Monday, December 31, 2018

Views in the View - New Year's Edition


We asked and you answered -  
What is your character's New Year's resolution?

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To deepen his connection to the gods, to crusade for the greater good and to crush the enemies of Voraniss.
- Cronin Barbaria

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Eat more cake! What more is there?
- Wynn

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The attend more gatherings, and encourage others to do the same.
- Madam Zarine

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To recreate myself into a better me.
- Thoril Chorster

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To do something small out of my comfort zone(just to start)
- Belle

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To clean up loose ends, prepare for the future, and try to remember when....
- Sir Duke Tao Ya Kang

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To free Dalindana.
- Laika en'Naur

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Humanizing the Realms: Sara "Zarine" Jessop

1. What do you do outside of the game? What would you like to be doing? (Work, school, etc.)
I am one of those lucky people who gets to do what I love for a living. I have been a hairstylist for twenty years and I have never regretted that career choice, even if it means I am only seen on Sundays most of the year.

2. What hobbies do you enjoy other than LARP?
Most of my free time outside of work and larp is taken up with World of Warcraft. I am an officer and raider in a 3/8 Mythic guild. I also enjoy both running and playing in tabletop RPGs and I am a big fan of story heavy video games. I really enjoy creative writing, character and world building, and honestly I spend a lot of time day dreaming.


Picture provided by Sara Jessop

3. Favorite meal, dessert, and drink?
My 'favorite' anything tends to change on an hourly basis, but I generally love Chinese food, Creme Brulée, and I have recently discovered a love of fruity sour ales.


4. If you could go on vacation anywhere, where would it be? Would you bring anyone?
Lots of places! But really, my biggest vacation goal is London. I really want to see all of the architecture and history, and I might be a bit of a royalty fangirl. And I mean, I guess I would bring my husband, so he could follow me around and correct all the historical inaccuracies given by tourist signs and guides.


5. Are you working on any life goals that you’re willing to share?
Nothing overly specific or long term. I recently got off my butt and got my IC blog together which had been a goal of mine for quite a while, so I haven't really found a new thing to procrastinate about for the next year yet.


6. Favorite outfit other than garb?
Totally depends on where I am and what my goal there is. If I am at home I am most likely in
comfy pajamas. At work I need to be comfortable but professional, so I usually wear a nice pair of jeans and a fitted long or short sleeve t shirt and I found an amazingly awesome apron at a hair show that I wear over that. If I am 'going out', I wear whatever makes me feel the best about myself. I am one of those 'look good, feel good' people, so that means I am also one of those people who changes her outfit ten times before I find the one that just feels right.


7. Do you have any professional or personal skills you’d be willing to talk about?
I am really really good at being organized and clean. I'd make a great professional organizer. I also feel l like I have decent knack for interior design. I'm great at my chosen career, which is pretty fortunate for my clients. I am super detail oriented, which can sometimes be a negative, but overall I feel it's a pretty positive trait that I wouldn't trade away.


Picture provided by Sara Jessop

8. What drew you to the realms, and what keeps you there?
As far as what drew me here, I would have to say friends. I really wasn't interested in it at all, but my friends played, so I kind of dragged myself to the game to spend time with them and motivated myself with the fact that I could dress up fancy. The problem at the time was that I was actually terrible at dressing fancy and roleplaying, but I made do and stuck around. What keeps me here is more of the same. Almost none of the friends that I started playing with play anymore, but I have made new friends. My 'dressing fancy' game has improved, or at least I would like to think so, and my roleplaying ability has as well and I actually enjoy exploring my character and presenting her. It took me a long time, almost 15 years, to find my place in the game but now that I am found it I don't know if I could leave it.


9. Favorite movies/shows/books?
I think everyone knows how much of an I Love Lucy freak that I am. I also love me a good Golden Girls marathon. My favorite modern show is The Royals. I am not much of a movie person anymore, but I really like cheesy romance movies, westerns, and historical/period movies. My favorite movie I would have to say is Atonement. For books, I am a pretty shallow book reader. I like victorian romance novels and YA fiction that are really easy and quick reads. If I had to chose a favorite book though, it would be Pride and Prejudice.


