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 Post subject: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 10:13 am 
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This is a little article I did for the Florida Foam Fighters' Association. I figured I'd leave it here for new fighters on the national level.

Unwritten Rules for Beginners
By Teej, aka Trisseus of Atlantis

Our culture is an odd one in that within our subculture (foam-combat) are many other subcultures (units, houses, realms, chapters) with different customs and courtesies. If that weren’t hard enough, many of these expectations aren’t found in the rulebook. They’re tucked away as oral tradition or fragmented on various forums which aren’t visited nearly as much as they were a few years ago. For the sake of the newer fighter, I feel it’s time to start writing these items down and making them available to social networking. This is not a complete guide; I doubt I’ll ever touch everyone’s unwritten rules. I’m just aiming for the widely-accepted ones. Please feel free to comment with items I miss, I’ll gladly add them to my guide. That said… consider this guide a work in progress. I do ask that any contributions to this document are made in the comment section. I don’t want people putting words in my mouth by adding their own rules and opinions in my document. Thank you!

“Hail Camp!”
Hailing camp is a tradition that is known across the nation and throughout various fighting organizations. It’s a common courtesy and essentially a means to “knock on someone’s door” when at a campout. You wouldn’t just walk up to a stranger’s house, invite yourself in, and make yourself comfortable… would you? Why would you do this at a campout? Some would call a tent ones “private space” at a campout. But I’ve always considered a tent more like a bedroom, and the camp itself their “house.” Besides, their equipment is lying about, the chairs by the fire are their property, the cooler sitting out is pretty much their fridge... How do you “hail camp?” It’s as simple as approaching the camp and clearly/loudly making your presence known by yelling “hail camp!” You should then wait for a response to go further into their area. I tend to "hail" on the approach, before I’m at the edge of their camp (or rope wall), in efforts to respect a reasonable expectation of privacy. For camps that do not know me well, I generally give them a wider berth; I tend to give less warning to people I’m good friends with, “hailing camp” more as a passing courtesy.


Capturing a Banner

The capturing of a banner is a time-honored campout shenanigan. It should be noted, however, that banners are an important symbol to a unit or individual. Some do not take this capture lightly, others take is as a slap in the face and it can create some real problems. Generally this antic should be reserved for units in good standing and friends, and while it is in your possession, the banner should be cared for as if it were your own… remember, you’re carrying an important symbol to someone. Damaging it is not only showing irresponsibility with someone else’s property, it’s an insult to what the banner represents. In my opinion, it’s poor form to hide it. Everything I’ve ever captured, I’ve made it clear that I have it, often issuing a challenge to get it back, or at least keeping it visible. As far as visibility goes… I’ve seen banners stuck in the middle of the field and defended by the capturing party; I’ve seen banners hung in the feast hall prior to feast; I’ve seen banners stuck on the roof of the feast hall. Regardless, the banner should be returned before the end of the event, and returned in the condition it was taken. If you take nothing else from this, if you don't know them... leave their banner alone. If you know them and take the banner, treat it as if it were yours.

Groin Shots and Pulling Shots
A subject of debate is the legality vs. necessity in groin shots. A similar subject is the “expectation of sufficient force” (which varies by the individual). The presence of a legal groin shot in the rules does not necessarily mean to aim for the groin, nor does “sufficient force” mean one should try to break bones with every swing. These statements are widely debatable and inconclusive. You will have individuals who use groin and kidney shots as a means to punish individuals who continuously fail to acknowledge clean shots (I’m not saying it’s right, I’m acknowledging a known fact). You will have individuals who pull shots to their opponent’s back out of common courtesy. You’ll have individuals who will call “light” only to turn around and kill the person who just spared them a full-force swing to an unaware back. You’ll have individuals who are insulted by pulled shots. You’ll have individuals who expect you to pull them. You’ll have some people who go easy on females. You’ll have some who treat females as any other fighter. And you’ll see females on both sides of the above argument.

The bottom line is… this is a contact sport with varying expectations of how one should deliver a blow. It’s up to you to decide how you’re going to fight and accept that fact that you’re not going to be able to please everyone. Just do what you feel is right.

