Cadet Pranks

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(NOTE: With the exception of the "Why Pranks?" section below, this page was originally sourced from replicated with the authorization of Aethelyn Moondragon, 05/11/21. Data was taken from a Wayback Machine imaging of Tivar's website dated August 15, 2020. It has since been added to with additional information provided after Tivar's passing.)

Ansteorran Cadets have a history of pulling off some rather amusing and elaborate pranks to bedevil their Dons from time to time. Here are some of them.

Dupre's Ducks

This one will take a bit of explaining. Don Shamino Salle Dacil is, mundanely, Richard Garriot, also known as Lord British, the designer of (among other things) the Ultima computer games. When he was working on Ultima I, he decided to include various local SCA folks as game characters. One of the people he included was Don Christian Richard Dupre. Due to the limitations of the technology of the time, most characters could only say one thing. Dupre's character line was "Want to buy a duck?"

Shamino was also Dupre's cadet. A couple of years later at HRM Sieglinde's second Queen's Champion Tournament, Dupre awoke to find a small enclosure next to his tent containing several live ducks, signs posted around the campsite advertising his ducks for sale, as well as wooden cutout ducks everywhere. There were also several signs boasting of Dupre's prowess as a fighter and claiming that he and his cadets could defeat any other Don and his cadets.

Here is a recent video of Shamino and Dupre reminiscing about that incident (as well as several others; the duck section starts at about 2:30.)

And this is one of the cutout ducks: (Image not available)

The Great Bedevilment

At the Queen's Champion for HRM Arrowyn III, in February of AS 19, the Cadets pulled off what came to be known as the Great Bedevilment. Presents were given to all the Dons--I received a set of black-and-red baby clothes, because AEthelyan was expecting our first child at that point; Don Donald (who was about to move to Hawaii) received a fighting-legal aloha shirt, Don Durmast (who is commonly called Dormouse) had a set of mouse ears, nose, whiskers and tail attached to his mask; Dona Gwenllian (a noted horsewoman) received a stick-horse, Don Alaric received a pennant with the words "Die you Zulu bastard" upon it, etc.

The second part of the Great Bedevilment was the following song, by then-cadet Alden Pharamond. Each verse was about a specific Don, and at the end of the verse, Alden would hand that Don a 3 x 5 card. Here's mine:

(Image not available)

And here's the entire song (to the tune of 'C'Est Moi" from "Camelot"):


by Alden Pharamond

What is a Don? What is a Don? We know the question all too well:

What is a Don? What is a Don? The answer I think I can tell!

I know in my soul what ev'ry Don should be;

I'll tell it to you without fee. . . .

A Don of the SCA must be invincible;

Succeed when a less fantastic man would scream.

Wear the clothes no one else would wear,

Say the things no one else would dare,

And in mud when the rest are filthy is pristine.

No matter the insult, he must stay unflappable;

Come back with a scathing taunt as recompense.

But where in the land is there such a man

Whose ego is so immense? Gino

C'est toi! C'est toi! I'm forced to admit:

'Tis thee, all know that it's true.

That mortal who these marvels can do,

C'est toi, c'est toi, 'tis you!

The soul of a Don should be a thing remarkable:

His mind and his body pure as morning sky.

Drain a keg no one else can find,

Woo the ladies in record time,

And in water when others sink he will float high (quack)

His temper must be the model of tranquility

And practical jokes must bear without complaint.

But where in the land is there such a man--

The picture of all restraint? Dupre


A Don of the SCA must be both hale and strong,

A man whose heroic presence none deny.

The most notable man in view

Who can parry an arrow, too.

Make him mad and you'll find yourself squashed like a fly!

To face him would daunt the bravest of all warriors,

Though were he to confess such truths I'm sure he'd blush.

But where in the land is there such a man

Who loves gourmet food so much? Alaric


A Don should have knowledge of all things both great and small;

The picture of education at its prime.

And will lecture to all who hear,

With an occasional lech'rous leer,

And then sit back and look so smugly fine.

And swift as the lightning is he on the battlefield;

So quick that the dead can never touch their foe.

