Designing Beastman Kit for LARP/Cosplay

I have been asked multiple times about how I designed my kit to withstand heat exhaustion.

Short answer is:

  • Vents
  • Water
  • Mesh
  • “Fake” layers
  • Water
  • Camel Paks
  • Cold Vests
  • Water
  • Under Armour Compression shirts and trousers
  • Good food to feed body
  • Rehydration Salts.
  • Water.

If you want a more in depth answer about my kit. Here is a breakdown about how I made my kit, and maybe it can help you.

 

First up. I still get hot, I still get sweaty, I still suffer and all the best kit in the world is still a challenge. If you are on the fence about playing a beastman, if you get the chance to monster, or even borrow an orc mask and sit and wear it all day. You’ll soon see why it is mentally and physically challenging. Even the best kit is hard work.

Beastman sketch by Hollie Caddock

My Beastman

When I first approached Andy Rimmer at Offa Studio I outlined exactly how I wanted to have multiple layers, a foam musclely body, sculpted body parts, digigrade legs, a full face mask, fur all over and to be a huge scary beastman.

My design was based off the Charr from Guild Wars 2, but modified to be more humanlike and to fit within my system (Curious Pastimes) cosmological ideal. I also love the design and look of Warhammer’s Beastmen so I wanted a mixture. I wanted roman or greek style armour and I wanted to fit in my faction, Teutonia with a theme that fit their designs. I wanted hangy down bits, and shoulders bulked with leather to add even more to my size.

I’m already 6ft 3″ and I knew adding horns and bulk would make me huge, imposing and with a hunchback like a Charr, I’d be massive.

I knew the final look and design would be a heat trap and I would die.

I suffer from heatstroke easily and I attend around 10 LARP events a year, minimum and I will always, at least one, get heatstroke.

It was a real concern, so I designed it with all that in mind.

Design

When I first started sketching my character,  I had a loose idea about how to design the kit but I wanted to design a practical level.

I had 3 rules I adhered to at all steps.

My Kit would be built with:

  1. Practicality and stability
  2. Heat Management
  3. Looking good.

I ensure that, in that order, I would have liveable, durable, well working kit to last a long time.

Designed, seperated

Practicality and Stability.

I took my initial sketch and started pulling apart sections of it and trying to figure out how to make an easy put on and take off kit.

In LARP you have to take kit off, jump into monster kit, get ready for bed, get up in mornings and from watching a friend get in and out of his kit. I knew I wanted to do it in half the time, and be able to do it alone.

I ensured my kit was all elastic, loose, easy to manage and secure.

I can get into full kit within 15 minutes.

The legs are designed with elastic in key points, which are then further secured with the leather armour on my legs (which I don’t bother taking off).

Each bit is stitched, glued and stitched again.

I knew elastic would slowly die over time, so I always have extra elastic and a sewing kit, just in case.

Heat Management

The Red line is the tabard edge.
The Yellow is the stitching.
The grey is mesh.

I designed the kit to have fake layers.

I wanted to wear a roman tunic, a sleevless tunic, almost like a closed side tabard.

I figured if I had that over my chest, back and body I didn’t really need fur there.

I wanted it sleeveless to enable to have armpit holes where instead of fur, would be a large holed mesh shirt.

Now… I’m no artist, but check out my stylish “theory” MSPaint I made for the “fake layers”.

This allowed me to have a tabard, but without it you’d just see the under armour layer.

Around the crotch and armpits I needed a level of exposure, and knew the fur around it would hide the dark grey mesh.

In fact, without the tunic it can be a bit revealing.

You’ll be surprised how cool and refreshing it is getting a nice breeze!

Here you can see the chest piece has elastic bands for the chest area, normally hidden by tabard.

My back is banded with ridged foam to create a cage and make my beast have a hunch. It also serves as a great place to hide a hydration bladder. (see below for more pictures of the body).

Now I started with a camelpak but moved over to Source and their UTA adaptation to allow me to refill the bladder without taking the kit off. Its an adapter that you attach to the drinking section and plug into the tap. Boom (Video link).

On battle days, or hot days, I can place my “ice” belt around my waist, this has ice packs which I store in my coolbox.

Yes, I now take a coolbox to LARP, and if I’m lucky I transfer my ice packs to a freezer.

My original ice belt seems to be discontinued, a simple belt with ice pack sections for inserts.

The closest is the Secrets Torso Cooling Wrap (Disclaimer: I have never used this website.)

For the hands I wear fingerless gloves with fur on the back. This allows me to keep my wrists open and exposed when I need to cool down I can put some water there.

