Crafting: Oblong Cross-Sectioned Hilt

I maintain always that Dagorhir and other foam sports should be closer to the medieval era, and one easy way to do such is make hilts that have an oval cross section instead of being round. In the functional sense, the feel helps train the mind to remember which side is the striking surface, no matter how often you rotate it and play with the blade. Below is the outline of a cheap, simple, and effective way to create this type of hilt.

Some people use bar stock in place of this method, as that also provides a counterweight while still making the hilt oblong in cross section. My preference is to use a long hex bolt as counterweight since I have a hollow PVC core. As I mentioned trying to make Dag weapons more realistic, I recommend counterbalancing swords, period (pun intended). If you have a solid core, use the bar stock method, though the step about thickening the chopstick sides may also apply to bar stock and dull the sharp corners.

And as a second side note, about hex bolt counterweights: to make sure mine don’t rattle after years of use, I wrap several messy layers of duct tape around the non head end. Enough that I have to use notable force and/or twisting to push it down til it’s flush with the core end, but not too many that the tape bunches up and makes it impossible. Said method hasn’t caused one rattle after 13 years of counterbalancing.

THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP, SO READ AND FOLLOW CAREFULLY. Start when only the blade on the weapon is finished. Take two chopsticks, preferably the round kind but any will do, and cut them to the desired length of your hilt. They can be a little longer so the ends will hide under the foam of the pommel (you didn’t put that on yet, right?). Tape them to opposite sides of your hilt area. This, in my opinion, is the most crucial part, because if they’re not secure here, they’ll rotate or slip and completely throw the purpose for this design out the window. Note in the picture how they’re secured with duct tape that’s exactly snug with the chopstick’s surface, not just wrenching down the tape as tight as you can. That would create a triangle of open space between the tape, core, and chopstick, making it easier for chopstick shift. You could attempt splitting them in half to make them more flush to the core, but that makes the hilt slimmer—either take that into account in the next step or work with the round ones.

Also, if you’re borderline OCD like I am, double and triple check that the chopsticks align exactly with the blades. I’ve had a couple instances where they’re slightly off, and I end up redoing the hilt because it bothers me so much. Princess and the Pea sort of story.

obhilt091

As you may notice, straight up chopstick-core Oreo feels just like that, not a solid hilt. Next, rip off more duct tape in lengths that match the chopsticks, in sets of four. Fold two of the lengths in half, and place them in the middle of the other two lengths. Secure these thicken layers lengthwise over the chopsticks, centering them on the folded lengths. Effectively, this thickens the chopstick sides while thickening the exposed part of the core more slowly. If preferred, add an extra securing layer of duct tape after the first thickening pieces. Add as many thickening layers as your hand needs to make it just impossible to feel the chopstick separate from the core.

At this point, feel free to add an extra securing layer after thickening is complete. Double check your grip isn’t too wide. Here I actually recommend the hilt be a little slimmer than preferred, as I always add deer skin leather to complete the realism.

To attach the leather (or hemp string, or preferred hilt covering), wrap double sided tape along the hilt. In a bind, you can also use reversed duct tape, with one edge of it folded under to secure it to the core. By fighting physics, hands most often slide along the hilt from blade to pommel. That means your hilt wrapping will start at the pommel, making the leather/string/whatever near the blade will be on top and a moving hand won’t catch up the edges of the wrapping. After the hilt is completely finished (leather and all), then add the pommel. This ensures any extra bits are hidden from view and give the weapon a neater look.

obhilt098

There you have it! A cost effective realistic hilt that looks like it belongs on a reenactor’s field. Gimme your questions, comments, or criticisms, and thanks for reading!

Advertisements

The Dreaded 2016 Election Post

I’ve made all my Will save rolls thus far to post much of anything about our election. In part because I’ve seen firsthand how people overreact and insults fly almost instantaneously. Mostly, I’ve held out from doing so in vain hope that some news outlet somewhere (heck, even in a foreign country) will keep covering what candidates plan to do with the US. Everywhere I look now elaborates on how terrible the debates are, or mudslinging, or conspiracies, or memes illustrating all of the above, or simply what their views are. I’m hoping writing about the subject will release some of the tension in my mind and nerves.

