by: Matt Conlon
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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The goal of live action role-playing is for the playing to immerse him or herself in the event in order for it to feel as real as possible. Dressing in real armor is one of the best ways to complete the illusion.
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Armor for LARPing - PVC Larp Armor
In a live action role-playing (or LARPing) event, players become their characters in more than just spirit. They assume their character's persona, take up their character's weapons, and suit up in their character's armor.
Few things on the battlefield can be more impressive than the knight in shining armor, glinting in the sunlight, inspiring his soldiers, and striking fear in the hearts of his enemies! Obviously the more authentic the armor, weapons and other costume pieces, the more impressive the image.
Clearly, anyone involved in a live action role-playing event is going to have a capable imagination, but no one is going to run in fear from a knight wearing corrugated cardboard, a sauce pan on his head and wielding a slotted spaghetti spoon.
The problem with real armor is that it's not cheap. Suiting up in real authentic armor can run some serious money!
One of the most popular forms of metal armor is chain mail. Chain mail armor is still used today, most notably by divers who swim with sharks. The metal rings offer decent protection and good mobility. Chain mail armor can be crafted inexpensively by wrapping a heavy gauge wire around a dowel and snipping off the rings. Once the rings are created, they can be woven together. This can be time-consuming, but if done as a labor of love, the results can be impressive.
Leather is probably the least expensive medium to create armor with. Leather armor was used frequently for those who prized mobility and stealth primarily.
Obviously, a full suit of plate mail armor will stop all except the luckiest of sword blows, but it's very heavy, very noisy, very encumbering, and very expensive.
When selecting armor, it's easy to get carried away with the impressive image of the white knight on his steed in glinting steel armor. The fact of the matter is LARPing is a hobby, and no one is shooting real arrows, swinging for blood or casting real lightning bolts...which you wouldn't want a suit of metal for anyway, but... It's just not necessary.
The main purpose of the armor is the look. The most effective armor needs only too look real.
If you're trying to look the part without breaking the bank, Polyvinyl Chloride, better known as PVC can do the job for pennies on the dollar.
PVC is basically plastic. You see PVC in many places, most recognizably in plumbing. The white plastic pipes in your house are PVC. PVC is light and easily molded into just about any shape. A well crafted suit of PVC armor can look just like the real thing, and instead of having to run around with 50+ pounds of metal, it's only a few pounds.
The downside is that it's not as durable as metal. It may look great on day one, but after some wear and tear it's quite obviously plastic. If you have the skills to repaint and repair it, you might find its worth it to use PVC larp armor.