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RE: Heraldic Side Note

Poster: petersr@spiegel.becltd.com (Peters, Rise J.)

What Tibor said (and three cheers):

"I'd encourage you to create heraldry in the mean time, and get used to it.
Ask a herald or two (via email if necessary) for help.  Given fields barren 
heraldry, or fields with slightly poor heraldry upon them, give me the
ambience of flags waving in the breeze any day."

I am gradually coming to the conclusion (and please forgive me if what 
follows is inartfully stated, or comes off sounding too critical) that 
something needs to change if we are to have more "heraldic display" in the 
Society.  Making banners and tabards, for example, is both technically easy 
and visually and emotionally very satisfying.  It ought to be one of the 
first things that folks tend to do once they start playing SCA (it's a lot 
easier to cover a plain tunic with a fancy tabard, or decorate a plain tent 
with a fancy banner, than to make elaborate garb or pavilions.  Plus, the 
image of banners and tabards and heraldry is one of the defining 
characteristics of the middle ages that almost everyone carries inside their 
head).  Instead, it's one of the =last= things many folks undertake, because 
the entry-level threshold has been raised so high and the process made so 
intimidating that many folks are nervous about trying to play that part of 
the game anymore.  So the A&S folks end up having to implore people to do 
heraldic display, and then we have to bicker about whether only people who 
have registered heraldry should get to play.

And the registration process is the exact opposite of the rest of the 
society.  In the Society in general, if you want something, the quality of 
what you get, and how fast you get it, depends on how much work you're 
willing to put in and at what level of intensity.  If you want a pavilion, 
you can bust your butt and make one.  If you want to fight, you can make or 
borrow armor, practice hard, and authorize pretty soon.  You can bear down 
hard and learn almost any skill well enough to get, at a minimum, a fun 
experience and a usable product within a time frame that qualifies as, not 
instant, but certainly relatively fast gratification -- fast enough to keep 
you excited and willing to go on working hard to get more good stuff, to 
improve or expand your skills, etc.

Contrast that with heraldry:  I decide I want to go to Pennsic, or to 12th 
Night, and that I'd love to have banners and tabards and spiff heraldic 
stuff.  So I figure out the rules (complicated in itself), get the forms, go 
to the library and do my research, etc. etc. -- and then submit the 
paperwork and wait for =months= while the bureaucracy grinds.  And in the 
meantime, I have absolutely nothing to show for my work, and no matter how 
excited I =was= about the possibility of elaborate heraldic display, all I 
can do is wait.

Using this process, or a similar one, you could discourage participation in 
almost every aspect of the SCA.

I don't mean to sound harsh, and I understand the difficulties of setting up 
a conflict checking system Society-wide with volunteer labor (no matter how 
dedicated, and the dedication of the Society's heralds is unquestionable) 
and expecting it to work fast, so maybe some of this is unavoidable.  But 
Tibor's idea of going a little easy on folks in the hope of encouraging 
interest in (even imperfect) heraldic display is a good one, and the idea 
that the only permissible use of armory requires registered armory is really 
cutting down on the possibility of heraldic display.  If the price of more 
display is that one occasionally ends up "donating" tabards, etc. to their 
"rightful owner" (if you accept that there are property rights here), maybe 
that's not so bad.

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