|The Year in Review
As you celebrate tonight with friends and family, you may find yourself wondering, as people often do, about what will happen in the coming year. It’s fun to try to think where you were a year ago and imagine what you were thinking. Would you have predicted all the things that happened in 2002? People back then were certain that Amtgard was doomed to split in two, that 6.1 would never come out, and that the game they played would stagnate and fade to a memory. Well, Amtgard didn’t end in 2002. Instead, it has emerged stronger, richer, sadder, and hopeful for the future. Here are the things we’ll remember when we look back on 2002…
Every kingdom in Amtgard was touched by the expulsion of the Wetlands; even those who tried to stay neutral held Althings to discuss it. The crisis that began in 2001 dominated the first half of 2002 as battle lines were drawn between the three kingdoms that supported the BLBOD and the rest of Amtgard that didn’t. Wild accusations flew and even the kings of Amtgard were threatened with being arrested if they met to discuss the issue at Clan. In the end, a compromise was reached and the Circle of Monarchs asked the Wetlands to give their king a veto, the theory being that a request from fellow kingdoms would be better received in the radical Wetlands than a demand from the BLBOD was. The measure passed and, by the end of September, the Wetlands was quietly reinstated by the BLBOD, ending what was the biggest story of 2002.
The Rising Winds
A new kingdom is always something to remember, and 2002 saw the birth of the Kingdom of the Rising Winds. Long a source of controversy since the BLBOD vetoed their kingdom application after the rest of Amtgard had approved it, the Rising Winds celebrated when the BLBOD and the Circle of Monarchs unanimously approved making them the 12th kingdom of Amtgard. They are now working to build their land into a proper hierarchy of duchies, baronies and shires. Also, by becoming a member of the IRCA, the Rising Winds marked the year in which the IRCA had enough member kingdoms to actually change the Amtgard rulebook.
Sir Theo and Sir Agar
Four-belted knights are rare indeed, and two new ones were added to the list this past year. The Celestial Kingdom got its first four-belter when it knighted Sir Theo, a veteran from the days when the Burning Lands was the only kingdom. Sir Agar of the Mystic Seas, a less known Amtgarder, also joined the ranks of four-belted knights when he was given a sword belt on the battlefield at PacWar. These were two of the most significant knighthoods of the year and the first fourth belts to be given since 2000.
If the first half of 2002 was defined by the Wetlands crisis, the second half was defined by 6.1. The release of the updated rulebook sparked widespread discussion all over the Amtgard world as the rules were playtested. Initial reactions mixed between bad and worse, although approval of the rules is slowly growing as players get used to the many improvements. Despite problems with several sections, such as armor (and the wretched haikus), 6.1 is likely to become the first change to the Amtgard rulebook since 1993 – provided, of course, that the BLBOD accommodates the playtesting efforts of the rest of Amtgard.
Dame Kayrana’s tragic death stunned Amtgard into silence. Nobody had the words to say how much she meant to so many people. She will be mourned, missed, and remembered by every kingdom she touched, from the Burning Lands that was her first home, to Dragonspine where she became a knight, to the Emerald Hills that came to love her as one of their own.
The Mystic Seas
First, an Althing with fewer people than it takes to fill the BLBOD voted to back the expulsion of the Wetlands. Next, they removed themselves from the IRCA after their kingdom as a whole had voted to be part of it. And then, controversy continued to brew as representatives of the Mystic Seas embarrassed them on message boards and on Redhawk Radio over issues ranging from voting rights to four-belted knights to whether or not the illiterate Prime Minister Moonshine could beat up King Larin of the Emerald Hills. The disenchanted chapters of the Mystic Seas, embarrassed by their kingdom and frustrated in their efforts to have a greater say, began to confederate and secede. The new year may see more groups go, but it was 2002 that broke the camel’s back.
Knighthood faces challenges every year, and 2002 was no different, but Sathilarin secured a special place for himself when he lied and said he was a knight. Apparently not content with merely wearing a white belt, he inadvertently claimed to be the first serpent knight of either Neverwinter or Dragonspine (depending on who caught him in a lie first). The Emerald Hills acted quickly to reject him, and the knights there gave him a generous set of conditions he had to meet to rehabilitate himself. He’s since left Amtgard for “mundane reasons”. In a year with Rogue’s belts, crisis over knighting methods, and debates over how many is too many, Sathilarin stands out.
Despite the popularity of newsgroups, 2001 ended with a rather dormant internet presence for Amtgard. The new year changed all that. Redhawk Radio was born and saw immediate success; e-Knight became popular all over Amtgard; the Fink made its re-launch; AmtgardCombat.com returned; the Amtgard Armorer’s Guild saw its hits soar; the Monarch’s List hosted yelling and controversy; and, of course, the Electric Samurai was born. Two kingdoms saw how important their webpages were after they were hijacked and taken down, while Amtgard.com itself was hacked near the end of the year. And the O.R.K. v2, the system the Iron Mountains uses for its records, went public for all kingdoms to use. The list goes on and on.
The Lord of the Rings
We began 2002 fresh off the high of watching Aragon cut down an army of orcs. We end it after watching him do the same thing at the siege of Helm’s Deep. The Lord of the Rings surrounds the past year like two beautiful bookends, and it left a mark on Amtgard that may not be fully appreciated for years. These two successful movies brought epic fantasy back into the mainstream and, with all the dozens of demos Amtgard sponsored for the movie, put the spotlight on Amtgard. People who like elves and swords and magic rings saw Amtgard as we appeared at movie theaters all over the country to show off our organization. Whether it was old groups getting good publicity, or new groups doing a demo for the first time, we cannot underestimate the boost for morale these movies have been.
And that’s the year in a nutshell. But what about your stories? Those, we encourage you to post in the forums. Tell us your adventures and hardships, your happy days and your sad ones. After all, it’s been a long, interesting year and tonight we bid it farewell.
Have a Happy New Year, and we’ll see you in 2003.
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