The Kingdom of Gwynedd is based on Medieval Wales, Gwynedd is the oldest active unit in Dagorhir, located in the realm of Aratari. We have been an established monarchy for over 30 years, and have a long history of padded weapon combat with a strong heritage and traditions.
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The Pre-History of Dagorhir (from the Dagorhir Battlegames national site)
A madman named Bryan Weise saw the movie “Robin and Marion” while he was reading “Lord of the Rings.” Bryan had never heard of “medieval re-enactment,” “Live Action Role Playing,” or “Dungeons and Dragons.” But he wanted to find a way to capture that spirit of adventure that could only come from wielding a sword or bow.
In 1977, he ran ads on Maryland’s underground radio station WGTB that said, “Anyone wanting to fight in Hobbit Wars with padded weapons call Bryan at the following number.” Bryan became Aratar Anfinhir the Stormbringer. For the first two years, all battles were woods battles; most included a camp-out the night before. Many battles in the first three years included rain or snow, giving power to Aratar’s moniker of “Storm Bringer.”
As the group began to grow, a madman Elvish scholar named Celemir suggested the name Dagorhir: “Battle Lords.”
All weapons were thick lumps of couch-padding foam duct-taped to sticks. The first prototype of modern Dagorhir weapons (a shaped “blade” of closed-cell foam glued to a fiberglass rod) showed up in 1978. It was in this time that rocks were invented by a madman named Edwin of the Danes, who asked, “What do we do with the scraps of leftover foam? Can we wrap ’em with tape and say they’re rocks that only kill you if they hit you in the head?”
The Ancient History of Dagorhir (from the Dagorhir Battlegames national site)
Aratar found he couldn’t do it all himself, so he formed the Council of Seven to help organize events, check weapons, and disseminate information. Remember that this was in the days before e-mail, before the World Wide Web, before voice mail. When answering machines were a rarity – every member had to be called and given the information for every event.
Dagorhir placed ads in bookstores, and recruited while performing staged fights at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in 1979. That year also saw the first field battles and unit battles in Dagorhir history.
Dagorhir survived an attempt to splinter it by a disgruntled and power-hungry member. (Some time later, this same disgruntled former Dagorhir moved to Texas and started a group based on Dagorhir rules. Eventually, they kicked him out too, so we should regard Amtgard as our long-lost siblings.)
At the Maryland Renaissance Festival, Dagorhir caught the eye of the “PM Magazine” TV show, who asked to do a feature about us. Dagorhir holds the record for most canceled PM Magazine shoots – every time they would schedule to film us, “Storm Bringer” would pummel the event with rain or snow. Finally, we had clear weather (although with two inches of snow on the ground) for the filming.
PM Magazine aired the Dagorhir segment on Washington, DC, TV in early 1981.and Dagorhir membership took off. More than 70 fighters showing up for the next battle, and attendance reached levels of more than 200 fighters by 1983. Aratar retired as President of Dagorhir late in 1983.
Events Leading Up To Ragnarok and the Current Era (from the Dagorhir Battlegames national site)
Later, PM Magazine re-broadcast their piece on Dagorhir. But this time they showed it NATIONALLY. It was seen by a madman sitting in a cave in Illinois, who said, “Wow! I’ve gotta do this!” He contacted Dagorhir, got a bunch of handbooks, became Beowulf the Dreamer (and later Sir Geoffrey of Bright Hills), and founded Dagorhir Middle Earth around 1984.
Beowulf got into a bragging match with the then-president of the (then-unnamed) founding Dagorhir Tribe, a madman named Graymael. It started off something like this:
Bey: “I know you Washington Dagorhir think you’re tough. But you’ve never seen anything like us. You couldn’t HANDLE us if you ever had to fight Middle Earth! We send people flying through the air. Grown men weep when they see us coming.”
Gray: “No way! We’d kick your collective ass!”
Bey: “Oh yeah?”
Bey: “I’m in Illinois. You’re in Maryland. What’s halfway between the two?”
