Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bushcraft LARP

This is just a shot in the dark, but is anyone aware of any LARP groups that have an emphasis on bushcraft?  By that I mean a fantasy-style live action game that embraces the use of low technology camping and trekking techniques.

Here in the US there's a huge community of historical re-enactors doing everything from the Revolutionary War era to early modern Nessmuk-style camping, not to mention the denizens of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  In most cases they emphasize period bushcrafting skills and gear.  That includes everything from flint-and-steel firestarting to camp crafting and fireside cooking. 

There doesn't seem to be any overlap between those groups and fantasy LARP players.  That seems odd considering how many fantasy epics (Lord of the Rings, Shannara, Wheel of Time, The Black Company, etc.) are all about long overland journeys in primitive conditions.  The concept is so prevalent that the skilled fantasy woodsman has become it's own trope

Sadly, my google-fu hasn't uncovered anything along those lines.  I'd appreciate any help you might be able to provide.


Handgrenadealien said...

There was a series of short documentaries a few years back on British T.V. one of which featured a group of LARPers in Finland who portrayed two rival groups of Orcs. It was very wilderness based with the opposing groups camping out over the duration of the event. Not sure if they adopted authentic bushcraft but might be worth a look. It was on either BBC2 or Channel 4.
Hope this helps.
Regards HGA.

Jedediah said...

I can't put you in touch with any groups, but you may have better luck with post-apocalyptic LARPs?

CoastConFan said...

Another group of interest are rondezvours, who reenact the fur trade era of the Rockies. They are a dedicated group who make a lot of their own items and work hard on their authenticity. I also found them to be quite friendly and willing to educate and share with anybody who is curious. This is about the time that the general population became interested in the revival in black powder guns. Outside of the fantasy element in 1970s movies portraying these folks such as Jeremiah Johnson (aka Liver Eating Johnson) there is little in the way of Rangers and Orcs.

The late 60s and early 70s saw a resurgence in late 18th and early 19th century living and one great resource are the venerable Foxfire series of 12 books, which grew out of a quarterly magazine. They are filled with a lot of practical how-to-do-it information and illustrations.

Markus said...

I don´t engage in any LARP activities or real bushcraft in the forest, but am quite often walking in the woods and do long tours in nature. Last year I also started to work with wood, to carve items like spoons and other kitchen utensils. I usually do this in the garden, working with hatchet, knife and sometimes with a draw bench, like in the old days. It´s really a lot of fun to have a piece of a branch or stem and make something for your daily use out of it. As I said, that´s no real bushcraft, but something in the same direction. You can see some of those things I´ve carved here:

This are still rather simple spoons, and they aren´t meant to be authentic reproductions of old forms, but I´ll do some old designs in the future.

Propnomicon said...

@ Handgrenadealien

That sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.

@ Jedediah

I've Googled up some insanely well produced Fallout-style LARPs, including that amazing one in Russia a few years ago.

@ CoastConFan

A Rangers and Orcs woodscrafting LARP would be a blast. The "mountain men" of the American expansion are probably the closest thing to the adventurers of fantasy fiction that ever existed.

@ Markus

Don't sell yourself short! That's some beautiful work. You don't get an appreciation for just how hard making something like a spoon is until you try and do it yourself. Your work is vastly superior to my own efforts.

Markus said...

Thanks for the compliment! But I really still have a whole lot to learn about this kind of stuff. Just yesterday at late afternoon I went again in the garden and carved for the first time a medieval "lollipop"-style spoon. It´s still not finished, but I already like this highly functional shape very much, which is very different compared to modern spoons. It´s really a great thing to take a piece of a branch (in this case hazel), cut it in half and bring it into rough shape with a hatchet, make the finer work with a knife and the bowl with my self-made spoon knife. I don´t really know what´s so especially much fun about carving spoons, but it seems to affect a lot of people who started to do it. Perhaps one aspect is that you can finish a nice little item within a reasonable amount of time, and it´s every time an unicum with an individual shape and texture. Furthermore, no matter if it´s a spoon, a spatula or something comparable, it´s a functional item which you can (and should) use, and it feels always so much better than using a plastic or metal version, or an industrially produced wooden kitchen utensil. There is also something about all this carving stuff which I especially enjoy, the pure beauty of wood, its texture and its feeling. Even some highly common trees and bushes can have very nice and sometimes really gorgous grain, and if you start to realize the worth of such wood, you get a really different perspective about a lot of things. Not to forget that such carving skill can be useful for certains props of course.

L Smith said...

We are based in eastern Canada but aim to go society wide in due time.


Raven's Hobbies said...

I have been trying to find someone to do bushcraft larp with in a fantasy style different settings. Also have been going thur to do something along the lines of cooking for the stlye of larps that are out there now with gear set to that setting. Im a culinary person. But have down bushcraft before.