Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Kampi's Saga: 5315 Prelude - Night of the Silver Moon

Today's entry of Kampi's Saga is a few recent excerpts from his personal journal:

Julemonth, several weeks following the first full moon of the winter solstice
The local year is now 5315, as have been told (whatever that means)

I have decided to keep a written account of my experiences in this strange land, partially as a means to pass time, partially to help come to terms with my lonesomeness. The winter here, if it can truly be called such, is rather mild. I have known colder summers back in Nordthheim.

I have spent the past few moons south in the city of Helmsgard; I originally made landfall near of the settlement of Dagger Deep. As I have learnt, both places are situated on an elongated isle named 'Ar-Ra-Kus'. I have found work in the harbour as a porter to the many of the warehouses and labourer for merchants; thus I have been able to afford my keep in this flophouse. I have also kept a meagre savings for the expenditure on personal affects: I commissioned a smith of weapons to fashion a knife of similar design of the seax of my much missed homeland. I also fashioned a sheath for said blade and carved the raven of Wodinaz upon it. Perhaps I will gain his favour doing so.

Before I travelled to this city with the last of the trade bands, I journeyed eastward around the berg called by locals as Shadowvale with only the guidance of the one only as the Pict to safeguard me from the perils that dwell therein. We encountered no denizens of the mountain but upon reaching the eastern shoreline which I sought we happened upon a monstrous winged wretch (I now know as a 'Harpi'). The gods granted us favour for we quickly slew the creature before it became aware of our presence with a unerring throw each of our pointed javelins.

We combed the rocky shore for any possible signs of survivors or at least usable salvage from the wreck of the drakkar. Eventually we came across the sea-eaten body of one of my shipmates (whom it was, I could not tell) propped up against the dragon prow of the longship, standing alone erect in the sands. It was then I believe I accepted that I was fated to be the sole survivor of the voyage. The figurehead we left as a memorial in lieu of the runestone I could not provide for my lost crew.

Before we departed the coast following fruitless days of searching, I happened upon an item from the ship not as ravaged by the elements as the rest: a single rowing oar. Much to the Pict's vexation, this lone piece of salvage I insisted on bringing back. Now that I have cut the length down to a more wieldly size and retreated the wood, I have been using it practically as a staff, but I also bare it as a reminder to all mariners lost upon that ship. I pray they have found comfort in the halls of the sea-god Ægyr and his wife Ránn.

The Pict disappeared from my company before I reached civilized lands. I wonder if I shall see that strange wild-elf again...

Rhedmonth, before spring

I have been blessed by the gods! During my time spent in Helm's Deep, I happened to partake in a local blót of sorts and whilst enjoying the festivities I encountered the Bishop Relan of Ithus. We caught up on our discussions when we last saw each other late last season in Daggergard.

Though a busy man to be sure, he was kind enough to devote some of his precious time instructing me further in the ways to commune with the divine. During my personal hours between twilight and dawn I have been diligently practising, and this morning I felt a stirring in the depths of my soul like nothing before! I will continue on, praying that my connection with the Æsir moves beyond mere superstitious practices into something deeper.

Also I bought a used helm from a trader on a whim because it's design recalled that of my homeland. It must have belonged to a jötunn for its size is huge! At least I can wear it provided I have filled the space with my hat. Perhaps a skilled armourer can use the design and make something more appropriate to my size...

Ēostremonth, the month of spring
The locals referred to the date as the Night of the Silver Moon

The merchant company I had been occasionally employed by made a journey north to Uberland and I travelled with them as porter and guard. After reaching our destination, I took advantage of the lull in work to visit Dagger Deep and hopefully see the few I considered family since my separation from my own.

Nothing could prepare me for this day. I shall remember it well.

During my travels along the old Uberlandian road, I met up with my friend Tobias and we journeyed to the Deep together, reminiscing about past times and what we planned on accomplishing during our visit to town. He wished to continue his learning in the ways of nature and I myself wished only to meet more friendly faces. Arriving into town, the pair of us briefly considered the call to join the town guard once our primary concerns where attended to; Tobias visited the hut of the individual known as Orlav, in the meantime I went to visit the 'house-pit-all' Relan had commissioned in the temple district and received a surprising shock: 

The partially finished building was gone (perhaps destroyed during the string of fires that swept through the Deep late last season?) and new structure stood in its place. A most unwholesome construction, filled with bones and a noxious air like a charnel house. What else had occurred in this town during my absence?

