Friday, January 30, 2015

My Two Regrets Squiring- by Andrew "Lysis" Adams

Many years ago, my character Lysis, was Knighted into the Knights of the Sable Dragon. I was squired for about 2 years before finally being knighted at a Feast of Blackwood.  To me, the Knighting had little to do with mentoring.  My Knight and I had talked a bit about it, and he felt that I was worthy of being a Knight. The only task he gave me, that I can remember, was to go around and challenge 10 Knights.  The Knights got to choose the competition. This was good because it got my name out there a bit. But that was all.

I vowed that if I ever took a squire, it would be different.  I actually started doing some reading on the traditional duties of a squire. It wasn’t all just cleaning armor and helping your Knight prepare for battle.  It was combat training, etiquette, and mentoring as well.

A year later, I did find a young player that was keen to get better, in the game. He would come to our weekly practices every week, and was eager to learn all he could.  He was about 10 years younger than I, still in high school and a martial artist as well.  I saw much potential.  I eventually squired him and gave him his first task.  Write an essay.  Topic: HIS definition of Honor, Courage, Valor and Bravery. It must be a minimum of 1.5 pages.  But no wrong answers, really, since it is his opinion.  The next step was to bring it to 5 different Knights of the Realms or Eternal Flame, ask them to read it, and then discuss with them their thoughts on it.  Lastly, it would be to discuss with him, if his definitions had changed. Then ask if he wanted to rewrite it.  The point of the task was twofold.  1) Get him thinking about these ideas and see how they vary from person to person and 2) introduce him to KoR and KoEF so that not only would he know them, but that THEY would know who he is. I expected the initial essay to take a month or so, and then a few months of discussion with other Knights.

The first draft took a year. But, I finally got it. It was laden with spelling mistakes and tons of grammatical errors.  We sat and discussed it.  He knew it wasn’t the quality that I wanted. I explained the next portion (showing it to others) and asked if it was the quality he wanted to show.  He agreed to try again and to do a better job. This is where my first regret takes place.  I knew in my head what he should have done.  I knew he was bad at spelling and grammar.  I knew that he could have easily taken it to his English teacher at school and asked for some feedback.  But I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t help guide him in any way. I let him flounder and feel bad that he did a bad job, and that it wasn’t good enough.

My second regret came about via an IC decision that made.  Let me explain.

At the time, I was a member of the Crystal Hall, which at that time was just a school.  I taught fighting, and was the schools chief combat trainer.  The Headmaster of the school was Xavier Cardigan (Dan Rodriguez), who was a priest of the Elven God, Corellon Larethian.  During an event, Corellon materialized and asked Xavier to start a new Knighthood, the Knights of the Crystal Hall. Corellon also asked that I be the first Knight.  IC, Lysis couldn’t believe in being a Knight of two orders.  It would be like having two masters.  So he was left with a decision.  Decline this Knighthood from a God, or drop a Knighthood from a mortal man.  So I left the Knights of the Sable Dragon.

I went to my squire and explained the situation. I gave him a choice.  He really had three options.  1) stay my squire, but understand that he was squiring into the Knights of the Crystal Hall.  2) become the squire of another Knight of the Sable Dragon. 3) no longer be a squire to anyone.  He chose to go to another Knight.

Here comes my regret. I didn’t put up a fight.  And in doing so, I lost the opportunity to help a young player do good in this game.  I can’t blame him.  My first regret caused him to feel bad and ashamed.  I should have done a better mentoring job. He stayed in the game for many years, but in MY opinion didn’t reach his full potential.

On Failed Squireships- by Stephen "Elder Sir Duncan" Johnson

Over the years I have squired many people and even knighted a few of them. As Sir Gunnar of Fairhaven, founder of Eagle’s Rook, I squired Myriel and Pyr Thalax, both of the Eclipse. I knighted Myriel, but my character was gone before I was able to knight Pyr. As Sir Duncan of Rhiassa I squired Cedric, Da’oud, Nagilum, and Aeston, all of Rhiassa. I hope in the coming year to become more active and maybe even take another squire or two. I have also worked with many people over the years where I felt like I was something of a mentor to them. In those relationships I tried to act as if they were my squire even if it was not a formal squireship, at least in terms of my responsibility towards them.

Perhaps it is appropriate that I start by saying that I have a hard time saying any of these squireships was a “failure”. I try not to fault others unnecessarily, as that goes hand in hand with not taking responsibility for your own actions. In the interest of taking responsibility for the times I have not done enough for my squires, I’m going to tell you a little bit about times I have failed each of them.


