FAQs

Different people will refer to participation in the SCA in different ways. You’ll often hear it as “playing”, though some people use term like “participate” to avoid gaming analogies.

At a high level, to participate in the SCA means to engage in virtual and in-person SCA spaces. You don’t have to engage with every activity. You don’t have to come to every event. You don’t have to do tons of research. You don’t have to make things.

To participate or play in the society means to engage with us, to pursue shared interests, to have fun, and to do this in safe spaces. Everyone participates in different ways and to different degrees.

Whether it’s volunteering, creating, competing, teaching, or just enjoying the ambiance, find the activities that interest you, and join in!

Yes and no.

Things that don’t cost money:

  • Attending local fighter practices
  • Attending populace meetings or business meetings
  • Attending guild meetings
  • Attending virtual activities
  • Engaging online in SCA spaces

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Things that cost money:

  • Purchasing a membership — this is not required, but we do recommend it. You get a discount on weekend event fees and access to online materials.
  • Investing in projects — different people have different hobbies. Activities like making clothing, making armour, flameworks, calligraphy all require materials and supplies, and supplies cost money. The barony invests in supplies for our guilds, which new folks are welcome to use, but if you’re pursuing your own interests, that could cost money.
  • Investing in combat equipment – while SCA groups do have loaner gear that you can borrow when you’re first getting started, we encourage folks to eventually acquire their own gear. It’s very possible to get items for discount or for free from other SCAdians, but sometimes you’ll want or need to buy your own equipment.
  • Attending weekend events — the major activities in the SCA are our weekend-long camping events. These events have a site fee, and sometimes a feast or camping fee. In general site fees are around $20 for the whole weekend, feast and camping varies depending on the location. The SCA has a family max that allows two adults to attend an event with minors for the cost of only the two adults.
  • Some classes — sometimes teachers will offer classes that come with “kits” or materials that are provided to attendees. These “hands-on” classes will often have a $5-$10 fee in order to help the instructor cover the cost of materials.

If you don’t have materials or money, that is okay. There are ways to get involved that don’t require a financial investment

  • Attend your local fighter practices
  • Attend your local populace meetings or business meetings
  • Attend local guild meetings – there will never be a fee to attend a local guild meeting, and there are often supplies on hand that you can use to learn or try out crafts before you spend money
  • Attend virtual activities
  • Engaging online in SCA spaces – there are a TON of SCA Facebook groups and discord servers that you can engage in for free

People of all ages are allowed to participate in the SCA.

Minors (persons under the age of 18) will require a waiver signed by a guardian to participate in some activities (combat, serving in officer positions, etc). If you are under the ago of 18, and are interested in participating in combat or volunteering as an officer, reach out to the local officers to find out what you need to do.

You can Absolutely still participate! And you’ll be surprised how often modern skills or knowledge overlap with pre-1600 things.

The SCA is all about learning and sharing our knowledge with others. If you don’t know any period skills, come learn! If you prefer to volunteer or research or do other things that relate to the SCA, that’s good too!

  • Come to local guild meetings
  • Come to local practices
  • Take classes at events
  • Ask other people
  • Dive into your own research

TBA

SCA officers are volunteers who represent, coordinate, and organize the various activities of the SCA. Officers typically will attend monthly business meetings to provide updates on activities that have happened or are in the works, they will submit monthly reports to their upline, and they often organize and foster engagement in local activities.

The Virtual Academy of Service-Minded Individuals has a great YouTube series on officer duties.

The requirements or job expectations for an officer will change depending on the level and location of the group (shires, baronies, kingdoms in different places). Groups customize their officer responsibilities based on the needs of the group.

In general, there are three primary requirements

  1. Have an active membership
  2. Submit reports to your upline (these are often informal monthly status reports)
  3. Anything listed in the appropriate officer handbook (not all officers have handbooks)

Everything else will either come from your upline or will be agreed upon between you and the other officers.

  1. Have an active membership
  2. Submit an application
  3. Wait for confirmation from the appropriate regional/upline officer

In order to learn about the roles an responsibilities you can check out the document library for the governing documents related to the office, and reach out to your local officers!

An SCA “member” is someone who has purchased a membership through our membership portal.

In general, no. However some officer positions require you to be a paying member of the society.

