Song of the Sword

I have two threads of thought today and I’ll weave them into a coherent narrative eventually. Second Life has many, many role-play sims and a lot of them offer combat […]

I have two threads of thought today and I’ll weave them into a coherent narrative eventually.

Deepy as a role playing fighter

Second Life has many, many role-play sims and a lot of them offer combat opportunities. You can find everything from sword and sorcery dungeons to ancient history worlds to World War II battlefields. However, Second Life has never had the draw of other gaming platforms that are devoted to fast moving action.

Second Life also has many large artistic, meditative and educational groups and sims. These sims don’t offer combat but are home to people with literary and historical perspectives and it is this slice of Second Life that might be interested in my subject today.

I’m exploring fencing. Not the white picket fence but the foil, epee and saber. Fencing is our modern counterpoint to the classic duel: a contest of honor ending in blood being drawn. Fencing now however is an active sport of skill and ability with no bloodletting required.

How does sword fighting fit in with a literary and historical character, you ask? Let me direct you to a classical play by Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac. This play was written in verse, after the style of Shakespeare, and set during the time of the Three Musketeers in France. It is a romantic story of a sensitive poet and solider who has a large nose and is quite sensitive about any negative comments about it. In a classic scene (see link below), Cyrano takes exception to a critic of his nose, challenges him to a duel, composes a poem while they fight and runs his opponent through with his last couplet.

I went looking for fencing opportunities in Second Life. I found the Caledon Oxbridge Fencing group and immediately teleported to their salle d’armes. They use the En Garde fencing system to create the push/pull of the fencing match. I got a free Epee (sword), HUD, instructions and joined the club.

The En Garde fencing system is very cleverly designed and at one time appears to have been widely used. Now it does not seem to be available for sale and it’s networked scoring features no longer function. However, the Caledon Oxbridge Fencing (and a few other locations also) has working systems and it’s a fun game.

Did I say game? I did. En Garde in Second Life is based on a RL board game of the same name (See links below). This is where En Garde fits in with the more reflective SL citizen. En Garde does not rely on reflexes, as in a role play combat setting, but it is deliberate and thoughtful, while still offering one the tension and risk of a real fencing match.

Ormstein and Oh en garde!

I was able to secure a lesson with Ravelli Ormstein, who is one of the owners of the fencing group. Ormstein explained its origins, “En Garde is more a kind of game, not a fighting system. It is based on the En Garde game created by Dr. Reiner Knizia in RL, where it is a card game with some little figures on a board. One needs a second player, a HUD for showing the cards and other buttons, and an epee. One match takes about 20 minutes.”

The game creator has left SL, but Ormstein says, “The game still works and is still in use, but we haven’t had a tournament since a long time. There are some other tools and features which stopped working, since the creator is gone. People just come and play it when they are in the mood. Here in Caledon more or less daily, but in the past it was often far more often.”

One stands on a path called the fencing piste. It is marked out with 23 spaces. The fencers move back and forth along the piste. The HUD shows 5 cards and each card is numbered from 1 to 5. You pick a card to move or thrust.

Ormstein explains, “The goal of the game is to come onto the field of the opponent. When you are within 5 or below, then you can attack. One has to get in range and then have the right number on one of the cards to thrust.”

Ormstein thrusts home!

Once you thrust, the other fencer can retreat or parry. He/she must have a card that matches the one you used to parry successfully. If not, you get a point. Players take turns and the first to get 5 points wins. That’s the basic idea and it gets more complicated in it’s full execution. For example, Ormstein says, “When you retreat, ensure you end on a range from where you can parry an attack. So, I retreated 1, range was 2, but since I had a 2 I could parry your attack.” These nuances make the game challenging, fast and really fun.



Resources and References


En Garde The board game is available from There is a good review available.

Combat Systems in SL

Combat Sims (Only a sampling)

Fencing Uniforms made by Flower Child Fashions from the SL Marketplace (for Classic Avatars).

Written and photographed by Deepthinker Oh. Photograph of Deepy in red by Natzuka Miliandrovic

Deepy (Deepthinker Oh) Managing Editor

What is ManiStyle?

ManiStyle is a monthly column that explores an idea, a style, a trend or a realm in SL and gives you some links to go explore and draw your own conclusions. MANIERA magazine expresses an outlook on life that is part Vanity Fair and part Rolling Stone. In ManiStyle, we introduce you to our take on life and ask that you share your views and reactions.