The player who played Myriel was the only woman I ever squired. We trained together at UMass Amherst’s Pioneer Valley Combat Club and she became a pretty good fighter over that time. Myriel, Sir Callin of Folkestone and I all wound up going on a quest into Faerie that was thrown just for me as part of the fallout from Sir Gunnar publicly questioning a Faerie Prince’s honor and challenging him. Squireships are somewhat intimate relationships, but Myriel and I certainly never crossed that line either IC or OOC. My failure, however, was a simple one. I found her very attractive and at one point I basically told her as much. We were both single at the time, and it was a line I danced along that should never be crossed. Nothing ever happened and I don’t think it affected our friendship or our squireship, but it was an awkward moment.

The lesson from that squireship I’d leave you with is that you just be careful squiring people of the gender you are attracted to. It should be a process that brings you closer but I think it is also one that should obviously stay platonic.


Pry started out in the Realms like many of us - full of boundless potential but somewhat rough around the edges. I never wound up knighting him. I set up a plot where my character had been turned into a gatekeeper in Hades and had to be rescued. Save the prince/princess/knight/maiden plots are as old as the Realms and some of the greatest stories we have ever had come from that particular trope. The quest I set up would up being so difficult that all the players that went on it were killed. It was Sunday morning of the very first Queen of Hearts event. In the wake of that “failure”, Pyr, myself and the event went on to have two decades of amazing success. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but Pyr became a Knight of the Realms like me, and a King - which was an honor I never managed to earn. I became someone Kelly Bonci once referred to as a “Legend”. That’s a word I wouldn’t have dreamed anyone would ever use to describe me. I don’t *think* she was being facetious, though I suppose she might have been drunk. Queen of Hearts has become a staple of the Realms calendar and successfully picked up the tradition of Glendale and carried it on.

The lesson from that squireship is a complicated one. I feel like I failed him as a Knight and as a friend. I effectively abandoned him when he might have really wanted to have been knighted by me and have helped make Eagle’s Rook into a long-lived and successful nation. Did I think that at the time he didn’t have what it took to be a knight? At this point given all he has accomplished that seems ludicrous but I think I had lost the ability to “see the knight in him” at that time. Did his “failure” on the quest to save Sir Gunnar help propel him to all of his later successes? If so, he didn’t fail alone (everyone died), so in reality I failed to create a quest that could be completed. He was knighted by Sir Myriel and eventually became a KoEF, a KoR, a shining examples of Knighthood in the southern Realms (if not the entire Realms) and a King.


Cedric is been gone from the Realms for many years. His squireship involved lots of combat training as well as learning how to organize and run events and how to lead. I remember Sir Blade once telling me he could easily see Cedric becoming a whitebelt if he kept up his level of involvement in the community. He wound up getting involved in the SCA and also became a dad, so Realms became less and less of a priority for him. The time I feel I may have failed him was probably at his knighting. It was really an excellent squireship but we were gearing up for QH5 - an event where we would defend Rhiassa against a Drow invasion. A knighting ceremony is something the squire should remember for the rest of their lives. Cedric’s knighting was the first one I’m aware of where the squire was killed as part of the ceremony. I also sang. I don’t have a good singing voice. The song was carefully written and afterwards Blak came up to me to tell me that it was amazing. He also said I should never ever sing in public again. I have taken that advice. I have always wondered if my attempt to create such a dramatic squiring ceremony was something Cedric in any way regretted or resented. I doubt he’d ever tell me if he did, but I’ll always wonder.

The lesson is a simple one - not all good ideas on paper are good ideas in real life. If you’re going to do something overly dramatic, be willing to run it by someone else and get their opinion first. Then if you are told that it isn’t going to work - listen. I wasn’t ever told by anyone that my plan for Cedric’s knighting was a bad idea, and I’m not sure I would have listened if I had been told. In retrospect I should have gotten someone else (maybe Sir Pyr, who is an amazing singer) to perform the song I had written.


He inherited my lands, turned into one of the top fighters in the entire community, became a Knight of the Eternal Flame and created bridges between the South and the North at a time when those were rarer than they should have been. I think if he had wanted to, he could have been a Knight of the Realms and probably even a King - though the idea might seem a little crazy to those who know him well. I don’t think there is anything he coudn’t have done if he set his mind to it. When Da’oud was my squire I suspect we both would have benefited a great deal from doing more questing and tourneying together. We have our stories, but his level of activity in the community was ramping up at a point when mine was dropping down a bit. I don’t think he ever faulted me for not playing as much as I had in earlier years, but I still feel like I let him down. Sometimes you can learn a lot more from your knight outside of events than you ever learn running around with your garb on, but it is nowhere near as much fun.

The lesson from Da’oud’s squireship is just that you really should prioritize spending time at events together. Quest. Tourney. Feast. Go to War. We did that, but I’ll always feel like I didn’t do enough. Maybe that’s because his ceiling was so high it took both Rhiassa AND Folkestone (he is a member) to fully feed his appetite for learning, growing, leading and partying.


