This article came about because an up-and-coming fighter (Squire Eggman) moved from the Golden Plains to the Iron Mountains. Our Emperor was faced with a decision on how he should be recognized for his tourney prowess. Eggman has the potential to be great anywhere but the system for granting Orders of the Warrior in the Golden Plains is a little different than in the Iron Mountains. The Emperor made the hard decisions but it set me to thinking about how orders of the warrior were awarded in different places and how they should be. After all, Warlord is all about orders of the Warrior and Knight of the Sword is largely dependant on them as well and these are two of the more sought after Amtgard awards. I chose to do my research in two ways. First, I read the corporas of all groups I could find to see if the rules were different and second, I interviewed Warlords from nearly every kingdom, to learn how those rules were applied.
Reading the corporas was informative not for the ways they differed but for how close to identical they were. The current Burning Lands Corpora reads:
|“4.3B Order of the Warrior Given by: the Monarch Given for: fighting ability (see the criteria below) Limitations: higher levels are increasingly difficult to attain.
|Yellow with a red border
|Phoenix (warlord) Win 21
| Note: Battlefield commendations are also given with orders above 5th level only awarded for outstanding success in the games, quests, or tournaments. The higher the level, the harder it is to achieve more orders of the warrior. No one has ever achieved Warlord status (10th level or higher) without winning at least two major kingdom level tourneys. These orders are cumulative (think of them as levels). Thus, no one may have both a first, and say, an eighth level order of the warrior at the same time. Also, the levels do not add up (winning three duels, and losing one, they winning three again still only makes for a first level order of a warrior, not second level).”
Careful reading of all the other corporas showed almost no difference in the relevant wording.
From this relatively vague statement all sorts of different policies arose. Basically, there are two extremes and some other options filling in the middle. In one extreme, Orders of the Warrior are granted strictly by the numbers. Only by winning the requisite number of bouts in a row can a player qualify. Winning weaponmasters and crown tourneys means next to nothing under this system, unless you use the tourney as a vehicle for racking up wins in a row. Also, wins in a row in other settings like local tourneys count the same as the more prestigious kingdom ones. Kingdoms on this extreme include the Emerald Hills, the Wetlands, the Golden Plains, Mystic Seas and Goldenvale.
Even within this extreme, there is some variation. Some places expect you to win each order successively while others count only the streak. For example, in the Emerald Hills the hypothetical super-newbie without a single order of the warrior who then won 21 in a row would be eligible to receive the title of Warlord for that single achievement. On the other hand the same super-newbie in the Wetlands would be eligible for his first, second and third Orders of the Warrior for the same streak.
On the opposite extreme, success in tourneys is paramount and the numbers are important but only in a limited way. Under this system, a convincing win in a kingdom-level tournament against other Warlords is sufficient to merit eligibility for an order, but wins in a row in other venues mean almost nothing. Examples of kingdoms using this extreme include the Burning Lands and the Iron Mountains. At this extreme, there is little systematic variation, but the inherent variation stemming from the opinion of the monarch who gives the award has a greater effect than under the other system.
In between the two extremes, lie those kingdoms that give high-level orders of the warrior both for winning tournaments against other Warlords and for wins in a row. Both Dragonspine and the Celestial Kingdom fall into this category.
Almost all kingdoms accept the equivalent battlefield success clause, as quoted from the Burning Lands corpora above, relatively often for the lower level orders. According to Sir Arthon of the Celestial Kingdom, a first Order of the Warrior is pretty easy there: “All you have to do is be somewhat cool... no real prerequisites, just do sumthin cool on the field.” Sir M’Deth of the Burning Lands says something similar about his lands, “In a strong tournament, the person can get an (early) order for merely fighting well, or rather fighting ‘above their heads’ and surprising even themselves. Also placing within the tournament usually will assure an order.” Under the other system, Sir Corbin of the Emerald Hills and later the Wetlands says, “In the Emerald Hills, there are a couple ways to get the first order. Kill three in a row in a tournament or perform memorably in a game. The same goes in the Wetlands as well. I know of a newbie who happened to be the first person in a charge and got skewered at full run by the other team’s pole arms (there was a collective “Ooooh”). He got a first order.” This type of award dries up after the fifth order or so though, and under all systems tournament success, whether measured by wins in a row or by tourney placement and quality of fighters is the path to higher orders. Sir Drakknar of the Celestial Kingdom puts it like this. “By requiring success at major tourneys, it means people have to beat the current Warlords to become one. Also known as the 'Pry it from my cold dead hands [method].'”
