Costustuming is, for larp purposes, any kind of alteration participants make to their appearance in order to match the theme, situation, or specific characters they are playing -- most often, the latter. Costuming may consist of clothing (of any material), masks, makeup, armor, movement aids like stilts, wigs, and occasionally even modification to the participant's appearance like growing or shaving off a beard.
Costuming for larps ranges from no costuming, to minimal costuming (a hat, mask, wig, or vest that suggests the character rather than an attempt at a full outfit), full costuming, or even very involved costuming involving historical costume research, multiple changes in outfits and complex, multi-person outfits.
Different larps, and different larp communities vary significantly in how much costuming is expected of participants. In general:
- Larps that value a high degree of physical immersion will demand more (often full) costuming.
- Larps where characters are created as part of play (using workshops, and/or collaborative design) will tend to expect few to no costuming.
- Contra-wise, larps where characters and background are known weeks or months ahead of play will often have a fairly high average level of costuming.
- Larps where players are much younger (college level) will tend to have less costuming; contra-wise, larps where players are older, more well off, or have been larping a long time will tend to include more costuming.
- Larps at non-larp events (gaming and sf conventions, for instance) will tend to expect less costuming than stand-alone larps or larps at dedicated larp events.
- For obvious reasons, a the more often and longer a character is played or expected to be played, the more costuming work will be done on them.
For some examples:
- Live-combat games will often expect more costuming than parlor larp games -- because the base immersion expectation is higher.
- Gencon larps have no expectation of costuming. However, because Gencon larpers trend somewhat older and more experiened than average for non-larping events, larpers will often bring costuming suitable to the period the larp is set in even if they did not have pre-game casting.
- Weekend-long theatre-style games will often have a high expected level of costuming (although less if they are run on a college campus), and even provide a closet of extra costumes for use of those playing temporary characters.
- American freeform larps will often include no costume -- but when they are announced and run with a specific period, players may find a way to costume for them anyway if in a long-lived community.
- Campaign larps, because the same character is played over multiple sessions, months, and even years, will tend to include a very high level of costuming compared to shorter games.
In general, the default amount of costuming for a game is "street clothes" -- and it can be expected that if more costuming (or less) is demanded than that, this will be stated up front. However, few larps complain when players do the minimum (although again, if for one reason or another, costuming is discouraged, this would also be expected to be stated up front).
Games that pre-cast before the character sheets are (for whatever reason) able to be sent out will often send out a costuming hint to allow players to work on their costume in advance of a full character sheet.