Friday, June 22, 2018

The View Retrospective - Getting Involved

Scanned by Jeremy Grayson
Originally published in The View from Valehaven, 2nd Edition, Volume 3, Issue 5; June 2006

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ask the Editor - Fun at Feasts

I love eating at feast events but I feel like sometimes there isn't as much to do at them, especially because I'm not great at being social. How can I fill my day with more fun at a feast event?


The best feasts I have been to for over- all enjoyment have not been what the feast provided, but the company I kept.  I learned early on by this that “making your own fun” and the expectation you bring to an event like that is almost more important than anything the staff may provide beyond good food.

Also keep in mind that a good event will try to provide you with opportunities  for engagement and fun, but if you are not in the right place in your mind, you may miss those opportunities.

That being said, bring some easy to transport games  ( I tend to carry dice or a deck of cards).  Start a round of songs with friends.  Bring crafts and make hand puppets.    Create some questions you IC or OOC would like to have people answer, then interview people (and possibly publish a View article about the answers).  Worst case, ask staff about things to do, or ask others if they know about things to do.  Sometimes random plots and “intrigues” will be started.  It does not hurt to ask around.

-Steven “Therian” Matuelwicz


This question is tough for me, because I almost always find my way into the kitchen at a feast event, and that is certainly my favorite way to stay entertained for the day. So I guess I’ll start with, if you want to know where the real fun happens, it is often behind the scenes. If you can’t cook or prep, there is always a need for someone who can wash dishes, or run food, or even clear plates. This gets you meeting new people because you can’t work quietly in a kitchen, and also gives you something to do. If you are planning on staying outside the kitchen doors (what madness is that?) I can tell you most feasts feature quite a bit of entertainment these days. From gambling, to light questing, to tournaments, there is usually plenty of stuff to get involved with if you can muster up the social energy. If you are bored and shy, try whipping out your spellbook and playing a game of hangman or something. I always keep a deck of cards in my pouch so that I am never bored, so if you want to play some cribbage sometime, hit me up. As a last ditch effort, consider talking to the people next to you at your table. We all have things in common in the Realms, so starting a conversation about latest plot you’ve been a part of or the standings in the Stacked Deck tournament is a great way to stay in-character and enjoy yourself.

-Lani “Gwen” Jones


I relate to this question on a personal level. Feasts can be challenging for me, and it’s not because I don’t have an appreciation for them, but rather because I’m not super talkative, and generally speaking, I don’t gamble.

So what do I do at Feasts?

The answer is usually, business. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I was bored at a feast because of it. And it’s all made up business, whether it’s plot related, like say I need to get into an argument with Torolf about Ragnarok, or its about something to do with one of my knighthoods, or generally the Kingdom of Blackwood, I tend to find that I don’t have much time to sit around and eat at Feasts.

I’m just busy. That being said you might be saying to yourself that that’s all well and good, but maybe you’re not part of a Knighthood, or you’re not part of a kingdom, and you’re not involved in a plot. Well that’s fine, I’m sure your character has goals that they need to work on too. Like maybe you want to learn the secrets of Beast Runes, and you need to talk to someone about that in order to progress your understanding.

I, personally, find I’m a lot less shy about things when I’m working on a project or towards a goal. It works for me. And if you need help figuring out who to ask, come find me, and I’ll do my best to direct you.

-Keith “Saegan” Cronyn


I tend to follow Gwen on this one, in that more often than not you will find me in the kitchen at a feast - that’s where I have the most fun, helping to prep and cook all the delicious food and bring the feast-o-crat or EH’s culinary vision to life. In the kitchen, I find that I am usually never bored, as there’s always something that needs doing to help the event run smoothly. Not only do I find staffing in kitchens enjoyable, but it’s also one of the ways in which I can give back to the Realms community. If you’re a newer player (or even an older one) looking for something to do at a feast, reach out to the feast-o-crat or EH and offer your services! You never know when they need an extra pair of hands. Plus, this gives you a great behind-the-scenes look at how the food portion of feasts run.

If that’s not your thing, though, fear not. Most feasts will offer plenty of other things to do. Board games, bear pits, fighting tournaments, non-combat tournaments such as drawing or bardics, casinos and gambling (and gambling tourneys), auctions or raffles, side quests, carnival games, in-character shops and vendors - and of course, eating! Even if you’re not the most social person, you can still participate in all of these activities, as well as socialize with your friends at your table. So when in doubt, find an activity that’s going on that looks interesting and jump in!

-Jen “Areni” DeNardis-Rosa

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WIWTG Rhiassa Presents: The Gilded Lion Summer Festival IV

by Keith "Saegan" Cronyn

Why do I want to go to the Gilded Lion? Because it’s a Ragnarok event. If you don’t know, then you probably haven’t been paying attention to me. Which is fine, I’m happy to explain.

The Echoes of Ragnarok plot series has been amazing. For the last few years we have been moving through the Norlund, with the singular goal of trying to jump start Ragnarok. Well some of us. I, Keith, find this to be an interesting twist on the Quests we players are usually given. Wherein we must save the world, or worlds, by causing their destruction. That’s really not something that happens in a traditional story. But it fits with the Norse Lore. It creates a fun series of quests, that apply to the destructive nature of the realms in general, and generally it’s just an elegant way to make for an interesting story. 

I, Saegan, cannot fathom this. There simply must be a better way. You may or may not know my buddy Torolf, but he’s from these lands, and thus had dived right on into the backstory of Ragnarok being the good cause. With me following along behind him constantly arguing “Why though?” Taking this stance has not been easy, because it makes my interacting with the quests sometimes odd. For example, how does Saegan participate in something he finds to be morally...unlikely.  In Helheim, I opted to not take any honor from my dying foes, and I tried not to engage them in combat either, saying that I was just there to make sure my friends got out okay. Until I was forced to fight by the overwhelming undead facing us.  It has, for me, created interesting character interactions that have bled into many other events, and practices. And I love it. 

That’s that background, but what about Gilded Lion itself? Well, since I’ve been barking about the moral need to save the world from Ragnarok, this event is awesome because we see the leader of the other side of things. The leader of the team trying to prevent Ragnarok. Thorafin, Jarl of the Western Peninsula. As someone who has been defending the potential morality of this unknown leader for what seems like years, I can say yes, I am excited to put a face to the name. I’m excited to find out if he’ll betray my ideals and I’ll have to join Torolf, and smite him. I’m excited to be right that the worlds can be saved. I’m excited to have a new and different standpoint. 

I guess I’m just immersed. 

But what about you friends that haven’t fallen  into the thick of it yet, or haven’t taken a side? Honestly the Echoes of Ragnarok team is going to represent. They do this consistently, and unerringly, and if you haven’t given them the chance yet, have some faith and give it a shot. 

As an editor of the view, I get some perks. I get to ask event holders what secrets they want the world to know about their events, and they usually tell me. So I got a hint of the menu at this event, and I was promised ribs, and wings. I was promised a burrito bar. For dessert, I was promised the allure of ice cream. What does this mean for me? That I’m going to eat well. I like all those foods, and I know that Lani is in the kitchen doing what she loves. If for some reason you didn’t know, Lani is the champion in the kitchens at Leviathan, and I’m told the hero of many others.

Now this event promises to be light hearted and fun. Which might sound weird considering I’ve been gushing over world ending encounters, and war. But I mean, we all have different ideas of whats light hearted, and fun, right? Seriously though, this is supposed to be a festival atmosphere, with relevant content, and just generally a good time. 

So come play with me, I’ve literally been excited for this for months, and there are a few slots left to be had. 

 See you on the field,

 Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

No Better Life - Chapter 8

by Gerry "Gray" Chartier

“It’s definitely a way out onto the street.  I don’t know quite where, but it’s a way out.”

Swift’s report ended a tense, silent wait in the dark.  Gray conjured up a light as Charwindle nodded.  “Good,” she said, “Let’s get to the surface.”

