Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ask Zarine


by Sara "Zarine" Jessop


"How do I teach werewolves table manners?"


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Oh, honey...

I don't have any experience in training werewolves. Where I come from we kept our dogs outside. However, I have lived in Invictus for several years now and I've lived with both Trent and Daekara, so I do have some experience in the area of teaching resistant, crazed lunatics how to behave properly for brief periods of time.

Change like this does not happen overnight. Well, I mean, unless there is a full moon. So, I suppose firstly you'll want to do this at whatever time of the cycle that werewolves are at their most domesticated, and for goodness sake, don't let them know what you are trying to do! If they get the slightest hint that you are attempting to change them for the better they will very likely run for the hills and then you'll be even further from success than when you started. This would all be much easier and less dangerous if they want to learn, so tricking them into having a desire to become more well mannered is highly recommended. Perhaps give them a small treat when they do well. They will associate that with good behavior and want to improve.

Typically I would start with general manners if they do not possess them. Saying excuse me, please, and thank you, are basic staples of good comportment in any situation. Easy things like keeping elbows off the table, using a napkin instead of their arm, and actually using the flatware instead their hands are all obvious and fairly easy things to learn. They are either doing it or they are not. Make sure that they have these basic things down before moving onto more complex things like multiple forks, big and small spoons, and other things that sound dirty but are legit things everyone should know about table settings.

Adults, much like children, learn by example. Invite people to dine with you who already bear the ability to eat in a sophisticated and refined manner. I would gladly help in this endeavor. In fact, if you have specific individuals in mind, I would gladly host a nice dinner for them at Alchimia Lupinaar. Being in an environment that fosters a more elegant and formal ambiance will make it easier to break old habits, trust me.

Let us remember, I was not brought up to be as I am, I had to learn. And I didn't have the luxury of someone to teach me other than myself. Good breeding means nothing. Plenty of us mongrels have elevated ourselves beyond our so called 'birthrights'. If a dock tramp's daughter can learn how to tell a salad fork from a soup spoon, I'm fairly certain a werewolf, or any manner of creature with the propensity for intelligent cooperation within society, can do the same. It might be more difficult, but anything worth doing often is.

Good luck, my dear, you are going to need it.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Rumors for November 1019

[Across the Realms]

As the chill begins to creep into the bones of all those in the Realms, fall is here and on its icy winds comes talk of a bewinged creature with rounded horns that is supposedly able to breathe blue fire that will never burn out but also never spread. Many townsfolk have started seeking after this creature in hopes of an eternal flame for the winter that fast approaches.

[Blackwood & Folkestone]

The ship known as the Hell's Bucket was seen pulling into Portsmouth harbor in Folkestone late on the 9th day of November. The King and Queen of Blackwood were seen disembarking with Sir Mathias, Lady Mataiya, Squire Seeker, and others of their party/households. All headed home after a long journey for the royal honeymoon.
Freesia, still tight lipped about where they went, was all smiles and only stated that they all needed rest after the long voyage.

[Chimeron]

Militia patrols around Chimeron Castle increased significantly following the annual Black and White gala. Regular traffic into and out of the castle is largely unaffected, although visitors are occasionally stopped and questioned briefly. The guards do not appear to be looking for anyone in particular, although a few individuals seem to be disgruntled with their duty assignment. Patrols in the city remain unchanged.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What You Missed: A New Be-Gi-Ning

Expedition Report
Location: Gi
Date: 9 November 1019

I met several other adventurers in the Chimeronian countryside to discuss the purpose of our first foray into the world of Gi. After years of war between our civilizations (see After Action Reports dated 27 Feb. 1016 and 31 Mar. 1018), the time has come to broker peace with the Risen Kingdom. I made these intentions clear to my fellow adventurers--several of whom, as it so happened, at very recently traveled to this region of the Realms from far-off lands. Fortunately, discussions of our strategy for dealing with the Risen Kingdom have been ongoing since the most recent Feast of Chimeron, so the departure from military force did not come as a surprise.

An agent of the Subtle Thread (number 40-something) and a “hired mage/guide” (I am unsure of whose employment this individual was working) named Zooklin joined us as we made our way to the portal. Despite being in the underground caverns, the biting wind pushed the first freeze of the season up against our party, and we drew our cloaks tight around us while the remembered sunlight provided little warmth as it hid behind a bleak gray dome of clouds.

… then we entered Gi, and things got even worse.

Our first impressions aligned with what little information we had available ahead of time: that Gi is a barren, desolate world. The grim tragedy of the wasteland was somewhat mitigated by a magical tapestry which Zooklin carried with him--in his own words, it provided a little “bubble of Realms” around it. The phrase invoked memories of a similar artifact hauled across an even more desperate landscape during the Bedlam War, which was an unwelcome comparison.

Agent 37 was present on the Gi side of the portal, and was elated to see us. She was stuck on field assignment duty because her superiors were worried about the contamination she might bring back from Gi if she were to return to the Realms. I know that the Subtle Thread is very precise in its research, so the justification behind her exile did not worry me nor the rest of the pary.

