Friday, February 23, 2018

Spotlight On... The Stacked Deck

The Stacked Deck

It’s actually been about a decade since casinos and gambling have made an incredible resurgence in the Realms. So much has been their impact that the entire currency system of the game received a much needed boost and from the long perspective we have as the Spotlighters we can assert that the economy of the game has never seemed so healthy. So first and foremost, all of the casino owners and dealers and those who devote time to gambling are all worthy of some part of the praise because all of you together have brought about the age of the casino and the age of the casino has enriched our game world considerably.

Specifically, however, we would like to take a moment to shine our spotlight on the efforts of the Stacked Deck. As most of you are aware, the Stacked Deck is a series of ranked poker tournaments wherein the winners receive points towards competing in a final tournament at the very beginning of the calendar year. Having just concluded the third season of this tournament play, having expanded the final event to larger than ever, and being poised to continue their success while refining their administrative tools, we feel that the group of individuals who make the Stacked Deck function are worthy of recognition.

If you’ve seen a Stacked Deck table at any of the many events that they occur at, you know that playing in one is an endeavor that no one takes lightly. At some events almost a score of people gather around to compete and the intensity surrounding their play draws in many people around them. It’s hard not to be interested in something taken so seriously by so many people. And while being a true master at poker is something that takes years of experience, another amazing thing about the Stacked Deck is that even a younger, less experienced player can be just as involved and also decently competitive with the titans of gambling that they might find themselves amongst.

Our community stands apart from other LARPs in a lot of ways, and one of the most amazing ways is how pretty much any members of the Realms can create content that draws people further in. Despite not being event holders at many events where Stacked Deck tables appear, the originators of this idea have designed something that has deepened the interest and intrigue of our game world in a subtle and interesting way. We hope that the Stacked Deck tournaments continue to be run with such zeal and that their impact continues to expand.

Part of the Stacked Deck table at Leviathan. Photo by Eren Pils-Martin

Spotlight On is a new View feature that seeks to highlight some of the amazing efforts around our community to make the Realms better. The Spotlighters staff is always on the lookout for things worth celebrating but if you would like to point us in any direction for ideas, please send an email to

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ask the Editors

Ask the Editors


What do you predict the Realms will be like five years from now? What will be the same and what will be drastically different?

I think we are seeing an upswing in immersion and questing culture right now, and I think there are some bright fresh minds gearing up to spearhead some new quests that will really drive the game into a new era, that will surely lead to some epic stories for the next generation to come.

I'm really excited about it actually, one of the things I've seen a lot more this year that I've missed in the past few years is an upswing in high quality ritual magic. As someone who’s been known to roam around as a magic marshal on quests it's kind of a bummer to skimp out on the ritual magic, so I'm hoping to see more of that.

Other than those things, I think we’ll largely be the same community.

--Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

I admit I am not very good at  predicting trends.  Here’s the thing:  to me,  our game tends to shift every 4 years.  Sometimes we see an increase in the marshal aspect.  Sometimes will will see a rise or fall of different elements, due to key people/ groups leaving, or the loss/ gain of event sites.   And while there is change, I find the core game play has not changed all that much.  Combat is faster.  There is an upward trend for immersion currently.  Magic is constantly being tweaked.  I am currently concerned about our competition with other LARPS.  I do not know how much the Realms can or will change.  And that may be to our detriment.  So I guess “we will see” is my best response.

--Steven “Therian” Matulewicz

This is an interesting question. Thinking back from my time as a newbie up to the present day, I feel that while there are many things in Realms that have stayed the same over the years, there are also many things that have changed. Faces come and go, new weapon and armor styles become popular, spells and the spell system itself undergo yearly tweaks and adjustments, attitudes towards different aspects of the game shift. Despite these things, it seems that the foundation of the game remains largely intact. I do believe that we will continue to see changes within the next five years and beyond similar to what we have seen in the last five years and before. Change ebbs and flows with time.  We are now seeing an increased focus on role-playing, immersion, and being in-character at events and I expect this to continue and grow stronger in the future. The greater Realms community, part of what makes the game great, will continue to be as awesome and supportive as it is now, and hopefully continue to evolve and grow as new issues come up over the year. So while it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen and what will change in five years time, I think it’s safe to say that the Realms will both be similar to and different from the game we currently know today

-- Jen “Areni” DeNardis-Rosa

Ultimately, I believe that the Realms marches on through time, largely untouched. Obviously there are changes to weapons and mechanics and rules, and there are also shifts in priorities from fighting to questing to roleplaying. I believe we have also done a great job over the years of addressing social and cultural changes as they arise as well. Despite all of these changes, however, the Realms will always be recognizable as the game that it is and the community it has fostered. In a lot of ways, the Realms is like the Sandlot, we don’t replace people when they move on, but we keep going on, and their legacy and the things they have left behind make an indelible mark on who we are. It’s pretty cool really, that our LARP is living and breathing and evolving, but that its’ character, it’s essence, that’s never going to really change. It’s easy to imagine that things were better in the “good old days” but those fantasties really reflect the way that we remember the past, rather than the past itself. It’s hard to explain, but I am confident that this community and the Realms will be around in a recognizable form for many generations to come.

