This is a compilation of answers to questions often asked by newer NG members.

Click on the question to find an answer or scroll through the FAQ's.

What Is AFR?
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AFR is alt.fairs.renaissance; a Usenet newsgroup... sometimes referred to as a Virtual Ren Faire. It is not a "real" RenFaire... nor are the following questions/comments applicable to any one faire.

AFR is not exclusively dedicated to the discussion of Ren Faire related topics (though certainly there are plenty of those!). Instead, AFR has evolved into a forum for social interaction by folks who share an enthusiasm for Faire. Many of the threads are informative, most are good natured and some are down right amusing!

If a thread changes subjects, or spawns a sub-thread... please try to remember to change the heading accordingly. If a post/thread is completely unrelated to faire, it is a good idea to preface the heading with "OT" for "off topic." This allows ng readers with limited time to better filter/skim the group.

(For those who may prefer a more "On Topic" NG to talk about Renaissance Faires, there is another ng,, that has a lower volume of "chatty" posts. Many folks read both AFR and ARF.)

Remember, AFR is a "family" ng and is read by all ages and maturity levels, so obscene, sexually explicit or graphic language is unwelcome. Likewise, racial/religious slurs, name calling and insults are unwanted.

Overall, AFR is a very friendly, welcoming ng, tolerant of nearly anything but intolerance!

What Is A 'Troll' Or 'Trolling'?
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Trolling is the posting of deliberately offensive or inflammatory remarks or material. A "Troll" is one who makes such posts. Sometimes these posts trigger "flames" or "flame wars" as people express their anger/disgust/upset with the post(er). Unfortunately, that is often the *goal* of trolls and it is often best to refrain from replying, or to take it to e-mail.

Occasionally a post is misinterpreted as "trolling" because of the limitations of the written medium of the ng, causing a flame/flame war. The best remedy is prevention... re-read your post before you send it; use 'emoticons' or 'smileys' ;^) to indicate humorous remarks or just insert words indicating the tone of the post, such as: <humor> or <sarcasm>.

If is is too late for that, a simple apology and perhaps a clarification of what you were trying to say is the best policy. Most of us have put our foot in it from time to time, so we know it can happen to anyone.

"Can I post pictures?"
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AFR is a text only ng, so please don't post pictures...they read as gibberish or don't come up at all... BUT there are several ng members that maintain web sites featuring photos and who are happy to have you send them your pictures to add to their collection. (;; to name but a few)

Another Note: Some news readers have both text and html settings, so you might want to check that the html is off.

"Who are these folk?"
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One of the unique features of AFR is the opportunities to meet folks in real life... See where some of us live at:

Still, many of us may never manage to meet anywhere but online. Many sigs contain URL's for personal web pages, many offering a glimpse of the personality behind the screen name. You can also "meet" some AFR Users on the "AFR Bio.Page WebRing", maintained by SDJThorin aka Stephen "The Forester" of Trillingham.

"What about ads?"
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Mass SPAM, or junk advertising, is universally discouraged but a brief announcement of a ren-related product or service is OK; as is mention/plug of any vendor/merchant/source/act in the course of answering someone's post.

There are a couple of sites specifically set up for buy/sell/trade/seeking ads:

Ed Scholl provides a forum at:
"The Rennie's Market" is a web-based bulletin board I put up for rennie's to post ads (buying, selling, trading, etc.) in the categories of:

And another:

AFR Costume Sale Page People can list things for sale or post things they're are looking for.

