Any Hit v. Any Block in LARP boffer mechanics
There’s two basic hit mechanics for boffer LARPs. They do not have any set name that I’ve come across, so I’ve named them “Any Hit” and “Any Block” for ease of use.
Simply put, this means that a hit it legal if the weapon makes contact with the body. A partial block doesn’t count.
This seems to be the normative for medium combat LARPs (Amt/Bel/Dag), with those games having the caveat that the hit needs to be “hard” enough. These game tend to promote “blow through”. This was also the rule in IFGS back in the day, with some caveats (mostly dealing with machine-gunning behavior, and frowning on blow through in a vague way).
This system says that any amount of a block makes the hit invalid. I was happy to see this spelled out recently at a Twin Mask event. I suspect it’s the unspoken normative here in Socal light-touch games.
The Biggest Problem
There’s quite a few LARPs out there that don’t nail this down in their rulebooks. This is egregiously wrong. It’s probably the most core mechanic to boffer larp, and leaving it ill-defined just sucks.
What do I think is best?
For the longest time I was an “any hit” advocate. I felt it was cleaner. In retrospect, I think it was something I wanted to exist as a stick-jock with a fast wrist, since the rule benefited me more than most.
Nowadays, I believe in “any block”. I believe that is is cleaner (there’s less argument about a “block” if any block works), and it also deals with slide-downs and bounce-offs. I believe it is also better for the game in general. If more hits are blocked, then the fight lasts longer. Everybody getting more screen time is better for the game.
There’s also variation in the systems out there on how to acknowledge hits. I think this can be broken down into three broad categories.
There’s no requirement, social or otherwise, to indicate that you were hit with foam.
This method is definitely quieter, but that’s not a huge benefit, since it allows people to flurry at you with more numbers.
This is usually a fuzzy requirement that you are supposed to indicate you were hit by roleplaying the pain. There’s problems with this, namely that when I see you RP pain, I will almost always pause to see if you are RL hurt.
Every single blow needs to be answered mechanically. This is the ideal, but is problematic in any system that allows (or needs) more than one hit in a short amount of time.
What do I think is best?
I love explicit counter, but it just doesn’t work if you allow more than 1 hit per second. That kind of slow combat is only really applicable to very low-powered games, with everybody only able to take a small handful of blows.
My suggestion — Implicit Hit
If something doesn’t hit you, you need to say why, otherwise the attacker can assume the hit was legal. For example, call “blow through”, “cloth”, “hand”, “flurry”, etc. to indicate that it wasn’t a legal hit. Otherwise, it should be assumed by the attacker that if you don’t call a block or a mechanical counter, then the attack landed.