Thank you for your interest in the SCA, especially the Shire of Owl’s Nest! If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been to one of our demos in the past. There are a lot of things to take in, especially if you’re new – but remember, everyone that you meet within the SCA started in a similar spot to where you are right now.
What is the SCA and how can I fit into it?
The Society for Creative Anachronism is a historical recreation organization. Members re-create different aspects of our “period” (roughly 600 CE – 1600 CE and focused on Western Europe and cultures that had contact with it) and teach these skills to other members for fun and education. We also hold educational demos for the public and have events for SCA members nearly every weekend of the year. Our longest events can last over a week!
If something was done within our period, chances are there is someone in the society who does it and will want to teach you how to do it. We welcome participation! In the SCA, you really do get out of it what you put into it, so if there’s something you’re really interested in learning about or doing, please let our Chatelaine (that’s our local officer responsible for helping newcomers) know what you want to learn.
The SCA is also an idealistic organization. We give a lot of respect toward courteous and chivalric actions. Some members may enjoy learning about the more unseemly aspects of our period and teaching the history, but we choose not to recreate them at our events. You won’t see any members put in the stocks or anything like that!
Groups similar to SCA
Many newcomers are familiar with similar activities that are like what we do, but not quite. Let’s take a look at these differences:
Renaissance Faires – The primary purpose of Renaissance Faires or RenFests is for the entertainment of the public and selling artisanal goods. Each RenFest has different rules regarding authenticity, but they are usually much more lax than what we do here in SCA. However, we do hold public demos and we do have vendors that sell to SCA members at events.
Notably, there aren’t people roleplaying things like elves, faeries, and the like. Instead, members are encouraged to develop a persona of someone who might have actually lived during our period. Also, the SCA’s period and scope for historical recreation are also much wider than most RenFests, who focus mostly on the 16th and 17th centuries and English history. Nevertheless, there is a lot of cross-over of membership between the two groups.
Live Action Roleplaying (LARP) – LARP groups revolve around playing a storytelling game in real time following a set of rules and generally with a goal in mind set by a team who creates a scenario in advance for the participants. Players create a character within the scope of the rules and then act out what that character would do within the framework.
SCA is far more free-form. The only requirement to attend an SCA event is to wear an attempt at pre-17th clothing (we call our costumes “garb”) and there is often loaner garb available at most events. Some participants like to create a detailed persona and act it out at events, but there is no requirement to do so like there might be at a LARP. All you have to do is show up and have fun your way!
Our fighting styles do have rules that may remind LARPers of their combat rules. However, the materials are usually much more realistic (within the bounds of safety) and the rules simpler. If you fight in a LARP and want to see how SCA combat differs, we invite you to send a message to our Rapier Marshal (fencing) or our Heavy Marshal (medieval combat) to learn more.
Living History Groups – Living history groups, such as American Civil War re-enactors, place a heavy emphasis on authenticity. They want to get as close as they can to the experience of the people they’re portraying.
SCA members with the research chops and the means to go as authentic as possible are welcome to do so, but again there is no requirement for high-grade authenticity for members. This gives members the freedom to choose how deeply they want to go into their recreation.
Additionally, since our period covers such a huge time span and a huge number of cultures, it would be impossible to create a living history-level experience. Most living history groups focus on a very narrow time and place to keep authenticity high.
In short, SCA has elements of all three of these other groups but with a flavor all of its own. Many RenFest vendors also sell at SCA events in the off-season. LARPers can enjoy digging into persona creation and the rules of SCA combat systems. Living History participants can do deep research into a small part of our period and focus on authenticity. Thus, SCA takes a “big tent” approach to historical recreation and is one of the main reasons why we have so many members.
Additionally, through its over 50 years of existence, the SCA has developed its own internal subculture. We do have rules and customs that have built up over time, but that’s why we have articles like this and officers dedicated to helping newcomers get acquainted with how we do things!
You get out what you put into it
And seriously? Nothing is too geeky. If you have a passion for medieval techniques for painting eggs, there’s someone who can help you with that. If you love the heraldic devices, then someone can help you with that, too (sometimes, the same person!) Almost all aspects of these times have been studied by people who love to share.
There is a place for you in the Shire
There are meetings throughout the week and the month (you can find them listed on our Facebook page) and there are events happening nearly every weekend throughout the Kingdom of Meridies. Let this page serve as your invitation to join us in living the dream.