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And *poof*, a whole new pile of stupid awards appears
*Sigh*. I suppose I knew that the East would eventually follow so many other Kingdoms in adding Yet Another Freaking Layer of Awards. But man, I so don't approve -- with every passing year, the award system becomes simply an enormous list of merit badges. Their Majesties are good people, and well-intentioned, but IMO this is a significant mistake, that will do more harm than good.

OTOH, I suppose it's self-correcting: we're pretty much getting to the point where nobody has any ideas what the awards mean any more, so they're becoming irrelevant. (I mean, *I* can't remember a lot of them any more, and I'm a court junkie.) More and more people, far as I can tell, are coming to regard the award system as Just Plain Stupid, which does leave room to convince them to ignore the whole idiotic morass and concentrate on the game instead.

(Yes, I know -- I've lost this particular battle, and I have better things to do than beat the dead horse. But I'm going to allow myself one good grouse first...)

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Is there at least an easily accessible cheat sheet somewhere? And/or could heralds be convinced that part of announcing an award is giving a ten-second explanation of what it IS, already?

There is -- I don't know the URL offhand, but it's been linked from the Gazette a couple of times. It's a neat, very large grid of all of the awards.

Of course, the fact that we *need* a grid of all the awards in order to keep track of them is appalling...

Why o why must we have *more* awards? This does not fuel my desire to come back & play. Heaven forbid our kingdom be different from all the others...

I'm assuming this means the East now has grant level awards.

Yes, although it's the other way around than you probably think: they're redefining all of the OHMs as Grant-bearing (retroactively), and adding a whole layer of Royal-Whim awards, one corresponding to each of the OHMs.

Far as I can tell, the whole thing is basically Midrealm Envy...

I found the EK FB page and read the official word ('tho it makes me cringe to say "facebook" and "official" in the same sentence). There seems to be a great deal of populace support and I guess I'm just a cranky old Peer.

In hunting this info down I saw mention of a royal hallenge for garb at Birka to be inspired by Pixar films and that made me rather ill.

The latter's been a trend in recent years -- last I remember, it was garb inspired by your favorite sports team. I dislike the notion in principle, but I'll admit that it *did* result in a lot of very good garb, much of which was in no way modern if you didn't know the context...

True. 'T'is an ill wind &c.

I saw mention of a royal hallenge for garb at Birka to be inspired by Pixar films and that made me rather ill.

You aren't alone :-/

Yep. And again the question arises of why awards are going to specific activities, instead of classes of activity. It means even more in the future.

(Equestrians and thrown weapons and siege weapons and unarmed combat left out again, while arts and sciences gets lumped into one.)

Heaven forfend we discuss patterns and models and instead continue to create more special procedures for the ever infinite edge cases.

Has anyone mentioned that having more awards devalues all awards? And that it just introduces another rung on the checklist ladder for some people? Will those who rise through the whim ranks before getting the OHMs consider themselves to have 'earned it' more?

I saw somebody on the Facebook group ask if he was going to get the Whim one if he already had the relevant OHM. So clearly people *are* viewing it as a ladder.

I look at this and go "this is not doing *anything* for my already-existing pathological fear of Court."

Like Justin, I think the entire thing is devolving into a merit badge culture. A few notes:
1.) I think royalty want to 'make their mark' on the kingdom. Passing laws is no good, a future monarch can 'un-pass' them. (AEthelmearc once had a pair who wanted to pass nearly 30 of them in one reign) But, once an award is given, it's permanent. And rather than deal with classes of activity as mentioned above, the royalty will reward specifics in their field of interest. I believe both East and AEthelmearc have awards for table settings.
2.) I have seen lists of 'triple-peers' with bonus cookies if they have a royal peerage as well. I saw a face-book discussion of who would be the first 'quad-peer' within a week of the creation of The Order of Defense.
3.) Like Justin, I'm a data junkie. I made a list of ALL the peers of AEthelmearc along with the dates of their first AoA level award, first GoA level award and first PoA level award. It now takes longer to get a Grant of Arms in AEthelmearc then it did to get a Patent of Arms in our part of the East before AEthelmearc was created. And the length of time increases the longer time passes. Grant awards add another 'step on the ladder' but that makes it a longer ladder, not one with steps closer together.
-- Dagonell

BTW, Has anyone run this past the Society level heralds? Has anyone told them it's a done deal? Has anyone ever heard a Society level herald scream bloody murder? :)

Yeah, just so. People say, "Oh, the new award won't promote a step-ladder!", but that's naive -- the step-ladder effect is insidious, and very hard to avoid. Despite how hard I pound into peoples' heads that you don't have to have a Manche before you get a Laurel, I still hear people say it from time to time.