To be frank, yes, I feel that our country got the biggest shaft when it came to this election, which is thankfully a popular opinion amongst my level headed friends and acquaintances. No candidate has a solid lead on the pro/con race in my book, and that’s with knowing a lot of the biggest factors. Benghazi, company bankruptcies, the wall was already going to be built, forgetting what Aleppo is, believing in outrageous theories, recorded conversations. In the end, it will be voting for the lesser of evils. Many countries have dealt with similar situations in their past. Seems like it’s time for ours.

My biggest arguments and the largest pit in my stomach lie with Trump. It is indeed disturbing that a boy of his character has made it this far in the election, and it wracks my spine to even consider such a phrase. It’s an insult to the term ‘character,’ really: a word I hold in high regard as a roleplay enthusiast, author, adventurer, and a human on the good end of the moral scale. A great part of his appeal comes from the fact that he’s not a career politician, so he doesn’t sugar coat his opinions and can be trusted to speak his mind. In some senses, that’s a desirable trait. It brings to mind a judge my sister, a former Assistant District Attorney for sensitive crimes, admired. She witnessed said judge laying into criminals, calling them absurd for their mindlessness and blatantly criticizing their actions with sharp accuracy, which she had never seen before. THAT’S the mind speaking we need, not something that recreates platform for racism, sexism, and ignorance. Unfortunately, there is an underpinning of all three of those ideologies in our country, which we’ve been fighting to eradicate for decades and centuries. And now Trump’s helping them survive.

The other side of Trump not being a previous politician is that he has no experience. This also implies he hasn’t been serious about the potential of becoming one of the world’s most powerful leaders, and our representative to the rich, poor, privileged, discriminated, hard-working, and apathetic peoples needs to be top notch. Decorum, humility, and a passion for improvement are crucial, especially when we’re going to need help with our national debt and in our continuous skirmish against terrorism. Trump possesses none of those, or at the least, not consistently, as we’ve seen in both his recent and older past.

Stein, while I admire and stand behind her goals of clean energy and LGBT policies, I haven’t seen anything on her plans to accomplish them (On the Issues: Jill Stein). To be fair, I haven’t seen many plans for any candidate. Clinton’s policies, we see, only plan to increase our national debt by 200 million, instead of 5.3 trillion like Trump’s proposals (CNBC: Clinton’s vs Trump’s tax plans). Johnson has a history of not only increasing spending, but increasing debt (Johnson’s “Balanced Budget”). But, he also has a history of spending for schools, and I feel teachers are vastly underpaid and underappreciated compared to how important they are to our society’s future, no matter where you go in the world. Plus, some of the teaching practices that are forced on them make it so our students nowadays aren’t trained to improve lives, obtain true, applicable knowledge, or inherit passion to change our world for the better—only get good test scores, prove themselves “worthy” of a standard that doesn’t hold up in the real world. That potential scares me more than anything.

So, you know some of the complexities of my dilemma. Or rather, our dilemma, that of a world power. How do we decide? The best option, going forward, is to cease and desist IMMEDIATELY the spread of any media that makes light of the indecision or our poor position, because we know how powerful social media can be. It influences not only legitimate news outlets (what trends on FB and Twitter is what they think we want to hear about), but also the mob mentality and what the masses perceive as real. We already know this is going to be bad, plain and simple. Instead of griping about it, we need to focus and be sensible, more sensible than our candidates. Be informed, be rational, and after the dust settles from this dreaded election next month, don’t complain. Hunker down, do what’s needed to help our nation and our fellow man, and never. Give. Up.

A Geek By Any Other Name

For readers who are unaware, I’m part of a fantastical recreation of the medieval era called Dagorhir. We dress up in garb, hit each other with foam weapons, cook great food, hone our skills in the arts and sciences, and create a culture complete with its own rituals, glossary, and inside jokes. We are regular people having a ton of fun.

