Amtgard is a live-action
fantasyroleplaying and boffer combat game primarily based in the United States as well as other countries (Germany, Croatia, Canada, Korea, and more). The organization has hundreds of active groups with over ten thousand members world-wide. [http://www.amtgardrecords.com/stats.php]
Amtgard was created by James H. Haren II, also known as Peter La Grue, in El Paso,
Texasin 1983[ [http://amtwiki.org/amtwiki/index.php/Peter_LaGrue Amtwiki Article] ] . Taking pieces from the rulebooks for both Emarthnguarth and Dagorhir(both of which he had played previously), he advertised in the newspaper for an event known as "Attila the Hun's Birthday Bash." Though only a few people showed that first day, it was a hit, and soon the game spread throughout the state and then the country. The largest concentrations of Amtgard chapters are in Texas and the Central United States, but groups are found throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Croatia, Japan, Finland, Germany, Korea, Russia, and Sweden[ [http://amtgardatlas.com/ Amtgard Atlas] ] .
Contrary to urban legend, Amtgard is neither a Scandinavian word for "the middle ground," nor an acronym for the founding members. Amtgard is named after two very good friends of Peter La Grue's from his Emarthnguarth days, Matthew and Katy Amt, who now participate in Roman Legion recreations on the east coast.
Amtgard has given birth to a few splinter groups, notably the
High Fantasy Society.
Several aspects of Amtgard have been influenced by the
Society for Creative Anachronism- in particular the Amtgard system of knighthood closely resembles the peeragesystem of the SCA.
Character creation in Amtgard is class-based; that is, players choose a "template" archetype with pre-established abilities, similar to systems used by
Dungeons and Dragonsand other tabletop roleplaying games. Players can increase the abilities of their characters by going up in level; a player's level is determined by the length of game time they have played that particular class and by the passing of a guild test given by the head of the guild their class belongs to.
The primary focus of the rules of the game is combat. The abilities of the classes are generally related to combat. Non-combat oriented talents and attributes are left up to the imagination and actual capabilities of the players and are not covered by specific rules.
Amtgard combat is resolved with actual physical fighting, though there are some rules in place to enhance safety. The weapons are
bofferweapons (with less emphasis on realism and more emphasis on safety) but a player's physical ability, rather than game-based attributes as with other LARPs, determines the outcome allowing for a more realistic experience. Despite this, injuries are quite rare due to the stringent attention paid to safety. Contact is limited between fighters and non-weapon tactics like grapplingor shield bashingare strictly prohibited. The basic combat rules are nearly identical to Dagorhir with a "limb loss" system. The main differences in the games are the inclusion of a magic system for some battle-games in Amtgard, and the evolution of the boffer sword. Amtgard fighting tends to be much faster and more technical than Dagorhir or its spinoffs. The universal round blade used widely in Amtgard has led the game more away from "fantasy scenario battles" and into a stick tag sport at its core. Tournaments and "ditching" (a form of combat where two teams face off and engage using only limb loss rules and no special abilities) have become popular.
One large difference between Amtgard and games such as NERO is that combat in Amtgard is hit-location based instead of hit-point based. A hit from a weapon does not decrease a "hit point" total, but instead disables the location struck. A blow to the arm or leg disables the limb and a blow to the torso kills the player. Any combination of 2 limb shots also kills the player. Two limb shots to the same arm is also considered a death, while multiple shots to the same leg have no effect after the first shot.
Amtgard also utilizes armor for a number of classes. Armor is handled more along the "hit-point" method, with each type of armor granting a specific number of "hit-points" to each hit-location covered. Regular weapon hits to covered locations remove a single point of armor, however, several classes, spells and creatures are able to remove additional points per blow. For example, a 6th level Warrior in full-plate mail might have 6 points of "protection" in the chest, but a magically enhanced sword might remove 2 or more points with each successful hit. Magical armor functions in much the same way, although certain kinds can grant a form of invulnerability, limiting all damage to a single point at a time. Armor can change the balance of a battle by allowing a single player to absorb as much damage as three or four regular players before "dying." Unlike weapons, realism is encouraged with armor in Amtgard, as non-period materials and shoddy construction can reduce the protection granted by the armor.
Magic, another important aspect of Amtgard, is handled primarily either by audible incantations or by thrown "spell balls", small, safely-padded, brightly colored projectiles. Although only a few classes are able to cast magic, the power of magic on the battlefield is significant enough to limit the number of spellcasters in relation to other non-spell casting classes in most battlegames.
