Friday, February 23, 2018

Spotlight On... The Stacked Deck


The Stacked Deck


It’s actually been about a decade since casinos and gambling have made an incredible resurgence in the Realms. So much has been their impact that the entire currency system of the game received a much needed boost and from the long perspective we have as the Spotlighters we can assert that the economy of the game has never seemed so healthy. So first and foremost, all of the casino owners and dealers and those who devote time to gambling are all worthy of some part of the praise because all of you together have brought about the age of the casino and the age of the casino has enriched our game world considerably.

Specifically, however, we would like to take a moment to shine our spotlight on the efforts of the Stacked Deck. As most of you are aware, the Stacked Deck is a series of ranked poker tournaments wherein the winners receive points towards competing in a final tournament at the very beginning of the calendar year. Having just concluded the third season of this tournament play, having expanded the final event to larger than ever, and being poised to continue their success while refining their administrative tools, we feel that the group of individuals who make the Stacked Deck function are worthy of recognition.

If you’ve seen a Stacked Deck table at any of the many events that they occur at, you know that playing in one is an endeavor that no one takes lightly. At some events almost a score of people gather around to compete and the intensity surrounding their play draws in many people around them. It’s hard not to be interested in something taken so seriously by so many people. And while being a true master at poker is something that takes years of experience, another amazing thing about the Stacked Deck is that even a younger, less experienced player can be just as involved and also decently competitive with the titans of gambling that they might find themselves amongst.

Our community stands apart from other LARPs in a lot of ways, and one of the most amazing ways is how pretty much any members of the Realms can create content that draws people further in. Despite not being event holders at many events where Stacked Deck tables appear, the originators of this idea have designed something that has deepened the interest and intrigue of our game world in a subtle and interesting way. We hope that the Stacked Deck tournaments continue to be run with such zeal and that their impact continues to expand.

Part of the Stacked Deck table at Leviathan. Photo by Eren Pils-Martin

Spotlight On is a new View feature that seeks to highlight some of the amazing efforts around our community to make the Realms better. The Spotlighters staff is always on the lookout for things worth celebrating but if you would like to point us in any direction for ideas, please send an email to spotlight.realms@gmail.com

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ask the Editors

Ask the Editors


Question:

What do you predict the Realms will be like five years from now? What will be the same and what will be drastically different?


I think we are seeing an upswing in immersion and questing culture right now, and I think there are some bright fresh minds gearing up to spearhead some new quests that will really drive the game into a new era, that will surely lead to some epic stories for the next generation to come.

I'm really excited about it actually, one of the things I've seen a lot more this year that I've missed in the past few years is an upswing in high quality ritual magic. As someone who’s been known to roam around as a magic marshal on quests it's kind of a bummer to skimp out on the ritual magic, so I'm hoping to see more of that.

Other than those things, I think we’ll largely be the same community.

--Keith “Saegan” Cronyn



I admit I am not very good at  predicting trends.  Here’s the thing:  to me,  our game tends to shift every 4 years.  Sometimes we see an increase in the marshal aspect.  Sometimes will will see a rise or fall of different elements, due to key people/ groups leaving, or the loss/ gain of event sites.   And while there is change, I find the core game play has not changed all that much.  Combat is faster.  There is an upward trend for immersion currently.  Magic is constantly being tweaked.  I am currently concerned about our competition with other LARPS.  I do not know how much the Realms can or will change.  And that may be to our detriment.  So I guess “we will see” is my best response.

--Steven “Therian” Matulewicz



This is an interesting question. Thinking back from my time as a newbie up to the present day, I feel that while there are many things in Realms that have stayed the same over the years, there are also many things that have changed. Faces come and go, new weapon and armor styles become popular, spells and the spell system itself undergo yearly tweaks and adjustments, attitudes towards different aspects of the game shift. Despite these things, it seems that the foundation of the game remains largely intact. I do believe that we will continue to see changes within the next five years and beyond similar to what we have seen in the last five years and before. Change ebbs and flows with time.  We are now seeing an increased focus on role-playing, immersion, and being in-character at events and I expect this to continue and grow stronger in the future. The greater Realms community, part of what makes the game great, will continue to be as awesome and supportive as it is now, and hopefully continue to evolve and grow as new issues come up over the year. So while it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen and what will change in five years time, I think it’s safe to say that the Realms will both be similar to and different from the game we currently know today

-- Jen “Areni” DeNardis-Rosa



Ultimately, I believe that the Realms marches on through time, largely untouched. Obviously there are changes to weapons and mechanics and rules, and there are also shifts in priorities from fighting to questing to roleplaying. I believe we have also done a great job over the years of addressing social and cultural changes as they arise as well. Despite all of these changes, however, the Realms will always be recognizable as the game that it is and the community it has fostered. In a lot of ways, the Realms is like the Sandlot, we don’t replace people when they move on, but we keep going on, and their legacy and the things they have left behind make an indelible mark on who we are. It’s pretty cool really, that our LARP is living and breathing and evolving, but that its’ character, it’s essence, that’s never going to really change. It’s easy to imagine that things were better in the “good old days” but those fantasties really reflect the way that we remember the past, rather than the past itself. It’s hard to explain, but I am confident that this community and the Realms will be around in a recognizable form for many generations to come.

--Lani “Gwen” Jones

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Why I Want to Go-Feast of Creathorne 2018

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

As always, I am looking forward to going to Feast of Creathorne next weekend, and you should be too. This has event has been a longtime favorite of mine, in no small part because Andy has been kind enough to let me help staff the event, and so I know how much work has gone on behind the scenes to make this event happen. Every year I look forward to the variety of foods available, including game that just isn’t featured at other feasts around the Realms. In addition, Sir Shean is always coming up with new ideas and recipes to try out for the feast (often times months in advance when I am still in the midst of thinking about Leviathan), which shows that this event staff isn’t afraid to try new things and to keep the menu fresh. 

