Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Something to cheer you guys up

Absolutely true and hilarious. Even though I've only been an assistant to larp organisers.

Its winter larps, no training sessions. All cold and dull. At least we got the internet right?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Something useful(and still WIP) global LARP map,-86.220703&spn=58.253563,80.947266

Its free to edit and everyone can add location, description and contact info for his/her local game.

I'd say  its a useful enterprise to do, who knows, you may have neighbors you never knew about.

So, contribute and spread the link to that map around!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Heavy fighting

People tend to clasify larp combat with many terms. At the other end of the ultra light boffers and lightest touch things however, we find the more...physical aspect of things.

A yellow armband rule as we state it, means that between themselves - two armband players are allowed tougher combat - grappling, good force swings etc. Things that are not allowed otherwise. The armband itself signifies NOT your willingness to dish out damage - but rather that you are ready and willing to accept it. It used to be done via mutual agreement and consent between 2 players, normally in a duel. The armband rule allows folks to do it in a big open battle without first asking if the other guy is ok with it.

Here's some local examples. Mind you that's not theatrical fighting the way the germans like to do it.

General advice I'd say is - don't try this. It will take a good time of training before you can do it safely. If you are willing though, adopt things at a slow pace and train, train, train....

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Inventory system

When you only carry you single sword or spear or whatever, things are rather easy. However having a good inventory system is not a bad idea once you get inventory to carry around.

Its not just about having scabbards and quivers and pouches and bags...its about placing them all in a way that makes it easy to carry. A lot of people ignore this and then suffer from their mistake. Truth to be said first you DO need to figure out what you'd be bringing to the fun or to the fight...and then figure out how exactly to carry it. Still, it needs to be done.

By all means if you can carry around  2 PKMs and a dozen kalashnikovs like this gentleman, be my guest.

Things to consider.

1. Weapons.
2. Armor
3. Extra gear.

To elaborate.

How many and what kind of weapons do you bring? How easy to reach you want them?

2. What armor do you bring? How heavy it is and how will it fit with the weapons?

3. What extra gear you bring? Water skin? Pouch? Coin purse? A bag for food and other things? When you put everything at once its one hell of a puzzle.

Always keep in mind that there is a limit on how much you can carry. Its not just about comfort - you only have 2 arms after all - unless you've learned how to hold a sword with your toes,  extra weapons won't help you.

After you've picked the gear for your current task. Its time to pack up. Useful thing to have is at least 2 spare belts. You can't have everything resting on one.

Now let's give an example.

On this photo I have a shield on my back, a coin purse, a sword, quiver and bow all set in a way that leaves my hands free.

When deciding how to carry - the heaviest and most cumbersome item was the shield so it went to the back. Quiver went to my right hip and sword to the left one. The bow is held in a hip holster like this one.

 So much for point 1 - weapons.
Now I can march around all day. There is nothing to hold in my hands (like a spear or a shield) and everything is situated in a fairly stable manner. I don't have to worry about dropping anything. 

Why is the armor relevant though?
Well due to the armor, I can't try things like stuffing a knife in my boot and my pockets are hard to reach and thus not suitable for game relevant items(still good for keeping my keys).

So when it comes to part 3 Extra gear - I have to get a coin purse, preferably that and a pouch to carry things that I will have to use often.

 I can even take on a few more items. There are options too - drop the shield and the quiver can go to the back, leaving my left hip free to take, say a full stack of throwing axes? Or the bag with the food? Or something else? How about a mace strapped next to the quiver? Decisions decisions...

Monday, 20 May 2013

A very interesting insight into the history of american and european LARPs

This came to be on a larp thread in /tg/.

I am merely saving it on a better platform.

Heh. Last thread went on account of it's participants going to sleep- I was out around 1AM EST US time.

Annnnyway: Visuals. Why do they matter when we can just imagine the guy in a tabard and facepaint as an orc? Heck, where does that point of view come from?

I've found that where it comes from is, quite simply people who've never experienced it. When you're used to riding horses at a full gallop, it's a rush- but when you get on a motorcycle the first time and start going a mile-a-minute, it's a unique experience. Both are a speed rush, but the second one just gives you that "goin' fast" feeling at a level the horse can't.
Most US LARPers are used to the horse. It's all they have to ride, it can get you there, and it's fun when you kick it into gear. You've got your boffers, you've got your basic costuming, and that's how they ride.

