My Second SCA Event: Blackstone Raids XXVI

My local SCA group, the Barony of Blackstone Mountain, held their 26th annual event last week: Blackstone Raids (BSR). Like my usual self, I had a bad case of “helium hand” and volunteered to staff, and went right to work (as well as attending).

Curious how the event went? Well, time to get to reading!

==Thursday==

Thursday was a set-up day for us. In fact, Troll didn’t open until late in the day, so I spent my day assisting fellow barony members load and unload vehicles, set up tents/pavilions, and generally assist people as needed over the course of the day and evening.

A few of the merchants that I know personally (and a few others that I haven’t worked with before) were short-handed, and as other parts of the set-up crew were well-staffed (and doing tasks I cannot perform due to health issues), I spent most of Thursday late afternoon and early evening assisting merchants with setting up tents and unloading vehicles.

Thursday evening was spent with some friends, generally socializing, and further planning for the weekend.

==Friday==

Friday morning started with a Troll shift for me, followed by my usual shenanigans. Event-wise, there wasn’t much going on, as the main set of events wouldn’t take place until Saturday.

In fact, the only events scheduled that I was aware of were a Scribal Tea and torchlight tournaments in the evening, giving me a free day to wander and volunteer as needed.

And watching the fights unfold…

Overall, I spent the day talking to “mundanes” that were at the camp site that had questions about the SCA and what we were doing (many were photographing and recording the tournaments), talking to new members, speaking with members of the barony that I hadn’t met before, and overall assisting those that needed it.

After everything was done, I spent the evening sitting with friends, talking about the tournaments, and enjoying a nice horn of mead.

The fights kept going by torchlight, making it much harder to get photos of anything, even the torches themselves.

==Saturday==

My day started off the same as Friday with a Troll shift, with one exception: we had a nasty storm blow through overnight, and I spent the time prior to my shift assisting people that were either displaced by the storm or in some way impacted by it. Many lost tents, merchants lost tents and merchandise, the archery field had to be redone, and others were in some way influenced by the storm.

For those that weren’t on site, the storm was pretty bad. Many of us in cabins were woken up by it, but those directly impacted were the ones who were outside. I’ve heard phrases such as “mini tornado” or “sideways microburst” to describe it. The words didn’t matter much when one considered the aftermath.

After my shift, I went back to work in my usual way; talking to people and doing my thing. There were many more events taking place between A&S sessions, an A&S competition, Heavy Weapon combat, Fencing tournaments, and in the later part of the day, Court. While we lacked a thrown weapons section this year (no marshal), we did have an archery marshal come in to put together a “Top Shots” competition, which was well received by our attendees (and who’s work was recognized by her Majesty at court).

The tents of the heavy fighters, lined up and waiting for combatants to return for water, food, or to swap out gear.

Court was an interesting event this time. Unlike last year, it was rife with humor, ranging from jokes from the King (“Everyone on the field beat me up and took my lunch money”) to a duke running around and “collecting” people for awards (and, at times, getting the wrong people and having them play along anyway).

It was also interesting for me as I left with my first SCA recognition: The Order of the Onyx.

My first scroll!

This is an award given for service to the barony, and apparently my first year in the SCA was busy enough to be recognized for this. I was told that I need to get a last name (and quickly), which makes me wonder what else my barony is planning…

Yes, I look like a suspicious Russian without my vest. An exhausted, sunburned, suspicious Russian…

Once we finished court, I continued my usual antics: I meandered around talking to people, grabbed a bottle of mead, and sat down with a fellow award-winner (my friend Brian won her Majesty’s and her Excellency’s Choice in the A&S competition for his stone cutting work)…as well as flagging down every other person given recognition that walked by and offered them a drink. We killed a few bottles of mead, and it was a good time.

Brian Hagan (left) and I (right) celebrating our awards. Photo taken by Brandy Sinclair of Sinclair Jewelry.

==Sunday==

Sunday was very much like Thursday, but in reverse: it was a tear-down day. The whole purpose of the day was to tear down all of our gear, pack our supplies, and leave the site.

Once I helped the barony members take down pavilions and lights and load them onto the trucks, I stuck around the merchant area to help them tear down and ensure that everyone was taken care of (and on the road) with a few exceptions (like the Merchantocrat, who was waiting until the last vehicle left before leaving).

When one of our merchants was leaving, she presented me with a rather interesting gift. She explained to me that she’s been phasing them out of her collection, but she had a few that she wanted to give to those that were helpful. Apparently my checking in on people as part of my “rounds” and helping  with setup, teardown, and other madness warranted this gift.

Because of her, I now have my first belt favor, and will probably be purchasing one for my office of the chatelaine before my next SCA event.

The symbol of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc.

==Overall Notes==

Overall, I enjoyed the event this weekend, but looking at it, I do think there’s some work that needs to be done.

I’m not sure if it’s the norm for events (it’s only been two, after all), but combat seems to play a HUGE part of this event, to the point that there is little else to do once all the fighting starts. As someone who is not authorized for combat (and lacks the money to dump into the necessary armor), it would be nice to have something else to do. The A&S sessions are interesting, but rather limited (both in selection and seats), leaving something to be desired for newbies, visiting mundanes, and non-combat people.

We also hit a major snag this year: loaner gear was non-existent beyond the garb I collected. The barony doesn’t have an “Iron Key” set up yet, so there is no way for new attendees to practice in advance or even be trained by any of the large number of marshals available. The visiting archery marshal lacked the space for loaner equipment, so anyone that was new (or a non-member that was attending) and/or anyone that was interested in trying out archery to see if it was their thing was out of luck unless they knew someone that could loan them gear. As we do not have a throwing marshal and couldn’t find one on short notice, we were out of luck in that department (which is one of the easiest and cheapest ones to get loaner gear for; about $10 per hatchet, and that doesn’t include knowing a smith that can make decent ones as a donation with less money in materials).

As Chatelaine, I’ll be doing some work to do some outreach to old and new/potential members to see if we can get things to be a bit more approachable for new members. Having more demo options at our events for mundanes that are coming to their first event wouldn’t be a bad idea, after all…

==What’s Next?==

As I mentioned before, there’s a LOT going on right now.

While I was out at BSR, the new 7th Sea preview dropped, so I have a new book to read and give a review for. Sadly, I won’t be able to offer input for their deadline of this Friday as I have a pair of playtest reports due the same day, as well as some other real-life stuff on the docket.

This weekend, I will be attending CharCon Bonus Round and running a number of games. Next week, I will try to get a synopsis of that event here for you.

Sometime next week, after I return from Bonus Round, my wife and I will be going to see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. There may or may not be a review from me; that all depends on if someone else here wants to grab it and give it a review. We are still on the fence about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword as well, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.

Otherwise, stay tuned for more madness and see what else comes up!

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