Burnout in Amtgard

At its heart Amtgard is a game but for people to be able to play and enjoy the game we need individuals to step up and run the organization. At that point it’s a job. As with any job there can be burnout and it can be severe.

I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about burnout in Amtgard. For those of us who take it upon ourselves to continually volunteer in the various offices and the running of events in the club it can turn what is otherwise a fun experience into a stressful, unfulfilling headache. I’ve experienced burnout several times, at different severities over my 18 years of playing.

It doesn’t happen all at once, if it happens to you at all, it is usually only happens after a few years. Eventually it becomes a chore, an activity you do more out of responsibility and habit than any kind of actual enjoyment or sense of achievement. It’s not good for the club and more importantly, it’s not good for your own well being.

Take a step back from your responsibilities. Finish your commitments to the best of your ability but don’t make any new ones, it’s time to look after yourself. Don’t worry, if you are not there to do something, someone else will step up. I know the feeling “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done” but you’ll do no one any good if you push yourself to the point where you won’t be able to do the job properly. That’s the problem with burnout. You won’t be performing at your peak, you’ll be doing your worst. Most cases you only go through the motions and the results are subpar at best.

At that point it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate what you are doing. You should take a look at the last few years and try to identify at what point you started to feel this way. It’s important to identify what exactly isn’t fun anymore so you can stop doing it. It sounds simple but it isn’t always so. Try to remember what made the game fun and try to go back to doing that rather than the added responsibilities you took on.

It’s okay to take a break from Amtgard if you find that no aspect of it is fun anymore. Your own well being is more important than the organization.

A special note to those people who first found fun in volunteering, you may find enjoyment in the activities again. Maybe it’s time to take a step back from a leadership role or switch your focus to helping a new generation leaders rather than doing everything yourself.

For myself I got burnout after a stent running in a kingdom office. Aside from fighting, my original love of the game wasn’t serving in office but in cooking for others. I stepped back from kingdom and local offices and focused on volunteering to do feasts. It was a nice change of pace that kept me engaged in Amtgard. In a very real way it’s like quitting your job and finding a new one.

If you have any questions or seek any advice post in the comments below.

I was inspired to write this after reading this article by Lifehacker.com


How to Organize a Fundraiser Day

This article covers the basics of creating a successful fundraising day event. It doesn’t go into specifics about the different types of fundraisers but does talk about creating an environment that will help a fundraising event be successful. I will first outline the steps and then end by giving an example event.
A successful fundraiser isn’t just about the fundraiser itself, it’s about the whole day. You might have a great fundraising idea but if the whole event isn’t fun the chances of success are diminished. The goal is to make the day as attractive to as many people as possible to help maximize attendance. It’s often not enough to just have a fundraiser; you need to help it along with a great event.

What’s It For

Before you begin to plan your event it’s important to know what you are raising money for. You can say you are raising funds for X group or maybe for an event but it’s best to have a more specific funding goal in mind. For example you might want to raise holding funds, but you should ask yourself what for? Maybe the holding would like to provide loaner equipment but there just isn’t enough money available. In that instance your goal would be to raise money to afford loaner equipment. By creating a specific goal it will help people feel more involved and feel that their money is making a difference.


Now that you know what you want to raise money for, it’s time to decide when. In many instances this will already be decided by whoever is making the reign’s schedule, but if it’s not then you should keep a few things in mind. You want to try making sure that whenever you are holding the event that it overlaps a normal practice. This will help ensure a guaranteed attendance. Always make sure you talk to the local monarchy in charge before you plan your event. Make sure that your event doesn’t come right before or right after any other major events, it’s best if it’s somewhere in the middle. People will be more willing to travel if they haven’t done so recently.
It’s also important to give yourself enough time to advertise your event. I recommend at least a month. If you don’t give yourself enough time to advertise the event you might not get as many people as you would otherwise get.

