Our fantasy LARP would like to expand combat magic to include breath/flame/area-of-effect attacks/spells.

How can we phys-repp such effects?


  • Must be reasonably1 safe for all participants (e.g. CO2 Fire extinguishers are a Bad Idea (TM))
  • Should telegraph hits clearly, in the sense that it is clear if a combatant was hit by some effect, or if they were not (at least clear to the person hit).
  • Should be as flashy and visible as possible. For example I have seen (manually) pressurised water sprayers being used at other LARPS - these basically tick all the boxes, but are really not very flashy or visible.
  • The LARP I am a part of has a hit-based and rather competitive combat system. For combat magic to work in our setting it also needs to be somewhat competitive, e.g. not take 10 minutes to prepare a 1 second attack.

In the past we tried smoke effects, but these were difficult to handle:

  • Outdoors weather/wind situation has a huge impact on their usefulness
  • Most importantly it was quite impossible for all involved (caster and his allies as well as potential victims) to judge when they were affected/hit by a smoke effect --> this led to very varying results when used and was the reason for some frustration of players.

1 After all there is some inherent risk in running about in the woods and hitting each other over the head with various weapons. I think 100% safety is neither achievable nor desirable, hence the 'reasonably'.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related (but not a dupe): rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/11761/… \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2021 at 10:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does your larp have ignition sources? (camp fires, smokers, etc). Some solutions safety might depend on how likely things are to ignite. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 22, 2021 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @littlefeltfangs We have open fires, torches, candles and smokers etc. in (designates) places in the camp. The camp is a non-combat zone however, and in battle there should be no open flames. \$\endgroup\$
    – fgysin
    Apr 22, 2021 at 8:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ How far does the fire need to reach, and what variety of attacks might a magic-user have? As in, do the magical aoe effects need to be something that could be easily put away so another weapon could be drawn, or is it likely to be the primary form of attack? \$\endgroup\$
    – Cooper
    May 25, 2021 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LCooper, my question is not that specific yet... We have ideas for many different types of magical/monster/weapon flame attacks/spells/effects/rituals/... etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – fgysin
    May 26, 2021 at 7:23

1 Answer 1


Depending on how you wind up defining the specific mechanics of the fire attacks, silk fans for dancing could work beautifully in this situation.

By each of your criteria:

1. Safe: They're extremely safe, although may become tangled in large crowds-- which is not necessarily a bad thing, as it would cause the spellcaster to be given a relatively wide berth. Other than the dangers posed by long, flowing pieces of fabric in a forest or battlefield, I suppose one might be unhappy getting smacked by the wooden fan itself, but that's about it. Certainly not as dangerous to anyone's health as CO2 poisoning.

2. Telegraph hits clearly: This is the weakest point of the fans, since they are so lightweight; you probably would rely on visual input instead. I will say that I have attached light-weight pieces to the edges of floaty fabrics before, and if it is vital to be able to feel the collision, a few bits of foam at the edges of the silk wouldn't interfere with their movement at all.

3. Flashy and visible: This is probably the strongest point of the fans. As they're used for bellydancing, they are designed to be visually striking, and many are already painted to look like flames; I am by no means the first person to notice the similarity between these fans and a spellcaster's fire. (As a bonus, they work equally well for water-based effects.) Some of these fans even have LED lights or EL wire incorporated into the fabric, in order to create illumination for the flame!

4. Somewhat competitive: This is hard to judge without knowing what someone might be doing before they cast a fire-based spell, but the nature of the fans is such that they can be deployed fairly quickly, but might take longer to get packed away. This depends on the length of the silk; a shorter silk will be less unwieldy than longer varieties, although this is potentially a natural tradeoff for the loss in range.

Again, it's hard to tell if this will be the right solution for you without knowing more about the specific goals for how fire will work; for example, the delicate nature of the silk might be a concern if a rough-and-tumble fighter might have access to fire magic, but it would be a perfect way to represent the fragility of a glass cannon wizard.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is an interesting idea, but I don't quite see how it works yet... How would the silk fans be used to represent a breath/flame/area-of-effect spell? Aren't they rather whirled in circles around the dancers themselves? \$\endgroup\$
    – fgysin
    May 31, 2021 at 4:56

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