Friday, October 2, 2015

Happenings on the Emerald Path

A news and announcements section of what Realms players are doing outside of the Realms. If you know of any news feel free to let us know at

Welcome to the world!!

Andrew Joseph Brenner son of Matt "Cecil" and Lindsay who was born on August 11th.

Bon Voyage!!

Michel "Jace" Venne who left on September 27th to spend two years studying in Germany!!


To Zach "Rubis" Senchuk who is working at Boda Borg Boston which will be opening on October 3rd. It offers quests for groups of 3-5 people.

Cheers to Alysha "Kyntela" Metcalf who was promoted to Senior Analyst supporting the physician EHR products in MEDITCH's client services division. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What You Missed - Feast of Blackwood (Questing)

So you want to know what happened when we journeyed to Blackwood recently? No doubt you've been hearing some interesting stories.  I'm sure at least some of them are even mostly true. Let me at least tell you what I experienced, and you can make of it what you will.

When Aeston, Kyntela, and I arrived in Blackwood this Saturday past, we found ourselves suddenly standing amongst our friends and comrades, but we were definitely NOT standing in Blackwood anymore. Trying to make sense of the situation we had apparently dropped into, we endeavored to seek out an individual in the party with at least some knowledge of what exactly was going on.  This person turned out to be Highlord Temorse of Ashenmark, who promptly filled us in on the details. Apparently, a group of heroes from the Realms had arrived in Blackwood the previous night, and through a series of events ended up pursuing a goblin shaman, along with his elemental army, on a merry chase through half of Blackwood. After collecting a series of objects, they were able to piece together a puzzle and thereby gain entrance to the shaman's encampment. And wouldn't you know, they found him firmly ensconced in circles of elemental protection, each with its own totem that rained elemental missiles down on the party. As each circle was breached, the totems seemed to shut down, and the shaman was finally bested. With his dying breath, he uttered a curse that flung the heroes, and all who would follow them, into what we all creatively started referring to as the prism-prison plane (for lack of a better phrase, of course). It was on this plane that Aeston, Kyntela and I found ourselves bright and early on Saturday morning.  I also wanted to make note of the fact that we all seemed to be displaying auras of various colors (red and blue showing as purple,  blue and yellow showing as green, red and yellow showing as orange), although the meaning or significance of this phenomenon  was at that point unknown to us.  

As we wandered through the plane, we chanced upon a narrow bridge spanning a bit of lava. At the far end of the bridge stood a group of elemental beings, and before us stood two individuals who we later found out were demons of some sort. They stated that they needed our help to get out of the prism-prison, and that in order to  escape, each member of our party had to have the same color aura. Our two friends each had a black aura about them. While trying to come up with a plan, we decided that our path lay across the bridge - so of course we stormed it. However, it soon became apparent that we did not have nearly enough pikes (I know, since when does that ever happen?) or large shields, let alone enough room to maneuver on the narrow confines of the bridge, and after suffering the loss of a few party members to the lava (don't worry, we got them back eventually) we found that we could not best the elementals at the other end.  While we were coming to that unfortunate realization, the clang of a bell drifted across the plane to us, and we suddenly found that we were alone - the bridge and the elementals had vanished. 

The next thing we encountered was a building which appeared to be a library, as evidenced by a sign on the wall reading "Cassidocious Library." The entrance to the library was sealed, and standing on the steps was a man who we thought to be Cassidocious, although come to think about it, I'm not sure if that was the name of both the man and the library, or just the library, or.... well, suffice it to say that I am not sure if anyone actually asked him. Our attention was mostly drawn to the large and rather lengthy scroll in front of him, which we eventually realized was a cryptogram of some sort (and not gobbledy-gook, as one of the wittier members of the party first suggested).  His two assistants were flitting about, trying to "help" us and appearing extremely chipper about their place of employment (though the librarian could be heard to be muttering otherwise at various points). One of them found a piece of paper on the ground which she was convinced might be a clue. Of course, we ended up puzzling over this scrap for quite a while, even holding it to a flame to see if by chance it was written in invisible ink. While some marks did appear on the paper after this, eventually we decided that this was due solely to us scorching the paper and not from any secret message that was appearing.  It seemed at the time that our mental prowess was about as good as our physical prowess, as before long as we heard the clang of the bell again and with that,  the scroll and library vanished. 