By comaprison, the "internal combustion" age of LARPing started in England in the late 80's, spread rapidly out from there, and ended up a standard passed from one group to another that now extends from there to the outer edges of what used to be the Warsaw Pact. Along with it came never really having the foam-fighting lot that shit all over the idea of actually dressing up for hitting each other with plumbing supplies. And instead of D&D, the big gaming influences were...Warhammer.

I've seen pictures of late-80's/early 90's LARPers from both sides of the pond. They look almost identical. But the later influences rapidly change that. Pic related, this kinda thing is our "common ancestor" LARP-wise, before environmental issues changed- and wouldn't look out of place in some countries today where LARPing is just getting started.

US LARPers had their influences come from what was around them- foam-fighting groups and the SCA, plus the ubiquitous Renaissance Fairs that are pretty much a USA thing. Foam-fighters insured that the boffer would remain the dominant LARP weapon pretty much forever, and refine that into the kitespar-feather-club ultralights to boot. SCAdians helped make sure that armor would be functional before looking good. D&D meant that a high-magic system was the big draw, that a guy in a robe was dangerous on account of being a walking rocket launcher with beanbag missiles-o-doom (at least until he was out of spells, then he was a useless piece of meat). Cheap and thrifty and doing as little as possible was considered a virtue- and even the combat systems often evolved along those lines, rendering armor that took time, effort and/or money relatively useless vs. magic- a lot like D&D fighters vs. D&D mages, when you think about it. What good costuming did come along was from people who crossed their LARP with their Renfair/SCA garb whoring/con costuming -but since those people were used to social situations where the guy in fugly combat armor was having dinner next to the lady in fancy dress, it carried over to LARPing. In the US, you can still see it to this day- women tend to have a higher visual standard by far than the guys do...unless the lady in question is dressing up the guy.

Meanwhile, overseas you're getting completely different influences. A combination of medieval era re-enactors (the equivalent US ones are busy playing 1700-1800's era wargames and barely make a blip on the LARP scene) and FX-minded folks (the UK's ranks for "holy shit, that's an awesome monster" gear include notable FX guys who did BBC work from the 80's onwards) drive a demand to get rid of the boffer weapon. They come up with the first latex weapons and suddenly, you have multiple crafters trying to outdo each other in making awesome-looking latex weapons. Costuming already has the support of said re-enactment types, and the stronger FX-maker influence also means you see much more of what the US would call "cosplay" getting into the mix- not only do you see more realistic armor getting into LARP, but you also see "wonderflex" and other theater-style prop armor bits and accessories going in alongside the latex weaponry they're busy hitting each other with in the woods and caves (and occasional old castles).

In addition, the fantasy gaming system in Europe that's big isn't D&D. It's Warhammer, with it's strong visuals and a much more "melee matters and does the hard work, magic is for special stuff" view of things. The "lightning bolt" as US LARPers know it never takes off, with more point-and-shoot and considerably less of it being hurled around. And standards being much higher, the visuals...well, they end up being up there as well.

US LARP ends up following along it's ancestor's lines- small "chapters" and groups all over the place that rarely get together. EU LARP tends more along the lines of re-enactor groups, happily forming the first "festival" LARPs- games easily approaching 1000 people, then later nearing 10,000 with the international fests like Drachenfest. The closest US equivalent are the SCA (Pennsic being most notable and of similar size, with smaller multi-thousand-population "wars" scattered around the US along with similar slightly smaller efforts from Amtgard/Dagorhir), but LARP size in the US generally stabilizes at the "small group" level, falling from a maximum of 300 or so in the early 90's to a mass scattering of 150 or less in the modern day. Indoor (convention/Mind's Eye Theatre-aka-vampire-LARP) games sit at much the same levels, only without any real continuity most of them simply come and go and make no long-term impact- but are actually more common than the outdoor LARPs for a fair bit of time thanks to the ease of venue and relative informality of play. To whit, you can find a vampire LARP in pretty much easy driving distance over much of the US. (Good luck with that overseas.)

