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LARP / Amtgard

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Amtgard (pronounced "Amt-Guard", not "Amped-Guard" as previously noted here) is a LARP (Live Action Role Play) game centered around medieval style combat. Amtgard was created in Texas in 1982, and since then has spread to have chapters across North America, as well as several chapters in Europe. In Amtgart each player created a "Persona" who they portray while playing the game. In short this means that if Bob starts playing Amtgard, he stops being Bob, instead he might be Daroc the Stonemaster, or another similar fantasy or medieval name. As Bob continues playing, his persona will grow more powerful, gaining awards, experience points for class levels, and many other things. The game encourages effort a great deal.


The game itself is a rather simple boffer game. Two people each wield a foam sword (essentially a self-made nerf sword) and fight with it. When a hit connects, damage is done based on the location of the hit. Limbs (Arms, legs, hands, feet) are crippled on hit, forcing the injured fighter to not use the crippled hand or leg while fighting. Torso shots, and two or more wound shots on the appendages are instant kills. This is the most basic way that Amtgard is played. Most amtgard gatherings will spend hours fighting like this, with teams of fighters lining up against another team for a Team Deathmatch, Bearpit, or other mini games.

In addition to the basic game explained above there is also a more advanced game that is played frequently. This game has all the rules of the basic game, however it also tosses in things like ranged weapons, armor, spells, and class abilities. So while the basic game may have two guys fighting each other with short swords, in the main game those same players could be a Scout using a Piercing Arrow to penetrate the other guys natural dragon armor, avoiding fireballs the entire time.


A full explanation of the game and its politics would be too time consuming to post here, so below are some common tropes seen in the game:


  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. Bows can be some of the deadliest weapons in the game in the hands of a skilled player.
  • Archer Archetype: Archer class.
  • Arrows on Fire: Archers and Scouts can use these.
  • Back Stab: A common tactic. Some highly skilled players take to wearing bells on their person, a sign that they want you to hear them coming.
  • Barbarian Hero: Barbarians, natch.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Averted. Monks use weapons like everyone else.
  • BFS: Great weapons have at least four feet of striking surface, and deal double the normal damage.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Archers, Scouts, and Assassins are frequently played this way.
  • Combat Medic: Healer class.
  • Costume Porn: A lot of this, especially common in events like Olympiad, but also very common in demonstrations or convention appearances. Some artisans have managed to turn LARP costumes into full time businesses. When costume porn pays your bills, you have an awesome job.
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  • Dual Wielding: A common fighting style. Because Amtgard weapons are so light, it isn't difficult to use two weapons of decent length effectively.
  • Elemental Powers: Standard fare of Wizards and Druids; includes frost, acid, lightning, and fire.
  • The Fair Folk - Divided into Good Fey, who help Players, and Evil ones who will ruin your day. The nature-loving Druid is able to resist magic used by Fey if he chooses.
  • Fantasy Character Classes - Pretty generic, there's three categories of classes: Melee, which contains Barbarian, Warrior, and Monk. Magicians: Which contains Wizards, Healers, Bards, and Druids. And finally Rogue/Archer classes: Which contain Archer, Scout, and Assassin. In addition there are two special classes that can only be used by players who have obtained high rank within the game's nobility, Paladin and Anti-Paladin.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Shields are immune to normal weapons.
  • Magic Knight: Paladins and Anti-Paladins are this by default. Wizards and Druids can also be played this way, at the cost of not having as much spellpower at their disposal.
    • As can Healers, being the only magic class capable of using shields. In fact, Healers that aren't this are uncommon.
  • Magic Music: Bards have various abilities that are activated by singing.
  • Medieval European Fantasy - The basic setting of the game in most parks. Certain additions allow you to play in a Shifting Sand Land, and Steampunk world among others.
    • There is also a house of Klingons. Another of displaced Federation personnel. Jedi. Displaced Vietnam Vets and practically anybody else that can be dumped in a time-warp.
  • Nature Hero: Barbarians, Druids, and Scouts.

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