Melee Creation Guidelines
The main concern in weapon construction is safety. The weapon construction guidelines are here to provide the safest possible weapons. However, no weapon is perfectly safe if used incorrectly. Safe weapon use is equally important to safe weapon construction.
Weapon construction requires some practice, and it is likely that your first few attempts could be rejected by the Safety Marshal. Be sure to bring extra weapon building materials with you so that you can repair your weapon in order to get it passed.
Weapons are generally made with a rigid core wrapped with closed cell foam. Cores can be made of PVC, fiberglass, graphite (such as fishing poles), kitespar, or even a golf club shaft. Light aluminum can be used for some two handed weapons. Heavy aluminum pipe, steel, copper, any other metal, and wood can never be used in weapon construction. This includes the use of a dowel inside thin PVC or CPVC. Experiment and use discretion when choosing alternative cores, as a weapon should flex slightly, but not whip, and not bend significantly with use.
Every other section (less an appropriate grip) must be covered with closed cell foam, usually at least 5/8” diameter, and either duct tape, kite tape, or fabric. A reasonable sized grip – usually a maximum of 2 hands' width, and no more than 1/3 of the weapon – is the only part of the weapon that need not be padded with foam. In some cases (staffs, for example) a grip need not exist at all, and in others, a different type of tape (optionally compressing the foam, slightly) is sufficient. Some variety of grip is suggested with most one-handed weapons, but the type of grip is up to the player, provided the weapon cannot easily slip from the wielder's hand.
Constructing a Simple Weapon
When making your contact safe weapon, consider the following items:
- Safety: Safety is always first. You will usually be hit repeatedly - and quite possibly hard by accident - by any number of other combatants during a fight at Dystopia Rising.
- Durability: You want to build a weapon that will last. Crafting a durable weapon will ultimately save you time, money, and – most importantly – aggravation. Design your weapon so that it is safe, and will not break during an event.
- Looks: Dystopia Rising is a game based on post apocalyptic survival. The majority of people do not carry around swords, but instead items like fire axes or baseball bats. Use colored tape, plasti-dip, or open cell foam to ensure your weapon is not only unique to you, but also adds to the role play of others.
Materials you will need:
- Packing tape or duct tape
- Fun Noodle
- A weapon core
- 3/4" wall thickness foam pipe insulation
- Alternate tape for grip (optional)
Tools you will need:
- Saw or pipe cutter (to cut PVC)
- Small, sharp knife (e.g., X-acto knife, utility knife, or razor)
- Electric carving knife (completely optional, but the best way to cut intricate shapes in open cell foam)
- Cut core to a few inches under the desired length.
- Cut the fun noodle foam to the desired length of the striking surface.
- Slide foam over the core. The tip of the foam should be an inch to two inches past the tip of the core.
- Shave the bottom of the striking surface, creating a transition from the striking surface to the grip / core.
- Use packing tape to secure the bottom of foam to the core.
- Put loose foam into the well between the tip of the foam and the tip of the core.
- Tape the cap of the foam sealing the loose foam over the tip of the core.
- Tape single strips of tape down that start at the top of the weapon and extend to the bottom of the striking surface.
- Secure tape strips further by spiral wrapping the base of the weapon's striking surface with one extra layer of tape - starting three inches above the bottom of the striking surface until you've covered the base of the striking surface and extend a bit into the core.
- Cover the striking surface with an external cover. (ie. a layer of duct tape or a cloth cover).
- Cut foam to the length of the pommel you want.
- Shave the pommel to a near point.
- Affix the pommel to the bottom of your core with the near point faced towards the striking tip.
- Use packing tape to tape bottom of foam to the core.
- Place loose foam into the well between the tip of the pommel and the tip of core.
- Tape the cap of the foam sealing the loose foam over the tip of the core.
- Cover the pommel by spiral wrapping from the bottom of the pommel to the handle.
- Spiral wrap the grip with athletic or grip tape.
These same techniques, with minor adjustments, can be adapted to make just about any melee weapon, from hammers and axes, adzes, a baseball bat, or even a two-by-four with a nail in it (granted, no real nails should ever be used). You can also cover your weapon with plasti-dip instead of tape or cloth, allowing you to paint the weapon.
Be creative, follow these directions and our safety guidelines, and be as creative you you can. But, be aware, the more complicated the item, the more things to go wrong, so bring a back-up like a simple hammer, in case your complicated chainsaw doesn't pass the first time.
- 3/4” foam insulation is the minimum for any weapon. If 3/4" foam is not available two layers of thinner foam may be used if the combined thickness is greater than 3/4”, and the seams meet when closed.
- All weapons must be fairly rigid so as not to act as a whip when swung quickly.
- All items over 18” must have some sort of core.
- The foam should be taped lengthwise, using 2 inch wide duct or packing tape and overlapping about ¼ inch. This will use the least amount of tape, keeping the weapon light and safe.
- You may also choose to cover your weapon with cloth after it is completed (all foam still secured with duct tape. 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.
- Under most circumstances, a weapon tip should not bend 6 inches from true when a moderate weight is applied to the tip and the grip is held level.
- Weapons may not have any cords, strings, or moving parts. No part of a weapon can be designed to intentionally or unintentionally trap or hook another weapon.
Reasons your Weapon may Fail
- If the pipe insulation on the shaft is too compressed or less than 3/4” thick, 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 core. 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 compress the foam and adds a lot of weight. The insulation should slide easily over the pipe, but fit snugly so that the weapon will not rattle if the pipe is shaken.
Contact Safe Shields
A shield should be safe - for the person using it, her opponent, and any other items involved in the melee.
Shields may be made of any material the builder desires, as long as they have no sharp protrusions or edges. Hard edges must be padded on all sides by 3/4" pipe foam.
A shield should be under the control of its bearer at all times, and should not fly loose in combat. A garage door handle and a strap system on the back will do this nicely, allowing for fine control while allowing for ease of use.
Decoration of a shield is highly encouraged, for both RP and atmosphere purposes - your shield should be easily recognizable from across the battlefield. If your shield is improvised in character, or made out of scrap, be sure to paint or decorate it in such a way that it looks recycled. Remember that this is not a high fantasy game, and does take place in a modernistic society. Painting shields to appear like different street signs is a nice touch.
Weapon Types and Dimensions
- Melee Weapon, Small: 12” to 21” overall, standard construction rules apply, although weapons under 14” can have no core, provided they do not bend or whip.
- Melee Weapon, Standard: 18” to 39” overall, all standard construction rules apply.
- Melee Weapon, Large: 36” to 53” overall, all standard construction rules apply.
- Melee Weapon, Two Handed: 50” to 63” overall, all standard construction rules apply.