Has anyone built a Saber (Fencing) for Larp?

Grayoak

Newbie
Hello, I had recently gotten interested in Fencing, particularly with the Saber. Something about speed fighting like they do is appealing to me, and I was hoping to translate that interest into my character. However, I've never even made a normal sword yet, and wouldn't know where to begin with a Saber.

I was wondering if anyone has built a Saber type sword for this larp before, and if they would be able to guide me on my way to making one myself. If not, does anyone have any tips or ideas? Or should I just stick to using a regular sword for now, and use the Saber idea later on?

~ Thanks to any who take time out of their day to respond. Sincerely, Grayoak.
 
Coming fresh from Wikipedia, so my knowledge is... limited at the very best, but I'll touch on a couple of things about the fencing saber that make it less than ideal at best.

First off, the construction of a saber requires it to be thin and flexible, which is fine for fencing, but wouldn't be allowed per the weapon construction rules; your weapon can't bend too much, because the risks of it snapping, splintering, and injuring someone are much higher. The required padding can only mitigate this so much while being squishy enough to be considered safe for combat.

Second, from what I understand, it's designed as a thrusting weapon; thrusting weapons are totally a thing (spears), but the construction requirements for a thrusting weapon include a 2" collapsible thrusting tip that springs back almost immediately (the guideline in our chapter is "fully expanded within 2 seconds"), with non-thrusting weapon foam underneath that. This tends to result in a very boxy-looking tip regardless of any other factors, and I'm not experienced enough in weapon construction to suggest a viable solution to this.

Both of these mean that, at least to the best of my knowledge and skills, a saber-style sword is going to look and feel more or less like a regular sword with a thrust tip on it, and I'm not sure how to mitigate that without compromising the safety of the weapon. (Side note: if you use a carbon-fiber rod as a core, you can make very light weapons, so it's possible to make a weapon that still feels about as light as a saber.)

If you haven't made a lot of weapons before, I'm going to recommend sticking to a more traditional sword style for your first couple, and trying for a more saber-style one after you've got some experience; the guidelines in the 1.3 ARB aren't changing in 2.0, so that's a good place to start if you're brand-new. You should also check in with your home chapter and see if any experienced foam smiths can offer you more help; particularly if you post in a group on Facebook, you might get a speedier reply, or from someone who can show you in person.

Final note, you're probably going to make at least a couple of mistakes on your first attempt at getting a more sword-looking sword, but that's valuable learning experience, so don't get down on yourself even if it comes out looking like it was hacked up by a blind toddler (like mine did). Figure out where you went wrong, and try again. :)
 

Feldor

Scholar
For what its worth, having larped with a couple significantly competitive fencers in the past, saber style seems to carry over to boffer fighting pretty well - much better than foil. The blades don't look super saber-ish, largely just because of the size inherent in making safe weapons. But you'll find them light & fast, and the parries and cuts saberists use map pretty well. But if you get a good ultralight sword, you'll find things feel right. (I'd recommend avoiding latex weapons, just because you can make a much lighter weapon with tape.) Probably the best saberist who larped I knew actually favored a light mace as her favorite weapon. She was brutally fast with that, and pretty regularly would get hits experienced fighters had assume would miss.

For construction techniques, I recommend getting a lightweight core (carbon fiber core), getting some high quality blade foam and tip foam, and then the cheapest thinnest duct tape you can find for the blade. Tape adds a bunch of weight, and keeping a single layer is useful in keeping blade weight down. (Mind you, this will mean you need to rebuild the blade more frequently; but it'll get you a really light and fast blade.) Pair this with a nice thick tape for the hilt & pommel, and some good grip tape, and you'll end up with a weapon that feels super light that you can have good control over and that has a point of balance close to what a saber has.
 

tieran

Duke
Gettysburg Staff
Marshal
I will second the saber footwork transferring well to larp, significantly more so than foil, and the general saber combat techniques as well.

