Friday, October 24, 2014

Belts of the Eternal Flame Janna "Sir Iawen Penn" Oakfellow-Pushee

The KoEF as an order date back to the earliest days of our game, and is a way to recognize players who exhibit dedication and commitment to the betterment of the  game.  The white belt not only signifies membership of the order, but is also an outward symbol of each knight's personal  achievement within the game.  Decorating the belt is also highly personal, and each belt is as unique as the individual knight. Looking at all the various designs, I know I am not alone in wondering about the story behind each one. As such, I thought it would be nice to put together a Feature series to highlight the belt artwork in the View, along with mini-interviews to both explore the meaning behind each belt, and to share some fun information about each knight. This gives all players in the Realms the chance to learn about the knights, the belts, and the order.

1. What year were you awarded your white belt?

 I was Knighted at the Black & White 2007. While it was out of game held at the

Belchertown's Sports Club thing (where QoH is usually held), In-Game it was within the

lands of Eagle's Rook, who was a part of Chimeron at that time.

2. Who administered "the punch" and-- be honest!!--did it hurt?

 Kathy Fey(Horn)/Sir Mahkta McKrye punched me, and it hurt like a bitch! I had

an impressive bruise that spread over my clavicle; Kathy had been doing a lot more

fighting and hitting practices (SCA & Realms), so she made that punch count! :-D

3. Whose belt did you wear until you got your own, and how was this significant for you? 

 I wore Kathy Fey's(Horn)/Sir Mahkta McKrye's belt. This was significant for me

due to the fact that she was my mentor, and the group of close comrades she had

surrounded herself with were varied yet still always striving to improve and to serve, and

thus I was taught by all of them. :) It was also bad-ass to me personally, because I

hadn't heard (at the time) of anyone else wearing it.

4. Can you describe your own belt's heraldry?

The belt has multiple colors.

Dark Blue Stripe up top is Feng Shui for me. It's one of my favorite colors, and

means (in feng shui) a lot of stuff: Clarity, Inspiration, Wisdom, Healing, Insight, Noble.

Black Stripe is for the Western Flank. In feng shui, it also associated with

Introspection, Stillness, and even sometimes Hatred (Iawen, who was known as Sir A

then, hated the fae and it was the least offensive way I could think of putting that on the

belt, heh. There are other things Iawen hates now, so it stays. ;)).

Green Stripe, which is the most faded now, was for me being a "Southern

Realmsie", so Chimeron notes, Faerie notes, pretty much all good at the time to me I

could see in green. Green for Feng Shui also meant things like Renewal (which I was

attempting to do when I retired Bouquet/Nimbus and started figuring out who to play as

a main PC), Hopeful, and Growth. Since then, both Chimeron, Fae Staff, and the

people in the South in general have helped me to grow in many respects. There is

always room for improvement, however, which brings us to our last part, the bottom.

The heraldry was Nimbus/Bouquet's - a silver Dragonfly like symbol, with the

wings protecting like a shield and the 'tail' becoming the point of a sword. I fought sword

and board back then and I loved every minute of it. If I could go back in an instant I

would, hitting all the practices available so I could at least get above newbie status

again, heh. Anyway, I digress. Silver was Aging (which I was doing in the Realms in

real time and also with experiences), but it also has Playful connotations, plus when

paired with Blue it's pretty bitchin'. The heraldry was so faded, though, I took a marker

to re-outline the heraldry for you. In between each of the stripes was also a Silver

Stripe. Other meaning of Silver are traditionally a feminine color, going along with the

moon (Luna in our game), and lights the way forward, clearing out all sorts of

obstacles. That's what I had hoped to be as I went forward as a Knight in the Realms -

a trailblazer in many directions. ... Life happens. I still attempt to do things differently

that the usual PC, ST, MM, or EH, but I can't think of anyone now who'd call me a

trailblazer, heh. ;)

5. Why did you chose that heraldry to represent you?

Because they were the colors I felt both bonded me to characters and also to

nations at the time, and plus the silver in the design was to remind me that you don't

have to be 'the golden boy (or girl) of Realms' in order to still serve the community.

6. Who did the artwork on your belt?

I did. :)

7. What do you remember most about your knighting?

Randy speaking for me, and not recalling who else did, because Cheech flipped

it around and said, "It's not a he, it's a she!" and asked me forward. I was all O.O

8. What does being a KoEF mean to you?

A lot of things... falling asleep on the keyboard, but let me try... :)

When I chose to put down my belt (to the chagrin of some), it was because I take

very seriously the first vow we get asked when joining the KoEF, and that's along the

lines of "Do you swear (promise, etc) to do honor unto yourself..." <-- and when Cheech

asked me of it, "and to the Realms" had a pause behind it, meaning you had to take

care of yourself, honor yourself FIRST, and Realms second.

