Getting started in the SCA can feel like a daunting challenge. There’s titles to learn, new clothing to be acquired, and so much more that it’s hard to know where to start. The good news is that your SCA journey can and should be adapted to fit what you need. This page is intended to give you some ideas on where to start.
In the SCA, individuals create a persona for themselves. This usually consists of a name, time period, and culture but can be expanded to include details about family relations, travel, wealth, and any other details you care to provide.
Finding your persona is something that often gets talked about very early in one’s SCA journey, but is not something you should feel the need to rush into. Some people like to choose their persona early on as it gives them a focus for other areas of interest. For example, one may decide to adopt the persona of Antoninus, a 2nd Century Roman, and from there focus their interests on things that would be suitable for that persona: Roman clothing, pottery, foods, etc. One advantage to choosing a persona early is that it can help you find like-minded individuals more quickly.
However, others prefer to approach their persona in a very different way, by dabbling in several interests until they find a series of common focuses in one particular area and time period. It is only after that focus gradually and organically emerges that they decide on a persona. For example, someone that becomes interested in open ocean seafaring would likely find themselves drawn to a very late-period persona, as this was the start of the Age of Exploration and widespread open ocean seafaring across the globe.
Regardless of how you approach defining yourself and your interests, your persona is never set in stone. Many people alter their persona as their interests change, while others choose to have multiple personae for use in different situations. For example, someone might have a Greek trader as their persona for enjoying an event or entering contests, but Japanese samurai persona specifically for use in battle on the field because they prefer the armor.
No matter how you approach it, your persona is a way for you to honor and pursue your interests and goals as well as define yourself.
Many people enjoy looking the part and getting the “right” clothes is often a major part of what people focus on when joining the SCA. However, with such a wide range of options available, it can be hard to know when to start. Don’t panic! The good news is that for most meetings, period appropriate garb is entirely optional! Garb is only actually required at events, and even then the standard is fairly lax. You need only make an attempt at historical clothing, not break the bank to be fancy. Start simple and take it slow.
The easiest way to get started is to get in contact with your local group’s Gold Key officer. They are in charge of keeping garb owned by the group to loan to people who may be interested. Gold Key is also available for folks who may have insufficient amounts of garb to last them a multi-day event, so don’t be afraid to reach out even if you aren’t new anymore!
Once you are ready to try to start collecting your own garb, you have options. The first is to find a merchant selling appropriate garb. There’s plenty of options online, and many cater to the SCA specifically. However, there is a wide range of quality and you may not be able to find something that perfectly fits you or your persona.
This is also why many people make their own garb. While sewing may seem intimidating, much of the basic clothing in period is fairly simple. The patterns are squares and rectangles and require only minimal sewing skills, making it a good introductory project. The most common is the generic “T-tunic“. These simple shirts can be decorated with trim and are a very quick and easy way meet the standard and also experiment with your own fashion.
Finding Your Interests
The SCA covers all cultures pre-1600, which is a lot of time and geography to choose from. But finding something that interests you will help you find a community of like-minded individuals to engage with.
The SCA encourages and celebrates digging into any aspect of history. Researching topics often leads to fascinating paths that we never anticipated. This sense of discovery helps keep things exciting and pulling on those unique threads of history can lead to you being recognized for bringing something unknown to many of us to light.
Ultimately, finding your interests and seeing where they take you is what defines much of the SCA journey for us. While many choose to engage in the SCA as a purely social organization, those who get the most out of it nearly always find an aspect of history and reenactment with which they are truly enamored.
Don’t Try to Do Everything At Once
As you get started, you’re bound to see people with exquisite setups – fully period hand sewn garb, footwear, tents, lighting, dining ware… In almost every instance, these are people that have been participating for decades.
Do not feel the need to try to match that level of investment immediately! Comparing yourself as a beginner with those that have spent years putting their kit together will only ensure you’ll always feel inadequate or waste a lot of money trying to keep up.
The only thing you need is the attempt at period clothing. From there, focus on one thing at a time, enjoying where the winds take you!
No matter your path in the SCA, we’re excited to have you join us!