Friday, July 20, 2018

What You Missed Neden Monster Cleanup

By Tao (James Murphy)

The day was bright, I had helped kill a dragon just a few hours the night before so I was not feeling like a bunch of zombies were going to be much of a threat, I was wrong.

The idea was that there were zombies and other bad guys in Neden causing all kinds of problems. However because this was Neden there was also the spirit of competition, who could last the longest, who could kill (or at least search) the most zombies, who would kill the most other players. I recognized a few faces and thought it would be better to have a few friends. Fancy (may he find the inspiration to write beautiful music while his soul is away from his body), Sive, Meatball, a few others set out to see what help we could give.

Toah appeared briefly to help us with the zombies, but unfortunately was soon swarmed under the horde of zombies. this is when we saw the first of us turn to undead and switch to the other side. There would be more, much, much more.

Because there were so many of us together, we quickly became a focus point for many zombies. After quite a bit of putting down the undead, we encountered one of the strangest pair of monsters I have ever seen in Neden, (and that is saying quite a bit). One looked normal enough but did have the ability to throw small fireballs about the size of a large bean bag, the other looked more like a walking board, but with a hole that was in the center but almost to the top. I had been killed by some zombies that were in the area as well, but when I recovered, the board was dead with a triumphant Belle standing over its corps. At this point we figured out what was needed to take the down the other of them of them. We guessed they were some kind of symbiont enemies or something because we could pick up the fireballs the first one threw and throw them ourselves through the hole on the board to kill the fireball thrower as well. I am just glad we did not have to throw them from 27 feet away. One of the monsters dropped some kind of net thing that could catch Magic missiles, while the other a dagger that was especially sharp to undead.

About this time Sir Bones decided that he needed to return to His transport to get additional supplies, unfortunately I would not see him with a pulse again that day. The next time I saw him he was without a pulse and had joined the ranks of the undead.

About this time we had retreated from the main area but a wandering pack of green faced, accent speaking, goblins? Encountered us.  They were very powerful and were not effected by anything we had. They quickly slaughtered us, leaving us dead on the ground to be picked clean by zombies that were trailing in their wake. I never did learn if they were effectible by anything as any time I saw them from that time forward I had to retreat.

This broke up the small group that we had put together and I spent most of the rest of the adventure on my own.

One of the times I was running for my life, I encountered the second most terrifying zombie I had ever seen. It looked like it should be my friend, it looked like it wanted to help me, but low and behold the pizza BOX zombie wanted to eat me. It made me sad to have to destroy a thing that should be bringing me comfort, it really tore me up. (that joke is for like, 5 people).

In my travels, I encountered Temorse and Grindin of Ashenmark. They had found a quiet place to just sit on a log. No zombies, no goblins, nothing. I talked with them for a while, and then moved on. Having learned the lesson of large groups make lots of noise. Once again movement was my undoing, as I was finding a nice place off the path to just kind of chill in the shade, several things started chasing me. In my hast to escape I did run into a few more zombies that were able to get the drop on me.

About 2 hours from when we started the field shrank; parts of where we were hiding and fighting were no longer accessible this made the day more challenging, and much more deadly.

Now was the time to play hide and seek with the monsters. I found a nice place behind a fallen tree and settled down for a nap. Unfortunately I think the violet pants may have given me away, as I woke up to being stabbed.  It was time to move on.

By this time I believe only 4 of us had not succumbed to the zombie plague and we were hunted mercilessly. It was myself, Mogar, Temorse and Grindin.

In my will to survive, I called on many of the trinkets and wands I had picked in Neden previous to today. They kept me going for a while. Here my story goes a little dark. One of my items grants me divine aid in return for reducing many monsters to fine goo. I used it, a lot. Now I have often spouted that I don’t have issues with reducing monsters to fine goo, to me that just means they are less likely to get back up as it takes two spells instead of one. However some of these zombies were people I knew, like I said it got a little dark. When we have been in these situations in Neden before, everybody got up at the end.  Today would be different.

At about this time I noticed Mogar with the zombies. it was with mixed feelings, I had survived longer then he did, but that meant fewer targets to hunt. I thought we were down to three, one more thing to be wrong about today. Mogar had been commanded/possessed? by some kind of yellow rage demon? Who was going around killing zombies and letting Mogar collect things from them. Once Temorse, Grindin and myself realized this we attacked him to free him from this curse.

