Monday, September 1, 2014

Question of the Week, special edition

Describe how Dave Dolph, Sir Callin of Folkestone, has impacted your Realms life in one sentence.

A Week of Tribute

The summer of 2009 marked my eleventh year in game. While I’d contributed a significant amount in the years prior, I felt I still had the capacity to learn and grow more (don’t we all always?) and that it would benefit me to once again be a squire to someone who could help encourage and guide me. I selected Dave Dolph/Callin as the person I most wanted to work with and approached him on this, giving him the added pressure of understanding that if he said no, I didn't have an alternative person in mind for the job. 
After consideration he told me three things.
1. He didn’t believe in pomp and ceremony and I shouldn’t expect any sort of announcement/symbol/etc. 2. He had no belt that would be appropriate for him to bestow upon me, so while he would be willing to mentor me, he wouldn’t be able to knight me. 3. That he wasn’t that active anymore and I shouldn’t expect him to be around to work directly with me much.
The reality didn’t completely match. 1. While he never publicly squired me, he did very publicly kick me out of being his squire. 2. While he did not individually Knight me into an order, he was the person who knighted me into the KoEF immediately after the above. 3. Promptly after squiring me he not only became extremely active, he also took over the View, and you’ve all seen what that has meant for me.
While I ceased to officially be Callin’s squire in May of 2012, I’ll always consider him to be a mentor, friend, and my Knight. He says he won’t be that active anymore. I cannot help but selfishly wish that he will once again surprise me and actually become even more active.

In truth, he has earned a break, his roughly 30 years of service to the Realms/LARPing community are amazing and the legacy left behind in the way he has influenced so many of us it extensive. There are stories about Callin that predate the birth of many of our players. In his honor, we at the View From Valehaven will be running a special series of stories, reflections, and photos related to Dave Dolph/Callin. We thank him for his many contributions in the game, one of which was launching the online version of the View.


Question of the Week - 160

What do you think the Realms will be like in 10 years?

Friday, August 29, 2014


I had the pleasure of competing in the first ever Cleaved competition at Queen of Hearts 21.  I have run a similar contest at Tournaments of Creathorne for the past few years, and so was very excited when I heard that the QoH staff decided to do a mystery box type challenge for their cooking competition.  It was set up so that we were allowed to bring any equipment we wanted to use, but could not bring any sort of ingredients.  Each of us was given a work station (picnic table) to work at and a box containing about 20 items.  We then had 1 hour to complete 2 servings of whatever we wanted using only the ingredients in the box. 
What I was able to come up with was:

Soy Sauce & Lemon Marinated Chicken Leg with a Mandarin Orange Reduction Glaze

Sweet potato and carrot Frittata topped with crumbled bacon and sausage

Grilled English muffin topped with cheddar cheese and a deep fried romaine leaf

Romaine lettuce, and carrot slaw served in a lemon cup

Photo by Jana Greene

Photo by Jana Greene

Photo by Jana Greene

Photo by Jana Greene

Photo by Jana Greene

Photo by Jana Greene

Basket Ingredients (listed alphabetically)

10 Questions- Leilani "Gwen" Grayson

Photo by Mike Palumbo
How long have you been playing?
I started attending practice my freshman year at UConn in 2007. My first event was Tournaments of Creathorne in 2008. I waited quite a while before attending an event because I just wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there. As a matter of fact, if I hadn’t been dragged to practice by a friend, I don’t think I would have ever sought out something like Realms. I met Alysha (Kyntela), Heather (Talia), and Christine (Morgana) at that practice, and they are the reason that I kept playing long enough to attend my first event. I drove 4 hours to Grafton, and when I got there, none of my friends had shown up yet, so I kept driving back and forth past the event site until finally I talked myself into checking in. Angie had been given a heads up by Seth that I was coming, and she was the first person I ever met at an event. I had a blast and haven’t missed a ToC since I started playing.

How has the game changed since you've been playing?
I think the game has gotten better since I started playing. The Realms is a community that is constantly evolving and innovating. People are always trying to build on their successes, and it has led to some phenomenal events. Props and costuming at events are beyond amazing. The Order of the List has encouraged a new level of competition in tournaments. And feasts have featured some dishes that I think belong on restaurant menus. The reason I love this community so much is because it is made up of people who are always trying to make the game better. There are always things that can be improved, and there are always people ready to step up and make those changes.

Who have you learned the most from?
Photo by Jesse Gifford
Josh (Shandar) and Jeremy (Nighthawk) have spent the most time training me to become a better fighter. They have patiently trained me for hours and hours, and I have done my best to learn from them. I still have a long way to go, but I would be remiss if I didn’t thank them for taking their time to make me a better fighter.
Diana (Kiira) has helped me hone my sewing skills, and has helped me become a more confident seamstress.
My fellow Rhiassans have taught me just what can be accomplished with hard work and common goals. I am proud to be a part of such a hard-working nation.

Jason (Aeston) as my friend and knight has taught me me the most of all. He has taught me how to find the energy to finish a task, even at 3:00am. He has taught me to distinguish the difference between “good enough” and “Wow!”. He has taught me that the best leaders lead by example. He has taught me to celebrate the successes, and find the areas to improve upon next year. He has taught me that Realms is not just a game, it is a community of people that thrives because of people who are willing to give of themselves. I am grateful that I have been able to work alongside him.
What was your best moment IC?
My favorite time to play Gwen is at Grimloch Questing. This event started right around the same time that I did, and I have been lucky enough to play at every single one. Because the event started out with a fairly small player base, as a first-year-newbie I was able to get really involved with the plot. Ranger and I often spent time pouring over the facts that we knew, and I was excited that I both understood what was going on, but could also help make decisions about what we should do next. There was a scene at one point where a select few people could go and talk to Tanya’s character, who was playing a good guy, to find out more information. I was really proud when Aeston told me that I was going to be one of those select few. It happened at night, and I was really frantic because we only had a short time, and fighting was going on in the background. It was a time that the plot really came alive for me.

