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Dagorhir's Online Magazine
Dagorhir's Online Magazine

 

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So youíve just stumbled onto this website, and youíre saying, "Iíve been looking for this my whole life!" (even if you didnít realize it). Youíre a Dagorhir at heart. So how do you become a Dagorhir in deed?

THE ANSWER: You find other like-minded people, make costumes, build weapons, and have a battle (and maybe follow it up with a feast). Hereís how to start:

Go to the Dagorhir Chapters Page and check whether there is a Dagorhir chapter in your area.  If the answer is:

YES! 
E-mail the contact person(s) for that group and let them know you want to join. See when and where their next battle will be. Even if you have to drive an hour to get there, itíll be worth it. Call your friends who might be interested and tell them about Dagorhir Ė infect them with your enthusiasm and start a Dagorhir Unit!

NO!
Don't be discouraged, start your own Dagorhir chapter!

Either way, youíll need to know:

Familiarize yourself with the information on the links above. Donít be concerned if your first attempts at making weapons or costumes fall far short of what youíd imagined Ė it happens to almost everyone. Youíll get better with practice and advice (either in person or online) from other Dagorhir members.

STARTING YOUR OWN DAGORHIR UNIT

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 Irelandís Fenians and Fomorians, The Knights of the Round Table, Jasonís 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.

FORMING UNITS

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 "Just `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.

(The Unit websites of Dagorhir Chapters are listed under each Chapter HERE. Note that these links show only the Dagorhir Units that currently have websites; there are other units and also mercenaries who fight solo or in small bands.)

All Units must have a Standard; a flag, totem, or banner that tells something about them. Unit Standards should be brought to every battle. 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 fight beneath a stylized Jolly Roger; Warriors 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, Warriors 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.

All Units must 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 must be a responsible person that Dagorhir can contact to give information to the entire Unit. The Unit Commander will be the Unit's way of giving feedback to Dagorhir concerning rules, battle locations, battle types, and event scheduling.

The Unit Commander or her/his designated Second-in-Command should ensure that the Unit provides an up-to-date e-mail address to the Battle Check-In Staff for timely dissemination of information.

All Units must have at least five active members, (i.e., they have fought in at least one of the last four battles) and a list must be kept by the Unity of its members. All five members do not have to show up at a given battle or all at the same time, but each must show up at least once every four battles to be considered active.

Units must keep a roster of members and make it available to Check-in Staff if requested. Your Unit may be organized any way you wish it to be. Your Unit may be 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.

Many Units wear matching costumes 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.

Finally, all Units should turn in a written outline describing the Unit to their local Chapter, explaining why its members fight together, what their standard means, whether they are accepting new members, etc. This does not need to be typed electronically (although it is requested) but it must be legible. If you wish to submit a duplicate copy in your Unit's native language, that is all right. These outlines should be posted on your website, so that everyone can learn about the other Units. Unit outlines can be submitted at check-in or sent via e-mail.

 

STARTING YOUR OWN DAGORHIR CHAPTER

A Dagorhir "Chapter" is a collection of people in a geographic area who hold and participate in Dagorhir events. A Chapter may have any number of Dagorhir participants.  Some Chapters have hundreds of warriors.  New Chapters may just be a handful of friends.  A "Unit" is a sub-group within a Chapter who fight together because of friendship, shared interests, common character goals/history, or other reasons. Units typically have a minimum of four or five active members.

Carefully read the Dagorhir Chapter Contract.  It outlines the benefits and responsibilities, and DBGA's responsibilities to you.  To legitimately license "Dagorhir," use Dagorhir rules, and receive advertising here for your Chapter and events, please send your name, e-mail address, location, with two signed and notarized copies of the  Dagorhir Chapter Contract and a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Dagorhir
11714 Stonington Place
Silver Spring, MD, 20902

Establish contact addresses and phone numbers for your new Chapter.  As you spread the word, you or someone will have to act as a coordinator, organizing events, weapons-making sessions, and answering questions. At first, someoneís home phone number will suffice, along with the email addresses of key members, and hopefully a website for the Chapter. 

The key to founding a successful Dagorhir Chapter is recruiting members. If you are "a Chapter of One," you have no one to fight! Start by sharing the idea of Dagorhir with all of your like-minded friends Ė people who read the same books, play the same games, and/or like the same movies. Team with them to form your Chapterís first Unit.

