|Crown Knighthood: A Reformation Proposal
There is one order of knighthood that differs from all of the others in Amtgard. The Orders of the Flame and the Serpent have concrete ladder awards that should be ascended in order to become eligible for Knighthood. Though the ladder award might vary from kingdom to kingdom, a Flame or Serpent knight is supposed to hold a Masterhood in some award category. The Order of the Sword at first glance might seem to be the easiest knighthood to get: it has Masterhood in a ladder award, the Order of the Warrior, as one of its potential criteria, but this is not a mandatory Masterhood. Winning tournaments is another route to becoming a Sword Knight. However, the intensely competitive nature of high-end Amtgard combat and that the fact that this is a competition-based award combine to make this the most difficult form of knighthood to attain.
This leaves one knighthood behind: the Order of the Crown. Sadly, there is no ladder award associated with the Order of the Crown. The requirements for it vary, but in no case can it take more than 18 months to qualify for the Award. Some kingdoms require a single term as Kingdom Monarch, others require two terms in any kingdom office, some require three terms in any Kingdom Office, and still others require specific combinations of Kingdom offices. Serving in local offices rarely qualifies a person for the Order of the Crown.
This leads to several problems. The first problem is that is can be difficult to tell who the “up and coming” people are. With any other knighthood, one sees them getting awards in court, sees their award totals in the Chancellor’s records, or sees their direct participation. With the Order of the Crown, there is only participation. This leads to those further away from the Kingdom Monarch being overlooked.
One might think that titles fulfill the same function as ladder awards: However, titles are given out with the primary focus being the size of a group. A person could do a vaguely competent job as monarch of a Grand Duchy and end up with a Count title while another might do a stellar job as monarch of a Shire and end up with a Lord title. Merely looking at the titles, the Count would appear much closer to knighthood than the Lord. Additionally, getting higher titles does not, by any corpora, qualify you for the Order of the Crown.
The second problem is that titles have little meaning. A person could be a Count because they’ve been the motivating force behind a group, founding the group, growing the group from a shire to a barony, and serving in office with distinction for term after term. A person could also be a Count for serving one good term as Kingdom Prime Minister or Regent. It’s the same reward for wildly different amounts of work.
The third problem, ironically, is that despite ignoring the contribution of local leaders, the Order of the Crown is too easy to earn. In some kingdoms, a single election, which could well be uncontested, makes a person eligible for the order. In others, it might take two or even three terms in office to qualify but this still makes Crown Knighthood “the easy route”. Eighteen months in office is far easier than the long road to excellence that marks a Warlord or a Master Dragon.
The solution is a complete revamp of the way titles and the Order of the Crown are awarded. A ladder award should be the key to attaining both. This award could be called “The Order of the Throne”. It would be awarded for a completing a successful term in office. Each time a person completed a term in office, they would receive a high order of award. The award would be limited in what levels could be given out by a group, just as other latter awards are now. For example, a shire could give up to a second order “Order of the Throne”, a barony could give up to a fifth order, a duchy up to a seventh, and only the King could award the highest orders or a Masterhood. This is the way other ladder awards are already done.
Additionally, titles would be tied to award levels. A person who had earned their first “Order of the Throne” would be a Master, a second order would earn the title of Lord, and so on, up through Baronet (3), Baron (4), Viscount(5), Count (6), Marquis(7), Duke(8), Archduke(9), and finally Grand Duke (10). It is only after having earned mastery in the Order of the Throne that a person would be eligible for Crown Knighthood. This has the side benefit of putting knights ahead of Grand Dukes in the peerage, which is merely a reflection of their position in real Amtgard Society.
The conversion to this process would be somewhat painful, as it would require monarchs to retroactively give people awards for terms in office that had been well executed. It would be important to give awards only for actual terms in office, not for titles. This would lead to some people who had titles that did not match their actual Orders, but these people would grow fewer in number of time, as they either left the game or served additional terms in office and caught up to their titles in awards.
This new system would reward those who served in local offices with something almost all Amtgarders want: advancement towards knighthood. It slows down the “race to knighthood” some people embark on, and would limit the Order of the Crown to those who really had demonstrated, time and again, that they were the leaders who would step forward and take charge.
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