Persona Development

If you haven't already read the short introduction on our welcome page, please do so. This forum aims only to function as a collection of answers to frequently asked questions.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 218
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 3:04 pm

Persona Development

Post by Aonghus »

The easiest way to establish your Celtic Persona is by working backwards. Find out what events shaped the present and work them into your history. Develop a lineage of your ancestors and highlight their heroic deeds. Feel free to work back as far as you like, the Celts are famous for their lineages and long lists of kings. Of course a model Celt will recite his lineage before going into battle.

Personas can range from a simple statement of who you are and what you do, to epic lists of battles and voyages and divine intervention. You will find the best persona stories to be somewhere in between. The history of Ireland, like most old world countries, begins with legendary saga, gradually fading into factual circumstance. Your persona story may likewise be written with your distant ancestors involved in the more fantastic and you yourself involved with the more down to earth and historic.

Bragging was a Celtic art form and appropriate for your blood line but it is considered poor taste to connect yourself with major historic or legendary figures (i.e. King Arthur, Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun, etc.) And please don’t brag of deeds that you couldn’t pull off in real life, you will only embarrass yourself and those around you. A persona is not a fantasy role playing character, it is you as you would have been if you were living in 5th century Ireland.

While developing your persona, you want to answer these basic questions:
  • Who are you?
  • What does your name mean?
  • Who are you related to?
  • What do you do?
  • How did you learn your "profession"?
  • What is going on around you?
  • How does it affect you?
  • Are you a Pagan or Christian?
One thing that you will want to consider is the cultural practice of fosterage amongst Celts. When children reached a certain age they would be sent to live with some other family to be taught a trade and/or domestic skills. Then, when reaching adulthood, they returned to their natural parents. Adulthood was considered 14 years old for girls and 17 for boys. Fosterage was meant to strengthen the bonds between families, sometimes even tribes, and the relationship between foster children was considered just as strong a bond as that between actual siblings. If you work fosterage into your Persona story, you should name your foster family as well. It should also be noted that in cases where clans were not so friendly with each other, the dominant clan would sometimes demand hostages from lesser clans to guarantee loyalty and peace between them. This experience would be similar to fosterage for a young person - just hope that your blood clan never breaks the peace or your libel to ceremoniously have your throat cut!

Probably the most difficult challenge you’ll face is choosing your name. Your name should be chosen wisely. Constantly switching your name will be a big hassle for both you and any acquaintances you’ve made. Pick a name consistent with your origins, a Gaelic Celt would not have a Japanese name, and stay away from "fantasy names" too. Also be warned: not all names in use today were in use in the 5th century. Some of the better baby naming books often state the meaning of a name as well as its historical origins. These types of books can prove invaluable in this endeavor. Believe it or not another excelent source of names is a Gaelic Dictionary. Some of the words you will find in there will have definitions like "one who.....", which may be a great name for you if it descibes you in action, spirit, or physically. Almost all names mean something. Nameing of things was once a very serious ritual and not as arbitrary as it usualy is today.

It was a common practice amongst many cultures to have both a childhood name and then given an adult name or nickname later in life to reflect an outstanding deed or personality trait (e.g. Cu Chullain’s original name was Setanta, read "The Boy Deeds of Cu Chullain" to find out why his name changed.) Just keep in mind that the best nicknames are given, not taken.

You would be wise to read member persona stories that are posted to get the flavor. All it takes is a little imagination to write yours, but should you get stuck, you should consult with the clann Fíle (or any member that has already written theirs). Entwining your story with those of other members is strongly encouraged, but you should get the permission of those members before starting and their approval before posting.
User avatar
Posts: 964
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:22 am
Class: Aurrad (Member)

Re: Persona Development

Post by Comyn »

As this topic has current interest, I thought it would be instructive to share some thoughts on it by a founding member of the SCA, Cariadoc. I feel honored to have been visited by this great story-teller several times at just one Pennsic, and I'm sure he has visited many other times I have missed. Some of his thoughts on Persona Development are available in his Miscellany (I have 10th edition copy if anyone is interested in perusing) which is also online.

Adjusting to Reality
Post Reply