When we reached the site of the next challenge, some of us hung back, unsure of the plan and wanting to see the outcome of the challenge, in addition to being unengaged in case things took a turn for the worst. This seemed to be the wiser course of action when it was revealed that the party who had entered the challenge needed to complete a group total of 500 sit-ups and 500 push-ups in the allotted time. Needless to say, I was quite happy to be spared this, as was Aeston and some of the others who had stayed back. Through a concentrated and heroic effort, the rest of the party was able to complete the challenge, and then a curious thing happened - those in the challenge group currently displaying blue in their auras lost that color. 

As we left the clearing, we came across the bridge again. As we had failed the first time, we were given the choice between an additional shield or an additional pike to help us bolster our line. This time we were successful, and this time we witnessed another color shift - those currently displaying red in their auras saw that color disappear, while those without red suddenly saw that color appear.  Those now displaying all three colors (red, blue, yellow) then saw their auras turn to black, while those who lost their second color saw their auras turn white. It was then that we realized that the different challenges were color-coded, and that this was our mechanism  to get the entire group to the same color to fulfill one of the conditions of escape.  (It should be noted that I say "we realized" here because this was the point at which I (and I would like to think the majority of the party) reached this conclusion, although it is entirely possible and in fact entirely probable that some of our party, if not many of them, had already reached this necessary conclusion). 

As a group, we decided that we should all attempt to change our auras to white, which represented the absence of color; therefore, each challenge going forward should only be attempted by people with  those specific colors remaining, and those who had changed from white would have to refrain from further challenges least they regain colors that they had lost.  It was at this point that the party split up; those with red auras to try the martial challenges again, those with yellow to return to the library, and those with blue to try the next physical challenge. I should mention that we also had a list of "achievements" we found in the clearing that we started to attempt to complete. These included killing fairies, gathering flowers, switching our colors, and deciphering scrolls, among others. 

While I was happy not to have been subjected to the sit-up/push-up challenge the first time around, I still had a blue aura that I had to get rid of in order to change to white, so I headed for the next blue challenge with others who still remained blue, mentally preparing myself for the monumental task ahead. So it was with mixed feelings that I found out that the next challenge was an obstacle course which involved jumping on rocks and traversing beams and other structures without touching the ground, as well as running along paths and trail-blazing through woods.  Since I am prone to tripping over my own feet at times, as well as falling down sometimes for no apparent reason at all, I found this challenge both daunting and difficult, and indeed ended up dead at least twice from falling off the rocks. We failed this challenge the first time we attempted it, as it was based on the number of people who successfully completed the course in the allotted time, which we did not meet. We met the quota the second time around, and I (along with others) shifted to white. 

We then left the clearing to head back to the main group, which was scattered between the ongoing red challenges and the yellow library challenge. The library scroll was eventually successfully translated and that challenge won. Two other red challenges were presented - the Antonine Wall, which was eventually completed, and a jugging match for those with red in their auras who were not on hand for the Wall.  As we roamed the plane, seeking out challenges, we also encountered beings with glowing colored beards who could add or subtract colors from people after killing them.

As evening fell, the group was able to complete more color challenges, as well as collect pieces of a gate which, when assembled, would enable escape from the prism-plane. Upon constructing the gate however, it was revealed that while we had completed enough challenges to free one of the stained-glass heroes (a group of three brothers and one of the objects of our Achievement list), our efforts were not enough to free the other two. The group was able to escape the plane with one of these heroes and the two demons we had first encountered by the bridge, but was forced to leave the other two brothers behind in a place known to us only as the Oubliette.

And so I have recounted the tale for you as best I could as I have remembered it (and with a little help from others), though I do take responsibility for any mistakes or admissions that may (or may not!) have occurred in this document and I do apologize fully in advance because, as we all know, the human memory is ever a fickle thing. One thing I am certain of, however, is that our work in Blackwood is not yet done, and I anticipate that we will return there sometime soon to finish what we have started. 

Set forth by my hand this day of 28 September 1015,

Dame Areni Stromgate of Rhiassa
(with help from Lord Temorse of Ashenmark)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What You Missed - Feast of Blackwood VI (photos)

"Good thing you guys are here! We need your help."
  We meet this totally trustworthy looking fellow by the first challenge we stumble across.

"But what does it say?"
Trying to decipher the scroll at the Cassidocious Library while the man himself looks on.

"Look what I found on the ground! Is this a clue??"
 So hard to find good help these days....

"I think it might be written in invisible ink."

"You know, I really think this is a clue." "You sure about that?"

One of the Blue challenges - 500 sit-ups and 500 push-ups per person
(Totally just kidding. It was 500 of each total for the whole group)

A rather lengthy To-Do list

"I don't think we brought enough pikes."
 One of the red groups tries the Red challenge bridge battle again.

