Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Why I Want to Go-Tournaments of Creathorne XXV

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

Forgive me some nostalgia, but I can’t talk about why I want to go to Tournaments of Creathorne XXV without sharing a story from Tournaments of Creathorne XV. See, TOC was my first event ever, and so it holds a special place in my heart because every year I remember how I felt driving down from Maine to Grafton, New Hampshire not knowing what was in store for me. I was so nervous that I ended up driving back and forth past the event site for almost an hour before I was brave enough to pull into the driveway lined with flags and full of cars. Now I make an equally long drive from Connecticut, because to me, this event is a must not miss, flagship event on the Realms’ calendar. There’s a million reasons why, but today I’ll limit myself to just a few highlights that really show off what makes Tournaments of Creathorne unique.

1. Judging. TOC is the perfect place to go if you want to be judged. Wait, wait, wait...hear me out. This event features a tournament or contest for everyone. This year I’m particularly excited to participate in the campfire dessert contest, but there will be also be a poker tournament, a brewer’s tournament, jugging, bardics, a Chopped tournament, a Magic tournament, a mixed drink contest, and a distance siege equipment competition, just to name a few. This is in addition to all of the combat tournaments that will be run throughout the weekend, including the flagship Nation’s tournament.

2. Atmosphere. This event is one of my favorites because that atmosphere is spot on for Memorial Day weekend. This is one of the events that brings the Realms together, both old and new. There are people I look forward to seeing at this event that I really only get to see once a year. In addition, the mellow, discreetly damp atmosphere is a great way to have some responsible adult fun while swapping stories around campfires. This year, people are really going to be bringing their A-game in terms of garb and regalia based on all of the #TOCvaguebooking posts I’ve seen over the past weeks. I’ve spent this weekend the same way for the past ten years, and I honestly couldn’t imagine it any other way because of the atmosphere. This event really has something for everyone: from epic night quests to dancing around the fire, from combat to camaraderie--I promise you, you won't be bored.

3. Cookouts. If you know me, you know that food is always going to make the list of reasons I want to go anywhere if it’s an option. I love the TOC barbecue on Saturday night. It has never failed to hit the spot when all I want is a great burger, dog, and some delicious sides. But if you nose around enough campsites, you will see that people are always cooking up something delicious, and if you are nice, people might even share with you. In addition, there is nothing like the smells of breakfast wafting around the event site in the mornings before the day’s competition gets rolling again (pancakes anyone?)

4. Kids’ Quest. Now, although I don’t have any myself, I think that the TOC staff does a phenomenal job of entertaining the little ones throughout the weekend. You can't walk through the event site without seeing a posse of wee ones holding adorably sized weapons and beating down monsters. In addition, there are crafting projects to keep all the pint-sized adventurer’s happy throughout the weekend. I love that the event staff embraces the growing community, because these kiddos are the future of the Realms.

I could go on and on, but really, you should be packing. Don’t forget to bring something warm and plenty of extra socks. And maybe a few wet wipes wouldn’t go amiss either, after all, this is going to be a long weekend ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What You Missed: Neden BBQ 3

By Alex Groom (Elouan of Rhiassa)
Photos by Justin "Dresden" Theriault

Despite arriving about 15 minutes early, food was already being served.  I quickly helped myself to a cheeseburger (topped with BBQ sauce).  Throughout the day, I would also help myself to veggie kebabs.  While not on the menu, Jean Baptiste was selling jerky, and I can’t say no to Baptiste Butchery jerky (the key is to just enjoy it, and not think about it too much).  This particular batch was made with whiskey, and you could definitely taste it.  I can honestly say it was one of the best jerkies I’ve ever eaten (admittedly, I am a sucker for whiskey.)  I was informed that Baptiste Butchery would be at ToC with more jerky, and would in fact be taking custom orders as late as Tuesday, May 22nd. [Disclaimer: I do not hold any affiliation with Baptiste Butchery.  I just really like jerky.]

About an hour after we arrived, Neden held a quick court.  To start, Dresden, editor in chief of the Neden Kazoo, awarded kazoos to both myself and Asharn for having solved the monthly puzzles found in the Neden Kazoo.  These kazoos were no mere kazoos, and in fact held the power to alter reality within the land of Neden (as long as said reality altering request was in the form of a headline). After this, Nymbous announced he was stepping down from his role as Lord of Neden, and handed off said responsibility to Duke (now Lord) Syruss O’leary.  With that, court was adjourned, and we returned to the festivities.

