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A persona, at minimum, is a name adopted by a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) as they participate in the organization. For many, this is as far as they develop their persona. Others might treat the persona as a roleplay character and develop detailed backstory. Others might use it to indicate what era or region they like studying or dressing in. That is all entirely up to the player. A persona is not required for registering a name, nor is it required to show up to events. Many develop one because they find it enhances their SCA experience.


Choosing a Persona

Things to consider before picking your SCA Persona: Name registration by the College of Heralds (See:heraldry) does present rules by which you can register a name. The book heralds assess submitted names for attempt at historical accuracy, and whether or not the submitter is trying to impersonate a historical figure. (That's disallowed). Your persona can be completely different from the name you (likely) eventually submit for registration, it's entirely up to each player.

For example: John Doe can submit the name "John of Greenfield" for registration, but have a persona of a late 16th c Italian It's also possible to build a persona, be a long-time player and member, and never register a name at all! Entirely up to you. The SCA as a medieval-focused organization, has a "cut off" time of 1600 CE.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there a culture or country you want to focus on?
  • Do you want to learn more about family heritage?
  • Do you have a favorite fictional character that you want to incorporate into a theme?
  • Do you have a favorite celebrity who you like the name of to draw inspiration from?

If you're having a hard time picking a name - No worries! There's no time limit on picking a name, or registering an name. Have fun with it and take your time! You can change your persona name, your registered name, and you can also register multiple names with the College of Heralds.

Additionally, if you are still having difficulty narrowing down a name, that's where developing a simple backstory will help. Historical names could differ based on gender, class, occupation, and more. For example if you want to be a merchant in a particular city, then the historical name options heralds (aka Book Heralds) can point you to will differ slightly from what they might point you towards than if you wanted to be a Noble-born monk in a different kingdom.

Most importantly! There are no persona police monitoring you! You could have a Tang dynasty palace attendant persona, and wear Elizabethan noblewoman to a ball. There is also no persona police monitoring whether your persona matches yourself.

Populace page Persona Categories

Populace pages on this Wiki can be sorted into the following Persona Categories:

Acting in Persona

As with all other Persona-related activities how far you get into your persona is up to you. Some members prefer a LARP approach, and go full in on role-play. Others prefer just adopting a name similar to their real name, and wearing a simple t-tunic as they sit around a campfire with friends.

Inclusion and Diversity Considerations

In the SCA's recent history, our mission statement included (Western) Europe as a requirement, but people across the globe who play the game have been pushing those boundaries for decades. In 2018, the mission statement was updated to say:

"The SCA is devoted to the research and re-creation of pre-17th century skills, arts, combat, culture, and employing knowledge of world history to enrich the lives of participants through events, demonstrations, and other educational presentations and activities."Source

In picking a name or developing your persona, there are no global limits.

However, since this is your persona, and is developed based on how you want to participate as a member in the SCA, there are things to consider that overlap with how we must navigate the world as people both inside and outside of the SCA.

This is mostly something to consider if you are developing backstory or picking anything more complex than a "So-and-so of This Barony" type name. Medieval reenactment across the world have an epidemic of racial supremacists, and the SCA being in that category is not immune. For example, people have tried to register german names with the same first names as particular World War 2 war criminals with a byname indicating their persona is from particular concentration camp locations. There have also been attempts to register a name that was almost exactly that of a Spanish conquistador known for mass genocide of Indigenous Americans. Both instances were caught by the heralds in the registration process. There are also times when hate symbols, such as a swastika, were perfectly fine to wear in different areas in the past, but due to its use as a supremacist green flag, are not allowed. These examples might seem fairly black and white, but usually it's not so easy.

Here's a "grey zone" example: You are are of a mix of white European heritages, but you're really bored with European history, so you decide to make your persona a traveller to the "Far East." You don't have a lot of backstory developed, but you really want to learn about a bunch of different places along the "Silk Road". There's a theoretical path in front of you, and it's split into two options:

  1. You mush together a bunch of clothing from all the areas you love, but you don't really take time to study any one area or time. When you show up to events in the mishmosh garb, you aren't really sure what to explain to people. Sometimes you say Chinese, sometimes you say Mongolian, sometimes it's Japanese. But it doesn't matter, because no one knows what medieval garb from any of those areas are supposed to look like anyways. You're not sure why the newer person in your barony who's Korean American is avoiding talking to you.
  2. Since you're wanting garb from multiple different points along various trading routes in Asia, and you think each area has such pretty clothes, you decide on a century, and you start with your favorite, one location in West Asia at first. You research "what were the nobles wearing? What were the commoners wearing?" You draw conclusions of a nice middle class outfit, and see if there's any sumptuary laws regarding allowances and disallowances, and you make or commission a really nice, cohesive set of clothing. As you're building this first capsule wardrobe, you wear loaner garb (See:Gold Key) from your barony, and as you start to get the basic underlayers you wear that instead. After you've completed a fairly nice middle class outfit, you move on to your next goal: court garb. For court garb, you've always really like Japanese movies, so you decide on Japan for the court garb. And off you are to start your next project! There's a new person in your barony that wants to explore their Japanese side's family history via their persona, so you set up time to make matching garb together.

So in this example, we see different ways a persona concept can play out. Are you lumping together multiple cultures, when a neighbor might have a sore spot on this from having grown up being mistaken for every nationality but their own, just because they "look Asian"? Are you unintentionally spreading confusion and the harmful myth that certain countries are "backwards" and "never developed" by assuming modern traditional clothes are interchangeable with ones from 500 years ago, and wearing that as garb until you research more? Do you want a courtesan persona because you like researching sex worker history, or is it because you enjoy the saucy gowns of Renaissance Italy, but aren't comfortable with the sex work history of that period?

Bottom line, developing a persona requires a lot of discovering what YOU want to be and do in the SCA, and how you want to get there. These are things to consider as you navigate what you want out of the SCA, and what you want your persona to show to others.

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