Our plan was to crowdfund via Kickstarter, which is the most well-known platform, but were declined on the basis that their rules prohibit "weapons or weapon replicas", despite multiple other LARP weapons being listed.
So we're launching our crowdfunding campaign through Pozible, another major trusted crowdfunding platform.
Making LARP weapons is challenging, and we need money for important materials like potatoes, beans, chicken etc. :p. Seriously, I quit my day job and now work on this full-time, and I need to eat and pay rent while I tackle the difficult task of developing weapons that are safe, durable, and beautiful. As well as the raw materials, and workshop improvements, we may also need capital to seek specialist manufacturers to be able to deliver at a high scale of production.
LARP-safe swords and axes with curved cores!
Our launch products include LARP-safe swords and axes inspired by famous historical examples and our own designs:
~Japanese: Tanto, Wakizashi, Katana, Nodachi, Odachi
~Sabres: 1796 Light Cavalry, Polish Hussar, Cutlass (naval sabre)
~Indo-Persian & Middle-East: Khopesh, Shamshir, Tulwar
~Axes: Dark-age Handaxe, Hungarian-inspired Waraxe and Greataxe
A simple concept - after all, there are a huge number of historically important, martially interesting, and just beautiful curved swords and axes.
Makers of LARP gear have struggled to produce safe and reliable curved swords. There are multiple design and technical challenges to producing the rigid cores that make them safe to and yet strong enough for full contact use, as well as fitting within the construction rules of most LARP organisations. See our videos on our YouTube Channel, which go into more detail on the technical points and challenges, and the performance of our product. These technical challenges haven't stopped LARPers from desiring these beautiful swords.
It's a rare day of fighting when a player does not openly lament the missing curved Katanas, the lack of Sabres and the conspicuously absent Khopesh. This is why we have spent the last year developing our patent-pending method of making custom shaped fibreglass cores, as well as rubber molding techniques.
The shapes of the cores we can produce allow for a huge scope unique products beyond just curved swords, but also for hammers, sickles, halberds and axes where the core continues through the head, reinforcing it to stop them from tearing when hooking weapons and shields. We have demonstrated our prototypes to our local LARP group, The Hundred Swords, and you can see the prototypes in use in the gallery and video. The demo was a great success, with the club impressed by the feel, weighting, and detailed finish of our prototypes.
Curved swords feel noticeably different from straight swords. Unlike straight swords, the centre of mass of a curved sword is rarely inside the blade, and rarely aligned with the handle. For backwards curved blades like our Shamshir, the hand tends to drag the blade in the direction of the cut, producing sweeping arc-cuts unlike those of straight blades. You can see this in our video. It has a distinct feel to it that is hard to explain. In the case of forward-curved blades like the Khopesh, the weight of the blade feels like it's dragging the hand forward, resulting in a meaty swing that feels very powerful for chopping, like an axe. It was partly our curiosity about the different feel of curved blades that drove us to develop these fascinating weapons and bring them into the LARP sphere, and we feel that they do not disappoint.
The reason we have chosen to launch via Pozible is a matter of time and scale. We are a small operation at the moment. LARPers the world over are missing out on curved swords, and we want to provide them. With our current resources, it would remain a costly side-project, we would not be able to expand or deliver at a high capacity, and the resulting cost of each individual product to the end-user would be much higher. Pozible gives us the chance to make use of bulk discounts and to explore larger-scale solutions to production, ultimately enabling us to provide these products at a lower cost to the end-user. Elysian Forge invites you now to purchase for yourself a game-changing LARP sword or axe, and to help us deliver a new kind of LARP to the world!
Risks and challenges
The main challenge so far has been having enough time to devote to actually making our products, and the resources to develop more designs. A successful or more-than-successful Pozible campaign will give us the resources to focus on and deliver the scale and range of products we would need to turn from the current passion project to viable ongoing manufacture.
- Low Level of success
In our current form, we are close to being able to develop the business gradually, doing things the same way we are now, but with greater resources. So we have set a relatively small Funding goal. That amount would be enough to properly deliver our launch product lines and get set up for growth.
- Unexpectedly high level of success
If the Pozible campaign was to significantly outperform our expectations, our current method of operation would struggle to deliver the products in a reasonable time frame. We have laid the groundwork to plan for that outcome. We have engaged with multiple larger scale manufacturing facilities, so even if the campaign succeeds at a level beyond our current capacity, we are able to increase the overall production scale. The main issues here will be lead-times for the manufacturer to prepare their facilities; ensuring quality control when we are not 'hands on' the process; and that the development costs for each new product line would be much higher, which will slow down our ability to expand with new lines. However, with the extra time we would gain by not having to personally make each sword, we can spend a lot more time working on designs and ensuring shipping is managed.
- Delivering on shipping timeframes
We have been very conservative with our estimates of the reward shipping dates, so should be achievable regardless of the level of success of the Pozible. If we need to move to larger scale manufacturing, it may extend the timeline for the less popular products, but the time frames we have discussed with potential providers look acceptable. Obviously we will be delivering as quickly as possible in order of backing! Get in early!
- Skills and experience
Elysian Forge has 2 directors - Steve and Anthony. We share many interests, the most obvious being a passion for history, LARP and HEMA. But we also have a diverse range of skills beyond that, which compliment well to put us in a position to be able to deliver on our vision to get Elysian Forge's game-changing LARP swords and axes to the world.
Steve is a qualified engineer, and has worked in R&D and manufacturing for nearly a decade. He has made designs that have gone into thousands of products. He has contacts in the manufacturing industry and has personally gone through the design and implementation process for many projects, as well as developing our patent-pending core creation method.
Anthony has been a banker for 7 years, and specialising in Small and Medium Business management for the last 6. He has strong business acumen, detailed understanding, and significant experience of financial systems and requirements for businesses to operate and to be successful, across many industries.
-Temperature and humidity control
Controlling temperature and humidity is currently the biggest issue for our foam molding process. Properties of the final product are affected by the temperature of the chemical constituents and the mold itself. Keeping several meter-long molds at a specific temperature is not particularly easy when the workspace also has to be ventilated to keep fumes to safe levels.
There are several solutions to this problem, the first being to outsource manufacturing to specialist foam molding facilities. This requires a large capital investment, but would almost certainly mean that the cost of the final product would be reduced, and quality would increase. It is our preferred option.
The second option would be to upgrade our current facility to one where the entire workshop could be temperature and humidity controlled, and adequate ventilation assured. This would mean we would have to continue making products ourselves, which would make it more difficult to develop new designs.
- Tip shape and size, core thrusting tip
This is a challenge we have already faced, and is a problem which all LARP swords and polearms are subject to. The geometry of the tip of the sword determines how easy it is to break and how it feels to be struck with. Our current Shamshir design has a very slender tip which tapers in two dimensions, making it difficult to fit a core into to the end, and having less material to absorb the stress of a thrust. This makes these particular designs more subject to breakage than, say, our Katana, which has never broken at the tip. So the design on the Shamshir will need to be updated prior to shipping to ensure it is not able to break.
Some organisations require the tip of a LARP weapon to have a flexible or "thrusting" tip which absorbs some force during a thrust. We have spent significant time and effort developing our own version, and have settled on a very strong variant where a rubber tip is attached to the end of our custom cores during the creation process. We are also considering adding a Kevlar Cap to the tip to help prevent breakage.