LARP Safety Rules

Because LARPs involve running around in the woods swinging swords at people, it's potentially very easy for accidents to happen; especially when people aren't used to LARPing or get a bit carried away. For this reason, there are a number of important Out of Character rules which are reiterated during the Safety Brief at the start of each LARP and must always be followed. Not only do they stop accidents happening, they also help give a good impression to the public and help make things more fun for everyone involved.

Just because something isn't mentioned during the pre-game safety briefing or on this page doesn't mean that it's safe to do - if you're asked to stop doing something during a LARP by the LARP organiser or GM because they don't feel that it's safe, stop doing it. If you think you should be allowed to do it, don't argue about it then and there, raise the issue after the LARP and talk to the LARP Organiser about it either in person or over email.

There are three main aspects to LARP Safety:

  • Weapon Safety tells you how to spot an unsafe weapon and how to avoid damaging weapons.
  • Combat Safety tells you how to fight safely - what not to do to avoid injuring yourself or others.
  • Time Calls tells you about the various calls used to tell everyone what to do at various points during a LARP.

Before Bows or Crossbows may be used by players they must first undergo a Competency test from someone who is already trained.

Weapon Safety

  • Unused weapons - If a weapon is not being used then it should be carefully put down so that it is lying full length on the ground, put in the kit bag or leant against a tree or similar. When putting weapons in the kit bag, always do so pommel first, and when leaning a weapon against something always ensure that the pommel rather than the point is resting on the ground. Resting weapons point-down can damage the end of the weapon, leading to the core coming through and the weapon becoming unsafe to fight with. Also, try to leave weapons off the path or at the edge of the clearing so that people don't tread on them or trip over them.
  • Carrying weapons - If in possession of a weapon, always carry it in your hand or bag or sheathe it in your scabbard. Never lean your weight on a weapon or rest it so that the point is touching the ground, as this can damage the end of the weapon, leading to the core coming through and the weapon becoming unsafe to fight with. Obviously, quarterstaffs are an exception to this rule.
  • Don't throw weapons - The only weapons which can be thrown are the coreless throwing daggers. Never throw any other weapon, either during combat or as a means of passing it to someone else outside of combat, as this could cause injury or damage the weapon.
  • Exposed cores - If the core of a weapon is exposed at any point along its length, that weapon is not considered combat-safe and should be discarded immediately on noticing the break.
  • Torn latex - This is not such a major issue, as it is less directly relevant to safety, but it's a good sign that you should be checking your weapon for safety, and probably getting it re-latexed if the damage is significant.
  • Striking surfaces - Most weapons are only designed to be struck with on one part of their length (for example, LARP swords are rarely designed for pommel strikes); on striking surfaces, the padding will be thicker. Don't hit people with other parts of the weapon, as this will hurt the person struck and may damage the weapon.

Combat Safety

  • Pull your blows - Always pull all your blows, with whatever you're wielding. The longer your weapon, the greater the restraint required not to accidentally hit too hard. If someone says you're hitting to hard, then you're hitting too hard! You may need to adjust the force of your blows depending on factors such as weapon weight and balance, and remember that some people are more sensitive than others.
  • Never hit the head - The head is not a legal location in the Memento Mundi system, and it is considered unsafe to hit people on the head. Don't do it. Repeat offenders may be asked to stop fighting.
  • Never stab - Cored latex weapons are not designed to be safe if thrust with. Don't stab anyone with anything, even if you think you can. Even with uncored weapons, it's a lot harder to pull your blows when stabbing, and if you accidentally hit somewhere sensitive, trip, lose your balance, etc. then you're putting a lot more pressure on a smaller area, so stabbing makes accidents more likely and more serious if they do happen.
  • Never grab an opponent's weapon - Never, under any circumstances, seize another player's weapon during combat. This is unsafe, and may also result in very expensive damage to weapons.
  • No pushing, punching or wrestling - Never push, slap, kick, punch, trip, wrestle or grapple another player. If you are playing a weaponless monster or delivering unarmed attacks as a player, they should be delivered as a light tap with an open palm - never use an open fist. Never grab another player - if a monster or character is grabbing hold of someone, they should represent it by resting their hands on them rather than taking hold. Under certain limited circumstances, with explicit prior negotiation between both players, the GM and the organiser, players may grapple each other, but this is a rare exception to the normal run of things.
  • Don't duck - Although many people will instinctively duck or crouch when they see a blow coming towards them, this is unsafe in LARP combat as it means that a blow aimed at the chest or shoulders may instead end up hitting the head. Don't try and take advantage of the “no head hits” rule by using your head as a shield, either - this is not only unsafe, it is also cheating and will get you told off.
  • Don't parry arrows - LARP arrows and bolts are only safe on one end. If you try to parry an arrow with a weapon, it will begin to spin in the air and will almost certainly hurt the person behind you, even if it doesn't hurt you. One end is padded and safe, the other end consists of thin, hard wood and plastic.
  • Don't hit bows - The archer you're charging can't hit you with their bow, and isn't allowed to parry you with it; please don't hit their bow, as it is impolite, dangerous and potentially very expensive to replace. This applies equally to crossbows.
  • Don't tread on arrows - They're expensive, they break, and once broken they're very dangerous. Don't tread on arrows, and where possible pick them up so that no-one else will, to be returned to the archer at the end of the encounter. This applies equally to crossbow bolts.
  • Shields - Shields are not to be used as offensive weapons. Don't hit people with the shield or try to clear your path with it, as they aren't sufficiently padded and cannot be safely used to hit someone.

