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What's In a Name?
[05/05/2003] [Arminius]

I never claimed to be the best squire to my man-at-arms in the game. I frequently lapse in contact with him, and I have even have problems remembering what his real name is. But I do try my best. Tonight I remembered to call him, just to see how things are, and learned of perhaps the stupidest thing the Burning Lands Board of Directors has ever done. They rejected the contract of their shire because of its name.

The Amtgard land he was helping start is in southern Illinois. The Midwest has been a stronghold of Dagorhir for a few decades, long before Amtgard was ever played in that area. The founders of the shire have played both Dagorhir and Amtgard for a while, and wanted to continue to play both. Under the sponsorship of the University of Southern Illinois’s Medieval Combat Society, they sent in contracts to both organizations using the name they used in the combat society: Byzantium. The group would play Dagorhir rules on Wednesday nights and Amtgard rules on Sundays. When Dagorhir learned of the situation, and the fact that they intended to use the same name for both groups, they had but one request: maintain two separate websites, so that when someone linked to from the Dagorhir site to the Byzantium site, they didn’t get an advertisement for Amtgard thrown at them. Byzantium did so, and Dagorhir approved their contract.

The Shire of Byzantium sent in their contract for approval by the BLBOD in September. Finally, in April, their contract was officially denied on the grounds that they intended to use the name for both organizations. The only reason I can come up with for why the BLBOD does not want the group to use the same name is they don’t want to associate with any other LARP/Medieval recreation game. I could not find a single line in the contract that prohibits a shire to be a subsidiary of another game. Instead I found an item in the contract that supports them in wanting to do so. Item 5 of the contract states: “Maintain a positive relationship with the authorities, with the general public, with other groups and organizations, and with other Amtgard groups.”

Now, to me, the BLBOD’s action seem a slap in the face to Dagorhir, and hardly seem close maintaining a positive relationship. Dagorhir had no qualms with a group using the same name for both organizations. By setting this sort of example, the BLBOD risks alienating a large portion of the Midwest Amtgardians. I know of several midwestern lands having members in Dagorhir as well. I also know of other Dagorhir lands thinking of expanding under Amtgard. The BLBOD’s actions are doing nothing but stifling the growth of Amtgard in a ripe region. One kingdom, Rising Winds, has already arisen there. Another group, the Duchy of Tal Dagore, is poised to do the same. In the last year alone, three new lands have been born in Illinois, and another may begin in the next few months.

“Why not just make a new name and be done with it?” you may ask. The problem stems from the sponsorship in the Medieval Combat Society, the group they first made a deal with. Under the charter, they are only allowed to use the name they joined with, Byzantium, the Southern Illinois Medieval Combat Society’s name, or a combination there of. So ask yourself, do we really want “the Shire of the Southern Illinois Medieval Combat Society”?

The BLBOD is making a critical mistake in this decision. It is highly arrogant, and risks killing Amtgard’s growth in an area ripe for the picking. It also violates part of the contract they expect all Amtgard lands to adhere to. It is obvious that Dagorhir is willing to cooperate with Amtgard in allowing their realms to be under Amtgard, yet the BLBOD seems to not want to do the same. Coexistence with Dagorhir is the bare minimum for Amtgard to thrive in the Midwest, and cooperation would be the ideal for the matter.

I will always stand by my man-at-arms, especially when I believe he is right. The BLBOD is making a stupid, childish mistake. Amtgard cannot afford to take the attitude the BLBOD has with this matter. Tommy can play with Jimmy, even though he plays with Johnny. Why can’t Amtgard allow people who play Dagorhir to band together?

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