Meanwhile, as the European LARP scene is developing, the US one pretty much falls into a near-stasis for over a decade. PVC boffers are still common, but the more competitive begin to experiment with kitespar and other similar supplies to create something that hits faster and safe by US standards. The UL weapon begins to show up in significant numbers, but to this day this pic wouldn't be out of place at your average US LARP event.

It's worth noting that it's not ALL totally frozen in place in the US. The first cracks in the ice actually date back to 2000 or so, when you started seeing a very few latex weapons imported over, along with the occasional group of folks that had started with European LARPing and brought that mindset over to the US. In addition, a certain amount of backlash develops over the years, dribbling out new, small games on a regular basis. Most of these end up being near-clones of the old 1990's style games, but the occasional group innovates or forms more rules-light systems. Accelerant is the most widely used second-generation rules system, but individual examples exist up and down the East Coast in respectable numbers. While relatively unpopular, there's even attempts at science-fictionish or post-apoc games: in the US, an early example is the Future Imperfect events run by Mythical Journeys, one of the more creative offshoots of the 1990's LARP fantasy generation that's still active to this day. Games like Freefall or Dystopia Rising are more recent additions to the list, along with attempts to build Fallout in LARP format. (and it's notable that such efforts are oft mirrored overseas, up to and including a long-going 40K LARP in the UK, or at least one truly badass Fallout LARP in Russia.)

While it's notable that the oldest LARP orgs in the US are AWARE of what it's like elsewhere, it's not something that gets brought up much until very recently. A good chunk of NERO's bigwigs ended up at Mythodea back in 2005 (and proceeded to botch horribly a copycat event in the US shortly afterwards, utterly souring Mythodea's staff towards reaching overseas), and the occasional US LARPer makes the trip over to the UK/Germany (military types, commonly) and gets a taste of how they do it on the other side of the Atlantic.

There are no serious producers of latex gear in the US. Zero. Calmacil is Canadian (and go figure, you have Biccoline and such there, along with stuff that'd easily resemble US games as they've always been), and 99.9999% of LARP gear in the US is repurposed in some fashion- from Ren Faire costumers and pouches and such through imported LARP-safe weaponry from the EU or Canada, and since imports are oft marked up + the US penchant for "thrifty" (read: cheap as possible) gear...the well-equipped LARPer is a rare bird outside of long-established games, and even then the competitive bent of many of them encourages and allows for people to put the good-looking sword down, grab a UL club-sword and feel socially better about it cause they chose effectiveness over actually wielding or wearing something that looked neat- because performance still rules in most parts of the US over anything else. (Except cost- it'll either be cheap, or it'll be effective, but rarely does the idea of "gee, I'm wearing pickle barrel armor and swinging a kitespar dicksword" trouble the US gamer.)

The smaller group sizes and standards also means that just -getting- a business with a viable market is difficult at best- meaning the hordes of small business types that pop up in the UK or Germany along with the bigger ones (like Mytholon or Atlier) simply never find ground to take root and get started. Their equivalents in the US resell EU gear.

By comparison, you'll see plenty of SCA merchants and armorers- which means it's actually far easier to find functional 14-16ga metal armor sold than 18-20ga LARP-style armor- and likewise, even leather (or plastic!) After all, they're more established and have been needed (since minimum standards for SCA require it) for decades longer, and even then are so in demand that most have weeks or months worth of waiting list. Likewise, you can even find boffer-makers out there that sell a steady stream of their product- but because latex is in much lower demand, you don't see it being made domestically in the USA.

What would bring US visual standards up higher?

AVAILABILITY. And that's not just "Oh, we can sell stuff we got overseas.". Personally, I think it won't happen until someone in the highest-density LARP population (that is, New England->PA) actually starts the equivalent of a Skian Mohr, Having a LARP, or similar one-tent-vendor style actually learns how to make proper production of latex weapons that are soft enough to regularly pass US (who tend to be more sensitive towards harder weapons) game standards- and starts going around selling working-man's weaponry to the populace.

