Understanding SCA Jargon
The following article is graciously provided by Countess Marguerite inghean Lachlainn.
26+ SCA Phrases you may need to explain to Newcomers.
- Person who is responsible for running an event. Although the dictionary definition of autocrat means an absolute ruler or dictator, in reality an autocrat for an event has the ultimate responsibility but sometimes limited control over all aspects of the day, especially if the event is a Royal Progress. In conversation the term is slowly being replaced by the more accurate “event steward”, but official SCA and East Kingdom documents still use the word autocrat.
- Awards or “Award System”
- Awards are given by the King and Queen or by landed Barons and Baronesses to acknowledge the excellence of one of their subjects. The Award System is used to describe the entire process that culminates in giving an award. Everything from writing someone in for the award, to the additional advising of the Crown for a polled order, to the decision by the Royalty or Landed Baronials to bestow one.
- A casual word used to describe the insignia of the awards which a person has received in the SCA. Commonly anyone who has received an award will wear the medallion or token or symbolism of that award on their person, especially when attending court. The chest that the King and Queen store award medallions and other insignia is sometimes called the ‘bling box’
- Combat Archery
- Chiv or The Chiv
- The Order of the Chivalry.
- Cookie or “a cookie” or “the cookie”
- A slang noun used to describe an award that someone is actively and obviously working toward. It is almost exclusively used in a derogatory manner, as in “He is only taking on that work “for the cookie”.
- The Dark Side
- The sport of crossbow shooting.
- An abbreviation of the rapier phrase “Death from behind.” Death From Behind is an alteration of the rules of engagement that allows the the combatants to remove opponent from a melee combat by (safely) sneaking up behind them in a melee and delivering a killing blow. It is a phrase often used to confirm understanding of the rules of the engagement (“Are we doing DFB in this battle?”). It can also be used as slang verb to describe clever and sneaky action. (“I flanked the line and DFBed 2 or 3 guys before they took me out. It was epic!”)
- The Dream
- This ancient and loaded phrase has been used to describe the SCA itself, and also the activity of providing a medieval experience to others. This, of course, means that “The Dream” has very personal definitions for anyone who holds it. Because debate on the definition of the term has lasted so long and has varied so widely, it is often said that the problem with using “The Dream” is the inclusion of the word “The”.
- 4th Peerage
- A catch all noun used to describe a potential new peerage created by the SCA Board of Directors. In some kingdoms there is already a 4th peerage, the Rose, and some kingdoms assert the Royal Peers are the 4th peerage, so this term is sometimes factually inaccurate. The discussion about the creation of a new Rapier peerage is occasionally referred to as the debate about the 4th Peerage. The other 3 Peerages are the Chivalry, the Laurel and the Pelican.
- A token or a small gift understood to be a mark of the bestower’s high esteem of the person receiving the token. In the romantic tradition of the SCA it is often assumed to be a gift of a lady to her lord, or a fighter to their consort, although that that is by no means a hard and fast rule. Additionally, the Queen is expected to bestow her favor (generally a piece of cloth embroidered with her symbol) to members of the populace who impress her or whom she wishes to inspire.
- The person who is responsible for producing the feast and/or day-board at an event. This word is derived from the term “autocrat”.
- Heavy or Heavy List
- The Showcase sport of the SCA. Often described as “hitting your friends with sticks”. Other kingdoms refer to this same type of sport as “Chivalric Combat”. Sometimes the term “Heavies” is used to describe the people who participate in that sport. In order to become the ruling monarch, you must be able to win the twice annual Crown Tournament which is a Heavy List tournament.
- An abbreviation of the phrase “King’s and Queen’s”. There are several events a year that start with the phrase Kings and Queens, Championship events where the two winners are named as the Champions of the King and Queen for the following year. Example: Kings and Queens Bardic Champions, Kings and Queens Equestrian Champs, etc.
