Greetings and Welcome to the Principality of the Mists, the place where the SCA began with a costume party and tournament back in 1966.
Please explore our website. I think you will find much useful information here. And I hope to see you soon at an event.
For your first stop on this website, I recommend the Officers page because it will help you get oriented. You will learn the names we use for our officers, which officers do what, how to contact them if you have questions or needs, and how to recognize their badges — which may be displayed at events on banners, baldrics (that cloth strip worn diagonally across the body), and other items.
Branches / Groups
Next, be sure to visit the Groups & Branches page. It can help you find the group closest to you. Then visit your nearest branch’s website or e-mail them for more information about their local activities. It is often best to get involved at the local level — that way you will already know some people when you come to larger Principality or Kingdom events.
Naturally, you’ll want to check the Calendar, which is on the Kingdom website, to see what events are upcoming.
Arriving At Events
When you get to the event, you’ll drive, ride, or walk up to an area we call the Gate. At out-door events there will be a person with a clip board by a sunshade and at indoor events there will be someone sitting at a table near the door. Let them know that you are new and that this is your first event. They will show you how to sign in — you will be asked to sign in on an attendence sheet, to sign a liability waiver, and to pay the site fee. If you are not already a dues-paying member of the SCA, you may be asked to for an additional $3 called the Non-Member Surcharge. At some events, “The West Kingdom Welcoming Committee” may cover this — they operate by donations.
What to Wear
Everyone at an SCA event is expected to make at least some attempt at pre-17th Century clothing. If you don’t have historical-looking clothing to wear, and you’re not sure if you’re ready to make or buy any, don’t let that stop you from attending a Principality or Kingdom event. When you get to the event, as you check in at The Gate, ask for the Gold Key and for the Chatelaine. It is the job of the Minister of the Gold Key to bring clothing to events to loan to people who don’t have any suitable garments. And it is the job of the Chatelaine to help newcomers get oriented, meet people, and understand what’s going on at SCA events.
What to Bring
When you come to an SCA feast, be sure to bring feast gear: a drinking vessel, a dinner plate, a soup bowl, a napkin, a spoon and knife — and fork if you like, although they generally weren’t used as eating utensils until rather late in the Renaissance. We call this “feast gear” and we all bring our own to events where food is served. At outdoor events, it is better if it is unbreakable — wood or modern lead-free pewter are recommended, but if you only have plastic, that will be just fine. The most important thing is that you show up and join in. You will see that some people have very elaborate feast gear and table decorations. Don’t worry that your stuff isn’t good enough. Once upon a time, those people went to their first feast with very simple dinnerwear, too.
One day events often begin around 10 AM or Noon. Be sure to bring some food to eat and some water or other non-alcoholic beverage to drink. Unlike Renaissance Fairs, there are usually no food vendors at SCA events. Even if there is a feast later in the evening, there is generally no food available on site until then, and it’s no fun to go hungry for long. Please do not drink directly out of a can or bottle. These modern items interfer with our attempt to create a Medieval atmosphere. We prefer that you bring a mug or cup and pour your beverage into that.
For outdoor events, we recommend that you bring a lightweight folding chair. No particular style is necessary. While some people have elaborate wooden chairs, most of us use a wide variety of modern folding camp chairs.
Weekend Camping Events
At weekend long camping events, you’ll need to bring a bit more, besides food, beverage, and folding chair.
First, of course, a tent. It’s fine if you only have a modern tent. Many people who have been in the SCA for decades still use them. They are not allowed around the central open area — called the Tourney Field or List Field, but more often the Eric here in the West Kingdom — where we want to create the most historical look. But you will find that not far back from the Eric are many people with modern tents. You can usually camp in any open space, but it is polite to ask your neighbors, as sometimes groups of friends are camping together and may be saving a place.
Second, a warm sleeping bag is essential, since no matter how hot is may be during the day, here in the Mists it is generally in the low 50s or even 40s at night. And be sure to have something underneath your sleeping bag so that your bodily warmth is not escaping into the ground. A foam camping pad, a “space blanket”, sheepskins, or a futon is good. It is helpful to have one of these between you and an air mattress, too, as you can also lose a lot of body heat into one.
Third, a warm coat, cloak, or wrap for nights and chilly weather. While Gold Key is happy to supply you with a tunic or other garment, unfortunately it doesn’t have warm things to offer in cold weather or at night. Be sure what you bring will keep you warm. Often new comers arrive with pretty decorative cloaks which are not warm enough. Your health, safety, and comfort are always more important than how you look — and it’s hard to have fun if you’re shivering with cold.
Fourth, bring sun screen and hygiene necessities. Even when the Mists is cloudy, those UV rays pierce the clouds and we don’t want you to get a painful sunburn, so use sun screen on exposed areas such as face and neck. Bring necessary hygiene products — there is generally no way to get a spare toothbrush where we camp. And finally, a spare roll of toilet paper can be useful. We hire modern “portable outhouses” and the organizers of events try very hard to make sure they are always well supplied. However, late at night or early in the morning sometimes all the paper is gone and the organizers are sleeping. So a spare roll comes in handy — be sure to take it with you when you head to “the privy”.
What To Do At Events
At outdoor events, look for signs and banners that say “Public Seating” or “Guests Welcome” hanging on sunshades. These signs indicate that *you* are welcome to enter the sunshade and even sit there to watch the event. And chances are good that there are other people under that sunshade who will be happy to chat with you. If you sit in an empty chair, bear in mind that the owner of the chair may return and you may be asked to move.
At Mists Coronet events, there will be fighting on the Eric to determine who will be our next Prince and Princess. This can be very attention grabbing and you can ask people for information about what it going on.
Check out the Guilds and Special Interests section for other activities at events. There is usually dancing, and the dances will be taught. Feel free to join in. There are Arts and Sciences competitions and displays in the Arts and Sciences pavilion — and you are welcome to take a look at them. And there are Silver Spoon cooking competitions featuring food based on Medieval recipes — and, again, you are welcome to drop by and ask questions about historically based cuisine — and sometimes there’s even enough to have a taste.
Most SCA folks are quite friendly. Don’t be hesitant to ask for help or explanations. Be sure to begin with “I’m new” — after all, we all were once. Some of us are busy at events, helping the Prince and Princess, or working at other jobs, so don’t be put off if someone doesn’t have time to talk with you. Just go ask someone else.
So, come join us in our creation of the “Current Middle Ages”.