Nope. There is no association between attendance and becoming a member. Membership is determined solely by whether or not you have an active, paid membership through http://www.sca.org/join-us/

There are several tiers of membership that are available, the most up to date pay scale can be found here: http://www.sca.org/join-us/.

The general breakdown is:

  • Sustaining Membership ($45/year) – available to US and APO addresses. Includes access to the SCA electronic newsletter website, which includes all the kingdom newsletters and the Board Meeting minutes. Paper publications may be purchased for an additional fee.
  • Associate Membership ($30/year) – no electronic or paper publications are available for this type of membership
  • International Membership ($56/year) – same as Sustaining, for non-US addresses
  • Family Membership ($10 each/year, $30 cap/year) – can be added to a Sustaining/International membership

Your fees help support the SCA infrastructure, including worldwide liability coverage for our chapters, and the ability to maintain consistent rules and standards throughout the Society.

Members get the following benefits (most up-to-date list here):

  • Discounts on event admission fees (usually $5 per event)
  • Membership card – check in at events quickly by presenting your card
  • Voting privileges in your local group – polls on local group matters are sent to those on the membership list (Bryn Gwlad does not enforce this)
  • SCA Publications – digital access to all monthly kingdom newsletters and the quarterly Board Minutes, along with the option to subscribe to Tournaments Illuminated (the quarterly magazine of the Society), the Compleat Anachronist series, and to paper versions of kingdom newsletters and the Board Minutes.

Nope! Most Scadians start to develop a wardrobe around their primary persona, but anyone can wear clothes from any time period in the SCA.

Yep! Your local group has loaner garb (frequently referred to as “gold key”) that they can use to outfit you so you have garb for your first event. Additionally, most events will have extra garb at the gate.

A large part of going to an SCA event is letting the modern era fade away. For that reason we do require that you make a “best attempt at period clothes.” Don’t worry if you don’t have any, we have some you can borrow!

Reach out to our Hospitaler or the Newcomers Academy for help

Nope! If you have the time and resources to make garb that matches, then go ahead. It can really add to the ambiance of the event plus you will have cool new garb. However, you can wear any period clothing to any event.

Sure! the SCA requires a “best attempt” at garb. As long as it doesn’t look overly modern you’re fine. Ren-faire garb will work fine for starting out.

Also, remember that the SCA has loaner garb that you can use! Reach out to the Hospitaler to see what is available for loan.

That is okay. Not everyone is interested or able to make their own garb. These are a few options that you can consider:

  • Talk to the local hospitaler to borrow clothing
  • Check out the many SCA merchants/vendors from whom you can purchase clothing that matches your SCA style. Here are a few places where you can find them:
  • The SCA also has a strong precedent for bartering — do you have other skills or time you could trade in exchange for garb?

The main kinds of activities in the SCA can loosely be grouped as follows:

  • Local Activities
    • Social activities – revels, parties, hangouts
    • Guild meetings – themed classes or crafting meetings, usually in the evenings
    • Practices – dance, archery, combat, equestrian, etc
    • Business meetings
  • Weekend events
    • Usually hosted by a local group within a Kingdom
    • Can be on day or multiple days
    • Usually <5 hrs travel time
  • Wars
    • Usually hosted by multiple groups across Kingdoms
    • Often 4+ days long, usually a week or more
    • No limit to travel distance

These activities can be in-person, virtual, or a combination of both.

Official activities are those that have been sanctioned by a group’s Seneschal and are added to the group’s official calendar or published in the group’s newsletter.

Often activities will happen in different locations and in different cities. Most people drive themselves or carpool to activities.

Need a ride for in-person activities? Reach out to the group via email, facebook, or discord. We can put you in touch with other travelers.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to the local officers here in Bryn Gwlad. We will help you get you where you’re trying to go.

