Archive | August 2017

Fighting practice 8.16.2017

I held fighting practice at my place this week. The Thursday practices for Acre haven’t started back up yet, and the Monday ones take a few weeks off after Pennsic. I didn’t want to wait until September to fight again, and luckily two people felt the same way and came down for some sparring.

We didn’t fight very long, since with only 3 of us we gassed out in about 60-90 minutes or so. Still, I felt it was totally worth it. Following Pennsic, I feel much more comfortable in armor, and I’m starting to feel more relaxed when fighting. I did fairly well against the other fighters, who were going full tilt at me. Sure, I got blasted a few times, but I was able to return the favor as well. Both are very encouraging, and praised me a few times on my improvement, which was great. I tried correcting some of the issues I saw in the videos of me during the novice tournament, and I had mild success at best. I need to bend my knees more and tighten up, be more mobile and avoid remaining static, stop blinding myself with my shield, and learn how to properly change the angles of both my attacks and those of my opponent. I discussed this with Sir Zippy and Rory at Pennsic, and found the information fascinating and very scientific, so it was right up my alley!

I’ll probably try and hold another practice next week, and then I go on vacation before the start of the school year. Once September hits, fight practices start back up. Speaking of which, I’m going to try and make it out to the Nutley practice in NJ at least once a month. It’s a haul for me, and makes for a late night, but everyone I’ve spoken to said it’s more than worth it. At this point, I’m trying whatever I can to get better and not totally suck. I’m trying my best to hold onto this fire and not let it go out. In other news, I’m gonna pick up some shin protection and try changing up my leg armor to help with my comfort and mobility. I felt it a lot at practice, and I think my stance and movement will improve once I get this sorted out. After that, I’ll move onto torso armor so I’m not a big barrel. More to come!

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Turning the tide of war

We returned from Pennsic this past Thursday, and there’s so much to talk about that I almost don’t know where to start. This will very likely be an exceptionally long post, and as I’m long-winded to begin with, that’s saying something. So buckle up, buttercup (“as you wish”), cuz you’re gonna be here awhile.  I guess I’ll start with some background and basics to put all this in perspective. One thing to mention is that if any of what I say is confusing, or you have any questions related to the SCA whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments or in person if you know me. I have quite a bit to say on the subject…

Our first Pennsic was 10 years ago. Our dear friend told us about it, and we decided to check it out. We went for a long weekend, watched some fighting, partied, shopped, and had a blast. Then, children happened, and we didn’t go back until 2013. When we were ready to go back, that same friend was now part of a different household and invited us to stay with her again. I must say, we were apprehensive at first. The Lish and I are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and we didn’t want to screw anything up for our friend who was now very involved in the society. Luckily for us, our fears were unfounded, and we were welcomed with open arms. We joined the household the following year, and camped with them every year since, with the exception of this year. This year our dear friend was Queen of the East Kingdom, and she invited us to stay with her at the royal encampment, something we consider a great honor.

Prior to this year, we weren’t really too involved in the society. We attended events when we could, much more so during our friend’s reign and when our head of household won crown a few years back. We played the annual Pennsic Assassin’s game run by the East Kingdom Royal Assassin’s guild the past few years. Lish was waterbearer during war and events on occasion.  Aside from that, though, we weren’t deep into it. We didn’t do any Arts and Sciences stuff, we didn’t fight, didn’t help set up and/or run events, etc. This year, some of that changed. This year I started fighting, which brought me into a whole new level of involvement. Also, I’ve started learning more about leather working and armor repair, and might try some metal working as well.

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Our home away from home…or home while at home…damn this shit’s confusing…

As I said before, we camped at EK Royal this year, and we knew only a small number of people there. We again felt nervous about it, even more so now that it was a royal encampment. Our dear friend, I’ll call her bamf (bad ass mofo), has known these people for a long time, and we had concerns that they would approach her during our stay and be all like “who the fuck are these two, and why did you let them in here?!”. Instead of that, we soon realized that we were camping with some of the kindest and most truly awesome people we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. No drama, no snarkyness, no bullshit, no attitudes, just cool people all helping out to make for a good time! It was pretty amazing, and at no time did I feel out of place. I got to talk at length with almost everyone, and the conversation was fantastic! Also, the camp was run by our camp mom and dad, both of whom were incredible. I really could fill an entire post extolling the awesomeness of these people, it was that good.