"What about commercial "Garb" Patterns?"
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A very handy list of readily available patterns that can be used "as is" or with some simple changes is provide by Stephen "The Forester" of Trillingham at: The AFR's Ren.Links & Garb Pattern Databases

SCRIBE has a Costuming FAQ and in addition, many costumers post on AFR, so be sure to check out their web pages, many have collected useful links related to garb making. Here are some useful Garb/Sewing Sites :
Dragonfly Design - Patterns Page
Peldyn Gwyneth's Garb Page
The Garb Bag

"Why was I :::POUNCED::: and what does it mean?"
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It's an AFR traditional welcome, started by our own WinterWulf (Hi, Wulfie!) but anyone can do it. We want folks to feel a part of the virtual faire we share here... The idea is when a person posts for the first time (well, we try... Sometimes a newbie sneaks past us) someone ::POUNCES::: on the new poster. This announces to others the presence of a new member of the NG and it helps newer folks feel at home. Soon someone will offer you a mazer o' mead (or whatever beverage you like... Virtual reality is grand!)... (generally meatball sandwiches and Nutella as an optional dessert). Stephen "The Forester" has also compiled a list of Tips & Hints to help you out at: AFR Tips & Hints

"What is Nutella?"
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Variously described as a sinfully delicious blend of chocolate and hazelnuts, foreplay-in-a-jar, and wench/rogue-bait, Nutella is a popular indulgence amongst many AFR folks. (And an official food of the Int'l Wenches Guild!) With a smooth almost pudding-like creamy texture, Nutella is wonderful served on fruits, baked goods and one's favorite partner. Zap it in the microwave for a few seconds or use at room temperature for best results. Look for it in the peanut butter section of your favorite supermarket. MMMMmmmmm! Is Yummies!

"What's a Mazer o' Mead?"
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A mazer is a period beverage container, described below. In the context of the NG, it is a welcome cup of cheer... traditionally offered by the AFR Brewing Goddess, Mead maker extraordinaire... or her acolytes (other brewing enthusiasts and or fans). If mead is not your preference, "virtually" any beverage can be found in your mazer.

"My understanding is that a mazer is a large square drinking vessel. However, I will admit I am not the world's authority on beverages and their containers by any stretch of the imagination."--NORMTUBA

"A mazer is a flat round drinking bowl generally made of wood or metal. Middle English, from Old French "masere", kind of wood, maple burl, of Germanic origin. You don't see these at Fair because you can't hang them from your belt."--Payne

"I think that the term "mazer" was sufficiently generic that it would apply to nearly any wooden drinking vessel. There are several merchants at the larger Faires who sell these. The ones that you can buy nowadays are coated with a sealant that withstands hot beverages (right Cathe?). And if you seem to notice a distinct similarity between "mazer" and "measure" (when said in BFA), then you might just be on to something. :-)"--Bob Clevenger

"A mazer is a wide flat drinking vessel, sort of like a bowl with a stem."--Vicky (the brewing goddess herself)

And Last but not least, Andara Bledin found in Websters Online:

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French mazere, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German masar gnarled excrescence on a tree Date: 14th century: a large drinking bowl originally of a hard wood. Other dictionaries with less info on the origin do clarify that a mazer was originally made of maple, which is where the word mazer comes from.

(Thanks for clearing that up!)

"What's a RenGeek pin and how do I get one?"
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A RenGeek pin is a handcast pewter pin, provided by the Gosh of Pewter himself, Kevin of Fellowship Foundry. Those readers of the NG who pass a simple test administered by Kevin or his appointed representatives receive one as a gift. (All hail the Gosh of Pewter!)

[RenGeek Pin]

This pin helps readers of the NG to find each other at faires. If you see someone wearing one, it means they read AFR. Some folks say "otters" (and the traditional respones is "weezows") if they see a RenGeek pin, but not EVERYONE who wears a RenGeek pin considers him/her/itself an otter!


RenGeek pins are NOT available at every Fellowship Foundry, and that they are distributed completely at Kevin's discretion. Most of the faires don't have access to him or his designated reps.

"What is with the Otters and Weezows, anyway?"
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The "Weezows" refers to ferrets, a pet owned by a surprising amount of NG members... also fun-loving critters... and now a co-mascot and counter sign of recognition for readers of the NG. And now, here's the otter part of the story, direct from AFR's own Peg!(tm) of the Pirates Royale (aka Lynn):

"Once upon a time, lo these many moons past when I was but a newbie here at AFR, I posted something that went something like this: "I have too much fun! I oughta have to pay to be me. I must have been an Otter in a previous life" which brought the Cuthies [Note: St. Cuthbert's Guild] out of the woodwork. They told me that the Otter had been their mascot for some time, as there was a story about an Otter and St. Cuthbert. From there it has snowballed into the AFR mascot, a way to find other AFR posters in a crowd (Yell, "OTTERS!"), and now, it is the official unofficial title of all who post here... and indeed, because anyone that lasts here long enough is a hard core Rennie, and certainly knows how to have fun."

