Getting Started in the SCA
Looking to get started in the SCA, or just curious? The first step is easy. Show up at a weekly practice or meeting.
You don’t even need special garb or clothes – just show up and we’ll be happy to welcome you and answer your questions! Have questions before you get started? Contact our Hospitaler, who will be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Society for Creative Anachronism Newcomer’s Portal – Start Here! Official Society website for newcomers with overview of the Society and its activities. Or check out a specific section:
Choosing a Name
Every person in the SCA picks a name to go by in the Society. It could be something simple and familiar (Mary of London or Thomas the Smith) or something elaborate and exotic-sounding (Oisin Dubh mac Lochlainn). However, no one may use the name of an actual person from history or legend (such as “Richard the Lionheart”).
The SCA has its own College of Arms to help you select and register an SCA name and heraldic device. The College of Arms has many resources to assist members in their research, to ensure that their names and devices are appropriate to the world we try to recreate, and that each registered name and device will be unique.
Don’t worry about figuring out a name before you join the group. Many people go by their real name for a while until they figure out what name they’d like to adopt.
Some SCA members try to create an entire “persona” for themselves, as someone who could have lived in a specific time and place within the scope of the SCA, fitting their costume and activities to that persona. Some dedicated people try to behave at events as if they actually were their persona. Others simply pick a name and go ahead with life in the “Current Middle Ages.”
Even our local groups have their own names. Lansing, Michigan is “The Barony of Northwoods”; Toronto, Ontario is “The Royal City of Eoforwic”; Boston, Massachusetts is “The Barony of Carolingia”; and the San Francisco Bay area is the “The Principality of the Mists”.
Rank in the SCA
The SCA has an elaborate system of rank, awards, and honors to reward participants’ accomplishments and service to the Society. Everyone is presumed to be minor nobility when they join the SCA, but any noble titles or honors used in the SCA must be earned in the SCA. These honors are bestowed by the King and Queen during their Royal Courts. You will find that the SCA’s system of rank differs rather radically from that of Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Like many of the SCA’s institutions, our system of rank wasn’t so much planned as evolved.
The people wearing crowns are the reigning Kings and Queens. The heirs to the kingdom, the Prince and Princess, wear coronets which are usually a little less elaborate. In principalities, the reigning Prince and Princess wear coronets, as do their heirs.
After departing the thrones, former royalty become Royal Peers: Viscounts and Viscountesses (those who ruled principalities), Counts and Countesses (those who have reigned once as King or Queen), and Dukes and Duchesses (those who have reigned twice or more as King or Queen). The different Royal Peers are entitled to wear coronets in a specific style.
Another group of people entitled to wear coronets are Barons and Baronesses. They may be in charge of a Barony, or may have simply received the title of Court Baron (or Baroness) as a reward from the royalty.
Bestowed Peers are those who, through talent, hard work, and long effort, have earned recognition for their contributions and skills. There are three of these peerage orders. Companions of the Order of Chivalry are Knights and Masters-at-Arms, fighters who have achieved great skill on the tourney field and are considered by the other members of the Chivalry to be models of prowess, chivalry, and honor. Companions of the Order of the Laurel are craftsmen and artisans recognized for their research and skill in crafts practiced during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and their willingness to teach those skills to others. Companions of Order of the Pelican are those whose service has made a great difference to the SCA. Companions include those who have run Society-wide publications, organized our largest events, held kingdom offices, and managed complicated finances.
The above ranks are common to all the SCA Kingdoms. Each kingdom also has its own set of awards and honors that can be given to reward a variety of skills, efforts, and achievements.
Advice to Newcomers – Whether a long time SCA member brought you to your first meeting or you came by yourself, there’s always a period of adjustment. Here’s how to get yourself oriented quickly and begin to have some fun.
Newcomers are Nice – Advice to Established Members – Sometimes long time members are just as unsure about approaching newcomers as you are about approaching them! This article may help you both meet in the middle.
What to Wear
Making Medieval Clothes and Items – Over 40 articles on Medieval and Renaissance clothing and accessories, including “How To’s”; links to costuming resources
Introduction to Garb – Quick tips on making men & women’s tunics, headcoverings, belts and pouches; by Mistress Cynthia du Pré Argent
Practical Worksheet for tunic construction – More detailed instructions on making a tunic/gown; by Mistress Cynthia du Pré Argent
Some basic patterns are covered in the SCA’s Forward Into the Past pamphlet.
Who to be in the SCA
- What is an SCA Name?
- Choosing a Society Name: Hints for Newcomers
- Medieval Names Archive
- Choosing a Name & Creating a Persona
- How do you get to be king? Who can use noble titles? How should I address people? See “Who is Who?” chapter of Forward Into the Past