Weapon Props and Packets

Combat is resolved with a staged system that uses props for weapons and spells. In order to ensure that these props are safe, certain guidelines on their construction are necessary.

Weapons and packets must be checked at each and every event where they might be used. You are responsible for the safety of any prop you swing or throw in combat, so you should check them yourself during the course of an event.

Every player, both PC and NPC, is responsible for bringing their own weapons and packets. We will try to have weapons and packets to rent at our events, but we can make no guarantees about the availability of these props. We reserve the right to fail any weapon or packet we deem unsafe. It is not uncommon for weapons to fail or break, so you should try to bring a backup weapon and materials to repair your props.

Weapon Construction

As the art of LARP has progressed, the techniques used to construct safe and effective weapons have grown more sophisticated and more varied. As such, we no longer publish instructions on how to construct weapons. Instead we post guidelines detailing the requirements needed to pass our weapon check. While we do not intend to discourage our players from learning how to construct their own weapons, we encourage new players to obtain weapons from or to seek the advice of experienced weapon makers rather than trying to construct weapons from a set of written instructions we might provide.

At Madrigal, we encourage the use of sock constructed weapons. These weapons are constructed with kite pole cores, custom fitting foam, and have a crafted hilt or haft with a sock fitting over the blade or striking surface. For players new to LARPing, we suggest that you purchase a weapon from an approved supplier. Modern weapon makers often use materials acquired from specific suppliers that need to be ordered and delivered.

Madrigal does allow the old duct tape style weapons, but these weapons tend to be heavier and, when it is cold, harder so we get more complaints about players using them. If you choose to create and/or use these types of weapons you will need to fight accordingly.

Madrigal also allows plasti-dip style constructed weapons – if they adhere to our guidelines for weapon foam thickness and have soft rounded thrusting tips. These weapons are time consuming as they require sanded foam, DAP glued blades and thrusting tips, and multiple layers of thinned plasti-dip before they are painted. Experienced weapon makers can make beautiful weapons using these techniques.

We do not normally allow latex weapons, so if you wish to introduce one of these weapons as a playtest you should contact us before the event. These weapons rarely have the foam thickness or tip construction to pass or safety inspections. In addition, any latex weapon we would consider for a playtest would need to be sealed so the raw latex is coated.

Will My Weapon Pass?

Here are the qualities we require before we approve a weapon for general use in the game.

~ The thickness of the foam on the striking surface of the weapon should be at least 5/8” around the core. We do allow for a flatter blade construction, but players using these types of weapons should not strike with the flat of the blade.

~ The thrusting tip should be soft foam and be flat or rounded. It should not be hard foam, and it should not be crafted so it comes to a point that is less than 90 degrees. Ideally it should be rounded with no point at all.

~ A weapon should pass the “push the tip against my eye” test. If the weapon, when gently pressed against the eye, has a thrusting tip that is painful or potentially damaging then the weapon won’t pass.

~ A weapon should have a soft enough striking edge that it cannot harm a player if it strikes them in the throat with force that might be generated by a running player.

~ The weapon cannot be too “whippy” – if we hold the end and shake it the weapon should not noticeably bend.

~ All weapons must adhere to the guidelines below to size, length, and striking surface proportion.

Weapon Statistics

Weapons are divided into categories based on their construction requirements and the techniques required to use them. The following section outlines the various weapon types, the lengths and/or dimensions required in their construction, and notes on how they are used.

 

Blades

These weapons represent daggers and all types of swords. A bladed weapon has a striking surface that covers at least 2/3 of its entire length.

The weapon may have a cross guard or hand guard, but the guard must be made entirely of pipe foam or the equivalent.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Dagger 18” 24” Small Weapon ~ Short
Short Sword 25” 36” Blades ~ Medium
Long Sword 37” 46” Blades ~ Long
Great Sword 50” 64” Blades ~ Two Handed

 

Axes

These weapons represent hatchets and all types of axes. An axe needs padding that covers at least 1/2 of its entire length. The striking surface is a head of open celled foam at least 8″ in length that extends at least 4″ from the shaft, and looks like an axe blade.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Hatchet 18” 24” Small Weapon ~ Short
Short Axe 25” 36” Axes ~ Medium
Long Axe 37” 46” Axes ~ Long
Great Axe 50” 64” Axes ~ Two Handed