But where in the land is there such a man

That can kill from a mile or so? Iolo


The conduct of a Don must be impeccable:

All follow his actions with the proper care.

Leap through windows with blinding speed

When he's caught in an artless deed,

And pays well for assassination of a Bear.

All women admire him for his lofty attributes,

And men all applaud his actions when he died.

But where in the land is there such a man

So poised and self-satisfied? Jeremy


A Don should be able to commend all other folk;

In matters of leadership he should be wise.

Instill bravery in those who quail;

Let no man fall behind or fail,

Drink more beer than can anyone three times his size.

His dress should reflect his aura of authority,

And kilts are the proudest clothing of them all.

But where in the land is there such a man

Who sits down in a drafty hall? Robbie


The word of a Don should not be subject to debate;

His honour demands that only truth he tell.

Praise the folk who give valued time

And berate those who only whine,

And when praising his Kingdom's name, does aught but yell.

The honesty of his statements should be known by all,

There's none that I know who would deny his claim.

But where in the land is there such a man

Who calls knaves by their proper name? Sigmund


A Don should be conscious of a lady's happiness;

A girl all alone should never so remain.

So his duty is plainly clear:

He must strive to uplift her cheer,

But a kiss or a backrub he would not disdain.

The Don has, of course, sworn fealty to our lady Queen,

And seeks to perform requests of every sort.

But where in the land is there such a man

Too shy to wear tights in Court? Sentri


The pose of a Don should be most unreproachable

That those all around should render him his due.

He is proud when the rest would fall,

And in face of defeat, stands tall,

And his name should reflect his valiant manner, too!

He must be a man whose bearing sets him from the rest

Without being egotistic, rude, or loud.

But where in the land is there such a man

Who stands out in any crowd? Durmast


The skills of a Don should not be only of the blade--

He should have other wond'rous crafts at his command:

Build a rapier of worth so high

It's the envy of every eye,

And his daggers should be a joy to every hand.

No labourer common is he to appear begrimed,

But a Master of craft whose clothes are always fair.

But where in the land is there such a man

Who's got such amazing hair? Eldric


A Don should perform his work with quiet diligence;

His duties he fulfills without a stir.

Teaches students both new and old,

Rewrites rules a hundred-fold,

And when standing upon the field is so demure.

But this demeanor hides the fire of Cyrano:

A man who can walk back-alleys so gallant.

But where in the land is there such a man

Whose dagger is his right-hand "main"? Donald


Our Dona is a match for any man about.

This lady with endless skill is quite a find.

She who fights with wond'rous flair

With a cloak or a rapier pair,

Or a dog, when her glasses break and she is blind.

Her deftness at costuming equals all her skills at war.

Her knowledge of her persona is the same.

But where in the WORLD is there such a GIRL

Whose name is a herald's bane? Gwenllian


Moderation is a trait the Don holds over all.

He knows that fools rush in where wise men fear.

This will show when he's in a fight:

Simply waits 'til the time is right,

And destroys his opponent with a trusty spear.

This notion applies above all else to alcohol,

For liquor we know can well destroy the mind.

But where in the land is there such a man

Whose scarf he can never find? David


A Don should dress so as to be quite fashionable

And for a Landsknechter there's no hitch:

Puffs and slashes from here to there,

Lace and ribbons and perfumed hair,

And a rapier to prove he really isn't "swish."

And he should, of course, have folk on whom he can depend,

Who'll fight on for him when he must cry, "Enough!"

But where in the land is there such a man

Whose friends are like hand-in-glove? Falke


A Don should be composed both on and off the field.

When given a problem, he would never fail.

On the question, he thinks a bit,

Takes his pipe out & gets it lit,

And ensures his solution pleases one and all.

But should wisdom be unable to prevail at last,

He must have a means to keep his foes at bay.

But where in the land is there such a man

Who fights from eight feet away? Dinaris


A Don of the SCA should be quite genial.

he's charming and amusing from the start.

If you're liked, you'll know it soon

As he sneaks from across the room

And then from your behind removes a tiny part.

