Friday, May 11, 2018

10 Questions with an EH

by Callahan "Syruss" Marsden

What events have you previously thrown? 

I have been hosting events for over a decade now, which as I type this seems crazy silly. Now, while I have hosted 12 events in my own right the following is only a fraction of the events that I have had the privilege of collaborating with and working on. But a following is a list of the events I have done starting with my first event back in 2006.

  • Feast of Souls, June 16, 2006 - June 18, 2006
  • Night Games 2, November 30, 2007 - December 2, 2007
  • Grimloch Presents 2, July 20, 2008
  • Grimloch Presents 3: Zombie Survival /Bardic campfire, August 28, 2009
  • Tournaments of the Blue Rose V, April 17, 2010 - April 18, 2010
  • Tournaments of The Blue Rose VI,  April 29, 2011 - May 1, 2011
  • Tournaments of The Blue Rose VII, April 27, 2012 - April 29, 2012
  • Order of the List Invitational 3, November 16, 2013
  • Free Nations Training Night, September 19, 2014
  • Dragon Master (Friday Night Carnival), June 12, 2015- June 14, 2015
  • Neden Zombie Clean Up, July 9, 2016
  • Nedengiving, November 26, 2016

At Tourneys of the Blue Rose VII by Casey Lemay

What led you to start throwing events?

At the time Christopher Marques and I were looking for our next challenge in the game all while finding an outlet to give back. We have been NPCing aggressively a lot those years but wanted to be content providers and frankly, we were curious about the EHC and how the game was shaped.

We linked up with Josh Learned who had some experience working on events beforehand and decided to try our hand at a three-day event that had a bit of everything. We wanted a feast aspect, a quest aspect as well as tournaments. We wanted a fun engaging story told on a 24-hour live site.
Needless to say, we were ambitious for first-time event holders.

We sought a challenge and were given one. We learned a lot by helping events over the years but looking back now we were greatly unprepared for things such as time-blocking encounters, portion size for the feast, props, and ambiance. All aspects we as a team and individuals would grow in over the next few years.

What would you like your events to be known for?  

This is a tough question as the answer has changed from my first event to our last event. At first, I wanted all inclusive an event that had all aspects, something for everyone to do. Now I don’t think that goal has changed, but the execution certainly has. Now that I am throwing events with the Neden EH staff we attempt to throw quarterly events one of each different style (a tournament, a quest, a survival monster hunt, and a feast).

What I love about throwing events with Neden is our prop making department. We strive to have magical artifacts up the wazoo and tons of interactive elements throughout the event.

The one thing I would like Neden events to be remembered for would be for its lighthearted interactive and fun/silly elements. All while providing content for the community that we all love and cherish.

What aspects of event holding do you consider most challenging? 

The issue I often run into is staffing. I love the Neden crew and we always show up the day of, unfortunately (really really fortunately) we have been getting bigger attendances which stretches us somewhat thin. Add the fact that our members all work varying schedules it often leaves a brunt of the prep work to fall on a few shoulders.

With that said I would like to really thank Andrew Whitty O’Leary and Chris Hamblett for consciously helping me with prop projects that take way more time than I ever estimate.  I can always count on my Neden crew to come through with prep either by having a crazy prep party at Andy's, making things from their home and sending it to site day of, or ordering stuff we need and having it shipped to my house (I love seeing Syruss O’Leary c/o Neden Castle parcels) so I never have to worry about props. But more staff would definitely make some of our more expansive events easier.

NPCing for Zombie Clean Up by Dustin Mack

Tell us about an even moment you are particularly proud of. 

I have mentioned this before in a "10 questions" but it bears repeating. The proudest thing I did as an EH was to help to resurrect the Tournaments of Blues Rose alongside Eddie Reed (Qualoyth) and Kyle Vaihinger (Caspian) but more important than resurrecting it we gave it a new role and it started hosting charity events for Fallen Members of the Community or members of the Community in Crises. It all came about when we lost a dear friend Jason Massey, and I was privileged in organizing a charity version of ToBR for the family of Jason Massey alongside the rest of the Blue Rose Squires at the time. I got to see our community step up and really donate to a great cause and show me just how much of a family this Realms community could be. We raised well over what we expected.

