Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How can I get involved?

The Chatelain, Chatelain AT duncarraig DOT net is in charge of helping new folks get started. You can contact them with any questions. Also, feel free to show up at our weekly practice, whether you're interested in fighting or not. Some people come for the fighting, while others come just to hang out. Our monthly business meeting is another way to connect with the group.

To join our baronial mailing list, contact Lady Serena Giovanna de Verona (Bobbi Sprouse) at MailingList AT duncarraig DOT net. DC_Seadogs is both our official e-list and our "baronial water cooler." Any and all topics, medieval or not, are discussed. This is where members talk about previous and upcoming events, discuss neat articles or museum exhibits they've heard about, arrange lunch get-togethers and event carpools, and generally shoot the breeze. It's also where you'll find out if a practice or class is cancelled.

Who can I contact if my question isn't covered here?

You can contact the Chatelain at Chatelain AT duncarraig DOT net with any and all questions. For information about armored combat, rapier, and archery, contact the Knight Marshal at KnightMarshal AT duncarraig DOT net

This sounds like it might be expensive. What does it cost to participate?

The SCA can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. The average event costs about $8-10 for the day, with another $6-9 for the feast. At camping events, there may be a camping charge, usually about $3.

The only other requirement for attending an event is an attempt at Medieval or Renaissance clothing. If you don't have your own, contact the Chatelain. The barony has garb for new members to borrow. If you want to make your own, fabric for a simple tunic runs about $20-30. You can spend hundreds of dollars buying gorgeous clothes, or on silks and velvets to make those gorgeous clothes, but that's up to you.

To eat feast, you'll need a bowl, plate, mug, and silverware. These can be borrowed for your first event. Thrift stores are a good place to get metal or wooden bowls and plates, often for only a couple bucks.

You don't need to be a member of the SCA to attend events, fight, or participate in our activities. If you decide to join the SCA, membership costs $45 per year. Membership lets you vote and hold offices and gets you a kingdom newsletter. It also saves you the $5 non-member surcharge at each event. Membership costs pay for insurance that allows us to rent sites, and that $5 charge helps cover some of those costs. If you plan to go to Pennsic or at least one event a month, the membership pays for itself. If you go to an event every few months and don't want to be an officer, you might decide not to buy a membership.

SCAdians frequently carpool to events to save gas money. You can post to the DC_Seadogs e-mail list to find travel companions. In addition to being less expensive, this is a great way to get to know people in the group.

It's easy to spend a lot of money on some activities, especially fighting. (The cost of armor adds up quick.) However, the barony has loaner gear for various activities, so you can try things out before you start buying your own equipment. To try out armored combat or rapier, for example, you need your own athletic protection, but can borrow all the weapons and armor to get started. Once you decide you like it, barony members will be happy to suggest the best places to buy equipment or offer suggestions for making your own.

Barter is also very period. For example, some people pay for events with "sweat equity"--by providing childcare or helping with cooking and camp clean-up. Or, say you're great at sewing but strapped for cash. Maybe you can work out a deal with someone who hates to sew, where they buy the fabric for clothing for both of you, and you make the garments.

What is there for children to do in the SCA?

A child carrying the baronial colors--photo by Mistress Minowara
Kiritsubo Many events have special classes and activities for children and youth. Check out an individual event announcement or contact the autocrat to find out what child-specific activities are being offered. At previous Dun Carraig events, we've had children's archery competitions, dance classes, a variety of crafts and games, and a "Teen Oasis" that gave older kids their own space to hang out.

There's also youth combat. Children can start youth armored combat (with foam weapons) at the age of seven and youth rapier (with lighter blades than the adults use) combat at the age of twelve.

Older kids can participate in many of the same activities adults do. Archery, for example, is one activity many youth enjoy, and Dun Carraig's youngest Archery Champion was only fourteen. Period board games are also popular with young SCA members. If your child sees someone doing something that looks like fun, encourage them to ask about it. Similarly, if a class is offered that interests them, even if it's not specifically for kids, check with the instructor. Most teachers are willing to allow interested youth into their classes, as long as the child is well-behaved and the activity is age-appropriate.

Service is an important part of the SCA, and there are plenty of opportunities for young people to help out. They can run messages, help with event set-up and tear-down, serve feast, or retain for the Baronage or Royalty. Children and youth aren't allowed to handle money, to handle alcohol or dangerous substances, or to go on the list field. Also, youth must be at least twelve and have parental permission to handle knives or hot items in the feast kitchen. Other than those safety and legal requirements, children and youth are welcome to help out in all sorts of ways. Atlantia has two awards to recognize those youth who excel in service: the Sea Urchin is given to younger children who excel in service, and the Hippocampus is awarded to older children for excellence in service and leadership.

