Dungeoneering work...outside the Dungeon...

As the fall turns to winter, the shoulder season provides the opportunity to spend some creative time doing project work both indoors and out, so a lot of the creative work going on in the Dungeoneering Workshop right now has more to do with SCA combat than table-top role-playing or wargaming, but soon enough it will.

I can feel the winds of creativity pulling me back to the tabletop already, as the smell of paints and the desire to feel a brush and a foam cutter in my hand pulls at me from deep inside once more. Maybe it's just the holidays, but the winter always makes me turn inside a bit, and focus more on the imagination.

For the time being though, I am finding the creative Dungeoneering skills being put to the test in a somewhat new direction; that of historical research, Medieval combat and arms & armor with the Society for Creative Anachronism.

It's with the good folks of the Province of Arrows Flight, in the Kingdom of Artemisia, that I have been fortunate enough to begin learning the intricacies of the Society. And having had a somewhat less-than-warm introduction nearly a decade past makes me all the more grateful for the caliber and chivalrous quality of the populace whom I have encountered thus far; examples of exactly what I had heard the SCA was supposed to be!




And so, I find that while the creative winds call to me from the eerie western mountains once more, this time they are bringing with them the smell of leather and paint and metal. And while some would say there is an element of "Larping" to SCA combat, I would say I lean a bit more towards the Living History with a  touch of historical fiction" side. 




My own personal interests lie in the late 13th to early 14th century, spanning the late Crusades, and especially the more esoteric Crusader Orders. And here is where the "historical fiction" part of my "persona" as we call it, comes in-the developed persona that one designs and builds their armor, clothing, and history around when re-enacting this particular time period of the "Middle ages as they should have been."

Fact, fiction, or just a questionably good yarn, one of my favorite books is Holy blood, Holy Grail by Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent, and Richard Leigh.
Now, putting Dan Brown's The Davinci Code aside, the historical basis by which the legends of the Saunier conspiracy and the Prieure de Sion are based, is in and of itself, esoteric enough to provide an intriguing basis for creating a crusading persona slipping away from Palestine at the end of the fall of Acre in 1390 and quietly returning to his families lands in the Rosslyn area of Scotland, there to compete in the Medieval tourney circuit for fame and fortune. Neither of which in this modern middle-ages I have nor plan on acquiring anytime soon, given that I am neither exceptionally fast, or strong.

But the craft of both training and creating both the armor and soft kit for this SCA persona known as Tristan Cenowülf de Cawdor are an exceptionally fond past time. Enjoyable enough to rival even the most arduous Dungeoneering experience.

So for this first post regarding specific crafted gear for Medieval combat, the cross embossed leather shield hand was undertaken, and turned out, all things considered for a first try...not too shabby:

       



As time permits, more details, photos, and intricacies will follow culminating hopefully in full kit completion shots. A difficult and ever-evolving task.






The History of Tristan Cenowülf de Cawdor

In the Society for Creative Anachronism, within the Kingdom of Artemisia, on the far south-western slopes of the mountains of Loch Salann, and on the borders of the Province of Arrows Flight, lies a small manor house owned by Tristan Cenowülf de Cawdor.
This past week he found himself at tourney practice, back from crusade and seeking a life as a potential man-at-arms or sword-for-hire at some future date. Perhaps even someday, to owe fealty to a house or a Crown. 

Finally home and once more seeking to settle down more established roots in the Society and Kingdom, Tristan seeks ever to improve his standing and service to his fellow nobles, but his getting here was a long and tumultuous journey. 

Having been born into a sacred brotherhood and risen since birth to serve in his families order, Tristan took up the Cross and served alongside many of his brethren who took oaths to the Order of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon. 

But Tristan's path was less notable and known. 

Similar to his cousin before him, who served both in their families loyal order, and then with the Temple Order, Tristan served only with the Order of the Knights of the Priory of Notre Dame de Mont Sion outside the Holy City, never fully joining the ranks of the Knights of the Temple Mount, but assigned to them as a special envoy when his Order was needed. 

