It's that game, you know, with the sticks, and the hitting. And supposedly something about a Dream. Hey, someone should write an article on the Dream! Where the heck did that come from, anyway? I bet Roger knows.
Fantasy and Combat LARP with chapters in the US, Canada, Croatia, England and Japan.
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, and Russia.
History of the rules
Peter Le Grue, also calling himself 'Sir Peter' charged the group a dollar for rule books originally. In the 2.0 Rules the first weapon making instructions are found. As well as information that we would expect to find in our corpora today. For instance. If you became prime minister of Burning Lands and you were not yet a knight, you became one when you stepped down. A Squire was listed under the classes, 'A Squire is a warrior in training under a Paladin Knight or Warrior with fifteen or more battle games of experience.' Healers were not allowed to heal themselves.
Character creation in Amtgard is class-based; that is, players pick an archetype with pre-established abilities, similar to systems used by Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop roleplaying games. For instance, one player might play an Assassin, and another, a Warrior. 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. Advancement in a class is not tied to a specific character. Players may play different classes at different times, and levels have no relation to in-character deaths.
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 often left up to the imagination and actual capabilities of the players or rules specified in a scenario.
Amtgard combat is resolved with actual physical fighting, though there are some rules in place to enhance safety. The weapons are boffer weapons (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. Injuries are quite rare due to the stringent attention paid to safety. Contact is limited between fighters and non-weapon tactics like grappling or shield bashing are strictly prohibited. The basic combat rules are nearly identical to Dagorhir with a "limb loss" system based on hit location, in contrast to games such as NERO that are 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's character. Any combination of 2 limb shots also kills the player's character. 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 fighting tends to be fast and precise, focusing more on accuracy than on power.
Like many boffer LARPs, and unlike Dagorhir, Amtgard uses magic spells. Magic is handled primarily either by audible incantations or by thrown "spell balls", small, safely-padded, brightly coloured projectiles. Although only a few classes are able to cast magic.
Amtgard also utilizes armor for a number of classes. Armour grants a specific number of points to each hit-location covered that will negate some hits, similarly to a hit points system. Regular weapon hits to covered locations remove a single point of armour, 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 armour in the torso area, but a Barbarian with an armor breaking weapon, will destroy it in just four successful hits. Magical armor functions in much the same way. As armour in Amtgard is not physically functional, realism and aesthetics are encouraged with armour in Amtgard, in order to enhance atmosphere and balance the substantial benefits offered by armour. Non-period, modern-looking materials and shoddy construction can reduce the protection granted by the armor.
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. The ditch battle, or trench battle, is a simple form battle that involves weapon use only, not full class play.
Unlike many other fantasy roleplaying games, Amtgard has no established "backstory" to its world. The setting encourages and incorporates elements of historical Europe and Asia as well as the high and low fantasy genres.
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.
Awards and Honors
Amtgard has a system of awards and honours based on past contributions and accomplishments.
There are incremental awards for all sorts of arts and crafts, ranging from sewing to singing to armour smithing. By achieving 10 ranks of most awards one might also attain the Masterhood for 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. The ruling body of each sub-chapter can also create awards for specific actions or talents that aren't included in the standard set. 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/Viscountess are 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: Sword, Serpent, Crown and Rose, each with different criteria with some minor variations from Kingdom to Kingdom. A player that has been a Knight for 12 weeks may also play the class of Paladin or Anti-Paladin.
A Knight is allowed to choose members to become their pupils. Should a mutual agreement be reached, the member becomes a Squire to 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 garb for their Knight, as well as weapons or armour, and is usually seen assisting their Knight in combat, when they are together.
A common theme of medieval and fantasy feudalism runs 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 8.0) 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.
There have been 20 kingdoms to date in the history of Amtgard below are those that remain active in the order they were founded.
- Burning Lands, the original, in El Paso, TX
- Emerald Hills centered around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area of TX
- Celestial Kingdom in central Texas including San Antonio and Austin
- Golden Plains in west Texas and eastern New Mexico
- Iron Mountains in Denver, Colorado
- Goldenvale in Nashua, NH
- Dragonspine in Las Cruces, NM
- Wetlands in eastern Texas including Houston
- Neverwinter in Florida and southern Georgia
- Blackspire in Oregon, Washington State, and parts of Idaho
- Rising Winds in the midwest around Indianapolis, IN
- Crystal Groves in Hagerstown , MD
- Desert Winds in Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming
- Tal Dagore centered in St. Louis, Missouri.
- Northern Lights in Western Washington.
- Westmarch in California.
- Rivermoor in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Manitoba.
- Valley of the Silver Rains(Kingdom Status 1995)(defunct 2005)
- Mystic Seas(Kingdom Status 1993)(defunct 2005)
- Baraduin (Kingdom status) 1990
History of the Game
On February 12th, 1983 the science fiction club of the local high school responded to an ad placed in their El Paso Newspaper by Peter Le Grue for an event called Attillia The Hun's Birthday Bash. Nashomi's First Three Years page credits the event with 40 people being there, however, Tawnee Darkfalcon was quoted in an interview with House Lionesse as saying "Joella Starwatcher (Mandy Burgin), Ward Truestory (Monica Livingston), and Tawnee Darkfalcon (Michele Ellington) were born in a small strip park in East El Paso. Peter Le Grue (James Harren) was the only other person there, although that first day of Amtgard has become rather like Woodstock."
However, it was from this small day of swinging a short sword and a small axe with a mostly photocopied Dagorhir rulebook, that Amtgard was born. Nashomi lists the first Qualifications as having been on March 23rd of that same year. Tawnee was the first Queen by right of arms and Joella was the first champion by virtue of having placed second in the tourney. The first five monarchs all earned their crowns by right of arms the club voted September 12, 1987, 34 to 23 for election rather than trial by combat to choose the next monarch.