|Redheaded Stepchild of the Peerage
In my years of playing Amtgard, I have traveled to quite a few other lands - Neverwinter, Burning Lands, Iron Mountains, Emerald Hills, Celestial Kingdom, Golden Plains, VSR, and my home Kingdom, the Wetlands. While I know that Wetlands knighting practices were the joke de jour until recently (thanks, Emerald Hills - appreciate that whole fake knight thing), each kingdom has varying opinions as to the 'difficulty' of each order of Knighthood. In some kingdoms, a Sword belt is considered the most difficult to earn, while in others, a Serpent belt holds that honor. However, in every Kingdom I've been in save the Wetlands, there is little to no argument that the easiest belt to earn is a Crown belt. Apparently, one good term as king will get you a white and gold belt in some places, especially if you were already a knight. I've been to more than one coronation where the stepping-down king was issued his Duke title and Crown belt as if it were automatic.
If I had to choose a word to describe this policy, the word would be 'sucks'.
I've heard more than one person call Crown belts 'popularity contests', and to be honest, it's the truth in some places. A popular guy runs for king, gives some awards, solves a few minor issues, and is given their Crown belt for 'outstanding leadership', when in truth all he did was sit back and relax for six months. Now, don't confuse that with delegation while in office (an article for another time) - there's a difference between a leader who relaxes because he know everything is covered, and a leader who relaxes because he doesn't see anything going wrong.
The problem isn't that the people who are in charge are doing nothing for their Crown belts - the problem is that the populace is allowing them to get their Crown belts for doing nothing. How many of you know a Crown Knight who was king once, maybe duke or baron once, got their belt at stepping down, and that was it? If the populace (and in turn, the Knights Circle) began to expect actual leadership from its Crown candidates, they would begin to lead. As it is now, you can win an election, disappear for a month, show up once, rinse and repeat, and be qualified for a Crown belt - boom. No other belt path allows 'coasting' - you can't just sit around for six months to earn another Warrior, not going to an event for a year doesn't get you Roses or Smiths, and not sewing anything for three consecutive A&S tournaments doesn't rack you up another Garber or Dragon. You have to produce on a continual basis to earn those belts, and I think it's time we start to expect the same continual production from our Crown candidates.
Of course, I've got a biased viewpoint - I am a Knight of the Crown. A white and gold belt was my goal from about my second day at Amtgard, and I kept working until I earned it. At the time, you had to have three terms in kingdom-level office to qualify for it, and it didn't even faze me, because I wanted to lead. If it were up to me, I'd make it not only a requirement that you hold three terms in kingdom office to earn your Crown belt, but that they had to be three different offices. I'm just as protective of my belt as any other knight, and just as proud, and I hope to someday see the difficulty level -- and the respect level -- of the Crown belt rise to match the other orders of peerage throughout Amtgard.
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