There will be three portions to this, the mother of all posts. First shall be nerf dueling, followed by tea dueling, and rounded off with some dirigible eye candy.
I find this section to be fairly self explanatory – it’s a combination of Eugene Onegin and games you played in the backyard as a kid (or grown-up). The duelists stand back to back in the center of the room, armed with the weapon of their choice, and then proceed at the count of the moderator to advance three steps. Sometimes it’s five steps, or ten, but that depends on little besides the age/accuracy of the duelists and the size of the room.
Then, at the moderator’s call, they spin around and open fire.
It’s all very dramatic, and duelists inevitably look quite epic as they spin around and level their weapons, expressions schooled into masks of intense concentration. They instinctively strike a certain pose, as well, which is wonderful for sneaky devils like me who show up to the party with a camera.
There is one big rule worth noting about steampunk nerf dueling: thou shalt not dodge. A gentleman or lady does not duck in the face of danger. You just stand there, firing for all you’re worth, ready to take a hit. The results, if you’re in it for the right reasons (FUN!) usually look something like this:
A graceful and gentlemanly defeat.
I bet you’ve never heard of this before. If you have, then you are a Victorian nerd – or you’ve been to a steampunk convention before. Either way, here are the basics:
Each duelist is presented with a cup of tea (carefully brewed, of course), and a tray of ‘biscuits’ (cookies, to us Yankees) is placed between them. At the judge’s mark, they each select their weapon from the tray, and hold it at the ready. Then, when ordered, they dip their biscuits in the cup of tea before them, holding it submerged as the judge counts to five.
The duelists then hold their wobbly, tea-saturated biscuits, hoping that the other will just bite the bullet and eat theirs first. Because, you see, that’s the trick. To win the duel, you must eat your biscuit last – BUT approximately 96% of the cookie must make it into your mouth for a “clean nom.” There are lots of funny phrases to describe different places your cookie may fall apart (over the cup, on the table, on YOU), and one of the best is “splooging.” This is amazing purely because you get to look your competition in the eye and say, “You just splooged yourself.”
In case you can’t tell, tea dueling is less refined than nerf duels. Competing with anything that even remotely resembles a gun adds a certain gravity to the game, and due to the history (deadly) nature of the duels the nerf variety is based on, honor and dignity are more important than just about anything else (besides hitting the other person first, of course). But tea dueling, well, it’s dunking cookies and trying to get a “clean nom” without “splooging yourself.” There’s only so serious you can get. Also, unlike nerf duels which are usually only fought between airships, tea duels are often grudge matches, which means the contestants are never short of smart remarks and sarcasm.
A successful tea duel looks something like this:
Eat the cookie. Taste the sweet, sweet taste of victory.
Yes, dirigibles get an exclamation point – because they’re dirigibles!
These helium-inflated flights of fancy are usually the high point of any steampunk convention. Why? Freakin’ dirigibles, man! They fly like your great grandmother’s fictional airplane, and they look incredible.
In case you don’t know what these beauties are, let me explain: they are remote-controlled airships constructed of balloons and paper/cardboard/wires/etc. The main point is that they fly at the command of whoever holds the remote (more or less), keyword being FLY.
By the way, see those wings on the last little dirigible? Those actually function. It’s a mad pixie ship! I could die happy now. Almost. Not quite.
Just so you know I love you, I put up a Youtube video for you. And, of course, Youtube is like, “Oh, you’re video lasts less than a minute? Give me an hour and I’ll get back to you about that.” So I consider this a real sign of dedication. Just so you know. Enjoy!