The clubs at Oakland University are created for competition and friendship, but only Dagorhir combines those with full-contact foam fighting and fantasy worlds.
As a live-action role-playing sport (LARP), Dagorhir focuses on historical fighting techniques, foam weapons, armor and characterization.
According to Dagorhir.com, the sport was founded in 1977 by a group of college friends who shared an interest in The Lord of the Rings. The word of the sport began to spread through Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and Illinois before expanding internationally through the Caribbean and Europe.
According to club president Gage Zurawski, battles can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending on the size and location of the event.
The largest event is the annual weeklong battle of Ragnarok, which takes place from June 20-28th in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.
Dagorhir at OU
The Dagorhir club was founded about eight years ago, according to Zurawski.
Zurawski, who fights as Bolvar “The Butcher” Quickblade during battle, took over presidency of the club during the summer of 2014 and is in his senior year at OU.
“Being president requires doing any sort of advertising, answering any questions, ensure safety with all waivers being signed and other stuff like that,” Zurawski said.
Zurawski said the club has around 30 members but that only 12 are Oakland students. The remaining participants are made up of graduates and those who have found OU to be their closest practice location.
Most participants belong to the realm of Eryndor, which covers the majority of Michigan and Ohio.
OU students belong to the Imperial Guard, which is a unit that dresses in purple and black and fights together at events such as Ragnarok.
The common theme of Dagorhir is acceptance.
“Every member brings something interesting to the table,” said student Brad Weigand also known as “Toy of Troy” on the battlefield.
Zurawski calls the club a giant family and invites any and all to come out and learn the sport first-hand. Some members join just for the atmosphere and the fantasy.
“I came out not really knowing anybody as soon as I got here,” Zurawski said. “I talked to the president, he was super inviting and super nice about teaching me the ropes.”
As soccer players from OU walked by, they stopped to see what the sport is all about.
“I talked to them, came out, practiced and realized I liked this a lot,” said junior Nick Reed who goes by Drake on the battlefield.
Reed, who found the group on one of his first days on campus, said aside from the fighting it’s the great exercise that he loves most.
“If you want to come out here, you’re pretty much our friend,” Zurawski said. “We’re really accepting, that’s probably my favorite thing about the sport.
During battles, players are subjected to loss of limb and death. The torso, head, arms and legs act as a point system for players.
“Dagorhir is full contact and works off the honor system,” Zurawski said. “You cannot call out that you hit somebody somewhere, it is up to the other person to acknowledge that you hit them with sufficient force.”
Anywhere a player is struck causes damage. Headshots are only permitted with projectiles and cause instant death without a helmet. A strike to the arm or leg causes loss of limb and leaves a player vulnerable during battle.
Losing an arm forces a player to drop whatever may be in their hands. The loss of a leg forces a player to fight from their knees and the only movement allowed must be from rolling or crawling. The loss of two limbs causes death.
Players have their choice of armor, shields, helmets, weapons and a character. Zurawski said most Eryndor players can be described as knights because they are non-magic based, but other players and opponents may include goblins, demons, and dwarfs.
Weapons are categorized by color based on types and damage capability.
- Blue weapons include one-handed swords or clubs
- Green weapons include daggers or knives, which do not count toward limb loss but cause death upon torso strike and can only penetrate armor with two hands
- Red weapons include two-handed swords and polearms, which penetrate armor with one strike and can break shields with two
- Yellow weapons include arrows and javelins, which penetrate armor and cause death if a headshot occurs without a helmet
- White weapons include rocks, which can only cause death if a headshot occurs without a helmet
Weigand said that everybody tends to start out with a sword and shield but will begin experimenting after a few sparring sessions.
“The quarter-staff is large and kind of scary when someone is chasing after you with it,” Reed said.
The club practices every Sunday near Bear Lake from 1PM to 4 or 5PM. Walkups are welcomed and encouraged. Or, you can find OU Dagorhir on Facebook.