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The Scarlet & Black

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DAG takes a stab at a new semester


Don’t be alarmed if, wandering past MacEachron (Mac) Field, you hear students yelling “meat grinder!” while brandishing bulky spears and shields. No, it’s not a reboot of the “Highlander” franchise, but actually members of Grinnell’s Duels and Games Club (DAG) on a typical Friday after class.

Joe Brown `25 knew about DAG before even setting foot on Grinnell’s campus. The organization caught his eye as he browsed a list of Grinnell’s student activities while applying for colleges. “I made it a point to try and show up the first time and basically just kept going ever since,” Brown said. “I looked forward to it every single week because I was basically measuring my days by how many before I [could] play DAG.”

Brown serves as president of DAG and is one of three fieldmasters, making him responsible for running games, ensuring safety during fights and organizing events and outreach for the club. DAG loosely follows the fighting and building rules of the Belegarth Medieval Combat Society, but Brown said the club primarily relies on the knowledge of its previous and current members to set appropriate guidelines and safety rules.

Another group leader, Dylynn Madson `25, serves as quartermaster. She maintains DAG’s equipment, purchases new weapons, and can teach others how to make their own. DAG keeps everything in the basement of Langan Hall. Haphazardly scattered about the shelves in a small repurposed dorm room are swords, javelins and shields — made of PVC pipe and foam. Brown joked, “Yeah, we have an armory.”

 While there are many experienced combatants of DAG, the organization prides itself on its beginner-friendly environment. “Training new folks always takes priority,” said Henry Sanders `24, another fieldmaster. “You pick it up pretty quickly and it’s always a fun experience for me to get beaten by someone who’s been here for two months and just seeing how far they’ve progressed,” they said.

 “We are constantly excited to have new people [in] this little community we’ve got. We have always loved the process of introducing someone to this activity and teaching them and seeing them develop their own style and personality in fighting,” said Brown.

This year, Brown said he plans to conduct introductory training sessions and clinics on each of the club’s stocked weapons, although they also welcome members to either make or purchase their own. In fact, both Brown and Sanders have purchased weapons separately at medieval conventions.

“We’re trying to introduce these weekly sessions as more of a way to technically get better at something, experimenting with something outside of the same format that we’ve used all the time,” said Brown. In these trainings, participants would also learn different game modes, or ways to structure fights, and weapon combinations — all complete with their own labels, including “bridge battle,” “florentine” and “tooth and nail.”

In fact, before their annual field day event in the spring — a full day of DAG activities — club leaders get together to brainstorm unique nicknames for each other. Known as Dylynn Madson during school hours, fellow fighters know her as “Harlequin.” Other battle-tested adversaries might include “Bread,” “War-Forged,” “Cannoli” or “Burger.”

Despite stereotypes, members insist that DAG is not just for Dungeons & Dragons devotees and Renaissance fair regulars. “We are a generally introverted bunch, but we do really love people,” said Brown.

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About the Contributor
Allison Moore
Allison Moore, Staff Writer
Allison is a fourth-year gender, women's, and sexuality studies major from Granville, Ohio. In her spare time, she can be found crafting, cooking, and cuddling with her kitten, Koda. If you think her mini crossword is too hard, then too bad.
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    DyLynnSep 11, 2023 at 12:29 pm

    Harlequin here, it really is a great time! If you see us on the field, feel absolutely free to join us!