Good Grief, What Do They Mean By That?
from an article of the same name, supplied by the SCA with membership packages
Note: Local notes or differences are in italics and enclosed in square brackets: [ ].
If you've just joined the Society, you may find your kingdom newsletter hard to follow at first. People, chapters and offices all assume names with a historical flavour, and there's a whole vocabulary for everyday things as well. You'll get used to it quickly, but here are a few of the main words to start with.
Autocrat (also called "Event Steward"): the person in charge of an event. The "crat" suffix gets added to all sorts of words to identify the person running that activity - for example, the "feastocrat" (also called the Cook) would be in charge of the meal, under the authority of the autocrat.
Bardic Circle: an informal gathering for singing and storytelling. Anyone who attends is welcome to perform appropriate material, but you can just sit and listen if you prefer.
Court: gathering for announcements and awards.
Crash Space: informal lodgings with members of the group holding the event. Many Society members regard anyone in the organization as a distant cousin, and make floor space available for out-of-town visitors.
Dry/Damp/Wet Site: alcoholic beverage policies. Dry sites allow no alcohol. Damp sites permit wine, beer and mead, but no hard liquor. Wet sites do not restrict alcohol. "Discretely" damp or wet means that the site is normally dry, but the owners have agreed to permit us to use alcohol as long as labelled containers are kept out of sight and are removed at the end of the event. [ In Ontario, there is no BYOB (bring your own booze) at any public site (e.g. churches, schools, rec centers, etc). Alcohol is a controlled substance and can only be resold by a permit holder (i.e. the group holding the event). - Sorry folks, that's the law! ]
Event: any Society gathering. You're welcome to go to anything listed in the newsletter [ or on our Web site ], and you'll find things to do besides watch at most of them. Some activities (mainly martial arts) take special training, and you'll need to be "authorized" before you can take part in those.
Garb: clothing based on the Middle Ages or Renaissance. Required at all events except some local meetings [ not required at local meetings in Skraeling Althing or Harrowgate Heath ], but your first attempt doesn't have to be fancy!
Farspeaker: telephone. [ Term not used in Skraeling Althing or Harrowgate Heath ]
Feast: an elaborate meal, usually in the evening. [ Most feasts are composed of at least two courses (also called "removes"), each containing several dishes. Unless you have a "bottomless pit" appetite, it's best to take only small portions of each dish as you'll soon find the dishes keep coming and look delicious and you're too full to try them! ]
Feast Gear: a place setting for a feast: at least a plate, bowl, goblet, spoon and knife; may also include a napkin, fork, tablecloth, candles, etc. Assume you'll need to bring basic feast gear for any feast unless the announcement says you don't.
Gentle: any person. [ Often used as a form of address (e.g. Good Gentle). ]
Halflings (also called "Smalls"): children. [ Terms not often used in Skraeling Althing or Harrowgate Heath. There is also some debate over the use of the term "smalls" as this is also a synonym for underwear and somewhat derogatory when applied to children. ]
Mundane: modern, not-in-the-SCA. The Society discourages the use of the word, as we're aware it can be irritating. However, forgive those who use it - they don't mean to be insulting. [ Well, they've tried to discourage the use of this term, but it's probably here to stay and it's well-used throughout the SCA - often used in the plural (mundanes) to describe either people (anyone not in the SCA) or clothing (modern, not medieval garb). ]
On-Board: attending an event and eating the feast provided by the sponsors. The "on-board" price includes the site fee. Assume you need to bring other meals, unless the notice promises them. [ Usually, the site and feast fees are listed separately. If you're not eating the feast, you pay only the site fee (and the Non-Member Surcharge if you're not a card-carrying member of the SCA). If you are eating the feast, you pay both. (Note: sometimes people come for only part of an event, like the feast, and want to know if they have to pay the site fee. The answer is yes because there's no such thing as a "take-out feast" - if you're eating the feast, you're using the site). ]
Off-Board: attending an event and bringing your own dinner. The "off-board" price includes the site fee, a seat at a table [ often separate from those that paid for feast ], and sometimes bread and butter and some kind of beverage.
Out-Board: attending an event, but going out to a restaurant for dinner. The "out-board" price includes only the site fee.
Period: the Middle Ages and Renaissance, which comprise the era used by the Society as a base for its activities; or (as an adjective) of, from or reflecting that era.
Port-Castles: chemical toilets. (And there are lots of other euphemisms!) [ Term not widely used in Skraeling Althing or Harrowgate Heath. ]
Post-Revel (or its abbreviation, "Post-Rev"): a party after the main event, usually in someone's home, for socializing and unwinding. Attendees often wear modern dress [ and this is where BYOB is appropriate! ]
Proof of SCA Membership: a photocopy of your membership card or of a recent kingdom newsletter label with your name and address. [ It's not necessary to be a card-carrying member of the SCA Inc. to participate in most SCA events and activities (many aren't, for various reasons). However, it is mandatory for participation in martial activities and a membership also gets you a reduced entrance fee at events. ]
Regnum: list of Society branches and officers.
SCA Name: the name someone uses in the Society. Includes at least one given name and at least one other name or qualifier, but no titles; all titles used in the Society must be granted by SCA royalty.
Site: the place the event is being held.
Site Fee: the cost of admission to an event, usually stated in the coin of the modern country where the event is being held. Some kingdoms have their own words for money - for example, the East uses the "Tyger" - but they normally translate to one dollar per whatever. [ In Skraeling Althing and Harrowgate Heath, fees are always stated in Canadian dollars. ]
Troll Booth: the place to check in or buy at-the-door admission to the event. Staffed by "trolls". [ This is another term that's quietly being replaced by something more human and appropriate; the terms "Gate" and "Gatekeeper" are now used more frequently than "Troll Booth" or "Troll". ]