Knowing how to heft a shield, swing a sword, or shoot a bow will no doubt come in handy. Knowing how to do all of this safely, of course, is of primary importance.
Forest of Doors is a boffer LARP, meaning physical combat is acted out in real time, with combatants actually striking each other with padded weapons, running about, and throwing things. Because of this, combat safety is paramount. FoD uses a “lightest touch” system for combat; both players and NPCs may only swing as hard as is necessary to contact their opponent. Excessively hard swings are not permitted, and if a player or NPC is repeatedly warned enough times about the strength of their swings, they will be pulled from combat; in some cases, permanently.
In a similar way, spell packets, thrown weapons, and especially bows must be used with as little force as possible to get the job done. FoD uses real bows with padded arrows, and even though the poundage on our missile weapons (30 lbs. for bows, 25 for crossbows) is quite light, they are still dangerous if used without care. In order to use a Bow or Crossbow, a player must be Bow Certified by a qualified marshal. This process only takes a few minutes, during which the marshal will go over safe distance, draw strength, safe targeting, shot choice, etc. Bow certification expires at the end of each season, so archers must take it every year. Bows tend to pose a higher safety risk than other aspects of LARP combat, so we are quite strict about their use. For more detail on weapon construction, see Resources.
Legal Target Areas
The only legal target areas are the Arms (from just past the wrist to the shoulder), Legs (from ankle to waist), and the Torso (back, side, and front). Hands, feet, groin, neck, and head are all illegal targets; any weapon of any type that strikes someone in one of these places does absolutely nothing. Spell packets, however, take effect wherever they hit, but if they actually take someone out of a fight (because of pain) due to the strength of a throw, then they also do nothing. Note that if you consistently target the head with spell packets, you are going to get pulled from combat.
As an extension of the “lightest touch” approach, players are not allowed to force an opponent’s weapon/shield out of the way by sheer strength. Also, if two combatant’s weapons become “locked,” they must immediately disengage with as little force as possible. It is permissible to strike an opponent’s weapon on purpose, in order to disrupt their line of attack (or what have you), but you may use no more force in doing so than is allowable in striking a player.
Foam weapons, padded arrows, and birdseed spell packets are the only things players and NPCs can use to make physical contact with others, in combat. No wrestling, punching, shield bashing, or anything remotely like this is allowed. In fact, players may not “crowd” other players, meaning that one should only get as close to another combatant as is necessary to contact them with your weapon; this means that the wielders of small weapons can get closer than the wielders of larger ones, but only within reason. Now, of course, combat is combat, and people crowd accidentally all the time, but they should move to a safe distance whenever possible. If someone stops moving when you are pressing an attack against them, you must stop moving, as well.
NEVER run full speed at an opponent. Our official rule is that you can run at someone up until you get 15’ away from them, at which time you must slow to a walking pace. Combat injuries are most often a result of charging and falling, and we are very strict on this rule’s enforcement.
There is a particular tendency for the users of larger shields to use them to crowd in on opponents; this is not acceptable. Your weapon determines how close you can get to an opponent, not your shield. Even so, shields are quite powerful in FoD; because we don’t allow “machine-gun” attacks, full-strength swings, raking, or headshots, a shield functions more like a forcefield. As such, you cannot crouch behind a shield such that you reduce or eliminate the exposure of legal target areas (a venerable concept in LARP circles known as “turtling”).
FoD is not a speed game, where you ignore defense in order to put up damage numbers on someone, “machine-gunning” as fast as you can. In fact, we have a “one attack per second rule,” which means exactly that: you may swing your weapon (to attack) no faster than once per second. Of course, in the heat of combat, adrenaline runs high and people move fast, but if you notice your attacks starting to speed up to unacceptable levels, then slow them down. A good rule of thumb is to make attacks at a slow enough speed that you could say an intelligible tagline before you hit. Although we do allow and encourage the use of “two weapon” combat, this option does not, in any way, negate the one second rule. The one second rule does not apply to feints and other maneuverings; it only applies to actual attacks.
Frankly, fights that have a slightly slower pace, with attention paid to attack distance, speed, and force, are just inherently more tactical than a berserk free for all. But make no mistake; things are going to get as chaotic, frenetic, and scary as combat should be, in any case.
FoD uses melee weapons constructed out of PVC pipe or fiberglass kite spar, which is then padded with 5/8” thick, closed-cell foam pipe insulation, with the addition of a 2” open-cell thrusting tip. The pommels of weapons must be covered in 5/8” closed cell foam that extends past the core by at least 1/2”, and Close Weapons, which are used for Subdual, must have an additional 1” of open-cell padding. Thrown weapons must be constructed entirely from closed cell and/or open cell foam; they also may not have any sharp, hard, or narrow edges or points. Arrow construction is detailed in Resources.
“Flat blade” and Latex weapons are not expressly forbidden in FoD, but we will take them on a case by case basis, for weapons constructed with these two methods tend to vary wildly in safety and quality. Latex swords, in particular, are notorious for having unsafe thrusting tips (European LARPs use Latex weapons almost exclusively and they generally disallow thrusting: we don’t), so keep this in mind. All weapons must be safety checked by a marshal before each and every event, with no exceptions. Anyone found using an unsafe weapon will have it immediately removed from combat; repeated infractions will result in being pulled from combat and being officially warned.
If you hear “HOLD!” called, immediately stop what you are doing and take to one knee. This call means that a safety issue has come up, an important clarification needs to be made, or a special, plot-based event is going to happen.
Any player is authorized to call a hold if they think a safety issue is at hand. Do note that players should avoid calling them excessively, however.
Holds are ended after all issues are resolved, with a designated party loudly and slowly calling “3, 2, 1, LAY ON!”
As a point of advice, using “hold” as an in-game command is not a very good idea, for this can lead to confusion. “Stop!” or “Wait!” are better options.
Out of Play
If a person is wearing a white headband or if they have a weapon/clenched fist resting on their forehead, they are out of play. Those who are in play cannot see or interact with people who are out of play, and most certainly cannot attack them. Players should only go out of play for very good reasons, such as trips to the bathroom or to track down plot for important rules/game questions.
A medic call demands an immediate Hold, and represents a REAL medical emergency. Do not call for a Healer (as this is an in-game term) if a real emergency is at hand, and vice-versa.
Characters wearing bright orange headbands are Non-Combatants; you may not engage them in combat, as a result. Please see Resources our Non-Combatant policy.