Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Value of Reviews by Tucker "Temorse" Noyes

Why Should I Write an Event Review?

Event reviews are one of the most important, yet underutilized tools in our community.  Event Holders and their teams often put countless hours of their time and effort into throwing an event, not to mention money.  As a player we pay an event fee to help cover the cost of events, but we should also be willing to commit what is a fraction of the time it took to prepare for the event to review it.  Event reviews aren’t about gratifying the event holder, although in some cases they will involve that, but also to let the event holder which things they tried worked and didn’t work for you.  There is a lot of talk about players not enjoying events, or events not having content that players enjoy, however we have many events that go by with few to no reviews.

If you feel that there isn’t a lot of content that engages you in the game, then you should review events that you feel should be offering, or who claim to offer that content.  There is always varying responsiveness to event reviews, but you will find that many, many event holders take to heart what their players have to say, and will want to cater, when appropriate, to the interests of their player base.  In addition a lot of new mechanics are play-tested at events, and having some concrete feedback of how those mechanics went makes an event holder's decision to keep or ditch those mechanics a lot easier.

Writing an Event Review

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when writing a thoughtful event review.  It is certainly easy and convenient to verbally let the event holder know a few things they enjoyed on your way off site, but it is much more impactful if you write those thoughts down, especially because after throwing an event most event holding teams are pretty fried.  The two best ways to submit an event review are either by submitting it through the event review system on Realmsnet, or by sending it privately to the event holder either via email or social media.  Using the Realmsnet review system (which can be done by clicking the Event Archive option under the Events drop-down and clicking Post Review), is the best way to review an event.  This system has some built features specific for event reviews, and also has the added benefit of being public, so other players can look at these reviews to see if the event is something that would interest them in the future.  When reviewing an event via Realmsnet it is important to focus more on the content of your review than just the challenge and fun ratings.  While those ratings are a helpful way to visual your experience at the event, they aren’t as helpful as pointing out specific things you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy.  You can also rate other peoples reviews on Reamlsnet, for those you think are particularly accurate or those that you think may be unfair.  It is important to note that even if others have made a lot of the same comments that you have made, it is still important to review the event.  From an event holders perspective many people making the same comments is more likely to enact change, rather than if it seems to be the opinion of a single individual.

The other option if you don’t feel comfortable posting in a public forum would be to contact the event holder directly with your review.  Sometimes this is helpful if you had an experience at an event that you would want to keep the in character aspects of the event secret, or if you are just more comfortable with a private message.  However, you should never use an event review as an excuse to privately harass or berate an event holder over a negative experience at an event, event reviews should always be constructive in their criticism.

However you choose to review an event, it is always important to remember to review the event sooner rather than later, generally within one to two weeks of the event being thrown, so that your experiences are fresh in your memory.  Sometimes it is wise, especially after a negative experience, not to review an event as soon as you get home, but to wait a day to really think on your experiences.  Many event holding teams will look over and discuss event reviews in the first one to two weeks, so it is important that if you want your opinion heard that you should review in that timeline.  If you don’t have a chance to do so, it is still helpful to post event reviews.

Event reviews are a tool that we as a community should strive to use more often.  Many events see over fifty players, but only a fraction of those players take the time to give feedback for the event that they attended.  One of the ways we can all work to improve the game and raise the bar for events is to write quality event reviews and for event holders, take stock in those reviews.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Putting it Into Practice Part II

Putting it Into Practice, Part II
Jason “Aeston” Rosa

About three years ago, I wrote an article for the View that attempted detail the purpose of fight practices and explain why attending practice is so important to us as individuals and to our community as a whole. Now, years later, as the View staff begins an in-depth look at some of the practices that surround our game, I want to pick up where I left off, in the hopes that my advice can help people who want to start their own practices around New England.

As many of you know, the Realms has existed, in one form or another, since the early 1980s. While it was certainly not the very first LARP North America had ever seen, it can be counted among the first, and due to that early beginning has been building its own unique culture and set of traditions ever since. Those traditions, and the community that we have built around them, are a vital part of what comprises the soul of the Realms, and it should not escape our notice that we continue to embrace those same traditions, year after year, with an equal amount of enthusiasm. That is a special thing.