But don't mistake his nature when upon the field:

His skills in fighting are by all acclaimed.

But where in the land is there such a man

Whose wiggle is so well-famed? Simonn


What else should a Don be so as to complete himself?

Of course, he must be a fighter first and last.

Now his thrusts should kill every foe,

And his parries should fairly glow,

And above all the other things, he must be fast.

No matter his age, he ought to be unconquerable;

A veritable God of War among his peers.

But where in the land is there such a man

So feared despite all his years? Tivar


(Final verse written by AEthelyan Moondragon, after Alden was elevated)

A Don who's a Herald needs a voice which can be heard:

Through forest and field, his words must fill the air

To wake gentry for court and war,

Or speak over a dragon's roar

With a flair and panache that's quite extraordinaire.

A bard he should be, who captivates all with a song.

Sing of praise and fame to any he might meet.

But where in the land is there such a man

Who talks so well 'round both feet? Alden

Now here they are, my ladies and lords,

The best in the swashing game.

Accomplished both at graces and swords.

(The latter I fear will maim . . .)

C'est toi! C'est toi! I blush to disclose

I'm far too stupid to flee.

The folk in whom these qualities bloom

I've told unto you (at risk of my doom)

That group, of course, 'tis thee.

C'est toi!

The Don Cards

In AS 24, the cadets put together a set of cards with pictures and statistics (similar to baseball cards) for all the White Scarves. They were completely irreverent and full of in-jokes.

(Images Not Available)

Front Cover
Inside Front Cover
1. Tivar Moondragon
2. Luigino di Donate
3. David Gallowglass
4. Christian Richard Dupre
5. Robin of Gilwell
6. Hans Durrmast Von der Wanderlust
7. Sigmund the Wingfooted
8. Robert Simon Fraser
9. Iolo FitzOwen
10. Dominic Sentre
11. Jeremy James Scurlock
12. Alaric Greythorn of Glen Mor
13. Eldric de Charbonneau
14. Gwenllina Gwalch Gaeaf
15. Donald Armstrong
16. Matthias von Rheinfels
17. Asa Lee Durant
18. Dinaris the Wanderer
19. Simonn of Amber Isle
20. Blayne atte Wood the Juggler
21. Eule von Haginbald
22. Lorelle Joyan de Besancon
23. Maelgwyn Dda
24. Gerrod Allana Mac Ruari
25. Ignatius Phillip Santiago
26. Alden Pharamond
27. Ericus the Silverhand
28. Shamino Salle Dacil
29. Gilbert Gastonnay
30. Galen Niccoli
31. Giovanni Lorenzo da Montefiori
32. Julianna de Bern

And three years later, in AS 27, They did a second set, with slightly different stats and--when they could get them--different pictures.

Second Set, Front Cover
Second Set, Inside Cover
1. Tivar Moondragon
2. Luigino di Donate
3. David Gallowglass
4. Christian Richard Dupre
5. Robin of Gilwell
6. Hans Durrmast Von der Wanderlust
7. Sigmund the Wingfooted
8. Robert Simon Fraser
9. Iolo FitzOwen
10. Dominic Sentre
11. Jeremy James Scurlock
12. Alaric Greythorn of Glen Mor
13. Eldric de Charbonneau
14. Gwenllian Gwalch Gaeaf
15. Donald Armstrong
16. Matthias von Rheinfels
17. Asa Lee Durant
18. Dinars the Wanderer
19. Simonn of Amber Isle
20. Blayne atte Wood the Juggler
21. Eule von Haginbald
22. Lorelle Joyan de Besancon
23. Maelgwyn Dda
24. Gerrod Allana Mac Ruari
25. Ignatius Phillip Santiago
26. Alden Pharamond
27. Ericus the Silverhand
28. Shamino Salle Dacil
29. Gilbert Gastonnay
30. Galen Niccoli
31. Giovanni Lorenzo da Montefiori
32. Julianna de Bern
33. Diarmuid mac Ruis
34. Gaspard du Lac
35. Sebastian Eton Frobishire
36. Giacomo Datini da Venezia
37. Aubri de Baudricourt
38. Eadric of Wolfstar
39. Robert Michael McPharlan (back when he was still going by Horoun)
40. Gwenneth Bowynne of Glamorgan