They followed Swift up a half-collapsed flight of stairs into building that was mostly intact but uninhabited, with dried leaves piled up in the corners.  They crept out to a street barely less dark than the catacombs they’d left behind, dense black clouds having slid over the moon during their time underground.

“This doesn’t look like anything Gray or I saw,” Darvan said.

Gray sniffed the air and pointed into the wind.  “I smell water that way.  Probably the river.”

Charwindle turned to Swift.  “Scout ahead.  We’ll be just a few minutes behind you.”

Swift dashed off the way Gray pointed.  Charwindle turned to Gray.  “I think it best if you douse your light.”

Gray nodded and let the magic dissipate, the glowing orb in his hand vanishing.  His eyes strained to pick out ambient light.  After a few moments, he discerned a dull red glow in the opposite direction from where Swift went.

“Creator’s grace!” Kamilla gasped, “Is the city on fire?”

“It could just be the palace,” Eoin suggested.

Darvan stared at the crimson radiance.  “Even if it is, that is a big fire.  I don’t think there’s anything to keep it from spreading.”

“There’s nothing we can do about that now,” Charwindle stated, “We have to go.”

Charwindle led the way following Swift’s path.  They wound their way through empty streets, the residents either ignorant of the danger the conflagration presented, or hiding from the forces that had caused it.

They caught up with Swift at a shore lined with wooden docks of varying ages and states of repair, a plethora of small boats tied up to them.  The scout pointed downriver.  “The pier is down that way, about a quarter mile.  There’s a couple guys guarding it.”

“The Dock Rats?” Charwindle asked, “Or werekin?”

Swift shook his head.  “Didn’t get close enough to find out.”

A howl from the way they came truncated the discussion.  Charwindle glanced in its direction.  “We’re running out of time.  Everybody run, and form up twenty yards from the pier!”

It was a strain, but Gray managed to keep up, skidding to a halt behind the Mayerling soldiers just as they were forming a skirmish line, barely avoiding barreling into Soft.  Charwindle spared them only a brief look over her shoulder before lowering her visor.  “Mayerling, advance!”

Gray mused that the small squad was probably the most impressive martial display Broken Bridge had seen for as long as the ancient city had been called that name.  Darvan, Eoin, Charwindle, Swift, and Kamilla marched as one, faces concealed by their helmets, their heads pivoting back and forth as they scanned for threats.

The pair guarding the pier didn’t notice them at first.  They gazed at the lambent aura of the distant fire, anxiety writ large on their faces until one finally noticed the approaching soldiers.  He did a double take before slapping his companion on the arm, the pair of them casting wary eyes on the seven of them.

Charwindle held up her hand, her flankers halting at the gesture.  She stepped forward, shield at the ready, hand on the hilt of her sword.  “Have you seen anyone?  Has anyone tried to get to the ship?”

The pair looked at each other.  The shorter of the two looked back to Charwindle and shook his head.

Charwindle gave him a curt nod.  “Good.  You men should take yourselves elsewhere.  Trouble follows in our footsteps.”

As if in confirmation, another howl sounded, closer than the last one.

The two Dock Rats needed no more prodding, the pair scrambling away without further encouragements.  For once, the others followed Gray as the sorcerer took the lead, pounding down the dock to Stormseeker.  He leapt aboard, his footing sure as he sprang to the tiller.  “Cast off the lines!” he shouted.

Eoin began unwinding the line around the bollard to Stormseeker’s stern, but Kamilla cut the process short by slashing through the rope with her sword.  Darvan followed her example with the line securing the bow.  Gray did a quick head count, confirming everyone was aboard before gripping the tiller.  The oars slid out in response to Gray’s will, nudging the ship away from the pier before dipping into the water, rowing backwards and turning the prow to point downriver.

Thunder rumbled overhead as Stormseeker began drawing away from the pier.  Gray whipped his head around at the sound of a howl right behind them.  A pair of werewolves stood on the length of pier Stormseeker just vacated.  He thought they might try to leap the growing gap, but instead they pointed their snouts in the air, howling in unison.

Swift waved to the werewolves.  “Au revoir, fleabags!  Next time try being faster!”

More howls rang out from upstream.  A lot of howls.

“Buggery-fuck!” Gray cursed, “They’re guarding the river bend!”

Charwindle dropped her shield and began stringing her bow.  “Mayerling!  Make ready for action!”

The warriors readied themselves to shoot, nocking arrows and lining up on Stormseeker’s port side.  Gray steered starboard, to bring the ship as close to the far shore as he dared, earning him a nod of approval from Char.  He liked their chances in the coming engagement – until howls rang out from the far shore as well.

Kamilla whirled around, drawing her sword.  “Come face us, you abominations!” she cried, brandishing her blade in the air.

Gray hated to take a warrior away from battle, but he grabbed Kamilla’s shoulder and pulled her to the stern.

“Gray, what are you doing?” Kamilla demanded.

He pulled her hand to the tiller, willing Stormseeker to respond to the elf.  “I need you to take over here.”

She jerked her hand away.  “But I have to stand with my comrades!”

He yanked her hand right back.  “One more sword isn’t going to carry the day!”

She scowled at him, but nodded, so he turned and scrambled to the bow, jumping up onto the gunnels, hanging onto the carved stempost for stability.  He wasn’t able to see far in the moonless night, but a sudden flash of lightning enabled him to pick out swimmers in the water off both sides of the bow, at least a dozen – too many for him to take with his own powers.

Letting go of the stempost, Gray reached into his belt pouch for the flask he kept there with one hand, and into one of his pockets for a copper drinking cup.  Unstoppering the flask, he poured amber liquid into the cup.  He dropped the flask to the deck behind him and produced a heel of bread from his pocket. Holding his offerings out before him, he began to chant.

“To any gods who may give a damn – to my friends’ Creator, if you’re listening
 – we are beset and far from home.  In their time of need, I offer the sacrifice of bread and mead, and in return beg your divine aid!”

He dropped the bread into the water, pouring the mead after it.  At first, nothing seemed to happen.  Gray was about to curse the Creator for his indifference when lightning streaked across the clouds directly overhead – once, twice, over and over.  Understanding dawned on Gray.  Grinning, he tossed the cup over his shoulder and he reached to the clouds, pulling at the power churning within them.

Lightning blazed down from clouds – not a brief flash, but a continuous stream, writhing like a snake pinned at both ends.  Gray roared in ecstasy as his flesh began to blacken and burn, drawing more magic into him than he’d ever channeled before.  When he thought he’d be atomized if he took in one mote more, he thrust his arms out and released the power, letting it shoot from his fingertips, its tongues lashing out to the werewolves.

Caught in the water, there was nowhere the werewolves could hide, electricity searing them like moths drawn to flame.  They burst into fire despite being immersed, their fur vaporizing, their flesh charring, their forms twisting and writhing.  By the time the last of the lightning had streaked from Gray’s hands, there was little left of the werekin but cinders drifting in the current.

“Hah!” Gray croaked, smoke puffing from his scorched lungs, “Regenerate from that!”

The strength fled from Gray’s legs.  He toppled backwards towards the deck.  Blackness took him before he reached it.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ask the Editors - Summer Garb

I know it's going to be hot this summer and it's hard not to want to wear shorts or other hot-weather clothing in order to not be uncomfortable at events. How can I stay cool but not look like I'm disregarding garb standards?

