Being a survey on Personas

Marc Carlson IMC at
Wed Jun 26 09:33:05 PDT 1996

Since I'm about to go away for vacation for a few days, I thought
I'd go ahead and compile this and send it off.  Please feel free to
pass it along to anyone be interested.


# Reponding: (130, which is a little light for a valid survey, but
a LOT more than I was expecting.

1.   Do you have a persona history?                      91.5% Yes
     (I will point out that the minority position of having NO
     persona history was held by a really fascinating array of

2.   Have you changed or altered that history to reflect any SCA
     titles?                                             14.6% Yes 
     (5.4% of the total specifically said that they had some
     variation of their persona for use at Demos that is NOT
     changed to reflect their SCA titles)

3.   Do you feel that your SCA titles reflect what could have been
     awarded in plausible mundane history?               53% Yes
     (It should be noted that 13% either had no opinion, or felt
     that the question was inapplicable because they had no such
     (As an interesting point of trivia, over 50% responding
     specifically mentioned that they had no awards at all; while
     less than 10% indicated (in this survey or elsewhere) that
     they held some form of peerage award)

4.   According to your persona's "back story" was your persona
     a.   A peasant or cotter?      1.5%  (1.4%)
     b.   A villein or slave?       0%    (0%)
     c.   The child of a noble?  (if so, please specify, the first
          born, or other)"         48% (of whom 38% were not first
          born).                          (44%)   
     d.   The child of the merchant (or similar "middle Class"
          background)?             34.6%  (31.7%)
          (Freeman or Gentry?)      9%    (8.2%)
     e.   Into some nomadic or pastoral people?
                                   10.7%  (9.8%)
     f.   Undecided or n/a          4.6%  (4.2%)
     (The more inquisitive may notice that this adds up to equal
     108.4%.  This oddity is a result of people giving more than
     one answer in an attempt to fit their histories to fit the
     survey, which is my fault for not inserting more leeway into
     the responses.  The figures adjusted for the other total
     appear in parentheses.)

5.   According to your persona's "back story" was your persona:
     a.   An orphan?                6.2%
     b.   Adopted?                  5.4%
     c.   Kidnapped by Gypsies/Mongols/Vikings (or any other
          nomadic people)?          3.8%
     d.   Fostered out to some Noble in a different Kingdom?
     e.   Raised by own Family      5.4%
     f.   None of the Above        19.2%
     g.   Not known                15.4%

     (This of course only adds up to 71.6%, which is due to
     something like 27.5% of the respondents leaving this section
     blank. My assumption is that these would fall under catagories
     f&g, giving those a combined total of 62%.  These figures have
     already been adjusted for multiple responses.)

6.   According to your persona's backstory, have "you" ever
     (n.b., the following figures are NOT cumulative):
     a.   Been on Crusade?     9.2%
     b.   Been on Pilgrimage? 14.6%
     c.   Been on raiding parties to plunder distant
          settlements?        13%
     d.   Traveled more than a few days from place born, for any
          reason?        24.7%  yes (unspecific)
                                   27%    no (specific)
          Of the "yes" responses:
          --Military service   7.2% (includes mercenary service as
          well as more mundane services)
          --Family Thing       6.3%
          --Wandering scholar  5.4%
          --Faires or Merchant 4.9%
          --Noble Obligations  4.5%
          --Wandering or Vagabondage
          --Apprent'd/Convent  2.2%
          --Performer/Musician 1.8%
          --Royal Ambassador   1.3%
          --Enslavement        1.3%          
          --Tournies           1.3%
          --Escaping persecution 0.9%
          --Shipwrecked then wandering
          --Cultural Migration 0.4%
          --Because he's Japanese 0.4%
          (I'm not making fun of this, but it was pointed out by
          one gentleman that since he was Japanese, and by SCA
          definition, Japanese are visitors to Europe, he must have
          traveled to get there.)
          --Misc. other reason 6.7%          

7.   Has your persona ever belonged to a specific mundane
     historical group?        34.6%  (These included Clans, the
     Horde, Holy Orders, particular Armies.)

