What about weapons? In a DIY hobby, shouldn’t weapons be checked and re-checked at every event?
Nope. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Every game starts out with this very premise, and,perhaps when a game first begins and the owners size up their player base it may be a good idea. Once a year or two goes by however, weapon checks generally fall by the way side (with a few notable exceptions). Why is this?
Primarily, weapon checks are an unsustainable fallacy. A lot of games try to get around this concept by guiltily implying that skipping weapon checks is akin to bad gamesmanship (aka cheating) but they are really two very different things. The unsustainable part is in the monitoring of checked weapons. This usually occurs by applying a label to each sword or shield that has been checked. A label that inevitably gets obscured by mud, becomes unreadable in the rain, or falls off in hot and humid conditions. Even at the most stringent of games I have never seen a weapon label re-checked after game-on Friday night. No one really has the time, and it quickly becomes an afterthought.
So what prevents people from whip-smacking each other with barely padded pipe? A few things. Primarily no one really wants to see anyone else hurt. When a weapon fails in combat, usually with the foam thrusting tip flying amusingly off across a battle, all participants are keen to draw attention to it. Secondly, instead of having someone ironically certified as a weapons “marshal” (usually an overly officious troll with supposed years of experience but who couldn’t actually make a weapon if they tried) a number of games have simply stated that whenever anyone picks up a weapon they should check the tip, squeezing around it to make sure no pipe can be felt underneath thefoam. This takes about 2 seconds to do and has become second nature in a number of different systems.
What about DIY weapon construction? Couldn’t people get away with using thin foam and the like?
Not so much. Around any experienced group of LARPers, pull out a non-standard weapon and three people will immediately go “wrong foam” or “that’s too long.” We all know what a 5/8” padded 44” long sword looks like (in fact all DIY weapon crafters tend to order the exact same supplies from the exact same 3 suppliers). We all know how long 72” pole-arms and 64” staves and two-handed swords are. Anything even remotely out of the ordinary looks immediately suspicious. Anyone with more than a year of LARP combat experience just knows when they’re fighting someone with a shield that’s too large. Now as noted above, a new game with an unknown community element might benefit from a steady eye at check-in or out of game opening just to correct those well-intentioned but poorly read DIYers who inevitably use the 3/8” foam from Home Depot.