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From zero to hero
BBC journalist as warrior
Ready for battle
Last updated: 28 June 2004 1336 BST
line Orcs, goblins and cave trolls are all in a day's work for Mark Roberts, whose job is "turning ordinary people into heroes".
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Heroquest

 
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Gallery


Tim Telling puts on a costume
Heroquest gallery 1 - getting ready
(click on image to view)

Bearded man in helmet and green makeup
Heroquest gallery 2 - adventure pics
(click on image to view)
Video
Heroquest adventure
Heroquest
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"Real life is always getting in the way of your hobbies," said Mark Roberts, the man behind Gloucester's Heroquest.

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 1: 8 pics)

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 2: 28 pics)

In fact, Mark belongs to the tiny but fortunate group of people able to make a living for their leisure pursuits.

His business is to provide ordinary folk with fantastic adventures in a Tolkienesque world of knights, wizards, orcs and trolls.

Heroquest is a live role-playing game in which participants don costumes and participate in fantasy adventures of up to five days in length.

David Bailey
Our man David prepares to go undercover

Acceptable

The tremendous success of the Lord of the Rings films has brought fantasy closer to the mainstream.

This has meant that many more adventurers, who were previously reticent about their hobby, are now coming 'out of the closet'.

"Since those films hit the big screen people are happy to say what they've been doing over the weekend," said Mark, "it's become an acceptable adult pastime".

quote ..it's become an acceptable adult pastime.
quote
Mark Roberts

One female adventurer has recently written a thesis on how the game helps her to cope with the pressures of everyday existence.

It seems logical enough - after all, when you've vanquished a horde of goblins over the weekend, the pressures of office life will seem tame by comparison.

David Bailey
David discovers his inner monster

Creatures

Mark's shed is home to the costumes of around four hundred monsters and characters, including orcs, trolls, and giant spiders.

"That's a mind flayer," said Mark of one of the latex masks, which depicted a green-skinned humanoid with a tentacled chin, "a creature with powers of the mind."

The quality of the costumes and props is striking, a far cry from the 'man-wearing-a-bedsheet' monsters one might imagine.

"Our shields and armour being provided by the same company who equipped the soldiers for the film Troy," explained Mark.

Lucky

quote I could be stuck behind a desk five days a week...
quote
Mark Roberts

Sitting in the garden of Mark's red-bricked Gloucester semi, the suburban setting seems far removed from a world of realm of magic and chivalry.

But Mark is unconcerned about what the neighbours might think.

"Almost everyone I know thinks I'm really lucky to be able to do this job," he said, "I could be stuck behind a desk five days a week from nine to five."

Given the choice between sitting in commuter traffic or running around the Forest of Dean wielding a broadsword against cave trolls, it's hard to disagree.

Website

Feeling heroic? Find out more here.

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 1: 8 pics)

Photo Gallery
(Gallery 2: 28 pics)

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