And while we have a plethora of yearly events that are into their second decade of existing, and even a few in their third, another important tradition that often gets overlooked is that of our fight practices. Certainly there are other LARPs with heavy combat components that get together weekly and practice, I am not claiming that it makes us unique. Rather, I would argue that the people who come weekly to a fight practice, who go there to teach, go there to learn, and go there to see their friends, are as important to keeping the community of the Realms together as the people who work together to throw events.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why I Want To Go: Dreamweaver 2

This weekend you can catch up on what you missed last year.  Venture into your dreams to solve puzzles and complete challenges with a team of your choosing.  The 5 of you will face all sorts of encounters as you race against the others to complete your dreamcatcher first.
Last year was cold and wet, but people who made it still had a wonderful time.  This year, staff has done some tweaking do bring you a sequel you will not regret attending.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Advice for Newbies, from Formerly Fresh Faces, Part Two

Fresh Faces
Compiled by Becky "Kovacs" Baron

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 two compilation of advice from the previous Fresh Faces of the Realms to the newest generation:

Aspire to something because once you have a goal and you get enticed by the LARP you will have tons and tons of fun. Also make new friends because who else is going to look out for you? and LARPING alone is no fun.  
-- Brendan "Hayden" Lam (Friday, September 12, 2014)

Don’t be afraid to go and talk to people in this game. You can’t meet new people unless you say “hello”. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions.
-- Joshua "Enlon" Whelan (Friday, September 26, 2014)

Try to learn something from everyone you meet whether they have been in the realms long or not.
-- Ben "Kyro" Hamilton (Friday, October 10, 2014)

Regardless of what happens in game, don't ever let it get to you out of game. Stuff goes down that doesn't need to go down if you allow these two worlds to merge like that. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions; there are a variety of ways to learn but experience isn't always the best first option. Most importantly, get to know the people! Sit down at Garharz's table and play cards, attend a feast and talk to people, spend some time around a fire. The more you get to know people the more fun everything can be. :]
-- Macayla "Sarabi" Wells (Friday, October 24, 2014)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. At the worst you’ll get a snide remark, but much more likely you’ll get your question answered and then some.
-- William "Viro" Beatty (Friday, November 7, 2014)

When you get to an event, just go out there and suck for a while. If you’re new, you’re not going to be slaying dragons by yourself, and you’ll learn a lot faster if you throw yourself into the thick and die a few times. Stick with your friends and hopefully if they’re good friends they’ll keep you well enough alive.
-- Michael "Swoop" Zajac (Friday, January 16, 2015)

Relax, ask questions, listen to the monologue-ing, watch what's going on, and offer to help. Relax! Seriously. A lot of folks that larps attract have anxiety problems, or at least a high level of that awful social awkward. Don't be afraid to stick your foot in your mouth, or accidently ask a noble for plebian help. As long as you're not a total butthead OOC, there's nothing to worry about. If you make enemies and you really didn't mean to, you can pick up a different character: it's like changing your hairstyle.
If you're alright with a sword, find a spot in the line that's got a gap and pair up with someone who knows what's going on. Follow their lead, play support for them even if it amounts to jumping in front of hits. You'll learn with practice and experience, and soon you'll be the one a newbie is following around. Also, ask for sparring and tips. When the 'thinky types' are the ones busy. It happens sometimes, and the heavy fighters tend to get a bit restless.
If you're afraid of getting in the way in a fight, flutter at the back of the lines and haul corpses to the healers. None of the good fighters really want to risk breaking the line, and the heavy healers have set up circles that keep them from getting dead themselves. And when there's no one left alive to fight, we all lose. By the time you're in good shape from all the running, you'll have learned a few spells. Also: Heal Limb or Repair Armor/Item are good choices if you're going to be part of the corpse line, as it keeps some of the fighters from needing to be carried away.
If there's a puzzle going on, take a look and see if it's something you're good at. Even if it's not, give it a try. You might see something the regulars missed.
-- Kimberly "Desiree" Lougee (Friday, January 30, 2015)

Definitely take some time to meet people. Also, definitely get involved in plot. It is especially hard to get involved in plot as a newbie, but will definitely help out getting a character who is invested in things and is interesting to roleplay. So, meet people, and also find plot to be involved in.
-- Brian "Crispin" Rubenstein (Wednesday, March 4, 2015)

Okay so there is this guy in Blackwood with a jester hat. He takes that thing really seriously, do not talk about the hat. Just trust me you don't want to get scalped over this.
-- Ethan "Jean Baptise" Goldman (Friday, April 24, 2015)

Interact with the more experienced players, you can learn a lot from them, and they generally enjoy helping newer players.  In my experience, most players are friendly in character, and nearly all are friendly out of character, so really just go up and introduce yourself.  If you see they’re a good fighter, maybe ask for some pointers, or to spar a couple of rounds.  You go to these events to interact with people, so do your best to interact as much as you can.
-- Brian "Bludwin" Healy (Friday, May 8, 2015)

Just to have fun and be yourself. Meet many people. Don't be afraid to ask for help. People are willing to as long as you are respectful.
-- Taylor "Roarke" Struthers (Friday, June 12, 2015)

Find what interests you most, stick with it, and put yourself out there as much as you can. People with the same interests will eventually pick up and remember you. Even if you have a bad event or practice never give up, it happens to everyone, and above all else enjoy yourself! We come to the Realms to have fun.
-- Gregory "Daekara" Falconer (Friday, June 26, 2015)

Just get out there and do stuff. Don't be afraid talk to npc's/pc's do stupid things (obviously nothing too detrimental) get involved and most importantly enjoy yourself.  