 

Hammers

These weapons represent maces, hammers, and all types of smashing weapons with metal heads. A hammer needs padding that covers at least 1/2 of its entire length. The striking surface is a head of open celled foam at least 6″ long that extends at least 4″ from the shaft, although this could be 2″ on both sides for a mace.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Blackjack 18” 24” Small Weapon ~ Short
Short Hammer 25” 36” Hammers ~ Medium
Long Hammer 37” 46” Hammers ~ Long
Maul 50” 64” Hammer ~ Two Handed

 

Glaives

Glaives and shafted weapons that have a blade on both sides of the weapon. Each striking surface covers at least 1/3 its entire length, and the blade itself must be at least 18″. The middle section of the glaive must also be padded, although you can use 3/8” padding for the grip of the haft so long as the full 5/8” is used for the striking surfaces. Because both ends of the glaives are striking surfaces, the glaive has a thrusting tip on both ends.

These types of weapons are not including in standard weapon skills; the weapons do not share a weapon group with other weapons. The skills needed to use these weapons are, in many games, more exotic.

You can choke up to one end and grasp the blade of a glaive only if you are wearing thick gauntlets. If you are skilled with a war glaive (the 64” weapon) you can hold the weapon along the shaft and block attacks with one hand. You cannot normally attack while using a war glaive held in this fashion unless you have some special skill that specifically allows you to do so. Some games might have skills that allow you to fight with a War Glaive in one hand and a short or medium sized weapon in the other.

The great glaive is a two handed weapon. You cannot use it with one hand.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
War Glaive 48” 64” Glaives ~ Special
Great Glaive 60” 72” Glaives ~ Two Handed

Staves

Staves have a striking surface on both sides of the weapon. Each striking surface covers at least 1/3 its entire length. The middle section of the staff must also be padded, although you can use 3/8” padding for the grip of the staff so long as the full 5/8” is used for the striking surfaces.

Because both ends of the staff are striking surfaces, the middle of the staff is aluminum and each end has PVC or CPVC. The staff has a thrusting tip on both ends.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Staff 48” 64” Staves ~ Two Handed

 

Spears

The spear is the only long weapon that may be used one handed. A spear can only be used to stab an opponent. It cannot be used to swing. A spear must have padding that covers down the striking end at least 1/2 of its entire length. You cannot fight a spear and another weapon if that weapon is longer than 36”. If you are using a spear one handed you may not thrust at any target above the arm pit of the opponent.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Staff 48” 64” Spears ~ Special

 

Polearms

Covering all types of longer pole weapons, polearms have the advantage of reach. A polearm must have padding that covers down the striking end at least 1/2 of its entire length. The striking surface must cover at least 12″, and must include additional padding of open celled foam that extends at least 1″ from the shaft or another layer of pipe foam cut in half.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Polearms 60” 72” Polearms ~ Two Handed

 

Clubs

These weapons represent weapons made entirely from wood. A club needs padding that covers at least 1/2 of its entire length. The striking surface is at least 6″ long. It may be open celled foam that extends at least 1″ from the shaft, or it could be an additional layer of pipe foam.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Blackjack 18” 24” Small Weapon ~ Short
Short Club 25” 36” Hammers ~ Medium
Long Club 37” 46” Hammers ~ Long
Great Club 50” 64” Hammer ~ Two Handed

 

Claws

These weapons represent some kind of natural weaponry. Unlike other weapons, you cannot carry claws unless you have a magical or racial ability to grow them, and you cannot hand them off to other characters. Characters who can use claws are assumed to be able to grow claws (ie. you have the props in hand and ready to fight) and retract them (ie. you have put them away or do not have them in hand) as well.

A claw needs padding that covers at least 2/3 of its entire length. The striking surface is the padded area of the weapon above the grip.

Claws are not affected by Disarm effects. If a claw is affected by a Destroy effect, the character will take a Maim effect to the limb holding the claw.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Short Claw 25” 36” Special ~ Medium
Long Claw 37” 46” Special ~ Long

 

Thrown Weapons

These weapons represent daggers, darts, and javelins. These weapons must be at least 2” in length, but larger thrown weapons such as javelins are allowed if the staff deems them safe.

Larger thrown weapons may be weighted with birdseed, but at least 5/8” of foam must be between the birdseed and the surface.

