"My name is Jesse Perry, and I've been hitting my friends with padded sticks since the winter of 1991.
My first official Realms event was the Spring Blakavar, thrown by John and Clarinda Merripen in the Spring of 1992, at the horse arena at U Mass Amherst. That was the first time Lars appeared, beginning a pretty crazy Realms career.
The winter before, Lackey (Pol Coville / Sir Peregrin of Tuath Fasach / Sebudai of the Plains), Clockwork (Sir Angus Coville, Avatar of Chimeron) Colin Campbell (Sir Shane of Chimeron, Clanlord of Clan Curaidh) Amy Reed (Treave Morningstar of Clan Curaidh / Reede), Kathy Journeay (Queen 'Meg' Marguerite of Chimeron) and others threw a nightquest in the fields behind Colin's parent's house for a bunch of high schoolers that had limited to no boffer experience. Kellera Born and Peter Brillinger had been to a few events already, but the rest of us were total nubcakes.
I was seventeen years old, in hip deep snow, fighting by the full moon and freezing my privates off. I did not know at that time that this was going to be the focus of all my time outside of school and work for the next thirteen years straight, but I knew that I liked it. A lot.
Lars, before he was a rogue healer, before he was a Knight of the Crown (Kill us first, Randy says so), before he was a Knight of The Eternal Flame, was just Jesse with a boffer in his hand. Plot was, frankly, for people that were known in game. I had spent more than one event, aimlessly wandering an event site with some newbie friends, completely missing every bit of plot, every fight, every skirmish. I knew I had to do something to get known, so I practiced.
Those that knew me then knew I always had a few weapons in the hatch of my car. My freshman year of college, I started a club at UMass Lowell, the Mediaeval Combat Club, which floundered and died because I couldn't convince anyone else that what I was doing was cool.
Instead, I drove from Lowell to Worcester on Monday nights. And to UNH on some Tuesday nights. And to Nashua on Wednesday nights. Thursday nights is when I actually stayed at school and got work done late into the evening, and then it was the weekend, which meant events. I practiced, and flailed against those that were better than me (which was everyone). I watched and tried to analyze how Lackey, Jared (McKrye), Dave (Sir Callin), Sir Jarrod, and Blade fought. I sparred with Keith (Sir Dirk), Tanja (Katasha), Alex Newbold, , Quick, Rob Riley, Ken (Topknot), J (Blak), Hiro, Terry (Dol Kugen), Jeremy (Nighthawk), and Andy Adams. So many others, faces I will never forget, attached to names that I'm too removed from the system to recall. I fought between three and six days a week. I got ground into paste by all comers, until I figured out how to, on occasion, block with the minimal amount of movement, and counter attack.
Right around the same time, I finally got a spell list together that worked for me, and I was able to finesse. Lackey had introduced the "circle" magic system a few years before, and a first circle healer could use 4'6" of weaponry, and heal limb, and wear and repair armour. Later, Armor Cloak would be a thing, and I swapped some stuff around to make that work. It was perfect. Armor cloak to give me some wiggle room, heal limb, and a raise dead to give some type of utility to a quest team. It was on, and doors were opened to me as Lars. I could go places, fight well enough, give some utility, and make friends. Now, I had some tools at my disposal, and was lanky enough and had fast enough hands to be effective.
Things started falling into place. I was in the right place at the right time for some of Randy Gordon's initial forays into The Ascension War plotline. I started helping out NPCing, because I wanted to give back to the game that was so much damned fun for me. I made helped make masks with Carrie Dolph, and weapons for the Southern Wastes, and sparred for hours with the next round of new kids coming up through the system. I made a lot of friends outside of my home in Chimeron, because fighting next to people and telling "No shit, there I was.." stories is part of the community.
King James of Coventry (played by Clockwork, for Randy's plotline) knighted Lars one summer night around a campfire on Andy Disbrow's land. Duty assigned, and gladly accepted. About two years later, Jarrod Marshall knighted me as a KoEF at the Lone Tree Scout camp. He hit me square in the chest, and it sounded deep and booming. Terri Armstrong jumped up and lit me up with a piercing punch, knuckles to the bone on my left upper arm, swinging in from the outside as a 'thank you' for the torturous plot I helped put her through with Randy earlier that year. I carried that bruise for weeks.
As the Ascension War ended, Lars lost. He and his Squire, Reed, were lost to the Well of Souls. Prices had to be paid for the games we played, and losing Lars made the game much more 'real' to me. On that drive home, a humble rock farmer named Barrett was born in the back of my head.
While Lars came back and was eventually killed and scalped by Randy plot, again, it would Barrett who could finally do some the things I wanted to do from the beginning of my time in the Realms.
As long as I could remember, The Eclipse, a PC Mercenary Company that NPC'd more than it didn't, was a fun group of good fighters that would help out with eventholders. On occasion, they would merc out en masse for tournaments. On rare occasion, did they get involved with plot on their own. This seemed like a fine way to try something new. So I asked Al Nelson (Sir Alanom of the Eclipse) if he'd be okay with me joining up. He and Frank (Fraswah!) agreed. We got some new tunics made in a blue and black particolor, so we all looked like we belonged together, and made some profound effects at the next bunch of North South wars and Queen of Hearts.