The Pages Academy, which teaches chivalry and courtesy through crafts and service to others, is another way for older children to get involved in the SCA. The Academy provides classes for youth 9-13, and youth earn ranks in the academy by performing service and taking classes.

Do I need to dress medieval for the weekly practices?

No. Weekly practices are for planning upcoming activities, practicing an art, or practicing fighting/fencing. As this is a practice, no dress is required. Also, many people attend just to socialize with their friends. (You will see some members in garb at practices, since many fighters wear the same clothing and armor to practice as they do to events.)

What are the age ranges of the members? Are there older members or children?

Age ranges in a group fluctuate as members join, or take a break from the group. Currently, our group is mostly made up of young families (30's), with lots of babies, toddlers, and kids 4-10. (We've had a "baronial baby boom" over the last couple years--must be something in the water.) The barony also has a couple teenagers, a number of folks in their twenties (both couples and single people, including college students), and several people in the 40 and up range.

Once I've been to an event, and have decided that I want to continue to participate, what do I do about a "costume" or period clothing?

It's really up to you--there are several options. You can buy clothing or make your own.

Garb can be purchased on-line or at an event. Prices vary a great deal. Garb made of cotton and synthetic fibers is often cheaper than linen, which is in turn less expensive than silk, wool, and velvet. Hand-sewing, fancy embroidery, and lots of fabric also increase the price.

Tips for Buying Garb:

Making your own clothing is often less expensive than purchasing a finished outfit. It can also be fun. While it can be time-consuming, it's possible to put together a basic outfit in an afternoon.

There are lots of resources on-line with patterns and instructions on making many different period articles of clothing. There are also plenty of people in the local area who like to sew and are good at it. They can give you ideas and suggestions, and are a good place to turn if you've never sewed before.

There are also lots of places to buy the fabric and other materials you'll need:

Can I still attend an event if I don't have any medieval clothing?

While everyone at an event has to make an attempt at period clothing, this doesn't mean you need to make it or buy it for your first event. Contact the Chatelain at Chatelain AT duncarraig DOT net and let us know you'd like to go to an event. The Barony has loaner garb (clothing) that you can borrow for your first event.

If I'm not interested in fighting, what else can I do?

There's much more to the SCA than just fighting. Games, music, dancing, calligraphy and illumination, woodworking, leatherworking, sewing and embroidery, brewing, cooking, archery...The list goes on...and on...and on. Even if you have no interest in hitting people with sticks, watching the fighting can be lots of fun. Our largest event draws about 12,000 people every year, only 3,000 of which are fighters. Also, most fighters do more than just fight. Arts, sciences, and service are as big a part of the SCA as fighting.

Is there a calendar of the nights that you are doing arts and sciences?

YES! Our calender fluctuates depending on the projects. Sometimes there are many meetings in a month, other times there are none. We generally use Tuesday nights for A&S, but they also take place on other nights of the week, depending on teachers' schedules. We also have occasional Sunday get-togethers, where members can bring various projects to work on or get help with. These may include "sweatshops" where we work on projects for upcoming events, such as tokens or painted banners.

Armored Combat Questions

Gormr and Theron fighting at Baronial Birthday--photo by Lady Cassair Warwick

What is SCA armored combat?

SCA combat simulates medieval tournament fighting, using rattan weapons rather than real swords, spears, and axes. (As we're fond of saying, we want to "kill" our opponents, not injure them.) Fighters wear very protective armor, and a telling blow is one that hits with such force that if it had been struck with a real weapon, the combatant would have been killed or disabled. The person being hit is the one who determines if the blow was good. A fighter who is struck in the head or the torso is considered "dead" and falls to the ground. If a fighter is struck in the arm, they may continue to fight one-handed; if they are struck in the leg, they fight from their knees.

We have both tournaments, where fighters compete one-on-one, and melees, where armies take the field against each other. The objective of a melee might be to defeat every member of the other team, to hold a flag, or to capture a certain amount of territory.

What do I need to do to get into armored combat?

Pennsic Bridge Battle--photo by Lady Cassair Warwick When you show up to a practice, you'll need the following:

The barony has loaner armor, but we currently don't have someone to transport it to every practice. So, if you want to borrow armor, contact the Quartermaster. The earlier you can do this, the better--several days before the practice is preferred. He'll make arrangements to get the gear to practice so that you can use it.

