Behind the Scenes at the Pennsic A&S War Point

by Mistress Gianetta Andreini da Vicenza

This year at Pennsic was very exciting for the Arts and Sciences we had the second ever A&S War Point! Twenty-eight spectacular artisans – 14 for the Midrealm and East Kingdom, and 14 for Æthelmearc and allies, competed in a display of the best arts and sciences in the Knowne Worlde.

I was honored to help coordinate this historic event for the Midrealm, in partnership with Mistress Anastasiia. The challenge – how to make this War point happen, when no one really knew what it was and how it would work!

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Lord Oliver Stillman, one of the seven Midrealm champions

The first point of business was to select the seven “unwreathed” champions from the Midrealm. Their Majesties had such an abundant field to choose from. Anyone who has attended Kingdom A&S or the Craftspersons Faires recently has seen stunning work from our artisans of the Midrealm. The team selected by Their Majesties was Oliver Stillman, Asalah al-Hina, Eikbrandr Solgyafi, Sorcha Brecc ingen Donnchada, Faydwynn Randve, Genoveva von Lübeck, and Arthur Bear. They all accepted the challenge and the additional Pennsic commitment with joy and honor.

Stasi and I worked with Mistress Euriol from Æthelmearc and Mistress Amy from the East to organize the day and clarify the rules. We often felt like we were improvising, but with our collective experience, and the input of the champions, we came up with a format, guidelines, and the resources to make a great display. Æthelmearc had graciously agreed to host the competition at their Royal Encampment, and it was a wonderful location, right next to Pennsic University.

As Pennsic drew near, our Artisans made final tweaks to their documentation and displays. We really had no idea what the artisans from other Kingdoms would bring. I reassured our team that this was a competitive War point, but it was primarily an exhibition to show their stunning work, and to promote the Arts and Sciences altogether. No matter what happened, I knew I would be proud of our Midrealm champions.

While the participants prepared for the day, we organizers finalized a million details, from getting tables and beans for the bean count to devising a system for making the entries anonymous. We also wanted to honor all 28 artisans for participating, and made them commemorative token cups to thank them.

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Paintings by Lady Sorcha Brecc ingen Donnchada

Finally, the day arrived – Wednesday of War Week. The organizers and the champions all arrived around 8 am to set up the space and the displays. I think this is the first Pennsic in the 19 I’ve attended that I have ever been dressed and ready to go at 8 am! But the spirit of camaraderie and celebration shared by all the Knowne Worlde champions was infectious. While everyone set up their displays, I saw wonderful acts of graciousness, with artisans sharing their tables and making friends with kindred spirits. And the displays – what an overpoweringly gorgeous room was created! Each champion’s table was more exquisite than the next. The level of work, the research and the experimentation on display was breathtaking. The day had only started but I was inspired by the dedication to excellence and sense of community that all SCA artisans share.

Even as we finished setting up, people were lining up to see the display and cast their votes. Anyone was welcome to come and view the display, but voting was open to those with a Kingdom level arts award of any kind. Each voter got three beads to give to the best entries, and it was a hard choice to make!

A half hour before voting closed, we organizers looked at each other and realized we didn’t know how to declare a War point! I was dispatched to invite the Royalty to attend. Their Majesties of the Midrealm were already on their way, and I found the Queen of the East and invited her along (bonus: I got a sweet air conditioned ride back to Æthelmearc Royal!). His Majesty Æthelmearc was located and was able to be there in time for the tallying and presentation. I was impressed again with the challenge of being Pennsic royalty – they are always on the move, always scheduled and deciding the best use of their time to inspire and lead the populace.

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Mistresses Amy, Halla, and Anastasiia in the “tally room”

While Their Majesties assembled and browsed the display, we created an impromptu tally room for the fastest tally EVER. With over 400 voters, we had more than 1200 glass beads to count. Luckily, we had Stasi and Halla of Mugmort on the job. When these two get together, they create the Midrealm tally room wherever they are! Mistress Amy did the counting with fierce determination. I stayed out of the way and ran interference for them. We were racing against time, since the royalty all had other places to be. Finally, we finished double checking the score and assembled the champions outside to announce the winner of the War point!

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Queen Etheldreda, Queen Arabella, King Ragnvaldr, and King Timothy as the War Point is announced.

Their Majesties all spoke wonderfully of the champions’ work. His Majesty Ragnvaldr said that this display rivaled those of the museums that SCA folks often visit. Queen Etheldreda of the East spoke of how inspired she was, as a Laurel herself, to see the Arts and Sciences so robustly represented. King Timothy of Æthelmearc spoke of the passion he had for making the A&S War Point happen. All agreed that They would counsel Their successors and future royalty to make this Pennsic A&S War Point an annual tradition. There was a great huzzah for all the champions! And… the winners were announced. The Midrealm/East alliance won 721 to 521 points! We were jubilant about the win… but even more so, everyone there felt a huge celebration of the vitality of the Arts and Sciences.

Huzzah to the Midrealm Unwreathed Champions for their excellent displays and generous participation! Huzzah to Their Majesties for making the War Point happen! And huzzah for the Arts and Sciences! I hope to see everyone there next Pennsic.