Please Note:

While the sobriquet "Otter" is a title *available* to all who post on AFR, it is not *required.* Nor is it embraced by all! Some folks don't like the word or image, some don't like being labelled and some just aren't amused. Many long time posters don't consider themselves otters and are given grief over it, having even had folks angrily tell them they *must* be an Otter, or how can they wear a RenGeek pin.

In no way, shape or form should anyone feel forced to label themselves an Otter, nor should anyone be upset at those who don't wish to be so labeled. (Something that I personally feel is completely contrary to the spirit of the nickname's origin.) This nickname is intended to be a fun and joyous thing, not another rule or restriction! Those who are not pleased to be thought of as otters *for whatever reason* are no less welcomed, valued, tenured or genuine members of AFR than those who have enthusiastically availed themselves of the title. If you don't wanna be called/considered an Otter, it is perfectly acceptable to say so... and NO ONE should feel it necessary to hassle anyone for this choice!

"What is an Invasion?"
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An Invasion is a term originally coined by Bronxelf to describe an organized ( least planned) group of six AFR folk attending a faire. Now Invasion pins (with a "dangly" for each faire invaded) to commemorate an Invasion can be ordered from Fellowship Foundry in quantities of 25 or more.

"What is a 'Wench Walk'?"
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A Wench Walk is a custom started on the east coast by members of the International Wenches Guild (IWG) and rapidly spreading to faires throughout the land. A Wench Walk involves a group of Wenches in loud lipstick, guarded by RenMercs (where available), Rogues or other trusted folks, singing "Roll Your Leg Over" and moving thru the shire as they seek out men on whom to bestow marks of their esteem. A true Wench Walk is subject to the rules/guidelines outlined in the "Little Brown Book" obtained with one's membership in the IWG.

"How do I become an Official Wench/Rogue/RenMerc/RenRat?"
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To find out about the International Wenches Guild, Local #69, visit and if you like what you find, sign up!

Rogue, RenMerc and RenRat info can be found at When it comes up, click on the "more" section at the bottom of the menu on the left side... when the second page of menu comes up, you'll see the "Guilds" section. Select the guild you want more info about.

"What's up with the god/goddess stuff?"
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Since there are perennial questions and concerns about the AFR Pantheon and what it means (and how to be a member), I present the story behind the creation of the phenomenon as told by the man responsible for its inception. In the beginning:

A bit of history... let's go back in time for a moment..... to February of this year [1998]... the NG was embroiled in a bitter Fan Club War... It had escalated to pie flinging and I was actually a participant (as well as supplier of Boston Creme pies). The major players were Michele/Columbina/Ptpgrad on the side of good with the sinister, conniving Dash Rippington attempting to marshal the forces of evil....

Because of this, there was a need to create a fan club Dash could not slither his way into as well as ensuring that the numbers were large enough in case the pie wars escalated... I was thinking along the lines of a Fan Club honoring a Woman (which would prevent Dash from entering unless he visited a Swedish doctor first) But I could not decide on which woman to be the object of such admiration.

An inspiration came to me (some might call it divine, but not me) to have it honor *several* women....and as I was reading a bit too much mythology at the time... the AFR goddesses were created; or at least the idea. (note-please notice when I spell "goddess" that it is with a lowercase "g" it was never intended to approximate a religion in any way shape or form). The number 12 was an arbitrary number to keep me from getting 30 e-mail messages a day for a new goddess of... or why this person should havebeen named instead of the person that was named... etc. etc. ad nauseam. (And even when I was done there was 14 because the Scottish goddess was split into three.) I had been reading the NG for several months at this point and even posting from time to time-a few serious threads and even more silly ones (I use this [AFR] as a place to relax and unwind). I kept seeing a few names over and over again... enough so that I began to notice the interests of some of the people from the threads they responded to... from there it was a matter of matching the names with the titles and taking the leap to post the original message (which I still have if anyone would like it e-mailed.)

