of the American Medievalist's Association are strongly encouraged to invent and
portray a 'character' for themselves. We define a character as an authentic
person who could have existed in the 13th Century setting. The American
Medievalist's Association does not allow a member to impersonate an actual,
historical person. Literary persons are also discouraged because they may still
be copyrighted and thus could result in legal infringements. This means that you
cannot be King John of England, or Louis VI of France, etc. This does not mean
that you cannot be "James Smith of Northumberland" because there
actually was a "James the Smith" from a town in Northumberland, who
was sued in court in 1222 A.D., according to some obscure compendium of civil
suits in Northumberland. You could be another "James (the) Smith" from
Northumberland, so long as you did not claim to be that one, who was hauled into
court. By the same token, a person should not claim to be an actual ancestor of
his, but you could claim to be a family member (cousin?) who was closely related
to the ancestor. We feel that it is bad form and highly unimaginative to
impersonate someone else.
best way to develop a character is to first choose a "nationality" of the time. You then research names common
to that nationality and time and simply pick one that you like. Some of our
members are working on a "Guide to Names", but why wait? Say, you
chose "Germany". Take a map of Germany and select a region that your
character was born in. Now develop a short biography: who were your parents? Do
you have siblings? Are you a Noble? Or are you in a trade, guild or profession?
What education would you have appropriate to your position in life? How did you
wander into this re-enactment setting? Although it's not hard, it does require a
bit of "looking things up" and that is something the American
Medievalist's Association wishes to encourage. Try to keep the character
reasonable and not an excuse to come up with ornate and overly creative
explanations to explain away something fantastic, or an absurd quality of your
character. If your character is 4x stronger than everyone else and immortal
besides, maybe you should be somewhere else playing D & D instead? What your
character is should determine what it does in a live action role- play (LARP),
or in other words, how it interacts with the other characters.
At the present time, characters are not mortal, i.e., they cannot be "killed" by another character, although there have been times when it was fervently wished otherwise. From time to time, (usually new) members make this proposal. Instead of going through the bother of new blazons, having to inherit your goods from your former (now dead) self, etc. We in the American Medievalist's Association encourage our members to act as though they were mortal, and that there were consequences to their actions. This should encourage politeness and mercy in combat, both desirable traits in civilized societies. Due to both the reality clause and the authenticity clause, it should be obvious that your character cannot be an elf, orc, dryad, dwarf (a la tolkein), Klingon, Federation Observer, etc… There are separate organizations for all this stuff. Please go there if you are so inclined. If you have trouble developing a character, you could attend a workshop on it or consult an advisor.
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