Throughout the day, Neden offered a variety of festivities to partake in.  A carnival ran all day; it offered plinko, and that game where you throw stuff at cans and try to knock them down.  On top of the carnival, combat tournaments ran throughout the day.  Success in either of these festivities led to one winning tickets, which could be used to try to win a variety of N-house items in a raffle that would occur at the end of the day.

There were also a variety of noncombat competitions. Particularly entertaining was an equestrian show that various members of the Realms could enter.  This show consisted of a talent portion, an obstacle course, and a race.  Quick aside: never lend Hanzo a horse; we learned the hard way that he has a tendency to ride them to death. Horse death aside, those of us attending found ourselves entertained by this display of aestheticism and athleticism.   In the end, the talent portion was won by Fancy, and the obstacle course and race portion were both won by Asharn.   For his success, Asharn won half a blue ribbon.

In addition to the equestrian show, there was an egg toss (the final throws of which were over improbable distances), a sack race, a pie eating contest, and a 3-legged combat race.  Winners of these received “obscene amounts of tickets” (to quote the members of Neden).

The day was concluded with a raffle.  Items included Baptiste’s Friendly Shovel of Banishment, the Wands of Healthy Living, the Orb of Truth(ish), and the Sticks of Cheerful Nihilism.  However, the most sought item was the other half of the blue ribbon.  When assembled, the blue ribbon would allow someone to undertake a ritual to turn an N-House magic item into a regular magic item.  Temorse ended up winning the other half of the blue ribbon. 

With that, the Neden BBQ concluded.  Overall, it was a relaxing day of good food and merriment, and I already look forward to the next one.

Friday, May 18, 2018

10 Questions with an EH

with Andy "Shean" Disbrow

Announcements at Feast of Creathorne - by Dustin Mack

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

I started throwing events I think in 1992 with the Dragonsbane madden quest with Keith Hollumbeck.  I was mentored and given huge pointers after that by Tim Gilkes, Shannon Slate, Kathy Joureny, Aaron Addison, John Berman, etc.  I have had on my staffs over the years many people Jarrod Marshal, Scott Rodlin, Jeff Makki, Becky Garbos, Ben Greene, etc. I have held personally lots of events not sure on the exact number but I am comfortable with saying 75 at least. Some Events I throw I have other people help me and put them down for EH credit because I always have EH credit with TOC.

  • Tournaments of Creathorne 25 years to dates 1993 to now.
  • Feasts of Creathorne in part or whole going back to 1994-present I think we did not do Feasts for a few years. I want to say 14 or so of them.
  • Dragonsbane events in the early 90’s.
  • Mythdrannor ToC Night quests and as standalone events in the 2000’s as 24 hour live events.
  • Lord of the Rings: first few Summer and winter fests with Stephen Hinkle.
  • Winter Wonderalands: we did winter camping in tents etc.
  • Day of the Dragon in 2005.
  • And the past few years I have been doing the stacked deck final tournament events.

Game convention events:

  • All of the Carnage convention events I have organized with the carnage staff for Realms to have events at carnage. Helped Travis Wilcox, now I help Tara Jackson-Pregent manage it.
  • 5 Pi cons in Mass, not any more.
  • 7 OGC cons in NH, not any more.
  • 13 Arisa cons then I handed it to Dan Diamond to manage.

2. What led you to start throwing events? 

I was asked By Keith Hollembeck to help throw Madden Quest and that was it.

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

Quality, we always try and give the players and the staff a good time and provide them the most for their dollar. Be it a feast, quest or tournament it is our number one priority that people leave knowing they got their worth.  Great interaction and something to remember the event, be it experience or that trinket they got off an interaction or npc,  Food that fills them up and or something they have never had before or rarely get to have.  Nice or custom prizes for tournaments.