As far as weapon construction, forget tape. You’ll use it to stick the thrusting tip on the blade, (I use a small square of double sided carpet tape between the top of the blade and the bottom of the thrusting tip and then a strip, torn to half the width to make an X over the tip about 2” down the blade, and one strip around the top of the blade and bottom of the thrusting tip) but for covering the blade foam itself, use tights. One pair cut in two pieces, pull them over one at a time, keeping them taut enough to look neat, but not enough to compress the thrusting tip, tape down near the handle and hack off the excess below the tape.

It’s lighter than tape and easier to replace when the need arises.
 

Grayoak

Newbie
Thanks to all of you!

I’ll probably use Legaia’s suggestion of just crafting and using a normal sword at first. Later on, once I’m better at this sorta thing, I’ll come back here and use both of Feldor’s and Tieran’s notes on the matter.

Again, thanks!
 

Grayoak

Newbie
Alright! I could work with a couple of those, but my wallet can't. Maybe one day.

Thanks for showing me!
 

ZeroDonavan

Artisan
Owner
New Hampshire Staff
Having been a fairly serious 3 weapon fencer (specializing in foil) in my youth I can parrot what many others have said about saber translating the best to boffer LARPing and you will be served well by a regular boffer sword, even better if it is an ultralight. I will also note with much practice foil and epee can also be useful as well. Since unlike saber fencing you will need to protect your legs I have found that modifying appropriate parries for broadswords and hand and a half swords work well enough from a saber stance. Basically you will want to twist your wrist to point your blade in the opposite direction the attack is coming from and rotate your thumb down as you bring your weapon across the targeted area with the motion of your arm. Your thumb will go counter counterclockwise for an attack to the legs from the right and clockwise for the left thereby clearing the line of the attack outwards in either case. Also since there is only minimal thrusting in saber you should be able to avoid some of the dangers of trying to use foil and/or epee thrusts in boffer combat, but I would still recommend a thrusting tip for the end of the saberish boffer.

I am not a great weapon maker myself but have spent many years working on designing a legal boffer that is as approximal to a foil as possible. My foamsmith of choice and I are still finding refinements to the process. Many people will say that keeping the weapon as light as possible is key, however do not discount the benefits for fencing style combat to ensuring the balance of the weapon has its center of gravity about an inch away from the thumb and index finger as this will make the weapon easier to maneuver. To this effect I have heavier materials used in the base of the weapon from the guard back towards the pommel, even adding counter weights near the pommel end when necessary. This renders the weapon not valid for use with the 1.3 waylay skill. We also use; special ultralight cores that are thinner then the usual ones (although) I cannot remember what type off the top of my head, kite tape, actual fencing grips modified and adhered to the core, and 1/8 inch sheet foam to custom roll the foam around the special core. The boffers come out quite expensive at the end over $100. If you like feel free to reach out to me if you want more details.

:)
Dustin
 

Muir

Fighter
Finally got a moment to chime in. I fenced saber a bit in college, and my fighting style for Nikolai leans heavily on 18th century naval saber drill! One of the biggest challenges you'll find in crossing over is that Alliance is a many-hit system. As a new character, random monsters will vary, but it will be rare to fight one that needs less than 5-7 hits to take down. You'll need to work on taking out the scoring hesitation, and improving your defense because it is entirely possible to ignore attacks and simply tank them in order to hit the player, for many monsters.

The sword I use now (built by the amazing Lost_Nation) seems similar to what you're looking for. It's a max length longsword designed in the style of a Napoleonic era naval saber, built on a kitespar core so next to weightless while retaining stiffness. Seriously, wind resistance is more of a drag than the weight of the weapon.






Overall weight: 332 grams
Point of balance : 3" ahead of the crossguard

I used to use a Calimacil saber, but it was both heavier and worse balanced. The narrow blade profile and firm foam they use meant it hit harder than expected for an Alliance weapon, especially in the cold, and was exhausting to use in a game where a 'bout' may mean several hundred swings over an hour.
 
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