I describe it as such because so many outsiders today are quick to label all LARPers as a category of lower class of humans that can’t accept reality, especially because we lack the social skills for comfortable integration into the modern world. We don’t know about military tactics because our fighting is pretend. We aren’t serious about fitness because we’re prancing around and casting spells. We’re ignorant and closeted because our topics and specialties are long dead, or not appropriately researched or applied. We can’t maturely discuss the environment, world issues, politics, or philosophy because we’re too wrapped up in a world that doesn’t exist.

I cannot deny those stereotypes do apply to some people. I readily admit a lot of people I’ve sought out as potential friends or romantic partners immediately were checked off the list because of their social mannerisms. All they could talk about was themselves, and any story or topic initiated a fierce struggle to relate it back to their story-line. Or, one of my deepest annoyances, never bringing others into the conversation, asking about their stories and experiences, and only doing so in order to criticize it or offer “sage” advice. There are simple overarching courtesies to all interactions, whether you’re a geek or not.

I would go so far as to argue that 90% of the world is a geek, which I define here as an overly enthusiastic expert in a chosen field. Fashion geeks are obsessed with the flow of pop culture clothing and accessories. They’ll write or read blogs and magazines, attend conferences, talk for hours on end with like-minded friends, maybe even hold parties highlighting some sort of achievement or release in the fashion world. Just because they’re called fashionistas doesn’t make them less of a geek. Sports geeks constantly keep track of stats, watch games, follow their favorite players, talk about them incessantly on forums or at sports pubs, collect memorabilia, and visit sacred stadiums. The category list is non-exhaustive, as I’m certain you can suggest a couple different types right now.

In all geek subcategories, you can find similarities to LARPers. Politics junkies can’t go two sentences without bringing up the most recent bill, or some idiot that shouldn’t be in office. TV enthusiasts don’t know how to talk to nature geeks unless there was something in a show they once watched. YouTubers may look awkward in a conversational circle unless a video is mentioned on which they’ve knowledgeable. I don’t say this to insult, only as an observation. If you think there’s no other way to interpret my words, that says more about your own mind rather than mine.

Anyone of any geek walk of life can find reason to poke fun at someone else’s past time, yet I’ve found LARPers get the cold shoulder from more of their obsessive brethren than anyone else. Why? I can’t determine that, but my best guess is luck. The fine line that separates us and any other [insert topic] obsessed person is the medium, and that’s it. Like most culturally accepted microcosms, someone at some point in our recorded history decided a hierarchy of hobbies, and arbitrarily put gamers and LARPers near the bottom. Maybe the First Gamer said their mother wasn’t classy, I don’t know. I’m aware that newspapers have sections devoted to many of these categories I also assign to geeks, like politics, sports, world issues, even fashion or pop culture. That doesn’t make those hobbies any more valid or important than ours, and we can gain prestige and fame in our fake worlds just like they do. Oh, their worlds aren’t fake? Tell me whose status and milestones are going to matter when your body declines to its eventual end. No one’s.

I’ve made countless lifelong friends through Dagorhir. I’ve met quality people who care for their fellow human of any background, hobby preference, color, creed, religion, or lifestyle. I’ve been enveloped in breathtaking sunsets, witnessed the meek find their confidence, laughed at inoffensive jokes until my head hurts, and cried at touching gestures of beauty and sacrifice. I’ve fought beside egomaniacs, rolled my eyes self-promoting drama, got stomped by chauvinistic jerks, and walked away from weasel-like individuals looking for a con. And the odd thing is, you can say all of that stuff about anywhere you go in the modern world (well, except maybe the fighting part…but if you don’t have conflict in your life, it’s a sad one indeed).

After all this evidence, it shouldn’t be a stretch to say Dagorhir is just a recreation of life, no matter how much others want to insult or deny it. It’s a catalyst through which we process and embrace the world. Humans have countless avenues and guides to how we fit into this whole crazy mess called reality, but we choose Dagorhir. Like readers choosing mystery or thriller novels: different clothing put over the same core components. Of course, a percentage of our populace complains and gripes about this event or that fighter or these circumstances. Dagorhir, just like life, has taught me that the dark times make the bright ones shine more brilliantly, and when on my deathbed many years from now, I will remember warm fires, true friends, and memories stronger than any man-made alloy.