Dagorhir members will come and go. Many die-hard members of today will eventually lose interest in Dagorhir, move away, or quit because of medical conditions or age. Often theyíll keep contact with their Dagorhir friends, even if they no longer play the game. So your Chapter will need a constant stream of new people to replace the old.

Units can be critically important to a new Chapterís growth and longevity. Each unit will recruit its own new members, resulting in more and more people swelling your groupís ranksÖmeaning MORE PEOPLE FOR YOU TO FIGHT!

Having Units also makes it easier to organize events and disseminate information. Dagorhir Aratari, the original Dagorhir Chapter, draws active members from more than 10 counties and the District of Columbia, and fields from 70 to more than 100 participants at each event. Without a vibrant Chapter structure, Aratari wouldnít be able to draw people from West Virginia, Virginia, and half of Maryland.

Encourage new members to form their own units, with fresh ideas and fresh members. Diversity in Chapters, Units, and members is one of the key elements in Dagorhirís success. Dagorhir includes lawyers, scientists, students, and former gang members, as well as elves, dwarves, human, and goblins. 

Provide your email address and contact information to chapters@dagorhir.com. As Dagorhirís national advertising campaign attracts other players in your area, we'll help direct them to you. Please understand that having a website does not automatically make you a chapter.  Dagorhir Battle Game Association will gladly list you as an interested local point of contact at first to help put you in contact with other interested people in your area. 

To find new members, you have to advertise. This includes word-of-mouth (you tell two friends about Dagorhir, and they tell two friends, and soon you have dozens of people showing up for battles). When youíre first launching your new Chapter, you probably donít know very many people who are interested in Dagorhir, so you need to get the word out to every proto-Dagorhir in your area.

ADVERTISING STRATEGIES

Only about one person in 200 to 300 will be interested in Dagorhir. Your goal is to find #301. But chances are that every person you interest has a group of friends who would also be interested. Try to put your ads in places that YOU might go (school, hobby/gaming shops, etc.).  That way you have a better chance of finding other people whoíll share your passion for the Dagorhir Adventure.

Pursue as many of these strategies as you can, and think of new strategies too:

  • Encourage word-of-mouth advertising: ask your members to drag their friends to ONE battle or practice. If theyíre Dagorhir material, one battle is all it takes to hook Ďem.
  • Use the Web: put up a web page and link it to www.dagorhir.com
  • Put up posters in bookstores, gaming shops, comic-book stores, arcades, libraries, outside schools, coffee shops, or anywhere else in your area that might be frequented by the sort of creative, intelligent people who are attracted to Dagorhir. Click HERE for a sample of a poster you can download. Be sure to customize your posters; include your Chapterís name, your Chapterís website and/or your email address, a contact personís name and phone number (some people donít have easy Internet access), and the dates of some upcoming events. You may want to say, "Local and regional events with up to 500 participants," a true statement that will help boost the number of people showing up for your wars.
  • See if you can get local progressive radio stations to run ads before your battles.
  • While in costume, hand out Dagorhir posters, flyers, or business cards outside movie theaters that are showing movies that would attract Dagorhir members, like The Fellowship of the Ring, Gladiator, or A Knightís Tale.
  • Send emails to local talk radio programs describing Dagorhir and offering to come on the air to talk about the game.
  • If your treasury can afford it, place ads in local newspapers or high school papers.
  • Call or send letters and/or emails to local TV stations and/or newspapers describing Dagorhir. Do your homework first; figure out which reporter is most likely to cover a Dagorhir event and go to that person. Be sure to include links to www.dagorhir.com, so the station will see pictures of HUGE Dagorhir events like Ragnarok, with excellent examples of costuming. See if you can entice a feature reporter to cover your next event. If a TV show IS going to cover your event, TELL EVERYONE WHOíS EVER FOUGHT IN YOUR CHAPTER ABOUT IT. Nothing brings out inactive members like a big battle or the chance to be on TV.
  • The list goes on.  Click HERE for additional ideas that Dagorhir members throughout the country have used with success.

THE HARD PART: CREATING A CHAPTER OUT OF THIN AIR

You and anyone helping you start your Chapter will need to be able to inspire others to feel the way you feel right now. Founding a Chapter doesnít take a great fighter: it takes a visionary with good organizational skills. Sometimes it takes an actress who can describe a Dagorhir battle to an audience at a local library and sweep them into her vision. Sometimes it takes a quiet guy who will stay up half the night addressing envelopes or stapling posters to telephone poles around the local high schools. Usually it takes a combination of both types of person.