Bey: “Then it’s settled. We’ll fight in Ohio.”
Thus began planning for the first Dagorhir Tribal War. A madman named Dominus noted that, “When we die we go to Valhalla. We call our Tribal Law Meeting Althyng. Our Great War should be Ragnarok.”
And so it was.
Unbeknownst to either the original Dagorhir Tribe or to Middle Earth, a madman named Falcon had moved West from Maryland to Cleveland, Ohio, in the early 1980’s, taking with him his padded weapons and Dagorhir handbook. Falcon founded the lost Tribe of Dagorhir Pent Wyvvern.
In the summer of 1985, some of the Washington Dagorhir met Falcon at the SCA’s Pennsic War in Pennsylvania. Since plans were already shaping up for Ragnarok, PW was extend an invitation to attend the war. The first Ragnarok was a weekend camping event in April of 1986.
The members of the original Dagorhir Tribe decided they needed a name to differentiate themselves from their new siblings. A madman named Shengar (formerly one of the Council of Seven) declared, “We were the first of Aratar’s children. We shall be known as the Aratari!”
And so it has been, ever since.
Ragnarok I included 80+ fighters from 5 states, including 2 from Massachusetts who had seen the PM Magazine broadcast. It was fought on Private property in Ohio, and featured the Thunderstorm of the Gods, followed by the first hot, humid day of the year (and thus, a lot of fighters nearly fainting from the heat).
Rag II fielded about 80 participants at a State Park in Ohio. The weather was more temperate. The battle featured the first-ever Ragnarok Bridge Challenge Battle (and in it, the first-ever cross-Tribal Unit, the Bridgeborn) and the famous phrase, “Dude, seven hits to the torso is DEATH!”
Ragnarok III (and IV and V) took place at a private campground in Ohio. Rag III lasted four days, and included snow, the first Ragnarok Woods Fort Battle, and the first Ragnarok Unit with members from every Tribe.
By Ragnarok IV, new Tribes began to appear, some splitting off of the original three, others springing up like new-sown wheat.
The History of The Free Company Of Gwynedd
After the legions of Rome left the mountains and rocky shores of Wales for the last time, the Kingdom of Gwynedd, the northernmost of the traditonal Celtic Kingdoms of Wales, was in utter chaos. King Owain Wyndhaven of Gwynedd was dead, killed in the Irish Wars. His son Trystan, from his home on the the Isle of Ynys Mon or Anglesey , heeded the call of his native land, and established the first Free Company of Gwynedd. He recruited warriors from all the disheartened tribes in the nearby rugged mountains and fertile valleys of this beautiful country. Many warriors who went on to great deeds of fame and renown heeded this call to battle, to fight for their families, their land and their Celtic ways.
Trystan’s first companions were his brothers, Finn and Fost Wyndhaven. Together they organized and took care of the groups of soldiers who arrived in the Fall of 4(19)82 at the dun-fort near Mount Snowdon (The White Dragon Hobby Shop). Amongst that first group were the Black Dragon’s they included Talon of Arcadia, Oron the Wolf, Dunryk of Gor, Red Sonya and Fluterflam were the members of the Black Dragon household. Also appeared another cousin, Llyr Corwyn-Wyndhaven, a fearsome warrior and battle leader. Thus also first appeared the legendary Iskendar the Grim and his companions, Balinar the Elder to forever establish the name of the proud and mysterious order of the Kinsman on the misty battlefields.
Together these men and women, Kinsmen, Knights and entire other Celtic Tribes, all equally brave and resourceful, conquered and pacified the lands of Gwynedd and surroundings. Soon thereafter, Trystan’s elder sister, Rayne Wyndhaven returned to the now-peaceful Gwynedd, and saw that it was good. She demanded that a Kingdom be established right away, with herself as the Queen. She knew full well that she would require force to hold this together, so she named Trystan as her Prince Regent and Heir, as he had a good way with the Armies, and had already won many great victories. Trystan, flushed with victory, rashly agreed to this.