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

You cannot please everyone:  We really try hard to but some people are never happy even when we base the entire weekend around them, they still are not happy. BUT those other 99% we hope leave with a smile and a fond memory.  All the prep work, all the planning, all the notes and scripts go out the window and you have to wing it 20 minutes before the quest/event starts. X prop is misplaced, hunters in the big field, hornets, you name it, it will be that wrench in the cogs that mess up everything. It will happen, be ready. That PC that decides he is not going to tell they party that they have a puzzle piece needed to finish the quest. Yeah that cool guy. We have ways to work around them because of past experiences…  

Prizes at Tournaments of Creathorne - by Dustin Mack

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

Well it is kind of BAD but well very fond:  ToC 3 or 4 I think Eldritch, Klever, and Swan are playing demons but the masks are too tight so they have them on top of their heads, so they look so much taller with the two-foot horns on top too. They walk out of the thick fog towards the PC’s and every one runs. One PC runs right into a drow (Sloan/Scott Carr). Scott is right in the PC’s face “gold elf your ass is mine” he screams right into the guys face. The PC can’t move he is shaking, etc. Scott looks over at me and I shake my head ‘no”so he walks away from the pc. The PC stands there a good 30+ seconds shaking then drops to his knees for a bit. I run into Scott a little later he asks “Is the guy who shit his paints okay?”.  Me ”He shit his pants?”. Scott “Oh yeah he did”.

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

So many things go wrong all the time. Many times it is that people say they know what they are doing but in reality they have no idea how something works. You have to show some people they so they learn, not just get them away from the grill that they just burned two full sheep on. You have to show them how they cooked it all crazy with flames three feet high and the grease was making the flames go crazy higher. PJ butchered up the burned mutton, we cut off the burned stuff served it with a smile and everyone was happy. Now we do Burgers but we learned Aaron Addison does not know how to cook, but he makes a huge fire from not lots of wood and we should use propane grills not an old oil tank on cement blocks. Lol good times are always had by all!

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

Easy access from main roads, running water is a must, fire access even if it is a fireplace in the tavern,  It can hold more people than you expect and the amenities you need for want you are doing.  I am lucky that I have access to loads of sites.  Scout property, people I know's farm land, federal property, etc.  I just happened to decide to not do farming and use my extra property for an event site. But I know Jason Fiero who has access to a small gun club’s property for small feasts or indoor events, and other hidden treasures like that. I was able to help Rhiassa find a nice property in CT where they throw their annual Feast through the Scouting organization. Etc…

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

  WELLLLLLLLLLLLL, sometimes…. We are pretty good at it, and we are pretty good at spreading out big expenses over years so I would say I make it work… Some Expenses are thousands over the budget but the things bought are for 3-5 years so it all works out in the end. There have been a few years where I was way outside the budget and I think we have caught up on that over the years. But items like the custom Tournament Medals, I have a minimum order to make to make it worthwhile doing them so I make it all work. I do all the ordering so I know where the numbers are most years so if it is a hole we are in it is just me. Realms events are supposed to be nonprofit, right, so if you do happen to clear something put it into the next event, that is what I was taught.

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

   Wow so much I can say here. “I” try to involve as much as the community as I can with the events I throw. Examples: I have Jarrod as my head marshal and he gets marshal staff he can work with from all over the Realms. Kitchen staff, Lani gets cooks, I do as much precook and prep as I can do but the onsite stuff I have her organizing.  Noncoms vary over the years but someone who loves games. Reg Crew: Becky Most years single handedly handles that for me with some Tavern staff on the side. I try and have the people I see as the best, if I can get them, to help head a specific area I need covered to help make the events great for everyone.  But the Entire Community I try and have them all take part in the event. Even if it is just picking up that plastic cup that someone else dropped. Lead by example, roll my sleeves up and get into every nook and cranny of the event. Be part of every part of your event even if it is not something YOU are an expert in you can hold the ladder while that person suspends the cool prop that was made that will drop down and scare the be-gessus out of people if that is all you can do.

Making the Rounds at the Feast - by Casey Lemay

10. What advice do you have for other Event Holders? 

Find an EH whom you respect what they are doing in the game, NPC, help, etc... learn it before you jump in. 1000 bad quests will be forgotten, one great event will not.  Try to shoot for the one great event and then do better next time. Your second event will be bad, nothing you can do about it accept it now, you will get over it. Do not let your second event stop you from throwing better events.