I think that's what screwed me up shortly after the Knighting, and then for a good

chunk afterward. Now that I've been allowed and joyfully accepted back the belt, I

understand better (I think) why so many players can get burned out with the game and

the community before any such accolades (if any) might pass their way: it's because

there are people out there, like me, that made the Realms first. This caused themselves

to suffer: with relationships, family ties, friendships, job histories, schooling, some even

medical; it was different for everyone of them (and myself), I'm sure. And yet the

burned-out feeling remains.

For some, this means taking a step back and re-evaluating. Some find the only

way to take care of themselves is to leave the Realms entirely. Others find new ways to

play and/or involve themselves a bit less, while still attempting visibility. Still others go

another (yet worse) route; staying connected in the game and community in the least

way possible, but willing and ready to spill bitterness and jadedness to any newbie that

would grant them voice and an ear.

May I not fall into that last category, if I can still help it. And since I've

been "helping myself" first over Realms, I feel that the relationships have gotten

stronger. There are those who have moved on from me in friendship, and others who no

longer seek my plot counsel on things, and so forth. Seven years ago that would have

bothered me to the point of serious stress and tears. Now, I have the experience, the

love, the confidence and courage to shake it off.

 Each KoEF that I've acted with before and since being Knighted, I think, has that

air about them, too. They're here because they had a moment of mental introspection,

or took a break, or what have you, and then came back to the game and rocked on.

And they've served, and they've loved the community. The community is much

improved because they are there.

This is why I'm proud to be KoEF, and this is also one of the things I think that

makes a KoEF...

You know, it's like that Nelson Mandela dude: "The greatest glory in living lies not

in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." Sometimes it takes a good fall to really

know where you stand.

Fresh Faces Macayla Wells

Photo by Jesse Gifford

How did you learn about Realms?
I learned about the realms through Mitty "Siobhan Cridnhe" Magoo and Rob "Widget" Luger just this year. I attended one event just before Creathorne and I was hooked immediately. There was just something about watching dozens of people trotting around a forest, clad in chain mail and slapping eachother about with foam weapons that made me think "I've found my people!"

How many event have you been to?
So far I believe I've attended 7 or 8 events. My first being Casey "Karmha Celestine" Lemay's Dragon Quest event. I'm very excited to say that Black & White will be my 9th (or 8th) event.

Have you ever LARP’ed before?  If so tell us about it?
Yes! No? Sort of.. I suppose if a variety of one day zombie LARPs counts then I've been at this for a little while, just in a vastly different environment. I've done my fair share of post-apocalyptic LARPing but never a fantasy/fighting focused LARP.  Don't tell anyone but I'll take camping in the middle of somewhere over running around a warehouse trying to avoid the blood spitting biter three feet to the left any day.

What is your character like?  Where are they from? What is their race? What is important to them? 
Sarabi Nadir, (simply Sarabi or small cat to some) is a sand cat from the deserts of the far West.  The Nadir family has had a long standing tradition of traveling from the burrows and to the wetlands to learn their way of magic... And to steal, extort, and murder. Sarabi's adamant refusal to learn her family's sheisty ways infuriated them. One day she woke up to find the burrows empty. As she was in her first few days of traveling East, Sarabi came across the satyr Siobhan who, other than squealing excitedly at the small size of a sand cat, offered to bring her along as they traveled.

Since arriving to the Realms, Sarabi has been as all cats are; generally disinterested in anything that she can't chase, eat, or sleep on. But when her tail isn't dragging on the ground, Sarabi tends to be a bouncy, smiling, cheerful little cat who will gnaw out the eyes of any undead or threat that encroaches on the people she considers her family as they are most important to her.  Fame and money are petty things to her that she doesn't, often,concern herself with.

What do you remember most about your first event?
A number of arrows landing in particularly painful areas of the male anatomy, one of which causing a gentleman to tumble off a short wall. He laughed. The bowman laughed. I laughed. Every one in the immediate are laughed. Twas a good moment in time.

Photo by Jesse Gifford

What things have helped to make you feel welcome in game?
The people I've met since being a part of this game have helped me to understand it considerably.