I have one word for you: Linen. It is more expensive. You need to ask the maker if the linen is pre- shrunk/ what the cleaning procedure is. But I have worn black linen in 90+ degree weather with little additional issues.
You can also look into garb that have warm weather alterations. Examples are “wrap”/ “idiot” pants. They wrap around your legs and hold together rin boots, but because the sides are slit, you can ties them or change the wrap to be above the knee. There are also “skirt hikes” to tie up skits or even 
robes…. There are options. -Steven “Therian” Matuelwicz

My go to summer look is leggings and my armored cloak, which is made of lightweight cotton and usually makes the heat a little more bearable. I pair this look with sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water. Skirts or kilts are a popular summer choice and definitely allow for a nice breeze, but beware of ticks please, otherwise you might end up pairing your summer with some doxycycline and plenty of shade. Ultimately, looking for lightweight fabrics is a great idea and it’s certainly worth checking with your local merchant to put together a summer outfit that you can pull out when the weather is right. Try to avoid street clothes including sneakers and clearly anachronistic sandals and people shouldn’t give you too much grief. And ultimately, it helps me to remember that it is summer and I’ve chosen to spend the day sweating my butt off outside. Don’t stress about the sweat--you aren’t the only one that smells bad.
-Lani “Gwen” Jones

How can you dress for summer without disregarding garb? Personally, garb doesn’t make the game for me. I enjoy costumes, and I enjoy the people that put effort into them, but I don’t find it necessary for me to have fun. 
I just don’t. 
That being said, I can put in some effort here or there, and some garb can get hot. A medieval answer might be: Go naked. But I’m sure you can see how that may not be considered appropriate, depending on the event. So what can you do? 
There are other answers, lightweight fabrics, kilts, or skirts. But I say: “Be creative” and invent an outfit for your character. This is a fantasy setting after all, while we are generally medieval, I can’t put claim to know what the elves or orcs were wearing back then. So long as it reasonably looks the part, people will know you’re trying--and I think generally speaking, that’s what matters. 
Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

Realms vendors are always a good first choice when looking for period garb, and summer garb should be no exception. I’ve seen plenty of short sleeve tunics and chemises at many a merchant’s table, and these make a great base for a good summer outfit. Bottoms can be a bit more tricky - longer skirts can get in the way of fighting so you’d want to go with something shorter, and I haven’t seen a lot of shorts for sale (as these can be tricky to make) although you could probably score a pair of pantaloons or even a pair of wrap pants - with open sides, these allow for a good amount of ventilation. I personally wear leggings all summer even when it’s hot, as I’m always worried about bugs, ticks, and sunburns. But you’d need to find what works best for you. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you can most likely get away with wearing some street clothes - specifically bottoms - as long as you are careful and follow some ground rules. Absolutely NO logos of any kind is the cardinal rule in my opinion. Look for something in a dark or neutral solid color without any type of modern accent such as side stripes or other detail. Try to avoid mesh “basketball shorts” and other fabrics like these. You could even get a pair of cotton pants, cut them into shorts, and get a crafty friend to finish the leg holes with some bias tape to make them more period-looking. 
In terms of footwear, I’m going to say that it doesn’t bother me to see people wearing sneakers while keeping the rest of their garb as period/in-character as possible. As someone with foot and ankle problems, I need the support that sneakers give me while running and fighting over terrain that isn’t always flat, and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone else the same.
- Jennifer “Areni” DeNardis-Rosa

Thursday, June 14, 2018

What You Missed

A Journey to the First Tomb of Rathkeale, Party of Chaos: A Tale of Monsters, Mead, and Mayhem

By Cal “Lord Syruss” O’Leary

**Zip Splat Splort Portal Sound*** A Blue Portal appears out of nowhere in lands that resemble Rathkeale. We join Lord Syruss and his fellow Neden boys Priest Z, Sir Sarrix, Darkin, Jayce and Jean Baptiste.

“O Man…. I had no idea how claustrophobic I was!” Sarrix exclaimed.

Claustrophobic meaning fear of tight spaces or in this instance a certain Neden boys fear of being trapped in the Castle with the madman Sir Naj forcing everyone to party non-stop for the past….four days?...a week? Time seems to be foggy, it has been, to say, the least been a bit rough.

“Where are we exactly?” Darkin inquired after giving out a long exhausting stretch.

“Sir Naj thought Neden could use some training exercises, and thought it be a great weekend to lead you guys around, test out myself as Lord, and give him time to tidy up the castle ‘which is perfectly fine’ he kept saying,” I told the men with a mixture of excitement and concern in my voice.

Excitement for the task ahead, concern for the Naj antics being left behind.

“Ooooo a DUCK!” exclaimed Jean Baptiste as he proceeded to walk away from the rest of us.

“Should we take care of that?” Dresen inquired “I mean he just keeps on walking.”

Priest Z quickly interjected with an important announcement: “ I have an Important announcement!”

We all stared at him blankly. “Go onnnnnnn.” I drew out in a long sigh.

“I am going to meditate for about 24 hours to charge up my magic for tomorrow's battle. I received an image of Syruss being in trouble and possibly being sent to the All. The images are scattered and nonlinear. But because of the non-stop partying I have not had a chance to charge or prepare any spells. Plus I am getting grouchy, Papa needs his beauty sleep.” Priest Z lectured mysteriously and with that and a ball of green smoke he was gone.

We were soon met by Hayden or at least someone who resembles Hayden in every way, this was clearly a Shade. We in Neden have a good deal of knowledge when dealing with shades. You see one of our members is King Shadow, King of all the Shades, a long and very different story. But, the sum of it is we can tell if a Shade is trustworthy and for the most part this one was. He soon told us that this Friday night would be filled with combat and peril. Who doesn’t love a good peril? You see Peril flows through the Realms like a River to the Sea. Every other week there is some sort of Peril! New Villian on the rise; certain Peril. High Stakes Tournament, don’t forget your Peril, BRAND NEW BAKERY OPENING IN A CUTE SPOT guessed it, Peril.

We would be taking on plenty of undead coupled with finding these crystals to power this crazy portal thing. If they only ask Sir Naj I am sure he could have powered this up, heck if they gave me a crack at it I am sure Naj’s portal crash courses could have allowed me to figure something out. But no, they wanted Power Gems and Undead Massacres.

The night went swimmingly. Jayce was doing his things pickpocketing undead and getting us crystals all with our friend Karmha's help. Me and Darkin swirled around the fields like a Tornado of Destruction dolling out butt whoopins' galore.

*Smash crack!* Darkin swung his sword and marn with vigor. “Syruss I am slain!” he screamed magically as he fell to the ground. I was watching his body being mutilated from across the field and as I sprinted I knew I would be too late. As the final blow landed on his corpse I felt my own body betraying me. I felt my legs give way, my organs beginning to fail, the same magic that bound us in life would also bind us in death. As a Prophet of the All and Dark One's favorite, I am awarded certain privileges. One is watching souls escape the body and return to them all.

Darkin and my soul was being lifted over the battlefield. There I could see Dresden throwing his lightning bolt with newfound precision after practicing with Sir Naj and Sir Quayloth in the offseason. Jayce was working with a group of people to figure out how to defeat a Shade Sagean and Jean Baptiste was intensely following a duck.

Right before Darkin and I were taken to the warm embrace of the All where he would be consumed and I would take my rightful place by the Dark One's side we were transported elsewhere.

I lost track of Darkin but I found myself in front of the large banquet table and an even larger green deity of some sort. Well not one to be rude or to turn my nose up at a good spread I quickly sat myself down.

“Why helllloooooo Mortal!” the Giant Green Blob maniacally said in a long drawn out weird way. “My name is NURGLE, um yessss the Nurgle and I have been watching you.”

“I hope not between the hours of 11pm-1am, them's Syruss Hours,” I said with both shock and disdain.

“HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA ahem hee hee!” Nurgle laughed “No no my dear Demon Lord, I have been watching your Chaotic Exploits for quite some time. It is rather a Shame that the Dark One scooped up your soul so young, you have the potential to be a great agent of chaos.”

“Let’s not close any doors just yet big guy,” I said, noticeably intrigued. “I am open to lines of work, I mean you, me, the good gods, the bad gods, and everything in between goes to the All in the end. What’s a little Chaos in the meantime?”

Nurgle looked me over as almost peering into my very soul. He sniffed me with his long anteater-like nose, the hot breath from his gaping mouth smellimg of fish and stew.

“OK my Neden friend.” Nurgle started to speak as a creepy smile crept across his face. “Let’s see how much Raw Chaotic Potential you have, mayhaps you are the chosen one, mayhaps you’ll bring balance to us all or mayhaps you’ll be my next meal. Just go through these lands as carefree as you do life, wish for everything, expect anything and know that nothing is impossible!”

