SKBC Adventures in Las Vegas

This SKBC blog is a long one folks, I’ve tried to title the headlines so you can easily read this blog in segments, skipping the parts that might be of no interest for you, or allowing you to easily pick up where you left off if you want to read it over multiple sessions.

Within you’ll read about my history going to the Sword Knight Boot Camps over the years, touching on a few memories from each one. Then I get into my trip to SKBC 2024 in Las Vegas. I talk not only about the content I’ve gathered over the event, but also about what I took away on a personal level. I also touch on aspects of my goals in my content creation and my hopes for the future, sprinkled in with a little bit of my hardships that I constantly find myself battling.

I realize you may not read the whole, thing, and that’s okay, I found personal value in writing this blog, it helped me analyze my time in Vegas and reflect on my experiences at SKBC throughout the years. I hope that shines through and you decide join me on the journey and enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it.

What is SKBC?

SKBC is a foam fighting focused conference of sorts. The best foam fighters in North America gather to fight and teach those who are willing to travel to the event. They use the combat rules from Amtgard but there are no battle games (other than the time honored ditch), no classes, no magic, no role play, just foam fighting.

The event moves all over the USA. Each year it’s held at a different location in an effort to allow a chance for those throughout the country to more easily attend. It started in 2003 and has ran every year since, other than during the dark times of the COVID shutdown.

My History With SKBC

I have been lucky enough to have gone to four SKBC events in my 25 years in the game (my god I’m getting old, lol). If you don’t mind me doing a little bit of exposition I’d like to talk about my history at SKBC before getting into the events of my 2024 journey.

My First SKBC

The first time I attended SKBC was in 2006 at the fourth SKBC. It was held outside of Seattle, WA. I don’t remember much of that event, although I do remember that I took a beginner class in short sword fighting. Derek Roth was the teacher. It turned out that when they say beginner, they mean beginner and it covered all the basic things I already knew.

That event was also infamous for the fact that there was a small group of people who vandalized one of cabins. They used condiments and wrote, among other things, Corruption, across a wall with ketchup. For what It’s worth, it was in the cabin with mostly Annihilus members. They seemed to have been there to disrupt the event more than to do any learning or enjoying any of the fighting. It was fairly embarrassing for the other northwest fighters to have something like that happen at this event. I remember this distinctly because my friends were the one’s who cleaned up the mess left behind.

My Second SKBC

SKBC didn’t come back to the Pacific Northwest again till 2015, which is the next one I was able to attend. I remember this one a little better, but still not that well. I took Kicking Ass for Decades, and a class by Brennan about analyzing fights. I was actually not allowed to participate in that class.

The class was full and he made the choice to kick me out, despite having actually been one of the people who had signed up. However, I was allowed to audit the class, so I still listened to the lecture and took notes. Funny thing is, when he asked questions to the class, no one could answer them, but I often knew the answer. Maybe that meant it was the right choice to have been denied participation, but it still seemed rather amusing at the time. It was a good class and I took back some lessons to my fighting company, which at the time was The Harbingers.

I also spent some time doing political stuff. I was the BOD President of Blackspire at the time and there were some issues with Viridian Outlands and the Canadian lands. all of which were still under Blackspire as a principality. I don’t remember the details but we were talking about NPO laws and how to managed a group across international borders.

This was the last SKBC I attended as just a student. It was the last one I spent most of my time fighting. I distinctly remember that I was one of the last two people fighting on Saturday night, closing out the event. It was a fun time.

My Third SKBC

The third time I attended SKBC was, again, when it came to the PNW in Washington. This time in 2022. By this time I had already started my YouTube Channel and I was there to get content. I was eagerly looking forward to adding quality recordings of SKBC classes to the internet, specifically with good audio, which was very rare, if not non existent, at the time.

Sadly, I had technical issues at the event. I bought a new fancy microphone to make sure I got good audio, but due to the wires I was using there was static noise throughout a lot of the audio. It ruined more video than I would have liked, but I was able to publish three out of four full classes I had recorded, Two Stick with Petter the Quick, Polearm with Devry and Zander and Two Man Fighting with Michael Hammer (who’s name I misspelled in the video, much to my embarrassment).

Those three videos continue to be some of the most watched videos in my collection to this day, with Peter’s class being the most watched video of the whole channel. I also recorded the fundamentals class, broken up into two videos, but they are of lower quality, in my opinion.

I don’t recall doing any actual fighting at this event. I was deep into my not-fighting phase of Amtgard (mostly due to depression), which is kind of sad given how much I’ve loved foam fighting throughout my life. If you’re going to fight at an event, SKBC is the event to fight at. I may have done some sparring with Gustav, who had had carpooled with me to the event, but that was the limit of my fighting.

Despite not fighting I still think of this as the most important SKBC that I’ve attended. It was the most important one to my YouTube journey at the very least. It really helped boost the channel like no other single event I’ve attended, which is why I was excited to learn that in 2024 it was going to be in Las Vegas, close enough that I might be able to attend it once again.

Funding My Trip to SKBC 2024

I realize to most people who follow my content they may think I do this work for fun, just a side project for my hobby, but that’s not how I view it. It’s true, I find it fun, most times, but doing the content is also a lot of work. I would love to get to the point that my content creation endeavors provide a majority of my income and to do that, I need to treat it as a job, which I try my best to do.