I left my neck exposed and used a thin cloth to hide my pink neck and also hide my water hydration system. In addition I have a collection of BCB Neck Cooling Scarfs which you can drop in water for 15 mins while you get ready, and they expand and come out cool and refeshing!

I then cover it all with the light cotton red scarf (ideal for my Roman look).

Mask

I’m a personal fan of good faces make good beastmen. I understand that face paint and stick on prosthetics can work wonders, but with speed in mind. I much prefer it.

Yet it is hard work!

My mask is almost full face, it is full frontal face, with an open back.

I have long hair, so I braid it tight and out of the way.

I then have various heat gear skull caps that I change out frequently over the event. My mask then sits on my head and the “beastman hair” falls down the back of my head in a flap, which keeps it cool and airy.

The mask is the hardest part of the kit. It takes about 20 minutes to get used to the harsh heat and constriction the mask gives you, but once you are over it. You are golden.

With my the mask airy with elastic where the back of the balclava should be, it allows breeze and reduces heat.

Talc and skullcaps help with wearing it long periods.

I might try extra suede leather or sanity towels in the forhead with the skullcaps to give it more absorbtion.

The mask, you can see the frontal face and the back hair which covers my head.

So top tips for heat management in kit design:

  • “Fake layers” to reduce actual layers
  • Crotch light material
  • Neck light material
  • Wrists light material
  • Chest light material
  • Build in hydration bladders
  • Build in space for hot day ice belts and alike.

Extra Photos

You can see in the photo below the arm pit holes and mesh:

 

This is a close up of an armpit. No-one really notices it at all.

You can see in the photo below the inside framework and mesh for the back and camelpak/hydration bladder:

Here you can see the foam bands to create air and space for my hydration bladder.

 

Looking good

As we all know at larp, looking good is part of it.

I won’t go on tutorials how to roleplay your beast to compliment the kit.

Do consider the type of “beast” you will be, and consider how they are with heat.

I designed my backstory that my race of beastmen are  from mountains of snowy crags.

This allowed me to have good reason to avoid heat, take cover and hide in shade.

In addition I knew I’d have down time so I built my character as a plot chaser/tactian to sit and discuss.

Make Up

I know in my pictures I’m sweating, my facepaint is running and my mask is rubbing.

Try to hide all pink.

Try to get your masks, looks and skin and fur to compliment your natural skin tones. It makes it easier when it rubs.. cause it will rub off!

I do have primer, grease paint, concealer and matt “fixers” for the next time I’m out and about, so lets hope it works!

Finally I guess you want to see what I looked like at the end?

Final Product

 

Another without armour

Lynceus my beastman at Curious Pastimes

 

Another snap taken by Steve Mitchell

It is hard work, but massively rewarding.

You will sweat.

You will get uncomfortable.

Just take water, drink water, and eat.

Good Luck.

Ultimately I stopped playing my Beastman after 2 events of mask fatigue. It is something I am currently looking into.
I hope to rebuild the mask with raised padding. Padding to reduce latex rub.

The body works.

The mask saps.

He is a NPC now, so hopefully will be back and one day you may see him return with mask and my own personal improved stamina, who knows.

Ranks

In Green Cloaks we have taken basic pins from the majority of the US Army for simplicity. For Kingskeep we have named our ranks Private, Sergeant and Lieutenant. We have added a class number to allow a promotion while maintaining minimal dick-waving over ranks.

Colonel (1IC)

Captain (2IC)
Lieutenant (3IC)

Sergeant 1st Class
Sergeant 2nd Class

Pte 1st Class
Pte 2nd Class
Pte 3rd Class

Pins

COL  – US Army Infantry Officer (Directed NPC 1IC)s-l500-7

 

 

 

CPT  – US Army Captain 0-3 (Directed NPCS 2IC)

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LT – 2LT Second Lieutenant 0-1s-l500-4

 

 

 

 

Sgt 1US ARMY Enlisted MSG MASTER SERGEANT E-8s-l500-5

 

 

 

 

Sgt 2US ARMY Enlisted SERGEANT FIRST CLASS SFC E-7s-l500-6

 

 

 

 

Pte 1US Army CPL E-4 s-l500-1

 

 

 

 

Pte 2US Army Private E-2 s-l500

 

 

 

Pte 3 – Private 3rd Class do NOT have a rank pin.

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This is the default rank when you arrive at your first events. To gain promotion it is all done in game.

 

 

Virtual LARP, a military simulation.

