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Live action role playing comes to the Gila Valley

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Matt Hegel, Talon Barney

Talon Barney, 14, right, prepares to defend an attack by Matt Hegel during Velvingard live action role play practice at Graham County Fairgrounds last Saturday. A joint event between Velvingard and Sierra Vista’s Wyvern’s Roost will take place Saturday, May 18, at the fairgrounds.

SAFFORD — Those who believe, deep down, they’re a barbarian, a druid or a bard will soon have a chance to show what they’re made of.

Live action role play — or LARP — is coming to the Gila Valley, courtesy of Matt Hegel.

Hegel has started the group Velvingard, which will host its first LARP event with the help of Sierra Vista’s LARP group, Wyvern’s Roost, Saturday, May 18, from noon to 4 p.m. at Graham County Fairground, near the horseshoe pits.

“I’m anticipating about a dozen people (from Graham County), plus everyone from Sierra Vista,” Hegel said. “We’ll have five weapons plus everything that Wyvern’s Roost brings.”

LARPers use foam “weapons,” everything from broadswords and axes, to bows and arrows and trebochets. A person is “killed” in battle when struck twice by a weapon, and the foam ensures no player suffers a real injury.

Hegel has been working for a few weeks on his weapons, using PVC piping covered by foam pool “noodles.” Each weapon must have enough padding on all sides — including at the point of a sword and the hilt of a handle — to protect players from the PVC pipe.

Hegel was introduced to LARPing when Wyvern’s Roost participated in Gila Valley Comic-Con last March. From there he traveled to Sierra Vista to take part in Wyvern’s Roost activities, inspiring him to start a Graham County park.

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“I found it enjoyable, I really like it,” he said.

Players can also choose their role within a park, with each having strengths and weaknesses dependent on the opponent. Playable options include:

• Warrior • Barbarian • Monk • Wizard• Archer

• Scout • Assassin • Druid• Bard

To start a park, a group must have space and elect officers. Saturday’s event is hoped to introduce the public to live action role play and encourage residents to take on a role within the park.

“Then we can start costume making,” Hegel said.

There is no cost to participate in any LARP event; however, holding an office requires paid membership in a park, which is $5 per year.

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