These weapons need to adhere to the “eye” safety check.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Throwing Dagger 4” 12” Thrown Weapons
Dart 2” 12” Thrown Weapons
Javelin 8” 36” Thrown Weapons

 

Bows

These weapons use thrown type projectiles and a prop for the bow made from padded PVC. The arrows are represented with packets. You must draw the arrow prop, touch it to the bow, and draw it back to your ear. You may then throw it to represent the arrow shot.

Weapon Lengths

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Bow 36” 48” Archery ~ Special
Crossbow 18” 36” Archery

 

We also allow NERF type bows and crossbows if the weapon is painted and/or decorated so it does not break immersion. NERF type weapons that are obviously plastic or brightly colored will not be allowed.

 

Shields

Shields are defensive props used to block weapon blows. They cannot be used to strike another player. They are generally constructed from plastic or sturdy foam, although some shields of light wood are allowed if the edges are properly padded. All exposed edges must be foam or protected with 5/8″ thick foam piping. Most shields use a handle and an arm strap, but light shields might only have a single handle.

A buckler is a small shield that cannot be more that 24″ at its longest dimension. A full sized shield cannot be more that 36″ at its longest dimension.

Shield Maximum Dimensions

Type Minimum Maximum Notes
Buckler 12” 24” Buckler
Punch Shield 25” 30” Shield ~ Single Handle
Shield 25” 36” Shield ~ Must be strapped against the forearm

 

Packets

Packets are small bean bags that are thrown to represent magical attacks or special powers. They should be made of stretchable fabric and filled with birdseed. You should use only small birdseed with no larger or sharper seeds. A square of fabric is pulled around the birdseed and its corners are gathered together to form a “tail” and closed up with strapping tape. You may also sew a packet shut. Sealing the packet with rubber bands or other types of tape will be allowed on a case by case basis, and the packet should have give in any case. Packets with any other material inside will not be allowed.

The head of the packet should be between 1 and 1.5 inches in diameter, and the tail behind the tape should not be longer than 3 inches. The fabric must be stretchable and cannot be pulled so tight that it no longer has give. You should be able to squeeze the center of the packet and almost touch your fingers together.

 

Advanced Construction Notes

If you do intend to learn how to construct your own weapons, here are the materials that are common in the construction of our LARP weapons.

 

.414 Ultralight

The core this refers to is actually called spiral wound fiberglass tubing and can be purchased from a number of online vendors. Intended to be used as a kite pole, the core is light, durable, and has give. This is only appropriate for one handed weapons with no head.

 

.505 Ultralight

The core this refers to is actually called spiral wound fiberglass tubing and can be purchased from a number of online vendors. Intended to be used as a kite pole, the core is light, durable, and has give. One handed weapons use the .505 diameter pole.

 

.610 Ultralight

This core is a thicker version of the spiral wound fiberglass tubing used for two handed weapons.

Ultralight two handed weapons require extra padding on the striking surface. The weapon should have at least 1” of foam padding on the striking surface of the weapon.

 

3/4” PVC

3/4” CPVC

Although not ideal, this common core can be used in a pinch for one handed weapons. It is too generally too heavy and whippy for anything longer than a short sword. You will want to find schedule 20 PVC pipe with a thin wall. There are schedule 40 pipes with thicker walls that are too heavy to make good weapons. This core can also be bent into bows by applying very hot water, or softening it if you are good with the heat of a stove or gas burner. CPVC usually has more whip than PVC.

 

1/2” PVC

This core is too whippy to use for longer weapons, but can be used for small weapons or even short swords. This material is not good for any other type of weapon.

 

Aluminum

This material has no give, so it cannot be used for one handed weapons. The purpose of aluminum is to give two handed weapons with older construction less whip. It have fallen out of use in favor of .610 spiral wound tubing.

Some older two handed weapons use a 7/8″ galvanized aluminum and 3/4″ CPVC core. The cores should be picked so the CPVC fits snugly into the aluminum. They should overlap about three inches and be secured together with an adhesive like Plumber’s Goop or with a good amount of strapping tape wrapped around the seam.

 

Open Cell Foam

Weapon tips are generally constructed from open cell foam. You can purchase this foam at most fabric stores. Tips are generally affixed to the end of the weapon with glue and reinforced with a small amount of tape before the weapon sock is put over the blade.