The SCA currently supports the following activities for adult (18+ years old) and youth (< 18 years old) participants:

There are a few ways you can get started in SCA combat

Yep! Our martials have loaner gear that you can use. What you need to bring is

  • Closed toes shoes
  • Groin protection
    • an athletic cup is required if you have male genitalia
    • an athletic cup is required for persons with female genitalia during heavy combat and combat archery, optional otherwise
  • Long-sleeves and pants if you are fighting rapier
  1. Get authorized
    1. You’ll need to be authorized before you can compete in rapier, chivalric, or other combat activities. Being “authorized” is all about safety. It means you’ve demonstrated that you know the rules of the activity and that you aren’t going to pose a safety risk to yourself or others.
    2. You do not have to be a “good” fighter to become authorized.
    3. Reach out to our Rapier Marshal or Knight Marshal to get authorized.
  2. Sign up for the lists (this is usually done the day of the event near the list field, but sometimes is done before the event)
  3. Attend the event!

Awards are an important part of the SCA.

We are a volunteer organization, and the way we are “paid” is by the positive feeling we get by contributing to the SCA, whether at the local level, in the kitchen, as a kingdom officer, etc.

Awards are a public “Thank You” or acknowledgement of accomplishments, and can act as an encouragement to a person to continue in the same vein or direction.

Most awards are given at the pleasure of the Crown of each Kingdom, though groups within a Kingdom often have local awards that are given at the pleasure of the local figureheads. Very often, awards are given when the Crown of local representatives receive recommendations for that person, recommendations from people such as you.

Awards are often accompanied by scrolls or regalia that are made by the community.

(Awards don’t take the place of a personal, individual, word or note – so don’t forget to say “Great Event” to an event steward or send a “Loved your Feast” email to a cook!)

These are the main categories of awards that can be given in Ansteorra:

  • Non-armigerous awards (awards that do not grant rank)
  • Armigerous Awards (awards that grant additional rank)
    • Award of Arms (first rank)
    • Grant of Arms (second rank)
    • Patent of Arms (third rank, Peerage)
  • Nobility

People typically get an Award of Arms one within one to 2 years of joining the SCA, when they’ve shown reasonable interest, become active and contributing members, and look like they are sticking around.

Awards are often given based on recommendations from the populace. If you see someone who is deserving of an award, Submit a Recommendation!!

Awards are given at the discretion of the Crown and their representatives (Barons, Baronesses, etc). The Crown decides to give an award either

A HUGE part of recognition in the SCA is award recommendations from the populace. If you think someone is deserving of an award, please submit an award recommendation to your local group of Kingdom! And tell your friends, too!

Peerages are awards that are Society-wide, and are recognized throughout all the kingdoms. The Bestowed Peerage of the SCA consists of the members of

  • the Order of Chivalry
  • the Order of the Laurel
  • the Order of Pelican
  • the Order of Defense

In many kingdoms, the Order of the Rose is also a Peerage-level award, and it is likewise recognized across the kingdoms of the SCA. Roses are those who served their kingdom by ruling as Queen or Consort.

In each kingdom, the Crown consults with their kingdom’s members of the Order before creating a new Peer.

The Order of Chivalry consists of the Knights and the Masters of Arms. Members are recognized for their great skill at arms in combat, as well as for qualities of courtesy and grace. Knights swear fealty to the Crown during the knighting ceremony. They are entitled to wear a white belt, and a gold chain as a symbol of their fealty. Knights are typically referred to as “Sir”.
Masters of Arms are equal in rank to knights. They may choose not to swear fealty, and wear a white baldric (diagonally from shoulder to hip). They are addressed as “Master” or “Mistress”.

Members of the Order of the Laurel are recognized for their great skill in the Arts or Sciences, for their willingness to teach others, and for using their abilities to benefit their kingdom. They are typically addressed as “Master” or “Mistress”. Their insignia is a laurel wreath, usually colored green on a gold background.

Members of the Order of the Pelican are recognized for great service to their kingdom or to the Society as a whole, usually for many years and without thought of reward. They are chosen by the Crown in consultation with the Order. They are typically addressed as “Master” or “Mistress”. Their insignia is a “pelican in her piety,” a pelican piercing her breast to feed her young with her own blood.

Members of the Order of Defense are recognized for their great skill at rapier and/or cut-and-thrust combat, as well as for qualities of courtesy and grace, for their willingness to teach others, and for service to the kingdom. They are addressed as “Master” or “Mistress”, and are entitled to wear a white livery collar and to bear the badge: Three rapiers in pall inverted tips crossed.

What is a Champion?

The groups and kingdoms in the SCA hold competitions year-round in various fields within arts & sciences and martial combat.

