Hi Guys, I’m a new player looking forward to my first event at some point this year and I have a few questions on the combat rules. I’ve found the wiki very light on rules definitions but then I come form a sport where the rule book reads like a legal document.
Question one, Weapon orientation: In combat does weapon orientation matter? For example a hand axe would do very little damage with the side of the blade, some damage with the rear of the blade and obviously the most with the sharp cutty bit. The same applies to single edged swords. I ask because with good footwork you can step outside of an attack and use your offhand armour (if you don’t have a shield) to deflect the blow without taking the force of it. This leaves an opponent wide open to attacks to the rear.
Question two, Weapon handles: Against a weapon such as an large axe, polearm or a spear an effective technique is to close the distance and block (not trap as it’s against the rules, but block like a shield) the shaft of the weapon with an arm. Being close to the body the weapon would have little or no force even when swung hard. Granted in reality it would hurt your arm but not enough to matter, and a lot less than getting a shiny bit of metal to the head. My question is does a hit with the shaft still count as a hit even when it would do no damage?
Question three, Strikes against weapons: Is it acceptable to use a small amount of force to knock a weapon out of the way to allow you to strike. I’m not suggesting that we hit the weapon as hard as possible but enough force to create an opening, or to slightly off balance you opponent? I ask as the forms I know for using a quarterstaff all revolve around a strike to the weapon to set up the attack.
Question four, etiquette: Is there anything that is not against the rules that is considered bad form?
I appreciate that this isn’t real fighting or even a simulation of real fighting, I just have a habit of over thinking things and want to make sure I fully understand what is expected of me.
Weapon orientation doesn’t matter - primarily because it’s too difficult to adjudicate fairly - different people have different opinions and it avoids arguments to just say ‘a hit is a hit’.
Similarly, getting hit with the shaft still counts (although there’s a little leeway for ‘I’m touching the shaft, the shaft isn’t moving to hit me’ - weapons don’t bite - but essentially if the weapon-holder is attempting to hit you with it and has swung it at all, and it’s touching you, they’ve hit you with it). Again, it’s just easier to judge a blanket rule than to let people make individual judgement calls on which bits of a weapon are damaging (and encourages people not to do unsafe things like swinging and hitting harder to remove doubt as to whether a hit ‘counts’).
Hitting weapons out of the way is generally discouraged - people have a very wide range of tolerances when it comes to unexpected shocks to their wrists, and it increases wear on the weapons which also irritates people. Parrying is fine, engaging and gently pushing against weapons is generally fine, but hitting the weapon hard enough to ‘slightly off-balance your opponent’ is probably too hard.
Like all situations in life, there are a wide range of things which are not against the rules which are considered bad form . I’m not convinced I could list them all, but generally ‘putting someone else in an OOC dangerous situation / not letting someone get out of an OOC dangerous situation’ (e.g. pressing people into ditches without warning, especially if they haven’t seen them; strongly engaging people who are stuck in the mud and vulnerable to ankle injuries) covers the most important bits.
A rule of thumb that I really liked from another system I attended was ‘don’t be a dick. If you have to ask yourself ‘is this a dick move?’, it probably is’.
With LARP combat I also find it helpful not to over-think things or to confuse it with a simulation of realistic combat too much. Treat it as a game with rules and that tends to avoid leading you down the path of ‘in reality I would do this’ which can often go badly wrong for all concerned.
Beats against weapons are not very effective as the weapons have very little mass. You might disorient someone but it won’t stop them parrying or counterattacking in any meaningful way. Now, if you’re using a two handed weapon and are delivering the SHATTER call it’s a different story!
“Pushing through” parries is generally bad form - it puts stress on both weapons involved and can damage them. Best to withdraw your weapon and strike again.
Thanks guys, I’ve found this really useful and I think I understand the mindset a bit more.
My personal big concern from combat (apart from my knee exploding, which happens every now and then) is being soft enough. Years of full contact sports gets you used to being hit very hard and not having to hold back. I realise this is as far away from the LARP attitude as possible. I’m planning on finding someone to have a practise with before I turn up as I really don’t want to hurt anyone.
A suggestion several people I know have gone for is to deliberately fight using a very different weapon.
So if you practice high-contact longsword fighting, deliberately use a 1h sabre for lrp. Because the weapon is so different, you’re less likely to fall back on unhelpful previous reflexes.
I believe it’s common to use a small shield or buckler (as distinct from a weapon) to displace an opponent’s weapon.
(At least, I’ve been doing it for years and no-one has ever complained.)
Regarding weapon facing, it’s not ruled, but you should be using the weapon like it should be used. Technically a single edged sword does damage no matter how you hit someone, but if you are treating it like a club and don’t care about the cutting edge, you are doing it wrong. So maces and clubs still have the advantage of not having an orientation like a sword.
And yeah bucklers you have to actually parry the blow rather than just hold it front of you like a kite or heater style, they don’t really work otherwise.
Displacing through leverage is generally fine (and also more effective than beats). What people will complain about is having their swords hit hard, as that risks damaging or breaking them, hurting wrists, etc.
Bucklers are particularly good for that sort of leverage work, but you can use a sword for it as well (just be sure to meet strong vs weak).
As an attacker, you should strive to make your attacks both a) perfectly pulled and b) plausible (although note that light taps that wouldn’t be viable as cuts can be an excellent way to represent thrusts), so you strike with the cutting edge or a suitable impact surface. As a defender, you should take any hit.
At the end of the day it’s a representation of combat, not a simulation, and some things may cross over from other forms of combat training and some things may not. It’s always hard to say what exactly is transferable! Practice is a very good idea, but don’t worry too much about it as there will definitely be people on the field willing to spar if you can’t find a volunteer before then.