“Wait what was that about a meal?” I stumbled to ask…

“Never mind that...BYyyyyyyyYEEeeeeee.” His voice trailed off as a bright flash of light zapped me back into my body.

My eyes opened first, I hate when they are the first to come back. I could feel my organs reforming finally the lungs were done, a gasp of air could be heard across the field.

During our time as goo both Jayce and Nahdala were busy at work. Nahdala of Grimloch became I believe the First Official Chaos Scout. Chaos Scout Purple and she was on the job. With her boons in the Chaos land she gave Jayce the needed bump to take out Saegan with mundane means.

With the regeneration process complete both Darkin and I were back in our bodies and we raced to find the rest of the Neden crew. This led us back to where we began fighting off undead as the questing party made a hasty retreat to the tavern. I could only assume they had what we needed for the portal. When we arrived back to the tavern we were once again greeted by Shayden who said we would have to wait till tomorrow to attempt to navigate the perils of the portal….Always Perils.

We as a questing group decided a Night of Libations were in order to celebrate a successful night's work. We defeated a fake Saegan, we retrieved the power crystals, we solved the puzzles and we stomped some undead back into the ground. This was certainly a call for some spirits to raise our spirits.

The night went well with food and singing and friendship, stuff gets fuzzy and then that restless sleep sets in. I awoke to a Jayce ready and raring to go finish what we started.

“This is the situation boss,” Jayce stated as he started to make me aware of things I must have slept through.

Jayce had a game plan for what we needed to do. Basically this Shayden was going to run us through simulation trails after we visited his Rathkeale village.

It was at this village that I acquired Syruss's War Mule, the Realms most Stubborn Ass . Which came into play because several adventurers were trading away limbs which left them unable to heal them for quite some time.

During the time my good friend King Sir K (He is my good friend, I don’t know if those feelings reciprocate, but guess what people I like most of you.) He let me know we were not in the Rathkeale but rather ‘a’ Rathkeale, one of many in a Multiverse of worlds.

In one world you never took that assassination contract and lived a peaceful life, or perhaps you did take that contract and never messed up, or maybe even you were the one the contract was for!!! AHhhhh too scary. But you get it an infinite possible worlds means infinite possibilities of “What if."

This was no different from the time we went through a Slider portal and ended up in the world where Darklore took over. That might have been my favorite place ever and to this day regret leaving. So with no more fear of lingering consequences we decided to make King Sir K the Emperor of the Realms with me, Lord Sir Syruss, as his Warden of the North. And as luck would have it that just so happened to be the world we have landed in, that or the people of the village wanted new leadership so badly that we were met with zero resistance.

This whole wacky scheme somehow led to Sir K becoming a Chaos Scout. Chaos Scout Green was on the case. His name was fitting as I was now green with envy that he got access to Chaos powers and a super cool color to boot. I mean that big Green Guy told me to go nuts and let my inner Chaos run free. Well if I didn’t have access to the Chaos magic through normal means I would use the next best thing: MONEY. There was a vendor selling chaos potions for a random price depending on your luck and favor with the Chaos elements in the lands. This worked out well for me as I was this new Divining Rod of Chaos magic. Each challenge I won and potion sold at a song.

Chaos potion after Chaos potion I kept cracking those cold ones with the boys just to see the world burn….More accurately to see what they did...cause CHAOS.

We lost limbs, whole hours of time, we can heads, scales and special abilities, some lost the ability to talk and me personally lost my abilities to do Vaudeville for a year and a day...drats.

Thoril from Voraniss was having no luck with the Chaos gods and I could tell this was upsetting to him. He asked if he could borrow my innate luck to try and get one of those wacky potions for a song. I agreed to do it for a favor to be named later.

After we navigated the village, convinced them King Sir K was Emperor Sir K and I was Warden of the North, we proceeded to the Graveyard for reasons.

There Neden went right to work. Jayce was busy picking the locks ahead and disarming traps. Dresden was behind me and Darkin as we used our Bonded Blood and newfound ability to get each other back up upon our death to squash through the undead.

As much as I like to give Dresden a ration of caca from time to time, I have to admit he did this old Lord proud. He was on point with his healing, needing to be yelled at very little and more so he was upfront swinging a sword throwing magic and holding his own...Good job lad. Unlike that Sarrix who was nowhere to be seen and even more untimely that BatSyruss menace showed up. People often confuse me and him and I don’t know why, but, boom, proof is in the pudding we were right next to each other so there is no way we can be the same guy. Anyway that BatSyruss was being a nut with a scared sentient sword but together they managed to take down a lot of undead.

*Slash swing!* BatSyruss's sword cut through undead like insult cut through my fragile ego… BatSyruss was a force to be reckoned with just as deadly as they say, in fact without his help we surely would have joined the dead in the Cemetery of Rathkeale.

The day was getting long and the heat began to rise in the air like balloons escaping a careless child's hand. The heat was all around us and the undead feeling little of this effect took advantage and pressed us hard. The cemetery took longer than expected as Jinx and Jayce were working on this number puzzle that had no lie a million different combinations...probably.

Not only that but we were fighting with Sir Bones.. Well there were two Sir Bones and we were fighting one of them. Once we were sure who was the real Sir Bones and who was Sir Prosthetic we quickly put down the imposter….To which we may have been wrong.

Sir Nos took this opportunity to use a Chaos Boon to teleport A-BONES, not sure which one, to see the Gods of the Chaos pantheon. Kohrne was there being a jerk, Tzeentch was there, Arioch of course, Nurgle, and many more.

“How did you see all that if Nos disappeared and you were in the cemetery?” You may ask.

Because for a brief moment I too was there surrounding the circle with the rest of the gods. Just another piece of evidence that I am either A) a god myself or B) just that badass. Arioch who was in no mood to see me however quickly ported me away.

Back to the cemetery. The questing party had finally finished the puzzle and we got the real Bones back so win win. Bones and Jinx had merged as Chaos Scouts Bones I believe for the wacky fighting and Clone thing and Jinx because of her Chaotic Numbers skills probably. Either way to recap we have thus far:

Nhadala: Chaos Scout Purple

Sir K:  Chaos Scout Green

Sir Bones: Chaos Scout Black

Sir/Lady Jinx (she’s a knight ok whatever she picks): Chaos Scout Blue.

We went on to fight and fight and fight some more and when we thought we were outclassed a hero emerged: the fifth Chaos Scout. Aryss had shown up and was all the seriously she was full of Rage her fighting was flawless as she moved through the field striking down brainless undead. Her patterns were chaotic in nature and seemingly only controlled by her unbridled rage. Chaos Scout Red had taken the playing field.

But where does this leave me? I pondered, as I demanded Chaos boots from the gods, yes that’s right I wanted chaotic footwear. As the scouts were calling for their Boons and I was calling for my Boots a voice appeared in my head.

“Keep up the good work Chaos Scout Death..Or Silver...I am not sure if we were supposed to just do a color know what, whatever makes you happy champ.” Nurgle’s creepy voice could be heard. “Seek out Shayden as soon as you kill all these undead chumps."

After the cemetery was an exercise in defeating Shayden's top guard; a Shade version of my good friend Vuel. After a fun fight with Fuel, to which he was slain, I became the new Top Guard and the REALMS ask your parents what that means. Once that was said and done and I got my official belt buckle we were on our way.

More Undead plagued us and we thought we had reached our limit...we were wrong, so very wrong.

We would have traded what we were about to face with a hundred thousand more undead. We would have all rathered slept in a pile of Dresden's dirty laundry for a week or listened to a million more of Gumbo’s anecdotes than have to step up to the plate against this creature made from nightmares.

There before us in the field stood a thirty foot chaos creature, with millions of eyes and tentacles and razor-sharp teeth.

