How to Organize a Duty Roster
Date Written: August, 1986
Last Updated: Summer, 2016
Author: Eilis O'Boirne, Frederick of Holland
Revised: Alison von Markheim

Policy Level: Informational
Intended Audience: All heralds-in-charge
Abstract: How to draw up and execute a Duty Roster, with examples for various types of events. A herald needing a Duty Roster form may wish to print one from here: Duty Roster.

If you are the herald-in-charge at an event, or have been asked to organize the heraldic personnel for a Crown or Coronet event, one of the things you will have to do is draw up a duty roster and supervise its execution.

What is a Duty Roster?
A duty roster is a list of heraldic tasks, the times they need to be done, and the heralds assigned to them. Normally, it is set up as a piece of paper divided horizontally and vertically, with the heraldic tasks written in one direction and time periods (shifts) written in the other. The resultant blocks then have the names of the heralds assigned to the various duties written into them. That’s all there is to it -- in theory. Putting this theory into practice is what the rest of this article is all about.

If you are not herald-in-charge, you may want to check the limits of your responsibility with the person who is, to make sure that you are not scheduling on someone else’s bailiwick. Find out if you are handling all the scheduling, or if someone else is handling part of it. For instance, at Crown events, Greencloak Herald schedules duty and field heralds and Latimer Herald schedules heralds for the Consultation Table. These schedules must be coordinated (because they overlap) so that one individual is not scheduled to be in two places at once.

When do you need one?
Your first decision should be whether you need a formal duty roster at all. If an event is small, with an expected attendance of only thirty people, you certainly don’t need one. If it is a casual event, with not much in the way of organized activity and only pick-up fighting, you probably don’t need one. In fact, until an event reaches 100+ people and/or includes a formal Lists, you can probably get away with surveying the heraldic talent available and asking them to help out ad libitum. Most of the rest of this article assumes that you have decided that you need a duty roster.


Which tasks need heralds?
If you think that a roster will be needed, then before the event, figure out which types of tasks heralds will be needed for. All but the smallest events will need at least one duty herald. Events with a List or other fighting will need field heralds. If there will be a Consultation Table, heralds will be needed to man it. You will need a herald on duty on each field of a Lists. Unless the event is very small and the field herald(s) can also handle announcements, you should have a duty herald available most of the time. If there is Royalty present, or your Baron/ess, They may want to hold a Court.

At a local event, the herald-in-charge will consult with the Royalty and make assignment unless there is a Kingdom herald present to handle it. Note that the Royalty sometimes has strong preferences about Court heralds. The Court herald assignments should be cleared with the Royalty before the assignments are announced.

Estimating the number of heralds needed.
Divide the day into a rough number of shifts. Take into account the starting and ending times of the “official” schedule and the expected length of the Lists, and remember that duty heralds will definitely be needed before official business gets underway, and may be needed after official business is over. Bear in mind the fact that most heralds can work the field for about an hour at a time and duty for about two hours, but can work longer at the Table because they are sitting down, and usually in the shade, and not pushing their voices. In general, this means that, if you are scheduling from 10 AM to 6 PM, you will have four to six duty shifts -- more if the weather is very hot or cold. Field heralds will not be needed until the Lists begin, and the number will be regulated somewhat by the size of the Lists. Remember that you can have more “work slots” than you have heralds, since most heralds can fill more than one slot if they are allowed breaks. Use your common sense and make a preliminary estimate of how many heralds will be needed for the event. This may range from one (for a small local revel, and you won't need a duty roster) to as many as fifty. (That is the number that worked at a recent Crown Tourney -- although we could have coped with 25 workaholics in good physical condition.)

Arranging for a Consultation Table.
At most local events, there will not be a formal Consultation Table. An exception might be if there are a lot of new people in the area, and the Table is one of the features of the event. In that case, write or call the Kingdom or Principality Office at least two weeks in advance and request a Consultation Table. If you request the Kingdom Table, some personnel will be provided along with the research materials.

