How to improve battles?

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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Postby Foxe » Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:27 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:As someone who intends to spend a lot of time pulling big guns here and there, I would like to ask if there is any more that could be done amongst re-enactors in camp. Like a zealous priest having a go at the "washer women" charging extra for special relief and get a verbal (or actual) doing over by the girls and their Tom. The camp provost making tours and clamping down on stuff (maybe bribes being handed out). Bar room bravado over whose burd is whose turning nasty, rough justice being dealt out to a theif by the soldiery, stuff like that. A battle could take place just between two Households on the same side bored stupid, wound up and doing the my bow is bigger then your bow thing. Then every one else could get involved in trying to remind them to kill the enemy and not each other. Well its just a thought no-one need take any of my suggestions to heart.


These are good ideas. Are these not the kind of things that living history groups (or living history sections within battle-societies) have been doing for years?

Speaking generally, yes, I'm in re-enactment for my own pleasure, but I appreciate that it is the paying public who keep our hobby going. Without them we would all be in the SCA, rubber and aluminium or not. Sadly, it doesn't take long for bad reputations to spread - sometimes the first thing I've heard about some group or other is something bad - and a reputation for leaving the public bored while you have a jolly good bash will spread, and will leave your group heading the bill at the Dogsworth village fete and St. Dymphna's Junior School Summer fair.

Anyone who thinks that our own "enjoyment" should come before that of the public, or that those two things are mutually exclusive, GET REAL!

I can't think off hand of any other hobby where the hobbyists are either expected to provide a service on such a scale as re enactment, nor one where the hobbyist would expect to have any of their costs paid for by anyone but themselves.

Scouting. Scout leaders are unpaid, have to buy a lot of their own gear, and do it ostensibly for the benefit of others. Some expenses are repaid. And do they frigging grumble about whether they should put their enjoyment or the Scouts' first?


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Postby Allan Harley » Mon Apr 03, 2006 9:27 pm

For all those that attended the training, thank you I had a great time and it gave lots of ideas - not just for on the field.

New stuff for guns, archers, runners, for displays and for the fact you can conduct a battle in a hailstorm!

Again thanks to all those of you that did turn out. Keep the faith (whichever one is up to you).


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Postby Ian Macintyre » Tue Apr 04, 2006 12:17 pm

Foxe wrote:
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:
These are good ideas. Are these not the kind of things that living history groups (or living history sections within battle-societies) have been doing for years?

Speaking generally, yes, I'm in re-enactment for my own pleasure, but I appreciate that it is the paying public who keep our hobby going. Without them we would all be in the SCA, rubber and aluminium or not.
Anyone who thinks that our own "enjoyment" should come before that of the public, or that those two things are mutually exclusive, GET REAL!


I travel long distances every year, taking up valuable holiday time, to go to events across the country for a public who by and large don't have a scooby about what we do and are more interested in the location of the ice cream stand. I have never personaly received a brass penny for doing demos, taking part in battles or teaching. At best some money goes to cover my travel expenses, and usually not even that. I do it because I enjoy it and am interested in learning by doing.

I can think of at least two events that have died mainly because whilst the events attracted vast numbers of public the re-enactors where treated so shoddily and as such an afterthought that people stopped attending.

And its not just enjoyment. Its education. I do this for my education. Because I could watch a hundred demo's about dressing a man in armour or on the use of a longsword, but until I did these things I did not understand it myself. I got a better window into what a battle might have actually have been like to experience in my first 10 minutes at Tewkesbury than from the hundreds of books on military history lining my shelves.

The public attend events and yes without them they would be smaller and less frequent. However without us they would not happen either. We give vast amounts of time, money and effort to doing this and should not be taken for granted either.


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Postby Jim Smith » Tue Apr 04, 2006 1:02 pm

[/quote]I travel long distances every year, taking up valuable holiday time, to go to events across the country for a public who by and large don't have a scooby about what we do and are more interested in the location of the ice cream stand.

