Dagorhir Battle Games are many things to many people. Dagorhir combines fast-paced full-contact combat simulation with elements of live action role-playing. Dagorhir combines elements of both history and fantasy. Dagorhir is both a sport and a game. Dagorhir’s participants experience their fantasies on a variety of levels. This wide ranging appeal is the reason for Dagorhir’s nationwide success.
Photo Credit Asbjorn of Dajhurgah
Dagorhir was founded in 1977 by a bunch of college friends who shared an enthusiasm for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and medieval history. Regular "battles" were held, and friends were encouraged to come out and play. Over the next couple of years, Dagorhir was featured on a number of local college radio shows. Demonstrations were performed at Maryland's local Renaissance Festival. Dagorhir's membership began to expand in the Maryland/Virginia area. Dagorhir was featured on a variety news show called PM Magazine in 1982, and hundreds of new members joined. This show was featured across the country, and new chapters (Realms) sprouted in various locations including Ohio and Illinois. By 1986, a national event called Ragnarok was held in Ohio. Ragnarok has grown every year, drawing hundreds of avid Dagorhir enthusiasts from all over the United States.
As with many well known role-playing games that started as a fad in the 1970’s, Dagorhir was originally based on Lord of the Rings. The name "Dagorhir" is derived from Tolkien's Sindarin Elven language, and translates as "Battle Lords.".
While there are some similarities between Dagorhir and role-playing games, Dagorhir boasts many advantages.
Dagorhir is a sport, not a tabletop game. Dagorhir is athletically challenging. Its participants learn sportsmanship in an environment that fosters healthy competition and team spirit. You do not have to be an athlete to enjoy Dagorhir. Dagorhir caters to everyone. Dagorhir is an exciting form of exercise that improves coordination and balance.
"The outnumbered attackers strove to cross the stream and gain a foothold on the far shore. Their enemies, both on the shore and inside the fort lashed together from fallen trees, fought back ferociously, with sword, spear, and bow.
One attacker, shot through the neck with an arrow, fell screaming and was carried off by the water. Determined to make the enemy pay for his death, his comrades redoubled their efforts. Blocking a sword and a spear simultaneously with his shield, one attacker drove the enemy back and finally pulled himself to the top of creek’s steep bank.
Without sparing a look back, he shouted over his shoulder, "We take them NOW!" to the rest of his force.
It didn’t matter that they were outnumbered, or that water, muddy banks, and strong walls stood in their way. They charged.
THAT’S Dagorhir. A game, a sport, a martial art…a chance to live an adventure."
-David (Graymael) Vierling
Dagorhir is social, and allows for interaction among a diverse group of people. Role-playing games restrict social interaction to one’s immediate friends. Computer games are even more limiting in this respect. Dagorhir’s participants include a vast range of people, including college professors and high school students, construction workers and accountants, computer geeks and goths.
Dagorhir challenges creativity and imagination. Dagorhir members make costumes, armor, and (safe) weapons for use in Dagorhir events. Dagorhir inspires historical research. Our members learn knowledge of arts and crafts as they build and create accessories to help them more fully enjoy the game. Members interact improvisationally with characters they develop and portray in a historic/fantasy setting.
Dagorhir is also a healthy outlet for aggression and frustration. Though Dagorhir is hard-hitting and physical, there is an emphasis is on safety. Dagorhir "weapons" are well padded to prevent injuries. Dagorhir’s combat rules outline safe conduct for all of our members, and these rules are strictly enforced by the "Heralds" (referees). Within the rules, combatants may slam, wrestle, and even "kill" their opponents. In our civilized age this "weekend warfare" is a gratifying relief from the stresses and anxieties of everyday life.
First-time participants create a historically or fantasy-based persona to portray. This imaginary "character" should coincide with the participant’s fantasies. A new member must bring or borrow a costume and weapon for their character to use. They will be required to sign a release form and provide proof of age. Minors ages sixteen and up may participate only with parental consent (minimum age varies from one chapter to another). All participants are required to submit themselves to the "check-in" process before the event starts. During check-in, experienced Dagorhir members will evaluate each participant. Each weapon is measured against stringent safety standards, each costume must meet the minimal requirements, then members pay their dues and register their characters. New members are often discouraged when they are confronted by skilled participants with many years of experience. Don’t be discouraged. By your third event you will begin to develop a "combat sense," and reflexes that will help you to survive.
"Dagorhir allows us to build our fantasies into a shared reality. To experience Dagorhir is to grasp at the unobtainable. Dagorhir allows us all to realize our dreams beyond the mundane existence of everyday life."
-Sean (Dominus) Richey