Glenn Linn Shield

recent Cascadian


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Glenn Linn shield
Glenn Linn shield

Whether you choose to think of it as Medievalism, Historic Recreation, Living History, Experimental Archaeology or Creative Anachronism, the SCA is very complex and multi-faceted hobby. It would be impossible to fully explain every detail that might prove useful to a new participant. That being said, there are some rather broad, far reaching concepts that are firmly interwoven through most of what we do and, as with most such things, before jumping in with both feet, you should familiarize yourself with these practical bits of information.

The Persona
A persona is the historical person that you become at events. The very basics of a persona are a name, a culture and a time period. The only rules you must follow when creating your persona is that you may not use the name of a real historical person or a fictional character, or a name that implies a relationship to either, nor may you a title which has not been awarded to you within the SCA. The choice of a persona will determine many things about you, such as the clothes you will wear, the type of gear you will use and how you may act and interact with others. Because of this, it is better that you do not choose a person right away. First, attend a few events, try out different types of garb and talk to all kinds of people. Just use your real name to begin with. Once you have a better idea about a particular culture and time period that interests you, select an appropriate name to use.

Garb, or medieval clothing, is the most visible aspect of all our activities and is the only requirement in the SCA. Everyone attending an event is required to make an attempt at pre-1600 clothing. Your garb can be as simple as a plain tunic or as elaborate as Roman imperial court garb. Of course, no one expects you to be dressed perfectly when you are just starting. We understand that you may not have the knowledge or means to do a complete outfit. Often a simple tunic or dress will suffice until you can add to your wardrobe. The simple stuff is easy to make. Men will need a simple tunic; women will need the same thing only longer. Men can wear a pair of solid-color sweat pants (anything dark; no gray or orange). Moccasins or boots work fine for shoes and you'll need a brown or black leather belt to wear outside your tunic.

If you can't sew, ask for ideas about putting together a reasonable approxima-tion of medieval clothing out of modern clothes. If you can sew, take a look at our Basic Garb hornbook for patterns and ideas. If you know someone already involved in the SCA, they will probably be more than happy to lend something to you for your first event. The Shire also has a "Gold Key" consisting of garb and feast gear that may be borrowed by new members.

Equipping Yourself
A large part of expressing your persona and enjoying your time participating with the SCA has to do with the equipment and gear you will use. When you start out, some simple garb is all that is required, but over time, you will need to either purchase or make the clothing, jewelry, armor, weapons, and so forth that will help you fully experience this hobby. In some cases, the expense of purchasing what you need may be prohibitive and the alternative may appear daunting. But do not worry, you will find that many people are quite willing to teach you how to do something "from scratch." While most have not made every piece of their gear, you will find that almost everyone has made an attempt at making something and will be willing to share their experience with you. After all, everyone who is wearing fancy clothing or armor started where you are now.

Courtesy in the SCA
While the SCA covers many times and cultures under its umbrella, our social structure is based upon the best aspects of the middle ages and renaissance, especially the ideals of courtesy, chivalry and personal honor. For the most part, common sense and a polite attitude will normally serve you well. Should you ever be in doubt about something, simply ask. Someone will always be willing to provide you with an answer. In time, you will become familiar with the customs and manners that exist in the SCA, but to get you started, the following guidelines should assist:

Addressing Others: It is polite to try to use the correct form of address when speaking to others. We normally address one another as "My Lord" or "My Lady." If someone holds a higher title they may gently correct you and tell you their title. When someone wearing a crown walks past, it's polite to bow your head or give a small curtsy. The King and Queen are addressed as "Your Majesty", the Prince and Princess as "Your Highness", and The Baron and Baroness as "Your Excellency." If you are unsure how to address someone, just ask.

Touching: Do not pick up another person's stuff without asking. While most folks are eager to show off their possessions, be courteous and first ask permission to handle any weapons, armor, equipment, crafts, etc.

Permission: Always ask permission before entering a pavilion or going into a private meeting. While most folks will ask you to join them once you introduce yourself, there may be times when privacy is required.

