Friday, March 29, 2019

The Ballad of Sir Vawn, Avatar of Vandor


by High Priestess Kindrianna Athame (Renee Booke)

The Summerlands beckon to the souls of the true,
The greatest of heroes who saw their deeds through.
They come with their honor to the codes that they swore,
And now our Sir Vawn stands tall at their door.
True to himself, both in word and in deed,
White Knight of the Realms when she was in need.
Heart full of valor, a path without fear,
His life and his courage have led him straight here.


The next journey waits just beyond golden trees,
In a land full of hope and sparkling seas.
Vawn, you have earned your peace and your rest,
And those that have known you are eternally blessed.
Templar and Knight, defender and friend,
May songs of your deeds never come to an end.
The darkness still fears you, and has for so long,
For the blade in your hand shines righteous and strong.


We’ll try not to mourn as we celebrate your life,
Free from the mortal-bound cycle of strife.
But the most important thing you should know,
All along it was your Light that helped us to grow.
You were there by our side when Wayland’s fortress fell,
And a swift wave of Bedlam began to rain hell.
Not once did you hesitate, you jumped in the fray,
For a true Knight knows no other way.


May Vandor’s warm light guide you as you roam,
Carry Eagle’s Rook with you forever as home.
And should evil strike, putting us to the test,
Then your soul will cry out to complete one last quest.
Watch over us all from your paradise,
And be with us always when we need advice.
It’s hard to be happy while watching you go,
But you’re with the Gods now and we’re down below.

Watch the clip below to hear Renee sing the ballad while Sir Vawn ascends to the Summerlands:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Divine Intervention - Nhadala's Story



Buckle up nerds. This was a wild ride.

“There might not be so much difference between the side of light and the side of dark as you suppose. After all, without the dark, there is nothing for the light to burn away” - Cassandra Clare on Lilith

I like to think that I make decisions, not mistakes, but I’m sure that’s up for debate. For the most part, we all knew the mission at hand. Sir Vawn of Eagle’s Rook needed assistance in his noble quest for Vandor; free Garm, and ascend to the Summer Lands. I didn’t know much about this, Garm, or Vandor, but I knew my friends were supporting him and I got along well enough with Vawn, so I decided to join.

Now, I’ve never been one to hide my religious beliefs or bodily anomalies, but I quickly found I may not be welcome on this quest. You see dear realmsies, I’ve followed Lilith for years. She embodies feminine power, resiliency, freedom, and choice. For years she has given me hope, and power to draw from. She does not care how I use it, but only that I have the option to do so.

She also happens to be Asmodeous’ wife.

So there you have it - the odds of unity within the party were low to begin with. Yet, I knew I had to answer the call, and do everything in my power for both my comrades and for Lilith - I owed them that much.

Garm needed to be freed, there was no question there as the day began. The how he would be freed was a bit of a problem, at least for me, as he would likely go on a murdering spree. Double bad for me - if Asmodeous died I had no idea what the fate of his wife would be. I needed to find a solution.

There was never a moment of ease for me, as I knew we would be facing horrible enemies, and my companions could turn on me at any moment. Men and women I trusted suddenly became very distant. I did my best to maintain the trust I’d built through our years of adventure - that had to mean something, right? I slogged my way through the first battles, carrying any possible weapons fighters may need. I kept my eyes open for combat situations, ever aware of the danger we were in. I used my magics to assist with traps and altars, gathering everything we needed as we made our way closer and closer to the crossroads.

Luckily, I was not alone in this day. Followers of Asmodeous were present, also in agreement that Garm needed to be released and order needed to be restored, but not willing to let Asmodeous die. If only we could talk to him - maybe he could be reasoned with. Maybe, just maybe he would make a deal with his followers and a follower of his wife. Maybe the bloodshed could be avoided.

Thus, decisions had to be made.

We needed to restore Garm to keep balance among the gods and maintain order. It was clear that most of the party wanted to take the seeds of hope we gathered to pray to their gods, yet the Asmodeous jar remained minimal to none. I turned to my comrades who gained their strength from him. We needed all the strength we could get for this fight, and perhaps a small offering would help lean his mind in our plea for a non-violent end.