Battlegames range from one-on-one tournaments to team battles of forty or fifty people to mass warfare with hundreds of players. The largest "grand melees" are held at the major annual events and can incorporate hundreds of members from chapters all over the world. Conversely, scripted "quests" can involve just a dozen or two participants, and may involve puzzles as well as combat.
[ [http://www.amtgardinc.com/bldocs/AmtgardRoPv7_2.pdf Amtgard Rulebook] ]
Unlike many other fantasy roleplaying games, Amtgard has no established "backstory" to its world. The setting encourages and incorporates elements of historical
Europeand Asiaas well as the high and low fantasygenres.
Amtgard has a cultural side as well, emphasizing various cultural fairs and competitions as well as various forms of creative expression.
Two important structures in Amtgard culture are the Fighting Company and the Household, both voluntary memberships. A Fighting Company is essentially a military structure, much like a "clan" in any multi-player video game, whereas a Household is devoted to some cultural or personal goals, such as the arts, benevolence, common interests, etc. Both generally place a high value on contributing to the club as a whole, and often have a specific mission statement.
A number of slang terms have evolved within the Amtgard community [ [http://amtwiki.org/amtwiki/index.php/AmtgardThings Amtgard Terms] ] , a few of the most common are as follows:
*Ditch Battle / Ditch - A melee only form of in-game combat where players line up in opposing sides and engage one another. No classes, no class abilities, no projectile weapons. Only melee weapons.
*Trench Battle / Trench - See Ditch Battle.
*Stick Jock - A player whose focus is mostly in fighter classes, often "ditching" and playing the game more as a sport.
*Ditch Monkey (Trench Monkey) - A player that primarily "ditches" (see Ditch Battle).
*Flurb - A player that more frequently Role-Plays, but generally lacks sport skill. Generally considered a derogatory term, but moreso if the person does it badly and uncreatively.
*Slougher (Sluffer) - A player that ignores the rules of combat, either knowingly or unintentionally. As in to "slough" a hit, as a reptile would slough (shed) its skin. In short - a cheater.
Awards and honors
Amtgard has a system of awards and honors based on past contributions and accomplishments [ [http://www.amtgardinc.com/bldocs/corpora2000.pdf Amtgard Corpora] ] . There are incremental awards for all sorts of arts and crafts, ranging from sewing to singing to armor smithing. By achieving 10 ranks of most awards one might also attain the
Masterhoodfor that award. As an example, someone who is very generous and works hard to benefit the province of Amtgard as a whole may gain Orders of the Rose. After attaining 10 Orders of the Rose, one is eligible to be given the title Master of the Rose (rules differ per kingdom). The ruling body of each sub-chapter can also create awards for specific actions or talents that aren't included in the standard selection. The inclusion of a standardized awards system that has encouraged and advanced the Arts and Sciences in Amtgard.
Amtgard's honor system includes not only awards but titles and ranks as well. Titles such as
Lord/ Lady, Duke/ Duchess, Marquis/ Marquise, and Viscount/ Viscountessare titles bestowed on members in recognition for work in the game or holding offices.
The most sought after title in Amtgard is that of
Knight. Knighthood in Amtgard is broken into four orders, each with different criteria with some minor variations from Kingdom to Kingdom. A Knight in Amtgard is entitled to wear a white belt (trimmed with the color of the knighthood), an unadorned chain (a symbol of fealty), spurs, and a phoenix (the symbol of Amtgard). A player that has been a Knight for 12 weeks may also play the class of Paladin or Anti-Paladin.
Knightis allowed to choose members to become their pupils. Should a mutual agreement be reached, the member becomes a Squireto the Knight. Squires follow their Knights and assist them to the fullest of their abilities, on the field and off, in exchange for their tutelage. Often a Squire will assist in making garbfor their Knight, as well as weapons or armor, and is usually seen assisting their Knight in combat, when they are together. A Squire is allowed to wear a red belt.
Knight of the Crown
*A Leadership order for performing well in club office.
*Belt trim is gold.
*Suggested criteria; hold three of the four high offices with distinction, or two terms as Monarch.
Knight of the Flame
*A service order for contributions to the group.
*Belt trim is red
*Suggested criterion is to attain Master Rose, Master Lion, or Master Smith.
Knight of the Serpent
*An achievement order for excellence in the arts and/or sciences.
*Belt trim is green
*Suggested criterion is to attain Master Dragon, Master Owl, or Master Garber.
