PI Web Edition -- Tuesday, August 16, 2005

This is the web edition of the Pennsic Independent for Tuesday, August 16, 2005.

DonalBane's Battlefield Numbers

Midrealm 6

East Kingdom 0

Dragon flames Tyger in Archery Champions

By Peregrine Fairchylde

Staff Writer, Pennsic Independent

The top archers of the Middle Kingdom and its allies found their marks more often and defeated their counterparts from the East Kingdom and its allies to take the Archery Champions War Point on Monday by a score of 708 to 585.

The two teams of 30 archers vied against one another in three formats: The walk-up shoot, the friend and foe shoot, and a woods walk. The Midrealm archers won all three events.

The friend and foe was the most straightforward of the shoots. Archers were faced with a target depicting two warriors: One on his knees with his back to the archers was an ally, one standing beyond the ally and facing the archers was an enemy. The object of the timed shoot was to put as many arrows into the enemy as possible while not shooting the ally. The Midrealm side tallied 84 points while the Eastern side tallied 45.

Once beyond that shoot, however, things took a fanciful turn, with all the shoots having a fairy tale theme.
The targets in the walk-up shoot were Puss-In-Boots and the Seven Dwarves, arrayed in a group a great distance from the firing line - a distance that was unknown to the archers when they started. At that furthest line, some archers could only see the tops of the targets. After each team member shot two arrows, they then moved up to another line an unspecified distance closer. There were six such lines, each progressively closer, ranging from about 120 to about 35 yards from the targets. The Middle Kingdom and allied archers scored 267 points to the East and allies, 244.

The teams then split up into groups of three, with an East and a Middle trio paired together for the 10 stations of the woods walk. The targets, also all at unspecified distances, included such themes as protecting the Three Little Pigs from the Big, Bad Wolf; shooting the poisoned apple from the Wicked Witch's hand; and taking out the troll so the Billy Goats Gruff could cross the bridge. The woods walk had the additional challenge of dappled light and shade, as well as many targets being partially or totally obscured by vegetation, in come cases requiring archers to fire between close trunks of trees to strike the target. Once all the archers had shot all 10 stations, the Middle Kingdom again prevailed, 357 to 296.

The archery range was closed to the populace all day on Monday for the shoot but will be open again for practice from 9-11 a.m. today, and populace War Point shooting will commence at 11 a.m. for the rest of the day.

Gentles wishing to shoot but wanting to avoid an unnecessary trip up Mount Eislinn should look for the range flag - with a yellow square at the hoist and a red pennon on the fly - which is raised when the range is open and down when it is closed.

French Fortress Falls to Fiercely Fighting Fencers

By Peregrine Fairchylde

Staff Writer, Pennsic Independent

For the fifth year in a row, the fortress of La Rochelle fell on the Pennsic battlefield.

In a re-staging of the late period attack on the French city, almost 200 rapier fighters from around the Known World converged on the fort to take turns seeing how long they could hold off the inevitable. With the attackers having unlimited resurrections and the defenders limited to only two, it came down to a matter of how long the defenders could hold out. In the first battle, the defenders managed to stay alive for about half an hour, but when the two sides switched the overtaking tide was more swift, sweeping the defenders aside in about 18 minutes.

Warder Uadahlrich von Sassmannshausen of the Barony of Fenix in the Middle Kingdom, who founded the battle, said the purpose was simply to bring rapier fighters together to have fun and not to try and make it an East vs. Middle contest.

"We try to hodge-podge the teams together," he explained. "If people like to fight together, we try to put them on the same side."

Firearms, in the form of rubber band guns, were allowed in the battle, and many participants held a pistol or rifle along with their sword. The Midrealm's Barony of Cleftlands even brought out a cannon, which shot eight giant rubber bands made of surgical tubing. Lord Miguel D'Servasa, a marshal for the battle who also hails from Cleftlands, explained that the cannon always belongs to the attackers, though it can be moved during the battle and, in the past, has actually wound up inside.

The attackers were also armed with a petard, or bomb, which had to be placed at the gate in order to "blow it open" and allow the invaders to storm the fortification.