The dire portents of this revelation were swept aside when I set my gaze upon fair Sprig, priestess of Ithus. After we exchanged sentiments, Sprig informed me she did not know the purpose of said of the structure that stood where the hostel was, but sensed a great deal of wrongness about it. (When I investigated the interior sometime later in the day, the old rectory had been filled or collapsed inward, yet a stash of personal items I hid beneath the floorboards was missing, undoubtedly plundered.)

Sprig had granted me permission to use the grounds of Ithus for the time being for prayer; though I am indebted to the church of Ithus for all it has done for me thus far, I still feel improper using their facilities to commune with the Æsir... I must find my own suitable grounds.

I was just leaving the grounds of Ithus after my ruminations, I encountered probably the single greatest surprise I had witnessed for many moons: a group of newcomers were being toured about the town by the wayfarer Sunset when one of them stopped mid-stride and stared at me curiously. Upon returning the glance recognition appeared upon both our faces: 

Truly the gods had me in their favour, for the two of us were shipmates during that fated voyage I had written about before! Wolm was is his name! And I was not dreaming, for when we embraced each other he was wholly flesh and blood! Living! Not a draugr or other such revenant! By divine will we were reunited, two astray Nordthmen! The lands of Dagger Deep is truly a realm of miracles!

Our time was spent touring and conducting a treasure hunt of sorts with the others whilst we related our tales. It seemed that Wolm had drowned at sea following the wreck, but his body was happened upon by a hermit who revived him and nursed him back to health. He then spent several months north before making his fateful journey to Dagger Deep. I can still scarcely believe our good fortune. It gives me hope their may be other survivors of the drakkar on this island.

A sketch of myself, Tobias, Reed, and Wolm enjoying the calm before the storm.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)
Upon returning to town, the lot of us; myself, Tobias, and Wolm, along with newcomers Reed, Rial, and a host of other peasants; joined up with the town guard under instruction of Captain Wolfgang Krieger, where we spent our time in combat and formation drills. Heimdallrig would commend his vigilance, for even though the settlement had seen little action over the winter season, he was convinced that the increased trade would bring trouble.

And that it did, for we were in the middle of investigating a possible murder-theft when the accused vanished in a puff of smoke and we discovered to our dismay our Northbrook enemies had taken hold of our fortress of Rowanoak. Thus began several hours of protracted battle in and outside of the Deep with Northbrook as well as various other aggressors. At King Williamarius' lead, we fought to recover the abducted Rex of Hrogn, Lucius, from the clutches of the Black and Gold company; contend with a bizarre eye-creature; and drive the Northbrook and Black Rose enemies from the realm, which we succeeded in doing so, but only as a hard won rout I believe.

Below are a few sketches of these occurrences:

Wolm baring one of the ladders the forces of Dagger Deep
employed to scale the walls of Fort Rowanoak.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)

The irregular forces of Daggar Deep lay siege to the walls manned by 
the vile forces of Northbrook. We succeeded in driving the host from the fort.

(Original Photo by John Marusiak)

Black Rose villains charging forth.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)

Miscreants of the Black and Gold.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)

The bizarre gigantic eye creature known as a 'Beer-Holder';
Personally, I saw no resemblance to a cup-bearer.
(Original Photo by Sandi Shill)
I fought long and hard that day to pay homage to Wodinaz and the rest of the Æsir for the favour I was granted finding my fellow mariner Wolm, along the opportunity to use my new-found divine gifts to aid my allies so we may continue to protect the wondrous realm of Dagger Deep.

After a long day of battle, several of us had a brief meal in the tavern before we returned to our respective camps. I travel south with the caravan at dawn, but I suspect I am to return to the Deep before long.