“If you have seen enough Teng Huanese puppet shows as I have you know this is going to get gross and awful real fast.” Sarrix’s voice could be heard. But again he was nowhere to be seen. BatSyruss, however, was busy hacking off limbs, but for every limb taken two more grew. Darkin had the bright idea to try and stab the creature's heart, which on paper is not a bad idea, but he attempted to get the heart from the inside. So boldly he stormed the creature, leaped into the air and was swallowed whole. I could feel our bodies being digested because of our link so I knew I didn't have much time. Something needed to be done quickly.

Thankfully as Sir K was striking down two fierce undead he called to his Fellow Chaos Scouts.

“Chaos Scouts ASSEMBLE!” Sir K Bellowed.

Out of nowhere and with newfound acrobatics Chaos Scouts came flying and flipping through the air all landing side by side.

“Chaos Scout Purple reporting for duty,” Nhadala said as she landed a triple backflip from out of nowhere.

“Chaos Scout Black!” Sir Bones said flying from the shadows.

“Chaos Scout Blue here and ready to fight!” shouted Jinx and she back-handspringed into action.

“Chaos Scout Red!” Aryss gleamed as she slaughtered one last undead for show

“Chaos Scout Green ready to finish this Foe!” Sir K echoed as his fellow Scouts landed by his side ready to fight.

“And Syruss for some reason” I stated as I was once again magically transported where I was needed most.

With our combined power a massive white lightning-like energy started to form all around us. As they all put their wands in the air and me my club the energy left our body and struck the beast.

*Crack KABOOM!* The energy strike was immense and a large screech could be heard from our foe. The creature tried to muster a few more steps at us, maybe out of defiance, maybe muscles refusing to die, but then suddenly and all at once the creature slumped to the ground.

“Congratulations my five Chaos Scouts….Erhem, six Chaos Scouts because of Syruss for some reason.” A gurgled disembodied voice could be heard. “ON to the next task.”

“We did it fellow scouts!” I exclaimed in joy to my compatriots.

“GOD DAMMIT” Sarrix's voice could once more be heard in the distance.

We were quickly escorted by Shayden to the next encounter. A Capture the Flag with a twist where all the undead would attack the Flag Carrier. After a small mishap where Darkin took the Flag for about a half a day in the wrong direction we were then back on track.

Sir Nos had a brilliant plan to use the flag as a trap luring Undead in one at a time and it worked. We were quickly through that room and onto the next encounter.

One last push and one last skirmish with undead. Jayce was busy at work with Karhma utilizing this magic lasso we got to finish the puzzle and open this mysterious tomb.

While Nhadala and I both used one more Chaos boon to bypass the highly enhanced CoP security. The Chaos gods attempted to pay her with coin and me with her personal Scout Wand of Justice to which I refused...she did not as her pockets were soon lined with chaotic gold.

The Mummy sprang into action and we went to work on this undead. It was super strong however and dispatched most of the Chaos Scouts. Luckily I had the power of the BAMF buckle and could bypass him. I grabbed one of his loose wrappings and gave Jayce and Dresden a wink and a nod. They knew what to do, quickly Dresden threw a lightning bolt at the foe *NO EFFECT* then Jayce jump in the air and slapped the taste out of the mummies mouth. Like a really good open hand slap-a-rooski. This worked! This enraged the mummy as it chased them around the field not noticing me firming anchored to the ground grasping at one of its wraps.

Smaller and smaller the creature got till it was no bigger than Darkin’s boot line and with a sinister grin, Darkin brought down that boot and ended the threat.

“Congratulations you guys have won…” Shayden was cut short by a violent explosion. Parts of him went flying everywhere and bits of his shade went in my mouth, I mean come on I was standing right there mouth open Chaos Gods what the hell.

“What the, where the, why am I here..Syruss?” The real Hayden was now there confused and pantless.

Sir K and I explained the situation as we walked Hayden back to the small keep on the hill.

“Well we are supposed to be in Rathkeale for the party I am throwing,” Hayden said frantically and confused.

“I got that covered.” I stated and I pushed my Naj Position System Button summoning a portal to Rathkeale.

There we were met by tons of our friends missing from the adventure. Mathies was there, and Zarine and Kira, heck Shandar brought tons of his Crew, Saegan was there and so wasn’t a few more friendly faces. Heck we even ran back into Jean Baptiste who was covered in way more blood than a duck could have produced.

We celebrated the weekend's victory with a feast of epic proportions. There was pulled pork and Mac and Cheese, meatball subs and much much more.

During court, Neden was given an opportunity to speak to which I thanked Hayden for the amazing time and presented our Petitioner Darkin with his N making him a full member of Neden.

Hayden gave a title to Adam so that he may govern Rathkeale in his absence.

After court the true party began. Neden dominated Beruit almost completely uncontested, the songs and poetry session was amazing, and we sang and drank the night away.

In the morning as we were sobering up Naj started kidnapping us back to Neden castle one by one so we can continue this insane drinking conquest he has us on...I wonder if he is trying to distract us from something.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

No Better Life - Chapter 7

by Gerry "Gray" Chartier
[Editor's note: click to read Chapter 1; Chapter 2; Chapter 3; Chapter 4; Chapter 5; Chapter 6]

Gray slogged after Eoin as he trotted down corridor after corridor. the younger man barely hesitated every time they hit an intersection, sometimes running straight through, other times turning His choices seemed random to Gray, but the sorcerer was fairly certain they never wound up in the same place twice.

“Hey, Gray,” Eoin asked over his shoulder, “What would you have done if Fessler hadn’t gotten that door open and we had to fight it out?”

“I was hoping to get taken by the berserker rage,” Gray panted, “What was your plan?”

A distant howl drifted to them from the way they’d come.  Both of them stopped and stared down the dark corridors.

“Think they’re following us?” Eoin asked.

Gray gave him a shove forward.  “Let’s not stick around to find out.”

They ran down more corridors, an occasional howl keeping them from slacking their pace.  Despite a pace the sorcerer could barely sustain, the howls gradually got louder and more frequent.

“That’s definitely closer!” Eoin said.

Gray nodded.  “I’m slowing you down.  Get going on your own.  I’ll hold them off.”

“No one but you can sail your ship,” Eoin protested.

“Stormseeker won’t do anyone a lick of good anyway if no one gets out of here,” Gray retorted, “You’re faster than me, so you’re the one who gets to bring Fessler’s notes to Charwindle.”

Anguish was plain on Eoin’s face.  “You’re going to buy me time with your life?”

Gray pulled a length of plain white rope from his pocket and arranged it in a circle on the stone floor.  “Believe me boy, I’m not going to sell it cheap.”  He willed another light into being and handed it to the younger man. “Now take this and skedaddle!”

Eoin hesitated, but took the orb of green light and resumed running, disappearing in moments now that he didn’t have to hold back so Gray could keep up.  The sorcerer watched the direction he went till he could no longer make out the light, then turned to face the directions of the howls.

“By my will, I empower this circle versus magic.”

Energy flowed through Gray into the circle of rope, a barrier springing forth from floor to ceiling.  He stepped into it and waited.

He had to wait long enough to regret not putting the circle next to the wall so he could lean against it, but the howls grew louder, and eventually he could hear breathing just outside the illumination his light was shedding.

He began drawing energy into himself.  “Come for a taste of what your packmates got?”

“Already took your best shot, sorcerer,” came the reply, “We regenerated from it.”

“If that’s the case, step out into the light,” Gray said, “I’ll hit you again, make your hair stick out all funny.  I’m sure it’ll look hysterical.”

Silence, for a moment.  “Where’s your friend?”

Gray glanced back, hoping Eoin found the others alive and safe.  “Got tired of running.  Sent him ahead.  Where’s Karayan?”

“She followed the elf,” the voice replied, “I volunteered to track you to get some payback.  Now, here you are!”

Gray beckoned to the unseen werewolf.  “Well, come on and get it then.”

“I’m not the one cowering in a circle of protection,” the voice taunted.

“I’m not the one hiding in the shadows,” Gray retorted.

“Your circle doesn’t block the corridor, Gray,” the voice pointed out, “You can’t stop us all from getting by.”

