“Toss a coin to your Warden, o valley of plenty.”

Look, a lot of my regular updates are about things going wonky, usually my brain. And yes, that continues. Shocked, gambling, winnings etc. So, as a nice change of pace, I thought I’d make this update about a few things that are going right in my life, or that deserve some celebration. Trying to concentrate on the positive is tricky, but needs to be done from time to time. I’m sure my brain will sabotage it soon, but for now I will embrace it. Or in the words of Kurn, son of Mogh, “This is not a time to worry about stabilizers. It is a time to celebrate, for tomorrow we all may die!”

I could listen to Tony Todd read a phonebook. I suspect I am far from alone in that. *ahem* I also suspect that my relative lack of interest in Star Trek: Discovery can in part be traced to the fact it’s Klingons just aren’t hair metal enough for me.

The first big of good news! I graduated at sword! Having recently demonstrated my skills against different opponents, I have qualified as a Scholar in Single Sword and Sword and Dagger. A 2 minute bout may not seem that long, and a kilo may not seem like much to hold up, but that changes quickly. Very quickly. Having an opponent who prefers longsword come at me no holds barred, no beg your pardons was something of a shock and took some frantic adjusting to – I’m used to a more measured offence from the other rapier fencers in my group, and dirty tricks from my instructor.

Either way, I’m all but certain this is the first sporting trophy/certificate I’ve ever gotten that wasn’t participation based and to say I’m pleased by it is something of an understatement. Having your instructor tell me afterwards that at the start of the term he didn’t think I was going to pass, has me feeling, I want to say, pride? Sure, there’s some shock and astonishment as well, but I’m genuinely proud of the achievement and it’s been a while since I’ve felt that about something I did. Last term was full of that sort of thing – bouting against him halfway through he said he had to reach into the top of his bag of dirty tricks to hit me and I walked away from that lesson flying. My wife has already framed the certificate, another reason I love her so much.

Am I a good fencer? Possibly. If I was good I’d dodge more forearm shots, or not give my opponents the opportunity for them in the first place.
Am I having fun? A resounding HELL YES.

My wife has noted that swords brings me more joy than well, near anything, right now, even more so than gaming. Physical exercise and I have never been friends, but put a sword in my hand and all of a sudden it becomes something I’m willing and eager to do. Maybe things are just more fun with swords? I do know I’d dearly love the chance to tell the likes of Mandy Patinkin, Oliver Platt and Michael York just how happy their work has made me, and that without them I may never have picked up a rapier. My life is better for having done so, and I can’t thank them enough. I have a blade of my own due at the end of January and the anticipation is killing me.

That fight may even best the Duel on the Cliffs as my favourite cinematic fight, because as jaw dropping as the choreography is, and it’s truly amazing, at no point do Inigo or The Man in Black look like they’re actually trying to kill each other. Yes, I’m aware they’re both Flynning, I’ve read the book, but that’s not the point. The point is, I watch the above clip and Michael York genuinely looks like he’s trying to kill Christopher Lee and that make it feel more authentic. Plus it’s one of the few cinematic duels I’ve seen where both participants are exhausted by the end of it and I bloody love that touch. I’d dearly love a comprehensive making of documentary for the films, as I’ve read numerous different accounts of injuries, actors having to double for their stunt doubles or the conversation between Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee that went something like: Then I said to Oliver, ‘Do you remember who taught you how to use a sword?’ He said, ‘You did.’ And I said, ‘Don’t you forget it.’ I want, nay need, the full version of that story.

Going from steel swords to foam, I’ve booked at an upcoming LARP, Path of the Warden. It’s a 3 and a bit day event loosely inspired by The Witcher series, running in SA mid next year and I’m kind of excited. It was a fairly spur of the moment thing – I’ve been waiting for Swordcraft Brisbane to announce dates, this one was running and I need things in the calendar to keep me going, so yeah… There’s a structure to the event that appeals, as my big issue with large events is “What do I actually do?” I’m pretty rubbish at things like making my own fun at large events. That’s why while I’m keen to go something like Swordcraft Quest, I’d prefer to go as a group, as if I go solo it’s likely I’ll get overwhelmed, and spend the entire time nervously wandering round and not actually doing anything. Hence the appeal of Warden. Now comes the frustrating part – what character do I play? The eternal struggle begins again.

