Your Information Source for Rapier Combat in the Kingdom of Caid

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Have You Met…Edmund Barlow?– The Well-Dressed Gent in the Hat

On this edition of ‘Have you Met’… meet Edmund Barlow! If you haven’t been introduced, you’ve at least probably seen him at a tournament and had instant persona-envy. He’s charming, well-dressed, and will stab you in the face with unparalleled panache.

Have You Met… Edmund Barlow?


You‘re a pretty new fighter, how long have you been playing? What was your first SCA event and is there something memorable that happened there that made you say ‘this is the nerd for me!’

That’s always an interesting question for me. As of late, I have been playing in the SCA for just over two years now as Edmund Barlow. But I was first introduced to the SCA a bit over ten years ago when I was literally twelve years old. I lived right across the street from the Lyondemere practice and was just in awe of these guys sword fighting and bashing around in medieval armor and had to know what was going on. I started to hang around the practice and then got into youth combat, then rapier a couple years later. Not long after my family and I moved away from the practice and it just wasn’t  convenient to get there. About six years later I had been thinking about getting back into the SCA for a while and decided to stop by the practice to see if it’s still there. To my joy it was, and a few people even recognized me there, so after that I kind of just jumped head first into the SCA.

My first event was Potrero of 2016, I arrived late on Sunday and almost immediately got into the Melee rounds for the morning and just loved it. Melee was honestly my favorite thing about the SCA at first, I enjoy the frantic chaos of it, as well as just all the fighting to have. But in all my infinite wisdom, I neglected to drink any water or eat anything the whole time I was fighting. So unsurprisingly, I just kind of died. But, a group of people who have now become some of my closest friends took it upon themselves to take me in for the night, look after me, and effectively revive me. The sense of community I got from that meant a lot to me, and I was able to tell that the SCA was more than just a bunch of people in weird clothes, but an actual society of friends and family I could see myself fitting in with.

Tell me a little bit about your persona.

Edmund Barlow was born May 17th, 1570 in Lancashire, England, raised in a family of newer Nobility, he was sent to be warded with the Harker Family in Yorkshire County. He and Winifred Elizabeth Harker grew up together getting in and out of trouble all across England. When he came of age, Edmund went back home to the Barlow Estate, but stayed in contact with Winnie through letters for years, but eventually one day the letters stopped coming, so Edmund took it upon himself to ride out to the Harker Estate to discover what had happened. Upon arrival he found no one he remembered from his youth and was told Winnie had left weeks ago with a group of Spaniards.

Edmund automatically assumed these dastardly Spaniards, these enemies of England had kidnapped his dear childhood friend and set off on his adventure to Rescue Winnie from the Pirates. His journey was mainly him bumbling around Western Europe trying to be some kind of hero, but mainly ended up causing trouble. Eventually he thought he found Winnie in Seville, Spain, being forced to marry the dastardly Spaniard that kidnapped her, he was wrong, very wrong and crashed the whole wedding and now may or may not be wanted in Seville….

Edmund eventually ran into the crew of the White Star and offered a great reward of they helped him find his friend. Woefully unaware that Winnie was in fact living with the White Star that very moment. A few more misadventures later, he found Winnie living peacefully in the Villa just outside Cadiz. Edmund, bewildered, sat down and was told the story that Winnie had simply been adopted by the Household after her father died, and that a letter was sent to Edmund, explaining everything, was sent to him the day he departed England.

Edmund now spends his time carousing around Western Europe fighting in tournaments and wars as they pop up in his life, generally being a dastardly Rouge and a Rastabout.


You recently received the honor of Most Chivalrous Fighter in the Valkyrie Rose Tournament at Great Western War. What does chivalry mean to you?

Well first off I want to say how honored and thankful I am for receiving that. I was honestly really surprised when they called me up in front of the Gallery and The Ladies of the Rose, it really does mean a lot to me to be recognized like that so early in SCA experience.

For me defining exactly what Chivalry is, it’s a little hard for me to really put into words, I guess the biggest thing for me is doing what I believe is the right thing to do. Which is something that can can from context to context, but it’s just a personal matter for me to do what I feel should be done. I honestly feel bad if I’m not helping in some way or another at events, as well as just in life. At the Valkyrie Rose Tourney I was out after only a few rounds, but a marshal asked for a Bi-Fighter, at that point I knew offering to stay as the Bi would help the huge and hectic tourney run just ever so much more smoothly, and it was a role I was more than happy to fill. Another part of Chivalry that always kinda sung to me was the idea of ‘defending those who cannot defend themselves.’ I enjoy the altruistic and noble aspect of that. While I haven’t run into any defenseless people in the SCA, it take that as being there for friends, and especially new members to the Society. Speaking as a newer member, I wouldn’t be here if not for the support I got from everyone as a whole.

What would you like to see more of in the SCA? What kind of tournaments or events do you really enjoy?