The Fundraiser

Now that you have figured out what you are raising money for and when, you need to decide how you’ll be doing it. You have a lot of options, pie in the face, penny drives, selling food, auctioning off items, raffles or any other activity you can think of; the key is to keep it simple. No matter which method you choose most will fall within two basic types, Macro Transitions and Micro Transactions. Macro Transactions are larger donations with fewer transactions and Micro Transactions are smaller donations with frequent transactions. There are benefits and draw backs to each.
Macro Transactions have the chance for larger pay offs but have greater risks. You might not have people willing to donate large sums of money. You also run the risk of not offering enough items. If you don’t offer enough items or services then you might lose some funding you might have otherwise received. An example of a Macro Transaction would be auctions where you auction off a few items.
Micro Transactions allow you to more easily gather money from a variety of people. More people are willing to donate smaller amounts, which can add up. An example of Micro Transactions would be a raffle where everyone can buy a ticket for a dollar.
Both types of fundraisers can be done at single day events. Which you should do depends on the types of people who will show up; it will be different for every region and can be different for every event. There is no right answer but I’ve found that Micro Transaction type fundraisers are best for well planned day events while Macro Transaction type fundraisers are best for non-event focused fundraisers (For example, online auctions).

The Event

You have the funding goal, the day and the fundraiser all planned, you’re almost there. Now you just have to plan the event. It’s important to have a fun, structured activity to go along with the fundraiser. It might be a tournament that’s a little bit different, a big quest, or a series of unique battle games, exactly what doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it is something more unique than the normal practice people go to every weekend. Not only will it be more fun, people are more likely to remember the date of the event and to be more interested in going.
Once you’ve decided what fun activities you are going to have it’s important to plan the flow of the event. You shouldn’t just tack your fundraiser onto the end of a great day. No matter how much fun people are having, by the end they are probably going to be tired and ready to go home. It’s best if you have the actual fundraiser in the middle of the day, but don’t just slam it into a time slot, find some way to make it feel like part of the fun. For example, if you are doing a pie in the face fundraiser don’t just stop all the fun and do a series of pie auctions, spread them out a little. If you’re doing a tournament, do a few auctions in between the brackets. This lets people rest and gear up while watching something fun at the same time.

The Example

For the example I’ll be using a fundraiser I ran for Shattered Kingdoms – The Cleansing Storm, a role-play camping event I run.
I first decided we needed to raise money for a new venue. We’ve been trying to save up extra money to move to a new spot so I figured we would take to opportunity to add to the funds. If I were to do this over again I would have set a smaller more immediate goal for this event such as raising money to purchase monster garb.
Next I looked for a good day. As luck would have it we were having a visitor from Canada flying down to our area and the monarch wanted to do an impromptu event to welcome him. I immediately jumped at the chance and asked if I could plan the day. On top of the added exposure, I still had over a month to advertise the event.
I knew the date of the event, now I needed to decide what kind of fundraiser I was going to run. I wanted to do something that would enhance the day and get as many people out as possible. I also wanted to make sure it was something I could easily do. I decided to do homemade grilled hamburgers. As well as the burger I would make homemade salsa and would buy corn chips. I wanted to have everyone have a good time so I made a decision to allow everyone to eat for free with a suggested donated price of $5 per plate. Those who donated money would get their food first.
Next I needed to create a fun event to host my fundraiser. I decided on a tournament. We would do a seeded tournament with two brackets, single sword and sword and board. We would have a bear pit for each bracket and then a standard tournament for the top 8 people in each bracket. Along with the more standard tournament we also had a 5 vs 5 class battle tournament.
The unique aspect of the tournament was the finals, the segment of the tournament where the top eight for each bracket would fight as well as the class battle segment of the tournament. Rather than starting with one bracket and continuing through the bracket to the next we would alternate between the brackets. We would do a short sword fight, then a sword and board fight then a 5 v 5 class battle.
To integrate the fundraiser into the day’s activities I decided to start cooking as the bear pits ended and to serve food as the finals began. Since at this point in the day not everyone would be participating in the finals this would give them a chance to eat and be spectators. It turned it into a more spectator friendly event at the point when it was necessary.