Lilith responded, 'We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.' But they would not listen to one another. When Lilith saw this, she pronounced the Ineffable Name and flew away into the air.

*clink*

A small handful of my hard-earned hope trickled from my almost-uncertain hand and clinked in the bottom of his jar. This was the decision that changed everything for me - but it was a sacrifice I knew had to be made for a chance, and my soul was already tainted.

In quick order of events, I narrowly escaped the physical wrath of Sir Vawn, but was no longer welcome to assist the party. That was fine, those stones were not meant to help me anyway. Of course I would be lying if I said I wasn’t salty about the encounter, but I doubt anyone would expect anything less from me. I stayed secluded for a great length of time before catching up.

I non-nonchalantly walked into Hell at this point, nothing new to me. I was met with more threats, was actually murdered by one companion, but surprisingly brought back to life by another. I met back up with my comrades and was brought along on a journey away from the party.

There he was - Asmodeous, smug and smiling. From my understanding, with the groundwork laid from my comrades, he was willing to settle for a deal. This filled me with such hope that all could end peacefully on this day - and we could move on into a brighter future for the realms.

Spoiler alert - this was kind of a lie. Nevertheless, this hope lasted quite some time after leaving his presence and re-joining the party. Threats of being unwelcome glanced off a little easier, because I once again had a purpose. At this point, whatever happened to me didn’t matter - I would protect myself and the ones I loved. I would protect Nhadala’s soul, and the soul of Purple who I’ve grown to acknowledge as a dark sister, teaching me balance and secrets of the dark. This strong desire to protect lead to the following events.

Gaol was different than we expected. We perhaps over-planned for how to get everyone out, which ultimately led to our downfall. The soul equation changed, and instead of leaving with one less, each traveler needed to create a soul token in Gaol to gain passage through the door to the crossroads. This was a moral question for some - is it right to take souls of others to free oneself? Here’s how I saw it - this was a prison. In Hell. We’ve done worse for less. Also, these are soul fragments that we are gathering to put back together - it’s almost a service to possible lost “good” souls we were gathering.

Yet, not everyone thought that way. There were four of us left at the doorway. Not sure how he let me behind his back at this point, but Vawn was two spaces ahead of me, his young kinsman between us. He walked through the door no problem, and the young man was next. He hesitated at the door, and was mumbling something frantically towards Vawn. All I could figure out was he didn't have a token, meaning he was stuck

I'd be lying a little if I said I didn't do this partly out of spite - I'm the Salt Queen, come on now. At the same time, I couldn't leave this poor youngin' in Gaol; he wouldn't last five minutes. I threw my token at the gatekeeper, and proceeded to shove the Eagle's Rook squire through the door. He struggled, refusing to taint his soul by using the souls of others, but it was too late. How much worse could my soul get? 

The next part happened quickly, but for me it lasted thousands of years. I remember fighting in Gaol and praying to Lilith that I could transport to Asmodeous. I was suddenly out of Gaol and back in the Realms. 

I do not wish to speak about what transpired in my mind for 7,000 years. Between the rules of Gaol and Asmodeous' obvious displeasure of me saving the Eagle's Rook boy, it was not a pleasant time. 

I'm honestly not sure if I ever woke up, or if this is still all an elaborate dream, but I certainly feel that the power that was keeping me down has faded. The fog was cleared by a bright light as Vawn ascended to the summer lands. He paused as he passed me, staring into my eyes with recognition of what I'd done. I might of shed two layers of salt in that moment. 

Although I am left with questions - mainly what happened to Lilith - I do not have any regrets about what I'd done that day. You see travelers, I like to think that I make decisions, not mistakes, but I’m sure that’s up for debate.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What You Missed - Divine Intervention I

by Stephen "Laika" Sanford

To the Realms at whole; The sword has been removed, and the god of balance, Garm, has been freed.