When Falcon founded Dagorhir Pentwyvern in 1980, he was a tall 13-year-old with a Dagorhir rulebook and a couple big, round, "pillow swords." But he had that rock-star ability to draw people to the game, and to ensure that the battles kept happening. He was the right person in the right place at the right time. Twenty-one years later Pentwyvern is still going strong.

Founding and running a Dagorhir Chapter takes a lot of dedication. If youíre not willing to spend AT LEAST 20 hours a week on Dagorhir, either give up now, or find hardworking people to help you.

As you attract the interest of more members, you need to start scheduling and running regular battles, fighting practices, weapon- and costume-making sessions, and occasional business meetings. If membersí schedules allow, aim for weekly practices (with or without costumes) and monthly battles, with a feast or party thrown in from time to time. Always plan events at least two or three months in advance, and stick to the dates scheduled. Consider announcing rain-dates in case of inclement weather.

Recruit a group of people to help set up and run battles, especially the Check-in portion of events. These must be responsible, organized people. Donít be afraid to "let someone go" if they arenít pulling their weight. They will probably be happier to be relieved of their responsibilities, and will enjoy simply coming to battles or other events to fight or feast without the headaches of being "staff."

You will need to recruit people to perform the following jobs at battles:

  1. Collect Waivers & Membership Forms
  2. Collect Event Fees
  3. Check Weapons for safety
  4. Mark Weapons that are safe
  5. Check Costumes
  6. Supervise Selection of Heralds and Picking Fair Teams

Weapons-Check is probably the most difficult job in Dagorhir. Itís physically tough, because sometimes you get bruised testing a weapon that proves to be unsafe (even if every weapon you test IS safe, testing weapons still means standing still and letting people hit you with swords, spears, and axes over, and Over, and OVER again). But more than that, Weapons-Check is emotionally draining, because you have to tell people (including your friends), "Iím sorry, your weapon isnít safe so we canít allow it on the battlefield. Yes, I realize it passed last battle. No, I donít care if youíll fix it next time, you CANíT use it today." When someoneís favorite weapon fails, they often get upset. As a Weapons-Checker, you must remain nice but hard-nosed. For more information on setting up and running a Dagorhir Battle, click HERE.

In addition to the jobs above, the following work must be done in between the battles:

  • Scheduling events including reserving parks, updating telephone hotlines and/or websites, setting reasonable fees for events (e.g., a campout will probably cost more than a one-day event)
  • Accounting for dues collected and expenses related to running your Chapter
  • Recruiting new members/advertising
  • Interfacing with other Dagorhir groups

Urge everyone in your Chapter to help with advertising by putting up posters in bookstores, libraries, or around schools; helping to administer your website; and by telling their friends about your Dagorhir group.

Also, make sure that all of the more experienced fighters take turns as Heralds (Dagorhir Referees).

As you set up your Chapter, remember that EVERYONE burns out eventually. Plan to retire from administration someday. Set up a timetable for elections for administrative positions. This empowers everyone in your Chapter, follows the US Democratic Ideal, and provides you a time to retire, so youíll be able to just show up and fight, rather than having to WORK at every battle.  As your Chapter grows, you will need to share responsibilities and form an organization capable of servicing the needs of your membership. For an example of how one successful Dagorhir Chapterís Organizational Structure, click HERE

As with any human endeavor, positions of authority in Dagorhir will sometimes attract people who mistakenly associate responsibility with "power." If you think running a Dagorhir Chapter will be "cool Ďcause you get to be the king," think again. Starting and running a Dagorhir Chapter is a lot of work, with no "power" attached. Remember that in accepting responsibility for Chapter administration mean working hard providing service and fun battles for your membership. The only benefits that comes from running Dagorhir events are:

1. People occasionally thank you; and
2. You get to fight in well-run battles and events.

Donít kid yourself that thereís more to it.

That said, Dagorhir is the best thing out there. Members pay no dues outside of your Chapterís event fees. In addition to your local events, Dagorhir hosts Inter-Chapter events with hundreds (soon, thousands) of participants. We're excited that you're going to be a part of that. 

Dagorhir allows you to live the adventures youíve only read about or seen in the movies: holding off an enemy army on a bridge to buy time while your friends escape; sieging (or defending) a fort with seven-foot walls and a working gate; or smashing into a shieldwall in a berserk charge.

See you on the battlefield!

by Graymael, Dagorhir Aratari



Help, questions, suggestions?  Post them on the Dagorhir Bulletin Board!