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So I’ve taken my LARP to the virtual world and I’m now playing as Marine A.Faroe in the 40 Commandos Royal Navy. I have done my medical training and  have qualified as a combat life saver, a valued member to keep those wounded on their feet, however I’m told I’m a rifleman first…

Last week we were deployed to Tajikistan, a hot, bothersome country full of sand, sand and more sand. As I sat in the briefing room I wondered why I had done all the training for Amphibious Assault the week before when my first deployment would be in the desert. It was funny like that, but high ups needed us here. We were their to do a job and it sounded like our first one was to secure the town of Rasman, capture the enemy airfield and prepare a forward base. Simple stuff, and Intel said we had light opposition, and even if it went extreme, we had Helicopter support.

0iGxEFbWe piled into the Chinook and headed out, my section, Falcon 1-1 were tasked to secure the Airfield while sections 2 and 3 were to approach the town and sweep around. My heartbeat raced as I nervously drummed my fingers against my keyboard, I was worried as we hurtled through the air in a flying box of metal, the only comforting sound was the regular whom whom whom of the rotary blades.

“Heads up, 1 minute from LZ” I heard someone in command crackle in my ears.

Whom whom whom…

“LZ, Falcon 1-1, Unit 1 only, Disembark!” the order was given.

We were set down quietly and fanned out covering each direction, I had my sector, this was my sector, lets keep focused now.  My eyes scanned the dusty sandy hill before me, nothing but rocks, dirt and sand. The chopper moved off, the comforting whoms disappearing into the distance made me feel the ticket home couldn’t be further away. We hopped up, checked one another over, and organised into our squads, with an arrowhead formation facing our first way point, bearing 220. I had my compass, but trusted my team leader so I didn’t check. We moved out, my gun lowered, my eyes sharp. We arrived at the top of the hill, waypoint 1, and fanned out in a line. We crested the hill, crawling on bellies, our guns at the ready. We peaked over and before us was the objective, our airfield.

We spent a good 20 minutes watching patrols, counting numbers and planning out our approach. Then it was go time, my finger had sat on the middle mouse button (fire safety!) the entire time, and now it hovered over my trigger.  Formations were reported, numbers taken, and a plan hatched out. I’d check my men for hydration, and felt an immense sense of duty as a life saver. But hey… I was a rifleman first. I got back into position and surveyed the compound. A plan was shared and it was Charlie Squad, to approach the compound first, secure the first set of buildings, breach all while Bravo provided overwatch.

I could continue, but I think you get the picture!

I’ve been playing Arma 3 Military Simulations with a great regiment.

The beauty of the regiment I’ve joined is they are the “NATO Task Force” a group of both US and UK forces. The 1st Cavalry Division and the 40 Commando 1st Battalion. We get to do various missions where we work together in combined warfare and at other times exclusive operations where we work alone.

Arma 3 was a game that I eyed up with vast amounts of suspicion, the bugs, the clunky movement and the WsucERTseemingly empty gameplay left me with an initial impression of “Steer clear!” but thanks to FrankieonPC108p I got to see people roleplay at him on a server, and that made me raise an eyebrow. I investigated, researched and came across milsims. I watched a few videos, read a few guides (AMAZING GUIDE) and started to realise that the game was DEEP.

Arma 3 offers you a fantastic simulation sandbox where missions can be created, GM’d (YES! a game-mode called Zeus), and you can play a realistic simulation of a scenario. Not only that but we have a huge driving force behind the passionate community who mod the shit out of EVERYTHING.

At one point I forgot to put my earplugs in and went deaf after a prolonged  fire-fight.

Another moment I was under heavy fire, ricochets, noise and panic as I ran into cover, shocked that they didn’t hit me.

The game offers a huge scope of ability and I’ve kinda given the “buggy” feel a pass, because it does SO MUCH.

The Milsim group I play in have a huge mod pack that they use PlaywithSix to manage and offer an in-depth medical system. And that… is what I enjoy. These guys put huge effort into the operations they make and they run it like a tight ship, sure they joke and have a bit of fun, but these operations are serious fucking business. It brings back the nostalgic feeling of the first clan or guild I joined, it feels like a privilege to be a part of the experience, an honour to be a key member of the content.

The group play an operation (and ongoing campaign) every Saturday at 7pm (we get ready at 6.20pm) and training throughout the week always at 7pm. Occasionally they will run random missions for fun, which is a great time to let of some steam while getting a fix of your froth.

If you have Arma 3, head over to http://www.40commando.uk/ apply, mention me (A.Faroe), get in the unit, download the mods (with handy playwithsix,) get in the platoon, do your training and get involved.

I can wholeheartedly recommend a try as if you are a roleplayer, larper and enjoy immersion, you’ll love this.

Do it, do it now.