If you do not have several tabards and staves on hand, call the other heralds in your area, or the Kingdom or Principality Office, to see if spares can be brought.

Prepare sign-up sheets in advance -- a model of the sheet used at Kingdom events follows this article. Use columns only for the types of heraldry you are asking people to volunteer for. (At a Principality event, the Principality Herald will make the Court assignments, and at a local event, the herald-in-charge will consult with the Royalty and make the assignment. The Court herald assignments should be cleared with the Royalty before the assignments are announced.)

Make sure you pack a clipboard, some paper, extra pens, and copies of the Litany if it is a fighting event. (The Litany is the invocation used by the herald to begin each combat. A copy can be found in Section III.3 of this Handbook.)


When you arrive at the event, check with the Mistress of the Lists to get some idea of what fighting is expected when, how many fields will be run for how many rounds, and an estimate of the number of fighters expected to sign up. Check with the Royalty and the autocrat to find out what other activities are planned. This should give you a better idea of how many duty and field heralds you will need at what times.

Announcing a Heralds’ Meeting.
If you are herald-in-charge, call a heralds’ meeting as early as is reasonable, asking all heralds present to report to some easily-identifiable point. (This will usually be “ASAP” at a one-day event, and at about 9AM Saturday at an overnight event with Friday set-up). If you are not herald-in-charge, check with him to make sure that a meeting has been called. (If it is a small event, especially if everyone is still setting up, you might dispense with a meeting and simply corner the heralds individually and ask them to sign up for work.)

The Heralds’ Meeting.
When the heralds arrive at the meeting, ask them to sign in while you give them some idea of the activities of the day. Look over the sign-in sheet and ask anyone with whom you are not familiar to stay and talk to you. This will help you get an idea of their capabilities. Give anyone who needs training in field work a copy of the Litany at this time, so that they can become familiar with it.

At the heralds’ meeting, especially at large and extra-large events, you should give the potential duty heralds information on the size and shape of the camping area, emphasizing the “hidden” sections and local conditions (like wind) that will affect their audibility. It is a nice touch to make sure that duty heralds have watches and announce the time when on their rounds -- especially if any of the announcements are time-dependent. (“Court will be at ten” is easier for the populace to cope with if they are also told “It is now 9:15”.)

At extra-large events, like Interkingdom Wars or very large Crown Events, you may wish to establish “routes” for the duty heralds. If the camping area is not predefined, you will have to do a rough map before setting out your “routes”. Then send the heralds around at set intervals (called “shouts”). If you choose to do this, announce the intervals to the populace each morning and state that announcements must be brought to the heralds’ point about one-half hour before the “shout”. This will give you time to copy the announcements out for each route. All announcements should be made on all routes.

Once the meeting is over, ask that everyone return in about a half-hour to check their assignments, and remind them that, if they are not assigned at this time, they should check back every hour or so to make sure that the schedule has not had to be rearranged. If there is a morning Court, you will want to ask one herald to act as duty herald until Court. Then hurry, since you have only about thirty minutes to get that duty roster done. (If you are also doing Court, you will need a deputy to collect Court business.)


The process of drawing up the duty roster is fairly simple. First, figure out what blocks of time each shift will work. If there is a Lists, it is usually better to draw up the roster by rounds, instead of by the clock. This is because lots of people are aware of what round it is -- the herald keeps telling them -- but most people at events do not wear watches. Make up a chart with as many field and duty columns as you need (based on your planning and the observed size of the event), and fill in the names. Note that you can have more slots on the duty roster than you have heralds, since some heralds can be “recycled” and handle more than one shift. A duty roster for an event can range from invisible (for a local event with little or no fighting, the heralds present can simply agree to spell each other in making the necessary announcements) to fairly elaborate (for a Crown List with six field heralds, two duty heralds, a Throne Herald if the Crown requests one, and five people working at the Table, plus trainees on each).

