Persona-f-Beg-art - 1/13/02
"Creating Your SCA Persona for Beginners" by Lady Lucia Borromeo.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Creating Your SCA Persona, for Beginners
by Lady Lucia Borromeo
"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many partsÉ"
In the SCA you get the unique opportunity to create an entirely new identity which we call a Persona! It's easy & it's fun. You can choose who you wish to be. So where to start? Listed below are four basic staring points but first you need to know that the SCA Game is about recreating the best of the Middle Ages from Western European History. Although you are creating a fictional person for the SCA, it is not like the totally fictional characters made up for D&D or for Sci-Coms. As an Anachronist you will base your Persona on Period history; considering your Persona as someone who actually could have existed in a previous era. Some people base their Persona on their SCA interests (e.g., merchant, fighter). Some use their everyday lives as a jumping off point, while others choose to create a Persona with no relationship to their everyday selves/lives at all. For instance, if you're single or childless in every-day life, your Persona could be married or have many or few family members, friends or enemies, whatever you choose to invent----& you get to invent the storyline! Some people go no further than choosing a period name, while others really, really enjoy designing a more complex Persona. So--who will you be?
STARTING POINTS: Some important things to consider:
1) Who are you?-this can be as simple as trying out an SCA name,
2) When are you?-choose a time in the SCA period,
3) Where and What are You?--a geographical location, select your social position & clothing,
The inspiration from which you create a Persona is as different & personal as each individual. If you are from a particular ethnic or religious background & value this, ask yourself; "Do my families' roots appeal to me?" then you mat decide to use that as a starting point for your Persona development. Is there a style of music, poetry, or period of art that inspires you? Does a particular type of clothing interest you? Something historical that you've read pique your curiosity? The only SCA guidelines are that your Persona exists in the SCA's Defined Time Period, which is before the 17th cen. & in a Western European culture (all other cultures are considered visitors including Hobbits).
See Articles of Incorporation II (a,b).
1) What about A Name? As you think about your Persona, one of the first and most important things that comes to mind is choosing an SCA Name. Not only must you live with it, but also others may form lasting first impressions of you based on your name. Consider what geographical area and/or time period might you wish to be from? Are you attracted to France? Spain? The Italian Renaissance? 8th century or 16th? Look to these places & times for name ideas. Do you fight? Try out names that would sound appropriate with a title you might win. Hugh the Witless may not be as appealing where you to become King! Likewise, an elaborate name may look cool on paper-but will anyone but you be able to remember or pronounce it correctly? For example, one poor fellow's name is so complex that even the Heralds mispronounce it. To this day he's known as "Cheerios Cure Your Weasels." Also; if you take too long to choose your name, people will often call you by the first name you used, you might be named by others or acquire a name such as Carlotta the Undecided. In the SCA your name is unique & is registered. Nicknames given by friends, though cute, may be unregisterable or incompatible with your SCA Persona. The SCA has set forth some guidelines for names, registering your name & heraldic Device/Arm. I'd highly recommend consulting with a SCA Herald, before becoming attached to an unhistorical & therefore unregisterable name. The Heralds will be glad to help you find an interesting, authentic, historically documentable, period name from reliable sources & they can also assist you in the design & registration of your own & personal Coat of Arms (Device). Though everyone is expected to "behave as a Lady or Gentleman" (1969 By Laws, article X), titles such as Lord/Lady, Duke/Duchess, King/Queen, etc, are not self-chosen but are earned in the Society & famous names are not used.
2) What event or time in history interests you? The completion of an important Cathedral? The rise of the Troubadours in Provence? The Crusades? A particular War, battle or invasion taking place where you live? Then consider designing your Persona with a name, a location, & a life that would include it. Then when you read about that event, time or place in history, you're actually reading about yourself.