--Lani “Gwen” Jones

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Why I Want to Go-Feast of Creathorne 2018

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

As always, I am looking forward to going to Feast of Creathorne next weekend, and you should be too. This has event has been a longtime favorite of mine, in no small part because Andy has been kind enough to let me help staff the event, and so I know how much work has gone on behind the scenes to make this event happen. Every year I look forward to the variety of foods available, including game that just isn’t featured at other feasts around the Realms. In addition, Sir Shean is always coming up with new ideas and recipes to try out for the feast (often times months in advance when I am still in the midst of thinking about Leviathan), which shows that this event staff isn’t afraid to try new things and to keep the menu fresh. 

If the food weren’t enough, this event features a gorgeous hall where you can participate in a variety of activities throughout the day. Got some extra gold Coin of the Realm? Use it to participate in the Golden Ticket Auction to win some terrific prizes such as event entries or money to spend at Vandoria’s Vestments. Speaking of, Vandoria herself will be there with her shop, and now is a great time to do some ordering for some of her fabulous creations (I still can’t get over how amazing the outfits she made for Areni and I were). If you need to  burn off some extra calories throughout the day, Order of the List will be there running tournaments to keep you active. If staying seated all day is more your scene, you should probably check out the Creathorne Casino, which will feature a variety of games throughout the day. Word on the street is that there will also be a Stacked Deck tournament happening, so if you are looking to up your rankings early on in the season, this is your chance. 

And in addition to all of this, there will also be a series of mini-quests happening throughout the day in short half hour bursts. This gives you plenty of time to engage in some ongoing Creathorne plot, King in Yellow, while still managing to stuff yourself, shop, and gamble should you so desire. Ultimately, this feast is going to have a lot of great food, and a lot of great entertainment and you should definitely make it a point to come. Pop your head into the kitchen and say hello when you get there!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What You Missed: The Market Day in Fae

by Steven “Therian” Matulewicz

On the morning of The Market Day in Fae, as I packed the car from floor to ceiling with everything Realms Outfitters has to sell, and then tried to find some room to put my wife and son, one thought went through my mind:

Why am I doing this?  “No one” is going to be there or just a minimal amount of people.  I have never been to this sight before.  I don’t know the best method or place to move this much stuff to the place of setup.  I just hope it won’t be too boring.
As it turns out, a lot of people helping to run this event had the same thoughts: that we would sit around staring at each other.

Also as it turns out, I am happy to say we were all very surprised and very wrong.  Over 60 people were there and from everyone I talked to, be they staff or be they customers, went away happy and looking forward to doing this again next year.

So… what happened?  What was the take away of why this low-key event was so successful?

I think it comes down to diversity of resources.  Many events primarily pull from either a small group of friends, or from a specific country/ nation within the Realms.  But more and more, the best events pull from multiple countries and groups.  And I feel coordinating that kind of event is what leads to a more enriching experience, and more interest for the Realms as a whole to come to any one event.

The Roman stone reliefs that surrounded the room on the walls, the large stone statue of the woman on the stage and the 1800 style high arching windows all added to the ambiance.  And by the way, the ceilings are so high, one could choose to have pike battles and not worry.  Lowel, MA is more centralized, so there was greater opportunity/ less drive time for most.  So location and mood well added to the event.  

But it was whom was helping that, to me, made for the best experience.  Realms Outfitters, as I said, was there to help.  You also had Sir Tao (James) running the casino, a Stacked Deck poker tournament and a noodle shop (best customer turn out ever for the noodle shop, I hear).  You had Sir Iawen  (Janna) running some services and a shop with her OOC daughter.  There were at least two other NPC shops there, NPCed Becky and Gnome.  The Carnival was being run by some NPC people from Saurabia in another life (I really liked Plinko “with a twist”.  Betting your life on Plinko is a neat concept.  You had Cal and Athena  running a Bear pit as some NPCs… and doing a wonderful job of commentating.  Big Game Hunt was running limited fighting/ questing in another room.  Not to mention the handful of plot NPCs I saw.  So the event was pulling from many parts of the Realms community.  And the result was a good crowd of happy people.

Food And services, getting ready

Noodle Emporium, ready to go.

Carnival Games with a twist, Bear pit behind

A Seek peek into the Big Game Hunt

I plan to return next year, be it as a vendor or a PC.  I am really hoping more vendors will take this opportunity:  there is so much space to show wares.  We didn’t even expand much into the classrooms I am told we had access to.

This event was a gem on the crown of Realms Eventing.  I, like so many others I spoke to, hope it will continue to shine and bolster the feeling of community that it established.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fireside Chat with Therian

I am sure you all know of Therian.  He is not an attention seeker, but he stands out in a crowd.  You know, the tall, silent type.  His leather wares are beautiful, he has skill with weapons and cards.  If you are very, very lucky, you might have heard him sing.  A man of many talents I am lucky enough to call a friend.  We sat down over a well worn table.  It felt a little strange asking an old friend such basic questions, but this is for you, readers, not for me.  

