Updated & Edited by Silk Wyndhaven
The Heralds cry, “Lay on!” and the Units close on one another, circling, vying for position. The Elven archers find the range and begin to drop shafts on the Germanic mercenaries whose mighty zwiehander swords offer no protection from the rain of arrows. The Goblin Horde, seeing their chance, charge the distracted archers and are among the Elves, dealing death, before the archers have a chance to react.
Warriors in the Dagorhir are divided into sub-groups called “units” primarily to allow friends to fight together and to make choosing teams easier.
The War Band has always been part of the literature and history of warfare. Whether it was the Fellowship of the Ring, the Celtic clans who rallied to Boudicca’s call, ancient Ireland’s Fenians and Fomorians, The Knights of the Round Table, Jason’s Argonauts, or the Free Companions of Robert Howard’s Conan, the small Unit of warriors multiplies the power of the individual fighter.
So it is in Dagorhir, where Warriors form Units to ensure that close friends fight together and can support each other on the battlefield – even to making a last stand over the body of a fallen friend.
Units can have any name you wish and use any symbol that’s appropriate to the fantasy/medieval genre of Dagorhir. Your Unit’s Reason for Existence can be anything you and your friends wish, such as re-creating the Army of the Roman Empire, being a band of Dispossessed Elven Royalty, or “`Cause We Like to Fight Together.” There was once a Unit that boasted more than 20 Fighters where each claimed to be a bastard son of King Charlemagne! Units instill a sense of fellowship and responsibility among members, increase organization at battles, and give every member a way to have his/her views felt. Dagorhir Units should be tight-knit bands of warriors who fight together for a reason, are fiercely proud, and are loyal to the rest of their Unit
Your unit doesn’t even have to be about fighting, they can be the folks you learn crafts or weaponsmithing with, or “`Cause my unit’s camp feels like home to me.” With the growth of many non-fighting activities, the focus has shifted for some units, including ranking structures that promote non-combat activities.
Units should have a Standard; a flag, totem, or banner that tells something about them. What’s on your standard is up to your Unit: Elves might fly a flag showing a Silver Tree; a Mongol standard might be a Totem Staff topped with a painted horse skull; Pirates could fly a stylized Jolly Roger; Units from the time of King Arthur might fight under the Welsh Chimera; and an Uruk-Hai banner would show the White Hand.
Many units have Battle Cries to strike fear into their enemies (and to identify one another in the swirling melee that is Dagorhir combat). Some even use other languages for their Battle-Cry. In Dagorhir, we don’t yell, “Bill and Joanne, I’m over here!” Instead you’ll hear, “Blood and Souls!” or “Zabiti!” as Units commit to deal death upon one another. Others promote trade in character, declaring “Heals for Deals!” or “Fighting for the highest bidder!” both on and off the field.
A Unit should have a “commander.” This person doesn’t actually have to be the sole leader of the Unit (although in many cases they will be), but they should be a responsible person that can organize information for and about the Unit. In some Chapters the Unit Commander will be the Unit’s way of giving feedback to the Chapter concerning rules, battle locations, battle types, and event scheduling, though in others it is a completely informal role.
Units can be organized in a variety of way. Some are run as a democracy, where all members are equal and get a vote on group decisions, such as what your Standard will look like or whether you want to volunteer to run the next Feast. Or your members might decide it would be fun to declare your Unit to be a “country” with a Queen or King supported by Thanes or Baronesses. Other Units style themselves after military organizations, with Generals, Captains, and Soldiers. Others still are loose collection of confederates who choose to be bound together by their unit name, camp, style, or garb choices.
Many Units wear matching garb or uniforms. Others often wear similar clothing (such as Celtic War-Bands, who dress mostly in plaid wool) that shows them to be a united People. Some Units have no standard garb, encouraging each member to show their individuality and character (like the Fellowship of the Ring).
Recruiting is important to keep your Unit alive and vital. Over time, members drift in and out of Dagorhir depending on school and work schedules, moving, health, family, and other interests. Unless your unit continues to bring in new members from outside of Dagorhir, it may eventually stagnate and cease to be. Having a website can be an important component of attracting new members to your unit in the Information Age. A Unit Website gives you a way of recruiting new members 24/7; provides you a place to publish the history of your Unit and pictures of members and your banner, give directions to battle-practices, and provide contact information (email, phone, address, geographical area(s) where members are located, etc.) so interested people can apply for membership. You can even get your web page started for free, using any of the no-cost web hosting services. Most Dagorhir Chapters maintain websites and will link unit websites onto their main site.
A Unit is a colorful and varied component of Dagorhir culture. They can take a number of forms, can have various styles of government, and differing levels of requirements or involvement from Chapters and Players. They are wholly voluntary, and easy to form. If there isn’t a flavor of Unit near you that suits your style or needs, don’t despair, there is always room for one more.