The Results

The day went off pretty much as planned. The only hiccup was the weather (It was in February), it rained constantly and turned the event into a mud pit. Despite the weather attendance was still high, we had 41 attendees, about double the attendance we normally had at that time of year. We took in approximately $110 before expenses. Everyone also had fun and we got to try a new tournament format that was enhanced by a fundraiser.
If you have any questions please feel free to post them below and I’ll try and answer them as best as I can.

5 Ways A Reeve Can Destroy Games

Amtgard is a great game, you get to hit people with foam swords, shoot them with arrows and throw spell balls. While a good ditch can carry a day there are also many people who come to the field for the battle games. A good Reeve cab make for a great day of fighting but a bad one can turn an otherwise fun day into a frustrating one.
I’ve been running games since 1999 and over the years I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share. These are some of the areas that I’ve seen cause problems for people who run battlegames.

#5 Not Knowing the rules

All games are built on rules, Amtgard is no different. Rules are important, if you don’t know the rules you can’t run a game. They should be familiar with the basics, classes, the different states, spell ball durations, verbal durations, the difference between per life and refresh, how armor works, spell targeting, how spells affect people and equipment but the not necessarily the details of each ability. Now if they have the whole book memorized, including the minutia that’s great, it can only help them! However if they don’t have all the spells memorized it’s important that they at least know where to look, being able to quickly reference on the fly is key.
Overcorrecting: There is no such thing as knowing the rules to much; however, they shouldn’t be over zealous with the application of the rules. If someone makes a minor mistake, it doesn’t cause an argument and doesn’t affect the outcome of the game there is no need to call a hold, reset the game and fix the mistake. The best way to handle this is to take the person aside, tell them what they did that was wrong and make sure they do it correctly in the future.

#4 Not Knowing How to Balance

Balance is key, a Reeve might know the rules but that doesn’t mean the game will be fun. They have to be able to feel the mood of the players and make adjustments as needed. The important aspect is to make sure the majority of people are having a fun time.
It’s important that they know the players. A key to making the game fun is giving all sides a fighting chance. It’s no fun if one side gets smashed. It’s important if you are running a battle game to balance the teams. The best method is for the Reeve to build the teams; they must make sure they balance for fighter skill, ranged ability, armor and magic. It sounds simple but that’s not always the case. A good example is armor. There are often people who have physical armor but the Reeve also needs to take into account magical armor. If there is a druid they should ask how much armor enchantments they’ve taken. That can drastically change the outcome of the game.
This concept doesn’t end at team creation; they must feel comfortable at making changes mid game. If as the game is played it becomes obvious that one side has a large advantage then it’s okay to rebalance teams.
Overcorrection: Balancing teams is tricky business; it can be easy to overcorrect. This is especially troublesome when the Reeve has to rebalance the teams after game play has already started. It’s possible that they could send over to many of the wrong people to the other side, causing them to have to rebalance the game once again. It’s no fun if the game has to be constantly rebalanced.