Knight of the Sword
*A military order for fighting skills and battlefield prowess.
*Belt trim is silver
*Suggested criteria are to attain three of any of these four; Warlord (Masterhood for the Order of the Warrior), Defender (A title awarded for excellence in the position of Champion of a Kingdom), or winning a Weaponmaster or equivalent tournament.
*Apprentice to a Knight
Man at Arms
*Underling of a Lord, or other noble
*Underling of a Squire, Knight, Man at arms
A common theme of
medievaland fantasy feudalismruns through even the official level. Amtgard sub-chapters are generally organized by size, with smaller groups (called variously a " shire," " barony," " duchy," or " principality," depending on the number of active members and how long the group has been around) grouped under the larger or older chapters, called "kingdoms." Each sub-chapter is contractually bound to abide by the official Rules of Play (currently version 7.2) and is sponsored and supported by one of the Amtgard kingdoms. Each kingdom is a Not-For-Profit Organization registered in their state of origin.
The kingdoms, along with their primary locations, are [ [http://amtwiki.org/amtwiki/index.php/Kingdom Amtgard Kingdom List from Amtwiki] ] :
* The Kingdom of the Burning Lands,
El Paso, Texas
* The Kingdom of the Emerald Hills,
* The Celestial Kingdom,
* The Empire of the Iron Mountains,
* The Kingdom of the Golden Plains,
* The Kingdom of Dragonspine,
Las Cruces, New Mexico
* The Kingdom of the Wetlands,
Southeast Texas, Louisiana
* The Kingdom of Goldenvale,
Nashua, New Hampshire
* The Kingdom of Neverwinter,
Florida, Georgia, Tennessee
* The Kingdom of the Rising Winds,
* The Kingdom of the Black Spire
Washington, Oregon, Idaho
* The Kingdom of Crystal Groves,
* The Kingdom of Desert Winds,
Utah, Nevada, Wyoming
Belegarth Medieval Combat Society
Society for Creative Anachronism
* [http://www.amtgardinc.com AmtgardInc.com] Official website
* [http://amtgardinc.com/bldocs/AmtgardRoPv7_2.pdf Rules of Play] Official Rulebook
* [http://www.amtgardrecords.com/atlas Amtgard Atlas] Atlas of Amtgard Chapters
* [http://www.amtgardrecords.com The Online Record Keeper (ORK)] Online Amgard player records
* [http://www.electricsamurai.com/forums The E-Samurai] The largest Amtgard-specific forum
* [http://www.amtwiki.org/amtwiki/ AmtWiki] The Amtgard Wiki site
* [http://www.redhawkradio.net/ RedHawk Radio] Amtgard created and run radio station. Features weekly show about Amtgard called Radio Free Amtgard.
* [http://www.amtgard.ca Amtgard.ca] An Amtgard site concerned with the Canadian branch of Amtgard.Kingdoms of Amtgard
* [http://www.amtgard-eh.com Emerald Hills] Kingdom of the Emerald Hills website
* [http://www.amtgard-ck.org Celestian Kingdom] The Celestial Kingdom website
* [http://www.ironmountains.org Iron Mountains] Empire of the Iron Mountains website/forums
* [http://www.golden-plains.com Golden Plains] Kingdom of the Golden Plains website
* [http://www.therisingwinds.com/ Rising Winds] The Kingdom of the Rising Winds
* [http://www.amtgard-wl.com Wetlands] Kingdom of the Wetlands website
* [http://www.blackspire.org Blackspire] Kingdom of Blackspire website
* [http://www.goldenvale.org/ Goldenvale] Kingdom of Goldenvale website
* [http://www.amtgard-nw.com/ Neverwinter] Kingdom of Neverwinter website
Other noteworthy non-Kingdom Amtgard Chapters (Grand Duchy or Principality)
* [http://www.thedesertwinds.org/site Principality of Desert Winds] Principality of Desert Winds
* [http://www.stormhavenonline.org Grand Duchy of Stormhaven] Grand Duchy of Stormhaven in Washington
* [http://www.wolvenfang.ca Grand Duchy of Wolvenfang] in Sudbury Ontario, Canada
(the Amtgard Atlas and/or the AmtWiki sites contain more thorough chapter listings)
Copyright References for Amtgard.
* [http://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/formprocessor/copyright/locis.pl Amtgard Books of Combat and Magic (Rules of Play).]
* [http://www.loc.gov/cgi-bin/formprocessor/copyright/locis.pl List of Amtgard Copyrights.]
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