Gray grinned.  “Maybe.  But I can make damned sure the first one of you who tries dies in the attempt.”  He slid his silver dagger an inch out of its sheathe, letting the blade gleam in his light.  “Whatever I cut off with this isn’t growing back.”  He slid the dagger back down into its sheathe.  “So, how about it?  Who wants to go first?”

There was silence, then shuffling, then growling and snarling like a pack of dogs fighting over a carcass.  Then, bipedal lupine figures began stepping into the light, two abreast, then another two behind them.  Killer scrambled up to his shoulder, screaming in rage.

When Gray didn’t immediately let loose, they bounded forward, rushing him as a pack.  Gray held back until the four of them were about to reach him before cutting loose.  Power surged from him through his outstretched arms, the jagged bolt of lightning illuminating the dark corridor like a moment of pure sunlight.  It lanced through the two werewolves on the left, scorching fur and searing flesh, sending them hurtling back down the corridor.

The next werewolf tried to squeeze between Gray’s circle and the stone wall on the right.  Gray surprised him by stepping out of the circle and shoving his head into it, the werewolf’s skull bouncing off it like it was solid rock.  Killer leapt onto it, latching onto its ear and savaging with his teeth.  It staggered back, stunned, but the one behind it took its place, its claws lashing out at Gray’s torso.

Gray’s ensorcelled cloak held, turning razor-sharp claws like a breastplate.  The sorcerer danced back into his circle, drawing his silvered dagger and launching a ball of scintillating energy at the werewolf’s face.  It raised its arm, the magic missile burning into its limb instead of its face.  Gray lashed out with his dagger, drawing blood across the werewolf’s midsection, but only a superficial cut, not an incapacitating wound.

There was a surge of magic, and Gray’s circle of protection abruptly faded.  A grinning man stepped into the light.  “His circle is down!” he shouted, “Get him now!”

The two werewolves exchanged a look before pouncing as one, the one with Killer still latched onto its ear.  Gray stepped into the attack of Killer’s foe, feigning a shot to the throat before launching a magic missile at its groin.  Its snarl became an agonized yelp, and it dropped to its knees, clutching ruined genitals.

Gray plunged his blade into the crippled werewolf’s throat, the backlash energy of its death washing over his personal wards.  Killer bounded onto its fallen form, screeching in triumph.

Howling in rage, its partner lashed out, its claws slashing through the sorcerer’s upper arm. Gray cried out, clutching his crippled limb to his chest, but slashed with his dagger, the blade cutting deep into his assailant’s forearm.  Its cry was almost human, and it recoiled from the deadly silver in Gray’s good hand.

Its hesitation gave Gray enough time to rattle off his healing chant, but as he restored his limb, he saw the two werewolves he’d struck with his lightning stir and begin to rise again, and the abjurer who’d disrupted his circle begin to transform.

He began drawing in the power he would need to once again channel lightning, but his current opponent pressed his attack, forcing him to launch less powerful magic missiles.  The werewolf ripped one apart with its claws in midair, but Gray managed to sneak another past his defense and hit a leg.  The werewolf stumbled back, only to be joined by three more of his kin.

“Gray!  Hit the deck!”

Gray didn’t hesitate a moment, dropping belly-first, a flock of arrows whistling over him before he’d even hit the floor.  In the narrow corridor, the projectiles couldn’t fail to hit, the flight of arrows staggering the werewolves back.

As they tried to turn and retreat, the sorcerer blasted the leg out from under one, jumping on top of it as it fell and driving his dagger between its ribs from behind.  The fight went out of the werewolf when his blade punctured its lung.  Gray withdrew it and stabbed it through the back of its neck, right at the base of its skull.

He barely noticed the backlash deflected by his wards, wrenching his blade out of werewolf’s spine with a snarl barely less animalistic than the werewolves’.  He rose to his feet, paying no heed to the arrows whistling past him as he advanced at their retreating forms, drawing power into him, Killer dashing up to his shoulder as he stalked forward.

A pair of arms wrapped around him from behind.  He shrugged them off, lashing out with lightning at the fleeing werewolves.  The arms returned, joined by another pair, holding him back from pursuing the shapeshifters into the darkness.

“Gray, no!” Eoin cried, “We don’t have time for this!”

“They’re all over the place, Gray!” Darvan shouted, “We have to go!”

Gray turned to Eoin, then Darvan, wrestling his anger back under control.  He relaxed in their grip and nodded.  Killer screeched in disappointment, but the pair released him.

Eoin clapped Gray’s shoulder.  “You weren’t joking about the berserker rage, were you?”

Gray shook his head.  “I wasn’t berserk, just angry.”

Charwindle stepped into the light.  “I pray we never see what occasions your frenzy then.  Now, if you would like to join us, we’re leaving these catacombs.”

Gray rested his right hand over his heart.  “Thank you for coming back for me.”

Charwindle grinned.  “Repay me by getting us safely home.”

Friday, June 8, 2018

10 Questions with an EH

with Jason "Aeston" Rosa

1. What events have you previously thrown? (include years) 

Whew, that’s going to be a list. In brief, I’ve been throwing Feast of the Leviathan yearly since 1999. I’ve been running Queen of Hearts since the mid 2000’s. The What Lurks Beneath dungeon crawl series lasted from 2009-2013. The Echoes of Ragnarok series started in 2015 and has run at a couple events per year since, including the Gilded Lion Summer Festival and our yearly dungeon crawl. And of course a slew of other random events at a rate of one or two a year stretching back to the early 2000’s. I feel like it’s important to point out that throwing an event is not a task that anyone can undertake alone with any consistent success, so when I talk about events I have thrown, really I’ve just been a cog in the machine for the great majority of them. Of course for over a decade now that machine has been compromised of the men and women of Rhiassa, so I feel like I’ll be answering many of these questions simply as a representative of that eventholding team more than for myself.

In the kitchen at Feast of the Leviathan II

2.  What led you to start throwing events? 

I had a lot of great mentors when I started playing Realms and among them was Susan Dunphy, Lady Cassia of Chimeron, who I apprenticed to when I was a newbie. She was one of the most prominent feastocrats of the era and after working with her in the Realms kitchens for the greater part of a year, I really wanted to try my hand at throwing my own feast event. Thus, Leviathan was born back in ‘99. About a year later, Ian Pushee and I worked together to throw our first questing event, a one-shot dungeon crawl at the WPI gym called Tale Eternal, largely inspired by similar events thrown by Jared Buzby, McKrye of Chimeron. It’s just been a steady march since then.

3.  What would you like your events to be known for?

That very much depends on the type of event it is because, of course, what you expect out of a day at Leviathan is very much different than the goals of throwing a dungeon crawl. But ultimately, I want all of the patrons of Rhiassa events to know that our group spared no expense, be it cost, time, or effort, to try and make that event the best it could possibly be. Certainly I can’t claim that we always are correct about everything we try or that we don’t make mistakes that sometimes affect the outcomes of what we attempt, but it's important to me that everyone knows we are always trying our hardest to do right by the people who trust us to entertain them for the day or weekend.

The first appearance of the goblins and trolls at What Lurks Beneath.

4.  What aspects of event holding do you consider most challenging? 

At this point, I would say the need to always outdo ourselves from the previous years. I think there is a very powerful desire once you are successful at throwing events to fall back to repeating the same formula repeatedly because you know that it works. But I’ve found that you can only really get away with that for a couple of years before event-goers start to lose their desire to keep participating with the same fervor they might have originally. I’ve always pushed us as an event staff to think bigger than we did the previous year, to not be afraid to disregard or change things, even if they have been successful, and to push ourselves to continuously higher standards with what we present. My event throwing philosophy is “evolve or die” and the pressure to always pursue that can be a challenge.

