give players something to make eye contact with instead of you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Additional note: I've seen the Avenue Q puppets used in a LARP. It went very well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tynam
    Aug 17, 2012 at 8:20
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I've seen large creatures represented using lengths of cloth, held on poles, by two or more people. Think of the way dragons are represented on parades.

This works really well. It's been used by theatre companies for all sorts of mythical or dreamlike creatures. It's a good combination between physical representation and players' imagination.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I really like this idea, but I'm struggling to visualise it. How is the cloth incorporated into the creature? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11, 2011 at 21:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Something like this. 2.bp.blogspot.com/_8cf3ZIrX12w/SWtzKee_RiI/AAAAAAAABr0/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Dec 11, 2011 at 22:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ahh I see now! I shall go reform my question. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11, 2011 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I also was part of such a monster once, it was real fun and the players were really impressed. It was basically just a wooden frame with clothes all over it, and I'm still very impressed by the people who built it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bobby
    Dec 12, 2011 at 20:35
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Okay, some friends make this guy a long time ago. But I've never seen a better large monster, ever. He's a stone golem, constructed from 4" thick foam mattresses, hot glue, and paint.

The best thing is he completely covers a large man in 3" foam, so he's all soft and safe :)

Video here: Stone Golem Rocks YouTube

Stone Golem

This monster was built with 5 foam mattresses stuck together using a lot of hot glue. The cracks were carved out with box cutter knives and it was painted with many many cans of black spray paint. It lasted about 5 years, has appeared in a music video and has an account on facebook.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's very cool, but there is no way for me to replicate it from your post. Do you have a guide that goes with this? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2013 at 21:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, no. But It was built with 5 foam mattresses stuck together using a lot of hot glue. The cracks were carved out with box cutter knives and it was painted with many many cans of black spray paint. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2013 at 22:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's worth putting in the answer! \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18, 2013 at 22:07
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I created another large monster for one of our large larps in New Zealand.

enter image description here

We named him "Boris" while we were building him and the name stuck. The guy wearing it is about 6'3" and he looks out the mouth.

He's constructed from five foam mattresses that are about 4" thick. They're rolled into tubes and glued using a special contact adhesive recommended by the foam supplier. There is a zip down the front and the head is removable (it's attached by some elastic and toggles).

Total material cost about US$350-400 and a few long nights. None of it is complicated, but it's a lot of work.

Photo from my mate Scott at Reality Dysfunction

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How did you do this? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 5, 2013 at 23:43
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"Jabberwock" creature made from pool noodles; photo (c) 2013 Elena Ruyter

My alma mater has a yearly large-scale boffer event where all the equipment comes from a pretty small budget. Here's a picture of a "Jabberwock" creature, constructed from duct tape and pool noodles. I think it's a good example of a larger-than-human "phys-rep" creature that can still engage in fights with other participants.

"Jabberwock" creature made from pool noodles; photo (c) 2008 June Xie

The approach you see here is to "capture its face and arms, and use the arms to give it the necessary sense of size," as Brian suggested. The arms (barely pictured) are two-foot-long claws that the player holds in his hands. The head is attached to a long, flexible pool-noodle neck; the player can move his torso to make the head bob about or snap forward like it's attacking. The creature looks fairly imposing when you spread your arms out and the head is at its full height; despite the relatively small size of the overall apparatus, the reach of the claws and neck makes it "feel" big during combat.

This approach is a good fit for creepy, sinuous monsters. The monster moves quickly and the basic rig isn't particularly exhausting to wear (at least, until you "dress it up" more). The simple one in the pictures — a high-visibility neon armature intended for a big nighttime event on a small budget — took several hours and around $20 of materials to construct.

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My local LARP crew builds models in foam, latex and wood so that the creature is to scale. Some creatures (spider queen for one) were fixed -- but combat against them was not an option.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You mean like this ? That takes a lot of time and effort, even though it is a good solution. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2011 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pureferret: LMAO ... Kinda but better? ^_~ \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2011 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You weren't there...it was epic! :D \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2011 at 16:56
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This is an old question, but the trick that I have seen work pretty well is either spending a lot of time or getting a professional prop-maker to build something amazing. It takes a bit of budget, but when you see something like this come bearing down on you, it's pretty impressive: War rhino from Profound Decisions Empire game

In that case the beast was built on a solid frame with a crew of about 10 people carrying it underneath, enough to support the weight of the warbeast and the rider.

There isn't a standard pattern - I have seen a lot of different designs of large creatures from four-armed golems whose torso is balanced on the crew-member's shoulders to dragons phys-repped as a head and neck built on a gantry with a built in dry-ice machine for smoke.

These types of prop cost either a fair amount of money or a very large amount of time, but they also have a massive effect on how players experience your events. This was from a Profound Decisions event in the UK and it is worth seeking out some other pictures from their games as they often put large and impressive monsters on the field for larger battles.

If you are thinking to invest for a smaller system, you may find that having consistent monster masks and outfits may well make a larger difference to player experience than a single setpiece creature.

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Our local LARP built a minotaur clockwork golem a year or so ago. The player was able to see out of the painted mesh on the "neck".

What we did to represent the size of the monster was to make him quite tall. That seemed enough.

Golem

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. Shame there is no one next to it to give it (more) scale. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11, 2013 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, we always forget to take enough photos. ^_^;; The monster is over 7 feet tall. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11, 2013 at 16:57
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Stationary creatures

Being stationary solves many of the problems which arise only from making your prop movable, and makes building big props a lot easier. You can build heavier, sturdier and thus bigger.

Example: In the 2015 edition of our fantasy LARP in Switzerland we introduced an Ent.

It consisted of a very large wood/bark/foam/moss face mask (maybe 1x1m). This was hung on a swiveling mount on a dead half-rotten tree growing on a slope. Afterwards the whole contraption was camouflaged some more to hide the technical parts.

The face had moving eye lids and mouth which could be operated from the operators position behind. The Ent also had glowing green eyes, and a booming voice thanks to a portable speakers/amplifier with sound distortion module.

Total height from the view point of the participants (it was on a slope) was probably around 6 meters, i.e. the face mask was 5 meters above ground.

enter image description here

(Sorry about the image quality, our hidden camera couldn't quite cope with the torch light at night...)

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