Organizing your resources.
Although it is not always necessary to put the duty roster on paper, doing so helps you to organize your resources, and helps your resources organize their time. However, it is only possible to draw up a rational duty roster when you are familiar with the capabilities and foibles of the heralds who sign up. If you are acting as a “personnel manager”, the only way to manage the personnel is to know what you have to work with. A corollary to this is that you should not necessarily accept anyone’s capabilities on their word alone, since some people have a tendency to overrate (or, rarely, underrate) their own competence. Try to test them out in some manner, or ask someone else who may be familiar with their work. Senior heralds are usually a good bet for this sort of information, as are the branch and other local heralds. If you do not have time to do so, make sure that they either work with someone you know is experienced for their first assignment, or that you can closely monitor them when they first work.

Matching your “resources” to your needs can sometimes be a problem. If you find that you do not have enough heralds signed up to take care of the work that needs to be done, ask the duty herald to make another call for heraldic volunteers. In that announcement, stress the fact that training is available. Also keep your eyes open for heralds who have arrived late and not signed in, and for “retired” heralds and “vacationing” heralds who were not planning to work at this event, but might be willing to serve in an emergency. If you are handling the scheduling for an event which will use relatively few heralds and you have many volunteers, what you do will be determined by the type of event. If it is a small local tourney, use the local people and the new volunteers, and give the people who work at most events a day off. (If you have enough new volunteers, you might ask any senior staff present to hold a class or training session. To them, this counts as a vacation!) However, if what you are dealing with is a high formal banquet, with Royalty present and a lot of ceremony and protocol, use the best and most senior heralds you have available, even for a local event.

If you have trainees, make sure that they are paired with experienced heralds, at least for the first shift they are working. Remember that, although almost everyone is capable of doing some form of voice heraldry, not everyone is capable of doing all forms of voice heraldry. Nor is everyone equally capable. Use your strong voices in the early rounds, which are longer. If the List is an important one, make sure that you have assigned a “good” voice for the finals. Also note that, in this Kingdom, doing the finals is regarded as a “reward”, and this “reward” should be given to someone with a good voice and who has earned it by doing lots of other work over a period of time. Make sure that those with small voices are assigned to duty instead of field work, and are reminded that they should repeat announcements as often as necessary. Tell them to check with someone they think is near the “edge” of their range as to whether the announcement was heard. And try to “save” a reliable voice to cover if someone gives out. Remember that your job is not to massage the herald’s egos, but to provide the best possible heraldic service to those attending the event. (A little massage does work wonders sometimes, and you should also try not to bruise egos unnecessarily.) Do not feel that you have to let a herald who turns out to be inaudible work out a full round or shift. Transfer him to a duty slot, and send a bigger voice onto the field.

Recheck your list to make sure that no one is scheduled to work continuously for a long period, or to be in two places at once. If you are also scheduling for the Consultation Table, do this at the same time. If someone else is scheduling the Table, make sure that you work together to draw up your respective rosters. At any event with a significant need for voice heraldry (such as Crown or Coronet Tournaments), the person scheduling voice heralds has first dibs at the sign-up sheet. For the Table, make sure that you schedule someone with a good sense of design, as well as some researchers and a sprinkling of trainees. In general, people can work longer stretches at the Table than at voice work. However, make sure that they are willing to do so. If you have sufficient heralds, do not schedule yourself for duty or field work. This will leave you free to handle emergencies and to fill in as needed. It is a part of the job of the herald-in-charge to “supervise” any other scheduling heralds, to make sure that the duty rosters are done on time and that resources are being used effectively.

Communicating assignments.
Post a copy of the duty roster. If you are not going to be stationed near it, keep a copy of it, and the sign-up sheet with you. You will need them to handle the rest of your job. If you do not see people checking the roster, have an announcement made that it is posted and available.


