Newcomers Handbook

Welcome To Bacchus Wood

Bacchus Wood is the chapter of the Society of Creative Anachronism encompassing Logan City and the Gold Coast. This booklet is a basic guide of what to expect once you open the doors to the current middle ages.

If you wish to join us in the middle ages, we would be honoured to have you. For information contact the Seneschal.

Table of Contents

What is Available in the SCA?

Tournaments and Wars

What You Can Do If You Do Not Wish To Fight?

Feasting

Etiquette

The Gentle Pastime of Hand Kissing

Heraldry

Developing a Persona

Arts and Sciences

Who's Who and What's What - A Glossary of SCA Terms

References and Bibliography

           What is Available in the SCA?

There is a wide range of activities in the SCA. They come under the main headings of Tournaments and Wars, Feasting, Heraldry, and Arts and Sciences.

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    Tournaments and Wars

Tournaments and wars are displays of fighting prowess. There are many types of tournaments and wars, but they follow three main forms of fighting; heavy, light, and period fencing. in each of these forms, fighters are authorised by Society rules, and battle to prove their cause is just, and their partner fair. Each fighter is on their honour to accept any blow taken as real, and die nobly and well. The crowd is there to look on and marvel at their skill.

            Heavy Fighting

Heavy fighting is the Society term for those who must wear full armour.

The SCA uses real armour designed to take the full force of blows. However. the idea is to kill your opponent, not to hurt them. To this end, the Society uses rattan weapons that, although heavy enough to deliver a resounding blow, do not cut. Blows are taken as if the weapon did have a cutting edge and limbs that would have been severed may not then be used.

A range of weapons is used in heavy fighting-from maces, axes and spears, to the ever faithful sword. Each fighter uses the weapon they prefer. Two-handed weapons are favoured by some, others fight florentine (a weapon in each hand) and many fight sword and shield.

            Light Fighting

Lights are those using missile weapons. They are not required to be as heavily armoured, thus the term lights is given. Weapons range from javelins to bows and arrows. Skills are then shown against targets in shooting matches, but lights also fight in wars. They often take a dreadful toll on enemy forces until heavy fighters get too close and they are forced to retreat.

            Period Fencing

Although similar to the modern sport, there are differences. Again, fighters have to authorise as fighters in the Society before they are allowed to fight at competition level. Fencing is relatively new to the Kingdom of Lochac, but it is a growing interest.

            Indemnities

Indemnities are an important part of any fighting event. Unfortunately, the mundane world does intrude into our own and site indemnities make sure people recognise that any risk is their own. Every onlooker and participant in each event must sign an indemnity. One of the advantages of membership, is that you only have to write down your number rather than fill out the whole form.

            Awards

Awards for fighting range from tassels for winning a particular tournament, to Knighthood. Knights are peers of the Realm and on par with Pelicans, Laurels and Royalty. Knighthoods are awarded by the crown not only for excellence on the field of battle. A Knight has also shown himself/herself to be chivalrous both on and off the field, able to entertain in some way and to know the basics of chess and common court dances. Knights are known by a white belt, a chain of fealty, and spurs. Knights may take aspiring fighters and train them, these hopefuls are called squires. Squires wear a red belt showing the arms of their knight. Because white and red belts are symbols of knights and their squires they cannot be worn by just anyone. If in doubt ask someone.

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     What You Can Do If You Do Not Wish To Fight

There are many activities available for non-fighters at tournaments, there are jobs and pastimes.

JOBS:

       Lists

The list keeper handles the mechanics of a tournament, who fights whom and when. Lists always needs runners to go between the lists table and the herald, the lists board and the fighters. If you want something to do, just volunteer.

       Chirurgeon

The chirurgeon gives first aid whenever necessary. Although this is usually heat stroke and sunburn in Queensland, help is never knocked back here as well.

PASTIMES:

       Arts and Sciences

Any form of art or craft that does not disturb the fighters or onlookers is fine for a tourney. Popular choices are sewing, needlecraft, drawing. and quiet singing or playing games or instruments.

       Boardgames and Games

There are many period boardgames such as 'Fox and Geese', 'Nine Man Morris' and, of course, Chess. Many other games are fun as well - Knuckles, Bubble blowing (away from eyes), running games (between bouts) and pick up sticks.

       Talking

Many Society members are avid talkers and they will be glad to help you while away your time.