The Honest Don Tivar stickers

The SCA's 25th Anniversary event was held in Ansteorra. Since it was so close to home, a lot of Ansteorrans attended the week-long event. One night, midway through the event, a gang of cadets (and, possibly, fellow conspirators) went through the Ansteorran camp, putting barcode stickers on everything they could lay their hands upon--tables, chairs, fighting gear, Iolo's lute, they even managed to put stickers on both Royal Crowns and the Great Sword of State.

(Image not available)

This was a continuation of the joke that had been running in the Don Cards--the notion that I owned pretty much everything in Ansteorra, and loaned it out to everybody else. Many years later, when I started doing a small fighter practice in a park near my home, I made a sign "advertising" it.

(image not available)

The Mastodons

These are pictures from their most recent prank: They got a batch of stuffed mastodons, and decorated them appropriately for all the Master- (and Mistress) Dons who were at Queen's Champion in May of AS 46 (2011.) (Images not available) All the Mastodons:
Tivar's Mastodon - Showing my black-and-red trunkhose.
Robin's Mastodon - Robin of Gilwell's moustache is famous (or perhaps notorious is a better word, since it was once used as an excuse to start an inter-baronial war.) It's even displayed on his coat of arms.
Simonn's Mastodon
Eule's Mastodon
Robert's Mastodon- Don Robert has a very nice set of red leather boots.
Gwenneth's Mastodon
Ansgar's Mastodon - Some years back, it was noticed that Don Ansgar bears a disturbing resemblance to General Zod from the 1980 movie Superman II.
Modius's Mastodon - Don Modius is famous for only wearing black and white, including a rather impressive feathered hat.
Duncan Hepburn's Mastodon - At that time, Don Duncan was the Baron of The Steppes in Ansteorra. Part of the barony's device is an oak tree, hence the squirrels.
Iago's Mastodon
Conal's Mastodon

The Mastodons - Additional History

- by Marie de Girau

Many reigns ago, before the MOD was invented, it was observed that there were quite a few Ansteorran Dons and Donas who were also Peers, whether they were Pelicans, Laurels, or Knights. Everyone had been joking around about it, referring to these whitescarves as Mastodons. And that gave a cadet an idea!

The cadet bought 11 stuffed-toy Mastodons and carefully created doppelgangers of Ansteorra’s own mastodons.

The prank unfolded at a Queen’s Champion, after the tournament was over, right before evening court. As the populace filed into the Curtain Theater for court, everyone noticed -- there, up on the stage, in front of the thrones, were 11 Mastodon Stuffed Animals, lined up in a row, wearing clothes and accessories. Excitement grew as the master/Dons started to recognize their own trademark looks in the way the stuffies were dressed. Gwenneth’s “sweatband coronet”, Robin's mustache and tiny Reepicheep mascot, and Tivar’s red and black paned trunk hose.

One by one, the mastodons of Ansteorra were called into court to receive their Mastodon stuffies from the Queen’s own hands. The populace oohed, aahed, and laughed at the resemblances. People took selfies with the stuffies, and some of the studies showed up as profile pics on Facebook. Since that day, mastodon stuffies have become a coveting symbol, prized by all who have one.

More Pranks - and the Bedevilment of James

- by Iolo FitzOwen I’m not sure exactly how the pranks started, but I can think of several early ones.

