Getting Started in 4x larp.

How does getting up and running in a 4x larp differ from getting started in a combat larp? There are many posts on /r/reddit asking for help getting started with larp. So many that I made my own getting started post, so I didn’t have to keep repeating the same info. So lets head off that inevitable question by discussing how to get started with a 4x larp.


The main difference between this game and many others is that the individual persona is not the most basic unit of character in the game. The House is the most basic unit of character in the game. To keep the same character alive they must join a house. You will add to it’s resources, and they will provide you with supporting story, gear, garb, and camaraderie. Getting into a House is the first and most important thing you should do when joining the 4x larp.

As a player it’s your job to help tell the story of the house. To add to the aesthetic, and perhaps add to the narrative and role playing of the house. If you just want to play guards and fight, that’s fine. But should you want to step up and take a greater role you need to know the houses background. Get to know what choices the other house members have made about what story they are telling, and find out how you can work with the other players to add an interesting detail.

Many of those details are going to be visual. So getting garb which fits the theme is really important. Remember, footwear is the most difficult thing to get right when you’re new. If the house you are joining is outlandish in style, they should provide you with details, or items to get you started. If they are closer to the norm of fantasy larp, then help provide garb to other members of the house.

Garb for newbies is always a bit daunting. But with a bit of time and effort you can put together something basic at a reasonable price. First year newbies get a pass on their garb as long as it meets a basic level of acceptability. Pictured we have perfectly acceptable first year garb. It consists of sweat pants, made from modern materials with a tiny logo, and a woven natural fiber long sleeve shirt. Lack of logos is important. The color probably shouldn’t be black. All black is really ‘basic NPC kit’. Basic PC kit should have color.

Take some time to put together weapons and armor which reflect the theme of the house. The house should have a boffer weapon style, and might also have a latex style as well. While it will be cheap in materials, but take labor to build your own boffer weapon, you’ll have the ability to customize your weapons to match the house. At the moment there is no distinction or restriction on boffer vs latex weapons. While we’re experimenting feel free to use either.

Second Year Newbie Garb

While putting together your gear and preparing to attend your first event, you should also be practicing with your house. The group will be expected to fight together, possibly in a historic style, or possibly making up the houses own style. Either way, make sure you train with the group and fight together. Practice makes a big difference on the battle field.

Event Holder

As there no existing groups playing this game, most likely if you want to play a 4x larp you will have to start one yourself. That makes you the Event Holder by Default. To run a 4x larp there needs to be a few houses established. So let’s assume that you have 10 – 30 players who are interested in playing this game. Maybe you’re all new to larp, or maybe you’re an existing group looking for a game to keep things fresh between regular games.

For a first event, or for the inexperienced, keep it simple. Stick to the 7 Battle Types already addressed. Schedule as much of the event as possible before it starts. This will prevent getting overwhelmed between battles. Determine which battles are going to be played and what their out comes could mean before setting foot on the field. There will still be plenty of things that crop up which you weren’t expecting.

After practicing event holding, maybe after a year or so of holding events, you might get comfortable coming up with more of the event on the fly. More and more of the story can be told in improvisational style, and less will have to be done before hand. At that point you might start considering the 8th Battle Type. Which might not be a battle at all.

The most difficult type of combat round to come up with is the Quest. When Houses choose to explore a location on the map, they engage in a quest. Which in format is more like the Events most combat larps are known for. However it still takes place in the same time frame of a typical 4x larp combat. Think of it as a free form module placed among battle games. Quests require a lot more creativity, flexibility, and resources so make sure you’re prepared. But also, don’t be afraid to remix components you’ve already gathered. Don’t try and write plot, instead write characters.

After reading this a couple times it seems like a fairly poor introduction to Getting Started. Are there specifics that need to be addressed? What would you want to know about getting started in 4x larp? Tweet or post comments using G+. Or talk to me in person when the weather gets warm.

10 steps to Boffer Weapon Construction.

Here is a DIY guide for making a boffer weapon step by step in pictures. Don’t forget to grab a copy of the shopping list before starting this process! This is a very long post, with lots of giant pictures which you can also find on my Pinterest board.

Here we’re making a boffer dagger, but these steps can be followed almost exactly to produce a one handed weapon of just about any length. Even hand and a half swords are not much different in terms of construction. Mastering these steps will provide a good foundation for producing just about any boffer weapon you want.

