10 Questions with Steve “Torolf / Red” Nelson
My first event was the Queen of Hearts in 2010, and I went with my
oldest kid. At the time, I had been going to the Methuen fight
practice with both my children for a while. But we were completely
blown away by that QOH. The funny thing is that I initially started
going to the Methuen practice and some events mostly as an activity to
do with my kids. But somehow over time, it grew into a thing that I
did, and one or both of the kids sometimes come with me.
How has the game changed since you've been playing?
Probably the most visible change since I began is in the construction
of weapons and its effect on combat. When I first started bamboo was
an experimental material and not allowed by all event holders yet. The
real reason that I adopted it back then was not for the speed and a
fighting advantage that most people consider. I started using bamboo
to lighten weapons so that my kids would be able to participate more
fully. At the time, they were roughly 9 and 11 years old, and the
weight of the PVC weapons made it very hard for them. I think that
this is the real benefit to the game of lighter materials for things
like weapons, shields and armor.
the game. I feel like it has served to drive more focus on excellence
in fighting. I know that personally it has given me more tangible
goals to strive towards from year to year. It’s also gotten me to some
more events, particularly in the last few years.
Who have you learned the most from?
I’d have to say without a doubt that I’ve learned the most in Realms
from Steve Johnson. In fact, I wouldn’t have even found out about
Realms if he hadn’t put out fliers at a local pizza place for the
Methuen practice that he ran years ago. So it was from him that I
first learned to fight and make weapons and everything else that goes
along with being a newbie. Then over the last handful of years I’ve
helped Steve and Dave Hayden start and run the Riverhawk group. From
both of these pillars of the Realms, I’ve learned a lot about
mentoring and giving back to the community. Their viewpoint of
building this group while empowering the Riverhawks to run it
themselves rather than run it for them I think is profound. I’m also
frequently amazed by how active Dave is in the community and honestly
don’t know how he does it. I’ve fought under Dave’s generalship a
number of times now and am beginning to understand the dynamics of
field leadership and tactics as well.
What was your best moment IC?
In general, I love the large scale war maneuver kinds of events. Big
field or bridge battles with lots of people and castle battles really
get my blood flowing. Also, any event that one of my children go with
me is still a real highpoint. Like the night quest at that first QOH
with my oldest kid stands out in my memory. But one moment from the
past year that I especially enjoyed was at the Tournament of
Creathorne. For the war of nations, Swoop entered the Riverhawks to
compete despite being the only Riverhawk on the field at the time. The
sheer brass of that impressed me, so I offered to join him and put on
a tabard for the first time in my Realms career. Clearly it was not
about winning but about standing boldly against whatever storm may
come. Two fighters potentially facing an army on the field. That was
epic, and there were some great pictures taken of it too!
What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?
I haven’t held any events, or even NPC’d yet. Although NPCing is on my
short list of things to do in the near future. But there have been a
lot of really great moments acting as one of the mentors of the
Riverhawks. It’s been a real pleasure seeing them grow as a nation and
branching out into the larger community as individuals. They’ve come a
long way from where they started, which was just us old guys sparring
on the UMass Lowell quad trying to suck in anyone who showed an
interest. We weren’t even sure back then that security would let us
stay, but we always tried to be friendly with them, and they never
chased us off. Then the Riverhawks reached a core size and membership
to go through all of the processes with the school to attain
recognition as a club that got them things like a budget and indoor
But one of my proudest moments in Realms was at the last feast of
Leviathan seeing the Riverhawk Clan receive the 2014 View award for
Best up and Coming Group as well as multiple individual awards.
Achieving such recognition by the Realms community was a real big
milestone for the Riverhawks. This year at the feast of Eagle’s Rook,
I got pretty choked up when they recognized Dave, Steve, and I for our
efforts over the years. The bacon cupcakes were awesome, and I wear
that belt favor into battle with pride.
What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?
I would like to see more plot lines like Bedlam that cross over
events. While I can see how hard it is to make something like that
happen, I find that very immersive. Currently, I like the Norlund plot
a lot and would like to see it seep into some other events. And not
just because it’s a Norse plot, but the idea of a bleeding over of
problems from another realm is an interesting notion.
What advice would you give new players?
Just ask! Whether it’s: How do you keep hitting me in the head? How
did you make that? Or what’s a good build for a particular path. In my
experience folks in the Realms are always happy to explain what and
how they do what they do. And fighters love fighting, so don’t be
afraid to ask someone to spar with you even if they’re a lot more
experienced. And if you’re going to fight wear kneepads! You may be
surprised to learn that knees don’t last forever.
It’s probably no surprise to hear that I love the combat. As I said
before, I really like the big war maneuver kinds of scenarios. But for
me, it’s not about winning and losing, because let’s face it most of
us get killed a lot. I love to challenge and push myself to do better.
And maybe I tend to favor the war events and tourneys because I’m
surer that the person I’m facing is actually trying to win. When you
fight an NPC, while this is often the case it’s hard to be certain.
I’d much rather lose a great fight than win an easy fight. In fact,
some of my favorite moments in combat were fights that I lost but felt
like I did well against a much more experienced opponent. It’s also
the reason I enjoy the North-South wars so much even though the
outcome is usually the same. There are always some fantastic
Pi Fisher, Ben Pepper, Adam Landry
Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
As a parent of kids who have been active in Realms, some years more
than others, I’d like to remark on how the community has interacted
with them. When they were fighters they were treated like any other
fighter, when they were casters they were treated like casters. While
they may have occasionally struggled for a position in the action it
never seemed like more than any other newbie might encounter while
trying to find their role or voice. When they had questions, people
were always very generous in taking the time to explain or give
advice. Particularly about the spell stuff that I couldn’t help them
with at all. And the couple times that one of them sustained minor
injuries people were quick to step out of character and help out or
voice concern. This speaks very well for this community, and I’d like
to thank you all for that.