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1000 Stars
[05/13/2003] [Malek Marlschev]

The Grand Duchy of Stormhaven puts on an annual campout called 1000 Stars. This was the 4th year of that event and it was just as much fun as last year.

The weather was not quite as cold as it was last year, but definitely more rain. If you are going to camp in the Northwest, make sure your tent has a good seam sealant, and buy stock in Scotch Gard. Large tarps and plenty of stakes are also a good investment. With all that rain also comes plenty of wind -- we were camped at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The really nice part about the weather is that once the sun went down, the skies cleared and we could really see why the campout is called 1000 Stars.

The site is on a huge open field, bordered by forest and hills. There are a few sparse trees about the field. The porta-johns were lined up next to the main road that came into the site and placed well away from the campers. The closest sign of civilization was a Texaco with food mart about five miles back toward town. The nearest town was about ten miles away – so we made sure to bring plenty of food and drinks to keep the shuttling to town to a minimum. There was a running faucet with drinkable water and on-site dumpsters, so keeping our campsite clean was not too difficult.

So, here is my day by day breakdown of the event.

Thursday –
6 am departure time for the 8 hour drive from Portland, OR to Athol, ID. Well, OK – we actually got out of town at about 7:30, but I had to go pick up Yucohn and Lystria, who were traveling with me. They are both fairly new to the game, but were looking forward to a fun event.

About 3 pm we pulled up to the gate – no one was there, so we decided to drive to where everyone was camped. Once we picked a spot to unpack, Lord Avalok and Lord Garth – Duke and Regent of Stormhaven, respectively – made sure we got squared with gate in short order.

As we were setting up camp, the parade of people stopping by to say hello began. I made sure Yucohn and Lystria were introduced to everyone as they stopped by. Since I was on med tent duty, Drake Bloodblade called a meeting of all the medics – short and sweet – keep your kits and radios handy. Even though we were in the sticks, there were enough phones with reception that contacting EMS, if needed, was not going to be difficult. I had made a tabard to be worn by the on duty medic, and it was well used over the course of the event.

The evening's feast was a chili feed by Karma Company, lovingly referred to as the “Karma gas factory”. It was good chili with plenty of meat and spice in it. Garth made the campsite rounds and made sure to tell everyone to go get some chili.

There was some random ditching and such going on. As I put on my garb, I also donned my new greaves instead of my usual mechs. and decided to hit the ditch field to work off the seven hour drive. Unfortunately, the hardened leather knee cop on my greaves split in half when I dropped to my knees after getting legged. I tried making a makeshift patch for it with duct tape – not quite the same.

Since it was close to dark anyway, I decided to gather my beer and start making the fire pit rounds. I saw many friends I had not seen in a long time and met several new ones. Yucohn brought his guitar along, and as we made the fire pit rounds, he became rather popular as a wandering minstrel.

The main fire pit was about 200 yards away from the main camp groups. Which was nice, because we could make a big fire and get a little raucous without bothering the other camps.

Friday was a day of tournaments.

Stormhaven had its weapon master tournament. Right along side it was their archery tourney. The archery tournament was a little different than I had seen before. There were three rounds with Amtgard-legal arrows and six arrows per archer were allowed.

First was a special kind of target shooting. There was a 4 by 2 foot board mounted on the ground at close to 45 degree angle with a circle near the top. Two points for hitting the target and not having the arrow bounce past the target. One point for hitting the target, and the arrow landed past the target. And of course zero points for missing entirely. We fired from 20 feet away. Suffice it to say, since hitting the circle on the target was not required, the real trick was to aim low and only fire from about 1/3 draw. The top 75% of the contestants advanced to the next round.

The second round was firing at human targets 30 feet away. Again 6 arrows per archer. The human targets had to plant a foot and could only dodge, not block or deflect the arrows. Two points for a solid shot, one point for a graze or garb. If the target moved his planted leg, you got your arrow back. I got eliminated this round due to some damn fine dodging on the part of the targets. The human targets were hand picked for their ability to dodge like a scene from The Matrix.