What parts of the game do you find most challenging?
Honestly, the fighting. It's not difficult to pick up a sword and flail about, hoping to hit someone (because you just may). It's learning this particular style of fighting that throws me a little.

Do you have any game related goals (as either a player or character)?
Maybe some day, when I'm all grown up, I can be a Knight.

What advice would you give other new players?
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. :]

What have you enjoyed most about the game so far?
The fun! The games! The questing! The shenanigans! Fire pits and wine, gambling and dancing. Beautiful people and wonderful new friends. I've had an absolute blast. What isn't there to love?

Photo by Jesse Gifford

nything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
Try not to shoot the sheriff.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What You Missed, Feast of Neden

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Add caption

Ode to Meatshield by Casey "Karmha" Lemay

Oh Meatshield, you are my friend.
Always with me til' the very end.
My commands you listen to, which makes you the best!
To the point where I think "Hey we might win this quest!"
You don’t waste my spells, are loyal and true.
I couldn’t of asked for a better fighter then you!
Now some people may think your undead and cruddy,
but you my friend are the best BATTLE BUDDY!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What You Missed- Feast of Neden by Angela "Phoenix" Gray

While it started slowly, with many people drifting in late, Feast of Neden was a solid event with a little something for everyone.  We were fortunate to have a beautiful day and the combat, which included informal practice and four Order of the List tournaments, happened outside. The day was relaxed, and in addition to combat there were people playing games, working on crafts, browsing in Karma’s shop, and gambling at the New Eden Casino.

Food included salad, soup, and bread that was out on a day board.  Rumor had it that the vegetable beef soup was “Nick's-mom-made” and was excellent.  The main meal was catered BBQ with ribs, chicken and a variety of sides (slaw, squash, corn, and mac & cheese).  Desert which was also homemade (primarily by Casey “Karma” with some additional contributions from Nick's mom, Jason and I) included a full variety of fall favors with mini apple pies and mini pumpkin cheese cakes as well as pineapple upside down cake, mint chocolate chip cookies and a “Neden Bash” (think Kahlua bash from Feast of Folkestone but with crème de mint instead of Kahlua and thin mints crumbled on top instead of heath bar pieces).

A unique tournament was the harlequin humor bardic. Tuilli kicked it off with a bawdry song. He was followed by Rhiannon who recited and original and humorous poem. She however forgot she was in Neden and kept it pg.  Garharz, did not make that mistake and his raunchy verse took the prize.

Also of note was the auction. There were about a dozen items which include leather goods from Chaos Dwarf Armory, mead, event admissions, and a certificate for custom bracers from Karma Creations.  We felt extremely fortunate to win it for a mere 25 gold.  Even a magic hat only brought in 200 gold. There were many deals to be had.  

Behind The Curtain: Consequenses for Failure by Mikey "Janus Donnally

The crazed mage Lacklion knew the heroes would try to stop him.  After all, the Unseen Evil has been kept at bay for thousands of years, and today would be the day they could enter the world again.  The stars were aligned and the ritual was nearly finished.  Only five minutes remained until the force was unleashed.  The heroes were fighting to break through his wards, but they would never get here in time.  A force of power walks up to Lacklion.  “Look, the PCs are later than we expected, and we don’t have the Unseen Evil masks ready for today, so the ritual is going to take an extra hour to complete.”  Lacklion glared at the force of power, but accepted it’s fate.  In an hour and five minutes, the force will fail to be unleashed, all due to those meddling heroes..

Recently on the Realms facebook group, someone mentioned that having magic items on quests do not matter, because all quests succeed anyway.  I have been on several quests which have failed, but I have also walked away from most of them alive.  This is because a party wipe is only one kind of failure.  In today’s article, I am going to be discussing the different types of failure the Realms can provide, when failure should occur, and the consequences for failure.

Every quest should have a purpose.  Even if it is just a silly time-filling quest, there should be a goal for the quest (or even better, a series of goals).  When the goal is achieved, the quest is over (although sometimes at this point, the goal is changed to “escape/get out”).   The other way the quest can end is when the goal is no longer possible.  While a good quest can have no plan for failure or even be unable to be failed, the best quests I have been on have had failure with severe consequences as an option.