In the second age of New Rhiassa, when Da’oud was Lord, I took Nagilum as a squire. It was a time where I was not as active as I wanted to be and felt a fair amount of guilt about not doing enough with him. One day he sent me an email with the text of some internet chat that showed some young members of Grimloch writing some deeply offensive stuff to him and about me. I was livid and shared it with the entire community. I felt it brought up legitimate questions about player safety at events if these kids meant the stuff they had written. I mostly don’t regret sharing it, but I deeply regret not driving up to New Hampshire to meet with these guys to talk about what had gone down. I felt I was too angry and the choice between spending an evening with my family or with these little shitheads was an easy one at the time. It was an overreaction. I passed up the chance to actually resolve the conflict face to face. The kids stayed in the Realms and in Grimloch and they probably still think the whole incident was pretty funny. It affects me to this day and is a major reason my wife (EH of many Feast of Rhiassas and Queen of Hearts) no longer participates in the community. I took a break from Realms for a while and pretty much left Nagilum in the lurch. I felt like nobody else cared about the issues that had come up or was willing to do anything to actively discourage the kind of bad behavior the Grimloch kids had shown. The squireship was never completed. I eventually came back, but Nagilum no longer plays. Grimloch is now a close ally of Rhiassa, thanks to Aeston’s friendships with members of that nation. The Grimloch kids even grew up a little. Funny how things turn out.

The lesson is this. Meet with people when you are angry with them. Talk with them. Work things out. If I had, it’s possible the squireship of Nagilum would have continued and been a success. Arguing that I chose family first is tempting, but the reality is that my involvement in Realms has been lessened for over a decade because my OOC wife no longer wants to be involved as an indirect result of that bad choice I made. Also - as knight you WILL make mistakes and let people down. Thinking about that now will help you to better see it later on when you are in the process of making those bad decisions. If you’re lucky you might even correct one or two of them before they get out of hand.


My last squire was Aeston. He had sworn off every squiring to anyone but somehow we were able to work together and find a way to have a successful one anyways. He wound up becoming a Knight of the Eternal Flame, a Knight of the Realms and the third Lord of New Rhiassa. Every time I thought there was no longer any way he could impress me more, he always found a way to do it. He even found a career (OOC) that I have always wanted to pursue - that of a teacher. My problem was that I took him as a squire when I was no longer active enough (see above). There was way too much that I was not there for during his rise to prominence in the Realms and there is no way I can go back and change that. The funny thing is that sometimes you have to step away to give others the room to grow. Personalities take up a kind of space, and it takes one stepping away to give others the opportunity to achieve everything they are capable of achieving. Aeston runs things differently than I run things, both in Rhiassa and in the practices we each helped to found (UConn for him, UMass Lowell for myself), but I don’t think those differences represent any failure on my part to properly teach him what I had to teach. I do think I should have found a way to be more active during those years without putting a damper on all he was doing for Rhiassa and for the community as a whole.

So am I just saying what I want to read, or am I touching upon some age-old truths in the stuff I’ve written?

I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I’ve had a long and storied career with some amazing achievements and even more amazing memories. I’ve had the honor of squiring some of the most incredible people and have supported them, mentored them, taught them and let them down. I’ve got my share of regrets. I don’t think anyone can honestly claim they don’t, but I think it is rare to see people talk honestly about them.

Let’s hope maybe I can help to change that. That’s what I have to share about failed squireships. This wasn’t super-fun to write but I hope someone out there will get something from reading it. Maybe some future squire will have a better experience with their knight because of something I was able to share here.

In service to the Realms,

 - Stephen Johnson, KoEF, KoR

Fresh Face- Kimberly "Desiree" Lougee

How did you first learn about Realms?

A combination of boredom, the need for a shared hobby for the three of us who live in the same house, and Chris' (Alexander) most recent YouTube kick being about LARPing lead us to search the net for local groups. We decided Realms sounded good, and I pretty much immediately fell in love with the idea of alchemy. We tried to drag along Victoria's (Calypso) 'sister' and her boyfriend, but that fel through, and Chris' friend Alisha (Eva?, Alexander's half-sister I think) ended up joining us. And somehow, I'm the leader of this pile of oddballs. Calypso, Alex, and Eva have even sworn to me recently! (Although part of me thinks it was mostly for convenience’s sake since we all carpool.)

How many events have you been to?