Back when Shamino was Dupre’s cadet, Shamino (Richard Garriott, game designer) asked Dupre’ if he would like his character in the Ultima computer games wanted to say anything. Dupre’ came up with a long discussion about what they might do. RG said “No, there isn’t room in the game for this long discussion, but I can have you say something to the player.” Dupre’ thought about it a moment, then replied in his best Groucho Marks voice: “Ya wanna buy a duck?” And that’s what went into the game. This led to a large number of duck jokes at Dupre’s expense, as well as duck themed Christmas and birthday gifts. Eventually Cadets Shamino and Sentri’ made a bunch of wooden duck cutouts that they planted all over the list field at a Queen’s Champion (This was early… maybe 1983 or so, a QC held at Inks Lake, north of Austin) They had a little song ready: “Buy your ducks at Don Dupre’s, cheaper by the score… quack-quack-quack.” In return, Dupre’s wife, Camille made a set of duck feet and a duck bill for Shamino’s helmet, and made him wear them in the next tournament.

Then again, maybe the pranking began with Don Jeremy’s nose ring. We were having a coronation in Conroe Texas, at a site near the lake. It was very hot, July or so. The event was being held in a large, open sided pavilion with kitchens and real toilets at one end. Dona Gwenno and I had driven up with her cadet Jaana to the event. Don Jeremy was travelling in convoy, we were camped in tents, bedevilled by fireants. Anyway, everybody was in the shady pavilion, sweating profusely and drinking large quantities of whatever. I took the opportunity to visit the toilet, were I discovered a thin metal ring that had once held a rubber sink stopper on a chain. The ring was lying on the counter, looking forlorn. For fun, I put the ring in my nose.. like a bull, and sallied back out to where my girls were sitting and sweating. “See here,” I announced, ’this is the latest thing in manly attire… the nose-ring.” The girls squealed with joy… we all tried it on with great hilarity. This drew Don Jeremy’s attention from the next table. As he approached Jaana said: “Let’s make Jeremy wear the ring.” At first he refused, but with the girls laughing and cajoling, he finally put the ring in his nose and struck a pose. Gwenno and Jaana jumped with glee, saying ‘he did it, you made him do it. Jeremy put the ring in his nose.”

Blushing furiously, Jeremy removed the ring from his nose… he hated being the butt of any joke, which made him a perfect victim. Don Durmast (Doormouse) heard the commotion and came to investigate. He wanted to see Jeremy with the ring in his nose. Jeremy was embarassed. Eventually we ended up with a challenge to duel between Doormouse and Jeremy.

Unfortunately (or maybe not so unfortunate) the cadets loved the idea of nose rings. At the next Queen’s Champion, cadets presented Don Donald Armstrong with a garish Hawaiian pattern fencing shirt, and worst of all, somebody attached a large nose-ring to Don Jeremy’s beloved Mustang. That was a bit too much. Jeremy loved that Mustang exceedingly. So somewhere about this time, Gwenno announced it was the duty of all cadets to bedevil their Dons on suitable occasions. In fact, my cadets seldom bothered me… okay, there was the gold-lame, fur-lined codpiece Gwenno’s cadet made for me. And worst of it, it was really too small. But generally speaking, I got off light.

There are lots more Jeremy stories: He was disgustingly good looking and a bit cocky. Everybody seemed to enjoy poking at him to get a reaction. At times it was overdone and he got his feelings hurt. Oh yeahhh, I’ve got lots of Jeremy stories. For a while he was my next door neighbor. Lots of Jeremy stories.

Concerning Tivar’s Pouch of Holding

- by Iolo FitzOwen

It was well known Don Tivar, being oldest and wisest of all White Scarves (at least in precedent) carried everything needful in his belt pouch. Typically, Tivar would have… a green ballpoint pen, aspirins, a couple of extra rubber tips for foils/epees, a packet of kleenex, one or two condoms, and whatever else somebody might need. In the early days, when I was unheralded leader of Bryn Gwlad swashbucklers, I carried a tool kit in my car with everything my friends might need for a tournament… similar to the stuff Tivar carried, but more and greater variety. We had pliers, screwdriver, awl, leather thong, leather and rubber tips for blades, extra pommels and handles, think copper or brass wire, steel wool, sandpaper, bits of soft leather, etc. But Tivar was the first to have a bag of holding that might produce anything his friends might need on or off the field.