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Kampi's Saga: Preparations for the Season Opener

Gosh, I been so terribly busy lately and done so much to write about, yet I haven't had the time to make any entries! Most of what I've been doing since GottaCon is helping administrate Vanguard Training, and crafting and preparations for the 2015 season opener of Medieval Chaos: Night of the Silver Moon. I haven't had the chance until last Friday to get any tabletop gaming in, I've been that busy!

This entry will discuss a couple projects I completed to improve my kit; Kampi's staff and helmet. Next entry I hope to touch upon Kampi's experiences at the Night of the Silver Moon event proper while it's still relatively fresh in my mind.

As I briefly mentioned last month over social media, that I had fashioned my first foam weapon: a staff created to look like an oar (the idea being that Kampi salvaged it from the remains of his shipwreck and bares it as a memorandum for his fellow shipmates that were lost at sea).

I wasn't able to thoroughly document the full construction process we used (we, as in my friend and I who both build a staff), which should be fine since this was our first time and probably shouldn't be taken as the best advice. Having no formal training we used common sense and based our guidelines around the safety requirements for this years' weapons in the Player's Handbook.

Some of the materials used, top to bottom:
Brown duct tape, PVC cement, spray adhesive, 3/4" and 1/2" pipe insulation,
3/4" schedule 40 PVC, pipe connectors and end caps.
I noticed that this year the edge thickness had increased to 2" from 1" from the core, making our staves quite thick; I placed this padding all along the entire length as I wanted it to look thick like a boat oar.

We used PVC Cement to attach the coupling rings and the end caps.
In retrospect, we probably shouldn't have done this; although we were concerned about safely capping our cores, tension should've been enough to keep them in place, and made for future difficulty when we try to stiffen the staves (more on that below).

A big'o'block of foam w/ hot crafting knife.
I trimmed a chunk off and used that for the basis of the 'oar blade'

Once I had fully wrapped the core in insulation foam and secured it with a combination of double-sided carpet tape, spray adhesive, and wrapped the exterior with a spiral of hockey tape, I cut a slot out of the 'oar blade' and using copious amounts of spray adhesive I inserted one end of the staff and wrapped it in masking tape to hold it fast while the adhesive dried.

The final process was wrapping the whole thing in brown duct tape.
For the 'blade' and the 'bottom' I wrapped it once perpendicular and once parallel lengthwise to add extra support, where as the rest of the shaft I taped along the length.
VerdictI had the opportunity to début Kampi's oar during the first session of Vanguard and have used it several times since, including the season opener of MC, which I consider it's final test. I am very pleased with the result. It's stood up to heavy use and abuse with only minor scratches, which are easily fixed with tape.

Improvements: The staff does flex a little too much and might be a tad, as one would say, 'whippy'. This is on account of being unsure if any thing can be placed inside the core to make it more rigid. It has been suggested that one could insert a couple fibreglass rods inside the pipe to stiffen the weapon. Another thing to consider is grey schedule 40 PVC might be slightly more rigid than the white pipe we went with.

It's interesting to note that my 'oar' passed weapon inspection last Saturday, but my friend's staff (which is nearly identical in construction, minus the 'blade') didn't on account of it being too flexible. Also there was some contention about schedule 20 being the standard vs. the schedule 40 (as recommend in the handbook) that we used??? (I wasn't privy to the exact details; I heard this account second hand.) The only thing we can think of is the addition of the 'oar blade' on my staff makes it slightly less flexible; also the materials are the same but we constructed our staves individually so each individual method might also have some baring.

So far building a staff for MC right now seems a bit of a catch-22: a larger diameter core would mean the pipe is a bit more rigid, but the weapon would be absurdly thick because the amount of the minimum edge padding required; conversely, a smaller core makes for a thinner staff, but makes it more 'whippy'. Another friend of mine fashioned his first staff using just fibreglass rods as his core (as suggested to him) but the result was a staff even more flexible than ours! *facepalm*

The one other major project I finally finished before season opener was a leather spectacle-style helmet. Originally, the Missus and I were looking to fashion one out of leather using the pattern for the metal one [here] and sizing it to my head. We got as far as building a mock-up out of card-stock before I met with my friend Doug (a crazy-talented crafter, owner of an amazing set tools and skills, and the proprietor of Aether Anvil; his Etsy store is currently empty, but his facebook page contains many interesting photos and updates), and he suggested I check out a site that sells leather patterns specifically designed for LARP and cosplay called Crystal Anvil.

