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Names and Personas
Most people in life had little or no say with regards to the name they were given at birth, and should they dislike it, only have their parents to blame. In the SCA however, everyone has the chance to correct their parent’s ill judgment by adopting for his or herself a brand new name. If this was the only thing you could change about yourself – then it may be of no great consequence; but in the SCA, we go one step further. Not only can you change your name, you also choose both the year and the place of your birth. As a matter of fact, you can concoct an entire life story for yourself, known simply as your persona.

So if you always believed you were destined to be a Viking marauder pillaging the shores of England, then so be it!

Now granted, there are certain guidelines and restrictions that one must follow when creating a persona. You cannot choose, for example, to become King Ferdinand of Spain or Joan of Arc – no matter how much you want to. Your persona belongs to you, and as such, is your story and not that of some real historical person.

Secondly, you cannot style yourself as Sir Thomas of Nottingham. This has less to do with an irrational dislike of the borough of Nottingham, and more to do with the use of the title “Sir”. In the SCA, all honorific titles from Lord and Lady to King and Queen have to be earned. This our way of recognizing individuals who have achieved a level of competency in one art form or another, or have served the Society in some capacity. So when you meet someone at an event who calls him “King Theodric”, chances are he is the king and you should be on your knees groveling.

Thirdly, deciding to become a 15th century Viking called Gustav of Limerick is pushing the boundaries of creative anachronism. While there is nothing to stop you doing just this, please keep in mind that we are a group that attempts to recreate the middle ages, and not rewrite it.

How much effort and detail you put into your persona is entirely up to you. There will be those who rigidly stick to their chosen time period, in both their manner of dress and the artifacts they use. This may even include the food they eat, down to how they cook and prepare it. Then there are others whose persona consists of nothing more than a name and a period.

If you are new to the SCA, you are encouraged to look for a name and persona, but there is no immediate rush. Often people choose names and periods that have meaning in their real life, such as choosing a Scottish persona based on one of your ancestors.

If you decided to register your name with the Society, then you are going to need the assistance of a pursuivant. Not only should your name be unique within the SCA, it should also be accurately reflect the for the period you have chosen. Gustav the Viking is unlikely to gain approval.

 

More Information
Who Are You? The Art of Persona Development
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