Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What You Missed - Feast of Grimloch (photos)

All photos by Jason Rosa

The feast hall is ready


Nacho bar appetizer

A selection of flatbreads


Soup course: pho with assorted toppings

Pho with bean sprouts, sliced beef and scallions

Improvising condiments for missing poker chips

Entree: brown butter broccoli, spinach artichoke potatoes, balsamic pork

Hole Corn Tournament

Mingling during the evening 

An assortment of whoopie pies

More dessert!




Friday, October 12, 2018

The View Retrospective - Cartoon



Scan by Jeremy Grayson. Originally published in The View From Valehaven, 2nd Ed, Volume 3, Issue 5. June 2006.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ask the Editors - New Plotholders


Me and my friends have all these great ideas for plots and quests and I really want to throw them. But I don't have any event holding experience. Is there an easy way to start throwing plot without just jumping into throwing whole events?

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Many events have opportunities to throw scenarios.  For example, Chimeron Questing that is coming up in July averages 100 possible scenarios during the time of the event.  If you have ideas and want to start small, a venue like this is the way to go.  I also cannot stress enough to find an experienced EH and bring them on board, even just as a mentor/ consultant.    Regardless of the size of the scenario or event, they could give you valuable insight into how to make your dreams a reality for everyone.

-Steven “Therian” Matulewicz

****

One of the things that makes Realms really special is that anybody with the gumption can tell their own story. I think it’s wise that as a new event holder you aren’t trying to jump right into throwing a three day quest (been there, done that, and there is quite a learning curve). There are lots of ways to start out small until you build up your confidence to throw a whole event on your own. For example, in the past, there have been whole events dedicated to helping newer players throw their own plot, such as Learning to Fly. If you can team up with experienced event holders who can help fund and staff your event, well then, congratulations, you are in a golden spot to really run with your ideas while getting feedback from the experts. If you don’t actively have a mentor, or such a call for plot isn’t out at the time, it might be a good idea to reach out to EH’s to see if they would be interested in having you run a small encounter at their event. This usually flies better at tournaments or feasts where there is less in the way of active questing going on. In addition, you might be able to throw a whole night quest if you can find the right event and EH to team up with. The moral of the story is that you are going to have to do some work to pull this off. You are going to have to ask questions to people you might not know very well, you are going to have to be prepared to hear the word no and not get offended by it--but if you are willing to put in the work, there are venues out there for you to test out the event-throwing waters. Good luck!

-Lani “Gwen” Jones

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The easiest way to get experience with plot is to volunteer to help throw it with someone else. The experience is pretty valuable, in my opinion, personally I’d even say the best experience you can get is from joining the team that throws your favorite event series. It may seem like a bit of a sacrifice, but if you really want to get into the Event Throwing side of things, the team that throws your favorite events is probably the team you want to learn from.

Outside of that, infrequently there are events that offer slots for smaller quests, like Storytellers for example, or Convergences once upon a time.

-Keith “Saegan” Cronyn



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Why I Want to Go-Feast of Grimloch and Grimloch Questing

By Lani “Gwen” Jones

This weekend is Feast of Grimloch and Grimloch Questing and you should definitely make it a point to come out for so many reasons.

For one thing, Katasha is running an epic kitchen on Friday night. As a great feastocrat of the Realms, I know she has so many delicious things planned for us, and I can’t wait. There has been test cooking of some fabulous recipes, and I know Katasha is looking forward to sharing her gifts with the Realms again. In addition, there will be a twist on Cornhole called Whole Corn and a super awesome mixed drink contest to keep everyone entertained.

The rest of the weekend will feature some exciting questing for adventurers of the Realms. The EH’s have put a lot of thought into designing an event that will keep you engaged and entertained. The questing has something for everyone: fighting, puzzles, and lots of new and interesting mechanics that I guarantee will impress. Come and save Boom from the dangers he is facing up in the northern lands of Grimloch. And at the end of the night, feel free to celebrate around the fire pit and recount your tales of bravery to all your friends.

One of the exciting things about this event is the location. This is a brand new site for the Realms located in Spencer, MA and it has lots of really cool features including beautiful walking trails, a waterfront, and lots of really cool buildings that I’m sure the EH’s will make excellent use of during the event.

I’m so excited to see everyone this weekend! It’s going to be awesome and I hope to see you all there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Did I Read That Right?

 by Josh "Lako" Fitzgerald

This article is on an OOC basis any information given here should not be brought IC without it being specified.

So this is a bit of an expansion on my Normal Article of Did I read that Right? with other player perspective and stories added.

Almost every weekend many of us come together to play our characters and join in a world we know as the Realms. Many people come together to one event but many people come for their own reason, some for the fight, others to see old friends, some for the adventure, and others just for a place to be. Over the course of the weekend we all should be there as our characters and anything that happens over the weekend should be left to those characters, if you are ever feeling like you are taking things OOC revisit yourself and your character and find a way to seperate it. Below are the Rules concerning OOC and IC. At the bottom of this will be written examples of people's experiences as both an IC and OOC situations.

I know it's a lot to read, but these are rules we play by and they should be considered and respected as much as calling your shots and casting your spells correctly, to not follow these means you are still breaking Rules and are cheating in the Game.

I have Highlighted where I have seen people skirt the Rules or are unaware of them being there. I am not innocent in this either, but I will be making steps toward staying IC at all times I am able to.

Honestly as this is written if you aren’t IC at all times you are breaking the Rules of the game, needed OOC circumstances aside.

4.1: In-Character and Out-of-Character

Being In-Character

Generally, events officially begin after the safety rules, any specific site rules, and other special event rules have been read aloud to the gathered players.

Once an event has begun, you are expected to be in-character (IC) at all times. This means that you are playing your PC the whole time you are at an event. Staying IC can add greatly not only to your own event experience, but to those who are playing the game around you. When a companion of your PC is "killed" it adds to the tension and drama of the scene if they pretend they are dead, but it breaks the mood completely if they are laughing and making comments.