10. If you happened upon 3 wishes, what would they be? (Wishing for more wishes doesn’t seem to work...)
To eat whatever I want and not get fat
That they never canceled Pan Am (seriously, I loved that show)
That I had an infinite closet full of clothes/garb to chose from


Yes those are stupid answers, but I honestly hate this question so these are the answers that you get. I would likely never actually wish for anything because I'd be so afraid of messing everything up with things that weren't suppose to happen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018




Wishing you the best this holiday season!

Your View Staff -

Jen - Keith - Lani - Kelly - Renee - Ryan - Hannah


Monday, December 24, 2018

Views in the View

The View asked... 

What are you hoping to find in your Yule stocking this year?


Happiness, unity, and identity for my people. If that's not available, maybe just a good drink to share.
- Saegan

Evens to can. I am rather sick of can'ting. It's very exhausting.
- Madam Zarine

I hope to find some small treats to feed the cute little animals of Voraniss!
- Evie

I would love a bottle of fine whiskey. Or perhaps new parchment paper for my many contracts. A nice new hat would be swell too.
- Lord Sir Syruss

I would love the Super Magical Microphone Zarine got at the feast.
- Sir Sarrix

New furs to keep warm with in the winter
- Tulkhan

Man then Lord Nymbous and NOW Lord Syruss have been promising me another Goober Cart Driver for Neden. I don't know if they'll fit in my stocking but that's what I want.
- Cabby of Neden

I need new MMA gloves for all these orphans I am training in Neden. I mean if I don't get them bare knuckle boxing is still an option but we should probably protect these kids knuckles
- Sir Dith of Neden

I would love the key to the cell that Syruss threw me in. Beak into one Lords Whiskey store room and suddenly you're public enemy and not one of his favorite brothers.
- Vyrusss of Neden

I would really love a bottle of LTD that I can share My Lord Syruss and Nymbous and one I can hide from both of them.
- Danikin "Ditch" Maloy of Neden

I need new armor! How much can fit in this stocking...HEY SYRUSS CAN I HAVE A BIGGER STOCKING IN MY STOCKING?? Cause I will take that.
 - Gumbo of Neden


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Ask the Editor - New Nations


Question: 
My friend and I were considering starting a group/country. We have a couple people who could join with us, but we want to make sure we do it correctly and people take us seriously. Do you have any advice for us?

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Just do it. My advice would be to have an idea of your countries background and culture when you come in. Ask yourself questions like “Who are we?” “What tropes do we fit into?” Build yourselves up a little. Have a Heraldry, uniform, or other unique recognizable quality. My other advice is that when you unveil yourselves to the community, do it as a group. What I mean is have as many of your people as you can. We get new groups in our game. New nations, knighthoods, guilds. It's a thing.

Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

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I say go for it too! It is a wonderful chance to be creative and contribute to the community in your own way. I’m in the unique position of having started a new nation just a little more than a year ago and we put a lot of focus on creating a cultural identity for ourselves before the big reveal. This made it very easy to answer the “Who are we?” question that Keith mentioned. What makes you unique and what is the goal of your group? Be able to answer those questions even if they are as simple as “We’re a group of friends looking to have fun together.” If you can do that, then people will have a better understanding of your identity and purpose and respond appropriately. As for advice beyond that, be prepared for a lot of work! I’m not saying that to discourage you, but rather to prepare you for any crafting, meetings, and team building activities that may come up. Creating a nation is a very rewarding and challenging experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Best of luck!

Renee “Kindrianna” Booke

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Although it’s nice to hear that you want to be a part of the community, I’d say don’t worry too much about what other people think of you. Starting a nation/group means that you are already with like-minded people. I’d focus on your own culture, what you stand for, government structure, etc. Let the community worry about you on their own. Do it!

