HAMMER BROS? Hammer bros.

The last thing your third level character saw before taking a death. Hammer by Jesse Kulick of Wolfson’s Smithy.

The brave new world is all around us. The internet, as it turns out, is for more than just cat pictures and complaining about how the new lightsaber design has totally ruined Star Wars. It allows us to share information and learn skills in ways that would have been unthinkable to previous generations. New technologies like 3D printing allow people to create like never before.

Plans and blueprints – or just expert advice – can be had online. And the Maker Movement is at the forefront of these changes.

The Maker Movement is all about creating things.

Not just being a consumer, but becoming a crafter. You can make the things you want, and make them exactly the way you want them. Hobbyists and entrepreneurs are at the forefront of the movement, turning out small batches of custom items.

I spoke to Thomas Haswell, who might just be the hardest working man in gaming. He is a freelance writer, involved in several playtests, and a contributor to the League of Extraordinary Gamers blog.

Time to paint.

LARPs provide a setting for talented artisans to showcase their skills and sell things they make.

He’s been a LARPer for over 10 years, serving on the writing staff of the Alliance LARP’s Headquarters chapter, as well as the head of their props committee. By his own estimation he’s made “somewhere in the neighborhood” of 3,000 weapons. And not just for individual players – he’s supplied several Alliance chapters with weapons and props when they were just starting out.

As you can imagine, after making enough weapons to supply a small army, he looks for challenges nowadays. He can make a broadsword; now he’s interested in making weapons for players who have special requirements. “I like to experiment with the challenge. I experiment with new materials for cores that people haven’t thought of,” Haswell says.

Make all the things!

Many LARPers tend to greatly appreciate crafts made for their character.

According to Haswell, the most important tools for a maker are, “a strong inquisitive nature, and a willingness to screw stuff up.” He stressed the importance of what he called “journeyman tasks.” When you’re just starting out stick with the basics. Do what everyone else did, or is doing. Speak to fellow crafters, and most importantly, listen. “They’ve already put in the time, they’ve made mistakes, you can skip those, and make your own mistakes.”

And you will make mistakes. It costs about $15 dollars to make a longsword, but the first time out you’ll probably spend double that, at least. But you’re learning how not to make mistakes in the future. Once you learn to build it, break it. Then experiment with building it better. Make it studier, make it stronger, make it swing faster. That’s what makers do. Let me leave you with this:

“We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocations of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things.”

Babylon 5, Geometry of Shadows

If you’re interested, check out:

The League of Extraordinary Gamers, an awesome blog on miniatures gaming.

Alliance LARP, an international Live Action Role Playing game – there’s probably a chapter near you. 

Come play with me and other The Geek Initiative contributors at Seventh Kingdom IGE.