Your character may feel differently than you do about something, like slavery, magic, politics, or religion. You may be a pacifist, while your character is a bloodthirsty barbarian. If you can remain true to the character, despite your differences, you can make a memorable story for yourself and those around you. Sometimes staying IC is challenging, especially when you know something that your character shouldn't logically know, but you should try to remain IC when playing. Likewise, when the game is done, leave your character behind.

So this Section above I think gets overlooked many times when new or old players are reading the Rules or being introduced to them. I feel these rules might actually be the most important ones in our book, this not only defines when you begin and end as your character during the weekend but it also defines how we all interact in the game and keep it moving forward.

The below is my comment on this section:
I feel this is the most important part of our rule book this section is quite literally the base of the game we play and the world we all play in, without this we would just be playing a sport. Instead we all come together to Larp, we all come together for Live Action Role Playing.

We all must remember we are doing this for fun and that should be the first thing we think about, but it is also our responsibility to ensure everyone is having fun. Remember that sometimes your character will go through hardships, things they don’t like, things you don’t like you always have the choice about how you
react to it.

Sometimes getting into those heated moments with people or entire Nations can really add to the level of game we play. It can add really interesting points and situations. On the other hand while it isn’t for everyone and should only be done with all parties involved and understanding, having your character fall in love with another can also add some very interesting moments of character pull and decision making.



Breaking Character

Once an event has begun, breaking character should be done only when necessary. If you must do so, what you say should be prefaced with "Out-of-character," as in "Out-of-character, where is the tenting area?" That way, the person you are addressing knows that it is a real-world concern, and should be dealt with differently than a strictly IC concern.
Sometimes when players get really into character, you may begin to wonder whether animosity or other emotions are completely IC. It is acceptable to break character to make sure everything is in fact still IC and no one's feelings are getting hurt OOC.

The below is my comment on this section:
If you are ever unsure of a situation, whether or not it's IC or OOC, just ask. Never have i met anyone who gets mad at that clarification, seriously ask.

The rest is just to try and find ways to not break character for every day questions, instead of I have to go to my car you could say “I have to go to the carriage” I mean your character got to the lands somehow.

“I need to go to Dunkins this morning” you could instead say “I am going to run some errands before the tournaments today”

It really is about finding those things that pull you OOC and instead finding things that pull you more IC. It is the smallest of words and sentences that can really change your perspective between IC and OOC.

Out-of-Character-Only Terms
There are a few terms that should only be used when speaking OOC: “Hold” and “Medic.” Hold is only used in emergencies as it stops the game. Read Section 2.3: The Safety Rules for more information on the correct use of the word Hold. Medic is used when someone needs immediate real-world medical attention for any reason: an allergic reaction to a bee-sting, a twisted ankle, an asthma attack, etc. Do not call “Medic” for imaginary (IC) injuries. If you need IC medical attention, call "Healer!"
Out-of-Play Areas and Time-Out
The EH has the option of declaring portions of the event site as "out-of-play" for safety reasons or for NPC use. Never use these out-of-play areas as safe havens.
If a fight breaks out in an area that is unsafe to fight in or that is out-of-play, then the fight should be moved to a safe in-play area. If you are in such an area, you may be asked to leave said area for combat. If you refuse to leave the unsafe area, your PC is considered dead. After the fight, those involved can move back to where the fight "really" took place, and continue on.
An EH is free to create an in-game safe area if they choose. For example, powerful enchantments on the tavern may render weapons and hostile magic inoperable within the tavern walls. In this case, it is fine for players to hide there, since they will be taking advantage of an in-game effect.
EHs may also declare a time-out during an event for sleep, dinner, etc. While on an event site, if you are not acting as an NPC at the EH's request, or you are not in a time-out, a character is liable to be attacked, and their possessions open to theft.

The below is my comment on this section:
I think this section applies to not only how the character interacts with the world around them but also the way an EH can set up their sites. I have seen it at times that EH’s have set up OOC play areas for people who want to drop OOC for a bit or need to take care of some OOC situations. I did this for my event and it worked absolutely wonderful as far as I saw.

The Rest of this is less about being OOC and Ic and more about making sure everyone is safe during combat.


In short I believe these parts of the Rules to be very important and need to be reviewed by the Realms as a whole. We as people should not ever be OOC affected by IC actions but it happens. We should do everything in our power to understand we are all here for a game, if everyone stays IC and begins to play as an individual character then the game can only improve for it.

With that said eventually those who want to not play a character may begin to find themselves sucked in and find their own play on the IC side of things. We all play this game, we all love the community, learning to play as our Characters and join together as friends OOC will go a long way to bringing Realms into a better place as a Larp community.

I have asked a number of people to write up instances that happened to them IC and how they handled it both IC and OOC. Learning from them I think can be a great asset into how you yourself can separate IC and OOC.

Or

I asked them how they are able to separate their character from actions and consequences their characters have.