Not many, really. We did the small tourney Grimloch hosted a couple of weeks before Folkstone on a whim, though I don't think it hit legal, and I mostly sat with the very grumpy little one since we didn't have a sitter. Folkstone weekend was EPIC, Feast of Neden was ok, and B&W was a lot fun. Opera House 2 was great, too. Seriously looking forward to Cecil's Uncle's Yule Madhouse or whatever they're calling it, as it sounds like a blast.

Have you ever LARP'ed before? If so tell us about it.

About four years ago, I almost joined up with Future Imperfect, a Sci-Fi larp that I think is RI based. The parent company dropped it, for no reason I ever learned, the week before the event I'd taken time off for. I want to say Kevin Girard, who was the one trying to get me into it, actually picked up the pieces and is running the
place now, and I still lurk on their FB community. Cool guy, but I moved northward and we fell out of touch.

What is your character like? Where are they from? What is their race? What is important to them?

My character, Desiree, is basically my core personality without a lot of my social awkward filters, twisted to fit fantasy. Kind, helpful, fun, a bit snarky, very loyal to chosen family, and maybe a bit too interested in creature comforts. I built her as a way to let go, so it's not terribly hard to get 'into character' because it's more about
getting out of my shyness. Because really, if I totally F things over as Desiree she can simply disappear, and I can start over. It's actually starting to help me be myself more out in the mundane world too. Small steps, though.

As for her backstory and such, she is the perfectly human daughter of a small village healer and a woodsman/grumpy drunk of a father, both deceased of mundane causes. Her mother trained her as an herbal healer and mundane wise woman for the village, which is why her alchemy potions are herbal based now that she has access to magical ingredients. Her husband was basically her master's test: they fell in love as she nursed him back to health from near death and they wed shortly after.

She became an adventurer to avenge the nasty murder/scalping of her husband (no magicals in town to save him), although she had to delay her departure by a few years to finish training her apprentice so as to not leave her home without a healer of some sort. Problem is, she doesn't know a whole lot about where exactly her husband came from before he showed up in her life half dead, and the trail is long cold on the group that killed him. She does have a ring, what appears to be his family coat of arms even if he never talked about it, but it's not much help.

What do you remember about your first event?

Honestly, I count Folkstone Weekend as my first event. The feast was...overwhelming. A lot of people, a lot of noise, some great food, and a very confusing night quest on the beach were I followed around the nice lady with cat ears and chain maille. The most standout points of the weekend, though, were bribing the alphabet bag of holding puzzle with homemade jerky Saturday morning, the epic battle on the field where I basically just hauled a constant line of corpses to Gray and Garharz, and then after the kerfuffle with the Black Star Guild at the keep where poor Bones was in a bad way and I declared Snack Quest and we all hung out, ate all the food I'd been hauling around all weekend, and I got to know people and the Realms better.

What things have helped to make you feel welcome in game?

First off, Angela and Jason Gray, and Jesse Gifford were awesome to us bunch of unconnected newbies, coming over to our house (in the lead up to the major event they were throwing) and sitting down with us over dinner to talk about anything and everything we could ask about the realms. And it was a long drive for them.

At folkstone, Becky Barton and her chimeron cabin friends were hilarious and helpful after hours around the campfire. Gerard Chartier was a good campfire buddy, too, and was nice enough to let me trail after him like a lost puppy for a lot of the weekend without getting annoyed. Yip was fun, too, just don't follow her example of licking the lightning ball.

Everyone active in the Realms FB group has been great, too.

What parts of the game do you find most challenging?

Hit calls are hard for me: not the taking of hits but rather calling them. I tend to not call out loud, just stop using the arm/leg. It's not too bad, because I don't do armor, but still. I also mostly call 'ow' in a rather deadpan voice instead of 'dead' and the very nice npc players tend to get worried about anyone saying 'ow' in any tone of
voice. Actual pain, rare as it is, evokes swearing. Active battle is not my thing, but I knew this going in.

Names are also pretty tough. I've never had an easy time with name-face memory, but the consistent costumes help an awful lot to counter the fact that most folks have at least two different names.

Do you have any game related goals (as either a player or a character)?

...Right, so, go big or go home, yeah? I hope to found a country (probably named Eden or something similar), run mostly epic feast events, and have my own land to fit the part. ‘Part 1: followers’ is already underway. I guess with three sworn to me I'm a Lady now, according to some of the info on realmsnet.

Part of my OOC life goal is owning a big honking piece of well-kept forest, and building a business there. Now that I've seen how awesome LARP is, and heard how much of a pain getting event sites can be sometimes (see rumor of Folkstone being asked not to come back to the scout camp because of some ladder-on-picnic-table shenanigans) it was very easy to tweak my master plan: Cut trails pretty much as soon as I own land, and use for day quests. Prioritize the kitchens and rental space and smack an old school tavern template on it, go for feasts.Add some space for tenting and maybe a few cabins along with the necessaries. Poof, (hopefully) epic larp location, with super-larp-friendly owners.