Time Calls

  • Time In - Start acting in character, you can assume that anybody around is there in character unless they're waving their finger in the air and saying “you can't see me” or “I'm not here”.
  • Time Out - The encounter is over. Drop out of character for a bit, so as we can do OoC things like battleboarding.
  • Time Faff - The players remain in character and do whatever players do when they're not being attacked, while one of any number of things (monsters move kit/monsters get up and run off/GMs hack the plot/the next encounter's set up) happens that they're not meant to interact with.
  • Time Freeze - Everybody stops where they are, but stays IC. Game time is frozen as something that needs GM description has just happened, so the GM is going to describe it. The players may be asked to close their eyes and hum so that they don't see what's being set up. This may also be used as a general purpose call to stop the game mid-encounter for any reason.
  • MAN DOWN! - Stop what you're doing, don't move (unless you're standing on the person who's down, or on their glasses, etc.) and wait to find out who fell over and whether or not they're okay. You will be timing back in as if from a time-freeze, and people moving over or crowding round may make the situation worse, so don't move from your current position unless there's a very good reason to do so.
  • Walkers - Non-roleplayers are approaching the game. Shotover is a public common, so stop fighting and stand aside so that they can get through and you don't accidentally hit their kids or trip over their dog. Be polite and inoffensive, don't threaten them with weapons or say things which may be misunderstood. Note that it's traditional to make this call in as camp a voice as possible!

Bow Competency Test

Basic Criteria for Competency

Technical Safety
  • Can you correctly identify unsafe strings?
  • Fraying of string or wrapping
  • Stretch marks on loops
  • String too short for the bow being fired
Can you correctly identify unsafe arrows?
  • Fletching insecurely attached
  • Head damaged or coming unstuck, or frozen
  • Shaft cracked or warped such that it will cause shots to behave unpredictably
  • Nock insecure or cracked
Can you correctly identify unsafe staves or mechanisms?
  • Signs of cracking or lateral warping
  • Insecure hand grip which could slip
  • Cracked or overly grooved tips

Technique Competency

  • Can you correctly string and unstring your own bow?
  • Unstring your bow when not in use.
  • Can you correctly nock an arrow with the cock feather out and draw to loose with safe and controlled technique?
  • Don't dry fire a bow.
  • Always clean the nocks on your arrows.

Usage Safety

  • Don't shoot the head.
  • Can you judge safe declination?
  • Do you know how to vary the power of the arrow for range?
  • Don't clout people with the bow, even if it's latex covered.
  • Don't shoot anything below minimum distance, 12 feet.
  • Don't fire an arrow straight up.

Test Procedure

Demonstrate the ability to string your bow, correctly nock, draw and loose ten arrows at designated targets and then unstring the bow. For at least some of these shots, the target will be the administrator holding a shield at different heights and ranges.

Examine the following pieces of equipment:

  • One damaged arrow, identify all defects.
  • Three bow strings, of which one is frayed beyond safety.
  • Fire an arrow at what you judge to be the highest safe declination which will not cause the arrow to overturn.

The administrator will ask at least five of the following questions. Incorrectly answering any one question requires correction at the end of the test, but is not an automatic failure. Incorrectly answering two questions will fail the applicant.