The portal opened on to a path, traversing through what might almost pass for a forest in Gi. As we traveled it, we were set upon by a pack of very large and very hungry wolves. Their presence indicated that the world was not quite fully exhausted, and their large size (physically and numerically) was remarkable. Their resilience and combat abilities were also notable. Further research is required to determine the exact state of the predator-prey food chain in Gi.

Agent 37 told us that she had discovered an abandoned Risen Kingdom output nearby some time ago, and offered to guide us towards it. Our supply of supporting magics was shallow to begin with, and the wards which remained unbroken in the portal (see After Action Report dated 2 Mar. 1019) further hindered our capabilities, but with Sir Tao and his two Seeds of Life serving as our sole source of healing, we pressed on while more wolves were drawn to our path. We passed a landmark which might be generously described as having once been a lake, although its murky surface swirled with mud and death. Across a set of footbridges and over a ravine, we finally reached the destination. A Risen Kingdom flag, battered like our party as we beat back the last of the wolves, hung limply on a pole at the foot of a small hill, watched over by an equally battered barracks. We approached, and opened the door carefully, only to find it deserted (true to Agent 37’s reports). A few forgotten morsels of food sat on a table, and a self-tending fire struggled to keep more than half the hall warm; compared to the wicked world which existed beyond its four walls, the interior was downright comforting.

Zooklin conducted an elemental ritual to expand the influence of his tapestry to surround the building, thus establishing a sort of Realms foothold. Using the barracks as a launching point, we split the party into smaller groups to scout the surrounding area. The previously omnipresent wolves seemed to have lost interest in our existence, although we soon found ourselves in the company of a few large snakes which circled the edge of the tapestry’s aura. I personally stayed behind to provide background information on the Risen Kingdom to a few newer adventurers. Groups returned periodically with various types of materials scavenged from the wilderness, including some thead-like essences which we were able to weave into the magical tapestry to strengthen its effect.

The first time I ventured outside of the barracks was in support of a “twinning” ritual proposed by Zooklin which would connect one of the doors in the hall to the portal, thus circumventing the trek to our newly-established outpost. Unfortunately, the tapestry’s aura did still did not reach much past the outside of the building, and in order to complete the ritual, we needed to travel all the way back to the portal so that we could place a focus near it. This meant that we had no protection against the full brunt of the plane of Gi.

Without the tapestry, Gi’s atmosphere is dulled by an orange haze which shrouds everything in a veil of misery. That same misery is also conveyed upon the air, whose awful stench is so powerful that even a being such as myself--HAVING NO NOSTRILS TO SPEAK OF--is left with an indescribably treacherous taste overpowering the remaining senses. Honestly, I would rather deal with the wolves.

When we approached the portal, we discovered a young woman defending herself against a pack of giant cats (again, the fact that such a barren environment can support so many large predators calls for further investigations). She did not seem to know who we were, and did not shy away from us, so aided her efforts while securing the focus to the portal to complete Zooklin’s ritual. At the request of the woman, who called herself River, we also helped her block off the entrance to the den from which the giant cats were emerging. She was so grateful for our presence (and surprised to see so many strangers) that she offered to show us the way back to her village and introduce us to her family and neighbors. However, she admitted that she should get permission from her father first, and invited us to reconvene with her at a point on the path half an hour later. We took that time to discuss our options for our upcoming audience. It seemed likely that once River carried word of our appearance back to her father, the alarm would be raised and we would find ourselves face to face with an angry mob. Bearing our primary objective in mind, we returned to the agreed upon meeting location only lightly armed and bearing gifts in the form of local and exotic (e.g. from the Realms) resources. As promised, River was also there, and no angry mob was present. We followed her along another path and into her village square, where I was sure we would be ambushed… but were instead greated (apprehensively) by the mayor and River’s father. By my count, the village had three buildings and five citizens.

After introducing ourselves and chatting with the mayor, it quickly became obvious that these people had no idea about what had happened to the Risen Kingdom army which had marched through the portal almost two years ago. As far as they were aware, the local militias had been called up and were still deployed in a far off land, fighting a foriegn threat.

After quietly discussing amongst ourselves, we decided that it was better to reveal the truth of our journey to the citizens and deal with the reaction immediately instead of building an entire relationship with these people off of a lie. I had a private conversation with the mayor, whose brother was one of those militia soldiers called up by the Fallen King, and delicately explained my own role in the war to which he was deployed. All things considered, it went better than I expected.

Night quickly fell, turning the cold wasteland into a bitterly frigid one, and we departed the village in order to avoid overstaying our welcome. We debriefed the meeting in front of the barracks fire and debated our next steps, but did not reach any concrete conclusions. Further action is needed in order to define the next phase of our mission. A few more scouting groups briefly explored a few points of interest under the rusty moon, and when they returned, the party evacuated the chilling barracks for the warmth of our own hearths.