There are times I don’t want to record for one reason or another, anxiety and depression often being at the heart of the issue, but I do my best to push through it. It’s not just time and effort that are required. There are also monetary costs associated with getting good content. Namely recording equipment and travel costs. I live on a disability income, so my options for paying for such things are fairly limited.

Normally travel is regulated to the PNW and is limited to gas and event fees, stuff I can usually cover with some planning, but Las Vegas was different. It was close enough for me to go but I didn’t have the money to really do it, it was my first big trip I wanted to do just for content so I set up a GoFundMe Campaign to try and cover travel costs.

I put effort into making it as professional as I could, I even made a campaign video. I wasn’t sure if I’d get any contributions but I had to try. It was slow at first, but I did get a few donations and I was ecstatic, I can be fairly pessimistic and I had assumed I’d get none. Then, after a month or so, I got one big donation that made the campaign go over it’s goal, even if only slightly. This covered my transpiration costs and event fee, which was all I was hoping for.

My first attempt to really fund my content creation in a big way was a success, even if it came from fewer people than I would have expected was needed to reach the goal. Believe me, I’m happy to take the win!

Trouble’s in Vegas

Ticket’s bought and bags packed, I was ready to fly out of Salem. I was traveling with Critias, Louie, Kalzar and Ceian. We all flew out together, although Ceian was staying at a hotel by himself. The rest of us were staying at an Airbnb that Minerva had booked for us.

The flight was smooth enough, about two hours and only a little turbulence but things were about to turn bumpy very quickly. When we were just about to order an Uber to take us to the rental, we got a message from Minerva that there was a problem, the rental canceled on us. They claimed the property had been vandalized. We were in Las Vegas, luggage in hand and had no where to stay.

Louie went with Ceian to his hotel while the rest of us went and got some food from in the airport while we waited for Minerva to work her magic figure out what we were going to do. About an hour passed and Minerva had contacted an Airbnb representative and it turned out it there was no vandalism, we had been scammed. Minerva was still working on finding us another place to stay and we decided to go ahead and wait at Sunset Park, the place where SKBC was being held this year.

While on the way to the park Minerva messaged Critias and informed him she had secured another place for us to stay. In the same apartment complex even, which was pretty close to the park. We still had to wait a few hours till we could check in so we ended up staying at the park once the Uber dropped us off.

The First Fight of SKBC 2024

It turns out we were the first people at the park. I joked at the time that people would come to us and we’d be the ones to start SKBC. As much as it was a joke, it turned out to be the truth.

We hung around for a little while, not seeing any other foam fighters, until eventually, we saw three people walking near by. One of them we noticed was Devry. It took a few shouts, but eventually he noticed us and they walked over.

With Devry was Nip and Morpheus. Introductions were made, and much to my surprise, due to my channel, both Nip and Morpheus knew who I was (I should probably stop being surprised when I learn stuff like this but I don’t know if I’ll ever really get used to it).

We talked for a little bit and eventually the topic of fighting came up, but they hadn’t brought their gear with them, but we did have ours. We offered up our equipment. It took a little convincing for garbless Devry to agree to fight the garbed Nip, but agree he did. Nip was, thankfully, very insistent that I record the fight. It didn’t take much to convince me to be honest.

So there I was, recording them fighting each other with short swords and then it occurred to me what I was actually recording. It wasn’t just a fight. I was quite literally recording the very first fight of SKBC 2024. That’s wild to me. It was a lucky start to my content creation weekend. Rather shocking after the bad luck of the situation we had found ourselves in when we landed in Las Vegas. That fight by the way will be released on my YouTube Channel on Monday April 15th (subscribe to the channel please, it really helps :).

While I was in the middle recording the fight, a few more people from the Pacific Northwest showed up to the park, as well as Louie, A bearpit quickly started up, but rather than record it, I actually joined in!. I only got in a few fights before I needed to stop to go with Critias to help check in at the rental.

Checking in was an ordeal in and of itself. We took an Uber to the wrong spot and had to take a second Uber to the right spot. Then we had to wait for the owners to arrive and clean up the apartment, which was reasonable. It was a last minute reservation after all. When we were finally able to settle in Critias and I were exhausted. We both decided that instead of going back to the park we would take a much needed nap.

Later we learned that several other people had turned up at the park and they had ditching going until after dark. The first official day of SKBC was a success and I can say with some pride I was one of first people to start the fighting at this year’s event.

A Trip To The Strip

It wouldn’t be a trip to Vegas if you didn’t go to the strip. While it was not the reason for this trip, I wanted to go there at least once. Kalzar was the only one to join me on Thursday night. We went to Momofuku for dinner and had some very good ramen. We also had our first drink of the trip with our meal, a Toki Highball. After dinner we walked from the Cosmopolitan to the Excalibur. Along the way we stopped at Fat Tuesdays for booze slushies. Kalzar got a comically large drink, while I stayed with a, much to large for me, regular “large” sized cherry slushy.

I wasn’t even able to finish my drink, but by the end did I get a little tipsy. Kalzar ended up pretty buzzed but not really drunk. On our walk had stopped at the tables outside of New York New York, next to a colorful water feature, to drink and just vibe. In the background was a person on a loud speaker spouting insane conspiracy theories about portals opening up on April 8th during the solar eclipse and warning us that Earth was going to be attacked by aliens. We talked and laughed about it and then continued our walk.

We met up with another pair of fellow Oregonians, Opi and Burbarry, while we were in the Excalibur. We said our hellos, chatted for a little bit, and they went off to a late dinner and we went back to our rental to get a good night’s rest before the first full day of SKBC.