If you come to a practice when the loaner gear isn't there, or we can't find armor to fit you, don't worry. You can practice footwork and sword blows out of armor, and you can learn a lot from watching the fighting.

To fight, you'll also need to sign a waiver.

What happens at an armored practice?

Fighters practice against each other one-on-one, and may also fight in small melees or work on unit techniques. When you're just starting out, we'll explain the basics and have you practice the footwork and a couple basic shots. This helps you learn the motions that you'll need later. Then, we'll get you armored up and give you the chance to hit someone.

You'll probably end up with a few bruises--we all do. When you're starting out, people will fight down to your level and help you learn.

Since our current practice is for both rapier and armored combat, you'll also get to see rapier fighters working on their skills.

Who can I contact with more questions about armored fighting?

Please feel free to contact the Knight Marshal at KnightMarshal AT DunCarraig DOT net with any questions about armored fighting. You can also find the rules, including armor requirements, at the Atlantian Earl Marshal's page.

Rapier Combat Questions

Rapier Melee at Night on the Town--Photo from Baronial Photo Album

What is SCA rapier combat?

Rapier combat is based on the sword-fighting done in the later part of the SCA period. While armored combat simulates tournament and war-fighting in the Middle Ages, rapier combat is based on the practice of dueling. Fighters wearing puncture-resistant cloth armor compete with blunt, rubber-tipped metal blades.

Like armored combat, we have both single competition and melees. In tournaments, rapier fighters fight one-on-one, while melees are fought between two teams. The goal of a melee may be to defeat all the members of the opposing side, to capture a flag, or to hold a certain amount of land. Some rapier melees simulate fights in a town or tavern brawls.

What do I need to do to get into rapier combat?

When you show up to a practice, you'll need the following:

Rapier fighters try to bring loaner armor and weapons to practice every week. If you'd like to practice, check in with the Quartermaster to make sure the loaner gear will be there. It's a good idea to check a couple days before the practice. That way, if the person who usually transports the gear isn't able to make it, alternate arrangements can be made.

What happens at a rapier practice?

Fighters practice against each other one-on-one, and may also fight in small melees. When you're just starting out, we'll explain the basics, including the rules and calibration, and have you practice the footwork, basic attacks, and blocks. Usually, you'll do a mix of slow drills and half- or full-speed sparring. (You learn and perfect a move at slow speed, then practice it at full speed.)

You'll usually start with a weapon only, then move on to using a hard or soft parry device or a second weapon in your off-hand.

Since our current practice is for both rapier and armored combat, you'll also get to see armored fighters beating each other about the head with sticks.

Is rapier combat like sport fencing?

Somewhat, but with a few differences. While competitive fencing is done in a straight line, SCA rapier combat is fought "in the round," with lateral movements. Fighters can also block blades with their off hand, or use a parry device or a second weapon.

SCA rapier combat uses heavy blades, rather than foils and epees. Fighters using heavy rapiers must wear a gorget to protect the throat. Heavy rapier combatants are also allowed to grasp their opponent's blade.

If you've done competitive fencing, most of what you have learned will transfer to rapier combat, once you get used to using your off-hand and moving in 360 degrees.

How is rapier different from armored combat?

The biggest difference is the armor. Armored combatants wear full armor (such as chain mail, plate, or leather) and a metal helm like a Knight or solider would have worn, and the rattan weapons represent heavy cutting blades or mass weapons. Rapier combatants wear puncture-resistant cloth armor over the torso (such as a commercial fencing jacket or a doublet made from layers of sturdy fabric), as well as a mask, hood, and gloves. The weapons are metal blades, usually much lighter than the rattan weapons used on the armored list.

Calibration, or the force used to "kill" an opponent is another difference. In armored combat, a telling blow has a significant amount of force behind it. While it's not supposed to hurt much, bruises are a part of the game. In rapier combat, positive force in the direction of the blade is sufficient, and much more than that is considered excessive. While you'll still get a few small bruises every now and again, you won't hit or be hit nearly as hard as in armored combat.

Who can I contact with more questions about rapier fighting?

Please feel free to contact the baronial rapier marshal at rapier AT duncarraig DOT net with any questions about rapier combat. You can find the rapier rules on the Kingdom Rapier page. There's also the Atlantian Rapier Forum (External Link), a discussion forum for rapier fighters all over the kingdom.

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