EAST LANSING, Mich. — If you're looking for some outdoor fun this summer, a local live action role playing group is welcoming new people into their action packed fun at Patriarche Park.
Lauren Warshaw describes herself as a nerd.
“In the last few years is when I really started playing and getting more of an interest in actually participating in the games and dressing up and, and being an all around nerd," Warshaw said.
So on Sunday afternoons, you can find her in the East Lansing park as "Lady Alpaca."
“I grew up with a lot of these people," Warshaw said. "So I'm one of the gang. Our park doesn't have a lot of female players just by circumstance.”
As one of the few women fighting with a bunch of nerds.
“The nerd culture very generally spends a lot of time doing more sedentary activities, awesome activities, video games, tabletop, gaming board gaming, but this is something that gets us physically active,” Warshaw said.
Playing a live action role play game called Amtgard.
“Amtgard is one of many live action role plays or LARPs," Warshaw said. "It ranges from anything to more of an acting and improv style game, to a full combat sport. We are more on the scale towards the combat sport.”
A world she describes as her reality.
“Reality is more of an escape from Amtgard," Warshaw said. "I spend so much time doing Amtgard things that reality is definitely less interesting.”
Spencer Latham or "Reuix" has been playing for 14 years.
“When I first started my original day one, my cousin brought me out and she told me to try," Latham said. "It was a great time and I had fun, but I was teenager at the time, you know, you can only get to stuff so often when mom's willing to drive you there.”
Latham said he really got into it six years ago.
“I had a rough patch in my real life and I decided I need a hobby where I can be around people all the time and doing something that I also find interesting at the same time,” Latham said,
Since then, Latham said he's connected with people all over the country.
“I've got a social circle that spans as far west as Utah for people in the same game, all the way down to Florida and all the way up through Alaska,” Latham said.
Warsaw said there's something for everyone.
"You can go anywhere, from sit in a chair and point and cast spells at people to actually get involved in close quarters combat," Warsaw said.
And if you're not interested in fighting, there's also crafts.
"We make all of our own gear," Warsaw said. "You can't just go by Amtgard weaponry because it has to be checked for safety. So it's all handmade, including all of our armor, all of our garb, everything that we use."
While there's a lot of rules to learn in game play, Latham said they teach you along the way.
“We don't do body to body contact with other players," Latham said. "For safety reasons, head shots are not legal, because we don't want to give anyone a concussion or anything of that nature, but beyond that, everything is pretty much fair game.”
Even if you lose an arm or leg during the game.
“If somebody strikes me in the arm, that arm I have to make believe is gone and I'm left with just one arm," Latham said. "Same thing, if I get hit in the leg. I have to pretend like my leg is gone and behave accordingly. If I am struck in two limbs, I am considered dead.”
Even though they're fighting, don't let that fool you.
“These are my best friends and you know, we frequently stay up until four in the morning talking about Amtgard and all of its related quirks and doing crafts and coming up with games to play," Warshaw said.
This group is united forever, by their love for cosplay.
“We want everyone to be here, we don't care," Warshaw said. "We just want nerds."
Amtgard will have a New Player Expo at Patriarche Park on June 12 at 1 p.m. where the first ten new players will receive a special gift.
The group meets at Patriarche Park every Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Fighter practice takes place on Wednesdays at Hillbrooke Park in Haslett from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
You can follow along with events from the Ashen Hill Amtgard group on their Facebook page.
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