The Troubled History of Amtgard in Tulsa
Amtgard has always been a bit challenged in Tulsa, perhaps because Tulsa is the birthplace of another popular fantasy LARP fighting group, Melee or MELEE. To make matters worse, several of the earliest Amtgard members in Tulsa were also former MELEE members, and the leadership of MELEE apparently saw the establishment of Amtgard in Tulsa as a deliberate attempt to turn MELEE's internal disputes into a larger fight between MELEE and all of Amtgard, but as of lately this has changed. Melee and Amtgard have shard the Melee annual fall equinox event at the Amtgard park.
Information today is sketchy and hard to come by, but according to current MELEE members, the first Amtgard group in Tulsa, Lazarus Grove, was founded in 1999 or 2000. The individual who founded this group might or might not have had a MELEE connection himself, but by all accounts the group soon attracted several former MELEE members. According to several Amtgard members who visited Lazarus Grove, this park did not strictly adhere to the Amtgard rules of play; At least one online account says that the founder of Lazarus Grove claimed to "own" Amtgard and have the right to rule Lazarus Grove perpetually, without election, and that he frequently changed the rules of play at will. A story of Lazarus Grove members donning "warhorses," held about their waists with suspenders, and "jousting" each other, has also surfaced online. Several current MELEE members have also complained that Lazarus Grove's web site frequently launched vicious attacks against MELEE and against its individual members-- which is certainly plausible considering the site's later rants against Amtgard itself (see the entry on Lazarus Grove for an example of this)-- and that MELEE discussion boards were often disrupted by individuals associated with this park.
Storm Peak, also known as the Ruins of Storm Peak, was apparently a splinter group which broke away from Lazarus Grove sometime between 2000 and 2002. According to current MELEE members, it was mostly made up of former MELEE players who were disillusioned with the style of leadership at Lazarus Grove. Without any exposure to the "right" way to run Amtgard, members of this group supposedly practiced a hybrid of Amtgard and Melee rules, and also seems to have fueded intermittently with both Lazarus Grove and MELEE.
Both groups had completely folded by 2004. Current members say that MELEE used both its numbers and its influence within the Tulsa fantasy and science fiction community to crush what was left of Storm Peak, whose remnants were apparently re-absorbed into Lazarus Grove under a new name, "Phoenix Mountain." Lazarus Grove/Pheonix Mountain then turned on Amtgard, ranting about Amtgard politics on its web site and forming its own short-lived LARP, Gladaeus, before disappearing from the Tulsa scene forever.
A Rebirth -- Freehold of Five Banners
The Freehold of Five Banners was formed in Tulsa in November 2007 by Maccalus Caerwent Ex, Bladeshadow, and Jayden. The Freehold's name is a historical reference to the Trail of Tears, in which the so-called "Five Civilized Tribes" of Native Americans were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma by the U.S. Cavalry. Five Banners meets every Sunday at 1PM at Hunter Park, which is 1 block west of 91st and Sheridan in Tulsa. A good sign for the future of Five Banners is the goodwill between it and the local MELEE group's current leadership, who is also a member of Five Banners. In September 2008, the largest MELEE group in Tulsa invited Five Banners to help with a scenario (using Amtgard rules, weapons, magic, and monsters) at one of their regular events.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
Things are looking up for Amtgard in Tulsa. Groups in neighboring cities are thriving, and slow but steady growth has been a constant over our first year. For more information, see the Freehold's Yahoo! Group