SCA news sites
In an article on the blog HubPages, writer Jeff Johnston introduces the Society for Creative Anachronism with A Beginners Guide to the SCA. The piece features shorter articles on the history of the SCA, newcomer sites, garb, heraldry and awards.
"With sun beating down on their heavy armour, combatants tested their mettle in a range of skills at arms including jousting, archery and armoured foot combat at the Fields of Gold tournament, hosted by The Barony of Politarchopolis," writes reporter Georgina Connery of The Chronicle about the recent SCA event in Bungendore, New South Wales. (photos)
For your Yule-tide entertainment, a re-blogging of a piece from 2012, written by Ross Peter Nelson, and originally blogged at The Heretic’s Mirror, which you can see here.
Originally posted on The Heretic's Mirror:
Every Scylding in Heorot liked mead a lot,
Grendel hated Scyldings, the whole Danish clan.
He spied on the Scyldings, he fumed and he wailed.
“How can I hurt them, the king and his thanes?”
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
That fiendish old monster was up to no good.
Outside the mead-hall, Cain-spawn raged and he roared,
The Scyldings lined up, their swords in a row.
He slaughtered the Danes, ripped many apart.
View original 610 more words
An "exceptional" gold medallion, found in 2013 at the base of the Temple Mount, will be showcased as part of a new exhibit at the Israel museum. Dating to the 7th century, the large golden medallion, embossed with Jewish motifs, is believed to have decorated a Torah scroll. (photo)
Expectations were high recently when archaeologists believed they had found the wreck of the Santa Maria, Columbus' flagship off the coast of Haiti, but it was not to be. New evidence shows that the remains of the ship are from a later period.
During a meeting of Chatelaines, the subject of live action role playing games (LARP) and SCA recruitment came up for discussion. The term live action role playing games is often met with mixed reactions in groups like the Society of Creative Anachronism, but what really defines a LARP, how close is LARP to the SCA, and what are the prospects for recruiting new members from LARP groups? Prior to joining the SCA I spent 16 years running and playing in various live action role playing games. I don’t consider myself an expert in either activity, but I believe my experience gives me an interesting perspective on how the SCA and LARP can mutually benefit from associating with each other.
What is a live action role playing game?
In the broadest sense of the term a LARP is defined as any activity where participants assume the roles of fictional characters (fictional in the sense that they are not playing themselves) and act out the lives of these characters in a real world setting. The “game” aspect of the LARP typically comes in the form of an objective of the game (completing quests, gathering treasurer, defeating enemies, etc.). How the players achieve this objective is determined by a mutually agreed upon set of rules. Many of the original LARP games involved fantasy settings, but over the years have grown to include a wide range of genre including horror, mystery, science fiction, and modern military simulations. Some LARP games involve a high level of physical activity including simulated combat (not unlike the SCA) with padded weapons. Many games use fictional skills and abilities to compensate for talents or abilities not possessed by the actual players (such as casting magic spells, playing fantastic races like Elves, etc.). Some LARP games require little physical activity and discourage direct physical contact between players. Games like this are typically meant for venues where things like mock combat are not permitted; schools and colleges for example. Live action role playing games are not a new concept and many of the original live action games started as early as the late seventies before spreading into international interest in the early eighties. Today LARP games of all sorts are played all over the world by millions of players.
Why does the term “LARP” make certain people cringe?
