Friday, September 21, 2018

The Neden Kazoo

Thoughts and Secrets behind the Blackwood Playtest.

I’ve had the pleasure of organizing playtesting at Blackwood for the last several years, it can be a hard job, because people are all passionate about this game, and we all have ideas for it. It can be hard because I have to try and incorporate all these additional rules and mechanics into encounters, when I don’t really necessarily know how they will interact with our current rules. It can be hard because people have general ideas, that need a little developing in order to make them come to fruition, and it can be hard because people have conflicting ideas, and I have to pick one of them, or opt to do neither.

Generally speaking I have a few rules for what we playtest:

If I can playtest it, I will try to.
If it will kill someone, or seriously maim someone, I cannot playtest it.
The less work I have to put into making it playable, the more likely I can playtest it. I only have a limited amount of time to work on things, and if I have 20 playable proposals, and 5 that need modification, and or some parameters or development, some or all of those 5 aren’t going to make it.

And it’s as simple as that. I really do my best to recognize my own biases within the game and system, and allow for playtests of any type. But sometimes those biases slip through; its sort of natural, I’m only human.

Now while this is a large part of my process, after I get through all of these things, I have to bring it to my fellow eventholders, core staff of my event and get their thoughts too. I do my best to make it as easy for them as possible because they’re very busy people, and I need them, but they have super important perspectives on these things, so it’s important. But without any further dithering, my thoughts on this year’s playtests:

⅔ Foam Covered Weapons: For people who check into the event with weapons that have 2/3rds coverage of foam, those items are considered to be under the effect of the protect item spell.

The proposal, simply put was giving a boon for people that use 2/3 foam covered weapons. The only work I needed to do was come up with a reasonable boon. This playtest is a little bit outside the standard for us because it encourages people to playtest something specific by giving them a boon. These weapons, provided they follow the construction guidelines, the goal here is to get perspective on whether or not it changes combat significantly.

Tithing Jar- At set locations around the event site, players may place “Tithing Jars” to their gods. The jars must be themed appropriately to their god, and must incorporate one or all of the god’s symbols.  Everytime a designated magic marshal finds 20 gold in one of the tithing jars, the a divine aid to the god will be triggered. All ritual magic done by the god’s followers will be enhanced. 

The tithing jar proposal is awesome, it fits in well with some of the goals of the folkewood initiative because it aims to provide more depth to the world, it encourages people to be incharacter and immersive, and it is a simple mechanic. This proposal was an easy plus for me, because I like content that gives the players options to provide content for each other.

At set locations around the event site, players may repair weapons and armor by holding the object with both hands and counting to 200 seconds. For armor this effect is based on hit location, so after 200 seconds a the chest armor of a chain shirt would be repaired, and then after an additional 200 seconds, the right arm section of the same chain shirt would be repaired. Etc. 

This proposal combined a couple of proposals; so I got one proposal that called for real world skill abilities to happen at a home base, and one wanted to playtest the idea of fighters being able to repair any item in the same way as a bow. This sort of split the difference, and expanded it to everyone. That being said, I think this will just allow people to play with their abilities and powers more often, and that will expand specifically to newbies, which is nice. I don’t expect this to really break the flow of the game at all, unless people start marching back to these sort of “item spawn points” to get things repaired, and get super separated from the content in the process. I guess we’ll see.

Prepared Shot- Anyone armed with a bow may take 10 seconds to prepare their next shot with an arrow from their bow. If the archer takes 10 seconds, then on their next shot from the bow they may call “double strike.” They may only have one arrow prepped at a time. 

So last year we playtested the idea that every arrow could call double shot. Personally I didn’t think it was that broken, but I guess there were some instances where people could shoot two arrows, and effectively one shot someone.  Personally, I’m still not sure that’s broken when paired next to lightning bolt, or machine gunning, but so it is.

So this was an update to the proposal to incorporate the ability from last year in a perhaps more balanced way. I like it a lot, I hope to see it in action, and get some feedback on it afterwards.

New Weapon Types-
Throwing Weapons: Throwing weapons will be allowed on a case by case basis. They must be clearly labeled as throwing weapons, they must be coreless, and they should be minimally 1 inch in thickness.

Honestly, we allow these sort of weapons a lot of the time anyway, someone asked us to playtest is officially, so it wasn’t hard to say yes.

Slings: No hard or sharp parts for sling - soft leather, string / thin rope, and cloth for construction. Sling must not be longer than ~3 feet. Slinger must be responsible for having nobody nearby (especially behind / in front) when they swing it; other players should be directed not to approach in a manner that will get them hit. The slinger must stop firing before an opponent is close enough to be contacted by the sling. The sling and throwing arm should never hit another player. Anyone swinging it in an unsafe or inappropriate manner can be told by marshals to give up the weapon for the remainder of the event.

Slingshots: For the purpose of this playtest, we are allowing this slingshot.

Sling and Slingshot ammo: For this run of the play test, we are requiring that the ammo for these weapons be uncovered foam, untaped, open cell foam. Minimally larger than an eye socket. 

So for me this was perhaps the most debated playtest of the year. I check in a lot of weapons throughout the year, and I’ll be candid and admit I’ve seen some real nightmares at some events, and practices. For me, the idea of this playtest comes with the most risk, because I have no idea how many people will latch onto it, and give it a try, and I have no idea how many of the people who will latch onto it will be safe with them. I think in that sense, this playtest probably came with more restrictions than the proposer intended, and I’d have to apologize for that. Additionally, I have to admit that it never occured to me that this playtest may be for 3 paths as well, and made the call that it was under the assumption that it followed the bow rules. I think that was probably the right call in terms of balance, but it also show some inherent bias that I might have. I think it’ll be generally fine at the event, but I have some reservations about it too.