First Full Day of SKBC

We were up and ready to go to the park by 8am, well everyone but Critias. Our goal was to get to site before breakfast ended at 9. It took four attempts to get Critias out of bed. I don’t blame him for sleeping so much though. He’s a dad to a young child and he’s had a rough month when it comes to sleep. This was the first time in a while he’d managed to get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Something he really must have needed. It was close, but we did get to the park before breakfast ended.

The meal was an egg, bacon and cheese croissant sandwich by the way. it was a pleasant and filling breakfast. I will be mentioning food throughout the blog but I’ve set aside a special section to really critique that aspect of the event as I do have some constructive feedback to give. I am known as the feast guy after all, wouldn’t be right not to touch on it.

Foundations With Peter

After food was the foundations class. I did record it, but I wasn’t able to get close enough to really catch any good audio. It’s pretty hard to manage to get close enough for audio and get a good angle when a class contains all of the students at the event. I also didn’t want to get in the way of them learning so I didn’t force my way to the front or stand so close as to block the student’s view of the instructor.

Besides, I had gotten the foundations class from SKBC 2022 and it covered the same material, although it was a different teacher this time. It was Peter the Quick. Granted If I was positioned better I could have gotten a better recording than I did from 2022 but I was really there more for the core classes.

Style Pod Time

After lunch, there were three more classes, Style Pods, a more traditional class and then evening lectures. Style Pods, didn’t have any lectures associated with then, no real structure to speak of. They were designed to basically have the teachers observe us fighting and give individual feed back.

I didn’t get any recorded content from the Pod Classes. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I could reasonably record, edit and present the Style Pods in a way that would be useful, so instead, I joined one as a participant; the Short Sword Style Pod.

I’ve only been actively fighting again for a few weeks (I lived a pure sedentary lifestyle for well over 5 years, caused by continual bouts of moderate to severe depression). In fact, when I say a few weeks, it has literally only been two practices with in 3 weeks.

I fought for about half an hour before my arm went noodily and I could no longer properly control my sword arm when fighting. Given that the class was an hour and a half long It was a sadly short amount of time,. I have vowed to get some dumbbells to help build my arm strength and endurance back up.

However in that half an hour I did get some good feedback. I was given two actionable things that I could work on going forward. Plus a sprinkling of positive comments.

One was foot work. My movements were noted as solid, but limited, I had the idea down, but they suggested incorporating a larger range of movements so I had more entry points and shot options.

One instructor, who I don’t remember who they were because I wasn’t wearing my glass. I never do when I’m fighting. I couldn’t really make out distinctive features due to this. I think it might have been Gus? There was another instructor of similar height and build, it could have been them.

Anyways, whoever it was said I had solid blocks and I said I should work on my shots. He noted that I favor going sword side hip and while I was getting the shot, it wasn’t doing so with much precision. I would get leg as much as I would hip.

The main suggestion he had to improve this was in how I throw my shot. He suggested using a different body mechanic than I’ve ever used before. It was by tucking in my arm when I throw the shot. I’ve always thought that the power of my shot was in turning over my forearm, which after being showed the correct way to throw it, I now realize that is only one part of the motion.

I attribute this to me never fighting with my glasses on. I can’t see the difference without them. In fact, even when he was showing me how to do it I couldn’t see it, he had to literally guide my arm with his hands for me to get it.

The change was slight, but the power difference was very noticeable. It felt awkward and I’m going to have to drill it hard to get my shot to change so that it’s a natural movement. I hope when I get a chance to practice I’m able to remember exactly how my body is supposed to move. I worry I may not.

After I put down my sword I continued to watch the class to see what else I could learn. They had switched from a winner losers fighting format to a bearpit format, which I think was better for the group learning environment. It still allowed the instructors to view the fights and give feedback, but allowed for the students to also watch the fights and learn from advice given to other students.

One of the instructors stayed in the pit for quite a while and one thing everyone was noting was that he wasn’t just blocking shots or moving his feet, to move his body out of the way, he was also “dodging” shots by moving his shoulders. Being able to do so showed a good judge of his opponent’s range.

I note this for two reasons, one, it’s unusual to see, especially in such a proficient and exaggerated fashion, and two, it’s also something I do. It was very validating to see someone else take this tactic in Amtgard. They were much better at it than I am, but I still manage to pull it off from time to time. The more weight I lose the more I think it will come back to me, as my body size begins to reflect the size it was when I was more actively fighting.

First Real Class, Short Sword

The first class I wanted to record was the Short Sword Class. It was taught by Paolo, Gus and Critias, although Paolo took lead through most of it.

Speaking of Paolo, had actually made a point to say hello to me earlier in the day. Unknown to me he had been following my channel since SKBC 2022 and wanted to thank me for all the hard work I’ve put in to the channel. He was one of the first people, not in my friend to, to acknowledge exactly how much work really goes on behind the scenes. That was probably the single best moment I had that whole day. It really made me feel like I had been seen.

Anyways, the class went well. It covered the basic guards and how to protect the inner and outer lanes. They actually explained it in such a way that the inside and outside lines finally clicked in my brain. As much as I understand about fighting, I’m embarrassed to say that that simple terminology, about inside and outside guard, never really clicked with me till this class.

