The Darkest Space: Knife Fighting Mechanics

For today’s #MechanicsMonday, let’s talk about what knife fighting will look like in the upcoming Fanseeth game!

See, knife fighting is sort of a thing among the Fanseeth. Actual dueling with actual knives was outlawed in the early days, but there remain multiple competitions and sports that involve it, as well as duels to settle issues—especially between young people and between clades. These duels are seldom done with real knives, and even when they are the consequences are rarely directly fatal. Often ways of simply marking the opponent are used, with some agreed-upon bet set ahead of time.

We’ll talk more about the hows and whys of these fights in an upcoming #WorldbuildingWednesday, but for now: let’s talk about the out-of-game mechanics of knife fighting for the upcoming game, The Darkest Space.

For the purposes of the game there are four guiding principles:

  • No real weapons. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. No real injuries. Weapon approximations should also total less than one foot (12 inches) in length (pommel to tip).
  • All fights *must* be with “lightest possible touch” as the guiding principle, and no thrusting with weapons is allowed (this is cultural as well, more on that later). No cuts to the head, hands, or neck either.
  • Any contest has to be agreed to by both parties, and the blades or blade facsimiles you are using must be both inspected by the opposing party and approved of. You assume all risks (we as the LARP organizers don’t assume them), so make extra sure that you are comfortable with the person you are fighting, the rules of the engagement, and the weapons being used.
  • Any fight needs to have at least one volunteer stand by as safety marshal who is briefed on the engagement, consenting, who has inspected the “weapons” and consented to their use as well, and who can be trusted to keep people out of the engagement (if you negotiate a party barging in that’s another matter, but they should be apprised of it). IG they can have a role as a second, a marshal (so they are a marshal both IG and OOG), or even as a bet taker, just so long as their focus is on the fight while the fight is taking place.

Basically: the emphasis is on small, light cuts. Frequently to called targets and/or at reduced speed and/or with other restrictions that are more IG than OOG.

We’ll talk more about the IG culture and rules in a later post, but for the purpose of this post: Before you challenge someone, make sure you have an out-of-game consent negotiation as to what you are going for. What the rules of your contest are, what the potential outcomes are, and what you are going to be using.

Examples of good choices for weapon facsimiles, depending on what you are doing and who you are fighting:

  • Padded boffer daggers from basically any of the local boffer LARPs. This is probably the best choice for the majority of our players.
  • Rubber, plastic, or even wood practice blades (talk to the LARP organizers if you want recommendations).
  • Sidewalk chalk! This is extremely effective for showing “cuts” and works exceptionally well if you think of it as “showcasing a duel of skill” rather than “representing a cut with a real weapon.”
  • Latex daggers, of the style you see in basically any local boffer LARP tend to not be great choices for this style of fighting, but you can use them if both parties are comfortable.

You may want to bring multiple types, so that if someone isn’t comfortable with one type you can use a different type.

If you are looking to duel, depending on the style that interests you (or that is used in your clade), you may also want to bring:

  • A piece of cloth for both parties to hold in their primary hand (while trying to cut with a blade in their offhand).
  • A few lengths of rope (I like P.O.S.H. rope for this purpose, but any rope will work) or other form of marker to designate an area that the fight has to stay within.
  • Marker flags for “keeping score.”

Poor choices of weapon facsimiles (consider these banned):

  • Metal practice blades or SCA-style metal daggers.
  • PVC with no padding or just wrapped in tape.
  • Permanent marker, since it tends to get into people’s clothing.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for the upcoming game! Let us know if you have any questions.

Written by: David H. Clements