Iain - Being blunt, that's your choice isn't it? From the tone of that sentence, you might think you were doing this under duress! :) Seriously though, I'm sorry your eperience of the public has been that negative. I'm lucky enough to be in a group that gets paid £400 per weekend on average. We get the events too. We believe we provide a valuable entertainment and educational service which is a hobby too. We benefit from knowing that and the feed back we get from punters and venues is always good.

Is there any chance of sourcing paying venues?

Re: Tewkesbury, I know where you're coming from. However, I would respectfully suggest that no battle re-enactment could ever give a serious and meaningful impression of medieval combat.


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Postby Ian Macintyre » Tue Apr 04, 2006 1:28 pm

Im not under duress at all. I love this hobby. Well a bit less after last year but I would not have just shelled out 200 notes for helmets yesterday if I did not enjoy it.

I just find it very odd that somehow we are all supposed to pretend that we do this for some greater good, or that £400 split 10 ways over two days with travel costs to come off is real compensation. And we get not much less than this but when its 300 notes for a minibus and petrol it goes pretty quickly.

It sometimes seems that enjoying it is somehow wrong. Something I completely fail to understand. Thats what I am railing against.

Surely we do this mad hobby because we enjoy it and because its fun. More fun than the SCA, becuase it has a better window on reality and we get to wear cooler armour and use more realistic weapon simulators. There is no shame in admitting that so far as I can see.

If you want my opinion on the best fun to be had in a battle here it is. Its making the events more real. Actually make an effort to show events of the battle in question. Positively ban the three pushes then fall over on a flat field cliches that have not bearing on reality. Fight over bridges, in valleys, by trees and hedges. In the gateways of castles... you get the idea.

Get rid of the anochronistic "Battle of Champions", that are fun for two people. Have flanking attacks, units appearing from woods, and more archers, and archers putting the bows down and picking up swords when things get hairy......

But unless you can get a nice temporary stand or let them stand on the walls the public will never be able to see much no matter what you do as they will be at ground level.


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Postby Alan_F » Tue Apr 04, 2006 4:17 pm

Surely we do this mad hobby because we enjoy it and because its fun. More fun than the SCA, becuase it has a better window on reality and we get to wear cooler armour and use more realistic weapon simulators. There is no shame in admitting that so far as I can see.


No disagreement from me!

If you want my opinion on the best fun to be had in a battle here it is. Its making the events more real. Actually make an effort to show events of the battle in question


What's wrong with showing a part of the battle? Sometimes the number of people present makes this the only option.


Positively ban the three pushes then fall over on a flat field cliches that have not bearing on reality.


But again that comes down to numbers: The three pushes and fall over thing might be the only way to fulfil what the organisers want for the event. If you only have a couple of hundred re-enactors and the original event had about 4,000 then sometimes that is the best way forward.

Fight over bridges, in valleys, by trees and hedges. In the gateways of castles... you get the idea.


I agree, although you do need the terrain to fight over! When I was in the SK it was common to have an event at such and such house and when you arrived you would find yourself at a field some 3 or 4 miles away. :(

Get rid of the anochronistic "Battle of Champions", that are fun for two people


Unless it's something that actually happened, then yes. I remember the fight between Robert the Bruce and Edward at Bannockburn two years ago - not only did it never happen, it was embarrassing to watch a clearly choregraphed fight in the middle of a battle that wasn't choreographed. In general, it also is a problem as the MOPs will ask "Did that actually happen?" and the answer tends to be "No". I think you can guess the next question.....



But unless you can get a nice temporary stand or let them stand on the walls the public will never be able to see much no matter what you do as they will be at ground level.


