Starting a Chapter

It’s always more fun to play with others. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to bring the others to you! If you’ve taken a look at the Amtgard Atlas and discovered there are no existing parks nearby, don’t fret. Starting a new chapter is a pretty simple process; at least the administrative parts are.

Attracting your first members can be a challenge, but founding a chapter is also a rewarding experience. Lucky for you, new chapters have been formed literally hundreds of times in the past so there are some very experienced people who would be happy to give you advice. This guide covers the administrative details and legal requirements for starting a chapter.

Step 1: Pick a Name

Before you can get started with contracts, you need a name, of course. Once you have a couple of ideas in mind, you should stop by the Amtgard Atlas or do a search on the Amtwiki to make sure the name you want hasn’t already been used. Multiple chapters with the same name is confusing!

Changing your Chapter’s Name

Since all chapters have a contractual relationship with Amtgard, Inc., name changes need to go through the Amtgard International Board of Directors. You can get more information at the Board of Directors page.

Step 2: Sign a Contract

Starting a group that uses the name Amtgard requires a contractual relationship with Amtgard International. This is the legal entity that represents Amtgard as a whole. As mentioned above, if your group ever changes name you’ll need to have your contract altered.

To submit the contract, just print it out and fill in the blanks. In order they are: The date; the chapter name; the chapter name; the chapter name. You should leave the left set of blanks empty for a representative of Amtgard International to sign when your contract is approved, and only sign the right set. Once it is filled out, scan the contract in, and email it, along with the ID of the signer, to contracts@amtgard.com. It may take about a week before you receive a reply. There are a few other tidbits that are helpful when we process the contract, so we have a helpful guide available HERE that should be able to help answer both your and our questions and make the contracting process go smoothly.

This contract requires your group to abide by the Freehold Corpora, that is, a set of rules for how your chapter will be structured, until you join a kingdom. Freehold is a catchall term for groups that are not part of a kingdom. They trade the freedom of not joining a kingdom for limitations, such as on how many awards they can give.

Step 3: Create Your Chapter Heraldry

Now that you have a name and a contract, you should develop a heraldic device unique to your chapter. Most chapters have a heraldry somehow related to their geography, their name, or an important event in their formation. Some have heraldry that just plain looked cool. Be as creative as you like! All that matters is that the heraldry is unique.

If you’d like more information in Heraldry, take a look at the Amtwiki article on Heraldry. The Amtwiki also has a a page showing heraldry for all parks.

Step 4: Talk to Your Kingdom

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to start talking to the kingdom your chapter will be a member of. Kingdoms hold sway over geographic regions, so there’s likely already a kingdom in your area for you to join. You can look on the Amtgard Atlas for your closest kingdom or Amtgard International can help you get the contact info of the right people when dealing with contracts. If you’re really far-flung, you may be eligible for sponsorship by a number of kingdoms, or you may remain a freehold. Otherwise, the Circle of Monarchs has issued some guidelines about the distances between new groups and kingdoms. Don’t worry, again, Amtgard International can help you through these issues when you start your chapter.

Here is a list of the current Kingdoms of Amtgard.

What is this “Shire” business?

Amtgard Chapters (also called Parks, lands, or groups) are given a designation based on the number of active players. The exact requirements varies somewhat from Kingdom to Kingdom, but here’s a brief guide to the active player ranges:

  • Shire; 0-5 players required
  • Barony; 15-20 players required
  • County; 21-30 players required (only used in the Golden Plains)
  • Duchy; 30-40 players required
  • >Principality/Grand Duchy; 60-75 players required (requires subgroups in some Kingdoms)
  • Kingdom; 75+ players required, as well as several other factors

Regardless of size, a group can’t advance beyond Shire status without a sponsoring Kingdom.