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When you need a chart...
On the one hand, this chart of the awards of the East (PDF) is pretty excellent -- logically laid out, more or less complete, and generally useful to anybody who is trying to understand what they might write a recommendation for.

OTOH, the fact that you need a chart in order to remember all of the awards of the East (and really, you do -- I'm the Court Junkie's Court Junkie and *I* can't keep them all straight any more) makes me rather sad. It really underscores how horribly out of control the system has gotten...

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One of my cadets has commented that the East's award system is like the streets of Boston, and we really need the streets of New York. ;)

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How does this compare to the other regions?

Better than most, truth to tell -- some Kingdoms add an entire 'nother level into the middle. But it's far worse than it was when I started: the number of awards has well more than doubled, and the system's gotten much messier...

it seems ... overwrought.

The 2 levels of Heavy Combat Peerage is odd; does the Pelican or Laurel have to swear allegiance to the Crown?

Were I to have the power to re-design the system, I would probably go wiith 3 Orders of Honor (Arts&Science, Combat, Service) with Companions, Commanders, and Knight Commanders for each. Knight Commanders for the Peerages, Commanders for High Merit, and Companions for Honor. Replace the Youth orders with bestowing Lieuftenancies within the grander order.

Within each branch, have Stars and Medals for field-specific orders, and as kingdom honors, grant stars or metals within the grander order.

(So, Order of the Pelican would become Knight Comander of the Order of the Pelican, OSC would become CmdrOP, OBT become CompOP. Terpsichore would be a CompOL with a Medal of the Terpsichore.)

This is, admittedly, a little too 17th and 18th century for most of the SCA, though.

The 2 levels of Heavy Combat Peerage is odd; does the Pelican or Laurel have to swear allegiance to the Crown?

No, and you've kind of hit upon the distinction there. It's not two levels of Heavy Peerage, it's two equal variants. Knights are required (by SCA law) to swear fealty; for Masters at Arms, it's optional, as it is for Laurels and Pelicans.

The East is actually quite unusual in this -- most of the Society thinks it is downright scandalous for a member of the Chivalry to not be in fealty, so Masters at Arms are rare in most Kingdoms. (And quietly prevented from happening in some of them, despite that being against Society law IIRC.) Only in the East and West are Masters at Arms relatively common.

This is, admittedly, a little too 17th and 18th century for most of the SCA, though.

Yes, although much of the system *is* quite post-period in its structure. Problem is, most of it was sort of made up as they were going along in the late 60s, before the average level of historical clue was anywhere *near* where it is today. By the early 70s, it was all quite cast in concrete structurally. (But they've kept adding more and more awards ever since then.)

I understand how the system works; what I don't understand is why people care about the awards so thoroughly as to have made so many of them. (I'd care about getting one from a couple of specific Royal-types if I thought that it was because of being recognized and noted by those people rather than simply because of a process rolling over everything-- but right now, it's a process rolling over everything, and most kings I have no reason to care if they've noticed me.)

As for why people care, there are really two parallel answers to that.

There are a fair number of people who do care about getting that award, in one way or another. The basic fact is that people like to be recognized for what they're doing, particularly if it takes a lot of effort. When it crosses the line from "I'd like to be appreciated for the work I've been doing" and gets into "I think I'll do X, so I can get Y award" it can get ugly. That kind of covers why people care about awards, but not why there are so many.

The other motivation is people like to be generous, and *give* recognition to people who have helped them in some way. The Royalty enjoy giving out awards. The proliferation of kinds of awards comes from the fact that most of them are on-shot things. You can only be made a Pelican once, no matter how much additional work you do afterward, so if the guy who is king ten years later wants to do something for you, he may have to invent a new thing.

The icing on the cake is that we have *way* too many specialty awards. Once started down that path, ever time a new activity starts up and gets popular enough for there to be people deserving of recognition, it needs its own award because none of the other specialty awards fit.

The Royalty enjoy giving out awards.

I'll be blunt: some of it is ego. Usually not conscious ego, I suspect, but as far as I've ever been able to tell, the desire to put one's stamp on the Kingdom by "filling a hole" in the awards system runs pretty deep, and is painfully common. So when a Royal sees some activity -- just about *any* kind of activity -- that they personally consider important and doesn't have its own special-snowflake award, they create one. It elevates that activity (at least, they tell themselves that it does), and makes them feel good about themselves.

Personally, I think the best Royals are the ones who do what the job is really for: enthusiastically embracing the figurehead role, and doing a quietly good job at the (too often neglected) management side of it, without trying to *change* things gratuitously. But the ego-boo of that is subtler, and it requires more self-confidence...

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Yep -- I think it's a great chart. I just wish it wasn't necessary...

"CJE's LitCrit Rule of Thumb #12: Any story that needs a diagram to explain it needs a decent editor far more."

(I suspect I may have originally gotten that one from *your* quote file :-)

Probably did -- I'm pretty sure it was in there, and was likely the mental thread dangling in the back of my mind when I wrote this.

(One of these days I'll probably port my quotefile over to Querki. The main difficulty is figuring out how to integrate it with Gmail...)

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