At check in a player may designate an element which they are aligned to, with the magic marshal. This may have a benefit at some point during the event.

We’ve playtested that people could change the names of their spell calls to reflect elements that they feel their characters are aligned too in the past, it comes back every time with mixed review, some people end up a little confused, some people really like it. Over all, it ends up pretty neutral, in my opinion. This is in the spirit of that, but hopefully with less player confusion. I’m not sure that it’ll satisfy the players in the same way, but we’ll see.

Spell System Changes:
Dance Component: At check in for any one spell with a verbal component that allows for the caster’s feet to be mobile, that spellcaster may choose to substitute the verbal component with a number of dance steps equal to the number of words required for the spell, with the addition of a flourish at the end, and minimally the name of the spell being cast as a marshaling component. All other components of the spell must be satisfied.

So every time I think about this proposal I chuckle. I think there is a lot of players that will have a very fun time trying to mess around with this mechanic, and I may even hear some belly laughs over it. I hope people take into consideration the people that are around, and are generally nice to each other about it, but we’ll see.

Spells with Changes:

Assassin’s Blade:
Uses: Unlimited, one at a time - Material: A cloth, and either a single weapon up to 3' long or an arrow, labeled with "Assassin's Blade," "Event-Stealable," and the spellcaster's name - Active: Wipe the entire length of the blade 5 times - Caveats: Combat Calls, Enchanted Items, Weapon Calls
This spell allows the spellcaster to prepare their MC with the spells Armor-Piercing Weapon, Enchant Weapon, or Create Poison, without expending a casting, although a use of the spell must still remain in order to prepare it. To prepare the weapon with one of the listed spells, they must wipe the blade of the weapon with the cloth 5 times. Only one spell may be prepared at a time onto the Assassin's Blade. Anyone may use the weapon, but only the spellcaster may utilize the special call with it. The weapon is one-handed, and may be used in conjunction with another weapon or shield by the spellcaster up to their restriction. If the MC is IC broken, it will retain its magical properties if repaired.
In addition, any scalping blow dealt by an Assassin’s Blade counts as two blows dealt.

We had a couple of suggestions about this spell, and I think that this one was the more balanced of the suggestions, generally I’m a fan of giving people options with their spells, so I’d like to see how it plays out.

Protect the Soul 
3rd Circle
Uses: 1 - Verbal: 30 words and an explanation - 
Material: Spell Sash - 
Caveats: Enchanted Items, Spell Sash
This spell will protect the recipient from possession, Animate Undead, and the like. When targeted by any spell or effect against which Protect the Soul immunizes your PC, you may call "Protect the Soul!" Additionally, if the recipient of this spell has a spell with the undead caveat cast upon them, they may opt to rise as a free willed undead. 
 The spell will last until the sash is disenchanted or removed by the spellcaster. The spell will not function if the recipient is scalped or their soul is not within their body for any other reason.

So I have a soft spot for protect the soul. When I was a newbie I wanted to work it into my spell build so badly, but mechanically its very situational. In a lot of ways, it’s geared against PVP, and our game has shifted away from that sort of game in the last some odd years. So for me, protect the soul needs a little bit of a boost in order to really be viable. In that, I also think that necromancy had been becoming more accepted within the game in the last, well long time, so with that in mind, I figured I’d try out an idea wherein protect the soul allows people to opt to be free willed undead, and see if more people take it for that.

New Spells

Reclaim Missiles
3rd circle 
Uses: 2
Materials: 15ft of rope
VC: 10 word chant
AC: hold one hand to the sky
Circles, chant, spell failure
The caster must create a circle with their rope with the ends overlapping and begin chanting. Once one circuit of their chant is complete they may raise their hand in the air and leave the circle. While they continue to chant with their hand held to the sky they may not cast any other spell or make any attacks but they may call pass through on all incoming attacks. They are allowed to move through the battlefield with the purpose of retrieving any missile props they have been granted express permission to, including magic props that cannot be touched otherwise, before returning to their circle.  

The spell ends as soon as the caster steps foot back in their circle. At which time they may interact with the world again and hand out any collected missile props to their owners. 

If for any reason the casting ends before the caster returns to their circle they are dead and must return to their circle. Any knowledge gained while outside their circle is lost if the spell is not completed by successfully returning to their circle. Examples of things that can end the casting are: the spell is disrupted, the circle is broken, the chanting is stopped (see chanting caveat). This ability cannot be used to block or shield players or pathways.

This is a smart attempt at a fix for common problem with a balance mechanic in our game. The mechanic being that you can cast a spell so long as you have the prop for it, the imbalance being the somewhat common situation where you can’t get to your props because of well, dying. This spell, hopefully just eats at that problem by taking up a spell slot, but we’ll see how it plays out on the field.

Touched by Death
2nd Circle
Uses: 3
VC: 30 words, and a description of the spell. 
Materials: Sash with the words “Touched By Death” on it. 
AC: Touch the recipient while reciting the verbal.
Caveats: Undead, Enchantment

The recipient of this spell is touched by death. While they are enchanted by this spell, they are able to be returned to the greatest status of undeath that they have achieved post the casting of this spell, by casting animate lesser undead, animate undead, animate undead general, or embrace death. This ability persists through the living status. Additionally, if any of the aforementioned spells are cast while the being is under the effects of this spell, they may use one of the previous listed spells to heal between 1 and 4 of their limbs. 

I think this spell may imbalance the game in favor of one path necromancers. Like for serious. But we’ll see how many people even try it out.

Dancer’s 1st Blessing:
3rd Circle
Uses: 3
Verbal Component: 20 Words
Dance Component: 10 steps, while having two hands on the recipient. 
AC: Recite the Verbal and touch the recipient of this spell. 
Caveats: Spell Failure. 

