Q&A: LARPing with a cane/walking stick

I have had some players and organisers asking questions about specific circumstances. I will be sharing the questions and answers on the page so that they can be an additional resource for other LARPers.

If you have a specific questions about accessibility in LARP you can use the contact form to ask. Please indicate if you are happy to share the Q&A on Access:LARP otherwise the answer will be kept private. I am also happy to keep your identity anonymous if you prefer.

So let’s get started.

Question from Tumblr user arseen33

I was wondering (when/if you have time to talk about it?) how you handle larping when you usually have a cane? I’m asking because I use a cane too and I’m trying to figure out how using weapons might work… Honestly I’m stumped, I thought I’d ask someone with more experience 🙂 Also I was wondering if you ever make your characters disabled or have some other in-character reason to explain symptoms or pain that might come up in game?

So this is going to vary depending on why and how you use your cane and also the type of game/character you play.

For me personally, I use my cane for support due to CFS/ME. I can walk without it but I get more tired and my joints hurt more when I do for more than a short distance. However, because of the CFS/ME I generally don’t go in to battles. I deliberately play non-combatant characters for this reason. I also usually play smaller games that don’t have the big pitched battles, just smaller skirmishes. Most games have opportunities for people who don’t want to or can’t do combat.

That being said, I do occasionally carry a weapon. The scenarios I do this in are:

a) carrying a dagger or knife at my belt in case of attack for self defence. I rarely use it but when I do it’s usually in fending off an attacker in the first instance and then letting my buddies do the rest. I can keep hold of my cane doing that.

b) In one-on-one combat situations or duels. I would only set these up with somebody I knew well OC so I could call it off if necessary. These are shorter and more controlled and I would attempt without my cane. I’d be prepared to need a good rest afterward.

c) In more modern settings I can carry a pistol. This is excellent in case of surprise attacks. I’m still not going in to battles or skirmishes but if action does break out near me it is satisfying to be able to draw the gun and shoot at an oncoming Nazi Vampire (true story).

If you do need your cane for mobility for fighting full time, then it gets more tricky. I would recommend practising. Get some friends and weapons. start off walking through some movements and figuring out how you need to adapt the movements.

You could also look at learning to use a LARP bow or a crossbow – they allow you to take up a static position much more easily and fight from there, only having to move every so often to get a better vantage point. Plus in larger battles archers are usually protected by other fighters. The modern and sci-fi equivalent would be some sort of sniper rifle set up.

Depending on the game there are also ways of taking the battle field as a non-com. Some players go as healers or mages for example.

So my advice is to look at the games you want to play and see what fits. Take time to consider the many different types of characters you could play. Consider smaller games with “skirmish style attacks” and practice a few different techniques. Also, talk to the organisers and check about any rules they have for people with disabilities or non-combatants.

As for if I make my characters disabled. Yes usually. Or at least I have an in-character explanation for the cane ready just in case. I usually take time to make sure that the refs and the people I am playing with know it is an out of character aid, so that it isn’t taken away from me and they know it is needed. However I am happy to say things like “oh I haven’t been the same since I was shot” and “nasty riding accident” and so on. Whatever is appropriate for the character. I also have a few different canes that fit with different types of costume and setting.

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