n. Slang for Demonstration.
Anytime and Amtgard group presents themselves to the public to display their wears, fighting and themselves as an effort to educate the public and aquire Newbies. One of the most successful yearly demos is the Dragon Con Demo.
Guide to hosting Demos
One of the best ways of attracting people to Amtgard is through the use of demos.Amtgard demos are demonstrations for mundania to see just what Amtgard is, to get a feelfor the game, and to perhaps draw interest. Through the years I have seen many demos. Some were very well organized while others seemed to fall flat. Often those that fell short of their mark did so because there was no one present with the proper knowledge of howto be a Master of Ceremonies. As a result someone would be elected and be left ad-libbing and improvising the entire demo. This has caused the need for this article. Belowis the simplest way to run a demo, and to, in the end, draw interest to Amtgard.Tobegin, someone must become the Master of Ceremonies for the demo. I have done the job of M.C. on many occasions, and I had to take notes from some old pros justso I could keep my head above the water.
Here is a very basic guideline to the sequence of events of a demo.
1. An introduction by the M.C.
2. a brief history of Amtgard 3. a description of what we do 4. a description of the rules of combat, with accompanying demonstrations 5. a full demonstration of combat 6. a description and demonstration of Amtgard magic 7. a combat demonstration with the use of magic 8. an outline of the arts and sciences of Amtgard, 9. finally, an invitation for participation in combat and for viewing of arts and science material.
Following this outline will get even the greenest of M.C.’s through the demo.The introduction to Amtgard should be short. In fact, all it should say is “hello, we are Amtgard (with group name optional)” and a sentence or so describing Amtgard. I have found the best for this is a variance on the one in the 5th edition rule book. It goes“Amtgard is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to the reenactment of themedieval/fantasy genres. Club interests are in a variety of areas, but most emphasis isplaced on Amtgard’s unique system of combat. Wedo not have a pay for play policy;anyone may join.” That is a decent introduction to get things started.
Some may find the next unnecessary, but I feel that a brief history of the club draws more attention. For people unfamiliar with the grand history of Amtgard, here is a short narrative that I use, Amtgard began about 15 years ago (1983) in El Paso, Texas. At first it was a handful of young people responding to an advertisement for “Attila theHun’s Birthday Bash.” These people met with a person named Peter LeGrue, who wanted to start a new medieval combat game. Soon after starting LeGrue left. This did not deter Amtgard. That handful of people decided that they liked the ideas that had been planted while starting the game, and Amtgard stayed. Now, ten kingdoms and six rulebook revisions later, Amtgard is flourishing.There are chapters across the nation, and even one in Finland. The largest of the Amtgard groups are the kingdoms. These are in such areas as El Paso; Dallas; San Antonio/Austin; Houston; and Amarillo, Texas; in Las Cruces, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Nashua, New Hampshire.
Next is a description of Amtgard. This, too, can be very short. It should tell the audience about the different things to do in Amtgard. On the combat level it should include a description of battlegames, of thedifferent classes to play, the types of weapons employed, and touch upon the general safety of the game.Regarding non-combat activities, telling about weapon making, garb making, heraldry, etc. seems to go overwell. Remember, though, that demonstrations of combat and of non-combat will be coming up, so leave alldescriptions brief. The filling in comes later.Appropriately, combat is the next area to emphasize. This can become a problem area when doingdemos. It is good to start out with a description of how hits are counted while somebody stands up and showswhat happens when an arm is hit, or when a leg is hit, and even when a killing blow is placed. Then next thingto try would be a one on one, tournament style, fight. This allows the audience to more clearly see how therules are applied. One note, though, it is often good to start with a single weapon so that most shots can beseen and nobody has to guess what hit where (especially if the M.C. decides to narrate the fight). Other stylesof combat can develop from here and can include sword and shield fights, florentine fights, and even teamfights. The problem I have found with demo combat is that the Amtgard participants take the combat tooseriously. This should not be the case. Demos are meant to put on a show. Because of this combatants shouldbe willing to roleplay, they should be looking to put on a show, and most importantly they should have reallygood death scenes. I have been to many demos where the fighters will square off, throw a couple of shots(while somebody manages to get hit), and then walk of the field. This doesn’t let the audience know what justhappened, and often it is an anti-climactic end to the fight. Anyone participating in a demo should be willing tothrow themselves to the ground and die like a man (or woman). Screaming, painful deaths go over very well.Roleplaying limb shots in similar ways also works. I seem to enjoy demos where the combatants start quoting“Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail” because it adds more to the spirit of Amtgard.After several rounds of combat it is time to introduce another area of Amtgard. Magic. Please notethat demonstrating Amtgard magic is not always appropriate and this part can be skipped. Cases where it isinappropriate are like