The safety of our participants is of great importance to us. LARP is a very active hobby, full of tension, action and acted fighting with foam weapons. An important factor for the over-all safety of everyone is - besides our common sense and a healthy regard for the rules by all fighters - the weapon itself.
Of course, every safe latex weapon can be dangerous if used wrongly. But that is not only a problem of LARP but of every other activity, too. Nevertheless, there will be tests for every weapon to be used at the Drachenfest to minize existing risks.
As we cannot look into all these weapons manufactured in a dozen or so of different countries, our weapon checks are only a obligatory service but no competent rating for legal purposes. The responsibility for the weapons' safety still stays with the manufacturer and user.
At the Drachenfest, weapon safety is taken very seriously. This results from the fact that fighting situations are much more extensive than at events a twentieth of our size. On the one hand these acted fights are fantastic and impressive, on the other hand they are riskier. Any problems arising from being in a close combat situation are worsened by the large number of participants.
All these thoughts and experiences from the past Drachenfests have lead us to our current handling of weapon checks. We just ask you to respect our work for you, even though not every weapon will make it through the check.
In the following we want to list the criteria a foam weapon has to satisfy to potentially pass the check. Of course, all weapons fulfilling these criteria have to be presented for the check, nevertheless.
Which are all weapons featuring a blade and a handle.
The base of every latex sword has to be a breaking-proof fibre glass rod as its core. Whether it is round or angular is of next-to-no importance. The padding has to be in a way that ensures that the fibre glass will - during normal acted fights - never break through in any direction. We recommend a minimum of 15 millimeteres padding at the hit-zones (e.g. the edge of the blade) and a minimum of 5 millimetres padding at the non-hit zones (the broad side of the blade, for example). Using a 12x10 millimetre rod as the core that gives us 42 millimetres minimum width and 20 millimetres minimum thickness.
Cross guard and pommel also have to be padded. As both are usually not actively used during a fight, their padding may be made of more solid rubber foam. The cross guard has to be flexible if brought in contact with any solid bodies. Cross beams containing metal, fibre glass etc. are not allowed.
The weight of the weapon is also quite important with latex weapons. Some weapons are better balanced at the grip than others. Such weapons are preferrable as it makes them easier to control while fighting. Still, there is such a thing as too much weight. If it becomes to heavy, a latex weapon gets much to bulky and is unsafe again.
In building your own weapon, the hardness of the foam plastic can only be considered in relation to the whole weapon. We recommend using tearproof foam plastic used by professional weapon manufacturers.
This can be foam plastic of average firmness, such as "PE PZ45" (which is used by several weapon manufacturers in europe, such as Skian Mhor of England, or Wyvern and Fantastic Artworks in Germany), but can also be the softer "PE EV50". The latter is used, for example, in weapons made by Jörg Gehl. Both materials have both advantages and disadvantages, but are both suitable. When using softer foam plastic, consider increasing material thickness (e.g. 20mm on hit-zones, 10mm on non-hit-zones), as otherwise the core might break out too easily.
Which are to be carried in hand or at the forearm as defense against weapons
There are two types of shields usable for LARP: with a harder core and without it. Both are allowed at the Drachenfest. When used, the core is most often a plastic or wooden disc, but never a metal one. The core must never - under normal fighting circumstances - be able to break and has to be padded at front and at all edges. No sharp or pointed spots (e.g. screws, nails) may protude.
Minimum shield edge padding: 3 to 5 centimetres
Minimum shield front padding: 10 millimetres
We recommend to use shields made completely out of foam plastic which show - if build correctly - no disadvantages compared to "cored shields". They are lightweight, durable and safe.
Pole weapons / Shafted weapons
Which are all axes, halberds, clubs and quarterstaffs
These weapons are also divided in parts of hit zones and non-hit zones. Hit zones are most likely the head of an axe of club or their blade. Their shaft is a non-hit zone.
This is also true with polearms and halberds, with the only exeption being the quarterstaff . Polearms and quarterstaffs have to be handled with both hands to allow for better weapon control - with the quarterstaff this is most important.
As these weapons are much bigger than normal swords, please be extra careful in handling them.
As a core fibre glass poles up to 16 millimetres diameter may be used.
Pole weapons have to be padded EVERYWHERE with at least 6 millimetres harder foam plastic or 10 millimetres of softer foam plastic.
Which are bows and crossbows firing safely padded projectiles.
Bows and crossbows may never be used as weapons in close combat (meaning: never parry the blow of a sword with your (cross)bow.
Ballistic weapons may have a maximum draw weight of 30 pounds. Tampering with the draw weight after weapon check (e.g. by shortening or modifying toe bowstring) can lead to expulsion from the game.
The usage of arrows/bolts longer than those presented at the weapon check ist also not allowed (e.g. when using another's arrows) as a longer draw also leads to a higher draw weight.
Only safe - that is padded - bolts and arrows may be used. Both are of similar construction:
A shaft of durable wood or fibre glass, firmly seated into a head of foam plastic, secured against breaking out of both the sides and the front of the projectile's head. For this purpose a small piece of wood or leather is used most often. Bolts have to be fletched twice, arrows three times. Only correctly fletched ammunition does not turn over while flying.
The "point" of the projectile's head has to be of 40 millimetres diameter minimum (that is: wider than a human's eye socket) and has to be made of soft foam plastic. Sponges normally used for make up have profen practical for this purpose.
Exception: IDV arrows in good condition are allowed as well.
If the construction of a series of arrows or bolts is not apparent from the outside, the weapon inspectors have the right to cut open one of the series as a sample. If the owner does not agree to this, this whole series of arrows/bolts will not pass the weapon check.
Which get ever more popular.
Throwing stones, daggers, axes and spears are thrown at the enemy at short distance. They have to be completely foamed and coreless (that is: without any fibre glass pole or anything similar inside). Their weight is of importance, too (too heavy things fly better, but aren't safe anymore).
Siege weapons can only be checked in along with the projectiles to be used. We will not make binding statements about any siege weapon (in regard to their safety) beforehand, neither by email nor by phone. If you are not willing to risk not passing the weapon check, please leave your siege weapon at home.
Note: Someone talking "vividly and persuadingly" about their home-built siege weapon is NOT helpful for the one examining the weapon. A contact person available for questions and/or a demonstration is.
More about passing the weapon check with your siege weapons, please see „Siege Rules“.
Which are all the things saving you from those unpleasant enemy hits. The more you have, the better….
Why check armour? Easy enough: In recent years more and more armour is for sale in very different qualities. We surely don't want to discredit the sellers of low-grade armour, but as time has shown we have to take a look at what our participants wear. Here, too, the "crowd-factor" comes into the equation: 3000 participants on one meadow breathing adrenalin and stress push, shove, press, storm, flee and sometimes also stumble. Accidents resulting from this are mainly a question of safe armour/equipment. It is said that there were people tripping over their own "armour".
Armour - whether made from leather, chain mail or metal - may not have any sharp edges. Especially when made of metal. Please avoid metal armour without flanging, any kind of sharp spikes or spiky ellbows (however medievally authentic this may be).
We will mark sharp edges and borders of your armour with coloured tape as a warning to everyone else. If this is not possible or wanted, please leave your sharp-edged armour at home.
we reommend to wear helmets during the final battle. Especially in this turmoil weapons can - accidently - hit a head or two. A helmet protects you in this case and - of course - makes you look great in the battle line.