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I’m the black barrel with the pony tail…

Onto the fighting stuff. I started off by fighting in the Known World Novice Tournament. They split us up into different pits, and each pit did a round robin so I fought everyone in my pit once. I met some great people at the tournament, one of whom I ended up running with during the bigger battles until he hurt his ankle. In my pit, my wee lad and campmate went undefeated so he moved up. Since they were taking the top 2 seeds from each pit, they had to evaluate second place in our pit because there was a three way tie. Me and two others were 5-3, so we had to round robin again. We all went 1-1, much to the dismay of the marshals, so we went around again. This time, a polearm fighter bested me and my war buddy, so he moved up. I have videos of the fights, and watching them later was educational. This is the first time I’ve seen myself fight, so now I’m picking it apart and seeing what I’m doing wrong so I can correct it. Overall, though, I’m very happy with how it turned out. It was super fun meeting and chatting with the other fighters, and I think I did pretty well considering I’ve only been in armor for 3 months.

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I’m the dumbass throwing up the horns, cuz METAL!!!

Next up is the field battle. This was I think 4 waves of mass elimination. At first I was just kinda running around with no real direction. I tried to do what I could, but didn’t have much of a clue. Later on, I hooked up with a commander and his group, and that made ALL the difference. We had orders, goals to shoot for, a specific plan. THAT I could do. I ended up staying with this team for the rest of the war. I was fighting with the northern army, and my team was referred to as Running with scissors, or as I called it, the suicide squad. After the field battles, we did the bridge battles. Our team was recruited for specific tasks during these, and we rocked it! Briefly, there are 5 bridges with “flags” in the middle. The side that has majority control of the bridge flips the flag to their color. At the end, the side whose flag is flying on each bridge earns a war point. First bridge battle we went to bridge one, ran up the bridge to the center, exited left and ran around to flank the siege weapons (ballistas). These are huge crossbows that launch massive arrows. We took them ALL out, as well as some archers. Sure, we ended up dying, but we got the job done. Another notable event was when our side was slowly being pushed back and about to lose bridge three. They sent us in to hammer the other side with a pulse up the middle. We ran full tilt up the center and creamed their line, pushing all the way through to their backfield. Eventually we all died, since now we were surrounded, but that charge gave our side 20 more feet of breathing room on the bridge, and we kept it. The last I’ll mention was my last death. We were on the front line of a bridge holding it, and ballista bolts were raining down on us. I managed to dodge them and call them out for others for the most part. Eventually, I needed to step aside to let a spear through to the front. I ended up stepping right into a ballista bolt, which hit me dead in the grill of my helm. I can’t help but smile, thinking back. I was cracking up at the irony of it while walking off the field. Here I am calling them all out, and I get nailed with one. It was pretty awesome!

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These dudes are from the same group. Their majesties are in the middle. I got to jump in so the sides would be even! 😉

The last bit of fighting I did was the woods battle. This is a 90 minute resurrection battle that took place (drum roll please) in the WOODS! Shocking as fuck, I know. Once again I was on the sprint team Running with Scissors (which kinda sounds like a messed up native american name), so we were totally goal oriented. We started out by just running full tilt as far as we could into enemy territory, and then harassing their troops enough to stretch them out for when our troops arrived. Once that was done, we proceeded to flit around and apply pressure where it was needed. It went great, and I had an amazing time! The team aspect of being on the field with other fighters, even those not on my side, was great. Many times people were congratulated on their kills, especially those done with great skill and precision. Even during the holds, when we all had to stop fighting while the marshals resolved an issue, we crossed the lines and chatted up our “enemies”, exchanging names, cracking jokes, and just enjoying the camaraderie. When lay on was called, it was straight up back to killing. This all kind of reminded me of tough mudder, since people were very positive and encouraging. I must admit, I had different thoughts of what it must be like to be a fighter. I thought it’d be more like other sports where people are a bit more elitist, where the veterans hoard information or techniques unless you’re “worthy” or in “the club”. Sure, there are some folks I’ve met who are kinda like that, who may say they aren’t that way, but I know they’re full of shit. Sometimes you can just tell that people really think they’re hot shit, and that they consider you beneath them. This lack of humility isn’t surprising to me, but it’s surprising how many people were NOT like that. It’s more like “oh, you like this awesome thing I like as well? Then let me tell you everything about it I’ve ever learned so you can appreciate the awesomeness as much as I do!!!”. I dug that in a big way!

