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Latex Weapons vs Boffer Weapons

Ambrogino

Fallen Angle
Validated User
If you've been hurt by gaffer tape, then you haven't been hit with a properly made boffer. Most places I know of require cloth tape or cloth covers. Since professional latex manufacuters are unanimous in claiming that their weapons are not thrust-safe, I think we can dismiss the claim of thrust safe latex swords. Thrust safe boffers, however, are extremely common.

As far as cost goes, I seldom spend more than $3 on a boffer of any stripe, and that's assuming I buy everything retail. If I buy wholesale, I can drive my price down substantially. For the cheapest weapons, I can drive the price down to under a buck apiece, and I can crank it out in about ten minutes. So, parts costs are lower, labor time (and thus costs) are lower, and safety is higher.

And once again, we have the lawsuit issue, which no one has responded to yet. Given the noticeable safety differences, should a US larp chance a lawsuit because someone might thrust with a latex sword?
There aren't any noticeable safety differences, which you are again claiming. UK Latex manufacturers claim their weapons are not thrustsafe due to the 2-3 biggest systems in the country specifically having rules whic ban thrusing anyway. That's not the case in smaller systems, some of which which do allow it.

As a first aider in 1-3 events a month for the last 4-5 years I have never seen an injury from a latex weapon - heard of a few, and have seen friction burns fom gaffa tape's on the few occasions they're used any more. Most injuries come from player-on-player, player-on-ground and player-on-wall collisions. This includes a system with full grappling and stabbing allowed, at the same control level of normal European LRP fighting.

And since the Seattle Knghts can apparently fight, staged or not, witout a lawsuit issue with vast safety differences, why shouldn't a LARP, which doesn't?
 
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Cain

New member
Banned
First of all, gaffer tape is effectively drywall tape, which is hard and rough on the surface. Cloth tape, in addition to being lighter, is much softer and smoother. Broadcloth or tights are softer still. Getting a friction burn from a cloth-covered weapon is about as likely as getting friction burns from your own clothing.

Second, the Seattle Knights require extensive training and preparation before you can fight with them. It falls under a concept called "every reasonable effort": they can show, in addition to the standard and meaningless waivers, that they've taken every reasonable step to prevent injury. This won't prevent a lawsuit, but might get one dismissed quickly.

Latex weapons aren't as safe as boffers, and unless the LARP in question puts all latex users through a licensing test, they'll fail the "reasonable effort" test. They might eventually prevail in a lawsuit, but it won't get dismissed out of hand. And here's a little secret for you: the goal of a modern US lawsuit isn't to win, it's to run the legal costs so high, the other side can't keep up. There's enough of an argument here to keep a lawsuit going for years if necessarry, and the average LARP here would be lucky to have a lawyer for more than a few hours.
 

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
Latex weapons aren't as safe as boffers, and unless the LARP in question puts all latex users through a licensing test, they'll fail the "reasonable effort" test. They might eventually prevail in a lawsuit, but it won't get dismissed out of hand.
Just to be clear, are you suggesting that a larp that uses latex weapons is more likely to result in an injury than than a larp that uses boffers, all other things being equal? Specifically, an injury that could result in a lawsuit?
 

Theodore Sign

Registered User
Validated User
I don't have too much to add here, as this topic is getting a bit...tortured. But I will say that "gaffa" weapons--boffers made with gaffer tape--aren't very common at all in the US. Most boffer makers here use duct tape, which is plastic + nylon and not rough like gaffer tape.

More "professional" makers of boffer weapons, as GM-cain says, use cloth tape or actual cloth. I prefer to use dacron sail repair tape, which is incredibly strong and smooth. Weapons made with this do not "stick" at all on contact.

Here is a question that is on topic though (and bear with me if I repeat some of the arguments that have been going around):

If you take a standard latex weapon to one of our boffer larps--where it normally wouldn't pass inspection--and use it like a boffer (thrusting, "hard" hits), would it be safe?

Now, if you take a boffer to a Euro larp--where it normally would be scoffed at--and use it like a latex weapon (lightest touch, no thrusting), would it be safe?

Is it so hard to admit that boffers are objectively safer, that latex weapons have SOME flaws? I mean, boffers have more padding, for chrissakes! Yes, your game standards/culture means you have safe GAMES which use latex weapons; you've adapted to your choice, which is the most important thing. There is a lot of conflation of culture and design going on here, however, and just because you use weapons safely, does not mean they are inherently safe, somehow, or that you have stumbled on the "proper" way to fight in a LARP. Hence the discussion of live steel groups.

