|More about this below...|
At the games weekend there's two days of game design sessions, with the evenings available for after dinner games. One of the few times I was around (in 1996) it was a good session of Four Men in a Balloon, where all the passengers had to make their case not to be the one thrown out this round. In this case the passengers were Don Featherstone, Gary Gygax, major Von Reiswitz and Phil Barker arguing their value to the wargaming hobby. And I represented the latter.
Phil was the second to be released after the major, but in the end Gary Gygax survived rather than Don Featherstone. It was something to do with polearms, I believe. I think that is a good indication of the mindset at Chestnut Lodge, with a heavy emphasis on role playing even in a miniatures game.
|The guys even autographed my copy!|
But the best after dinner game was the bard competition we had afterwards. The idea was that we were given an episode of the life of Harald Hardrada and then turn this into Nordic poetry, so with lots of alliteration, reference to mythical animals etc. Jonathan Pickles put up a copy of Snorri Sturluson's King Harald's Saga for the winner and that proved to be me.
I never read the full story, but it is obvious that Harald was a bit of a poser. He traveled around much of the known world, but always seemed to get into trouble and be forced to move on rather in a hurry. In the end he lost the battle of Stamford Bridge against Harold Godwinson a few weeks before the latter was beaten by William of Normandy, later known as the Conqueror, at Hastings.
Harald's predicaments were of course part of the amusement, as the ´bards´ had to gloss over these inconveniences and portray them in a more positive light. In most cases I opted for outright lies rather than spinning the evidence. I suspect that my reward was more out of kindness to the foreigner who had come so far to join in the proceedings than on the basis of my superior poetic skills in a second language.
But coming back to yesterday´s theme it is interesting that although my memory is hazy, these games I remember much better than many regular miniature games. Just like I remember the Peasant´s Crusade game that Graham Hockley put on that weekend, which was a string of grown men weaving around a playground à la Polonaise, with every break in the chain signifying losses to the expedition. You can imagine that once we´d crossed a few obstacles our chances of ever reaching Jerusalem, let alone ´liberating´ it, were null.
That´s the power of fun for you.