That is something I feel that should be looked at: It's all very well for all of us to say that we should do this, that and the next, but until we can guarantee that the public can see us do it, it's all a moot point. I've been to events where the public have walked off bored because they can't see, or where the ground was too wet for people to sit down on. I think some sort of seating arrangement would vastly improve this, or at the very least someone selling/hiring plastic sheeting for people to sit on. The SK did an event about 12 years ago that solved this problem simply: The public sat/stood on an embankment from where they could see the battle. It would also be good if the public could see the event from all sides - too many people crammed into the one area makes for annoyed MOPs and I don't blame them - if you've just spent about £20 getting you and your family into an event, the last thing you want is to not be able to see over some blokes shoulders to see what's going on.


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Postby Ian Macintyre » Tue Apr 04, 2006 4:54 pm

Doing part of the Battle or a scenes from the battle is something I have been keen on for years. There is nothing quite so farcical as 45 blokes pretending to re-enact Crecy. Especially if its three pushes then fall....

I'm not convinced that lack of numbers hinders an event in the type of things you can show if you have imagination and put in forward planning.

For example I think that Coity was a very good battle for the re-enactors AND public. A well executed event that looked good. The field is on a slope and the crowd stood at the top so could see much more.

There where people with scaling ladders and chaps on the ramparts of the castle. Chaps on horseback led the way,. There was also a party swept out from behind somewhere to good effect and there was a cannon which set off a couple of pyro charges. Looked very cool for the crowd, I know because its the only time my missus has watched the battle on the second day!

It was also that bit more interesting to take part in. Even if my brand new shield got covered in manure when a charge went off!

Now I know horses and powder are not alwasy available but there can be interesting things done at events.


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Postby Foxe » Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:04 pm

Sorry, I wasn't suggesting for a minute that we shouldn't enjoy the hobby. Of course I wouldn't be in it if I didn't get a great deal of personal satisfaction out of it. BUT I do recognise the fact that it is only because of the public that such events happen.

Yes, it is quite true that without dedicated re-enactors the events wouldn't happen either, but in the greater scheme of things would that matter (to we inside the hobby of course it would, but would it matter to anyones else?)

A few years ago one of the EH special events team was telling me that the only re-enactment which makes them any money at all is Hastings. All the smaller events and living histories are a businessman's nightmare for them. The reason they put on the events is because they consider them a valuable part of their remit, and because of the satisfaction which they give to their paying customers. Now, if re-enactments failed to give that customer satisfaction would EH host and pay for them?

Yes, we should never lose sight of our own enjoyment. We are the ones putting in the time and money on a personal level to make the events work, but without the public they just wouldn't happen.

On making battles work, one of the best battles I have ever taken part in - from both participants' and public's point of view was the first ECWS event at Wallingford in the late 90s. Fighting through the earthworks was incredibly fun, and although the public could only see a small section of teh battle at any time the post-bash comments were fantastic. The absolute best event for me was the siege of Helmesley Castle in 94(?): more earthworks, palisaded defences, musketry in the overgrown walled garden. Fantastic for us, but totally geared towards the pleasure of the paying public. The two are not mutually exclusive.


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Postby Ian Macintyre » Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:27 am

Now that I do agree on.

ps we have a gig at a castle in two weeks with not one member of the public coming and not a rubber halberd or ninja halfling in sight.


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Postby Allan Harley » Thu Apr 06, 2006 6:47 pm

The problem is with well known events such as Tewkesbury that is what MOP's want - the battle of Tewkesbury.


But for other events you can try to refine what is on display - thats the intention at Lincoln over Easter - lots of action, role-play, different dtyles of fighting/armour/weapons with good commentary


god, it better work


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Postby James The Archer » Thu Apr 06, 2006 6:52 pm

Well you can always use a flamethrower if it don't


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Postby Ben Rodgers » Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:54 pm

That be interesting for risk assessments


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Postby craig1459 » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:19 pm

Allan Harley wrote:But for other events you can try to refine what is on display - thats the intention at Lincoln over Easter - lots of action, role-play, different dtyles of fighting/armour/weapons with good commentary


Sounds like fun!