The next 3 times the recipient of this spell is raised, the armor they are wearing is repaired to full. There can be no weapons within 10 ft at any point while casting this spell ( except ghost bladed weapons. ) 

I’ve loved the idea of new spells for support casting for a long while, and I thought this was a super smart one that incorporates the fun dance mechanic. I had to give it some meat from its original idea, so it may have stepped a bit away from the first concept, but it needed a little balance in order to be playable. I think overall though support casters would be wise to try it out.

Dancer’s Rally:
4th Circle
Uses: 3
Verbal Component: 20 Words
Dance Component: 10 steps, while having two hands on the recipient. 
AC: Recite the Verbal and touch the recipient of this spell. 

The recipient of this spell has their next attack imbued with double strike. Alternatively, the caster may choose to use a casting of the spell “Armor piercing” to imbue that weapon call instead of double strike, this use of the spell uses both a casting of Dancer’s Rally, and Armor Piercing. 

I’m not sure I like where this fell circle wise, I think it may actually end up being under powered compared to Dancer’s Blessing. I guess I’ll have to see what people do with it.

Dancer’s Charm:
6th Circle
Uses: 5 uses one per person at a time - 
Verbal: 30 words 
Dance Component: 10 steps, while having two hands on the recipient. 
- Material: Spell Sash -
 Active: the recipient must kneel or lie on back, no weapons in hand 
. - Caveats: Enchanted Items, Spell Sash
The recipient of this spell is protected from any damaging attack for 1 hit. The call for this is "Resist Death." The recipient of this spell can choose when to utilize this effect.

I think this may have been a bit broken at unlimited uses. I think if a support caster takes it as 5 uses, they’ll be able do some smart support casting and might be able to change the course of a fight because of it. Also, the mix of the dance component and mechanics for casting resist death makes me laugh every time. I really hope I see this cast at the event just because of that. I hope people have fun with it, and just enjoy themselves.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

From the Editor's Desk

First and foremost, I’d like to extend a big “thank you” to Angie for filling in on the View staff while I’ve been on maternity leave. It’s been such a comfort to me to know that things have been in good hands while I’ve been focusing on the new addition to our family. A few weeks have passed now, and while life still hasn’t gotten back to “normal” around here (or what will pass for the “new normal” I suppose), I’m ready to step back into my role with the View from Valehaeven.

One of the things that we hear consistently from players is that they consider the Realms to be a community, and that this is one of the things that people love most about the game. A community contains many facets, and many different things contribute to making a community rich and vibrant. I believe that the View is an important part of our Realms community, with its own long history in the game, and that it fills a unique role within the Realms. This includes serving as a creative outlet for players who want to write or otherwise submit content, a source of event information, a way to release plot/ teasers, a platform to present ideas, and a showcase for crafting and other talents within the game, among many others. It is a newsletter for the community, run by the community. It is a vital part of the fabric of our game, and I am eager to return to the View and help continue the important work that it does for the Realms.

You can be a part of this too! We are always looking for writers for the “What You Missed” series, and “Why I Want to Go” is also a great opportunity to try your hand at writing if it’s an event you’re particularly looking forward to. These features help the community by promoting and summarizing events. If you’re interested in writing one or submitting other articles, stories, poems, or pictures - let me know!

~Jennifer "Areni" DeNardis-Rosa

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fireside Chat, The Magistrate of New Verai

This interview took me far from my comfort zone, in a couple of ways.  Fortunately, it was high summer, the best time of the year, and I enjoyed every moment of my trip.  Some say New Verai is a backwater nation, but what I saw was quite a lovely landscape.  I had so many questions about how the country worked, but very limited time with Lord Adio Eristu, the Magistrate, that I stuck to questions I found to be more interesting.  His home, of course, is stunning.  There are servants scurrying around.  They seemed healthy and happy, but I still do not know if they were slaves or not.  The two of us sat down to talk over tea.   Let me make a confession to you right now:  I was nervous.  This was a very new situation for me, a new country with new customs, and someone I didn't know very well.  I dove right in with questions.

"Tell us about your title and position in New Verai.  Please"

"As you already know, Lady Twenaria, I am the Magistrate of New Verai, a title I gained after the passing of my father, the former Lord Eristu. Together, we built this estate that you see before you - lovely, is it not? Not unlike yourself, if I may be so bold to add. I understand that we have already discussed that the title of Magistrate of New Verai was not passed on by inheritance, but I shall repeat it again for your readers: the title of Magistrate of New Verai was not passed on by inheritance. I worked for many years until I was the most appropriate selection to take the place of my late father. My older sister was given to Sultana at a young age, and she forfeited any claim to the estate at that point, meaning, that I was the only one left to bear the heavy burden of the most prominent house in New Verai. Hence why you take tea here New Verai with me this lovely day. How do you take it, do tell."Did he just.....I am sure I was blushing like an idiot at this point, but pushed on.

"Where do you live?"  

"Why, I live here, of course," he said, gesturing to the grand manor all around. "As I said, my late father - gods bless him - and I built this place from nothing over the course of many years, albeit at my behest. I had to persuade him that if we were to ever be taken seriously by the Royal Family in Old Verai then we had to look the part of distinguished Verai citizens. He eventually saw things my way and our partnership allowed this desert flower to bloom. Did you want to take a tour of the grounds, my lady? I daresay you would enjoy the menagerie, the baths, and I think you'll enjoy what I did to the master bedroom since my father's passing."

"Tell me what a normal day is like for you."