So once again the field shrank. Now the area to hunt and be hunted was quite compact.  I was out of tricks, almost out of life, and very tired. We had been doing a lot of fighting, running, more fighting, more running etc.

And here is where my free will story ends with a final confrontation and losing to overwhelming odds.

So yah, zombie time, as I noted above only three people on site were not zombies, that left a lot of us to hunt the few that remained. Now the Ashenmark due was using a device that they had acquired at a previous event that let them merge with trees. Which were everywhere.  This meant that as long as they kept chanting they could not be effected. This was kind of bad news for Mogar who became the only target. So after resting a bit because surprisingly as a zombie, my knees still hurt, I started my hunt of the three remaining.

Mogar was the first to fall to my blade, most of the zombie horde had gone one way, I went the other and managed to find him hard pressed with his back to me.

Next went Temorse when he learned that it was just him and Grindin he kind of gave up and was an easy kill.

Grindin knowing he was the last survivor quickly fell to the horde and the day was over.

Back at the zombie HQ, many people reverted back to their human state, but a few did not. they had been scalped at one point or another and now took the full effect of that condition. Fortune was not with us, as Neden’s primary healer, Naj, was not there to recover everybody’s soul. Two people were down, Fancy of Rathkeale? and Sive of parts unknown. Priest Z, was able to call upon his Dark God and had enough power to restore one of them to life, but which one? Lord Syrus decided the only fair way was to have a vote. Sive won and was returned to life. I will make sure Fancy gets back up at the earliest opportunity.

 By James Murphy (Tao)

monster survival hunt, exhausted, lots of running, lots of fighting, some fun new monsters.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

New Addition Edition

Have you hear our fearless Editor Jennifer Rosa had a new addition?  Julianna Mary Elizabeth Rosa was born on 7/6/18.   Welcome to her and congratulations to Jen and Jason!!


In honor of the occasion, we reached out to hear how other Realms kids feel about being part of our game.  The following words of wisdom came from Dani-Danger of Folkestone. Thanks to Janna Pushee (aka her mom) for helping with this interview.




Dani-Danger of Folkestone:  1 2 3 4 5 SIX!!!  Sarah's on the table!!!!!!!
Janna: Player 4, off the table.  Do you like Realms?
Dani: YES!!!
Janna: What are some of the things?
Dani: Fightin', seeing my friends, being a fighter in Folkestone, ANNNNND mmm, and cause my people got my back.
Janna: What's the scariest thing you've done?
Dani: When it was fierce fightin' and there was goblins, and then there was the time I got my shoe stuck in the mud in WINTER and this skinny big guy helped me but my boot was almost lost.
Janna: So you weren't scared at Creathorne this year in the nations' fight?
Dani: Oh yeah. I was. I thought I was gonna get trampled, but I didn't cause my people have my back.  Mommy, are we done?
Janna: Do you want to be done?
Dani: Nooooooo.
Janna: *grin*  Why should families bring their kids?
Dani: Because I want to see more kids, and I think kids who like to fight and be ninjas and fight a lot and a lot and a lot would like Realms.  Mom, look at dis--JUMP LIKE A FROG!  JUMP LIKE A FROG!  Mommy, is it almost swim lessons.
Janna: Almost.  Dani, do you like the garb?
Dani: What's a garb?
Janna: It's the clothes for Realms.
Dani: All of dem, I like, but I take off my tabbard because sometimes I get hot and it don't fit right.
Janna: What was one of the more exciting things you did this year?
Dani: I was a HERO!!! And Prince Sammy's dad will never lie to another kid EVER!!! He promised. /nod
Janna: HAH, that's right. I hope Matt reads this.
Dani: Who's Matt?  OH!  And I like Yule time, but the grownups get too silly and sometimes I get confused, but I like the part where Father Yule comes out and I can see if he got my letter and get a unicorn princess!
Janna: Or something like that.
Dani: Do people know that Father Yule is [REDACTED]?
Janna: I'm not sending that to the View, DanDan, and please keep that to yourself.
Dani: Okay. [REDACTED] needs a better beard, though.
Janna: Noted and logged.  DanDan, why do you think Mama takes you?
Dani: Because Daddy is too busy being elsewhere to quest with me.
Janna: ...and? Anything else? Do you think you learn anything, or feel safe?
Dani: YES!! I feel okay cause people have my back.  OH and the Princess teaches me how to dance and have long hair and be pretty and then hit people really hard but you can't hit somebody else if they don't have a weapon in their hands. It's the law.
Janna: Yes, something like that.
Dani: Mommy, can I throw things like Daddy yet?
Janna: When you learn how to read and understand the rules, baby, you can choose to be a spell-caster.
Dani: No, I just want to throw things like Daddy.
Janna:  ...okay. *grin*

