Without any single, authoritative text on sword classification, the word “sword” (in the European context) primarily meant “large, double-edged knife”. Human history has produced thousands of variations on the concept. And fantasy has taken these designs and run with them - sometimes resulting in the impractical and ridiculous, and sometimes the sublime. The creators of LARP swords can draw on a deep well of inspiration, from Tolkienesque fantasy and real historical weapons to more contemporary influences like The Witcher and Berserk. The LARP swords for sale today spark immersion in players like never seen before. The only limitations on swords are the imaginations of players and designers. Between global history and fantasy, there are so many strange, exotic and unlikely swords for us to be inspired by, we must be able to find something to fit just about any character concept.
With The Armoury Full - Why LARP Swords? It’s an adventurer’s life for us. And the truth is if we were going out adventuring in a medieval-type world, a sword is just the kind of weapon we’d want at our side. It mightn’t always be the best option in a pitched battle, but a sword is ideal for duelling and fighting in skirmishes. As far as a weapon that can be carried on the hip, and offer a variety of defensive and offensive options against everyday opponents - a sword can’t be beaten. And that’s really what an adventurer’s life is all about. Even in wartime, large-scale, pitched battles are rare and usually give their participants time to prepare. And… when people see you with a sword on your hip, they tend to assume you know how to use it - that you’re not just some farmhand with a modified scythe on your shoulder. Design principles and properties of swords vary wildly across history, mythology and fiction. The latter two have given swords such properties as the ability to speak to the wielder, supernatural powers, and an ability to inflict wounds that never heal. Although all these are wonderful roleplaying ideas, LARP swords, thankfully, are built with different properties in mind. They are designed to minimise or avoid ever hurting your opponent, give you good feedback and control over your weapon, and be a reliable piece of equipment in addition to being part of your portal to another existence. The balance and handling of LARP swords have drastically improved in recent years. While features like fibreglass cores, leather-wrapped wooden grips, and counter-weighted pommels give these swords a tactile, balanced feel and material technology like injection-moulded EVA foam and latex lend them a vivid, realistic look - LARP swords for sale today are built with safety in mind. Note: Despite the differing purpose they were built for, LARP swords are considered to have one advantage over blunt HEMA weapons when it comes to sparring. In a true combat situation, swords bind and stick when their sharpened blades come in contact. The blunt weapons used for safety in HEMA won’t do this, slipping and sliding on their blunted edges. But foam and latex LARP swords offer a good training analogue. Their grippy surfaces will bind and stick in a manner more similar to real weapons, forcing combatants to adapt their strategy - without any significant risk of injury.
LARP Swords And Material Sorcery - A New Wave Of Weapons A thorough discussion of sword types, both historical and fantastical, could keep us here for weeks. The variety we spoke of before means that the category of “sword” is a very large one indeed. Picture for a moment, the range of swords within the fiction of one of your favourite fantasy settings. Mix this with the full range of historical bladed weapons and exotic inspirations outside of Tolkienesque fantasy and it becomes clear that the sword is perhaps the most diverse, iconic, and well-represented weapon in the popular consciousness. Generally speaking, if a sword existed historically, or features in a cult book, TV series, movie, or video game - someone’s probably made a LARP version of it. This is evident in the huge range of LARP swords for sale today. The clean elegant lines of Middle Earth’s elven blades are available alongside the brutal, killing cleavers and greatswords of the orcs. More directly historically-inspired weapons from series like The Witcher sit alongside high fantasy and manga-inspired behemoths. Designers of LARP swords don’t need to worry about whether a fantastical design would be practical or not. The materials used to create these swords are much easier to work with, lighter, and more forgiving than steel. The over-the-top lines and curves of even the highest fantasy can be reproduced beautifully in fibreglass and foam/rubber. LARP Longswords Some scholars insist the “long” in “longsword” is better thought of as an adjective than an indication of any typology or classification. Others will tell you that the “long” actually refers to the long-handled grip. In the European tradition, a longsword is a straight, double-edged blade with a cruciform grip and space on the handle and/or pommel for both hands. This transfers over pretty neatly to how longswords are depicted in most fantasy settings. And while these larger, potentially two-handed swords could inflict devastating damage and offer decent protection in the form of blocking and parrying, their effectiveness was compromised when fighting in enclosed spaces. Warriors (historical and LARP) who wield longswords often have a sidearm (like a dirk or parrying dagger) ready for use in cramped or crowded combat situations. LARP longswords offer the same kind of benefits as their real-world counterparts. They can threaten a large area of an opponent’s body while staying at range and deliver cuts and thrusts (depending on your ruleset) from many angles of attack. Of course, the longswords we use in LARP are much lighter than the real thing but are still unwieldy compared to shorter, lighter LARP weapons. This is part of what makes LARP so fun. The ruleset and equipment restrictions level the playing field somewhat, but the benefits and drawbacks of each weapon still ring true with their real-world counterparts. Longswords are excellent at thrusting from range but are they as good as spears? What about against an opponent with a shortsword and shield? Though we don’t see it very often in video games, tabletop RPGs, books or movies, historical swordmaster’s manuscripts do feature illustrations of warriors using even large “zweihander” style greatswords one-handed with a shield in the off-hand. In reality, it would require a very powerful person to go into battle armed this way. But that’s the beauty of LARP weapons: they’re built to be lightweight and comfortable for all-day use. If it works for your character, your imagination is your only limit (and possibly the rules you’re playing under).