What advice would you give other new players?

Relax, ask questions, listen to the monologue-ing, watch what's going on, and offer to help.

Relax! Seriously. A lot of folks that larps attract have anxiety problems, or at least a high level of that awful social awkward. Don't be afraid to stick your foot in your mouth, or accidently ask a noble for plebian help. As long as you're not a total butthead OOC, there's nothing to worry about. If you make enemies and you really didn't mean to, you can pick up a different character: it's like changing your hairstyle.

If you're alright with a sword, find a spot in the line that's got a gap and pair up with someone who knows what's going on. Follow their lead, play support for them even if it amounts to jumping in front of hits. You'll learn with practice and experience, and soon you'll be the one a newbie is following around. Also, ask for sparring and tips
when the 'thinky types' are the ones busy. It happens sometimes, and the heavy fighters tend to get a bit restless.

If you're afraid of getting in the way in a fight, flutter at the back of the lines and haul corpses to the healers. None of the good fighters really want to risk breaking the line, and the heavy healers have set up circles that keep them from getting dead themselves. And when there's no one left alive to fight, we all lose. By the time
you're in good shape from all the running, you'll have learned a few spells. Also: Heal Limb or Repair Armor/Item are good choices if you're going to be part of the corpse line, as it keeps some of the fighters from needing to be carried away.

If there's a puzzle going on, take a look and see if it's something you're good at. Even if it's not, give it a try. You might see something the regulars missed.

What have you enjoyed most about the game so far?

You hear it from everyone, but the community. Especially how helpful the folks 'in power' have been. The Folkstone crew was great, a baron allied with chimeron was really accommodating when I was good and
confused at one point, and King Cecil at B&W actually let me move my shop downstairs when everyone else packed it up for court.

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

If you've read this whole huge wall of text: Thanks.

Also, that business I was talking about earlier? Think Old Sturbridge Village for modern self sufficiency, using ancient forest cultivation techniques and modern technology. If anyone wants more info on my mundane business plans, hit me up on Facebook: post to the realms community looking for me or send me a message. I could use all the help I can get, and that includes the boost of knowing someone's interested in my apparent insanity.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Bardic Circle: Red and Black

Swoop and Pilpus perform (photo by Jesse Gifford)

  The Red and the Black

Words and music by Michael "Swoop" Zajac. Accompanied by Benjamin "Pilpus" Lacasse on guitar.

Listen friends and I'll sing you a song
of a nation so storied of brave knights so strong
of mages and fighters who never turn back
who fight to the death for the Red and the Black.

First came Sir Duncan a brave stalwart knight
invaded by drow, exiled by home
a warrior of Garm who fights for what's right
a mentor, a leader well fit for the throne.

For woe to the foe who crosses the path
of lions clad in the Red and the Black
Take heart if you fight with one by your side
for their prowess and might shall sure turn the tide.

Next came Sir Da'oud a fiery man
uniting Free Nations from faraway lands
From goblins and trolls to the mighty Erl King
You just can't beat Rhiassan men and women.

For woe to the foe who crosses the path
of lions clad in the Red and the Black
Take heart if you fight with one by your side
for their prowess and might shall sure turn the tide.

Long live Lord Aeston and long may he reign
savior of Cold Springs from Bedlam's dark taint
defending the Realms whilst under attack
and looking quite good in that infamous hat.

For woe to the foe who crosses the path
of lions clad in the Red and the Black
Take heart if you fight with one by your side
for their prowess and might shall sure turn the tide.

Swoop and Pilpus perform (photo by Dustin Mack)

 [Editor's note: performed during the Bardic Competition at Feast of the Leviathan 17 on January 17, 2015]

Knigh tError by Michael "Panther" Palumbo

With great power comes great screw up.

Being knighted was a wonderful recognition for my efforts and contribution, and I was squired to a successful knight who took the time to show me the path. And for every knight there comes a time when you think, it's time for me to take a squire of my own and give a willing eager young cadet the full benefit of all I've learned. I'm here to tell you to think twice. It's not that I discourage the squiring of would-be knights, I just want to caution you to take the responsibility seriously and think about whether you are ready for it.

I personally failed my first two squires. The first left the game not with animosity, just didn't see it going anywhere and didn't enjoy it anymore. The second left our group and found his own way. In both cases, my failure was in commitment. My first squire was one of a pair of brothers that came to us as newbies. After some time with us, Randal wanted to squire one of them. I thought that was great. Then he convinced me that I should squire the other, so as not to have him feel left out. That made sense to me, so what the hell. Let's do it.

