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E-Samurai Interview: Michael
[12/02/2003] [The Interviewer]

State your full Amtgard name for the record.

Michael Hammer of God.

Any titles?

I have most of them but I only pull them out if someone gets on their high-horse first. I have been a Grand Duke since before the 6.1 project started…

How did you come up with your name?

Actually I was originally Herm, but that name stunk. When the San Antonio group was brand new, I thought a really pretentious name would be a good way to get the attention of Amtgarders in El Paso and Dallas. Our sponoring kingdom (Barad Duin) had left and I didn’t want our group forgotten. Thus I chose to be called ‘Hammer of God’. I added ‘Michael’ after the archangel or the basketball player because I needed a normal name too.

What would you say is Amtgard's single greatest purpose?

It’s a hobby. We do it for fun. I have made friends and learned things too but I do it for fun and I recommend the same to everyone.

What's your favored class, and why?

Michael is (or I am) a Paladin. A warrior who seeks truth and justice and is willing to bravely persevere for such things. If I play another class, I am Michael playing as a Wizard or a Scout. Michael is a Paladin. Actually the little RP weenie thing above is why I have no levels in AP. I might have more fun playing Bard but…

What's your favorite weapon combination?

I am a sword and boarder. I like ‘em all and I can still play pretty good with most of em, but I love the shield. It is my friend in battle. Everyone should have a friend.

So, you founded the Celestial Kingdom, did you? Any thoughts?

I only co-founded the CK. I think that either Sir Theo or I could have founded it without the other but it would have taken either of us at least a year or too longer. Besides we did something unique at the time in making a kingdom based on geographical closeness rather than a single park. Our idea was sound enough that some central park groups like the EH and IM have adopted it and all most new groups are built geographically. I still think Theo and I were ahead of the curve on that one.

What most sticks out in your mind about the formative days of the Celestial Kingdom?

Just like every new kingdom (well most anyway) we had something to prove. We wanted to be taken seriously by the EH and BL and especially after some of the Austin people came back we needed to show that we were not just Barad Duin all over again. We probably had more of a chip on our shoulder than we needed to but there it is.

What most sticks out in your mind about your arrival in the Iron Mountains?

The IM at that time was very cliquish but friendly once you got in. I got in quickly, probably because I had been around for the first summer of the IM’s existence. It was very nice, right after I moved to know that I already had a social life in place in the new town. I haven’t given up my CK roots entirely but I am proud to be an IMer now.

How did your journey from Texas to Colorado affect your fighting career as a sword knight?

I was already a Sword Knight. I was still chasing my Warlord though. However, leaving titles out of it, it was very good for my fighting. Being forced to play against a wider range of styles and abilities challenged my fighting abilities and helped me grow. I credit the move with keeping me good well into my thirties.

What's it like being a sword knight who's been in the game as long as you have?

Well, its hard knowing that my body won’t cooperate 100% of the way it used to. I make up for it with brains when I can. I have had to adapt to changes in technology and rules and still staying near the top is a challenge and a thrill. It makes it worth going to the park every day. After all, I remember when Nevron was a terror on the field and when M’Deth and Morluk were real. I am not quite ready to join those legends and be ‘pretty good in his day’.

The flame belt is earned every day. How do you work for yours?

Actually, I have a system. I think that at least half the time that there is a call for volunteers to do some crappy job I should raise my hand. I don’t always hit half but that’s my goal. I still take on larger projects too. For example I was very proud of getting a 100-person field through a double elimination tournament in an hour/event.

You're a crown knight and an international leader in Amtgard. Where is Amtgard headed internationally?

We aren’t going to change too much. I think that the kingdoms value their independence. However, we all have some issues we see the same and I think that tools like the ORK and E-Sam allow us to build a few bridges across the game. I expect that we will come to a few agreed upon things that tie us together besides the rulebook. I do not expect any umbrella organization to ever have too much power. One where all kingdoms had input would have more power than the current BLBOD but not too much.

What do you most remember about getting your fourth knighthood at 'Rakis?

I was very moving. The king and those who helped him organize the ceremony really outdid themselves. I was especially touched that the IM choose to reconfirm my three CK belts. It really made me feel like an IMer to the core. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to all my friends who organized it and who came from far away for it.

Do you feel you have a special duty to excel since you're a four-belted knight?

Yes I do.