The term LARP is often met with disfavor in groups like the SCA and many people become upset when they hear the SCA described as a LARP. A large part of the issue comes from the public’s perception of LARP and the people who play LARP games. LARP has held a stigma in society since the eighties when movies such as “Mazes and Monsters” and books like “The Game Master” gave many people the perception that LARP was a secretive game played by people on the fringes of society. At the time most people had limited access to information about LARP games and as a result the media found it easy to paint LARP as the “boogeyman” out to corrupt the minds of its players. Many years have passed, but this stigma still exists. Where the media once used LARP games as precautionary tales, modern media paints LARP in an almost humorous or childish light with movies such as “Role Models”. It is reasonable to assume the average modern SCA member is informed enough to grin at such public perceptions, but this negative stereotype can still hurt recruitment with the general public who are not as use to the concept. Further complicating the issue is the fact that many LARP games involve a higher level of fantasy elements (monsters, magic, etc.) not common to more low fantasy/historical based groups like the SCA. While the SCA is not purely historically correct, many SCA members do not want to be associated with dragons, wizards, and elves. LARP games also allow players to replace real world ability with fictional skills. Instead of spending hours at practice learning to fight or perfect a craft, a LARP player can simply buy a fictional ability giving them similar advantage in the “game”. Often people feel calling the SCA a LARP lessens the dedication and time invested in SCA activities. The level of differences between a given LARP and the SCA will differ from LARP group to LARP group, but the perception is still there. Combine all these elements and it is easy to understand why the average SCA group will shy away from association with LARP. While increased public exposure to LARP has lessened this stigma over time, people are still gun shy about associated group like the SCA with LARP games. In turn many in the SCA seek to separate the SCA from LARP as much as possible to prevent any connection with the negative stereotypes of LARP. Sadly this can also result in alienation of LARP players and in turn rob the SCA of possible new members.
Is the SCA a LARP?
Looking at the SCA using the simple description of LARP mentioned earlier, one might see the confusion newcomers have when looking at the SCA; participants assuming the roles of fictional characters, acting out the lives of these character in a live setting, and doing so with a mutually agreed upon set of rules. On the surface the average SCA event does not look all that different from the average LARP event. However the SCA is only considered a LARP if you stop at the point of simple surface comparison and fail to include the many aspects that make the SCA unique from other activities. Is the SCA a LARP? No, it is the SCA. Part of the problem is that the term “LARP” is an outdated concept that no longer adequately describes the activities (including most LARP games) that get lumped under the LARP “umbrella”. It’s no different than trying to describe every athletic activity as simply “sport”. The interesting fact is that even groups closer to the general description of LARP dislike being called a LARP and all for the same reasons that many in the SCA dislike the label.
The world of LARP started to spread out.
LARP games in the early eighties tended to remain isolated from each other. In part this was because of player loyalty to local games, but also because it was harder to find and participate in other groups due to distance and lack of easy communication. While not as common, some groups would encourage isolation to prevent losing players to rival games and did not take kindly to any attempts to recruit their members. Recruiting in this environment was difficult because players that became interested in a new group would often leave one game completely to go play another. This isolationism started to decline as the number of games started to grow making it easier to travel to more games and the internet made contacting these groups easier. Slowly the LARP player base started to spread out. At the same time it became more common for people to participate in multiple games at once based on their interests or location; a practice called “cross-gaming”. The important aspect of cross-gaming and recruitment is that groups no longer have to force players to choose between groups, but instead could encourage them to participate in multiple games at the same time.
What makes recruiting in LARP groups a viable possibility for the SCA?
Whatever the genre of the local LARP group (horror, fantasy, etc.) the average LARP player shares enough in common with the average SCA member that they might find the SCA interesting. Most LARP participants travel to events, go camping, struggle with packing too much into small cars, rushing to finish last minute projects, and have war stories to share just like SCA members. If you ignore the little details of how and where, most of the experiences are the same. The SCA might offer activities that the person’s local LARP group does not offer such as martial activities, archery, thrown weapons, and arts and sciences. The SCA also has activities that interest a wide range of ages, lifestyles, and different levels of physical abilities. This allows the SCA to recruit people who have a hard time fitting into LARP groups; families with children for example. Another nice feature of the SCA is that it is international. Over the years LARP has grown into an international pastime, but many groups remain local or at best regional. The international aspect of the SCA might interest migrating people such as college students, members of the military, or people who travel for work. Since the SCA is virtually everywhere and for the most part shares the same traditions and rules, a traveler can easily and quickly fit in wherever they end up in their travels. Lastly many LARP players already know about or participate in the SCA on some level and might be interested in getting more involved or returning after an absence.
What are the best ways and the worst ways to recruit LARP players?
