2002, 05, 07, 09, 14, 15, 16, 17;  Skarabäus- campaign;

ancient egyptian jackals

This page belongs to the theme “egyptians”. The beginning would be here: Egyptians


Above: First appearance 2005. After 4000 years of guard duty in diverse buried tombs they are not in the best of states...
The armoured one in the middle is documented separately; see the link below.
(“Hey, watched too much stargate, have we?” “Au contraire, there is no thing as too much stargate.” )

Link to the documentation of the egyptian chaos armour: heavy armour


The outfit is only half the battle- it is the puppeteer who has to call the creature into being.
The jackals copy movement patterns from movies and nature to make the guy in the costume vanish- for example stalking walk, the aggressive motions of a street bully, exaggerated shoulder moves, running with jumping strides, superhero- poses.
By using head- movements like the jurassic- park- dinosaurs they can even simulate facial expressions. And they never ever stand totally “still” but behave like a video-game-figure at rest.
And as silly as it sounds- it helps to put on a serious look under the mask.

Then there is the thing with the profile... even computer-generated T-Rex don´t look cool when they directly face the camera. Find out how the movie- makers solve that.
That´s why the jackals shall present themselves as often as possible from the side. A menacing turning of the mask in the direction of the players and the head- movement “snarl” together with intimidating body language have already made whole phalanxes take two steps back... Of course it helps that the players know that the creature in front of them is dangerous, but what I want to say is don´t just hand out the costumes to the NPCs; show them a few moves.


Above: 2007. New outfits made by Birte. No more foam- parts in the clothing; these monsters are fast.
A costume consists of overall, footgear with straps, lower legs, kilt, belt, underarms, collar, balaclava or morphmask, mask and weapon (dressed in this order). In darkness for security reasons we forego the cloth “feet” (they´ve got no treaded soles) and the NPCs wear a balaclava with blackened eye- area for better vision.

The skull masks obstruct sight to the sides or downwards, so to obtain sufficient field of vision constantly move the mask from left to right (it also looks cool). With these masks the NPCs also can use the slots under the cheeks for orientation.

The pole- arms are good for “rotating movements”. This doesn´t mean fighting techniques but so-called “transition movements” like twirls or weapon- control- moves. When there is enough time before mission- start they get a short course. A professionally wielded staff will make many a warrior keep his distance...


Above: The first one (2002). Made of styropor; totally unfit for larp but hey- I was just starting! Later I changed the material but not the concept (see below).

Left: No comment

Right: Handicraft- day.

Always a lot of work and scant time. Monster- mass- production has to be teamwork which needs willing helpers for arduous tasks compressed into a limited timeframe.

Let´s make a calculation: With 6 people you accomplish unbelievable 35 working hours per day!

Thanks, folks. I know what I have demanded back then.


White painting- overalls were pre- coloured with henna and then painted with cloth- paint and thinned acrylics. Of course cloth overalls would be better but are also expensive.

Another way to colour cloth is to use potassium permanganate (please double-check before using the stuff, in german it is called “Kaliumpermanganat”). Dissolved in water it looks purple but the cloth will be embrowned.

Lemme mention here that dyeing cloth is really messy,  the dye won´t distinguish between cloth and skin and that stains are going to stay.


The masks. Carved from soft open- pored mattress- foam with a steak- knife and scissors. The material is no good for details but these can be added using other kinds of foam.
The big advantage of the soft mattress- foam is in the protection of the puppeteer from impacts. If hit or violently disloged the mask will yield without harming the wearer. I know of no other material this suitable (save of course certain expanding foams that have to be filled into a preformed negative mould made from a sculpture; way too expensive for mass- production). So here´s the cheap version:

Above left: Layers of foam glued together with Pattex to create the thickness we need. On the picture the shapes are already roughly carved.

Above right: The carved skulls. What we are aiming for is an “enhanced but natural” look. The association “skull” must at once occur but we add things like “evil” comic- eyes or frown wrinkles on the forehead


Above left: Lower jaws, ears and big teeth. For a natural look we need between 16 and 20 teeth per mask which means 80 teeth have to be carved before assembly...

In 2005 we didn´t seal the foam but directly undercoated it with acrylics. That was wrong. Nowadays I would seal open- pored foam with a layer of thin, gauze- like cloth glued with D3-glue (wood glue, transparently drying, water resistant).
Which finally happened after 12 years during a renovation in 2017.
Here´s a link to the page showing how it is done: foam-sealing

Above right: Finished (painted with acrylics). Ground black, drybrush brown ( in 3 layers), highlights white. The boss on the right got a slightly different colour pattern because he will wear black and gold instead of browns.

wearing the masks


Above left: the mask is not a complete skull but basically consists of a face- mask with a 30-cm- snout. Before going into action the puppeteers have to get used to them for a while.

Above right: the mask from below. It is as hollow as possible to reduce weight.


Above left: from the inside. The foam mask is glued to a kind of “superhero- eyemask”: a broad strip of untearable, non-fraying cloth that is cut out over eyes and nose. Contact areas to the face are forehead, nose bridge and cheeks.

Above right: for donning the mask the headscarf is being flipped over to the front and the mask is tied around the head with the cloth strips. The puppeteer decides for himself how tight to tie them. It is not uncomfortable.

P_Jak05_Maske_hinten Jak18_egyptian_jakal

Above left: The broad strip of cloth provides firm fit. To take off the mask it is just pushed upwards.

Above right: The puppeteer´s back of the head under the headscarf completes the illusion of a coherent animal skull.

