Many years ago I was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (Shire of Stromgard, Kingdom of An Tir), but I dropped out due to life getting in the way. Is it worth getting back into it, or has interest died down? Is it still fun, or has politics gotten in the way?
It’s been taken over by lawyers and bureaucrats.
When I first started 20 years ago you could dive in and do stuff. There were still first generation members around who kept the new kids in line. The society was supposed to be for fun and education, and largely it was.
Now-a-days it just a bunch of vested interests puffing themselves up and making sure one else has a chance to participate in a meaningful way. Mostly its just gotten too big for its own good.
20 years ago there was a joke, “What do you call the last person on site cleaning up the kitchen after an event?” The answer then was “Your Majesty.”
Now nothing could be further from the truth. If you get an office, especially a kingdom office, it means you never do anything useful again. Instead the PTB seem to take great joy in over-regulating everything while squeezing the joy out of everyone and everything under their jurisdiction. You could basically replace the title of any office with “martinet” and not be far off the mark.
We quit about 6 years ago because there was no venue for us to participate in ways we wanted to. I am a feastacrat with 30 plus events under my belt. I have shepherded an incipient shire into a full shire, now barony. I got lots to offer. But unless you’re the apprentice to the local gentry you might as well not show up. Your help is not wanted.
I went to an event about 1984. One got to be King them by winning the tournament.
Has that changed?
Kings are still chosen by combat. It is very limited as to who can fight though. They have laid so many conditions on what the king’s duties are that only a few can afford to win.
I live in the East Kingdom. I’ve seen the SCA since the early years and have stayed very active for almost all of the 35+ years I’ve been in. I don’t know the culture in An Tir, but in the East, we joke that we’re the People’s Republic of the East because of our independent spirit.
Has it become overridden by politics? Of course it has, because there are people involved. I just go around them, and do what I want. I sew, I cook, I fence, and I have a ton of great friends who work hard to make sure other people have fun.
A lot of the bureaucracy is the result of people who now have rules named after them. People who thought that the rules didn’t apply to them, or couldn’t let go of a grudge.
I guess I’m one of those people that Pabitel would call a ‘martinet’. I’ve held several local, regional, and even kingdom offices. If the local gentry was cramping my style, I played with other groups, or at the kingdom level. I’ve driven 5+ hours to cook a feast, marshal fencing, teach classes and see my friends.
I think for me, the SCA has always been my home because I don’t just look at it as a place for me to show what I can do, but also a place where I can help other people show what they can do.
Pábitel, I’m sorry for your experiences. I’ve heard other people make similar complaints, depending on the groups they play in. Still, for all of the bellyaching about politics (which I have done plenty of myself), the Society is still going strong, and there are lots of people who are still having huge amounts of fun doing what they enjoy, be it geeking out over A&S or getting together to swing sticks/metal or doing demos for local schools.
So, I’d advise other readers to take Pábitel’s perspective with a VERY large grain of salt: this is very much a YMMV situation, and not all groups operate the way that is described above. Keep in mind that the Society is huge, and each kingdom/locality has its own culture, some more political/full of themselves than others, and all changing more or less over time. Besides, the SCA has always been a collection of individuals with very differing ideas of what the “Dream” (to use that common term) means to them, and of the “right” way to do things, which can lead to friction.
Czarcasm, it’s not at all uncommon for people to take a step back because of “real life” or disillusionment, then come back later when the burnout passes (I’m coming off a similar phase myself). I think the only real way to know whether it’s right for you is to give it a try again and see if you can find a place that feels right. Sometimes that might mean shopping around local groups, if you’re in a place that gives you multiple options (looks like Stromgarde is a Barony now!)
(ETA: or, what Jane Elliot said, a lot more concisely than me.)
Full disclaimer so you understand where I’m coming from: I’ve played in the SCA for 10+ years in both Atlantia and the West, and have served as landed baronage. I’m also a bestowed Peer (Pelican), which means in my case that I feel that I have very little to “prove” in terms of advancement in the ranks (but I certainly sympathize with the frustration of those for whom this is a priority and are encountering obstacles). I also currently hold an officer position at the Kingdom level, managing the waivers required by Corporate (which I suppose would make me one of the “martinets” as well, although my goal has only ever been to make the nasty legal stuff as painless as possible).
