Monday, August 01, 2016

The LARP on the Borderlands

The LARP on the Borderlands
Concept: High Fantasy LARP using Home grown Live Action Role Play rules and conventions based in Western Nebraska and covering the borderlands of Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska.
* Why do the characters/players come to LotB?
* World we live in? (a concept)
-In a mix of LotR, Dungeon & Dragons and Warhammer. The wilds of Rohan are the closest idea. Grasslands with mountains bordering and a bunch of really big and bad orcs. The people (human) are mostly a mix of viking, celt, and anglo-saxon type history (think Tolkien). The Mountains are full of Dwarves and Elves and evil races fighting for land and gold. Hidden are the older races of shape shifters and 'First Peoples' Magic is rare.
"It is the third age of Man. Darkness grows in the south and the remains of ancient kingdoms continue to survive after decades of relative quietness. Stories filter in from the north of a growing evil as orcs, trolls, and evil men attack distant outposts. Rangers are seen again in the Northern hills as from the stories of old. From the great southern kingdoms there is silence. Only rumors of war make their way north with the few caravans who still travel this far north."
"Points of light in the darkness..."
* What is LotB?
Story driven adventures- think old school D&D where the how was almost more important than the why.
Contact fighting- lightest touch agreed upon by players- using realistic looking LARP latex, foam, plastic-dipped weapons.
Want bows. Real bows. 20lbs(?) max with poofy heads. (obviously)
(Mostly) full immersion role play- costuming is to be high standard. Minimum allowed is tunic, trousers, belt, hood, cloak and boots. (think mid-13th century Europe as baseline) In house "clothes" department for custom and 'off the rack' in game purchase. Links to craftsmen for out of game purchase.
Armor representation is to be 'like' minimum. (i.e. It looks like plate armor from 5 feet away)

The Long Journey

Over the many years I have been envolved in various medieval combat games, from SCA to LARPing. During that time I have fallen back into one persona that I have enjoyed the most. This blog is about being a Viking in those various worlds.

First off, what to I mean by being a Viking? Vikings came from the far north - what is today modern Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The people of Britain usually called them Northmen or Danes - rarely "Vikings". Viking was definitely more of an attitude than a people. Men went "a viking" - that is to trade, raid or settle a different country to the one they were born in.
The Vikings hit the shores of Britain in the late eighth century - giving the monks on Lindisfarne a hard time in 793AD. The campaign of raiding easy targets such as monasteries was to go on for a further 50 years or so.

In 865AD a "Great Army" arrived in the East Anglia which was to leave a trail of devastation throughout the country. This army overran the towns of York, Nottingham and Reading. Their progress south was halted at the battle of Edington in Wiltshire by Alfred the Great in 878AD. Alfred and the Viking King Guthrum arranged to share England between them, drawing a line between the Dee and the Thames to split the land creating the Kingdom of Wessex to the South and the Danelaw in the North. Over a further 50 years the Wessex kings would conquer the Danelaw which would lead to the creation of England. Many battles occurred in this period between the Saxons and the Vikings of the Danelaw.

Things then remained pretty quiet until the 990's when a new army of Vikings started to attack the south coast. Led by men with names such as Olaf Trygvassen, Sven Forkbeard and his son Cnut. The Saxons fought them off for 20 years - but the Vikings demanded more and more silver in exchange for them going away. This was a protection racket on a big scale - more than 100,000 pounds of silver would make their way to Scandinavia in this period. Eventually the Saxons could stand no more and in 1016 England found itself a colony of Denmark under the rule of Cnut. With the death of Cnut's sons the throne reverted to the Saxon kings - there would be attempts at the recovery of the kingdom in 1066, but the Viking age was effectively finished.

I am trying to recreate one of those first Danes who sailed west in 793 AD.

I am using authenticity guides from various sources in order to re-create this look. One of these is The Vikings, a rehistoric group from the UK.

Creating the look for a viking warrior isn't too difficult, as much research has been done. In the picture up above you can see me at a local LARP event, outfitted as a Hersir.

A hersir was a local military commander of a hundred and owed allegiance to a jarl or king. They were also aspiring landowners, and, like the middle class in many feudal societies, supported the kings in their centralization of power. The hersir was often equipped with a conical helmet and a short mail coat. Most would wield an iron sword, mostly augmented with a wooden shield. They were also known to wield one- or even two-handed axes. The hersir would always fight on foot, usually as part of a shield wall formation. Another formation was also used, the Svinfylking, which was a variation to the shield wall but with several wedge like formations pointing towards the enemy creating a zig zag pattern.

My helmet is a recreation from the movie Beowulf and Grendal. My mail coat is rivited mail from Historic Enterprises. Shield and sword are Foam Boffers. The tunic and trousers I made from patterns found on the internet and are reflective of a 7th to 10th century danish bog find. The leggings and boots are LARPish affliction.