It began with a sword, freshly plucked from the heart of the god of death. Asmodeus plotted his machinations to usurp the god of balance and take with him the powers but not the responsibilities. Asmodeus took this sword and pinned the Garm to his throne.

On March 23, 1019, a coalition of Eagle’s Rook, Voraniss, the Church of Aurora, and other individual groups, sought to undo what had been done in order to save this world as it was unravelling under Asmodeus’ rule. After many months of planning, strategizing, and preparing, we decided the best course of action was to remove the sword from Garm and leave; no other condition was necessary. And so on this day we met with Minerva, the avatar and daughter of Antioch, to start the invasion of the Crossroads to free Garm.

Our adventure started with opening a portal into a Church of Justari that was overrun with Aspis. The church was heavily fortified, they had been readied for our attack. We fought and pushed all the way to the courtyard outside of the church. The courtyard was littered with graves that needed to be unearthed by locating Justari's cross to open up the doors to the church. Once inside, we met with the Red Knight, Justari’s Avatar. He explained that inside were several rooms to the gods and in each room we would find holy relics of the gods to aid us in our quest. Once the relics were unearthed, one of Rexan’s avatars sieged the church. Guilliam, with the help of one of the relics, defeated the avatar and took its head as a trophy.

Upon leaving the church we found several jars to the gods in which to put faith into (blue beads which were scattered throughout the day). If you put your faith into a jar and filled it then that god’s regional path would be unlocked. There was a jar for Aurora, Justari, Vandor, Luna, Gaia, Antioch, Chronos, Garm, Rexan, Dionin, Asmodeus, and the Dark One. Asmodeus’ regionals were already unlocked and any faith put into Garm’s jar would be relocated to Asmodeus and any put into the Dark One would be spread evenly to the other jars. As far as I know, by the end of the day, the only jar that ended up being filled was Aurora and Vandor’s.

The second set of trials had our group venturing into hell. In this area were two portions of land separated by the River Styx. If you died while being in the water you would lose all your memories. Vawn used much of his last magics and asked for Vandor’s blessing that gave several people the ability to not lose their memory if they were felled in the water. Inside this room, we were swarmed by imps who had ropes of varying colors attached to them. If we removed the ropes we could tie the same colors together to form a rope bridge to the other side. This was no easy task as the imps were much stronger than any imp I have ever seen and fighting them over the water made it even more of a challenge.

At one point those with Vandor’s protection pushed into the water to fight the imps but all were eventually fallen. At this point, the Herald of Dionin showed his face and began trying to make deals with people to return those who were lost. I do not recall anyone making a deal with them. After some time we were able to recover those who were lost, and a bridge was formed allowing the group to push onto the other side. Those whose memories were gone had them restored through a chalice relic that Phoenix had picked up from the Justari church.

Our third challenge had us venturing into Gaol, where Asmodeus’ influence started to be plainly visible. Asmodeus had changed the rules of the gods and the rules of this world. Normally when one ventures into Gaol, a group receives a ticket for each person that enters except for the last person (N-1 tickets) and to leave you must present a ticket to the gatekeeper to leave. Not a single ticket was given out to the group and we were trapped. Luckily there was soul essence scattered around that could be gained through challenges or could be bought through a shady merchant. This soul essence, when placed in an array that represented oneself, could be forged with heat to create a soul token to leave Gaol.

Before leaving Gaol, I was requested to seance my goddess, Aurora, by Rel Zhirah. Upon casting this spell, Rel spoke to her and believed that the best course of action to save Garm was instead to kill Garm and replace him with Nighthawk who is the knight commander of the Knights of Garm. This caused a large debate upon what we should do after leaving Gaol. One group wished to remove the sword, the other group wished to power up Nighthawk and kill Garm.