I was worried that I wasn’t able to catch the audio all that well, I was competing with the wind, airplanes landing from the nearby airport and some obnoxiously loud wildlife. Luckily my worry was unfounded. I’ve since listed to clips of the video and it sounded pretty good, all things considered.

Unlike with the class I recorded the next day, I’m not really sure how I will edit this class. The lecture parts were shorter than I expected and the instructors spent a lot of time going between pairs of fighters helping them better understand the material that was presented. Great for the students, less so for for developing a cohesive instructional video.

I got some good content outside of the lecture aspects and I’m unsure of how to incorporate it. I may just edit the lecture sections into one video and then release the more in-depth instructions as bonus content that delves further into the subject of single sword fighting.

No matter how I end up doing it I got some good single sword content that I’m excited to share with everyone. Personally, I enjoyed having a refresher course in my favorite fighting style. I wouldn’t say I learned anything new exactly, but I was given a different perspective of the information I already knew. This will help me broadened my own fighting and I as I was to find out the next day, it would work really well with the class I was to record, Computer Computer.

It Was A Terrible Day, Actually

Did I mention it was cold? Well it was! I didn’t realize how cold it was going to be till after we’d arrived at the park and my coat was left on the bed in my room. the cold really set the tone for the day.

It was in the 50s, which would have been fine, but the wind chill nocked it down to the 40s and by the end of the day, when the sun was going down, the wind chill was cutting right through me, but I’m getting a head of myself. The day had turned sour well before the evening, at least for me.

The cold weather, while not terrible yet, was still fairly draining. Especially after I managed to wear myself out during the Pod class. The cold was really getting to me and my inability to get more content was really dragging me down, mentally.

In 2022 they were not doing Pods which gave me the chance to record four classes. Now they were doing two Pod blocks one at the start of the event and another at the end, cutting down the classes I could reasonably record from four to two. Don’t get me wrong, I think the style pods are a very good thing to have added and brings to bear a lot of positives attributes but for filming instructive, narrative video, it’s pretty terrible.

On top of that lack of built in content, I wasn’t recording the ditching. I was worried about reserving my camera’s power to record the day’s classes This further reduced the amount of content I thought I was going to be able to capture when I envisioned this work trip.

All of these factors put me in a pretty negative mood. Then the sun began to set and the wind picked up, furthering the chill factor. By six I was ready to go back to the rental and warm up, but I didn’t really want to take an Uber back by myself. Luckily for me, Critias was also super cold and when the wind really started to pick up, he had had enough too.

We missed the lecture classes, but I was okay with that. Kalzar stayed and watched the How to Teach class and Louie took the Mental Approach To Fighting class. They both enjoyed their respective courses.

I would have liked to capture the teaching class, it was taught by Bhakdar, and he is a very good teacher. I had taken the class he taught back in 2022 but to be honest, I was high out of my mind after eating a big edible and I don’t remember it very well. However, with how I was feeling, both mentally and physically, I’m okay with not having recorded this year.

End of Day 2

Back at the rental I took a much needed hot bath. I knew I was cold but I didn’t realize exactly how cold I was till I was getting ready for my bath. I was practically shivering despite the house being warmer than outside. My body was also rather cold to the touch. I spent a good amount of time in the bath warming up. It really helped my mood too, but I was by no means a 100 percent.

I think my body used a lot of energy trying to keep me warm this second day. By the time I was out of the bath I was hungry and exhausted, despite having eaten all three provided meals at the event. So when Louie and Kalzar got back and said they were going to walk to Albertsons to get some dinner, I gladly put on my shoes and joined them.

When we got back to the rental from buying the groceries we fired up the oven to cook the enchiladas and put on a movie, Meg. Louie was out like a light within minutes of the movie starting. I was actually getting into it, despite my apprehension, but I too was tired. I didn’t even wait for the food to finish cooking, I ate some leftover pizza and headed to bed.

I slept for nearly 11 hours that second night.

Last Day of SKBC

The last day of SKBC was much better for me, mentally and physically, than the previous one. I made a point to take my coat this time, even though it was supposed to be warmer, I wasn’t going to take any chances. I ended up not needing it at all, it was pleasantly warm.

On top of being a nice day, it was Saturday and there were traveling ice-cream peoples. I managed to snag two popsicles throughout the day, which was a nice treat.

We ended up sleeping in a little extra and skipping breakfast at the park. I ate some cereal before we left. By the schedule we were actually late for the first class, but luckily for us everything was running late. We even managed to get some breakfast at the park too, but the eggs tasted off to me so I only ate the bacon.

A ditch had started, so I pulled out my gear and tried to record it. After dealing with my gimbal not doing what I wanted it, I managed to record about four minutes of ditching before the first class started.

Dalos’ Last SKBC Class?!

The last class I recorded and the one that was suggested to me by Takara, was Computer Computer by Dalos. She suggested it for two reasons, one it’s a good class and two the rumor was it might be the last time that Dalos taught at SKBC. I don’t know if that can be substantiated or not, but I thought it was a good enough reason to make sure it got recorded for future foam fighting generations.

I probably could have recorded a sword and board class and gotten more views out of it, but I believe it’s important to get a good recording of this class. Dalos has been teaching the Combat Computer course in various forms for years and he has a wealth of knowledge that I think is important to share.

He had done this class over streaming during the pandemic, I took it, but it’s not the same as doing it in person. Plus I thought I could get a better audio recording than the one that was streamed.

