All weapon construction is viewed with the idea of safety foremost. The weapon design specifications are intended to represent the bare minimum necessary for a weapon to pass safety inspection. Be aware that even the safest weapon could cause injury if improperly used. Therefore, in addition to weapon construction, practice in the use of the weapon is needed.
Every weapon must be checked for safety by a Marshal at every event it is brought to. Weapons break down over time, and a weapon which is safe at one event may not be safe at the next. Local marshals may, at their discretion, require additional measures be taken to ensure a weapon is safe for Alliance use. It is always best to consult your local marshals to determine their expectations when you are designing or looking to purchase a new weapon. Since specifics on weapon safety might vary chapter to chapter, only a marshal from a specific chapter can verify that any particular weapon will or will not pass in their chapter.
If your weapon phys rep breaks during an event, then in-game, your weapon has broken as well. You cannot call a Hold to go get another phys rep, and you must turn over the weapon to a marshal. If, however, the weapon was unshatterable in-game, then a short Hold can be called to replace the phys rep if another is immediately available.
All exposed core must be rendered safe with tape and padding. In a melee, it is possible to accidentally hit someone with the pommel or crossguard—so even these parts must be protected. The only exception to this is the grip, which may be left unpadded if desired though you may use tape, leather or other materials to provide a more comfortable and secure grip. A weapon’s unpadded grip should only extend to parts of the weapon which are never expected to come in contact with opponents. In general, a good rule of thumb is to leave no more than one-quarter of the length of the weapon unpadded for a grip, though this depends on the specific type of weapon. For example, polearms will often have a longer length of core left unpadded, but keep in mind that padding should exist on significant portions of the core below the head as those parts of the weapon will often come in contact with others. You must always wield cored weapons by their designated grip. Remember that safety is our main concern here.
All weapons which are intended to allow thrusting must have a thrusting tip. A thrusting tip consists of at least two inches of open cell foam padding beyond the end of the pipe insulation. If the foam tip is too small, opponents could get hurt with a stiff thrust. If the tip is too large, it could easily break off or fold over, making it useless. A thrusting tip should not be longer than its diameter and should collapse about half of its length when pressure is applied.
All crossguards must be below the blade or shaft of the weapon. Crossguards can be made of open cell or closed cell foam. All weapon heads or protuberances above the crossguard must be made of foam with no core regardless of size. As always, safety is paramount and protuberances which are found to be unsafe will be rejected.
All striking surfaces of the weapon must be protected with at least 5/8" thick closed cell foam. If 5/8" foam is not available two layers of thinner foam may be used if the combined thickness is greater than 5/8". In addition, all non-striking surfaces which may come into contact with another player (such as the shaft of a blunt weapon or polearm, crossguards, and the flats of sword blades) must be protected with sufficient closed cell foam to ensure safety should accidental strikes happen with those areas of the weapon. Weapons which do not have sufficient padding on non-striking surfaces will absolutely be disallowed from play. If you are unsure what qualifies, it’s always best to stick with a minimum of 5/8" thick foam on all sections of the weapon above the grip.
Take this point very seriously! If you do not have your weapon checked and you hit someone and your weapon breaks and hurts them, it will be your responsibility. The legal release you sign does not cover you if you do not follow our safety rules.
Weapons are generally made with a PVC pipe core covered with pipe foam. Alternative cores made of fibreglass, graphite or carbon such as fishing poles or kite spar are sometimes used, but this is at the discretion of each chapter. Light aluminum can be used for two handed weapons (except staffs) but never for one handed weapons. Aluminum is not flexible enough for shorter weapons. Heavy aluminum pipe, wood and metal wire are never acceptable weapon making materials.
All weapons must be fairly rigid so as not to act as a whip when swung quickly. Because of this rule, 1⁄2 inch PVC tends to be unacceptable for weapons over 32 inches long in total length. Under most circumstances, a weapon tip should not bend more than 6 inches from true when a moderate weight is applied to the tip and the grip is held level.
All weapons must also have some give to them when contact is made. The core should flex somewhat. If the core does not flex, then you may be required either to use a smaller diameter pipe or add more padding to insure that the weapon is safe. This is often the case with metal pipes or when the pipe diameter is too large for the weapon type. If the pipe insulation on the shaft is too compressed, the weapon will hit harder than desired and will fail a weapons check.
One common mistake is to use foam of a smaller diameter than the pipe being used, forcing the foam over the pipe. This makes the weapon too hard. Another common mistake is to wrap the duct tape around the foam too tightly, or even in a spiral pattern up the blade. This tends to make the insulation too stiff and gives unwanted weight. The insulation should slide easily over the pipe, but fit snugly so that the weapon will not rattle if the pipe is shaken. The foam should be taped lengthwise, using 2 inch wide duct tape and overlapping about 1⁄4 inch. This will use the least amount of tape, keeping the weapon light and safe. Vinyl electrical tape has less give than duct tape; however, it is acceptable for use in noncontact areas of the weapon as decoration or grips. In addition, you may want to cover your weapon with cloth after it is completed. You should keep in mind that it is a weapon and not use paisley prints or other silly colors. The cloth should be sewn very tightly and not be a loose covering.
Note that if a sword is to have a weighted pommel, that pommel must be thickly padded since it could potentially do more damage than a normal weapon blade.