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Unruly

What is the SCA?

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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.

 

FinalColorKWMap_small.jpg

 

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/

 

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Thanks for the introduction! 

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Texas and Oklahoma are in the Kingdom of Ansteorra (Ahn-stey-or-rah). In Austin, I'm in the Barony if Bryn Gwlad (Brin Gwi-lahd) which is Welsh for Hill Country. When I was in (back in the 80s), Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games was the Baron. Richard Garriott (Ultima series, Origin Systems, and Shroud of the Avatar) was in light combat and taught me some things.

 

We would fence (swashbuckle really) using foils or, better, epeé blades with safety tips. Armor was soft (but heavy weight) leather, and we used fencing masks.

 

@Unruly really covered it well. Many in the SCA also participate in local Rennaisance Fairs. There are more events than just Pennsic and Kings, though. There's Queen's Tourney where you fight to earn the title of Queen's Champion iirc. Also Candlemas.

 

Not sure if they still hold it, but every summer was Barbarian, where we got our loincloth and drink on and went on quests in Bjornsburg (San Antonio).

 

Met a lot of good people there, and some bad. Just like any other group as large and diverse.

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Yea, there are a lot of events. On any given weekend you can usually find at least one event going on somewhere in the SCA. Then there are a lot of localized groups that have meetings, fighter practices, art and sciences nights, etc on a regular basis.

 

If you talk to me, I'll talk about Pennsic and the Blackstone Raids a lot, because they're both in my proverbial back yard since they're within a 3 hour drive of my home. Pennsic also happens to be an event that draws between 10-15000 people every year. For two weeks the campground that we take over during Pennsic is legally a town in the state of Pennsylvania because of the number of people there, and is required by law to have some kind of law enforcement, mail service, medical services, and a mayor. It's pretty impressive. Blackstone Raids is a much smaller event, only drawing maybe 300 people at most, but it's the event that kicks off what we call "Fighter Season" for us, since it happens in April and is the first real event with outdoor fighting and mass battles.

 

Down south they have the Gulf Wars every year in Mississippi, and it's also a big event. It's not quite as big as Pennsic, but it still draws thousands every year. One of these days I'll make it down there, because I've heard that the fighting is even better than at Pennsic despite the fact that there are smaller numbers of people involved.

 

Up north, around Rochester, New York they have a fairly large event every year around January called The Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon, or just Ice Dragon for short, and it's primarily a tournament and competition event to my understanding. They have multiple fighting tournaments there, and there are a lot of art and research competitions. Again it's an event that I haven't had the pleasure of going to yet, though one of these days when I finally craft something worth entering into an A&S competition I will make sure to go.

 

Like @Aryanun said, I've really only scratched the surface of the events that go on. Everywhere has different events, and every group has their favorite ones to attend. I missed Blackstone Raids this year and it felt worse than missing Pennsic last year, because while I love fighting at Pennsic it's too large for me to really socialize well, while Blackstone is an event that primarily draws in people from only the states that border WV and it's much easier to get to know people because if you meet them there, you're more likely to see them show up at other small and local events.

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38 minutes ago, Unruly said:

Yea, there are a lot of events. On any given weekend you can usually find at least one event going on somewhere in the SCA. Then there are a lot of localized groups that have meetings, fighter practices, art and sciences nights, etc on a regular basis.

Heehee. I live in the East Kingdom, and there's an event just in our neck of the woods almost every weekend, sometimes two.

 

I'm the Secretary for the Shire of Quintavia in central Massachusetts and I'm organizing an event for the last weekend of August called "The Battle of Five Armies". We're inviting all our neighbors to come over to our place and hit each other with sticks.

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Posted (edited)

I'm heavily involved in the Midrealm, although I intend to make it out to the Birka event in @etherial's neck of the woods one of these years.

 

Blackstone and Pennsic are indeed awesome events.  I too hear Gulf Wars is a lot of fun.  I didn't experience it that way, but I was part of the Royal entourage and up at 7am and in bed by 11pm every night so my view is skewed a bit ;)

 

I'm a Pelican which is the SCA highest level award for service to the Society.  There are 3 other Orders:  Chivalry for heavy fighting, Defense for fencing and Laurel for Arts and Sciences.

 

I'm hoping I can find the time/energy to start dabbling in fencing, but I currently do brewing, cooking and am researching medieval kits and rocketry.

 

SJ aka Master Maleachi Wulfhart, 

 

edited to tag Etherial

Edited by SamuraiJack
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54 minutes ago, etherial said:

I'm the Secretary for the Shire of Quintavia in central Massachusetts and I'm organizing an event for the last weekend of August called "The Battle of Five Armies". We're inviting all our neighbors to come over to our place and hit each other with sticks.

 

The Shire of Misty Highlands is preparing our own event for early June called "Vikings in Miklagard." One of the activities is going to be a breakaway shield tournament, which I've never done but have heard is a lot of fun. Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to attend because I'm fairly certain I work on the day of the event. I may be able to swing it though if I can talk a coworker into switching shifts for that Saturday.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, SamuraiJack said:

I'm heavily involved in the Midrealm, although I intend to make it out to the Birka event in @etherial's neck of the woods one of these years.

Birka's a blast. We have over 160 Heavy Fighters and 80 Fencers fighting in the bear pit, completing a bout every 1.6 seconds. We have to use computers to keep score because it's the only way we can keep up. It's such a big event even people who don't normally play in the SCA come to go shopping at the market and royalty come from all around to stock up on largesse. We had 7 sets of royalty sitting on thrones at Court.

 

3 years out of 4, we're the biggest thing in New Hampshire in January.

Edited by etherial
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I'm coming for the shopping.. but I may be on the Royal tour again so that might push my attendance off a year or so.. 

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This fascinates me, but getting involved has generally been beyond my means.

 

... and I seem to have bad luck with groups; I always seem to wind up on the wrong end of whatever local politics are involved. Frustrating as pants. :/

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34 minutes ago, Sylverthorne said:

This fascinates me, but getting involved has generally been beyond my means.

 

... and I seem to have bad luck with groups; I always seem to wind up on the wrong end of whatever local politics are involved. Frustrating as pants. :/

Finding the right group makes things so much easier. Especially if you're wanting to be a fighter, because armor is expensive. In my case, my household knight is an armorer and has a deal he makes new people - "I'll make your kit for you, you fight for me for 5 years. After 5 years, the kit is yours to keep. If you quit before 5 years, return the armor so that it can be sold." - that helps us build up. And our household has a lot of people who are at least decent at sewing together basic tunics and dresses. It makes it for a whole lot of an easier time getting your foot in the door.

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We have knights locally who will help folks build their plastic barrel armor and other folks who will help newcomers sew or borrow garb until they can afford their own.  

 

Cost is a barrier though.   if you can ride share and do a basic cotton t-tunic (my wife used a sheet from good will for one) and $3 pajama pants from walmart can tide you over at first

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According to the map, I live in the underwater section of East Kingdom. (Newfoundland is not on that specific map, but recognized on the SCA's website).

 

Maybe I'm a pirate? Yar!

 

I'll need a bigger dehumidifier.

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My Shire is Malagentia - Land of the Bad People. ::):

 

The Auld Grump

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My skills are probably up to basics. No idea what I'd /do/ though. Heh.

Being an artist, I've collected a fairly ridiculous number of books as reference material for art that I could probably use as reference material for building garb; and yes, that's occurred to me a time or two. ^^;

 

All the moving about hasn't moved me out of An Tir; looks like I could fly north until I hit water and still not be clear...

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