5.  Tell us about an event moment you are particularly proud of? 

There are so many of them. What stands out in my mind right now is last year’s Queen of Hearts. I’ve spoken and written a lot about it since then but it was undoubtedly the most successful iteration of that event I have ever been a part of. I was just so incredibly proud of the community for coming together and working together to keep the right attitude all weekend, to focus on having fun with each other above all else, and happily embracing all of the strange and silly things we asked them to do. I think last year will always resonate with me as what the spirit of that event is supposed to be about.

Reading the rules at Queen of Hearts XXII.

6.  Tell us about something that went wrong and what you learned from it? 

I love this question because I think far too often younger players and starting eventholders look at successful events and believe that experienced groups just magically have the ability to make everything come together perfectly. And, unfortunately, people sometimes go to events that have some flaws and judge them very harshly, not even always giving appropriate leeway to new staffs. Every success you see in this community, and in life, is built on a mountain of failures, and the more experienced among us have gotten that experience primarily through learning how things went wrong.

For my own part I remember a huge failure of an event I attempted at Abe’s land back in the mid-2000s. It was a quest that was actually a thin veneer over a mechanic that was essentially a ongoing site-wide tournament between the PCs and the NPCs. I ended up having a group of NPCs that were not only amazing combatants but also quite proficient at strategy and exploiting flaws (of which there were certainly many) in my rules system. The concept failed almost as quickly as it did spectacularly and I was on my heels for the rest of the day just making things up to switch to a more traditional format. Since then I’ve still never shied away from experimental mechanics or thinking outside of the box, but I sure as heck learned to always be well prepared with back-up plans in case things don’t happen in reality the way they did in my head.

7.  What do you think makes an event site “good” and how have you gone about locating sites? 

Again, this is very dependant on the type of event that you want to throw because of course the needs of the event are going to dictate what makes a site adequate. If I had to pick something universal, I would say cost. I know that a lot of event staffs struggle with their budgets at times because really great sites that have everything you could ever need are routinely very very expensive, and they’ve only gotten more costly as our hobby has become more mainstream. The sites we employ most often as a community have continued to rise in price over time, largely because there is more and more demand for their use.

The panacea for this, something that I’ve always strived to do, is to not be afraid to reach out to new sites and to not be afraid to compromise a little in order to bring costs down. Back in the day I remember flipping through the yellow pages calling every Knights of Columbus and American Legion in a fifty mile radius and making a dozen site visits to find the right intersection between cost and needs. The first six Leviathans were on Sundays because the hall I found gave me a $200 discount for that less-rented day. More recently, when we wanted to launch the Gilded Lion Summer Festival, I called around to every site with a pavillion that I could find and happened to stumble upon one that was run by a municipality. This was very fortunate because that happened to make it less expensive than you would expect, and also particularly well maintained. Overall the point is this; if you’re willing to invest the time and effort into finding a site you’ll be able to find something that meets your needs and doesn’t cost a ton. And as an added bonus, new sites tend to draw people to an event based on interest in them, alone.

The Jomsvikings appear at the Gilded Lion Summer Festival

8.  Have you managed to maintain a balanced budget? Any advice for other event holders on doing that? 

The advice above about finding the right site is certainly a component of this. Honestly, though, this is somewhat a struggle for our staff. Because our missions involve always outdoing ourselves from previous years, we tend to run into the red, at least a little bit. There are, however, a lot of things that we do to mitigate this trend as much as we can, so I will dispense that as advice to others.

Making things rather than buying them is a time-honored strategy that we certainly make use of. The weeks before our events are frequently punctuated by crafting days where we are sewing or glueing together things that otherwise might cost quite a bit more if we were to buy them new.
Having built up a large cache of reusable supplies also brings the cost of our events down a lot and if you’re new to eventholding I encourage you to reach out to the community to ask what you can borrow before you start buying or making things yourselves. There are also a lot of places to get lower-cost event props and supplies than you might expect. Rather than buy fabric at expensive craft stores, ask around about discount fabric stores in your area that sell remnants for cheap. there are a couple in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Lots of local dumps and transfer stations have swap-shops where you can (if you’re a citizen of the town) just take things for free. Goodwill and Salvation Army stores also have a wealth of inexpensive treasures to root through. Finally, I cannot overestimate the utility of two chains, Restaurant Depot and Harbor Freight. If you have them local to you, make use of them.

9.  What staff positions do you feel are essential to running your events and what do you do to help empower and support them? 

Please see below.

10.  What advice do you have for other Event Holders? 

I’m going to answer these two questions together because they really amount to the same thing. I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a team of individuals who are each informed, coordinated, and empowered to make your event run properly. No matter what kind of event it is, in the end it can be dissected into a number of interwoven tasks, each of which can be delegated to someone who understands how they work into the larger picture.

Again this is something that is crucially dependant on the type of event it is, so I can only give a an example of how we’ve made it work for us.

Feast of the Leviathan is obviously a herculean task with it’s size and its many working parts. In order to manage it all, the event is split into tasks defined as “back of the house” and “front of the house”, respectively dealing with work in the kitchen or the entertainment that goes on throughout the day. Each half of the event has a different part of the team responsible for the tasks therein. The feastocrat, for example, is obviously managing the preparation of the food and overall running the kitchen but at the same time there is an individual responsible for coordinating the servants, an individual responsible for making sure dishes are returned and cleaned, a person who is making sure drinks stay full and available, just to name a few tasks. Each of these jobs is managed individually but they are also highly dependant on each other and constantly coordinate with one another to make sure everyone has what they need. At the same time the back of the house is constantly communicating with the front of the house. The entertainment side of the event has individuals responsible for running registration, the casino, the carnival, questing, tournaments, when announcements and court take place, and more, but all of that must be interwoven with when the food is ready to be served and when we’d like people to be able to sit and enjoy their meals.Again, people have their individual jobs but they are always dependant on one another and require constant communication and coordination so everyone can succeed.

Ultimately before you can start to build an event that is going to be successful, you need to build a team that can function in that manner. It’s vital to gather together like-minded individuals who have the ability to work together without conflict, trust one another, and all be invested in your mutual success. Even years before you throw your first event you can start finding these people, collaborating on ideas, and inspiring one another to create something new. I can’t think of a single thing that your success will depend on more than the friends you will surround yourself with.

Many Rhiassans of the past and present (drawing by Alexa Lecko)

11.  What can we look forward to seeing from you in the foreseeable future?

As long as the community allows us to, I can promise we will keep bringing our best efforts to Feast of the Leviathan and Queen of Hearts each year. Additionally, I know that the Echoes of Ragnarok series has a couple years left in it as we finish telling that story. Beyond that, I cannot guess what we will create but I can guarantee we will always be here and always commit ourselves to hosting things that the Realms will enjoy.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

No Better Life - Chapter 6

by Gerry "Gray" Chartier
[Editor's note: click to read Chapter 1; Chapter 2; Chapter 3; Chapter 4; Chapter 5]

Gray regained consciousness to a throbbing head and a screaming squirrel.

He seemed to be lying on a bed of uneven rocks, and Killer was next to his head, screeching with rage.  He opened his eyes to see what infuriated the squirrel so.  Torchlight stabbed through to the back of his skull.  He shut them again and raised his hand to block it.

“I wanted to check on you, but I think the squirrel would have attacked me if I’d come any closer.”

Gray dropped his hands and opened his eyes just a crack, craning his head backward and squinting into the light.  Upside down Fessler stood a few feet away, holding a makeshift torch in one hand, the other hanging limp by his side, the sleeve torn and bloody.

“Oh yes, he would have attacked you,” Gray confirmed, “Killer, quiet down.  Let him help.”

Killer uttered one more warning screech and bounded away, keeping an eye on the elf, but subsisting to squeaky grumbling.  Gray tried to get up off the wreckage he was on top of, but discovered he couldn’t move his left leg.  He looked down, saw he was more-or-less half under a massive mound of rubble.

“I’m stuck,” he reported, “Any ideas?”

Fessler squatted down and held the torch close to the rubble.  “I might be able to lever this up enough for you to wriggle out, but I injured my arm in the fall.”

Gray beckoned him closer.  “That, I can take care of.”  He stretched his hand out to touch Fessler’s injured arm.