Ben Rodgers wrote:That be interesting for risk assessments


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Postby Ben Rodgers » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:24 pm

REALLY :lol: now all we have to do is come up with so contraction to release fire...... I ve got it a bow and arrow :D :D

:roll: bet no one ever thought of that :roll:

However I doubt many people will be very happy wen they get the recieving end or anyone who is camped by the arena, as for public liability that would be interesting to explain to the insurance company

Sorry Ive digrested a bit from the topic got a bit carried away


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Postby Man from Coventry » Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:18 pm

Reading through the latest entries it would seem that one of my comments has been taken at little out of context.

I stated that many battles did not work, because there was no inclination on the part of many of the participants to follow the scripts or to put on an entertaining display for the public.

There are a number of reasons why I think this is the case.
- There are (small number) who cant be bothered/simply dont care as long as they get a good scrap.
- A large number who think that if they follow the script they will miss out on a decent share of the fighting.
- An even larger number who do not know the script and whose leaders dont know it who pile in when they think its appropriate.

The latter two points can I think be overcome with good well communicated scripts and the realisation that if they are followed then they will get an event they enjoy with all the fighting that they want and provide an interesting show - a win/win situation. This should be wha we are striving for if we generally want to make bttles better.


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Postby Sal » Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:33 pm

Craig 1459 wrote:Well the Sealed Knot hang people


Now look, there's nothing wrong with a good hanging or flogging.... we were quite good at it :) Got photos of Dave swinging from a tree somewhere (on the end of a rope obviously... not just swinging).


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Postby Ian Macintyre » Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:00 pm

Man from Coventry wrote:Reading through the latest entries it would seem that one of my comments has been taken at little out of context.

I stated that many battles did not work, because there was no inclination on the part of many of the participants to follow the scripts or to put on an entertaining display for the public.

There are a number of reasons why I think this is the case.
- There are (small number) who cant be bothered/simply dont care as long as they get a good scrap.
- A large number who think that if they follow the script they will miss out on a decent share of the fighting.
- An even larger number who do not know the script and whose leaders dont know it who pile in when they think its appropriate.

The latter two points can I think be overcome with good well communicated scripts and the realisation that if they are followed then they will get an event they enjoy with all the fighting that they want and provide an interesting show - a win/win situation. This should be wha we are striving for if we generally want to make bttles better.



Yes YES YES

I get very narked when people get off script. I blew up at a very good mate of mine whom some of you know, when he suggested doing this at an event.

I also think that if there is a scripted battle with complicated stuff happening a walk through in soft kit on the first morning could be useful.


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Postby m300572 » Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:15 pm

Well you can always use a flamethrower if it don't


Someone may remember the reference - I can't, may have been in one of the Military Vehicles magazines - US, battle reenactment site which they use for modern events - Iwo Jima had a flamethrower area where assorted loons could go and try out their flamethrowers!!! Yeeee hahhh!! Scares the cr@p out of the rattlesnakes apparently.



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Sat Apr 08, 2006 9:15 am

[quote]Marcus woodhouse wroteThese are good ideas. Are these not the kind of things that living history groups (or living history sections within battle-societies) have been doing for years?

Speaking generally, yes, I'm in re-enactment for my own pleasure, but I appreciate that it is the paying public who keep our hobby going. Without them we would all be in the SCA, rubber and aluminium or not.
Anyone who thinks that our own "enjoyment" should come before that of the public, or that those two things are mutually exclusive, GET REAL!

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Postby Cat » Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:25 pm

This is a personal opinion:
Having spoken to a lot of MOPs after big shows, particularly Tewkers and Berkeley which are just down the road from my home town the main public perception of the majority of the battle is one of boredom. Bear with me.

When they start to get excited and want to stay is when we get experienced people like Mr DomT and Mr Fox having a huge scrap by the crowd lines, goonery with added pyros and people taking hits from same, action by the crowd line, fights to the death, blocks running away-being chased off the field (didn't this happen at Berkeley last year?), cavalry and good audible commentary.

