Category Archives: Tutorial

Tips and Tricks On: How to Avoid Stagnation & Boredom in LARP

As a LARPer, I hear all the time that people are getting bored with their respective games. They are looking for new ways to spice up their experience after being a part of the same community for 20+ years, or looking for new ways to reaffirm bonds of friendship with their countrymen. The good news is that this is a fairly common phenomenon. The bad news is that it will take a little work on your part to get through it. We can’t always have a passive role in our own futures and leave everything up to the event holders that have enough on their plates. Below are some tips and ideas you can feel free to use to help you on your journey:

1.)    Consider what groups or orders might be appropriate for your character to pursue. Expand your horizons outside of your nation. Does your character worship a deity? Is there a religious order or a knighthood that might be appropriate for you? Do the research and make the connections within the community. Communicate what you’re looking for and people may be able and willing to point you in a direction. Most games have a wide variety of different organizations for you to belong to if you’re willing to put in the effort. If you can’t find one that you feel is appropriate, consider starting your own!

2.)    Open yourself up to learning a new skill or craft. There is always room for improvement in everything we do. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try leatherworking. Maybe you want to get better at foamsmithing or even throwing events of your own. Why not take the time to give it a go? Find someone in the community that can give you some starting tips and advice and work on building that weapon/piece of garb/monster/dungeon you’ve always wanted to. Just like learning how to fight, these are all valuable skills that are only going to get better with practice.

3.)    Assess your weaknesses and strengths, and push yourself to go beyond. If you’re an excellent Role-player that wants to fight better, start attending some practices or find a mentor that you trust to push you outside of your comfort zone so that you might be able to have the confidence to enter some tournaments. If you’re an amazing fighter but you’re too shy to engage in much RP the same applies. Find someone you like or trust to bring you in and get you involved. LARPing communities tend to be very friendly and most people will be all too happy to get you involved in the various aspects of the game that they are passionate about.

4.)    Plan active bonding activities with your nation and friends. If you have permission from the leadership of your nation you might want to try getting everyone together at an event for story time by the fire, a group ritual, group training or fight practice etc. Whatever you feel is an appropriate and enjoyable activity for your respective group of friends. Relationships take work, and if you want to keep people invested in the success of the group then you’ll have to be equally invested in those bonds of friendship. This is also relevant on an OOC level. Make plans to do things together outside of events. Maybe hit up a Renaissance Faire or go to the movies, have a craft night or a party at somebody’s house. All of these are valid ways to just enjoy each other’s company.

5.)    Consider setting goals for yourself. This can be very motivating for people who are driven and independent. Make yourself a LARP “bucket list” as it were, and think about all the things you really want to do that you haven’t yet accomplished. From there, break down your goals into achievable and measurable steps. As an example, say my goal was to become a well-respected shield fighter in a specific game. I might take it a step further and start by saying I’ll hit a certain number of practices a month, that I’ll participate in a certain number of tournaments and so on and so forth. I can expand on my goals as I achieve them, while keeping them reasonable. Don’t keep your goals so far out there that you get discouraged before you really have a chance to explore them.

Obviously this is a very limited list of what you can do to make your LARPing experience more enjoyable, but it is a good starting point on how to deal with a common complaint. Maybe it will even inspire you to come up with suggestions/ideas of your own. Either way, I wish you the best of luck! Remember, it’s okay to ask questions and it’s okay to fail! Learn from everything you do, and you’ll be far less likely to suffer from regret and stagnation.

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Don’t Kid Around With Kidding: By Amara Shael

As we enter the time of the Ram, also known as the month of March, Gaia begins to wake up from her long slumber and life starts to return to the Realms as a whole. For some, this means more feasts, questing, and adventuring now that the snows have started to melt and trails across the land become easier to travel. For others it is birthing season, which makes for a busy time around a farm as the newest animals are being born. It’s a lot of work getting ready and then caring for newborns after all. So, in the spirit of spring, I have decided to write this to help those that are raising goats for the first time and going through process of “kidding.” Hopefully it will make it easier for others, or just to let them learn a little more about the process.