If the food weren’t enough, this event features a gorgeous hall where you can participate in a variety of activities throughout the day. Got some extra gold Coin of the Realm? Use it to participate in the Golden Ticket Auction to win some terrific prizes such as event entries or money to spend at Vandoria’s Vestments. Speaking of, Vandoria herself will be there with her shop, and now is a great time to do some ordering for some of her fabulous creations (I still can’t get over how amazing the outfits she made for Areni and I were). If you need to  burn off some extra calories throughout the day, Order of the List will be there running tournaments to keep you active. If staying seated all day is more your scene, you should probably check out the Creathorne Casino, which will feature a variety of games throughout the day. Word on the street is that there will also be a Stacked Deck tournament happening, so if you are looking to up your rankings early on in the season, this is your chance. 

And in addition to all of this, there will also be a series of mini-quests happening throughout the day in short half hour bursts. This gives you plenty of time to engage in some ongoing Creathorne plot, King in Yellow, while still managing to stuff yourself, shop, and gamble should you so desire. Ultimately, this feast is going to have a lot of great food, and a lot of great entertainment and you should definitely make it a point to come. Pop your head into the kitchen and say hello when you get there!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What You Missed: The Market Day in Fae


by Steven “Therian” Matulewicz

On the morning of The Market Day in Fae, as I packed the car from floor to ceiling with everything Realms Outfitters has to sell, and then tried to find some room to put my wife and son, one thought went through my mind:

Why am I doing this?  “No one” is going to be there or just a minimal amount of people.  I have never been to this sight before.  I don’t know the best method or place to move this much stuff to the place of setup.  I just hope it won’t be too boring.
As it turns out, a lot of people helping to run this event had the same thoughts: that we would sit around staring at each other.

Also as it turns out, I am happy to say we were all very surprised and very wrong.  Over 60 people were there and from everyone I talked to, be they staff or be they customers, went away happy and looking forward to doing this again next year.



So… what happened?  What was the take away of why this low-key event was so successful?

I think it comes down to diversity of resources.  Many events primarily pull from either a small group of friends, or from a specific country/ nation within the Realms.  But more and more, the best events pull from multiple countries and groups.  And I feel coordinating that kind of event is what leads to a more enriching experience, and more interest for the Realms as a whole to come to any one event.

The Roman stone reliefs that surrounded the room on the walls, the large stone statue of the woman on the stage and the 1800 style high arching windows all added to the ambiance.  And by the way, the ceilings are so high, one could choose to have pike battles and not worry.  Lowel, MA is more centralized, so there was greater opportunity/ less drive time for most.  So location and mood well added to the event.  



But it was whom was helping that, to me, made for the best experience.  Realms Outfitters, as I said, was there to help.  You also had Sir Tao (James) running the casino, a Stacked Deck poker tournament and a noodle shop (best customer turn out ever for the noodle shop, I hear).  You had Sir Iawen  (Janna) running some services and a shop with her OOC daughter.  There were at least two other NPC shops there, NPCed Becky and Gnome.  The Carnival was being run by some NPC people from Saurabia in another life (I really liked Plinko “with a twist”.  Betting your life on Plinko is a neat concept.  You had Cal and Athena  running a Bear pit as some NPCs… and doing a wonderful job of commentating.  Big Game Hunt was running limited fighting/ questing in another room.  Not to mention the handful of plot NPCs I saw.  So the event was pulling from many parts of the Realms community.  And the result was a good crowd of happy people.

Food And services, getting ready

Noodle Emporium, ready to go.

Carnival Games with a twist, Bear pit behind

A Seek peek into the Big Game Hunt

I plan to return next year, be it as a vendor or a PC.  I am really hoping more vendors will take this opportunity:  there is so much space to show wares.  We didn’t even expand much into the classrooms I am told we had access to.

This event was a gem on the crown of Realms Eventing.  I, like so many others I spoke to, hope it will continue to shine and bolster the feeling of community that it established.




Friday, February 16, 2018

Fireside Chat with Therian

I am sure you all know of Therian.  He is not an attention seeker, but he stands out in a crowd.  You know, the tall, silent type.  His leather wares are beautiful, he has skill with weapons and cards.  If you are very, very lucky, you might have heard him sing.  A man of many talents I am lucky enough to call a friend.  We sat down over a well worn table.  It felt a little strange asking an old friend such basic questions, but this is for you, readers, not for me.  
~Twen

·  Where are your parents today?
Dead.  It’s ok: they died of natural causes about 15 years ago.  And by “natural causes”, I mean my father was killed hunting a bear.  My mother followed soon after by tracking the same bear.  If you want, I can show you some time, the pelt is in my tannery.  The bear, not my parents.  That would be gross.

·   What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Living this long without losing my connection with Gaia.  I mean so many people walk around, severed from nature and creation.  They are lost and broken.  They are alone and isolated.  While I may not be practicing magic at the moment, I am still connected to the world.  I consider myself very fortunate.

·   What is your next quest?
I am not certain about that.  I am pretty sure I will be going on another long sea voyage.  Hopefully minus the being stuck in Painful Limbo.  Also sure I will be going back to the universe that wants to die from a lot of rocks, or something like that.  They seem pretty determined to end it all.  Who am I to stop the cycle?

·   If you could be granted any wish, what would it be?
I will be honest, I don’t think along those lines.  I try to make my life as best I can with what I have.  I find powerful desires or magics like your suggestion tend to lead to a bad trade off.  Wish for all Necromancers and such magic to never be allowed here again?  They all go into the past and erase the universe.  Wish for a ham sandwich?  It’s made from zombie ham.  I am not sure if I had a real opportunity as you suggest that I would ever try to use it.  It seems like... cheating.

·  Tell us about your favorite feast dish.
I don’t eat often at feasts, or eat enough to have a favorite dish, so it is not something I can remark on in any detail.  I will say that the food at Highbridge last year was by far the best I have ever had.  But as someone who spends a lot of time living off jerky and what I can forage, my perspective may be skewed in this area. 

