I actually burned a vacation day to go to the three-day Gatalop event over the weekend of the 24th. This event is held in Fort Gaines, a 19th-century fortress built to protect Mobile Bay against invaders, originally expected to be Spanish. It ended up trying to defend the bay against the Union navy during the Civil War. It may not be an actual medieval/renaissance castle, but it definitely has more atmosphere than the campgrounds and state parks that the SCA normally uses for events.
I spent Thursday night inside the fort in a little room that was probably a magazine or something. It had been raining all day, and many parts of the fort were lightly flooded (there was a moat about four inches deep around the Troll booth), but that little room had only one tiny drip which I was able to stay out from under easily.
After setting up my tent Friday morning, I armored up and went to find Falcon, the rapier marshal of the field. Fencing activities for Friday included tunnel battles and “crow’s nest” fights. The tunnel battles consisted of attempts to force entry into the fort through the main entrance tunnel, which was wide enough to drive an SUV through with a little room to spare. With seven fighters on the field, we had slightly unbalanced teams, and I was on the smaller side, but we still gave much better than we got in the tunnel fights, winning something like three out of four fights.
The “crow’s nest” was something new for me, although we may see it at Gulf Wars. It’s basically a six foot circle on the ground with a plank or post in the middle, representing the crow’s nest of a sailing ship. Four ropes lead from the ground outside the circle to the top of the post. Basically, someone “climbs” one of the ropes into the crow’s nest and tries to “kill” the person occupying it or force them out. Anyone stepping outside the circle without a hand on a rope “plummets to a painful death on the deck”. After some practicing with the concept, we started the actual Crow’s Nest Tournament, which was basically a “king of the hill” deal. One person started in the nest, and everyone else would try in succession to take it; whoever was in the nest at the end was the winner. Falcon decided that a young fellow named Nicholas and I were the most likely to survive a long stay in the nest, so we got to go first. Nicholas got me, but lost himself soon after. As it happened, the last person in the line up turned out to be the winner.
I managed to improvise a little bit of dancing on Friday night, but the courtyard of Fort Gaines isn’t a particularly well-suited place for it. Maybe I can get a gang together to go in the future and reserve one of the big rooms under the bastions…
Saturday fencing consisted of bridge battles and a tavern brawl. Each of the fort's bastions has a cannon emplacement on top, and there’s a bridge to the cannon. We had battles for control of one of these bridges. Barely wide enough to drive a car over, and we had four people on a side at this point. Different teams, and not as lopsided as the day before, but I still think we gave better than we got on my side. We had variations on these fights, too, including a round of daggers-only, and a battle in which fighters went on to the bridge one at a time, the loser of each fight joining the winner’s team until there was only one team left.
The Tavern Brawl was not a new scenario to me. Everyone sits at the table with weapons sheathed or otherwise set aside and plays with the plastic food and mugs until the “tavernkeep” asks “Who’s going to pay for all this?”, at which point a massive fight breaks out. This was a last-person-standing scenario, although I’ve done versions in which the object was to get out with the most food items. Anyway, while I didn’t win, I was the last to die, and I managed to drag that out in sufficiently entertaining fashion (including allusions to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which always seems to help) that I got a prize for Best Death.
I’m going to have to watch out for Nicholas. He was my nemesis all weekend. Time to put my Age and Treachery powers to work…
Saturday night was just a bit of socializing before bed.
Things to remember: earplugs might be nice. In the wee hours every morning I heard diesel engines so loud I thought a battleship was going by… turned out to be a teeny little shrimp boat.
All in all, I think I may try to make this event every year; it’s a good one.