3) What type of clothing attracts you? What do you like doing in the SCA? Your attire can be your inspiration for your Persona. Do you drool over Elizabethan costumes or love the dagged sleeves in a Burgundian illumination? Do you love to sew? If you have the money for rich fabrics, you may want to have a wealthy Persona. If you don't sew, hate the hassle or expense of dry cleaning, & loathe tight clothing -spare yourself by avoiding a High Renaissance, Elizabethan or late period upper-class Persona. If you must have cool or comfortable, consider a Viking, Celtic, Greek, Roman Persona or anyone in a period before 1300. For those of you that are new, be warned! You may be tempted to duplicate attire you've seen on others at SCA or Ren. Fair events. These may spring from sheer imagination or you may be replicating others errors & thus find yourself wearing a fictional, odd, or hysterically funny Costume rather than historically based clothing. Browse through books, take a SCA class, and/or ask advice so as to dress for Persona success. There is free loaner garb from the SCA Chatelaines, merchants at SCA events & many good commercial patterns now available. While you're deciding- T-Tunics are easy & very inexpensive to make & were stylish for both sexes from around 600 to the 1200's.
Your Persona choice could also come from your interests or activities. Love calligraphy? Books? Be a book merchant, scholar, notary, secretary, or scribe etc. in Persona. Enjoy period cooking? How about becoming a baker, brewer/brewster, nobleman's cook, Epicurean, or innkeeper in your Persona too. Then simply add a suitable name, some clothing appropriate to your labors or station in life and Voila! - an impressive and very believable Persona is born.
NOW YOU CAN ANSWER THE FOUR BASIC QUESTIONS
1. Who are you? What is your Persona's name, or what is your concept of a possible historical Period name?
2. When are you? In what time period does your Persona live? How old is your Persona?
3. Where are you? In what culture and/or geographical region does your Persona reside? (Think how your location would be described? by using a name of a town/city-state/Duchy or landmark such as a river, mountain or road? Must you travel or like many in period, have you lived for generations in the same general area?)
4. What are you? What is your social status, what does your Persona do for a living, or what do you spend your time doing? Fisherman? Crusader? Daughter, Wife? (with all the duties and responsibilities of your period and social standing, remembering that unmarried women were somewhat rare in period), Artisan? Craftsman? Merchant? Cleric? Scholar? Wealthy, rising middle class, poor, contented or discontented? etc. etc. etc.
Now that you have the "Basic Four" decided upon, write them down, wait awhile and see how they fit.
A note on Literacy: As you consider your persona, you may wish to decide whether you can read and whether you can do math. How much and what type of education, if any, would you have had. In some cultures and/or time periods, the vast majority of people were not literate. Depending on the period in time and particularly in the lower classes, reading and writing was generally not needed, somewhat rare or even considered as a road to evil and ruination.
-Lady Lucia Borromeo from the Kingdom of Meridies
A note on names that change your Gender: You may choose either gender you wish for your persona, but neither your name nor your gender may be hermaphroditic: you must choose one or the other. For a man to imitate a woman or a woman a man by name or garb in period was taken as a sure sign of homosexuality and not uncommonly led to that crowd favorite-impaling the nude body. There are some transsexuals in the SCA; however, they have chosen a gender and stuck with it. Some persons choose a female name and a male persona hoping that no one knows the difference. But, for example, if a female who bears an Anglo-Saxon name ending in -a or a Welsh name ending in -wyn, or a male with an Anglo-Saxon name ending in -flaith, is awarded an AoA, the equivalent of Lady William or Lord Elizabeth has just occurred. You are allowed to choose a male name for a female persona or vice versa; however, that behavior is not appropriate in a period court. Some lady fighters choose a male persona and name for fighting and a female persona and name for court - but only the principal name gets the AoA..
-from Lord Colm Dubh
Now that you've done the foundation work your ready to go on to the intermediate Persona questions. See my Intermediate Persona Development article.
Article by Lady Lucia Borromeo of Kingdom Meridies
Inspired by the works of The Honorable Lord Duncan Tengri-in Jida known as Songhawke
Copyright 1998 by P. Catledge, <scplc at I-55.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in
the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also
appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being
reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.