Hannah “Nhadala/Salt Queen” Blood

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I would say, create your group or nation first, and the rest will follow. In terms of the “correct” way to form a group, most people follow the same process, which you seem to have started as well - gathering together a group of like-minded people that want to play and hang out together, both in and out of character. This is the first, and most obvious step.

But there is also a but of thinking and discussion that needs to occur between you and your friends as well. I feel that one of the most important things you need to decide when starting your group/ nation is what you want to stand for, and what you want your contribution to the game and community to be as a whole - almost like creating a mission statement, or deciding on a group identity. Decide what you want your heraldry and colors to be, and how you want to present yourselves (Tabards? No tabards? Specific makeup or other characteristics? Are you human?) 

As for other peoples’ opinions of you, or the fear of not being taken seriously - I wouldn’t let that stop you. Your group’s reputation will grow and change as you start to hit more events, play together as a unit, and interact with others. Above all, you just need to be true to yourselves, your vision for the group, and how you want to play your characters moving forward - and make sure you're having fun and enjoying the game while doing so! Everything else should flow naturally from there.

Jen “Areni” DeNardis-Rosa

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What You Missed- A Very Merry Yule at Uncle 'Crazy' Cecil's Tavern 2

By: Emily "Kara" Murphy

You missed quite an adventure if you missed UCCT this year. You missed Alpackasaurus (sorry if I spelled that wrong) impersonating someone to get us started down a really weird path Saturday morning. Everything about that adventure was wild. Like, there was a talking trash heap involved. I’m not even being mean there was an actual trash pile talking to us. The rather nice trash pile sent us in the direction of some musicians in the woods, who insisted that to get the shine gourd, that we had to get it from some gorgs, which are apparently sentient rock things. However, to get the gourd, we had to sing to it, using a completely original song, that we had to feel inside our souls, that we had to use specific instruments for. I was left really confused by this and went to go encourage kid adventurers to murder.

Photo by Lynna Gallo

Photo by Lynna Gallo

We moved on from this, we took a small break only for another letter to arrive ‘for’ Alpackasaurus. Setting out towards cats, I think, we ran into an amoeba. I don’t like amoebas, I don’t like being a part of amoebas. They just freak me out.  We eventually got everything figured out though, and made our way to back to the musicians after finding everything we needed. Then we made a song to the tune of one of those old church bells and went on our way to fight the gorgs, who were not happy with anything going on so like the morally-upright and righteous adventurers we are, someone stole it and ran. I’m sorry that I skipped over some things as I may have not been on the field when they happened as I had injured myself twice that day (minor stuff I really didn’t want to use energy on).
The Gorgs (photo by Beth Tozier)

Saturday night was as fun as usual, though still carrying over the rather nice weather from the day. Ultimately if you missed UCCT, you missed a fun recreation of Fraggle Rock and a good time.

Photo by Megan Matulewicz



Monday, December 17, 2018

Friday, December 14, 2018

Ever Upward

Ever Upward

Building the Viking Airship for Echoes of Ragnarok IV

by Jason "Aeston" Rosa

"Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die."

-Ulysses. 
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sometimes big ideas have very humble origins. In this case, it started at my son’s birthday party in July where a table of Rhiassans amused themselves by talking and making jokes about moon encounters that could be utilized in our upcoming event (yes, cheese was mentioned several times). We had yet to really plan any more than the very basic concept of the dungeon crawl and this was our first real brainstorming session to try to nail down rooms and mechanics that could be used.

We spent a lot of time talking about moon tropes and concepts and at one point someone asked “What about a room where they actually have to get to the moon in the first place?”. That was it, that was all I needed to hear. Immediately my mind started reeling with concepts of a viking longboat being propelled through the skies by players rowing. Though the specifics would come later as the concept was revised again and again I knew back then that the lion’s share of this event would take place on what I planned to be one of the greatest ships the Realms had ever seen.

