Every barony needs a herald; a “set of officers acceptable to the Crown” is one of the requirements for creating a barony as laid out in Corpora, and there have been cases in Lochac’s history of baronies being threatened with suspension (no events, no awards, no authorisation to spend money on anything) because they didn’t have certain officers, including a herald.
Corpora also says every shire, canton and college should also have either a herald, an A&S minister or a marshal, though of course heralds are better than any other officer as everyone knows. (That last bit might not strictly be in Corpora; not telling!)
So yes, your group needs a herald. So what if your current herald has decided to step down, or has reached the end of their term and hasn’t managed to convince the Powers That Be to extend them?
According to the rules, the first job is to advertise the position. For a reasonable period of time, ideally a couple of months, the seneschal needs to make it known that applications will be accepted for the role of group herald. During that time, applicants can send their expressions of interest to the seneschal, who can forward them for consideration to Crux Australis Principal Herald. Alternatively, the applicant can just CC the boss herald directly.
After suitable time has past and some applications are in, it’s up to Crux to decide who to appoint. This decision doesn’t happen in a vacuum: the seneschal has the most contact with the officers, so it’ll be the seneschal who really decides, but the decision is always made in consultation with Crux, because officially it’s Crux’s job to appoint all heralds. That all sounds very wishy-washy, but in practice it’s usually a case of “Hey Crux, do you know this herald?” “Nope, not a clue sorry.” “OK, she’s pretty good, I reckon she’d do OK.” “Well, I like her application, seems very enthusiastic, let’s give her a go.” And thus are important matters of state decided.
Now it’s time for commentary. The seneschal announces the appointment of the herald, pending comment. For at least two weeks, people can comment on the appointment and say what they think, in private, to the seneschal or, less commonly, to Crux. Presuming there are no objections, and rest assured there hardly ever are, the seneschal will then make the appointment official, usually in court at a local event in the case of baronies and their subgroups, or by an announcement at the event in the case of shires.
Now the fun begins!
The newly appointed herald has a few obligations. They’re not hard, and this checklist lays them out. If you are appointed, or likely to be, you can get a head start on the job right here.
Sign up for Blazons. Blazons is the mailing list of the College of Heralds. Volume is very low, usually only a couple of posts a week, but it’s how Crux and the Crux deputies keep in touch with the whole College, so it’s not to be avoided. This is a requirement of the office: if you’re not subscribed to Blazons, you may be removed from office with no other cause. Subscribe to Blazons here.
Sign up for OSCAR. OSCAR is the Online System for Commentary And Response. It’s how heralds discuss, and keep track of, the name and armory submissions of the College. If you don’t have an OSCAR account, you can’t do much of a good job as a consulting book herald, because you won’t know what’s going on and you won’t be able to answer questions that other heralds ask about your clients’ submissions. Sign up for OSCAR here.
OPTIONAL: join the Lochac Heraldry Chat group on Facebook. LHC is a high-quality, popular group with a lot of benefit for its users and the College as a whole. If you use Facebook regularly, it’s worth joining. However, this is optional. If you don’t want to be involved, you don’t have to; a lot of people still aren’t, for a variety of reasons. Don’t feel pressured, but do feel welcome. Existing Facebook users can find Lochac Heraldry Chat here. If you sign up and are still not accepted after six hours, email Crux to ask to be admitted.
You need now to begin doing your job as herald. What does that involve? Talk to other heralds — this is where Blazons and LHC are useful — and learn from them. The College values enthusiasm more than experience. We also have a much better track record with heralds who don’t mind asking for help, rather than old farts who think they know everything and don’t know how to listen.
Every three months, you need to write a report. This isn’t difficult! For a start, here’s a template that lays out exactly what to write. This gives your superiors all the information they need, and is much easier than making stuff up from scratch. If you keep the template in mind during the quarter and take the occasional notes, you’ll find reporting dead easy. As for the timing, here’s the schedule. Look for the word “Officers”: baronies and shires in dark blue, cantons and colleges and incipient groups in maroon. Every three months on the 15th of the month, that’s your deadline. Send your report to your group’s seneschal and your immediate superior as herald, which means your baronial or shire herald if you’re in a college or canton, or Crux Australis if you’re in a shire or barony. Bear in mind that they have a reporting deadline too, so if you’re late, try not to be too late. And remember: heralds can be removed for failure to report, though it’s a long time since that’s happened.
And that’s it! It’s not a hard job, and there’s a lot of support. Join in, do your best, and you’ll do wonders.