Real Name: Stephen Vandevander
SCA Name & title: Master Morien MacBain
Years in the SCA: 36
How did you find out about the SCA?
I first read about the Society in Dragon magazine, back when it was THE Dragon. That was pretty sweet. Mid 1980’s. Then I read about the Estrella war in a multi-age spread in Smithsonian, and I was really hooked. I was only thirty miles west of Pittsburgh, but without wheels of my own, I figured I was stuck. Then a guy invited me to a demo in the park at Bethany, WV. They put me in armor and smacked me around, and the rest is a beautiful love story!
Where did you start, what was your first event?
I was in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, and my first real event was a Shire halloween party in October, 1986 in Wheeling.
What is your persona? I’m a 15th-Century Scottish squire with a minor gift for poetry fighting in the Hundred Years War, except when I’m a 14th-Century forester chasing poachers on the Welsh border!
Why did you pick this persona? I saw Highlander in 1987. That was that! I wore a kilt for the next two years. I didn’t have garb that involved pants until maybe 1990.
Do you have any group or household affiliations? I fight with the White Company, and I camp at the Lusty Wench Tavern at Pennsic. I’m also a regular at the Chalk Man Pub, and I’m a member of the Forester Guild.
Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA. I am a high school English teacher who loves to ride his horse, run tabletop roleplaying games, learn new skills, and get to Europe as often as I can (when there isn’t a plague on).
What SCA activities do you or have you participated in?
Armored combat, rapier, cut and thrust, combat archery, equestrian, teaching, poetry, a bit of brewing, period wilderness skills, and stuff like that. I also started the Paladin’s pantry program, which I’m pretty proud of. I also teach a lot of classes, write poetry, and do research on a ton of different topics.
Tell us a little bit about your SCA experience (jobs, offices, duties, etc.)
Over the decades, I’ve done lots of different jobs at the shire and kingdom level. I was regional warlord one year and deputy for a couple more, which was pretty cool! I do work with the Watch at Pennsic up through point commander and deputy on duty. I’ve done most of my service in the marshallate, however, that’s what I got my Pelican for, I guess, along with the pantry stuff. I’m kingdom Earl marshal right now (which is cool, because William Marshal, the most famous Earl Marshal in history, is a distant ancestor.) I’m also working hard to get Aethelmearc its own branch of the Forester’s Guild (if you haven’t looked them up online yet, I really suggest it. It’s awesome stuff!). I’m a deeply lazy person, actually, but the SCA has so much good stuff to do I keep pretty busy!
When you started in the SCA what goals did you have? I wanted to be a knight, to have a totally insane suit of Gothic plate armor, and to own a percheron. My horse’s lineage is debatable, but I count her as a win. I got the armor!
What are your goals now?
Now I’d like to be a Laurel, a Master Forester, a Ranger (a specialized type of Forester focused on period wilderness survival and navigation skills, and making journeys over land and water), to keep Paladin’s pantry rolling, and to grow the Aethelmearc Forester’s Program into the best one in the Known World! I’d also like to get an experiment rolling for quarterstaff combat. It’s really kinda nuts that we don’t do that, I think.
What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA? Talking to women? I was a pretty sheltered Ohio Valley nerd… Honestly, I didn’t find the SCA intimidating. It was finding my tribe and the place where I fit, and it was wonderful. It still is.
If you could accomplish only one thing in the SCA in the next year, what would it be? Get to Pennsic! Good Lord, I miss that.
What advice would you give to a new person in the SCA, or if new yourself what question would you ask and who would you ask it of?
My advice would be to do everything. Do absolutely everything you want to do that looks cool. This is a perfect fit for a jack-of-all-trades person. Specialize later if you want, but first try all 39 flavors! (In the SCA there’s WAY more than 39, so this may take a while…)
If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be? Leatherworking, maybe? Ooooo….making fire with flint and steel. I suck at that. Target archery? Dang, I still have a lot to learn!
Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why?
I’d like another peerage. Laurel (for poetry, teaching, and wilderness skills) maybe, or the Omnibus Martial Peerage, if we ever get one! (I think we should call it The Chimera or The Manticore, because it’s an amalgam of dangerous stuff, and because the badge would look amazingly cool!
Please add additional comments as you see fit.
I have to say that the people in the SCA are a blessing. Overall, I’ve been dazzled by the rich variety, immense generosity of spirit, and essential decency of people in our game. VIVAT!
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