The creation of this ship, the painstaking work that went into the props and mechanics and puzzles, was one of the most fun and satisfying aspects of preparation and event holding that I have ever experienced. My goal in the aftermath is to tell you all as much as I can about the experience of the ship’s genesis and execution so that it can be preserved for history. In my usual manner, this article is bound to be verbose. Feel free to skim through and just looked at the captioned pictures. I won’t be offended.

The Control Panels


As many of you know, this event was first scheduled to take place in early October. That didn’t work out as planned, of course. Due to reasons beyond anyone's control, I ended up needing a rather major abdominal operation. I’ve had a couple smaller operations in the past which I recovered from relatively quickly, and I remember thinking to myself “okay, after a couple of days I’ll get started on the props for the event”. Boy was that incorrect. For weeks after the operation I was incredibly limited in what I could do. But i was determined to still accomplish what I could to start bringing this vision to fruition.

As I worked through my convalescence I knew I needed to occupy my time in some productive way, and though I couldn't do much physical activity, small woodworking projects were possible. I decided to get started on making the controls for the ship. The first part of that was laying out what they should all look like in blueprints. With Google drawings I drafted up different control ideas drawing most of my inspiration from what Star Trek TOS instrument panels looked like.



Examples of my original schematics for three of the eight instrument panels.

Once those ideas were drafted and I was satisfied with the placement and variation of different types of controls, I could start putting them together. In my limited capacity I was still capable of using the band saw and drill press and doing some amount of sanding before I got tired, so every day I spend a few hours slowly putting together levers and dials and making knobs and switches. I looked forward to it every day, actually. I think it was an important part of my healing process.

A dial and a lever prototype I created as I made all of the control components.

It took weeks to complete all of the individual controls before I could even start to put them together. By the time I had to cut the plywood to actually make the instrument panels themselves, I was feeling more or less back to my old self. As I assembled each panel according to my blueprints I started to think about what type of puzzle I could create that necessitated using all of the controls properly in a high-intensity situation.




Four of the instrument panels actually coming together as the controls are assembled.

It was then I recalled an iPad game that I used to play with some of my friends that lended itself to this idea. Space Team. The game itself was sort of a Star Trek parody. Each connected iPad had a set of controls on it, levers, switches, etc, and each would give a read out of commands for controls that were on other players’ displays. Games usually devolved into shouting matches after a few minutes as everyone was shouting commands at one another and simultaneously not listening for commands directed at them. It was equal parts hilarious and frustrating. Perfect for the Realms.

Spaceteam game screenshots.

So the next task was a gargantuan one. I had to create each set of commands for each console. Draw each state of each console for each step to create a marshalling guide. Distribute those commands from each console to other consoles to create the puzzle itself. Create the displays that the players would actually see and the print-outs that had the commands on them. Then double and triple check everything so there were no mistakes in any of the materials (there was still one mistake left when all was said and done, thank goodness it was on the tutorial level). It was many, many hours on the computer to say the least. Adding a paper cut out of a computer screen with some clear cellophane completed the illusion that the players would be looking at display.

Creating command lists on my laptop.
The last task was to add color and detail. I spent several nights writing on runes, painting the switches and other controls, and adding text. When all was said and done I had eight instrument panels all with varied and interesting points of interaction, all which fit the medieval-steampunk aesthetic I was going for. I was very proud of the end result.








The eight instrument panels in detail.

Row Row Revolution


The concept of the controls put aside, I also knew that I wanted the players to have to row the vessel in viking fashion. I imagined long oars with giant leaves on the end, very elven in concept. Building them was easy enough. Just some work on the band saw and some sanding.



Part of the construction process for the oars.
When I tried to decide how rowing would work I thought about everyone moving their oars according to a drum beat. It would be easy enough to play a beat over a speaker system but that was just too simple, there was no challenge or interest there. I thought about varying up the beat to make it more involved. Not quite the right solution. Then I thought about a system where we could instruct different oars to move at different times according to the beat. And then I realized I was reinventing Dance Dance Revolution… well in this case Row Row Revolution, instead.

