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It has come to our notice here at the Attack Laurel Academy that the SCA Knowne Worlde Handebooke (Free E With Every Purchase!) is updating its bad olde self, and the editors are soliciting articles for the newe editione.

This seems a perfect time to address the sticky issue of Persona Stories. While the personae of all our Attack Laurel alumni (deceased) and faculty (badly maimed, but still more dangerous than a pit viper in cargo pants) are varied and exciting, encompassing all four corners of our inexplicably round world, and rife with pirates, gypsies, courtesans and vampire ninja Cossacks*, in reality, most people in the ridiculously generous period the SCA covers would live lives of quiet, boring desperation. Throughout this article, we will be quoting the life stories of actual real people of the period, that we totally made up so as to prove our point.

Because it's fun to claim you're Romany when no-one is trying to kill you for it!Collapse )
Edit:  I am being remiss; Bob came up with some of the "real-life persona" responses.


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Apr. 22nd, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
I fear for ever making up a persona story now. o_o
Apr. 22nd, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
My persona story, such as it is, is dull as plainsong. I basically live on a frozen rock with a bunch of sheep. Ho-hum. I do find amusing those people who tell you their persona stories and end with 'I died.' So they're what, zombies now?

There's a place for outrageous stories about gypsies kidnapped by Celtic pirates and sold into slavery in a sultan's harem. That place is romance novels.

Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
Hey, I've read that book. It was quite bad. :)
(no subject) - shalandara - Apr. 22nd, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msmcknittington - Apr. 22nd, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pinkleader - Apr. 22nd, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Objection! - donal_mac_r - Apr. 22nd, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 22nd, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)
Since my interests have vastly changed from all things Italy to China, I have really given thought to changing my name. I have an Italian persona story, it's not extravagant or unreasonable.

When I have tried to think of a Chinese persona story, I am just flummoxxed, as I do not yet read or speak Mandarin and works in English are hard to come by. But I think it would go something like this:

"I was the first daughter of my family. My parents disliked me for not being a boy, thus I was treated badly. My life sucked until one of my uncles pissed off the Emporer, and he killed our entire family. Then I was a hungry ghost, without money to do well in the afterlife. So here I sit, with the other ghosts laughing at me. Toodles."

Edited at 2009-04-22 03:30 pm (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
*heh* Right up there with Resume' Heraldry for annoyance.

I've had an evil impulse from time to time to proclaim my Persona to be Lollard, then creep around at events steathily clutching an English bible. I imagine it would Offend(TM).
Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
Offense (TM)
Do it. Mumble while you're at it. I could do a Hussite, and we could Doubly Offend (TM).
- Johannes
Re: Offense (TM) - femkederoas - May. 1st, 2009 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dragonazure - Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - reasdream - Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
I have a well-developed and consistent persona (I like to think), but in my experience, persona is a matter of the imagination, and secondary to so many other things folks do. My newest apprentice has worked her butt off at events, and knows lots about the SCA, but knows almost nothing about the culture of her persona.
What bugs me in general: (1) Separation of us and them: talking about what your persona knows in terms of "how they did stuff in the Middle Ages." "In Renaissance Italy they used to serve wine out of ceramic statues with embroidered tea-cosies, I found a picture of one from 1550 on-line." Compare that to: "I was at the Duke of Urbino's court last fall, where they served wine out of ceramic ...")
(2) Perkiness: "Mama was an Irish princess and a big, strong, _manly_ Viking picked her up and broguth her to Russia, where I grew up serving the Khan of the Great Horde, that means I can belly-dance. (smile)"
- Johannes
Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
The closest I've come to a persona story is that "Ahm frohm tha Sow-uth of Franz."

I've got Jane for the Bandes, and occasionally think of a Viking name for my Viking stuff, but really, folks just call me Gen so what's the point. :)
Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
*blink* *blink*

“But I WANNA be an Icelandic Ninja Warrior Princess!!!”

*foot stamp*

Actually, the above has been my verbatim response to a number of personas that folks have ‘play tested’ on me to see if I think they would pass the historical accuracy test. Of course, these were friends. To those I don’t know well I usually go with, “That’s interesting. Tell me more about your research on that idea.”

If the word ‘research’ stumps them, then at least they get the idea that I sorta expect it if they want their persona taken seriously.

There have been a number of people I have simply referred to as “verrückt” (mad) over the years because clearly, if they think they really are the bastard son of a Duke who ended up a foot soldier in the Emperor’s army in Italy, they *are* insane.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Ninja Cossack?! Thank you! The inspiration I've been looking for!
Apr. 22nd, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
And this is why I haven't made a persona story, having heard some bad ones recited to me at my first collegium by a peer!
Apr. 22nd, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry! *stuffs bad persona back in her bag* :)
(no subject) - sstormwatch - Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aliskye - Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 22nd, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)

Apr. 22nd, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
*grin* I am trying to use my persona as a center from which to base my researches. I'm not all that consistent about it (who is?) but it gives me a starting point.