I didn't wear my KoEF belt until I was able to go through and win tournaments with every weapon style. Single shorts, florentine, hand a half (which was always my crutch, but also the hardest tourney to win, due to the number of one path and straight fighters that preferred the range and speed of the style), great weapon and sword and board. When I finally won the hand and a half tourney, I went back to my tent, grabbed my belt, strapped in on over my armour, and laid down in the sun at the Swift River Sportsman's club for the better part of an hour, laughing to myself.
The next few years were spent mostly teaching, tourneying, and hiring myself out at any event I could. I stumbled into the Erl King plot being run by Shawn Stoddard, and my only real disappointment in my Realms career was not sticking around to see that through. I loved how intricate it is, and is internally consistent with new things to discover at every turn.
The last event I PC'd was Championing for Team Twen. There were three teams that year. Blade was the Champion for the Folkestone backed team, and we spent the whole weekend trading simultaneous kills. I think the single short tourney between us went forty-something rounds before he finally racked up his two kills to my one. We spent our spare time training the relative newcomer who was the champion for the third team about each other's weaknesses and strengths. We all laughed like hell, and spent a lot of time laughing with each other. For as serious as we all were about winning, we also really enjoyed the experience. I'd like to think that fighter got a damned good education over those two days.
I knew that my time in the game was short at that point. I had things outside of the game I needed to tend to, real life adventures to seek out. I figured that going out on top would make for the greatest memories, and I cannot complain about it.
Memories? If that rambling wreck of an intro is any indication, I have too many great ones.
Some key ones were (in no particular order)
As Barrett, being lifted onto the shoulders of my team mates after being the last defender of my bridge at a North South war one year, facing down five or six, and eventually beating them, even though I had been legged. Hammer and shield for days.
As Lars, Crazy Astral Pol giving me his Duke of Glendale livery sash, as I promised to help him regain some of his sanity and power. I still have both bottles of Pol's Youth.
As Lars, Mike Palumbo stabbing a blood packet just under my arm with a real knife, pouring it into a cup for everyone else on the site to drink (and die from poisoning, because yeah, Lars as mostly Aspis at that point), and then dumping me into an open grave and covering me with dirt. Did I mention that being buried alive is my nightmare?
As Barrett, with Sebudai, being the team of two coming in second place in the Tourneys of Teng Hua. Defeating thirty person teams on the bridge battle was a particular high point.
NPCing as the original Shadowpack for Carrie. We were terrifyingly awesome, in my humblest of opinions.
Endless stories around the campfire in Creathorne. Putting out people that lit themselves on fire.
Sneaking around the misty woods at night with nothing more than a two-foot dagger, NPCing as a completely human assassin for Mike & Randy, and being far more successful than I had any right to be.
Being tricked by Carrie into being there when the KoEF knighted me.
Being one for the Four Horsemen for Randy, even though I had an awful first fight with Paul Drapeau
Being killed and drained by ElDave as the Shadowlord in the lower fields in Periden.
As Lars, Fighting my way through brambles and thorns at Glendale 92, bing the front man on the Relic Run.
As Barrett, finding out that there was a RAT tourney that involved killing and scalping me, by Janna's RAT killing and scalping me. I blame Keith / Dirk for that, in the best way possible.
I live in central MA in an old farm house with my wife of ten years, Jennifer, who was also a Realmsie (Tuck of Clan Curaidh / Guild of Confusion). We have an adorable two year old son, James. We've recently adopted a one year old Great Pyrenees / Aussie Shepherd mix, Bella. I'm still a User Experience Designer, and have been putting that art degree to work for the better part of twenty years.
I've always dabbled with other game systems as well, but I've always found the combat to be the best in Realms. There is something about "lightsaber boffer combat" versus anything involving additional, artificial combat fighting mechanics. There are a bunch of incredibly talented fighters in other systems, and a lot of it translates well, but I've never doubted that Realms fighters, on average, are better fighters. Besides, head shots are delicious.
Speaking of other systems. A bunch of us (Lackey, Quick, Jeffo, Kathy Journeay, Vin Spad and others outside the Realms world) are running, and wrapping up the last couple of years of a Dark Horror / Archeology / Historical Fiction boffer game called Shadows Of Amun (shadowsofamun.com). Once that wraps up, who knows what else I'll fill my time with besides being a Dad, being a Husband, and spending as much time as I can get on my motorcycle.
There has been some noise about a new group at UMass Lowell getting fight practices going again. It's not too far from where I work, so maybe I can get back into it. Even just to get an idea of how much has changed, versus how much as stayed the same.
I won't lie; I miss a lot about the Realms. I miss the camaraderie. I miss a lot of the friends I made through the game. I often consider coming back, but I keep telling myself that the game has moved on, and what I was there for might not be there, still. We shall see.
Do honor on to yourself, and the Realms. To thine own self remain true.
- Sir Lars of Clan Curiadh
- Sir Barrett of the Mercenary Company of the Eclipse"