Drink Water

Sung to Wear Sunscreen

It has been said that I, Bonifatius Eburhard, called Oger, have been unkind to newbies at the Great Pennsic War. Well, I do not want to be considered unkind. Actually, I like newbies at Pennsic, but, I would like to give them some advice, hence:


Good gentles who are arriving at the Twenty-eighth Annual Great Pennsic War for the first time:

Drink water

If I could offer you only one tip for the war, future, water would be it. Remember that Coke is NOT water. The long-term benefits of water have been proved by chiurgeons, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your newbieness. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your newbieness until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself at your first war and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as authentically challenged as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the MUNDANE. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by asking a Tuchux. The real troubles in your encampment are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on the second Tuesday of war week.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with security’s golf-carts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with them.

Wear enough textiles for body-type. My Olma always complain about this!

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The war is two weeks long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember courtesies you receive. Forget the vulgarity. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep telling stories that begin with No shit! No shit! There I was …. Throw away your old jokes that talk about Scots and sheep!


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do at your first war. The most interesting SCAdians I know didn’t even know at 22 about the Society for Creative Anachronism. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of rest. Be kind to your feet. You’ll miss them when they’re gone. Bring along at least three pairs of shoes!

Maybe you’ll fight in the field battle, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have take in a few classes, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll get drunk almost every night of war week. Maybe you won’t. Nah, who are we kidding? Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy chivalry. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest aspect of Medieval life you’ll ever use.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own encampment.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Don’t try to pay the troll with a check!

Do not read fantasy novels and expect to find them at Pennsic. The DREAM is a much different sort of magic.

Get to know the royal peers. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your encampment. They’re your best link to your ride home and the people most likely to stick with you back in mundania.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. And at Pennsic we have a sort of Brigadoon effect, where the other fifty weeks in a year don’t affect the relationships you make at Cooper’s Lake Campground.

Party with the Tuchux, but leave before it makes you upchuck. Attend a Bardic Circle once, but leave before it makes you fall asleep. Talk with those who you happen to walk with.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Some oafs at Pennsic will be ignoble. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were at your first Pennsic, prices were reasonable, everyone was noble and chivalrous, and everyone respected the royal peers.

Respect Pennsic veterans.

Don’t expect anyone else to put up your tent. Maybe you have a mercenary household. Maybe you’ll have a tireless spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with wode, and know it has an SPF of 3,000.

Be careful whose authenticity you follow, but be patient with those who supply it. Authenticity is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the dung heap, wiping it off, guilding over the ugly parts and recreating it for more than it’s worth. And, hey, that’s why we have blood sucking merchant scum.

But trust me on the water.