It [the Pantheon] was fairly well received at first and as time went on it seemed I did manage to match the people and the titles with some success (and not to brag or anything but I think my best choice was naming Morghana queen of the goddesses). The whole thing was intended to be fun and to "honor" or at least recognize some of those people who made reading the NG enjoyable and informative.

From the inception I was willing to increase the numbers for those people who wanted to nominate someone else for a god/dess title... the appointment of Demi's and Priests and Priestesses were left to the discretion of the individual people; some took advantage--others did not

To those who think the Pantheon is elitist and exclusionary I would like to mention that when I posted the first message I could have still been considered a newbie and nobody flamed me or shouted me down. (I remember thinking about this for several days before I got the nerve to click on the "post" button.)

I would like to make a suggestion to anyone who wishes to "join" the Pantheon or acquire an AFR god/dess title... post a message expressing a desire to be named the god/-dess of whatever...then your peers/fellow NG readers will either shout you down (unlikely) suggest a different, more applicable title (possible) or simply confirm your title (most probable). The whole idea of honoring a person by bestowing a pantheon title would be diminished if everyone started appointing themselves.

AKA Mortimer Snipe IV, Ratcatcher

As this makes clear, the AFR pantheon is a running joke... not meant to offend or to be taken seriously. However, originally some titles *were* bestowed in recognition of certain areas of skill or knowledge. Most of these original pantheon members feel both flattered and obliged by the titles bestowed on them. These titles are taken seriously ONLY in the sense that those gifted with them try to help those who seek knowledge in that area. This is eloquently expressed in a post from James Echols:

I do take my title seriously. Oh, I certainly don't think I'm a real god or anything stupid like that, what I mean is that I take the sentiment behind it very seriously. It was bestowed on me without my asking, almost without my knowledge, specifically because I post helpfully in a subject I am, according to my bestowers, knowledgeable in. This is what I was told, not what I said. As I was given to understand, it was given to me in recognition for the assistance that I offered on the newsgroup. I still take that title seriously in that I try to uphold the reasons for which it was given. I try to help out with management questions when they come up. I try to post intelligently, doing research, if necessary. And, I try to keep up with all posts in my area of purported expertise.

I took the offer of a title as a compliment and try to live up to the confidence that the folks at the time placed in me. I do not think of it at all as some elitist privilege, but more as a compliment bestowed upon me by some folks who thought nice things about me. For me, what made the whole experience pleasant and meaningful was that some folks thought that I had some knowledge or skill in some area and decided to recognize it in a certain way. Had they not, I certainly would never have taken offense. I, personally, would never have declared it for myself.

Anyway, I shall continue to work to live up to my title as God of Management even if it all becomes some big pointless joke, and, should I ever fall down upon my duty, I would expect to lose my title to someone who does it better.

James Echols

To summarize:

Do you have an area of skill, knowledge, talent, humor or whatever that you would want to share with the otters on the NG? If so, then you can announce your wish for them to be recognized as <deity/demi-deity> of <whatever>. It can be silly or serious but shouldn't be offensive or obscene... and of course it wouldn't do to swipe someone else's designation. If you have got an interest in something that is already represented in the pantheon, it is possible to share (ie, The Scot Goddesses trio), 'serve' under (as in demi-deity or high priest(ess), or even acolyte of ?) or create a specialty (for instance, there is a god of knowledge... but there could be a god(dess) of research).


The Pantheon Picture page is now hosted by The Emerald Dragon

"How does one get a nifty title to put in one's sig file?"
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Titles & dubs can be self inflicted, bestowed by popular acclaim, "earned" from an existing deity by dint of some test (the Sarcasticlan dubs, for instance) or just because you want one. The usual netiquitte of the four line limit is suspended on AFR in favor of using one's sig file to express one's creativity, interests, personality(ies) and humor. Just remember that other ngs you may post to aren't always as relaxed about this practice, so you may want to change your sig before posting to other newsgroups!

