Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Getting gear for a modern or futuristic larp

Well then. Some people think otherwise, but larp games that don't involve medieval or fantasy settings work quite well too. They are also far less taxing when it comes to getting your gear. I mean come on you need only to get some old clothes from your locker.

Civilian clothing etc. is something you will manage in no time, and a visit to the second hand shop will help for the rare occasion where you lack something. However there are other types of gear that will take some thinking.

Take for example Hazmat suits. I mean come on - hazard suits are awesome and well if its Fallout or STALKER pretty much a must.

So how do we get a suitable alternative?  First of all, check for Workman clothing shops around your area. They often have chemical/dust/acid protection suits.

Basically all you need is a gas mask and some gizmoes and voila your rad suit is ready! Besides it will be a real chem protection suit to boot! Oh yeah they also got stuff like disposable lab coats, nurse and doctor outfits etc. if you want a more classic scientist look or medical personel.

If you don't have a gas mask and there is no army surplus store around, don't worry you can still find substitutes. Yeah...workman clothes/tool shops are a boon aren't they?

An eye shield like this one can help you seal your suit, you can also get dust masks that will pass for gas masks just as well, know - they ARE ones.

That spectrum covered, what about soldiers? I mean its obvious we'd have some. For camouflage clothing, I'd say again army surplus stores, airsoft stores, hunting stores...All have it as well as tactical vests, helmets and so on. A balaclava is dirt cheap and quite enough on its own if you are not supposed to be regular military. For a more sci-fi look, check out the sports goods, namely motorcycle armor.

All in all, motorcycle armor is pretty much instantly ready sci-fi soldier armor that you only need to put on. You can add some extra stuff and paintjob but thats it. Get a full set, and get it 2nd hand it probably cost you about a 100 bucks, and you don't exactly need it in pristine condition, considering what's about to happen to it.

With some creativity and you will look just like a riot Robocop or a generic sci fi trooper. 

On armour - chainmail - materials needed

Right then, assuming you got your tools, now you need your supplies. I already mentioned buying online, so we are thinking of the other option now.

There are a number of things to consider when getting your supplies -how may people you want to kit out, material type, price etc...

The most widespread and commonly used material for homemade chainmail is the galvanized steel wire. Its used in fences etc and fairly easy to find. Its dirt cheap - a hauberk (knee-length long sleeved chainmail) will cost you 25-30$ in materials and there will probably be leftovers for a coif. Its also fairly resistant to corrosion - my own hauberk has seen use since 2009, through rain wind and snow without taking any corrosion related damage at all. And of course above all - its very easy to acquire in large quantities. The most common size used is 2mm wire. Don't ask me how much is that in the gauge system, check it yourselves.
You can use 2mm galvanized wire for everything. Chainmail shirts, coifs, helm aventels, battle bikini, chains, decorations and so on. Its your most common material and thus applies everywhere. You could find it in the local handyman store, though its likely the price would be high and the quantities low. Best option is to buy in bulk from a construction materials warehouse. Remember what I said about pooling in? Please do that, then send a guy with a car to such a warehouse to buy say...100-200kgs of wire. 100kg will be enough to outfit 4-5 guys from head to toe, or more if its partially. Its simpler this way.

Next possible material is aluminium wire. Now that is a notably less common material. It also has different qualities and price tag to it. For starters its 1/3rd the weight, which is a very notable bonus. Its equally corrosion resistant and well...shiny, that is if you like shiny stuff. Now the downsides - while its light weight, aluminium is also much weaker. Its easy for rings to pop open and fall, so expect regular damage. If you make an aluminium chain shirt, you'll have to reinforce the shoulders with steel rings, since aluminium ones can't support the weight. One more thing - it leaves smudges, and finally comes the price tag. While its only 1/3rd the weight of equal steel wire,aluminium is also 4-5 times the price tag per kg so its a bit more expensive too.

I really can't say much about finding it though. My own source is asking a person in another town to bring me some, and well thats it. What he brings me is this - its basically conductor wire without the insulation. I have to unwrap it first then turn it into chainmail. Again look for warehouses etc. It all depends on your local area.