Some of these competitions (usually once a year for each SCA group) are championships, and the winners of these competitions are usually given a title of Champion of that group until a new one is chosen.

However, there are exceptions. Not all competitions are championships. And not all champions are chosen via a competition.

How are champions chosen?

Champions are often picked from the winner (or winners) of competitions — rapier tournaments, bardic competitions, brewing competitions, Arts & Sciences competitions, and more!

The leaders of a group and the current champions typically determine the format of each competition, and it can change from year-to-year. Check the local event schedule to find competition dates and the format that will be used for selection.

What do champions do?

The duties of a champion can vary depending on the group, the champion, and agreements between the champion and the landed nobility of that group.

Typical duties for a local champion include running the championship tournament the next year, and appearing in court with the landed nobility for whom you are their champion. Sometimes champions will be asked to compete in additional tournaments on behalf of the group they represent.

Baronial Court, you can see champions holding swords behind the thrones.

You’ve been to a few meetings. You sat in on a couple of classes. Perhaps you’ve sewn together your first tunic. All of these things are great fun, but now it’s time to take the next step—your first event.

Attending an event can be a marvelous adventure, but it can also be a bit confusing or downright intimidating. Understanding how to get ready for your first event and what to expect when you get there can make all the difference.

There are a few basic types of events:

  • Tournaments: where martial combat activities take place
  • Collegia: where you take classes on various topics
  • Arts and sciences fairs: where gentles take A&S projects for feedback and competition
  • Revels: where the populace feasts and dances

Many events feature some combination of these activities.

Events will either last a day (usually a Saturday), a weekend, or in the case of larger wars, a week or more.

You can find information on events in three main places:

Here are the important details you will need to find.

  • Location and directions
    • take note of the location of the event
    • print directions or store an offline copy in your favorite map application
  • Schedule of events
    • make note of when the site opens and closes
    • make note of when activities start/end
  • Fees
    • you’ll want to bring cash or a check to pay at gate
    • there may be separate fees for entering site, camping, feast, classes
    • if you have a membership, there will be a discount
    • some events will allow you to pre-register and pay online
  • Event and site rules
    • familiarize yourself with the rules for the event and site (may include policies on tobacco use, alcohol, campfires or other open flames, pets, etc)
    • obey all the posted site rules or you may be asked to leave the event

You may already have some of these things. If you don’t, you can often make, borrow, or buy them. Reach out to the Hospitaler for help!

This should get you through your first event, but you’re always welcome to bring more than what’s listed here.

  • Clothing
    • “mundane” clothing for travel, setup/etc
    • at least one outfit that makes an attempt at pre-1600s outfit
  • Outdoor Gear
    • a chair or blanket to sit on
      • avoid overtly modern designs/logos/materials
    • bug spray
    • sunscreen
    • a hat
      • avoid modern styles like baseball caps
      • this is also something you can often borrow
  • Feast Gear: if you’re going to partake in the dinner feast
    • plate, bowl, cup, utensils is usually sufficient
    • avoid overly modern colors, designs, or materials
  • Food and Drinks
    • events will not usually provide enough food for everyone for the whole weekend; the feast may cover your dinner, but not the rest of the event
    • plan ahead for your breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinner
  • Overnight Supplies
    • tent (bring, borrow, or share)
    • sleeping materials (mattress, cot, blankets, pillows, etc)
    • toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush/paste, towel)
  • Medical Supplies
    • medicines (bring slightly more than to last the event)
    • contact the event steward if you need to have refrigerated items
    • contact the event steward if you will need access to electricity
    • considering bringing a list of medications you are on and medical conditions in the event of an emergency
  • Other things people bring
    • Arts and Sciences Materials – to work on, enter into competitions, to display
    • Combat Equipment
    • Archery/Thrown Weapons Equipment
    • Regalia
    • Banners, decorations, or other items used to create a more “period” encampment

First stop: Gate! Also known as “event check-in”, “troll”, “registration point”, this is where you will

  • pay your fees for the event if you didn’t pre-register
  • sign into the event
  • sign a non-member waiver (only if you aren’t a member)
  • pick up things like your site token, site map, schedule, etc

Second stop: loaner gear! If you need to borrow gear, and if the site has a hospitaler station, you can obtain loaner clothing, gear, or equipment on site. Make sure to return what you borrow when you are finished!