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

WYM: Echoes of Ragnarok Legends: The Tomb of Sigurd

Night was falling by the time I’d arrived. I had yet to spend a night in Norlund and the shadows cast by the thick of the trees only highlighted the ill of the world.

Ulric was there to greet us, his men rousing a fire for a celebration, during times like these celebrations are important. Tradition becomes more important, it fills our hearts with thoughts of better days. As newcomers and guests we were invited to participate in their traditions. We were invited to learn. 

The festival was about Sigurd, a hero of theirs that was famed for going toe to toe with Fafnir, a dwarf turned dragon by curse and treachery. 

Victorious, Sigurd accepted the ring and was overcome by greed, and turned on his people. He thought to strike even Odin, and in this was folly. His people turned on him, and were victorious. With Odin’s aid, they entombed his corpse, and sealed him and some of his loyal dead away. 

Imbued with Odin’s essence, his sword, now shattered, was the only thing that may open the tomb. And only on a specific day of the year. 

We learned these things through story. We learned these things through traditional games. We learned that Chi and Loken, and the people of the Realms in general, are exceptionally good at Jenga, Viking style. 

The night was merry and light, with death and danger looming over the morrow. 

And so it was as dawn broke, our spirits didn't. Rather we were envigored with a hope for a world that doesn't need to die. We solved ancient puzzles, and riddles, and maps and math. We sought pieces of the sword and defended them from the villainy of the cruel. We defended them from the power hungry. We defended them from Thoril. 

In all honesty, Thoril did a lot of the work to obtain the pieces of the sword, even if he was grabby about the pieces once we found them. At this point, perhaps he got more than he deserved. 

We carried on, down the road, and came across the villainous Gunner, descendant of Sigurd. Gunner and his men had been collecting the pieces as well, and Gunner made a claim on a right to them. He demanded we hand them over. I, perhaps a bit rash, just outwardly told him no. This broke down any hope of peace talk, and we clashed. The people of the realms were victorious, and we looted Gunner’s corpse. 

With all the pieces of the blade, we were able to reforge the sword, with the careful and adept hands of Roland of Eagles Rook hammering away. With the blade in our possession, we took time to rest, allowing the sky to align to proper position for us to enter the tomb.

With night having fallen again, and no one willing to help it back up, we adventured to the tomb. Ulric had taken the time to warn us of the undead plaguing the tomb. He’d told us that there would be crystals of power that they’d carry, corrupted by the ring, and in order to pass into the next section of the tomb, we’d have to quell them. We were gifted with a lantern that shined to this very purpose, snuffing out corruption in all its forms. 

The tomb itself was a series of traps and puzzles, of the arcane nature. With teamwork and exploration, with patience, and vengeance we were able to progress our way beyond the undead plague, and further and further into the tomb. 

The center of the tomb, was shrouded in a rumble from the beyond. Before we could see it, we could hear the call of Sigurd, now transformed by his greed, by the curse of the ring. Entering the inner sanctum, we could see the beast. Massive in nature, it’s flesh dripping from its bones. It’s very gaze the cause of our destruction. 

Flashes of green left many of us dead. Noxious fumes filled the air, yet still many of us managed to slip around the swaying doom of the beast. We ripped its flesh from it’s bones, many of us using our bare hands. Peeling it away to find it’s core. Iawen and Thoril both dove in through it’s ribcage, tearing out bits and pieces to bring the beast down. 

In the end, we were victorious. Sigurd was dispatched. What I didn’t tell you was our plan, and how it potentially went awry at this point in the story. I had spent a good portion of this quest seeking to sway others into my belief in a third option. That we didn’t need to cause Ragnarok, and that we didn’t need to let the world snuff out either. Largely, I’d felt successful, and before we’d ventured into the tomb, the group of adventurers had spoken. I told them of my thoughts, and largely it seemed we were agreed. We knew we could purify the ring, with Sigurd’s Sword, but we’d be using up Odin’s essence in the process. We knew we could destroy the ring. But at the time it was unclear what that would mean for the essence, for the world. We decided that we would do neither, immediately. We’d give the ring to Borjid, as he among us, was most likely able to resist the corruption it possessed. We agreed to let him to be the first to touch it. To be the first to pick it up. 

