The Pre-History of Dagorhir
A madman named Bryan Weise saw the movie "Robin and Marion" while he
was reading "Lord of the Rings." Bryan had never heard of
"medieval re-enactment," "Live Action Role Playing," or
"Dungeons and Dragons." But he wanted to find a way to capture that
spirit of adventure that could only come from wielding a sword or bow.
In 1977, he ran ads on Maryland's underground radio station WGTB that said,
"Anyone wanting to fight in Hobbit Wars with padded weapons call Bryan at
the following number." Bryan became Aratar Anfinhir the Stormbringer. For
the first two years, all battles were woods battles; most included a camp-out
the night before. Many battles in the first three years included rain or snow,
giving power to Aratar's moniker of "Storm Bringer."
As the group began to grow, a madman Elvish scholar named Celemir suggested the
name Dagorhir: "Battle Lords."
All weapons were thick lumps of couch-padding foam duct-taped to sticks. The
first prototype of modern Dagorhir weapons (a shaped "blade" of
closed-cell foam glued to a fiberglass rod) showed up in 1978. It was in this
time that rocks were invented by a madman named Edwin of the Danes, who asked,
"What do we do with the scraps of leftover foam? Can we wrap 'em with tape
and say they're rocks that only kill you if they hit you in the head?"
The Ancient History of Dagorhir
Aratar found he couldn't do it all himself, so he formed the Council of Seven to
help organize events, check weapons, and disseminate information. Remember that this
was in the days before e-mail, before the World Wide Web, before voice mail.
answering machines were a rarity - every member had to be called and given the
information for every event.
Dagorhir placed ads in bookstores, and recruited while performing staged fights
at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in 1979. That year also saw the first field
battles and unit battles in Dagorhir history.
Dagorhir survived an attempt to splinter it by a disgruntled and power-hungry
member. (Some time later, this same disgruntled former Dagorhir moved to Texas
and started a group based on Dagorhir rules. Eventually, they kicked him out
too, so we should regard Amtgard as our long-lost siblings.)
At the Maryland Renaissance Festival, Dagorhir caught the eye of the "PM
Magazine" TV show, who asked to do a feature about us. Dagorhir holds the
record for most canceled PM Magazine shoots - every time they would schedule to
film us, "Storm Bringer" would pummel the event with rain or snow.
Finally, we had clear weather (although with two inches of snow on the ground)
for the filming.
PM Magazine aired the Dagorhir segment on Washington, DC, TV in early 1981.and
Dagorhir membership took off. More than 70 fighters showing up for the next
battle, and attendance reached levels of more than 200 fighters by 1983. Aratar
retired as President of Dagorhir late in 1983.
Events Leading Up To Ragnarok and the Current Era
Later, PM Magazine re-broadcast their piece on Dagorhir. But this time they
showed it NATIONALLY. It was seen by a madman sitting in a cave in Illinois, who
said, "Wow! I've gotta do this!" He contacted Dagorhir, got a bunch of
handbooks, became Beowulf the Dreamer (and later Sir Geoffrey of Bright Hills),
and founded Dagorhir Middle Earth around 1984.
Beowulf got into a bragging match with the then-president of the (then-unnamed)
founding Dagorhir Tribe, a madman named Graymael. It started off something like
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
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
Bey: "Then it's settled. We'll fight in Ohio."
Thus began planning for the first Dagorhir Tribal War. A madman named Dominus
noted that, "When we die we go to Valhalla. We call our Tribal Law Meeting
Althyng. Our Great War should be Ragnarok."
And so it was.
Unbeknownst to either the original Dagorhir Tribe or to Middle Earth, a madman
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
the lost Tribe of Dagorhir Pent Wyvvern.
In the summer of 1985, some of the Washington Dagorhir met Falcon at the SCA's
Pennsic War in Pennsylvania. Since plans were already shaping up for Ragnarok,
PW was extend an invitation to attend the war. The first Ragnarok was a weekend camping event in
April of 1986.
The members of the original Dagorhir Tribe decided they needed a name to
differentiate themselves from their new siblings. A madman named 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, 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
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-Tribal 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 Tribe.
By Ragnarok IV, new Tribes began to appear, some splitting off of the original
three, others springing up like new-sown wheat.