One of the most important things you can do is have an idea of when the nanny (female goat) will be giving birth. You will want to be there to help with the process, and to be fully prepared in case of difficulty.  Thankfully there are several signs one can look out for to see that the time is coming closer for your nanny to give birth. One of the best hints is the state of the nanny udders, as within 24 hours of the birth her udder will fill with milk for the coming kids. This gives you enough time to get things in order and watch for behavior changes like separating herself from the herd and nesting; both signs that she will soon be entering labor. This is an also an excellent time to change into some clothing that you don’t care about getting bloody, because from here on out things will get messy. Ultimately it may be a little bit of a waiting game. Every goat is different.

The waiting will be at its end when a bubble or thick slime begins to come out of the uterus. This is a sign that the kid is being pushed out. At this point look for a hoof coming out, and the direction the sole is pointed. If the sole is up the kid will be coming rear first. If the hoof is pointed down, it means that their head is coming out first. You can softly grab the hoof and pull while the nanny pushes to help. When the other hoof is out you can alternate pulling on the legs with her pushes until you can see the neck.

At this point we come to the hardest part for the nanny, getting the kid’s head out. At the same time as the nanny pushes, pull harder with both legs until the head is free. The nanny may choose to rest a bit after this, but thankfully the rest of the kid should come out easily at this point with a few more pushes. Once the kid is out check to make sure the nose and mouth are clear of the fluid. Then hold the kid up by the rear leg’s ankles so that any extra fluids in the mouth and lungs drain out. Make sure you have a good hold as they will be slippery!

After that, put the kid down next to the mother so that she can help you clean the baby and bond with them as she gets ready for round two. You can use this time to clean up some of the mess from her giving birth. This process will be repeated until all the kids are born, though thankfully after the first kid the nanny should be more stretched out so it should be easier for her. The kids should be moved to a cleaner part of the stall once you’re able. The nanny will also move to a new area when she’s ready.

The final thing that needs to be taken care of is to make sure that the kids get their first meal. Get a feed bag and feed the new mother. She just did a lot of work and should get a reward for it. While doing this, make sure that her teats are not plugged. If no milk is coming out, squeeze them until the plug comes out. Then guide the kids to her teats for their first meal while encouraging them to stand.

All that’s left now is to finish cleaning. Make sure all the afterbirth is taken care of, as well as the nanny’s hind quarters. You’ll also want to make sure the kids are completely dry. With your work done, you can now leave your goats to bond with each other and maybe even take a short nap.

Project Tutorial: Leather Pouch

So you’ve decided that you want to try your hand at leatherworking, eh? Glad to hear it! Part of what Voraniss is all about is crafting, and teaching other people how to make neat stuff; so we’ve compiled a little tutorial for you about how to make a pouch.

The first thing people struggle with when starting a new craft is usually figuring out what tools they need to get the job done. With leatherworking in particular, you can easily pay hundreds of dollars up front on stuff you might not even need for certain projects. Our suggestion? Buy your supplies on an as needed basis. It will likely save you money if you’re on a budget as so many of us are.

For this project, we used 3-4 ounce leather. Any thicker and you might struggle to mold it properly. We also needed shears to cut the leather (you can use heavy duty scissors if those are more accessible to you), a leather hole punch, a metal ruler, a leather needle, some waxed synthetic sinew, a bottle of Light Brown Eco-Flow leather dye (it’s less toxic and better for your skin), sand paper, a hammer, rivets, a paint brush, an exacto knife, and a sharpie.

Pouch Tutorial Tools
Most of the supplies/tools we used for the pouch.

First things first, you need to cut out the pieces of leather that your pouch will be made from. We construct ours from three separate pieces: the body (front and back) and then the sides. Using the sharpie and ruler, you should measure out and trace how long/wide you want your pouch dimensions to be. Whatever you do, do not use pen on your leather! Dye will not be able to cover up the markings and any lines that you make will be visible after the fact. Sharpie is a much safer way to go. Our pouch ended up being about 6 ½ inches wide on the body for reference, and our sides were two inches wide, and about 5 ½ inches tall. Ultimately, you’re working towards three rectangular shapes. We wanted ours to have a little bit of a rough and tumble feel, so we didn’t make them perfect rectangles. That choice is entirely up to you- the artist!

Once you’ve got your shapes all drawn out on the leather, you’re going to cut them out with the shears. Hygar prefers to rely on the tip of the shears for most of his cutting, though he’ll be the first to admit there isn’t any technical reason for this. It just feels more comfortable to him. Find out what works for you. A lot of crafting is trial and error as you learn what you like and what you don’t. Once you’ve got your three pieces all cut out, go ahead and sand paper the edges. This helps get rid of a lot of the little tiny hair-like pieces of leather shavings that might be sticking out, and helps give your project a more finished and professional look. Additionally, if you’re concerned that your leather isn’t top quality, you might want to sand any surface that you’re going to be applying dye or paint to in order to help it adhere better.