I tend not to aim for the groin or kidney; but I don’t expect it from other people. I throw sufficient force shots to the back, but I don’t break anyone’s back doing it, nor do I run around the field fishing for “back hacks.” I treat females the way they act. If they’re throwing down, I’ll treat them like any other male. If they’re dainty, and fight in a dainty manner, I’ll give them the courtesy of a more controlled swing. Anyway, I’m not telling you what to do, nor am I saying what I do is perfect. I’m just sharing how I’ve come to address the issue.

The Mystery of Sufficient Force
Short and sweet, but vastly important in my opinion. In order to best-judge “sufficient force,” one should ask themselves “If that were a real weapon - swung at the same force - would it be a debilitating wound? Or would it be a mere knick or cut?” It’s pretty fool proof at this point.

Verbal Confirmation of Denied Damage
It’s not infrequent that people will not take a shot because the strike was deemed “light,” or it made contact with their garb instead of their person. In most cases (where your honor could be called into question, eg: an insufficient red strike on your shield) one should always verbally confirm the reason they are not taking a shot anytime your opponent’s weapon makes contact with you or your equipment. It’s simply good habit.

Red swing NOT sufficient force to break a shield? Tell them.

Opponent’s weapon hit your clothing instead of you? Tell them.

Shot too light? Tell them.

When I am heralding, I will call people dead if they do not verbally communicate why they seemingly brushed off a shot. No one’s perfect. But if it looked like a clean shot, and if it appears you brushed the hit off… you can’t be mad at the herald making a “bad call” when you didn’t bother to communicate. And don’t be a douchebag and argue the fact, holding up the game. Just remember to communicate next time. Remember, we’re grown-ass adults playing with toy swords.

So, for the sake of not being called dead and keeping your honor clean… make sure you’re communicating why you’re not taking what seems like “clean shots.”

Dishonor ≠ Against the Rules
Many times you’ll hear someone cry about being “back hacked.” While it’s a frustrating way to go, there’s nothing wrong with what the individual did. It is not considered “honorable.” However, “honorable” fighting is not a rule; it’s a preference by knights and other “honorable” archetypes. I don’t get mad when I’m “back hacked,” it’s a viable option for your opponent and it can turn the tide of a big battle. It’s on YOU to have good battlefield awareness. It’s on your buddies to watch your back. If anyone should be mad about a “back hack” or other means of dishonorable fighting, they should be mad at themselves for not expecting the unexpected.

This, however, does not cover “ghost walking” or “ghosting” – a tactic made illegal by most organizations. This is when one plays dead, leaves the boundaries of the field, walks among dead players, etc… in order to gain an unfair advantage against his or her opponent.

If your opponent fishes for back hacks in every battle, they’re only hurting themselves in the long run. Don’t get bent out of shape or confuse other fighters with a strong stance against “back hacking.” Again, it’s legal. Don’t expect other people to conform to your standards of fighting.

Use of Titles and Symbols
This is more open for interpretation… It is widely frowned upon for individuals who have not been formally knighted to wear the trappings of a knight or other “elite” persona. And while nothing is really wrong with breaking this unwritten rule, the bottom line is that avoidance of wearing these items until you have earned them is a common courtesy and a means of showing respect. It’s your choice whether you adopt this practice or not, I’m just providing you with the means to not step on someone’s toes.

So, let’s talk about titles and associated symbols. To some, knighthood is long and difficult (near-thankless) road. It starts with years of work benefiting not yourself or your unit, but our entire culture. Then, if someone is watching, you might get to become a squire. After that I’ve seen anything from a year to four years of squiring. Becoming a knight is not the end of the road; it’s really a reaffirmation of your willingness to help and a formal acceptance of your responsibility to your chapter (or realm) and the organization itself.

Then you have your “robber knights” who simply walk onto the field and claim the title - some for the mere innocent reason of wanting to portray the well-known heroic fantasy archetype, others claim the title because it is well-respected and they are under the impression that the title makes the person (when it’s actually the other way around).

There really is no black and white in “knighthood” or other “elite” titles. I’ve learned to judge the individual (based on their actions/character) when it comes to knights because it’s such a widely distributed title with various accepted means of earning it. Other titles, such as “Mekoot” (which is associated with Headhunters in the Horde), I tend to respect because the title is controlled by ONE unit and that particular unit makes earning the title quite a feat - with the unit's control of that title, you don't have to worry about it being watered down by other people.

