Maiming 101: How to hurt people using harmless objects available at any event
Your pain is my gain
There will be times in your career as an Attack Laurel when simple mental abuse is not enough; when apprentices get uppity, for instance, or when that super-ambitious Pearl1 starts questioning your research during the Arts competition judging. Mere words cannot suffice at this point - physical force is neccessary2.
Sadly, while SCA culture encourages the carrying of large stabby objects, it is still generally frowned upon when someone uses them, no matter how much the snotty little whiner deserved it. And though the thought of forcing one's apprentice into full armour and making them take head shots until their ears bleed is a pleasant one, that option requires either getting into armour oneself3, or bribing a Knight, which is totally too expensive beneath us. So the usual methods of inflicting pain are not accessible4. What to do?
Most people severely underestimate the power of simple objects to cause quite remarkable levels of pain. Consider the lilies of the field; they sew not, nor do they seam-rip5, but a bunch of three or four of them in your hand can leave a really nasty welt6. Forthwith, 8 handy things you can find at any event that can deliver a "critique" that will not be soon forgotten.
I - At the Troll Booth7
1. Site tokens. Thanks to the current fashion in Atlantia for cast pewter site tokens, an Attack Laurel with a modicum of prior planning expertise can arrange for a lethally sharp site token that will serve them well throughout the day. Those lacking that kind of foresight8 can still take advantage of the weight of the pewter and the length of the string to land a nicely spun blow on anyone foolish enough to hold up the sign-in line because their cell-phone conversation is more important than all the people waiting behind them.
1a. If all they have as site tokens are those lame little plastic pony beads, steal an extra non-member waiver form or two and use them to give some really severe paper cuts9.
II - On the Fighting Field10
2. Random Soda Cans Around the Field. The tendency of many people to skip the laborious step of pouring their completely non-period sodas drinks into a tankard or goblet has been decried by even regular Laurels11, but for the Attack Laurel they are a boon, providing both an excuse and a means for punishment. Your model here should be the Hell's Angels at Altamont; they knew that a full can of Heineken flies further and does lots more damage than an empty one12.
3. Banners. Not the poles, that's too obvious; someone might realize what you're doing and take it away from you before you can forcibly demonstrate to someone why their blue plastic tarp dayshade is not nearly as durable as an (infinitely more period) canvas pavilion13. Leave the banner pole, and wrap the banner around the face of anyone who came out without some kind of period head covering, claiming you're worried that they might get too much sun14. You can then cut the ropes of the non-period tarp with your super-sharp embroidery scissors15.
III - In The Hall
(This is your milieu. Not only are all the A&S competitions/displays in here, trusting people tend to store their baskets in the hall during the event, offering rich pickings to those unconcerned with respecting the private property of lesser beings16.)
4. A&S Items. Due to the shocking lack of standards in the SCA when it comes to the quality of items put out for display, you can feel free to use anything on the table without guilt. Really, isn't it better that those pathetic attempts at pre-160017 "arts" get put to actual use instead of cluttering up the cat-infested hell-holes domiciles of the average SCAdian? Besides, no-one will miss it18. Small things make effective projectiles, string objets can be used as garottes, and anything heavier than a tennis ball can be used to bludgeon the A&S toady angling for a "service to the arts" award for having the temerity to ask you to judge this load of crap in the first place.
5. Small Children. Most events are overflowing with rug-rats and farthingale-crawlers under various levels of parental non-guidance. Pick one who has been running around unsupervised for a while, and feed them an entire bag of sugar washed down with an energy beverage19. Hand them over to whichever apprentice has pissed you off most recently and tell the apprentice to teach the basket-biter how to play recorder20.
...Admittedly, this is more of a psychological torture than physical (unless you're lucky enough to find a "kicker"). ...And don't worry about the parents; they won't notice if the little beast is gone for hours21.
IV - Feast
6. Food. Cheese cubes and honey butter can be shoved up the nose of anyone who whines that they want a hamburger. Raisins fit nicely into the ears of people who think period music is "boring". Bread rolls make good projectiles, but launching the entire loaf with a whack of the table is much more intimidating22. While the fat content of most feasts is sufficient to cause coronary artery disease, death by Savoury Toasted Cheese is not only too slow, it is entirely too enjoyable for the victim. Whip them to death with asparagus spears instead.
7. Feast Gear. Most people will see you coming at them with a fork23 or knife in time to duck, but few people expect a wooden bowl in the back of the head, especially when they're droning on and on about how boring authenticity is. The sharp ends of a broken bottle may only be used as a weapon by those Attack Laurels whose personas would have had access to glass bottles24.
8. Kitchen Staff. By the end of the feast, most kitchen staff are surly, exhausted, and semi-psychotic, rendering them ideal for any late-event pain you want to inflict. Simply tell one of them that the person in the green spandex "gypsy" dress compared their feast to dog food. You can then sit back and watch as they attempt to fit spandex-butt into a toaster oven25.
Don't limit yourself to just these methods; for one thing, predictability means less surprise and fewer victims. Mix it up - shove a site token up an apprentices nose, smother someone with a small child, or tell the kitchen staff the autocrat thinks they're stupid. Creativity counts towards your final grade!
1. Insert Kingdom grant level arts award of your choice - they're all way too ambitious. The only real way of punishing them is to tell them they're getting that Laurel they've been lusting for at a certain event, then take pictures when they turn up dressed to the nines, wait through an entire Court, and go home, awardless. ...But that's so evil, only the Grand Pooh-Bah Attack Laurel has done it (twice).
2. And desired. So very, very desired.
3. Not very likely, since a. it's hard to get good enough to be able to head shot an apprentice without spilling one's drink, and b. armour is smelly.
4. And too much work (see #3).
5. Thereby making them poor candidates for Laurel, unless they are good with the monetary bribes.
6. Or, with luck, take out an eye.
7. You'll be in a bad mood anyway, just from the use of the word "Troll". Why not use that anger effectively and completely inappropriately?
8. Not an A student in this course, if you get my drift.
9. Don't forget to bring lemons. They're period! And painfully acidic!
10. Avoid the temptation to just grab the stabby stuff - leave that kind of blatant unsubtlety to the Knights.
12. Collect up the empties (service points!) and make your apprentices eat them.
13. Covering the tarp with a batiked celtic-design sarong does not make it period. Feel free to destroy it.
14. The banner can be used later for convenient (and hygenic) body disposal.
15. Get some.
16. Covered in last semester's class "Stealing Without Limits".
17. Or pre-1650. Check your local Kingdom listings.
18. Or, in many cases, even notice it was there in the first place.
19. SoBe Energy Drink is a personal favourite, combining sugar, ludicrous amounts of caffeine, and substances that might cause mutations in lab rats.
20. A cheap plastic recorder may be provided if desired, but if the apprentice has a really expensive wooden one, make them use that.
21. Possibly days.
22. Eschew marshmallow trebuchets; not only are they not period, they're too soft to do any real damage. Yes, even the stale ones.
23. Italian personas may taint the fork beforehand with their saliva, but English personas must settle for coating the fork with something from the serving dishes, as they didn't put forks in their mouths. (Any questions about the research in this article can be sent to the Dean, who will laugh disdainfully and delete your e-mail.)
24. "Case" bottles work better than "onion" bottles.
25. Mmmmm, melty.
Text and images copyright L. Mellin, 2000-2008, except where noted. All rights reserved.