The next step is punching holes. On our handheld hole puncher, we use the smallest setting possible. Go slowly and make sure that you aren’t punching through the edge of the leather by mistake. Feel free to practice a few times on any scrap leather before you punch for real. You’ll want to evenly space out the holes to the best of your ability too. On the largest piece of leather, your body, the holes are only going to go on the long sides. Starting at the bottom and working your way up, stop punching holes about three quarters of the way. On your sides, however, you’ll want to punch holes for the entirety of the length as well as across the bottom. Ultimately your goal here is to punch holes along the body equal in length to the combined length of one of your sides. Think of it like this, if you have a side pieces that is the same as ours (2 Inches wide and 5 ½ inches tall), you would need to punch roughly 13 inches of holes on each side of the body. This makes it so that you have an equal number of holes around the side piece and on the body so when you go to assemble all your pieces they fit together nicely.

Pouch Tutorial Hole Punching
Hole punched leather!

Our next step was adding belt loops to the pouch. You don’t have to do the same ones that we did, but these are the ones that we’ll teach you to make.  It’s pretty easy too! All you have to do is cut out two more rectangles from your leather. Ours were about 6 inches by 1 inch. We then folded them over and punched two rivet holes through the bottom of both pieces and marked corresponding holes on the body. Once everything was lined up, we hammered quick set rivets into place and attached the loops to the back of the body. Don’t forget to sandpaper your loop edges during this process too! Paying special attention to all the individual pieces of your project will really make it pop.

For the next step of the process, get ready to play with water! You can use a plastic container or just your sink if nobody in your household needs it for anything. Fill the container or sink up with water and then submerge all the pieces of your leather. They don’t need to sit in there for long, just until the small streams of bubbles stop coming out of them. Once that happens, it indicates that your leather has moistened all the way through. Wet leather is easy to mold into shape, and it takes tooling well if you want to add any to your project. It also makes the stitches much tighter when you’re pulling them together.

After you’ve got your leather wet and kept an eye on the bubbles, you can remove it from the water and immediately start work on the next step. Fold your body piece in half and try to line up the sides where you intend for them to sit because you’re going to start stitching. Thread your needle with sinew (we always aim for about double the length of what we’re stitching as an estimate of how much material we’ll need), and push the needle through the top hole on the inside of your side and body piece (the holes closest to the top of the flap). Bring your needle back to the front and push it through the next hole in sequential order. Repeat this process and keep pulling the sinew tight as you go. When you get to a corner, you keep going. Pulling the sinew is going to start pulling the pouch into shape automatically.

Work your way down the left part of the side like you’re writing the letter U in reverse. When you get to the top holes on the right side, you make your final stitch and then you tie off your sinew. Repeat the same process on the other side of the pouch.

 

Frontal View of Pouch After Stitching
Frontal view of pouch after stitching.

 

 

Side View of Pouch After Stitching
Side view of pouch after stitching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’re almost done! You’re ready to move onto the dyeing portion of your project once your leather is dry. We used a paintbrush to apply the dye for this project, but we also highly suggest wool swabs. Dip your brush or swab into the dye and try to put an even coat over every leather surface. You might be tempted to go over the same area twice at first, but be warned that if you do this- your color will get darker. Make sure that is actually what you want before you proceed. Depending on what kind of dye you use it can take a few hours for things to fully dry. Make sure you’re not doing this step at the last minute unless you’re fine with dye potentially staining your skin.

Time for the grand finale! You’ve got this nice looking pouch, and now you need a way to close it. Many places sell elaborate closures you can fasten onto the front of your new pouch. We decided to try something a little different, and made what can only be described as a “belt.” We took a strap of garment grade leather and attached a buckle to it, then pulled it closed around the outside of the pouch. Do what you want with this part. It’s a fun way to customize your piece.

Pouch Closure
How we closed the pouch.

Hopefully you found this helpful and informative. Remember that the people that work in your leather supply stores can also be really great resources if you find yourself with a lot of questions. Good luck out there, and happy crafting!