Rocks and Spellballs

Rocks in Belegarthian boffer games are coreless, head legal throwing weapons. These occupy an interesting niche in gameplay: most often they are used as short-ranged (3 meters or less) projectiles. Because they are fairly easy to dodge or deflect, the motion used to toss a rock is usually a rapid toss, which often originates from behind a shield and is typically innaccurate – a good tool for catching an unaware opponent with a lucky toss or for distracting a fighter as their lines engage.

In Belegarth and Dagorhir, rocks only cause injury when striking the head zone, and since they are being pitched quickly at players’ heads, they need to be very soft. In order to be effective projectiles, though, they need to be built with consideration for their weight, shape, and balance. The most common construction method for rocks is the stuffed-pouch method, but the carved opencell method is also valid.

Stuffed Pouch Rock Build

Materials Needed:

  • Stuffing (Some mix of opencell foam scrap, fabric scraps, pillow stuffing, yarn, etc)
  • Stretchy, weapons-cover grade fabric (trouser socks work)
  • Tough thread
The Pouch:

Check your system’s requirement for size and shape. Spherical rocks of 10cm diameter (about the size of a softball) should be considered a good minimum size. For your first rocks, you might want to start with an old sock (trouser or athletic) – properly packed, it will be about the size you’re looking for. For another good pouch, grab two matching 20x20cm squares of stretchable fabric, and sew a wide circle around, remembering to leave a 2cm-wide gap to shove in the stuffing.

Regardless of which method you choose, use really tough thread, or at least double or triple stitch the seam. In order to get a significant density, you will need to pack the stuffing in fairly tightly, which will put pressure on the seams. When the rock gets thrown, that will be even more pressure on the seams, so just save yourself the trouble and reinforce them well here.

Stuffing:

It’s tough to describe an optimal density, weight, and hardness for your rock. You should be looking for very soft, fluffy materials that are easy to compress.

Great stuffing materials:

  • 3cm cubes of opencell
  • Old t-shirts, sweatshirts, towels, or socks cut into 3cmx10cm strips
  • Handfuls of pillow stuffing (Old and lumpy is fine)
  • Bunches of loose (not knotted) yarn, cut into short lengths

Poor choices for stuffing materials:

  • Closed cell foam
  • Thumbtacks
  • Anything with glue or tape on it
  • Whole, uncut scraps of fabric
  • Fabric that doesn’t compress much, like bedsheet fabric
  • Billiard balls
How to Stuff the Rocks

Try to evenly distribute your stuffing as much as you can – your mission here is to combine your ingredients in such a way that the continuous shifting of the materials will not create large lumps. You can alternate a scrap of fabric and a piece of opencell. The smaller you cut all of your pieces, the smaller your lumps will be. Small lumps are better for balance and safety of your weapon.

Once your rock is full, squeeze it and check the density. Optimally, it will feel more dense than a boffer arrowhead, but less dense than a Nerf ball. Forcefully hit yourself in the face with the rock, Three-Stooges style – this should not hurt at all. Compress the filling and repeat until you can’t comfortably stuff more. If at this point the rock feels too heavy, you need more pillow stuffing or opencell. If it is too hard, you have too much fabric or have stuffed it too hard.

Finishing up

Sew the gap up, that’s about it. Don’t use any tape on the outside of the rock. If you used a sock, you will be tempted to tie a knot to finish it, but don’t – this will look awful and probably smack someone in the eye someday. If you used a sock as your pouch, you might want to use another cover overtop so people know you’re throwing a boffer weapon at them and not a sock. If you apply paint to the rock, make sure you drybrush or sponge it on – a heavy coat of paint will harden the cover.

Carved Opencell Rock Build

Materials needed:

  • Large block of opencell
  • Stretchy fabric
Carving

Your block of opencell needs to be close to the very specific density, weight, and hardness of a rock – similar to a nerf football without the fancy coating – that will be functional and safe on the field. Carve it into the desired shape, rock or throwing hammer or brick or otherwise, taking extra care to remove any glue or seams such as like comes on some padded nerf-type balls. Make sure there are no eye-gouging edges!

If your foam is slightly underweight, you can wrap it multiple times in soft fabric coverings to give it more weight. Tight, thick coverings will increase the density and make a more throwable object.

If your foam is slightly overweight, you can pad it with scraps of fuzzy or felt-like fabric, pillow stuffing, or other very soft and light materials. Do not use tape or glue, but rather stuff them into loose layers of covers.

Spellballs

Spellballs, used in Boffer larps to represent magic projectiles, have similar but distinct build requirements and use cases than rocks. Spellballs are thrown from further distances, are aimed more carefully, and are not generally aimed at the head. For these reasons, they are typically made from denser foam, but have ‘tails’ to stabilize them in flight.

The Lazy Mage Build

Materials needed:

  • 10cm nerf or enasco foam ball
  • Colored bandana
  • Rubber band

Wrap the bandana around the ball and tie it with the rubber band. You’re done. You can wrap another bandana of a different color around this, and give yourself the ability to swap spells without carrying around multiple spellballs. You can also trim the bandana differently for a better tail, and thus better flight paths.

The Eliphas Fireball

Materials needed:

  • Medium (~20cm long) Nerf football or football-shaped rock
  • Felt cover

Eliphas, Liche of Darkon, preferred football shaped projectiles that he could spiral accurately across the field. Make sure you remove any hard bits from the spallball – it should not hurt to have it chucked at your face at close range. Felt is not only soft on impact, it has slightly more grip than other fabrics, which will help you toss a good spiral. You should have a thin but substantial tail on your spellball in order to steady it and produce drag. With a lot of throwing practice, this is a very effective spellball with a long range.

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