IC (In Character) and OOC (Out of Character), these are two separate yet equally important groups. The character that you play and the person playing the character, These are their stories. DUN DUN DUN


Cal O’Leary/ Syruss
-Back when I used to live with Bobby Gryff we were on opposite sides of the Malaphas Demon plot that Mythguard was throwing, then we would often scalp, steal and try to thwart each other. We use to keep secrets for our actions but didn't allow that rivalry to affect our friendship or our living situation.-

-I try to ask the question does this make Syruss feel something or Cal feel something. Take for instance the murder Syruss is comfortable with depraved acts of that nature, Cal not so much. Somethings are tough recently Slavery was an issue in New Veri, Cal is not ok with owning people, Syruss would probably lean neutral. It is about comfort levels and knowing when enough is enough. Also I tend to draw lines at actions that tend to offend people or bother people on an OOc level-


Jordan Rollo/ Ivory
-I separate my IC personality from my OOC personality by trying to create an almost opposite personality for IC. For example i used to play a character named Ebony who was essentially dark and kinda an asshole with no honor. That (I hope) is not me. I do LARP to live a different life and try on different personalities. So separating IC from OOC is one of my main focuses. If I feel that my character begins to meld with my IRL self too much I try looking at situations how Jordan would react to it. And them compare to how i think the character SHOULD react to it and go from there.-

- Currently I am playing Ivory. Who tends to meld with my personality a bit. One big difference is Ivory is now in a personal conflict with Jack of Redwall so we dont get along very well. OOC I get along with Shane deshone great-


Adrian Cronin/ Cronin
-I can recall a moment at Feast of Blackwood where Cronin was asked how to spell “Norlund”. After discussing the plight of Ragnarok. I almost did it before remembering that despite being an accomplished diplomat, Cronin is quite illiterate. And so I responded with, “Draw my sounds... Norrrrrrllllluuuuunnnnndddd”. It got a bit of a laugh but I felt like it added a bit of realism to the conversation.-

- My character has a few quirks that I do my best to keep in mind while dealing with situations that help keep a clear division between OOC and IC. Cronin, though having values outside of his station that many would classify as “good”, is a tactician. With that in mind, he views things in terms of advantage and disadvantage, enemies and allies. So when twists happen in plots where enemies attempt to manipulate the party by arguing ethics Cronin is a bit stubborn about eliminating threats.

-Also Cronin is quite superstitious, and so when he encounters magic users beyond his understanding he usually gives them a wide berth during rituals etc. and even though as a player I am comfortable with the magic system Cronin retains a sense of wonder and caution when it comes to both the divine and the occult.-


Hannah Blood/ Nhadala
-In character I had something said to me with out of character context. It was extremely offensive, and ended up crossing back into IC consequences for the individual. It was hard for me to separate character feels and OOC feels, as it seemed easy for everyone else. I honestly just couldn’t talk to them for a long time, because I couldn’t sort out my feelings for it. I’m still salty about it (haha), but am able to interact IC and keep my feelings aside. -

-If on Facebook, I feel that I am always out of character unless clearly labeling IC before a post. I am posting as Hannah Blood, not as my character name. -

-During Questing hours, I consider myself in character, unless otherwise noted. If at a LARP my character doesn’t like someone, or disapproves of something, I try to mend bonds later. There was an event where I said some mean IC things to Thoril, and when I next saw him at Queen of Hearts I tried to OOC explain that is was truly PvP, and I admire his spirit in game.-


Tonya Pirrone/ Lyra/ Kyllthara
-Hmmm. Well Lyra is not that diffrent from me. She's an introvert, prefers to be on the fringe of a group rather than IN a group. She will participate when she feels she has something to add to the group but otherwise is more comfortable solo. With Kyllthara I try to be more socially confident and in the middle of things even though it takes me outside my comfort zone. She is more outgoing.-

-OOC I've been bellydancing (and hula) for a long time. Aside from a few accidents (jahovas witnesses and a meter man) nobody's ever seen me dance. Its something I do that's therapeutic, like meditation. I did not get into it to impress anyone or be sexy. I've been trying to get up the nerve to dance at an event. Kyllthara might be how I seperate myself from my selfconciousness long enough to do so. Being Egyptian it fits her character and cultural way of dress ect. So that is something I'm working on. The more I play her the more confident I get 'in' her. Does that make sence?-


John Rescigno/ Gordon
-For me separating my IC personality from my OOC is a matter of confidence and decision making. Gordon is much more confident than I am in real life and definitely more foolhardy. He doesn’t think before jumping into a situation as often and acts on impulse and positive emotion. I like to think of myself being more calculating and careful in real life-


Tom Gallagher/ Avendar/ The Spider
-At the beginning of every event I have a mantra I say to myself that switches me from Tom to the character. I say it 3 times, the spider's is eat to live, live to eat.
I intentionally make my characters have different aspects to they're persona than my own. This help prevent them from bleeding together. Avendar for instance sees the world in black and white and is very religious, while I do neither of these things.-


Dano Knobel/ Piper
-Making a distinct separation between myself and the character that I play is a little difficult for me because Piper often represents a version of me at the time that I began playing. Over the decade that I have been with the Realms, I have evolved as a player in a different direction than Piper has as a character. In order to keep the two of us separate, I do my best to keep OOC or meta knowledge separate. I do this by making a quick comparison between two courses of action that I could take. First, I think about the steps that I would take to tackle whatever situation has arisen. Then I think about what kind of knowledge Piper has in his current situation. I make a mental note of where the two diverge and ensure that I take the path that is more in line with staying IC. This often comes up with lore. Whilst I have played a lot of video games, read scores of fantasy novels, and have participated in a load of tabletop RPG's, Piper may not have knowledge of all the creatures, planes, and deities I have encountered. Therefore, I do my best to act without drawing upon my outside knowledge and use it as an opportunity to learn it IC.-


James Murphy/ Tao
-Because of character action I, as the knight commander, had to strip a knight of his belt. While I liked the person out of character I had to take real action against a friend IC. The other person did not take it well, and it took us years to be friends again in character. We had several long conversations about why I took the actions I did. We also talked about the actions they did to warrant the action in the first place. In the end we both understood the other person better. I regret the years it took to get back to where we are now, but the bond between us is now stronger then it ever was. This is a good example where ic/ooc brought us closer together now, but the years it took to get here I regret.-


John Jessop/ Trent
-So there was a day once upon a time that someone was motivated to hire assassins to murder beloved good guy of the Realms, Trent. Why anyone would want to see harm done to this kindly paragon of goodness, I can't say, however it did indeed happen.

