Overview

We are operating a number of safety measures intended to reduce the risk of COVID infection at all events in 2023. We are asking our community to support these measures, so that people who need these steps to be safe can still attend and play Empire. If you are lucky enough to be fully vaccinated with no underlying clinical vulnerabilities, please understand that we require everyone to follow these steps so that members of our community who are not as fortunate also feel safe enough to attend and participate in Empire.

Entry Requirements

  • You can attend events in 2023 if you have taken a negative LFT test on the day of travel or you do not have any newly developed symptoms of COVID
  • You must have not newly tested positive for COVID in the last seven days

All participants who are attending an event in 2023 are encouraged to test for COVID using an LFT before setting off for the event. This is not mandatory if you have no symptoms, but it is still beneficial to all participants for everyone to take a test even if you are fully vaccinated.

If you have any newly developed symptoms then you must have a negative lateral flow test (LFT) taken on the day of travel to enter the event. You cannot take a test at the gate, and you must make the relevant preparations before you travel. The page on entry requirements lays out what you need to do in detail.

If you do not meet our entry requirements for COVID safety at the event, you will not be permitted entry to the event.

Key Recommendations

  • To fully take part in Empire in 2023 we recommend you bring a face mask, cold weather layers, a bottle and a mug

We recommend that you have have the following additional items to ensure that you can fully enjoy Empire this year.

  • Face mask - face masks may be required for access to some personal tents, we recommend a face mask be worn in all key IC and OOC locations like GOD and the Senate, Conclave etc
  • Cold weather layers - many tents will be set up with increased ventilation - which means they will be colder than usual - plan accordingly
  • Bottle and mug - there will be no water carries on battles and no swigging from bottles from round the camp fire, bring a bottle for water and a mug for sharing drinks responsibly

Face Masks

  • Face masks are optional while outdoors at the event
  • Face masks are encouraged in Profound Decisions tents and IC buildings when not public speaking or eating or drinking unless exempt
  • Groups may require people to wear face masks in their tents - you must follow the guidance set by the owners of the tent
  • You must make sure you bring your own face mask - masks will not be readily available on site

Wearing a face mask is optional while outdoors at Empire, but we will support all players who choose to wear one if they wish to do so. In terms of costume, medical face masks are covered by our rules for accessbility aids. We will not be providing an in-character explanation for masks, and participants should discreetly ignore this element of the game as far as reasonably possible. Criticism of other participants for wearing face masks is not permitted.

You are encouraged to wear a face mask when you are in a Profound Decisions communal tent or structure with one or more sides and a roof, unless you are mask-exempt. This includes the GOD tent, the Conclave, the Academy, Senate, Military Council, the Hub, our encounter tents, and when ordering from the bar at Anvil. We will raise some of the tent walls on our tents to increase the ventilation.

Anyone playing merrow or another lineage whose lineage trappings may interfere with wearing a face mask is encouraged to change their phys-rep or go without that part of their phys-rep, in line with our regular rules. If your character has any additional non-lineage physrepping on the face this may be omitted while employing a mask. If it is a magical mark, such as Freezing Brand of Irremais, it can be moved to the forearm or similar location.

We will support individual groups who choose to require that people wear face masks when visiting their tents. You must follow a group's face mask rules without argument if you wish to enter or use their tent at an event. Some groups will be happy for anyone to use their tent without using a mask, while some groups will ask for you to don a face mask if you are not exempt. There will also be some groups who need to insist that everyone using their group tent wears a mask, for the safety of one or more members of the group. You cannot use a group tent unless you meet the mask requirements set by the owners, even if you are normally exempt. Please note that the "group tent" classification includes some prominent in-character locations in Anvil such as the field hospital, the Imperial Offices and the Anvil Library.

Buying and embellishing cloth masks

  • Good quality COVID face masks have three layers of cotton, or two layers of cotton and a non-woven filter layer

Look for masks with either three layers of cotton, or two layers of cotton and a non-woven filter layer. This is the best compromise between filtering out virus-containing droplets and still being able to breathe. A buff, snood or other stretchy cloth that covers the lower half of the face will not provide significant protection unless it has an actual facemask with filter built into it even if made from cloth that claims to have antiviral properties. Avoid using a leather mask, you will breathe around it not through it.

If you're embroidering onto a premade mask, embroider on the outer layer only! You don't want to make stitching holes all the way through the mask. Try to stick to light designs that don't cover too much of the surface because you want to be able to breathe through it. The same guidance applies to painting a mask - don't cover too much of the surface with paint, you need to breathe! Craft-grade acrylic paint will work and should be non-toxic because they sell it to kids.

Covering a purchased mask with lace or net fabric is fine, but test it carefully. Adding an extra layer may make it too thick to breathe through. UK regulations prohibit beads, glitter or sequins on face coverings due to the risk of inhalation. Please do not modify your mask by adding anything you could conceivably inhale - you do not want glitter in your lungs!

If you have a mask that looks good but is not protective (eg it's too thin, or made of leather with ventilation holes) then you can wear it over the top of a disposable surgical mask. This also applies to masks with valves - you need protection while breathing both in and out!

If you are using cloth masks, bring a spare and keep it dry. Wet masks are both uncomfortable and not as protective as dry ones.

Making IC looking cloth masks

Face coverings should be made of material that you can breathe through that isn't loose-woven. Quilting cotton (the sort of thing pillowcases are made of) is a good compromise that will look acceptable in-character but still protects. You might find tightly woven linen cloth but make sure the fibres are small and the holes are even smaller. A good search term for mottled/subtly colour-shaded fabrics that are slightly more interesting than working with plain colours is “quilt blender”.

You want two layers of this, with a filter layer ideally of meltblown polyester (search ebay for mask filter fabric!) or failing that, a third layer of the outer fabric, or t-shirt fabric.