The Kingdom then grew swiftly and prospered, its army winning renown wherever it fought. After some time, Queen Rayne grew more and more to perceive Trystan as a threat to her power and prestige. She invited some old acquaintances of Trystan’s, the Rangers, to visit her in Gwynedd’s White Dragon Castle, the capital and seat of the monarchy.
Trystan had shared some earlier adventures abroad with these Rangers. He had left them in peace, to heed the call of his beleagured homeland. They showed up in Gwynedd with harm in their secret hearts for Trystan. They plotted his downfall with his treacherous sister, Queen Rayne and others within the Kingdom.
Predictablly, a fierce rivalry developed, which soon came to bloody personal combat. It was perceived that Trystan had been slain by the Rangers’ leader, Faulknera. In sooth, he was only grieviously wounded, and was quickly and secretly healed by a Paladin of the Kingdom, (his brother Finn). He was then secretly spirited back to his beloved Isle of Anglesey, known as Mona, Isle of the Druids, where he lived to fight another day (But that is another story…).
Quenn Rayne wasted no time in naming Faulknera as Prince Regent of Gwynedd, and investing him with all of Trystan’s lands, titles and wealth (thinking him dead). This angered his Clan, the Wyndhavens, as well as others. The Kingdom then inexplicably went into a slow decline, as soldiers deserted, peasants emigrated in the night and the morale of the Armies had begun to seriously wane. Military defeats were eventually suffered and land and cattle were lost to neighboring Tribes of Celts and to other, more sinister enemies.
Then one morning, Prince Faulknera woke up dead. His corpse was spirited away by his loyal Rangers, and he and they were never heard from again in Aratari lands, or elsewhere. Queen Rayne was then left to run the Kingdom with her Knights and Kinsmen as best she may. But it was not to last…
The story is told, that one fine Spring day, Her Majesty Rayne was leaning out of a tower window to pluck a rose from the vine growing there. She leaned out too far to pick a particularly perfect flower, and fell to her death on the cobblestones below. Rumours of a black arrow shot from nowhere circulated, but no proof of this was ever found.
The Kingdom was then suddenly again like a ship in a storm without a rudder, at the mercy of capricious fate and of her enemies. The once magnificent Army all but disbanded and returned to their manors and farms. Word of this reached the rocky shores of Anglesey, and Trystan and The Free Company, returned to restore order with bold deeds and swift action. Romes’ Legions had returned, and were menacing the borders as were the monstrous and deadly Apollians. The Army was recalled and refurbished. Many many boastful beers later, great victories were won on all borders and the Kingsom restored beyond its former glory.
Such was made possible by the sacrifice and contributions of: Thorvaldd the Red, the brothers Mordok, Handryk, Thorock and Helgun ap Kerrigan, Lorick the Grand-Bard, Hobbitt, the renowned Half-Orc and his Braddok Boys, Ragnar, Gunter and Balynar the Younger of the House of the Red and Arabus and his Vikings, among others.
Trystan’s older brother, Finn Wyndhaven, was named as the new King of Gwynedd, and order and peace was restored once again to the Land. Trystan was retained as the Dux Bellorum (War Duke), and his other titles and his lands were restored to him. Thorsborg was established by Thorvaldd and the Ap Kerrigans, and was home to many a fine Kinsman thereafter.
King Finn begat a son, Owen, whom he named as his heir. He was fostered by Trystan, and the boy was trained in the arts of war and statecraft by the now veteran Kinsmen and Knights of the Realm.
The History of The Black Dragons (1982 thru the Present)
Black Dragon’s they included Talon of Arcadia, Oron the Wolf, Dunryk of Gor, Red Sonya and Fluterflam, they were the members of the Black Dragon’s in the beginning of the dark times. The Black Dragon’s came to the Free Company of Gwynedd in a time of great wars. The Dragon’s longed to wonder no more, they had found a place they could rest once more… in the mountains of Gwynedd they lived in peace, while down below the lands of Gwynedd were at war.
