Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about something I call the aura principle. It is the idea that everybody gives off a level of threat when they fight. This can be used and leveraged to keep your opponents at bay or lure them into a trap. Unfortunately, the phrase ‘aura principle’ sounded a bit grandiose to something so simple as waving a bit foam at a friend. But today I found a better metaphor – while I’m not changing the name I think this describes it well.
I went to a gig today and saw three bands play. The first had nothing but white lights and a lot of heart. They were worth a watch for their antics alone. The second has glorious lighting to support them all their music fell flat as they stood still on stage. The headline act came out with excellent, impenetrable walls of sound and the stage presence to back it up. These to me are three very different types of fighters that you will see a lot of.
The first band, well, they are your fearless new guy. A great little gem and something very underrated in the LARPing world. Somebody not afraid of being hit and they want to get stuck in. It’s likely they have not yet to learn how to competitively or strategically fight. However, their enthusiasm will hold a line if it’s marshalled in a brave way.
The second band either have the stats or the training to know a bit better. But they didn’t use the space or advantages that they had. They didn’t draw the eye despite their excellent kit or their experience. When you become passive you don’t impress energy into a fight. In a few rare cases this might be what you want. You might be sneaking around the back of a line and need to keep it low key. However, when I saw that band onstage – in a place where they should have been demanding my attention – it was pretty obvious that wasn’t the case.
Finally, we came to the good stuff. A person both aware of their talents and committed to impressing them upon the world. They were arrogant but they were there, eye-catching and they knew it. While this band were excellent don’t think this principle takes years of LARP fighting skill to perfect. This is a game of attitude and you get to pick if my head turns for you.
To bring this back to LARP – Last weekend I had the pleasure of playing with a new faction. One thing I noticed was that we frequently gave more ground than I expected. This is not a word against them as it can be wise to give ground. However, a lot of people were giving ground without making a conscious decision. Their ‘aura’ or threat zone is so small that it is entirely beaten by a marching group of monsters. It’s important we remember the difference between falling back to a safe location and just running scared. When you fight it is your decision as to what happens to your space. Every step forward or backwards needs to be something you control as much as possible.
The real challenge is doing it. Half of it is a confidence game. You have to stand there, sword ready, strength in your eyes. With his sword low and your eyes even lower you are inviting line breakers to attack you. The other half is timing. Sometimes you need to throw an attack not because you think you’re going to hit but because you want your opponents to respond. While your opponent is responding they are not attacking or stealing your space. Be prepared for the riposte but don’t be afraid of it. If they are riposting you started the chain and you are in control. Or, at least, that is the mindset that you need to keep when you’re doing this.
Next time you get the chance to fight have a look around and see who you are naturally avoiding. They tend to be the people with a big threat aura (or banging stage presence). Think about why you’re staying away from them. Is it their weapons set? Is it them? Is it because they have more mates than you? Most of the time you’re going to want to have a big aura of threat so it’s good to start exploring why you think other people do it so well and then taking that into your own style.
To quote the band I went to see ‘Don’t want to take my country back. I want to take my country forward.’