Note these steps are regional to the New England Boffer Larp scene in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. At the time I learned these steps them met the safety requirements for most of the New England area. Those rules may have changed over time. You may be trying to make weapons for a different game. The materials listed may not be available anymore. When following this guide make sure to check with your larp to confirm that weapons produced will confirm to the safety standards of the game you play. Use at your own risk.

1.) Cut the pipe.

Pipe cutters are really handy for cutting PVC pipe.

2.) Cap and Strap

Get a plastic soda bottle, cut out a square of plastic. Using the small piece of PVC, draw circles on the plastic. Cut out the circles.The circles are then strapped to the ends of the PVC. This prevents the PVC from damaging the blade, the squishy tip, and people. Make sure that no plastic hangs out over the side of the PVC, or it will slice through the strapping tape and the blade foam. Make the circles as round as possible.
It’s a bit difficult to tell in the picture, the PVC is entirely covered with strapping tape. Feel free to spiral wrap the strapping tape if you prefer. Depending on the external diameter of the pipe and the internal diameter of the foam a bit of extra thickness from the strapping tape is not a bad thing.

3.) Cut the foam.

In the image, from left to right, we have:
1.) 2 inch long filler piece, which is the Safety Tip.
2.) The Guard.
3.) The blade.
4.) A full length tube of foam for reference.

The safety tip is a 2 inch piece of foam which is placed in the end of the blade. No tape is needed to keep the foam in there, it will stay in all by itself.

4.) Strap the blade.

Notice the Safety Tip does not stick out of the top of the blade. It is in there, you just cant see it. If it’s sticking out the top, you have not strapped the blade correctly. Securing the blade to the core is all done by creating a little basket at the base where the guard will be placed later. Feel free to use a lot of strapping tape. Here, too much is better than too little.

The guard has a 1 inch long hole cut in the middle of it. That whole goes through both sides. Remove the material (or your guard will be lumpy).

5.) Strap the guard.

As the seam of the foam breaks down faster than any other part make sure the guard is not in line with the seam of the blade. Anchor the guard 90 degrees offset from the seam.The user will naturally hold the weapon in such a way as to strike with the solid part of the blade instead of the seam. This increases the life of the weapon. Some boffer systems require a piece of strapping tape on the seam. Personally I find it’s a little better to leave the tape off, and just get the seam out of the way. But strapping the seam also works.

6.) Strap the squishy tip.

The open cell foam pictured is not ideal. It is literally the last foam I had in the house, and I had to make it work. Use a solid block of open cell foam 2 inches tall, and use scissors to cut out the correct shape. Pictured is two one inch pieces of egg crate foam taped together. Yeah. Not the best. But it will work.

7.) Strap the pommel (optional).

Here is the easiest pommel you can make. Take a 1 inch length of blade foam, it happens to be about the same width as the handle. Cut a small chunk out, and reverse it, filling the center. Strap it on the pipe then tape it securely.

8.) Apply duct tape.

After some practice you should be able to apply the blades in two long strips of tape. Use a counter top and the guard to steady the weapon by hanging the guard off the edge of the counter. Don’t try and set the weapon on the guard on a flat table, the angle this causes is just a hassle. Especially when turning the weapon over to put the tape on the other side. The act of flipping the weapon without getting the tape stuck to itself takes lots of practice.
Turning the tape in the same direction as the weapon is a skill that requires practice.

9.) Cosmetic Fixes.

For this dagger the little cosmetic issues were mostly around the handle. But also if you have any gaps in the blade. Cut a piece of duct tape in half (the long way) and patch the gaps.

10.) Add grip (optional).

I like Renfrew Hockey Tape on the handle. Or other good Canadian tape. You won’t lose your weapon in combat. In fact you have to peel your hand off the weapon when you’re done. It’s good stuff. Wear gloves if you don’t like getting tar on your hands.
Now that you have some Boffer Swords, you need some Boffer Shields! Here are 10 Steps to Boffer Shield Construction. While playing with the swords is tons of fun, adding the shields is even better. You get a real cinematic feel when you add them.

Do you have a boffer construction trick to share? Tweet me. Comment on this post. Check out my Facebook group for Boffer larp in Massachusetts.