After much fighting amongst ourselves about what to do, we all agreed that we needed Dalindana freed. Dalindana is Aurora’s Avatar and the daughter of Light and Balance. She had been imprisoned by Asmodeus five years ago into a soul prison that he himself gave to me to free her. The soul prison was given to Minerva to try to unravel the magics upon it, but Asmodeus’ influence was too strong; she could not do so through the rules of the gods and Asmodeus’ power. Freesia, using an item she had kept with her for decades, gave Minerva the ability to defy Asmodeus’ power and in a moment of clarity let us know that Asmodeus had been skewing all our information and that the Soul Prison needed to be destroyed to free her; and so Rel lifted it above his head and cast it to the ground where it shattered, thus killing Dalindana. However, she would coalesce and reform to her old self and be free in some time.

Knowing that Asmodeus had been influencing everyone, the group was in full agreement that Garm needed to be freed once again and we pressed on to his throne room. Upon entering, Asmodeus had assembled an army of death knights, many of whom could only be killed by swords of light and others who shattered the Main Gauche of Saint Daniel multiple times (I even learned reforge just to bring it back). The death knights laid waste to our group and took Sir Vawn as a sacrifice. Upon completion, Vandor intervened and Vawn rose again as his Avatar with Dalindana at his side. With sword and shield, Vawn could channel the swords of light to fuel his own sword and enacted Vengeance upon the death knights and broke into the throne room.

Inside the throne room was Garm, with the Sword of Kings still impaled into him. Our group, with the limited amount of swords of light and Vawn, fought up to the throne and tried to remove the Sword. Asmodeus had put a curse on the sword to teleport the one who tried to remove it to fight his strongest death knight yet. In order to give a direct supply of light, Rel Zhirah forced all his energies into Vawn with Dalindana to give Vawn what he needed to fight this death knight himself. I did not bear witness to this but I heard it was a long and arduous fight. Vawn returned as the victor and removed the sword, thus freeing Garm. Garm, who had been trapped for over five years, let his overwhelming rage take over and attempted to kill and disintegrate everything its claws could dig into. Hygar Athame, used his Boon of the Greater Pantheon, to open a gate and bent reality to move everyone through the gate to safety. The traitor, Asmodeus, was put in shackles and his fate is yet to be determined.

With the sword removed and Garm free, Vawn was granted his wish to make his way to the Summerlands. After saying his goodbyes to all those who had fought and died with him on this day, there was not a dry eye in sight. With his final quest over he made one last goodbye and left to go get a stiff drink.

I want to thank all who helped make this daunting quest a reality. It was a coalition of many groups, with hundreds of hours of work, to see this end become a reality. Our journey is not over, because while Garm is back and our world is more safer than it was before, the threat of the Strangers is ever near. I look forward to working with as many of those who will help me try to stop them from destroying our world.

Forever in the light and in duty to protect the gods may we all celebrate the life of Vawn, Avatar of Vandor, and look to the future to defend the realms.


-Laika en’Naur
Priest of Aurora and Squire to the Knights of the Crown


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What You Missed - Divine Intervention I (photos)

[Editor's Note: all photos by View Staff]

The heroes emerge onto the scene facing off against an army of Rexan's followers.




The heroes fight their way into the area before the temple to Justari.

An odd puzzle made of grave markers sits in front of the temple door.


Heroes hunt down Aspis and use magic gloves granted to them by Justari to  purify their souls.

The heroes work to solve the puzzle by unlocking the sigils of Justari


Upon opening the temple the heroes encounter the avatar of Justari, the Red Knight


The heroes discuss the need to unlock the important but dangerous artifacts sealed away in the temple.

Solving one of the locks with an aqueduct puzzle.

Sir Vawn promises the Red Knight that the artifacts will be returned when their quest is over.

Painting an image to unlock another artifact.

Another artifact would be unlocked by synchronizing in harmony.

One artifact was simply locked away and needed deft and roguish hands to free.

Another item was unlocked by making stained glass according to the pattern.

And yet another artifact required moving around pegs to create a specific pattern.

The stained glass nears completion.
The Red Knight tells the adventurers they must leave.

Opening the door, the Champion of Rexan stands to do battle. The Red Knight charges forth.

A battle against the aspis army.



The heroes line up to fight demons while devising a way across the river Styx.