From the Atlantian Great Book of Law, to be eligible to enter Crown Tournament the requirements are:
The duties of the Crown are:
Most of the above duties are delegated to others, and there is plenty of established “infrastructure” for it to happen.
Still the King and Queen are the administrative leaders of the Kingdom, and are expected to do their part to keep things running smoothly and to look after the welfare of the Kingdom as a whole. Not only is this a huge time commitment, but it can necessitate substantial expense in terms of travel to outlying events (some of which may be reimbursed by Kingdom funds, but not all), costs of phone calls/mailings, and the like.
However, all of that is up to the Crown. As long as their predecessors accept them into Crown Tournament (which is a given, in the vast majority of cases I’ve seen) and they win it fair and square, it’s up to them how much or how little effort they want to put in. I’ve seen Crowns put in the bare minimum, traveling little and letting the outlying groups and the rest of the infrastructure basically fend for itself. The ones that are remembered fondly, though, take their duties to heart and find joy in it…and although they come out after six+ months exhausted (and lighter in pocket), many of them come back later willing to do it all over again.
Is it ridiculous that we choose our leaders by means of a sports competition? Totally, and I’d love to explore alternate systems…but a large part of the time, it really kinda works out.
Kings Conan and Kull would have it no other way.
And Conan (along with Barbarella) is a documentably SCA-period name!
What is a period name?
When I went to the SCA event in Memphis in 1983, I had permission from Edith Pargeter to use the name Brother Cadfael.
A ‘period name’ is any name that would have been used within the period the SCA encompasses. Mixed names of cultures that never interacted in Europe pre-1600 would not be ‘period names’. So, a name like Jane Elliot (not my real or SCA name) is a perfectly plausible English name. Jane Ogidei (English & Mongol mix) would not be, because the Mongols never made it to England.
A name like Brother Cadfael might be considered obtrusively modern, even though it could be documented.
Not obtrusively modern, but still too reminiscent of the fictional character. The relevant rule is:
“Fictional characters may also be considered important enough that their names need to be protected. Fictional characters are generally important enough to protect when two conditions are met. They are: a) a significant number of people in the Society recognize the character’s name without prompting and b) the use of the name would generally be considered by those people a clear reference to that character.”
Note that that doesn’t mean you couldn’t *use *the name, just that you couldn’t *register *it as your Official SCA Name What Nobody Else Can Use.
Bruce de Willis, however, just might slip by.
From link: The historically accurate stories are set between about 1135 and about 1145.
Cadfael is a Welsh name derived from the words cad (“battle”) and mael (“prince”). Peters wrote that she found the name “Cadfael” only once in the records, given as the baptismal name of Saint Cadog, who later abandoned it.
Sheesh, Conan is from pre-history!
Thanks Flying Rat. I’m not a serious herald, although some of my closest friends are. I love reading the names they come up with for April Fools. My favorites are Timothy Fallinwell and Gode Handsex.
When I went to my first Crown in AS 18 (25-30 years ago?), in the west, all you had to do was show up. Some people were actually expected to choose a consort to fight for the day of the tournament.
What if I don’t want to invent a persona or dress up but I really like seeing how creative other people are and really dig admiring and learning about the craftwork.
Can I just show up to an event or do I have to be a member?
Oh, man, the April Fools submissions are my favorite! My favorite of all time is Swetelove Twiceaday, but the ones from 2013 include some gems (many with matching coats of arms):
[li]Gang Nahm Stil (German name)[/li][li]Steven Tyler Or Arrowsmith[/li][li]Captain Kyrke[/li][li]Spider Pigge (the coat of arms has a spiderweb and an upside-down pig)[/li][li]Hans Olo (Spanish name)[/li][li]Kermott Frogge[/li][li]Fouke Noe (“Not just no…”)[/li][li]Smelly Poo (“There was a device [coat of arms] associated with this, but first the dog tried to eat it and then the Postal Service refused (wisely, we thought) to allow it to go through the mail.”)[/li][/ul]
The Kingdom of Caid also tried to register all the Avengers, along with Bella and Edward from Twilight.
I think you can still do that. The little asterisks next to some of the requirements I posted mean that the current Crown can choose to waive those if they want. The only hard and fast requirement (from the core SCA rules) is that both the fighter and the consort have to be paid members of the SCA (and that they have to be of different genders, although there is an active movement to try and change that).