Last one is the "exotic" stuff. Anodized rings and so on. Decoration is the word of the day here. You will probably have to buy them online though.There are exceptions though. You could find such rings in ....newsflash - jewellery supply stores. They won't come cheap either but you could make a piece of golden chainmail bikini for say the price of a full sized chainmail shirt.Using them for larger project is going to be hellishly expensive. Not to mention you are very unlikely to find enough of them in 1 store.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

On armour - chainmail making basics - tools

All in all, chainmaille is great. Its has very ugh...low tech requirements to make, and virtually anyone with two hands can learn the basics. This is the armour type for everyone on a budget who wants something real on his back. Besides if its made from galvanized wire(and most of the time it will be) you won't have to worry about rust. All these qualities mean that chainmaille will be the preferred and most widespread type of metal armour you will find in your average larp group.
 There is nothing wrong with that, in fact its good. Actually 3-4 years ago, having a chain shirt around our parts meant you were awesome. Now, having a chainmail shirt is more or less basic gear for fighters. I alone can outfit my own personal retinue with the stuff I got in my armoury, but back on topic shall we?

There are a number of options to make your own chainmail. The obvious first task is - get rings. You could buy them online from say The Ring Lord though that will increase the price tag, or you could make it all yourselves.

First advice I'd give - pool in. Yes, that means you. You are obviously not in a one-man-larp group all by yourself. So pool in your resources and by resources I mean time, money, say a car for transportation of supplies in bulk. 5-6 people separating the labour between themselves can achieve a lot more than working on your own. I've tried it both ways so I know the difference.

Anyway first things to do is get tools and supplies. Thats the charm of chainmail - you probably already have most of the necessary tools in your house.

What you need is:

2x pliers. 
 Now don't skip on the pliers okay? You will be using them a lot so pick decent pairs. Don't buy small ones unless you are working aluminium or something soft. Buy average sized pliers, wrap the handles in something and well...there is no real way to avoid the blisters really. But don't worry your fingers will toughen up soon.

 Next thing on the list of tools is a small bolt cutter. 
You'll need it to cut out your rings. The red one works quite well and without much effort - just lock one of the grips into something like a vice. Smaller ones work too but require more effort (and thus - blisters)

So far our bill is roughly 30$

There is one more thing to get - something to wind coils on. 

 Here you can improvise. What you need is some kind of rod or dowel - can be store bought or anything that you find that fits the description. You will turn it into a mandrel to wind coils which you'd then cut into rings. Look for 8,9,10mm diameter. Its good to have several and of various sizes.

On armour maintenance

While the large weapons projects are stalling again, I see no reason to keep back with other stuff. I was thinking of keeping armour for later, but there is no reason to do so - after all I will index it all eventually.

Anyway, what I want to talk about now is larp armour maintenance. If all you have is a tunic, maintenance for you is a matter of laundry work and occasionally needle and a thread. However if you have any kind of metal, things are not so easy. Chainmail does not count - the vast majority of it is from galvanized wire which is quite resistant to corrosion, but more on chainmail later.

No, we'd talk about good olde plate mail of various sorts.

Lets take for example my shin guards.

They were nice and shiny the day I got them. That however, was quite a while ago.

This is how they look nowadays. Far cry from the old days isn't it?

Like it or not, larp armour is actually used, usually fairly often and not in the optimum conditions for keeping rust away - fighting in rain, mud and snow is not uncommon. Reenactors and such have far less occasions that require their full gear and thus have less issues with keeping it fresh.

So yeah, point is - plate mail requires maintenance. Normally that's what squires, arms bearers and other such support personnel would do. However most of us are lacking such commodities and have to deal with it ourselves. FORTUNATELY we do have other commodities, namely the products of modern chemistry.

Basically you got several options depending on the amount of effort and money you got available and the looks you want.

One of the simple solutions is paint or lacquer. Simply cover it once and you are good for quite a while - just don't forget to repaint scratches. That however means you probably won't be shiny and involves some expense.

You could skip on the chemistry and simply clean any rust that appears - possible but you will erode your plate that way - it will become thinner and thinner with time.

Since I'm a cheapskate, I simply covered it with lacquer once and let it this way. A thin layer of rust has formed indeed, and it keeps it from rusting more. Thats the 0 maintenance route, but I'm not chasing shiny looks.

Best way would involve a good ammount of WD-40 and/or similar products and cleaning and covering with fresh oil layer after every use. It will keep your stuff intact but it involves regular maintenance expense.

