What You Need to Get Started
Hopefully by now you've read all about what Belegarth is and are interested in beginning! The first step will be to determine if there's an established realm near you. You can do this by checking the list of realms on the Belegarth Wiki or by checking the Map of Realms. If there is a realm near you, great! Your first step should be to find out when and where they hold their practices and go to one. They will be able to tell you in person what you will need to do to fight with them.
If there is not a realm in your immediate area, but there is one within traveling distance, it.s a good idea to visit them once or twice to see how Belegarth works before trying to organize anything closer to home. Find out when and where the closest realm to you fights and let them know you will be visiting. They can teach you the rules and show you how to make weapons, which will save you a lot of time, money, and headaches. If you can not travel to them, most realms will be willing to travel to you. If there are at least a handful of people in your area that are interested in fighting, let your neighboring realm know and ask if they could come visit you for an afternoon. They can bring loaner weapons for you to see and fight with and can teach you the rules. It is much better to learn how to go about fighting in person than from reading written material.
If there is no realm near you, don't worry! Many successful realms have been started in this manner. You will first want to read through the Belegarth Book of War several times; it can be a bit difficult to get through and confusing to people without any experience with foam fighting, so feel free to visit our forums and post any questions that you may have. There are many people, new and experienced alike, who regularly read this forum and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Making your First Weapons
Once you feel like you have a good grasp of the rules, you need to make yourself some weapons. If you have friends that are already interested in Belegarth, you should all make your weapons together so you can help each other out and all learn how to do it at the same time. Weapon making is definitely something best learned from someone who knows how to do it. If you don't have access to someone who can teach you how to make weapons, you will have to rely on online instructions, which can be found by clicking the 'Construction Guides' link above. Read the instructions carefully and print them out to have with you while you are making the weapons. You should use the exact materials listed in the instructions- many times similar materials are not acceptable. You should also carefully read the instructions on any adhesives you are going to use to make sure you know how to use them properly. Before you start on your weapons you should ask any questions you might have about materials or the actual construction techniques in the Foam Smithing section of the web board.
In addition to making your first weapons, you will also need to make yourself some garb, or costuming. Even though role-playing does not play a dominant role in Belegarth, we do require that everyone wear at least some level of period-looking garb. There are many cheap and easy ways to make beginner's garb for yourself, the easiest of which will be explained here.
The most common beginner's fighting garb is very simple. All you will need are black sweat pants, a black T-shirt, and a few yards of cheap cloth. Cut yourself a large rectangle out of the fabric that is about one and a half times your height and the width of your shoulders. Cut a hole in the middle for your head, and presto! You have made yourself a tunic. Wear it over your head with your sweats and tee and tie off your tunic with a belt or rope, and you're all set for garb.
Finding People to Fight With
Once you have made enough weapons for you and a few friends to fight with, you should start out with some one-on-one sparring and some larger team games if you have enough people. You should have the rules printed out and readily available so you can refer back to them often to make sure you are interpreting them correctly. Again, if you have any questions regarding if something is legal or how the game works, please ask in the New Members area of the web board, located here.
After you and perhaps a few friends have gotten a good grasp on the rules and how to make legal weapons, it is time to find more people to fight with! Belegarth increases in fun exponentially with the more people you have on the field fighting with you. The more committed players you have, the better! The best place to start out looking for players is in your own friend group. If you enjoy fighting, then chances are very good your friends will as well. Ask the people who seem to be enjoying themselves fighting to invite their friends, too, as they may know different people than you. If you tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, you can soon find yourself with a very respectable sized realm! After you have a number of people interested in fighting, you will have to start getting organized.
The first thing you will need to do once you have a number of people interested in fighting is to set a regular time and place to fight. You want to be at the same place at the same time every week so people know where to go to fight. You will want to fight somewhere with an open grassy area to fight on, preferably with shade and drinking water nearby. Make sure everyone who fights with you knows where and when fighting practices are held.
The second thing you will need to do once more people start getting interested in fighting with you is to make sure everyone is equipped with legal weapons and period looking garb. Since you and a few friends have made some weapons before, the best thing to do is to help new fighters make their first weapons. Often one or two people can aid a lot of new fighters at the same time at a weapon-making party. Invite everyone that wants to make weapons over, go out and buy supplies, and then spend the afternoon showing everyone how to make their own legal weapons. Having someone watching over your shoulder when you are making your first weapon is a great aid and will help you make a weapon that will last longer and be more likely to be legal. Having everyone who fights wearing garb will greatly enhance the atmosphere on the field, so you may want to make a lot of loaner garb. These can just be a handful of simple tabards to loan to new fighters for the day so that they have garb they can wear and fit in with the rest of the fighters.
Eventually you will want to sit down with everyone that fights regularly and discuss becoming a more organized realm. Included in this are picking a name for yourselves, deciding how you will govern yourselves, asking to be included on the realms web page, and generally becoming more professional. You will need to decide who is qualified to be a herald, who is qualified to check new weapons for legality, and who is best at helping new people learn how to fight. Most of this can wait until you already have a good fighter base, which should be your first priority. Making your realm grow is all about having fighters and getting them weapons. If you can keep finding new people to fight and keep equipping them with their own gear, your new realm will grow quickly, and you'll have a lot of fun!