The Big Picture

‘Ragnarok’ event reenacts mythic battle

For 32 years now, one week each summer, the world has come to an end. Behold, Ragnarok: a weeklong battle event, held at a campground in Pennsylvania, whose name references an apocalyptic Norse myth. It’s part medieval history, part celebration of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s books and a dizzying array of people brandishing foam weapons and foam shields. With “storyline battles” straight out of “Lord of the Rings,” fighters take to the field for full contact combat. The sport is called Dagorhir (it means “Battle Lords” in Tolkien’s Elvish language) and its players fight each other with foam swords, arrows, axes, rocks, and shields. Only traditional garb is allowed here. Think tunics, flowing skirts, leather shoes. Some embrace the medieval, while others go full Orc. There’s a deeper sense of shared community that flows through each camp set up here where fighters camp out together sometimes in period tents and cook together. Some of the more established camps host nightly gatherings where IDs and period drinking vessels are both required. This year’s event drew more than 1,800 people according to organizers, a far cry from the 75 people who were there the first time the world ended back in 1985.--By Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
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Armed with foam shields and weapons, gladiators from the camp Rome charged into battle at Ragnarok XXXII. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A soldier from Wargar kept watch inside Thunderdome as fighters waited their turn to enter the ring. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Even the youngest invitees to the The Succubus Sinful Soiree were in their finest attire. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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An elf stalked her prey during a battle in the woods. Before each battle, weapons are tested out on tough volunteers who take three blows from each weapon (light, medium, hard) to make sure they don’t hit too hard. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Fighters took part in the Osgiliath battle. Each weapon has different uses and rules. For instance, a sword can kill your opponent with a blow to the torso, but a rock has to hit them on the head to do the job. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A fighter who goes by the name Caseus the Ironturtle, Gladiator of Athena, lifted the lid of one of his chests to find a pan to cook breakfast. He shares his camp with fellow Northeast Alliance members, who are made up of New Englanders. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A group playing Banner Wars, a multiple team capture the flag game, was illuminated by a light herald, who stood behind to allow them to see. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A knight took a break between battles. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Reavers fought against the teams who had spread out to rebuild the altar of a goddess during one of the battles in the woods. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Period garb was required at Ragnarok XXXII. Some keep it strictly medieval, while others embrace the fantasy aspects. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A soldier from Wargar kept watch inside Thunderdome as smoke filled the air before the start of the evening battles. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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The Succubi of the Cairnhold Legion hosted The Succubus Sinful Soiree, with hand lettered invitations sealed in wax handed out to those chosen to attend the evening of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Guests are asked to wear their finest attire and are announced by name as they arrive. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Many of the battles allowed for a healer, who can bring fighters back from the dead by being in direct physical contact with them and reciting a poem of healing that is a minimum length of 180 syllables. Day events coordinator Crowe read over a healing poem to make sure it met the requirements. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A lone fighter made his way across the field for the day’s second battle. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Battles at Ragnarok XXXII don’t stop just because it’s dark out. Banner Wars, a multiple team capture the flag game is played with light heralds like this one to give teams some light to fight by. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A member of the Succubi of Cairnhold Legion got ready for The Succubus Sinful Soiree inside her tent. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A man rested his hand on a woman’s shoulder as the two battle. Some people go DIY, making them out of fiberglass or PVC pipe and camping pads. Others opt to purchase them from vendors like Gorg the Blacksmith, whose motto is, “Buy it or die by it!” (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A water herald from the Cult of Hydration poured water into the mouth of a fighter. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A fighter waited to enter the Thunderdome. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Fighters made their way out of the woods as an abrupt rainstorm hit. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Gladiators from the camp “Rome” battled on the front lines. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A couple paused for a kiss as they passed each other during a battle in the woods. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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At the Thunderdome event, a “Mad Max”-inspired night battle, maidens spun the wheel of fortune, deciding how the fighters would engage in battle. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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Fighters waited for their turn to enter the ring at Thunderdome. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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A fighter was dragged out of the ring after falling in battle to his opponent during the Thunderdome event. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
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