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

Well we have ToC 25, lots of new things, we may even have people who do not speak English all that much but hey we will have some Omnibus in Quebecois if we are lucky. Playtesting some new things. I guess you will have to come and check things out… 25 Years in a row 2/3rd more to go!

See All of you Soon
Andrew Disbrow
AKA: Sir Shean O’Quinnlin

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Why I Want to Go: Neden BBQ 3: Burgers, Bashing, and Besties

by Lani "Gwen" Jones
[Editor's Note: originally published on 4/11/18]

It’s finally here folks, my favorite season of the year--BBQ season! There are few things that I enjoy more than a fun relaxing day of food, games, and friends and Neden is helping us kick the season off with their third annual BBQ bash. Neden is known for serving some top notch grub, and I am coming with my appetite for all the classic standards and a spicy twist that promises to be unique and exciting.

Personally I’m thrilled to be in attendance this year because of the great things that I’ve heard about this event and others like it over the past few years. I got a small taste of the carnival at the Tournaments of Artemis and had a blast playing some mini games and enjoying the silliness. In addition, I have it on good authority that there will be a mix of standard BBQ lawn games and Realms tournaments to keep everyone entertained when they simply can’t eat any more. I also have heard from a reputable source that there will be an extra special tournament called the Neden Triple Crown that you have to see to believe how epic it will be. For those of you who like to gamble (and I know you are out there!) there will likely be a chance for you to test your luck and skill that way as well. And of course, what are tournaments and games without prizes, and word on the street is, some of them may be magical. This event has a little bit of everything to make sure that everyone has a good time.

During a time in the season when the weather has been rather dreary and we are all desperately awaiting spring, Neden is stepping up to provide us with a day of lighthearted fun and I know they will deliver just that. Their positive attitudes make it impossible not to smile and their dedication to providing content that is easy for everyone to engage with is what sets apart Neden events. As I write this, I’m already starting to smile more despite the snow, because I know that spending time with my Realms friends and family at a BBQ is exactly how I want to be spending next Sunday. I look forward to seeing you all there.

What You Missed - Folkewood Spring Event (photo edition)

Editor's Note: all photos and captions by James "Tao" Murphy

"Peacefully figuring out disagreements"

Voraniss after they were called out by the Nightpack

The pickle merchant's barrel

There is always room for jello

Confused monkey

Ritual to spread the immunity

Fire emblem back but confused

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tabards vs. Garb: Are they mutually exclusive?

by Hannah "Nhadala" Blood

Becoming a member of a nation can be one of the single most important defining moments for your character. Nations represent different things for different players, but overall joining a nation has meaning for everyone involved. Part of joining a nation is representing your new found national pride with – dun duh duh dahhhhh – a tabard!

Why the tabard? Well it’s an easily defining factor for any sport – jerseys, shirts and skins, pinney’s (oh god middle school flashbacks). Covering our torsos is the most obvious way to define who we are. Some nations use this to define petitioners vs. full members, NPC’s use this to define crunchies vs. big bads, some nations use this for unity and equalization – but some nations are starting to stray the path from traditional tabards for a more garb-oriented approach. I’m a fan of straying, but honestly my extreme national pride has me torn.

ToC is coming up, and I’ve spent hours looking for garb. Every time I find something I love, I think “why spend this money if my tabard will cover it?” or “what if I lose weight and it doesn’t fit later?” I’ve turned down possibly hundreds of garb ideas because I my tabard is easier, and represents something I’m passionate about  – but I’m starting to realize something. Even if my garb is covered by a tabard, I still know I’m wearing it.

Garb is about fun, creativity, characterization, and confidence. I love my tabard, and would never want to hide it, but just become it’s covering most of a badass corset I bought doesn’t mean I’m not wearing a badass corset. If I want to have a heckin’ awesome garb day, I should just live it up. Who says I won’t use that garb as an NPC later, or go to a ren. fair, or just wear it on my day off? It’s worth it. What’s a waste of money is buying something I’m “meh” about because I think it goes with  my tabard.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I, Nhadala Kinder of Grimloch, am going to try and step up my garb game because ultimately I’m worth it. YOU’RE ALL WORTH IT. Join that nation – wear your tabard and garb with pride – do the thing.