Knight Realms: World of Kormyre Come To Life
One of the major reasons I began this blog in the first place was to showcase the talented folks that go out and put together stunning costume creations for gaming. While I’ve forayed into steampunk, cosplay, burlesque, and even renn faire gear, it’s time I get down to my roots and show off one of the hobbies that keep me busy: LARPing.
For those unaware, LARP stands for Live Action Role-Play. And before that sounds weird to anyone, imagine table-top roleplay games like Dungeons and Dragons crossed with a murder mystery dinner. You dress up and act out your characters, experiencing the story through real-time acting experiences along with your fellow players. LARP comes in all shapes and sizes, from small groups in theater settings to large live combat events with hundreds of players. The game I’m going to be showcasing today is one of the latter.
Knight Realms is a self-described “live acting experience” game held at Camp Sacajawea in Sparta, New Jersey that has been running for over ten years. Its players dress to the nines to play adventurers in the fantasy border town of Travance, in the Kingdom of Kormyre. This town sits on the very edge of a rift in space from which demons and other nasties pour out on regular occasion. The characters who flock to this town are the type seeking adventure and an interesting life – and life can certainly become interesting in Knight Realms! The weekend I rolled into town, playing a human healer (with no weapon at all to defend myself with!) there was no less than a near civil war with noble fighting noble over charges of treason and dark magic, not to mention demons kidnapping children! Humans fought alongside elves, sylphs, satyrs and assorted other stuff to make sure we all survived what was coming to get us. And they did it in high fantasy LARP gear style.
Speaking from experience with other games and by comparison, Knight Realms players as a whole costume hard. Depending on the setting, sometimes all you need to do is pull an old beaten jacket out of your closet, or something that’s survived your wardrobe purges from the 80′s and BAM, there’s a costume. Those kinds of costumes usually work for modern games, set in everyday world settings. (See my upcoming article on costuming for the Post-Apocalypse, coming soon!) Yet when playing in a fantasy or medieval game, a player has to get a little more picky about their clothing. Zippers are a little out of period and T-shirts are so very not what you want to be styling. Your costume might even entail prosthetic ears, body paint, furry legs and hooves or a tail, depending on what kind of creature you’re going to play. Humans have it easier, but if you really want to sell what you’re playing, you have to go detailed. Is your character a nobleman or a pirate? A gypsy or an alchemist? If you want to contribute to building a game’s atmosphere and really sell the fantasy world for your immersive experience, a player will bring all-out gear for their characters.
Knight Realms is no exception. The players have some of the most intricate costumes I have ever seen in a fantasy LARP. I was exceptionally impressed at the level of detail put into the gear, from the decked out fantasy weaponry (called boffer or latex weapons – more on those later as well) to the intricate do-dads and accouterment added to each character. Even those playing monsters were usually decked out in latex masks to help bring the players into the feeling of each encounter. When the players gathered for feast on Saturday evening and all sat together, eating out of traditional feast gear and listening to pirate songs sung, I certainly felt immersed by the collection of motley creatures around me. It was easy to forget, then, that just outside the building and beyond the hedge line were a row of player vehicles parked just off a road leading into Sparta. It is that dedication to detail that helps build great LARP experiences.
Below are only a few of the stellar costumes I found at Knight Realms. Trying to keep out of everyone’s way with something so anachronistic and out of place as a camera was difficult, and I felt there were so very many beautiful costumes that I missed. However to those that I did not get, I still say bravo – and to those I did photograph, I hope that my work does your hard work justice. So until I stop by Travance again, and to all the folks staying in Caledonia who kept this little healer alive for the weekend, I say thanks for an experience. I raise a foam sword to you – you put together a hell of a world.