"Where & what is the RenPurity Test?"
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A test aimed at rennies, supposedly rating one's level of "faire"ness, again meant to be amusing not offensive.

"What is the Ear/Neck Trick(tm)?"
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Ear Trick(tm)-A special gift performed by AFR's own goddess of love, Michele/Columbina on those whom *she* selects. Never having been privileged to receive this benediction, I can't begin to speculate... but there are pictures of its effects at:

Michele comments, "It is a special talent I have honed over the years and is not meant as a come on, as I do it mixed gender, but it can have a very pleasant reaction."

Neck Trick(tm)-Another special gift performed by our own ErictQSP, available in both the regular and the Full Poof version. About it I can say only "MMmmmmpurrrrr!" (and that was only the regular version). Gustav/Ted is training in the art of the Neck Trick... and rumor has it Eric is considering further franchises.

"What on earth is 'kittening?'"
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"Kittening" is laughing with a mouthful of drink... a real hazard while reading this newsgroup! found on the ng are:

<g,d&r k-a-f> = 'grinning, ducking and running kilt-a-flappin'; ROTFLTPMK = rolling on the floor laughing till I pee my kilt; and there are others evolving all the time... if in doubt, e-mail the poster and ask... but beware, the answer might cause kittening! More acronyms are translated at:

Glossary of Faire Acronyms or "What does RPFN mean?"
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There are *lots* of faires, and most have long names. To save typing, it has become customary to abbreviate or use nicknames. To further confuse you, some faires are known by two names... their "period" one and their modern one. In alphabetical order:

KRFKing Richard's Faire (Carver, MA)
MDRFMaryland Ren Faire [Note: Some folks use MRF, but this causes confusion as several "M" states have faires.]
MNRFMinnesota Ren Faire
NYRFNew York Renaissance Faire
ORFOhio Ren Faire
OntRFOntario Ren Faire (Milton Ontario Canada)
RECRenaissance Entertainment Corporation (Produces several faires across the US)
RPFNRenaissance Pleasure Faire Northern (in CA)
RPFSRenaissance Pleasure Faire Southern (in CA)
ROKRenaissance of Kings
SBRFSanta Barbara Renaissance Festival
SLOFaireCentral Coast Renaissance Festival (in CA)=Donnybrooke Faire
TRFTexas Ren Faire

(This is only a partial list... if you have one that you feel needs to be added... let me know!)

Graphic Goodies or "Is there an AFR logo?"
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Several designs have been conceived by the fertile imaginations of AFR folks but no single logo has been deemed "the" AFR symbol. Instead we have embraced them all, recognizing that no *one* image could hope to capture the array of individuals that form the AFR ng. To help share the bounty of the creative members of AFR, web sites featuring ren faire or ng-related graphics available for use on your own web page have been created. Check out these URL's!

Thanks to Shadow and Zeus for their time and efforts!


These images are public domain but it would be nice to drop a thank you note if you use one; either to the artist or the webmaster.

If your web page features some ren or AFR graphics you want to share, let me know and I'll add your site when I update the FAQ's.

"How do I find out what Ren Faires are in my area?"
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A fantastic resource can be found at SCRIBE. You can find faires in your area, where a particular faire is located, contact numbers for faire organizers and other useful information. (Although every effort to maintain and update this info is made, be *sure* to call and confirm before making your plans.) Another excellent resource is Mike Bonk's RenFaire Directorie.

"Is there more info about real life Ren Faires?"
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Ren Faire FAQ's are posted to AFR and ARF three times a month as well as being posted on SCRIBE at:

Compiled by

Lara the Lacemaker

Thanks to all those who made suggestions, and esp. Ann for her work in deja news!

"Where do I send comments, additional questions or suggestions regarding the AFR FAQ's?"
[Return To The List Of Questions]

Found an error? Something you need to tell me? Just Contact Me to let me know!

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