Monday, March 31, 2008

We're Family Friendly

Apparently I'm extremely well-behaved here at the Saga.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gulf Wars XVII (Part 6)


Field Battle
Saturday morning was bright and clear – a fine day for a battle. Ansteorra and her allies started on the west side of the field. Meridies held the center, with Ansteorra to our left and the Midrealm to our right. Meridies would stop the Trimarin army in the center, giving the others time to roll through the enemy flanks. In this first battle, the plan went well: we stopped the center, doing plenty of damage, and the Trimarin line folded. The second battle did not go quite so well, we didn't commit our reserve soon enough in the center, and the Trimarins were able to hit the flanks hard, rolling up our line from the ends. In the final battle, though, we committed quickly and tore the Trimarin center wide open to roll their lines out from the middle. That's how it looked from where I was standing, anyway. Unlike in some previous years, I managed to avoid getting myself killed early in any of the field battles.

Novice Tourney
After the field battle, I actually went back to camp, took off my armor and other gear, and packed it all up. I was done fencing for the week, but I did go back to the field to put in some time as a marshal. I met up with Quentin at the rapier field, where he was entering the Novice Tourney. I was part marshal and part herald for the tourney. Quentin fought pretty well, and did a better job of remembering to die dramatically (when his time came) than most of the participants. I think he was in the semi-final round, although I’m not positive. A good showing, regardless.

Fort Battles
The rapier fort battle is really just a friendship melee for the fencers at the end of the war. We split off into teams, and one side tries to take the fort while the other defends, then change sides. Sometimes we include ranged weapons, sometimes we don’t. This was my first time attending the fort battles as a marshal; I wanted to get in some experience marshalling large melees, and I was able to help out for several changes of side before they brought out the rubber-band guns, at which point I had to retire due to a shortage of safety glasses for marshals.

Le Jeu de Pomme
caught by GinevraOn my way back to camp, I passed Warder Phillipe from the Barony of Shattered Crystal. I’d seen him playing Jeu de Pomme – an ancestor of tennis – next to the Green Dragon with Warder Brigid earlier in the week. We’d already discussed meeting up for a game ourselves, and he gathered the equipment and met me by the tavern, where he taught me the game. It’s actually rather tricky. After the serve has been returned (an unreturned serve doesn’t count), play continues until the ball bounces twice without being hit. There’s a goal line, with the server defending and the other attacking; the attacker scores points any time the ball passes the goal line. When the ball first goes dead, its position is marked as “the Chase”. Thereafter, when the ball goes dead, the attacker or defender gets points depending on whether it stopped closer to the goal than the chase or farther away: also, the chase moves to the new position.

I really wasn’t very good at this. We served by knocking the ball onto the tavern roof, but after that you could play it any direction. Nonetheless, I couldn’t seem to get it out of my head that I should keep playing toward the roof of the tavern. Oh, well, I at least managed to luck into winning one game of three. After that, I introduced Phillippe to Guillaume from Tal Mere; when I left, Philippe was showing off his “tennis” gear and Guillaume was showing off his period golf gear – I’m sure they got on well together.

Gleann Abhan Ball
Rose Eriksdottir hosted the Gleann Abhan Ball on Saturday night, and she worked a little kingdom fundraiser into it by auctioning experienced dance partners, something that worked fairly well at the last Saltare. In retrospect, though, the last night of war is probably not the best night to hold that sort of fundraiser – people tend to have used up all their spending money by then.

Seven Deadly Sins Party
After the ball, I wandered over to the Seven Deadly Sins Party at Marshin Fayne for a while. I’m not entirely sure what was different, but this was the first time that I went to that party and really enjoyed it. There was a lonely bottle of muscadine wine on their serving table that I was able to claim, sharing it with Ginevra while chatting with assorted old friends and new ones from this war. I did manage to take myself off to bed before it got exceedingly late though, knowing I would have a long drive home.

Salutes and Thanks
Hellos and Thank Yous to Duchess Katrina, Ginevra, Bast, Debbie, Zoe, Quentin, Cortney, Sybil, Antonello, Theodora, Master Octavio, Maire, Rose, Faelen, Amalie, Hawk, Zofeia, and all those who helped me get through the week as well as new friends whose names I can’t remember yet.

Gulf Wars XVII (part 5)


Friday I decided to take a day off from fencing, as I was feeling the effort quite a bit. I wouldn’t be able to fight in the Ravine Battle anyway, as I would have kitchen duty in camp when it was supposed to be going on. Therefore, instead of gearing up to try to fence in the morning, I went to do a little bit of shopping and got myself some “legal” arrows for target archery (my practice arrows have carbon fiber shafts; the SCA requires wood shafts for competition shooting). After doing my part for the merchants by acquiring new arrows and a quiver from them, I went down to the range for a while and did some shooting for the war point. I determined that I can shoot five or six arrows in thirty seconds and put two of those into the six-inch-wide target representing a castle’s arrow slit (at a range of about ten yards).

