I began my first apprehensive prodding into the LARP world like any good geek raised on the internet, by googling "Utah LARP."
Unsurprisingly, LARP Utah was the top result. I looked to see how active the group was, browsed through their forums, examined the ruleset, and discovered that my preconceptions of LARPing were partially unfounded. There were still more goth clubbers and furries than I was comfortable with, based on their image galleries. The weapons and armor had come a long way, though. The weekend long campout adventures sounded like a blast as well.
|A foam & latex cutlass from Strongblade.com|
I looked through some of the other search results to see what groups played in my area and found Mythic Realms. They seemed a little larger, a little more organized, and their website a little more up to date. Which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how structured you want your hobby to be.
I generally lurked on both forums and contemplated signing up for Mythic Realms when I noticed a post by a player named Gamhain, where he talked about being an ex Dagorhirrim and that he had joined a local Belegarth realm. He mentioned Belegarth not being "too huge" on characterization and so he was looking for an additional group to enjoy that part of the hobby.
Through either a thread on the forums, or through a more general LARP search I found a few videos and documentaries about Darkon, Monster Camp, and Dagorhir. Netflix had Monster Camp streaming so I loaded it up and, while it looked like fun, it just wasn't quite what I was looking for. The tap-fighting, calling damage amounts and elements in the middle of battle, and spells just didn't appeal to me. Soft-skilling isn't something I was interested in either.
So I started looking more into Dagorhir and discovered they eschewed magic and opted to use a hit-location based damage system. More importantly, because the weapons were boffer type, you could hit as hard as you wanted. What they lacked in aesthetics of the latex tap-style weapons they made up for in facilitating a more visceral combat experience. I struggled more than I like to admit with the look of the equipment, just because it reminded me so much of the goofy bastards I used to see all the time at my local park. Duct-taped pool noodles for swords and foam taped to cardboard for shields.
The more I read and watched about these medieval combat, not-character-sheet-driven LARP groups the more they appealed to me. One thing that I was pleased about was they, too, included the weekend campout adventures but unlike Mythic Realms and LARP Utah there was a decidedly more party aspect to the gatherings. I get that they want to keep it family-friendly in those groups, especially in Mormon-filled Utah but I was still disappointed when I read the restrictions on their websites. I had visions of Vikings or Scotsmen laughing around a campfire with mugs full of ale and it sounded like this delivered. So I was happy to discover other groups that also shared this same vision.
I was striking out when looking more closely at the groups, finding that Darkon was limited to a small area back east and that there were no chapters of Dagorhir in Utah. But I kept seeing this guy popup on all the different local boards whenever folks would talk about armor, and like Gamhain he also mentioned Belegarth. Some guy that went by the name Forkbeard.