Tivar went thru several tents over the years. When he moved out of one, into a larger tent, he could usually find somebody in the community who needed the old one. Eventually the cadets made up some stickers that magically appeared on various items. “Property of Don Tivar’s equipment Rental.” Don Shamino (Richard Garriott) assures us one of those stickers has a home somewhere on the international space station. My oldest/best lute had a sticker on the back… heavily worn with age and handling, but at least semi-legible. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

About the same time the stickers appeared, somebody made up a set of ‘Don’s Trading Cards’ like baseball cards that used to come with bubblegum. They were printed out on a sheet of cardboard, listing statistics, wins/losses, for each Don, as well as the awards they held. The cards were quite a sensation when they appeared, and lots of folks took them around to get them signed by the Dons listed. That was a very creative prank.

Why Pranks?

(Text below is a reply by Don Avery Shaw, MoD, replying to a question in the "Ask the MODS" Facebook Group.)

Karen...thank you for answering. I realized after I posted my question that it could be taken as "How dare you question things!" and it was VERY much not intended as that. Thank you for responding as you did. And my apologies, you hit a nerve, this answer will be long. ~wry smile~

I will agree with you, if it was nothing other than "we are stealing your stuff, ha ha" then yeah, it would be stupid and childish. We are not 5 year olds, why act as such? However, I think you will find that the vast majority of "cadet pranks" (and they could be done by Free Scholars or whatever, just say students) are very much not just that. They are usually very creative, very much done with an underlying respect (even if it is disrespectful at the surface) and mostly...done with love. Whether for the person being pranked, the community, the "ideals"....whatever...the driving reason is because it is something done to draw us all closer. Things like what Caitilín described above, giving of a gift in a fun manner. Or giving of presents that are done in a silly manner (Don Durmast, called Mouse, being given a new fencing mask....complete with mouse ears).

I like to consider myself a student of Interkingdom Anthropology. I collect stories from various places...but not just what was done, but why? And there are things that are done in my kingdom that absolutely would not work in others. And same everywhere. But laughter and comradeship does seem to be a universal thing. We grow closer when we can laugh together. We become more of a family when we have stories we can look back at together. And sometimes, those stories are deadly serious and somber....Tales of how the Midrealm came together after the deaths of Osis or Jafar, as an example. Or what Aethelmarc did to replace almost everything that was lost when the Barony of Namron (here in Ansteorra) had their trailer stolen...the outpouring of love for people they had never met was...stunning.

And sometimes, it is being able to laugh. At ourselves. With each other. Not in a cruel, mean way. But at jokes and silliness that is shared experience. The Mastadons that Robin mentioned in another post is a perfect example. Yes, it was silly to see each Master/Don (pre-MoD) as a tiny stuffed elephant, complete with appropriate costuming. But I know most of the "victims" still have their stuffed elephant...and cherish them as something very special (I know exactly where my Lady has hers). Hell, I got banished at one point. For the Remainder of the Reign. All 7 minutes of it. ~grin~ Not because I had done anything bad, but because in a casual conversation 6 months earlier, I had told Her Majesty Deanna that I thought being banished could be cool...if I could get a scroll to go with it. And so I was. And the scroll was done by Her Majesty's own hand. It hangs in the hallway, between the 2 scrolls I have won by winning Queen's Champion. Those 3 scrolls are the 3 I value above all other accolades I have received in the SCA. Because she did that prank (they go both directions, BTW) as a silly gesture....that was filled with love.

In the end, it comes down to the fact that the game we play is just that....a game. And sometimes, we need to be reminded of this. That lives are not at stake when we cross blades. That at the end of the fight, we both get up, we get to say how cool that was, and go get a beer, if we want to. That perhaps we should remember to laugh together. And at ourselves (and I am usually a good target for laughing at, trust me). I can usually see it when working with someone, whether they are new or an old hand....but you can see their shoulders start to bunch up as they get tense and try so hard to just get that next move right...and what they really need to do is just relax and it will work. Anyone who has worked with me knows the next thing I am gonna say to someone at that moment.

Relax. This is supposed to be fun, goddammit. ~wry grin~

Don Avery Shaw, MoD
Champion to HRM Sonja II, Ansteorra