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  1. What is the SCA? Well, if you were looking for a simple answer, you're not going to get one. The SCA is a lot of things to a lot of people, and I've personally only really scratched the surface of it myself. Read on to find out my take on the organization, and bear with me because I really haven't put a whole lot of thought into this until now... For starters, SCA stands for Society for Creative Anachronism. In the simplest of terms, we're an organization that tries to recreate a period of history as best as we can. We research apparel from our chosen period to recreate as our own garb. We research period food recipes and then use them for meals. We even research recreational activities and basic industry from our chosen period and attempt to recreate them. In a lot of ways we're like the people who organize other historical reenactments, like of the Civil War or something, but in a lot of ways we're also different. One of the biggest ways that we're different is in the time period we cover and the breadth of our focus. Most other recreational or reenactment organizations tend to focus on a very specific time period and a very specific place. They'll choose to cover, say, the Battle of Agincourt and so everyone will be wearing the type of armor and clothing that you'd find people wearing around 1415 in England and France. Or they'll reenact a certain war, say the American Revolutionary War, so you'll only see people doing and wearing things present from 1775-1783 in the American Colonies. It's a very limiting choice, but it makes it much easier to strive for authenticity in everything. The SCA, on the other hand, covers a vast time period. In a broad statement, the SCA officially covers "Pre-17th Century Europe with an emphasis on the Middle Ages and Renaissance." While that means that the majority of people are going to tend towards the Early Middle Ages through the Late Renaissance(500ish AD to 1600ish AD), it also means that going back as far as Ancient Greece is fair game as well. And even though they aren't specifically mentioned, other parts of the world, such as Asia and the Middle East, are also covered for that time period as well and are wholly welcomed though they aren't covered as extensively as Europe. So you may see a lady dressed in a 14th century cotehardie or kirtle next to a man dressed in a Roman tunic, next to another person wearing a Japanese kimono and hakama. However, because of how wide our focus is, while we strive for authenticity we don't demand it. That's part of where the "Creative" in the Society for Creative Anachronism comes in. A lot of reenactment groups get bent out of shape if someone shows up in something that isn't 100% accurate down the the materials and methods used in construction. In the SCA you'll find that if it looks the part, it works. All that matters is the attempt, and that you'll put in more effort later in order to try and improve yourself. So while other groups may frown upon the use of sewing machines, or modern fabrics, or what have you, we embrace it. One of the unofficial slogans of the SCA is "The Middle Ages as they should have been." As far as the structure of the organization goes, the SCA is comprised of 19 Kingdoms that make up the Known World. The US and Canada are divided into 17 of these kingdoms, with there being one kingdom in Europe and one in Australia. Personally, I live in the Kingdom of Aethelmearc(pronounced Ethel-mark), which runs from northwestern NY all the way to the southern edge of WV. Further, each kingdom is divided into smaller sections that can be called Shire, Barony, Canton, etc. depending on size, population, and other criteria. For that, I live in the Shire of Misty Highlands. Which kingdom and which Barony/Canton/Shire you belong to are generally decided by where you live(though there are exceptions). But then there's another, more intimate, grouping - your household or your camp. Households are entirely separate from where you live, though they often correspond at least somewhat. You get to choose your household, and then the household often has to choose you as well. And each household has different rules about who they'll accept. It's sort of like finding your clique in high school. In my case, my household is House Sable Maul. Now, the governing of the organization is something that I'm not all that familiar with as a whole. I know that the entire organization is governed by a Board of Directors, since it's a 501(c)(3) non-profit, but I'm not sure how the Board is chosen or about anything regarding the corporate structure. On the Kingdom level, every 6 months a kingdom will hold a crown tournament, and any heavy fighter who wishes to participate can. Whoever wins the crown tournament is crowned King(or Queen) and gets to choose their Queen(or King), and then all of the other kingdom-level offices also get shuffled about as people apply for those positions and the new King and Queen have to choose new people. Winning the crown tournament is a Big Deal, especially if it's your first time winning, because only the best fighters in a kingdom can win it and it brings a lot of prestige and responsibility with the win. At the Shire/Barony/Canton level, all governmental positions are elected, though Baron/Baroness titles can be granted by the King and Queen. But anyway, enough about the structure of the organization. For me, the SCA is the fighting. There are two main forms of fighting in the SCA - heavy combat and fencing/rapier combat. Heavy combat is my bread and butter. It's what drew me in, and what I find the most pleasure in doing. Heavy combat is where we put on recreation armor and beat each other with sticks of rattan. Of course, there are a bunch of rules in place that limit striking areas, require minimum amounts of armor, and that sort of thing to keep it relatively safe, but the gist of it is that we're swinging sticks at each other, leaving each other bruised, and having a blast doing it. It's a full-contact combat sport essentially. And while 1-on-1 duels are always happening, it's the battlefields that I truly love. Big event, small event, it doesn't matter as long as there's 10 or so people per side. I may not be good, I may die a lot, but the feeling I love more than any other when it comes to fighting is being part of a successful charge that crashes through the enemy line. If I actually knock someone off their feet and trample over them in the process, it's just that much better. I don't know why, but I just love it. Watch the video below, which is from one of the events that's relatively local to me about 10 years ago, and pay attention to the guy in the front left foreground that's wearing all yellow. I call him the schoolbus, because he's big, he's yellow, and he just runs over like 4 people. Seeing that video right before my first SCA event had me set my mind to doing something similar, and when I did the memory of it has become one of my best in the last 4 years. Of course, you can find longer videos, better quality videos, and videos filmed on helmet cam if you want. I just wanted to share a video that, despite its short length, actually had a strong impact on me. There are tons of videos of the Pennsic War, which is the largest event in the SCA, and the heavy fighter battlefield is often 3000+ people. The other form of combat, fencing/rapier combat, is less physically brutal. They wear less armor and they aren't allowed as much contact, but they fight with blunted steel. We heavy fighters like to poke fun at fencers, because we're the big, armored brutes and they're soft and squishy, but it's just that it's a different game. It's not something I'm particularly interested in, because I really like the physicality of heavy combat, but it's a more maneuvering-based game that relies more on precision and active parrying. SCA fencing is much closer to the roots of fencing than Olympic fencing, and much is based on the fighting styles outlined in Talhoffer and Liechtenauer's manuals. The white outfit and thin foil style of Olympic fencing is a sporting evolution of the stuff that SCA fencers study, and while the skills will probably transition over pretty well for 1v1 bouts, the fencers also do battlefield fights with entire lines and I don't think that Olympic fencing will translate very well to that. I know I haven't really said everything I can say, but I've actually been working on this for 2 hours now and my brain is starting to fail me. Feel free to ask whatever, and I'll try to answer things as best I can. In the meantime, have a news spot about the SCA that was filmed at the Pennsic War a couple years ago. It's actually pretty good, even if it is short. And here's a short video of me, the next year at Pennsic, getting my crossbow knocked out of my hands. Hopefully it isn't locked behind some friend requirement or something. https://www.facebook.com/eric.t.minardi/videos/10206585719735916/