Running authorizations   8 comments

I’ve been thinking of late how authorizations REALLY don’t need to take thirty minutes (except in a few select instances, more on those later).  In fact, I think you can get it to six questions and maybe five passes.

The Questions

The first and foremost question is Have you read and do you understand the rules of the list?  This can also be read as “Are you wasting my fucking time?”  If they answer “No”, the RMiC should have a copy of the rules.  You throw it at them and they go sit down and read it.

The second is “Tell me about your armor or “What armor are you wearing?”  This is basically “Do you know that your face, neck, and balls are supposed to be really well protected, your body covered by some thick layers of cloth, and the rest of you not going to get scratched by a strong breeze?”  Right now there are experiments in “Rigid and Abrasion Resistant Only” and “Bare skin on arms and legs” armor standards going on, because without epees and foils (and fucking flexidaggers) you don’t need “Puncture Resistant”.  So it actually doesn’t matter if they know the terms, but I usually tell them the terms if they don’t get them right.  I want them to know there are three levels, and where they apply.

The third is “What is a valid blow?”  Of course, the first response this ALWAYS gets is “Well, on your torso it’s a kill…”  But that’s not the answer I want here.  I want the “Thrust is a positive pressure in line with the blade” and “a draw cut is 8 inches”.  Something I don’t usually do, but I should start, is having the authorizee show me what an 8 inch draw looks like.  Maybe while I’m wearing the measuring tape suspenders, so I can fuck with them and actually measure it afterward.

The fourth usually starts “So you were telling me about a torso is a kill…” but boils down to “What happens when you are wounded in the various target areas?”  This is the kill zones vs. disabled limbs question, but I don’t like to feed answers too easily.  “Lose a foot, sit on your ass” (note that the rules do permit standing on one leg, for whatever the fuck reason), “lose the hand, you can still use the arm.”  Part of this is for their use (“Don’t give up the whole arm if you’ve only lost a finger”) and so they don’t get frustrated (“Your opponent sure as hell won’t give you an arm for taking a finger”).

The fifth is “What do you do when a hold is called?”  Simple answers: stop, repeat “Hold”, drop your tips, look around.  I want to hear all four, or I tell them to do all four.

The sixth is compound: “When are you engaged in a melee and when can you attack?”  I want the whole “engaged at all times/attack from the front 180.”  And when I say “What can you do if you’re not in the front 180?” I want the answer to be fairly thorough: Foul blades, step around in front of them, or DFB.  When DFB comes up, they should demonstrate it AND know that they can’t do it unless the marshal says they can.

What’s not in there?

  • The blade list, because no newbie fighter is going to know that and the marshals are responsible for insuring the safety of the blade.
  • Engagement beyond that defined in the rules (“Engaged at all time, attack from the front 180”).  Why?  BECAUSE LINE VS LINE, VERBAL/VISUAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT, AND ALL THAT BULLCRAP ARE NOT IN THE FUCKING RULES.
  • Dying defensively.  It’s stupid, and also NOT IN THE RULES.
  • Front 180 defined by shoulders.  Because it’s not.  It’s not fricking defined.
When we ask authorizees questions that aren’t in the rules, and therefore THEY CAN’T KNOW THE ANSWER TO, we are being dicks.  We should not be dicks to authorizees.


As a PSA at this point, I should point out before the authorization, EVERYBODY SHOULD CALIBRATE.  At WoW it became pretty apparent that nobody’s teaching “How to calibrate” anymore.  So, yeah, that should not happen.


The Passes

The passes themselves really are just about answering questions

Will they attack safely?  So the usher should give lots of openings, go really slow, not move their feet, and take a hit or two.  If the hits are hard at this point, then the authorizee fails.

Will they defend safely? The usher should launch some mid-speed attacks to see if the authorizee stiff-arms them in the mask or anything else unsafe when defending a gentle attack.

Will they pull a shot when range does not change the way they expect it?  This one takes a little setup.  The usher should have figured out how to trigger an attack by now (usually a feint above their sword).  The usher does so, and when the attack comes, the usher steps out of range.  Reset, and repeat.  The third time, having established the pattern, the usher doesn’t step out of range.  The test is to see if the authorizee pulls the shot at all, and is therefore able to adjust to the unexpected.  Now, it’s going to land stiff, and that’s okay.  But if no adjustment is made at all by the authorizee, that’s a bad sign.

Will they freak right the fuck out when you mug them?  This is the super-ramped up version of the second pass. Instead of just attacking and seeing if they defend safely, you brutalize them, if possible in illegal ways.  I tend to sweep both swords off to one side, charge in, and grab guards/pommels/wrists/whatever, then push past them.  The possible responses are “Safe retreat”, “Resignation to the oncoming asswhooping”, “stop thrust to the nards”, “Punches”, “Grappling”.  Some of these, as you may guess, are acceptable.  Some aren’t.

Will they punk you in the face when you’re legged?  Usher takes the ground and shuts down all target area except the face, the invites the lunge to the face.  Does the lunge break the usher’s nose or chin?


Shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes from the start of questions to the end of fighting.  15 at the tops.


The exception:

“This dude has skills in a different martial art (armored fighting, strip fencing, karate, whatever).”  A person with that level of body awareness can keep it under control for a while, make sure they fight safe, etc.  Any Knight can walk through a rapier auth, simply because they know how to NOT throw a good flat snap.

I ran into this with a strip saber fighter who kept throwing the cut to the face or body but would stop it two inches away, rotate the hand, and deliver a thrust.  I made his authorization fight go extra long because I wanted to see if, under any condition, he would connect that cut.  He didn’t.  So he passed.

What happens when they’re tired, worn out, have their adrenaline pumping, and don’t have that level of control?  THAT’S the fighting I want to see for their authorization.

Actually, that’s the fighting we should see for everybody’s authorization.  So what I REALLY want is “day long authorizations”, where they get to fight all day (if they can answer the six questions), and at the end of the day have to fight their auth fight.  Don’t show up for your auth fight?  Don’t authorize.  Fail to show up twice in a row (meaning you’re fighting all day without authorizing), your name goes on a list and you don’t get to fight for six months.

Posted October 20, 2012 by Wistric in Musings

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