I'm not going to recommend any of it, since it all involves various preferences and ability. Its all up to you to decide how you want to look, and how much you want to spend on it. I prefer playing a common soldier and thus rust actually adds to my looks, rather than take away.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

How to make a larp boffer bastard or hand and half sword

Now the bastard sword, longsword or hand and half sword, or however you want to call it since all those names actually refer to a pretty large family of swords used throughout medieval Europe for a decently long period of time is another less common larp weapon. What makes it different from one handed sword is mostly not the blade but the larger grip made to accommodate two hands. When it comes to larp - its a jack of all trades and master of none. It lacks the pure ooomph power of the dedicated greatswords, or the speed of the one handed arming swords, but takes a bit of both, leaning to either side of the spectrum, depending on how you design it. In size it ranges from about 100 to 120sm - longer variants are dedicated two handed weapons and people will probably call you out if you swing it with one hand.

In terms of construction it does not differ from the arming sword - its just a bit bigger, so this guide will be quite short. Here you can see a size comparison between the ordinary sword, the bastard sword and the claymore.

Materials tools and supplies, I believe I don't have to explain again. The core is an F25 polypropilene pipe - 1 meter long.

 When making it, measure the size of the grip well - its supposed to be big enough for two hands.

After that - its business as usual, same as the other guides. A counter weight and pommel are added.

 The grip is covered in leather. I used two types of leather this time. Normally my swords are very plain and lacking in decoration, I decided to indulge myself this time around.

The sword guard I made exceptionally thick this time, with even more layers of plastic than the claymore. I'd say you will have to rely on it, and well, it should be at least a bit reliable right?
 About the blade...well there is nothing extraordinary about it - make it as you make any other. My only advice would be - don't trim the foam too much. Its a sword that you will occasionally use with both hands and you may feel tempted to hit someone with a bit more force than needed. Best to be safe than sorry. Also the tip on this one is a bit long - that's why its 120sm, I might trim it a bit later.
Well, that's pretty much it I guess.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The archery and homemade larp arrows tips.

Now I'm not an archer, but I got plenty of archer friends so I know a thing or two about larp archery. There are a number of things to consider about it, since it may not really be your thing and it involves a higher monetary cost than simple sword fighting. That should not discourage you of course and if you are serious about it, go ahead.

First thing to consider is the bow. You COULD try to make it yourself but pvc bows look dumb and making a real wooden bow takes experience, tools and materials that almost all of us lack. Therefore its easy to assume that when looking for a bow, the obvious choice is to buy one. For a newbie, a junior bow such as this one

is a nice start. These and similar junior bows come at about 30$ apiece and if you find out that archery was never really your thing, at least you'd save some money. They are also readily available in hunting/weapon shops and sports goods stores. If you like being an archer though, there are better options(more expensive ones too). You can buy a recurve replica online for 100-200$ and you will love it. Keep in mind that your bow should not exceed 20-25 kg of strength and that the high end is only for experienced archers.

Next thing to consider is the quiver. Due to their shape, larp arrows take more space and be a problem to manipulate. Its easy to fumble and spill your arrows on the field. Some people solve it by stacking their arrows upside down, other arrange them carefully. Whatever you choose, practice it first. Good thing about archery is that unlike sword fighting you don't need a buddy for real training. I might talk about this more later on, I need to refresh my memory on the subject.

Last but not least come the arrows. I'd suggest you buy the cheapest fiberglass arrows and that you buy them in bulk. You should start with about a dozen and be prepared to lose one every couple of games at the very least. Sometimes you'd lose more. There isn't much you can do about it, You'd send it in a tree, the nooks will break off, the feathers will fall off, someone will step on it...Losing arrows is a 100% certainty and a constant budget drain.

When making your arrows, pay attention. There are a dozen or so larp arrow guides in the net, but I guess another one won't hurt. Besides I'll mention a few specific points that might be useful.

Always cut off or saw off the arrow head. That is a must. No exceptions.
 Wrap the nook in tape to keep it in place. They tend to fall off far more often than they break off and we can't have that now can we?

 Some folks and some larp games insist on using a coin to block the tip. I find it a bit unnecessary - if you are using a bow that can pierce through the bottle cap you are doing it wrong in the first place. However if its in the ruleset - use a coin to be 100% safe.

 Sometimes its a cork, but plastic bottle caps work just fine and are far more readily available. DON'T just remove the tip and add a foam ball. The arrow shaft WILL penetrate through the foam.