I had to modify it when I move to Florida when I decided that clothes designed for the English Renaissance were Too Damned Hot (TM) and went Italian so it's become rather less plausible but still within the bounds of possibility. I also started getting really interested in 16th century Italian culture in general so it's worked out really well.

I started out as English gentry, running the family manor while my older nouveau-rich merchant class husband traveled around Europe. (That explained why nobody every saw him.) So I made him half-Venetian (Venetian galleys made regular trading runs to London), learned Italian from my widowed mother-in-law, and eventually joined him in Venice. Aside from not wanting to change my name, I don't actually want an Italian person because respectable Italian women lived very restricted lives and I'm too old to be a really successful courtesan (and there were damned few of those anyway). However as a foreigner, the rules don't quite apply to me, I'm just the pazza inglesa. An oddity. So I really am in a foreign country learning about all sorts of new things.

OK, shut up Jocetta...you're babbling again...

Edited to correct HTML error.

Edited at 2009-04-22 07:06 pm (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but Jocetta, you're the person who decided your persona shouldn't be single, researched Elizbaethan weddings, had one (with the right clothes), and woke up a widow (and made the appropriate mourning stuffs).

You are, in short, a Legend (in my mind)

(after all, you also taught me to breathe properly)
Apr. 22nd, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
Ah yes, the "courtesan persona"... one of my pet peeves. I think there are more courtesan personae in the SCA than there were actual courtesans! (Um, ladies, you do know they were high class prostitutes, right? I mean, I know _Dangerous Beauty_ was such a great movie and all, but...)

I also find it amusing when women start their persona stories with, "My father/husband is a merchant, and he takes me traveling with him *all the time*!" Um, no, he goes off traveling and leaves you at home.

I do have a persona story, because what is so fascinating to me about history is the daily life of *ordinary people*. OK, yes, my persona is upper class, but that's because I'm a clothes horse. :-) I'm still fully aware of what a 15th century Florentine patrician woman's life would have been like, and it was pretty boring, especially once she married and had children. It's still fascinating to me.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
I saw on a list a post from someone who was propositioned (just once and the guy went away nicely) at an event. She was upset about it. My first thought - well, you have a courtesan persona and you let everyone know about it...
(no subject) - salviati - Apr. 23rd, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - femkederoas - May. 1st, 2009 01:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 22nd, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
My persona is based on the fact that my first SCA foray was with Welsh people, and I was born in 1966. Please subtract 900 years and guess.

Yup, Norman-Welsh.

Moved to the Midrealm, and decided that my mundane name (Matilda) was simply too good to not use...esp. since everyone just calls me Matti, no matter what I do or say. So, I'm Matilda of the Snow ('cause it snows here in Michigan) (in French)and I live in London (probably)(because I can disappear here and I ran off from the boring sheep farmers). I sew to make money.

Too complicated? Maybe. ...but I can remember it, and I have a specific date to peg her to for costuming, and a general time period to dress to, even when I don't wanna be specific. Like someone said above, if I wear something else... oh, look! I'm in the SCA, not really-truly-medieval England (thank all that's holy)!
Apr. 22nd, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
The persona I had for many a year was very early period. 5th Century Dal Riada. She was the only daughter of the son of a son of the dominant noble family and was raised along with her many brothers and cousins. She was married at 15 as part of a peace agreement to the son of a Pictish clan with whom her folk had previously been fighting. Said young husband was killed within the year in yet another skirmish with her own people which made things a little awkward with the in-laws. Not being a dull girl, she returned to her own family before the awkwardness could turn vengefully fatal and stayed there. Iona turned out to be a good place to relax with a book.

When I shifted persona to late period, well, there's no getting around the Irish aspect with me. ;) Regrettably, being Irish during the reign of Elizabeth I was considered just slightly above a mongrel scavenging from a midden pile. And at times the mongrel would have been considered more useful. So late period me ended up the daughter of a land-owning English earl and an Irish mother both of whom died young as people were often wont to do in those days. I became the ward of the Crown as the sole heir to my family's wealth. My right of marriage was bought by the Dudleys who planned to marry me to one of their younger sons and thereby claim the lands that my father had appropriated from my mother's family to start with. All very sordid and political and completely legal as far as England was concerned. I grew up privileged and spent much time at court with other noble ladies. I was always pleased that my hair was the same fashionable red as Her Majesty's. My adoptive family Anglicized my Irish name, Grainne, to the more dignified Grace. They do not speak of my Irish heritage and, indeed, I am only dimly aware of it myself. I consider myself purely and proudly English.

No gypsies or vikings or merchanting or ninjas or anything of the sort. ;)
Apr. 22nd, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Ahhh oh my gosh this is fabulous. <3
Apr. 23rd, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
Hee! Thanks. :)
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