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100% free and authentic shelter for your larp

Last weekend I took a survival training class. Now, while this is not a larp activity, there's a lot of overlap in outdoor skills between such a training and our outdoor larps - mostly done outside, with little to no facilities. Some stuff such as firebuilding was very helpful (even though I'm larping outdoors for over a decade), but one of the most interesting things is certainly building shelters.

We usually camp on our larps, and - considering our larp demographics - very few people have the money for authentic canvas tents. However, shelters from the branches and debris are pretty much authentic for every historical period from paleolithic till today, they work very well and they are free. They just require a bit of work to make. A knife or an axe would be very helpful though.

Despite appearances, the shelter was in fact remarkably sturdy

We built a low lean-to shelter which is simple. Stick two sticks with Y-shaped ends into the ground. Put a branch between them. This is the top of your "roof". Lean branches along the top branch, slanted to the floor. Place some branches horizontally on top of those. Then pile up whatever debris you can find: grass, leaves, fern, pine branches etc. Build a cozy fire near the open end (you lie in between the fire and the lean-to), or close the other side the same way to make a full debris hut. And voila - here's your totally free and 100% authentic shelter :) If it's windy, just pile extra branches on top to hold the debris. This form of a shelter would probably be more comfortable for cold weather outdoor sleeping than closed tents, since being close to the fire can make a lot of difference (with the shelter protecting you from winds and rain and reflecting the heat back at you). You can find various detailed guides around the internet.

Cheat mode: when you're piling your debris (which should be thick to be waterproof), you can put in some plastic in the middle of the debris (such as a trashbag). This will waterproof it well and shorten the time you need to build the hut, as the debris won't need to be as thick. The plastic should be covered from all sides - both to protect it from the fire, and to make it look more authentic for fantasy larp (but if you're playing, say, a postapocalyptic larp - feel free to keep some plastic visible).

Hiding your offgame stuff can be an issue if you're having an open-faced shelter, but you can always wrap it in some cloth, or even pile branches and debris on top of it. You can use the same technique to camouflage a modern tent, although that would probably be rather challenging due to their shape and height and you should take extra care not to puncture them...

If you can go this route, you can use the money you save on shelter on other pieces of kit, such as costume, accessories, IC cookware, weapons etc.

Such shelters might not be doable on every larp. If you go to a large fest larp or some place where players are expected to sleep in cabins, sleeping in one of these might not be feasible (or socially acceptable). But the technique might still be used by the organizers and players to build some auxiliary locations in game.

Related articles:

So what do you think about this? Will you be making a debris shelter on your larp?


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