His cousin died prior to the attack on Acre in 1291, as the Temple Order fled west with after the last fall of Jerusalem. 


























Tristan's Order, the Knights of the the Abbey of Notre Dame' de Sion (FrenchChevaliers de l'Ordre de Notre Dame de Sion) were a selective and secretive enclave founded in the Holy Land in 1099AD, during the First Crusade by Godfrey I, de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, as a Sovereign French Military Religious Order.

Their Order was located to the south of Jerusalem on the high hill of Mount Sion overlooking the city and the Temple Mount. In 1099, when Jerusalem fell to the crusaders, there stood on this hill the ruins of an old Byzantine basilica, dated supposedly from the fourth century and called the Mother of all Churches. 
According to numerous extant charters, chronicles and contemporary accounts, an abbey was built on the site of these ruins. 

This abbey was built at the express command of Godfroi de Bouillon. It was an imposing edifice, a self contained community. In 1172 it was described as being extremely well fortified, with battlements and towers. An most imposing site and this structure was called the Abbey of Notre Dame du Mont de Sion.

It is to this order that Tristan is dedicated and assigned still. Loyal to the Temple Order as it's more visible house, but serving first the greater purpose of the Knights of the Order of Mount Sion: the protection of the pilgrim, and an intense faith in the living Christ, the protection of his lands, and faith. 

After the Orders gathered their forces at acre, the Knights of the Order de Sion worked to rescue and accompany pilgrims and the Temple Order's vessels from Palestine back to Christendom and eventually, north to the Scotland. It was only under the less-visible and well-known banners of the Order de Sion that the Templar vessels were able to slip west into Christendom, undetected and unseen by many a watchful enemy. It was on these ships that Tristan's Order fled along with most of the women, children, and good Christian pilgrims that would flee the Mamluk invaders. 




Once back in Christendom, Tristan seeks a quieter life in the lists. But his allegiance is ever to the secretive order to which his faith and heart truly belong: The Chevaliers de l'Ordre de Notre Dame de Sion. 

From his family's estates in the lands of Cawdor Scotland to his ancestral home in Norman-Brittany, to his residence in the quiet hidden mountains of Western Artemisia, Tristan's Order goes virtually unknown and even less understood. 

Many think him to just be a simple crusader come home, filled with tire and weary of war. Many see the rose croix of his service and think him just another servant of the Order of the Temple Knights of Solomon, and while similar, his allegiance to the Temple Order bellies his true service to their own hidden order and that of his family; the Knights of the Order of Sion.
Now long gone, and under Saracen control, Tristan continues to serve his Order when called upon, but seeks his fame and fortune now, working diligently to improve his skills as a potential man-at-arms in the growing tourney lists. 









Inspiration

Simple images that inspire and motivate to continue along the Chivalric Path....



On the Society for Creative Anachronism...



The first time I saw them it was like seeing something that I was not entirely sure was even real...
Even all those years ago, 1982 maybe, I still remember rubbing my eyes and thinking there is no way I am seeing what I am actually seeing!

It was in a park in the Society for creative anachronism Kingdom of Caid (Southern California in mundane terms). And I witnessed two knights battling it out in a park near a baseball field where my Father was playing. I still remember that feeling in my chest, that overwhelming sense of awe and wonder. I've never forgotten that. Despite the more jaded and often times less-than-ideal introduction to the SCA I ended up having.

Still, something inside me pulls at me. A wander lust, a sense of wonder, a pull to another time and age that keeps me coming back and constantly dreaming of the things I see. The brotherhood, the camaraderie. I wonder what that would be like.

And frankly, I will probably never know. I'm much too old to start on the path of Knighthood, or fealty, and know far too little of the Society locally, or of its customs. I've already in my brief introduction burnt bridges (albeit accidentally), made enemies faster than Ned Stark, and all but given my first attempt a persona creation a banishment worthy of the backstory to which they ended on-dying on Crusade sometime in the late 12th century.

