Who doesn’t love a good fight?

Adam Cox

(Adam Cox)

By now, we have all grown accustomed to the Saturday afternoon sight of people charging at each other, yelling battle cries and fighting spiritedly with foam swords on Main Hall green.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve watched long enough to see someone lose an arm and fight one-handed or, more excitingly, hop around on one leg. After watching for a few minutes, you may wonder: who are these anachronistic warriors?
This is K’lar, the Lawrence University-based realm of a Live Action Role-Playing game called Dagorhir. Throughout the nation there are many different LARPs, each with numerous realms and thousands of players.
Point systems, weapons specifications and scenario rules vary tremendously from one to the next, and there are even longstanding rivalries. Thus, K’lar is situated in a nationwide network of fighters.
Must you know any of this to join in the fun? The answer is an emphatic “absolutely not.” When asked what sets K’lar apart from other Dagorhir realms, senior Tony Lor said some other realms take the game too seriously and get too caught up in rules.
“It can get really dumb,” he said. But not so in K’lar: all members agree that the openness and relaxed nature of the group are what make it so great.
“Members of this group pride themselves [on] not being the best fighters,” claimed Anna Kuehl, former group leader. “We’re better cooks than we are fighters.”
According to current members, K’lar was started in 2002 by Rebecca Glon ’06, who named it “great dream” in a language related to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish.
Glon and a couple of other students decided to start fighting using Dagorhir’s rules, and eventually applied to become a bona fide chapter of the nationwide organization.
Membership has grown steadily since, especially this year due to a “bumper-crop” of interested freshmen. Today, there are about 15 core members and a number of others who show up from time to time.
One thing that makes K’lar stand out as a Lawrence group – as if symbolically killing one another with foam swords were not enough – is its integration with the larger Appleton community. About half of the participants are alumni, interested community members or even members of Amtgard – another LARP – from a chapter located in Oshkosh.
In a recent meeting, members decided to split K’lar into two divisions: “Sun” for on-campus fighters, and “Gryphon” for those who live off-campus. This formal restructuring left the “Leader” and “Scribe” group positions as they were before, but added the “Second,” which is a joint position, held by one member of Sun and one of Gryphon.
Freshman Julia Heller, the new Sun Second, explained that the positions of “Money Changer” – treasurer – and “Quartermaster” – weapons coordinator – are now taken care of separately by each group. This restructuring makes it easy to ensure that LUCC funds are directed only at Lawrence students.
However, when watching the group interact, none of this hierarchy is visible. Everyone shares weapons, and perhaps more chillingly, everyone cuts each other to pieces as equals.
Non-members are especially welcome: last Saturday, a newly-wed bride could be seen in the fray. Apparently, this is not rare. “Bridal parties join the fight all the time,” said Kuehl. “They love it. Once, they e-mailed us afterward to say they had incorporated our battle cry into their toast.”
So if you’re interested but hesitant, there’s no excuse now: If a dress-clad bride can do it, so can you. At worst, you’ll only end up being stabbed and zombified.
K’lar meets Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. on the green. If it’s rainy, they’ll likely be in the Rec Center, but cold weather is usually not a deterrent.
Also, consider attending the Fifth Annual Kill and Grill, which will be held Memorial Day weekend in Plamann Park. What’s being killed is not what will later be grilled. Even if it were on another date, this event would still be unforgettable, because, as Heller said, “We like fighting, but we love food.