Photo by Angela Gray
What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?
My favorite moment was on the big night quest at our second Harry Potter event. Jeremy was playing a big snarky spider that had venom that the PCs needed. The PCs were negotiating with him, but not really getting anywhere. Cecil was taking a turn trying to reason with the spider, and asked him what his favorite fruit was. Without missing a beat, Aaragog the spider shot back, “Mangoes!” in a booming voice. Cecil paused, and said, “Really? Mangoes are your favorite food?” and Jeremy the spider responded, “I’m sorry, I thought you said ‘what is your favorite fruit’”. Apparently Aaragog always remembers his manners. I was sitting in the grass watching the whole thing and I just couldn’t stop laughing.

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?
I would like to see an increase in people reaching out to event holders to help staff events. Quests aren’t any fun without NPCs. Tournaments need more marshals to help things run smoothly. Feasts need people who are willing to serve food. I think that many event holders are lucky because they have a large nation of people to draw upon to help them. But many players don’t think to ask if an event holder needs help. If you are planning on going to an event anyway, it is always worth reaching out to the event holder to see if they are short on staff. EHs put a ton of time and energy into crafting quality events, but they fall flat without the NPC staff showing up the day of. Some event holders aren’t sure how to effectively reach out to people, but would be ecstatic if you offered to help.

What advice would you give new players?
Try to meet people at events. Networking in Realms can be intimidating, but the community is what makes our game awesome, so if you never get to know people, you are missing out on the best part of the Realms. In addition, if your first attempt to get to know someone doesn’t go particularly well, wait a while and try again. If I hadn’t done that, I would have missed out on a lot of important relationships, including the one with my husband. Find yourself an experienced player who is willing to act as a mentor and introduce you to people. Say hello, tell them your name, ask theirs. Find something out about them. Use those stories as an opportunity to build conversation the next time that you meet. These acquaintances might someday be your best friends, and many of them are excited to share their experience with newer players.

What do you love most about the game?
I will say it again and again. I love the people and the sense of community. I love that I can hang out with my best friends from college every weekend. I love that I have met such a wide variety of people who are just so awesome. This group of people is so incredibly diverse, and yet, so willing to help each other in order to make the game better. I am impressed that the Realms functions solely because people are so invested in it. I am really proud to be a part of it all.

Who would you like to see the next interview be with?
Jeremy Grayson, Ben Hamilton, or Alex Groom

Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?

I’d like to thank Jeremy for being such a great husband. He works very hard to help me realize all my Realms endeavors, and I am really grateful for his love and support. I don’t say thank you enough for all of the things that he does for me, but I am really grateful for his willingness to help in any way possible: to forgive the Realms tornado that often sweeps through the house, scattering debris everywhere, to build bridges, to plan plots, to hot glue until his fingers are burned, to fry churros into the early hours of the morning, and for a million other things. Thank you.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What you Missed, Queen of Hearts 2014

Photo by David Harvill

Photo by David Harvill

Photo by David Harvill

Photo by David Harvill

Photo by David Harvill
Photo by David Harvill

Artist Profile-Nataliya "Shadar" Kostenko

I’ve worked in almost every basic medium because the magnet arts high school I attended required us to branch out and experiment with all kinds of ways of making art. My favorite medium is digital video/film but I also like drawing, painting and photography a lot.
Have you had any formal art training?
Yeah, as mentioned I went to an arts high school and “majored” in visual arts there.
Where do you find inspiration?
For drawings and painting so far I’ve done mostly only extremely realistic stuff (or at least as realistic as I have the ability to make it), so I look for unusual angles for portraits and interesting set-ups for still-lifes. For films (I’ve only made short films and animations so far—under 15 minutes) I look for inspiration everywhere from books I read to people I meet and even reality TV sometimes.
Has your art been influenced by Realms? If so, how?
My art has not been influenced by Realms, but I believe this is only because I just recently started playing Realms. My art usually reflects many aspects of my life and since Realms is becoming a big part of that life I believe it will start to strongly influence it soon. Realms makes me really want to try drawing, painting or animating fantasy-type stuff, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Where do you share your work?
I’m pretty bad about sharing my work, I’ve even been told that in the past actually. I haven’t been organized enough to make a website or youtube channel for my art which is definitely something I should do in the future. When I was in high school my work used to be shared, through the school, at a few galleries in New Haven but since I came to college I guess it’s really been shared nowhere at all. I should really get to work on that website.

 What project/projects that you've created have you been particularly proud of?
Probably my two longest short films, “Chase” and “The Other Door”. I applied and was accepted to a few college film programs (which I didn’t end up going to) with them and got some other recognition in high school. I’m also pretty proud of the self-portrait and still-lifes I did for my senior portfolio.

What projects do you hope to complete in the future?
I would really like to make another film, but for now I only have ideas on paper. It’s hard to find time, actors and equipment while at college. And like I said before, I’d also like to try some potentially Realms-inspired fantasy stuff.

What other Realms artists work do you enjoy?
I frequently see Carol Eddy’s work all over facebook and it’s pretty amazing; she’s very talented.