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          Feasting

A high ceiling hall, within are wooden tables strewn with eating implements, the candles lighting up the faces as they play games or talk about the day's battle. At the top of the hall is The High Table where the Baron and Baroness sit regally, maybe talking to the visiting Prince and Princess. In one corner, the start of some singing can be heard drifting through the hall. The Herald announces, "All those who wish to dance, assemble in the centre of the hall."

This enchantment is called a feast. Feasts are held regularly within the Shire. But what do you bring to your first feast? How do I act? What do I do in court?

       What to Bring

Well, bring feasting gear, (a knife, fork, spoon, bowls, goblet), something to drink, a costume, and any games or musical instruments true to the period. Please remember to mark your gear, wooden bowls tend to look alike. If you do not have any gear, contact the Seneschal and she will have some gear for you to borrow.

       How to get around

You are not expected to have a fully fledged persona for your first feast, that comes with time and your changing wardrobe. It is enough just to think of a name to call your-self, your own is fine. It is best to call people 'My Lord' or 'My Lady' if you do not know their medieval name. Do not be afraid to ask for introductions, even from people with crowns. They were new once too. Remember to bow to the thrones as you go past. Otherwise, follow the main rule of leaving the modern world at the door. Do not do anything that will spoil someone else's trip into the Middle Ages.

Do not be afraid to join in. If you want to learn to dance or sing, ask. You are always welcome to help serve or wash up, just volunteer when the Herald calls. All servers are volunteers, without them food would never grace your table, remember to thank them for this service. But most of all HAVE FUN.

       Court

Court is a serious occasion within the feast (mostly). Unless you are called upon, sit quietly and enjoy the spectacle. Any questions can be answered afterwards.

       Awards

Service within the Society is considered as important as any other area. Some examples of Awards presented at court are:-

Award of Arms (AOA)

This is the first level of award that conveys rank and status in tie SCA. It gives the holder the right to bear heraldic Arms and to use the title Lord or Lady (capital 'L', everyone is a lord or lady 'little l').

Knight

See section on fighting

Laurel

This is an order of great merit. It is granted by the Crown to those who display great skill in one of the Arts & Sciences, along with a willingness to teach their skill and use their talents to the benefit of the realm.

Pelican

This is also an order of great merit similar to a Laurel. It is awarded to those who serve the Kingdom diligently and constructively, usually for a long period of time, and who also display the qualities of courtesy, grace and familiarity with the arts and skills of the Society.

There are similar types of awards at principality and baronial/local level.

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          Etiquette

  1. Treat your inferiors in rank, knowledge, or experience in the SCA as equals. Treat your equals as superiors, and your superiors with reverence.
  2. Use medieval forms of address.
  3. Be faithful to your lord and your word.
  4. Gentlemen honour all ladies.
  5. Ladies remain worthy of all honour.
  6. Touch no man's goods unasked. Give and receive with grace.
  7. Be gentle to the stranger.
  8. Raise your sword but not your voice.
  9. Let the slain man tell if he be slain.
  10. Reverence to the King and Queen.

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          The Gentle Pastime of Hand Kissing

Hand-kissing is a wonderful art, full of sensuous fire far greater than a mere hug can provide.If done slowly, seductively and with eye contact, lords, you may find the lady swooning in your arms, giving you her favour or token, or perhaps her heart. Normally affectionate displays such as hugging were done in private, between members of a family. However take heart, for medieval men made hand-kissing a true art form, and it was something that could be done publicly.

So my lords, if you wish to take up the an of hand-kissing, may I recommend the following techniques:

       lift her hand gently to your lips, bowing slightly so as to keep eye contact with her through the            whole process.
       Keep your mouth shut. Sloppy, wet kisses are disgusting. (Some men enjoy giving a lady            something called knuckle kisses, where the man darts his tongue in between the lady's            fingers. Be forewarned, every lady I have ever met finds this type of kiss nauseating, and            dreads confronting a man known for bestowing them.)
       Travel up her arm only if invited to. This invitation can be both seductive and creative without            the lady ever having to say a word. Sometimes a lady will allow you to venture a short way up            her arm; respect her body language, and go no further unless you are definitely invited to do            so. Flirting and mild teasing are all part of the fun, but never force yourself on the lady. In            general, a lady will not want you to go past the back of her hand. let go with grace, smiling at            her as you do so. With a little practice a lord can learn to read a lady's slightest look or            gesture, and will not disappoint her.
       If your persona is that of a rogue, and you wish to kiss a lady's hand, a gentle, soft, but            definitely passionate route around the back of the hand and then to the under-side of the            wrist and palm to see how her bracelet is fastened and how easy it will be to undo is            perfectly acceptable if you intend to, ah, steal it, or even if you don't.
       Seduce her with your eyes. She will forget everything that is going on around her and be            completely enthralled by you.
       Lower her hand softly and be prepared to assist her in standing or moving if you have            succeeded in mesmerising the poor lady. Offer her your arm until you are sure that she can            stand by herself. If you're lucky and if it is her desire, she may linger longer on your arm than            necessary.
       A quiet dignified kiss on the hand makes a much better impression than a loud, flamboyant            one. The latter tends to make one look like a fool, and this may ruin any relationship you            might like to establish.