#3 Lack of Preparation

Being prepared isn’t about knowing the rules; it’s about the Reeve knowing the game they are running. A Reeve needs to know the scenario they would like to run and know it well. Depending on the game they’re running this can be easy or extremely difficult.
If the game is a basic capture the flag there isn’t too much to prepare for. They must set up bases and have a flag, know the death count and how long a team must hold a flag and what score they need to win as well as at what point they will call a refresh.
Preparation gets a lot more complicated when the Reeve is running a quest. Not only do they need the basic items such as monster write ups, monster garb, quest objects and volunteers for NPCs, they also need to make sure they have clear objectives, know what the obstacles are for those objectives and well thought-out plans for how those objectives are to be achieved. Not to mention they need to create the framework for the game itself, what is the death count? Will there be quest abilities, how will those affect play, how will you administrate them? There is a lot to plan for and if they don’t the game will fail.
On top of the basic preparations the Reeve also needs to plan for the freedom that quests allow.
For example I played in a quest ran by a group of people who had gained a reputation for running quests full of role-play. I went into the quest assuming that I would be able to achieve some objectives through role-play. I actively chose to not derail the game by trying to role-play rather than just steam rolling the monsters. Turns out that the quest was really just a kill quest, talk to X NPC, go kill X monster, get item, move to next kill quest. They didn’t account for someone who wanted to role-play through a scenario. This caused the game to stagnate as the NPC’s weren’t sure what to do. It was assumed that every player would attack the monster without trying to talk to them first. This lead to the Reeve just saying “kill everything” and broke the flow of the game. In effect I broke their game by role playing through a quest that was supposed to be full of role play.
Overcorrecting: Planning is important but a Reeve can also over plan. A Reeve should account for many difference scenarios but not everything should be assumed. For example, if you have a physical wall that is teen feet tall you shouldn’t plan around something actually scaling it. Can it happen, sure, but it probably won’t. A Reeve shouldn’t get bogged down in details but they should know the scenario well enough that they can make quick and informed decisions. If the players find a creative way to circumvent your well laid plans then they should be reward, not punished.

#2 Not Knowing Your Group

What’s the point of running a role-play quest when everyone wants to just fight, there isn’t. That’s why it’s important to know your group. If a Reeve runs a game no one wants to play then it won’t be fun.
Look, this doesn’t mean a Reeve can’t run a quest if most people want to fight, it just means that the Reeve needs to take that in to account. A bounty based quest is perfectly acceptable. A Reeve shouldn’t be running a quest where you have to talk to monsters to get some vital bits of information when every player is going to want to murder smash him before he opens his mouth. It won’t be fun for anyone, PCs, NPCs or the Reeve.
Overcorrecting: A Reeve can’t plan a game taking into account everyone’s likes and dislikes. A Reeve shouldn’t make a game that plays to the strength of an individual person. If you have one player who likes nothing more than to role-play and would rather talk his way through everything, you shouldn’t make a quest that focuses just on talking. Perhaps that should be an option at key places, but the game shouldn’t be centered on this one person’s play style.

#1 Not Keeping To A Schedule

Schedules are important, every Reeve should have one and stick to it. It’s a simple concept but without it there is anarchy! If a Reeve says a game starts at 1pm then they should be ready to run it at 1pm. If they aren’t then the players will be made to wait and grow agitated. Worse, if a Reeve becomes known for running their games late then when they are actually on time more than likely the players won’t be. It will be pure anarchy and no one will have any fun.
If the Reeve doesn’t keep to a schedule it can cause a whole day to become derailed. A large kingdom event is a great example. There are lots of things going on, more than just games. There could be Circle of Steel and Circle of Monarch meetings, feasts, court and maybe even an althing. If the Reeve running a game doesn’t stick to the schedule it can throw off the whole day.
People pay attention to consistency, if a Reeve constantly runs things on time, then people will be more likely to be on time. If the Reeve constantly runs games late then people will assume everything will be late and nothing will be started on time.
Even if there is no set schedule a Reeve should call for games in time increments. For example, when I am running a game I announce that the game will start in 15 minutes. When I say that people know I will start the game in 15 minutes. I make a point to start the timer on my phone to make sure I keep to that time frame.
Overcorrecting: Schedules are important, but not every schedule is as important as others. It’s important to know when you should stick to a schedule and when you can be flexible. On the major events there is little room for flexibility but on a general practice day there usually is. For example, if the schedule calls for a battle game at 2pm but at 2pm there is a great ditch going and everyone is having fun then it’s okay to push the game back. However when you do, make sure you announce the new time and stick to it. This should be an exception rather than a rule.