-- Miguel "Neko" Rivera (Friday, July 31, 2015)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Story Shards and How to Use Them by Ryan "Orion" Welch

From the website for Clan Rua Thar Cinn’s Event Series:
“In Rua Thar Cinn, we believe that the Realms is a living, breathing world that extends beyond the OOC end-times of events. We also recognize that real people have only limited time in their lives to play as fantasy alter-egos. To reconcile these ideas, our plot implements a system of actions, called Story Shards, in between events which allow for any level of participation, including none at all, without requiring a player to choose between engagement in the plot and their real life.”

By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Story Shard” thrown around quite a bit. There’s an even better chance that you’ve heard that phrase as part of a statement that goes something like: “How the heck do I use a Story Shard?” Well, the View From Valehaven is here to answer your most frequently asked questions!

How do I get Story Shards?

Story Shards are not items that you collect. Any individual is eligible to submit up to one Story Shard between Rua Thar Cinn (RTC) events. You may submit a Story Shard even if you did not attend their last event as a PC.

How do I submit a Story Shard?

RTC plot staff has a nifty website with an easy-to-use form for submitting Story Shards: You can also email RTC will stop accepting submissions two weeks prior to their next event so that they they have enough time to address all of the Story Shards.

What can I do with my Story Shard?

You can use your Story Shard to interact with RTC’s plot in any number of ways, including (but not limited to) talking to NPCs, casting divination magic, conducting research, or experimenting with magic or magic items. Basically, you can use a Story Shard to perform actions that would be available to your PC between events (so long as those actions are relevant to this particular plot). After you submit your Story Shard, the RTC staff will review your actions and come up with the results of your actions. In rare cases, a role-playing encounter might occur, but you are much more likely to get a packet of information shortly before or at the next RTC event.

If I don’t submit a Story Shard, will I fall behind in the plot?

Absolutely not! RTC recognizes that we all have real-life responsibilities, so while Story Shards can be used to interact with the plot, they are entirely optional. The effects of a Story Shard is usually limited to the PC who submitted it.  Sometimes the outcome might also ripple through parts of the plot, but Story Shards will never result in a huge change in the plot between events. RTC does a very good job of maintaining continuity between their quests, so the only thing you need to do to stay involved with the plot is hit their events.

Are Story Shards the same thing as e-questing?

Not really. Most of the time, the results of your submission will be given to you at the next RTC event, although in some infrequent cases, Story Shards might be resolved with an IC encounter (online or even in person, depending on the wishes of the player submitting the Story Shard and the availability of staff to accommodate requests).

What’s all this talk about Story Shards and Trappings of Civilization?

“Trappings of Civilization” are in-game mechanics utilized by RTC that is independent from Story Shards. Trappings are minor abilities that represent PC specializations  that they may develop as a result of living in civilized society(ie near a city instead of deep in a forest). You choose a trapping for your PC when you check in at an event (you don’t have to choose the same trapping as you did last time, and some characters may qualify for two). Some trappings are available to everybody, others are limited to members of specific organizations and knighthoods. However, if your PC submitted a Story Shard after the most recent RTC event, you are required to take the “Career Adventurer” trapping. This does not convey any bonus because your PC has been busy being, well, a career adventurer.

How many times does the phrase “Story Shard” appear in this article?

Including the title, 26.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What You Missed - Feast of Eagle's Rook II

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

A full hall of eager patrons

First course: chicken & dumpling soup, Welsh Rarebit, hard tack
 (Not pictured: butternut squash and apple soup)

Perusing the auction items

Auction close-up #1

Auction close-up #2

Second course: a variety of fritattas, with garden salad
 (Varieties offered: sausage, pepper, and onion; bacon and onion; basil, tomato, and spinach)

Looking for something to do?

Trying to reach an accord

A game amongst friends

The Tychus

The usual suspects can be found at the casino

More dispreputable sorts

There were tourneys
 (I didn't get a photo of the tournies in action, so instead you get one of some of the participants)

Working in tandem

Where's the beef? Why, here it is.

A fun way to pass the day

Hard at work on dessert

Gwen handles the meat

Sampling the goods

Aeston's dinner
  (Main Course: beef pot roast and garlic parmesan chicken with green beans, potatoes, vegetables, and bacon jam empandas)

Entree sides: roasted potatoes, bacon green beans, roasted carrots and onions

Crispy bacon-jam empanadas

Garlic parmesan breaded chicken

Hungry hungry heroes

Storming the dessert table
(Including chocolate pudding trifle, multiple varieties of cookies, Indian corn pudding with maple whipped cream,and key lime cake)

Ravenous hordes