Paying the Prize

12 Jun 2018 by gebhard, 1 Comment »

At a North Oaken War maneuvers very early early in my SCA career, my third event, there was a torch light tournament.

As the name describes it was a tournament to be held in the dark, with only a hint of flickering light from which to determine if that thing coming at your head was a sword or paranoia.

This praticular NOWM was also a wedding celebration complete with a tournament.

Prizes were awarded by the newlyweds, but they took recommendations from those participating.

I remember a lot of flailing around in the dark, I can’t recall if I even won a single fight.

All the same, King Felix recommended me for The Mark of Courage for just jumping in to get him. 

The prize is a little red glass candle box, and a candle. I look on it often and remember not only its lesson on allowing courage to light your path, but also of the memory of how amazing the SCA was to me in those days. Every event just blew mind of how amazing everything could be, and that I had a part to play in all of it.

It’s also one of the very few prizes I’ve kept.

Nearly everything else I’ve won I’ve given away.

Things I was very proud of when I got them. Things with very high personal, and actual value.

Things I’ve looked at, and as I was about to give the story of where the object came from, I thought.. why am I giving this away? This meant so much to me…. with hesitation and little saddneds in my smiles I would pass the item on.

I believe everyone I’ve ever made sit though my retelling of a objects origin, and why it meant so much to me, seemed to understand it’s true value. I can only hope they will add to it’s story, and pass it on again.


The value of the prize isn’t what’s it’s worth.

Several times I’ve entered a tournament that required every entrant to add a prize to a pool of prizes. The prizes would be picked in ranked order by performance in the tournament. (1st place picks 1st, 2nd place picks second..ect)

I put down a prize with nearly no real world value. It was something I had won previously or carried on me into a competition where I was proud. Whatever it was, I would fret over adding such a humble item among so many glorious prizes.

When my time came to explain what I was adding to the prize pool, I would tell my tale and put it down on the table confident the guy who took last place should at least have story when he got stuck with the I brought.

To my surprise, they always seemed to find a new home very quickly in the selection process.

What these items represent is so much greater than a monetary value, it’s a tangible representation of the dream.  

The Mark of Courage I won, was likely something picked up at a home goods store. The buyer having no idea of a simple manufacturer item would become.

To me, it’s been infinitely more.  A reminder that the SCA, what we do, and maybe even the value of ourselves can be more than it seems at first glance.

Whatever it represents, it’s greater than it’s appearance and monetary value.

I do best to keep an eye for actions worthy of a tale. If it’s worthy of a story, then it’s likely worthy of a tangible object for which to remember it by.

If that object comes at a deep personal cost to myself, how much more meaning does it have to it’s recipient?

I hope that every tournament has a prize, and that prize will not spend life collecting dust but instead will again be awarded to someone new who has been found worthy.

In that, the dream grows a little bigger, and a little brighter into the future.

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One Comment

  1. Sean Wilson (Oswyn) says:

    I would love to see more prizes with a story. I would love to see prizes that travelled and here the story. Imagine an item that started in the Midrealm. It gets passed around and ends up in the West. A group of Midrealmers decide to go reclaim it and bring it home. I would love to see stuff like that happen.

    Even the most humble item can become a relic with a good story.

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