At Burgundar people can immerse themselves in a fantasy world, playing alternate versions of themselves in live action role-playing games (LARP). “This version could save lives, be a master pickpocket, conjure spells or go mad,” said Noah Hersom, who owns and operates the LARP venue in Harrison with his wife, Crystal.
Burgundar, a forest and medieval village set on 11 acres, opened last year. All summer, the venue hosts games that are a mixture of theater, athleticism, and shared storytelling, Hersom said.
“The combat is especially fun. We use foam padded weapons to simulate medieval combat, and have to really strike an opening on each other to make a hit. Strikes are pulled and done carefully so they don’t hurt but you can feel that you’ve been struck.”
After Crystal showed him a documentary about LARP, Hersom began searching for groups in New England. He came across the Maine Adventure Society Inc. (MASI). He and Crystal pieced together some garb, he bought some leather armor, and they went to try it out. “It was probably the most fun we had had in our adult lives,” he said.
His love of the hobby inspired Hersom to want to run a game, but the MASI venue is close to two hours away, in Jefferson. Deciding that southern Maine was a great place for a LARP venue, he began to build the village and structures in the forest. Crystal taught herself to sew and made masks. “Together, we registered Burgundar LLC and have been giving it our all ever since,” he said.
This year, Burgundar has really taken off said Hersom. Local players are extremely dedicated, and the CEO of MASI, Truax McFarland, along with many other MASI members helped build some of the structures, helped the Hersoms learn the ropes, and come to play their games. Their first event this summer broke a personal record with 27 attendees.
It wasn’t always so smooth. Last year, said Hersom, having only 14 participants come out for their first event was difficult. “But I decided to truck on, and I’m so glad I did,” he said.
Currently there are two campaign games running, which occur one weekend every month throughout the summer. One is a dark-ages fantasy game called Mystwood, influenced by Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, and actual medieval history. The other is Beyond the Wall, influenced by Game of Thrones. Both of these games work well for new players, Hersom said, making it a great time to jump in to the hobby. Each campaign game has had its first event of the summer, but both are designed so that new players can join in anytime without missing out on too much of the plot, said Hersom. The next Mystwood event is July 17th, and the next Beyond the Wall takes place on August 7th.
There is also a single weekend event, scheduled for September 5th and 6th. This combat-oriented event is run by the local Dagorhir chapter, Nordanmork. Hersom described it as a very intense, full-contact event, which is a lot of fun for those into really simulating a medieval battle.
A full schedule of events can be found on their Facebook page. “Getting involved is as simple as showing up,” said Hersom. “We have garb we loan to new players and staff that can go over the basics of the rulebook right there.” For those who like to prepare in advance, rulebooks, and a new LARPers handbook are available on their website at www.burgundar.org.