Friday, August 18, 2017

Spotlight on: Cleaved Tournament from QoH XXIV

[Editor's Note: Scroll down for photos from each entry and commentary by some of the tournament participants. All photos by View Staff]

Tournament summary: two entrants from each team (chef and sous chef) receive a "mystery basket" full of ingredients; they are then given one hour to put together two servings of the same dish for judging. Entrants may only use the ingredients in their baskets, though they are not required to use everything in the basket. All cooking tools are provided by the competitors, including any equipment to cook on. All food preparation is done in a designated area in front of the judges. The entries are judged on taste, presentation, and creativity.

2017 Cleaved Basket Ingredients


Pink salmon in a pouch, ground pork sausage, rib-eye steak

Biscuit mix, instant grits, instant Ramen with beef flavoring

Fruits and Vegetables:
Chopped olives, Lima beans, tomato paste, mandarin orange fruit cup, craisins, whole avocado, canned mixed vegetables

Salted peanuts, cheddar-flavored snack cheese, mayonnaise, canola oil, evaporated milk, Coca-Cola, apple & white grape juice, shaved coconut


Salt, pepper, basil, oregano, red pepper, onion powder, cumin, and garlic & pepper seasoning

Team Piper
- Raynor (Nick Quadrini) and Katya (Rachel DeRosa)

Chef Raynor hard at work
Sous Chef

The finished dish

My dish : Coconut peanut steak with cheddar biscuits and a sausage vegetable mash. 

This was my first year competing in Cleaved, and it was awesome. I'm a big fan of the inspiration Chopped, and came into the challenge confident in my improv abilities. But the moment that basket opened up, my mind went blank. It's one thing to come up with creative food, another to do it with limited time & ingredients and knowing you're about to be judged against three other very capable competitors. 

 During the cooking, we made a few 'test' foods to see how the flavors came out, and get a better grasp of using our cooking setup. This helped us to drop some less than stellar ideas and made sure we didn't serve burnt biscuits. After some time spent cooking practice foods the ideas started to come together and an actual meal was planned, and executed. Nothing turns out exactly as you hoped of course, but I'm proud of what we put together and we had a great time. 

When we finished plating the time ended, right on the dot. I hadn't looked up from my station before that, and when I brought my food to the judges and got to see the other teams' dishes I was blown away. Everyone had come up with a good looking, smelling, and completely different dish. I don't envy the judges for having to pick a winner, but I do envy them getting to eat all of that good-looking food. 

A special thanks to my sous chef Rachel who stepped in last minute and was a huge help. I had a great time competing in Cleaved this year, you can bet I'll be back. And congratulations to Queen Jack who took it all home this weekend, your food looked spectacular and I bet it tasted great too.   - Nick Quadrini

Team Iste
- Rillan (Joe Sims) and his Sous Chef

Examining the basket ingredients
Things begin to come together

Dish #1: savory breakfast plate

Dish #2: dinner plate

The Queen of Hearts Cleaved tournament was one of the most challenging and at the same time rewarding tournaments I was a part of this weekend. The concept of taking unknown and mysterious ingredients and attempting to make something not only edible and presentable, but good enough to win is a lot harder than you think. You must be good with adapting and quick thinking, as well as knowing your flavor profiles and how to cook and work with what you are given. 

My sous chef and I created a variety of samplings for the judges. We went for a savory breakfast plate of flaky basil biscuits covered in sweet sausage gravy with a side of creamy cheese grits. We also decided to do a dinner plate that consisted of mandarin orange beef stir-fry, with a side of roasted vegetables topped with garlic and herb salmon and fresh avocado. Not winning the competition was a little disappointing but still rewarding and grateful for the experience. Congratulations to the winners on team Jack, and all the competitors in this competition. I’m sure if all of us were to ever combine efforts to arrange a feast the results would be phenomenal!  - Rillan/ Joe

Team Saegan
- Jinx and K (Jana and Ben Greene)

Coming up with a plan

Working together to execute the dish

The finished product


Team Jack **WINNER**
 - Jack (John Berrini) and Nhadala (Hannah Blood)

The finished dish

The Cleaved Tourney at QOH is trying to put together your best dish based on a mystery bag of ingredients. When Nhadala (Hannah Blood) and I opened our picnic basket, we went to work quick with ideas and imagination that would morph a few times before it was ready to serve and take the gold an hour later. 

With only an hour to cook, my instinct told me to put flame to meat first. The steak portion didn’t seem large enough for the two required servings so we finely shredded and stretched it with sausage meat, flavored with salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste, a bit of tomato paste for a red color palate and to smooth the texture.  The spicy meat sauce was served over ramen noodles that were first boiled, and then fried. 

Our side was a Salmon Avocado salad served over sliced avocado.