During daylight the NPC wears a  translucent cloth “bag” over the head to disguise the human face and eyes. Because the mask´s face is in front of the wearer´s head the impression of an empty skull is conveyed.

Jak06SeiteS5 Jak07OffenSeiteS5

Above left: the warlord. No cloth headdress but a helmet whose design layout mimics the folds of the egyptian “nemes”- headscarf. It is glued to the mask at the forehead. The sides are fixed with velcro strips and can be bent up for putting it on. The helmet has no holding function at all.

Above right: The helmet with bent-up sides. The velcro-parts have first been sewn onto cloth, then glued. The mask is held by broad straps made of non-fraying, tearproof cloth. I don´t like rubber bands for masks used in larp because to hold masks as big as these the bands would have to be fastened uncomfortably tight. This mask can be worn over a long time without problems.

Field of vision also incorporates the slots under the cheekbones.

Jak08OffenUntenS5 Jak09InnenS5

Above left: the opened mask from below. The cloth straps for fastening it hang on the sides outwards.

Above right: the mask from the inside. The cloth straps fasten around the head about temple- height.  The nose has enough space, sufficient air- intake comes from below.


Above: the longest- serving one (from 2002) is as No.1 an individual item. The mask still shows the original concept with remnants of mummy bandages hanging from the face. To complement the impression of dried skin or cloth the foam´s cover material has been wrinkled.

Above right: the eye- sockets seen from the front are carved triangular to convey the motif of “evil” comiclike eyes.


Above: in the new concept 2005 it became apparent the triangular eyes tend to make the face “grin”. Drat- looked much better when I envisioned it... So rectangular eye sockets is what is needed for a more agressive appearance..
I like the elongated profile more than the compact one, though.

P_Jak08mask_front P_Jak09_jakal_mask

Above: rectangular eye sockets. Better. The skull doesn´t look fragile but sufficiently massive. The “round” nose is a concession to the desired profile as well as the frontal view- a real dog skull has an almost round nasal opening making a “3-hole-face” but I wanted a recognisable “dot/ line/ dot”- visage.

How the jackals have managed to loose all flesh from their faces but keep their ears intact will forever remain an unsolved mystery of Heshrar...


Above: Blunder... the lower jaw is asymmetrically crooked (see above right). This is no storage damage but I screwed up the carving back in 2005. Luckily one can explain the distorted jaw with the creature´s long stay in the burial site.

It by the way has to be stated explicitely that these masks could only survive 14 years of campaigning (2017) because the folks who stored them and cared for them have done a job far above and beyond the call of duty!


Above: the warlord in 3 steps of renovation

Above left: the original from 2005 with unsealed surface. The foam became brittle and was torn in places- and some more detail won´t hurt either.

Below left the new version from 2011: He got new teeth and for the helmet ledges on all plates and hieroglyphs for the headband. The soft foam was given a protective coat of Pattex Transparent dappled on the surface with a bristle brush. Then all was repainted with acrylics.
Sealing open-pored foam with Pattex saves time but is no lomg- lasting solution because the surface is still too delicate for larp. So...

Above right: once more renovated in 2016. Meanwhile my receipt for sealing open-pored foam is to coat it with thin, gauze-like cloth using D3-glue (wood glue, transparent drying, water resistant).


Above: carved foam- masks covered with thin, gauze- like cloth.

If the cloth is glued on smooth (see above left) all details of the original carving are preserved. Glue on single patches, not big pieces. Overlaps will only barely be visible on the structured surface or vanish completely.

When glueing on the cloth with wrinkles a much different effect is produced (see above right).

The colour of the cloth you use principally doesn´t matter but can of course be chosen to match the final colour scheme, which will come in handy in case of later abrasion. So better don´t use patterned cloth!

Here again is the link to “foam sealing”: foam-sealing


Above: dressing room for monsters; ideal case (which per se means “seldom”).
The outfits are laid out in a big, well- lit room in the order the parts are dressed (overalls on top, masks last, lying separately where no one is likely to tread onto them). The NPCs have enough space, can actually see what they do and aid one another.

They can also check each other´s outfits before going out to war.


By the way: can the masks get damaged?
Sure they can. So what? The safety of the wearer comes first. Any damage occuring inplay (for example tears or parts getting torn off) can be repaired instantly.

The only irreparable damages is “compression damage”:
If somebody puts something on the mask that deforms it and it stays that way for a while the distortions won´t go away again and the mask is permanently deformed.

Also the changing area of the fundus has to be permanently controlled: exhausted NPCs first take of their masks and then get rid of the rest of their gear- an ill- fated sequence.
Therefore it makes sense for a member of the orga to be present and after the debriefing at once restore order when the NPCs have left to take a few minutes of rest before their next combat mission.


Above and left:
Skarabäus 2014; “The Living Desert”

The oldest masks and armour- parts are now 9 years old. They were repeatedly overhauled and repaired, time and again things were added and between games everything was stored in dry environment at normal room temperature.

And thus the almighty Pharaoh´s army was sent back under the sand of the desert to silently wait until being called forth again.”

(Freely adapted from “The Mummy”)


Soft- foam- mask stored in a cardboard-box with grip- holes which likewise facilitate ventilation.

The mask is also transported in the crate in order for the monster to be able to smite the pharaoh´s enemies without distorted mimics and kinked ears when called forth again.

When back in the depot store masks in crates in dry, aired, warm environment for many millenia of service.


last edit 2014, Jul 2016, oct 2016, may 17, jun 17

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