Meridien Court
I was ambushed, I tell you. Her Grace Katrina asked me to be her escort to court on Friday evening, which is not at all unusual. The Order of the Velvet Owl was called, and that’s not unusual either. The herald calling me up to join the Order was completely unexpected. My humble thanks to Her Majesty and the Order for the honor.

Gulf Wars Ball
Duchess Katrina hosted the Gulf Wars Ball, for which we – appropriately -- had the most elaborate refreshment table (helped by the fact that she had previously provided refreshments for the Meridien Ladies of the Rose Tournament, from which we had some excess supplies to use). This ball was an amalgamation of favorites from the various other Kingdom Balls, and we moved swiftly through the list to have plenty of time for requests.

one installment left...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

For Jozsa

Chris, the 10-month-old nephew of Lady Palfi Jozsa (mka Crystal Thurber), is in a hospital in Fairfax, VA with Kawaski Disease. His condition is serious, and she asks for "all thoughts, prayers, good thoughts, and vibes for my 10-month old nephew. I don't particularly care who you make your prayers to, provided they are for good."

Please keep Chris, Crystal, and the rest of the family in your thoughts.

UPDATE: Chris apparently does not have Kawaski -- he has a severe sinusitis infection that produces similar symptoms. His condition has improved considerably, and Crystal sends her thanks.

Gulf Wars XVII (part 4)


Ansteorra’s Ladies of the Rose Sponsored Rapier Tournament
This tournament just never seems to go my way, at least not for very long. Duchess Katrina was good enough to sponsor me again this year, and for my first duel, I fought a good fellow named James Allen (if I recall correctly). I suppose I shouldn’t complain about my luck so much, since I won my first duel and James didn’t; I got past his guard with practically my first thrust to strike him in the face.

For my second duel, I drew Baron Mateo from Northshield (I think – he may be from the Midrealm – I’m not entirely sure). Don Mateo is one of those fencer’s who’s a good bit taller than me, has about a foot more reach, and practices. At least I don’t have to feel embarrassed about losing to such a worthy opponent; he continued in the tournament all the way to at least the quarter finals (from a starting field of something like 78 fighters).

For my third duel, I drew the “bye fighter”. As there was no designated bye fighter for the tournament, the marshals asked Her Majesty of Ansteorra to choose someone. She cheerfully assured me that she would find me a good fight, and she certainly did that: Don Aaron (not sure of the spelling) from Ansteorra. To my credit, I can say that I made him work to get the kill, and I appreciate him setting aside his dagger after taking my left arm. Don Aaron made it all the way to the final round of the tournament, so again, I was at least losing with some dignity.

Trimaris Ball
The lovely Lady Theodosia Perplexa from Trimaris hosted Thursday night’s ball. I truly appreciate her help on this, since she jumped in to assist when Lord Edwardus, who was going to host the Trimaris Ball, had to cancel just a couple of weeks before the war due to work obligations.

still more to come...

Gulf Wars XVII (part 3)


Dance Class
On Wednesday, I taught 16th-century Italian dances again, and with Antonello teaching his class right after mine, I got him to teach Villanella, which is a 16th-century Italian dance that was on his list for the Ansteorra Ball. I’m still getting refresher’s on that one.

Everyman Tourney
After class, I was Quentin’s authorization fight, then I took him down to the Fort for the Everyman Tourney, which is a tourney for anyone who does not have his or her kingdom’s top rapier award (Meridien Order of the Blade for us). A cadet from the Midrealm (I think) killed everyone in our initial pool, so we didn’t advance. No problem, we gathered up some people and fought melees behind the fort. We started with 2-on-2 matches, but we were up to 9-on-9 before my legs gave out and I returned to camp.

Ansteorra Ball
Antonello ran the Ansteorran ball, and all went well, I think. Someone from his group had the bright idea to buy out all the remaining stock from the bread merchant as the shop was closing, so Ansteorra had a very nice refreshment spread.

more to come...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gulf Wars XVII (part 2)


Dance Class
For Tuesday’s class, I taught SCA-choreographed dances. On my list were Ivy Alman, Heralds in Love, and Duchess Rhondalynn’s Pavan. Now, I must here confess that I don’t actually know Duchess Rhondalynn’s Pavan well enough to teach it. Fortunately, Lady Ginevra Brembati came to the class to be my ringer and teach the dance for me.

6-Man Melee Tourney
Tuesday afternoon I grouped with Tormod, Corbin, Rhys, and a couple of other fencers we recruited at the field for a 6-Man Melee tournament. We came out of our initial pool with a 2-2 record; not enough to proceed further. At least one of the teams that beat us (a group of “Hellhounds” from the Kingdom of Northshield) ended up winning the entire tournament, so we can claim to at least have been beaten with class.