I see videos of knighthoods in the Society, of great fighters battling and then sharing laughs and hugs and handshakes and honors. And while I don't personally aspire to be a Knight right-off per say, what I do admire is the genuine honor and respect, the heartfelt duty and sense of camaraderie that all surrounding this knight seem to genuinely express. A perfect example of this can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPhV14hEUJk


But this will never be my life.
I say that in hopes that maybe, just maybe, I am incorrect, and that there still resides somewhere in the vast and infinite possible universe of the Society a place for me.

Still...I go on. And I'm not sure why. That same pull. That 'otherworldly calling.' And I wonder if there is anyone that feels this same way? Even in the Society itself? Or do I just have an over-active imagination?



The door just barely opened to me before I found it slammed shut. And getting back in has been harder than the professor finding his way back into Narnia. But I still search, like a crusader on an endless quest to find some form of solace in my isolated and searching state.

I moved in the last few years to a new residence, but am still within the same SCA Kingdom and Barony, and that unfortunately makes activity difficult. At my new home in the westernmost mountains of the Barony of Loch Salann in the Kingdom of Artemsisia, I have even built my own retreat, filled with the trappings of travel, crusade, explorations and study.

But even surrounded by the very things that call to me, I still find something is lacking. Crusade era totems from Sicily,  crosses from England, goblets from France, even gauntlets handmade and stitched with mail and leather, sitting idly by and waiting for testing.....

Recently I sought a more direct and almost charge-like approach to conquering this burden and worry that has plagued me for years. I contacted those individuals whom so embroiled me in conflict during my early years and set to right wrongs, clear communications, and ensure that truths were told. I knew not if any response would be received, and doubted it would be.
Sadly, I was all to correct.




I wrote long missives, lengthy messages and heartfelt communications to local Royalty. I had even purchased a golden idol from an eastern monastery on a recent trip to China, complete with an encased human tooth of a great warrior monk, planning to give this as a gift of largesse to this individual who thought I had wronged them so many years prior. All to no avail....silence. As if banishment unspoken was my curse.

But then a ray of light came through a modern message site that summed up a course of action that brought hope, and the thought that maybe, just maybe, there was indeed a possible place still remaining for me in the Society.
Maybe.  Albeit, much further away.
Time will tell, and the battle cost the life of one SCA persona already.

Meanwhile, the largesse wrapped in fine leather goes unopened, and gauntlets go unused. But soon they will see their time. But along with the overwhelming feeling that there is something calling me to this organization, there is also the feeling that while it may be difficult, it may just eventually, become worth it.

Who knows, maybe even someday the individual, now royalty with great renown will see it fit to respond, and I will truly be able to put this first rough start behind me. But until then, it is a difficult, and lonely path on which this persona must trod.








































Summer pell work and the coming of Fall...


As I've written many times on the Creative Dungeoneering blog, I tend to take a bit of a hiatus during the spring, summer, and to some extent fall.
Most "creative" work takes place during our long winters here, from roughly October through May, and the dark skies, rain, snow, wind, and general nasty conditions of Utah's western mountains makes for the perfect backdrop to an entire season of creative endeavors.

But often times before that fall breeze brings with it the mysterious callings of creativity and old historical musings, long before the heat of summer passes. It's usually under gray skies, mysterious weather, or a full moon, but every so often, that strange voice, as artist Loreena McKennitt phrases it in her song "The Old ways" call me home.

During the more active summer season, I find that this odd, esoteric tingling can often times be satisfied through mixing up my race training a bit with does of regular cross training, of the more historical variety.

Two to three times per week I practice for an hour to two hours a day with sword, pole arm, florentine, sword and shield, or as in the case of last week, axe and shield. And as a competitive cyclist, working out the arms with a martial weapon is a workout that brings a new definition to the word pain. Known for large arms we are not.

Such was the case last week where after a good deal of study on historical Anglo-Saxon Axe and Shield training, I incorporated heavy wooden shield and hand axe training into my regular pell routine. Not only did this provide some expertise with new weapon types, but it allowed me to feel at one with my historical ancestors in a brief moment of mental dreaming as I exercised both my muscles and my imagination simultaneously.