On one fine winter day a battle started in the mountains near the dragons encampment, 40 or so men were hunting a lone knight…wounded and out numbered the knight pushed on, fleeing the hoard of warriors as best he could. The dragons came to the cliffs to see what all the commotion was down below to see one man fighting for his life against so many others, Oron the Wolf told the others we must help this man, if for no other reason but to make it a fairer fight…Oron smiled and the dragons descended to joined the fight, as they walked onto the field the lone knight feel before them, he raised his head and said “What? More of you? Hell your still all out numbered” …with a smile on his face he feel to the ground.
The dragons helped him to his feet and said we are here to help you crazy one, then about 30 to 40 warriors arrived and demanded that the dragons turn over the knight…Fluterflam with a flip tone said “what is he to you? We found this man, so that makes him ours” he said with a smug smirk on his face. The warriors responded that he was Prince Trystan of Gwynedd and they were going to take him back to be executed. With flaming red hair flying in the wind, the vixen goddess Red Sonya spoke out and said “we are but five and you rank nearly 40, I feel dear sir you are deeply out numbered this day… leave now and we shall let you live, stay and you all will surly die this day!”
The men laughed and the leader said “and what are you going to do little girl?” And with out a word Sonya draw her blade and severed the mans head from his body in a single stroke, then three more men dropped to the ground with arrows deep in there chest from the mighty bow of Dunryk…Oron leaped into the battle smashing skulls with his mace of power…and Fluterflam and Talon join in on the fun dismembering people left and right. The battle lasted for more than 20 minutes and when the dust cleared the only ones standing were the Black Dragons and Prince Trystan, just as Sonya had said. Prince Trystan was so impressed with the Black Dragons he invited them to join him at his castle for a Feast in there honor and felt deeply in debited to the dragons, the dragons responded “we could eat…and yes you are” the group started down the mountain to Gwynedd.
After many hours of feasting and fun the dragons inform the Prince its time for them to leave, the Prince seemed deeply troubled by the dragons leaving and ask the dragons if they would stay and become apart of Gwynedd…..the dragons told the Prince they were warriors and wonders, but that they had decided to stay in the mountains of Gwynedd and if the Prince should ever need them they would come. Trystan was so pleased by this news he decided to declare the Black Dragons the protectors of the crown. The Dragons accepted this title with the prevision that they would protect the crown as long as the crown was worthy.
And so the store begins …
Today all that remains of the Black Dragons is Lord Talon Haldane, Lord Talon and his household House Haldane still protect the crown even today and will for all time.
Oron ventured to the northern lands far from Gwynedd and has had many great adventures and battles. Today he is the King of PentWyvern and a loyal friend to Gwynedd.
Red Sonya became Kensmen Oonah of Anglesey and fights with Anglesey still to this day. From time to time she returns to the lands of Gwynedd to visit her friends and family.
Dunryk and Fluterflam have been on quest for many moons and have faded into the history of Gwynedd…one day they too will return as do all.
History of how the Kensmen spread far and wide
In the beginning all of the Kensmen and Swordbrothers were part of Gwynedd until the day Kensmen Oron moved from the land of Gwynedd and ventured north to the land of Pentwyvern.
Kensmen Oron was originally Kensed in 1985 by King Finn in Gwynedd with approval of the Alfather. Then moved to Ohio in 1987. It took until 1989 until King Eric of the Red Stone to accept his title which is why that is the date he chooses to use for his official Kensmen date.
House of the Wolf was named such by Kensmen Talon Haldane because of Kensmen Oron’s name and the creature Oron was, but the house name was never used by Oron until after he moved to Pentwyvern and added his first Swordbrother. That’s also part of the reason why there was never an emblem created for the house because there was no declaration of “This is my house, the House of the Wolf”… It just kind of happened over time.
With that said Kensmen Oron is happy that In 2019 an emblem has been created and it will stamp the house more permanently into the history books.
Many other Kensmen took on the quest and venture to new lands, taking on swordbrothers and spreading the Kensmen far and wide. This is the story of how the Kensmen spread around the world.