Melee Creation Guidelines

The main concern in weapon construction is safety. The weapon construction guidelines are here to provide the safest possible weapons. However, no weapon is perfectly safe if used incorrectly. Safe weapon use is equally important to safe weapon construction.

Weapon construction requires some practice, and it is likely that your first few attempts could be rejected during safety check. It might be best to bring extra weapon building materials with you so that you can repair your weapon in order to get it passed.

Usually weapons are crafted with a rigid core (pvc, fiberglass, graphite, kitespar or even a golf club shaft) and wrapped with closed cell foam. Light aluminium can be used as a core for some two-handed weapons, but heavy aluminum pipe, steel, copper or any other metal and wood can never be used in weapon construction (this includes using a dowel inside thin PVC or CPVC). Experiment and use discretion when choosing alternative cores, as a weapon should flex slightly, but not whip, and not bend significantly with use.


How to Make a Simple Weapon

When making your contact safe weapon, consider the following items:

  1. Safety. Safety is king. You will usually hit (and be hit) repeatedly - and quite possibly harder than intended - by any number of other combatants during a fight at Dystopia Rising.
  2. Durability. Built to last! Crafting a durable weapon will ultimately save you time, money and (most importantly) aggravation. Design your weapon so that it's safe and will not break during an event.
  3. Looks. They aren't everything, but at a Dystopia Rising we work hard to maintain that post-apocalyptic survival feel. The majority of people would probably not be carrying swords around, but items like fire axes or baseball bats would be far more available. Use colored tape, plasti-dip, or open cell foam to ensure your weapon is not only unique to you, but also adds to the role play of others.

Materials you will need:

  • Packing tape or duct tape
  • Fun noodle (pool noodle)
  • A weapon core
  • 3/4" thickness foam pipe insulation
  • Alternate tape for grip (optional)

Tools you will need:

  • Saw or pipe cutter (to cut PVC/core)
  • Small, sharp knife (x-acto knife, utility knife or razor)
  • Electric carving knife or dremel tool (completely optional, but the best way to cut intricate shapes in open cell foam)


  1. Cut core to a few inches under the desired length.
  2. Cut the fun noodle foam to the desired length of the striking surface.
  3. Slide foam over the core, leaving the tip of the foam an inch or two past the tip of the core.
  4. Shave the bottom of the striking surface, creating a transition from the striking surface to the grip/core.
  5. Use packing tape to secure the bottom of foam to the core.
  6. Put loose foam into the well between the tip of the foam and the tip of the core.
  7. Tape the tip of the foam, sealing the loose foam over the tip of the core.
  8. Tape single strips down the weapon, starting at the top of the weapon and extending to the bottom of the striking surface.
  9. Secure tape strips by spiral wrapping the base of the weapon's striking surface with one extra layer of tape. Start this three inches above the bottom of the striking surface until you've covered the base of the striking surface and extend a bit into core area.
  10. Cover the striking surface with an external cover such as another layer of duct tape or a cloth cover.
  11. Cut pool noodle to the length of the pommel you want.
  12. Shave the pommel to a near point.
  13. Affix the pommel to the bottom of your core with the near point faced towards the striking tip.
  14. Use packing tape to tape bottom of foam to the core.
  15. Place loose foam into the well between the tip of the pommel and the tip of the core.
  16. Tape the pommel foam to seal the loose foam over the tip of the core.
  17. Spiral wrap the pommel as you did the handle.
  18. Spiral wrap the grip with athletic or grip tape.

These same techniques, with minor adjustments, can be used to make just about any melee weapon (hammers, axes, adzes, baseball bats, etc.) You can also cover your weapon with plasti-dip instead of tape or cloth, allowing you to paint the weapon.

Be creative, follow these directions and our safety guidelines, and have fun! Keep in mind though, the more complicated the item, the more things could go wrong. Bring a back-up weapon (simple one) in case your complicated piece doesn't pass safety check the first time.

Weapon Types and Dimensions:

  • Melee Weapon, Small: 12" to 21" overall, standard construction rules apply, although weapons under 14" can have no core, provided they do not bend or whip.
  • Melee Weapon, Standard: 18" to 39" overall, all standard construction rules apply.
  • Melee Weapon, Large: 36" to 53" overall, all standard construction rules apply.
  • Melee Weapon, Two Handed: 50" to 63" overall, all standard construction rules apply.

weapon Approval guidelines

  • 3/4" foam insulation is the minimum for any weapon.
  • All weapons must be fairly rigid so as not to act as a whip when swung quickly.
  • All items over 18" must have some sort of core.
  • The foam should be taped lengthwise, using 2 inch wide duct or packing tape and overlapping about 1/4 inch. This will use the least amount of tape, keeping the weapon light and safe.
  • You may also choose to cover your weapon with cloth after it is completed (all foam must still secured with tape).
  • Under most circumstances, a weapon tip should not bend 6 inches from true when a moderate weight is applied to the tip and the grip is held level.
  • Weapons may not have any cords, strings, or moving parts. No part of a weapon can be designed to intentionally or unintentionally trap or hook another weapon.

Reasons Your Weapon May Fail

  • If the pipe insulation on the shaft is too compressed, or less than 3/4" thick, the weapon will hit harder than desired and fail a weapons check.
  • One common mistake is to use foam of a smaller diameter than the core. This makes the weapon too hard.
  • Another common mistake is to wrap the tape around the foam too tightly, or even in a spiral pattern up the blade. This tends to compress the foam and adds a lot of weight. The insulation should slide easily over the pipe, but fit snugly so that the weapon will not rattle if the pipe is shaken.

Contact safe shields

A shield should be safe - for the person using it, their opponent, and any other items/people involved in the melee.

Shields may not be larger than 9 square feet and not more than 4 feet in any direction. A rectangle shield that is 4 feet tall cannot be more than 2 feet wide and remain under the 9 square feet restriction.

Shields may be made of any material the builder desires, as long as they have no sharp protrusions or edges. Hard edges must be padded on all sides by 3/4" pipe foam.

A shield should be under the control of its bearer at all times, and should not fly loose in combat. A garage door handle and a strap system on the back will do this nicely, allowing for fine control and ease of use.

Decoration of a shield is highly encouraged, for both RP and atmosphere purposes - your shield should be easily recognizable from across the battlefield. If your shield is improvised in character, or made out of scrap, be sure to pain or decorate it in such away that it looks recycled. Remember that this is not a high fantasy game, and does take place in a modernistic (if post-apocalyptic) society. Painting shields to appear like different street signs is also a nice touch.