The Magistrate laughed at my question. "There is no such normal day in the courts of New Verai. Why, ever since we opened the borders to outs-- ahem, the fair folk of the Realms, I have heard the most extraordinary happenings. Oh, you were looking to find out my daily routine, perhaps? Well, I suppose the most interesting part for your readers may be about my position as Magistrate of New Verai. I am in charge of the courts of New Verai. Now, what that means is a bit of a - how would you put it? - a mixed bag. I hold municipal court, anything that doesn't require the Steward's - that would be Nertail - attention would fall under my jurisdiction. Land disputes, arson, larceny, you understand, right? Not only that, but I also have a strong hand in organizing the guards since they often have to apprehend suspects needed for my courtly investigations or to answer for justice passed in my court by the testimony of others."

"You have accomplished a lot in your life.  Tell me, what are you most proud of?"

"Most proud, you ask? Perhaps it would be best to answer with my greatest accomplishment. In the absence of the last Steward of New Verai, Cinnabar, I had this small backwater land in the palm of my hand. Sure, there was a moot of the religious leaders to decide the greatest affairs of state, of which I was one of them as a Priest of Ma'at. See, all the lawmakers are priests of Ma'at, sworn to serve justice, balance, and all. I was the utmost pinnacle of law in the land until the new Steward, Nertail, was appointed by the royal family. I made this small nation what it is today on the foundation laid down by my father, of course."

"Do you have personal heraldry?"

"Personal heraldry, you say?"   He pulled his shirt aside to show me a tattoo.   It is a black gavel ensnared by a coiling snake on a field of red. "The adjudicator's gavel and the asp, noble serpent of New Verai."  

"Rumor has it you are looking for a wife.  Are you lonely, or is this a requirement in your station?"

 "Lonely? How laughably wrong. I am what you might call "lone." Now, there is a great distinction between the two, my lady; one that often goes misunderstood. Feeling pitiful at your absence of companionship, depressed and incomplete? That is lonely. No, I am quite comfortable being my own person, content with the lack of peers in an exalted position such as my own. I am this way by choice, hence why I am lone. It is not required by any such law that I am to be wed, however, the prospect of a wife has much merit, whether it be for political purposes, love, or entertainment. Why, are you suggesting something?"

My ears were on fire, I am sure of it.  I managed not to stutter for the next question.  

"How do you spend your free time?  What do you do for fun?"

"There are many things I do for fun.  Why, I have quite a hand for cards - cribbage in particular - and I find it personally enjoyable to train with a blade in hand. Nothing like keeping the body fit to keep the mind sharp, eh? Sometimes I take long walks through New Verai, just to see the hardworking citizens continue to make this wonderful land into something greater than it was before."  He took a sip of his tea, and added  "And slave auctions can be fun. It's interesting to see how high one will have to bid to win the healthy slaves. To give them a better home than the common man at the auctions will be able to provide them, of course."

Ah, we had arrived at the elephant in the room. "What are your thoughts on slavery?"

He took a moment to answer.  Choosing his words carefully, I think.

 "Slavery is a time-honored tradition here in New Verai. I understand that many of your readers take offense to our peculiar institution, but they simply fail to understand its place in our society. That being said, if we are to trade with certain nations of the Realms at large, we must temper our traditions to garner new wealth and usher in an age of prosperity. Unfortunately, until that time has arrived, I cannot simply pardon all slaves and turn them out on their own without a coin to their names. There are current measures in place to bring us closer to that future, such as the Ima Charity and the New Verai Pickle Industry."

"If you and your father worked so hard to make this nations what it is, why do you not rule?  What does the Prince bring to the table?"

"The Prince, as you say, brings with him the blessing of royal blood of Old Verai. Without their support, this nation is little more than a defenseless backwater ripe for plundering. I don't rule it because Old Verai does not wish it - not for lack of trying. So the Steward is Nertail, but I run the day-to-day affairs that he couldn't be bothered with - what with his lofty position and all." 

He grew silent, and his body language told me one thing, very clearly.  He was done talking about this.  This is when I realized I may have crossed the line.  We chatted a while longer, speaking of the pickle trade, of card games, and other discussions I will not bore you with.  What I do know is this.  Hopefully that the people of Valehaven can help New Verai find firm footing as a trade partner.  The cultures are different, of course, but I think enlightenment can go two ways.  And, of course, I look forward to many more discussions with The Magistrate.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Why I Want to Go-Feast of Blackwood IX

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

I’ve had the great privilege of attending this event both as a player and as a member of staff, and I guarantee you will have fun this weekend, because that is the quality of event that this staff provides. If you’ve never been before, this event is one of those special events that seamlessly ties together food, questing, and tournaments in a form that ensures that everyone will enjoy themselves.

The staff is continuing to pull out all of the stops with a plot that is enthralling to so many players. They consistently offer PC’s high-role play experiences, phenomenal props, and choices that genuinely impact the story. One of the things that always stands out to me about Feast of Blackwood is the opportunity to playtest new and interesting mechanics, which really helps guide the direction of the whole game. This event will provide PC’s with the opportunity to make the kind of memories that years later we will all be discussing around the campfire saying, “No shit, remember when…” You definitely don’t want to miss it.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t wax poetically about the food at this event. Saturday night before the nightquest, the staff will fuel you up with a classic spaghetti supper that I promise you will hit the spot before you venture out into the woods. But the real amazing stuff will come out on Sunday. I’m talking Realms famous meatloaf, Rueben pizzas, and so much more. When this staff cooks, they do it with love and excellence. You will be impressed by the variety and quality of the food that is set before you.

There was once a time in the Realms that I could find myself bored at a feast, especially if I wasn’t in the kitchen. But Blackwood has us covered--there will be tournaments and gambling to keep you more than entertained between delicious courses. If you are looking for an event that excels at bringing us all of the best that the Realms has to offer, look no further than this weekend and make it a point to come out to Feast of Blackwood.

