Let’s face it, you can’t do much LARPing without some sort of props. Well…You can, but it’s far more aesthetically pleasing to use them than not. What good are lanterns, candles, pipes, and books aside from table decorations, though?
First, it would help to establish a difference between set-dressing props and kit props. Simply put, kit props are those you can carry around as part of your standard kit and often can make use of, while set-dressing props are useful for decorating with. Examples of each might be a deck of playing cards and a pelt, respectively.
So why are props worth the investment? What can be done with them? If it weren’t obvious before, improving the immersive atmosphere of a LARP is the main goal, and one of the easiest ways of doing so is to kill the lights and to use lighting appropriate for the period. That’s where lanterns and candles come into play. Placed in the right way, even a single candle can shed quite a bit of light, and it won’t have such a drastic effect on your night vision!
Pelts and large scraps of cloth can be used to cover modern tables and desks so they aren’t so jarring to the appearance of the setting. Likewise, tankards, goblets, and drinking horns and treenware (wooden) dishes can nix the anachronisms of disposable feast ware, while also offering a more durable and environmentally-friendly alternative. All the while, appropriate gaming sets for games like Hnefetafl, Chess, Checkers, Put & Take, Cho-Han, Poker, or Black Jack can not only look good resting on a tavern table, but also offer yourself and other players something to do to kill down-time. Likewise, crafting sets for real-world crafts–like weaving, spinning, or carving–can offer the same useful applications.
Finally, a trade knife offers all sorts of uses–from cutting rope or a slice of cheese, to preparing a stick to roast a bit of meat–and looks far better hanging from an adventurer’s belt than a modern pocket knife.
Overall, it pays to find period-appropriate alternatives to anachronistic tools and objects that would often go unnoticed. With some small investments over time and a bit of effort, your LARPing experiences will look amazing!