The Arming Display Tradition / Ritual in Creus | World Anvil
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The Arming Display

"Long day, then?" The bartender gave a sympathetic look; the bar was mostly quiet and empty this late in the day, but an older man had just stepped through the doorway, still clad in fitted steel plate armor.    "Like you wouldn't believe, Orran." Siegfried of Archos tugged on a clasp and loosened his armor. "Four Arming Displays and four ridiculous twirling halberd dances, but now we have four fresh leaders trained at arms for the new enemy, whoever they are."   The bartender filled a mug with a rich amber ale and pushed it over. "You don't sound convinced."   "What makes you say that?" Siegfried laughed. "The fact that any fresh class C mercenary would be able to wipe the floor with these upjumped blue blood kids? The fact that the Display is an ancient relic maintained by folks with more money than sense?"    "Surely there is some value in the training." The bartender wiped down a glass. "Surely better than nothing at all?"   Siegfried took a long drink before replying. "Yes, if you were planning on fighting by charging into battle behind the wheel of a Power-Wagon and leapt out of it with a halberd to fight enemies that would only fight in Polearm Defensive Stances one through eight. No, what this is is frippery, a noble class that truly yet unjustifiably believes in its own skill. I can't help but feel like its a house built on sticks."   The old warrior finished his beer and stood. "But you are right. It is better than nothing. If only just. They'd be better off joining my mercenaries for a couple of years, to learn how to truly fight, if that was what they were interested in."


Historically across the petty kingdoms of West Saibh, men of the nobility were expected to answer the call to arms for their kings and lords, riding to battle as officers in a levied force. Though the Principality Ground Forces are largely professionalized in the modern era, the tradition of each noble family training their sons for battle remains.   The Arming Display is derived from a test of military fitness that was roughly standardized in an archaic era, historically composed of a demonstration of equestrian skill, skill with the couched lance from a mount, skill with the spear or longbow in the dismount, and skill with the sword and buckler when pressed by multiple foes. This went largely unchanged for centuries until the rise of Powered warfare during The War of Unification. Under the Principality of Etoile, the Arming Display now consists of piloting Power-Wagons to effect, skill with the halberd in the dismount, and skill with any preferred sidearm, whether it be full sword, dagger, or folding crossbow.


All boys of the nobility that show a capacity for martial talent are trained at arms from a young age. Though the system of training is not standardized (indeed, there are endless arguments about the 'best' way to train a boy to fight in the infantry halberd formation), the test is codified by the Principality of Etoile - any man wishing to enter the service of the state as an Officer of any type must pass the Arming Display test. Though the test may theoretically be taken at any time, traditionally, boys take the test on their seventeenth birthday, with their second test on their eighteenth birthday if required.   Tests are conducted at the Principality proving grounds at the Etoile Capital City garrison. A candidate is presented with a course that they must complete within a certain timeframe, consisting of the following tasks:   1. When presented with a Power-Wagon with an intentionally sabotaged element, identify the sabotage, fix it, then drive the wagon at high speeds through an obstacle course resembling that of a trench-warfare battlefield, 2. Dismount from the wagon with halberd in hand and demonstrate the six standard infantry halberd forms, then strike a straw target with enough force to cleave it, 3. Duel an active-duty master at arms of the Principality, with both given a blunted version of the candidate's chosen sidearm, and satisfy the master at arms with the performance.   While a rigorous test, it is designed to ensure that all Officers of the Principality are capable of personally leading ground elements in pitched combat, should the need ever arise.

Components and tools

Though the Display requires a prepared wagon course and several weapons, the most important component is naturally the candidate to be tested.


The Display is treated as an intensely private affair, with only those directly relevant to the test allowed to witness a candidate's performance. Typically, the candidate and his father are present, as well as the test proctor and master at arms, both soldiers of the local garrison.


By tradition, boys of the nobility spend their teenage years honing their skills in preparation for this test in conjunction with their ordinary academic path. Most seventeen year olds pass the test on their birthdays quite easily, with a secondary cohort retaking the test at eighteen. Men that pass the test and who also possess the proper academic credential are subsequently considered for roles in the Principality proper; men who did not pass the test or never took it to begin with are not considered for leadership roles within the Principality, and are ineligible for selection as District Commander barring unusual circumstance.   The Arming Display is one of the few elements of Etoile restricted by gender, but female candidates are not required to successfully pass the Arming Display to be selected for Principality leadership roles. More than a few girls have passed the Arming Display anyway, but those tests are typically unsanctioned.

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