Heralds are the Dagorhir equivalent of referees. Among their most important jobs are to ensure everyone stays safe, everyone keeps their cool, and that the battle keeps moving. People should seldom be bored at a Dagorhir event!
- Tell players what scenario is next and explain the boundaries.
- Explain, interpret, and enforce the rules of play.
- Keep track of time.
- Recognize/reward exceptional actions and sportsmanship by players through such means as calling a player forward in front of the assembled armies and saying, “Pindarus here has some of the most realistic ‘deaths scenes’ I’ve ever seen,” or by awarding J’tai (the Dagorhir equivalent of medals) for truly exceptional characterization.
- Keep the action flowing.
- Keep players from getting out of hand or losing their temper. Only rarely should a Herald have to remove a player from the field for unsportsmanlike conduct.
When choosing Heralds, it’s always best that they have extensive current combat experience. Veterans who are unable to fight due to an injury or infirmity make great heralds – it allows them to stay active in Dagorhir, while providing a needed service to their fellow players. Members without current Dagorhir combat experience are often less effective Heralds, as they may not be good judges of the nuances of fast-flowing Dagorhir combat.
Avoid Heralds whose personalities might leave them inclined to “power trip” on the field. Heralding DOES require a degree of self-assertion and certainty; the ideal Herald will stand up to the biggest, baddest fighter on the field and say, “Sorry, but you ARE dead,” yet won’t abuse his/her responsibilities by making spurious calls or imposing over-harsh penalties (such as shouting, “Dead! You’re dead! And you, and you, and you, too!”)
PLAYERS and HERALDS
If a Herald makes a call with which you disagree, DON’T argue. Cooperate and “take the hit” – then tell the Herald, “Actually, that arrow glanced off the helmet of the fighter in front of me before it hit my arm,” as you drop your sword and put your arm behind your back. Often, the Herald will say, “Sorry, my mistake – you can have your arm back.” Even if a Herald calls you “dead” incorrectly, well, Dagorhir is a game and you’ll be “alive” again in a few minutes.
HOW TO BE A HERALD
Because Dagorhir is “for fun” and not a professional sport where there’s money on the line, it’s better for a Herald’s decision to be quick and wrong (and to apologize for it later) than to be slow and indecisive and allow a situation (such as an argument between players) to get out of hand.
Keep your eyes constantly moving as you watch for any possible problems.
Watch incoming projectile weapons and ensure that they are correctly “called” when they hit. Watch for shots that hit people from behind and ensure that the person who’s hit knows it was an attack and not their own team jostling them.
Try to avoid calling a player (especially a newer member) “dead” for minor violations of rules such as stepping over boundaries. If you feel the mistake was an honest one, simply warn the player. Generally you should only call a player dead if you deem a violation to be deliberate (such as knocking an arrow from the air with a weapon), or if it changes the flow of the game (such as stepping off the edge of a “bridge” during a bridge battle)
Whenever possible, try to state things/calls positively. Think about the effect each of the following Herald comments might have on a new Dagorhir member who accidentally overstepped the battlefield boundaries:
“You in the red tunic! You stepped over the boundary line and then stepped back! You’re dead! And if I ever see you cheating like that again, I’ll kick you off the field!”
“You in the red tunic! You stepped over the boundary line and stepped back. Watch it, or I’ll have to call you ‘dead’ next time.”
Remember, heralds are in a position of authority. If you’re experienced enough to be a herald, other members (especially new members) will look up to you – they’ll want to BE you in a few years. Give them a good impression of Dagorhir and yourself.
Call a Freeze or Hold when:
There is an immediate safety issue, such as a (really) injured player who needs to be protected;
You realize that a number of players don’t understand some rule that’s basic to the scenario being played (such as where the boundaries are);
When there’s a brief lull in the fighting and you think it’s advisable to get “dead” players out from underfoot to keep them from getting stepped on.
Avoid calling a “freeze” or “hold” to combat for a non-safety issue (such as to get the “dead” out from underfoot) at any moment that might change tactical advantage from one team to another.
EXAMPLE OF WHAT NOT TO DO: The Red Team is charging over the Blue Team’s fort wall, taking heavy casualties. Just as the Red Team gains a foothold inside the walls, an inexperienced Herald calls “Hold! Everybody freeze and let the dead people leave for Valhalla.” This takes away the momentum of the Red Team’s attack and practically ensures their defeat.
As with any competitive sport, you will see arguments on the Dagorhir Battlefield, usually over whether or not Fighter A’s hit was “good” on Fighter B. In such cases:
- If you saw the hit, render a judgment and keep the battle moving.
- If you didn’t see the hit, suggest that the players just drop the argument and keep fighting.
- If one or both players won’t drop the argument, call them dead (one or both, as appropriate.)
PULLING A PLAYER OFF THE FIELD
Hopefully you will never have to “pull” a fighter off the field for unsportsmanlike conduct, BUT a herald must be prepared to do what it takes to ensure the safety and enjoyment of the players. Generally, the only time you might need to direct a player to leave the field is when that player loses their cool: screaming obscenities at other players, smashing players (especially smaller people) with excessive force, threatening players, deliberately swinging at someone’s head, throwing a punch, etc. In the face of dangerous or belligerent behavior, it’s advisable to call for other figures of authority to support your actions and help calm down the troublemaker. Call for the Event Organizers, other Heralds, and other members of the troublemaker’s Unit.
Good luck, and good fighting!