Conclusions:

We took the first steps on the road towards peace, and having done so, I now feel like there is a real chance for success in our mission. However, we must plan our next moves very carefully-- by revealing ourselves immediately, we have sacrificed any element of surprise which we might have been able to use against the Risen Kingdom. The Fallen King almost has seen what we have done, and we must be wary of the trickery which his minions have shown in the past.

Attachments:
Additional report from Sir Tao
Additional report from Clove
Additional report from Rex Larrysaurus
Additional report from Agent 37

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Captain Orion Mars, Chimeron Milita
Sworn Member of the Azure Guard
Squire to His Majesty, King Sir Alexander Cecil
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Attachment 1: Report from Sir Tao

Tao the wizard talked to Zooklin, the hired mage/guide when we explored Gi. After some experimenting, he was able to figure out how to make items of power function there. Any items of power that go through the gate are rendered mundane as they are surrounded by kind of shroud. This can be overcome one of two ways. Only one of these will work currently. The way we know is to have the item disenchanted. Once this happens the shroud dissipates, and the item can be reforged. The second would be if we knew the name of the shroud then we could disrupt it, but this would only last 5 minutes.

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Attachment 2: Report from Clove

Five adventurers sleep. Thoril and cyrus cause a ruckus in the dreaming at a fae lord's tea party. I weave through a loom to solidify our outpost in Gi while questioning why we're here.

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Attachment 3: Report from Rex Larrysaurus

IC: When I got to Gi and found the spells on the ground, like I normally do, one of them let me forget a name. I didn't think about it much, like I normally do, other than maybe it'll be useful for some weird thing later. When we meet the villagers and learned that they try to forget their dead, I understood why I had that spell. It wasn't a useful trick for adventurers. It's just the way things are there.

OOC: Best use of regionals for storytelling I've seen so far. That was touching to me in a way that no other Realms event has been.

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Attachment 4: Report from Agent 37

After 252 days since opening the portal from Gi to the Realms, it was wonderful to see the adventurers of the Realms again. They came through the portal they had secured and managed to go from the portal to the abandoned Risen Kingdom outpost without being eaten by the huge wolves. Some of them brought food to share with me. It was nice to eat Realms food again and to not worry about being food. In the outpost, a wonderful warm fire was set up and warm drinks helped to protect us from the frigid Gi air. Special thanks to Clove, Rowan, and Rowan's incredibly helpful Didelphis virginiana in their tireless work on the loom, modulating standing waves to cancel out influence from Gi and avoid detection.

Sapere aude
Agent: 37
The Subtle Thread


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Why I Want to Go: Mountain View 2


By Alex “Elouan” Groom

Several years ago, a group of adventurers journeyed into Gau Dring in order to deal with the emerging threat of the Guild. The Guild had built a hidden fortress under the mountain city of Dahm, and Gau Dring asked for aid in rooting out The Guild and ending it’s threat to their nation. However, when the adventurers arrived, they found the city ransacked, members of the Guild slaughtered, and an unknown army looting and ravaging their way through the city. With heroic efforts, the adventurers of the Realms were able to drive this army back into the mountain from whence they came, and several members of Gau Dring were able to construct a barrier to contain the threat.

However, as the years have worn on, the barrier has begun to weaken. Whatever is sealed in there is more powerful than initially anticipated - much more powerful - and will break the barrier soon. As such, Gau Dring has called upon the Realms once more, to delve into the mountain, find out just what is trying to break this barrier, and hopefully deal with the threat that lies at the center of the mountain.

On an out of character note, I have been working with the event staff for several weeks now, and can say that Gau Dring has some great encounters planned for y’all. Returning to this event will be Gau Dring’s classic reactive monsters. These monsters, while harder to kill, fight in a more theatrical way - staggering from blows, big, exaggerated swings, etc. They also tend to have some of the best costume design I’ve seen in Realms. Having seen these in action several times, I can tell you the effect is really cool, and leads to some really awesome moments.

In fact, costuming all around is quite impressive for this event. I know the staff have put in quite a bit of effort into really differentiating their monsters, and reflecting the character of each NPC in their clothing. Whether it be the malicious Eshkin, or the lowliest of undead, an incredible amount of attention to detail was paid for the costuming of this event.

Additionally, the staff has a lot of content planned for the day, with the intention being to run the event from 10:30AM to 10:00PM. On top of that, there is a wide variety of types of content. There’ll be skirmishes, there’ll be big fights. There will be small puzzles, there will be puzzles that span entire rooms. Along the way, players will uncover scattered documents of all sorts, helping them to piece together the history of Dahm, The Guild, and thensome. I truly think this event has something to offer for anyone who enjoys questing, regardless of which aspect they enjoy.

Finally, this event takes place in Hicks arena, and will use the moving wall system that has been used there several times. Personally, I always feel like this perfectly creates the feeling of navigating a winding cave system, exploring further and further underground.

All around, I am really excited for this event. There is still time to pre-reg, and paid pre-reges get a bonus perk at event sign in. I hope to see many of you there!