There we were in the lands of Folkstone late one night when Trent was accosted on the road, not far from a gathering of his allies. At that point, yelling "Dead" very loudly was a thing that many people would have done in that situation, but it would have been the wrong thing to do so I quietly whispered "dead" and was scalped in short time by my assailants.

The next morning, or more likely afternoon, Trent's friends realized he was missing and found his body, scalp gone. Then I got to play Duke Devlin's Netherform Buttercupp while I got an inside look at my friends' detective skills. Let's just say the skills were pretty lacking, and I had many a chuckle as they walked by, and overlooked clues, and were talked in circles by people who may or may not have the perpetrators, and who may or may not have been covering for said perpetrators.

The whole time, I remained silent. Sometimes laughing, sometimes furious, most of the time thinking that Trent needed more competent friends. But I couldn't fault the effort level. "Trent" was eventually brought back to life, by way of Divine Intervention to the Kal en Dral. Trent's scalp was written of as unrecoverable and the Kal fashioned him a brand new one.

So the next morning, I decided that I would play Trent as a blank slate, as someone who could do basic things like walk and tie his own shoes, but didn't know who anyone was. As luck would have it, the first people I would run into were some people who may or may not have had anything to do with Trent's assassination. Trent struck up a conversation that was going quite well before Trent's old friend Nero "saw" this and dragged Trent away.

"I think those are the people who killed you" Nero told Trent as he was leading him away. "No way" Trent exclaimed in disbelief "they seem like good people." I then spent the rest of that event taking almost everything being said as 100% literal, as friends, enemies, and frenemies alike tried to mold Trent in the ways they wanted.

Seeing this happening, Vlad of Rathkeale called upon divine magic to fill Trent's mind with everyone's memories of him. So then I had to play Trent by figuring out what everyone's perceptions of him were. Trent became much more of a villain that day then he was previously.-

-So, to focus on the IC/OOC separation. I could have alerted my friends to the assassination at the beginning, as "die loudly" was a very accepted thing in those days. I then had to keep my mouth shut while my friends completely botched the investigation because obviously Buttercupp had no idea what happened. Once I was given a second scalp, I didn't just run off and play Trent like nothing had happened, I then chose to have pleasant conversation with people that Trent did not know killed and scalped him, and then chose to get into some very silly conversations and predicaments due to playing Trent as incredibly naive and very "moldable".

I then had to have some seriously weird conversations with people, and do deep thinking on how I should play Trent moving forward.

All in all, there were plenty of opportunities to take the easy way out, and at that point in the game I doubt anyone would have minded if I had, but I did my best to keep as IC and OOC as separate as humanly possible and was rewarded by having an absolutely great time at the event, and always having a story like this to share whenever anyone wants to talk about the value of keeping IC and OOC stuff seperate.-


Sara Jessop/ Zarine
-I think the most important thing is having an IC personality that is both clearly defined and something playable for you. For the longest time Zarine didn't have much of a one beyond my own OOC personality. It wasn't until I started writing my articles that I really found Zarine's voice, and then I worked out from there how it differed from Sara's. I try and make sure that I am always staying true to what I have presented her as in print. Mostly Zarine is a couple of my personality flaws taken to an extreme so it's fun and moderately easy for me to stick to, and because her personality is somewhat a part of my own I don't need to worry too much about completely separating them. I just keep reminding myself throughout a social interaction what things are different between us so that I don't trip up, and I try to only focus on the things pertinent to that specific interaction. Like for example, if there are kids around I try to remind myself that Zarine likes them where Sara isn't much of a kid person, or if a bunch of people are having silly fun that Sara would enjoy I remind myself that Zarine might look down upon it instead, or if i find myself worried that I might be hurting someone's feeling I try to remember that Zarine wouldn't care about that (but remembering to make sure I check on an OOC level with the other person(s) is something that I need to work on). But really I try not to overthink it because then I find myself not having fun and worrying too much, so my advice to others would be to make sure that you enjoy your characters schtick, making it much easier to want to play it up!-


Emily Murphy/ Kara
- I'm always excited when I get to develop Kara more, like when a lot of the yellow king stuff went down at TOC. I was very excited to explore how Kara would react to the madness call and act it out. My character on the other hand was very anxious about going into something where she knew she wouldn't always completely in control of herself.-


Toryn/ Torren
-Torren and Toryn are very similar people. Kind and thoughtful. Being a Faerie, Torren is curious and sociable, whereas Toryn is not. To play my character effectively, I need to step out of my comfort zone to make the experience more immersive and enjoyable for myself and those I'm playing with.-



Monday, October 8, 2018

Friday, October 5, 2018

On This Day

For a Flashback Friday, lets take a look at what we were talking about at the View From Valehaven on this day in years past...

2016 - Why You Should Go to In Bud's Honor

Alex Newbold elegantly expressed how we could remember our lost friend and do good for a charity in his name as he petitioned the community to attend In Bud's Honor, which successfully raised funds for the Take This Foundation.

https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2016/10/why-you-should-go.html


2012 - The Grimloch Tribune

Before Syruss was organizing the Neden Kazoo he got his start in publishing while he was still in Grimloch. Take a look at both their lead story about T.H.U.G.S. and the Dear Rohodey advice column.

https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2012/10/grimloch-tribune.html


2011 - A Fighting Chance - The Aspis

Faelinn, in advance of the War of Shadows event, created a detailed guide to fighting the Aspis and what adventurers should expect when they face them.

https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2011/10/fighting-chance-aspis-by-leanne-faelinn.html



Thursday, October 4, 2018

Legends of Voraniss: Vangrim, the First Werewolf (Part II)


by Renee "Kindrianna" Booke
[Editor's Note: Part I available here]

Several years would pass in this way, but the wolves were good to him and never went too far. They moved quick enough to test his fortitude but refused to leave him behind. Over time it became easier and easier for him to learn how to move as they did; their techniques for hunting and travel becoming like second nature. Together they could take down larger and stronger prey and find enough food for the entire pack to thrive. However, these weren’t the only things that Vangrim learned from the wolves.

