LARP owners wear many hats and face many challenges when running a game. Writing your rules and attracting players are not the only major hurdles that you face. You also need to find a campsite to hold your events. We will focus this blog on Selecting a Campsite and the key features LARP owners consider when evaluating LARP locations to host a medieval or fantasy LARP event.
Location is the first must-have when selecting a campsite for your campaign events. A consistent location that is within 60-90 minutes of your player base and staff is critical for success. While players will travel, and many do, they will search “LARPs near me”, and your base NPCs and Staff need a location that is a reasonable distance to home to make the consistent commitment and to be safe driving home at the end of the event. The campsite scores extra points if it is also less than 10 miles to a superstore AND out of hearing and sight of any neighbors, especially with the tendency for noisy late night fights.
Next on the list of requirements is the Number, Size, Location and Amenities of the Buildings on Site. Games must consider space needed for an In-game Tavern, Monster Camp, PC and NPC Sleeping Quarters, and indoor Module or Encounter Space.
Kitchen: A commercial kitchen available for use by the campaign is a must for most games. The site can offer food service as part of the rental or make the facility available for you to hire your own cooking staff. Another alternative that many smaller games look for is the permission to allow players to cook and grill on their own.
Tavern: A large central building with good open space with tables and atmosphere for a town watering hole is a must have for most games. This is where players will gather to share stories, exchange information, plan and plots will be hooked.
Monster Camp: Another medium to large building with room for NPCs to gather, costumes, props and weapons to be stored. It is key that this building is not close to PC cabins.
PC Cabins: You need enough sleeping quarters for your current player base and some growing room. Groups of cabins that are clusters away from Monster Camp and Module building are ideal as it naturally splits your PCs up into smaller groups for encounters.
NPC Cabins: Again you need enough sleeping quarters for all of the staff and your permanent and event NPCs. Power is a must and close to Monster Camp is ideal.
Module / Encounter Space: You need a variety of indoor spaces for modules and encounters but at least 1 very large building, preferably multi-story and multi-room is great for modules.
Cabins with power are a must have
Heated / Air Conditioned Cabins are a “nice to have” and vary depending on region and what times of year you’ll be playing
Bathrooms in Cabins are a nice to have
The next must-have on the check list is the Type of Outdoor Space. It is critical to have a variety of terrain to stage encounters and battles. It's also important that there is “enough” distance between each “module site” but not “too much” distance. Staging encounters and engaging the players can be problematic if the encounter location is a 45 minute trek from Monster Camp.
A check list of Outdoor Spaces to consider:
Field Space: You will need at least 1 large open flat field for field fights and large town encounters.
Woods: Multiple connected wooded paths and trails make great encounter spaces and can be used to “travel” to encounters
Clearings in the Woods: Multiple clearings in the woods
Cabin(s) in the woods: An isolated cabin in the woods makes a great module space especially if a lot of good open flat space surrounds it
Hilly Area: Varied terrain that may give the PCs some challenges or add to plot can be helpful
Tent Area: An area for players to tent versus stay in cabins can help with capacity and with player dynamics
The last and most important “Must Have” for any LARP when selecting a Campsite is Price. LARPs need to find a camp that meets their needs for all of the above that is also AFFORDABLE. Affordability is defined by each LARP based on the number of players and the percentage of their budget that they set aside for rent of the campsite. Campsite rental is the largest budget item for most games and is often the make or break for holding an event.
Price is a product of supply and demand. Campsites that rent to Medieval LARPs and Fantasy LARPs in their off seasons often compete for the same weekend schedules. Scheduling is a factor that may drive games to consider campsites that do not have all of the “must haves” above. There is a recent trend of LARP specific campsites that we can hope will continue to help with both the availability and the affordability.
I hope this article helped you understand the key things to consider if you are considering starting a new game and looking for a campsite or need to find a new campsite for an existing game. You learned how important location is and that a variety of building types and outdoor space is key but that the most important thing is that the site must be affordable. If you would like to get a list of sites that are in LARP Portal, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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