A lot of the MOPs come with sprogs or Grannie, who (Yes I know I'm generalising) want spectacle, colour and bloodshed.

This could be achieved by altering things only very slightly. Somebody mentioned, up thread about more 'acting'. Well, why not have any fighters willing to stage one-on -one, or crowd-pleasing show-scrapping nearer to the public, with those who really want a proper scrap between units further down the field.

This would mean that those 'acting' would have to make themselves known at the captain's meeting, and some common sense would need to be involved (frex, you know that Black Co hunting down Frodo and the Tudors would be a great show to have at the front, whereas Mr Newb and his mate with quarterstaff vs dagger would have to run through their fight for the commanders first...)

I know I'm rambling, and that some of this is already being done.I also know that one umbrella organisation is encouraging show fighting as part of its general training. This can only be for the good.

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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:49 pm

That's what i'd go with, and not just for medieval battles but in general. I got bored with taking part in english civil war battles because they were always the same and so damn unrealistic (blazing away with cannons and muskets at the start of fight= no casualties, knackered out at end of fight, one pistol shot decimates regt) and with iron age dark age for the same reason (4 people do not make an army, even a dark age army) but as a total newcomer whose interest was reignited at Tewkesbury it was the camps and traders who caught my attention. The battles bore mwe unless as at Blore Heath last year i get to hecall and catcall from the sidelines, and that was in my opinion a well staged event. You could see things people ran away, stuff was moved about. Still don't see many people falling down dead when a cannon shoots at them though. perhaps they need to load them with arrows or swords next time.



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Postby Foxe » Sun Apr 09, 2006 7:58 pm

I recall some years ago, in an attempt to illustrate the effects of cannon fire on a large body of men to a gang of booze-and-bash reenactors a small piece was loaded with about 2 dozen berries - sadly not grapes, the irony would have been too much to handle - and fired (from a safe distance obviously) at an infantry body. The gun captain then wandered over to the infantry officer and said, "Every man with a purple stain is hors-de-combat". About three of them had escaped some "wound".

Slightly OT, sorry.


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Postby Alan_F » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:41 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:That's what i'd go with, and not just for medieval battles but in general. I got bored with taking part in english civil war battles because they were always the same and so damn unrealistic (blazing away with cannons and muskets at the start of fight= no casualties, knackered out at end of fight, one pistol shot decimates regt)


Marucs, when I was doing ECW, that was something that would really annoy me - that and the huge rubgy scrum pushes in the centre of the field. Possibly the worst experience was two large units of musketeers being told to move as there was a push in progress. In reality, with all the muskets that were blazing away, the pikemen would have been an ugly smear on the ground.

There are plenty in both the SK and ECWS who want to make it more realistic, but then as now they run into this imovable opbject that is people saying that it can't be changed for this, that or whatever BS reason. I know that it has cost both societies a lot of people over the years as well.


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Postby craig1459 » Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:58 am

Allan Harley wrote:The problem is with well known events such as Tewkesbury that is what MOP's want - the battle of Tewkesbury.


But for other events you can try to refine what is on display - thats the intention at Lincoln over Easter - lots of action, role-play, different dtyles of fighting/armour/weapons with good commentary


god, it better work


Allan
I've got a suggestion for the management of death in a battle - the Black Household (the scenario below assumes a three-push battle model)

One large household, or combination of smaller households, is elected at the start as the Black Household. They are split into two and then told to go down in either the first or second push. They then are split throughout both sides and wear no livery.

As they go down, they either hobble off as walking wounded or are carted off to a "secret location" (ooh) where they get liveried up in preparation to join the final phase of the battle on the winning side!

