History Of Warfare

LARP Up Your LARP Bow

Larp Up Your LARP Bow, Artemis LARP.

Artemis LARP

Larp Up Your LARP Bow.

Larp Up Your LARP Bow.

LARP Up Your LARP Bow

PYEW! PYEW! PYEW!

That’s the sound a bow makes.

Everybody knows that, behind the humorless frown, that’s what Katniss Everdeen is thinking while she’s blasting targets.

PYEW PYEW! PYEW!

As we pointed out before, natural leaders naturally carry swords. Halberds are for servants who die to save your life, axes are for brutes and comic relief, and daggers are for cutthroats.

So who are bows for?

Thieves and cowards. Think Robin Hood, or Greek Paris, hiding behind the walls of Troy from the pointless war he George Bushed for the sake of a pretty face.

At least, that’s what the thugs with swords think. The longbow is indigenous, a hunter’s tool invented in Wales over 1,000 years before it was widely used for military purposes. It’s perfect for smash-and-grab, poorly-funded guerrilla warfare. Not “noble” or “bold,” but effective. Katniss, who symbolizes the least consequential and most exploited of the districts, can make a bow out of a tree if she needs to, like Dutch in PREDATOR. Crafty Katniss, graduate of the school of hard knocks and the university of self-sufficiency, SCL, needs a weapon as dependable as her own fingers.

It’s a feminine weapon. Look at it, smooth and rounded, hourglass-figured. Mmm, sexy. Artemis, goddess of the hunt, is often pictured with a bow, and also presided over virginity, childbirth, and wild animals.

Let’s not forget the fact that, despite Katniss’ surprising and refreshing role as the brave rescuer, this isn’t a society which has transcended gender roles. She’s only learned to be a badass and a leader because her mother couldn’t handle life when her father died.

The bow isn’t a blunt force. Katniss can’t fight hand to hand. She’s been trained to hunt, to kill from a distance. Mothers didn’t hand your LARP Bow down to their daughters because bows, like Katniss’ people, are ephemeral. They wear down, become brittle, and splinter with use. The sword is industry, the bow is agriculture.

Your LARP Bow is the tool of the exploited, but it’s also the unlikely symbol of revolution.

The moment first written 3,000 years ago, when Paris shoots triumphant Achilles in the heel—his one weak point—is precisely reiterated when:

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

When Katniss finds the weak point and shoots it.

PYEW! PYEW! PYEW!

A Players Guide To Formations In LARP Training

Formations in LARP Training

I’m curious how various LARP groups train their fighters.

According to this http://www.wikihow.com/Train-a-LARP-Group uniformity – even tyranny – is key.

“If an army is equipped together, instead of hodgepodge, then they will fight better as a unit.”

For the fun of it, he suggests three kinds of fighting groups – and with them, three kinds of weaponry.

For large groups, he suggests spears – imagine twenty or fifty spears in formations in LARP Training, sweeping the battlefield like water, slow and steady as a flood. For very small groups, he says, two-handed weapons work best.

Five or six iconoclasts charging down the field with massive hammers and axes. Sounds more like a mercenary group than a formation. Here are your hard-hitters, the ones who smash into the long-drilled military line and make a heavy dent. These are the ones who crush the spearmen’s flank.

Medium-sized groups, he suggests, might work best with sword-and-shield.

And “[i]f a few men want something different, explain how the group is more effective together than separate, because if one man gets their way, then the rest will soon follow.”

Keep order, he seems to shout, lest the individual revolt; this is the best way to preserve formation.

http://shortymonster.co.uk/2013/01/ suggests that intrinsic limitations to LARP formation are the main reason he’ll never LARP.

While it’s been suggested that LARP’s history is deeply rooted in military – and therefore, formation – reenactment, drilling and education and that the idea of formation might have a lot to do with its original implementation, it might be that this particular obsession has largely been cast aside.

Is formation important for you, as a LARPer? Or are character and story – or just waling away at like-minded individuals with foam weapons – more central to your overall experience?

Formations in LARP Training: Sternenfeuer group from Germany Recorded...

Formations in LARP Training: Sternenfeuer group from Germany Recorded at a meeting of the group.

Fantasy Weapons: Fire On The Water

Fantasy Weapons: Fire On The Water

Last week, I wrote about a historically relevant weapon.  This week, I wanted to focus on a fantasy weapon that is far more important: Greek Fire.

It burns on water. When you read about Greek Fire (and there are lots of little articles written about it), that’s what you hear again and again: it burns on water. This fascinated and terrified ancient soldiers. Used by the crusading Byzantine Greeks against their enemies, Greek fire was a liquid or gaseous conflagration that could be lobbed at targets in pots or projected through a tube.

Imagine a fire hose filled with actual fire. Imagine a mechanical dragon. Imagine, too, 1.5 millennia of scientists attempting to recreate it and failing.  It is because of these failed attempts that Greek Fire has fallen into the categories of myth and fantasy weapons.

Its formula was such a closely-kept secret that its owners only used it twice.  It was ultimately lost to history with the death of its inventor.

But in creative consciousness of scientists and fantasists it persists. The ancient step-father of grenades, napalm, flamethrowers, and numerous other inventions, it is re-imagined in Game of Thrones as wildfire, the magical green substance used by Tyron Lannister to annihilate Stannis’ fleet. It also appears in stories like Pirates of the Caribbean and Assassin’s Creed.

In every iteration, it’s a wildcard, a fantasy weapon that can’t lose but terrifies even its handlers.

Just as the most sadistic world leaders hold back their nukes for fear of being nuked, the Byzantines kept their wildfire largely to themselves.  Terrified that enemies might discover the secret and use it against them.

Though it did kill, reportedly, upwards of 60,000 soldiers in its brief period of use.

As we pour out a bit of whiskey for the fallen, we reflect: history might have told a different story had Greek generals been a little less careful. The balance of power, even the fate of the Crusades, could have been radically altered.  This fantasy weapon is an example of the downside of our human nature.  When we have an advantage we often keep it to ourselves and fail to use it.