In this time of disease many people worry about contracting something. An alternative to your lips is your cheek or forehead simply press the back of her hand gently to the chosen area and say something like "Madam, your servant." It's not as seductive, but it is flattering nonetheless.

Finally, if a lady you know greets you with hugs, as some will, you may simply be firm and tactfully suggest that a more period form of greeting might be proper, dislodging yourself while gently raising her hand. If done with style I can almost promise that you and she will come to prefer this form of greeting.

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          Heraldry

Heraldry has grown throughout the years as the rare combination of art and science that brings order to those surrounded by the heat of battle or the bustle of court.

Heraldry is also responsible for much of the display and pageantry of Society events. Tabards, painted shields, wall hangings, badges and flags all show a herald's influence. Each also has a significant job to do. They let people know who and what everyone is. This is an invaluable aid when a fighter is fully armoured and nigh on impossible to tell from another huge armoured figure.

The heralds themselves are traditionally the King's voice to the populace, and should always be greeted absolute silence when about to speak. They let people know when to be quiet by crying 'Oyez, Oyez' in amazingly carrying voices.

There are three main types of Heraldry practised in the SCA; field heraldry, court heraldry and book heraldry.

       Field Heraldry

Field heraldry is one of the first forms of heraldry that you are likely to experience in the SCA. The Herald is readily apparent by the green tabard with crossed, yellow trumpets on the back and front.

It is the Herald's job to enlighten the populace about what is happening, from who is hitting whom, to announcements that smooth the everyday running of events, such as, "Court will be held in 5 minutes!".

This type of heraldry is a good way to be part of the fighting, without the pain. It is also incredibly easy to learn and join in. All you need is voice projection and the ability to read the writing of the List Keeper.

       Court Heraldry

Court Heralds perform much the same duties as a field herald, but with often more rigid ceremony. Courts are held to bring the populous together to impart important information. Special courts are also held to honour those of merit. An investiture court is held to crown the incoming King and Queen. The oaths for Peers of the Realm, the Knights, Pelicans and Laurels being sworn in, are given and accepted at Court. Members of the populace can also be brought forward to be cheered mightily for deeds of honour and daring achievement within the group.

It needs a greater investment of time and training to be a court herald, but it is also very rewarding. One of the greatest honours a herald can attain is to be asked to do an investiture or Peerage ceremony, but being asked to herald when a close friend is awarded their first tourney tassel is rewarding too.

       Book Heraldry

Although the results of a book herald's work are very visible, the actual herald is very rarely seen. This type of heraldry concentrates on the study of correct heraldry techniques, and adding to the growing numbers of devices, badges and names. Book heralds are those that help you pick out a name and a device and register it with the Society's College of Heralds so that it is unique to you throughout the whole known world.

This strand involves learning a lot of terms and rules. For anyone interested in the history of heraldry across the ages, a fund of information, discussion and help is as close as your local herald.

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          Developing a Persona

A persona is like a character in a play, except that you do not have to learn any lines. Developing a persona can range in complexity and often changes as interests change.

The most important thing for a newcomer to consider is a name. Once this is done, a character history can be developed from there.

It is never easy to think of names, but one way is to pick a time in the period the SCA covers and ask for a list on names common to that period. Often you can decide on a particular area as well, and this will narrow the field still further. One example is England of the late 12th Century. A herald can help you with information about this area and then it is just a matter of picking one you like.

Sometimes you already have a name in mind It is then even easier to research that name and base your time and period around that. If you wish to register this name with the College of Heralds some rules do apply. It must be able to be backed with documentable proof that such a name could exist, be grammatically correct, different from all other registered, or easily recognised names, and it must not offend or claim abilities or rank not actually held. A bad example then would be King Mickey Mouse God-slayer.