Because frankly, there's good odds nowadays that you could end up ordering a weapon from overseas, bringing it to an event and having it fail. Grats, you're out $100- oh, and heck, you never even got a chance to hold the thing or test swing it a few times to see if you liked it. Hope it looks good on your wall.

Likewise less expensive LARP-grade armor. Most people into armoring are immediately snagged by the SCA, where they're able to sit there banging out SCA-grade armor with a guaranteed demand....much less the machined, basically "munition-grade" armor you can find stacked by the dozens at a German LARP vendor!

Monday, 18 February 2013

On larp archery - packing your arrows in the quiver.

As I mentioned in the larp quiver guide this post is about packing your arrows. Someone might ask, ok so what's so difficult about packing your boffer arrows in the quiver? Well for once they are boffer arrows - they have a big foam head on the front. That's why most people simply load the arrows upside down in their quivers, like this.

Which is well and good, however when it comes to shooting, you have to turn each arrow upside down before firing, which cuts your ability to shoot fast. One way to solve this is by learning how to hold several arrows in your hand like I did, fire in volleys and then hide behind your line to reload.

The other is to fix the obvious problem with boffer arrows and quivers - the arrows being upside down.
If they are not, you can shoot much faster since every arrow you draw is ready for nocking.
Unfortunately you can't just stuff your arrows in the other way. They will get tangled with one another because of the boffer heads and you are likely to spill half your ammo if you try to pull one out. However, that problem is not without cure. The cure is to carefully arrange your arrows. In the quiver guide I mentioned that I closed the quiver with a single seam instead of sewing a bottom to it for a reason.

Here is the reason. The bottom of my quiver is exact fit for 3 larp arrows. No more, no less, no room for wiggling and tangling.

So once we load it up those 3 arrows can't get tangled and spill out. OK you'll say, but 3 arrows is a bit low right? Well, let's repeat the experiment.

After the first 3 arrows go in, another 3 are set ABOVE them. There is no room for the top 3 arrows to fall below the lower 3. You can't mix them either since the top 3 are standing higher in the quiver.

 6 arrows is more or less the usual arrow compliment for a larp archer, but we can add another 2
as a 3rd layer here, and my quiver is reaching its limit. 

When firing its simply a matter of drawing arrows layer by layer, you start with the top two then the 2nd layer and finally the last 3 arrows. You can't mix them since they stand at different height unless you are wearing your quiver on your back - the arranging is only good if you have a hip quiver.

I can still pack some extra arrows in here, placed upside down in the usual manner and simply fire them first.

How to make a simple larp quiver

Assuming you already have your bow and arrows, its time to get a quiver for them too. There are a good number of options here and what you choose is entirely up to your own preferences, not just in materials but in design as well.

First a bit of extra info. There are mainly two types of quivers - not based on design - all quivers are the same essentially, but based on how they are worn.

First you got back quivers.

And then you got hip quivers.

One is well obviously worn on your back, the other one tied to your hip(and optionally lower thigh). Which one you prefer is up to you and the way you work on your own weapon loadout. If you wear the quiver on your back you can't wear a shield there, if you wear it on your hip it will take room normally reserved for swords and knives and it might limit your movement a bit (if you don't want to spill your arrows that is. If you've fired everything you can run as fast as you want)

So how to make your own simple quiver?

You need a base - that can be leather, canvas, whatever you got. I mean a pair of old pants can do too, you will just decorate it a bit more. Fake leather is ok as well, one of the few cases where it is.

Here is for example my old training quiver(I only used it for practice) Its made from the sleeve of an old leather jacket that I had recycled already for other uses. I would not bring it to a larp proper because well, its just a sleeve with straps on it.

Anyway back on topic

Simple quiver - materials needed, either leather, canvas, or whatever you can use for the body. Something for straps. Something to sew the leather/canvas closed. 

Tools - eh, scissors, and whatever you will use/need according to materials. 

Budget - varies

 First thing to do is to measure and cut the body. I've picked leather since well I have leather available. A rectangular piece is cut, slightly shorter than the 68sm arrows. Make is as wide as you want to - it depends on the number of arrows you want. I made mine fairly big, since I plan to carry about 10+.
 After you cut the leather, close its sides, forming a cylinder. Then we need to close the bottom. Some people actually sew in an extra piece to close the bottom of their quivers. I picked a different approach by making a 2d bottom. You will see why in my next post where I will explain a little trick with arrows arrangement in the quiver.

