Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Where Are They Now- Joe "Elwick" Piepiora

Joe "Elwick Dragonsburrow" Piepiora playing in 1995. His first event was Death Bunnies III. He played actively until about 2008, and then showed up intermittently until 2010.

Elwick started his Realms career as a fighter named Rebel, who then renamed himself. Joe stateed, "Elwick had been the intended name of the character, but at 15 years old when Dan Diamond (Baron Diamond Banecroft of Banecroft, mind you) asked me my name in character I panicked and blurted out a screen name I'd used on a local BBS at the time. It was my first truly in-character discussion and ultimately many who have known me since that time continued to use that name for a good, long while.

I joined Banecroft and enjoyed learning from and playing with the Baronials. I loved the Barony, and Dan trusted me a great deal. Later, partly due to teen angst and partly to convenient plotlines Elwick struck out on his own. In the end Elwick and Rel became joint-stewards of Tuath Fasach, a heavily plot-driven realm written by Carrie Dolph. It's assumed that Elwick still resides in Tuath Fasach, despite my absence from events.

Elwick didn't really care much for tournaments, so though there were some that he won, he never paid much attention to them. For Elwick he'd probably tell you that the most important things he'd done were helping rescue Rel that time and that other time, becoming a Kathrani of fire, earning the title of Champion of Tymora, freeing Amelia, earning Icicle, defending Tuath Fasach that time Wrake attacked and turning down a knighthood on the spot based on a curt shake of the head from Sir Callin. 

I also received a knighthood from the KOEF, but that didn't feel like an IC achievement as much as an OOC one."

When asked about his out of character achievements, he said, "From the word go in the game I began running events. My first full-fledged event took place when I was 18. It was a nightmare scenario with a horrid plot that only made sense to a few people, a drastic lack of NPCs and weather that was seriously lacking. Friday night had about 40 people, Sunday morning had about 12 or so.

Working with Buddy Wolfhope and the TF crew we put out the Victory Marks, backed by content delivered by the Adventurer's Guild. I can only claim credit for the idea, whatever success the AG had was on the backs of those that staffed and supported it.

I was particularly satisfied with the following events that I had a hand in throwing:

Death Night
Song of Illinar Series
Tempastros Educari
Summerfest III
Ace in the Hole Series


Here are some distilled moments that years and years later continue to stick with me.

Elwick accepting the tabard of Banecroft.

Elwick had just become Sir Callin's squire hoping to become a knight errant. Elwick stood there, holding Sir Callin's bastard sword and his greatsword. Elwick watched as Sir Callin held his son, Prince Roland, rocking and hushing him after Queen Meg departed to go under the hill.

The Milk Run. I doubt Makela ever forgave anyone who went.

Elwick stood in a field of dead adventurers, screaming at the Champion of the Erl King to cease the senseless slaughter and to face him. The Champion arrived, Elwick challenged him to a duel. If Elwick lost he would surrender himself to the forces of corruption for a year and a day. If Elwick won the Champion would lead his forces from the field. Elwick won.


Elwick watched as the Borderlanders finished scalping Nero, the heirophant of the church of the five ladies and then he attacked the Borderlands. He slew eleven before Lord Avendar and Dame Makela stepped in to aid him which ended the fight.

Elwick and others carried Bright's corpse from the field of Tuath Fasach after a hard-fought defense against Wrake's troops. 

Watching players play through a variety of scenes. Watching Sir Cecil crush a statue in a decrepit tombyard on the beach during Death Night. The discovery of the cursed man's wife being slowly dissected and healed eternally in Tempastros Educari. The look on the player's faces when they crested the hill and looked upon Morannon during Summerfest III. There are dozens more. Most of the joy I took from the game was in creating and running content.

Laughing non-stop with Matt D., Jason R., Ian P. and Tim B. while we ran in the Ace in the Hole series.

Hugging Dan Diamond after I was made a KOEF. It had been 12 years since I'd met the man, I'd slept on his couch, ate food with him and Karen, he'd helped me NPC and had essentially set the groundwork for who I'd become in the realms. He congratulated me with tears in his eyes. 

All this time since Dan I still can't thank you enough for the kindness you showed a gawky fifteen year old who forgot his name when asked. 


Joe currently lives in Aliso Viejo, CA.  (about ten minutes inland from Laguna Beach). He is married to Corrie Bergren Piepiora (she played Cosette during her stint in Realms). They have a one year old daughter named Isabelle.

Joe fulfilled a long term dream becoming the Lead Systems Designer at Carbine Studios. They launched Wildstar, the studios first game last year. He's been working professionally in game development since 2008 and says that "Wildstar has a few Realms characters that managed to slip in".

Joe says he, "runs D&D games as my remaining nerdy outlet while constantly playing a ton of different video games. Seriously, my steam list is stupid at this point". He is also a runner.

When asked on if he'd come back to the visit he said, "It's difficult to say. Being this far removed from New England makes things challenging. (Jason) Rosa has basically told me that if I wanted to come back and run something he would organize everything I could ever need. I do miss running events".

In closing Joe said,

"I mentioned my first event, Death Bunnies III. At fifteen years old I crested a hill to see a black plastic dungeon the size of two football fields side by side. It was a truly incredible event, and when I threw events I always kept that experience in mind. It became my benchmark and it drove me to push myself and what I thought was possible.

There are lots of ways to make an impact on people in the Realms community. In the end that's all I'd ever really wanted to do. I wanted to share that spark that Carrie and Dave had shared with me."

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