Friday, September 14, 2018

My Thirst for another man's pickle: A love Story by Lord Syruss

AKA What you Missed Folkewood Questing

I am dead...Yup as of reading this I am dead but that jumps the story ahead a bit I think let's go back to the beginning.

I was full from the feast the night before, needed some rest.

I took out a vile of green liquid and swirled it about...

"What's that stuff?" Tyruss Meatbag inquired

"That's raw portal magic" Jean-Baptise interjected "Naj created a few of these for the lord so he could port home to Neden should he on another plane somewhere or you know drunk in a pub"

"JB is correct brother, Naj never ports drunk..that's how you end up in a volcano or at your ex's house at 2 am"

I threw the vile on the ground and a swirling purple portal appeared before me...

"Huh this color is new," I said trepidatiously.

Darkin, JB, Jayce, Tyruss and Myself were ported away to neden.

***Zip Zap Blorp Portal Sounds****

Falling is a funny feeling. It feels like everything is passing you by all while feeling free. That was the exact feeling we were experiencing now...

Swooooooooooosh the air rush by us as we came tumbling towards the ground. 

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" we screamed collectively.

As I was carefully calculating a safe way to land Tyruss Meatbag came shooting down past me like a swift aerodynamic arrow.

***Bammmm*** Tyruss hit the ground with a sickening thud... Standing up and dusting himself off he seemed no worse for ware..."That wasn't so bad" He exclaimed. "O look my shadow is getting bigger....wait ...what?!?!"

Bang crash kaboom we all came tumbling down on top of Tryuss Meatbag as if he was some sort of safe crash pad waiting for our inevitable meeting with the ground.

Meatbag exploded in a gross epic fashion like someone set of a firecracker in a mag of loose meat and parts.

"Dammit" JB exclaimed..." It will take me all week to put him back together. I am not even sure I am going to get the same shape....maybe less hair on this one..or scales..."

We landed on the Castles front lawn. I thought that Sir Nah still has a ways to go before we can start selling these portal potions to the public.

The Neden Boys was nowhere to be seen (See the Latest Misadventure of the Neden boys

Jayce offered to get Dith and Cabby and look for our missing brethren.

We all got a good night sleep before attempting to return to Folkstone in the AM.

***Zip Blorp port****

"This isn't Folkestone" an observant Darkin had stated.

He, of course, was right it had appeared we were now in New Veri. But we knew Sir Naj was having some portal trouble so we decided to make a day of it.

We decided to try our hand at agriculture helping plant many crops that were apparently destroyed by last years venturing party. We um stopped bandits from stealing things from our friends and even started a roving trading company making coin which we needed for my favorite part of the weekend....PICKLES

There was this merchant with these delicious little delectables, pickles like I never had before and man o man, were they top notch.

I found myself compelled to buy more. Was it the crunchy goodness? The sweet yet salty combination? Were there magical forces at work here or was the pickle brine that good... I don't know and I don't want to know, all I know is I loved this man's pickles.

He was attacked a few times while selling his goods, to which Darkin and I sprung into action slaying any would be pickle murdering menace.

There were plenty of other things to do for sure. There were these magical way lines people seemed interested in, this grey lady causing a menace, the Voranis puppers were fighting with these other puppers but for me, it was the pickles.

Pickle after sweet pickle, killing bandit after bandit for that sweet sweet pickle dosh until tragedy struck.....THERE WERE NO MORE PICKLES!!!!!! What were me Darkin and JB.....Hey, where is JB? I thought as now that my pickle crazed state of being started to pass.

Turns out he had a heck of an adventure with his Knighthood the Knights of the Steward. But, you will have to ask him about that.

Nope, no Pickles no Syruss is what I thought!!!! I activated one of the temporary portals again to take me and Darkin back to Neden for libations, pickles and a rest. Surely the vendors stock will be filled tomorrow it thought, as I slowly drifted off into a deep sleep.

***Cock a doodle Grahhhhh screach AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH****

Ah the sounds of Mornings in Neden majestic, peaceful gets the blood going in the morning.

I was up and ready to seize the day like I seized all those orbs and sold them for sweet sweet pickle money. But today I would just bring a bunch of coins so I could stay close to Pickle Guy and get my belly filled with his awesome goodness (I said what I said)

****Zip blop pop portal sound****
Back in New Veri.

This time I ventured out with just Jean-Baptise as he never left and Darkin did not want to return to "That crazy backwater slaver nation.." The man has a real hangup on slaves, who can blame him?

I searched and searched but it has seemed the merchant kart moved on to other lands.

This was upsetting as I had my heart set on a day of pickle fulfillment.  Instead, I was left with helping the adventures of the realms with the Puzzle Problems.

First, the heroes of the realms were losing their weapons trying to attack this wall of corpses. So I reminded them they can't lose their weapons if they are the weapons. With that my magical slinging sorcerors made start throwing everything, they had into this puzzle literally.

I use my detective brain to solve the very complicated pattern that allowed us to proceed, no matter what they may say about me just randomly guessing.

After we worked past these curse ribs of this dying dragon we entered the foul beast. Now, Darkin and I have tried to kill things from the inside before and each time we found out that skin is equally thick from the inside as it is from the outside.  This time however....was no exception.

We walked for hours in this dragon until we eventually reached its heart. Now not all of us could go in...Well, I went in, I'm Syruss I do things.

There we were attacked by the dragons antibodies until we overwhelmed the heart till it stopped.

Then we all escaped by beating the everliving strings out of the rest of the dragon.

Last room we were met by this cool grey statue lady nailing some top-notch ventriloquism.

The day ended with us doing the right thing or not. Neden's Little Buddy Chester was blown up in an incident by a certain misjudgment from a butcher, but we won't talk about that.

We then all held hands in a friends circle to get him back. We were told he is on his way but has little legs so it may take some time.

