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Better the Devil You Know
[01/30/2002] [Randall]

There’s a problem going on in Amtgard, and it’s the problem of conflicting agendas. On the one hand, we have the Burning Lands, who wants all knights to be made by kings. On the other hand, we have the Wetlands, who likes letting the knights circle give out belts. This conflict – populism vs. meritocracy, Fire vs. Water, whatever you want to call it – is a conflict of conflicting agendas. The folks in El Paso like things the way they are, and the folks in Houston don’t like being bullied.

First, a bit of history. The Wetlands has been letting their Circle of Knights bestow belts for over six years. The Burning Lands disapproved of letting a closed circle knight people, and so they presented the Wetlands with an ultimatum – change your Corpora, or face the consequences. Comments flew back and forward for half a year, Aramithris said some REALLY crazy things, and people argued themselves into corners. The Burning Lands backed off their initial demands and now insist that the Wetlands king be able to veto his knights circle. The Wetlands monarchy, for their part, have followed the decisions of their Althings and refused the various compromises. The other kingdoms, while they disapprove of the Wetlands method of knighting, generally oppose expelling the Wetlands.

These conflicting forces are about to collide.

Personally, I believe the Burning Lands argument has little to do with the way the Wetlands does things. It’s about how MUCH the Wetlands does things. You see, the Burning Lands hates to see people in other lands get knighted, since it makes their own belts less prestigious. Their kingdom is a small one, in a backwater part of Amtgard, and they fail to truly grasp that a larger Amtgard will mean more knights. If the Wetlands circle had just knighted one guy, it would’ve been all right – it’s eight at once that got the Burning Lands burning. The various arguments coming out of the Burning Lands Board of Directors (and by that, I mean its President, Aramithris) are therefore worthless, since they don’t address the issue of quantity at all. They go on about democracy and freedom, but badmouth the Wetlands Althing as a farce (while praising their own tiny elections.) They go on about letting the kings have a say, but mock the rest of Amtgard’s kings as worthless tools. It’s a whole ton of hypocrisy… but that’s not what this article is about.

Oh, I can't help it. Here's a quote.


Tee hee. Anyway.

The essential problem is this – the Burning Lands says there are some things that you can change in your Corpora, and there are some things that you can’t. Since it was only recently that this policy was clarified (if any BLBOD policy can be called “clear”), there’s been some hiccups in implementing it. The kingdoms are curious… what is allowed? King Raphael said that knighting should be inviolate at Clan XIX’s monarch’s meeting, but this was nothing more than a horribly misunderstood good-faith agreement. So what can’t we change? What line can we not cross?

The Burning Lands needs to answer that question, and fast. A set of core rules needs to be set down, listing all the various things that make a group part of Amtgard. These rules would be unchangeable, but anything else would be up for grabs. The Burning Lands must then give the other kingdoms a reason to care about the core rules. They need to give all the kingdoms who agree to abide by the core rules a seat on the Amtgard Board of Directors.

This means that we’d know, clear as day, what was changeable and what was not. The Burning Lands could set down a rule indicating that a land’s monarch must have a final say on new belts, and we’d have to obey if we wanted a say on the Amtgard Board of Directors. This would also take the burden of solving this crisis off the Burning Lands and place it back in the Wetlands court – if they want a say, they fix their system. Otherwise, they get no seat and no voice.

We’d all have a common set of rules that we'd know would not be different as we traveled from kingdom to kingdom, but the rest could be customized as necessary. Instead of vague “gentleman’s agreements” or incoherent commentary from the BLBOD, we’d have an international body that governed with the consent of the people. Make it require a nearly unanimous vote to change the core rules, and you have a consistent club – which is exactly what the BLBOD wants.

Create an Amtgard BOD separate and distinct from the BLBOD. Give every kingdom who agrees to a set of core rules a seat on it. Give the Burning Lands representative a veto… but just for the next five years. After that, the core rules can be changed by a supermajority.

The reason the Burning Lands needs to do this is for the sake of Amtgard’s future. Sure, the BLBOD might be able to ignore the masses now, while there are eleven kingdoms. But what about when there are fifteen, or twenty, or twenty-five? The Burning Lands has a chance, right now, to define Amtgard’s future. They have a chance to create an Amtgard BOD on their own terms. This chance is rapidly fading, and they should seize the moment… because if the Burning Lands does not give a voice to the people, someone else will.

And I’m afraid of who that might be.

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