Leutner’s lawn on Saturday afternoons is unlike any other day of the week. Case Western Reserve’s Dag members come out and practice. Some people come out in t-shirts and shorts, but others go to practice in true cosplay form, wearing interesting and often intricate outfits that represent their intended character; these outfits are truly unique and are only limited by one’s imagination.
As an unaware observer of the students outside Leutner on Saturday mornings, I mistakenly assumed what was going on was LARPing, or Live Action Role Playing. In reality, however, live action role playing and Dagorhir, or “Dag,” are two completely different activities; they’re often confused due to their common use of cosplay, the act of playing some simulation while in costume. In live action role playing, all involved must adhere to some plot, whereas in “Dag” the main goal is direct combat, as was explained by experienced student of larping and first year member of Case Western Reserve’s Dagorhir team, Diana Sucio.
Sucio explained that she originally got introduced to live action role playing and Dagorhir after experiencing cosplay for five years prior. With all of her experience with cosplay Sucio strives for accuracy when she decides to dress up.
What do the different costumes mean? Do they mean anything, or are they simply preference? For the most part the costume choices are preferential, however, at any official tournaments, they are required. The official medieval clothing is not very limiting as it only has to pertain to that time period, but it can be either a mystical character or something with some greater historical relevance. For people who consistently adhere to the official rules regarding dress codes, when one reaches a certain goal in “Dag” they can receive a symbol representing a greater status than they previously had.
Along with Diana Sucio, who during combat goes by the name “Elf,” David Grzybowski also is a Dagorhir member who chooses to dress up every time he practices. David’s combat name is “Roose”; he typically dresses up as a generic medieval fighter, whereas Diana, aka Elf, takes a more literal expression of her name as she sports not only medieval clothing, but her signature elf ears every Saturday. When asked if either Diana or David wear their “Dag” clothing outside of practice both enthusiastically responded yes; every Friday Diana wears her elf ears and David can often be seen carrying his own sword (Styrofoam) around campus. Diana says her whimsical form of self-expression brightens up both her day and the days of those around her.
The many variations of cosplay verify the growth that this club has had over the past few years. Even if the growth in Dagorhir or live action role-playing cannot be directly seen in CWRU’s student population, the growth in the overall cosplay community is evident. From the influence of videogames and comic-con conventions the reach has expanded to ever increasing proportions; the one Sucio attended back in her home-state of Connecticut has doubled in size during the past five years. Who knows, if the influence of cosplay continues on this exponential trend it is on, maybe sometime soon a representation of it will be walking down runways as well as Leutner’s lawn.