EAST LANSING – When you first hear of Amtgard, a medieval and fantasy combat sports organization, that looks so silly. But then try it, said Lansing resident Spencer Kippen.
“And it’s basically like a half step of a full contact sport,” he said.
Kippen’s cousins introduced him to the business about 13 years ago. They use stuffed weapons, fantastical and authentic costumes, armor, and imagination to immerse players in a world of heroic combat, crafting, and quests.
Now he is the Grand Duke of Michigan, Northern Indiana and Eastern Chicago, an elected office he will hold for summer. His The Duchy includes the Barony of Ashen Hills Park Group, which meets weekly at Patriarch Park in East Lansing to indulge in light role-playing, foam weapon combat and general “weekend cheer”. end”. according to the band’s website.
Other groups can be found in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and even outside the United States. Amtgard is everywhere. You can never escape the nerds, Kippen said.
“No matter where you are, if it’s a hobby you’re interested in, there’s someone out there who will play that game with you,” he said.
When and where to play locally
Amtgard was founded in El Paso, Texas in 1983 and has over 10,000 active members, according to its rules.
The local group meets around 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays at Patriarche Park in East Lansing. If the park is occupied, players will be at the bottom of the northeast side of the park.
The band’s home park is Wonch Park in Okemos, but due to construction, the group moved to East Lansing this summer, said Lauren “Lady Alpaca” Warshaw, a Lansing resident who is the person responsible for publicity and outreach as the group’s elected regent.
There are also fighter workouts to focus on technique from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at Hillbrook Park in Haslett, weather permitting, Warshaw said.
People looking to get involved can go to a new player exhibition from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on June 12 in Patriarch’s Park. The first 10 new players will receive special prizes and there will be loan materials, quests and goods.
The group is open to the public. Membership and participation are free. Kippen said they try to pick places to play that are public because for every 100 people who see them, about 10 will check out the band, which is how they get most people to join.
In his experience, people are embarrassed by live role-playing, whether in private or in public. To enjoy it, says Kippen they need to address the silly factor.
“It’s a lot of the social aspect of, we know it sounds weird, we know it sounds weird, but you just have to get your feet wet and then you’re hooked,” he said.
Combat rules and gameplay
Combat is at the heart of Amtgard and accounts for a significant portion of time spent each week, the rulebook states.
Players have five places where they can be “injured” when hit by a weapon: both arms, both legs, and the torso. Blows to the neck or head are prohibited. Two wounds or a chest wound results in a “death” when the player is out.
Kippen said the gear is padded with enough foam that fighters don’t have to wear protection if they don’t want to, although some players wear handmade or crafted armor.
“The barrier to entry is about as low as it will ever be in a game where you punch another person,” he said.
The Ashen Hills Group has a huge stock of loaner equipment and there are experienced people who will help newcomers learn how to make their own, he said.
As far as RPGs go, Warshaw said their park is more combat-focused, but some people will pick up characters. Kippen is Rieux Latham in the game, a lost Frenchman who never learned to speak French.
The combat varies widely, from a battle like Ultimate Frisbee but with swords and magic to a Dungeons and Dragons-like fight against creatures leading to a high-stakes encounter.
“I would say there’s an expectation of awkwardness and that’s okay,” Warshaw said. “We’re all awkward, we’re all in this together, and we include all ages and abilities and we adapt to that.”
For people who want to have fun
Kippen said he’s pretty grounded in this big, silly community, so he’s straightforward when encouraging others to join.
“I pretty much tell them, ‘you’re a giant nerd, do you want to come punch some other giant nerds?'” He laughed.
Warshaw thinks the game has something for everyone, from people who are already prone to being “nerdy” and involved in role-playing games to “jocks” who are more interested in the athletic aspect.
“At the end of the day, I think the most welcoming thing all demographics find is that we’re a tight-knit community,” she said. “You know, we accept everyone and we’re all here to be silly and look silly and have a silly time.”
Kippen said the community has to be one of the funniest people he’s hung out with, and someone has to have a fun, outgoing personality to get the most out of it.
“Once we have a sword in your hand and we have you in a fighting game, it’s too late for you,” he said. “You’re already in it, you’re already having fun. It is the end. It’s finish.”