Tonight I’m going down to the Ard Creag fight practice to attend a Deed of Arms that my sword-brother is performing to mark his 40th birthday. A lot of people have been looking forward to this emprise, and I’m excited about it — and also a bit grateful, since I’d never have had the guts to go forward with my own deed at Trillies if he hadn’t shown me how to get started.

I was at the mundane birthday party of a good SCA friend yesterday, and since a high percentage of the guests were also SCAdians, I was able to have some very useful and illuminating discussions about what I’m planning to do at Trillies. Mostly, I learned last night that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing… but at least I’ve got the support of people who do.

I’ve been told I need to read La Traictié de la Forme et Devis d’ung Tournoy, written by René of Anjou, King of Jerusalem and Sicily around 1460. Fortunately, there’s an online english translation of King René’s Tournament Book available, so I’ll be able to pick away at it.

The big thing that I need to decide, right now, whether this is going to be a private pas d’armes or an official tournament. I’m inclined to keep it a private pas if at all possible, although the amount of attention this is getting might make that difficult. Even as a “private” pas d’armes there’s going to need to be a “bridge” (probably of hay bales); a gallery for the spectators (although fortunately I’ve already had a couple of offers to loan a sunshade); some spare weapons for the fighters, in the event that a challenger hasn’t got the right weapon to fight matched in the matched form; a token for the gallery to give to the combatant who best exemplifies the chosen Chivalric Virtue (and an “official” list of Virtues for them to choose from; I need to find a “King of Arms” to herald the day; I’ve commissioned a Book of the Deed from a skilled bookbinder, but I’ll need to find a scribe to fill it out; I need to promote it widely so that the event will be well-attended. There’s so many things to plan and organize… and I have a sinking feeling that most of them I don’t even know about yet.

I need, to be frank, a Dortmunder. Volunteers are encouraged to step forward and rescue me from my own stupidity as soon as possible.

On the other hand, the overwhelming enthusiasm I’ve run into for this sort of Deed of Arms is gratifying. Apparently chivalric emprises of this sort were, if not common, then at least known in this Kingdom in the past, but aside from Colyne’s Deed tonight, I can’t remember the last time such an emprise has been done locally. My impression is that they’re either not being done or are being done in a quiet, more insular fashion among a specific group of enthusiasts. My goal for the Passo Honroso is to change that.

I don’t want this to be something that a small group of folks with extremely high-end armour and garb do on their own while less-experienced folks watch from the sidelines and think “someday, maybe.” I want this to be — and I recognize the irony of saying this in relation to a 15th century-style chivalric emprise — a much more democratic sort of thing: I want any fighter, regardless of the quality of their kit, to be able to walk up to that bridge, display their arms, and challenge a tenan and venture their body in order to shed a vow or exalt their inspiration, to paraphrase Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I want this to be a pas d’armes where novice fighters can queue up and join in, so that they can experience more than just the usual round of melees and bearpits and the occasional war; I want them to be able to experience the romance and pageantry of the chivalric era; I want that romance to really get a chance to sink its teeth in.

And every conversation I’ve had since I started down this road shows me that there is a real desire for this sort of thing in Ealdormere, which makes it worth the time and effort this is going to take.