“Keeper of the Night I call, for future bright or dim,
I your servant need your aid, restore this injured limb.”

Power flowed through Gray’s finger, shaped by his incantation.  Bone knit and muscle mended, the arm becoming whole once more.

Smiling, Fessler flexed his arm.  “Thank you, that’s much better.  Now, let me…ah!”  He picked up a length of wooden beam and jammed it under the collapsed masonry, levering it up.  Gray doubted the slender academic would be able to so much as budge the tons of rubble trapping him, but after a couple tries, Fessler found a point where he was just able to shift it up enough for the sorcerer to slip free.

The elf helped Gray to his feet, almost lifting him off the floor entirely on his own.  “Is your leg all right?”

Gray nodded.  “I think so.  It was just stuck.  You all right?”

Fessler grinned.  “My back would very much like to not do that again, but otherwise yes.”

Gray glanced around.  “You find any of the others?”

Fessler shook his head.  “You were the first I located.”

Gray summoned light to his hand and held it aloft.  They were in a large chamber that seemed to be bisected by the collapse, the rubble walling off one side completely.  He and Fessler searched, but it was Killer who found someone else, squeaking and chirping to summon him to his find – a hand sticking out from under a mound of broken rocks and timbers, a Mayerling bracer adorning the forearm.

Gray attacked the pile of rubble, heaving rocks away left and right.  Fessler joined him, the two of them eventually uncovering Eoin’s limp form.

“Is he alive?” Fessler asked.

Gray felt for the artery in Eoin’s neck, the younger man’s pulse beating strong under his fingertips.  “He is,” he replied with relief, “He’s just out.”

Killer sprang onto Eoin’s chest and shrieked.

Eoin’s eyes popped open, and he sprang up to a sitting position with a gasp.  “Ahh! What happened!  Where are we!”

Gray pulled Eoin to his feet.  “The palace collapsed on us.  I don’t know where we are now.”

“The catacombs under the city,” Fessler said, “This is where I was leading you.  My way would have taken a little longer.”

Eoin looked at Gray, then at Fessler, then back to Gray.  “Is there anybody else?”

A chill gripped Gray’s heart as he jerked a thumb at the wall of rubble.  “Best case, they’re on the other side of that.  Worst case…”

Fessler patted Gray’s shoulder.  “There’s no call to despair as yet.  The catacombs have multiple levels.  They could be higher up or further down.”

Eoin’s jaw set.  “We have to find them!”  He snatched the torch out of Fessler’s hand and strode past the surprised elf, away from the debris and out a door in the far wall.

Gray shared a look with Fessler.  “Kids these days,” the sorcerer quipped.

“I remember being that young,” Fessler observed, “Come on, we should catch up to him before we lose him, too.”

They found Eoin waiting impatiently at an intersection, his torchlight disappearing into the darkness of the vaulted ceilings of the passages.  Fessler nodded to the left, and Eoin dashed ahead, leaving Fessler and Gray following at a more restrained pace.

“So, professor,” Gray said, “You must be pretty committed to knowledge if you…um…portalled down to further your research.”

Fessler glanced at Gray.  “My interest is not strictly academic.  The empire is overrun by the Nosferatu and their minions, and prince’s return is our only hope of driving them out again.”

“And you thought you might find him here?” Gray asked.

“I thought I might find where he was going,” Fessler replied.

“And did you?” Gray pressed as they caught up with Eoin at the next intersection.

Before Fessler could reply, a lupine howl reverberated from the passageway ahead of them.  A heartbeat later, another responded from the right hallway.

“I guess we’re going left!” Fessler said, cutting ahead of Eoin and trotting down the howl-free passageway.

They jogged to the next intersection, finding two passages blocked by the collapse, so they took the only one still open to them, turning them right, with the howls growing louder behind them.  At a T-intersection, the way to the right was blocked by debris, forcing them to turn left as they began to be able to hear the claws of their pursuers clicking on the stone floor.

Their progress was halted by a stone door with ornate carvings.  Set into the door was a panel with eight tiles set with glyphs set in them and an empty space where it looked as though a ninth were missing.

Fessler slipped past Gray and Eoin, examining the door.  “I can open this, but it will take a few minutes.”

A snarl behind them announced they didn’t have minutes.  Gray whipped around, launching magic from his hands as he did so.  His missiles struck the werewolf in the chest and face, sending it reeling back around the corner with a yelp.

Eoin drew his bastard sword, the blade gleaming in the viridescent glow of Gray’s magical light.  Gray pulled power into himself, little tongues of witchfire cascading off him as he readied his lightning to strike.  “The next whatever coming around that corner is going to have a very bad day,” he shouted.

“It doesn’t have to be that way, Gray,” a female voice called back, “We’re here for the elf, and we’ll take the others from our plane while we’re at it, but you and is Eoin, isn’t it?  You two don’t have to be part of our conflict.”

Gray glanced over his shoulder at Fessler, whose whole attention was on sliding the tiles in the panel into different configurations.  “So, you know our names.  What’s yours?” he called back down the hallway.

“You can call me Karayan,” the voice replied, “I’d actually like us to be friends, Gray.  You can walk away, or even join us.  I think you’ll like what we have to offer you.  I know you won’t like what happens if you stand against us.”

Anger flared up from deep in Gray’s chest.  “Karayan, don’t try to tempt me or threaten me.  My soul is thunder, my heart is steel.  I know my spirit’s destination when I pass beyond.  Where’s yours going?”

Karayan’s sigh was loud enough to reach them.  “Eoin, I don’t suppose you want to be rational?”

Eoin dropped into a loose fighting stance.  “I may not be as poetic as Gray, but what he said goes for me, too.”

“So be it.” Karayan declared.

A half-human, half-lupine form bounded around the corner.  A heartbeat later, another followed.  The first was close enough for Gray to smell his fetid breath when the sorcerer let loose.  The lightning launched from Gray’s hand arced into the first werewolf, sending him flying back into the second, the entangled pair of them hurtling to the end of the hall, slamming into the stone hard enough to crack it.

Gray drew his silvered dagger in preparation for charging forward, but a strong hand gripped his shoulder and yanked him back.  He staggered backwards through the now-open door, Eoin and Fessler throwing their shoulders against it as soon as he was across the threshold, slamming the stone portal shut again.

“It’ll take them a while to get through that,” Fessler said, “but not forever.  We should hurry.”

Gray sheathed his dagger.  “No argument from me.  Let’s go.”

The trio hurried down the hallway as fast as Gray could run, stopping when it came out into a corridor stretching both left and right.

Fessler turned to Gray and Eoin.  “The werewolves have my scent now.  If we split up, they may follow me and not you.”  He held out his satchel.  “Take this.  It has my journal, my notes, and -”

“Forget it,” Gray cut him off, “My friends need to know what you know if they’re ever going to find their prince.”

Fessler’s face creased with a frown of exasperation.  “That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  Prince Rudolf didn’t come here on a whim.  He came seeking the treasure his ancestors left here, because in it there’s a weapon he can use to drive the Nosferatu and their darkspawn minions out of the empire.  If you find the treasure, you’ll find the prince, and everything I know about the treasure is in my notes!”

Gray scowled, but sighed in acquiescence.  “All right.  Give the bag to Acorn.  He’s faster.”

Fessler passed the satchel to Eoin, who slung it over his shoulder.  “What about you?” the younger man demanded, “I didn’t come all this way just to see you go to your death!”

Fessler smiled a knowing smile.  “Oh, I’m a little more formidable than I let on.  You would be doing me a favor if you loaned me a weapon, though.”

Eoin thought for a moment, then drew his silvered dagger, flipping it in his hand to offer it to the elf hilt-first.  “Will this do?”

Fessler nodded.  “Perfect.  I’ll get it back to you.  Now hurry, friends!  It’s vital that information get to your captain!”

Not waiting for a reply, Fessler turned and sprinted to the right.  Gray watched him disappear into the darkness, then followed Eoin as he ran down the corridor to the left.