The one thing I would absolutely love to see more of is the Armored Cut and Thrust that Duke Guillaume and Sir Niccilo did a showcase of at the latest Gyldenholt Anniversary. I have always loved playing with the steel swords, as well as armored combat, especially of 15th and 16th century when full plate became more common on battle fields, as well as in listed combat. The Half-swording with longswords and having to hie exactly in the unarmored areas of an opponent just seems like such a fun experience and challenge for a fighter that I would love to be part of. Get the best of both worlds, getting to wear a suit of late period armor and use steel swords, that would be so much fun!

As well as melee. All the melee. Melee is life.

As for tourneys I enjoy, I generally prefer to fight in pools, mainly because the pressure of a standard double elimination tourney can mess with my head space a bit. But also I tend to just get more fighting in a pool!


If there is one fighter (or if you don’t have one, type of fighter) you enjoy fighting the most, who (or what) would it be?

I would say that my favorite type of fight to have is Cut and Thrust, hands down. The clashing and ringing of the steel feels closer to an accurate recreation of historical combat for me. As well as the energy of the fights, especially with the more cut centric fights, like with longsword or backsword are just so much fun for me. And to be quite honest, the cuts just look so cool to watch, it makes me feel like I’m in some epic duel like the movies and stories that really got me into swords as a kid. Well, a younger kid.

So far as a favorite fighter, I can’t say I have one, but some of my favorite fights have been with Maestro Lot Ramirez at the latest Rapier Open because we got to fight all forms of Cut and Thrust in our pool. Starting with Rapier and dagger, then to broad sword and Buckler, and finishing up with Longsword. I was dead tired after the fight, but it was just so much fun for me. As well as my fight with THL Rhydderch Derwen at the Valkyrie Rose Tourney. I had been itching for a C&T fight all day, and when I pulled him while fighting as the Dreaded By Fighter we went on the field with back swords. The wheeling cuts and the sound of the steel ringing and singing off of each other’s blades was quite an experience for me, especially in front of such a gallery. And I will admit that during our fight, at one point I actually just focused on swinging my sword at his, with some more fantastic and showy cuts because I liked hearing the steel ringing off each other, and I thought it would be more fun for the gallery to watch. It was near the end of the Tourney, so I figured I could be a bit more showy and know that it would be seen, and hopefully appreciated.


So I hear you make hats… tell me about them!

The Rogue and the Rastabout Haberdashery, quality hats for the discerning Nobles.

It started with the fact that I didn’t really know anyone who made late period hats, and at the time I worked as a hatter in my mundane life. So I decided to take a chance at it and look into how to properly block wool felt hats and to find some period references for the hats. A few Google searches later and I was on my way to becoming a hatter. Once my friends became aware that I was making hats, I began to take commissions for them as just a little side project to keep me busy in my off time. But after a while it changed from just a little hobby to an actual passion for me. I spend a lot of time researching hats and just looking at countless renaissance portraits to get an idea of what the hats should be like.

It’s nice to have some kind of trade to have for the SCA instead of just being a fighter. I’ve always loved the Arts and Sciences, and speaking as a total fop, I appreciate beautiful and historical garb so much, and since I have no clue how to make a doublet and slops, I figured that I’d use my hatting skills start my own little niche of historical hat making for myself and really anyone else who wants a new hat. It’s tedious, as anyone who’s ever made anything would know, but hatting is loads of fun for me to do, it makes me feel like a more rounded member of the society.

Right now I specialize in 16th century Tall Hats, but I’m willing to take on just about anything for commissions. There is a Facebook page for the Haberdashery “The Rogue and the Rastabout Haberdashery” and an Etsy shop will be coming soon to help everyone with their hatting needs!


If people wanted to stab you, where can they find you?

Right now I run the Lyondemere Practice, El Segundo Rec Park, Wednesday nights at 7:30.

As well as making  down to Gyldenholt Practice in Huntington Beach at Murdy Park, Tuesday nights at 7:30.

And I’ll probably start frequenting the Altavia Practices now as well! 

I look forward to stabbing all of my friends!

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The Rule of One Weird Thing

From a personal post by THLady Mealla Caimbeul

I was reminded this weekend that this essay has not been published. War season will start with Estrella, so let’s talk melee scenarios, shall we?

WARNING – Personal Opinion – This is not any kind of official policy. Nor is this a critique of any specific person or event. Just something I’ve been meaning to write since the last time I was responsible for melee scenarios.


Writing a melee scenario is an art, and not an easy one – fortunately over the last twenty years or so there have been enough successful melee events that one need not reinvent the wheel each and every war. I have been playing in the SCA for over 15 years, and started as a War Dog; I have run war scenarios at least five times for Great Western War and Potrero and over that time I have formed The Universal Theory of Melee – also known as The Rule of One Weird Thing. Many of you have heard me expound on this topic, but I’ve been inspired to codify it and write it down so others can use it as a reference.

First and foremost you must understand Hoyle’s Law – no matter the game, the rules must be applied equally to all sides. Meaning that you can not change the scenario in the middle, thus applying different rules to different sides as we switch objectives and run the scenario from the other side. If something must be changed, you must start the whole scenario over so each side has the opportunity to play by the same rule set. This is doubly important if there are actual points, or any kind of score-keeping. Safety must come first, but fairness, or equality of awfulness, must come second. If the scenario is bad, so long as it is equally bad for everyone, no one will accuse anyone of playing favorites.