It wasn’t Borjid though. Thoril, having dove into the beast slunk through the gobs and goo, and found the ring, a bracelet, really, and put it on. I saw it by my own eyes. He claimed he didn’t know it was the ring. He tossed it aside before Gordon could smite him. For a scary moment we thought we’d lost it. Regardless, Thoril had betrayed us, and that is not something I will soon forget. 

In the end his betrayal cost us nothing. The ring didn’t activate quickly enough for that to happen. It didn’t activate quickly enough for anything to happen to Borjid either, who wore it as we strode back to camp. 

I spoke to Ulric, and it became clear that destroying the ring would purify Odin’s essence. I spoke to the crowd of us, and let them know it was our greatest opportunity for a good ending for these realms. No one opposed me, it was decided we would destroy the ring. Gordon suggested we let Ulric do it, and we did, deciding it would be the first steps for him to become a hero for his lands, as he’s so adamant that he’s not. 

I don’t want you to think this is an anticlimactic ending. For one thing, it’s not an ending. It’s the beginning of a new leg in our journey, where we’ll find the answers to the third option. For another, we slayed a friggin dragon, and got the purified essence of a god as our reward. It was awesome!

If you have any questions about what we’re going to do next, please feel free to ask me. I’ll see you on the field. 

Prince Saegan of Blackwood


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Why I Want to Go-Invictus Questing


by Lani "Gwen" Jones

Adventurers of the Realms, here is your opportunity to get into a new plot on the ground floor! Invictus is throwing the first of what I am sure will be many in a new series surrounding the invasion of Rathkeale. This event team will be sure to provide plenty of challenges while still providing solid entertainment and a great story.

This three-day questing event will be taking place at a new event site, which is definitely worth checking out in and of itself. In addition, the event will feature questing content on all three days of the event, so you have lots of opportunities to come out and get involved with a new plot. The event holders have great experience throwing events, and will surely be able to provide you with engaging encounters and challenging fights. In addition, the staff has a lot of experience creating exciting and intricate traps and monsters, so expect to be wowed by the encounters of the weekend. Make sure you equip yourself well, because this event will feature a variety of encounters which will be sure to keep things interesting throughout the event.

Ultimately, if you are looking to be immersed as your character for a long weekend, and excited by the prospect of unraveling a mystery, then Invictus Questing is definitely for you. As you may know, there is something special about attending the first in a new plotline, and I am sure adventurers all over the Realms will want to come out and see how things unveil off the coasts of Rathkeale this weekend.

Friday, July 13, 2018

10 Questions with an EH - Aaron Metzger


1. What events have you previously thrown? (include years) 

An Unavoidable Conflict (2018)
Feast of Chimeron XXIV: The Questening (2016)
Story Tellers X (2015)
Dark Dissent IV (2010)
Last Minute Questing (2009)
The End of the Beginning (2008)
The Twilight Champion (2007)
Of Shadows and Daggers (2007)
Shadows of Death (2007)
Tournaments of Victory V (2005)
Schola Antiquus II (2003)
Schola Antiquus I (2002)

2. What led you to start throwing events? 

At the beginning, it just seemed like a lot of fun.  After playing for a few years, EHing just seemed like a neat way to give back.  Early on, I worked with Jason Rosa and Ian Pushee on the Schola Antiquus series.  These were love letters to two of our favorite video games series (Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda), put into the shape of a Realms event.  It was really fun translating elements from these games into monsters, mechanics and props.

So many props for Schola Antiquus ...

3. What would you like your events to be known for?

Living NPCs, unique (and hopefully fun!) mechanics, having something for everyone and PC agency

While not "living" per se, the Comedytron 2000 was certainly unique and fun!