Worse, the people writing recommendations usually assume the step-ladder -- that you have to recommend for the lowest award this person doesn't yet have. And why not? It's hard to know which "level" is appropriate for somebody, if you aren't in the Order yourself. Hell, *I* don't know what the appropriate distinctions are between the new ranks.

The new awards *will* worsen the step-ladder, and they *will* make it harder for people to get Peerages, guaranteed -- decades of experience shows that more levels slows people down. This is *not* a way to help the Kingdom.

(Yes, I'm angry about the whole thing. I'm proud of my Kingdom, and it annoys me when it does something this stupid just because *other* Kingdoms happen to be stupid in the same way.)

AEthelmearc went Kingdom in 97. Discount the first three years while they gave out the long-overdue Peerages. Start with 1/1/2000. Number of peerages since 1/1/2000? 81. Number of those who DIDN'T have the grant award first? 7. That's 8%. The last one was in 2011 and most of them were before 2003.

pwharbord said that it would just bring us in line with other kingdoms, and I swear I could hear my mother's voice replying with the Spanish equivalent of, "If all of your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?"

Moving the Kingdom awards to Grant-level doesn't bug me so much. It's the new ones that give me pause. Specifically, friends, particularly in the Midrealm, have been telling me that the East needs to learn from their bad history. As they put it, they too were told the then-new AoA/GoA splits wouldn't become a checklist but it did anyway. Culturally, if perhaps not in Kingdom law, is the "We can't give her the GoA Order! She doesn't have the AoA one yet!" mindset.

I had that very sentence come up this year, and in another case the continuation of that outlook: "We can't put X in for Pelican! They don't have their Dragon's Heart (Kingdom service award) yet!" Especially when I think of people like Master John McGuire, who had his Laurel before his Maunche

Heck, *I* got my Laurel before my Manche -- I actually consider myself one of the classic examples of the fact that the system, used properly, doesn't have to follow any sort of simplistic progression. (My main awards, in order, were: Baronial Arts; Kingdom Service; Society Arts; Baronial Service; Kingdom Arts; Society Service. Heralds in Love as an award history.)

And yeah, I agree that switching the OHMs to Grant-level is a minor detail, and the argument for doing so is stronger. It's adding the pile of new awards that is going to cause damage...

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Oh, if I thought it was Death Of The East Kingdom, I'm be screaming bloody murder. This is more of a boiling-the-frog problem, and I have more important windmills to tilt at; hence I'm accepting that I've lost the fight and am just grousing in my own journal.

Mostly, I'm annoyed because the whole damned thing is counter-productive. Yes, it gives out more toys -- but in practice, it's dead-certain to make it harder (or at least, take longer) for people to get Peerages, which are the big shiny that folks care most about if they're award-motivated in the first place. This is *not* a good way to retain members.

(And yeah, totally agreed about the gamification...)

The thing I note with interest is how many people at the lower "rungs" are really excited about this. People who are currently in the gap between pure AoA and an OHM.

So if the people at whom the awards are targeted and who will be *directly* affected are excited and enthusiastic, I find it a good thing.

On the one hand, I'm not astonished. Thing is, I think this is the wrong solution to a systemic problem. The East (and I suspect the SCA in general) is ungoing a continuous, *horrible* case of ever-rising bars.

I was chatting with Aaron about this the other day. He took the data from the OP and did a bit of quick statistical analysis on it. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that the amount of time it takes between AoA and Peerage has been steadily rising, at a roughly linear rate, for the 15 years he analyzed.

So to me, this is basically a hack. It's dealing with a real problem, to be sure, that it has gotten *much* harder to get the mid-level awards. But the appropriate fix isn't over-complicating the system even more (and making it harder to get the higher-level awards as a result), it's to *fix our freaking standards*. I am *so* fed up with people whose standards for the Manche are higher than the standards were for a Laurel when I joined. *That* is the problem we should be fixing instead.

