Battle gaming

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An example of battle gaming

Battle gaming is a North American medieval combat sport where participants use mock foam-padded weapons (boffer) in live action battles. The sport began in 1977.[1]

Description[edit]

Battle gaming is a combat game using padded mock weapons. The entire game is based on honor where each player calls themselves out of the game by acknowledging the strikes delivered by other players. The sport is rooted in the self acknowledgement of defeat.

Battle gaming is not LARP; it is more akin to table top miniature wargaming. The battle games are short scenarios ranging from five minutes to four hours in duration at the end of which all players are regenerated to play again. Each game is played in isolation. The outcome from one game scenario does not impact the scenario of the next game. Players are invited to dress as and role-play a warrior in the battles. Unlike in LARP, these personas are never permanently killed (removed) from the games.

Battle game combat is fast and frequently chaotic. Weapons are built with foam to prevent injury. All battle gaming groups use a targeted tag system. The common tag targets are left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, torso and head. Almost all battle game organizations do not use helmets, therefore hand held weapons may not strike at the head target and all weapons must be larger than an eye socket. All battle gaming combat assumes that the weapons are padded enough that full force blows can be received without injury.

History[edit]

The idea of battle gaming was started in the Washington, D.C. metro suburbs and has spread across the U.S. and into Canada. The history of the sport has been one of growth and splintering.

  • Dagorhir - Battle gaming was begun by Brian Wiese in 1977, as Dagorhir Outdoor Improvisational Dark-Aged Battle Gaming. The group was located in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Dagorhir was a foam weapon combat group that embraced a culture of improvisational acting and a Lord of the Rings theme.[2]
  • Emarthnguarth - By 1979, personality conflicts caused Frank Roso Jr. to leave Dagorhir to create Emarthnguarth.[3] Emarthnguarth maintained the short battle game scenarios and used a similar combat style as Dagorhir. In creating Emarthnguarth, Frank Roso Jr. introduced more LARP like elements in the form of player classes and a small simulated magic system. Both Dagorhir and Emarthnguarth co-existed in the Washington D.C. metro area. The Emarthnguarth organization ceased to exist in the year 2000.
  • Amtgard - In 1983, a Dagorhir and Emarthnguarth player by the name of James Haren, combined elements of the Dagorhir and Emarthnguarth rules to create the Amtgard battle gaming group in his home town of El Paso, Texas.[4] The new group created a culture of battle game scenarios with many LARP like elements.
  • PM Magazine - In 1983, a PM Magazine special about Dagorhir that had been recorded and aired in the Washington, D.C. TV market in 1980 was aired on nationwide syndication.[5] This caused Dagorhir battle gaming to suddenly spread across the country.
  • Elgestron - Around 1984, Emarthnguarth was splintering and a new group called Elgestron was formed.[6] This was a short lived group that ceased to exist by 1986.
  • Darkon - In 1985, frustrated with the quality of play of Elgestron, Robert Kusik launched the Darkon Wargaming Club.[7] The club refined many of the LARP like aspects they had inherited from Emarthnguarth. The group continued to be primarily a battle gaming group running bi-weekly battle game days, but added a LARP game which is played a few weekends a year.
  • High Fantasy Society - In 1990, the Austin, Texas chapter of Amtgard, voted to secede.[8] They formed a new group called the High Fantasy Society. This was at the end of a long a bitter debate about making the club more LARP like in execution. The High Fantasy Society set out to convert itself into a LARP but never did. Today they still continue much of the battle gaming play that was Amtgard in 1990.
  • Edhellen Armoury - In 1996, Gregg Larson started Edhellen Armoury (eh-thehl-lehn – Tolkien for “elvish”) to produce foam swords for the battle gaming sport. His swords targeted the Dagorhir market and did much to fuel the growth of that organization.
  • Belegarth - In 2002, after a very messy political and personality battle, Dagorhir split into almost two equal halves forming Belegarth.[9] The Belegarth half was dominated by the Midwest chapters from Illinois and Ohio but also included strong chapters in the South and West. The Dagorhir half was left with its core domination of the Mid-Atlantic States and a scattering of other locations across the US.
  • Darkon the Movie - In 2006, a feature documentary film entitled Darkon about the Darkon Wargaming Club was released. This movie has helped fuel the growth of the sport of battle gaming.[10]
  • Wreckreation Nation - In 2009, Dagorhir battle gaming was featured on the Discovery Channel’s Wreckreation Nation series. This show has helped fuel the growth of Dagorhir and the sport of battle gaming in general.
  • Dargarth - In 2010, John Senner started a group called Dargarth in Seattle. The group combines both Belegarth and Darkon rules of play and has grown quickly.
  • Battle Gaming Book - In 2010, David W. Graham published the book Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. The book which has better defined the sport is being promoted to middle and high school physical education programs.
  • LarpCraft - In 2010, a group of LARPers created LarpCraft in Sheboygan, WI. This group uses traditional LARP weapons but wanted play that was more like a video game, so they adopted a battle gaming combat system not unlike the one used in Darkon.
  • Epic Adventures - In 2011, Matthew Casto started a group called Epic Adventures in Charleston, WV. Epic Adventures uses foam weapon fighting (with elements of Amtgard and Dagorhir combined) along with a magic system and an alchemy system in a Steampunk/Final Fantasy type setting.
  • Way of the Sword - In 2011, the battle gaming group Way of the Sword was formed in Southern Florida. The group uses its own set of rules known as the Manual of Mayhem which are loosely based on a Dagorhir or Belegarth like combat system.