Most of the time, arrows are made with two layers of foam. A 3rd can be added if you think your bow is too powerful. Make sure they are bigger than an eye socket.
 Right now the arrow is ready for use, but there are a few more things we can do.

Some Aluminum tape will give it a more distinct look, and the shine will make it easier to find. If you have any bright coloured tape(orange, red etc.), use it.

 In a big game, something that will really help, would be to name your arrows. This will avoid confusion and help you with  recovering your ammo faster after a battle.
Yep, now this arrow proudly states to the world that it belongs to TIMIEH!

Aand thats all folks!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The throwing axe quiver

Naturally when something is good, you make more of it. My throwing axe model turned out to be quite good, so obviously, I made more of them. Note that the original axe is in that pic too, I just changed the leather wrapping so that it fits the series.

However having all these tucked in my belt will be uncomfortable, so I needed a quiver to hold them. Its not too good admittedly, leather's never really been my thing. Still it holds them ok, they don't fall out when running and such and get stuck only occasionally. Some extra work will see it in perfect shape.

 Its made from two types of leather - one harder for the main body and straps, and one softer for the actual axe holders with pop-rivets used to bind it together.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Larp Serbia's combat system

Larp Serbia has a combat system designed for smaller PvE events. It also has a feat and class system which supplements it but I won't describe it here. It allows for I dare say a bit more realistic combat, however its almost impossible to implement in a large scale battle.

This is a very short summary unfortunately, I don't have their actual full rule set.

Armour comes in 6 grades.


1-light gambeson, light leather
2-thick gambeson, thick leather
3-harden thick leather, chain mail
4-metal scales, chain mail with gambeson
5-plates (like lamellar or lorica segmentata)
6-plate (full plate maille) (you will need skills/feats, magic aid as well as a big weapon to defeat full plate)

on other side there are 5 grades of standard weapons
1-knife (max 45cm)
1-arow hand held(yes you can stab with it)
1-club (max 145cm)
2-short sword (max 90cm)
3-small axe/mase (max 90cm)
3-long sword (max 120cm)
4-2H axe/mase (max 120cm)
4-2H sword (max 150cm)
5-great axe (max 150cm)

1-dart shurrican...
2/3-short spear120cm (hand/trown)
3-short bow, hand crossbow
4-long bow, standard crossbow
5-heavy crossbow(arbalest)

all weapons  longer than 150 cm got +1
all weapon capable for trusting piercing strike like knife/sword got +1
***** long spear is knife (1) with piercing (+1) on long handle (+1) so its total of (3)

In battle you compare the strength of armour versus your weapon and the superior one wins, if you got short sword (2/3) facing a  chain mail (3) you can't damage it and must aim for an unprotected spot

A hit that goes trough armour wounds the limb, second valid hit to that limb cuts it of and you must go down dead/dying.
Thus if you have 
 one hand wounded - still alive
both legs wounded - still alive
two valid hits to one limb - dead
both hands wounded - dead
both legs and one arm - dead
torso - dead

head neck and groins are illegal same as in Larp Bulgaria's system zones but however hits  with range weapons could be accepted.

Larp Bulgaria's combat system

Larp Bulgaria uses a simplified combat system, designed for massed PvP combat, where things happen very quickly.

All weapons deal equal damage - 1 point, regardless of type. Occasionally heavy two handed weapons deal 2 points, but its a rule that's rarely use.

Types of weapons:

One handed
under 30 sm - knives, daggers, throwing knives etc.
above 30sm but under 1m. - short sword, swords, sabres, axes, hand and half swords, maces etc.

Grey area - 1m - 1.2m - hand and half swords and longswords.

 Two handed (can't use it with a wounded arm)
above 1.2m - claymores, greatswords, dane axes, great axes, bardiches etc.

Polearms and spears
Defined by the head. Spears can be used with one hand. Halberds, poleaxes naginatas and such - grey area - depends on the user, if you are a big bloke no one will care, if you are 50kg with wet clothes, someone will call you out on it.

Throwing weapons
Throwing knives, throwing axes, javelins. Knives are the most common. It is accepted that throwing knives  should do 0 damage to metal armour.

Ranged weapons

Bows and crossbows - general rule is under 20-25kg pull. All arrows are inspected before a game.