Like any recruitment there are pitfalls to avoid and good and bad ways to proceed. The most important thing to keep in mind when recruiting around LARP groups (or any group really) is to remain open and honest. Never make it seem like the SCA is trying to convert or recruit by subterfuge. Showing up and pretending to be new to the concept of LARP or the SCA (or just acting willfully oblivious) is a guaranteed way to alienate people. The truth will come out down the road and that will ruin any chance of a good relationship with the group. Instead open with something like, “I’m with another group called the Society for Creative Anachronism and I am curious about your group”. Ask questions about the LARP and if people seem interested, explain the differences between LARP and the SCA. Avoid talking down about LARP when comparing it to the SCA. As mentioned before try to focus on the things that the two activities have in common instead of talking about the pros and cons of each. Each person’s view of what constitutes a pro and con is different. Understand that when members of two groups come together there is a natural tendency to try and compete. Falling into this competitive trap might win some sort of perceived short term moral victory, but really helps no one in the long term. Don’t go in trying to recruit the whole group. Some people might be interested in the SCA, but this does not mean the whole group has to come and try it. Support the individuals who are interested and avoid putting them in a position where they have to choose between activities. In most cases, forcing a person to make a choice will result in the person choosing the group they are currently with. People go with the things they know. The important thing to remember is that recruitment is not an all or nothing deal. The modern LARP player base enjoys playing a large variety of games and many will loyally participate in multiple groups at the same time (remember the trend of cross-gaming). Avoid the mindset that people who LARP do so because they have not experienced the “magic” of the SCA, or worse yet, picked LARP because they can’t handle or “cut it” in the SCA. It is important to keep in mind that many LARP players are fully aware of the SCA and simply prefer LARP. A specific example of this is fighting. Most LARP groups use padded weapons for combat (boffer weapons), but in the SCA padded weapons are typically reserved for children. It is easy to assume that LARP fighters use padded weapons because they can’t handle heavier fighting styles, but in reality most groups use padded weapons because that is what they know. Granted using padded weapons allows a larger number of people participate because it is cheaper and requires less protective gear, but this does not mean LARP fighters don’t take their fighting seriously. Many spend just as many hours practicing as your average SCA fighter; it just happens they use a different type of weapon. There are also some LARP people who avoid the SCA because they received incorrect or biased information about what the SCA is about or had (or heard about) a bad experience in the past. How many times has someone responded to talk about the SCA with “I heard they complain about people that are not historically accurate” or “getting involved is just too expensive”? This misinformation is often the reason the person started playing LARP instead of exploring the SCA. If the person is interested, this is a great opportunity to give people the correct information about what the SCA has to offer. Try not to push or oversell the SCA if the person is not interested. Simply meeting and getting to know people is often the best form of recruitment. A small seed of mutual interaction now can lead to new SCA members down the road. If nothing else the person may come away with a new and hopefully positive experience to replace the earlier negative one. Lastly, don’t go into a group assuming they like being called a LARP any more than the SCA does. There are new subgroups of LARP like activities that do not consider themselves LARP. Many of these are groups that focus on combat and battle activities and limit the fantasy elements seen in most LARP groups. These games are sometimes called live action battle games. This might seem like a fine line but being aware of this will help avoid pitfalls that could hurt another otherwise beneficial meeting.
Recruitment can work both ways and that is not a bad thing.
A reoccurring theme in this article is the development of a good relationship with local LARP groups, often to the point it might seem a lopsided effort, but the advantage is not as one sided as it might seem. Developing a working relationship with local LARP groups can help with recruiting for all groups involved. Remember recruiting is not an all or nothing deal. If the SCA maintains a good relationship with local LARP groups, it creates a self-maintained recruiting ground for all groups involved. New people that come in contact with the LARP group but have interests more geared to the SCA can be put in contact with the SCA. People who come in contact with the SCA but are a better fit for LARP can be sent in that direction. In the end it is better for everyone involved to keep interested people involved in the hobby on some level instead of losing them altogether. Plus, as their interests or levels of participation change (age, families), the person already have a good point of contact to seek the group that fits them best at the time. This also increases the public exposure of both groups because working as a team they can attend more events and demonstrations than one group working alone and in turn can cover more ground and meet more potential new people. There is also the advantage of the two groups attending the same event and supporting each other’s recruitment efforts. With growing concerns about getting new blood into the SCA, looking for potential sources of new members is more important than ever and LARP groups are part of that potential. Hopefully this article sheds some light on that value and gives some insight on how to recruit in that environment. I am always interested in feedback, suggestions, and tales of personal experience with the subject and welcome people to contact me.