They also spent a lot of time roaming around to visit the different factions of the land, checking up on them to see what they needed. If the Elves needed specific herbs it was the wolves that guided their healers. If the Human hunters became lost in the forest it was the wolves that brought them home. Rumors of wolf-related miracles became stories and legends told between villages but the truth was much simpler than all of that. The wolves treated everyone that lived in the woods like they were part of the pack as best they could. The reality had been in front of Vangrim the entire time but he hadn’t realized it until experiencing it for himself. When the wolves spoke of community they meant the forest as a whole, not just those that looked like them. They were above the petty squabbles of Man against Elf or Animal-kin against outsiders. The wolves just knew how to instinctually embrace everyone as brother or sister. It explained why they had been so good to him when he first approached them in need.

When the Alpha called the pack to their favorite clearing for a meeting, Vangrim knew that something was wrong. Rarely did they have these formal gatherings unless some kind of important announcement was to be made. He could feel the sense of dread rise up from his stomach and into his throat as he joined with the others.

“I have called you all here today because change is coming to the forest,” the Alpha said sadly. “War is at our doorstep.”

“War? Why? What has happened?” The wolves asked, obviously distressed.

“There was a dispute over land. The Humans seek to settle it and farm it to aid their growing populations, but the Elves have already laid claim to it. They say they have been here longer than the Humans, that the humans have no right to it,” the Alpha answered. He shook his head slowly from side to side. “Now they are ready to fight over it and the other Animal-kin are ready to kick them both out for fear that this war will shape the destiny of the forest for ages to come.” His gaze came to fall upon Vangrim with great sorrow. “Brother,” he said, “When the others look upon you they do not see the wolf that you have become. They will see only your Human shell. My heart aches, for I see no way this ends well for any of us. When it comes to greed, desire always overrides reason.”

Vangrim understood all too well the complications of the Alpha’s position. It wasn’t his fault that the others didn’t see the same sense of community that the wolves did. “Alpha, I will go and try to bring peace to these woods. You trusted me enough to make me part of your pack once, trust me again. Give me your blessing and I will fight for all that you have taught me.”

The Alpha bowed his head with a forlorn sigh. “You have my blessing as always, Vangrim. But go with the swiftness of the Stag. The hour draws late and time is no ally of ours.”

Vangrim didn’t hesitate; running deeper into the woods as he left the pack at his back. Behind him his brothers cried, craning their necks towards the sky above so that even the celestial bodies of the evening might hear their sorrow.

Vangrim knew where he was heading even though his heart was full of fear. In the deepest reaches of the woods was an object of legend, something that the wolves and others referred to as a Standing Stone. Believed to be Dryads so old that they had petrified and become stationary, the Standing Stones were no laughing matter. Sacred and powerful, the stories claimed that these Stones retained potent magics of the ancient world such as those the Elves attempted to practice with great reverence. To touch a Standing Stone was to open yourself up to the possibility of having your wishes granted or the alternative of complete and utter devastation. Elf, Man, and Animal-kin alike spread the tales to their children in an attempt to make idle interactions forbidden. Old magic was never to be trifled with in such a casual way. Despite this knowledge, and despite the taboo, Vangrim felt he was left with no choice but to find one. He was resolved that their power would allow him to save the forest and the ideology of his pack.

It was when he finally found what he was looking for that the doubt and worry began to overtake him. Lingering at the edge of the grove, his legs began to feel heavy. What if the stone couldn’t help him? What if this was all for nothing and he failed those that had been there for him after everything he had gone through? He might have stayed there forever, locked in an eternal battle with his own anxiety, had the sounds of his brothers not drifted over the winds and to his ears. Hearing their sorrowful calls he found the strength to take one step forward, and then another.

Finally, close enough, he reached out with a trembling hand and placed his palm gently upon the stone. He didn’t feel differently at first, but soon heard a whispering voice inside his head. Surprised, he looked around half expecting to see someone nearby; but there was no one.

“It has been some time since I have had company, wolf brother. Tell me why you have come,” the voice said. It sounded both otherworldly and feminine like a sweet melody out of time.

Unsure if he should speak aloud or merely think his thoughts, Vangrim whispered towards the stone. “I came for your aid, ancient one. War between the denizens of the forest brews. The harmony and sense of community the wolves strive for will be destroyed if that happens. Their very way of life will disappear and be forgotten. I cannot let that happen. If it is true that you have the power to bring stability to this place then I beg you to make these dreams a reality.”

“What concern is it of yours if Elf or Man or Beast rules this forest? You will adapt and survive one way or another. Tell me the truth of the fear that lingers deep within your heart. Speak it aloud so that I may know you,” the voice replied.

Vangrim’s eyes filled with tears and he wiped them away with the back of his hand. “I have seen the darkness the greed of Men can bring first hand. These wolves, this forest that they love, they were good to me. This is my home. I don’t want to be alone again, I don’t want to lose them like I’ve lost everything else.” Making himself vulnerable before the stone Vangrim thought he would have felt like a fool, but instead, there was something incredibly peaceful about letting the words leave his lips.

“What would you give to protect this forest? To make sure that your beloved family is safe from the ravages of war?”

“Anything,” Vangrim answered quickly. “Anything you ask of me, ancient one.”

“And you would swear it upon me under the eyes of the Gods?” The voice was both curious and stern like it wanted to test Vangrim and caution him all at once.

“I swear it. I swear to all the spirits of the forest and the Gods up above that I will give everything I have to save this place from a pointless conflict,” Vangrim said. He bowed his head reverently. “You have my word.”

So be it,” came the voice. “There is no going back from this point on. All have heard your oath.”