4. What aspects of event holding do you consider most challenging? 

When creating encounters, I always worry about:
A. Making sure the encounter is fun for anyone who wants to engage it, regardless if their fighters, mages, non-coms, newbies or veterans
B. Making sure the encounter is safe, like physically.  I'm not the best at spotting safety concerns and often forget safe for me does not mean safe for everyone

5. Tell us about an event moment you are particularly proud of? 

So this was during Shadows of Death, which was a dungeon crawl in my Ascerbus plot line.  In it PCs were looking to find Rel's father, trapped inside a tortuous afterlife of his own creation.  When finding him, the scene was suppose to be like a Silent Hill transition (where you go from a typical setting to something more nightmareish and sinister).  We had NPCs (almost 20 of them!) hiding in the back half of the dungeon, until the transition occurred.  They were my Faceless Shadows (all blacks, faceless mask and a single red lightstick around the neck).  On the walls of the dungeon cubes (this was back with the LakCubes), I had setup rolled up fabric which would unfurl with a simple tug on a string.  Each piece of fabric was splattered with blood and had words on it like "Betrayal" and "Traitor", so I could give the illusion of the place changing to something darker.  I also setup a strobe light to temporarily blind the PCs (again, creating this illusion of a change).  So PCs walk into this scene, with only a few lights on and a spotlight on Jake Valeri (playing Rel's father).  After reciting a short poem, the lights are cut, the strobe turns on for a moment, cloth is unfurled, some of my staff scream (for effect) and this tide of Faceless Shadows rise up and begin rushing towards the PCs.  The PCs, being led by Jarrod Marshall (Jarrod of Folkestone), were frozen and only just came to their senses in time to fight back against the Faceless Shadows.  The effect went off beautifully and really set the tone for the second half of the event.

6. Tell us about something that went wrong and what you learned from it? 

So this was during Feast of Chimeron XXIII.  I wasn't EH, but part of the primary staff running FoC.  For the NQ on Saturday, we had a spot we wanted to use for the boss, but it was across a bridge and down a fairly long path.  So we had this "great" plan to have some fighting near/on the bridge and then down the path to the boss. None of that worked because:
A. The trail leading to the bridge looked fine in the day, but was incredibly perilous at night.  This meant no fighting and spending a long time getting PCs to the bridge safely
B. The bridge was clearly not designed to have 20+ people on at once.  So an epic fight, with the bridge as a set piece, became a safety concern and meant we cut all of the fighting
C. Path battles are boring.  That seems obvious to say now, but not so long ago, they were a staple in Realms eventing.

From this, my staff and I learned to think about safety beyond the ideal scenario (see again safety is something I always struggle with) and having a path is not a reason to have a Path Battle.  If you really need to travel down a long path, find content more interesting than just endless fighting.  Even adding a single NPC who can talk to PCs can go a long ways.

7. What do you think makes an event site “good” and how have you gone about locating sites? 

For me, the primary concerns are always location (can PCs easily get here and attend my event) and cost (will I go broke).  You can have the most beautiful site, but if it's in the middle of no-where and costs a fortune, it just isn't worth it.  Beyond those considerations, however, try to view a site based on your event style.  Do want to run small mods?  Make sure your site has plenty of buildings/segregated spaces you can use.  Do you want to run PCs through different set pieces?  Maybe someplace with many unique locations.  Do you want to give PCs a "typical" questing experience?  Looks for nice trails which link back to some central point.  Recently, I've been leaning towards events with mods, so you'll see me at sites where I can easily break PCs into small groups.  Although, I still enjoy a classic boss battle, so I like making sure my sites can also accommodate this.

Best way to find your perfect site is to look online and make calls.  Many camps have maps or pictures online, giving you an idea of the site.  A quick call can give you pricing, availability and usually you can even schedule a site walk to check it out.  If all else fails, look into sites where events have happened.  Talk to EHs who throw those events and see if they would recommend their site or not.

8. Have you managed to maintain a balanced budget? Any advice for other event holders on doing that? 

Budgeting is tough and I rarely get it right.  When your income is in flux (always based on PC attendance), it can be hard to figure out what is and isn't reasonable.  I've gotten better at it (my last event was actually a small net positive for us), but not without taking on a lot of losses throughout the years.