By hanging off of suspended ropes the players work their way across the river.

Ropes are connected by color to make a stable way forward.

Players refine soul essence in Gaol to create their soul tokens

Putting soul tokens together

Vawn meets Dalendana and agrees to become the Avatar of Vandor



Vawn, now the Avatar of Vandor, having defeated the death knights in Garm's courtyard



The assembled avatars use their strength to open the doors to Garm's fortress

The heroes clash against Asmodius




Garm, impaled on his throne, sits motionless
Garm, freed from his throne, lashes out in fury at those who rescued him

Vawn absorbs Garm's blows with his shield

Garm's daughter Dalendana works to tame his fury

Sir Vawn, in the Summerlands, reunited with his wife.

Sir Vawn addresses and thanks those who helped him complete this quest.



Friday, March 22, 2019

Humanizing the Realms - Tucker "Temorse" Noyes


Humanizing the Realms - Tucker "Temorse" Noyes 



1. What do you do outside of the game? What would you like to be doing? (Work, school, projects, etc.)

I work in operations at my current company, and I very much so enjoy doing it. I am working in an emerging market at a startup and every day is different. It’s been a very interesting experience so far and I look forward to seeing it through.

2. What hobbies do you enjoy other than LARP?

I am a big fan of anything one can do with friends, board games, hiking, concerts, and a few video games. I love music. I know that I have a reputation in the community for liking country music, which does have a special place in my heart, but I do enjoy a wide array of music.

3. Favorite meal, dessert, and drink?

Well a favorite dessert is easy, because it is, objectively, the best dessert; the pizzelle. Meal is much harder to say, I like a variety. I think its hard to beat a good plate of sushi or a warm bowl of mushroom risotto though. For drink I would have to go with the Rum Bucket, especially if you have some nice warm weather and a beach on hand. If other drinks were any good, they would come in a bucket size too.

4. If you could go on vacation anywhere, where would it be? Would you bring anyone?

Somewhere new. I have had the privilege to be able to travel for work in the past, as well as being able to do some traveling on my own which I enjoy, but the most enjoyable experience I find is going somewhere new.






5. Are you working on any life goals that you’re willing to share?

I don’t get to travel quite as much as I like, so I would like to be able to increase the amount I travel in the short term. I would like to visit all the continents at some point, and more specifically each distinct region of that continent.

6. Favorite outfit other than garb?

Some people consider me a utilitarian, they are not wrong. A comfortable pair of jeans and a sweatshirt go a long way in my book.

7. Do you have any professional or personal skills you’d be willing to talk about?

I am generally an organized person, which is one of the reasons I enjoy EHing.

8. What drew you to the realms, and what keeps you there?

When I was younger myself and a handful of friends, some of which who still play, would go out into the woods and beat the daylights out of one another with very thick wooden dowels. One of those people had a connection to Dan Diamond who introduced us to the Realms. What keeps me here is certainly the community of people who I have come to appreciate very deeply. There are times where we have struggles or problems, but, by in large in my opinion the vast majority of people work towards doing the right thing and strengthening the community. Additionally to the community at large, pretty much all of my closest friends are here, many of them in the group that I get to play the game and throw events with.

9. Favorite movies/shows/books?

I am a big fan of the classic nerd genres, fantasy, comic movies, some sci fi, and all the big franchises those entail. I also am a pretty big fan of satire, Vonnegut is one of my favorites. I highly recommend the series of essays and short stories published after his dead by his son, Armageddon in Retrospect, as one of his works that you may not know about.

10. If you happened upon 3 wishes, what would they be? (Wishing for more wishes doesn’t seem to work...)

I am going to go with selfish wishes, as I feel like there are a lot of basic world improvements that would make you a horrible person if you didn’t wish for, and that wouldn’t really be very interesting to see every installment of this piece.