Our Mandarin cobber dessert was prepared and served in a repurposed olive can. It included biscuit starch and shredded coconut to taste, finished off with a cinnamon apple caramel drizzle prepared from reduced juice. Without an oven to work with we put the can directly in a two quart pot of boiling juice, effectively making a double boiler into an oven letting the juice steam absorb into the bread while it reduced and reaching close enough to the 400 degrees needed for the bread to cook

The competition was fierce and challenging. I would have eaten anything prepared by our completion.

2017 Winner: Jack and Nhadala from Team Jack!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Spotlight on: Garb Tournament from QoH XXIV

[Editor's Note: all photos by View Staff]
Team Iste
 - Jen Cloutier (Vandoria)

Overview from top

Lacing and trim detail

Trim and panel detail

Side lacing on sleeves and bodice

Runes made of small beads

Team Jack
- Zack Reynolds (Dygen)

A note from Dygen: I found this cloak while explotring ancient ruins in previously inaccessible lands within Grimloch territory. The cloak belonged to a long-forgotten warrior Gulric, the Earl of Ravenmire (currently known as Blood Loch). In Gulric's tomb we found this cloak, which he had previously adorned in battle. Magic once flowed through the cloak, but centuries have left it nearly powerless. However, the cloak does still contain enough magic to serve as a proper amored cloak, so that is what we have decided to use it for. In the tomb, we found runes, which we later deciphered and would use on our current tabards. The same runes can be found on the cloak.

OOC: this cloak is made of linen and is hand-dyed. The cloak was weathered using dye, fire, mud, and shredding. [Editor's note: this write-up was submitted with the cloak for judging]

Runes adorne the coak

Ragged edge detail

Darker coloring on the edges

Team Saegan 
 - Eren Pils-Martin (Tazzia)

I started off thinking about the kind of coverage I wanted from the armored cloak, as well as the elements I wanted to incorporate into it. I knew early on in the process that I wanted to include the hidden pockets, and to have it be reversible, because it's fun, so why not? I decided that a modified version of my split front tabard design would work well, and provide the coverage I wanted. 

I decided to have the hood detach so that you didn't have the bulk there when you didn't feel like wearing it. The side panels were a later addition to increase side coverage, and were originally going to lace on, but at the last minute I decided I liked the idea of snaps better. In creating the piece, I got elements from all over. The green fabric actually started life as a curtain I got at goodwill. I loved how it looked and felt, and it was the perfect color! The blue was discount fabric from Walmart. The trim was some fabulous ribbon I picked up in bulk years ago that has been waiting for the perfect project! The pocket trim was ribbon and edging scraps that I had. 

I'm pretty excited about how amazingly it came together from a very conservative budget, and it shows you don't need huge amounts of cash to put together some really neat garb! Thank you again for all the positive feedback from the committee. I really enjoyed this experience! - Erin Pils-Martin

Trim detail

The complete piece including shoulder bag

Rube ribbon and detachable side snap panels

Cloak is reversible with a blue underside

Hood zippers on and off

Bardis Circle: Cronin's Winning Bardic from QoH XXIV

The Ballad of Boneless

by Adrian "Cronin" Cronin 


Our hero, Boneless (View Staff)

We walked to the field of battle, 
but we found only balls. 
One by one, we were stricken down. 
Until the thunder finally stalled. 

And then from the cloudbreak, 
a hero showed his face. 
With courage and heavy heart,
he fought with speed and grace. 

 No bones, no bones. 
He saved our souls and he's also good at dodgeball. 

And when we asked his name, 
he whispered through the air. 
My name is Boneless, 
and y'all better beware! 

No bones, no bones. 
He saved our souls and he's also good at dodgeball. 

Ball after ball. 
And shot after shot. 
And hopping on one leg, 
a lesson here was taught. 

 It doesn't matter if you're big or small, 
or if you act your age, 
for Boneless is a hero,
 as he stands here on this stage!!!!

Carried off the field in victory (View Staff)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Spotlight on: Artist Tourney from QoH XXIV

[Editor's Note: All photos by View Staff]

2017 Category: Fearsome Enemies

Team Iste
- Joey Chipman (Ruthade)

Colored pencil and ink


Wasp close-up

Team Saegan
- Keith Cronyn (Saegan)

Fearsome enemies: classic dragon, chartreuse, and cancer (denoted by the crab). Done on leather with pastels, acrylic paint, and India Ink. Fun fact: a raisin was used as a paintbrush.

