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Dagorhir Rules: Dagorhir Handbook 2003 Edition

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Mailing Address:
Dagorhir Battle Game Association, Inc.
11714 Stonington Place
Silver Spring, MD, 20902

Dagorhir is a full-contact, live-action combat game, and combatants engage each other in battle with foam-padded boffer weaponry and equipment. In order to keep battles organized, realistic, and safe, the three main tenets of The Dagorhir Manual of Arms – safety, playability, and realism – are enforced by heralds (referees) during battles. The rules of the manual of arms, as well as those pertaining to combat, are upheld by an effective honor system which applies to all players. Dagorhir is a battle gaming group which is more akin to a wargame than a live-action roleplaying game (LARP). Dagorhir members have stated that they find the phrase live-action roleplaying game to be unfitting.[6]
All weapons and equipment used during combat are inspected for safety prior to each battle, to ensure that they comply with safety rules. Although early Dagorhir weapons were typically constructed from crude materials such as couch foam and broomsticks when the organization was in its infancy, modern-day weapons are usually made from combinations of both open and closed-cell foam bonded to a fiberglass or PVC pipe core. Participants may also elect to wear protective armor, which gives users an advantage in battle. Fighters are organized into units of various sizes, organized along social lines and that generally fight and socialize together and are a club or fraternity of sorts. Units typically adopt a particular historical or fantastical race or nationality and dress, act, and fight according to interpretation of the group. Due to this melding of both Medieval history and Tolkienesque high fantasy, it is not uncommon for a Dagorhir battle to involve both mundane and fantasy themes and personas. A typical Dagorhir battle might involve Roman legionnaires and Saxon warriors locked in a battle against Orcs and Undead.
Dagorhir is strictly a weapon combat game. More fantastic elements, such as arcane magic, give way to more intensive battlefield tactics and off the field innovation in equipment design and character development. Dagorhir also eschews the use of character classes in combat, instead allowing fighters to create and define their own styles of combat. Therefore, fighters are not shoehorned into class stereotypes and are free to fight unrestricted in types of armor, picks of garb, choices of weaponry, and styles of play.
Realms and Chapters are organized by geography, and can range from between a handful of participants to several hundred. Typically a chapter will organize a battle weekly or monthly, with the various units participating, with occasional supplementary activities such as feasts, overnight camp-out battles, and even annual inter-chapter meetings. The largest annual Dagorhir gathering is known as Ragnarok. It is an annual Dagorhir tradition and in years of late, it has reached heights of approximately 1,500 attendees during its weeklong duration. The original chapter of Dagorhir, founded in 1977, is based in the Washington, D.C. area, and is known as “Dagorhir Aratari” after the founder’s persona, Aratar.

Ragnarok XXI


Bryan Wiese watched the movie Robin and Marian while reading The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. He had never heard of medieval reenactment, Live Action Role Playing Games or even Dungeons and Dragons but he wanted something to capture the spirit and adventure that could only come from wielding sword and bow. As 1977 rolled by, Bryan ran ads on the local radio station WGTB. Bryan then became “Aratar Anfinhir the Stormbringer” and Dagorhir was born into its first incarnation (as yet unnamed).
The club grew and in 1980 a Washington D.C. community TV show PM Magazine ran a half hour episode where the host of PM Magazine spent a day at a Dagorhir battle game. After that point interest in Dagorhir exploded in the D.C. Area.
The explosive growth of Dagorhir took its toll on Bryan Wiese. Bryan, who had coined the game as “Dagorhir Outdoor Improvisational Dark Age Battle Games”, had a more theatrical bend to his dream. The new flood of players had an attitude that was more sport like. In order to combat this change, the Dagorhir Handbook was formalized. This included costuming requirements in an effort to encourage the players to think of it more of a theatrical game.
In the early eighties, a young man who went by the name of Falcon took the Dagorhir game to Cleveland, Ohio. Then in 1983, PM Magazine broadcast the TV episode to a national audience. The result was the founding of The Realm of Middle~Earth in Illinois. Dagorhir began to spread throughout the Mid Western U.S, and inspired spin off organizations, including Belegarth Medieval Combat Society.
Dagorhir has enjoyed extensive nationwide growth in recent years, expanding to an international membership of over a hundred Chapters consisting of a total membership in the thousands.
On January 20, 2009, the Discovery Channel show, Wreckreation Nation, featured Dagorhir in its episode, “Demolition Derby.”[7]


Dagorhir is open to the public, membership is free of charge (though larger events often have a nominal fee charged by the host to cover costs) and participation requires only a small start-up cost to obtain weapons and garb. Participants are generally members of chapters, called “realms,” which are formally registered in order to be allowed the use of the Dagorhir name, or related designs and documents. Most groups will keep an armory of weapons for loaning to new members or guests. This is most common of larger groups, but often smaller groups will do it as well. Sometimes veteran members will give old, unused weapons to the new players. As a project on the Dagorhir forums, people began counting and listing active Dagorhir members. At last count this list contained 1486 people with several large groups not reporting. Due to the nature of the chapters of Dagorhir, as well as the definitions of “active”, this number cannot be completely accurate. It is usually required to have a release form signed and notarized before engaging in any activities.

All information is taken from Dagorhir websites or Wikipedia