Third stop: setup your camp and/or day shades! If you are staying overnight, now is probably the time you want to go set up your tent, pavillion, cabin, etc. If you brought a day shade or pavillion for the field, you should set that up, too. Check with event staff and look for signage indicating where you can/can’t place tents or pavillions.

Finally: you are free to attend any events or activities you’d like! If you are entering into competitions, you can sign up as they open.

Events typically feature these types of main activity

  • Competitions and Tournaments
    • Feel free to applaud or cheer
    • Be courteous to all, avoid booing or jeering
    • Listen to the Heralds to know what’s going on
    • If you hear someone shout “HOLD!” stop what you are doing and be silent!
      • “HOLD!” indicates a safety issue
      • You can shout it if you see something unsafe
  • Classes
    • You’re welcome to attend any
    • Usually free, though some have a small materials fee
    • Take notes, ask questions!
  • Court
    • This is where the Crown makes proclamations, changes to law, announces awards, recognizes winners and champions
    • Stay quiet or speak softly to hear what’s going on
    • Applaud and cheer when others do, listen for specific cheers, follow along
    • If you are called into court:
      • listen and respond as appropriate
      • be courteous
      • stay in court until dismissed
      • if you’re not comfortable walking up into court, you can ask someone to appear in your stead
  • Feast
    • this is where many people at the event gather to dine on medieval foods
    • you can volunteer to help set up, serve, or clean up
    • there are often traditional toasts made
  • Revels, campfires, balls, fireside circles
    • These can be scheduled or impromptu
    • Often less formal than day-time activities
    • People will often set up campfires and have smaller gatherings
    • Depending on attendees and site alcohol policy, some evening gatherings may not be appropriate for children

Things to do:

  • Act with courtesy towards others
  • Keep your site token on your person at all times
  • Make an attempt to hide overtly modern items
  • Return what you borrow
  • Gather your belongings and clean up when you leave
  • Ask questions, take part, and have fun!

Nope!

Many SCA weekend events offer camping, but it is by no means required. There are lots of other options that folks choose that still allow them to attend an event:

  • day tripping (traveling to an event and returning home on the same day)
  • staying in a personal RV
  • booking a hotel room near the event
  • car camping (yep! some folks opt to bunk down in their vehicles)
  • and more!

Before you travel to an event, make sure to check the event website to see what overnight options are available. Not all events have camping, not all support RVs, and some sites are very remote and the hotel selections are slim.

Plan ahead so you can get the most out of your event!

Often activities will happen in different locations and in different cities. Most people drive themselves or carpool to activities.

Need a ride for in-person activities? Reach out to the group via email, facebook, or discord. We can put you in touch with other travelers.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to the local officers here in Bryn Gwlad. We will help you get you where you’re trying to go.

Bowing to other individuals at events is one activity that people do at events as a way to immerse themselves in the atmosphere and culture of an event – bowing is a way to acknowledge other individuals and show them respect. It is most often seen when people enter or leave court.

Bowing (or respectfully nodding ones head) is not something you are required to do. But, it is often encouraged.

When people get awards in the SCA, they are often granted permission to wear the various insignia associated with those awards. Insignia can be a badge, a ribbon, a belt, a collar, a glove, a circlet, a coronet, or more.

The “fancy headgear” you see at events are coronets being worn by people who have been given awards.

Full descriptions of Ansteorran Insigna
Sumptuary Law regarding specific coronets (Article X)

The main types of headgear are:

  • someone with an Award of Arms can wear
    • a circlet (less than 1/2″ thick)
  • someone with a Court Barony can wear
    • a flat-topped coronet, worn by people with a Court Barony
    • an engrailed coronet (has up to 6 points on it, each topped with a sphere), also worn by people with a court barony
  • someone with a Territorial Barony can wear
    • same as a Court Barony, but decorated with the arms or badge of their Barony
  • someone who has served as Sovereign or Consort once can wear
    • a coronet that is embattled or dovetailed
  • someone who has server as Sovereign or Consort multiple times can wear
    • a coronet that has strawberry leaves on it

Other fancy headgear could be insignia, or it could just be fancy headgear. Don’t be afraid to ask about the significance of something a person is wearing!