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Confederacies Done Right
[11/03/2003] [Randall]

Sir Aramithris, Presidente-for-Life of the Burning Lands Board of Directors, has come out against confederacies as a way for kingdoms to form. This announcement, which came on the heals of HRH Sir Kurse’s reasonable explanation of the problems faced by confederacies, was as inexplicable and obtuse a rant as we’ve come to expect from El Paso’s first citizen.

On the Confederacy angle, OF COURSE NOT.

-- Aramithris

That makes it clear, I suppose.

Of course not, the man from El Paso says. Of course not. As he says it, it ought to be obvious that confederacies are not the way to go to achieve kingdom status. After all, the facts on the ground bear this out. Rising Winds, as you may recall, was . . . ehm, it technically was a confederacy. And it achieved a unanimous BLBOD vote and a unanimous vote of the Circle of Monarchs. But the kingdom before them, Neverwinter. . . well, they were also a confederacy. Goldenvale wasn’t, but they also prove that confederacies are not the way to go because they’re a large, prospering kingdom united by . . . . um, united by the massive turnout of their 5-4 vote in favor of making head shots legal. And before that was the Wetlands, which was not a confederacy during the time it was not recognized by the BLBOD, but is a confederacy today after the BLBOD voted to recognize them again.

Aramithris’ announcement is in direct opposition to 80% of the rulings coming out of the BLBOD concerning confederacies becoming kingdoms. Of course, Aramithris’ paranoia has reached stunning heights now that he’s flamed the last three Burning Lands citizens who posted innocent, reasonable questions to the list. Instead of helping them, he responded to them as though they were Feral making jokes about Franzia. “Josh, I guess you are special. You have a first name here, but you know, frankly, who are you?” I Am J makes do on a first initial, but as anyone on the AmtgardInc list knows, he’s definitely special. While that’s neither here nor there, it does paint a useful backdrop for why putting all the power into one park isn’t always a good idea. Anyway.

For certain, confederacies are problematic. Many of them are little more than a grouping of half a dozen shires under the leadership of a barony, clumped together under a banner and pretending to be a duchy. This will never work because any of those groups could die at any time, thus preventing the alliance from ever having a coherent center. For the same reasons that historical confederacies in the real world have failed, such a kingdom would crumble because none of the groups making it up has the strength to stand alone. A confederacy, by definition, is weaker than the sum of its parts.

The only sort of confederacy that can be truly successful in Amtgard is a hegemony. This arrangement requires a strong duchy to be the main chapter of an alliance of smaller shires. This solid center give the potential kingdom a chapter that has matured enough to have professional elections, competitive crown quals, and an experienced membership base that isn’t going to blow away when one or two people quit.

This situation is technically a confederacy, but is actually a grand duchy in disguise. The shires that group together around the leadership of the more mature duchy are actually part of it, and rather than being equal partners in an alliance that will never work, they are governed by a flexible duchy that will surely be successful when everyone is working together.

Things get a bit more confusing if you roll a few other duchies or large baronies into the mix, as the Wetlands did when it formed. Even this isn’t such a problem. Sure, you’ll face the difficulties all confederacies do when there isn’t a clear federal level of leadership, but instead of having one base to fall back on when the shires fluctuate, you have many. A nimble kingdom can take advantage of this, as the Wetlands has, to develop a sense of kingdom pride and citizenship.

Amtgard’s own history proves that a confederacy grouped around a strong central group is the way to go. Although I adamantly and proudly maintain that Dragonspine has learned to make a static crown work well, I have to admit that, despite its flexibility, the model has its problems and limitations. The few remaining colonial kingdoms are generally weak, bickering groups, each populated by perhaps a dozen people who trade the crown amongst each other when they qualify for office at all, snipe at their neighbors as a way to distract their populace from the very real problems they face at home, and wrap a few white belts around the kingdom and pretend it’s healthy. We can only take the colonial model so far before it caves in on itself, as it has in every single static-crown kingdom. The key is to remember that a confederacy isn’t a short-cut for a fragile barony to cheat its way to kingdom status; rather, it’s the path a vibrant duchy should take to ensure its place as a future successful kingdom.

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