There wasn’t much lecture so to speak, but I have a better idea of how I’m going to edit this content than I did for the Short Sword class. There was a lot of class participation in this class. The core goal of the class was to help teach how to develop an adaptable plan when going into a fight. It is of course a bit more nuanced than that, it also involves analyzing fighters.

With how the class was organized I will able to show a fight, then have the group analyze the fight. Then for the second half of the video, the group will help one fighter at a time develop a plan to fight another opponent. I will then be able to show how they executed said plan and then show the after conversation the class had about the fight.

I just hope that all the audio comes out well enough to use every fight. I am using a shot gun mic so it’s possible that if I didn’t turn my mic towards a person fast enough when they were talking that I might not have caught the beginning of their comments. That wouldn’t make for a great video.

I Got More Than Just Content!

I came away from the class with more than just some content, I also came away with a good direction for my own fighting journey. Something I’ve noticed the last few times I’ve been fighting is that I have been fighting purely on muscle memory and instinct. While it’s kind of cool that I’m able to do that as well as I have been able to, it also means I have no way to improve what is already ingrained within.

The Combat Computer class gave me a direction for how I can fight mindfully. I need to train myself to once again be able to teach myself how to learn and incorporate that into my fighting. It’s going to be hard and will involve a lot of self-reflection. Honestly, I’m not sure I’m up to it. I really need to get my strength and endurance back too but I think I can try do do both of these things at the same time. We shall see.

One of the first steps is analyzing my own fighting, learning to better understand my own strengths and weaknesses. I then need to work on how to use those to my advantage, while also being mindful of how other fighters fight. I might have to finally get those prescription goggles I’ve been threatening to buy for the past several years. That way I can wear them while fighting and better see how people are fighting so I can learn to be more adaptable while fighting.

A lot of this is about retraining myself how to think about fighting. I’m so out of practice that it’s not something I’m used to thinking about any more. This is another moment in my life long foam fighting journey that will probably cause me to fight worse before get better and I am able to see long term improvement.

A prime example of this is one I go to when talking about the importance of foot work to new players.. When I first started fighting I didn’t realize how important footwork was. I had plateaued and found this was mainly due to my poor footwork. For at least a year I worked very hard on improving my foot work and I had to unlearn a lot of bad behaviors before I build up and develop the proper footwork one needs. I had to get worse before I was able to get better, much like I imagine I will have to do so again.

The year when I was relearning how to fight with proper foot was hard, there were times I was very frustrated with how I was doing, but I stuck with it and eventually I saw improvement. Not only was there improvement, I finally had down a fundamental aspect of fighting that I was able to build upon.

I feel like I’m at another one of those moments and I hope I’m able to keep with it and push through the struggle.

Just Enjoying the Vibe

After recording the class there was more pods, but my arm was still sore from Friday to join any and I just sat at the tables. I wasn’t alone though, people would filter in, stop by and chat and then move on.

At one point Sponge invited me to join him and a few others at a table and I was included in the conversation. I appreciated that. I even managed to hear a little bit of FWAK gossip but I ain’t going to spill the tea, lol.

I mostly just enjoyed the nice weather, my popsicles and the good company, spending the rest of the day just vibing. At one point, during cards, the 1 on 1 instructor time, I took a stroll among the field full of teachers and students and had some fun taking pictures (you can find those HERE).

The card time went on for the rest of the afternoon. People were filtering out of the event as they finished with their cards and there was a bearpit that went on for a little while after cards ended, but it was soon time to go.

We didn’t get to stay for the cookie social with the instructors, but I was okay with that. We had reservations at a restaurant, Mott 32, and we needed to go back and change before dinner.

Last Night In Vegas

Our last night on the town was a pretty short one. We went to the The Palazzo at The Venetian to have dinner with Ceian at Mott 32. It was fancy and the food was very good, however, I think it was a little over hyped and that ruined it a bit for me. It was still a wonderful last night’s meal in Vegas.

After there dinner there was talk of walking on the strip but I wanted none of that, it was late, I was tired and we had to get up at 4am to catch our flight home. I felt bad though, Louie and Kalzar wanted to go walk the strip and Critias was indifferent. I wish Loui and Critias had joined us on Thursday. They really should have walked the strip at least once on the trip. Neither had ever done so before. For that I felt a little selfish for wanting to go back.

In the end Louie settled for making Critias gamble at a casino for the first time and gave him $5 to play craps. He won, doubling the the money and then we went home. I think it was the right thing to do, but certainly not the fun thing to do.

I don’t know how they had the energy to do it, but they stayed up to watch Meg 2 after we got back. I ate two Oreos and went to bed. I must be getting old.

The next morning we flew home with little trouble. Certainly with less issues than we had when we arrived in Las Vegas.

Mixed Food Service

I don’t want to get into the specific meals we had. I did eat each one and portions were good and when the food wasn’t raw it tasted decent to serviceable. For one meal I had a chuck of chicken that was both undercooked and overcooked, depending which side I would eat from.

While eating a different chicken based meal a friend had a few chunks of raw chicken. There was also that one breakfast were the eggs tasted off. It was almost like there was salsa in them, but I did not add salsa, nor did they. Likely a contaminated pan. I did not eat those eggs.

I would like to note this was the feast people’s first feast and I don’t want to take away from their hard work. Cooking so many meals for so many people is hard work. Baring raw chicken, and a few pretty late serving times, they did pretty good for a first feast. Especially considering they did not have a kitchen, just a couple gas cooking stations. However, I think their approach was fundamentally flawed and needs to be reevaluated.