Overview of piece

Dragon and the crab; paint detail close-up

More detail close-up

Team Jack -- WINNER
- Kite

This entry for the QOH artist tourney was painted digitally using a Wacom Bamboo tablet, in a freeware raster drawing program called FireAlpaca. Conception of the design was done using thumbnails, voted upon by the team, and finalized appropriately. The physical print is 18x22”, and was done professionally on semi-gloss paper. In approaching the prompt of “Fearsome Enemy”, I wanted to create a strong design that could tell a visual story. I decided upon a giant-like enemy with an enormous sword bisecting its chest and shoulders, indicating that it had taken massive damage from a formidable foe, but had survived and continued to fight. The red sky and enormity of the sword, which seems un-wieldable by any normal being, lends a sense of hopelessness to the tiny knight that is now facing the creature down. - Kite


The creature bisected by the massive sword

Knight detail

Why I Want to Go - Conditions of War

by Lani "Gwen" Grayson

You should make it a point to come out to Conditions of War this weekend. This war tournament event is unique and creative in many ways. If you are interested in running one of the teams or taking a leadership role on a team, you should plan to show up on Friday night, because that’s when generals and supporters will be chosen. Those roles will be important because strategizing with your team is critical to the team’s success. However, if that’s not for you, then one thing that’s great about this event is that you can show up and play on Saturday morning without having to worry about pre-forming a team. Do not let not having a pre-formed team stop you from coming to this event. The event holding team has planned a lot of content and surprises to keep you engaged throughout the entire weekend, and you do not want to miss out on it.

Conditions of War is taking advantage of the variety of spaces on Abe’s Land in Willington to run a site-wide live event. There will be battles going on, but there will also be plenty of things to figure out (like runes and riddles), wandering monsters to fight or negotiate with, and supplies that must be used to fortify your camp’s defenses. There will also be a dungeon on site that can be entered into to gain more special powers for your team. The EH team has really tried to put the decision making power of this event in the hands of the players. Teams will have to decide where to send people, and when. War maneuvers will be going on, but without gathering supplies or gaining boosts in power, that may not be enough to win the day this weekend. Team strategy will be an important piece of the puzzle. Sunday will be the culmination of the event, each team seeking to ruthlessly push back the other team into their camp using the resources and powers gathered the rest of the weekend. This should be one epic siege scenario that highlights the successes of the team on the previous day.

This event is for everyone. Although there is going to be combat going on just about all the time, there is something for everyone to do at this event, even those people who prefer to avoid combat for whatever reason. That’s so cool, because that means that this war tournament event is going to have content to engage everyone, even those people who don’t enjoy the combat aspect of our game as much. So if you’ve been eyeing your calendar this weekend wondering what to do, I really think you should make an effort to come out and play at Conditions of War. They have been working tirelessly to ensure that every player can come out and have a great time working together with a team this weekend.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Spotlight on: Armourer Tournament from QoH XXIV

[Editor's Note: scroll down for pictures of each entry and commentary from each team's armorer. All photos by View Staff.]

Team Iste - Mouse and Higer (Renee and Derek Booke)
** WINNER **

In many ancient cultures the stag stands as a majestic and complex symbol of regeneration, and the cyclical nature of all life. His antlers grow in the spring, and fall off when autumn comes. These creatures are no strangers to change, and stand for the ability to move through life and all of its trials with grace and dignity. It is for these reasons, that we believed the stag to be an appropriate symbol for Queen Iste’s armor entry. The Queen herself proudly wears antlers upon her helm, and is also a Changeling by blood. As such, she is keenly aware of her own personal cycles of being. This piece is a celebration of her life and Sylvan nature, but also the perseverance and strength of our team.

Throughout this piece you will also see the use of oak leaves between the pauldron plates, and laurel up top, just like what is depicted on the tabards of the true supporters. In many ancient cultures, laurel and oak were used to make wreaths and crowns. These crowns were given out to acknowledge martial victory and strength in competition, as well as heroic acts of protection and valor. Many people speculate that because oak trees were honored for their endurance, stability, strength, and noble presence, using their leaves in rituals and military awards became common practice. The oak, just like the stag, represents a powerful figure and tends to stand taller than the other trees around it. 

Now that you understand some of the ideas and symbolism behind this project, we can talk about how it was made. We started construction with a lengthy design process. Hygar doesn’t work from patterns, so even the basic shapes and plates of the pauldron had to be created from scratch, and then tested together to see if they would fit and flow. We knew we wanted more curved edges than straight or pointed, and believed this would give the project a more Sylvan feel to better reflect the Queen’s heritage. Once the initial design was done, we hand drew the shapes and leaves, and cut them out of a six ounce hide. Once this was done, we moved onto sanding and preparing the leather; which took over eight hours alone even with two of us working on it.

Front detail

After our shapes were cut out we soaked them all in water to begin the tooling process. Every individual plate on this project was struck hundreds of times with a stamp to give our background and empty space a more detailed and textured appearance. Then you have the plate borders, which are completely freehanded with a sculpting knife. We chose this intertwining vine work pattern not just because it looked Sylvan, but because it highlighted interwoven strength and grace, one of the concepts the stag stands for as mentioned above. Visually, we thought it lent credence to the original symbolism. Altogether, this portion took a little more than twenty hours.

