Modern Medieval explores a (still somewhat underground) pop culture phenomenon based on Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and LARP (Live-Action Role Play). D&D started in 1974, created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and is a fantasy war-based role-playing game where each person plays a specific character and a group of players have imaginary adventures in fantasy locations, oftentimes taking place at home around the table. LARP (or LARPing) takes these fantasy-based games into the real world where the players (or LARPers) act out scenes and story-lines playing the character they’ve created, having complete creative freedom over whom they are, how they develop narratively, and the world they inhabit in connection to other LARPers. After playing a character for months or years, it will often be ‘retired,’ i.e. their character will die or be killed. Science fiction-based Steampunk is a related but more contemporary hybrid genre. It is not uncommon for LARPers to incorporate Steampunk elements.
Members of Palanthar (a Medieval LARP group), Belegarth (a Medieval Combat group), as well as Steampunk-inspired LARPers, all based in Utah, are all part of Modern Medieval. Mostly, they’re adults from their early twenties to mid-forties. For those who are part of this world, Medieval combat and LARPing are not the same thing. LARP is more narrative based (often following rules and story lines created from D&D) with more extravagant costumes. Medieval Combat, on the other hand, attempts to stay true to actual Medieval dress and sword-play. But they are in fact closely related. Both use Medieval European times and mythology as their base. LARP is a fantastical, mythology-based creative outlet with tangential historical roots; the players become very passionate and engrossed by live-action role playing games and Medieval combat for years – sometimes decades.