From my perspective, they treated working on the feast more like working in a restaurant rather than catering an event. This was reenforced when I was told that the head feast person worked in a professional kitchen. You can be a great restaurant cook and still have no idea how to cater an event. I that is where the fundamental problem laid.

For example, when they were doing teriyaki chicken they were cooking in small batches. They were able to feed about three or four people per batch, and for how much they prepared before they served there was no way that method was fast enough to reasonable serve everyone in a timely manner.

If I were to plan a meal, using what they had available to cook with I wouldn’t have even tried to cook chicken. Their gas cooking tops did not have lids, meaning they couldn’t cook with captured heat. That makes cooking chicken evenly more difficult.

What I would have done was probably cooked something like burgers, which are easier to cook evenly and quickly, with out needing to cover them in the process. You need to cook for what facilities you have and not try to make what you want to cook work with what you have. More often than not, if you do that it will be much harder than it needs to be, or it just won’t work out at all.

They didn’t make mistakes like that on every meal mind you. Brats were a good idea, which I loved. The egg meals were also a good idea but I think the execution could have been done better. They were cooking them in small batches, thinking more like a restaurant and it did cause lines to be backed up at times. In the second breakfast using the same small pans repeatedly may have led to some cross contamination.

I do not know exactly what there situation was concerning prep, but they could have made their lives much easier if more prep was done at someone’s house and brought to the park. For example the teriyaki chicken was all cut up at park, which isn’t ideal considering the facilities, which was just a bench and picnic tables by the away. Not to mention it’s hard to keep such working stations sanitary.

Given that they were new to cooking feasts and the facilities were primitive, I can understand the mistakes that were made, but they were mostly avoidable with proper planning. Hopefully it was a good learning experience and the next time they cook a feast they will have learned from this first experience.

Final Thoughts

Despite how I felt on Friday I think it was a great event. How will it impact the YouTube Channel? I’m not sure. I of course will have some evergreen content (content that continually generates views) but I went in hoping to get more content than I got, so in that way it’s a little bit disappointing. Mostly I wanted to get a lot more ditching and one on one fights. It’s not every day I have so many warlords in one place. I feel like I let myself down a little by not making an effort to arrange some one on one fighting videos.

I can happily say that thanks to those people who donated to my GoFundMe campaign. this event was mostly financially covered, It’s the first time I’ve had so much of my work costs covered for an event. Something I am not going to quickly forget or lose appreciation of.

On a more personal side, I got some good advice and was inspired to continue to fight. I was given a path forward in my foam fighting journey, even if it is a difficult one. The fact that this blog is so long really shows the impact that this event had on me. Writing it has really helped me process my SKBC journey, not just this year’s event but how the event has impacted me throughout my Amtgard journey.

I will continue moving forward in my content creation adventure and hopefully I will get to the point where I’m generating enough revue that I can do bigger and better things as time goes on.

If you’ve read this far and would like to help, I do have a Patreon page for those who would like to support me financially. Given I had to replace some wireless mics recently and this summers schedule of traveling the Pacific Northwest is pretty full, I could use some help in that regard. If you don’t have the funds, even joining the page as a free member will help raise my visibility on the platform.

There are other, non-monetary ways you can help out as well. Just engaging with the content would be a big boon, from sharing content, subscribing to my YouTube Channel and commenting on videos. It all helps feed the algorithm, which in turn helps give me a better chance at attracting advertisers to help financially bolster the content.

I appreciate everyone of you who have consumed my content. It seems at every event now people are letting me know the positive affect I’ve had on the community, something that is easily lost on me during my time working behind the computer. It’s all rather heartwarming to hear. Thank you for making this journey all worth while.

My Time At NLCC 2024 Spring

I’ll be honest, these days when I’m at an event I’m not usually playing the actual game of Amtgard. Weather permitting, I’m usually working on content, volunteering to help at the event or just there to vibe, meet people and hangout with friends. The Northern Lights Coronation Campout was no exception.

A lot of this blog will be about working on content personal encounters, but I would like to talk about the event itself too, which I did have fun at. If you’re just curious about my thoughts of the event the next section is the one your looking for, if you’re interested in my experiences of the event and what content I recorded, I’d love to have you read the whole blog!

The Event

First of all, this event was huge. The final count was 357 people and there were over 200 prepays, which is a lot for the Pacific Northwest Amtgard. If I’m not mistaken this is one of the most well attended events that have happened in Northern Lights. To get that many people hyped and willing to go out to an early spring event is pretty impressive for the PNW Amtgard scene.

I’d also like to thank Hated and Galuria for running the event. From how Galuria talked, and what I saw they did a good job complimenting each other. They both have different strengths and weakness and they worked well together. Not to mention they only had three months to plan the event and this was their first times running an event they did great!

The event had a little bit of something for everyone; battle games, a quest/bounty board, tournaments, both for foam fighting and arts and sciences and that’s just the game stuff. They also had downtime activates such as boardgames, a Magic: The Card Game tournament, a sip and paint, karaoke and a merchants row. I’m probably missing a few things too!

I’ve taken so long to put out his blog I’ve already had a live stream with Gally, Lenalin, Oso and Runebeard talking about the aftermath of NLCC. You can find that recording of that live stream HERE if you’d like to listen.

