Kodiak's Take on Amtgard
Amtgard is about a lot of things. It's about stupid
politics, and it's about
getting drunk, and it's about hanging out with
people in funny
clothes. It's also about a weird sport with people
smacking each other. Most importantly, it's about
Lots of people in Amtgard don't like each other. This is difficult to
ignore, because lots of people in Amtgard want to tell you about the
people they don't like. But that's mostly because Amtgard is a sport
which depends on honourable conduct of its players. The rest of it is
because of stupid politics.
For a long time, the people of the Midnight Sun and the rest of Amtgard
had a mutual antipathy. This was because a few of the people of the
Midnight Sun had personal problems with a few of the people of the
rest of Amtgard. Many great people left the Midnight Sun because being
part of Amtgard was more important to them than staying at the park
they loved. Eventually, the few people who had a problem with the
rest of Amtgard developed schemes involving a new game system. These
schemes helpfully removed them from the Midnight Sun, and the Midnight
Sun has since reconciled with the rest of Amtgard. Since then, about
8 people have returned to the Midnight Sun from a self-imposed exile
and declared how happy they are to be able to come back to this park.
This sort of thing doesn't exactly happen all the time, but there are
a lot of strong personalities in Amtgard. It's easy for people to
get caught up in those personalities and stop enjoying themselves. But
it's also easy for someone who just wants to enjoy a weird sport to
ignore all the fussbudgets. No matter how little someone likes you,
it's generally very difficult for them to keep you from wading into
battle with a padded stick. (This only holds if you're playing Amtgard.)
Ok, actually, Amtgard is about messing around with all sorts of drugs.
In fact, compared to a lot of similar groups, Amtgard appears to be
generally less impressed with alcohol. For that matter, the whole sex
drugs and rock and roll thing tends to fade into the background with
Amtgard. It's there, but you certainly don't have to notice.
Amtgard is definitely a sport. There is an abstract winning condition
based on relatively arbitrary rules. However, it also attempts to
simulate a medieval fantasy battle. A good example of how it fails
to do so is the "fireball" spell. In Amtgard, a wizard can hold a
red ball of padding in his left hand, say "Fireball!" five times,
and throw the ball at someone. If hit, that someone will generally
die. This is all fine, except that Cal Ripken would make a better
wizard than Merlin.
The Rules of Amtgard
are confusing and ambiguous. People are always arguing over the
rules, and a majority of parks completely ignore some rules. Some
of the rules make no sense. Unfortunately, rules for a sport like
Amtgard are incredibly difficult to write, especially since much of
the confusion is difficult to resolve without pissing someone off.
Another important thing about the rules is that they are, by and large,
either simple or easy to ignore. The rulebook is almost 60 pages long,
but Amtgard can take a complete newbie and have them enjoying a battlegame
in under 30 minutes. Few such systems can say the same.
The important thing is, there are rules, and people try to follow
them. Sometimes, people manage to have fun while doing so.
Of course, medieval fantasy battles wouldn't be any fun if no one got
whacked. Amtgard uses padded weapons that are theoretically safe enough
to be used against unarmoured opponents. Generally, this is true.
Amtgard produces a fascinatingly small number of injuries.
This is largely a result of the fact that there is little benefit
to swinging as forcefully as possible. A fast swing that connects
is just as good as a hard swing that connects. So most people use
light weapons and don't try to injure each other.
Speaking of those padded weapons, all you need to try Amtgard out for a
day is a waiver and a weapon. There is no necessary charge for anyone,
and someone is always willing to lend a newbie a weapon. This compares
favourably with many similar systems, which charge anyone who participates
in a function, or require armour, or both. This also encourages people who
are very lackadaisical about their participation. This could be good or
That's my take on Amtgard. I'd be happy to give space to other people's
thoughts, here, and I'm going to start by pointing out that according
to the Foggy Isles, "There is NO:...NO drugs..." in Amtgard. Their
page looks pretty official, so I'm going to assume that's true.
Gwynne's thoughts on Amtgard
Some pictures of the Sport and Smacking parts.