I Was Once an Adventurer…
The Wizard stands tall, like a Queen on a chessboard. Spears, swords, bows and shields surround him in a protective shell. He flips open a leathery tome and readies himself to speak in the Elven tongue. A game warden announces the battle’s beginning, and archers on both sides release salvos. A foam-tipped arrow immediately strikes Lord Trevenant in the face, knocking him to the ground. A solemn voice cries out, “Our Wizard has fallen!” Lord Trevenant, flustered, hops to his feet and yips, “Half-draw! You can only shoot bows at half-draw!” From the other army a voice responds, “That was half-draw, Trent! And I’m 30 feet from you!” Moments pass and the field collects with fallen warriors, now out for the round, Trevenant and his battalion are finally defeated.
This is Dargarth, a blend of two Maryland-based battle games, freestanding with its own lore, heroes and legends. Lord Trevenant hopes to one day be included in that history. Washington State classifies Trent as an ordinary, 180 pound, 6’2” organ donor. On the battlefield, however, Lord Trevenant cuts a fearsome silhouette under his Wizard’s hat. His death by an arrow to the face in battle will resonate in his mind for the next week. During his normal life, Trent makes tacos at a popular lunch spot. He pays rent and takes care of two dogs he brought with him from Texas three years ago when his girlfriend, now fiancée, accepted a job offer with Amazon.
Lord Trevenant and his Merry Hobbyists
Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) games thrive in the Pacific Northwest’s buzzing geek community. Games mainly differ in theme, combat intensity and story immersion. Seattle’s Vampire LARP, for example, simulates combat by dice and hides from public notice, like a traditional vampire community would. Medieval LARP’s popularity peaked in the first decade of the 2000s with attention from viral videos and movies like Role Models. LARP is fun—and even silly—but hobbyists and organizers, not just fighters, define the experience. Costumers, musicians, storytellers, leaders and warriors unite to weave stories of fantasy and adventure.
The community helps players like Trent develop their craft. As Sir Raven, Captain of the Malori explains, “Whether it’s fighting with spears and swords, writing poetry, spinning yarn, or even learning how to lead and work with others, Dargarth is a safe place to try new things.” Trent’s signature Wizard hat was stitched under the guidance of a master seamstress; his scepter is one of a kind, crafted by an up-and-coming Blacksmith; his spells are hand-written, and he practices orating the winding incantations so the whole battlefield hears him boom. Lord Trevenant is a community project, and Trent’s character development enhances the game for all.
A Call to Arms
Eating with a friend at World Pizza in Seattle’s International District, an employee overheard us talking about LARP. He excitedly introduced himself and proclaimed his own in-game title. He discovered Dargarth in Summer 2017 during a walk through Volunteer Park (where they fight every other Sunday) and has attended every session since.
Speaking with Duke Arminius of Narscin, a distinguished Dargarth nobleman, I learned that the most common reason for joining LARP is love at first sight. The Duke spoke in earnest. I recall finding the game as a child myself. I bewildered my neighborhood playmates by ditching basketball to go join a bunch of strangers fighting with foam swords, dying exaggeratedly like a Shakespearian actor. When you see LARP for the first time, you know if it was made for you. You can find Dargarth battles in the Shadow of the Asian Art Museum here in Seattle every other Sunday.