This means the Stanleys get to do something at Bosworth and Blore :twisted:


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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:40 am

Plenty of people want to change but..... I know what you mean alan as the same thing is being said here but.... we can change it, how difficult would it be for a bunch of us to wander by each other (of course we might actually need to meet each other first) and then say something like "oy, where did you get that dagger? That's my dagger, Get him!" cue chase and doing, you could even finish it off comically by saying "you know what lads this ain't my dagger after all, no hard feelings mate." I know as a member of the paying public that is something I'd not mind seeing.



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Postby Ian Macintyre » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:03 am

I was at a site this week and though how good it would be to hold an event there. Simply because it had a huge grassy slope on the side. Being able to see from a raised position is I think a key factor for the public.

Otherwise its just watching the same two or three blokes fighting by the crowd. Also many people essentially watch a load of backsides and the only time the see the front of somebody is when they go for water.

Being raised above means one can see the ebb and flow and also the seperate divisions/battles.

One thing I would not mind doing is rather than one 40 minute "battle" is to have two or three scenes from teh battle shown. With people dying each time (but still getting that scrap in!) then clearing away and doing a different scene.

Scene 1 - The initial engagement of the Duke of Piltons forces driven off by the Lord of Leith.
Scene 2 - The Earl of Stockbridge's troops are taken in the flank by the Earl of Trinity's men.
Scene 3 - The Duke of Leith's men are surrounded and eventually butchered, when the combined forced of the Earl of Trinity and the returning Duke of Piltons men drive them against a bend in the stream.


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Postby Man from Coventry » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:18 am

Craig 1459

"I've got a suggestion for the management of death in a battle - the Black Household (the scenario below assumes a three-push battle model)

One large household, or combination of smaller households, is elected at the start as the Black Household. They are split into two and then told to go down in either the first or second push. They then are split throughout both sides and wear no livery.

As they go down, they either hobble off as walking wounded or are carted off to a "secret location" (ooh) where they get liveried up in preparation to join the final phase of the battle on the winning side!"

This is a good idea and a variant of what has been attempted at Blore for the last two years, where there was a lull in the battle, in which bodies would be recovered from the first result and then return as reinforcements to the Lancastrian side in different liveries. We will be continueing to attempt to get it work this year.

There were a number of difficulties doing this;

1. Individuals want to fight with their own groups, not with others
2. Although some individuals died, they didn't stay that way and when the blocks retreated the field was miraculously hoovered clean of dead bodies and consequently there was no one to cart away when the lull occurred making it pointless.
3. Alternate liveries don't exist & people don't like fighting in other liveries, (the Fed is now investing in alternate general liveries). Also fighting without liveries is frowned upon as it can then be more difficult in a large battle especially to identify individuals, important if there is an H&S or behaviour problem.
4. Nom combatants not sufficiently trained/organized to collect bodies and remove them. (again moves within the fed to change this)
5. Insufficient i.e none carts to assist in moving the "dead", stretchering is hard work most re-enactors are not light especally in armour.


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EmanwelOfGwent
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Postby EmanwelOfGwent » Tue Apr 18, 2006 5:18 pm

An idea for demonstrating the effect of guns for the audiance (not sure if it'd work):

as part of the script, one group is asked to "attempt" to charge one of the guns. At the begining of the battle (usually the kind of time when archers are arching and infantry are standing around), the gunners taunt the target group as a que. Target group go for the gun. While they're still at a safe distance the gun fires, and the group go down. After firing, the group wounded start crawling, limping or carrying the dead back to the rest of their side.

You'd still have the problem of their being no corpses left lying around though.


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DomT
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Postby DomT » Tue Apr 18, 2006 5:27 pm

Have them absorbed by the first combat, get up and fight.

Or we could always have a few fake bodies to leave behind....thats probably overly complex though. I like the charge idea though.


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Dickie
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Postby Dickie » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:50 am

craig1459 wrote:Well the Sealed Knot hang people and burn witches :D

In the 10 odd years I was in the SK, we hung a few people, but I never recall burning witches.

Never in front of the public anyhoo...


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