Friday, May 15, 2015

Ten Questions with Victoria Zukas

How long have you been playing?

My first official event was Uncle Cecil’s 2008. Technically my first event was an unofficial quest Janna threw at WPI a few weeks before Uncle Cecil’s so we could rescue Ged and Tara from the Blackstar Guild.

How has the game changed since you've been playing?

Rules have been added and subtracted, and weapons are now made out of lighter material. That is to be expected though in a game like ours. We always try to work to improve the game in one way or another. The largest change is actually a more recent one. In the past few years I've seen a much larger push to immerse players in the story (either by creating higher quality props/costumes or by marshaling changes) and to bridge the gap between “stick jocks” and “paste eaters.”

Who have you learned the most from?

I can’t pick just one person for this. Every group I've been apart of has helped me grow in some way. The two biggest influences though are probably Dave Hayden and Matt Brenner. Both of them have been mentors for me in how to be a good Event Holder. Matt took me and the rest of Book of Moons staff under his wing to taught us how the other side of the game works. I don’t think my first event would have turned out as well as it did if my staff and I hadn't had that training. Dave was also there when I found myself in over my head as an EH and showed me how to fix my mistakes. On the more PC side of things, I have to thank Nate Carr for teaching me to think outside of the box, and that being a 2 path healer didn't mean I couldn't also hold my own in a fight.

What was your best moment IC?

In short: The two weekends of Now to Stab the Serpent’s Heart. All of it. No really, all of it.

However, I should probably explain a bit more than that. This was the two part event where we went into the plane of Bedlam and killed Mad Tom, saving every world from the threat of Bedlam. It was also the last adventure I would go on as Valerie Hart, and damn did she go out in a blaze of glory. As I said, the entire weekend was amazing, so I’ll just mention my favorite story.

The entire group was making the final march to go fight Mad Tom himself. As we got close to him darkness consumed all of our artifacts, keeping us from casting spells and speaking. However, through the power of our sacrifice Kieran and I could cast any spell in Bedlam as if we were in the Realms. At the top of our lungs we called to Chronos and Aurora for their divine aid. This gave us a brief window for everyone to speak, allowing the group to push forward to find Mad Tom himself. As we entered the area where he chose to make his stand he disrupted all of our lights. Kieran and I shone with a light that couldn't be disrupted by anything. So as Mad Tom made all of the other lights vanish I made sure that mine was clearly visible. Keiran and I shone as the only points of light in the area. I walked towards Mad Tom screaming “YOU CANNOT DISRUPT MY LIGHT! YOU CANNOT STOP ME!” and proceeded to verbally smack him some more, though I don’t remember the exact words.

To make this even better, after this some of the smaller bois in the area would actively back away from me and leave me alone if we crossed paths.

Being able to tell the Titan of Horror to go sit and spin, with power to back that, will probably remain the highlight of my Realms career.

What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?

So far my favorite moment as an EH has been courtesy of Janus (Mikey) and Ryan (Orion). It was at the second event I threw called The Price of Knowledge. The event was held in the Alumni Gym at WPI, and we had the NPC area set up in the track on the second floor. This meant I could easily lean over the railing and watch what the PCs were up to.

During one of the rooms the PCs were facing a large force of spellcasters. The PCs had little to no blacksmithing spells remaining at this point, so the fighters were fighting with next to no armor. They were quickly cut down, and most of the questing group fell shortly after. Only Janus and a few others survived by hiding in their Circles of Protection.

Now Janus was a wild mage and had access to some of the magic of the land. Specifically, he could give a one word command to someone whose mind was weaker than an adventures. This force of spellcasters just didn't have the mental strength that he did. As I looked on from above, wondering what the PCs would do next, I saw Janus cast divination to confirm that one of the enemy spellcasters was a healer as he suspected. When the answer came back Yes, he commanded that NPC to heal.

That enemy healer did as he was commanded, and cast a Cry of Life. Most people missed it, as they were picking themselves up off the floor, but as soon as the spell was cast another enemy spellcaster, played by Ryan, walked over to the one who had cast the Cry and went “Why did you do that?! Are you nuts?!” and proceeded to beat his ally into the ground. I had to walk out of the room for a moment because I was laughing so hard and I didn't want it to echo down to the PCs. This entire scene took maybe a minute, but it was one of the funniest moments I've seen as an EH.

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?

More immersive storytelling and NPCs who are fully fleshed out. As I mentioned above we are already working towards that, and I want to see that keep going. I’m not saying that crunchies are a bad thing, but I have more fun (and I feel other PCs also have more fun) interacting with named NPCs who are full characters. The kind of NPC that is basically a PC, except they are playing a PC that was handed to them. Those NPCs really pull the PCs into the story, and the combination of those two things makes for a much richer experience.

What advice would you give new players?

Try everything and talk to everyone. There are so many different nations, orders, fighting styles, spell combinations, and so much history to the Realms. You learn a ton by putting yourself out there and going “Hi, I’m new! Can you tell me about your nation/knighthood/order/etc?” or “You look like nice people, can I come questing with you?” No one is going to turn you away (unless you get annoying about it) and most people you meet will be more than happy to help you out.

What do you love most about the game?

That one weekend I’m a fae cat wandering around the mortal realms with my friends, and the next I’m an EH throwing bad guys at you and sharing my story with you. To the best of my knowledge no other New England LARP lets you be both player and event holder. I love that in our game we can experience both sides. It makes us unique and I wouldn't ever think of changing it.

Who would you like to see the next interviews be with?

Eric Willisson and Jon Balboni

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

When I first joined the game Janna made the half-joking comment to me of “Welcome to the Realms - you’ll never be the same.” In so many ways I’m glad that she was right. I stumbled into this game by chance, and I’ll be forever grateful for it. Thank you all so much for being an important part of my life.

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