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    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    If it's advice you want.....

    Here is an actual email I received today, and my reply below. It was mentioned (again) the other day that I should be an advice columnist, so this is my attempt. That also means that I'm officially opening my inbox to questions if any of you have any! Please send any questions to and I'll do my best.


    Im interested in the SCA and though I've already found the main website, I would like it if i could have a living person tell me about it. I've already had experience with reinactment of the medieval times, and from what i've seen amtgard and sca are like night and day. What can you tell me about it?

    Having never tried Amtgard, I can't really pose an accurate comparison, myself. The SCA may or may not be the right thing for you, and if not, there are many, many different reenactment and LARP groups now, and the presence of the internet makes it very easy to research them.

    I joined the SCA in 1993, and my first event was Pennsic (largest SCA event in the world). I was instantly enthralled and overwhelmed at the same time. Pennsic was the last thing I did while still living in Massachusetts. Two weeks after I returned from SCA heaven, I moved 2000 miles away to Colorado, where I knew no one. I knew the SCA existed in Colorado, but finding my local fighter practice took two months of networking (there was no internet for the general public quite yet). But when I found it, it felt like home, so I stayed.

    I would be terribly bored if not for the SCA, and probably 90% of my social life involves events or the friends I've made in the SCA. Before SCA, I went to RenFairs to satisfy my need for the past. I didn't really like the commercial aspect of always getting someone to buy something (if you were working in a shop) or hawking for tips (being a performer) I wanted to just relax and do medieval things, like brewing, calligraphy, swordfighting, dance, etc, without the feeling of always being 'on stage'. Which is why the SCA was perfect for me.

    You can also involve yourself as much or as little as you like. Some people I know go to only one or two events a year, and lead a relatively 'normal' life otherwise. Some I know live this lifestyle almost 24/7. It's really up to you - the SCA does not require a certain number of hours invested or event time, but if you want things like nice garb, cool camping equipment, weapons, etc, you are probably going to have to invest time/energy/money to get them.

    The biggest mistake I see people make when setting foot into the SCA is that they immediately want all the cool things they see everyone else wearing, using or playing with. Without learned skills like sewing, carpentry, metalsmithing and so on, they need to either buy or barter for the things they want. Then they get discouraged because it either takes TOO much time, energy or money to play this game the way they want to.

    There's 3 secrets to SCA success for a newbie

    1. Pace yourself. You don't need the really big nice pavilion right away. Or the flashy sword. Or the Elizabethan court gown. Don't try to do/buy/make everything at once. And It's perfectly OK to attend camping events with a conventional nylon tent.

    2. Find friends that do some activity that is interesting to you. If at all possible, if you already HAVE a friend in the SCA, start there. If not, try to find a 'Household'. (these are groups of people who share similar interests). Friends and Households can loan you garb, instruct you on court etiquette, and maybe even give you crash space in one of the nice pavilions at the next camping event.

    3. Ask questions. You will probably find your interests within the SCA changing rapidly at first. It is in your best interest to find the things you LIKE to do, instead of doing things that bore you. Many SCA members would love to help you, but you must ask questions.

    In the 13 years I've been in the SCA, I've changed my persona name and culture three times, been involved with two or three minor households and one major one (where I am still today) and tried my hand at literally hundreds of things like brewing, calligraphy, fencing, bellydancing and so on that I would have NEVER found had I stayed in 'mundane' real life.

    I've traveled to distant Kingdoms and drank mead around a fire with people from even further distant lands from whence I came. I've danced until dawn under a million stars. I've performed songs that made people laugh and cry. I've loved, lost and loved again. I have learned. I have taught. I have listened. I have lived.

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