No. I suppose it could have worked out, but from the get-go, I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I didn't really want a squire; it was someone else's idea. I had no plan, no expectations. I saw it as a reward I could bestow instead of the start of a journey through which I would lead them. Wrong.

The second squire I took for better reasons, this time I wanted the squire. He had expectations and I failed to meet them. He left me and the group, having made the complaint that he needed people who play the game more than we did. And he was spot on. I took the squire at the height of my involvement in Event Holding and then our group's involvement in event production began to wane. We went from throwing 3 or 4 events a year to just one, and then only one every few years. Even our PC involvement waned as lives changed and other players dropped out. I had no business taking a squire when I couldn't commit to being involved at the same level the squire desired.

What did I learn from this?  Well of the three knights in our group, none of our squires had advanced in any significant way. We realized that individually we were not able to sustain the responsibility. Not to mention, the whole squire/knight relationship doesn't particular go well with our PC shtick of a thief/assassin guild. So we started to treat our guild as a local knighthood, with levels within them. In the spirit of "it takes a village..." we decided that we'd each take the best of our entry level associates and work with them, but after a time, they'd rotate. Each knight could in turn, teach the "squire" what the others lacked. Ultimately, we believed the product would be the sum of our individual parts. I'm happy to say that we were more successful. We were able to produce a small handful of outstanding community members some of which continue to contribute, as well as one who went far enough to earn his own white belt.

Belts of the Eternal Flame

Matt "Sir Zula" Daviault


Photo by Jesse Gifford

1.      What year were you awarded your white belt?
I know it was at Feast of Folkstone 2005 or 2006

2.      Who administered "the punch" and-- be honest!!--did it hurt?
Jarrod did the honors.  The punch was solid, it didn’t hurt. The bruise it left for a week after did.

3.      Whose belt did you wear until you got your own, and how was this significant for you?
I wore Steve Matulewicz’s belt.  It was very significant; Steve was and still is a close friend and mentor to me.

4.      Please describe your own belt's heraldry.
It is a black willow tree with a red background.

5.      Why did you choose that heraldry to represent you?
It is the heraldry of the Darkwillow family; we are a small group of people from different places in the Realms who kind of adopted each other. 

6.      Who did the artwork on your belt?
Leanne Calagione Micciche

7.      What do you remember most about your knighting?
I remember Jarred, Tom, and Dave all talking about this guy.  I kept thinking I should know who they were talking to but had no idea.  I wasn’t till the end when they mentioned gambling that it dawned on me (at the time I was the only one running a casino, so happy it caught on). I also remember seeing people clapping and making noise, but not hearing any of it.

8.      What does being a KoEF mean to you?
This is a tough question as putting feelings into words as my other fellow Knights has said is difficult.
I have taken this to heart, in both realms and real life.  “To thine ownself be true”
It is a mantra that I use every day.  It means doing things that some people might not understand for the betterment of yourself or the Realms.

Photo by Travis Wilcox

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

So you think you can draw?

The title says it all!

Do you think you have what it takes to design the next front page image for ?  Do you think that the tiny little cabin picture is due for retirement?  Give us your best shot!


The icon needs to look good against a white background, and should probably be around 500-600px per side.

The icon needs to represent the Realms as a whole. Meaning, no specific PC or NPC, or existing heraldry in use in the game.  The icon needs to not be in use by anyone else!  The icon needs to be made by You!

We will begin go accept entries on 2/1/15 and ends on 2/13/15.  Send the image to .  We will put them up for voting here at The View from Valeheaven, voting will being on 2/14/15 and end on 2/28/15.

Show us your art skills!!!

The View from Valehaven Staff reserves the right to disqualify any image that does not meet the criteria, would be considered non work safe, or does not qualify in the spirit of the contest.

The View from Valehaven Staff will pick up to 5 entries that most represent the spirit of the contest for voting by the general populace of the game.

Being a Squire- by Lani "Gwen" Grayson

Being a squire has been hard work in many ways. (Being a knight is even harder, so it’s good practice). I’ve been truly lucky to have a knight-squire relationship that has led to me growing in many ways as a person both in and out of game. As my squireship comes to a close, I am happy to reflect on the myriad of changes that have taken place in the past few years.

The biggest attribute that I gained as a result of my squireship is confidence. Jason gave me many opportunities in a variety of ways to learn this, for lack of a better word, skill. I was barely a squire for a few months when he gave me the opportunity to run Leviathan. He handed over the reigns of his most prized event to a newbie. But that was the boost to my self-confidence that I needed to accomplish the many tasks I have taken on since then. When he called me up in front of the entire feast hall to thank me, I simply burst into tears, unable to fully express the range of emotions I was feeling at the time. Now, I can look back and think of words like  gratitude, pride, and joy.