Very fortunately for this endeavor, Alex Groom had quite a bit of experience and skill making digital music, so they were able to take my instructions regarding beat timing, genre, and aesthetic and put together several amazing soundtracks to row to. Once I had the music, my PowerPoint skills were all I needed to create animations and movements of different colored oars coinciding with the drum beats in each song. The last step of the whole process was simply painting the oars to match.

Scripting a Row Row Revolution level in PowerPoint.
The painted oars

I just happened to own a captain’s wheel. I bought it on a whim at the Christmas Tree Shop near Worcester probably about 15 years ago and had been able to use it as a prop here and there over the years. Obviously any ship needs a wheel and it was easy enough to integrate the it’s turning into the Row Row revolution game by adding color to it and a clockwise or counterclockwise rotation instruction (as a side note the wheel was taken by a player at the end of the event and I’d really like it back someday if that’s at all possible).

The captain's wheel, mounted and marked with color.

The need to use powerpoint to make Row Row Revolution work gave way to another idea. I could control the entirety of the boat parts of the event through an on-screen display. It could introduce encounters dramatically, provide visuals for things that were happening outside the ship. Display a countdown timer for the ships control puzzles. Everything I needed to keep the pace of the event on track and clearly communicate goals and instructions to the players. So I set up a projector and screen to act as the magical “display” of the ship, and hooked my computer up to both that and a speaker system. It all worked exactly as I imagined.

A selection of slides used in the PowerPoint deck that the event was paced with.

Other Ship Interactions


So the main mechanics of the boat were the control puzzles and the group rowing. Beyond those there were several side mechanics that were invented to keep many people busy and invested in the ship’s operation.

When I knew I was going to have a viking longboat, I knew the sides of it had to be equipped with shields. I turned to Tom Gallagher for his expertise and after he spent a bit of time chastising me for the size of the task, agreed to be of enormous help in the creation of those ten shields. Each painted differently, each with specific plot-powers. In designing our encounters we knew that there would be a great number of projectiles thrown at the ship. Creating magic shields that could block any of those projectiles, no matter how destructive they were, gave ten people on the boat a very vital job to do.



A selection of some of the shields Tom made for the event.
I wanted there to be a mechanic where the ship could become damaged and the damage was both obvious and visually concerning. The answer to that was to make a number of foam flames, and place them about the ship as it became damaged. When something like an enemy firebomb or a dragon’s fireball hit the ship, we could place fire down to represent that damage. Also when switches and dials were entered incorrectly into a console panel we could place fire on that as well to apply a penalty for not solving the puzzle correctly.

Freshly painted flames.

And of course if we were going to have ship damage we needed a way for the players to repair it. We added several regional spells and effects that could remove the damage from the ship but another simple addition was giving the players a couple of looms and a couple skeins of yarn. This allowed them to weave the yarn into patches which could also repair damage to this ship. It was a way of creating other vital jobs for players to do and trying to make sure everyone had a valuable role in the operation of the ship.

Another simple addition that added a lot of value to the experience was the ballista at the aft of the vessel. The weapon itself was a Yule gift from a couple years ago, given to me by Josh Fitzgerald. I confess that up until that point I hadn’t found too many excuses to utilize the present, but the need for weaponry on the ship was a fantastic reason to bring it out of storage. With some slight modifications made by Alex, and some dramatically oversized bolts that I put together with foam footballs and large fluorescent light tubes, we created a very engaging feature to the ship. The ballista could be used to fire at any enemies around the ship to devastating effect, but the primary utility we wanted to add was that it could deflect asteroids that were headed towards the ship, the only thing that could prevent them from doing damage to the vessel.

The ballista and special bolts.