Running the duty roster.
Don’t assume that the schedule is “finished” once it's drawn up. Events can take on a life of their own, and plans can change. Royalty change Their plans often, and if Court is shoved back an hour, you will need to reschedule the duty heralds. Don’t let this sort of change get by you, or you may wind up with the same herald on duty for four hours as Court creeps back by half-hour increments. (In fact, you can set up your schedule with the assumption that Court will be a half-hour late -- it usually is.)

As the day progresses, keep an ear out for strained voices, and for signs of fatigue or heat (or cold) stress. If any of these occur, consult your sign-up sheet and duty roster and send in a replacement -- preferably one who hasn't just done four rounds. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the duty heralds, and to make sure that their relief shows up on time. If a herald is scheduled to work and does not show up, send a runner to find him and remind him of the time. If he cannot be found, replace him as soon as possible. Ask the heralds who worked early in the day how they are feeling, and work them back into the schedule as potential replacements if they are up to it. Be aware of the people who constantly push their limits, and try to keep them from overreaching.

When the day is over, you get to relax -- a bit. If there is an evening Court -- and it isn’t rushed -- ask that the heralds be thanked for their work. And remember that if the event extends through the evening, a duty herald will be needed until dark, and that you may be asked to handle an emergency even after that. Don’t get too relaxed.

Overnight events.
If the event is longer than one day, call a heralds’ meeting each morning. Someone with a strong voice may have acquired laryngitis, or may have to leave the site early. Don’t make any assumptions. Recheck the activities with the Royalty and autocrat -- everything they told you yesterday is probably different today. You should have a second sign-up sheet prepared for big overnights, so that you won’t be trying to schedule from outdated information.


Let’s use as an example a Baronial Championship, with 14 fighters competing, an opening Court, a closing Court, and a revel. The lists will be double elimination, and there will be two fields run for the first two rounds. There are several competitions scheduled, but there will not be a Consultation Table. Gather the heralds at your sunshade and find out who is present. Then schedule a duty herald to work until Court. If you aren’t doing the Court yourself, clear the Court herald with Their Excellencies and any other Royalty present, then ask the duty herald to notify him. Then draw up the Roster. You will need two field heralds and a duty herald for the first two rounds, and one field herald and a duty herald for the remaining rounds. (14 fighters means a List of about 6 rounds for a double elimination, and the later rounds are short.) You will need one or two duty heralds, one at a time, from the time the lists close to the beginning of Court, and may need a field herald if the fighters are going to play at challenges and melees. You will also need a herald for Court and a couple of volunteers who are willing to be on duty at the revel, in case their services are needed. Make up a chart with the requisite number of boxes, then fill up the boxes with the names off the sign-up sheet. You have just drawn up a duty roster.

For another example, take a one-day, indoor, Principality Investiture. Court, Court, Court -- right? Wrong! In addition to Court assignments, a duty herald will be needed before Court, and between Courts if there is a break of more than thirty minutes. A duty herald will also be needed after Court, to deal with the announcements of contests, dancing, and other activities. And if a Consultation Table is planned, scheduling has to be done for it. However, this is often the sort of event that can be scheduled on the fly, without a written-down roster, since there is usually only one herald on duty at a time, and there are often lots of experienced heralds present. Talk to the people you are asking to work, to find out what is convenient for them, and do keep on top of the situation, but you needn’t be overly formal about organization.

In fact, the only events at which the duty roster normally emerges in its full-blown, massive, form are Crown and Coronet Tournies (and, in a slimmer version, at Coronations). If you would like to help with the scheduling at one of these events, speak to Lord Greencloak, Lady Latimer, or your Principality Herald, and ask for training in drawing up a duty roster.


After the event, you can use the duty roster and sign-up sheets if you find that you would like to send a written report on the event to your Principality Herald or the Kingdom Office. Note that such reports are NOT generally required. However, if you ran into a problem of some sort, or came up with an ingenious solution to a recurrent problem, or would like to mention someone as having done especially good (or bad) work, putting things in writing is not a bad idea. You can also use the sign-up sheets as a spur to your memory when writing letters of recommendation to your Baron, Prince, or King.