I will admit that latex weapons look a hell of a lot more like real weapons, but there are no free lunches in design, and you have all paid for this "realism" in some fashion, even if you consider the "cost" relatively minor.

Foam is not magic; every latex weapon I have seen (besides some ridiculously huge hammers/maces) has remarkably thinner foam than a boffer. Maybe it is more wear resistant--I'd hope so for the cost and inconvenience of repair--but it sure isn't just magically safer because it looks better. None of these weapons have open-cell tips for thrusting, and on many of them I can feel the core through the foam, with only gentle pressure. But all of these features mean that the item can look a lot more like a weapon. Uncontroversial, right?

The problem, then, is that the adaptations games must make to accomodate latex weaponry are, after awhile, viewed as virtues of the system itself, rather than a set of limitations. Here is where we get people suggesting--and not very subtly--that boffer larps are simply combat games for "stick-jocks" who crudly beat people, whereas latex-using larps are for "real" roleplayers who know how to "properly" fight so as to promote such.
 

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
The "safeness" of any tool is not an absolute. It's relative to what you do with it. Is a boffer safer than a latex weapon to stab with and to hit people hard with? Yes. Does that mean its safer in general? Only if stabbing people and hitting them hard is what you're going to do with it.

Let's follow your logic to it's conclusion. People keep saying that "stabbing is what real weapons do" as a reason that it should be possible. Likewise, I'd argue that what a great many real melee fighters (historical and modern) would aim to do is hit their opponent in the head. The head is the most likely target to cause instant incapacitation, and any fighting style that avoids hits to the head is not a realistic attempt at simulating melee combat.

So, following your logic that safer is better and more combat options are better, the best weapons for larp would be ones that it's safe to hit people in the head with. As you don't allow head shots with your boffer weapons they are sub-optimum.

Interestingly, most UK larps do allow carefully controlled hits to the head with latex weapons.
 

xReubenx

Retired User
Here is where we get people suggesting--and not very subtly--that boffer larps are simply combat games for "stick-jocks" who crudly beat people, whereas latex-using larps are for "real" roleplayers who know how to "properly" fight so as to promote such.
You have no idea how much that made me laugh. The few latex weapon groups I've seen don't fight 'properly' either. It resembles a seizure more than fighting:D.

Shame really, you could really whack the hell out of each other with those things:(

I have to side with the latex weapons over boffers, though. It's all about the look of the thing. I'm not having a go at boffers, but if I'm going to pretend to sword fight, I prefer to have something I can pretend is a sword.
 

Cain

New member
Banned
Just to be clear, are you suggesting that a larp that uses latex weapons is more likely to result in an injury than than a larp that uses boffers, all other things being equal? Specifically, an injury that could result in a lawsuit?
Virtually any injury could result in a lawsuit, here. A plaintiff can always claim "mental anguish" from being threatened by an unsafe weapon. The best course is to show that you're using the highest standards of safety, which latex weapons clearly do not meet. They might be "safe enough" for some people's tastes, but they'd fail a due dilligence test.

The "safeness" of any tool is not an absolute. It's relative to what you do with it. Is a boffer safer than a latex weapon to stab with and to hit people hard with? Yes. Does that mean its safer in general? Only if stabbing people and hitting them hard is what you're going to do with it.
Incorrect. Barring some perversion of the laws of physics, that means that boffers are also safer to hit with softly and on swings. In short, they *are* safer in general.

So, following your logic that safer is better and more combat options are better, the best weapons for larp would be ones that it's safe to hit people in the head with. As you don't allow head shots with your boffer weapons they are sub-optimum.
As Theodore said, many boffer larps here allow head shots. The reason why several major ones do not is the lawsuit issue. The UK isn't, to my knowledge, nearly as lawsuit-happy as the US is.
 

The Czech Spy

Undead Brain Harvest Team
With boffers you can make them easily and cheaply yourself, and make them entirely custom, suited best for the way you fight.

This makes me think if anyone has done a latex-boffer-mix LARP... but this question belongs somewhere else.
 

samharber

Retired User
First of all, gaffer tape is effectively drywall tape, which is hard and rough on the surface. Cloth tape, in addition to being lighter, is much softer and smoother. Broadcloth or tights are softer still. Getting a friction burn from a cloth-covered weapon is about as likely as getting friction burns from your own clothing.
Just to clear up any misconceptions. In the UK, what you call Duct tape is what we call Gaffa tape.
 
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