Lord Magnus de Lyons
Unto the populace of the Kingdom of the East do I, Don Frasier MacLeod send warmest greetings, It is with great pleasure that I announce that Dona Camille des Jardins will be stepping into the position of Northern Regional Deputy Rapier Marshal. She will be replacing Don Jean DeMontagne, who I would like to personally thank for his long and dutiful service to the Northern Region and Rapier in general. Please join me in thanking Jean and welcoming Camille into her new position, and help her make her transition as seamless as possible. In Service, Don Frasier MacLeod, KRM, East
Filed under: Fencing, Official Notices
In 1954, there was much debate over what to do with the recently discovered remains of a Temple of Mithras. Unable to reach a conclusion, the ruins were packed up and have led a nomadic existance ever since. Now the ruins are being returned to their original site, underneath a London office block.
Numismatists in England found themselves squirming with delight over the discovery in Devon of approximately 22,000 copper-alloy coins, "the largest of its kind ever found in Britain." Now Culture24 allows visitors to take a closer look at some of the coins with a slide show. (photos)
Death is a topic that is rarely discussed, yet clearly crucial to forming a more complete understanding of the Middle Ages and the people living during this time. For these people, death was as much a part of everyday life then as technology is now. The goal of this series of brief pieces is to touch on some surprising aspects of death during the Middle Ages that you may not have known.— Lady Beatrice de Winter
Did you know?
For people living in the Middle Ages, there was often nothing final about their final resting place. In many cases, graves were often disturbed by later burials, the bones from the initial burial sometimes carefully arranged around the new corpse. In cemeteries where space was at a premium, bodies were intentionally buried only temporarily. Once the process of putrefaction was complete, the skeletal remains were retrieved and placed in an ossuary. An ossuary is simply a final resting place for the bones of the dead. However, the ossuaries of the time were frequently used to showcase these bones in an artistic manner. Even the corpses of nobility were exhumed and buried into other locations for political or status reasons.
Did you know?
Cemeteries in the Middle Ages were places where the living and the dead frequently commingled. Some cemeteries were not just places to bury the dead, but also public meeting places where the living socialized, ate, drank, played games, danced, sang and carried on love affairs oblivious to the proximity of the dead in their midst. Period documentation indicates the presence of a communal oven in one cemetery as well as the regular occurrence of merchants and tradesmen in cemeteries, despite attempts by the church council to limit secular activities.
Did you know?
The recent discovery of the bones of Richard III resulted in a battle over his ultimate burial location. His decedents argued that he should be buried in York, where he spent over a third of his life. However, officials from the University of Leicester, the institution responsible for this great discovery, claim that they own the rights to bury him in Leicester Cathedral, which is not far from the parking lot in which the late ruler was discovered. At stake is both deference to his familial heritage and a potentially significant economic impact in the area selected. Remarkably, this conflict mirrors frequent disagreements that occurred over burial locations of the nobility during the Middle Ages. At a time when conventional practices included burial in the traditional family resting place, which was often affiliated with a particular parish, it was not uncommon for an individual to instead wish be buried at a beloved parish of his or her own choosing. This desire gave rise to the aforementioned parallel struggle of both familial strife and, as the institution interring the body was generally paid a tithe for the privilege, economic impact. The controversial practice of bodily division was invented as a means to resolve this dilemma. For example, the head, considered the “official” burial site of the individual, was often buried at the family resting place while the heart would be interred with the individual’s seat of piety instead.
Did you know?
Mechanical decapitation machines were used in capital punishment during the Middle Ages. Although the guillotine itself was invented in 1792, long after the end of the Middle Ages, its predecessors were certainly used for capital punishment in pre-17th century Europe. The Halifax Gibbet, which likely dates back to at least the 13th or 14th century, was located in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England and was used on market days to execute thieves caught with stolen goods to the value of 13½d or more, or who confessed to having stolen goods of at least that value. The Scottish Maiden was introduced in 1564 during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots by Regent James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton for similar purposes. In a twist of fate, Douglas was eventually executed by it himself in 1581.