grade school fairs that are teaching about the Middle Ages. In places like that magicdemonstrations should not be done. Anyway, The M.C. should make it known that Amtgard magic is in noway linked to the occult. Magic spells are simply words or phrases repeated to get a “pretend” effect. A goodexample is to use a Fireballspell. Explain that it is used by wizards (and maybe explain the garb requirements)and that it turns its victim to ashes if the padded red ball hits them. Hold the red ball up in your left hand anddramatically shout “Fireball, fireball, fireball, fireball, fireball” and throw it at a target person. That personshould have a fiery death. If you choose to do so, have a combat demonstration that employs magic. Perhapshave a wizard on one side and a fighter and healer on the other side. Ideally the fighter would charge thewizard, the wizard would kill the fighter (and spell usage is not important, Curseand Lightning Boltboth kill),the fighter would throw himself to the ground in death (even if he/she has to let a Sphere of Annihilationgetpast their defenses), the healer would step up andResurrectthe fighter, and the fighter would slay the wizard.Next on the list of things to show is the arts and sciences. There are many people on and off thebattlefield with extraordinary skills in the arts and sciences such as garbing, and so on. The arts consist of Page 19 19heraldry, oratory, singing, and things of that nature. It is best to have samples of these things to display to theaudience. Often, having banners, armor, weapons, artwork, histories, garb, and various accessories on dis-play help creates a much fuller image of Amtgard. The M.C. might want to describe the process (briefly) ofmaking weapons or garb. Also, among the display items should be a copy of the Amtgard rulebook. Peoplewill find that Amtgard is much more colorful if the arts and sciences are included, that is, more colorful than thefighting alone. Weare not barbarians (except some by class), why let mundania think we are? Sometimesshort dancing lessons are neat to have. I have experienced a few demos where a couple of the young ladies ofAmtgard proved their prowess this way, and everyone- mundane and Amtgard alike- had fun.Finally, the M.C. should invite the audience to participate in simple combat (meaning melee only, andperhaps even single weapon) and to freely enjoy the displays. Usually children will be the first to snatch up thechance to fight and parents will both watch and check out the banners, weapons, and other items brought.Amtgarders participating in the demo should be ready to answer questions if needed and should be willing tolose to the people trying the weapons out. The reason for this is that interested people can get a feel for theweapons that way, and gain a sense of accomplishment and pride. Amtgarders don’t always have to lose, butdeliberately killing themselves from time to time helps draw newbies.Another note on the roleplaying part of demos, it is always important to treat demos more like a stage(as in theater) rather than another day to prove yourself. An anecdote of this is one of the many demos I helpedwith at H.E. Charles Middle School in El Paso. The demo was at a fair for some sixth graders. Their teacherwas hosting this fair (and feasts) to teach her students more about medieval times. They even had a boy andgirl elected to be royalty. We needed to get our demo rolling, and nobody was taking charge yet, so Iconspired with two others to get something started. What happened was I went over to the Queen, whisperedto her that we were playing and that I was going to kidnap her. When I did that, my two co-conspirators wentto the King and announced what happened. They handed the King a sword and the three came after me.Facing them all of, I snarled some insults, and the two guard-elects of the King came after me while the boyplaying the King stood in the background sort of laughing and not knowing what to do. I killed off my co-conspirators and then challenged the King. Awkwardly he swung a few times, and then I impaled myself uponhis sword. The King had won and saved the Queen. That went over very well and our M.C. finally got up andstarted the demo.In many words I have tried to sum up a workable way to run a demo. This is far from complete but itgives everyone the needed guidelines to hosting a demo that is both positive and fun. Demos are the best waysto gaining new members of Amtgard. Without newbies Amtgard will surely die of old ag
Demo checklist (by Kane)
- Charismatic, and attractive volunteers who have nice garb and armor
- Flyers - bonus if you have cards, posters, and a promo video
Demos work well when you have a fighting area sectioned off with fighters fighitng at a slower than normal speed, and a informational table set up manned by hotties. These hotties should be armed with flyers and cards. It sounds cheeky, but it's true.
You should also have a reeve (not for the fighters, but to explain to the interested people) who is well spoken, has great garb, and can easily flow between the fighters and the table.
Here are some links to posters and flyers we use.
Once you have these, it's all up to you! You will need to tailor your demo to your audience. Got some guys who are acting like jocks - promote the fighting. Got some pale-skinned role-players - push the active role-play aspect. Got some parents - push the safe, supervised outdoor activity that kids love and parents approve of aspect...etc.
Don't try to force it on anyone. Don't be a nazi and feel you have to correct people when they connect to Amtgard in a weird way. Use it as an in to get them out and see for themselves. Like...
"Hey, this is like 300, wow! Hey Timmy, do you wanna play 300 and beat people with shields?!"
We know that this is not what we do, but man, is this an in if ever there was one.