Do you think there are too many knights in Amtgard?

No. This is a hard question since the value of knighthood is influenced by it’s scarcity but as more and more Amtgarders play the game and earn the awards and respect, there will be more knights. Would it be right to withhold a belt that was truly deserved just to keep up scarcity?

Zulu spears. Good, bad?

Neither. I have heard an idea of a minimum weapon weight bandied around but unless something like that comes up, people will always seek to ‘build a better mousetrap’.

6.1. Good, bad?

It is very much a mixed bag. I have spoken to enough real newbies that think 6.1 is easier to understand that on the whole I believe it’s better. On the other hand the process is so screwed up that we might not have a playable and official version before 2010.

IKBOD. Good, bad?

Some kind of interkingdom umbrella group that had wider participation than a single chapter in the far corner of the nation would be nice.

BLBOD. Good, bad, and why?

Aside from the great work that they do (especially Sir Bolt) with brand new groups far from the Amtgard main, it is hard to see where they have done anything useful in years. Of course, since so many of the rest of us don’t trust them they haven’t got a lot of chance to do things.

What the heck is up with the Iron Mountains these days?

Well we have politics if that is what you mean. Actually, I wish I knew. It breaks my heart to see folks I truly love as respect at each other’s throats over grievances I don’t fully understand. None of us in the IM (myself included) should be happy with the childish stunts our kingdom is becoming known for.

What's your single fondest Amtgard memory?

There are far too many to count, much less choose.

What's your worst Amtgard injury?

Well I have osteo-necrosis in both knees, thanks to Amtgard. Still I have gotten off much luckier than most. Maybe my career ending injury is still to come…

Who do you most admire in Amtgard and why?

This question is very hard. I admire so many of my Amtgard brethren for different things and in different ways. When I was asked a couple of years ago who had influenced me most in Amtgard (a slightly different question) I had to break my Amtgard life into three parts by time to even get close. The answer to that simpler question was that for the first part of my career, Sir Theo influenced me most. For the second part of my career, Sir Fnord influenced me most and for the third part of my career, Sir Cedric influenced me most. I am going to leave it at that and skip the harder question.

What is the greatest misunderstanding people have about the Iron Mountains?

That we are nothing but a stick-jock nation. Seriously we have one park that is a stick jock nation and a couple of other parks that have produced great fighters. We have many folks with other priorities in their Amtgard lives. (Well some folks, anyway).

If you could visit three (and only three) kingdoms, which three would you pick? Why?

I have actually visited all of them except the newest one, Rising Winds. I am scheduled to visit that one pretty soon too. Actually on my wish list for next year, I have some of the larger non-kingdom groups. I would love to go to Wolven Fang (Canada) for battle of the Dens. The Canadians were great hosts and very friendly. I would also like to visit Wavehaven because I have family in the Bay area and I could make it a dual-purpose trip. Finally, I always like to visit the Wetlands. I have many friends there and I love the fighting. That’s even without considering any personal issues.

Speaking of traveling, what inspired you to write the popular Twelve Kingdoms in Twelve Months series?

I was thinking that I had time and money and that it might be cool to visit all 12 Amtgard kingdoms. I decided to make it more of a personal challenge and strive for doing it all in one year. After deciding to go, writing a review of each one was a no-brainer. In the end it might have been too much. My trip to Mystic Seas fell on Sir Thor and Dame Airleas’ wedding and I couldn’t do both. I think I may only get to 11 kingdoms in 12 months and end up missing the MS.

What do you see in your Amtgard future?

Well I have always wondered if I would still enjoy it after I couldn’t fight. Considering that I have done a little of everything in our game, it really is true that the fighting has always been the best part for me. It still is. When I can’t fight even decently any more, then maybe I’ll think of quitting. I might be done kinging though. This term has been especially exhausting because my real life has been very demanding as well and time is far from infinite.

Fifteen years. How many points is that worth? Is it time to start over?

Shoot, Randall wrote the game. Ask him how many points I scored. I won’t start over. I might be too old to win.

Do you have anything you'd like to say to the readers of e-Samurai?

Actually yes. I would say that I rate E-Sam as the second best use of the Internet for the benefit of Amtgard behind only the ORK (Damn, why does Rewth get two gratuitous plugs…) We do a lot of useless smak talk but we do a decent job of building bridges across the game too.

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