How do you portray what is essentially a cloistered lifestyle in the SCA? Here are a few options for persona story development:
- You are currently on angya. You have just left home to join the monastery and something has gotten in your way.
- You are a more accomplished monk and are on pilgrimage to visit Mt. Hiei, or Enryaku-ji, or the capital, etc.
- You are a lay monk. When you are not fighting the enemies of your clan, you are devoted to the study of the sutras. It is a pity the obligations of the world are so weighty! But such is the life of a samurai.
- You are a fierce sohei! Recently, you were sent out by your temple, along with several hundred other brothers, to assist the Minamoto in their struggle against the Taira. It has been a long campaign.
- You are a malcontent! The monastery is as corrupt as any brothel and you have had enough. You can read the writings of the patriarchs as well as any man, so why not do it yourself? Thus, you have come here to live alone and to build merit by assisting the poor and sick in this city.
- You are the Abbot. Sigh... The duties of running an important temple are rigorous. One hardly has time for a good game of Go. On top of all this, you have numerous meetings with ministers from the capital to secure funding of the new Dharma Hall, the new bell, and that image of the Shogun you have been ordered to produce.
- You are a scholar. The peace of the temple is alluring. Yet it is essential that the young lord of the Clan be properly educated. Thus, this posting is an honor. It is not uncommon for the Daimyo to seek your advice as well. Especially since among the texts you have studied are the sayings of The Chinese GeneralÖ
- You are an artist monk. Nobles of the court have shown a great interest in your work and you have taken to selling your paintings and copying sutras for patrons. The money is going to fund construction of a shrine in your home village. (the use of money would make this a very late period persona)
Thoughts on alms collecting in the SCA:
"Doing alms" can be fun persona play. It is a very authentic way for your persona to interact with others. Exercise some common sense. First, make sure the autocrat is ok with it. Next, do not push yourself on people. This is not the period way to do it, and it is annoying. Be sensitive to those around you ñ if someone looks confused, be prepared to drop out of persona and explain what you are doing. Dont over-do the silent aspect; if someone approaches you with a sincere question, consider answering them either in or out of persona. Dont let them think your behavior is stand-of-ish and do not let them think you are hawking anything or trying to prostaletize (its obvious to you that you arent, but youd be surprised what some people will imagine).
Be prepared for people to misinterpret your persona! (magician, ninja spy, mystic priest, you name it) Once, while alms collecting at Pennsic, I had a couple grovel at my feet (literally) and ask for my blessing. Awkward moment! I didnt drop out of persona, but I realized the begging routine had to shift gears so I immediately plopped myself down in the dirt in front of them, made them get up, and asked them why they were behaving so oddly - debasing themselves before a simple monk. In the end, I did give them a blessing and it was a fun persona interchange. Finally, while rice would be the traditional alms gift, people will more likely give you money. If you collect any, make sure you donate it to the Chirurgeons, the kingdom travel fund, or a charity. Do not keep it.