Another Blue challenge - obstacle course in the woods

Another martial Red challenge - the Antonine Wall

A whimsical lightening bolt fairy, flitting about.
 He really was throwing lightening bolts at people, and giggling while he did it. It's not like we were trying to kill him or anything like that...

 You know, I'm really not sure what was going on here...

A third Red challenge.... jugging!

[Editor's note: all photos by View staff]

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Advice for Newbies, From Formerly Fresh Faces

Fresh Faces
Compiled by Becky "Kovaks" Baron

Fall is when The Realms sees a great influx of new faces from the various colleges across New England. Since 2012, The View from Valehaven has periodically conducted interviews in our Fresh Faces series. One of the questions asked is "What advice would you give other new players?"

Here is part one of the compilation of advice from the previous Fresh Faces of the Realms to the newest generation:

Go to fight practices. NPC. Try and make friends with as many people as humanly possible. Don’t immediately join up with the first nation you meet. Don’t get discouraged when people don’t raise you right away, and conversely, don’t get discouraged when you die a lot. Keep the faith my newbie brethren! 
-- Katie "Effa" Smith (Thursday, March 22, 2012)

I think the best advice I can give is that if you want to be recognized and get into plot, you should take your character seriously. Obviously remember this is a game and you should have fun, but the more in character you get and the more you put forth the effort the more you will be noticed.
 -- Justin "Syroc" Pluff (Thursday, April 26, 2012)

Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions! You’re going to need to know the answers eventually anyway. 
-- Samuel "Ezra" Teatum (Thursday, May 24, 2012)

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Call to Arms - Ashenmark

by Tucker "Sir Temorse" Noyes


The Ashenmark heraldry

1.       What does this heraldry currently represent?
This heraldry is the current national heraldry of Ashenmark.

2.       Please describe your heraldry for us.
The heraldry contains three symbols (the sword, the shield, and the flame) as well as three colors (red, gold, and black), although each symbol can use different colors in different depictions of the heraldry.

3.       Give us some background. How did your heraldry come to be? Who or what created it?
The colorless version of this heraldry originally belonged to the nation of Elemirre.  However when the lands of Elemirre were gifted during the formation of the nation of Ashenmark, color was added and it became the official heraldry of Ashenmark.

4.       Why was this heraldry chosen to represent you? What is the symbolism behind it? What was the inspiration behind the design?
The heraldry was chosen as a sign of respect for Elemirre.  However once it became the heraldry of Ashenmark, the symbology took on new meaning for its new nation.  Each of the symbols in heraldry represent a part of the Ashenmark leadership, and each color an aspect of Ashenmark, particularly at its founding.

The shield is representative of the Knight Commander of the Knights of Ashenmark, whom, in addition to their duties as Knight Commander, serves as a military leader and is tasked with the defense of the nation and its people.  The sword is representative of the Champion of Ashenmark, a title claimed yearly through strength of arms in a gruelingly long trial by combat.  Finally the flame is representative of the Highlord of Ashenmark, the leader of the nation whose responsibilities including guiding the nation to success and glory.

The colors also have their own meaning.  Red was chosen for battle, as the nation was founded on militant principles.  Gold was chosen  for youth, as the founding members of the nation were all young, and the nation continues to consist mostly of younger members.  And finally black, which as Kahlenar would put it, is for mystery.  The black was chosen more specifically for the unknown.  When Ashenmark was formed it was, as stated before, five fairly young adventurers whose futures, along with the nation's, were uncertain.  I have always found this fitting as the Northern Light blade gifted to Ashenmark was dubbed Tale Untold.

5.       How long has the heraldry been in the game? Has it changed at any time since it was first created?
The original symbol was created back in the days of Elemirre, but the new incarnation debuted at Feast of Chimeron six years ago. 
The heraldry at Feast of Chimeron included three feathers hung from the bottom of the shield as an homage to many of the founding members' roots in the Blue Falcons, although sometimes the middle feather was substituted for an oak leaf, representative of the Oaken Guard for which Kahlenar finds his roots, as well as being a symbol associated with Twenaria.
The heraldry was also modified for the Knights of Ashenmark, with much of the symbology being the same.

6.       What do you hope seeing this heraldry means to the rest of the Realms?
So a nation grows and gains new members as does its goals and direction.  As a group the convictions and traits we hope to epitomize change with every person who retires and when every new person joins us.  The heraldry should exemplify what the nation as a whole hopes to be, and as such, what that is exactly is different now than it was five years ago, and will likely be different in another five years.  So I suppose that my only hope is that the heraldry means to the rest of the Realms what it means to those who currently make up the nation.