·  Where are your parents today?
Dead.  It’s ok: they died of natural causes about 15 years ago.  And by “natural causes”, I mean my father was killed hunting a bear.  My mother followed soon after by tracking the same bear.  If you want, I can show you some time, the pelt is in my tannery.  The bear, not my parents.  That would be gross.

·   What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Living this long without losing my connection with Gaia.  I mean so many people walk around, severed from nature and creation.  They are lost and broken.  They are alone and isolated.  While I may not be practicing magic at the moment, I am still connected to the world.  I consider myself very fortunate.

·   What is your next quest?
I am not certain about that.  I am pretty sure I will be going on another long sea voyage.  Hopefully minus the being stuck in Painful Limbo.  Also sure I will be going back to the universe that wants to die from a lot of rocks, or something like that.  They seem pretty determined to end it all.  Who am I to stop the cycle?

·   If you could be granted any wish, what would it be?
I will be honest, I don’t think along those lines.  I try to make my life as best I can with what I have.  I find powerful desires or magics like your suggestion tend to lead to a bad trade off.  Wish for all Necromancers and such magic to never be allowed here again?  They all go into the past and erase the universe.  Wish for a ham sandwich?  It’s made from zombie ham.  I am not sure if I had a real opportunity as you suggest that I would ever try to use it.  It seems like... cheating.

·  Tell us about your favorite feast dish.
I don’t eat often at feasts, or eat enough to have a favorite dish, so it is not something I can remark on in any detail.  I will say that the food at Highbridge last year was by far the best I have ever had.  But as someone who spends a lot of time living off jerky and what I can forage, my perspective may be skewed in this area. 

·  Who do you admire most and why? 
… I see others I respect as my equal in this world.  Clearly there are many with better skills than myself, or different skills.  To admire implies a level of placing another over myself.  I admire skill and wisdom IN others, not other people.  While I see a greatness in many, I do not place the creature as above me.  Perhaps if you can rephrase the question, I can give a better answer.  I mean, you seek to know those that have influenced me, or that drive me forward.  My lessons come from observing and listening.  I apologize, but there is no one, no single creature that I would apply this word to.

·  Tell me about your first adventure?
Well, I was tired from the process of leaving the womb.  … Somehow I don’t think that is what you meant.  I have had many “adventures” in my life.  However I did not become an adventurer until my mid 30s.  I was made aware that, beyond the Felwood, there was a lot more of the world that could benefit from my skills.  And so at the Mistress’ request, I set forth.  I don’t remember a whole lot because of being lost at sea last year (Painful Limbo is still having some difficulties on my mind).  I just remember there were many people wandering into the woods with no sense of the environment and were getting slaughtered.  So I came to save them from themselves.

·  In every life, there is a defining moment.  Tell us about yours.
The sum total of all the choices I have made is what defines me.  I tend to live in the present, and do not dwell much on the past or future.  However, if I need to pick one, I guess when I established the Knights of the Hinterlands, this was able to bring my work in the wider Realms into focus.  I now understand with more clarity the lessons the world teaches me, and how I can relay this to others on their journey.

·  Feel free and expound upon anything you would like.
Alright.  Crowds make me uncomfortable, but not because of the close proximity of the creatures.  What makes me uncomfortable is the large amount of severed people, not being able to connect with them.  It tends to keep me more reserved than I probably should be.  It’s like being surrounded by a sea of sadness.  Over the years, I have gotten better used to it.  But it is still not easy.

·  What was your life like before you began adventuring? 
I was, and still am, the caretaker for the Felwood, which is one of the last forests in the Realms protected by Gaia.  In my lifetime, the towns that used to be near it moved away, and the wood was left somewhat alone.  In my late 20s, I was called on to take on a great role as caretaker and have taken steps to ensure its ability to protect itself.  I could talk in great detail about what has been established in the past 27 years, but I think this is a bit much of a single evening chat.

·  Where and how do you spend your time when you're not adventuring?
Mostly at my home.  It is mostly under ground and is designed to be hidden, molded into the landscape.  I have worked with the Dwarves and with the Elves to make sure the home is well fortified, even within a secure forest.  I have found in the recent years that my time there is not as much as I desire, since I have spent more time selling my leather craft and attempting to hone my skills as a fighter.  So I spend a lot of time these days walking the lands of the Realms, talking with the common folk and learning about the various people and places, while selling my simple items.  Yes, I am considered a Lord now, and a Knight and some other titles. But it is the commoner that is the life blood of our people.  Knowing them, seeing to their happiness, is important.  And so I do what I can.

There you go, your brief introduction to Therian.  Use it to learn more from him.  You will not regret it, I promise you.  If you need me, check the comfy chair by the fire.  I am always up for  good chat.