Royal Invitation to the Tournament of the White Hart XX

This project was an extension of my duties as autocrat for the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Tournament of the White Hart; and was submitted to the A&S competition at The Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon 2017 at the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael (Hamburg, NY).

The documentation I submitted for this project is available to read at the link below:
Royal Invitation – White Hart XX

Assassin Card Games #(1-2)

This project was submitted to the A&S Competition at The 20th Anniversary Celebration of The Tournament of the White Hart (2017) at the Shire of Port Oasis (Barboursville, WV) where it won the championship and earned me the title of Artisan of the White Hart XX.


For obvious reasons, assassination is difficult to recreate in our society and even when it comes in the form of play is still dubious at best.  To remedy this I spoke with the Æthelmearc Royal Assassin’s Guild to help generate some ideas for assassin games that could be played at our local event, Sicilian’s Revenge.

Due to the cozy nature of the event, the Pennsic Assassin Games didn’t translate very well to our venue so I wanted to think of something on a smaller scale. When the autocrat asked me to take up the mantle of “Games Master” for Sicilian’s Revenge, which bestowed me with the duty of organizing a station for tabletop games, I thought card games would be a perfect way to fuse the spirit of the Pennsic Assassin Games with my new duties.

Because I wanted to give the attendees a gaming experience unlike any they may have had with extant card games, I decided to seek inspiration from modern card games.  After much research I decided to draw from two modern games, “Exploding Kittens” published by popular topical comics blog “The Oatmeal” as well as the wildly popular game “Love Letter” published by AEG in 9 different editions.

In the game Exploding Kittens players draw cards each turn with a variety of effects until they draw an exploding kitten, in which event the player is immediately out of the game.  This was a very easy game to modify thematically; I simply replaced the kittens with poisons, diffuses with antidotes, etc until a rather surreal game turned into a historically relevant one.  As for Love Letter, very little modification took place; the game is about different members of a medieval court trying to deliver love letters to a princess while impeding the efforts of your fellow suitors/ in my version- different members of a medieval court are trying to deliver clandestine missives to the queen while assassinating your fellow spies.

Once I had converted the games’ themes to suit my needs I then set out to illustrate the individual cards in a fashion that would mimic period card games.  Because “Love Letter” includes various members of court, and because my converted version of “Exploding Kittens” involved a lot of archetypal imagery I chose to use the Tarot de Marseille as the visual inspiration for the cards in both decks (specifically an uncut sheet of cards found in Milan c.1500 that had not been colored) I created the illustrations using India ink on bleached hot-press paper.

After the illustrations for both decks had been completed I covered them in protective acrylic sleeves since they would need to be handled heavily during the event. To reinforce each card, playing cards that had been previously used in Vegas casinos were slipped inside each sleeve behind the illustrations.

Poison Apple Subtlety

This project was displayed at Sicilian’s Revenge 2014 at the Shire of Port Oasis (Huntington, WV), and previously at the Tournament of the White Hart 2013 at the Shire of Port Oasis.

Although marzipan fruit is a perfectly period project to work on (marzipan originated in Spain in the first century, and started to be shaped into fruit a century later in Italy) this particular project was inspired by a thought experiment that arose after working on my 16th Century Household Poisons, specifically the recipe titled “Sleeping Apple”

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“Sleeping Apple”

The “Sleeping Apple” from Neopoliani Magioe Naturalis doesn’t resemble an apple, but the concept of a sleeping apple immediately conjures the image of the apple from Snow White that was poisoned with a sleeping curse. Upon reading the original Grimm fairy tale again I was surprised to discover that the apple wasn’t cursed, but crafted.

“Then she went into her most secret room — no one else was allowed inside — and she made a poisoned apple. From the outside it was beautiful, white with red cheeks, and anyone who saw it would want it…

…Now the apple had been so artfully made that only the red half was poisoned.”

The words “artfully made” and “from the outside” really struck a chord with me and connected the dots between the crafted core from Neopoliani Magioe Naturalis and the popular Italian subtlety.

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Voila! A variation that looks more realistic, if you used a clove for the stem instead of marzipan it would almost be possible to pass it off as a real apple.

While the story of Snow White was published after period and is German in origin, it is important to point out that the word “italian” in late period Europe was synonymous with poisoner. In other words, both the sleeping apple recipe and the art of marzipan fruit both came from late period Italy — and by associating both of these features with the Evil Queen, it made the character seem all the more evil.

This is all fun and entertaining conjecture of course, not research. Nonetheless I thought it would be fun to follow through with this thought experiment and try my hand at crafting a realistic marzipan apple with a secret core inside.

For this subtlety I chose to make a safe edible core using the same ingredients and techniques one might find in cake pops or Oreo truffles. I then carefully enclosed the core in fresh marzipan that I had dyed with a pale yellow food coloring and allowed it to harden slightly at room temperature. After the apple had began to harden I added further detail by painting on red food coloring using a brush and food color markers.

I often make these poison apples as a tribute to my late mentor Fiachra Bonesetter, who suggested that I create something fun and tangible to help spread my knowledge of period poisons; but my all time favorite specimen was the one that I crafted for Sicilian’s Revenge 2014, during which I had the great fun of feeding it to Their Majesties! -evil laugh-

Dark Indulgences #(1-4)

This project was displayed at Sicilian’s Revenge: Palio di Sicilia 2016 at the Shire of Port Oasis (Huntington, WV).

This is an ongoing scribal series, in which I make and bestow scrolls of personal fealty inspired by the abuses of indulgences by the Catholic church during the late Middle Ages. (13th-16th centuries) By swearing a moral and civil oath, each scroll provides the recipient a perpetual pardon from assassination by my hands.

目潰し (Metsubushi): 15th Century Shinobi Weapon

This project was displayed at The Blackstone Raid 2016 at the Barony of the Blackstone Mountain (Ripley, WV) in celebration of the Society’s 50th anniversary.

This was the second project in my “Shinobi” series, wherein I explore the various implements and techniques 16th century Japanese assassins would have used during their missions.

The documentation I submitted for this project is available to read at the link below:
目潰し (Metsubushi): 15th Century Shinobi Weapon

手箱 (Tebako): 14th Century Japanese Lacquered Personal Accessory Box

This project was submitted to the Dirty Dozen Donation Derby at The Blackstone Raid 2016 at the Barony of the Blackstone Mountain (Ripley, WV) where it won the populace choice, baronial choice, and royal choice awards.

This was the first project in my “Shinobi” series, wherein I explore the various implements and techniques 16th century Japanese assassins would have used during their missions.

The documentation I submitted for this project is available to read at the link below:
手箱 (Tebako): 14th Century Japanese Lacquered Personal Accessory Box

Scytale & Alberti Cipher Disk

This project was submitted to the A&S competition at The Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon 2016 at the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael (Buffalo, NY) where it placed 2nd in the novice category.

The documentation I submitted for this project is available to read at the link below:
Scytale & Alberti Cipher Disk: A Juxtaposition of Early and Late Period Encryption Devices

16th Century Household Poisons

This project was a complete redo of one I had done two years prior titled “The Poisons of Neopoliani Magioe Naturalis.”  This updated project was submitted to the A&S competition at The Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon 2016 at the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael (Buffalo, NY).

The documentation I submitted for this project is available to read at the link below:
16th Century Household Poisons