Thursday, September 09, 2004

Losers descend upon Ohio to defend nerdly "honour"

"The people engaged in 'mortal combat' with foam weaponry on most Sunday afternoons in the soccer field off Olde Ridenour Road in Gahanna are members of Rivendell, the local realm of a 27-year-old nationwide live-action role-playing group called Dagorhir. Participants take on persona names and stage battle games based loosely -- in some cases very loosely -- on Tolkien's work, with elements of the Middle Ages sometimes tossed in.

"Rivendell averages a dozen or so for Sunday combats and has around 14 paid-up members, some of whom first learned of the group's existence from the Web site. 'We get about 25 percent of our members that way,' McCracken said.

"'A lot of the guys here are role players, Dungeons and Dragons players or computer gamers,' realm leader Andin said. 'Now they can stop sitting at their desks and go out to see if they have what it takes for real.'

"Or as real as warriors whose weapons were crafted by a 'foam smith' can make things.

"'Dagorhir's participants include a vast range of people, including college professors and high school students, construction workers and accountants, computer geeks and goths.'

"Members of the various chapters, sometimes called "realms," gather each year in, of all places, Ohio for an epic battle they call Ragnarok. The 10th annual version of what amounts to controlled mayhem with foam weapons is scheduled for June 19-26, 2005, at the Spring Valley Campground in Cambridge.

"The Buckeye State was chosen for this honor, according to the Web site, as the result of a challenge issued from the leader of a Midwestern chapter, Beowulf, to his opposite in the D.C. area, Graymael. The dialogue, according to the Web site, went 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 (the rest can probably be guessed).

"Bey: Oh, yeah:

"Gray: Yeah!

"Bey: I'm in Illinois. You're in Maryland. What's halfway between the two?

"Gray: Uh, Ohio?

"Bey: Then it's settled. We'll fight in Ohio."