A Costume Within a Costume

The next installment of the theater campaign LARP, To Be Continued, or TBC, is coming up in October. Us players have recently received an email from the GMs saying it will involve a school Halloween dance.

This presents a rather interesting costuming challenge — costuming as a character in costume.

How meta.

So I am currently trying to decide how my TBC character, an alternate version of Arya Stark of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (the books the HBO series Game of Thrones is based on) might dress up for a school Halloween dance party.

Deciding that Arya would shrug off a Halloween dance as “stupid” and ignore the whole thing is one very valid interpretation of her character. (Especially in the later books of the series.) The version of her that I am playing diverges from the books somewhat, so it’s hard to say — is this Arya more like the Arya of Game of Thrones, still innocent and playful enough to want to run around in a costume?

I’m leaning towards yes, she would enjoy running around in a costume, because it’s a perfectly valid take on the character and I want to create a Halloween costume for her.

Incidentally, someone posted on the LARP’s online forums that if anyone feels their character would not be inclined to dress up, but the player still very much wants to create a Halloween costume, she would be happy to RP a scene in which her character convinces/coerces their character into expressing some Halloween spirit.

I think that’s brilliant. And I strongly suspect that when the inevitable in-game prom rolls around, I will very much appreciate having someone offer in-game pressure such that I will have a valid in-character reason to put Arya Stark into formal wear. (Arya is not the sort to wear a dress if she can avoid it.)

Or maybe Arya will rebel by wearing men’s formal wear, because that would be the excuse I’ve always wanted to rent a tuxedo.

This all begs the question, what sort of costume might Arya Stark wear, and what kind of costume can I create that will not risk causing too much confusion?

Several LARPers have worn multiple costumes for this LARP, whether it’s because they’re NPCs who have played multiple characters or because they’re players whose characters have multiple identities. Or possibly their characters have shape shifting abilities. …Or maybe some player has just decided they wanted a new character. I’m not entirely certain.

All of this means that dressing up as someone else who could potentially be a character in this setting is not an ideal choice. People might get confused and think I was literally another person. Especially if people have forgotten who is playing whom. I briefly considered going as a Lannister, as they are the monsters as far as Arya is concerned, but there are multiple Lannisters walking around in game. I could easily be confused for one of them, instead of a Stark in costume.

I heard one suggestion to pick a costume that could not be confused for an actual character, such as a pumpkin. I think it’s a solid idea in general,  but I’m very much enamored of the idea of picking a costume that speaks to Arya as a person. I don’t see a pumpkin as being meaningful in that way.

I briefly considered having Arya dress up as one of her heroes- such as Nymeria the Warrior Queen (a personage from the books) but I suspect that would be too obscure (and difficult to make identifiable even for those LARPers who have read the books).

I’ve really only had one solid idea thus far. I rather think Arya would like an excuse to dress up as a wolf. She likes wolves, the Starks feel an affinity for them, when times are tough, her happiest moments are when she’s dreaming that she is her direwolf pet, Nymeria. (Named after the aforementioned warrior queen.) I think it would be easy to express while still wearing my standard Arya costume (making her easily recognizable to the other players) — I would just add wolf ears and a tail. Maybe a bit of face paint to create a black nose.

The standard Arya Stark get-up

The only issue with this is that people might interpret this to mean that Arya has actually become a wolf (or rather, is possessing one)… which is entirely plausible in TBC. (Ok, spoiler alert — it has already happened.) The only reason that this is not quite as bad as being confused for a Lannister is that wolf-form or not, people would still know that they were looking at Arya Stark.

Despite this minor issue, I’m leaning fairly strongly towards the idea of Arya in a wolf costume because it seems like the most likely choice the character would make. (And more importantly, I have yet to come up with anything better.)

And I am open to suggestions!

I can tell I’m not the only one mulling this over –a few other players are posting on the boards saying they’re puzzling over the same issue.

I have already stopped by an iParty, on the off chance they might have wolf ears. They didn’t yet, but I wouldn’t consider it a wasted trip. I love looking through party stores around Halloween. It’s all LARP costuming and LARP props as far as the eye can see.

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About Fair Escape

I've been LARPing for years in all different styles, including both boffer and theater. I love classic LARP but I'm always happy to try something new. I have a sort of "gotta catch 'em all" attitude towards experiencing LARPs. I'm currently serve as a board member of NEIL, a member of proposal com for Intercon, the largest all LARP convention in the US, and as en editor for Game Wrap, a publication about the art and craft of LARP. I was also con chair of Festival of the LARPs 2017, and I'm on staff for NELCO, the first all LARP conference in the US. I'm
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7 Responses to A Costume Within a Costume

  1. Alon Levy says:

    In West Eros, the climax of the game is that prom is coming. So each character is wearing a costume within a costume, where the prom costume runs the gamut from your standard tux/gown to something highly non-modern.

  2. cristovau says:

    Hodor! (No, not really) A white walker? (I am biased) A Lannister with a trick arrow through the head? (probably not for an early Arya)

    I think you are right with the wolf. Also, wolf costumes have a certain reusable versatility. It is a common trope.

    • Fair Escape says:

      Ha ha! I can picture the three Lannisters (…more than three? I forget…) reacting to that costume. “I’m a good Lannister.” “A good Lannister?” “Yeah, the only good Lannister is a dead Lannister.” 😛

  3. JJ says:

    Is there anything that normally defines your character aside from her costuming (facial markings or hairstyle or anything like that?). If so, you could try to make sure that isn’t obscurred by whatever costume you layered on top of it?

    I ran into that problem when trying to disguise an NPC who did have an identifying mark, but was trying to be unrecognizable… except I felt bad wearing an entirely different outfit as the character because as an NPC I wear 10 different outfits an event and people need to be able to accept that ‘a staff member wearing a different outfit is a different person’ for the sake of the game. I think I eventually put on my entire normal costume and then layered stuff over it to disguise myself. Not ideal, but the best I could come up with at the time.

    For what its’ worth, I love the idea of Arya dressing as a wolf…

    • Fair Escape says:

      Hm. I think the closest thing to a defining visual aspect of this costume is the hairstyle with the two giant fake braids. The Stark brooch (actually a keychain) is pretty specific to her, though it doesn’t stand out much- it’s small, gray, and blends right in with the shirt. You have to be standing up close to realize it has the iconic direwolf of House Stark on it. I think your idea of putting on the normal costume then layering stuff over it is a really good one.

      I think I will try to make wolf ears if I can find gray fur at the fabric store…

  4. Kevin Riggle says:

    She should get together with one of the Lannisters and do a group costume. She dresses up as a Lannister and they dress up as a Stark. (Assuming she’s on good enough terms, that is.)

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