A Day in the Life of the East Kingdom Heraldic Submissions Office

Thank you to Lady Lilie Dubh inghean uí Mórdha, Pantheon Herald, for contributing this peek behind the curtain at the functioning of the East Kingdom’s heraldic submissions office, led by the Blue Tyger Herald. — Ed.

Coffee in hand, I sit down at my desk and turn on my laptop. Sounds like a normal morning in the modern world? Partially, it is. Email first…

The Crown Province of Østgarðr is one of many baronies, shires, cantons, and other groups that play within the lands of the East Kingdom, and all submit heraldic items to the Blue Tyger Herald for review and registration. Generally, the East Kingdom has the most heraldic items in all the SCA in any given month or year, with Pennsic alone providing about half of the Kingdom’s yearly submissions.

The East Kingdom Heraldic Submissions Office uses quite a bit of modern technology. Once email is taken care of, I open OSCAR—the Online System for Commentary and Response—the program the SCA uses to vet each and every submission. There are always items in OSCAR that still need work.

What kind of work? Well, I can bring something from OSCAR into one of our Slack channels for further discussion—on, say, a conflict with an already existing name or device. Or something requires a look at the rules with a magnifying glass. Or maybe it just needs further research. And so on.

The SCA has used the SENA (Standards for Evaluation of Names and Armory) rules since 2012, but there are also ‘precedents’ set by the SCA’s sovereigns of arms—Laurel, Wreath, and Pelican—as they review submissions. These precedents, handed down over the years, are applied to other submissions down the line.

At any given time, the East Kingdom has at least four Letters of Intent open for commentary—one at the kingdom level, and three at the Laurel level. A Kingdom Letter of Intent (KLoI) is all of the submissions for that month, plus all of the commentary and information the Blue Tyger has collected on each one. It’ll be kingdom-level for a month, and then it becomes Laurel-level, and stays so for about 3 months.

Yesterday was the 15th of the month, so we published the East Kingdom’s monthly KLoI. As Pantheon, I’m one of 4–6 who work on getting each KLoI ready for the Known World of heralds and commenters. It takes lots of work! All month, we’ve been collecting submissions, scanning them into our digital systems, entering them into OSCAR, discussing them, and making sure all the information is complete.

Once we’ve published the KLoI, the next step is to create an Kingdom Letter of Decision (KLoD). This is where each item from the KLoI is laid out with all the information, PLUS the Blue Tyger team’s decision on whether to send the item onward for Laurel-level review, or return it to the submitter for further work.

As Pantheon, it’s my job to create the outline for this letter. I take each OSCAR item and put them in a Google doc, along with an area for the final decision from Blue Tyger. Then I share it with the rest of the team, who add comments based on OSCAR commentary and our own knowledge and research.

Most of these items go on. But very rarely, the team has to return something, usually because of administrative foo —a form that has missing info that can’t be filled in, or one that was printed wrong so the info can’t be entered into OSCAR correctly. It’s then the Mosaic Herald’s job to contact the submitters and let them know what’s happening with their item, whether it’s going onward or being returned and why.

Once a month, the Laurel sovereigns—Pelican, Wreath, and Laurel—hold their own meetings to review all the KLoDs. We are in February, so they are reviewing kingdom letters from three months ago—November 2019. The Pelican Sovereign of Arms reviews Name submissions, Wreath does the same for Armory, and then Laurel ties everything together with even more review. These meetings can be up to 11 hours long—and that’s after they’ve already had three months to comment. Yikes!

I’ll get to sit in on the Pelican meeting, because my area of expertise is Names. Sometimes a Pelican cannot justify registering a name as submitted, but will come up with alternate versions of it (like adding an accent or marker, or removing a letter, for example). It’s then my job to contact the submitter with Pelican’s recommendations and ask what they want. I don’t want to be making those decisions for anyone! I’ll also report back to those who didn’t attend the meeting, or who sat in on the Wreath and Laurel meetings, and let them know what we decided with East’s Names this month. I look forward to hearing the person who sat in on the Wreath meeting report on East’s Armory submissions.

There really is a lot of work that is involved in the way we do heraldry and naming in the SCA. But underneath all the administrative stuff is the excitement of letting someone know they have a name and armory registered in the SCA Ordinary and Armorial. After their submission has finally been approved, I get to tell them that they can officially fly their banner, hold up their shield, say their name to others and have their name called in court. It adds something wonderful to this game we play. My work behind the scenes helps create smiles, and I’m proud of that.

— Lady Lilie Dubh inghean uí Mórdha, Pantheon Herald