There’s three base classes, or Warden Schools – The Ox, who are all big weapon potion make strong smashy smashy, the Raven, who use rune magic to empower their weapons*, and the Serpent, alchemists and healers, more support staff. Of those three, it’s the Ox and Serpent that interest me more. Initially it was just the Serpent, but then Anvil of Crom came up on my playlist and well, long term readers will have some hint as to the effect that song has on me. Actually, a lot of decisions in my life have revolved around when I last heard Anvil of Crom. I’m still a bit saddened I didn’t get to play it during the Zedtown at the SCG, even if only while the crew made our venue check. Just to hear “Between the time the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas” and I could have dropped dead happy. I sorely miss that game, though I doubt it will ever return. Alas.

So, characters. The idea I’m currently running with is ‘the spare to the heir who’s determined to do something good in his life’, which is a minor variation on well meaning and very pretty idiot, basically my stock RPG character. It’s got a decent dramatic hook, potential for growth and lets me dress fancy. One of these may be slightly less important than the other, but a large part of why I LARP is costume, so yeah. The second most prominent idea was ‘unrepentant thief who may discover responsibility and comradeship in a good cause’, I’d like to say inspired by Avon and Villa from Blake’s 7 with a tiny dash of Locke Lamora. Mostly the idea of being introduced to the other PC’s while I’m being unlocked from shackles amuses me greatly. You’re finally awake…

There’s the typical flood of other ideas (Former City Watchmen dragged out of retirement and very much Too Old For This Shit was one. I’d need to re-read the City Watch novels if I chose that one, and oh the horror that research would be), but weeding out the one’s that are going to be fun for me to play in the long term has always been far harder than coming up with the ideas in the first place. I’m pleased that a lot of them aren’t based around a piece of kit or weapon – that’s been the downfall of many a character of mine in the past. Playing an older man who’s near death, who has lost everyone in his life and seeks to do something worthy of remembering has a nice dramatic hook, but when it comes to character bleed I’m a haemophiliac, so that one may not work so well. It’s been more than 5 years and I still get a little emotional hearing Sabaton’s Night Witches. if you read this, thank you Melody.

Other issues include the fact that I’m flying there, so while taking large weapons and heavy armour isn’t impossible, it’s certainly inconvenient. Clearly another vote for Serpent. And yet, as I write this, I’m still tempted to clank it up. The War Factory make a gorgeous looking leather cuirass (The one in their store appears to have recently sold), Make Your Own Medieval have a decent breastplate in their discount section, and the overwhelming options begins again. Sigh. What mostly puts me off is how long it’s been since I’ve regularly worn armour and the faint memories of hauling it around. It’s a good drawback to remember, much like how much less kit is needed to fence rapier rather than say, longsword. Still, I’ve time up the sleeve, thankfully.

Moving along, Glass Onion is a sheer delight and immensely satisfying. If you’ve not seen it, or Knives Out for that matter, run and do not walk to do so. And if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, do so as well. Just don’t watch any trailers – there’s a reveal in the first film you won’t want spoiled. To say it utterly caught my wife and I by surprise when we watched Knives for the first time was something of an understatement. The first things that comes to mind are me nearly falling off the couch laughing during The Fart Song from Bob’s Burgers, or my wife when Kylie Minogue appeared on Galavant. I’m not joking – her jaw dropped in shock and I was genuinely concerned for a second, before she burst out laughing and didn’t stop till the song did.

Every time I watch that show I somehow forget that Timothy Olyphant can sing. Not sure how I can manage that, as he’s a wonderful voice, but that’s my brain for you. Turning to styles of music more my tastes, Skindred and Metallica have both announced new albums and it’s about damn time for both groups. I’m expecting to be disappointed tour dates wise, but new material will help cover that wound. Combine that with the (relatively) recent announcement from Scott Lynch that he’s sent new Gentlemen Bastards material to his editor. By Crom it’s good to have things to look forward to again.

Time for sleep. Night all. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

*Also, I don’t think Explosive Runes is a thing in the setting otherwise I’d be all over that.

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