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OBSCURE AND COWARDLY
The Year in Review III
[12/31/2004] [Randall]

Another year come and gone and, as usual, the Electric Samurai is here to hand out a year-end article to all the good boys and girls. The big story this year is that there weren’t many big stories. . . but the ones that were big were very big. Last year, we wished for a quiet, good year for Amtgard. That’s exactly what we got. Without further ado, here’s the events we’ll remember as we look back on 2004. . .

7.0

Last year was no news. With haiku, weird archetypes and nutty knightly classes, the 6.12 rulebook inspired mild enthusiasm and widespread skepticism. It was better than what had come before, but . . . there were plenty of ‘buts’. They’re good, but this part sucks. They’re great, but the process sucks. Then, a push by Brennon, Roger and Phocion energized the process and it suddenly looked like the new rulebook might happen.

And then we saw it. The layout was professional, the rules well-written. Support for the new rules surged and six kingdoms have already voted in favor of making the 7th Edition of the Rules of Play the way we do Amtgard. And the buts? They’ve been replaced with ‘ands’. There’s still some skepticism from a few loud corners, and even supporters of the rules admit they aren’t perfect. But instead of a problem, this is an asset. The rules are good, they say . . . and every year we’ll get together to revise them. And, not but. This is a major step towards Amtgard growing up. Plus we’ve got the 8.0 Dor Un Avathar coming with it! If all the yearly review contained was this, it would have been enough. Dayenu.

Clan

The Gathering of the Clans has been the grand-daddy of Amtgard campouts for years, but time has not been kind to this most venerable of events. It seemed like Clan was destined to fade into obscurity, leaving behind only memories of glories past. But something changed all this. A meeting at Clan set the course for next year, in which Kurse and the Burning Lands invited all the kingdoms to participate in running the event. Just as 7.0 unifies the way we play, a restored Clan will unify where we play. Amtgard is a chaotic group, and having a main event for the game as a whole is an idea whose time has come once again. Clan is the logical and obvious choice.

Aramithris?

Hate to say it, but we kind of miss the old guy. Amtgard’s moved on without him, both in the Burning Lands and abroad. Still, it’s not too much of a joke to remind people to look back on the path Amtgard’s walked. If we only see one set of footprints, it’s because somebody carried us.

Mystic Seas/VSR Merger

What happened? The northwest has represented itself not so well the last few years. Indeed, it was in our first yearly review that we mused about whether there’d even be a Mystic Seas in the years ahead. Now, both kingdoms up there are talking about merging, thus ending a rift that has existed for over a decade. The votes have passed and both groups agreed to the merger in principle. A member of one land is even champion in the other. Now comes the hard work of actually wedding the two very different lands into one kingdom. The funny thing is it just might work.

Goldenvale

There must be only so much kingdom sanity to go around. This year must’ve been Mystic Seas’ turn, because Goldenvale caused ruckus after ruckus. After the elections that saw nobody, not even seasoned former kings, pass Crown Quals, they overruled their corpora and installed a monarch who came out of retirement, knighted his squire, and started handing out awards. The ensuing riot was met with promises that, if given three months of quiet, Goldenvale would be able to work on fixing things. Three months later, they knighted four people in an assembly line, a fiasco that resulted in at least one of the surprised new knights setting his belt aside until he met a few goals – like, say, being qualified. Over 90% of the active players in the proper wear white belts now. That’s a lot of dead white cow. Despite this . . .

Knightings Down, again

. . . knightings were down from the year before. There were twenty-eight knightings last year, a drop of 40% from the year before and the lowest number since 1997. This year there were just twenty-one, 25% less than 2003 and the lowest since 1992. What’s going on here? Is the game getting smaller? Are new kingdoms showing more restraint than their predecessors? Is the online listing of knights inaccurate? For whatever reason, the number of belts being given out has declined every year since 2001.

Knighthood Down

Other occurrences that cannot be ignored are the belts lost in 2004. Two two-belted knights, one from Dragonspine and the other from VSR, lost their belts. Both committed misdemeanor misappropriation of kingdom funds. Both attempted to cover it up. Both lost a crown belt and had the other suspended, although in Dragonspine’s case the belts were dropped rather than stripped. In the game’s history, only a handful of belts have ever been lost. Two in one year is without precedent.

The Rise of the East

Olympiad was in Goldenvale this year and Rising Winds got it for next year. SKBC is being held in Georgia. With these events heading east of the Mississippi, Amtgard is doing what it can to help bring our skills, talents and traditions to those far from the core. The east is starting to come into its own. With three large groups gearing up to be potential kingdoms, it’ll be the place to watch in 2005.

Rise of the New Kings

Was it just me, or were there a lot of people on the twelve thrones without 'Sir' or 'II' in their names this year? Seems like we had a lot of new faces in almost every kingdom. Whether that's a cause of the changes this year or an effect remains to be seen, but it's a good thing either way.

The Election

As usual, the real world influenced Amtgard to some degree. The presidential election was most keenly felt in e-Samurai’s forums, where the General Discussion section exploded with debate, analysis and commentary. And then November came and it all ended. It’s been an interesting time and there’s been some insightful discussion, but it seems everyone finds the current quiet most welcome. At least, until 2006.

The Storms

As keenly felt as the debate might have been, it was nothing compared to the reality of the weather. Amtgard along the Gulf Coast was hit pretty hard this hurricane season. The Kingdom of Neverwinter – canceled on account of hurricanes. At least they had quorum.

Internet: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Although 2004 was a banner year for e-Samurai’s forums – 1000+ users, 50,000+ articles, and activity through the roof – it was, overall, not such a good year for Amtgard’s electronic publications. There were only seventy-nine articles on e-Samurai this year, way down from over a hundred the previous year and even more the year before. And that number is higher than it would’ve been because we started posting an article a day in December – and padded the total with ten articles previously posted in AmtgardCombat.com. The Fink was on hiatus for much of the summer, Amtgard.com was down as much as it was up, and the Amtgard Atlas went away and then stopped getting updated. Heck, even the plucky Redhawk Radio is oursourcing. To make matters worse, e-Samurai itself was hacked not once but twice, first by some Brazilians and second by a series of worms preying on vulnerabilities in both php and phpBB. What a year. But hey, we’re still here, and that’s what matters, eh?

That’s it from this Amtgarder. Once again, the game grew and Amtgard is better for it. Now it’s your turn. Despite everything, the forums are still there for you to post your big stories for 2004.

Happy New Year, and see you in 2005.

[ discuss on forums ]

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