|Sum of its Parts
What is Amtgard? Is it a LARP, a sport, or a medieval reenactment group? I would say that it is all three of these and much much more.
A LARP: Amtgard is a LARP. Don’t try to deny it, because if you do, then, as Randall would say, ‘you are wrong.’ Let’s look at the parts of a LARP and see how Amtgard holds up to them. Live: yes, it’s certainly live, we’re not rolling dice on a table, we’re out there hitting each other with foam. Action: it’s got tons of action in the detailed fighting and class system that we use. Role Playing: yes, it has this, too. Whether you look at 6.0 or 6.1, there is role playing. Both say you need a ‘persona’ from before the 1650’s, and as none of us lived at that time, to have this persona you must role play. If you don’t have a persona, then you’re not doing it right!
A sport: yes, Amtgard is a sport and should be treated as such. A sport is a physical competition with a clearly defined winner. Here’s a good example of what a sport is: football. Football is very physical. There’s pushing, shoving, and throwing things. It’s also a competition with a clearly defined winner, in which the team with more points wins. Amtgard is very similar… it’s physical and we hit people with foam padded sticks. It also has a clearly defined winner -- one person’s dead, and the other wins. If you don’t treat it like a sport, then you’re doing something wrong.
A medieval reenactment group: once again our game holds up to the test. We dress in funny medieval looking clothing. We have feasts, and we try to have ‘medieval’ food cooked in ‘medieval’ ways. We craft armour just as it was done back in the day, or at least as close to back in the day as we know. We war in medieval fashion. We have kings and queens, lords and ladies, and knights too. We even go and spend weekends sleeping on the cold hard ground (although this living medieval is questionable as most events have showers nearby, many weaklings use air mattresses, and there’s always that one guy who brings along his laptop). If you don’t at least try to be ‘medieval’ in the game, then you’ve got to rework what it is you do there.
But is this all Amtgard is? Is it only these parts? Isn’t there something more to the game that we all love?
Well, the answer is yes, there is more to it than just these parts. Each part leads into the others. By experiencing all three major areas of Amtgard, you will enhance your enjoyment of the game.
The LARP aspect leads into the others very clearly. You’re the dashing hero trying to save the maiden in distress. The sport aspect shows clearly in that the ‘winner’ is the team that has the fair maiden at the end of the game. And it leads into the medieval reenactment portion very well, too. The brave warrior who spent the past two weeks dishing out his plate armour will last longer against the evil anti-paladin that has kidnapped the fair maid.
The sport aspect also leads you to experience the others. It leads to the medieval reenactment easily. Many fighters go and buy medieval books about swordplay and warfare. They also engage each other in honorable duels to the death (tourneys) all the time. It also leads in the LARP aspect as we create medieval companies and households to do battle with our enemies. We travel great distances to war against the infidels in other kingdoms.
Finally, we see that the medieval reenactment portions of the game lead back into the others to complete the triad. We travel to events and live medievally. At these events is the best fighting, which is the sport aspect in its simplest. There’s also the best chance for good quests. Imagine the above scenario with the maiden and anti-paladin. But imagine it with many adventuring groups competing to be the ones to save her. The role playing aspect would be taken to many higher and different levels.
Amtgard is, in fact, more than the sum of its parts. By fighting, role playing, sewing, competing, escaping to fantasy worlds, and making armour, the game takes on new depth. Each act is its own reward, but each act also increases the reward from the others to become something much more than just what was put into it.
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