  • When you pick up a fired arrow, what should you immediately check?
  • Required answer: if the nock is clear of mud and other obstructions. Greater detail and thoroughness is always good though.
  • What is the minimum safe firing distance?
  • 12 feet
  • How should you carry a bow between uses?
  • Unstrung.
  • How would you parry a blow with your bow?
  • You wouldn't!
  • Should the distance to target affect the length of your draw, and if so, in what way?
  • As targets get closer to you, draw the bow to a shallower point in order to minimise the force with which your arrows hit the target.
  • How should firing from a position of significant elevation affect your shooting?
  • Extreme care is needed to ensure that arrows do not risk striking the head or overturning in flight. There are some situations where a slope will make it entirely unsafe to shoot.
  • What is “Dry Firing”?
  • Drawing and releasing the string without an arrow nocked. A capital crime.
  • At what angle should arrow be nocked relative to the rest?
  • Approximately 90 degrees relative to the rest on the stave, though some variance will result in rapid fire.
  • When aiming at a relatively near target, would you aim above or below your target point?
  • Below: arrows tend to jump on release.
  • List at least three potential safety failures or damage points on your bow-stave which should be regularly checked during usage.
  • See above.
  • Under what circumstances might you fire an arrow straight up?
  • Never.

Crossbow Competency Test

Basic Criteria for Competency

Technical Safety
  • Can you correctly identify unsafe strings?
  • Fraying of string or wrapping
  • Stretch marks around staples
  • Uneven thickness around the point of draw, particularly a narrowing indicating that the string has begun to warp
  • Looseness or over-stretching of the string
Can you correctly identify unsafe bolts?
  • Fletching insecurely attached
  • Head damaged or coming unstuck, or frozen
  • Shaft cracked or warped such that it will cause shots to behave unpredictably
  • Nock insecure or cracked
  • Shaft abraded by repeated loading such that it is no longer of uniform cross-section
Can you correctly identify unsafe staves or mechanisms?
  • Signs of cracking or lateral warping
  • Insecure hand grip which could slip
  • Cracked or overly grooved loading mechanism
  • Loose trigger, arms or staples
  • Rusty trigger, arms or staples

Technique Competency

  • Can you correctly and evenly cock your own bow?
  • Can you correctly load a bolt?
  • Don't dry fire a bow.

Usage Safety

  • Don't shoot the head.
  • Can you judge safe declination?
  • Do you know how to vary the point of aim to adjust for bolt jumping as range closes?
  • Don't clout people with the bow, even if it's latex covered.
  • Don't shoot anything below minimum distance, 12 feet.
  • Don't fire a bolt straight up.

Test Procedure

Demonstrate a reasonable familiarity with the working principles of, and thus the points of potential mechanical damage to, the bow.

Demonstrate the ability to load your bow, and fire ten bolts at designated targets. For at least some of these shots, the target will be the administrator holding a shield at different heights and ranges. Typically, this test must include the administrator requesting at least one illegal shot (e.g. inside minimum range, head-shot, etc.) and the candidate refusing.

Examine the following pieces of equipment: One damaged bolt, identify all defects.

Fire an arrow at what you judge to be the highest safe declination which will not cause the bolt to deviate from a safe flight.

The administrator will ask at least five of the following questions. Incorrectly answering any one requires correction at the end of the test, but is not an automatic failure. Incorrectly answering two questions will fail the applicant.

  • When you pick up a fired bolt, what should you immediately check?
  • All potential damage points, particularly to the shaft.
  • What is the minimum safe firing distance?
  • 12 feet
  • Once combat has ended, what is the first thing you should ensure about your bow?
  • That it is unloaded and is not cocked.
  • How would you parry a blow with your bow?
  • You wouldn't!
  • How should firing from a position of significant elevation affect your shooting?
  • Extreme care is needed to ensure that bolts do not risk striking the head or overturning in flight. There are some situations where a slope will make it entirely unsafe to shoot.
  • What is 'Dry Firing'?
  • Cocking and firing the bow without a bolt loaded. A capital crime.
  • When aiming at a relatively near target, would you aim above or below your target point?
  • Below: bolts tend to jump on release.
  • List at least three potential safety failures or damage points on your bow which should be regularly checked during usage.
  • See above.
  • Under what circumstances might you fire a bolt straight up?
  • Never.
safety_rules.txt · Last modified: 2012/09/25 18:54 by dan
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