The moonlight flared brightly without warning, causing Vangrim to cover his eyes. When he could finally see again, his pack had appeared in the grove. They paced about nervously and looked from Vangrim to the stone wondering what was happening and why they were called.

When the stone spoke again, this time it spoke to all gathered. “Drink of the water that gathers in the paw print of your Alpha here in this sacred place beneath the light of the full moon. When you do so you will find you have the strength and authority to speak for all,” there was a momentary pause as the wolves heeded the words. “But know this, wolf brother, you will be bound to your pack until the end of your days and they to you.”

At last Vangrim pulled his hand from the Standing Stone and moved to stand before his Alpha. They locked eyes and Vangrim took a deep breath as he asked permission with his glance. The Alpha nodded his head and trotted several paces away to leave his paw prints behind him. He was not one to deny the will of the Standing Stone. Not with so much at stake.

The other wolves began to speak in unison as Vangrim got on his hands and knees, lowering himself to the ground. “Pack is strength. Pack is family,” they firmly repeated the mantra; urging him on lest any last minute doubt return to haunt the poor man.

It was when Vangrim’s lips first touched that water his destiny was upon him and he became the first Werewolf of Voraniss. Both Man and Wolf, bound by the old magic of the forest and Elves. He was a part of all of them now and no faction dared defy the will of the Gods nor what they had made. He wasn’t the only one that changed that night either. When his transformation began, so did that of his pack who changed with him. War was averted by Vangrim’s actions and even into current times his descendants defend the forest that made them as some of the greatest warriors Voraniss has to offer.

Upon his eventual death, the forest honored him by making him the representative of the Wolf Totem. Some even say that during the full moon you can hear him still howling along with the other wolves like he never left at all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What You Missed - NedenQuesting 3

by Gwenplaine the Jester (Dustin Mack)

Neden. A wretched hive of scum and villainy. Or at least a regular source of zombies and bandits. Whatever. I had been away from the Realms for almost 2 years on official clown business, but I decided to come back to see what was going on in the great land of Neden.

I arrived in Neden a while before everyone else and chatted with the group. They're a funny crew. Except that Kahrma, she's kind of a jerk. As time passed and people arrived, we found ourselves with quite a varied group. Everyone got their armor on and cast their spells and prepared for whatever the lands of Neden had in store.

When everybody was ready to go, Naj told us what was going on. It seems that the guys in Neden had lost a bunch of stuff, hats, weapons, familiars, and more. They were offering some rewards for returning their things, some were weapons and some were the type of magical trinkets commonly found in Neden. We were also told of portals that were randomly appearing with bandits and other things coming out. So our job for the day was to deal with portals and get Nedens stuff back. 

Naj was kind enough to show us some of his portal magic. When a portal was identified it would reveal symbols that showed how to deactivate it. Good information to have, as we soon had bandits coming at us through these portals. 

Not long after our first portal fight, Dresden told us about a dwarf woman nearby that he wanted to get to know, but he needed some help. Some people gave him suggestions on what to say to her, while others went to the dwarf to tell her how great he is. I was ready to just give them both love potions and call it a day, but all the wingman stuff seemed to be working. Once Dresden was confident enough talking to her, he pulled her hood up to reveal it was really that guy with the beard. Darkin? That might be it. I should’ve used my potions. 

We went on fighting bandits, finding some that had things we needed to return to the Neden guys. One of them had apparently stepped in something, he had what looked like a green gooey face stuck on his shoe. We found some bandits with numbers on their faces, 1 to 4. I didn't see how they were defeated because I was dead for a lot of this part. But they were defeated, that's what matters.

I think it was around here that we took a break and headed back to the base to turn in the things we found, and eat some delicious Neden pizza. While we were resting up some people disappeared. Star guy, someone I can't remember, and Toah. I mean Tao. Yeah Tao. It was some yellow guy with a white face. Not as good as my white face, but they can't all be that good. Anyway, it was decided that we needed these people back. Doing this led us to another portal where if we weren't careful we could go mad. Well, that's what we were told, at least. I felt fine. There were some death traps inside. I died again. Not just dead, I got myself impaled on one of the death traps. Meh. We got the people out and all was well. For the time being.

Eventually we made our way to Nedens orchard, where they grow apples for their cider. We needed to collect 15 or so or there would be no cider. Of course, those bandit jerks were also trying to get the apples. There was also some guy with like 200 eyes that could freeze you in place if he looked at you. Oh, and some kind of aggressive monkey. We met up with the suave Señor Fuego. He wanted his dagger, El Fuego. We stopped him and his cronies. It took some time but we managed to get enough apples and some more of Nedens missing stuff.

Bringing the apples back to the base, Priest Z was able to cook them into spell resets. Best tasting spell reset I ever had. By now there wasn't much left to recover, so away we went again.

We fought our way through more bandits. These guys just wouldn't give up. Even when the mighty Neden Man shot a massive fireball through them, they kept on coming. Señor Fuego was back, rambling about something, thinking he can defeat us. Obviously he was wrong, or I wouldn't be here telling the story. So we finished him, closed up the portals, and moved on.

I think this was when Naj tried to teleport us all back to our base. Tried. I don't know where we ended up, but there were people there with green blobs stuck on their head. I hear these weren't good things to have. We made it past the blob heads only to run into a couple guys with real ugly faces and a dragon. Dragons really get everywhere, huh? During the battle some people got head blobs of their own. Something about this caused them to turn on us. But we survived this too.

It turns out the dragon had a head blob too, and that's why it was attacking us. Probably should've offered it tree fiddy, I hear that works on monsters. Somebody knocked his block- I mean blob off and he became docile. I was ready to make it my Undead, but it wasn't dead despite Toto- I mean Tao’s efforts. We gave it some food and it was happy. A happy dragon is better than a mad dragon.