Their is no pressure to register your name or to choose a device, but it is encouraged once you have had a chance to learn what you would be comfortable with. Until then, a holding name is fine. This is just a name that you like and that nobody objects to you using

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Arts and Sciences

Within the Society, there are many pursuits you can undertake besides fighting and eating. There is a whole range of experiences that can be enjoyed at any level of involvement. Some of the activities pursued within the SCA are:

BREWING

GAMING

CALLIGRAPHY

ILLUMINATION

COOKING

MUSIC

COSTUMING

SPINNING

DANCING

WEAVING

EMBROIDERY

WOODWORK

ARMOURING

SINGING

BLADEMAKING

BLACKSMITHING

There are many out there who are willing to teach or to help. You yourself might have a talent that no one else has and that you could share. The Society tries to concentrate on projects that are typical within the time period we cover. This is often where you will hear the time 'period'.

       Awards

You can be as authentic as you want, or is possible for you. Arts and Sciences competitions encourage authenticity and involve documentation for the project. A variety of awards are given for varying levels of excellence. This can range from bells for A & S competitions to the Laurel.

       Guilds

Guilds are groups of people who study and work together on a particular pursuit from the middle ages. Membership is open to all those that are interested in that area. If you are interested in any of these contact the Arts and Sciences Minister.

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     Who's Who and What's What - A Glossary

Anachronism - Anything out of its proper time or place.
Apprentice - A Laurel in training.
Authorised - A fighter who has proven to the marshals that they are no danger to themselves or others and so, is allowed to fight in SCA bouts.
Autocrat - the person or people in charge of organising and running a particular event.
Arts and Sciences Minister - The person in charge of the promotion of arts and crafts research in the group. Has a blue tabard with a silver bridge with a candle below it.
Bacchus Wood - SCA Shire in Logan City.
Bardic Circle - a gathering where the major activity is the exchange of songs, riddles, poems, and stories in a medieval or renaissance style.
Barony - A part of the known world governed by a Baron / Baroness.
Bouts - A single combat match in a round within an organised tourney.
Captain Of Archers - Organiser for light fighting.
Canton - smallest local group or branch of the SCA
Castellum Montanum - SCA Canton in Toowoomba.
Chirurgeon - First aid officer
Chronicler - Writer of the group newsletter.
Constable - The person responsible for waivers and mundanity minimisation.
Devices - Shield designs that show ownership.
Eric - The fighting ring.
Favour - A ribbon or personal token given as a mark of esteem or friendship.
Filk - Modern song that has been given SCA words.
Garb - SCA costume.
Guilds - Groups formed to study a particular art/science.
Heavies - Heavy armoured fighters.
Herald - The King's voice. Shown by a green tabard with crossed yellow trumpets.
High Table - The table reserved for the presiding royalty and honoured guests at a feast.
Hospitaller - Loaner service and newcomer greeter, has a green tabard with a gold key.
Huzzah - Medieval equivalent to hooray.
Knight - Peer of the Realm.
Known World - The whole SCA.
Laurel - Peer of the Realm.
Leaf - Leaves are given as awards for excellence.
Lights - Fighters using missile weapons.
Lists - Roster of fighters in a tourney.
Lochac - the Kingdom of Australia.
lord/lady - Common form of courteous address.
Marshal - The fighting safety officer and coordinator, shown by a black tabard with crossed yellow swords.
Mundane - The normal world.
Oyez - Cry heralds use to command attention- pronounced OYay
Parvus Portus - SCA Canton in Ipswich and environs.
Pelican - A peer of the Realm.
Period - 450 ~l60l AD
Persona - A character assumed by an SCA member.
Populace - Members of the SCA.
Protege - Pelican in training.
Reeve - The group treasurer.
River Haven- Barony covering northern Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, the north  and south coasts.
Saint Florian-de-la-Riviere - Shire of the SCA covering the south side of Brisbane.
Scribe - Calligrapher.
Seneschal - Administrative head. Symbolised by a gold key or a red tabard with a yellow key.
Squire - A knight in training.
Stick Jocks - Heavy fighters
Tabard - A cloth apron sometimes worn to show position.
Troll Booth - Where site fees are paid and waivers are signed
Twig Jocks - Fencers.

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          REFERENCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY

Forward Into The Past
-
SCA publication

The Known World Handbook
-
SCA publication

Queen Carole's Guide
-
SCA publication

Pegasus
-
SCA publication (comes free with full membership)

Tournaments illuminated
-
SCA publication 

 

Author of the Handbook: Lady Valeria de Borgia (c2002)

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