In both battles, strategy was fairly similar and straightforward: A group surrounded the person holding the petard and rushed the gate under a hail of gunfire. Once the bomb was set, a 10-second countdown was given and then the gates were opened. The defenders then formed a cup on the inside of the tunnel and did their best to keep the attackers at bay. "Leg them and leave them!" was a common cry among the defenders, who tried to bottle up the gateway so the attackers couldn't advance. On several occasions, the cannon was rolled up to fire through the gate, sending attackers scurrying and defenders stepping hastily backwards.

At the sally port, where only three attackers could fit inside at once, the fighting was just as furious if on a smaller scale. With a dozen defenders arrayed and waiting, little progress was made even when sharpshooters took out one or two of the fighters inside.

Eventually, though, the limited resurrections for defenders took their toll. The main gate fell and attackers rushed in, attempting to come up behind the sally port defenders - only to be frustrated by a hold. Once they were back on their feet, though, it was fairly quick work to clear the side gate. Defenders concentrated themselves in towers as the attackers tried to mop up, and the superior numbers eventually told the tale.

In the second battle, the defenders-turned-attackers used their superior numbers of guns to their advantage early, wearing down the defenders' cup formation inside the gate. In a much shorter time frame, both gates fell and all that was left was the mopping up.

With the two main fights out of the way, Warder Uadahlrich invited all the White Scarves, Brass Rings and other premier rapier award holders to defend the fort against the remaining combatants - with no guns, no resurrections for the defenders, and only one for the attackers. Once the sides were set, the premier fighters decided not to hang around inside the walls - all but a couple burst forth and took the fight to their challengers, while two holed up in a tower to await the search parties who came to clear out the fort. With the odds about four to one in favor of the attackers, the premier fighters met their demise within just a few minutes.

Pennsic Historically

By Sir Guillaume de la Belgique

There are some amazing similarities between the history of the Middle Ages and the week of Pennsic War. For example, in the 12th century, the knights of Europe embarked on a grand quest to deliver the lands of the Middle East from the ravages of public sanitation, scientific advances and edible cuisine. When they finally reached their destination, they looked around and said to themselves, "Hey, they've got some pretty cool stuff here. Let's take some of it home." And thus began one of the most productive periods of cultural exchange every seen in Western history: Before you knew it, traders and merchants were returning from the east with textiles, spices, books and other luxury goods, hoping that they could get all this stuff imported into Europe before the knights started some huge battle and messed everything up.

Similarly, Pennsic is a place for all of us heavily armed pilgrims to share diverse thoughts, views and practices that we've all brought from our homes. One of the most culturally enlightening moments I ever experienced at Pennsic came several years ago, at the resurrection point of the woods battle. At the time I was lounging around with the massive Army of Caid (eight guys and a banner bearer), doing what we were all used to doing in such a situation: Abusing the hospitality of the water-bearers.

Now, on the sidelines at the wars we have out west, you find lots of lovely, generous water-bearers bringing refreshments to the fighters: water, sports drinks, sometimes even a slice of fruit that hasn't been too desiccated by the desert sun. So, we weren't too surprised when one of the Pennsic water-bearers came by with a tray full of oranges, bananas and strawberries. We were a bit surprised when another came by a few minutes later with a tray loaded with finger sandwiches. Then, we heard a third water-bearer offering hot dogs and popsicles to the waiting fighters. Finally someone came by carrying a platter of - I swear to you I'm not making this up - dim sum and California rolls, and I said to the rest of the Caidans: "We've got to get some of this at our wars."

Pennsic is, of course, a great place to exchange information, ideas and even materiel, which, in turn, we can all use to make our shires, baronies and kingdoms nicer places - and thus, by extension, improving the whole SCA. There is lots of inspiration to be shared here, among the merchants, the artisans and even the fighters. Personally, I'm pretty inspired to go back and see what kind of snacks are being served at the resurrection point this year.

Experience what little culture Guillaume claims he has absorbed in his new book, "Here Comes the Reign, Sir Guillaume!" which features 25 of his best and funniest stories of life in the SCA, sold at Ceridwen's Closet, space #74 in merchants row. You can also marvel at Guillaume's lack of culture by making a visit to his website at www.SirGuillaume.com.