TULAG intrigues, engages Tulane community in live action gaming

Even if you have not heard of Tulane University Live Action Gaming, or TULAG, you have definitely seen it. Walking past the sophomore dorms or to Le Gourmet on a given sunny day, one is more likely than not to see a few students fighting with what appear to be foam swords and shields on the quad. The question is, what exactly are they doing?

The members of TULAG are playing Dagorhir, a popular combat-based role-playing game in which participants build their own weapons to use in full-contact medieval fighting. Josh Ballagh, the president of TULAG, is careful to make a distinction between Dagorhir, or “Dag” for short, and live action role-play (“LARP”), a relatively well known but distinct form of social gaming.

“Role-playing games are focused on playing characters and creating narratives,” Ballagh said. “From an insider’s perspective, Dagorhir is not a LARP; it’s more of a full-contact wargame than a role-playing game.”

Ballagh shares that he first became interested in Dagorhir after attending a Dag event in high school. When he came to Tulane, he decided he wanted to introduce the game here and began asking his friends if they would be interested in playing as well.

“That is pretty much how we got the ball rolling. We just strapped together some gear and went for it,” Ballagh said.

Although Ballagh and TULAG Vice President Andy Roterig have been playing Dag since last spring, the club only became official this semester, and is therefore still on provisional status. This means that it does not yet have a budget, and funding for materials for weapons and other equipment comes out of players’ pockets. Ballagh says that most of these weapons are put together at the Maker Space at Tulane, and he expresses his thanks for such a valuable resource.

Ballagh recognizes that TULAG receives a variety of responses from Tulane’s student body when members are seen battling on the quad.

“I think some people see us and might laugh,” Ballagh said. “I don’t really care; I’m having a good time. Other people will stop by and watch for a minute, which is fine. We like being seen, or at least I like being seen. Other students approach players and ask if they can play as well.”

Ballagh says that TULAG warmly welcomes such newcomers: “We are always happy to let people give it a swing.”

Although Tulane University Live Action Gaming exclusively plays Dagorhir as of now, its title is intentionally broad as to be inclusive of other types of live action games.

“If people wanted to do something more like LARP, that is not something we would be opposed to doing in the future,” Ballagh said. “TULAG is even interested in participating in Escape Rooms, a current trend that is popular among the wider demographic, as well.”

As the group continues to grow and gaming interests expand, TULAG is sure to be spotted even more often around campus. Next time you stroll by the quad on a sunny day, grab a sword and shield and join in on the battle.

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