Now I am privileged, alongside Andrew “Nymbous” O’Leary and the Neden staff, to throw an amazing Can Drive for Homeless Veterans (Veterans Northeast Outreach Center) once a year. We are also now in the process of making all of our events charity based with the idea to donate all earnings to a cause within the community or to add to the overall donation toward VNOC at the time of our can drive.

But it is humbling to see the love and charitable nature this community posses. Whether it be a fight-a-thon, a locks for love cutting, a can drive, or a charity auction we always seem to face whatever weather or drive and make a showing of force and charitable nature.

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

The Zombie Survival Event (aka Monster Hunt) has been one of my long-standing events and I learn something about throwing it each year. With that said I have had the benefit of growing the event each year.

I have learned to walk events sites better, utilize space or lack thereof better and mostly, I learned how to add things to the event last minute and surely how to prepare my staff more effectively.
However, the most important thing I learned from year one is time blocking encounters ahead of time and giving a window for PC’s to mess that up by either crushing the provided time or going WAY OVER.

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

Me personally I love a site with water access, especially in the summer. But a site with cabins, indoor plumbing, a nice central tavern area and a space that noise won't be a problem are all key factors for what I deem a good site.

With that being said I don’t always adhere to my own rules. For starters none of the Neden events have included water, often times we use Public Parks in order to keep costs low so we can spend more on our quest and feast.

We in Neden generally pick Southern NH as that is where most of our staff lives (with exception to our Western ma brothers who often help remotely with prop building)

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

A budget you say? That sounds nice… All kidding aside I am almost always over budget and that's ok. Neden for the past few years has been in a rebuilding phase, where we are just now getting used to throwing events four times a year. The previous EH’s in their infinite wisdom did not keep a lot of props, tables/water jugs/clip boards, and other materials so we have been re-buying things we need.

Now that we have most of what we need to throw events our costs have gone way down. We can now budget money by reusing props from our less costly events to save our big spending for our end of the year feast.

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

I absolutely could not do what I do without co EH’s. Now I know there is only one EH spot per day of an event but all of Neden’s events have multiple people wearing the EH hat despite the fact only one gets the title officially.

Having another one to two people being an absolute voice for both players and staff has made things extremely easier. While most things can get delegated to rolls such as head NPC for your NPC staff, head marshal for your marshaling a feast-o-crat to run your kitchen or even reg desk to prep everyone coming and going, I have found having a person with equal authority to make event changing decisions that I trust allows me to be in multiple places at once. It is however imperative that we are on the same page prior to the event, that we both have a similar vision of how the proceedings should be turning out.

What advice do you have for other Event Holders?

Now, this may seem silly but don’t be afraid to make mistakes. These will only help you going forward.

Ask seasoned EH’s what they did for X maybe it will help you with Y.

But something I wished I learned sooner is PLUG YOUR OWN EVENT and do it  OFTEN. If you want people to show up give them constant reasons why. Until your event is a staple for most to hit annually then they may not know they want to hit it. Try flyers, Write-Ups for the View or follow Neden in making Realms Commercials big: (note that event Date was Moved to May 20th)

The whole crew at Feast of Neden

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

If you haven't had a chance to check out the Neden Staff in action you have 4 chances this year alone.

So if you are interested in A laid-back BBQ with good old fashion BBQ games, tournaments and prizes then head to Neden for Neden BBQ 3: Burgers Bashing and Besties, May 20, 2018.

If you want more of a challenge with puzzles and fighting and story and pizza zombies then head on up to Neden and see what Emilio Jimenez is cooking up for Neden Questing 3, June 17, 2018.

Because we never seem to clean up the mess during the Quest come help us take care of what forces still elude us during Neden Monster Clean up 3, July 15, 2018.

Now this leaves us with our big finale our Thanksgiving Holiday Can drive. If you love traditional Thanksgiving meals, award-winning cranberry sauce, carnivals, gambling, museums, entertainment and prizes then do we have an event for you. Join us for Nedengiving 3, November 18, 2018, and be prepared to be amazed.

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