Since 2000, Nikolai Ovcharov has headed excavations at Perperikon in southern Bulgaria, revealing some amazing finds. The latest includes a 12th to 13th century container inscribed with the words in Greek, “Lord, help Veronica.” (photo)
The Gazette welcomes submissions from the populace – share your news with our Sylvan Kingdom! The Æthelmearc Gazette has been a success thanks to all of you; we are getting more than 700 views a day on a regular basis at this point, and moving upward each week!
We welcome event announcements and updates sent by autocrats, officer reports and missives, letters from our beloved Royalty, articles covering almost anything from our SCAdian time period; in short, anything of interest to the subjects of Æthelmearc.
See the submissions tab above for some short guidelines, and then send your news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the 1980s, Manx Gaelic was nearly extinct, but the language has made a comeback on the Isle of Man, thanks in part to the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh, the world's only Manx-speaking school. Now educators in Northern Ireland are taking note and considering how to use the same methods to save Irish Gaelic.
Experts working on the restoration and preservation of the Fenwick Treasure, found in the summer of 2014 under a floor of a house in the town center of Colchester, England, believe that the hoard of jewelry had been hidden during the Boudican revolt of 61 CE. In the future, the treasure will be displayed at Colchester Castle Museum. (photos)
Good musicians of Æthelmearc!
January 10 is Æthelmearc Kingdom 12th night! Among the many activities (bardic
Please come to the Ball! Entertain and delight us as we dance to your music. The set list is on the event website here. The music is from the Pennsic Pile 43. Please come share your skill and music on this most glorious occasion!
Sionn, the Lost
(If you plan to attend and play, feel free to let me know beforehand so I can ensure you have all the information/music you require. Regardless, we will be glad to see and hear you at the event.)
"We have a thousand years of history to 'play' with. We study how hey did it and then try ourselves. It's really a living history group and involves such a huge range of interests." Baroness Sibylla (Tamara Pasley) told Troy Patterson of Kincardine News (Lucknow, Ontario), about the recent Tiverton Fall Fair demo by members of the Incipient Canton of Northgaeham. (photos)
Yes, that’s “Queens”, plural. This missive is from the Favor Coordinator:
For those who are inclined, Their Highnesses’ website is now up and running, including a link to a full color template and instructions for the shared favor of Princesses Arabella and Etheldreda.
These fine ladies have decided to mark the solidarity of their two kingdoms as we approach war with AEthelmearc, and have chosen a design that features the mighty dragon of the Middle Kingdom and the fierce tyger of the East.
We encourage all of the artisans of our fair kingdoms to create favors in any medium, provided they may hang from a belt. Please feel free to ask questions of myself or Lady Aislinn regarding the favors. They may be delivered to me, Her Highness, or to any retainers at an event.
Thank you all for your kind services to our kingdom and our honored allies and know that I remain yours in service,
Details and a printable instruction sheet are available at:
Filed under: Tidings Tagged: favors
Feast of the End of the Gaunt Days Sunday, February 22, 2015 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Our fair kingdom enjoyed the fruits of another bountiful harvest, then celebrated and hunkered down for a long winter. Then came the Gaunt Days, as larders became emptier and emptier. From Mid-February we can almost see the End of the Gaunt Days! Let us come together at table, bringing whatever we can to celebrate our survival! The Feast is a chance for the clever victualler to show off their cunning in making tasty fare from the remains of the pantry. What food do you have, when no other can be found fresh? Did you pickle? Smoke? Dry? Collect up the eggs? Ferment?
This pot-luck gathering is part foodie-schola, wherein anyone can come and either just enjoy the day, or show off your finest concoctions for judging and sharing (or just sharing), and part schmoozefest. The day starts with judging so that by lunch and throughout the day the rest of us can sample, learn techniques and swap tips.
Those who bring a dish that feeds 4 or more can have it judged for a chance at stunning prizes and our deepest gratitude! Before the event, it might be a good time to hold workshops and teach someclasses on preservation? Several guilds have sent representatives in the past and we look forward to them attending again.
Prize categories are: People’s Choice, February Fruits, A Mighty Impressive Pickle!, Season’s Meatings, Lenten Lunchtime, The Best Root Home, What Vegetation Survived, Behold the Power of Cheese!, Drinks that Are not Just Melted Snow, Toothsome Stews and Soups, Sweets for the Sweet, and the nebulous None of the Above.