Jason is an experiential teacher for sure. As an educator myself, I recognize my own kind. Every lesson or skill he has wanted me to learn, he hasn’t lectured on (a shock for some of you, I am sure), but instead has provided me with a task that will require the underlying skill to accomplish. I have learned perseverance through many tedious mask making projects. I have learned leadership and decision-making by having it thrust upon me at practice, and most recently, as head war maneuver marshall at Queen of Hearts. I have learned innovation through many planning meetings for Queen of Hearts and Leviathan that have resulted in no small part in things like real bridges for bridge battles and plated feasts.

I think that the knight-squire relationship worked particularly well in this instance because Jason and I are such good friends out-of-game. I sometimes hear someone making a joke, “Isn’t that what you have squires for?” when they want someone to go get something, or do some menial task. I would be very offended if Jason or Aeston sent me to do busy work that he was perfectly capable of doing on his own. That is not the case with us, and I think it is largely because that is not how friends treat one another. Instead, our projects are joint efforts, and I like to think that they are things that we are both proud to have accomplished when all is said and done. It has led to a meaningful few years of mentoring that I am sure will not end when I am knighted, but will continue for many years to come as we embark on still more quests, projects, and hell, maybe even more bridge building.

Sharpening the Pen - By Graham of Folkestone

Eventholding is hard. Like anything that’s hard, it’s worth doing, and if you’re already doing it, it’s worth getting better at. Even the most experienced eventholders have had a scene that goes sideways on them, or perhaps an entire event that kind of misses the mark. New EHs have a hard time even knowing what kind of story to tell, and what seems like it might be a good idea can very subtly be the often-tread ground of newbie EH mistakes. How do you as a newer storyteller entertain the oldbie who has seen everything, the midbie looking to make a name for themselves, and the newbie who can barely hold a sword?

Throwing a questing event is a massive creative endeavor, and like any other work of art or group undertaking, everybody has their own process that works for their own organization and strengths.  Creativity is often described as a muscle, something that gets stronger over time. The more you work at throwing events, making characters, and designing stories, the more robust ideas will come to you over time. Do not worry about spending your creative energy forever, more will come. It is daunting to start, but the first step is to actually start.

I can’t tell you how to throw events; I’m still learning myself and there isn’t any clear answer. I’ve worked with a bunch of different teams, and helped with many events on the backend from being a simple crunchy to head writer. What I can do is give you the numerous questions that make up my internal process, and let you come up with the answers for yourself.  These are lenses that help you to look at yourself, your staff, your event, your story, and your encounter from a different perspective. They sum up the lessons I’ve learned in throwing and playing, and hopefully I can help you to not make the same mistakes I have or have seen. I am constantly revisiting these questions in my mind. They are designed to make even the most seasoned EH run his or her event through its paces, and even if you don’t change anything, you are at least more deliberate in your actions.

As we go through them, I’m going to try and be as unbiased about the answers to the questions as possible, I clearly have answers that form my style and my voice in events. I’d like you, the reader, to answer them for yourselves as best as possible. Even putting these to paper has made me rethink the process and has been immensely helpful. To be clear, this is about throwing quests, and while some of the broad themes can apply to tournaments or feasts, it’s not nearly as applicable. Those are hard in their own right, but I’m going to talk about the stories we tell.

Let’s begin.

Why do you want to throw an event?
You can re-read this question with the accent on each of the words to find nearly a different meaning, but I am mostly interested in the “why”. Don’t take it as trying to talk you out of it, or assuming that you would be bad at it, but what is it you are looking to accomplish? Hopefully the answer comes out to be “I have a story to tell” or “I want to entertain my friends”. There are a good number of variations of those two that are among the best answers as to this question. There are many others however, and what you say might reveal more than you might think.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Wanting to entertain people is different than having a story to tell. They say different things about who you are, and even perhaps where your strengths lie. We’re going to tackle what your eventholding strengths are in a different question in a couple of weeks, but not answering in the affirmative to both might mean that you need people on your team to help balance you out some. For instance, if you are more concerned about rigid story flow, but aren’t as concerned if the encounters aren’t fun, then you might be one type of eventholder. If you really are just looking to make fun in the moment, and the story is a wash of paint to make it all flow, then you are another type of eventholder.

The answers that should make you carefully think about what you are about to undertake are “I want to create a particular moment”, “I think this magic item would be funny to release” or “Wouldn’t it be great if the PCs got to do/had to do this?” While we joke a lot in veteran circles about that last one, we know in our heart that you can’t sustain six hours of content on a single mechanic or schtick. At their ideal, events should tell a complete story and have a beginning, action, and some kind of resolution. Rarely do events stand up as a full experience on a single quirky NPC or a certain type of fight. These can be components of an event, but they themselves aren’t an event.

