Prince Murdoch Bayne is a Knight, a Pelican, a Laurel in scribal arts, and a Court Baron. Princess Rioghnach ni Rose is a Pelican and a Court Baroness. They live in the Barony of Endless Hills, where they have both held multiple baronial offices and cooked many a feast. They are members of Hus Faerhaga, the household of Earl Yngvar the Dismal and Countess Caryl Olesdatter. As others have noted, Prince Murdoch came in second in multiple Crown Tournaments before emerging victorious this fall, finally vanquishing his “always a bridesmaid” past.
Their Highnesses sat down for an interview with Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
When and how did you find the SCA?
Murdoch: Like many Scadians, I’m a fan of Tolkien, D&D, and medieval fantasy. One day I was at a gaming shop playing Magic the Gathering when two people showed up in armor looking for recruits. My ears perked up at the idea of real fighting. I went home to Rioghnach and said “You have got to see this!”
Rioghnach: We started participating in local activities and attended our first event, Melee Madness, a year later, in 1996.
Please tell us about your personas.
Murdoch: I initially wanted to do Arthurian, 5th c. Romano-Celt, but then learned more history and less fantasy. After a brief stint with a Scottish persona, I settled on 12th c. English. I particularly love the clothes from that period.
Rioghnach: I’m 11th-13th c. Irish. My persona is less developed, since I’m not as much of a history buff. I primarily love all the things I can do and help to organize in the SCA, so my persona wis partly based on what I could wear while working in the kitchen.
Rioghnach, let’s clarify how to pronounce your name, and also how to spell it since it’s in the Order of Precedence as “ny Rise” but I’ve mostly seen it elsewhere as “ni Rose.”
Rioghnach: It’s pronounced Ree-oh-na, like the song “My Sharona.” The heralds changed my surname when I submitted my device, but I prefer “ni Rose”
Has either of you been an associate (squire, apprentice, protégé, etc.) to another peer?
Murdoch: I was squired to Earl Yngvar starting around 1998.
Your daughter, Abby Rose, is very involved in the SCA and received a Keystone last year. What should we know about her?
Rioghnach: Abby Rose is 21 and was born into the SCA. I love that she has the best of both of us: a service orientation and artistic flair. She knows what needs to be done, respects people’s titles, but has no peer fear.
Murdoch: Mundanely, she is in grad school, working on a Master’s degree in Art Therapy.
Murdoch is a scribe and a cook, and currently serves as Baronial Pursuivant, while Rioghnach is Baronial Exchequer and has autocratted events and worked in kitchens, served as Region 3 exchequer & seneschal, and has been local Seneschale, MoL, Pursuivant, and Minister of Youth. Whew, that’s a lot, but are there any other SCA activities you participate in?
Murdoch: I love doing everything, and never get bored with all the ways to do things in the SCA.
Rioghnach: I’m picking scribal back up after having originally gotten Murdoch into it.
People may not know that Murdoch’s scrolls often have secret messages, with upside-down letters at the ends of some lines which, if read from the end of the scroll to the beginning, reveal a joke or other saying. Why did you decide to do that?
Murdoch: I love hiding things in the scroll that are personal to the recipient, but I also like to make the lines of text fully justified so the right-hand margin is even.
What goals do you have for your reign? What do you think is the most important aspect of sitting the thrones?
Rioghnach: I want to ensure that we live up to the responsibility and the faith people have in us to do a good job.
Murdoch: We know that burnout is inevitable for some people, but when it’s coupled with “I don’t want to do this anymore” it’s our job to remind people that the SCA is a good thing. We can’t make everyone happy, but if we can help people remember that this is a fun, worthwhile thing, then we did our job. I would love to see more music, and more fun. To an extent, we are nostalgic for an SCA we were never involved in. When we first joined, we got a copy of the Known World Handbook, which was in many ways about an older, smaller SCA where you only saw your chosen family once every two months or so instead of all the time online.
Rioghnach: The Known World Handbook gave us a sense of wonder at the possibilities in the SCA, especially the camaraderie and friendship. We want to rekindle that sense of wonder folks get when they first join and “find their people,” because they may not fit the mold in the modern world, but there are people in the SCA just like them who can encourage them to have fun.
You’re a little unusual for Royalty in that you’re both Pelicans and His Highness is a Laurel. How do you think this will impact your approach to your reign and to working with the polling orders?