·  Who do you admire most and why? 
… I see others I respect as my equal in this world.  Clearly there are many with better skills than myself, or different skills.  To admire implies a level of placing another over myself.  I admire skill and wisdom IN others, not other people.  While I see a greatness in many, I do not place the creature as above me.  Perhaps if you can rephrase the question, I can give a better answer.  I mean, you seek to know those that have influenced me, or that drive me forward.  My lessons come from observing and listening.  I apologize, but there is no one, no single creature that I would apply this word to.

·  Tell me about your first adventure?
Well, I was tired from the process of leaving the womb.  … Somehow I don’t think that is what you meant.  I have had many “adventures” in my life.  However I did not become an adventurer until my mid 30s.  I was made aware that, beyond the Felwood, there was a lot more of the world that could benefit from my skills.  And so at the Mistress’ request, I set forth.  I don’t remember a whole lot because of being lost at sea last year (Painful Limbo is still having some difficulties on my mind).  I just remember there were many people wandering into the woods with no sense of the environment and were getting slaughtered.  So I came to save them from themselves.

·  In every life, there is a defining moment.  Tell us about yours.
The sum total of all the choices I have made is what defines me.  I tend to live in the present, and do not dwell much on the past or future.  However, if I need to pick one, I guess when I established the Knights of the Hinterlands, this was able to bring my work in the wider Realms into focus.  I now understand with more clarity the lessons the world teaches me, and how I can relay this to others on their journey.

·  Feel free and expound upon anything you would like.
Alright.  Crowds make me uncomfortable, but not because of the close proximity of the creatures.  What makes me uncomfortable is the large amount of severed people, not being able to connect with them.  It tends to keep me more reserved than I probably should be.  It’s like being surrounded by a sea of sadness.  Over the years, I have gotten better used to it.  But it is still not easy.

·  What was your life like before you began adventuring? 
I was, and still am, the caretaker for the Felwood, which is one of the last forests in the Realms protected by Gaia.  In my lifetime, the towns that used to be near it moved away, and the wood was left somewhat alone.  In my late 20s, I was called on to take on a great role as caretaker and have taken steps to ensure its ability to protect itself.  I could talk in great detail about what has been established in the past 27 years, but I think this is a bit much of a single evening chat.

·  Where and how do you spend your time when you're not adventuring?
Mostly at my home.  It is mostly under ground and is designed to be hidden, molded into the landscape.  I have worked with the Dwarves and with the Elves to make sure the home is well fortified, even within a secure forest.  I have found in the recent years that my time there is not as much as I desire, since I have spent more time selling my leather craft and attempting to hone my skills as a fighter.  So I spend a lot of time these days walking the lands of the Realms, talking with the common folk and learning about the various people and places, while selling my simple items.  Yes, I am considered a Lord now, and a Knight and some other titles. But it is the commoner that is the life blood of our people.  Knowing them, seeing to their happiness, is important.  And so I do what I can.


There you go, your brief introduction to Therian.  Use it to learn more from him.  You will not regret it, I promise you.  If you need me, check the comfy chair by the fire.  I am always up for  good chat.  
                                            Love, 
                                              Twen

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ask the Editors

Ask the Editors

Question:

What is your favorite work of fantasy fiction and has it impacted the way you've created or that you play your character?


Oh man. This question is a can of worms for me. My favorite work of Fantasy Fiction is the Kingkiller Chronicle, by Patrick Rothfuss ( not yet completed.) It hasn't really impacted Saegan at all in terms of character, but it certainly has impacted the way I write when I'm designing backgrounds for event series I'm a part of. The magic system and lore within the world of Temerant is so deep it just keeps me reeling for hours. Literally when I'm not doing something for the Realms I'm probably arguing with someone about this book series, and any of the thousands of theories that are involved with it.  It's just the best.

-Keith “Saegan” Cronyn


That is difficult to say.   My favorite works  have been “The Deed of Paksenarian” trilogy by Elizabeth Moon and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.  However these bodies of work tended to shape my Event Holding style and my previous character, Pyr Thalax Darkwillow.

Therian isn’t based on someone else’s characters or worlds.  He is based off of a combination of Buddhism, Native tales and mythology, and random quotes that came to mind that I felt were appropriate.  The best example is that he likes to say “death is my gift”, which is a quote from the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, but I would not say he emulates any character from within the series.

-Steven “Therian” Matulewicz


Well, I imagine by now this one is pretty obvious, but for those of you who missed it, my favorite work of fantasy fiction is the Harry Potter series. I grew up alongside with this book series, with the books coming out right as I was the same ages at the main characters, which I think maybe helps to explain my obsession with them. They were the basis of my first questing series that I worked on, and they really helped me to develop my event holding style. I strongly identify with house Hufflepuff both in and out of character and believe that hard work and friendship are the keys to happiness and success. In my earlier years, I would never have been able to proudly identify as a Hufflepuff, but watching some of my favorite people be sorted into Hufflepuff at our event series helped me embrace my true Puff self. My personal heraldry is also based off of the Deathly Hallows symbol because of the importance that this universe has had on me in all aspects of my Realms life.

-Lani “Gwen” Jones

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ask Syrus: Valentine's Day Edition

by Cal "Syruss" O'Leary

---------- 
Duke Sir Syruss is a seasoned adventurer with over 10 years of experience slaughtering undead, charming the ladies, beating up bad guys, frustrating the good guys, and grossing out ladies. SO, if you have a question no matter how bizarre, weird or funny (the funnier the better, then we can sell more issues of the View), consider asking the man who loves to tell you how to live your life; even though no one tells you how to live your life!    
----------
Dear Syruss,

With the holiday of love fast approaching, I wanted to try to up my game this year. Since you are so smooth yet so sassy, I was wondering if you had any tips for the rest of us mere mortals on how to impress a significant other this year (or potential significant other!) Advice for all genders and species is appreciated!

