Nick posted this up on the Empire FB group:
Some of the most common questions I get asked at the New Player Combat Briefs, are ones that also gets asked a lot on FB and the forums.
“How do I pick my first weapon?” or “How do I pick a weapon suitable for my character?”
I reckon if you ask yourself these questions, you can’t go too wrong.
1: What do you want to fight with?
Probably the most important question. In Empire anyone can use a one-handed weapon, but to use something more specialised you need to have the skill “Weaponmaster” which allows use of larger weapons such as spears, pikes and two handed axes. If you are a spellcaster, you can use a wand of rod to fight, but to access a staff you need the “Battlemage” skill.
It therefore makes sense to purchase something that you want to use.
2: Can I fight safe with this weapon?
Safety is a highly important factor in LRP combat and it is the duty of the player to maintain it at all times. When you buy a weapon you need to be sure that you feel safe using it. There are literally hundreds of people who are willing to help you with this, through practice and guidance, so don’t worry about too much, but it is something to have in the back of your mind when you are thinking about buying that 6ft warhammer!
3: Who do I buy from?
I will always recommend buying from a vendor in the field or LARP show (LARPCon for example) This is for several reasons:
a) You get to browse what is the full collection of LARP weapons. There are literally hundreds to pick from, rather than a few choice pics.
b) You can hold them and swing them. Do not underestimate this. What may look lovely in a picture online may be horribly balanced, be too heavy, or too light and just wrong for you.
c) You can compare between weapons before making a choice.
d) You get to chat to the makers. Many of the traders created the items and have a wealth of knowledge and expertise… The traders can help on selection, maintenance and even help you design specific orders. They are the literal lifeblood of the hobby, and be supporting them you are supporting the hobby.
All weapons need to be passed by Empire weapons check. The in-field traders will make weapons to the specifications of weapons check at Empire, and most other UK systems so you aren’t wasting your hard-earned cash.
If you do need to buy online, then check with people about suppliers and only buy from reputable sources. That really cheap sword from an online auction site probably isn’t going to cut it. You can find out this information by asking in forums, asking other larpers their opinion and dealing with recommended vendors.
4: Does it suit my character? Does it suit my nation?
A basket hilted rapier is clearly a league-ish weapon looking perfect slung from a frog on a bravo, but in the hands of a Wintermark Steinr it just looks out of place. Likewise a Dawnish noble fighting with a dirty Navarri dagger is not something that fits the aesthetic. Each nation has a style and guidelines to what might fit. For example, the Brass Coast look and feel page suggests that “Scimitars are less common than straight swords and axes which are the preferred weapons. The Bhuj, a large heavy single-bladed spear, is the ideal polearm.” Some things just look right.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but aiming for the brief helps an awful lot and is encouraged.
5: I’m not sure on what style character I want to play?
This is fine. You don’t have to have a signature weapon for a character. Most weapons look just like that… weapons. While some characters may have an ornate golden blade with the virtues etched on the blade, no one is going to bat an eyelid at any character in any nation who has armed themselves with a generic longsword, or a simple dagger. They all kill barbarians the same.
I would always advise that if you aren’t sure, but want to buy something, is to buy a generic looking one-handed weapon.
6: How much should I pay?
Prices will vary depending on the trader and type of weapon but approximately:
• A dagger will cost £25-40.
• A short sword £40-60.
• A longsword £60-85
• A two handed weapon £80-110
• A spear £90-120
• A buckler £30-60
• A large shield £60-120
Remember that nearly all weapons in the UK LARP scene are hand-crafted.
7: How do I carry my new weapon?
Walking around with a weapon out is considered gauche and terribly impractical, especially when you might need your hands to read a book, hold herbs, or sup from a goblet of fine Dawnish wine.
A scabbard, belt loop or equivalent will never be a poor purchase.
I hope this guide helps you towards selecting your first weapon.
This is a list (not exhaustive) of traders to aid you.