The Story of Duke Finnvarr de Taahe

From a Middlebridge post:

I kept hearing about the SCA, but I wasn’t interested.

I was an SF fan and had been to the 1967 NYC Worldcon. I signed up for the next year’s con at Berkeley on spec, and as a result got all the literature, including the Handbook of the Current Middle Ages. (The 1968 Worldcon in Berkeley had an impressive SCA demo that was responsible for spreading the SCA far beyond the West). I looked at the Handbook, said, “that’s nice” and put it aside. I was an SF fan, even if I did like Tolkien. A little later I got a copy of Locus #1 (1 page mimeo) and it listed an organizational meeting of the East Kingdom in NYC (I lived only 35 miles away). I didn’t go.

I started at Michigan State University in September of 1968 and had the wondrous experience of meeting the MSU Tolkien Fellowship, full of some of the most creative and interesting people I’ve ever met. (Their beginning-of-the-year singing revel at a campfire in a nearby woodlot was a foretaste of heaven.) Two of them had been at Berkeley and seen the demo (the future Baron Thorvald and Signy Dimmraedela) and had snapshots. At the second meeting of 1968, a bunch of them looked at them and decided we weren’t interested.

Some of us went as a group to the Worldcon in St. Louis in Sept of 1969. Signy (or Tracy, as we knew her) told us that there was going to be a coronation at the con, the first coronation of the Middle Kingdom, attended by dignitaries of East and West. We had a look in, it was running on SCA time, and we blew it off. So I could have gone to the first Coronation of the Middle Kingdom, and gave it a miss.

In October of 1969, the Fellowship had a Halloween party and an awful lot of us showed up as sword and sorcery characters. Signy slyly pulled out her old snapshots and her SCA literature and finally, finally, the penny dropped and we got interested.

That December I roamed the streets of NYC looking for rattan, and found it (little knowing I should have gone to Hoboken — that was later); and several of us started building shields and wondering about how to make helmets and practicing in a utility room in a dormitory, using the Handbook and Thorvald’s dim memories of Berkeley.

When May came, we 5 fighters and our closest supporters turned up on a stretch of green on the MSU campus, wondering if anyone else would show up. Actually, there were about 30 attendees, the Tolkien Fellowship in its entirety (about the same size as the 3rd MK Crown Tournament then taking place in Chicago). Thorvald won the day, and had to face a mysterious sixth fighter. He thought it was some experienced ringer we’d brought in from somewhere — but it was a lady who some of us had trained in secret for a surprise (we knew Thorvald would win).

There was a revel that night, some of the most enthusiastic if most inexpert dancing I’ve ever seen. We even had a court — the King of Witchland, Gorice XIII, presided and even knighted a few people. OK, not exactly standard SCA, but only two of us had ever seen an SCA event. There had hardly BEEN any SCA events east of the Rockies…

The next October we all had proper SCA names, and hosted a tournament of 100 for the amazed King of the Middle Kingdom.

And that was the beginning of the Barony of the North Woods and my involvement in the SCA.


“And no one should give up performing great exploits, for when the body can do no more, the heart and determination should take over; and there are many people who have been more fortunate in the end than they hoped for in the beginning…” –Geoffroi de Charny

Amen, Amen.

Back to Top

Scroll to Top