CO 3rd Thoth ACR
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Catonsville, MD
Welcome to the Cosplay/Larp/ReEnactment section of Heresy, Andygorn. I'm glad I made the effort to come down to this section of the forum today because LARP & 40k are the hobbys most near & dear to my heart.
I've never played a Vampire type LARP, know people that do and it's crossed my mind every now and then but Medieval LARPing is what I got into. I like the physical aspect of Medieval LARPing as it gives me a reason to get off the couch & stay in a bit of shape but at 35 10+ years of combat are starting to wear on my body. As I said I wouldn't know cause I haven't tried but I think the abstract nature of non-combat LARPs would annoy me, especially if someone had such high level abillities & powers that I couldn't effectively do anything to them. I know that's an extreme example and unlikely but I think it annoy me, maybe that's just 10 years of problem solving by combat talking. I do understand how this does lead to much more RP and your are mostly corect about most Medieval LARPs being more Live Action and less Role Playing, at least in my experience.
I will attempt answer your queries as best I can, from my experience in 3 different Medieval LARPs that are prominent on the east coast of the US (Darkon, Dagohir & Amptgard).
In the LARPs I play, the ones with characters and classes (Dag is more just a combat battle game, with the only real character being our style of garb and how you act) the is no real mechinzem for total Charactor death, basicly your Character never truely dies. When "killed" you spend a prescribed time out of the game then you re enter (usually with no knowledge of events within 5 min of your death). Which leads to some interesting and absurd RP problems, like killing a thief for his crime, then him coming back with no knowledge of the crime or the punishment. Amptgard does have a number of"lives" per character that if you run out of during a quest you can not continue to play in that quest but after the quest and at the next event you can play again as normal.
So there is know really issue with buying armor & garb then not getting to us it. Most people with multipul characters (you can only play one at each event) attempt to have differing garb, weapons & armor of each one, if they can. They're are also those that play one character but change classes as different aspects of that character.
In the LARPs I play there are no equipment requirements for classes, some classes can not use certain weapons, such as a rogue can not use pole weapons (spears, halberds, two handed axes, ect.) or heavy armor. So you could play a fighter class with no armor and a dagger, you'd be some what more effective with plate armor, a shield and long sword though. Some fighters do very well in light armor with light weapons, using their speed and agility to fight circles around heavy fighters. All the games I play use foam (boffer) weapons so it's relatively safe for armored and unarmored people to fight in the same combat.
In the end how much you spend on garb, weapons & armor is up to the players budget and how much they're willing to learn to craft on their own. I can help someone make a relatively effective suit of plate (half-plate in D&D terms) for under $200. It'll make them more survivible but not truely a better fighter, a better fighter will still be able to beat them, it'll just take longer. Most people start off with basic equiment, a tunic and whatever weapons the want to use, then add stuff over time. It spreads out the cost, much like slowly buying a wargame army. I've spent thousands over the years on gear, some of which I use all the time, some given away, some gathering dust on selves and in closests.
Hope I've answered some of your question and haven't rambled to much, I can talk about LARPing for hours and hours.
"Most wars are wars of contact, both forces striving into touch to avoid tactical surprise. Our's shall be a war of detachment. We are to contain the enemy by the silent threat of the vast, unknown desert...." T.E. Lawrence