Some key advice to other EHs:
A. Site cost is likely a larger portion of your budget, so make sure you're comfortable with it.  If the price seems too steep, then look for a cheaper alternative.  Maybe a cheaper site won't be perfect, but it's better than going broke
B. When putting money to props/costuming, try to make sure it's something you can re-use.  My last event went net-positive because I was able to re-use so many things from past events
C. Also, before putting money to props/costuming, ask around if someone has something similar you can borrow.  The Realms has a wealth of resources and many people are more than happy to see their stuff being used again
D. Don't underestimate the cost of food.  Even a typical questing event should expect to spend $50-$100 on snacks and water (based on size and intensity).  Feasts are much more expensive and can easily balloon out of control if not careful
E. Don't be afraid to charge a fair amount of money for your event.  Look at your budget, your expected PC turnout and do the math.  If you charge less than that amount, you're guaranteed to lose money.  If the amount seems too high, look over the budget again and tighten where you can.  It can be hard, but again it's better than going broke

9. What staff positions do you feel are essential to run your events and what do you do to help empower and support them? 

You must have a dedicated Magic Marshal and a Head NPC.  Both need to have a full write-up of the event and be allowed to make changes as needed.  Both of these roles get to see how the event unfolds, thus being in a unique position to directly intervene as needed.  Means you have to trust them fully and roll with any changes they choose to make.  Even if they make a decision you personally wouldn't have, just go with it and understand they made the decision to help make your event better.  You can always discuss after the event is over, to see why something was done.

A fantastic staff to plan and throw events together.
10. What advice do you have for other Event Holders? 

Don't be afraid to fail.  It's easy to fall into the rut of doing what other people are doing or doing what you find comfortable/familiar.  Trying something new, even if you aren't 100% sure it's good.  Some of the best Realms moments are because of off the wall ideas (what if the PCs started as prisoners, what if these NPCs didn't call their shots, what if a site was live 24 hours).  Experiment and look for engagement in places never tried before!

11. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the foreseeable future?

Chimeron Questing is coming up, which I am helping organize and will be writing some quests for (should be a unique experience for those who participate).  Otherwise, RTC and I are already working on Phase 2 of our Risen Kingdoms plot line (hopefully coming soon in 2019).  Very excited to see this story continue and see where PCs will take it!  Beyond that, I'm hoping to experiment more in the Realms and see what other crazy ideas I can bring forth.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

What You Missed: Blackwood Tournaments VII

 By John “Gordon Lightfoot” Rescigno

 Hi everybody! It’s your friendly neighborhood Gordon here with my very first What You Missed. Be gentle. Where to begin? The awesome night quests? The fantastic food? The bardics? The tournaments themselves? Or some awesome people being honored for awesome things? What? The Beginning? And you want me to stop using fragment sentences? Fine. The beginning it is!

I arrived on site on Friday night later than I normally would, but not late enough to have missed too much. I always like slow, relaxing first nights. It gives people a chance to get all set up, say hello, and prepare themselves for the weekend. I’ve been to Blackwood Tournaments three times now, and each one has been better than the last. This was my first time on the PC side of the event, so I knew that I could expect some epic goings-on.

 After a nice quick Reading of the Rules, we all gathered in front of the tavern to make plans and see how our fighting force was going to look. At first, it looked like we had three fighters. Thankfully, more people trickled in, and we were off!

I’ll be honest with you all. I know very little about this plot aside from Time Rifts and doppelgängers from alternate timelines. My focus was and always is get in, try not to muck things up too much, have some awesome fights, and make sure my friends all make it out. We did not have a lot of healing Friday night. If I am counting correctly, over the course of the night, I was raised six times. One of those was a combat raise, and the rest of them were Cries of Life. Another cool reason to try out regional magic! Folkewood has some awesome regionals where you get points per level of spell slot where you can do magical hoobyjoo with those points. There were five pillars in the big tourney field and LOTS *ahem* LOTS of undead and also some wraiths. We rolled through the undead as quickly as possible to get to the pillars, which were either pillars that looked like people or some kind of statue. Like I said, I don’t know a lot about the plot. Yet.

Under these pillars were runes that I couldn’t quite decipher at first. I was studying the second pillar when I heard this ear-piercing screech from the woods, and suddenly, every one of the undead that we had just cut down were coming for us again. This was the kind of awesomeness I expected when I came to Blackwood Tournaments, but oh boy does it get better! Voraniss set up a corner of the field to defend while the thinkiest of us attempted to decipher the puzzle. Luckily, we were defending a corner where one of the pillars was set up, with a rune under it that I recognized! It turned out to be the Teng-Huanese character for Fire! I tracked down Tallon and showed it to him. He took out his pocket dragon and “put fire on the fire” until the wards around the pillar broke. Awesome! We had a solution! To make a long story short (too late), we matched the elements Fire, Water, Earth, Metal, and Wood to the corresponding pillars and got out of there!

