Dog-walkers and joggers at Boston Common had unexpected company Sunday morning: waves of medieval warriors, clad in robes, yelling as they charged each other with foam swords and shields.
By 8 a.m., about 80 people gathered on the softball field for the battles of “Dagorhir,” a simulated medieval battle. It’s similar to a live action role play game, said Alex Olsen, one of the organizers, but with “more combat and less magic.”
The battle on the Common marked Dagorhir’s first in Boston, according to Olsen, who said the large turnout means it’s likely to return. Olsen estimated between 120 and 150 participated in the three-hour fight.
“There was too much excitement,” said Olsen, who expected between 20 and 40 people to attend. Increased interest on social media forced Olsen to take down the event’s advertisements and get a permit from the city.
Dagorhir is full-contact combat: Players are allowed to grapple or wrestle to the ground, and they fight each other with foam swords, shields, and jousts. When one player strikes another in the torso, it’s a death. When they’re hit in the arm or the leg, they’re no longer allowed to use those limbs.
Olsen belongs to “Anvard,” a group of about 20 Dagorhir players from Massachusetts and Rhode Island that practices weekly in Attleboro. There are similar clubs throughout New England and the country.
On Sunday morning, Anvard regulars and Dagorhir newcomers joined forces on the Common. Phil Wikina, 22, of Milton, had never played before, but he decided to come after he saw the event on Facebook.
“I love it,” said Wikina, sword in hand and out of breath from a recent battle. “I watch ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Spartacus,’ and I’ve always thought it’d be pretty cool to live in those times when swords were needed, except for the plague and murder.”
Rebekah Ferguson, who attends the weekly practices in Attleboro, said the game attracts a diverse group of people.
“The reception has been good — you find a lot of people, people you wouldn’t even expect,” said Ferguson. “There’s people from all walks of life here.”
The dog-walkers and other passersby on the Common would occasionally stop and watch.
“You’re not going to see this very often,” Olsen said.Dylan McGuinness can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DylMcGuinness.