One of the people who wrote after seeing Dagorhir on the national showing of PM Magazine requested a pile of handbooks, became Beowulf the Dreamer (and later Sir Geoffrey of Bright Hills), and founded Dagorhir Middle Earth in Illinois in 1985.
On a long-distance phone call, Beowulf got into a bragging match with the then-president of the founding Dagorhir group, Graymael, which went something like this:
Bey: “I know you Washington Dagorhir think you’re tough. But you’ve never seen anything like us. You couldn’t HANDLE us if you ever had to fight Middle Earth! We send people flying through the air. Grown men weep when they see us coming.”
Gray: “No way! We’d kick your collective ass!”
Bey: “Oh yeah?”
Bey: “I’m in Illinois. You’re in Maryland. What’s halfway between the two?”
Gray: (Looks at map) “Uh…Ohio?”
Bey: “Then it’s settled. We’ll fight in Ohio.”
Thus began planning for the first Dagorhir “Tribal War.” Dominus of Rome noted, “When we die we go to Valhalla. We call our annual Law Meeting Althyng – both from Viking history. Our Great War should be Ragnarok.” And so it was.
Unbeknownst to either the original Dagorhir Tribe or to Middle Earth, a charismatic young fighter named Falcon had moved West from Maryland to Cleveland, Ohio, in the early 1980’s, taking with him his padded weapons and Dagorhir handbook. Falcon founded Dagorhir Pentwyvern. Falcon made contact with the other Dagorhir groups and Pentwyvern offered to host the first Ragnarok.
The members of the original Dagorhir group decided they needed a name to differentiate themselves from their new siblings. Shengar (formerly one of the Council of Seven) declared, “We were the first of Aratar’s children. We shall be known as the Aratari!” And so it has been, ever since.
Ragnarok I included 80+ fighters from 5 states, including 2 from Massachusetts who had seen the PM Magazine broadcast. It was fought on Private property in Ohio on a weekend in April, and featured the Thunderstorm of the Gods, followed by the first hot, humid day of the year (and thus, a lot of fighters nearly fainting from the heat).
Rag II fielded about 80 participants at a State Park in Ohio. The weather was more temperate. The battle featured the first-ever Ragnarok Bridge Challenge Battle (and in it, the first-ever cross-chapter Unit, the Bridgeborn) and the famous phrase, “Dude, seven hits to the torso is DEATH!”
Ragnarok III (and IV and V) took place at a private campground in Ohio. Rag III lasted four days, and included snow, the first Ragnarok Woods Fort Battle, and the first Ragnarok Unit with members from every chapter – The Old Guard.
By Ragnarok IV, new groups began to appear, some splitting off of the original three, others springing up like new-sown wheat. But growth was slow for many years. Some chapters started, but later folded; others soldiered on.
The number of chapters grew slowly. Ragnarok eventually reached attendance levels breaking 300 by Ragnarok 15, with the event lasting a full week.