(Yes, yes -- shoulders of giants and all that. I hear that argument all the time, and it's largely misplaced. That says that the overall *results* should be rising over time. But the amount of *time and effort* it takes to achieve the awards should not be rising so dramatically, and that's the problem we're mostly ignoring here.)

And honestly -- I think most of the folks who are cheering for this don't really understand the side-effects it's going to have. I would bet that most of them would be less happy if they knew this will increase time-to-peerage even further, and most will claim to the high heavens that it won't do so. But fifty years of history says that it's near-certain to: when you add more levels, you exacerbate the step-ladder effect, and everything takes longer.

As I said at the top, I know I've lost this argument, and I don't plan to spend much time worrying about it. But I *am* exasperated at our inability to step back, actually look at our deeper problems and grapple with them seriously. Instead, we just keep applying surface patch after patch, creating an ever-more-baroque monstrosity while not actually making the Society any *healthier*...

Chacun à son goût - I was in for a decade before my AoA, and more than two decades before my peerage, so any conversation about "now it takes too long to get awards" kind of slides right by me. A number of people I know got AoAs after more than fifteen years, and a number of other people I know got Laurels after about five - I am unconvinced that there aren't a lot of fluky factors in play.

I also think that conceiving of the metric as "time-to-peerage" is not particularly useful - not everyone gets to peerage, not everyone wants to get to peerage, not everyone is well-suited to getting to peerage. (I fully expected to wait a lot longer than I did, actually, and quite possibly not get there, and was totally fine with that.) Just because there is a *possible* endpoint doesn't mean it's where everyone wants or needs to go. I think a lot of the happy people that I have directly spoken to are looking at the middle, not the end, and I believe their happiness is valid and appropriate.

I am unconvinced that there aren't a lot of fluky factors in play.

Oh, there's no question that the system is *very* arbitrary and whimsical, often in unpleasant ways -- that's the way it's set up, for better and worse. But that's why I find actual statistics much more interesting than anecdote: the trend lines tell us a lot more than individual stories. And those statistics are pretty compelling: we are making the system ever-harder, setting the brass rings ever further away. (The temptation to make jokes about Doppler shift here are strong, but thoroughly OOP.)

IMO, that's incredibly *dumb* of us, as a small-s society, and it undermines the entire point of the award system, which was to encourage people. Instead, my observation is that the system tends to do more to discourage them at this point. It really needs a serious overhaul instead of these patches, and I find it deeply depressing that there is essentially no way for that to ever happen, for a variety of reasons...

Could I please, please, please have a copy of Aaron's notes??? Last year I did a statistical analysis of the award history of AEthelmearc going back over 30 years (including pre-principality) and I'll trade him. My analysis showed that prior to AEthelmearc, it took an average 4.5 years to get a peerage, with an upper bound at 10. It now takes a minimum of 14 years with an average of 17. E-mail me at dagonell@hotmail.com

Aaron was kind enough to send me his data. The slope of the East's linear progression was 120. The slope of AEthelmearc's linear progression was 132. (Translation: the average time it takes to go from AoA to Peerage is rising at a linear rate in both kingdoms, but in AE, it's rising slightly faster.)

I understand your perspective. I also understand the motivation to change the status quo.

For those who play in other kingdoms, as I do, it gets awfully tiring to be told that because I (at the time) did not have the mere AoA level arts award, I was not welcome to teach an advanced class, mentor a student in a specialty, judge a competition, attend an artistically oriented meeting, run an activity, and so on.
Easterners know what it means to be an invested, working member with no decorations about the neck, but other kingdoms see it as a vote of no-confidence.

Having friends from these other Kingdoms which do have more of a tiered system, I have seen enthusiasm and investment come with the "Royal Whim" grade of non polled recognition.

Really, it isn't about the dangly bits at all for most people. It's about recognition. Someone to look us in the eye, say loudly and publicly to all assembled "This Person Matters", and be inspired to continue on in the more private pursuits of arts and service. The jewelry stands more to remind me when I look in the mirror that I have a responsibility to continue to earn that recognition.

It also helps me to be seen as an established and enfranchised member when I am elsewhere.

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