If you are embroidering the mask, make sure to only embroider the outer layer so you don't put stitching holes through the entire mask that will let droplets through.

Some free patterns that have been tested; all but the first come in multiple sizes. To add a sewn-in filter layer, just cut it out along with the lining and treat the two as one fabric:

Thanks to Rosemary Warner for this guidance on face masks.

Shared Drinking

  • Please ensure you bring your own drinking vessel if possible
  • You must not drink from bottles that are passed around the camp fire for people to share

Sharing drinking vessels is strongly discouraged at the event - please ensure that you have your own drinking vessel if possible. One of the most common ways to spread infection at live roleplaying events has been people drinking from communal bottles that are passed around.

It is fine for people to pass communal bottles around to pour themselves a drink into their drinking vessel, provided no-one drinks directly from the bottle.

Social Distancing

  • Groups may enforce social distancing in their tents - you must follow the guidance set by the owners of the tent
  • You must respect other participants' wishes to maintain a physical distance from others

We will not be enforcing social distancing on the site, but we will support individual groups who wish to impose social distancing in their own tents. This may involve limiting the number of people who can use a tent at any time, or asking people to remain 1m or 2m distant from each other while inside a tent. You must follow a group's social distancing rules without argument if you wish to enter or use their tent.

Social distancing will not be enforced anywhere that is outdoors at the event, but we expect all participants to be mindful of the fact that some individuals will prefer to maintain a larger distance than normal. If you approach an individual and they ask you to step further back, or they move to increase the distance between you, you must respect their wishes.

Many people enjoy hugging friends at live roleplaying events, but you must be mindful that many people remain uncomfortable at the prospect of being hugged. You should check with anyone before hugging them and avoid pressuring anyone into gestures they are not comfortable with.

Battles and skirmishes

  • Profound Decisions orc masks will no longer be used for two battles at the same event
  • We will not be doing make-up for players volunteering to monster the battles
  • Some battles will feature a range of opponents until we have enough orc masks to cover both battles
  • You must bring your own water if you need it - there will be no water carriers on the battlefield

Combat at Empire features large numbers of participants pressing together and shouting at each other. While battles and combat skirmishes are held outdoors, it is inevitable that the COVID risks associated with combat will be higher than for other parts of the event. We are taking steps to reduce COVID risks on battles and skirmishes as outlined below, but COVID face masks will not be required on battles and it will be difficult to respect people's personal space during combat. Please make sure you are aware of these risks before you decide whether to take the battlefield.

Orc masks

Profound Decisions own approximately 500 latex orc masks which we provide to participants who volunteer to monster the two battles. In previous years, we have sprayed the orc masks with an anti-bacterial spray between the battles on Saturday and Sunday. Due to the ongoing risks of COVID, from 2022 onwards the orc masks will only be used once at each event. This means that each orc mask will only be used by a single person at the event. It will not be possible to try on different orc masks for a suitable fit. If you put an orc mask on, then you will have to wear it for the battle - it will not be possible to change it for a different orc mask. Once an orc mask has been worn in a battle, it will be collected and placed in a container separate from any unworn orc masks. All our orc masks are washed, disinfected, and dried between events, which is the same procedure we applied before the pandemic.

We do not currently own enough orc masks to provide a full set for each battle. We have ordered 200 additional masks for the start of 2023 and are purchasing more as we can afford them. Eventually we will have enough to outfit all volunteers for both battles. Our Skirmish Team will continue portraying the commanders and elite warriors of the orcs, and we want all Imperial Orc players, players in Elite Military Units (EMUs), and players with their own orc masks to continue to wear them as they have done previously. This will ensure that all our major conflicts are still focused around the Empire's engagements with the orc nations and that the orcs continue to form the core of any enemy forces encountered. Where we run out of orc masks for a particular battle, our Battle Team will provide suitable alternative roles that work within the scope of the campaign plot and backgrounds of the various orc powers.

Make-up

We will no longer provide make-up for volunteer monsters on the battles due to the transmission risks associated with shared make-up and sponges. If you are able to apply your own make-up, please consider doing so.

Water

There will be no option for water carriers on the battlefield at Empire. This is due to the high risks associated with shared drinking vessels. There will be an increased number of low-combat support roles such as mages, healers and priests available for people who previously volunteered to carry water supplies.

If you require water during a battle, you must bring your own water bottle, whether you are playing or monstering. The easiest way to disguise this is to put a plastic water bottle inside a sock and tie it to your belt or costume. When monstering, you must ensure that you fill up your bottle with water before heading to Battle Prep as the water tap in the crew area runs very slowly.

Personal Orc Masks

We will purchase additional orc masks as finances allow, so that we can return to regular battles as quickly as possible, but this will take time. The biggest single thing that you can do to help us is to purchase your own orc mask to use when monstering. This would be a huge boost to our Battle Team and Profound Decisions in general in this difficult time, but it would also allows you to have a mask you can personalise and ensure fits you as well as possible. As an added bonus, you'll be helping to support LRP traders recover from two years of lost sales. We appreciate that not everyone will have the funds available to buy their own mask, but we want to encourage those who can to help out.

A list of suppliers and orc masks that we think are suitable is presented below. If you have any queries about these orc masks, want advice, or want to share other alternatives then please contact our Battle Team.

  • Mandala Studios - Mandala supply the PD monster masks
  • Dogsbane SFX
  • Monsterminx
  • Epic Masks from Epic Armoury - these are European-based and might be subject to additional import charges
    • Bestial, Carnal and Feral. sculpts sold in Dark Green, Blue, White, and Ochre are appropriate
    • Available from Larp Inn and Larp Warriors in the UK
  • Ungebil.de - these are European-based and might be subject to additional import charges