1. To have just a modicum of musical talent. Never has so one who so enjoys music has been cursed with such a lack to carry a tune

2. Probably for a wooden doll to become a real boy, because I have always felt Geppetto from Pinocchio did a real terrible job, and I would like to prove how badly he messed up. I mean think about it, all the guy wanted was to have a kid and like the next day after his wish granted, he just sends him out in the world to go to school. Seriously guy? He is only like 18 hours old, he doesn’t understand how anything works! You can’t spend a few weeks with him before forcing him into school for six hours a day? And furthermore, when your one-day old magical puppet child goes missing, why is your first instinct to look for him at sea? On second thought, I probably shouldn’t be responsible for another person. Can I change this one to comfy socks?

3. The ability to absorb food through my skin in a process like photosynthesis.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Battle Cry


Unto the Realms, 

Years ago, the Knights of the Eternal Flames wrote articles for the View from Valehaven called “Unsung Heroes”. In these articles, an individual Knight would choose to recognize someone within our community that inspired them or somehow stood out for something they may have done or continue to do. We as Knights have decided that we are once again going to return to the tradition of writing these articles. The first article in this series will be written by Sir Tao, James Murphy. 

- Matt Butler 
Sir Mathies Knight Commander, Knights of Eternal Flame

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sawyer "Jericho" Judkins

A while back I saw a group of new people sitting at a feast. I sat down, talked to them for a while, learned they were from Vermont. I had to ask how they ended up here and it was because of one person. He had attended some practices in MA, but when he went to Vermont for college he started a group.

At the last Green and Gold, a group drove down from Vermont that filled out the green side nicely. I was definitely on the gold side while my daughter was on the Green side so I was keeping a close eye on what they were doing. But this story has more to do with early Sunday morning. We were there early, because well, gold side don’t sleep late, and ran into this group from Vermont, doing a bear pit. It was pretty obvious who the leader was, and who the best fighter was. What I really noticed was that he was talking to everyone after he beat them.

So I went into recruiting mode, talking to him and his group about joining Blackwood. But he made one of his few bad decisions and went another direction (which I totally do not think was a bad decision).

And he kept showing up, bringing a few different people, some of the same people.

But the thing that I heard about, and directly benefited from, was: he went to gaming convention, had a booth/table, and literally handed out “Realms business cards.” At the Feast of Blackwood event two of these people showed up. They never would have if not for Sawyer.

Now Sawyer also got married last year, and still made events.

We have often seen the “newbie curve” - the newbie makes a few events a year; then a lot of events; to one or two events, and done. Sawyer is well past that.
 
When I gave Sawyer a fireball, it was for recognition of what he has accomplished so far and that I like how he plays the game.

Sir Tao Ya Kang
Knight of the Eternal Flame

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

WIWTG: Divine Intervention 1

As an event holder I look for opportunities to create stories for people. That might seem obvious, but I mean it on several levels. I want to write a story that makes sense, and that peaks my player’s interests. I want to hold an event that players tell stories about for years to come.

I want to hold an event that players tell stories about before it even happens.

Over the last several months I’ve been following along as this event has been coming into fruition, and it’s lining up to be just that sort of event.

For those of your not lucky enough to be in the know, this event is Vawn’s quest. He’d probably have me killed if I let out his secrets, but I can tell you it’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone so invested in a plot. Since I’ve seen someone so invested in a single event. So much so it’s contagious and the people around him are becoming invested, and working hard as well. It’s rejuvenating. .

From the player’s side, I’ve seen charts, and diagrams, documents for plans, I’ve seen tactical practices, and weapons making. I’ve seen a ton of casting going into gathering information, and these are just the bits that I’ve observed.

And that’s just the player’s side. On the staff side, I’ve seen hours and hours of patient marshaling of magic at unrelated events. I’ve seen requests for NPCs, and while I haven’t had the opportunity to see any of the props going into it, I have heard the whispers.

So why do I want to go to this event? Because an army will be marching off into the unknown. Because weapons will clash. Because the community has come together in rousing interest.

Because of the stories.

I’ll see you on the field,

Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

View from Valehaven Art Gallery

Submitted as part of the Art Tourney at Feast of Leviathan XXI - January 19, 2019