My fighting wasn’t without its issues, though. I’m not even gonna talk about the mistakes and shit I made, cuz for once I’m gonna cut myself some slack and chalk it up to being a feckin’ noob. Most of my issues were either getting a feel for being in a melee, and armor problems. The former resolved itself somewhat over time. I need to get more of a handle on how to assess and approach situations with multiple opponents. With one, it’s much easier. Distance weapon, get it close. Close weapon, stay away. When there is a mix, and they’re arranged in different ways, this gets more tricky. I don’t think it was too big of an issue, since everyone I fought with was really cool and cut me a ton of slack, but it’s something to be mindful of over time. The armor issues were more problematic. My leg armor doesn’t fit all that well, and it hangs off a belt I wear. Even though I have suspenders holding up the belt, the weight on my lower back took quite a toll during the woods battle especially. Also, because of the hockey girdle I wear underneath, the straps tend to get stuck in weird spots and restrict movement, which makes it worse. I’d also prefer to have more form fitting torso armor. Right now it’s like being in a barrel. I think maybe I’ll start saving for some gear now so maybe by next year I’ll be able to get something better. In the meantime, I’m gonna look into cheaper do-it-yourself options.

Surprisingly, we didn’t do much bog trekking this year. With the daytime fighting, general roaming and shenanigans, and pain from not having good footwear, we weren’t as inclined to go and party it up much. We went down twice, got a little loaded, and came back by midnight to pass out. Part of this had to do with us attending to their majesties in the evenings, which was cool because we saw different aspects of what they do. The last time we were part of a reign, we only attended during the day, which was mostly court and fighting. This was attending vigils and visiting people, which was a whole other animal. Still, Bamf and Kamf (kick ass mofo, aka his majesty) were there and it was cool hanging with them whenever we could. The whole vibe was totally chill and awesome.

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Be vewy vewy qwiet…

Finally, the assassin’s game. Sadly, this year we didn’t have as good of a showing as last year. While we solved many of the riddles in the first salvo, we made some key mistakes. We mistook one event for another, and some of the players involved didn’t tell others about our game, so we got kind of stunted. I saw the heads of the guild at midnight madness while we were out shopping, and they said the other team had similar woes, and the game was kind of a bust. Lots of moving parts, and many demands on their time made for some logistical problems. That said, though, we had a great time playing. Figuring out the clues, walking around and talking to random people at camps, and racking our brains for ideas made for a fun time. I was just sad I never saw anyone from the other teams. No shanking this year. There was a huge silver lining in all this, though. The heads of the guild told Lish and I that they would allow us to officially apprentice to be part of the guild if we were interested. I am totally psyched about this, and can’t wait to see how that all pans out. I’ve read what it entails, and I think it’d be a really awesome thing to do, and it’s right up my alley!

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I belong here…with this delicious cider in my coffee cup, cuz I’m classy as fuck…

Overall, this Pennsic resulted in a shift for me with regard to the SCA. Before, I always had a sense of kinda being on the outside looking in. It was as if the sliding glass door to the house was open, but I couldn’t come in cuz I was soaking wet or covered in mud. Now, I feel like I’m finally able to put a foot inside. Mind you, nobody ever made me feel unwelcome. It’s just how I felt because I brought nothing to the table, and was surrounded by people who ALL brought something. It’s like being that one douche at the party who doesn’t bring anything, and then proceeds to eat and drink and have fun at the expense of others. Now things are finally opening up. I’m learning about working on leather and metal a little bit, I’m learning to fight, and I’ll be an apprentice of the assassin’s guild. It’s a relief to find my place, aside from just being the crude sarcastic prat who just drinks, parties, and makes lewd and inappropriate jokes the entire time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a ways off from really feeling like I’m worthy of a seat at the table, but at this point it’s nice to feel worthy of coming in the house to use the shitter! I’m left with a desire to progress in everything. I want to work harder to get better at fighting, creating, and learning, much more so than ever before. I’m even planning on taking a class with a world famous impalement artist so I can learn about doing thrown weapons. So much fun to be had, and we’re just getting started. Stay tuned, fuckers!

TL:DR

Pennsic was fun, people were cool, fighting was cool, apprenticing at the assassin’s guild, and I now feel more at home in the SCA. Also, I took some truly noteworthy craps at war, probably gave the poor bastard after me brain damage as a result. YAY!