All known shield types, fantasy included - even bladed shields that can be used as a weapon. Its assumed they are all top quality and thus won't break in combat.

Armour is divided in two types commonly named leather and metal.

Leather armour
Includes gambesons, as well as wood and plastic imitations. It provides 1 additional hit point to the part of the body it covers and only where it actually covers - i.e. If you have a bracer and get hit in the naked shoulder, armour is not counted.

Metal armour

Metal armour includes all types of armour made by metal - it doesn't matter if its steel, bronze, copper or aluminium. In this type fall chainmaille, plate maille, scales, chain&plate, lamellars and so on. It provides 2 additional hit points to the body part it covers, again with the noted rule that it should actually cover it.

Mixed armour by material
Armour that is made from mixed materials is defined by the predominant material. Example - if you have If its mostly leather with just a few metal plates, it counts as leather, however if it has enough plating - it counts as metal.

Mixed armour by type
If someone has say - leather on his back and metal on his chest, they are NOT counted separately. If he gets hit once in the back - it will take 2 more hits to his chest to finish him, or one more to his back.

Combat rules
Everyone is allowed to carry whatever armament he desires.

Everyone has 1 hit point on each body part - legs, arms, body. A clean weapon hit in a body part, maims it and makes it useless - i.e. you must drop your weapon (not switch it to your healthy hand - drop it on the ground, if you can pick it up, pick it up, if you can't - tough luck) or limp with your wounded leg. If you lose both legs you are down on the ground(NOT kneeling - directly on the ground) With two wounded limbs, if the battle continues for more than 10 min and you don't get any help - you die from bloodloss. A hit to the torso kills outright. Armour adds hit points depending on its type - if you have leather armour, you will go down (or lose a limb) after the 2nd hit in that area, if you have metal armour, after the 3rd.
Exception- the only exception is having two metal armours on your torso (i.e. chainmaille+plate or chainmaille+lamellar etc.) This gives you 4 hit points on the torso, meaning you die after the 4th hit there.

Double death - simultaneous blows are counted for both sides.

Prohibited areas - groin, and head. Penalties for dangerous play are possible.  Hits to the shoe and the fingers of the arm are not counted, but non the less get good shoes, good fighting gloves and possibly a helm. Accidents happen.

Glancing hits - glancing hits that are either too weak or only with the tip of a weapon may or may not be counted according to the decision of the attacked player.

Slicing throats - You may cut your opponent's throat in a fight which counts as an instant kill. It must be done with a short weapon(knife, dagger etc.) and with caution. The limitation is in place to discourage folks from trying to hit someone's neck and head area with big weapons. If you are doing it from behind, you may use any cutting weapon you have, if again, you use caution. Neck armour provides protection from this.

Prohibited actions: 
 - Punches;
- Hits with elbows;
- Kicks;
- Grabbing and holding the hand of an opponent, to stop/deflect  impact;
- Attempts to extort the weapon of the opponent by applying force on a body part/articulation (e.g. twisting someone’s hand)

Exception: By mutual consent between two players they can fight with grappling etc. 

Exception 2: Yellow armband rule. The Yellow armband rule is for players who consent to tougher play against them and thus is 18+. By wearing a clearly visible yellow armband on his biceps that can't be mistaken for part of his suit, the player shows that he agrees to tougher play. Thus players who want to fight harder can find each other even without mutual consent. Combat between them and others is fought by the normal rules. The yellow armband rule is not applied during night combat.

At any given point if there is either clear danger or a wounded player that needs immediate attention, one can shout with a loud voice "STOP!" to stop the game and provide help. 

Taking prisoners and searching. 

If taken prisoner you have two options. You may agree that you are bound and tied and will comply with your captors. OR you may insist that they actually tie you up with whatever they have. In the second case you are allowed to do what you can to free yourself if possible.

Searching by guards is done for real with intent of removing hidden weapons and such. Searching a dead body after a battle is done in RP by saying "I'm searching you, what do I find?" - the person searched must give in all RP related items - money, etc. Taking of enemy weapons and character equipment is prohibited without consent - said person may have wasted many long hours crafting and will be mightily pissed off if you break his new shiny sword.

For each game arbiters are selected among the players with best standing in the community. Their task is to make sure nobody breaks the rules and if necessary apply punishment(or remove from the game).

Note: you are non the less allowed to break the rules if it is at your loss, not at your gain, with intention of better RP.