My Experience

My personal experience was mixed but it had nothing to do with the event itself. I try to keep my blogs positive, but part of the Baelnorn experience is also talking about my troubles with things like depression and anxiety, which is, sadly, a big factor in my life.

I did have a good time, I enjoyed everyone having such a good time and it was nice seeing old friends, but I also felt rather disconnected most of the event. It was no one’s fault, I just felt separated from everyone, which was at odds by all the people who were excited to meet me.

I met several new people this event, I had people I’d never met coming up and thanking me for all the content I make. I got more notice for my content than I’m used to getting, it was wonderful. Working in my room (or sometimes the coffee shop, like I am right now) for most of my content really isolates me. I’m not such a big content creator that I get a lot of online feedback, I get almost none, so it’s hard to see my impact week from week.

This event I felt my impact like never before and it was a wonderful experience that I’m still processing. Even thought it’s been happening for the past few events, I’m still not used to strangers coming up and wanting to meet me and think me for my content. It’s wild. I’m still not sure how I should handle it so I just smile and thank them for watching my content, mentioning that I really appreciate it.

This experience was a stark contrast to hanging out with my friends at the event. I felt disconnected from them, it was pretty disappointing. It’s no one’s fault, it was a busy event and people were going every which way and I was busy as well. There were a lot of people there so it’s understandable that people would have to split there time up with all there friends, especially when they only get to see many of them a few times of the year.

That feeling, mixed with feeling overstimulated by the crowds, led me to leave the event early on Saturday night. I didn’t stay for court, which I do regret a little. It sounds like there was a heartfelt speech by Miller for Hardplace’s knighting that I would have liked to have caught on video. Still I wasn’t in a good place, so it was probably better that I had headed out.

The Content

I had eight people apply to do an interview for LARP Chats, I scheduled six and I ended up recording a total of three interviews. The weather did not play nice, but luckily I had talked with Galuria before the event and got it cleared that we could use the stage area to record videos in case it was raining, which turned out to be a good idea.

I’m extremely happy that i was able to record so many episodes in one weekend but it wasn’t all great news. My nice wireless lapel mic system broke. The receiver module wouldn’t turn on. I was worried I wasn’t going to get any recordings, but I went ahead and tried using my shotgun mic. I worried it would pick up to much of the background noise in the hall and it wouldn’t pick up our voices nearly as well as the lapel mics would have.

I haven’ had the chance to plug them into the computer yet but from what I heard on my phone I’m pretty happy with how they turned out and I won’t have any problems editing them in the coming weeks.

On top of the interviews, I also got one fighting video, despite all the rain. I’ve actually already released it. It was Matrix vs Opi, you can watch it HERE if you haven’t already seen it. Hell, even if you have seen it, why not watch it again, lol?

Additionally, I was able to record Oromis’s knighting. I felt bad that his first knighting video didn’t turn out well enough that I could put it on the channel. Luckily this one turned out and will be live on Monday, April 8th. I also managed to catch Guin receiving her Master Rose, which you can see HERE.

All in all I’m happy for the content I got. I got five weeks worth of content, which is more than I usually get. It would have been nice to have gotten all eight of the interviews recording, that would have been the whole season recorded at one event. Wild! But getting three done is more than I’ve gotten at one event and I’m happy with what I got.

What’s Next

In only a few days I’ll be heading out to Sword Knight Boot Camp. I’m looking forward to getting more classes to put up on my YouTube Channel. The ones I have are the most watched content on my channel (here is the playlist). I imagine the ones I capture this time will do just as well. I just hope my equipment cooperates. I’m always worried there will be random static, which does happen. I have new cables, so it shouldn’t happen, but you never know.

I plan on capturing two classes and hopefully one lecture. The classes I hope to get are Short Sword and Combat Computer with Dalos. I’m not sure about which lecture I’ll try to record. We’ll see when I get there in a few days!

Keep a look at the community section of my YouTube Channel this weekend, I hope to be making a few, at event, posts.

You can see my Tier 2 (Rock Gnomes) and 3 (Tinker Gnomes) supporters on my Patreon Supporters page as well as find out how to become a Patron yourself.

Baelnorn Didn’t Record?!

I went to Amtgard and didn’t record a single video and I’m glad I didn’t! Why is that?. I fought and for me, I fought a lot and I loved it.

If you watch my YouTube channel you probably noticed I like to focus on foam fighting , like a lot. It’s not all the channel has to offer, but the majority of the videos are recordings of people foam fighting, but me, actually playing, no. It’s been a long time and very in frequently on top of that, at least these past several years.

I’m a self confessed stick jock, but you wouldn’t know it if saw me at LARP. I’m usually recording, taking pictures, volunteering or sitting on the side lines. That’s not always been the case. I joined LARP not for the RP but for the foam fighting.

My Start

My story is a fairly common one. Before I found a LARP organization I was hitting my friends in the yard with pvc pipes covered in insulation. Boy did I have some gnarly knuckle bruises!

Once I found Amtgard and got to fight more than my friends I was hooked like nothing before. I got a lot to say about my time in the game, but that isn’t this type of blog.

If you are interested in hearing more about my history I am working on some videos that covers more about who I am and what I’ve done in LARP. Being in the community for over 20 years I’ve worn many hats! Most of them weren’t even gnome hats!

So, why did I ever stop fighting? Well, simple answer, depression. I’ve struggled with it throughout my life. It’s caused me to stop doing a lot of things I loved, but lately things have been getting better.