At this point our time in Neden was coming to a close. We met once more at the base, where Lord Syruss had some announcements, including naming Naj as his second in command. Neden had their stuff back, the bandits and other beasties were defeated, and we all survived. Everyone identified their new goodies and we all went our separate ways. It's never dull adventuring in Neden.

Friday, September 28, 2018

What You Missed: Feast of Blackwood IX

By Adrian "Cronin" Cronin

On Friday I arrived at the Voranian encampment. It was already set up and looking like home. If you haven’t paid us a visit before, we welcome you to do so, it’s quite a sight. Having packed the carriages for efficient travel, I realized too late… that my armor was in a carriage that would be arriving late. When I told this to Arch Druid Hygar, he simply smiled and told me not to worry. But something in his smile made me do just that.

Once everyone was ready, we made our way to the tavern to see what adventure was in store for us. We met up with many adventurers from the realms and then entered the tavern for a drink while we waited for things to begin. It was at this point that Hygar took me outside, rubbed dirt all over me and began to chant. When he was finished, again he smiled. When I looked down at my arms and hands I realized my skin was coated in stone. I felt heavy but otherwise quite durable. How strange indeed.

This was done in the nick of time for our attention was called by a resident of New Verai, a familiar face from just a few weeks before. He informed us that we should feel encouraged to to explore and see what adventure we could find. Also that we would be mending tears in reality and would need needles from our previous visit to these lands. Some turned parts of their bodies into needles or so I heard, in order to make up for the lack of resources. All of this confused my delicate sensibilities, but I was eager to crush some evil doers with my rocky skin and so we were off.

We entered a field with a giant bird that was harassing people. Well maybe people were harassing the bird. Either way he was flying too high to be hit with Azurewrath so I turned my attention towards the death eaters and found the action I was looking for.

We fought our way to a beach where we found more death eaters and a strange entity sitting on the ground demanding water. I was told to take the beach so that people could fill their cups, and so that’s what we did. It was here that one of the baddies hooked their weapon in my companion Asher’s axe and tried to pull him into the water… knowing that I had an extra pair of boots back at camp, I bit the arrowhead and rushed into the water to slay the would be drowner. He owes me a beer.

After a lot of fighting we ended up getting stuck, needing one more cup of water to move on but no cup was in sight. So Thoril used his magic, and his wit to shrink the container just enough for us to pass without the final cup. And then it was back to hack and slash on the road.

Once we made our way out completely, we doubled back around. At this point I was feeling a bit tired from the journey, and with so many enemies only affected by magic, I made the decision to hand if Azurewrath to one of my most loyal warriors, Elowen. For the rest of the evening I fought with Florentine axes at my own pace and had a blast clashing in the field. Except the enemies we faced had a special surprise, they exploded and killed those within reach upon death. Which made it quite tricky in strategizing how best to take them down.

Lako informed the group that we could use the exploding enemies to pave a way forward. At this point my memory gets a little fuzzy, because I was essentially just fighting enemy after enemy and trying not to explode. It was glorious and great fun.

Once the battle had concluded, we made our way to an amphitheater where an apparition of a dragon appeared. You’ll have to forgive my ignorance but I was far to mystified by the appearance of a dragon to catch everything that was going on. I know that it was the dragon whose soul the adventurers had saved from the grey lady weeks before. Also that we would need to aid the menders with elemental orbs to stop the Grey Lady from destroying our reality. I took this time to rest and sit in awe of the beasts visage before retiring to a potluck feast prepared by the members of my nation along with stories told by Lady Kindrianna and guests Pilpus and Lako before finally heading to bed.


The next morning, I attended to my usual tradition of walking the grounds to get my blood flowing. I was pleased when my adventures, as the first awake, led me to pancakes at the tavern. I scarfed down a few alongside my fellow Druid, Wynn before going to wake the sleeping wolves for the adventures ahead.


Once awoken and deployed, we headed to the tavern again. Thoril and I recruited a few of our nation members alongside some strangers to enter what was described to us as a “training matrix”. As Thoril has an obsession with “Forbidden Knowledge” I figured I would join him to keep him from blowing everything up… and uh ya know support him.

Inside we faced a few standard enemies who gave us mana which we then used to forge “mana bolts”. I use the term “we” loosely here because I mostly just fought and died in equal standing. This only increased when we fought a small fire drake who shrugged off my steel. The water bolt Thoril forged was able to take him down after a few interactions. Thoril learned how to forge mana bolts. I learned always bring a backpack caster into a portal.

Once this was complete, many adventurers took advantage of the training matrix and learned many different magical patterns which could yield various magical effects. The casters of the realms were seen sharing these patterns and working together which was a wonderful sight.

At this point I broke off from my main group alongside what Voranians felt like accompanying me. We fought more death eaters on the road and made quick work of them. Until the dreaded, let’s call them “Silver Shields” showed up. These were by far the most infuriating enemies I had ever faced. Their shields needed to be hit in certain ways to change the color of the shields to gold in order for them to be affected. Facing them, alongside with regenerating death eaters, became quite the chore. Once we killed them and looted them, they got back up and we started the whole thing over again. May were killed, a Spear was broken, and then Shandar leading an Invictus cohort showed up.

I was all to happy to leave these infuriating Silver Shields to get slapped around by Invictus for a 
while, and so we made our way to the tavern to hydrate and recover. And of course… eat pickles.

It was here that things got dark for me. While eating a pickle no less, I was stabbed in the back and things went dark. When I opened my eyes, Azurewrath was leaning on the table next to me and all of my companions were gone. As I tried to move, or even control where my eyes trained I found myself paralyzed. It was then that my body began to move on its own. The smell of sulfur and the sinister laughter inside of my head told me everything I needed to know.