The Final Touches


So with all of the working parts of the ship decided upon and created, I now had to make sure it could all be put together in a way that was usable and useful and that conveyed the feeling and emotion that all the players were apart of the same crew, sailing the skies of Norlund. An important part of that aesthetic, then, was the dragon figure head and the tail on either end of the craft. To create these, Lani Jones and I drew out their forms on an 8’x4’, 2” thick piece of foam and cut it using an electric foam knife. The whole concept worked fantastically except for the part where Lani opened the garage door while the dragon head was leaning against the track, thus completely decapitating it. Oh well, nothing some hot glue wouldn’t fix. Some layers of brown paint to create the illusion of boards, and the primary decorations were done.

Cutting out the dragon figurehead.
The head and tail laid out on the same piece of foam.
After a brutal decapitation.
Layer one of the paint.
Spray paint used to make it look like it was made of boards.

Building oarlocks for rowing along with the pillars that would define the sides of the boat and hold up the shields was an easy task done with just some lumbar and screws. The problem that I really had to solve, however, is what the rowers would sit down on while they completed their task. Those of you who are familiar with the UCONN arena know that there really isn’t reliable furniture lying around to make use of. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to spend more money than I wanted to buying or making stools of some kind. Fortune smiled upon me, however, when I noticed a bunch of sturdy wooden library chairs were being disposed of in the dumpster at my school. I barely fit ten of them in my car for the drive home. One of them had to sit upside down on the front passenger seat. But I got them all. Cutting the backs off was easy enough and I ended up with nicer looking seats for the rowers than I could have ever hoped for.

Absconding with a car full of discarded chairs.
So that was it. All of the puzzles. All of the components. All of the decor. Everything was planned out as best as it could be. The night before the event we built wooden stands for all of the command consoles and glued the figurehead and tail to stands that would keep them upright. The day of the event we arranged everything in place, hooked up the screen and electronics, added paper covers to the stands, strung rope between the oarlock posts, and surveyed the overall quality of our work.

Throughout most of the event, I got to watch the players have an incredible amount of fun interacting with the vessel and engaging in all of the challenges that we subjected them and it to. It was immensely satisfying watching such a set of big ideas come to fruition and having so many concepts work out in real life like I imagined them in my head.

The completed ship on the morning of the event.

This ship was the most ambitious prop with the most ambitious set of interactions that I had ever planned for an event. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Alex, Tom, Lani, and to all the Rhiassans that came to paint the different components and help me work through ideas. I especially want to thank the players for being so enthusiastic about it all and simply allowing themselves to engage the spirit of the event and have fun.

I doubt I’ll ever do another ship event. I wouldn’t want to even try to compare it to this one. But I do know that my desire to create new and interesting things for my player base to engage in has never been stronger. Look forward to the next installment of the Echoes of Ragnarok storyline. I know I will.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

What You Missed - Echoes of Ragnarok IV (photos)

All photos by View Staff


One of the eight operation consoles for controlling the airship.


In the cultivation garden, gathering resources to grow Floatstones.


Another cultivation task in the garden.


Yet another task needed to gather gardening resources.


The heroes speak to the elf Llwellen.


The heroes look upon the airship from atop the docks


Heroes file onto the airship and inspect the surroundings.



The questing party takes up posts and positions on the ship.


Learning how to use the operation consoles.


A firefight with air pirate ships.


Dragons of fire and ice attack.


Damage! The console is on fire!
  


Knitting magical patches to repair the ship.
 

Rowing to increase the speed of the vessel.


Vines latched onto the ship and plant monsters defending them.


Plucking flowers from the vines and safely disposing of them.


Lowered by repelling ropes, heroes remove flowers from the vines to destroy them.


Collecting resources from space with the help of jet packs.


Attacked by invaders from space!


Connecting magical conduits on the moon.


Trapping moon automatons to keep them from destroying the magical conduits.

Creating storm-shakers to summon a moon storm.


Building bridges over the final chasm at the moon's end.