There they have a Norse Guard Helm Pattern for $3.99; I purchased it feeling that using a professionally made pattern would be much better than trying to make something from scratch and possibly create something ugly/unusable and wasting leather. I' wasn't a huge fan of the eyepiece, but Doug suggested we cut something I'd prefer out of aluminium using his CNC cutter.

I printed the pattern out on label sheets (as I discovered to my chagrin my printer won't print on cardstock; this turned out to be major downfall as we will see ahead), arraigned the sheets with a slight overlap together as a large poster, cut out the pattern pieces, and stuck them to the suede side of my leather, which I then cut them out individually.

The next thing that was to be done was punch all the rivet holes, and clean the edges with a beveller. Once that was complete, I met with Doug for the final steps: dying, assembly, waxing. 

On a hunch, Doug suggested I assemble the helmet first, and after hammering all the rivets it became apparent to both of us that this helmet was way too large

I have a rather small head, so it looked absurd on me (it kinda looked like a bishop's mitre. Battle Pope!), but even to larger people like Doug it was too big. The pattern had somehow printed too large; it is mentioned in the pattern that it's spec is for a 25.5" head-size with padding, and one could scale up or down to achieve the preferred size, but annoyingly nowhere does it explain how one would go about scaling the pattern. We originally thought I must've messed up somehow when I printed the pattern, but when Doug imported the PDF file into his the CAD program he uses for the CNC when designing the eyepiece, the ratio was incorrect. 

Additionally the ruling marks on the edges of the pattern don't equate to inches (something I noticed when laying out the prints); they're pretty much arbitrary numbers at his point. I hadn't printed it wrong, the pattern itself was wrong; this was something I would have discovered if my printer allowed me to make a mock-up out of cardstock! Learn from my mistake and be wary of any sizing inconsistencies in the patterns from Crystal Anvil.

Disheartened, the following day we decided to complete the other steps and see if the helmet might look a bit better at the end. We dyed it black, then manufactured the metal eyepiece, oxidized it, and riveted it on before we waxed the whole thing.

At home I warmed the waxed leather further and worked down the rumpled edges of the leather to a more uniform roundness, the gave it a protective coat of mink oil. After all that it looked much more tolerable.

On a positive note, instead of using loads of foam to fill out the helmet so it'd fit on my head, I realized that Kampi's hat easily fits inside it, meaning I can simultaneously pad the helmet and store my hat when I wear it. Plus the hat's fur trim looks pretty decent from the back. All I added was a couple bicycle helmet pads in the front and back to provide a bit of padding and for something for the hat to gain purchase upon, and a line of weather stripping under the nasal portion of the eyepiece in case it just pushed into my face.

Verdict: I wore this helmet for about half of the season opener (the combative parts), and despite the look I'm pretty content with it. It was nice to have an extra hitpoint in-game, and the actual protection it gave me increased my confidence. I even received a few complements on it so it must not look that bad.

Eventually, I plan to sell it to someone whom it fits better and Doug and I will scale the pattern to the correct dimensions for my head, cut new pieces quickly with his laser cutter, and make a new correctly-sized helm for Kampi. Maybe I'll even take the time to tool/burn patterns into the leather and/or add a few more metal plates. Until, then this'll do.

I have a many more projects on the go that I didn't get finished in time for MC: still working on the embroidery for Kampi's hat, a replacement hood wrap, and a tunic and cloak for my Ankhadian Ranger kit, now that I'm a member.

Additionally, based upon my well-received performance during a Post-Apocalyptic Paintball-LARP Beta we attended last month (where I played a medic), I've been selected to be the groups healer (medico); so I'm slowly constructing a medieval fantasy 'first aid kit' that's based around the 'four humours'. It's just a matter of acquiring/building the props/phys reps and figuring out the RP fluff and the game mechanics.

Hopefully you'll be hearing about these soon.