Amtgard is a fantasy based live role playing organization with a large focus on medieval combat. All of our weapons are safe, foam-padded, replicas of swords, daggers, arrows, and other medieval weapons. In addition to the fighting, we strive to better ourselves in creating new pieces of costume, armor, music, and art.
Each Saturday afternoon we hold battlegames in Albuquerque for fun and practice. There are also several camping events that take place each year. These events can attract hundreds of people to battle, socialize, camp out, and have a good time. We also hold feasts every 3 months to honor our leaders and members that make this game a fun place to be on weekends.
The rules for combat are simple: a hit to a limb disables that limb, a hit to the torso kills you, a hit to a second limb kills you, head and neck are out of bounds.
Much like Dungeons & Dragons and other role playing games there are different classes to choose from. Each class has it's own special abilities and limitations, increasing in power as you gain experience. The abilities of your class can sometimes be the only thing keeping you alive versus a more skilled opponent or a horde of newbie warriors.
Waiver / New Player Form
You can pick one up from the Chancellor at the weekly meeting. If you are under 18 you will need a parent/guardian to sign it. If you are under 14 you must also have a parent present and get special permission from Pegasus Valley's monarch.
The rulebook can be downloaded for free. You can also get a rulebook from Pegasus Valley's Chancellor by paying $10 in dues, which includes 6 months of voting rights and newsletters.
Amtgard Legal Weapon
You won't need one of these right away, there will be some loaner swords at the park for new people to use. Once you have figured out what style of weapons you want to use, ask someone to help you make your first weapons or come to an Arts & Sciences meeting where many people will be making weapons. A little bit of help from experienced players can prevent "first weapon syndrome" so that you have a safe weapon to hit people with.
Costume / Garb
For your first month it is not necessary to have garb. After that, a basic tabard or tunic plus a class sash is the minimum garb and can be put together for $2 in materials. If you have never sewn before, come to an Arts & Sciences meeting. Then you can learn to sew or bribe someone else there with snack cakes to have them sew for you.
As a member of Amtgard you need to have a name for your character or persona. Every persona must be either of an ancient, medieval, or swords and sorcery related background.
A persona should be based on people who could have lived before 1650 AD. The name, weapons, clothing, etc. are encouraged to be historically correct. Do not impersonate a historical figure.
The persona should be based on a book, movie, historical mythology, or a unique creation of your own. Do not impersonate a character from the medium you choose.
Things to avoid
Avoid names such as "Shadow", "Wolf", or "Raven" that are incredibly common. As of this writing there are 186 players in the ORK that have Shadow in their name somewhere.
Dark/Light/Black/White + Animal.
Don't take too long choosing a name. A nameless player is likely to just be named by the other players. We have wound up as such gems as "Goon" and "Frenchy" as nicknames from other players.
When you arrive
When you arrive at the park you should seek out a group officer or the Marshall to get your new player form signed and turned in. If you haven't had the new player form turned in and signed, you will not be able to fight.
Next the Marshall or an assistant will cover some of the basics of fighting before turning you loose to kill people. Topics covered are usually shot placement, what is a legal hit, and a basic defensive stance. Once the Marshall is confident that you understand the basics they will let you fight.
Before you start playing in any of the games you need to sign-in. The sign-in sheet is usually on one of the tables and is used to determine class credits for leveling. It takes 12 credits to gain a level in a class. New players do not need to choose a class for the first four weeks so they can try different classes out, but you must still sign-in so those weeks can be transferred to the class you choose.
Ditching is one of the two battles that happen every week. In ditching, 2 teams line up near each other and fight with melee weapons. The winning team loses the first person that died to the losing team. There are no lives or death counts in this game, everyone joins back in at the beginning of each round.
A lot of fights happen in a short period of time so ditching is often used for practice and a warm up.
There are one or two class battles each weekend unless there is a special event. In class battles, 2 teams fight using class abilities, melee weapons, projectiles, armor, and magic. Most class battles are played until one team "shatters" the other team, killing them until they are out of lives or some sort of team objective is met.
When playing in your first class battles, pick a partner on your team to stick with. Having a veteran player can keep you from being singled out by enemies and can answer your rules questions when they come up. If you can, find someone that is playing a class that you are interested in so you can see how it works at higher levels.
After your first month a costume or "garb" is required to participate in battlegames. The simplest option is demonstrated by John Rambo in this video as he makes a tabard.
Basic garb is easy to do if you have access to a sewing machine. If you don't, there are machines available at most Arts & Sciences meetings and people that are willing to teach you how to use them.
Tabard: The most simple garb, a rectangle with a hole in it for your head. Usually held down with a belt or sash around your waist.
T-Tunic: Only slightly more complex than a tabard. A loose fitting T-shirt can be used for a pattern.
Belt: A simple strip of leather with a metal ring attached to the end is the type of belt that most wear during battlegames. A bit of paint or carving can make a basic belt look very nice.
Sash: A strip of cloth at least 2" wide that runs from hip to shoulder to indicate which class you are playing during a battlegame. No sewing is necessary, but a bit of work can make them look very nice.