Dystopia Rising: IG Crafting on a Budget, part I

Note: This post is specifically geared toward the act of in-game crafting and meeting representation requirements in Dystopia Rising. It's possible that some of the over-arcing techniques and items might also be applicable to your game or LARP, but you're mileage may vary.  

Most people who play DR will play a crafting character at some point in their lives, especially since it covers an immense spread of professions. Even if you don't plan on doing it as a PC, you'll probably be doing it as an NPC, or someone in your group is a crafter, or you're dealing with a crafter. It's inherent to the nature of the game that you have to deal with one.

The main component of playing a crafter is (duh) crafting. In the vast majority of cases, crafting requires you to use a forged item -- such as a forge, a workbench, a printer's table, or something similar. Even crafting skills that don't require a forged item card -- like fishing or farming -- have a roleplay portion to it. In both cases, it is required to have some kind of representation of either the action, or the items that are involved. This is especially important for forged items. If your forged items are not represented properly, you could receive an infraction from your Directors, or have the item removed from game. When you think about it, a crafter not having a proper rep for their workbench is the same as a fighter not having a proper rep for their sword -- and both aren't allowed.

For a new player, it can seem daunting to have to create a rep for your forged item, but it can easily be a cool creative (and inexpensive!) project that you can use to make your forged item rep ready to go. The first part of this series covers forged items; the second half will cover roleplay ideas for things like fishing and farming.

Forges (Cost: $10 - $50)

oakbeck_forge_gertyThe simplest way to make a forge rep (or any rep, really!) is to use your environment at your campsite. Adding a walled ring of rocks around a camp fire pit can give you a base structure and all you'll need to do is add some tools (like a hammer, a small anvil, or a fireplace set) and you'll be good to go. If you've got an indoor fireplace, that can work too -- just nap some fireplace tools and place a rock in the (unlit) fireplace to bang on, and you're good to go.

There are ways to up your crafting game. Buying a broad set of tools, or even a fake fireplace wood set, can make your crafting area look way more legit. Acquiring small scraps of metal to bang on or scatter around the area will go far to set the scene, and so will adding a blacksmithing apron or leather gloves to your costuming. Make sure to check out yardsales and second-hand shops -- they are the crafter's best friend. Here's a spread of items we would recommend:


Workbench (Cost: $20-$60)

workbench_5F00_intro-13Ah, the workbench. Bane of every crafter. It's very easy to slap a forged item card on a picnic table and call it a day, but then you risk getting a rules infraction, your forged items rejected -- or worse -- your forged item torn up for not getting properly repped. Believe me when I say that a little bit of effort goes a long way when it comes to creating a good workbench rep.

The basis of any workbench rep should be a set of tools and this can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. A real set of tools can run you about $20 and will have a variety of items for you to fake craft with (and, you know, if you ever have some real world mechanical problems, it'll help with that too), but you can also buy and paint/distress children's tool sets and they look just as good.

But having a set of tools isn't good enough. Banging your hammer on a picnic table doesn't cut it. You'll want to have actual items involved in your rep -- pieces of metal, random bits of stuff you find around site as your 'materials' and every little widget and screw along the way. Remember, not only do you have a physical representation to meet, but also a noise representation, and you might as well bang loud and proud (har har).

However, the DR National Network heard the cries of woe in regards to repping a workbench and they responded. Available on their shop is a roll out mat that you can put out on a picnic table and it matches all the physical requirements -- you'll still have to make some noise, but the visual portion will be taken care of, and it'll run you about $60 plus shipping. In the event that you want to make your own, here's some items we can reccomend to you:


Printer's Table ($0-$150)

P6096496This is probably the most versatile of all the forged items to represent. You can find a tiny desk somewhere and add some writing supplies, or you can go balls to the wall and get yourself a typewriter. In either case, this is one that benefits from scrounging in real life to any of your local second-hand stores, yardsales, and grandma garages. You can find some really, really cool typing props that people are trying to throw away (and still work) rather than buying a typewriter at full price off of Amazon.

At base, a printer's table should have some writing instruments, paper, and something to clip it all down with to your writing surface. Getting distressed paper or making your own will add a TON of character to your set, same thing with your writing instruments. I've seen people with calligraphy and sumi sets and I've seen people actually typing our their prints on typing devices. Either way, giving yourself a way to occupy the time by actually typing your prints is key. Also, remember those bullshit erasable drawing pads when you were a kid, or have I just aged myself? Either way, with a little distressing they are both amusing and surprisingly effective for this.

This really is one for yardsaling, but in the event that's not an option, here are some recommendations:


Brewing ($10-$80)

Brewing can cover a broad range of different items and many of the more advanced ones will require you to add more to your prop, especially depending on the size requirement of that prop. But making a prop for brewing can be as easy as getting a bunch of recycled bottles and tubes together with some colored water, or getting an actual beginner's brewer kit and doing a little bit of real (fake) chemistry.

mash-still-bodyOn the cheaper side of things, getting some gallon jugs or used soda bottles and distressing them (or, if you're a drinker, some growlers or empty 40s are awesome) is a fine base if you add some tubes between them, or maybe little holes and spouts for you to play with while you're doing it. Using different colored water in the bottles to mess around with while you're crafting will give you something to do and help make the process look and feel more realistic.

If you're feeling wiley about it, playing with backing soda, baking powder, soap, or any other children's science kits will add a huge and entertaining level of play for you and anyone else watching you. Buying an actual beer brewing kit will give you all the pieces you need for your props (and if you stop playing a brewer, you now can make beer in real life) for something low on the investment side, too.


Kitchens ($20-$50)

outdoor-kitchen-grill-stlouisKitchens, while potentially the most expensive to rep, are also convenient for actual feeding yourself and can be super easy to use. If you have a site that has an actual kitchen that you have IG access to, an outdoor grill, or a firepit, you already have everything you need to rep a kitchen. You can also use your crafting time to make lunch or dinner. It's basically the best.

In the event that your site doesn't have any of these, there's a couple things you can purchase to buff up a decent looking kitchen set. Getting some fake fire (like in the forge list above) and a few pots and pans will make it look like you have a cooking set that's pro. Little odds and ends like utensils, spices, and maybe even fake or real food will give you something to do while you're crafting. But really, any opportunity for yourself to make real food is going to be ideal.

Basic Cooking Tool Set - $16

Basic Cookware Set - $25

Fake Fire - $25

Mines ($20-$200)

Mines are a weird one. They have a pretty large space requirement, but it can be really foreign to figure out how to rep one since it's technically just a hole in the ground. That being said, if you have a (safe?) hole in the ground, dive right in and dig some rocks up. If you don't, here's some ideas of what you can do.

Empire_mine_shaftTaking an old tent and covering it in tarps or mesh, painting it, or adding a 'mine' sign can be an easy rep to craft up. The tent doesn't have to be particularly functional to sleep in, but if there's a space for people to step inside and bang around, that will help. The tarps and material over it will add some flavor and it can be pretty easy to find a tent at a yardsale that someone is trying to get rid of, or a good use for a broken tent that nobody wants any more.

On the more expensive side of things is buying a gazebo or a canopy. Lowering it halfway will give an illusion of it being partially submerged, and adding some mesh or rocks around the outside will make it be a clear indicator of a mine. Using your environment to add character is an ideal way to do it. Plus, a 'mine' sign. That'll help a lot -- seriously.

Instant Canopy - $75

Canvas Tarp - $33

Rain Tarp - $75

Camo Mesh - $10 - $200


That's it for now -- stay tuned for Part II, which will talk about the roleplay requirements for things like farming, fishing, and animal handling.