Rapier-Archery Battle
I believe this was the second year of running a rapier battle using combat archery. I’ve been in plenty of scenarios in which we simulated black powder handguns with rubber band guns before, but this was my first time being shot at with arrows and crossbow bolts while wearing fencing armor. We fought in the ravine, and each side only had a handful of archers, but they do affect the outcome of the fight. I was also really “on” for this battle; so much that I actually stopped a push where my line was thin and got three or four opponents without getting killed before my reinforcements arrived. I hope we do this every year.

Incidentally, a crossbow bolt feels like a fairly stiff thrust from a rapier. I got a couple of bruises from them, but nothing serious.

Meridies Ball
The Meridies Ball went pretty well. This was the last of my official host duties for the war; representatives from Trimaris, Ansteorra, and Gleann Abhan would run their dance nights, and Duchess Katrina was running the Gulf Wars Ball for me. I had only a few light refreshments: crackers and cookies basically; nothing like the elaborate spread we put out one year. Note to self: if you bring “chocolate schoolboy” cookies, bring a lot of them.

more to come...

Gulf Wars XVII

I have returned triumphant from Gulf Wars XVII! I must say that I’m not entirely sure who won the war, but our side did win the Rapier Field battle (more on that later), so I call it a win for me, at least.


Ant Slaying
Having arrived on Saturday, and no one else being in camp Sunday morning, I was available to help His Lordship Tormod and a crew of volunteers inspect the main battle field, working from the Rapier Field down Hastings Field through the Fort. The primary concern here was live fire-ant nests, which we marked with surveying flags for a crew of poisoners following behind us. Many nasty stinging things of evil were slain that day.

Camp Setup
His Lordship Stefan arrived in camp while I was away marking anthills for destruction, and I was able to put in some time helping him and others set up their tents and other accoutrements as they arrived on site.


Dance Class
On Monday morning I taught a class in 16th-century Italian dance. The dances were Ballo del Fiore, which is both simple and rather widely known, and Contrapasso, which I am endeavoring to make at least widely known (while not particularly difficult, it doesn’t qualify as simple).

Verona Street Brawl
His Lordship Tormod dubh Gunn hosts the Verona Street Brawls on Monday every year, weather permitting. This year we had two town squares (made by an arrangement of hay bales) with wells in the middle. The premise is that the Montagues and Capulets are out for blood, but the Governor (portrayed by Lord Dante de Piro) has forbidden dueling and fighting in the streets. The objective, then, is to dispose of members of the opposing family without being caught by the Watch or the Governor, who wanders the squares at unpredictable intervals. In addition to the usual stabbing and slashing, this event involves a good amount of roleplay, with fighters on both sides trying to explain to the authorities how they ended up standing in the square surrounded by dead bodies. The colored tokens of the families carried by the fighters are often moved about and the bodies arranged by the survivors of a clash in an effort to make the other side look more guilty before the Governor arrives. We were especially honored to receive a visit from Her Majesty Lethrenn of Meridies, who came to see what the Street Brawl was all about.

I can say that I had a stroke of genius toward the end of this event. I was a Montague, and after killing off the Capulets in our square, we began to try to orchestrate the crime scene. I decided that the best way to handle it would be to simply get rid of most of the bodies, so we “dragged” them out of the square, leaving just one dead Montague and one dead Capulet. We left the Capulet’s sword, but hid the Montague’s. When the Governor arrived, I confessed to slaying the Capulet in hope to save my cousin’s life, having come upon him attacking my kinsman. This turned out to be a rather original approach to the situation, and the Governor commended me for my honor and “honesty”.

Caroso Ball
For the Open Ball on Monday night, I ran a Caroso ball. A Caroso ball is basically an all request format in which the choice of dance passes from partner to partner through the evening. That is, the partner of whoever chose the current dance gets to choose the subsequent dance. This format actually worked quite smoothly, and I think I shall use it at other balls that I have the privilege of hosting.

More to come...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Geek Lament

Gary Gygax is no longer with us. I can only hope that when my time comes, I'll have left as much of a mark upon the world as he did. In case you never travel in geek circles (and if so, what are you doing here?), Gary Gygax invented the original Dungeons & Dragons game in 1974.

Blog Slacking

Obviously I haven't been too sharp on the blogging the last week or so. I've got some food-porn pics in my cell phone that I should try posting at some point, but having to email them to myself one-by-one is a little tedious, and I'm entirely too scatterbrained in the run-up to Gulf Wars to get it done. Speaking of Gulf Wars, I certainly won't have any entries next week. On the other hand, I'll hopefully have a good report for the week after.