Real Name: Mark Yingling
SCA Name & title: Yuengerz the Oblivious. Siege Master of House Clovenshield. Crafter of the Chronicle, Creator of Kitchens, Captain of the Cortege, Transcriber of Legends, Exalted Nudge, Mook 3rd Class.
Years in the SCA: 13
How did you find out about the SCA? I was trying to captain a Scenario Paintball team, but 2 of my team mates kept ditching various big games for some crazy events where they got to hit people with sticks. They tried to get me into it, once, by putting me in ill-fitting armor and using me as a human pell… It didn’t take, as you can imagine.
Where did you start, what was your first event? Where my *ehem* friends failed, my future wife succeeded. She convinced me to go with her to Pennsic 37. It seems that big brown eyes and a come-hither look work much better than being beaten by 2 goons with sticks. As it happens, she was friends with one of my aforementioned buddy’s wife and they were all camping with Clovenshield. So, hello mercenary life.
I had to get armored up and authorized pretty quick, which I did. I didn’t have any garb when I showed up at troll. My future wife had purchased a tunic for me. I wore the crap out of it.
Now I curse my friends for not being better salesmen and getting me involved sooner.
What is your persona? I am an early 8th century Frankish mercenary aiding the Carolingians in consolidating their power in Francia.
Why did you pick this persona? Everybody goes Viking, and, come on, Charles the Hammer! That’s a warlord to fight for. Plus, when you have no experience and slightly less money, you don’t really pick a kit to match your persona, you pick a persona to match the armor you manage to piece together. It seemed to fit and “Why stop now?”
Do you have any group or household affiliations? I am a minion of House Clovenshield. We are the premiere mercenary household of the known world. Clovenshield has over 2 centuries of combined bushwhacking experience. Experts in hit-and-run, ambush, dry-gulching, fast attack, deviousness, underhandedness, deception, and general mayhem. We bring an essential element of lethal maneuver firepower to any army.
Clovenshield is an equal opportunity mercenary group; we discriminate solely on the basis of bribe tendered. Harness the forces of CHAOS (or at least point them away from yourself). Available for wars, border raids, incursions, revolts, and special projects throughout the known world.
Reasonable rates, Satisfaction guaranteed.
* End Sales pitch*
Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA. I am a married father of two. I grew up as a Sci-Fi/ Fantasy geek, which translates well into the SCA, for obvious reasons. I also played soccer from 5th grade through college and a bit beyond, which also translates well to the SCA. I love being a part of something bigger than myself. You get that on a sports team and you also get that when you are in a fighting household; or just surrounded by hundreds of people with similar interests.
I am also the owner of a dozen rental properties around PGH. So, I am an actual Landlord…None of my tenants call me “My Lord”, though. I should probably put that in the lease.
What SCA activities do you or have you participated in? Heavy fighting. Combat Archery, Siege. As a landlord, I have realized how easy it is to teach myself simple household repairs. Plastering, painting, replacing toilets, fixing stoves, installing a fence…. This realization has given me the confidence to tackle some of the many crafts in the SCA I once thought were beyond me. Leather carving, book binding, pewter casting, brewing mead, making my own armor…
Tell us a little bit about your SCA experience (jobs, offices, duties, etc.) Picture the 2015 Pittsburgh St Patrick’s Day Parade. I’m watching it with my family dahntahn and I see a group of Jedi go marching down the street. Shortly thereafter I see a motley gang of drunken Pirates. I think to myself, “Pirates? Jedi? Why not Vikings and Knights? Why isn’t the SCA represented in this parade?” So, I asked in the BMDL FB page. I sent a couple of emails to the local Barony officers.
In my household we have a rule (or more of a guideline), “Your idea, you’re in charge”. Well, it seems that others have this rule as well, because several emails later and I am the new Parade Autocrat for the Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands. We’ve done 3 St Patrick’s Day Parades, 2 Memorial Day Parades and 1 Thanksgiving Parade. We even took Runner Up for Best Non-Commercial Float in the 2019 Pittsburgh St Patrick’s Day Parade. It is an incredible rush to be standing on Grant Street, in front of the Pittsburgh City County building, fighting in full armor, to the cheers of hundreds of parade spectators.
When you started in the SCA what goals did you have? I just wanted to have a fun time with my friends. Little did I know that I would pick up a slew of new skills and become part of a family.
What are your goals now? To become a better singles fighter. I’ve pretty much been focused on melee fighting.
What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA? Standing across the battlefield from fighters that have been doing this for years and expecting to hold my own against them. But you’ll never get better if you don’t face that fear.
After the unexpected shutdown ends, what is one thing you would like to accomplish in the SCA? I just want to get back to having good times and hitting some of the best people in the world with sticks.
What advice would you give to a new person in the SCA: The SCA is an incredible hobby to have. There are so many different aspects to it and there is so much to learn. And the people in it are very willing to teach what they know. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be? Developing talents on your own is a lot of the fun, but if I had to choose one it would be playing the Bagpipes. The way it can simultaneously entertain and annoy people.
If you had to join the SCA in another “era” (1970, 1980, etc.), what “era” would you pick and why? I really have no answer to this as I don’t know the differences. But what I can say is that I wish I would have discovered it earlier.
Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why? My first event was Pennsic 37 in ’08. I had a blast and was hooked. I even dragged some of the guys to events they hadn’t been to before, just to get more of the adventure. I was looking forward to my first Blackstone Raids that Spring. Come the first week of April ’09 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease Stage 1B. My doctor set me up for a summerlong course of chemotherapy. I pushed off my second treatment so I could go to Blackstone. I had a great time. I also become a sort of Bludgeon of Shame. “Ying has cancer and he’s still fighting! What’s your excuse!” By the time War Practice rolled around, the chemo was taking its toll. I think I got through 2 battles before I collapsed.
My last dose of chemo was the Friday before War Week, Pennsic 38. And yes, I started every battle that week and even finished a couple. The Woods Battle that year is a story unto itself. The household christened me “Cancer Boy” and I was awarded the Clovenshield Congressional Medal of Bacon. I’d like to think I got it for showing dedication to the game and the Household, but the word “Idiot” was used in the dedication ceremony. I don’t really remember… chemo haze. Either way, that little badge means more to me than any other award I might ever earn in the SCA.
Why am I a mercenary? Simply put, my friends were there when they got me hooked. Our Merc house was founded by two mooks that were best friends who suddenly found themselves living in different kingdoms. In order to fight together, one of them had to be disloyal to their crown. Instead of dealing with that sticky situation, they decided, “Hey, why be loyal to any crown” and thus, House Clovenshield was created. There is a certain enjoyment of being outside of the normal fealty structure of the SCA, but still being a part of it. There are people that have started as mercs and made the switch to kingsman, and some that have started as kingsman and made the jump to merc. We’re all here to have fun.
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