Murdoch: The polling orders aren’t unfamiliar to us, so we’re ahead of the learning curve. We have been around long enough to understand that there is an administrative side and a game side to the SCA which don’t always mesh. Not everyone’s going to be happy with a decision, but people need to be grounded in an understanding of what’s right and balanced. Royals are their own people, they have their own opinions, but they need to consider more than that.
Rioghnach: We plan to consider award recommendations on a case-by-case basis, looking at what kind of support a candidate has from the order. While we’re still figuring out what that looks like from the Crown side, we hope our experience as members of the orders will help.
With Duke Magnus Tindal winning Eastern Crown for Master Emerson True a few weeks ago, this may be the first time that Kings from the same household (Hus Faerhaga) will reign over two different Kingdoms at Pennsic. Presumably this will make Pennsic negotiations a little easier. Have you had a chance to talk to your counterparts in the Middle yet?
Rioghnach: the funny thing is, we already knew of Tsarevich Ivan and Tsarevna Katalena because their daughter ran the Pennsic internship program this past year, and our daughter, Abby Rose, was a participant. The two girls became close, and exchanged excited text messages when their parents both won Crown. We’ve had some email correspondence with Their Highnesses of the Middle, and they’re coming to our Kingdom 12th Night.
Murdoch: regardless of which side we’re on at Pennsic, we love the idea of encouraging the royal kids to spend time together. We’ve all encountered the concern in Endless Hills and our household that we need younger folks to take on responsibility and offices. The SCA is aging out and we need to encourage younger people to consider what the SCA has to offer.
Pennsic reigns are special beasts unto themselves, and a huge amount of work for the Crown. Have you had a chance to think about what you would like to do at Pennsic that might be different from past reigns?
Rioghnach: Since the day we won Crown, I wanted to get my head on straight about what it meant to be Pennsic Crowns, because the reign and Pennsic are two separate things. Right now, we’re focusing on the reign, including getting staff in place. Baroness Helena Mützhasenin will be our reign coordinator, Lady Abby Rose will be our head retainer, and THLady Æsa Hegulfsdottir is our garb coordinator.
Murdoch: We haven’t seen Pennsic from the Royal side much, so we’re talking with past Royalty, asking what they did, what they wish they had done differently, things like that. We’ve had a lot of offers of help and advice from former Royals, which is great because we don’t know what we don’t know.
This will be the first time Endless Hills has been home to Royalty. How do think that will impact the Barony?
Murdoch: There are a lot of households represented in the Barony, like Black Priory and Arindale, who’ve been involved with reigns before, so we’ve gotten a lot of advice from them. Endless Hills folks aren’t starstruck by us, but they are by the role of Prince and Princess.
Rioghnach: We have always lived in Endless Hills. Murdoch was first knight in the Barony. It’s a large group geographically, but not by population. Being on the outer edge of kingdom, we might have started off at a disadvantage, but there’s been lots of growth over last 25 years. We have many peers now, and lots of folks have been in the SCA a long time and stayed, mentoring others and expanding into households. We hope our reign will be helpful to the Barony in terms of growth, helping others to see what’s possible. Once you get the first peer in your Barony, you can envision getting others. We hope that being the first royalty from Endless Hills may kick the door open for others to believe they can be royalty, too.
What are you most looking forward to about your time as Heirs and eventually Sovereigns of Ӕthelmearc?
Rioghnach: Recognizing people, because we’ve been behind the scenes and know what to look for to find out who needs to be recognized. You’re always going to be someone’s King & Queen, the ones who had that impact and were an inspiration, which is what we want to be.
Murdoch: Wearing the Crowns and having new garb is cool – of course we care about that – but the best part of the job is what we can do for the kingdom. We’re very happy and excited.
What do you do mundanely?
Murdoch: I was a baker for 13 years, but multiple different shifts in same week caused burnout. Then I took a physical plant job at the university when Abby Rose was in high school so she could go to college tuition-free. Now all three of us are in college; I’m a ceramics major.
Rioghnach: I’ve been working in corporate America with an insurance company for 22 years. I’m currently a junior in college, studying psychology, and hoping for a career change to better be able to help people. Working full time with school a couple of nights a week plus the SCA is a lot, but we’ve managed to structure our schedule so we have weekends free.