Heraldry of the Knights of Ashenmark

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sorcery 101 Thoughts of the Journeyman Caster by Gerard "Gray" Chartier- Part 2

Sorcery at Quests

With the powers at his or her command, a sorcerer is a welcome addition to any adventuring band.  Armored foes are felled with ease, and those immune to normal weapons can be felled by our magic.  And, unlike mages of other disciplines, our magic is never exhausted.  Be it a short skirmish or a day-long battle, our power is always available to us.

Sorcery’s primary utility is in questing.  It can come in useful at a war maneuver event, like North/South War, but questing is a sorcerer’s oyster.  NPCs usually come in small skirmish bands, letting the sorcerer wrap around to the flank instead of throwing at them head-to-head.  By flanking, you make it more likely the opposition will not be paying direct attention to you.  If they do, that’s good too, because that means they’re not paying as close attention to the fighter they’re squaring off against, giving him or her more of an opportunity to get in the kill shot.  Be wary of stumbling too close, though.

Another good thing about fighting small skirmish groups on quests is that it gives sorcerers a chance to recover their props between engagements.  This is not always the case at big war maneuver events.  If Magic Missile and Lightning Bolt are your primary attacks, not being able to retrieve your props sucks.

Sorcerers also have magic attacks on demand.  Back in the day, that used to be important, as NPCs immune to non-magic attacks used to be at least somewhat common.  These days, it seems like event holders don’t go for the mundane-immune monsters, so having magic attacks isn’t as important as it used to be, but it could still crop up, so it’s nice to have.

One enormous advantage to Sorcery vs other magic paths is that Sorcery is loaded with unlimited-casting spells.  Late in the day, when players with other paths are feeling the squeeze, sorcerers are able to keep on chugging just as well as they did at the beginning of the quest.  If you want to play a mage, it’s nice to have spells you can keep using.

Sorcerers at Tournaments

Tournaments are, by and large, stick-jock events.  There is generally not a lot for dedicated casters to do, and when there is, it’s often something like tests of one’s knowledge of the magic system.  Which is not to say you can’t go to tournaments – Event holders often lift weapon restrictions for the duration of the event so you can participate fully even if you play a caster.  However, don’t go expecting to do much with your magic missiles and lightning bolt.

Even if a tournament does allow a sorcerer to use all their spells, you’re at a serious disadvantage against a fighter or even a 1-Path.  Sorcerers essentially have one tool – thrown attacks.  Fighters have a whole chest of tools they can pick from at will.  Any fighter knowing s/he’s going up against a 2-Path sorcerer is just going to pick up the biggest shield s/he can find and come straight at you.  Since shields are a hard counter to a sorcerer’s main form of attack, your chances of beating a shield fighter are pretty minimal.

Sorcerers at War Maneuvers

War maneuver events occupy the middle ground between quests and tournaments. Your abilities as a sorcerer are relevant, but they’re more relevant in some battles than in others.

Generally speaking, you’re going to want to be right behind a wall of fighters.  With magic missile and lightning bolt, you’re providing offense with reach on great weapons and pikes.  If fighters with these weapons are on the front line, they’re you’re preferred target.  In an open field battle, or a battle with enough frontage to cover to require fighters without shields to step to the fore, you can have a significant impact with your spells.  You might even be able to recover your props and use them more than once, but generally speaking field battles end too fast for that.  Sometimes the end so fast, I’ve still got props in my pocket.

Be advised, fighters are going to expect the people right behind them to have Heal Limb, and they’re going to be looking for armor repair pretty constantly too.  Be prepared to have at least Heal Limb (why the hell wouldn’t you buy down for it anyway?), and squeezing in some armor repair abilities will make you well liked in the field as well.

In bridge battles and similar engagements, on the other hand, you might want to hold off on trying to affect the engagement until it’s about to end one way or the other.  Team Hooray at the bridge battle at this year’s Queen of Hearts (QoH 22) looked like a freaking Roman legion in tortoise formation – front and sides fully covered by door shields.  Made me long for when Lightning Bolt was only 5 castings, but conducted through weapons and shields.  Throwing props into the wedge on the bridge was an act of sheer unreasoning optimism - which isn’t to say I didn’t, it just didn’t do much good.  So, in these kinds of engagements, try to hold off on throwing the projectiles until you’ve got an opening where you can do some good, don’t expect to get them back very soon, and maybe do some good with your secondary shtick.  You DO have a secondary shtick, don’t you?