7a.  Does your persona STILL belong to this group?
                                   17.7% still do 

8.  What year (or century) was your persona born in?
           100-500   0.8%
           600-700   1.6%
           700-800   0.8%
           800-900  16.5%
           900-1000  3.1%
          1000-1100 13.8%
          1100-1200 13.8%
          1200-1300 16.2%
          1300-1400 13.8%
          1400-1500 11.5%
          1500-1600 22.3%
          Unknown    1.6%
          c1000      1.6%
          1000-1500  1.6%
          1100-1300  0.8%
          1350-1450  0.8%
          1400-1600  0.8%
     Nobody was born after 1600.

9.   Does your persona have more than two ethnic influences in its
     origin?   22.3% have more than 2 such influences.  Of these:
          3         65.5%
          4         20.6% 
          5          6.9%
          6          3.4%
          7          3.4%

10.  Do you have more than one persona?
                    26% yes
          Of these:
               2         75.5%
               3         14.7%
               4          8.9%
               5          2.9%

Interpretation and General Impressions:

Recognizing that this survey almost entirely was answered by people
who received it by some form of e-mail, it may be possible to draw
some general conclusions about the Personas used by people in the
Society for Creative Anachronism.  It is entirely possible that the
percentages would be different if the entire Society at large were
polled, or if there is some significant subset of the population
who refused to respond, therefore, it may be assumed only that this
survey is valid for measuring the population that responded, and,
with some risk of error, the "Netted" portion of the Society.  I
*was* pleased, by the rather large number of people who replied who
have nothing to do with the Rialto, since I am only too aware of
the opinions of SCA-L/Rec.Org.SCA held by many people who refuse to
have anything to do with it (for whatever reason).

     1.   One's persona history, or lack thereof, can be heavily
          influenced by mundane things such as where you live, or
          when you joined.  This is in no way an absolute, but
          there appears to be a greater emphasis on such things for
          people who have spent less time in the Society while the
          older, more established people (and regions) place less
          of an emphasis on this sort of thing.

     2.   There is a far greater percentage of people of non-Noble
          origin than can be really be accounted for, if we take a
          strict interpretation of the "lesser noble" idea of
          Personae, particularly when you take into account how
          many people have no awards.

     3.   It is fairly plain that my principle inherent hypothesis,
          that the majority of people in the Society have what
          could be interpreted as "twinkie", is totally wrong. 
          There are a very small percentage of persona histories
          that step over the line into implausibility (up to the
          point where they start to interact with the Society's
          milieux, and that is something beyond the scope of this
          instrument).  The greater majority of Persona's seem to
          be based firmly in Historical possibilities, and for any
          insult I may have generated my opinions that "most
          persona stories" are pretty stupid, I sincerely

     4.   My secondary inherent hypothesis, that people in the SCA
          *travel* in their persona histories far more than their
          historical counterparts "would" have done, remains as yet
          unproven.  This survey was started specifically to
          collect data regarding this point, the data gathered does
          tend to support the assumption that SCA personas travel
          a LOT, with only 27% never having traveled more than six
          days worth from their home (and most of those appear to
          have never been further than the few miles to the local
          Market or nearest "big" Town).  It appears from the
          material gathered that most of those who remain at home
          are mostly, in fact, personas that are lower class and/or

     5.   Those personas that travel, generally do so for reasons
          that are appear perfectly plausible, although there is a
          lower level of tribal movement and cultural migration
          than I might have assumed based on the periods covered.

     6.   An interesting side note to the whole controversy on
          when and where the SCA cut-off dates should be, are, and
          so forth, the greatest percentage of the population in
          the SCA appears to have been in the 16th Century, with
          almost a quarter of the total.  The largest bulk of the
          population, however, does tend towards the "Middle Ages",
          with over 57% having been born between 1000 and 1400. 
          There is an expected (to me at least) peak in the 9th
          century, but I was somewhat (foolishly perhaps) surprised
          by how early people had begun with (I believe the 100-500
          representations were Romano-British of the 5th century as
          a whole).

     7.   Most people retain only one persona.  The quarter of the
          populace that has more than one often retains a secondary
          to give them an excuse to wear other clothing for the
          summer, or as a party mask.  There are, I believe, two
          cases in which one persona is, in fact, hunting the
          second.  There were also two cases in which the person
          only had ONE persona, but that persona had multiple
          identities (these counted as a single persona).

I hope this is of some interest, and thank you for your indulgence.

"Fides res non pecunniae,         Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn
 sed temporis"                    University of Northkeep/Company of St. Jude
 -- Unknown Recreator             Northkeepshire, Ansteorra
                                  (I. Marc Carlson/IMC at

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