Well all in all New Veri is only slightly better than Old Veri and I might have a pickle addiction...

Tune in next time faithful readers.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Making of the Grey Lady

By Beth "Freesia" Tozier

For FolkeWood questing, I was tasked by Neil with creating a living statue costume. And by tasked, I mean I jumped at the chance to do it.

So, how did it all come together? Well, it was weeks of research, planning, and execution with the aid of several people.

I feel that the Realms would benefit from knowing how things were made when it comes to big costumes and props. I also hope that with this, we can up our costuming game.

Let’s start with the dress. We knew the look we were going for was pseudo Greek. I scoured Halloween costumes for the right piece. I found this:

As you can see, it is not in the least bit grey, nor was it in any way stiff. With help from Jana “Jynx” Greene and a little more research we found that the next step was to cover the whole dress in Liquid Latex. Jana found the Rub-R-Mold Liquid Latex. She also had the idea to stuff some shopping bags under the waist of the dress to keep it from pulling down/losing some shape.

Armed with Rubber Gloves, a little starch, and a lot of Rub-R-Mold, we went to work one Friday night. We went through a whole container of the latex and needed to order another another to ensure that the whole dress was sufficiently covered. We didn’t get any pictures of us actively applying the latex, because it was a messy job. At one point, I had to cover my left arm in cellophane to keep from having to pull my arm hairs out (so messy).

Once the latex set (it took a couple of days because of the humidity) I was able to start painting - Dano “Piper” Knoble was a huge help with the first few coats of paint.

Every piece had to be hand painted to match and the paints had to be mixed as well to get just the right grey. We did a full two coats of paint to get the right texture.

We even went so far as to touch up the paint while I was wearing the dress. Just the latex and painting took two weeks to complete. But, we were pretty please with the stiffness of the material, and the look.

After the dress was painted, Danielle “Elizah” Guimont did some work with the Makeup. We tapped Danni, even though she was playing, because she has a background in theater and really knows her makeup. She did her own research and we did a test run in my dining room.

We had to be sure that the makeup was water based. I have seriously sensitive skin, so any old makeup would not have worked for me. We discovered that the Mehron brand was perfect and also gave great coverage.

Finding the right wig was the last touch, and likely the easiest step for me. With a little patience and hairspray we managed to get everything set.

Every minute making this costume was a learning experience. I am excited I was able to make this and play the role. I have ideas for how to improve the process, so one day I hope to play this NPC again! (Or something similar)

I really believe that we, as a community, can take our NPC costuming to the next step. We have a lot of creative minds, and talent in our community. Armed with that, we can create almost anything!

Some of the things I learned about this process:
More Latex! Really, I wish I had done a full second coat of the dress.
Maybe making a top/arm cover to cut back on makeup costs would help.
The first layer of makeup may have gone faster with an airbrush. We’re going to test that.
Making a full costume like this is a real labor of love. I hope other EHs take the leap to do it as well.
Hand Painting the dress was better than the alternatives, which was spray paint.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What You Missed- Tournaments of Chaos

By Natalia "Shadar" Kostenko

I can sum up my experiences at my very first Tournaments of Chaos in 3 haikus. Why would I do that, you ask? Well if I learned anything this weekend it’s definitely that we don’t have to answer that question anymore.

A goose, a minion,
A meatball...the table flips
Webbed squishy bits

Banana bana
Na banana banana
Bananana. Fight

Finally I have
More than zero list points. Suck
It Tucker and Kyle.

Unfortunately I skipped the night quest to hang in the tavern and play many rousing games of Beirut, complete with the musical stylings of several dying cats (or maybe my fellow tournament participants? A few beers in I couldn’t tell). So no haikus about that. The tournaments themselves, however, were conducted in a very fun, sportsmanlike, and of course chaotic fashion. Everyone had a great time, even when some of us got turned into thralls. This situation was handled effectively with a combination of temporary undead-living segregation, and Trent telling the thralls to get off his lawn. Overall, a very wholesome event to fight your friends at.

After a long weekend of tiring competition and Syruss brutally mispronouncing his name, Torolf (Trolf? Toorf? Trollof?) emerged overall victorious as our Chaotic Champion (while also somehow being most lawful). A huge congratulations to him and all the winners of the other categories too! A big thank you to the event holders as well for giving me this opportunity to be super confused and super entertained for a whole weekend. They also donated all the proceeds from their event to the Betie family fundraiser, so major props for helping our fellow Realms community members in their time of need.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What You missed at Bicolline August 11-19


Bataille de Bicolline is a participative event in the heart of the biggest medieval-fantasy gathering in North America, and where more than 3000 participants will be part of an epic battle!”

  People from Realms attended and represented Realms as a whole and their nations in a setting under an Embassy Banner.  As a group we attended many meetings, gatherings, social events, War preparations, dinners and of course drinking gatherings.

  5 of us attended the Thoarsday celebration at Ragnarok  where you must wear blue (we are the first Americans to ever have been invited to this celebration last year and again this year) . Thoarsday is a big family Dinner with more food than you can eat ,we provided cupcakes  made by our repetitive from Chimeron, a member of the order of the spoon  “Mel”, Freedom cupcakes chocolate cake, blue icing, maple drizzle and bacon chunks on top.  We also brought and launched fire lanterns with our Family when it was dark to finalize the magical evening before we went to listen to music

 The Bards that attended with us were asked to play for a dinner on a pirate ship captained by Calysto . Although it rained pretty hard the bards persevered and played longer than they were hired to play and have been asked to play the pirates dinners for years to come.  Some of the new members of the embassy from lands north east (BC) also played and sang.

The members of the Embassy Received 3 awards Swoop and Ferren were knighted by the Emperor and Sir Shean received a medal for his kills on the battlefield with a bow.

