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Violence and weapons in Valenor

At Dragonbane there will be a limited variety of conventional weapons. This might seem unrealistic, given the harsh reality of for instance the Dragontamers. A fantasy world full of monsters is generally expected to have armed citizens, armies and villains. One argument in live roleplaying games is that boffer fighting is a fun and intricate part of larping.

There are several very good arguments for the limitation of weaponry in Dragonbane. Below are the highlights in no particular order:

 The reality of Valenor and the factions
It is in fact realistic for the factions to have the limited armament they do, from the standpoint of the Valenor world. Without going into too much detail of the secrets to be revealed during the larp, there are some public arguments. The people of Cinderhill are not armed, save for the staffs of the Adepts, because they live a peaceful life protected by the dragon, and would not want to draw attention to themselves. Witches are not armed, because for these apt magic users it is considered extremely pathetic to have to resolve to dirty handwork. Finally the Dragontamers are never armed with weapons to fight humans, because their code forbids it. All their efforts are focused on capturing the fiery foe. All of these groups would perhaps in special circumstances benefit from say a sword, but in the case of the recent past that leads up to the situation of the Dragonbane game, it has not been so. The Witches and the Dragontamers have been traveling in such a need for secrecy and in a host so big, that those beasts and highwaymen that happened upon them either turned away or were easily subdued. The village of Cinderhill has had a long streak of prosperity and would have celebrated a holy rite had not trouble at length fallen upon it only last week.

 A game where conflict is negotiated (not solved with force)
It has been a game design goal to keep the factions from dominating each other with weapons. In the beginning of the larp there will be an armed power balance between the Adepts in Cinderhill (with staffs) and the Dragontamers from Gethar (with knives). Soon this power balance will be shifted due to the internal tensions in the factions, and the relationships between them. This will create room for new groupings and individual endeavors, where wit, not force, will be decisive. The armed conflicts that may occur will be in the nature of small skirmishes or brawls, as potential parts of a cut-throat situation.

 A magical game of real people
Dragonbane is designed to be about a dragon, magicians, dragontamers and those defenseless caught in the middle. Human social interaction in this fantastic situation will be so much more interesting if spell-casting and good old betrayal are the most frightening threats, in the shadow of the dragon. A wielded sword is empty from a dramatic viewpoint, whereas intrigues and rituals are full of suggestive content.

 Real props and minimum of latex
Although latex nowadays may be made to resemble and almost feel like steel, bone or wood, there is no substitute for a smith’s blade, a relic or a carved cane. Therefore the Dragonbane game designers have made three decisions, based on concerns of safety and beauty. First, all latex weapons will have an absolute minimum of visible latex. This is why the Adepts have staffs winded in fabric, and the Dragontamers only use large daggers. Second, all props will be made in natural materials, regardless if it is a candelabra, a spade or a gigantic grappling hook for dragontaming (not the latex weapons of course). And finally, no props, regardless if they look like large-scale weapons, may be used in fighting between participants.

The amount of combat and avoiding combat

In general larger conflicts will be avoided by dividing the powerful unions and creating motivation not to gather for battle. On an individual level the focus will be on many other things than violence. Dragonbane is about human life in a fantastic fantasy, about the destruction of a dragon god, and about magic, love and hate. It is about trying to live whatever lives people of legends may lead – when not forced to kill and be killed by usurpers and madmen. Some limitations to the risk of large-scale conflict will also be made by fate-play. That is, some participants will have orders to act in a certain way in a certain situation. This story tool will however be used with the utmost discretion. An example of the low level fate-play we intend to use would be: “During the first day of mourning, the first day of the larp, you must not interact with people outside your faction. You are too saddened and scared to do so.”