Develop Your Impression in Five Easy Steps

Separating your impression from your modern identity can sometimes be difficult. For the most part, the following questions are directed toward your impression, unless your impression is still incomplete enough that they are not pertinent.


An impression—also known as a persona—is the character that you portray while reenacting. In Regia, an impression should be a totally fictitious character that might have lived in the past (the portrayal of an historical character is limited to the needs of certain shows). An impression has only the limitations of historical accuracy—for example, you shouldn't be a Scottish samurai living in Africa in a wrecked drakkar—but is should be a common person from the time. Crafting more than one impression is encouraged so that your portrayal is appropriate for special shows or fo the kit you wear and use. For example, high-class person would not commonly wear rough wool clothing and go barefoot.

Keep in mind that your impression should be common and realistic and not so uncommon and unrealistic that it is Cheap Pulp Fantasy. While such fantasy might make a great novel, it’s not really living history!*

If you are confused about what your impression should be, the following questions might help narrow down the possibilities and to refine and define your impression. Please note that there are no right answers; these are only tool that can help you develop an impression. Please note that you do not have to answer each question; all you need is to answer enough questions to guide you in your decision!

More than one impression may be crafted. After all, it would not be common for a nobleman to be wearing rough wool and going barefoot. Craft different impressions to fit special shows or kit. Keep in mind that an impression might only be a paragraph or an entire book!

In Regia, members are assumed to be living in the British Isles between 950 and 1066 ce, but that still gives you more than a hundred years to play with and cultures that range from Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Norman to Cymry and German. Micel Folcland concentrates on the early eleventh-century Anglo-Scandinavian culture of the Danelaw, so your primary impression should be so crafted.

Begin taking notes and listing down sources and stories. Some people encourage you to find two primary sources for anything in your impression.

STEP ONE: Primary Details**

  • What is your cultural background?
  • What is your name?
  • When and where were you born?
  • Where do you live?
  • What is your social class?
  • What is your occupation?

A Basic Impression

I am NAME, a(n) CULTURAL IDENTIFICATION of the DATE century, living in LOCATION. I am a TYPE-class OCCUPATION.

Example: I am Fólki Rusli Þorgilsson, an Anglo-Scandinavian of the early eleventh century, living in Jorvik. I am a middle class trader.

STEP TWO: Secondary Details—Family, Rank, Religion & Daily Values

  • Is your present name your original name? If it is not, how has your name changed? why has it changed
  • How did you come to the lands encompassed by the Danelaw?
  • Who is you family, your close—or distant—relatives, your foster family and your marital status?
  • From whom would you obtain help if you were in trouble? To whom would you offer help?
  • What is your occupation, as well as those of your parents?
  • Where have you lived?
  • What language do you regularly use?
  • What are your interests?
  • What is your education?
  • What is your religion?
  • What do you find blasphemous or obscene?
  • What is your occupation? What occupation would you like to have? What occupation re you qualified to hold?
  • What are your skills and abilities?
  • Have you ever been a slave? Have you ever owned a slave? Have you ever been a free servant? Have you ever employed a free servant? To whom do you owe service?
  • What are your usual habits?
  • What was your level of hygiene and how did you usually attain it?
  • Describe a normal day for you.
  • Describe your home.
  • How much leisure time do you enjoy? What do you do for fun?

STEP THREE: Tertiary Details—Physical Details

  • What type of clothing would you be likely to have had? How did you get it?
  • What was the clothing made out of, and what colors were they?
  • What was your hairstyle?
  • What accessories would you be likely to have to carry with you?
  • What is contained in your pouch (if you have one)?
  • What type of illustration would you be likely to have? Study period styles and techniques. It is not necessary that you draw an illustration—any more than it is necessary for you to write a biography or novel or short story about your impression—find an existing illustration that personifies what a period illustration of you would look like.

Folump has published two books of questions that will help you write your persona history: The Persona Handbook and //Making a Good Impression. //The above sections are only a few preliminary questions; if you would like more in a similar vein, consult these books.

STEP FOUR.: Facts & Research

When you have determined what you want your character to be interested in, read primary and secondary accounts of the era, noting what would be appropriate or likely. Concentrate on social history and not general history; it will tell you more. Your impression will hopefully not exist in a vacuum. The decisions you make should be based on historical precedence. This means that although there is creativity involved in your creation of an impression, there are also limits: This is disciplined creativity. Think of it like assembling a blank jigsaw puzzle; you can draw anything you like, but it must be assembled correctly.

We are talking about practical archaeology for all intents and purposes. Who your king is and what wars were fought are only tangential to your impression. However, knowing what your impression would eat, what your impression would wear and so forth will be more intimately involved with your impression.

Get in the habit of taking down notes on anything you read that you want to use. Keep in mind that creating an impression is not merely literary or artistic; it is educational and informative. You don't necessarily need footnotes for your impression's history, but you should be able to state why you made that decision and to back the decision up with facts if need be.

STEP FIVE: Bringing It All Together

Assembling your research and how you want to present it is not the end of the project;but it is an essential part. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Write down facts and pertinent information in a notebook, perhaps with footnotes and a bibliography.
  • Write a biography
  • Write a novel or short story (but be certain it does not read like cheap pulp fantasy)
  • Write poetry, saga, epic romance, etc.

In Conclusion

In mast cases, your impression will not he finished, but then neither is history. Facts do not change, but they are sometimes added to or taken from, and the interpretations of them certainly do changer. Always be ready to incorporate new knowledge into your impression, or even change your old interpretation entirely! You might or might not want to create a more detailed impression. Keep in mind that you are not creating a history of the period; you are creating the history of someone from the period. It will depend. You might use it to create a personality, to guide your purchases or to guide your choice of clothing. You might use it to write stories. You might use it to do first-person reenacting.

Obviously, a detailed impression is not required, although it helps you narrow down your field of interest. Only you can decide. All that is certain, in fact, is that your impression—and the creation of it—should be both useful and fun!

**Merald Clark tells the ultimate—and humorous—Cheap Pulp Fantasy impression biography. In it, a Viking falls into an ice floe, goes into hibernation, washes up on Japan, comes back to life, becomes a samurai, then moves to China and joins the Mongol horde, then travels with Marco Polo back to Europe, then…

** These refer to your impression of course.
When answering these basic questions, you should ask yourself questions like:
Do I want my impression to feature my actual cultural heritage?
What cultures interest me?
What cultures feature kit—clothing, tools, equipment, beliefs—that interest me?
What are the common names in your chosen culture?
How close do I want my impression name to be to my actual name? (Donald Hamilton, in his Matt Helm books, noted that alternate names should start with the same sounds as your real name so that you will already responding to the name before it is finished; for example, I chose Fólki when my common name is Folo)
What location(s) do I have a particular fondness for?
How much do I want to spend on my portrayal and kit?
What important historical incidents would I like to see?
Which important historical figures interest me (or would like to meet, although this veers dangerously close to Cheap Pulp Fantasy).

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