Another answer that is it’s own to address is “I feel that our nation should do this.” This answer can be a mixed bag. It is excellent that you want your nation to stand up and join the host of other groups that are contributing to the game as a whole. Projects like events, when properly planned and executed, give you something to do together, and are great for OOC nature of groups to get to hang out. Don’t let this slant at the answer push you into doing it before you are ready. There are alternatives that you can take to start on that path, such as NPCing as a group to see how other established teams handle it, or sign up as an individual to get some experience before striking out on your own. Conversely, don’t fear failure. We’ve all thrown a bad event, and have picked ourselves up again. Ask for advice along the way.

As you start to dig into the “what” of your event, it helps time and time again to go back to the why, and truly understand it. The more pure your internal motivation, the better event it will end up being. Avoid thoughts like “to prove a point”. The answers “I want to entertain people” and “I want to tell an engaging story” together make truly whole events. The blending of these two statements make up the heart of every other question I will pose in this series, so keep them in mind as we continue down this path.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ask Syruss

Ask Sir Syruss. Sir Syruss is a seasoned adventurer with over 10 years of experience slaughtering undead and charming the ladies, beating up bad guys, frustrating good guys, and grossing out the ladies. So if you have a question no matter how bizarre, weird or funny (the funnier the better then we can sell more issues of the View) consider asking the man who loves to tell you how to live your life……..even though no one tells you how to live your life.

(OOC- Questions for Sir Syruss should be sent to view staff at


 Congratulations on winning best trainer. What, in your expert opinion, are the differences between men and women in combat? Do you train men and women differently?

Yours truly,
Eager to Train

Dear Next Year’s Competition,
The difference between men and women in combat….
Let me tell you about those chicks on the field (* seess Illy and Katasha glaring at him*)
Ahem, THEY’RE great!!!
Let me try this again. The field of battle doesn’t care! It doesn’t care if you are old or young, man or women, even caster or fighter. The field of battle is ruthless and exact and if you don’t train and hone your skills it will chew you up and spit you out.

You ask what the difference is between men and women on the field, well, I am here to tell the real difference is between the trained and un-trained.

You see some people may think women are smaller so they must be more timid on the field. Sure, smaller people can be more timid but that is not gender specific either and that timid feeling will reflect your training. I have seen men buckle under the pressure of a falling flank just as well as women and, because statistically there are more male fighters than women fighters, one could say I have seen men crumble more often than women.
You might think, well, are women fighters less aggressive than men fighters? Once again I would say certain combatants are less aggressive than others.

Playing defensively is certainly a style and a non-gender-specific one. One can look at Illy of Grimloch and know she is going to block most of your shots coming in and then counter strike the bananas out of you. Is her counter strike technique developed because she is a girl or how she trained?
Answer? That’s right, it’s how she trained. Look at Dygan who came out of the same camp as Illy. He counter strikes just as effectively and yet still has a Y chromosome, huh weird.

So to answer your question on if I train females differently than males, the answer is a definitive unabashed NO.
We are no longer in an era where the strongest can swing our weapons the most effectively. Both men and women of smaller frames and muscle mass now have different weapon cores available to them that were not around a decade ago.

With lighter materials, more and more people can pick up weapons and use them for longer periods of time without wearing themselves completely out and leaving themselves open to attack.
Now, I do train experience levels differently. I am not going to start roughing up a walk on the field newbie who has picked up his sword just a handful of times. Instead, I am going to work them from the ground up building a solid foundation of fundamental parrying and striking combinations as well as a proficient grasp of calling shots all while being bombarded with shots.

The flips side to that is I am not going to take a seasoned vet and try to break them down like a day one green horn (Unless of course they are Dark One, awful at fighting, and really need it).
Instead I am going to develop a training program for them and their speed.

The way I train at the acclaimed Order of the List “Pit” is very personal and very tailored to the individual.  How does this person learn with soft guiding hands? Perhaps they learn with a stern tongue and tough approach? Some people only learn with a reward system while others do great with the lash to the back every time they mess up.

While I would love to tell you that I train X like Y and all you need to do is start doing A and you can teach a person B. It ultimately is not that simple.

Much like every trainer has their own way of teaching, every student will have their own way of learning.

If you want more advice on what I do for my less seasoned combatants I invite you to seek me out at any event you see me.

The Order of The List may not always have “The Pit” banner in tow but we are always willing, ready and able to train.

I hope this helps. Sorry if doesn’t, just keep practicing and you will do fine.

“Unbroken Habits lead to Broken Records” Sir Nymbous

See you on the Field,

Question Master
Sir Syruss O’Leary
Order of the List
Knight of the Potentium
Knight of the Blue Rose