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Different Visions: An Essay on the Future of Amtgard
[02/17/2002] [Michael]

Near the beginning of my Amtgard career, before I was ever a king or a knight; when I was young and didn't know much; someone gave me an excellent piece of advice. I wish I could remember who it was. It might have been Theo who was the only member of the fledgling Celestial Kingdom with previous Amtgard experience and our only knight. It might have been one of my friends from college who made the core of Amtgard in San Antonio. It might have been Rift or one of the people I met in the proto-Iron Mountains. It might have been an old Barad Duiner like Connor or Aginar. It might even have been Andralaine who put the crown on my head as the first king of Amtgard’s third kingdom. I really can’t remember. The advice was this: "Amtgard thrives on different people's visions". Of course, the same statement now would use the word 'Dream' but back then 'Dream' was not the catch phrase for the Amtgard experience.

This advice is a true now as it was then. It applies to many things in the Wetlands/BOD debate. No one person or small group of Amtgarders should be in charge too long. It makes for stagnation and stifles the visions (dreams) of others even if they are cooler than those of the person in power. This is why our corpora (all of them) forbid the same person from always being king. It is also why a role is provided for the king in making knights; otherwise the Circle of Knights may become a star chamber where only the views of the dominant majority are represented. It obviously applies to the idea of the BLBOD running things for year after year, especially when that body seldom changes membership. It means that we should always seek a system where different folks can have their input and lend their energy at different times. It means that Aramithris trying to protect traditional Amtgard value is important to our game as are the Wetlanders seeking to make bold improvements.

At this moment, Amtgard is in some danger and is approaching a cross roads. If we truly 'thrive on different people's visions' we need the Wetlanders and the Burning Landers both to keep us strong. We need the radicals and the traditionalists both to reach their full potential. Never mind that I personally like and respect people from both groups, but we need their energy. For me there really is a value in being able to take a foam swords vacation almost anywhere in America and having a park to play in. I suspect this is true for all of us. There is also a real benefit to being able to go to Clan and have hundreds of people I know transform from the virtual persona they have on e-mail into real, three-dimensional people. Without discussing whether the BLBOD has the right to unmake a kingdom, or what knighting rules would be best for the Wetlands, we can all say that chasing 300 active players in Southeast Texas and Louisiana out of Amtgard is insane.

I already went through this with Barad Duin a decade ago. At least that group chose to leave rather than being tossed, but many great people from that group passed out of Amtgard forever and many more were out of Amtgard for a long while. Our game was the weaker for it. It would be similarly insane for the people seeking interkingdom government to form a system where they know the Burning Lands can’t participate and to take a stance of “If you ain’t 100% with us, you are 100% against us”. This threatens to chase out the Burning Lands and more dangerously to alienate other kingdoms and split our game in half.

It is easy to try and stay out of this and hope for the best, but this issue has more potential to affect us as average Amgardians than any decision the BLBOD has made in my 14 years of Amtgard. If the Wetlands is forced to go, we loose our company brothers, our householders, our squires, our knights, and our friends. For years, I have heard (and said) the BLBOD can't do anything to affect me since they are 1200 miles away. This is still somewhat true. Whatever happens, the Iron Mountains will be playing the Saturday afterward and I will be trying to hit Lief with a sword or talking smack with Guy or making garb with Cedric... but this BLBOD decision does affect me (and most other Amtgarders) directly. This is why the subject of a representative interkingdom government has been so closely associated with the Wetlands controversy and it goes beyond the responsibility of the BOD to fix it alone.

Even if the Burning Lands were to back off completely on the knighting issue, the genie appears to be out of the bottle. Many Amtgarders (particularly, but by no means exclusively, in the Wetlands) feel that they will not continue without a representative interkingdom government. They feel that going on with only half of Amtgard is better than staying under the Burning Lands yoke. If these opinion becomes the majority view in the Wetlands and elsewhere, those groups will leave no matter what. Our culture will be deeply affected. I say the time for interkingdom government is now. Almost everyone says it would be better but many hesitate to push for it since the price may be too high. I say, can the price be higher than loosing a kingdom or two of our friends into another LARP void? I lived in Central Texas when Barad Duin split and there were considerable crossovers, but there were more people that were lost to Amtgard forever. Each Amtgarder needs to look forward now and push for a resolution in favor of interkingdom government in their allthing. If the kingdoms of Amtgard act in a united way in this, the Wetlanders will stay with us and maybe even the Burning Lands will see the handwriting on the wall.

In this way we might be able to salvage Amtgard as it is and to keep all the kingdoms playing a single game under a single set of rules and a set of similar corporas. In this way we can go forward with the traditionalist keeping us close to those things that made us all love Amtgard. In this way we can keep faith with the radicals whose dreams of a better game push us forward. In this way we can continue to play with our brothers and sisters from the Burning Lands and continue to cheer the knightings of our friends from the Wetlands. In this way the game we love can go from strenth to strength as it thrives on different people’s dreams and visions.

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