Weapon Safety: All blades should be worn in sheaths and peace-bound. Peace-bound means to tie or secure the blade in its sheath so that it cannot fall out or be easily removed by someone else. Before drawing forth a live steel weapon (sword, knife, axe, etc.) to show someone, it is customary to loudly state "CLEAR". You must NEVER DRAW A WEAPON IN AN OFFENSIVE MANNER of threaten anyone with one. There are NO circumstances that allow for it and doing so may well be a criminal act.

Be Attentive: Pay heed to the Heralds when they are making an announcement or speaking to the populace. Even if the announcement does not concern you or deal with something you are interested in, others around you may wish to hear the information being provided. They will usually start their announcements with a cry of "Oyez!" to let you know that an announcement is forthcoming.

Do Not Detract from the Atmosphere: The SCA strives to create an illusion of a period atmosphere. Whenever possible, do your best to cover/conceal modern items such as soda cans, CD players, ice chests, etc. When possible use period-looking utensils, drinking vessels and chests. Use fabric and throw rugs to cover non-period looking coolers and chairs.

Pick Up After Yourself: Always leave a site cleaner than you found it. This is a basic tenet of the SCA. How a site is left reflects on your honor and the hosting group's honor (and may even determine if the SCA is permitted the use of such facilities again).

Be Helpful: Offer a helping hand. After arriving at an event and checking in, and having unloaded and set up your gear, look to see if there are others who can use a hand in getting their items unloaded and set up. Likewise, check to see if folks need assistance setting up activities for the event or aid in preparing feast. This not only is providing assistance to others, but reflects well upon your honor and integrity. It also provides an opportunity to introduce yourself to folks and make new friends.

Be Respectful At Court: Remember your Court Etiquette. Court is the time the Royalty/Baronage uses to handle matters of state. This may include announcements important to an aspect of the SCA, presentations from the populace, promotion of upcoming events or activities, changes to kingdom law and, of course, the presentation of awards to deserving gentles. If you must talk to someone (except for a short comment), it is a good idea to leave court, as others there do want to hear the business going on in court. Please be considerate of others.

Children are very welcome at events and there are often children's activities available throughout the day, BUT they are not a baby-sitting service and will not watch your child all day. For safety reasons, you must keep an eye on your child and be aware of their location at all times. Many activities such as fighting and archery may be fascinating to young children but can be very dangerous, especially to unattended children.

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Resources to Help Get You Started

What is the SCA?
This is the official page on the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) website that explains to newcomers the perspective the SCA, a non-profit organization, takes in recreating the Middle Ages. It provides an explanation of how the SCA began, how it is organized, SCA combat, persona names, ranks and titles, merriment, and how to find a local branch near you.

SCA Newcomer Portal
Covers: What is the SCA? - How to get started - Armored Combat - Rapier Combat - History and Culture - Crafting - Equestrian - Youth and Family - Archery and Thrown Weapons - Costuming - Heraldry and Scribal - Performing Arts - Food and Drink - Service - Games and Pastimes - Publications

A Newcomer's Guide to the SCA (PDF)
This is an eight-page brochure with color photos and information on: What is the SCA? - Getting Started - Who is Who? - Activities - Where to find SCA equipment - Recommended Reading

Forward Into the Past (PDF)
This introductory booklet is published by the Society for Creative Anachronism. It goes into a little more detail on: What is the SCA - Getting Started - Fitting In - What to Wear and How to Behave - Making a T-tunic - Names and Personas - Kingdom & Local Officers - SCA Combat - Who is Who? - Heraldry - Guilds, Households, and Sociability - The Gentle Arts and Sciences

Advice to Newcomers (PDF)
Whether a long time SCA member brought you to your first meeting or you came by yourself, there is always a period of adjustment. Here's how to get yourself oriented quickly with tips on how to participate in SCA activities.

East Kingdom Events
The SCA East Kingdom website lists all official events in our kingdom which includes a good portion of Eastern United States and Canada. It can be entertaining to see the variety of events from general large scale gatherings to theme focused events.

East Kingdom Chatelaine's Page
The SCA East Kingdom Chatelaine's Page has several resources under the Newcomer link for anyone who is interested in starting to learn more details of how to attend their first event or feast, what is "garb" and how to make or purchase it, SCA heraldry basics, developing a persona, camping at Pennsic Wars, and much, much more.