I spent the rest of the night as I spend most of them: playing poker with my friends and losing to the ONE OUT on the river. For those of you who don’t know too much about poker, just hop into a time rift and find a reality where my opponent didn’t hit his out. Hint: there aren’t a lot of them. Never lucky.

The next morning began the Tournaments portion of our program. For those of you who have never been to Blackwood Tournaments; first of all stop that and correct your horrible, terrible choices and come hang out with me. I probably miss you or something. Second of all, the tournaments are team war maneuvers mixed with some single combatant OOTL style tournaments. It began with grand melees to determine the General for each team. The generals were Shandar, Tempest, Enlon, and Kyara. Then, we all got to re-live high school for a few minutes while each general picked the members of their team from the pool of combatants. The tournaments were as follows:

4-way field battle
Senchukulous/Wheel of Death
King of the Hill/Point Defense
4-way bear pit/queens war/color battle

I never said I was a poet or a tournament-namer, alright? All I know is that it was a hot day to be wearing leather and chain, and there were some awesome fights and some interesting strategies employed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which team won each tournament and I wasn’t able to stick around on Sunday for awards. What I do know is there was a good amount of time between each tournament where we could cool off, get a drink, and get ready for the next one. The timing was so perfect that once the tournaments were done, it was straight up to the tavern for the best part of the weekend.

I can’t speak for the KoEF, so I won’t even try. What I can tell you all is my perspective of the events that transpired. The first order of business was the conferral of a Fireball to Aiden. As most if not all of you know, Arthur Granger makes some amazing chainmail and chain jewelry. Every one of the knights was displaying some of his work, and every piece was a work of Art. Get it? No? Moving on. But seriously, if you need chainmail and you want something absolutely beautiful and affordable, talk to Arthur!

I can’t even begin to describe how awesome and deserving Matiya is. I don’t know even half of the extent that she has given back to this game of ours. My experiences with her have always been positive. She is an honorable fighter, a wonderful NPC to work with, the first place I go when I need clarification if I am NPCing, an amazing person to talk to, and I’m sure I’m not alone on this one or this will be very embarrassing, a great shoulder to cry on. You all have your own experiences with her just like I do. All I will ask you to do is to think for a moment on a moment you’ve had with Liz Butler. I bet all of you thought of a very positive experience, and you all agree with me because there is no argument against it. Liz, congrats on the white belt!

Whoof this review is getting long. I’m only on Saturday evening, and I haven’t even told you about the epic journey of a night quest we went on! For those of you still reading, thank you for sticking with me. Those of you who aren’t, you can’t even see this. I could be making faces at you right now and you would never even know. What’s next? Food? FOOD! One of the things that drew me to this event was the inside information on the food. Two words people: Pulled Pork. Ally “Ryverstone” Cunningham made so much pulled pork for this event! It became the topping for burgers, hot dogs, nachos, and for the especially brave, pasta salad. Even on its own it was amazing! Smoked and seasoned perfectly, I could go on for another few pages of review about how much I loved the pulled pork, but I would probably lose the six of you still reading.

After dinner I played in another poker tournament. For results, see the section above. #neverlucky

There were some fireworks in Danbury to the south of us, so I missed the start of the night quest. Woops. Luckily, Dame Twenaria was there to yell at me and get me moving. Everybody had a favorite part of the night quest. The best way to describe it was Nostalgiafest 1018. As it turns out, in these alternate timelines, we lose a lot more than we would like to admit, and we had to fix that! I didn’t even recognize two of the four plots that we revisited! The first thing we encountered was a castle gate surrounded by a moat. I don’t know how long we fought on that bridge. I don’t WANT to know how long we fought on that bridge. The constructs guarding it were backed up by more constructs that could heal and repair them, and replenish their power with a magical well behind them. I found out later that there was a way to poison the magical well to kill all of the constructs, but we did things the brute force kind of break down the door method. Eventually it worked!

