The most important aspect of heraldry in the SCA is the persona which is attached to it. We take on personas which reflect a certain moment of time between 500 to 1600 AD. Personas are mostly to make your effort in the SCA localized to a specific time and place, since a man from 715AD wouldn’t be wearing something from 1420AD. Ultimately, the persona is saying which time period and people/race in history you are most interested in. Choose something you really want to be.
Personas also take on a charge, which is a device similar to a coat of arms. Because all members of the SCA start off with minor-nobility status, your persona and charge function on the premise that you have the ability to attain greater nobility status through deeds done at events within your region. Historically in the medieval era, not many nobles could read so your charge is another representation of who you are. Charges can be placed on shields, helmets, and tabards, but can also be placed on items such as horse blankets, and your tankard (if you really don’t want it stolen).
During their first year participating in the SCA most people don’t have a set time-period or charge (a name for your persona is greatly dependent on time-period and region), so it is okay if you are still undecided and have been participating for a while.
For more detailed information regarding heraldry, I advise you visit the SCA’s main heraldry page, which will start you off with proper understanding of the terminology associated with the process. http://heraldry.sca.org/primer/index.html.
These are some links that are pertinent to getting fully-coated (haha) in your heraldic needs.
Gen UKI (United Kingdom and Ireland Genealogy) – This website helps those in need of a research concerning Northern regions of Europe. It is very linky, so be prepared to read a lot to find what you’re looking for. But otherwise it is some very good reading material.
Society Name Hints (for Newcromers) – Information From Dietmar von Straubing and Malachias von Morgenstern.
Old Norse Forms of Early Irish Names – A considerable and referenced resource for Early Irish Names in Norse Form.
Medieval Names Archive – An even further, in-depth archive of a variety of European Names. Excellent research for those that have a name, but need to know if it is from the right origin.