Organizations[edit]

Currently there are three large North American organizations which have chapters in both the U.S. and Canada:

There are also several regional battle gaming organizations:

  • Dargarth (Seattle metro area)
  • Darkon Wargaming Club (Washington-Baltimore metro area)
  • High Fantasy Society (East Texas)
  • LARPCraft (Sheboygan, WI)
  • Epic Adventures (Charleston, WV)
  • Way of the Sword (Southern Florida)

Rule Sets[edit]

Each of the battle gaming organizations maintains their own rule sets. Due to the common historical origins of all battle gaming organizations many of the rules are common. This has resulted in many crossover players who play with more than one organization.

  • Amtgard maintains an extensive collection of publications including the Amtgard Handbook which contains the basic rules of play as well as the Dor Un Avathar (the official Amtgard monster book[11]) and a variety of other game play scenarios and extensions. Although the rules are free for anyone to download, for liability reasons, only those who are members of a registered Amtgard chapter and have a signed waiver on file are permitted to use the Amtgard rules.[12]
  • Belegarth Medieval Combat Society maintains rules in the Belegarth Book of War.[13] This is a terse document that summaries the rules of play and is published under the public domain using the GNU General Public License. In its public domain status, Belegarth rules are “use at own risk”. Because of this status, anyone is free to download and use the rules as well as create a Belegarth group which is unaffiliated with the larger Belegarth organization. All liability lies with the local organizers.
  • Dagorhir maintains a set of rules called the Manual of Arms. Although the rules are free for anyone to download, for liability reasons, only those who are members of a registered Dagorhir chapter and have a signed waiver on file are permitted to use the Dagorhir rules.[14] In addition, Dagorhir maintains a handbook which can be downloaded for free, but if you are not a member of a registered Dagorhir chapter, you are expected to pay a $10 fee to the Dagorhir Battle Game Association.[15]
  • Dargarth maintains rules that are a combination of the Belegarth rules and Darkon rules. They are free to download and the user assumes all risk of liability by using them.
  • Darkon Wargaming Club maintains their rules in the Darkon Rulebook. The rulebook is free to download and may be used for registered members of the Darkon Wargaming Club. The content of the rulebook may be used by nonprofit organizations outside the Baltimore-Washington metro area as long as they remove all references to the name “Darkon” and assume all liability.[16]
  • The company Battle Game Sports and Hobbies maintains a battle gaming rule set known as the Warrior Code.[17] The Warrior Code is published under the Wizards of the Coast Open Game License and is free to download and use. The user assumes all risk of liability. The rule set is a hybrid designed to allow battle gamers from all organizations to play together in a balanced manner. The rule set is published in the book Battle Gaming: The New American Sport and is being adopted by small backyard battle game groups as well as middle and high school clubs.
  • Epic Adventures has published their rule set on Facebook.[18] The game system is based heavily on the model designed by Amtgard but includes some of the rougher combat elements found in Dagorhir and Belegarth systems. Epic Adventures also makes use of fantasy racial classes similar to those found in the Warrior Code system.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wiese, Brian. "The Dagorhir Handbook: New Millennium Edition". Dagorhir Battle Game Association Inc. p. 7. 
  2. ^ Wiese, Brian. "The Dagorhir Handbook: New Millennium Edition". Dagorhir Battle Game Association Inc. p. 7. 
  3. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  4. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  5. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  6. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  7. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  8. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  9. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  10. ^ Graham, David W (2010). Battle Gaming: The New American Sport. Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-9844834-0-2. 
  11. ^ Wyngarde, Luke. "Dor Un Avathar 8". Amtgard 7 Extensions Group. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Amtgard Kingdom of the Burning Lands Inc. "Amtgard Chapter Contract". Amtgard Kingdom of the Burning Lands Inc. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  13. ^ Larson, Gregg. "Belegarth Book of War". Belegarth Medieval Combat Society. Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  14. ^ Dagorhir Battle Game Association Inc. "Dagorhir Chapter Contract". Dagorhir Battle Game Association Inc. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  15. ^ Wiese, Brian. "The Dagorhir Handbook: New Millennium Edition". Dagorhir Battle Game Association Inc. p. i. 
  16. ^ Darkon Wargaming Club. "Darkon Rulebook". Darkon Wargaming Club. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  17. ^ Graham, David W. "Warrior Code™ Open Battle Gaming System Core Rules". Battle Game Sports and Hobbies. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  18. ^ Epic Adventures LARP. "The Epic Adventures LARP and Battle Game Rulebook". Epic Adventures LARP. Retrieved 15 November 2013.