The axe was handmade from a standard cheap home depot variety, but with a heavy steel head, sharpened and blackened for a more historical look and feel. The carved wooden handle was then inscribed with anglo-taxon runes, and wrapped in a leather tie for grip. Not a masterpiece by any means, but it looks the part and is fun to practice with.

The round shield is a heavy, full wood shield double wrapped and lined with a bolted brass edge. Leather handles are riveted to the inside with a fur padded arm rest and extra support. Two straps, fore and hand wrap the arm and provide a stable and well balanced grip and feel.

I once heard someone say that a round shield was far easier to use than a kite or traditional heater style shield, and I have found that to be the case, although my more romantic notions still prefer the standard templar kite shield.

I guess my quick point here is that sometimes schedules, and even weather and lifestyle don't always meet up with the voices in out head that come calling, so we may have to adjust how we can answer their call, no matter the season.







Adventure journals, Y2K, and Alaskan Ghosts...

You've likely never been there.
Most never have. Most never will.
It closed in 2010, and there's still a station, two runways, and some creepy Air Force tunnels with keypads, air tight subterranean doors, and some strange barrels filled with a substance that we were never able to identify...

The Japanese invaded Attu Island Alaska in May 1942, and after they slaughtered their way through the medical tents of the wounded US soldiers in a failed last-ditch Kamikaze charge, and retreated back to their bunkers in Holtz bay, they held grenades to their heads and committed ritual suicide.

There's an odd titanium monument out in the middle of nowhere to their sacrifice, still there, like a beacon to no one of a war all but forgotten. I called this magical, mystical, and very haunted place home for over year from May 12 1999 to late June 2000. I loved it. Every miserable cold, wet, lonely, minute of it. And wanted to stay even longer, but the US Coast guard opted to waste my last 8 months of active duty at a hole of a station off the Oregon coast where I did little other than man a communications station and go on the occasional search and rescue mission (which wasn't all together half-bad really, but that wasn't my life plan...).


I loved Attu.
It was a lonely forgotten place and having moved around as a kid growing up, I found it was a place I discovered on my own, for me, and kind of made it my unofficial "home." I actually "discovered" Attu through a 1998 Outside Magazine Article-similar to their updated one here: https://www.outsideonline.com/1886361/scratch-island-map




After reading this article one summer on the hood of my Jeep, pulled under a pavilion during a torrential downpour summer storm, while working as a Lifeguard on a waterfront in Tennessee, I told myself I was going to see that someday. I had no idea of the effect it would have.



This entire blog could be about Attu alone, but instead what I am writing about here is something I started after the whole "Y2K" scare: The belief that when computers rolled over to "00" that somehow, the whole world may suddenly collapse.


I remember at the time thinking this was a joke and that I could care less. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere and loved it.

"So go ahead mother nature and technology....do your worst."

I found this article, also in Outside magazine featuring "Y2K proof" gear. One of the items was a leather bound journal from . Now I don't know why, but at the time, the idea of a leather journal seemed a new concept to me, like I was looking at something from Indiana Jones and the Last crusade. I wanted to start keeping a journal, sketches, ideas, thoughts, songs, prayers, poems, stories, and tales of Alaska and this odd place and the adventure it was turning out to be, and I wanted it to look like Dr. Jones Sr. had designed it himself; worn, water logged, and filled with every imaginable bit of lore.


This started me on a path of journalling that I have kept to this day, now compiling 8 such "worn looking "adventure journals" and spanning 18 years, over 33 countries, and 5 continents.

The latest versions come from a more fantastical, mystical, and fantasy-based approach, as my actual exploration and real-life adventure days have started to wane in the presence of a more "normal" domestic life (aka, office job....). But they remain just as cryptic, creative, and elusive as ever. Maybe even more so.

And they also are fantastic inspiration and aids for gaming and fantasy-fiction writing: real-life items, three-dimensional, tangible, that bring the sense of adventure and magic and mysticism to life in ones hands. Complete with cryptic reformed anglo-Saxon runic writings, herb and plant samples, and even old maps and legends, they can inspire the creative mind as much as that article did for me so many years ago.