I heard my voice call out to Evie, my magistrate, and one of my dearest friends. Again the demon laughed and taunted me. He told her to grab Azurewrath and asked to borrow her dagger, a true testament to our friendship, she gladly did as he bade. The demon led her off to “find the others”, training the dagger on her as she looked around for the others. But they found us first. I wanted to call out to them, to beg to be slain. I felt my skin burning as the thoughts entered my mind.

Hygar looked upon me, no longer carrying the angel blade, and greeted me cautiously. My body began to sweat, the heat boiling over as the demon angered. Kindrianna asked me if I was ok, the demon spouted lies in hopes of escaping. It was then that Artair used his Magic’s to identify the demon, after which the demon tried to run but it was the last act of desperation for it was very much surrounded by my kin.

My body was slain by my countrymen, which the demon made sure I felt a hundred times over. When I awoke I felt a deep hole where my soul should be. Enough of me remained inside to weep in the arms of my pack. Tears of pain, sadness and of gratitude though part of me felt as if on fire. Lady Kindrianna put half of her soul into mine to give me strength. It bonded us in a way I didn’t know possible. With friends like these…

And so, I handed Azurewrath once more to Elowen for I didn’t feel worthy of the blade, the taste of sulfur still on my lips. I needed to hit something.

Our group reunited, alongside Sir Rillin and the Neden Boys, after being bribed with pickles, tracked the scent of the nightpack master who we had battled weeks before. He was sitting on the beach, with a rather large hulking beast at his side. He insulted us as he usually does but carried a bit more sadness in the exchange than we had expected.

We fought him and his mutt for a few minutes before slaying the pup and disarming the Master. At this point the Night Pack Master And Rillin began arguing over whom the righteous one was and debating the events of the past. With a bit of pressure from the Neden boys we raised the slain wolf and brokered a peace with the Master, one dependent on his cooperation in the battles against the other masters. Many of us question this decision, however for the time it was the only course of action without giving into baser desires of revenge.

Departing that encounter, we ran into yet more deatheaters on the road but kept a steady pace before fighting some trolls that were in front of the fort. This became another drawn out encounter with little reward or purpose. But we gathered ourselves and made for camp to tend to wounds both physical and emotional.

Once my armor and boots were off, we started a fire to warm our bones. But quickly were alerted to the presence of the Grey Lady on the field. And so, without me, all of Voraniss marched to meet the threat. Once returned we ate, relaxed and made tactical decisions for what we knew would be another long night.

It was decided that Hygar, Lady Kindrianna and myself would sit out the night quest. For our injuries and exhaustion were just too much. We instead shared a bit of respite about the fire and placed out faith in our companions and the realms heroes to do what was needed.

After an hour or so of relaxing. An exhausted Tempest burst into the camp, out of breath but full of purpose. Earlier in the day she had a vision and walked through the spirit realm alongside death. She saw our doom and left us all a bit shaken by the proclamation. What she told us now is that her vision was coming true and that our people were in danger.

Hygar and I locked eyes and nodded. He began to transform, growing large claws and a thick hide while I fastened my armor and grabbed the biggest axe I could find. We marched to meet the heroes of the realms in a large mass. All making preparations, with Lako, Janus and Rillin and many others taking charge of the army.

Hygar and I stood ready alongside the rest of our forces and we marched to meet the Grey Lady once more. The dimension she had been banished to earlier provided her with the means to reach her full potential. And as a weaver herself, she broke into our Realm to take vengeance against us for the slight. She stood twenty feet tall, with large weapons that would crush and decimate any who came too close. With her, a small army of cultists, some of whom called upon her power for strength.

The battle we faced was glorious and hard fought. With our smartest working to weaken her defensive barriers which we could not cross. After hours of battle and some of the greatest cooperation the realms has ever seen, we finally struck the Grey Lady down… and crumbled her stoney visage to dust for good measure.

Some broke off to meet with our dragon friend after this. Lako informed me that Aerst, as he is called, confirmed Erida was dead and the pocket dimension we built for her was repaired with her death.
Aerst offered Lako a choice at this point to return to his original form or stay the way he was, this choice had to be made that night. After some contemplation, Lako offered to become his Herald in this Realm and keep the Scales as a mark of that. Aerst accepted.

Many others asked the dragon questions regarding the time assassins, death eaters and nightpack before retiring to well earned rest.

Of course Voraniss held court beneath the night sky as is their tradition, so close to the fall equinox. Helkias, Elowen, Tulkan and yes… Thoril became full members of the pack and villagers of Voraniss. Each having proven themselves loyal to the Circle.

I also adopted Elowen, who will be known as “Elowen Barbaria” from this day forth. I gifted her the blade Azurewrath as it is dear to me and will become an heirloom of our line.

Then we participated in a wild hunt in which Mogar was possessed by a spirit and then hunted by his compatriots. Victory and the Forest Spirits Mask went to none other than Stewhart, the Druid of the Hunt, worthy of the name.

Finally we retired to stories, food and fine company of the pack before laying our heads to rest.

We awoke to our camp in a bustle, everyone getting ready to look their best for the feast. The day would be a day riddled with diplomacy, great food and greater company as we all told tales and celebrated unity and prosperity.

Wizard duels, rituals and a meeting of Realms Druids took place.

Invictus held Gladitorium, their traditional court which many had the opportunity to witness and enjoy.

Highlights of Blackwood Court included the formation the first all female Knighthood “Lunar Aegis”. The formation of the “Artisans Guild”. An alliance between Blackwood and Voraniss. And some beautiful music performed by Pilpus and Evie, brother and sister estranged but now united.

Cronin tasted soup for the first time. It’s food you drink. Brilliant!!!!

-Cronin Barbaria

Commander of the Broken Spears

Druid of the Mountain of Voraniss.


(OOC)

This event was incredibly immersive and very good fun. People roleplayed hard, fought harder and treated each other with more respect and kindness than typically seen at most events. It was a blast and I can’t wait for next years. Cheers.