It’s funny to look back and see how far you and your friends have come.
When I started the Carolingian Calivers with my buddy Duncan about six years back, we had a simple goal: To create a rapier unit that specialized in RBG tactics, and to build a group that could fight together and train together.
An Idea Conceived
The RBG angle might seem a bit odd, but it stemmed from a battle at GNEW about six years back (give or take). I was put on the run squad and my objective was to get to the opposite end of the ship and block our enemies from boarding, so the slower runners behind us could get all the gold for our team.
I sprinted my tiny little ass off and got there first. Barreling toward me on the other side was Don Wyatt, armed with his usual sword and buckler. I knew I was more or less toast, but the longer I could hold out the better for my team. When he got a few paces away he stopped. But instead of raising his sword, he lowered his buckler, revealing a loaded pistol.
He blasted me right in the chest with his RBG. Part of me was stoked that Wyatt felt the need to use a shot on me; part of me felt like my life was cheapened.
And I wanted to do that to others. So did Duncan.
We had originally wanted the RBG aspect to be a little more of a forefront of the group. Working on period shooting drills and techniques but with RBGs. We even got a period Musket & Caliver drill book from the baron of Carolingia. But there’s very little RBG use in the SCA, so that part of the goal had been shifted downward since then.
(I still think a period-looking firing line would be pretty baller.)
During melee events we (see: new Carolingian fencers) were the ones that usually had no home. No household or group to fight with. Since most of us were new, we weren’t very good or high draft choices from the more seasoned fencers when selecting teams. So we inevitably got grouped together as stragglers.
And we got steamed rolled. Every. Single. Time.
Part of it was because we had no leadership. Too many chefs and each with different ideas. No one really knew anything about melee technique or strategy (or the ones that did were shot down). We were as skilled and organized as an unruly peasant mob.
That was the other reason for creating the Calivers. We were going to fight together anyways, it seemed; we might as well learn how to do it right. Or, at least, do it better.
Mellivora Capensis Non Dat Fecis
Originally, we named the group the Carolingian Carabiniers and our charge was a honey badger holding a firearm. We chose the slogan Mellivora Capensis Non Dat Fecis which loosely translates into “Honey Badger Don’t Give a Shit”, after the hilarious viral Youtube video that was big at the time.
(My Photoshop skills have greatly improved since then, too.)
We were quickly convinced to abandon the slogan for something a little more appropriate for the barony. We also decided people would think the honey badger was a skunk, so we dropped that, too.
The honey badger lives on, however, as a small inside joke on my Award of Arms that I would get sometime later.
The upside of losing the hilarity was that we given baronial sanction by Baron Jehan du Lac, were officially chartered into the barony and given a yearly stipend that helped pay for the uniforms and other equipment.
The Carolingian Calivers were born!
From the Ground Up
When we first started the Calivers we had about 10 fencers and just three AoAs between us — LT, Magdelena & Esteban. The rest of us were so new were still wet behind the ears. We were about as rad tag of a team as you were going to find.
But we worked on our melee skills regularly. For the first year, every other Sunday was melee practice. I read every rapier (and rattan) melee manual I could find in hopes that I could feign passing knowledge of what it meant to be a commander and what we were supposed to do to win. I figured, if I couldn’t do that, the Calivers weren’t bound to last long.
Fortunately, fake it ’til you make it works sometimes.
At our debut event at the Carolingia Investiture, we fought a woods battle against what was a much more individually skilled team. It was the Calivers vs. the East Kingdom and we won by .5 point.
Most of the actual fight is a blur, but I do remember us skipping into the woods at lay on, humming the tune to The Smurfs.
It might’ve not been an important war point at Pennsic, but it was a statement event for us. If nothing else, it showed that our ragtag team of a bunch of nobodies could win if we worked together. It definitely boosted my confidence as a commander. And most importantly, we had a blast in the process.
It’s been a wild ride since then.
We went from having just 3 AoAs as our big awards to now having 4 OGRs, 4 OSRs, 7 AoAs, plus few of new fencers that’ll surely get there themselves soon enough.
Two years ago we had our first three Calivers make the Pennsic Champs teams. This year we had six Champs across Singles and Melee.
We’ve won several 5-man tournies at GNEW , and were named the King’s Company of Calivers during Brennan II’s reign for our warfare prowess. Not bad for a group that hardly knew how to form a line, eh?
We’ve gone from working on the bare basics of melee like “how to flank” to creating our own drills to improve our (and the East’s) kill pocket busting, line fighting/cross-shots, and line zippering.
The last two years at K&Q Rapier, we’ve had someone in the finals. We’ve also had four fencers across this year’s and last year’s Final 4. We’ve had two Queen’s Champs (Sorcha & Effingham) and now our first King’s Champ (Lupold).
We’re not doing a great job at being a bunch of nobodies anymore. 🙂
It’s been fun (and a bit surreal) to see the Company grow up together, get better, push one another to improve, and laugh the whole way.
It’s been a great four years leading the Calivers and I look forward to many more.