Maryland Medieval Mercenary Militia
O.K. If you thought the role-playing in Dungeons and Dragons was a little weird, get a load of this! Yes, that is a real newspaper and a real photograph. Check out the date in the top right corner. Jan. 30,1977, almost exactly 31 years ago. Now check out the dude with the green propane tank on his head. Guess Who? If you guessed maybe a 20 year old Svin, go to the head of the line. Yes indeed loyal and long suffering readers, not content with fantasy feudalism, we actually joined up for the live version. I guess you could say I started practicing for the anti-jihad a long time ago.
Now, a few words about medievalism, then and now. This was before Lord of The Rings was a movie, even before Monty Python first put two coconuts together(IIRC). You could not go on-line and order up a complete Aragorn outfit or a chain-mail bikini (don't even think about it) or a complete King Arthur kit. We had to make all our own stuff by hand. Chain-mail was laboriously "Knit" together link by individual link. The aforementioned propane tank "Great-Helms" were cut and welded, padded and painted, used and abused under extremely realistic conditions. Small arms(daggers and knives) were often made by hand. Axe heads and sword blades were rare and coveted items. Cheap junk from Spain or elsewhere would not hold up for a minute. Unfinished leather was good as gold. The red "Heater" shield I am holding in the picture was made of 3/4 inch plywood with bolted on arm strap and handle in the back. The "armourer" for this piece was none other than our own Basil Riverdale. You can see from the condition of the front of it that it has seen many campaigns. The padded "Mace" wielded by another old friend(went skiing with him a few weeks ago) is an aberration. This photo was taken during our annual "Fratricidal War" where only padded weapons were allowed. For practice and shows, we used only real weapons and armor. If the armor you had built was authentic enough, it would protect you very well from the actual weapons of the day. Thus, with training, some choreography, and that fearless abandon which is the very definition of youth, we fought, died, were resurrected and well lubricated by nightfall and feast-time.
What does all this have to do with anything? Only that it is such a stark contrast to what fantasy role-playing is today. I would wager that the average "World of Warcraft" player has never cooked his own dinner, much less built his own suit of armour. Never actually set hammer to anvil. Never brewed their own beer. Never learned how to actually fight with real weapons instead of a game controller. Never really got to rescue the Damsel in Distress. Never played "Toss the Mail", never jumped a fire, never wrestled in the mud or snow, never passed out from heat prostration wearing seventy pounds of armor and padding in July. Never climbed tall buildings to play at "Gargoyle".
Never the less, it is from this same young generation that our new warrior class has risen. Brave volunteers all. Fighting and sometimes perishing in strange and foreign lands. No games. No resurrection in time for dinner. I think that when this cohort begins to return and take up it's place in our society, things will begin to change for the better. Contrast these young lions with those game boys whose "failure to launch" has become iconic of a generation. We will be a better nation when these Boots, forged and tempered in the heat of desert battle, begin to re-define and re-direct our nation. God I hope to live to see it so.