Jonesboro area groups convene for live action role-playing
JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — For three area groups, a recent Saturday brought an opportunity to meet with friends to do battle with swords and shields in a form of live action role-playing at Craighead Forest Park.
Some two dozen participants met in combat in an open field at the park. The participants included males and females over 18 years of age, dressed in a variety of costumes and armor reminiscent of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance wielding swords, shields and other devices in a form of unscripted battle game, where participants can match their skills against others.
Brak Young, who oversees the local Dagorhir Battle Games group, said his group regularly meets on Sundays at the park, but that the recent meeting was a bit different in that it brought together three local groups who engage in various forms of expression based upon medieval type themes in a form of what is known as live action role-playing or LARP.
In addition to the Dagorhir group were a group with the Society of Creative Anachronism and a group with Amtgard, who all joined together on a recent Saturday to meet, share stories and enjoy a good ole fashioned battle.
Young, who is a member of all three groups, told the Jonesboro Sun that he and the other group leaders have been discussing getting together regularly to share like interests. Normally, according to Young, SCA meets at the park at noon on Sundays, followed by his own group at 2 p.m., and Amtgard meets Saturdays at the park by the Earl Bell Community Center in downtown Jonesboro.
“This is something kind of special,” Young said. “I reached out to the other guys to see if we could all come together.”
Young explained that Dagorhir is a historical and fantasy based group, which is effectively a form of battle game with LARP elements. Unlike those in SCA, Dagorhir doesn’t use armor, but does engage in activities such as shield bashing, grappling and kicking.
Young, known in Dagorhir by the name Kyuzo, said his group has around 11 regular members, who attend weekly practice sessions at the park.
Chip Carroll, or Sir Henry as he is known to his SCA cohorts, was the one who introduced Young to the LARP scene.
“I run a Dungeons and Dragons game in town and I have a particular piece of metal in my game board,” Young said. “Chip left me a note asking where he could get some of the aluminum and we got to talking.”
“I kind of talked about what I was doing and he came out and it kind of went from there,” Carroll said.
Carroll himself, who has been involved in SCA for over two decades, said he also got his start with Dungeons and Dragons.
“I was kind of a nerd and I have always enjoyed medieval stuff, I am just enamored with medieval history,” said Carroll, who is also a history instructor at a local community college.
Young said his group usually consists of around a dozen members.
“This SCA group has been here for about seven years,” he said. “We have seen some ups and downs, we usually get an influx of college students, but when they graduate they move off and we then have to get new people involved.”
Charlie Totter, who is the sheriff of the local Amtgard group, said that it was somewhat unusual to have all three of these groups together, but that everyone really gets along.
“In other places, the groups compete with each other, here we kind of work together,” Totter said.
Totter explained that Amtgard is more fantasy based and includes participants who can wield magic during the battles. In comparison to the other two disciplines, it is probably the most fantasy based of the three, with SCA being more based on historical accuracy and Dagorhir being somewhere in the middle of the two.
Totter said he also got his start in the field playing Dungeon and Dragons games and eventually gravitated to LARP style groups.
“I had this friend who was like, hey there are these people who swing swords,” Totter said. “It sounded like something fun to do.”
Totter said the Amtgard group has been in existence about a year and a half now and has around 14 regular members.
If you think that LARP is just for men, think again. Several women were also present at the recent gathering and they weren’t just damsels in distress. Sarah Eberwein, who recently started with Amtgard, said she really enjoys mixing it up on the battlefield.
Eberwein, who goes by the name Rosalind, said she started in August.
“A friend brought me into it,” said Eberwein, who is a graduate student at Arkansas State University studying social work. “He just kind of asked me if I wanted to come along.”
Eberwein said she has learned a lot as part of the group.
“The guys are kind and are teaching me,” she said. “The whole group is really very encouraging, very welcoming.”
Nolee Rivas said she and her husband, David, originally were part of an SCA group in California before they moved to the Jonesboro area. She described the group as one big family.
“It is like having an extended family,” Rivas said. “When we came here they just welcomed us and we became part of the group.”
Everyone focused on the family atmosphere of the group, noting that many members bring their families along to participate.
While the events focus on battle elements, there are also other aspects to the groups. Young and Totter said that both SCA and Amtgard have arts and craft type elements, including traditional work such as sewing, crocheting and leather work.
“There really is something for everyone to do, no matter their interests,” Young said.
Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com