Sincerely,

Looking for love



Hey there Looking for Love in All the Right Places,

I get it, Cupid and his cousin Aros are out and about causing trouble in hearts and loins across the Realms. Making all your hearts swoon for those you may have only admired from afar at this point.
They are making you loins go crazy and with that, you too are going a bit crazy. It is a real issue when they mess with Rhiassa loins, lion loins there I just wanted to write that.....

But speaking of Rhiassa, a while back at a Cecil's Taliea Gathalion and I started a book of pick up lines that are sure to do the trick we called "You used line _____ It was super effective!!!" There are all kinds of tips and tricks on how to approach.

The following is what we call the Do’s and Don'ts of Devine Debonair Dating Druids:

DON'T tell them to cheer up
The quickest way to direct a dialogue downhill is with a command. So saying “Cheer up!” or “Give us a smile!" is not the best way to go.  Nope, save your commands for troops on the battlefield.
DO spark a dialogue
By the time you cast a ritual to give you the nerve to approach someone you like, you may panic and say the first thing that comes to your noggin: “So… What are you doing?”
BLAH, right? Let me tell you that more often than not it's not clumsy questions but rather your personality and character that will pique your crush’s interest.

“The fighting here is great. I come in every morning on my way to the citadel to slay orcs. Do you work in the area?” 

When they have told you that they work right next door and/or wants to have your babies, give them your opinion right back. This is called a conversation.

“Pffft, that’s just common sense, Syruss,” you may scoff, but trust me: it's an art that seems lost on a lot of people especially when you are trying to warm up to that new Hot Sorcerer.
DON'T invade their personal space
Dear random adventurer, I don't know where your hand has been - in a dragon, searching a laboratory, or searching a scalped goo  - it is gross, but I do know where you want to put it. If you touch my hair or bum I will break your arm. Kindest regards.
DO pay them subtle compliments
If you're Elvish, you're allowed to talk about the weather ONCE and only if you're leading somewhere with it. I'll condone one weather mention if accompanied by looking out the window contemplatively and sighing, “Dark One, the weather is awful. You look tanned though, have you just come back from holiday?”
 I don't mind assumptions, either. For example:
“You look like you have a creative job, do you work on the Neden Kazoo or the View?” If you're wrong, they'll be flattered that you called them creative. If you're right, they will most likely engage you in a nice conversation on the topic.

DO read the situation

If they’re a reading a book, dashing down the street or they’re fighting a dragon, they’re busy. Some adventurer sidled up last week when I was neck-deep in a fight with a gargoyle and they were sweating espresso with “Gosh, is that guy tough?” *Insert snorty chuckle* “Yes, actually.” “Oh. Right. I'll leave you to it then.” End of (thrilling) conversation.

Make sure you're timing each situation correctly.
DO be confident
A confident hero is not a self-obsessed one. They just know themselves well enough to be open to considering others. They don't concentrate on questions, creating a one-sided conversation that puts the onus on their crush  to “entertain” them. Instead, they make a statement that sparks a conversation. People/Elves/ Dwarfs/and Creatures can sense it if you aren't fully “present” or if your bravado is formed of poorly managed insecurity. So be yourself but do with self-assurance.
DON'T let one rejection ruin your confidence
You can spend hours analyzing the where’s and how’s of talking to people but the one “trick” that will dramatically increase the odds of you having a relationship of any kind with a particular person is talking to them. But if that doesn’t work get back out there and chat up someone new. Plenty more fish in the sea, as they say. Just don't catch crabs.
DON’T use cheesy lines
I would rule out “pick up lines” completely for the most part. There isn't one magical sentence that holds the key to unlocking romance. Not even “Dayum Elf, are you my dead grandmother? Because I never hear from you”  which has been used on me….twice… Just stick to normal conversation that makes people feel comfortable.

HOWEVER, IF YOU ARE GOING TO USE PICK UP LINES well then Taliea and I have come up with some doozies that will either get you scalped or get you that date you were looking for:

“I have a quiver full of arrows and this is your shot at love!”

“I am like a marn, I can equip both ways.”

“Are you a Shaman because I really want to merge with you.”

“ I see we are both learning sorcery, how about we get familiar?”

“ I know our first encounter may not have been memorable, but luckily I am a Seer because you get a Second Chance….At love!”

“ Are you an Alchemist Orc? Because you don’t need a love potion to get with this.”

“Woah easy, there is no need to call Divine Aid - I am already here.”

“You must be the best Seer in the world because you don’t need a find the path to find your way to my heart.”

“Are you enchanting your blade or are you just happy to see me?”

“You must be a phylactery because you have my mind body and soul.”

“Is that an Ashenmark Pike, because it is bigger than I thought!”

“You don’t need to go on a quest to find my heart.”

“Are you sure you’re an abjurer? Because I don’t think you can resist my magic.”

“Are you a blacksmith because you are reforging my broken heart.”

“I can be your cantrip baby, I am anything you might need.”

“Want to go to fight practice together because I would love to hit that!”

Wow, that was a lot of pickup lines Taliea!!!!!!

Anyway guys, love is magic, it is unexpected and can happen at any moment for no reason so be on the lookout for something special.

 It is like this story Nymbous once told me about pouring candy hearts into a Volcano, he said:
“As the candy hearts poured into the fiery quasar, a wondrous thing happened, why not. They vaporized into a mystical love radiation that spread across the universe, destroying many, many planets, including two gangster planets and a cowboy world. But one world was exactly the right distance to see the romantic rays but not be destroyed by them: The Realms. So all over the Realms couples stood together in joy and that is the magic of love” –Lord Nymbous O”Leary

I hope this helps, I am sorry if it doesn’t-

Till next time loyal readers!