 Fortunately I have a swiss army knife around so I managed to deal with the leather. The extra leather strip is both decoration and reinforcing.

 Once the bottom is closed, a strip of reinforcing leather is added to the top as well, for symmetry and for durability.

 After that its time to add the straps. For me thats simple shoe laces(the thickest ones) they are tough enough to survive any tension and won't rot away in bad conditions. I made sure they pass through both the body AND the reinforcing bands of leather. I decided on a hip quiver, since it can be easily turned into a back quiver if needed.

 That is how it looks from the other side. Now its ready to be worn.

To wear it, just tie the top lace to your belt, and the lower lace to your leg. Its firmly attached.

 If you want to convert it into a back quiver, just tie a belt to it like this and it can be worn on the back as well. If you want a back quiver to begin with, skip the part with the laces and get a shoulder strap directly.

 Coming up next - boffer  arrow arrangement for larp.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

How to make a larp boffer meat cleaver.

In the previous blog post about improvised weapons, I showed a farming sickle. All that is well and good, but what other things come to mind in terms of everyday tools and items used as weapons? Let's see, lumberjack axe, blacksmith hammer, hunting bow, peasant pitchforks and flails...and a butcher's cleaver.

Its hard to argue with a 150kg butcher with a 2 foot long cleaver in one hand and a meat hook in the other. Or an equally big cook whom you've caught in his beloved kitchen while storming the castle so he naturally reaches for the first familiar choppy thing nearby...People don't generally keep swords and other stuff in the kitchen. No need - its a veritable arsenal already.

So - butcher's meat cleaver. What do we need? Eh not much really - same as usual.

First we cut the necessary length for the core then we make the handle.

The grip is similar to the one on the sickle, with the added exception - hemp string for looks.

After that the blade - which should be multi-layered.

To improve the looks - I added cardboard to the sides of it. Normally that hardens the blade, but in this case we are talking about a short weapon that's going to lack kinetic energy anyway, so we go for the looks.

 Finally - top layer of tape and we are done. We got a larp boffer meat cleaver.

How to make a larp boffer farming sickle

As I mentioned in my facebook page I'm going to make a couple of "improvised" weapons. Actually the term was a bit misleading, since I did not mean something cobbled together from a bits of scrap MacGuyver style. Actually there are an awful lot of tools of everyday life that also happen to have good weight or sharp edges and thus be quite good for chopping or clobbering someone over the head. Remember - not everyone can be a special snowflake, and hardly everyone was a mighty warrior or had a heirloom sword of power stashed in the attic. So when you are a simple farmer and those uppity orcs show up and trample your fields...well you grab the first thing that can go choppy on them, you don't wait for the army to arrive 6 days later. As it happens to be, that would be your sickle. Hell, as far it goes its a perfectly fine bladed weapon. A certain Paulus Hector Mair even had a chapter in his medieval fighting manual on sickles.


But enough about that. So you want a sickle? Lets make one!


Budget: Usual for a weapon

Materials: foam, F20 pipe(you need a thin pipe or you won't be able to curve it) tapes, something for the handle.

Tools: Usual for the job AND also get a heat gun+ protective gloves. You can still use the other ways of heating the pipe, but as I discovered the heat gun is perfect.

 First thing to do would be to cut the necessary length of pipe and prepare for heat gun work.
Otherwise you will burn yourself or something else. So read the damn manual.

 Keep in mind - achieving the shape will probably take more than one pass. Do it slowly and steadily so that you don't damage the pipe, only bend it. As an advice - to speed up cooling put it in cold water while holding it in the right shape (or under the water tap). Thus it will get solid in the shape we want it.

After that its mostly trivial stuff. First the handle is made. Since I'm out of flip-flop pieces, I just taped a few strips of cardboard  to it.

Then I covered it with wood texture wallpaper and its on to the blade.

