Why We Garb
A man stands in a park in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans, a foam sword in his hand and another on the bench next to him. People show some curiosity as they walk past but rarely do they stop and ask him what he is doing there. The same man with the same foam swords goes to the same park the following Sunday, only this time, he is dressed head to toe in the garb of a medieval soldier. This time people stop by and ask what he is doing more frequently, and this time when he explains they actually listen. Perhaps one or more of these people will take an interest, even agree to learn the rules of this game the man plays. In a short time the man has recruited two people who start showing up every week, becoming friends and advancing themselves within their own definition of the man’s game. After a while more people come, they find an outlet for their creativity and frustrations with their banal lives. They expand their infrastructure and soon fifteen people or more are meeting every week to fight and to learn and grow. Some might garb as Orcs from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, channeling their inner chaos and smiling all the while. Others might garb as crusading knights, using historical context to fill a need in their lives they never knew. All these people would have seen the man in hooded sweatshirt and jeans and, in all likelihood, turned the other way not thinking twice. Sure, a few may have taken an interest, and maybe the man would have recruited a friend or two, but the results would simply not be the same.
Historically speaking, if a Dagorhir chapter is lax on garb, the chapter suffers on recruitment. This is simply because it just doesn’t look as interesting to the random person passing by. A minimum standard of garb at the majority of chapter practices establishes a culture of growth and learning that not having one simply can’t replicate. Over time the new person who is informed of the minimum standard, assuming they stick around, will find that they wish to embody the persona they have chosen for themselves more fully, resulting in an improvement in appearance across the board for the chapter, which in turn represents a positive reputation therefor. As the Dagorhir chapter branches out into attending events, others notice their above minimum garb and approach with stories, dueling, barter and friendship. This is in contrast to the lax garbed chapter being met with standoffish behavior and a poor reputation. It is difficult to approach the fighting in sunglasses and a baseball cap with an attitude of camaraderie, simply due to the nature of the setting. We have all gathered to partake in simulated medieval fantasy combat, and whether consciously or otherwise, our minds tend to equate that with a certain minimum standard of image. Some might say that this is needlessly restrictive or perhaps even elitist, and while this have some merit if the attitude they receive is insulting or derogatory, often the offended parties are those who poured their time, effort and passion into the creation of superior garb and general appearance.
In the end, we all decided as individuals that we wanted to play the established and codified game of Dagorhir, and with that comes certain rules and expectations. There is no shame or stigma in realizing that something doesn’t meet your personal needs and while anyone leaving the game is a net loss for the Dagorhir, the person who refuses to see that a minimum standard of garb is not only beneficial but necessary to the advancement of our sport would likely be better served finding a different setting to express themselves as they see fit. Though before making that decision, it would be advisable to reevaluate why the individual took part in our wonderful game to begin with. With personal honesty and a willingness to look past ones own biases, it would be hard to say that any person couldn’t find something in this sport to justify any inconvenience they perceive within the rules and expectations the game at large places on them, and moreover would likely result in a more positive outlook on garb as a whole. The man who started out railing against the strictures of garb may one day find himself championing the upholding of standards and perhaps even teaching others to appreciate the time, effort and creativity it takes to construct a truly outstanding set of garb to personify a persona so perfectly, that a casual onlooker finds themselves compelled to find out more.
For these reasons and innumerable others, WE GARB.