Duke Sir Syruss O’Leary

Knight of the Potentium
Knight of the Blue Rose
Love Guru
Realms Greatest Detective

Oh, if that advice didn't help you can try giving one of me and Taliea’s Valentine Day Cards a try:














Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why I Want to Go-The Market Day in Fae

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

I don’t know about you, but it’s the time of year that gold is just burning a hole in my pocket, and this weekend is the chance to spend it at the Market Day in Fae. Wares from a variety of merchants will be available for purchase with a variety of currencies including green and lots of different types of gold. Vendors include: The Fairwinds Trade Caravan, Realms Outfitters, Dani's Apple Treasures, Services from Iawen, and Tao's Tea and Lucky Noodle Emporium. But the Market Day in Fae is much, much more than just a chance to boost the Realms’ economy. 

This event has a little bit of everything at a very affordable price and in a great,central location. This light-hearted, fun-packed event will also feature heavy role-playing, so it will be a great time to hang out and socialize. For those of you seeking combat, there will be a combat pit, and Gau Dring Big Game Hunt will be running to give you something to battle if you want to add to your Hunter Points. If you are interested in finding out what is going on in the wider Realms, there will be many chances to interact with a variety of plots throughout the day. In addition, this is an opportunity to put out your own plot teaser if you reach out to the EH’s prior to the event and get the okay! There will also be a ton of non-combat activities throughout the day including a stacked deck tournament, bardics, and carnival games.

Ultimately, this event seems like just what the Realms calendar needs this time of year. It will be fun, relaxed, and has an inviting atmosphere. As an added bonus, this event is kid and newbie friendly, so be sure to bring your friends and family.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Question of the Week and Responses

Question of the Week #10 Responses

Welcome back, everyone, to Question of the Week! We've gotten some interesting responses to our last question that we're happy to share with all of you. The question was "What odd or unusual thing does your character always take questing with them?" Read up on people's answers below then scroll down and answer this week's question below!

Syruss O'Leary
The rest of Neden.

Jericho Axelthorne
A letter from an old friend.

Gray Erikkson
Nuts, with which to placate the homicidal squirrel.

Kara
Biting sarcasm and an alias ready to go.

Jack
Extra pants for lending.

Gordon

A deck of cards. You never know who you’ll meet.

Sir Therian
A box that holds wooden dice.  This has proved useful many occasions, and not just to pass the time.

Trent

Odd or Unusual, have you met my friends? 


Priest Z
A small single egg cold iron frying pan, because fae souls taste great fried with bacon in the morning!

Mouse
Hygar.

Tao Ya Kang
Deck of cards.


Duke Syruss O'Leary (again, perhaps forgetting he's already answered)
Nothing is more unusual than JB but besides him I always bring my lucky coin.

Again, thank you for your participation, everyone. This next question asking you to reveal some personal information as we ask you about part of what motivates you to wield sword and spell as an adventurer. Please answer right away!


Thursday, February 8, 2018

10 More Questions - Casey Lemay

10 More Questions with Casey "Karhma" Lemay


Photo by Jesse Gifford

1) What achievement either in or out of character are you most proud of?  

My craft skills have definitely gotten better through the years.  I am quite proud that Karmha Creations has grown like it has.

2) Are you a fighter or a caster? Have you always been? How did you choose?  

I have always been a two path I like the challenge of spell casting and never considered three path only because I can't use a bow and well, I like shooting people.

3) Have you ever owned an artifact, memento, or magic item  that has meant a lot to you, and why?

My favorite has to be hands down Meatshield.  When the item was first released Mathias and Guilliam ended up with the deathknight's shield and sword before killing it.  Mathias hands me it to hold while they went back to kill the thing, out of nowhere Nos who was playing the NPC pops up and yells "This isn't yours!!!!" so of course when Guiliam offered me the item to trade I couldn't say no.  first thing I said to my Meatshield was look who's mine now! and it was awesome having a fighter listen to me for once and i always had a blast when mike NPCd him for me.  I even wrote two poems about my lovely Meatshield.

4) What group of people do you spend the most time with and why?  

Most of my time in the Realms i have been independent, I was in Neden for like two years and leadership changed so I moved on.  I hang out with many people I am in a lot of guilds but I hang out most with members of the Blue Rose in which i am squired to.

Photo by Dustin Mack

5) Who is your best friend in character and why? 


I would have to say Radstar.  We make a pretty good team when it comes to most things and have gone on many adventures together.

6) What event or moment had the greatest impact on you as a player?  

QoH was one of my favorite for all the non com tournaments.  I like the challenge of it and seeing what other people come up with.

7) What event or moment had the greatest impact on your character?  

The Shadow king plot definitely.  I got married to the bad guy and people hated me for it.  I just kept going with what Karmha would do and that is she is a business woman through and through and I was offered a crown for making heraldry so your damn right I married the bad guy.

Photo by Dustin Mack

8) What is your most embarrassing moment, either IC or OOC? 

I would have to say kissing Dave Dolph in front of the whole feast of folkestone at our IC wedding. I wouldn't say embarrassing just odd never thought I would have to do that in game more or less in front of like 100 people.

9) What is the best piece of advice you'd give to other players? 

 Talk to everyone, try everything and do what YOU find fun.

10 ) What is the most important thing you've learned through the game?  

How to be an adult but still play like a kid.

BONUS QUESTION #1: Who would you like to see the next interview be with?  

Mike Dougherty

BONUS QUESTION #2: Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?  

It's a game treat it as such and have as much fun as you want and don't care what other people think.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

WIWTG Player's Meeting by Keith "Saegan" Cronyn

If you're reading this, it's probably because you're passionate about this game. I'm not that witty, so you would really need to be interested in the topic.

So why do you want to go to the Players’ Meeting? Because you're invested in this game and you want to have a say in how it will change.

You want to go to the Players’ Meeting because you have opinions, and you want them to be heard. Whether you love the game the way it is, and want to vote no on everything (except the no changes this year proposal) or you love all the changes and want to vote yes on everything, or are somewhere in between, voting is important.