Sir Shean's Award in English reads "To the imperial heroes that made blood flow by way of steel fist and true faith. Their sacrifice and their hostility made the Empire March towards victory. Glory to heroes !"

(12 people who are not part of Realms have asked to join with us at Bicolline 3 from British Columbia, 2 from, NY, 2 from NJ and a Family from Tennessee)

Sir Shean O’Quinnlin
Lord of Creathorne
Ambassador of the Realms Embassy

Friday, September 7, 2018

What You Missed- Folkestone Questing

By Eric "Rosetta" Willisson

Before I begin, you should know this,
Magic I worked still lingers in my mind,
And may, at times, still manifest,
In slips of tongue, till next I rest.

In New Verai we found ourselves,
A pleasant summer’s day.
Gardens sprawled around the lands,
Life returning where Blight had burned away.

Me and mine helped new plants grow,
Though many found the work a chore.
We left, returned, and left again,
New Verai has much to explore.

A priestess approached, requesting aid,
In finding orbs to help divine
Some truth the Seers of Ro could show
If we could trust ‘twas not malign.

But while we searched, ‘why’ was unclear,
Then a pickle merchant did appear.
Carl sold his wares at prices fine,
But bandits sought to steal his brine.

For the merchant used to cart his wares,
A barrel much too large for stairs.
On wheels for easy to-and-fro,
One could but grab it, turn, and go.

I wandered to a valley fair,
And I smelled magic in the air.
We spread the word, and soon we found,
Attackers coming all around.

Assassins sent through Time, we thought,
Who came in groups, and on we fought.
Some had hides most hard to pierce,
Enfeebles helped, but they were fierce.

As Arryn, Storm Queen, and I incanted,
Suddenly, a vision granted.
A Stone Lady, all in gray,
Speaking from another day.

Haughtily, she spoke in turn
To servants with commands most stern.
One had failed her she was clear
To claim relics that she held dear.

He was sent to Blackwood’s lands,
A helmet sought with his own hands.
His last chance, she made quite clear,
Suggesting we have much to fear.

The next servant, it sounds to me,
Expects to travel astrally,
The Lady wished for choicest bits
From Those Beyond Death, not just their wits.

When all was done she turned to say,
She knew we had watched her that day.
Unconcerned, she seemed to be,
No matter what we tried to see.

The vision cleared, and we did know
What we had seen was long ago.
The orbs we’d sought were used up, spent
The Seers of Ro, their lives they’d lent.

We knew we must stop what she wanted,
And set out to do good deeds, undaunted.
Yet while I say this, I must confess
Already there were signs of stress.

We found shrines to the elements
Ruined by salt, most irreverence.
Desecrated by hands unknown,
So to fix them we were prone.

Voraniss said they saved the shrines,
And ‘twould rob the Lady of her strength.
But at vision’s end, Sir Sean declared
They’d made things worse, if we cared.

We all spread out, and soon did find
More to do, both cruel and kind.
Rifts in space, to close with thread,
Many fought a harvester of dead.

An arsonist who ‘scaped down the trail
Not once but twice was thrown in jail
While lunch was served for those who’d pay
Hot food makes a long quest okay.

As day progressed, a druid came
To tell us all where we must aim
The Night Pack would soon be known
And monsters huge would next be grown.

To stop their plans, Sal did attest,
We’d need a serum, so we would quest
He knew the way, or so he said
A risk, for he was off his head.

Dusk came and went, while we prepared
Thanks to Chim, I was well-cared.
But no more pickles, I’m sad to say,
We’d eaten all, Carl on his way.

Voraniss planned to lead the charge,
The Night Pack’s enmity with them is large.
Their ritual was a thing to see,
Strengthened bonds of family.

First to birds, who towered tall,
We took the feathers we saw fall.
Their heads smashed down through armor strong,
While Night Pack foes fought with our throng.

Next a beach, to take a sap,
From swampweed reeds, almost a trap
Voraniss covered our behind,
At last we fled, sap unrefined.

Sal told us of a mushroom pit
We’d need their spores, there was much wit
For magic flowed in fungi there
We get it, you don’t breathe only air.

About this time, we seemed to learn,
The master of the Night Pack’s turn
Would come only if disenchanted
The collars on his folks he’d planted.

The mushrooms left us in a daze,
I saw tall ones jumping in the haze,
At last on to lizards’ den,
To take their eggs, like from a hen.

They were not docile like Sal said
But this worked out, if many bled
For we needed some scales too
They’d not give willingly, it’s true.

At last we gathered at the inn,
Components spread, but much too thin
Were our reserves of swampweed sap
So Lako gave a magic zap.

An altar stood where we did see
A host of monsters, Night Pack’s fury.
The battle raged, the serum used
But through it all, we came out bruised.

The altar’s spells were keyed to race,
They reached us all while in that space
We Rose, we raged, our arms repaired,
Or rooted, died, with misery shared.

None could see the altar’s ways,
Least of all me, to paraphrase,
I used my skills to no avail,
Help came but could not tip the scale.

The Night Pack won, their power grew
Though we’d killed more than one or two
This enemy will come back soon
We’ll need the magic of the Moon.

We licked our wounds, and rumors spread
That not just outfought, we’d been misled
And one of ours had stolen all
We could have used to save this brawl.

Voraniss, Gau Dring, and Chimeron,
Went to the one who’d done us wrong
And while we talked late in the night,
It could not keep us from a fight.

While over quick, the conflict led
To a more despondent trip to bed
And to New Verai, we were sure to say,
Sorry about the mess this day.

When morning broke, a new task loomed
A Dracolich feared they’d be consumed
When Death came to take its toll,
They wished instead to remain whole.

