Telephone pole posters are a visual representation of the pulse of Capitol Hill – they show which bands are getting big, what posters aesthetics are in or out of style, recent fashions in event themes, and so on. This is why I was stopped in my tracks by the poster for DarGarth: A Live Action Wargame that advertised upcoming bouts in Volunteer Park. LARPers on Capitol Hill, the hipster stronghold of Seattle? That takes chutzpah.
I sat down with John Senner, organizer of DarGarth, to find out more: why here? why now? And ultimately, why beat each other with padded swords? “I’m from Baltimore, where one of the largest foam fighting groups, Darkon, is located,” says Senner “I really miss swordfighting, and I think that Seattle has a perfect combination of geeks and outdoorsy people to create a good audience for a live-action wargame,” But isn’t that what they do in Ravenna Park every weekend? Why reinvent the wheel? “We’re not like the guys in Ravenna Park. The focus is on fighting and strategy. It’s medieval gang warfare – we don’t have tea-parties”.
Senner went on to tout the benefits of live action war games, aka foam fighting. “It is nerdy, but it’s a physically active and social nerdy,” says Senner, “It’s also perfect for Capitol Hill because of the DIY aspects: you have to build your own weapons, and you can make your own costumes and armor as well.That’s the best part of it – it’s not just one hobby, it’s however many hobbies you need.” Speaking of weapons – just how safe is foam fighting? Senner assured me that strict weapon construction guidelines are part of the DarGarth rulebook and that all weapons are tested for safety before each event.
If you too want to partake of the benefits of live action war gaming, DarGarth’s their opening Tournament of Arms is this Sunday, March 14th in Volunteer Park from noon to 5pm, and their Zombie Uprising will be same place, same time on Sunday, March 28th. “We put up flyers in the U District for the students, on Capitol Hill for the hipsters, and in Fremont for the weirdos,” says Senner, “I hope everybody comes!”