So what are some of the topics going on at this years Players’ Meeting and Event Holders’ Council? First, if you follow the Realms’ Facebook page, you've probably heard about the Realms’ Code of Conduct, but perhaps in the same vein are an EH ethics proposal, and a proposal for a clause addressing sexual harassment.

Now I don't mean to incite a riot, but these are pretty hot topics. Do you believe as a community we should stand together and manage our problems? Do you think it's the individual’s responsibility? Do we leave legal issues with the appropriate authorities and otherwise not address it at all? Should it be some mesh of all of the above? These questions will surely be addressed in some form or another, and if you think you know the answer, then you need to make your voice heard. And no amount of Facebook comments will count in the same way a vote would.

So what else? There are proposals on weapon safety changes.

Proposals on magical learning progression changes.

New spells.

New weapon materials.

Alterations to paths and path mechanics.

New weapon calls.

We could literally come out of these meetings with a completely different game.

Change is on the horizon.

If you're a fan of the Blackwood event series, you might see that statement as an overt nod to my team. But in this case it's really appropriate. Over the past several years we’ve offered people to play test their new mechanics at our events to get things together for the coming EHC. So I can say I'm pretty familiar with chaotic mechanical changes in our game, and how they'll play out within various scenes. And I can say with full confidence that some of these proposals will put interesting new design elements into the community.

Some things will change the balance.

So what's important to you? Where does your fun come in, and what are you willing to try?

Read the proposals. Go to the Players’ Meeting. Have a voice.

I would be a fool to try and talk about the PM and not mention the Players’ Rep. So the Players’ Meeting is the opportunity for players to vote to change the game, to have their voices heard about the evolution of the game. But all the proposals that pass the player's meeting go onto the EHC, and the Event Holders vote again to make the final changes for the year.

At the EHC the Players’ Rep represents the players. They get a vote. They have a say. They have the ability to argue on behalf of the players. The Players’ Rep can also accept amendments at the EHC for proposals that are from non-EHs to help it pass the council, to make small balance or wording changes. Needless to say it's an important role, and it gets elected at the Players’ Meeting.

So why go? Because of all of these reasons, but mostly because it's an important part of our community. I should have just left it at that.

See you there--I'm fiery and ready to argue.

Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

Spotlight On... Voraniss


Voraniss


For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Voraniss is a group that officially announced its existence to the Realms in late 2017. At Feast of the Leviathan the community watched this nation win the honor of ‘Best Upcoming Group’ and several of its members win individual awards based on crafting, storytelling, and role playing. It is a rare group that has made such an impact so quickly. And while one could argue that Voraniss has been given adequate praise in relation to its short existence, we’ve chosen to shine the spotlight on them in our first feature for a different reason entirely.

Leadership.

For as long as we’ve been playing this game and in this community, we’ve seen pretty consistent criticism of the garb and role playing immersion that can sometimes accompany events. That’s not to say the criticism is not unwarranted, but many times that’s all it is. Critical commentary which may or may not call out individuals, often without constructive notes to help others improve or explain why they need to do.

Criticism of that sort being the norm, it highlights even further the silent and powerful leadership-by-example that Voraniss is demonstrating. Despite their own incredibly high standards for their dress and role play, not once have we witnessed a member of the group calling out others for not being on the same tier as they are. The members of Voraniss are inspiring others by showing the very best of themselves all the time. This is a much harder task to undertake than simply voicing their disapproval, but it is a much much more effective one, as well.

Change happens slowly over a long time. Change for the better, especially so. The general thought about the trend of costume and immersion in the game is that it's improving on a lot of fronts through the diverse efforts of a lot of different people, but we shine our spotlight on Voraniss because of the example that they are setting is making a tremendous impact even in the few months they have existed. We truly hope that they continue to be an active part of our community and continue to inspire us all by showing us their mission.

Voraniss at the Black & White. Photo by David Harvill


Spotlight On is a new View feature that seeks to highlight some of the amazing efforts around our community to make the Realms better. The Spotlighters staff is always on the lookout for things worth celebrating but if you would like to point us in any direction for ideas, please send an email to spotlight.realms@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Thoughts on Speed pt 3

[Editor's Note: Catch up with what you missed -  Part I available here; Part II available here.]

I love the speed of our combat. I love the space where my mind goes, where I can understand how we move, where I know the relation of how fast a person can move, and the distance they have to travel. For me this is the heart of combat. Getting in the zone, and understanding the chaos of the world around me. Intuiting the things that normally I don’t even recognize that I perceive, and achieving flow state.

For me, this is kind of the elephant in the room on the topic of speed. That's because I have avoided, blatantly, the topic of muscle memory. You might wonder why muscle memory is the elephant in the room when you're talking about the speed of mind in fighting, but let me explain.

If you ask someone you consider to be one of the best fighters in the game, what, or how they think while they are fighting, they might describe a certain level of tactics, like creating openings, or being aware of stance, or positioning, but often they will say that they don't really think. That they in fact just sort of let themselves go, that their body knows what to do separate of the mind.

So then you find yourself asking some questions like “How do I separate mind and body?!” or “How do I let my body go on auto-pilot?” or maybe just “wtf?” Well that's the problem, muscle memory is sort of this ominous concept, that public forums don't really describe well. Your muscles don't remember things. It's kind of a misnomer. Some would rather describe it as a memory for your muscles,  that is something I can get behind.

Everything you read on muscle memory will emphasize on quality before quantity. They recommend to start slow, and make sure your motions are correct, and that your body is learning the correct motion, rather than some weird motion that isn't useful for what you're doing. This is why muscle memory will come up most often in sports like Golf, and arts like playing the guitar, more often than say, football. This is also a problem in our sport, where the combat is not broken down into a series of labeled moves, where we don’t have “rabbit punches” or “snake stance”, we’re made up of a jumble of things that people have brought to the game through the years via trial and error, or outside experience. With some notable exceptions, of course, like the “arm block” for example.

