By Hector of the Black Height
I had a very interesting War. I learned a
couple of interesting lessons that I'd like to share with you.
First, I was one of the Midrealmers who, on
Saturday the 15th, watched the East march off the field in a huge
column. I was as disappointed as the next guy; I was very glad when the Midrealm
and its allies chose sides from among those remaining on the field and had a
pretty good fight.
I don't know what was going through the minds
of all the Royalty involved, on both sides. However, after attending thirteen
Wars I think I've learned a few things about War and Pennsic warriors.
We put a lot of stress on our leadership to be
victorious War-Kings and -Queens. I've been guilty of that too, but I think I
got better. To paraphrase Aaron Swiftrunner, now Midrealm Seneschal, once you
get home, have a hot shower and re-acquaint yourself with facilities that flush,
who cares -- who can remember? -- what the score was? It's not worth the stress
and strain on good people.
When I think of Pennsic battles I think of my
friends. Did my home group's fighters give better than they got? Did the Barony
do its jobs in the various battles? Did the new guys walk off the field pumped
and the greybeards walk off the field reminded of why we do this? Banners and
bridges are "game-play" goals. The real aim is more smiling faces and
When the time comes that Ealdormere is its own
Kingdom, some of us will be standing at Pennsic and Border Raids and other
events as Kings and Queens, able to look the other Royalty in the eye and say
"Now hold on a minute…" and be listened to. That's when Ealdormere
can remind the rest of the Known World that we came to play, not to stroke
various Royal egos. On the field there is always a mechanism for resolving
disputes. It starts with open dialogue. If you can't talk to your opponent you
can't fight with him or her; that's the case with individual fighters and it
applies to Kingdoms too. Fighters who lose their tempers leave the field, as
individuals. Shouldn't Royalty do the same thing, without spoiling others' days?
Kings rule and generals command so that
individual fighters can get on the field and have safe, exciting fun. That's
what it's all about. I admire the East's discipline for marching off in a
controlled fashion. I still think the Middle did the right thing -- the better
thing -- by setting up a fight with those who remained on the field when the
dust cleared. And that doesn't touch on the Eastern archers who were pulled off
the line when their fighters marched off; what did that act of pique accomplish?
We must make sure our Royalty know it's okay
to lose as long as everyone has fun in the process. A heavy-weapons massacre is
not fun. Nobody likes to be a door-mat. Sometimes the right thing is to get off
the field; Pennsic XXIII taught us that. However this was not (yet? I hope not;
it didn't feel that close to me) a case where tempers were flaring in the
shield-wall and the chirurgeons were working double-duty taking care of the
We expect the Royalty to arrange even sides
and to have a plan to give us a fair, fighting chance of victory. It's a game;
if somebody won then someone just came in second. However, if the fighters come
off the field smiling, the archers have a good day on the line and the night
fires have lots of good stories passing around them, how can you call those
happy veterans "losers"?
The Royalty must remember why they rule. They
must put the fighters, archers and fencers first. I believe Royalty on
both sides forgot that a couple of weeks ago, in the name of personal
honour or the memory of Jafar or whatever. No one's honour is served when people
walk off in a huff. I was acquainted with Jafar, and I cannot believe he would
have been pleased when an argument, even tangentially in his name, escalated to
the point that a thousand fighters lost a chance to fight. Get clear on the
concept, Your Majesties and Highnesses of the great Kingdoms. People, subjects,
participants, are NOT abstract. We are here and now and we are why we
play. We are why the Royalty play. If the Royalty think otherwise, if you ask me
the tin-hats need to re-think a few things right now.
Remember. Learn. Don't be afraid to act for
the right reasons, and remember that the greatest honour is often found in the
I said I learned a couple of things. The other
lesson was when I took two fine performers (Lady Marian of Heatherdale and Lord
Garraed Galbraith) up to Horde Camp to perform for the finest Bardic Arts
Laurels of the Known World. That was a night to live in legends, as Master
Ioseph of Locksley and Mistress Morgana bro Morganwg were shown the wonders of
Ealdormere's music. Our folks saw a breadth and depth to Bardic Arts they had
never imagined; their amazement at the talent of Mistress Wyndreth Bergitsdottir,
first Bard of Northshield, was obvious on their faces, and it went uphill from
I watched talented and accomplished people
whose understanding of their art blossomed in half an hour, from a tunnel to an
open field with infinite possibilities and points of view. This was good for my
soul and I was laughing for the pure joy of it. The memory still makes me smile.
Part of Pennsic, part of the Arts within the
Society, is getting people together to learn from each other. Part is to take
people who are good and allow them to show their stuff to the very best, because
in an atmosphere of trust and love and compassion, magic can happen; it did in
Horde Camp the last Friday night of Pennsic.
Sometimes you need to face the very best and
compare yourself to an impossibly high standard, because you'll be amazed how
high you can score. The only score that matters, though, is the fun you have in
the attempt. Hmm; so maybe I learned only one lesson. It's a good one.
essay was written in the September immediately after Pennsic XXVII.)
Copyright A. McLean 1998. All rights reserved.