- Lists or “The Lists”
- This noun has two different meanings Depending on context it can either refer to email lists (The lists were particularly active today) or the tournament field. (‘I will meet you on the lists and we will go a round or two.”)
- Derived from the use of the word “Mundania” in Piers Anthony’s Xanth series to describe a non magical world, “mundane” is used to describe anything that is not part of the SCA. It can be used as an adjective (“In my mundane job I am an IT consultant”) or as a noun, (“My parents are mundanes.”)
- Newcomer. Someone who has been participating in the SCA for 6 months or less.
- Order of Precedence. The master list of who got what award and in what order they got them, and therefore who out-ranks who. This list matters in The East most when lining up combatants for Crown Tournament, otherwise the impact of the OP on day to day interaction is limited to individual reactions to perceived rank. A duke outranks a count, but in practice most people treat them both as royal peers if you met them talking together in a hallway. The East Kingdom Order of Precedence is maintained by the Shepard’s Crook Herald.
- Peer Fear
- The sometimes irrational fear that Peers of the Realm are more intimidating, and harder to talk to or interact with than non peers. This is a condition that particularly afflicts newcomers, apprentices and protegees, but it is not limited to them.
- The work that is done behind the scenes to make the other aspects of the society function. In order for there to be combat, marshals must provide their service marshaling. In order for us to have an event, someone must provide the service of checking people in at the gate, running the event, or keeping the books. People whose enjoyment of the Society is in performing that type of service are sometimes said to be “on the service track” or described as “service junkies” if they are particularly fervent. Ant. Toxic Service is service that leaves the society in a worse state than if it had not been done, either because the service is bad/unneeded or because it is done in such a way that it drives others away, and prevents others from providing service. – Hat tip to David Lockhart for that definition.
- A Heavy List fighter. This term is often used to describe a member of the Northern Army of the East Kingdom, (“I am a Northern Army Thug”) but it can be used to describe a soldier of the East Kingdom.
- The sport of thrown weapons. Named because of the sound of a successful stick into the target.
- Tin Hat
- A semi-derogatory term used to describe a group of people who wear coronets. (“I don’t want to go to that party, all the Tin Hats will be there.”) It can also be used as a self mocking term by the Dukes, Countesses and Barons/esses who wear the coronets to remind themselves not to take themselves too seriously. (“I’m just a pipe-fitter from Jersey in a Tin Hat” -Attributed to Prince Omega)
- A small bauble given as a gift to a performer or artisan in thanks for excellence in sharing their art. These tokens are often hand made, and may represent some aspect of the heraldry of the person gifting the token. These small gifts are greatly valued and are more important to the people who receive them than the value of the actual gift. They are often saved and put into one place, so that when the artist is having a crisis of faith in their own work they can be pulled out to remind the artist that they have accomplished good work in the past and will do so again.
- The table at the front of events that takes your money, makes sure you have a signed waiver and gives you a site token. Related: To “Troll in” means to go through the process of checking in at the front desk of the event. Use of this phrase is slowing falling out of favor (as it implies that the people working the desk are “troll like”) and many autocrats now refer to this as “Gate.”
- A heavy List fighter who is not yet a member of the Chivalry. Curiously, this term is not usually used to mean a generic fighter who presumably does not wear a colored belt, but more specifically someone who is squired to a member of the Chivalry and who has received a red belt from their Knight/Master but who has not yet been elevated to a white belt/baldric. It can also refer to the team of people who will be fighting in the “Unbelted Champions Battle” at the Pennsic War, Related: “Belts” or “Belted” means a member of the Order of the Chivalry.
- Pennsic War. Although the East Kingdom hosts many events that have a subtitle that contains the word “war” (Great North Eastern War, Southern Region War Camp) In the East Kingdom use of the phrase “Are you going to War?” always refers to Pennsic. It is a mark of how important that event is in the minds of the Eastern populace.
NB: Some elements of this article were crowd sourced from a post from Facebook. The author is grateful for the assistance of her friends in the SCA.