September 6th, 2010: Riven Homewood

They had too many entries for the En Garde tournament, so they decided to start with a single fencing match, winner gets to go on and loser is out. And they drew my name for it.

Suddenly I was the main event, with everybody who had come to the tournament standing around and watching us. My opponent was a man-sized rat wearing a trenchcoat and carrying a medieval broadsword.

En Garde matches are usually polite, civilized affairs, but there was a huge amount of commotion going on here, not like any tournament I’d ever seen.

Several people were keeping up a running barrage of comments, complaining that the sim wasn’t properly historical and making fun of it. Others were making nasty cracks at people in the crowd, pushing and shoving them around.

The rat kept up a series of mean personal comments. If I hadn’t been too distracted to really hear them, they would probably have put me in tears.

And I kept getting terrible cards, ones I couldn’t do anything with. Over and over, he’d end up sticking his sword into me and I’d watch my avatar convulse with pain.

The score was 4-1 in his favor. The game ends when somebody reaches 5.

The he said something to me, something so vile and spiteful that I can’t repeat, and it dawned on me that all this commotion was deliberate, that those rude guys were his buddies. Suddenly I got very calm. The crowd and the noise all disappeared. All I could see was a rat with a sword. And my cards. And the scoreboard.

I looked him in the eye and growled “Shut up and fight, Rat!”

And suddenly I knew just how to play those terrible cards. I plowed right through him, one point, 2, 3.

My final move in the final round was a 5 point triple-strength unbeatable attack. It sent me charging down the piste and buried my blade in him. And I won that match.

This was last year, but I’m still absurdly proud of it. Sometimes when things get tough in real life, I find myself thinking, “I can handle this. I beat that rat at En Garde when nobody thought I could.”


Riven Homewood is Director of the Steelhead Public Library, a board member for the Alexandrian Free Library, and owner of the giant waterslide in Caldeon Southend. When not busy at the library, she can usually be found dancing at the Steelhead Hotel or the Blue Mermaid. In real life, today is her 64th birthday, but her SL partner has promised he will continue to need her and feed her.


5 Responses to “September 6th, 2010: Riven Homewood”

  1. Thorgal Says:

    I love this story – a great almost “Rocky” style (but then with style and sophistication) example of finding strength and ending up on top!

    (technical question: what/how do you “play” En Garde?)

  2. Winter Jefferson Says:

    Riven; thanks for sharing an aspect of SL that most of us don’t know about, your post is captivating. Have you got a link to some material about En Garde?

  3. Fogwoman Gray Says:

    Good on ya! I tend to have the opposite problem in En Garde. So busy having a pleasant conversation that I wind up getting distracted and skewered!

  4. Fogwoman Gray Says:

    @ Thorgal – En Garde is a fencing game, your moves determined by draws of cards from a deck displayed on a hud. Very popular in the Steamlands of SL where it is often played by ladies in formal gowns, who tend to be quite vicious :)
    Also a wonderful way to court, and to see how another person thinks and strategises – as well as what sort of sport they are!

  5. Riven Homewood Says:

    En Garde is made by Procyon Games and there is lots of info on their website:

    That page includes a list of places where En Garde matches are currently taking place, with landmarks. It’s usually fine to tp to a gamesite and watch. Once there, if you Touch the scoreboard it will give you game rules, a free HUD, and a free starter sword.

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