There are also symbols associated with the above titles. These items, again, are being presented in an informative way that will help you avoid stepping on toes… should you wish. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with ignoring this unwritten rule, but you will get flak from someone at some point for displaying one or more of these items on your person, simply because of what they represent. To you, it may simply be a fashion statement. I'll provide examples of these items using both squires and knights.

Squires often wear a white tabard with the heraldry of their knight on the chest, they are often lined with yellow on the inside as a means to make the tabard reversible… maintaining that the squire is ready to serve as a herald at any time. There’s generally nothing wrong with yellow lining in your garb. However, a white tabard with heraldry on the chest screams that one is a squire. Squire’s chains (chainmail necklaces) are another symbol of being a squire.

There are various symbols associated with knights across the different organizations. Heater shields, surcoats (like tabards with enclosed sides, featuring the knight’s heraldry), knight’s chains (like squire chains, but thicker and more developed), and white belts (in Amtgard) are often associated with knighthood. Surcoats can just be considered good garb in my opinion… but if you want to tread lightly and not step on toes… I’d avoid the heater shields, chains, and white belts.

The Chip on the Shoulder
People who come into this culture with something to prove are generally the first to leave. It’s cool you were a 20th dan ninja master, but you’re not a 20th dan ninja master in foam-combat. It’s cool that you almost went pro in X sport. It’s cool that you were in the military and served your country well… but they didn’t have sword qualifications or archery ranges in the military, at least they didn’t when I was in.

Everyone. Here. Was. The. Best. Stick. Fighter. In. Their. Neighborhood…

So leave the BDU/ACUs at home; leave your black belt you earned at age 8 home; leave the football pads at home, no they won’t count as armor… come to the field understanding you’re taking on a completely new hobby and you’re starting at the bottom. Come out humble, with the willingness to learn, and you’ll go FAR.

Bonus points if you come out for your first time in already-passing garb.

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 1:20 pm 
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This is great Teej. I'd develop the unit symbol/color section a bit more. And maybe add some definitions as to what makes a unit/house different from a realm.

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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 3:44 pm 
Slayer
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As always, well thought out and well stated, Teej. I think there might be a Geddon page on this somewhere. Maybe you could update it a bit or, if there isn't one, create one?

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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 5:02 pm 
Slayer
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Whatever is laying around.
Good article.

There is the http://www.geddon.org/Unwritten_Rules page on the wiki, but I think this article is stand alone. Let's put it under "Unwritten Rules for Beginners," and hit it with the:
[[Category:StarterKit]]
[[Category:Documents]]
tags.


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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 8:51 pm 
Toadie
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This is fantastic, and you even taught me a few things! In my 7-ish years of fighting, I still haven't learned all that much about the whole title situation or a lot of things that would tend to come up more at events, since I don't often have the chance to attend inter-realm events.

It's very much appreciated and definitely something I'll point out to new members.


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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:48 am 
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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, Par. I should really brush up and add both of those. At which point it would be more of a beginner's guide... but guide vs. unwritten rules is really just semantics at the point. I must say I explain unit/company, realm/chapter, orders, and houses once every 1 or 2 months to someone.

And at the very least suggest people avoid red and black for now on:) lol

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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:31 am 
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Avoiding black in general since every other unit uses it!

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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:43 pm 
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But it slenderizes!

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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:12 am 
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Sir Par wrote:
Avoiding black in general since every other unit uses it!

LOL wearing black (or black-like colors such as pitch-dark midnight blue) is my schtick, and it has nothing to do with unit affiliation. So I'll be automatically breaking that rule.


I have a "rule" of my own to add related to this subject. A fair warning to those who wear primarily black garb, especially newbs: It gets very hot in the summer months. Make sure your ultra-dark garb is made of breathable fabric, because dark colors absorb heat like nobody's business. The last thing you want is insulative dark-colored garb in 85+ degree weather.

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 Post subject: Re: Unwritten Rules for Beginners
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:58 pm 
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Bat And Board
Red
Good stuff! How about mentioning that the lingo on the field can change depending on what realm/area of the continent you're fighting in? Ie: Red! Vs Two! Etc

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