For years people had told me I should be writing down my adventures and trying to get them published, but I just didn’t have the confidence to try. If you try, and fail, your dream is dead. If you never try, you never fail, and your dream never dies. It’s kinda emo, and a total cop-out loser philosophy; but it’s one I had all through my 20’s.
When I got a little older two major things changed. I stopped playing AD&D 2nd Edition, because 3rd edition came out and I WAS NOT buying all those freaking books again. I started playing Call of Cthulhu as my main RPG. The other major change in my life was entering the world of Medieval Reenacting. Yes, for several years I got dressed up in medieval garb, ate weird food, became an archer, fought in a reenactment of the battle of Hastings (as a Saxon Archer, we lost, again… L ) I stormed castles, shot arrows, became the Baron of Tyre, a royal Seneschal and the Captain of Archers. I was known as Mateo Luna.
The thing that I am most proud of during my life as Mateo Luna was bardcraft. I entered the bardic guild, quickly rising through the ranks to become a master bard, and then the Master of the Bardic Guild. I didn’t sing, or play music, like other bards. I was just a story teller. Bardcraft came easy to me, in the classic Celtic sense. Bards were part of the Druidic Faith; they were the voice, living history and spirit of their people. They were guides and teachers, the living connection between the three worlds. It was taboo to harm a bard, for fear what they could do to your reputation with satire. A bard could turn a warrior into a king, and a king into a mythical figure. I loved being a bard, I learned how to tell a story, how to hold an audience, how to pace things, and I started writing my own stories and satires. Dressing in a full length tunic, telling an ancient celtic story to a packed hall lit by hundreds of candles was magic, and several times I felt the power of the ancient druidic faith flowing through me. I guess most artists feel that way when they are in the zone.
But few, if any, found bardcraft as interesting as I did. For many the re-enactment group was a place to socialize, to put on armor, grab a stick wrapped in duck tape and beat on people weaker than themselves. The group had a lot of bullies, both intellectually and physically. For example, I had prepared for weeks to take my bardic trials, which had to be judged by the three sitting masters. One of the three masters left the event early after he spent several hours fighting in armor. He just left… sorry Mateo, I got better things to do... maybe next event.
Then the end came. I was at an event, telling a story. The room was filled with people, many of whom had spent the day fighting mock battles. One woman, a stocky fighter bigger than most of the men at arms, began talking louder and louder at her table. She was drunk, stinking and unwashed from her battle, and angry. Soon she was yelling across her table, and then yelling at me, telling me to tell my story more quietly because the people at her table were trying to have a conversation.
If we were going by the rules she would have NEVER DARED do such a thing to a bard. I should have written the worst, more horrific parody of her for the next event, shaming her and tarnishing her name for all time. But she was a “fighter” and the group would have never allowed it. She was “important”, I was not. To this day it makes me angry, as a bard I curse her name, even though I no longer remember it. I still think of that horrific, disgusting woman, screaming drunkenly at me in her dirty stinking tunic. She remains one of the most revolting people I have ever encountered in my entire life. Bards are trained to feel, everything around them, deeply, to be raw nerves and open to the world around them even at the emotional cost to their own well being. I left the group and medieval reenactment altogether, shortly thereafter. Baron Mateo Luna was dead; there was no place in the Kingdom of Acre for me any longer.
But I’d learned so much. I was a bard, spiritually connected to the cosmic forces of creation. In my heart I’d always be a bard, I had stories to tell and lessons to teach. I started writing, in a serious manner, and was soon publishing Call of Cthulhu scenarios. I never lost the bards love of history, the art and magic of storytelling or the importance of teaching through my art. I stopped being Mateo Luna, I started being Oscar Rios, I never gave up thinking of myself as a Bard.