The first kind of failure (which is the way most people think of failure) is the dreaded party wipe.  Every person on the quest is dead, and nobody is going to be alive again without outside intervention.  When this occurs, it is almost exclusively with a small group of PCs on a short quest (think an Adventurer’s Guild or Nexus quest), because someone with embrace death, feign death, intervention, a Magic Item, regionals, or cry of life will save the party if it is a 30+ person quest.  One of the other reasons this is rare is if a party wipe occurs early in a quest (lets say after 1 hour in a 6 hour quest), the EH has a tough choice.  Either the party will stay dead for the next 5 hours and everyone will be unhappy or some sort of deus ex machina will occur so the players can keep having fun.  A demon will start making deals, gods will raise people, or just a cry of life will go off for no reason.  With small parties, a group can be rescued and returned to their start point (once again, see the Adventurer’s Guild), but this method only really works in a quest setting where multiple quests are occurring at once.  It doesn’t solve anything if all the PCs are on a site-wide quest through the woods.

The second type of failure which can occur is the PC’s run out of time to complete their objective.  While a clear example is “Complete the quest before Midnight, when the gate closes,” a more muddied example is to “kill the lich before he completes his ritual.”  These quests can easily fail with the PCs still alive.  In fact, as time runs out, the PCs usually push harder and spend any tricks they still have in reserve just to try to save a few extra seconds to avoid failing.  

The third variety of failure is simply just not achieving the objective.  This is most common in situations such as “defend a point or person,” “catch a target before he escapes,” or “find the widget.”  Any time a clear objective becomes impossible (or impossible in a reasonable timescale) is a failure for the quest.  Sometimes, as the PCs arrive to the the room where the magical Amulet of Andor exists, a demon will be in process of stealing it, and should the demon get away with the amulet, the PC’s lost the quest.  Failing this quest should also have consequences (which I’ll be discussing in just a second...I promise).

The final flavor of failure is not exactly what most people would view as failure.  This is when PC groups disagree on what a goal is, and a decision is reached which works against someone’s goal.  A recent example would be The Shadow King.  A group of players (which I was amongst) wanted to redeem him and fix the mistakes that were made.  He was eventually defeated and put to death, which is what some people wanted done.  The people who wanted the death of the Shadow King succeeded, while people who wanted to redeem Jonas failed.  Having both choices and conflicting goals can lead to cases where some PCs succeed while others fail, and this leads to interesting choices.

Now that we have covered some of the different ways a quest can fail, there has to be a consequence for failing.  Consequences should make sense based on what actually occurred.  If a demon stole an amulet which gives it protection from magic, then magic missile and lightning bolts won’t work against the demon in future encounters.  If a lich is doing a ritual to gain power and succeeds, perhaps he is now able to control PCs with Embrace Death.  If the quest was to gather the 5 parts of a sword to reforge it to slay the evil horrors and only 4 parts were recovered, then it is going to be a lot harder to slay the evil horror (I will be discussing this case in particular in a future article).  The demon shouldn’t suddenly ascend to godhood.  The lich shouldn’t join up with the PCs to help them go questing, and the evil horror shouldn’t be easily killed by something else instead.

Besides making a consequence sensible, there is an important rule about designing consequences which needs to be emphasized.  If you threaten a consequence, you need to follow through with it.  If you fail to follow through, there is no reason for the PCs to believe the consequence next time.  The corollary to this is to not threaten anything you are not willing or able to follow through with.  This doesn’t mean an NPC can’t bluff or lie, but if the consequence for failing a quest is the Realms will be destroyed then either A) there is no way for them to fail the quest, or B) if they do fail the quest, the Realms isn’t going to end (whether you wanted it to or not).  Why should a PC believe the Realms will be destroyed now, after the many times it has not been destroyed already.  On the other side though, if you follow through on the threats you made, the PCs are more likely to take you seriously when you give them an ultimatum in the future.  They are more likely to believe you when you say they have exactly 5 minutes before the bad guy succeeds at turning a city to a smouldering ruin.  They will not think you are bluffing when you threaten a characters life.

To sum up, when designing events in the future, don’t underestimate the value of planning for failure. Tying together PCs goals, actions, and resulting consequences in a logical way will add to the depth of your world and the players’ immersion.

Do you agree? Disagree?  Did I miss something?  What are consequences for failure you have encountered? Feel free to leave a note in the comments.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blast From the Past- View From Valehaven Jan/Feb 2006

This is an excellent View to check out. First it is huge, bigger than similar issues. It has so many good articles, interviews and stories. The best part is that it is only 8 years old. Many of the names in this issue still go to events or are names we still talk about in stories. It is our recent past.
[Thanks to Janna "Iawen" Oakfellow-Pushee for the scans.]