So what can you do? Fighting at half speed is a great way to practice your shots and blocks and allow yourself to process what the other fighter's openings are, and allow them to process and exploit your own. As good as it is for me, I hate this exercise. It really is the way to go, plenty of martial arts have been practicing slowly for thousands of years, learn the perfect step the right way, so that when you need to take it quickly, you take it correctly. I get it. You probably do too. But as I said, speed is my drug, and I would much rather be moving at some quasi-imperceptible blur than moving at half speed.

Is there another way to go about it? I'd like to think so, but it's more theory than time tested practice, like fighting at half speed, so you'll have to give me a bit of faith. I'm going to talk about pattern recognition.  I like to think of a good volley as a series of actions or behaviors. What I mean by a volley is a series of parries and attacks that lead to a fight being more than just a single strike and done.

I like to think of a fighter's stance as foreshadowing to the strike that they are going to make. Huh? Fighting is like a rainbow. What? Limited and infinite. Each stance can vary from person to person, infinitely, but each stance also is within a limited predictable spectrum of stances based on the idea that the human body can only move in a semi-limited fashion. So just like the rainbow, which is a representation of an infinite amount of colors, we can break down each color, or stance, into a limited set of categories which are weak against specific attacks, and lead to strikes from certain directions, and to certain openings in your own stance.

When you enter into a fight, you should look at your opponent and discern what their stance's weaknesses are. Really look. What does the positioning of their feet tell you? Do they lead with their weapon hand, or their off hand? Are they right handed or left handed? Do they guard their head? Remember that stance. After the fight, ask yourself, what was their opening swing? Where did it go?  The more often you do this, the faster the answers will come to you. The more people you fight, the more you will be able to recognize the variations between them.

Why is this important? What you're doing, essentially, is setting up a stimulus for yourself, and your actions are conditioned responses. Similar to Pavlov's dogs, where they began to salivate at the sound of a bell, you want yourself to react to openings in your opponent's guard, and block opponent's attacks based on the first instinct of their appearance. You want Stance A, to tell you to attack B, and have their block C lead you to attack D. And you want to recognize the difference between fighter 1's stance A and fighter 2's stance A as easily as you can switch between two different fonts.

Now you're probably thinking to yourself something about predictability. “If I answer Stance A with attack B every time, my opponents will notice.” Or something like that. You're right, they will, two things. First of all; you're already predictable, you're just worried about being -too- predictable. Secondly, the more patterns you teach yourself, the more your stimuli will generalize, you'll find yourself recognizing stance F in the middle of attack B, and changing attack B into attack G on the fly.

If you think of your opponent's action as a question, and your action as the answer, then you can also look at it this way. If I ask you the question, “What is 2+2?” you will probably answer “4”, right? That's because generally speaking, that's the answer a person is looking for when you ask that question, however, 2+2 also = 5-1, and an infinite other answers equally as well, but 4 is the simplest, best answer, and that is the one you should be looking for in a fight. This is why crazy theatrical, spin moves usually don't work within our system, without some crazy amount of deception going on, to give yourself the opening that you need to pull it off. Just as with 2+2, with practice, and years of answering the question, if you learn to recognize patterns, and ask yourself the right questions, you'll see the answer you need to any question an opponent can ask.

Essentially, if you want to be faster, you need to practice more. You need to work hard, and exercise, and you need to think and strategise. The secret to speed, is practice. Go to practice. Fight as many different people as you can.

I hope you enjoyed this mini-series as an introduction to speed in our game, and as always I hope to see you on the field,

Keith/Saegan



Friday, February 2, 2018

Fireside Chat with Saegan

While the winter thaw is upon us, I took the opportunity to travel and meet with someone everyone knows.  Saegen.  While we all know who he is, how well do you actually know him?  Aside from knowing I'd be safe if he is in front fighting the baddies, I don't actually know him very well at all.  
                                                                   ~T

  • What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Well it's certainly not solely my accomplishment, in fact I'm really just a small part of it. But I'm most proud of Blackwood, and the strides it's made in becoming the Kingdom it is, and the Kingdom it has yet to become. Watching it grow has been amazing.

  •   If you could be granted any wish, what would it be? 

Some time ago Jinx made a wish, that was important, and we expected it to have a price. I would wish that it not have that price. 



  •  A bag filled with ten thousand gold just fell on your lap.  Now what? 
First I make sure it doesn't belong to anyone else. Then I probably give it to Tao or Sir K to invest for me, and benefit the Kingdom of Blackwood. Or I pay off Ambrose' gambling debts. Whichever. 



  •  What advice do you have for a new adventurer?

Set goals that you can achieve. Set goals you don't expect to achieve, but try anyway. 
When adventuring find a role that suits your person, and helps move the quest forward. Build towards that role, and try to make it helpful for the group of you. Everyone appreciates someone that helps the group, and if you're good at something you can make it useful. 



  •  Tell us about your favorite feast dish.
Don't get jealous. I mean I've spent a fair amount of time feasting, and I like good food. But there is only one food that I can think of that makes my mouth water consistently; and as much as I love it, it's not the Blackwood Meatloaf. It's not the Rueben pizzas, and it's certainly isn't gelatinous cranberry sauce. I totally back Zarine on that one by the way. 

No. One year, for the super secret special dessert prize at Feast of Folkstone, Malaki made--- for someone I was fortunate enough to acquire some from--- Croche en Bouche. To be honest I'm pretty sure he stole the ingredients for it from Elysium, because I think we were dealing with an army of angels, pretty much the next day.  But I might be wrong. I hate it bring it up, because I'm pretty sure that the adventurers of these days will never truly understand what in the world is worth fighting for, having not experienced it. 
But you asked, so..