Past the well we discovered a table that had four outlines of ash on it. Three of these could be filled with items we already had with us, and gave us hints to the adventures to come. We already had a vial of blood, Predator’s Sword, and a Shard of Narsil. We were missing a helm, which we eventually discovered was the Helm of the Northern Paladin. We broke through the wall of rocks in front of us and started running the gauntlet of Time Rifts ahead of us.

In the first Rift, I ran into Neil Cook, but not OUR Neil Cook, and walked with him for a while. We met some Acolytes of the One True God from Verai. No, not NEW Verai. Verai. We decided to keep looking for the Helm of the Northern Paladin, and kept moving. Before I move on with the story, I want to applaud the event staff for masterful use of glow sticks. While we were all in the first Rift, they were hard at work lighting a path with the glow sticks on the ground for us to discover once it had been solved. Super cool! When we got to the next Rift, Voraniss was already on top of things and solving the Rift using the vial of blood. This was one of the plots that I had never heard of and it wasn’t explained to me before the time of writing this. Seeing that that Rift was all but solved, I moved along the glow stick path towards the next Rift. I’m sure most of you know, I was not playing this game 18ish years ago when Lord of the Rings plot was going on, but the next Rift allowed us newer players to cash in on some of that nostalgia, and it was awesome fighting against the minions of Sauron. Swoop even lent me Anduril to beat the goblins up with! I’ll check that one off of the nerdy bucket list! The way to solve this Rift was very counter-intuitive. Remember when I said that in these alternate timelines we lose more often? To solve this Time Rift, we had to give the Shard of Narsil back to the goblins! Very scary concept to some of us.

We stumbled back into the first rift that we encountered and discovered a path that was definitely no way not there before. Okay, we missed it the first time. There was a lot of hissing down this path as the Sneeple attacked us. Once more we fought our way through to a stone table with a carving of a dragon on it. The table had a hole that fit the Predator’s sword. When it was inserted into the table, Predator came and retrieved it. He helped us to defeat the remaining Sneeple in the area, and we followed him back to the first Rift. As it turned out, the eggs in the area were not dragon eggs with cute baby dragons that Twenaria and I were going to steal and cuddle. They were filled with Sneeple both big and small. There was a very big, very fast one, two poisonous ones, and countless regular Sneeple. The eggs kept hatching, so we kept fighting. The big one was messing a lot of us up, so Lako gave me some insight into how to defeat it with Fighter’s Intuition! We learned that its armor was very thick, and we needed to pierce its hide to wound it. Mogar started swinging, and we brought it down! I’m not actually sure if we ever collected the Helm of the Northern Paladin, but after that rift had been solved to our satisfaction, we left the way we came and began the night’s festivities! I went to bed earlier than I’d like to admit, and in the morning left earlier than I normally do, so I’m going to let Saegan pick it up from here. If you’re lucky he might tell you about the Beer Pit!

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by Keith "Saegan" Cronyn

The Beer Pit is a small tradition that takes place after the night quest at Blackwood Tournaments. It's exactly as irresponsible as it sounds, mixing fighting, and drinking, and I will say we had a record breaking year. The people who participate in it have a certain fondness for it that keeps it around, and it's just a good time that you'd have to experience for yourself. I'll leave it at that, but I won't say you won't hear some stories if you ask around.

The revelry went far into the night, and I'm happy to say we were able to convince Aiden to do some fire dancing for us just before blue o'clock. It was a good light hearted night for a lot of people, and I think some memories were made.

Sunday, we were able to roll into tournaments right around 12. We, the event staff opted to finish up the singles tournaments first to make sure that the event would qualify for Order of the List for all our participants.

I was a combat marshal, so I got to see all the fights first hand, and I have to say that this was one of my favorite unlimited single competitor tournaments to have witnessed. We had several casters step up and try their hand, which isn't always the case. We had some really epic slug fests, that were just true examples of how fighting should be done, and we even had some really just clever moves that changed the outcome of fights in general. I'm a real fan of heavy combat, and this was a display.

We rounded out the day with capture the flag. The sun was being relentless, and just beating down on us, and it seemed  a lot of the competitors were exhausted with the weekend of festivities. It was obvious. The players took advantage of the rules, and played smart. Personally I think it was a nice light way to end the tournaments, which was perfect because we needed to move onto the awards.

The results were in, and the Purple Team had claim the overall victory. Blackwood celebrated the finale of the event with cake, trophies and certificates.

Thank you all who made it out, we hope to see you next year.