Crossing the Drillfield on a Sunday might bring you face-to-face with combat — courtesy of the EpicBattle Club at Tech, or EBCaT for short.
Using foam swords, cardboard shields and other handcrafted, soft weapons, the EBCaT engages in mock fights around campus.
“It’s pretty much a bunch of people getting together with homemade foam weapons and reenacting fights,” said Stewart Buttefield, the EBCaT president. “It’s a way to relieve stress and just have fun on the weekends.”
EBCaT practices a variation of live-action role playing, also known as LARPing. The club focuses less on the role playing and costume aspects and more on the fighting, Butterfield, a senior business information technologies major, said. Ryan Marlow, the EBCaT treasurer, agrees.
“It’s LARPing without the role-play,” Marlow, a senior computer engineering major, said. “(Other clubs) are more serious, and so the difference between that and EBCaT is that we are not trying to be serious.”
EBCaT was founded in November 2008 after Marlow and his friends encountered a group of people dressed as robots. Marlow, a freshman at the time, ran back to his residence hall to gather up an army to fight the robots.
“We all brought our Nerf guns out. Then we scoured campus and found (the robots) outside between D2 and West End. We all just surrounded them and began shooting them with our Nerf guns,” Marlow said, “We conquered the robots that night.”
After the battle was over, Marlow tried to set up another meeting with the robots, but they were unresponsive and refused to break character. However, Marlow and his friends were hopeful.
“We set up this big Facebook event, ‘Robots vs. Humans,’ and we waited at the Drillfield, but they didn’t show up,” Marlow said, “We were like, ‘Whatever, let’s just fight each other.’”
Marlow said a group of eight to 10 guys decided to continue to meet and battle it out around campus. Thus, EBCaT was born.
Although it has only been an official club for three years, EBCaT’s Facebook group boasts more than 130 members.
“Its hard to gauge how many people will come out,” Butterfield said. “But the average turnout (for a battle) is usually 20 to 30 people.”
EBCaT engages in different styles of battle, including team battles, capture the flag and “kill a king,” in which the teams have to figure out who is the king on the opposing team and “kill” that person.
A hit to the chest constitutes immediate death, Butterfield said. A hit to a limb results in the loss of its use. Two shots to the same limb causes death as well. Head and crotch shots don’t count.
“If you die, you lose a life. (After losing a life) you go back behind battle lines, count to 10 and you can do that for as many lives as you have. After that, you’re just out of the battle,” Butterfield said.
Battles are typically pretty quick — lasting only five to 10 minutes. However, they can last as long as 20 to 30 minutes.
At its inception, EBCaT members fought with plastic light-sabers, Nerf guns and weapons made out of cardboard. Now, members make weapons by using PVC pipes, fiberglass rods, foam pads and pool noodles.
“We gradually progressed to more foam-based weapons. It’s safer, and we have more weapon regulations now,” Butterfield said.