We learned the rifts seen yesterday
Were side effects of old drake’s way
And as we entered the body rotted,
More enemies, we had soon spotted.

We solved a puzzle on its bones
By listen’ing to their ringing tones.
And spells returned through sacrifice
By Kindrianna, quite sweet and nice.

Next to the heart we traveled swift
Discussing how to give a gift
For to save the Dracolich
From Death who takes souls both poor and rich.

Inside the heart, I could not fit
I hear the trials had great wit
Lightning crashed and blazed away
It sounded to be fun to play.

Next the lungs loomed red and white
Both sides pushed a trying fight
One lung breathed flames, its small cells burst
When slain, the fires got the worst.

The white side raised undead for sure
Had to be stopped by a Life’s Cry pure.
We caught our breaths, but could not gloat
Next we must climb up the throat.

It tried to swallow us back down
Yet at the top, close to the crown
We’d reached the head, and soon the end
We hoped to save draconic friend.

A door was locked, rope cleared the way,
We entered the last fight that day.
The Lady Stone was in the head
Her minions all filled us with dread.

We could not keep them down, you see
And we feared what their goals could be.
They seemed like ours: the dragon’s soul
But if they won, oh, what a toll.

The Lady’s spells kept them alive
With each time, we tried to thrive
The soul was split, the pieces scattered
And her forces through ours shattered.

Lako pulled me and others near
To try to use a magic cheer
To keep our side all fighting strong,
But in the end, it all went wrong.

We fought her to a standstill yet
Then our cause filled with regret
She marched alone to soul’s repose
And smashed it with a stony pose.

Spells zigged and zagged, I know not where
But all was not quite lost right there
We kept the soul from evil grasp
The drake was dead, with a last gasp.

Again we licked our wounds, forlorn
Victory lost, new plans were born
And Syruss asked if we could heal
His small friend who, for all his zeal,

Had disappeared when Lady struck
What could have happened to his luck?
I lead a ritual at this end
Hoping to restore his friend.

We only could get part o’way,
The rescue’d come another day,
And I, though drained in soul and mind,
Am slightly left with a small bind.

For both times that I used my strength
To hold off stone’s arms, and ritual’s length,
I Invoked my power, mighty, old
It does not always do what’s told.

You’ll find me thus, a bit First Age
Until I step down off this stage
But travel soon, I know I should,
I’ll see you at Feast of Blackwood!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

What You Missed- Feast of Folkestone

by Tucker "Temorse" Noyes

If you missed Feast of Folkestone this year, then you missed an average, run of the mill Feast of Folkestone, which is to say, you missed quite a lot.  This years Feast boasted a variety of activities, from gambling to dessert wars to night questing to excellent food to more auctions than any single event has ever had before.

The feast portion of the event was themed this year, and that theme was brunch.  This meant a delicious array of foods including several different types of quiche, chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, and french toast sticks, among many other dishes.  This was all topped off with an endless supplies of refreshing virgin mimosas.  Overall the food was of top notch quality that anyone who has attended Feast of Folkestone has come to expect.

There were plenty of activities to partake in during and after the feast.  Gambling was available with a variety of games, as per usual at the back of the tavern throughout the night.  Dessert Wars was run in periodic events throughout the evening as well, letting different folks compete for a prize of gold.  The myriad of courses was briefly interposed by a court that saw the knighting of Karhma Celestine to the Knights of the Blue Rose, the squiring of Darkin to the same order, a denouncement of slavery by the Church of Aurora, the elevation of Neil Cook to master of the spoon as well as Tazzia and Freesia’s promotion to journeyman from the Order of the Spoon. We also saw a presentation of a gift from Sir Syruss of Neden, in the form of a remastered version of the famed Blue Spruce, as well as a companion weapon gifted to Evie of Voraniss.  After the feast had finished there was also some questing to be had, where groups of adventurers formed triumvirates.

Finally we had the auction.  There were several auctions, including live auctions, silent auctions and ticket auctions for gold.  There were many, many, fantastic prizes with many very happy winners.  However there was another set of auctions as well, including a ticket auction, a raffle, a live auction and a silent auction for cash.  These were all auctions with a single purpose, to raise money for a fellow member of the community who was in need.  In a variety of ways these set of auctions demonstrated the strength and resolve of the community.  There were a vast array of items donated to the auctions from an incredibly diverse set of people from all corners of the community.  There, additionally, as an equally wide variety of people who spent their money on the auctions, all of which to goes to help a member of the community in need.  The sheer number of participants willing to give back to help was a proud moment for the community.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Why I Want to Go-Tournaments of Chaos 13

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

Sometimes you just needs to hit things with swords? Am I right? This weekend, you have the opportunity to do just that at Tournaments of Chaos. I hope you are looking forward to a weekend full of fighting and fun. Many of the tournaments will count for Order of the List points, and ultimately, it’s going to be a great weekend of showing off what makes the Realms unique. Tournaments will include the classics, as well as more chaotic tournaments, and small group tournaments as well. There will be something for everyone interested in fighting to engage in. And you’ll have the opportunity to compete for a bunch of weekend long titles such as most chaotic, most shady, and most badass as well.

Before I get too caught up in the tournaments, I should also mention that this weekend will feature a feast on Saturday, as well as quests throughout the weekend, including night quests.Non-com tourneys will be available as well such as chess and bardics. Basically, this event has everything you want to keep you satisfied at a Realms event. Come out and hit people. Come out and fight monsters. Come out and win Beirut. Come out and eat. Come out and have a good time.

This event is a staple in the Realms calendar, and you should definitely make it a point to attend. I’ll see you there!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The View Retrospective: Poem - Legacy

Scan by Jeremy Grayson. Originally published in The View from Vaklehaven, 2nd Ed, Vol. 3, Issue 9. November/ December 2006.