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Newcomer Info

Newcomer Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to wear medieval clothing to meetings and practices?
A: No. Unlike SCA events, where participants must "make a reasonable attempt" at period clothing, people generally wear street clothes to meetings and practices. However, feel free to if you wish.

Q: Do I need to use flowery speech with lots of "thous" and "forsooth" and stuff like that when I talk to SCA people?
A: The flowery "forsooth speech" that most people associate with chivalric behavior is a matter of choice. At most practices and meetings, people will converse as they normally would. Sometimes at events, particularly in matters of public speaking, a way with words and the ability to turn a courtly phrase is helpful, but by no means required. If it comes naturally to you and you like it, use it. If not, don't worry about it too much.

Q: Do I need to be an SCA member in order to attend SCA meetings and events?
A: No. All SCA activities are open to anyone, regardless of whether they are members of the SCA. However, there are several reasons why you might want a membership in the SCA. SCA members receive the monthly newsletter for the Middle Kingdom. SCA members also receive a $3 discount on the entrance fee to all Official SCA Events. Membership is required to hold certain offices in the SCA, and in order to participate in the surveys (called "pollings") that assist in governing your Kingdom.
If you attend and Official SCA Event and you are not a member, you will be asked to sign a waiver, a copy of which may be downloaded from the SCA website.

Q: It's my first event and I'm very shy. How do I meet people?
A: Generally, the best way to get to know people is to find someone who is doing something interesting, introduce yourself, let them know you are new, and ask them about what they are doing. (example: "Hi, my name is X, and this is my first event. That is a lovely piece of embroidery you are working on. Can you tell me about it?") Most people are friendly and will try to answer your question, provided they aren't in the middle of something that requires a lot of concentration or time (like cooking a feast for 200 people.) If even that sounds a little scary, contact the autocrat (the person in charge of the event) and volunteer to help out. There are all sorts of jobs to do at an event, and you'll get to know the other people who are also helping.

Q: There are all these people wearing crowns! How do I make sure I don't offend them with my ignorance?
A: Relax. No one expects you as a newcomer to know all of the ins and outs of dealing with royalty in the SCA. When you're new, all those pointy metal hats can be confusing and intimidating. Now that I know some of the folks wearing those pointy hats, I can tell you that almost all of them are wonderful people who have devoted a great deal of their life to the SCA. They remember what it was like to be new, and they're people just like everyone else. Be polite and respectful (as you would with anyone you've just met) and you shouldn't have any problems. Don't stress about titles. Addressing crowned heads as "My Lord" or "My Lady" will be just fine to start with. There is plenty of time to learn the rest.

Q: I'm going to my first event. What should I bring?
A: If you are going to a simple day-long event with a feast, you will need garb (i.e. a reasonable attempt at pre-1600 clothing). If you don't have garb, contact your local Chatelaine or the Chatelaine of the Barony hosting the event. Most Baronies have loaner garb for new people to wear. If you are staying for feast, you will also need "feast gear" to eat. You'll want a plate, a bowl, a mug or cup, and utensils. If you would like to sit while you are watching the fighting during the day, you may want to bring a blanket or a collapsible camp chair. If you are planning to stay the whole day, you may want to inquire as to whether lunch is included in your entrance fee. If not, then a simple lunch would be good to bring. You definitely should bring water, particularly in the summer. Dehydration is a very real issue when you are outside all day in the sunshine. Sunscreen is also important.
Camping events will require slightly more equipment, in addition to everything else mentioned above. If you are staying in a cabin, you'll want a pillow and bedclothes, including a blanket. You'll also want to bring basic toiletries, a towel, and enough garb for your entire stay. If you have a cloak, bring it, because even in the summertime it can get cold late at night. Again, check and see if breakfast is included in your site fee, and plan to bring some if it's not. If you are camping in a tent, you will, of course, need a tent. You'll also need a cot or some sort of mattress to sleep on. You'll probably also want a flashlight or lantern.
Remember that in the SCA we are trying to create a medieval-looking environment. So if you can, bring fabric to cover modern objects like coolers, camp chairs, etc.

Q: The fighting looks really cool! How do I start?
A: All fighters must be "authorized" if they want to fight at an SCA event. Being "authorized" means that you have been evaluated by the marshals (who are responsible for safety in SCA combat), and they have determined that you know enough about your chosen discipline that you are not a danger to yourself or others on the field of combat. To get authorized, you should start attending a local fighter practice or rapier practice. The Marshals in rapier and heavy weapons can help you get started learning what you need to know.
You do not need armor, or any other gear to attend your first few fighter practices. Most groups have a supply of loaner armor that you can wear while you try out fighting to find out if it is really for you. However, you will be more comfortable and safer, and will improve faster, if you quickly move on from using loaner gear to wearing your own armor. Talk to a Heavy Weapons marshal for info on heavy weapons combat, and talk to a Rapier Marshal for info on rapier.

Q: How do I decide what persona I want, and what the heck is a persona, anyway?
A: People generally choose a persona, an identity to portray in the SCA. A persona is someone who could have lived in period. Depending on what you choose, a persona can be a good way to focus your research on a particular culture or time-period. Though most people focus on European culture, there are quite a few folks who explore Japanese, Mongol, Byzantine, and other eastern cultures. Some people develop elaborate personal histories for their personas, others choose a name and a place and time to be from and that's all. It's pretty much up to you. There are really only two limitations on your persona. You cannot portray an actual person from history (choosing to be Michelangelo or Charlemange, for instance, is prohibited), and you must choose a persona that would have lived between 600 and 1600.
In choosing your own persona, ask yourself if there is a particular time-period or culture that you are extremely interested in. Do a little research on what individuals in different time periods and regions would have worn, and consider whether you'd be comfortable wearing the same. (Many women dream of wearing Elizabeathan garb until they realize they have to wear a corset!) Think about your name, what you'd like to be called. You can get all sorts of help from our Herald. Her job is to help you research your name and ultimately help you register it with the SCA's College of Heralds. Once your name is registered, it becomes unique to you within the SCA.

Q: I'm under 18. Is there any problem with me playing in the SCA?
A: No problem at all. The SCA is a great place for young people to explore history, learn medieval arts and sciences, and find wonderful role models of honor, chivalry, hospitality, and courtesy. You will, however, need to know a few things. If you are under 18, you will need a waiver signed by your parents in order to come to an SCA event. You can download the waiver here. If you are under 16, you must be accompanied by a responsible adult while you attend an SCA event. If the adult accompanying you is not your parent or legal guardian, the adult in question must have legal paperwork sufficient to enable him or her to make medical decisions in case of emergency.
Visit the Special Information for Parents and their Children section if you or your parents have any other questions about playing in the SCA as a minor.

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Related Pages
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Getting Started in the SCA |  Newcomer FAQ |  Special Information for Parents with Kids