Net Zero Sum

3 Jun 2014 by gebhard, 3 Comments »

servericjulieannaSome years ago, I was working on generating an award conspiracy to get someone in my local group a Purple Fret (the Midrealm AoA level service award).

I don’t remember much about the conversation or even who was there. I remember when I suggested getting the candidate, whose name has slipped my mind, an award, and I asked for recommendations to be entered. One of the members of the conversation said “I don’t think it’s appropriate yet, I know what it took to get mine!”

That line is the only part that has stuck with me through time.  I’ve forgotten everything else, yet that line persists, “I know what it took to get mine!”.

What did it take to “get mine”?  I received an AoA a bit more than a year after joining the SCA.

At my first local event, I was asked to run youth activities, but being a nervous newbie, I taught a class instead, building catapults.

In the years after, I took over the youth program for my local group, eventually expanding to help with youth activities at all events in my barony and often other nearby baronies. I didn’t do small things, we made BIG things: siege towers, yard catapults, target crossbows, trebuchets and ballistas. Most of these took months of research and prototyping on my side. I needed to make siege equipment that was “safe” enough for kids, yet powerful enough to be fun, cheap enough to make, and easy enough to mass produce. As a result, I made all the kits myself.

This is no complaint.  It has been an absolute pleasure, and little brings me more enjoyment than to have a young person look up and say… “I can’t believe how fun this is to make, and I like… learned stuff too”.

My goal is for the SCA to be fun for people of all ages.

Five years after my first AoA, King Savaric and Queen Julianna, on a rainy evening at Pennsic, awarded me a Purple Fret during our Kingdom Court.

Is this what it takes to receive a Purple Fret?

I recently walked in on a conversation a couple was having about someone who received a Purple Fret after hosting a single event.  I did what I needed to do there and got out of the way. However, the mood in the room was not a joyous one.  At a glance it seems unfair. Why should someone get an award after a single event, when I had to work for five years to get the same result?

Did someone else getting a purple fret, decrease the amount of my work?

I am less worthy of the award the King and Queen gave me if someone else receives the same award?

Does receiving the award have less value to me now, after someone else receives it?


The answer is a clear “no” in all of these cases.  Awards are a gift from the King and Queen. The number of Purple Frets awarded since then will not alter what it was King Savaric and Queen Julianna found worthy in me.

I am happy for the receiver of the single event Purple Fret,  because “I know what it took to get mine”, and I know how happy I was to receive it.  I’m sure everyone else who receives one feels the same way.


Learn more:

Midrealm award chart

Gebhard’s Youth Activity Theory 101:

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  1. Thank you very much for posting this. It helped me work through some complicated thoughts I had on awards (and just in time, too).

  2. mark morgan says:

    if everyone had to wait as long as I did for my AoA there would be few indeed given out, off course in my case it moving around fols thought I had one instead it took 12 years and I had in part to recomend myself after I was asked by prince Jafar after that I few did jion in

  3. […] go read Gebhard’s post about the Purple Fret, the Middle Kingdom’s equivalent of Caid’s Dolphin. I can […]

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