Bastard Of A LARP Sword The bastard sword in some contexts simply means “large sword”. But thanks to English historical precedent, and the popularity of Game of Thrones, “bastard sword” now most commonly refers to a hand-and-a-half style sword. These weapons have a slightly longer blade than a typical arming sword (also called a shortsword) and can be wielded one-handed or two-handed with your off-hand partially gripping the pommel. A bastard sword is a little less unwieldy than a true longsword when used one-handed but sacrifices some leverage due to its shorter length. Overall, an excellent choice for someone who wants to experiment with two-handed sword fighting but might later consider dual-wielding or shield use. A LARP bastard sword is considered a good choice for a first-time adventurer.
LARP Greatswords - Epic Fantasy Real, historical greatswords are bigger than you might think. Up close, it seems crazy that a human being could effectively fight using a weapon that large, but the instruction manuals on how to correctly wield them survive to this day. Though some larger form of longswords that could be used two-handed had been a feature of human culture for thousands of years (most notably claymores in Scotland from around the end of the 13th century), it wasn’t until the late medieval/early renaissance period that true greatswords, initially called “zweihander” (German - “two-hander”) began to appear commonly on battlefields. The popular association between these two-handed greatswords and the partially naked barbarian may originate in the 1689 Scottish Jacobite rising. One of the design features of the highlander’s kilt is its ability to be quickly shrugged off and dropped on the ground before a battle. A wet kilt was heavy, cumbersome and could easily get in the way. Attacking highlanders would often find high ground, remove their two-handed claymores from their backs, drop their kilts to the ground and charge Commander MacKay’s forces partially naked and screaming - a terrifying sight (and excellent inspiration for RP). Thankfully, LARP greatswords are a lot lighter than steel ones and just about anyone is strong enough to wield one. They make excellent weapons for barbarians, paladins and knights, but also make sense as the kind of weapon a larger monster might loot from a battlefield and put to use.
LARP Shortswords - Hack And Slash History has given us some iconic shortswords. From the Roman Gladius to the Carolingian-inspired Viking sword, one-handed shortswords have been part of a warrior’s equipment for thousands of years. Historical and contemporary instruction manuals tend to refer to these swords as “arming swords” with this term coming from the Late Medieval Period when many historical medieval training manuscripts were first committed to paper and a time when shortswords had become a warrior’s sidearm The term “knightly sword” is also used to refer to the archetypal, double-edged, cruciform grip shortsword from the High Medieval Period (10th - 13th century) in western Europe. “Knightly Sword”, however, is a retronym - a word applied later in history because of a strong association. In reality, any warrior who could afford one might use a shortsword as their main or secondary weapon. Paired with a shield, a skilled warrior wielding a shortsword was a formidable enemy with many defensive and offensive options. Sword and board have a reputation as a solid choice in most fantasy gaming systems for good reason, and LARP is no different. The shortsword’s limitations are only apparent in the kind of shoulder-to-shoulder, rank-on-rank fighting that’s rarely seen at LARP events.
LARP Arming Swords “Arming sword” almost universally means the kind of one-handed shortsword commonly associated with the High Medieval Period. Any typical, historically accurate-looking shortsword from popular video games and movies would, in reality, be called an arming sword. Many LARP weapon companies carry this naming tradition on, using the term for their one-handed, medieval-style shortswords. Warriors often went into battle with a polearm, shield, and arming sword. In most pitched battle situations, infantry would use their polearm and shield. The shortsword was worn on the hip in case their spear/halberd was dropped/broken, or if the fighting became chaotic and longer weapons were no longer viable. The shortsword was also a back-up weapon for skirmishes, duelling and irregular fighting. A LARP arming sword, when paired with a shield is a match for any weapon available on the battlefield. And with LARP’s focus on smaller-scale battles and skirmishes, the historical realities of medieval combat are only as important as you want them to be.
Sabres - LARP Swords With Pedigree Originating in the steppes of Eurasia, the sabre is a curved, single-edged shortsword that, in fantasy literature, has become the blade of choice for the elven race. It might be the gentle, natural curves that resonate with the elves’ love of things that grow, or it could be that we associate curved blades with real historical warrior societies which were close to nature. The Himalayan Sherpas, for example, have used a single-edged curved blade for utility and combat for thousands of years. Elven LARP sabres occasionally come in longer, two-handed variants, though most historical-inspired examples stick to shorter, one-handed designs.
The Seax - A Savage LARP Sword The seax is a single-edged, chopping blade used as both a tool and weapon by the Germanic tribes in the migration era and early Middle Ages. It looks almost like a medieval machete and was an influence on the development of swords across western Europe and Scandinavia. These brutal shortswords would suit someone roleplaying a mercenary, pirate or wagon guard, and also work as a weapon for orcs and other evil characters or as a sidearm/tool for just about any character.
LARP Swords - Darkness VS Light Depictions of good and evil weapons vary from fiction to fiction. Typically, evil weapons either take on a gothic, late medieval influence like the Witch King of Angmar’s sword, or they’re crude, cruel, spiked and curved implements of savagery fit for use only by evil barbarians, orcs, goblins and trolls. A good character’s weapons often take on characteristics common in knightly weapons from the medieval period, emphasising brightly polished blades with clean, angular lines. Dwarven swords, in particular, take in these angular squared-off properties. Thorin’s Orcrist might be an exception but for the fact that it was made by the elves in Gondolin. See the elves tend to favour nature-inspired, flowing lines and curves that more closely match the movements common to their martial training.
The Wrap Up (In Foam And Latex) It’s easier than ever before to find LARP swords to support any roleplaying idea. Whether it’s for gritty dark fantasy, brutal orcish savagery, historically-inspired realism, or over-the-top high fantasy, there’s a LARP sword out there that’s perfect for your character build. The variety and build quality, and safety features of LARP swords for sale today are a big part of why our hobby is growing so rapidly. The number of crossovers with the world of gaming, fantasy novels, movies, and TV shows also plays a role in bringing new eyes to LARP. And we’re happy to have them.