Trim and stamping detail

For the next part, we moved onto the oak and laurel leaves. Each one of these is hand tooled with the same sculpting knife used on the vine work. No patterns were used here either, and Hygar drew out each line in the leaves using his own creative intuition. One aspect we are particularly pleased with here is the molding of the leaves and how we curled them at the ends. This allows them to better hold their shape, and gives them a relatively natural look. This entire process ended up being a minimum of around thirty minutes per leaf.

Side of armor with individual leaf details

The neck guard/collar was another separate piece that had to be cut, measured, and shaped. Believe it or not, this piece started as a flat rectangle. Hygar soaked it in water and folded it by hand, molding it into what you see now. This was a gradual process, and involved jury-rigging the neck guard onto a mannequin form overnight as it dried. After that, it was strong enough to hold its shape on its own. If you look at traditional plate armor and pauldrons, they often had a neck guard of some kind, or what is called a “sword breaker.” This small piece had the very important job of preventing a sword from decapitating you.

Back of piece with neck guard and detachable cape

With all of this done, we could finally move onto dye. We chose the colors of green, brown, and gold because of the already established nature/Sylvan theme we had going on. Each plate used both a green and brown oil based dye that was applied via paintbrush, and received at least two coasts. Once these coats were dry, we went back and started to paint the vine work. For this we cut a gold acrylic paint with water and applied in light, thin layers to help reduce cracking, as well as wear and tear. Every piece was also treated with leather lotion and sealant, which cleans, polishes, and preserves the leather and colors below. This step took about 3-4 hours if you ignore the time in between waiting for the pieces to dry.

Once all these artistic aspects were complete, we arrived at the assembly part of the process. We started by riveting all of the leaves to their respective plates, and then attached the lower plates to leather straps. What this does, is allow the plates to collapse in on themselves as the wearer moves. Fighters need that extra flexibility in the arms, and this design gives them that while also giving them adequate coverage. After that, the uppermost small plates were riveted to the larger plates on the top of the pauldrons; and all the remaining pieces were riveted to each other. Connecting the pauldrons to a chest/back base in this manner allowed us to avoid straps that go under the arms, something people frequently complain is uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time.

Individual plates help the pauldrons move with the shoulder

The last step was what we like to call “fancification.” With everything in place, we wanted to add a little extra just to make our project pop. This involved adding conchos on the main upper plate towards the front side, as well as adding matching d rings on the back. The conchos add a much needed splash of color where they are, but also provide a more pleasing visual symmetry from the front side. The d rings, on the other hand, play an important part in allowing these pauldrons to not only be appropriate attire on the battlefield, but the feast hall as well. Using snap hooks, you can attach and detach a cloak to the d rings as you see fit! Your armor just became that much more versatile, and you can make it a garb centerpiece.

Shoulder leaf detail with cabachon

All in all, it took several weeks of work to get this piece done, and we were quite pleased with the results. It was my first time designing pauldrons, and Hygar’s first time doing such an in depth creative collaboration. Neither of us had made a full set of pauldrons before, so the challenge was a welcome and rewarding one that tested our ability to work as a team. We hope you enjoy the outcome as much as we did. If you have any questions about our process, please feel free to ask! - Renee Booke

Front of armor

Team Saegan - Aiden Penclaw (Arthur Granger)

So what we made was a piece entirely made from scale and chainmaile. It is approximately 5000 scale, 1000 ring, and incorporates seven different forms of jewelry weaves into an armor format. Without the coin bag the entire project has a weight of one lbs in total and is a fully flexible piece to your arm and shoulder in combat. On the artistic end of things it shows two large skulls in scale (a throwback to the planar shield stone), a 3D Chaos wheel in a byzantine weave, a smaller section of scale in a Knights of the Steward shield, and Iron Lotus pendant. The project took my fiancee and I four months to design from scratch and piece together. - Arthur Granger

Aerial view

Side view of the piece

Small scale in detail

Close-up of detail work

Skull pattern worked in scales

Attached maille pouch

Team Jack - Dan Neville 

This is a set of scale pauldrons made from blue and black anodized aluminum scales and rings. It incorporates two sizes of scales, extra large and large. It is attached with leather straps and collar. I tried to make sure this would fit snugly to the wearer and not shift or slip in combat. This item and custom ones like it will soon be available on my Etsy shop Forge And Fleece. I make chainmail and scale mail armor and jewelry for costumes and Larp. I greatly enjoy working on custom projects. Please feel free to contact me at or on my Etsy shop. - Dan Neville

Close-up of shoulder scale detail and strapping

Aerial view from the front

Side view of scales, front chest strap, back adjuster plate

Side view close-up