In the title picture you can see a better image of the helm. and a padded jacket worn under a tartan cloak. The dagger at my waist is a latex one, as is the axe in my right hand. It's turned just enough so you can not see the blade- but it is there. The sword is worn slung on my back for ease of movement- not typical for the timeperiod.

Well, this is the beginning. Hope to post much in the coming days.

Thorwald Hrodgerson.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hi, Kids.
Just a bit of a change in topic, although not really, this time. I'm going to talk about Medieval arming gambesons and mail voiders.

To begin with, this is not in any way an historical research document. It is an attempt to bring a bit of historical accuracy to Live Action Role Play and armor creation. I have played, in one form or another, LARPs since the late 1980s in the United States. Some of these were a tad more realistic than others but all relied heavily on the game and armor statistics first found in Gary Gygax's D&D role playing game.

I started out in the LARPing world wearing a T-Tunic, wrap pants, moccasins, and a gambason made of a moving blanket. Slowly I built up my armor levels much the same way my D&D character built up his until currently I am 'plated out' with a mix of fantasy armor roughly depicting an 'English' Man at Arms during the War of the Roses, circa 1450-1480.
By about 1420, complete suits of plate armour had been developed. A full suit of plate armor would have consisted of a helmet, a  gorget  (or bevor),  pauldrons , besagews,  rondels,  couters,  vambraces, gauntlets, a cuirass (back and breastplate) with a fauld, tassets and a culet, a mail  skirt,  cuisses, poleyns, greaves, and sabatons.

What I have put together for LARP is not a complete suit of plates as this is overkill for most LARP game systems. This particular 'impression' is for the game at Biccoline where armor points are minimum and it is a simple "If's it's covered it counts" system.

I knew that I wanted to do a Heavy Infantry impression as that is where my persona is. For Biccoline, fighting in the shield wall as a spearman, this means as much protection as I can get on my upper body while allowing movement to respond to the tactical situation. This article focuses on the bottom layer of the armor with the thought that if enough people enjoy it I can continue to write about the rest of the impression.

The base layer of clothing worn is the shirt, hosen and shoes. For the game during combat I am wearing pants and ankle supporting boots and then a linen shirt. Out of combat the joined hose is worn with turn shoes and shirt under doublet.

The first piece of 'armor' is the arming doublet. This is a padded garment worn under metal armor. I have chosen to use Epic Armory's Imperial Gambeson as the starting point.
This is a very nice garment and has a great historic look to it. It has various arming points all over it. The sleeves are laced on in the event I want to remove them due to heat. It is machine washable and although it comes in black I did choose to purchase the tan version. This had more to do with the issue of heat than aesthetics.

The next step is to reinforce the gambeson to support the plate armor worn above it. This was done earlier in the 15th century with a mail shirt and later with patches of mail stitched to the gambeson to fill in the voids for armor protection.

In Dr. Tobias Capwell's book, "The Armour of the English Knight; 1400-1450" he discusses the need for this as weapon and armor advances has reduced the danger to the knight except in those areas needing articulation, in specific, the interior articulation points of the inner elbows, behind the knees and under the arms. Here the plate cannot cover and still provide movement that the knight needs to fight.

I have chosen to stitch the mail onto the gambeson with heavy waxed thread usually used to stitch leather together.
I laid out the gambeson on the table and them placed the mail voider into position, straightening out the mail and pinning it into place. Then, with a simple whip stitch, began to sew the mail down.
I attached the mail through the solid rings rather than the riveted rings for strength. The sewing went fast and soon I was at the elbow point.
For cost and for weight I did choose to use riveted aluminum chain mail purchased from Kult of Athena. I third reason was that if I totally screwed this up or I didn't like the outcome I would only be out a few dollars rather than several hundred. Also because this is LARP and not live steel, blunted steel or SCA stick fighting the lighter aluminum would serve its purpose (1 point of armor) as no one would be able to stick a latex bullock dagger through my armpit being so protected. Sure- it isn't 100% authentic but then again I could get killed by a fireball...
The aluminum mail did need to be cleaned first and I washed it in a solution of soap and bleach and dried off with a towel. It's still shiny but it won't rust and it looks good with the rest of the armor.
The mail skirt is mild steel and the standard, the neck collar protective armor, is of the same type of aluminum riveted mail as the voiders.
As I sewed I noticed the voiders went almost down to the wrist covering the bottom part of the sleeve. The plate arms will cover most of this lower area and the mail would be redundant.
At this point I decided to cut the mail off above the elbow as the rest of the mail would be used in another section.
This shorter mail covers the armpit area completely.
Now stitched onto the gambeson I placed in onto my armor rack to see how it looked.
I was surprised at how good it looked.

 I then placed the rest of the armor on in order to get an idea how it all fit together.
As you can see the void left in the elbow will need to be covered in the remaining mail peice to provide protection. The standard protects the neck and throat and could be reenforced with a bevor.
All in all I am very pleased with this project so far. 

The armor has been acquired over the last two years, usually as items came up for sale. The total shown above is the current prices of the items used.

If you have questions or comments please feel free to drop me a PM.