Both extremes have their advantages and disadvantages and the Warlords of the different kingdoms are aware of them. For kingdoms using the counting focus, most considered it an advantage that their Orders of the Warrior are very hard to earn, even at the middle levels. It makes the award mean more. Sir Jetara says, refering to Dragonspine’s counting-based system, said, “When you’re done – there is no question in anybody’s mind that you earned it.” Warlords from counting-based systems also acknowledge some weaknesses in their system. The main one comes from people earning orders in tournaments without full participation. Sir Balisk, then of the Golden Plains, says: “It's possible for people to cheese through the system by just kicking ass in a low-turnout tourney and getting their wins.” Sir Phocion of Dragonspine agrees. “Our kingdom has allowed pretty much any streak of 21 wins to qualify for Warlord.”
The extreme of the extreme systems as used in the Wetlands, which counts and requires consecutive orders was developed to combat just this problem. Sir Spyn Thrift says, “Here in the Wetlands you have to win the required number for you next warrior, lose then start counting on the number required for next order. [It] makes for a longer process. No flukes or lucky people in small tourneys.” Sir Nevron of the Emerald Hills also mentioned another problem with the counting system thus, “The disadvantage to our way is people assume the kingdom is keeping track for them. In most cases, they are not.“ However, computers and the internet have done something to solve this problem.
The tourney-winning system also has some advantages and disadvantages. Most Warlords from the tourney placement kingdoms listed the difficulty of earning the awards as an advantage of their system, often contrasting it against the chance of a weak tourney under the other system. Sir Brennan of the Iron Mountains puts it this way. “We place the emphasis on overall skill and consistency of the fighter. When they make it to ten, everyone knows they’re ready.” Sir Thor of the Iron Mountains agrees, saying, “There are no 'fluke' Warlords in this Kingdom. A new player fighting in their first tourney cannot win 150 fights consecutively and be awarded a 10th order of the Warrior (and thus, Warlord). . . As such, it will take some time and a number of wins to earn Warlord. The same standard exists for all Iron Mountain combatants. Also, it seems unfortunate to allow luck to play such a high role in Warlord status." I answered my own survey like this, “A fighter that has won six major tourneys against other Warlords but never had a streak of more than 15 in a row, is in some sense as deserving as someone who won only one tourney against two other Warlords but did it with a streak of 21 wins in which he beat each of the other Warlords only once.”
As to the disadvantages of the system, the Iron Mountains and Burning Lands Warlords saw very few. Statistically, however, it looks from the small sample size available, that the tourney placement system does produce slightly more Warlords. The numbers show that the Iron Mountains has averaged about one new Warlord every one and a half years and the Burning Lands one every two years, as compared to one every four years in the Emerald Hills and every three years in the Wetlands.
Surprisingly, both Sir Bolt of the Burning Lands and Sir Nevron of the Emerald Hills list identical advantages and disadvantages even though they use systems that are about as different as you can get. They both list the advantage that Orders of the Warrior are harder to earn and thus means more but with the compensating disadvantage that awards are given infrequently enough that newer warriors on their way up are often discouraged. Also, both systems reward tournament success far more than battlefield or even ditch battle excellence. Sir Tar’get is one of the few Warlords to see this as a disadvantage and he says, “There will likely never be a prowess Warlord in this kingdom. The battlefield fighter has so many more aspects to deal with than the tourney fighter does, I feel they deserve much greater respect than that of a one-shotter or crutch fighter.”
I also asked if Warlord or Knight of the Sword was more respected in each system. Some interviewees had trouble answering since according to Sir Derek Roth of the Mystic Seas and Syr Sanchez of Goldenvale, Warlord is a necessary criterion for Knight of the Sword in their lands. Among the others the overwhelming response was that Knighthood was the more respected title by the populace at large. Sir Thor of the Iron Mountains says, “They are nearly synonymous in the Iron Mountains. . . However, I would say knighthood is still more prestigious. It is, after all, a title of Peerage, and in my opinion, the most coveted title in the Iron Mountains.”
However, many of those interviewed explained that they personally looked for and respected Warlords more. Sir Drakknar of the Celestial Kingdom reasoned, “Warlord means more to me. Getting Warlord automatically makes you eligible for Knight of the Sword, [but] Knight of the Sword can be earned by one tourney win and turns at Champion.” And finally Sir Tar’get of the Wetlands elaborates, “I feel the general opinion of the kingdom is that knighthood is paramount. I also feel this is malarkey. A knight can kiss the right butt to get there, they can go to the right parties, they can join the right company, but a Warlord is a killer, period, undeniably, unequivocally. They kill, they killed me, they killed those sword knights, and they will kill you, they are the goal of any true stick jock, screw the hide.”
This pretty much sums up how the Warlords of both systems looked at their craft. Certainly the kind of athletic and competitive people who rise to the top would likely do so under any system. Both the win-counters and the tourney-placers believed their system was definitely up to the job and favored it over the other system. However, no one was willing to speculate openly about the worthiness of any particular Phoenix favor. All the data suggests to me that both systems work pretty well and produce quality Warlords that kingdoms can and do take pride in. This makes the difference in how orders of the Warrior and eventually Warlords are granted more cosmetic than anything. Still it is interesting to know how others Amtgarders evaluate their best fighters.
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