Whilst combat is not a primary aspect of The Last Song, fighting was a part of the time and culture we want to bring to life. Combat should drive play and create drama. These rules cover four ways players can engage in physical fighting at the larp, we trust you to follow them and remember they work in conjunction with the safety and the escalation and de-escalation mechanics. One of the pre-game briefings will deal with physical combat.
Getting out of a tricky situation if you do not want to fight
Combat should be opt-in. Sometimes, however, you may end up in a situation you are uncomfortable being in. If you are being held at sword point, for example, you can get away from the situation by calling on the Thing's Peace.
Red Egon has drawn his sword upon Harald. The player of Harald is not interested in aggressive play, so he says: “Have you no honour? The peace of the Thing must be upheld” and the player of Red Egon knows to back off.
A note on non-combat violence
Other non-combat violence, such as a thrall being beaten by their owner, will be facilitated through the escalation and de-escalation mechanics rather than the combat mechanics.
The Last Song is not primarily a combat larp, our playstyle favours story-making and collaboration. However, the Viking Age was a time where weapon skill was important and we appreciate some of our players enjoy testing their skills in well meaning competition. Therefore we have developed a set of rules for combat.
Below you will first find a section for collaborative non-structured combat, that will encourage negotiating the results of battle. The rules favour characters of the Warrior standing first and strength in numbers second, in case negotiations do not flow smoothly. In the second and third section you will find rules that allow players to test their weapon skill in competitive fights, the second section covers structured mass combat between groups, and the third section covers structured one-on-one duels between individuals.
When you engage in any kind of combat activities at The Last Song, there is a set of practical rules you have to follow. The general rules for weapon fighting will be part of the briefings.
Rule 1: Role-play first; remain in character during combat, but remember that the safety rules are still in place, use Cut or de-escalation mechanics if you feel the need.
Rule 2: Only use larp-approved boffer weapons. That means removing any metal tools from your person and never grabbing an unknown weapon off another player. You are in charge of making sure that the weapon you are fighting with is a larp-approved weapon.
Rule 3: Pull your blows. This technique of ensuring strikes do not actually damage a player will be practised in the fighting workshop.
Rule 4: Don't strike the head, face or crotch, and avoid hitting the chest if the person appears to have breasts.
Rule 5: Do not engage in combat with players who don’t carry weapons. If your character openly carries a weapon then you are off-game signifying that you are willing to engage in physical combat with another player.
Rule 6: Use shields defensively. Don’t use your shield as a weapon to hit or bash an opponent. Don’t kick, shoulder, or otherwise push or pull on others' shields.
Rule 7: Thrust is only permitted with stab-safe spears.
Fighting during The Last Song should only be done with larp safe boffer weapons. They should look period and regional appropriate for the Scandinavian region in the late 10th century. Here we are primarily looking at axes and spears, and swords for the wealthy.
We will do a weapon-check before the larp begins. We understand that boffer weapons are not safe if used carelessly, and we will provide instruction during workshops on how we use them in a safe manner at this event.
Shields used at The Last Song should be larp safe. They are going to clash with foam weapons and should not damage the weapons nor their wielders. Hence, the shields must either be made entirely of foam or have all edges secured with foam. As there will be no bashing with shields, we are okay with metal buckles.
Armour dawned at The Last Song should be period and regional appropriate in the late 10th century. Armour is a sign of wealth and could be worn by anyone who wishes to put their social status on display. It should be fashioned in a way where it won’t damage the boffer weapons that strikes it. Armour provides the wearer with protection, making them less likely to be wounded during combat, they still follow the same rules for winning or losing combative encounters.
Non-structured combat is when fighting suddenly breaks out. Situations are resolved by dramatised show fighting and the winner is determined by these rules:
Warriors defeats non-warriors. In a fight between one warrior and up to three folk/nobles/mystics/thralls, the warrior wins.
Numbers win. In non-structured combat with unequal numbers on different sides, the bigger side wins. For clarity: warriors count as three, so two warriors can beat up to six nobles.
If there are equal contestants, the result can go either way. If you can’t decide - both sides lose.
Red Egon (warrior) is cornered in the alley by Ulf (fólk) and Helga (warrior). While Red Egon has his hand axe and Helga and Ulf have their knives out, they still have the advantage of flanking him.
Before engaging in a physical fight, they make sure to let Red Egon know that insulting their jarl is what got him in this situation.
A short fighting sequence commences.
Ulf and Helga will leave Red Egon wounded, licking his wounds.
There are no hitpoints to count or certain areas to hit. Considered what result would drive the best roleplay and create the most drama. Perhaps losing will make for the most epic story!
Remember combat should always drive drama. Make sure that everyone has a chance to react and play on what is going on! Don’t surprise someone and cut them down just because you can. If you are jumping someone in an alley, give them a chance to understand what is going on, let them know why you have cornered them, give them a chance to opt out if this is not the play they want to engage with.
In the following two sections you will find rules that allow players to test their weapon skill in competitive fights. They share the following principles, when determining when contestants are struck.
A blow which, if it were delivered full force with a real weapon, would cause an injury.
The Strike Zone
Any hit where “metal” connects to legs, upper arms or torso (see image) is a strike. Remember to avoid the delicate areas outlined in the general combat rules.
Hird against Hird
When conflict escalates and warriors grab their weapons and go to battle. This structured fighting occurs when circumstances have let two groups of warriors facing each other in battle lines. In these situations, the contestants try to strike each other. When they take a single clean hit in the strike zone, they withdraw from the combat. Warriors wearing armour can suffer two clean hits, before having to withdraw. When defeated, contestants can either fall to the ground and crawl away, or slowly walk away in a defensive stance - depending on how they received their hit. This combative process continues until one side is out of contestants, they have lost the encounter.
Declare the combat.
Form battle lines.
Duels are where warriors can show their true skills. Here two contestants stand fight one-on-one in a number of rounds. The winner of a round is the first to strike a clean hit within the other’s striking zone. The rules of the duel are negotiated by the contestants, these rules can constrain movement, number of rounds, type of weapon, etc.
Duel to the death
As part of the rules for the duel, contestants can decide to duel to the death. The contestants have to explicitly negotiate it and both parties in the duel need to agree. This is the only time a character can die outside of the players own volition; the player opts-in to potential character death by accepting the terms of the duel.
In a duel to the death, there are no rounds. The first person who is struck three times in the striking zone is the one to lose and therefore die. The losing character then chooses how they die following the third strike.
All drawings by Charlie Ashby.
We will be providing mechanics for brawling and hand to hand combat. Our current vision is to develop mechanics inspired by Glima, a viking age wrestling sport.