  • Explain your personal heraldry to us

This is a complicated question. This is Acteon's Heraldry--
I can't place the meaning of the green and white right now, it has heraldric meaning that's from before my time. I'm not exactly a herald. I can tell you that the star stems from Blackwood, it was added to the old Acteon Heraldry once we joined the Kingdom as a symbol of our allegiance. 

The Stag is representative of Acteon the Man, who was a hunter who got into some trouble with a goddess and she made him all antlered and furry. I keep hearing stories around here how he died in that excursion, but that's not how we know the tale. For us he escaped and went through some weird trials to redeem himself. And I guess founded our nation. That's up to theologians and historians to debate, I guess. 

That's the Acteon Heraldry, though. My Heraldry, if I have one at all, really, is this-


It stems from my time in the Shadow War. It represents the final battle with Jonas Cooke, where Wrath, Guilliam, and I were transformed so that we could resist the force of his Bane weapon. 

I chose silver on black for two reasons, we were made these crazy golem things, so the silver represents the stone in that way, and the black represents the bane and shadow. But Black and Silver are also representative of King K, and his tabard, calling back to his time in Creathorne. A lot happened to Blackwood during that war. Cities burned. It was an important victory for us, and I want to remember it.




  • What was your most memorable questing moment?
You might think it was something to do with the Shadow War, since I was just rambling on about that for what seems like forever, and I wish I could say it had something to do with someone else being awesome, because I've seen some really amazing things in my time. But it's about me. I'll be a little cocky for a moment. We were questing in Grimloch, which is a slug fest on its own. I'd never been in their lands before, so it was all relatively new to me. I remember being surprised that even their kobolds are armored. But we, the adventuring party, had been fighting through a bunch of terrible things called Metal Lords, facing different challenges to even be able to fight them, and we needed to beat them all because they were empowering an Ancient named Akakios, and he wanted to kill all of mankind. 

So anyway, the adventurers on the know made stuff happen, and I was just kind of doing my thing fighting off undead as people were trying to do the ritual required to challenge Akakios. I took it as my job to make sure those folks could do the thing. 

But it was a one on one fight. In a ring of what must have been hellfire for all I know, some crazy ritual fire. One by one people tried and failed. There was a break in the fighting of the undead and, they were running out of people able to challenge him. Sir K asked me to fight, I was skeptical because I knew who'd gone before me. They were some heavy hitters. 

Needless to say it took some coaxing. I stepped into the burning arena, contemplating how I'd go about this, Akakios was barely a shadow on the distance, going back to whatever plane he resides on. I called out in my best "I'm gonna challenge you" voice, unsure if he'd even turn back and accept. But he did. 

Now Akakios' carried a sword that would take most men at least another half a hand to wield, maybe two, but he also fought with a shield, and it was some sort of loving shield that could jut out with the force of an avalanche. So I figured if I was going to beat him I was going to strike first, and strike fast. So I did. I channeled some inner storm, and if ever their was a clash between the thunder and the mountains it was that day. I can't remember the specifics of the fight, I went high, I went low. I tried not to die. But I remember when he fell. I remember the dust mingling in the air, and the crackle of the fire. And I remember my body saying "you just took out a titan, you have nothing left" and slumping down. 

The excitement from the others around me, that we'd won, at least for the day. That was something I will always remember. That's probably when I stopped doubting myself, to be honest, and realized I could do anything if I needed to enough. 



  • Tell me about your first adventure.
Compared to the other stories it's not as exciting. It was during an evening at Creathorne, some portal opened to I have no idea where. I was new and didn't know anyone really, so I had no idea what was going on. I was a 1 path with heal limb and repair armor, and I was adventuring into the dark. People got stuff done, I'm sure, but the only thing I really remember was  that someone screwed up, and something happened that made the entire questing party flee from wherever we were. It was a true stampede. I was literally almost trampled, and just realize I'd better scamper along with them, else I be left behind. 

In every life, there is a defining moment.  Tell us about yours. Blackwood had been after me to join for an age. They were still Idaris when we were first becoming friends. But I am a man of Acteon to the core. Eventually they asked Toah to join. He and I had been adventuring alone for our people for some time, our country was impoverished, and they asked Acteon to join Blackwood. We accepted, I was made a Squire to the Knights of Blackwood, under Nos, and it had set me on the path to be the man I am today. 


  • What was your life like before you began adventuring? 

Well I was born of a household that had fallen out of favor on the Acteon Nobility. We couldn't even claim the title of Thane, really. I made a vow to myself to redeem my ancestors, and along with Toah and some others, we started hiring ourselves out as soldiers. Which might seem like an odd way to redeem your ancestors in retrospect, but I was young and I assumed their would be villains, and gold. Turns out it's been mostly villains. 


  • Are you married or courting and if so, to/with who? 

No. And no. Unless you count my constant war preparations as courting. I don't really have time for that stuff. 



  • Where and how do you spend your time when you're not adventuring?

I try to take the Sky Bridge back to Acteon, specifically Castle Black Stag in the City of Flying Tree, but I don't get to do that very often. There is a lot of preparations to be made. The Risen Kingdom is on the assault in Chimeron, and that sounds like was war that needs snuffing. My boys Torolf and Vawn keep threatening to go start Ragnarok in some other dimension, and I'm pretty sure that's straight up villainy, so I need to stop that. The Imperium in Ashenmark. The time bandit guys in Verai, and Blackwood's librarian has gone missing. There is just too much going on that needs fixing for me to have time off from adventuring.




  • What kind of picnic should we go on?
The kind that has all the teddy bears, what other kind is there? 

Poor Saegan, I guess someone should teach him about picnics.  After this evening's talk, I feel like I know Saegan better.  Hopefully, I'll be able to fight at his side one day, it sounds like a good place to be.
If you are looking for a cozy place to sit and talk about anything, even picnics, just let me know.  I am always up for a good chat.
                                    Love,
                                       Twen