Things Are Always Changing

The last several weeks things have been noticeably better when it comes to my mental health. Luckily extrinsic factors have changed over the last few months which I hope will allow me to capitalize on this change and let me ride it out as long as I can.

As of last fall, after two years, I was finally able to close my mother’s estate. That helped me find some closure after her passing. It also helped stabilize my financial situation. Then on top of all that I finally have stable housing for the first time in several years. Not having to worry if you’ll be homeless every month is pretty nice. It might be hard to realize how much of an affect that worry can have on you unless you’ve been in that position yourself.

Those three factors weighed huge on my mind and even when I might be feeling a little better, they would quickly drag me back into a state of constant worry and nihilism.

Then there is my physical health. I am of overweight and last year, at 315 pounds, I was at the heaviest I’ve ever been. On top of that I have Type 2 Diabetes and it was pretty out of control. But that too is changing

During the last half of last year I finally found the energy to work on dealing with my diabetes. I started Ozempic. I had some violent side affects when it came to nausea, but I stuck with it and the affects on my blood sugar was self-evident. After a few months the nausea wasn’t so bad and as of last week my A1C has dropped 3 whole points and I’m nearing pre-diabetic levels.

Additionally my weight has been dropping. Due to how the Ozempic has affected my digestive system I’m now down to 280 and it’s still dropping. By next month, I will be under 280 for the first time in I don’t even know how many years, probably at least ten.

Then last month I was able to do something that I attribute to this new mental and physical state that I now find myself in.

The Shake Up

I live an absurdly sedentary life style. For years I would find myself not leaving the apartment for days at a time. I did no physical activity. Bad health is self perpetuating. The more I did nothing the more I wanted to do nothing and my mental health and life stressors gave me no hope that anything would motivate me to do better.

As I mentioned, many things had been getting better, both my health and extrinsic factors. Still, while things were impvoving I was still mostly home bound and I did no physical activity. At that point it was the idea of the physical drain of just walking that kept me from going out.

Then in February I was lucky enough to have the chance to take a trip to London with my brother and good friend Dale. I no longer had the choice of driving to get to where I wanted to go. I had to walk. I went from no steps to 14,000 steps a day.

The first several days of the trip were a sort of mild living hell. It wasn’t just the physical pain and exhaustion of actually using my leg muscles, but also the mental push to keep going when I desperately wanted to stop, But by the end of the first week things started to change.

My muscles started to get used to the effort and I even started to see more definition in my calves. I became less concerned with the distances we walked and my mind was no longer telling me I was to exhausted to continue. Don’t get me wrong, my muscles were sore the whole trip, but they became less so and my mental perception of walking changed the more I did it.

The Effect

When I got home things felt different. The idea of walking to the coffee shop didn’t seem like an epic journey filled with pain and suffering. It was just quick jaunt. If I could walk across a whole borough of London, a few blocks were nothing.

The trip had not only been a physical jump start, giving me more leg strength and endurance, It also changed my perspective of what I was still capable of doing. It was an eye opener.

That change, with the addition of the extrinsic factors and my physical health improving was enough that when my depression lessened I was able to capitalize on it.

Why I Started Fighting Again

So, with every thing I stated you’d probably think that I started fighting again because I was inspired to have some fun you’d be wrong. I fought because of my anxiety.

The place I’ve found myself in did inspire me to go to our local fighter practice. Well, I say local, but for me it’s a 25 mile drive. I hadn’t been for years and Critias had managed to snag our group an actual dojo for us to use and for free too! I needed to check that out.

The specific moment I decided to go was when Louie suggested I try recording fights at the fighter practice. I said fuck it, I’ll make the extra drive and so I did, but when I got there, equipment in hand, the dojo was still being used by the previous group. I felt to apprehensive about setting up my equipment while there were non-LARPers there, plus it was a new situation and place. I felt very out of place.

So, when people started fighting, I chose to wait to record and I picked up my short sword. Then when the other people left, which I hadn’t even noticed, I didn’t put down my sword and I kept fighting. A few hours later I was out of breath and all sweaty

All my life I had heard about the runners high, the state where you do so much exercise you get a high from the endorphins surging through you. I had only ever felt that once, back when I was in University and I was doing Aikido and going to the gym on a regular basis. One time while running on the track, I finally felt it, the runners high. It was pretty cool.

I didn’t feel it at fighter practice but I did have a lot of fun and I walked away wanting to do it more.

Going Forward

So, where does this leave me? It leaves me cautiously optimistic. I don’t truly believe in the idea when everything is going well it’s inevitable that something bad is around the corner but it’s still hard to shake that feeling.

I’ve been here before and I’ve pushed my self to fast, overcommitting on things, then having a mental dive and having to put up with my commitments, furthering my mental slide and dragging me into a state of despair. Which, if you were not aware, sucks.

I’ve decided that I will continue to go to fighter practice, at least once a month. While there I will fight and additionally I intend to stream it. I don’t know how well that will work or if I’ll do it on Facebook or on YouTube but next time I go I’ll give it a try.

On Saturdays, the main day for our Amtgard park, I won’t be committing myself to any fighting, I still need to be able to have time to record things and those will be the main days I do so. Still, you might find me fighting on the sidelines or joining in the occasional ditch when time allows.

You can see my Tier 2 (Rock Gnomes) and 3 (Tinker Gnomes) supporters on my Patreon Supporters page as well as find out how to become a Patron yourself.