Phys-rep is the act of physical representation, of creating those imaginary items in the real worlds. Potions are bottles of water with colours and smells, weapons are foam covered latex (stab safe if you please) and we’re all gadding around in costumes out of whatever era we choose. Armour is sometimes leather and sometimes metal and sometimes actual chain mail (egads, that’s heavy) and most people have belts with leather pouches or satchels or something to carry their pilfered bed sheets that have been shredded for bandages.
It’s not just a chance to play with good colouring, glow sticks or matches, dress up in long sheets and declare yourself Lord so and so of the Black Order or Bob from the next village over. Phys-rep is a chance to immerse yourself in the world. Nothing beats (for me at least), getting to grips with my kit and prepping my physicians drugs the afternoon before the event. It allows me to get into Mercy’s mind set. She’s actually not hugely different to myself (since she is my first character), but I still have to familiarise myself with the Ronish script and all the ins and outs of my character’s religion.
Here’s a quick look at Mercy’s phys-rep gear:
It’s a bit of a jumble, but let me talk you through it.
- Mercy’s belt pouch – contains tinder box (aka matches) and her little notebook of Ronish (or rather her cheat sheet). If I’m struggling to read something, I like to know I can have a quick look at this notepad and get my bearings. Usually by the end of the game, this belt pouch has got “used” bandages and an open chocolate bar and any odd bits and pieces people have given me to carry.
- Mercy’s bandage pouch – twin pouches with home made black bandages. Hanging off it is her mixing pot tied on with a bit of woollen string. Black bandages are usually mine and the scouts don’t complain as much that they’re going to be seen.
- Healer’s satchel – a satchel filled with physician’s drugs and assorted healing. I “apply a poltice” for a special healing skill I have, which heals wounds without the need for a bandage. I also keep my candle in here and my guild license. During down time, my holy symbol lives in the front pocket so I don’t lose it again (though a cross with a penny bound to it seemed to be okay).
- Staff – self explanatory. 6ft piece of fake wood. Subdual damage. Used to knock people out to defend oneself.
- Personal pouch – I like to keep things like my OOC torch and hat, gloves and scarf in here, along with my inhaler and other items like keys and mobile phone and small change. Sometimes I have another bar of chocolate in here just in case.
- First Aid Kit – I carry a small first aid kit with me when I’m on the field when I’m in character or monstering. A: it makes me feel good to be the first aider and B: it seemed a little daft that we had to go hunt for the monsters and their kit to find the big first aid box on my first night out. So I keep this to hand to deal with the odd cut or scrape and to stop any bleeding that requires the big kit – so far nothing serious has happened, though I have heard stories from people of things that have happened that needed ambulances etc.
- Everything hangs off the belt including an IC waterskin (not shown). The belt holds my over-robe closed.
All of this is great, except I’ve encountered a few hazards of phys-rep. Firstly, if you don’t have it, you can’t phys-rep it. I struggled for a while to cobble enough potions together to be of any use and managed to escape needing to use it all in one go. Also you dye your fingers when tinting the water and the red food colouring always seems to take ages to wash off (she says looking at her red stained fingers),
Another problem is the weight – if you want to carry all that, you have to carry it all. At the start of the evening I always forget how heavy this gear is (hence I moved a load of stuff into my satchel) and by the end have managed to get it all roughly balanced and/or used. But it is quite tiring hauling this around and I’m not supposed to lean on the staff like an actual staff – it caused the inner core to come through the bottom which becomes a hazard to anyone who picks up the staff and uses it. Plus having to fight with all my layers (needed at the start, not needed in the middle, grateful for by the end) I always feel a bit like the Michelin man.
Also – making own gear takes time and can be expensive. Luckily I’ve made a few “big” projects to have scraps kicking around for bandage restock and making belt pouches, but it still cost to get the fabric and its surprising how long it takes to make one tiny pouch. Also I end up spending an afternoon working on getting my gear out and making sure its all there, where as something like a mercenary just has to make sure their “paid” potions are in their belt pouch and that they have all their weapons and armour. It just depends on what kind of character you play I guess.
Making gear can also lead to stabbed thumbs (needles), burns (hot plastic) and other bodily complaints, not to mention tiny fabric threads all over the place and needles under foot.