But let’s do our best to make good scenarios – and that it begins with the understanding there are only four basic scenarios:
  1. Kill them all
  2. Football (any ‘move the object over the goal-line’ game)
  3. Control Points
  4. Collect the Things
There are several sub-sets; for instance, “Kill the captain” is a control point game, the point is a person and you control it by killing it or keeping it alive. In Football, if the “ball” is a person, we call it an Escort battle, and so on. Almost any kind of melee game can be broken down into one of those four types of scenarios depending on the objective.
You can also add depth to any basic scenario by allowing specialty weapons – guns and spears can make a static Kill Them All scenario quite interesting, but still not “weird.” Let’s face it, if you can describe the scenario in a twitter post (140 characters) it’s not weird.

A note on Football: This is the most popular game since any scenario that involves getting a thing, or person, to a goal point is football. The simplest is getting a thing to the other side of the opponents’ line. Sometimes you start with the ball, sometimes you have to get it from the enemy, but if the main objective it to take a thing to a goal, it’s Football. But even a simple game of football can go wrong : if your teams can get to the goal without interacting with one another you have not made a melee scenario, you have made a foot race. I have seen a melee scenario where the ball was in the middle, and the goal was your team’s starting place. The scenario took two minutes and there was no fighting. A good scenario enables a majority of people to be involved in combat and attaining the objective.

A note on Collect the Things: If you are re-seeding the Things, and one side has gained a majority of ground, they should receive a majority of the Things. Otherwise, what the the point of gaining ground?

Terrain is the first kind of weirdness. Once you add something like bridges, doorways, islands and boats, a castle, etc. you are adding weirdness. These obstacles to make the scenario more complex, and interesting but remember only so many people can fit in a bridge or doorway. You don’t want to force more than two/thirds of your numbers into a non-fighting position, so make your openings large or plentiful enough to accommodate at least 1/3 to 1/2 the available fighters. Even though a gang-plank would be only 3-feet wide in the real world, if you want people to fight on them, you’ll need planks at least 6-feet across to accommodate that. If the majority of your fighters aren’t involved in the scenario and are likely to find their own entertainment, often outside the rules. You can get around this by opening a sally-port in a castle after a set time, or allowing assaulters to “blow” a wall with a grenade, or even allowing ships to drift toward one another over time. These start the scenario small, but allow for everyone to get involved with time.

Also, keep in mind it takes about two times the numbers to successfully assault a defensible position. So if you are planning a castle assault but have your forces divided in half, you will want to allow your attackers more resurrections than your defenders. A fun and easy way to run a castle siege with equal numbers is to give the attackers unlimited resurrections and they fight until the attackers raise a flag, kill all the defenders, breach the gate, etc. Then switch sides and see who accomplished the goal faster.

Resurrections are also a type of weirdness; they can be used to simulate greater numbers, and even used to balance sides. A basic, timed resurrection battle is hardly a weirdness, but if attackers get three resurrections while defenders get two, and other applications that involve fighters doing math add a layer of complications that it would in fact count as “weirdness” for this treaty.

Finally multiple objectives, or specialized rules are the most severe kind of weirdness. For instance:
  • Moveable rules, like
    • You can use guns but only on the boats.
    • MoDs can use the bridge, lower ranked fighters must use the river rocks.
    • Defenders can exit through the sally port, but attackers can’t use it until after ten minutes.
    • When attackers are off the boats, reserve forces are activated. And so on.
  • Capturing or pinning enemies.
  • Thrown weapons. Either by combatants or spectators on the side-line.
These kind of “what if” rules are difficult to remember in the midst of a battle. One is possible, but trying to keep track of your team, the enemy, the objective, and remember multiple complicated rules is much harder than you might think. Again, if your fighters don’t understand the scenario, they won’t play by it and will resort to making their own “fun.”

The Rule of One Weird Thing also applies to the scenarios as a whole too. Meaning, over the course of an event where you have multiple scenarios, you can have one that breaks these rules – one scenario that is, in and of itself, weird. If the remainder of the scenarios are easy to understand, you can have one that will take ten minutes to explain, and possibly have to be run a few times to work out the bugs. There might be some hot tempers on the field as that happens, but if they have been playing an hour or to already, and they know the next game will be easy, the odds are they won’t walk off the field and go home.

So if you have your heart set on a scenario where three sides have to cross a broken field to get to the bridge and rescue their captain while under assault from spectators throwing flaming hula-hoops, only to discover their captain has to get on a boat to collect a ransom from the enemy islands before being able to allow his guards to shoot guns…. Yeah, only have one of those.

Your job, as someone planning melee scenarios, is to see that the vast majority of fighters have good time. The easiest way to do that is to – forgive my bluntness – not make the fighters think too much. Let them spend their brainpower on strategy, teamwork, and remembering the safety conventions; not trying to remember the intricate details of your custom rules. When the field and the rules are seen as the obstacle, you have created a war where both sides are against you. But when the fighting continues easily from one game to the next, and everyone can understand the objective and obstacles easily, then everyone has a good time. If they are all smiling and exhausted at the end of the day, you’ve done your job well.