Planning Your Weapon
This is going to cover the creation of a club, a weapon
usable by any Mystic Realms® character. Use grey duct tape instead of brown, and
the club becomes a short sword. Make the short sword shorter and it's a dagger.
Add a blade to the end of the club and you have an axe. This covers all the
starting weapons in Mystic Realms® except the staff, which will be gone over some
All the more advanced weapons are variations of the same design, and usually the only difference is the length of the weapon. The min and max sizes of Mystic Realms® weapons and shields are in the physreps table in the rules section. Learn this and you can build any Mystic Realms® melee weapon.
(All of the thumbnail images below are links to full-sized photos.)
Materials & Planning
PVC PipeThere is only one kind of pipe allowed in Mystic Realms® weapons: 3/4" inner-diameter schedule 40 PVC. Nothing else will pass inspection.
It's common to pick up CPVC pipe (the pipe in the background) by mistake. CPVC is usually a yellowish color, thinner (because it's measured by the outer diameter), and much more flexible. The flexibility is the big problem — long sections of CPVC whip when swung, making it harder to stop a wild swing and increasing the force when it smacks you in the face.
An easy way to make sure you're getting the right kind of pipe is to carry a quarter in your pocket when you go shopping. The quarter will sit on the end of the pipe, but not quite cover it.
Pipe InsulationMystic Realms® requires 5/8" wall pipe insulation. Stuff this thick is hard to find south of New England; most of the foam in stores is 3/8" wall, which won't do. 5/8" is a hair under the width of a dime, so keep a dime along with your quarter and you can't possibly get the wrong stuff.
As for the diameter, most pipe insulation gives sizes in terms of copper or iron pipes, neither or which match up exactly with PVC. Foam for "3/4" copper" or "1/2" iron" pipes fits snugly, and tends to split while you're working with it. Foam for "1" copper" or "3/4" iron" pipes is a little loose, and usually requires extra glue or a layer of duct tape around the pipe to make it fit. If you can, get the bigger stuff. (I'm told the smaller stuff stretches some if you store it on the pipe for several weeks.)
Unless you beg or buy your foam from another Mystic Realms® player, you're probably going to have to special-order it. Most large chains can't or won't get it; small, privately-owned shops are more likely to place an order for you.
Open-Cell FoamThis is the stuff you'll find in couch cushions and upholstery. You can buy it at craft stores if you have more money than free time, but typically life will provide for all your open-cell needs in the form of an old recliner on someone's curb awaiting garbage day.
Duct TapeAll you need is one roll of normal grey tape (for metal) and one roll of brown (wood), and you can make any weapon in Mystic Realms. In fact, striking surfaces can only be grey or brown — other colors represent enchantments and are not allowed. You can use odd colors on the non-striking surfaces (sword hilts and weapon hafts), but that's it.
If you can, get rolls 2" wide. A lot of tape comes in 48mm rolls now, which is just narrow enough to leave odd gaps that you'll have to patch.
ToolsAttaching the insulation to the pipe requires glue, Elmer's white glue will do, although 3M Spray Adhesive is good if you want something more permanent. (Make sure your glue won't melt the PVC pipe, or the foam for that matter.)
I strongly recommend you use old newspapers or a drop cloth to protect your kitchen table while you're doing this, especially if you're using spray adhesive or some other permanent glue that loves carpet. (Where I live, spray adhesive is also called "How I lost my security deposit.")
If you're like me, you'll be tempted to use a Dremel or other power saw to cut the PVC pipe. Don't bother; any serrated blade will do with a little effort. Just be sure to clean your mother's bread knife before putting it back in the drawer.
Use a hobby knife on the foam, and save your scissors for the tape. Mark the pipe insulation with a marker all the way around, then stick a knife in one side and rotate the foam. Use the knife on the open-cell too, but expect to replace the blade when you're done; Open-cell dulls a razor after about twenty inches.
Finally, you'll need a pin to puncture the thrusting tip when you're done, and you may want friction tape for the grip, but it's optional.
Measuring Your WeaponYou probably bought that PVC in ten-foot lengths, so do yourself a favor and mark off what you're going to make out of it before chopping it up. A Sharpie marker is your friend; keep one handy. You've got 120" to play with, and you'll get at least one lame half-length dagger left over from each pipe if you don't plan your cuts ahead of time.
Note: There is only one piece of PVC in each weapon. No PVC joints, hammer heads, cross guards, tonfas, or anything else.
Check the physreps table for the max length of the weapon you're going to make, then subtract 3" for the thrusting tip on the business end, and 1" for the pommel on the other. If you're smart, you'll then subtract 1" more because your weapon tends to grow on you as you make it, and you don't want to fail inspection because your weapon's too long. As a bonus, since most of the max lengths are multiples of 10, this extra inch means you'll be cutting empty-five inch pipes, which divide into 120" much easier than empty-six.
Note: The staff has a thrusting tip on both ends. Subtract 6" from the max length for two thrusting tips, and then subtract another "slack inch" before cutting.
There's no secret to cutting the pipe, besides cut it over a trash can to avoid little white PVC shavings getting everywhere. Sanding or filing down the ends is a nice touch.
Laying Out the PiecesThis is about how your pipe and foam will be arranged when you're done. Note that the insulation extends 1" past each end of the pipe, and the open-cell thrusting tip goes 2" past that. This pipe is a hair short, but I should still end up with a 29" weapon when I'm done.
Each thrusting tip is a 2" cube of open-cell foam. Cut a 2x2" strip and chop off several blocks in one sitting. Since the duct tape will probably compress the foam on you, cut them all a little long... 2x2x2.5" or more. This is the bit most likely to get jammed in my eye, so be generous.
You should be able to lay out all the pieces of your larval weapon at this point. (That extra square of open-cell is going to become an axe head later on.)
Other WeaponsEssentially, a short sword is a club made with grey duct tape instead of brown. You'd probably want to add a cross guard, and a large, sturdy guard requires planning. As shown, they PVC pipe goes through the middle of a roll of taped insulation. There is no PVC in the cross guard! Cross guards can extend a maximum of 5" from the sides of the blade.
A small, not-so-sturdy guard can be added after the "grey club" is complete. Take about 2" of insulation, and split the cylinder vertically into halves. Take another 2" and do it again so you have 4 half-cylinders. (More makes a bigger, but weaker, guard.) Stack half of them on each sides of the blade just above the grip, and duct-tape them into place. Cross guards take serious abuse, so use a few layers of tape. The short sword in the photo has four pieces of leftover 3/8" wall on either side.
An axe is just a club with an axe head added on. This can also be done after the club is complete, but like everything, planning ahead helps.