Keep in mind that the blade of the sickle is on the inner side. So most layers of foam and the tip(which you will be striking a lot with) should be on the inner side.

 Eventually we got our farming sickle done. Now we can have a peasant rebellion.

I about lowering them taxes m'lord?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

On roleplay, an interview that could be good for new players.

This came by from the folks at

Overall a decent story that is good for explaining larp to new players or simply people interested in it. Go watch it. There is some good info on roleplay and its importance for a good game.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

How to make a larp spear shoulder strap(works for all polearms)

So, assuming you got a spear or a polearm of some sorts, now comes the question, how to carry it? Swords, knives, maces and sharp sticks are easy - you can tuck them in your belt if have nothing else. A polearm though, is a different deal, and carrying it in your hands all day is not the best option.

So, I'm going to show you how to make a very easy and simple shoulder strap for your larp spears that takes only a few minutes to make.

For this we are going to use some rope, a leftover used duct tape roll, and as tools the scissors and a mini drill(though you can improvise with any of the tools/materials - I'm simply showing you the design)

 First things first - make some holes in the duct tape roll. The roll is made from very hard cardboard, and its juuust a bit bigger than the F-32 pipe which I use in most of my large weapons. A loose fit is important - the duct tape roll will act as a cup in our strap

 After we drilled 4 holes in it, its time to cut out two pieces of the rope.
 One should be big enough - roughly twice the size of a rifle strap, the other small since its only used to block the cup.

 Next insert the rope and tie knots at the end to keep it in place.
 Voila - that's it! Your boffer spear strap is done. That's it! Nothing more to it. So, how it works now...

 I'm testing it with the same boffer spear I made for the larp spear guide.  First we pass the loop through the spear shaft, then we fit the end of the shaft in the cup and just lift...

 There you go, its ready for carrying on your shoulder now. Now your hands can be free during long marches.

 It can work with other polearms too, and if you make a cup that can fit the blade - with great swords as well. Unstrapping it is a mere matter of shaking the cup off. This is another reason why I used such cheap materials - it is possible to lose your spear strap by accident. If you are careful, or tie the strap as part of your armor, feel free to use more expensive stuff - namely leather.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

How to make a larp boffer bardiche (or berdiche) great axe

The bardiche is a type of great axe, possibly evolved from the dane axe, that was widely used in medieval Russia and Poland. Its notable for its very long blade - often up to 60 sm and lack of spear point or rear spike, that made it different from halberds and the like.

Unfortunately after I finished mine, I accidentally deleted the step by step photos. Therefore I'll have to improvise with this guide, since I can't make another one.

So, bardiche - how its made.

First of all - there are a lot of similarities with the guide on a one handed fighting axe and the warhammer guide.

BUDGET - bigger than usual - roughly twice what we'd need for a simple sword.

TOOLS - the usual.

MATERIALS - F32 pipe 1.5m long, foam, tapes, wood texture wallpaper for the shaft, f20 pipe 1m long,  about 20+ plastic bottles, cardboard. Pop rivets.

First things first - about the shaft - the shaft is made exactly the same way as the shaft in the normal axe guide. Of course its much longer - the bardiche stands at a 1.85. sm - its as tall as I am.  The f20 pipe is about 1 m long and its fitted inside the f32 as a counter weight and for improved stability(and less wobbliness).

Now the real deal - the axe head. To make the axe head you will need a LOT of plastic and cardboard.
 Therefore your main resources will be plastic beer bottles and pizza boxes. Well - at least for me they were.

 I used a LOT of both - About 20+ plastic bottles and I still don't think its enough.

Here is the tricky part now. Even the large 2 litre beer bottle is not big enough for the whole head.

Therefore you need to make it two piece - First from plastic bottles you cut and shape 2/3ds of the axe blade, then rivet that to the shaft. Reinforce it with the cutouts from the bottles the cardboard and truly frightening amounts of duct tape. After that with yet another batch of plastic bottles you shape the top half of the axe head AND rivet that to the lower half. Don't forget to cover the rivets with foam/cardboard. Don't leave exposed metal. Again reinforce it with copious amounts of cardboard, tape and plastic. After all this, actually fitting the foam covering is a trivial job.