The top 50% of that round moved on to the next one – combat archery. 5x5 boxes spaced 40 feet apart. Again on a point system – two for a solid hit, one for a graze and two for hitting your opponent's bow. I never did hear who won it.

The only hassle was that I was also participating in the weapon master, and I got called for my single sword bout when I was about to fire in the first round. Fortunately, they anticipated something like this and allowed me to shoot before I went to fight.

The weapon master tourney was well-reeved and went smoothly. No temper issues or major sluffing that was not called. All in all, a well done tourney.

After this was a jugging tournament. Five teams were fielded in a round robin competition. There was a team full of newbies that had never jugged before, but were ready and willing. I offered coaching advice to them on strategy and how to hold a line together. That newbie team had the distinction of being the only team to score on team Karma in that tourney. Everything went smoothly on the tournament with a minimum of tempers and arguments.

Then the afternoon went on to random ditching and more people showing up for the festivities. Sir Whitewolfe and Sir Lyrea showed up and brought their armoury. As always, it was full of nifty things for sale.

As darkness rolled in, I ate my dinner, then prepared my booze and made another set of fire pit rounds. Hanging with friends and campfire stories is always a fun thing at campouts and is one of the main reasons I keep going to them.

Saturday – the big day.

Three events for this one. First was a newbie tournament with a cutoff of 1-1/2 years in the game. The top fighters there at the event were reeves for the tourney. After the tourney, each newbie was given individual sparring/teaching sessions with each reeve. My traveling buddy Yucohn really enjoyed the chance to gain fighting tips from everyone.

Then came time for the main event: Full Roleplay War! There was a storyline that was leading up to this war. The story thread started over a year ago and resulted with the 1000 Stars war last year. Unfortunately, mundania intervened and two of the main characters in the RP war were unable to show. The net result was that there were three armies lined up on the field. Suffice it to say, it got extremely chaotic very quickly. A few people made feeble attempts at doing some intrigue and forming a possible fourth army. That never did form up.

Unfortunately, during the chaos of the war, I removed myself after an arrow shot lobbed into the crowd, hit me in the eye, and nearly broke my glasses in the process. I had a nasty tension headache afterwards, and decided this war could progress without me, so I went to Whitewolfe’s pavilion and watched from there. I never did find out who won, but I strongly suspect that Karma company did a lot of butt kicking.

Next was a wedding. It was a very pleasant ceremony presided over by the Mongols. The Khan gave a lovely speech for the new couple. It also gave everyone a chance to put on their best court garb early and enjoy the ceremony. The only real distraction was the sound of ditching and occasional smak talk coming from the ditch field.

After the wedding was the main feast which doubled as the wedding reception. Since I am champion of my shire, I was invited to sit with other monarchy members at the head table. The servers did a great job of making sure everyone's plate was full. The food was turkey legs, ham, baked potatoes with the works and salad. During the feast, the herald went about and did his best to make sure he had all the names, titles and pronunciations of all the visiting monarchy and nobles.

At the beginning of court, the herald started his announcements. There were several flubs and missed titlesm, most notably a missed “Sir” for Sir Galrog of Northern Ice Realms. As court progressed, the herald was then called up and Sir Galrog was handed the ax to behead the now fired herald. Garth then took over as court herald.

As people were called up for their awards, it became obvious that Garth was losing his voice. But he soldered on. There were several more beheadings, each one more comical than the last. Yucohn kept the mood going with his guitar as the impromptu minstrel of the court.

After the feast clean-up, it was time for more fireside drinking and carousing into the night. I spent part of the time at Whitewolfe camp and the latter part of the evening at the main fire. There were some entertaining drinks being passed around that fire.

Sunday – Clean up and go home. We headed out by 11:30 and were home by 8pm.

I barely remember the drive. What I do remember is a fun weekend with a group of Amtgarders that really know how to put on a fun event.

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