The writings are usually far more fantastical, and cover realms I will likely never see in real life; Flannessia, Nyrdyvia, Faerun, Middle Earth, Narnia, Krynn, Endor, Fantasia, and the Western Isles.


But then again....I never thought I'd see Attu either......







Lost in the 40K Universe...Again...


FINALLY!!!
After a LOOOONG delay and some intricate and nefariously complicated IT web-browsing proportions more akin to the chaotic evil of Lolth's demonic pits, I am finally able to once-more delve into the depths of the Dungeoneering blog and resurrect the Creative Dungeoneering blog!
(Thank you Googole Chrome!)

NOW....in the 41st millennium there is still only war, even since the late 80's...and it's glorious!!!
After a long break from the Warhammer hobby, I have returned to Games Workshop and the wonderful world of Warhammer 40K.

Now typically I am a hard-core D&D'er, and have always been more akin to playing classic, vintage, old-school fantasy role-playing than techy-sci-fi RPG's or wargames, although I did dabble with a small Space marines and Chaos space Marines unit back in the late 80's/early 90's (Khorne of course...BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!)

And despite a deep and reverent love for all things Star Wars more closely associated with religion than fandom, my tastes have always been more of the fantasy variety than sci-fi, especially in the terrain and crafting realm. So I was surprised when I first walked into my local Warhammer store, and felt immediately drawn again to not Age of Sigmar, the more "fantasy" styled version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, but to Warhammer 40,000, the Sci-Fi based wargame....but here's why:

The Black Templars:
Ever since first learning of the Black Templars some years back, I felt a close kinship to their kind, not only for their crusading lore, but for the ties to their medieval nomenclature, the style of their almost knightly armor and weapons, and use of bladed power swords and symbology, but to their idealogy as well.

Now at the risk of dabbling into the political realm, which I vehemently forbid in the Creative Dungeoneering world, I wont get into my own personal feelings on Crusader history other than to say I am a long time reader and passionate medieval historian of crusader and medieval religious orders. I have read every historical non-fiction work I can find on the Religious Orders and on the Crusades spanning from the first crusade of 1096 until the fall of Acre in roughly 1291. Of all the religious orders, the Templars of course have always been the nearest and dearest to my heart. Both for their mystery and esoteric history but also for the contributions to history and their religious ideologies that I personally find applicable in my own life to this day.

 An opportunity for me to craft, assemble, paint, and bring-to-life an entire army built around this favorite of my Military orders albeit with a sci-fi twist was far too good to pass up, especially with a Warhammer store now in my very own backyard.

A quick note on the Warhammer the District store as well, located in South Jordan Utah:

Check them out on Facebook here:
https://www.facebook.com/WarhammerTheDistrict/

                           

Scott, the Manager of the Warhammer store at the District is, in my over 33 years of gaming, is EASILY one of the, if not THE best game store manager I have ever met.
He welcomed me into the store from my very first step as a friend and with the wave of his hand has made me feel at home every day since.

Since this is the first post we've had here in a while, there is a LOT to catch up on!

  • We have new Sci-Fi terrain in the works for some new Warhammer terrain, 
  • New painting techniques
  • New gaming stories to tell
  • New projects to share. 
  • A whole new fantasy series in the works; Through Cenowulf's Throat - all based around Cenowulfs mile, the great bridge spanning the Riversweep canyon leading the the Furond city of Sohlnorus. Which, for anyone who's followed the Creative Dungeoneering blog for a while knows, is the seat of power for the Kingdom of Furond and the location of the High senate. This of course means we will be seeing a bit more of Pellinia Te'Surk and her vile dabbling with Alzur and Abraxus. And we learn a bit more from the perspective of a character that only received a bit of mention in the first Flannessian book, Elerin of Kelrik.  


Stay with us! We may have dissapered into the depths of the interwebs demon pits for a while, but were back from the underearth and have survived the udnerdark to fight another day!