|The Best Bad Influences
In a June 24th, 2014 article titled "Regarding Companies," Pumyra wrote a lengthy article about the importance of the titular groups found throughout Amtgard. Her article resonated with me in many aspects but most of all the idea of "growing up with Amtgard."
I don't know the year but in Roswell, NM a tiny group named Endless Horizons cropped up in the early days of the game. It's gone now, but that was where my mother, ElSpeth, first began playing. She eventually moved to Las Cruces, NM to attend college and found an Amtgard home with another little group called Dragonspine. So many names from that time instantly conjure up my carefree childhood. Right alongside Leonardo, Raphael, Panthro, Lion-O, and Optimus Prime are names like Quicksilver and Ironpaw, Egil, Alucard, Alaeric, Belgarin, Kurshan and Blackthorn (whom my mother happily married!) And so many more…
Somewhere along the way, in the yellow lamp light of someone's house being used for A&S, my mother insisted I come up with a persona name. I thought and thought. Amongst the sound of laughing, ripping duct tape, and the undulating yet droning sound of a sewing machine, I picked up an astronomy magazine from a coffee table. From there I became Centauri; although, my mother insisted I spell it uniquely – hence Syntaury – and the same night my brother became Snow…or Cynoe.
Later my family moved to Albuquerque, NM and became citizens of Pegasus Valleym, and I watched that group grow up. During that time, being young, I was oblivious to things like…emails… where an important roleplay was unfolding. I was caught by surprise the first time the Iron Mountains appeared at our park to invade but I do vividly remember a thundering speech by Sir Crosser about raising arms of resistance. The next year, this little event became immortalized as Harvest War.
From this first Harvest War comes one of the most important events in my life. I was fighting up in the mountains alongside a comrade from Pegasus Valley. Two supremely armored warriors from the Iron Mountains descended. My comrade was dispatched by a polearm lashing out from behind a shieldman and I lost my arm in the trade. From here I knew it was a losing battle but I set myself and readied my weapon. I would do what I could to show the courage of and loyalty to my group. One of the warriors said something like, "Look at this kid!" and subdued me, then took me back to their base. This Warrior was Axgar. Upon arriving, he told people about how I was ready to fight, told them he saw a look on my face, and the whole time I am beaming and feeling like a goddamn hero as he validated my courage.
Where else can this happen to a young man?
Amtgard is a place where the romantic ideals of old still shine. Axgar may have forgotten this simple exchange, but for me I can look to it as a bonafide moment of martial courage in my life; recognized and celebrated by my enemy. Like Pumyra, I was supremely gifted with many formative experiences from Amtgard (by the same dude, in this instance—just serendipitous!) The contact fighting nature of Amtgard's combat makes these displays of courage as real they were hundreds of years go.
I remember seeing my mother on bended knee in 1996 as King Phocion touched a glimmering sword to her shoulders and feeling a huge pride in my family. "Wow, a knight!" I would think then, but my mother wouldn't let a title be the only meaning. From her, I learned a lot about service, due diligence in record keeping, weapon construction, and proper garbing
From there I met fantastic mentors like Lord Comar who gave me a stern lesson after he found out I sloughed shots in a game (versus someone I didn't like, so that makes it okay, right?) And Sir Goldcrest, who has always been a servant of the hobby. He's been the organizer or on the executive committee for the Amtgard Food Fight every year since 2009. This year's edition just wrapped up at Clan 2014 and "was the latest in a long line of successes."
Eventually, my family moved to Ohio and founded another group, the now defunct Falconridge, where I was even the Prime Minister for a term or two. Around this time I was in highschool and, sadly, I began to experience another value system…it wasn't old fashioned like chivalry. It was new, and shortsighted, and included things like over-valuing what other kids thought about me. So as a teenager I slunk my way out of Amtgard and in to "cooler" groups – like marching band (like I said: misguided.)
And that is where my story picks up: I'm 30 now. I went to basic training and had some moments of "martial courage," done two deployments to Iraq. I have kids. But I've never been fully myself. Part of my history is always calling back to me.
At this point we are probably past second generation Amtgarders and on to third generation! Like the stars, there will always be an uncountable number of moments forgotten by others that we will remember forever. Amtgard ensures those moments are rooted in our love of the romantic old ideals, appreciating history and fantasy. And I hope to reestablish the light of Centauri to the cosmos…
…just need to update my concept. Because an Egyptian bounty-hunter, half-man, half-cheetah persona made a lot of sense when I was 14…
[ discuss on forums ]