The site is not dry, but do try not to stagger out into the street.
Costs: $0. Students and the elderly are half price.
Donations are gratefully accepted.
We remember those who are going through their own Gaunt Days. Donations to The Jonnycake Center – our local food bank – are gratefully accepted at the door.
The Event Steward, Meister Ulric von der Insel, can be reached at email@example.com or 401-330-0357 before 9pm.
Site: Wishford Hall, 1034 Main Street, Hopkinton, RI
Site opens at 11:00am and the event ends at 5:00pm.
Directions: From I-95 north or southbound, take exit 3 to route 138 west.
Official Event Announcement
Filed under: Events
The Romans considered the cockerel a messenger to the god Mercury, and the rooster was often depicted at the feet of the god. In Britain's Roman Cirencester, a rare and beautiful example of the cockerel was found in the grave of a child. Cotswold Archaeology features an in-depth look at the artifact on their website. (photos)
Greetings most awesome Kingdom in the Known World,
It is I, your happy go lucky, get down tonight, Æthelmearc Gazette Maestro of Fun, That Guy Phil, checking in with a suggestion and a report. This is just a brief overview hoping to spark some interest in new people and rekindle interest from our past game masters.
Should you bring games to events? Yes! I am glad we have cleared this up. Have a great day.
So you want a wee bit more on the game front? No problem. Lets address a few ideas and opportunities for success and fun.
Does it matter if the game is “period” or at least “look kind of period”? Yes, period games really fit into our whole SCA theme. Since we take great pride in researching and recreating Medieval activities, it is exceptional when people take the time to research and play period games.
I will not be opening up this entry to the playing of “Magic” or “Cards against Humanity” at events. This entry reflects no opinion in obviously non-period games. I will tell you that I have been told that rum is not period and I have been known to enjoy rum at an event from time to time.
What if a game looks like it might have been played in period? I say go for it, and I have. I recently brought a Crokinole game to Masked Ball in the Rhydderich Hael. It’s a large round board with circular scoring areas, a central divot for scoring and some pegs to defend said circular divot. The game is played by pushing wooden disks towards the central scoring areas after first rebounding off an opponents disc already on the scoring areas. My board has some nifty Celtic knot work around it. Is Crokinole a SCA “period” game? No, it was invented in the Americas in the 1800s. Does it look SCA “period”? No, but that did not stop people at the event from playing it and having a good time. The beauty of this game is that it is both easy to explain and easy to play.
Above: Photos from Masked Ball of Lord Robert, Lord Wolfgang and Mike playing Crokinole. Photos by Casa de Martino
There are a great number of period games available, especially ones that involve gambling. It has been a while since I have seen people playing period card or dice games for personal coins\tokens. I hope that others will post rules to such games on the Gazette, as many would appreciate that. I hate to cut and paste rules from other places on the web when I know that awesome people from Æthelmearc have already researched such things and should post their instructions or class notes.
In the meantime I will provide a few links for some great games I have played at events and hope to see return to popularity.
One and Thirty, an early version of Black Jack
Primero: “Primero, Prime, Primus, Primiera, Primavista, often referred to as “Poker’s mother”, as it is the first confirmed version of a game directly related to modern day poker, is a 16th-century gambling card game of which the earliest reference dates back to 1526.” – Wikpedia
Gluckhaus: House of Fortune Dice Game
Tablero: This game is played with coins moving up and down a board based on a players dice rolls. There is a version played at parties not using coins. Just remember: Play Responsibly or camp security might try to shut you down.
We don’t even have to stop at indoor games. Croquet and Bocce are well-documented and fun at events. I have set up Bocce courts at events and people enjoyed playing. There are a great deal of people at each event who are not doing one of the mainstay activities like heavy weapons, fencing, archery, thrown weapons and the like. They might like something to do. And even after those fore-mentioned activities are done, those people may want to play a few games before court or after feast.
Might I suggest that you bring easy to teach games? Not as many people have played games as they used to. Keep them simple so that people can start playing immediately as in the Crokinole experience. As time progresses the games can become a little more difficult as there are experienced players to help the new people out.
Over all, its about having fun!