Ice Dragon pentathlon

There is (in non-pandemic times) a major event in my kingdom (AEthelmearc), Ice Dragon. A feature of this event is the arts & sciences pentathlon, which used to be the premier A&S competition in the region. It was the premier A&S competition in the East Kingdom before AEthelmearc split off into its own kingdom.

The competition is divided into several major categories, like clothing and cooking and performance. Each major category has sub-categories like pre-1400 women's clothing and bread and storytelling. You can enter things in individual categories, and if you enter at least five different major categories, you can compete for the overall pentathlon prize. An important feature of the competition, in my opinion, is the cross-entry: if an item qualifies for more than one category, you didn't have to choose only one. Embroidered gown? Clothing and needlework. Belt woven from wool you spun, with a buckle you made? Spinning, weaving, and metalwork. And so on.

I haven't been tracking the event lately (I stopped traveling for SCA events even before the pandemic, due to both changing interests and the inherent Shabbat complications). I was reminded of the event by a post I saw tonight on the kingdom blog, which referred in passing to the limit of two categories for cross-entries. I'm not sure when that was introduced, but it was not always there.

With that rule change one small but fun challenge went away: the single-item pent entry. Can you come up with one work that legitimately fits five major categories? I did this one year and had great fun trying it, and learning some new crafts in the process (which should be one of the goals, encouraging growth). I'm disappointed to learn that this small bit of the event's history is no longer accessible.

It was a book. A book of music that I composed, illuminated (like books of hours), with an embroidered cover. I performed one of the pieces. The book was a gift for my then-baroness (of blessed memory); she had appointed me as her bard and I made the book to honor and thank her. But I embroidered the cover because of the Ice Dragon pent. And I might well have bought a blank bound book, focusing on the music and the illumination (my actual skills), but for the pent.

And I'm glad I did make the book. I learned about bookbinding. I asked a curator nicely and got a private tour of a collection of actual renaissance volumes so that I could inspect their bindings (which are usually not very visible when books are displayed open behind glass). My embroidery was not very good but was full of spirit, as they say.

The single-item pent entry is not the optimal path to winning the pent (if winning the pent is your goal). You can probably make five stronger entries by focusing and avoiding the constraints of other parts of the project. I did not win the pent the year I entered the book. But I had loads of fun with the project (and apparently made an impression). And my baroness really liked the book. So, win all around.