Friday, November 29, 2019

The Holiday Question: Thanksgiving Edition

We hope everyone had a great holiday yesterday! To extend the holiday feeling a little bit, we have a special feature for today's post. The View editors asked various people the IC question: "What are you thankful/grateful for this year?" Below are some of the answers we received, enjoy!
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"What are you thankful/ grateful for this year?"


"What I am thankful for? Hmmmm so many things and people really...But here are a few: all of my Neden brothers and friends I have made throughout the realms, yes you...yup even you in the back.

I am grateful for good whiskey and bad whiskey mixed in good drinks.

I am thankful for cornhole and portals.

But mostly I am thankful that I get to share all my joy with you the loyal readers of the View. Stay classy"

- Love and Kisses,
Lord Sir Syruss O'Leary of Neden


“This year I'm thankful for finding new friends when I thought I couldn't and growing closer to a couple of friends I've known for years. This has been a great year.”  -Sir Avendar


“Killian gives thanks to Ashenmark and all of our Ashenfriends for always creating a good time. I am also thankful for Garm being freed from his restraints so that I can now follow my God to the best of my abilities. And I'm also thankful for dogs because they make everything better” -Sir Killian


“I'm thankful for the family I have in Rhiassa. And that my ship no longer leaks.” - Squire Hildegarde

“What am I thankful for? Well for starters, swords. They get straight to the point and how can I forget shields, they’re total life savers! But joking aside, I’m thankful for quite a few people in Invictus. This year they have helped me become more well rounded on and off of the field. Such as Sir Randolf teaching me how to build a castle, Wrath training endlessly with me, and Sir Eldritch giving me some very tough advice. These are just the first few people who come to mind but in order to keep this article less than a page, I’ll sum it up by saying I’m thankful for every good role model in my nation…Yes, that means you Trent. As for things that are not directly related to my nation Im thankful for all the great tournaments this year as well as all the feasts I’ve attended thus far. The Realms as a whole has been fantastic this year. So that is what I'm thankful for this year.  -Runaris Lockwood


“I'm thankful, as I am every year, for all the great friends I have made in these lands and all the new people I'll get to meet in the coming year! I'm also really thankful for the opportunity to host the Tournaments of Artemis and see all the rockstar performances from my fellow guild-members.” 
- Shader


“I’m thankful that I’m consistently given the privilege to watch the people around me challenge themselves, grow, and achieve great things not for their own sakes but on behalf of others.” - Aeston


“I am grateful to have a growing family of brothers and sisters. Having my Pack allows me to do all sorts of things I never dreamed of before I wandered into these Realms.” -Varrmagn Stigandr


“I am thankful for my pack, family, and holes, those are important! I'm so grateful for all the love that my pack gives me, moonlit runs, Osag back rides, and so much more like cozy holes.....did I mention that?” -Esther the Fisher Cat


“I am grateful for strong ale, loyal friends and a king worthy of my oaths.”- Cronin Barbaria


“I’m thankful for my goddess, Gaia. Her guidance through the winter months has helped me rebuild shelters, and prevented me from freezing to death on multiple occasions, which I’m most grateful for. Without Mother, I would be unable to protect everything I hold dear. I’ve felt my connection to her be severed once, and I pray that it never happens again, for I am lost without Mother.” -Evitta Jainrose Blackthorn


“I’m thankful for all the children and their grand adventures.” - Isla


“I'm thankful to be have a family who are always their for each other and genuinely want them the best for one another.” - Squire Asharn


"I am thankful for finding a place where people seem to be kind towards each other and race is a foot note." -Bogen


"I am grateful for those who I call my friends who would call me the same. I am grateful for those who have mentored me and worked with me to make me what I am today. I am grateful for my goddess for bringing hope to Realms and helping the less fortunate and downtrodden. I ask that if you have had a good harvest, have a spare chair at your table, or want to make the lives of those better, to share your holiday with those who have not prospered.


In these days of fleeting daylight be the light of hope for others." - Sir Laika


“Fate has been generous. I am thankful for another year of health and the strength to enjoy adventures and also for the fellowship of friends and family.” - Sir Torolf


“I am thankful that the community on Sapphire Isle is safe after the fires that broke out and destroyed most of my coffee crops. And the support of the Voice of the West and East Blackwood to send me aid in these hard times.” - Sayeh


I am thankful for the loyal family that I have in Rhiassa and across the Realms. I am also grateful for the mentorship and amazing friendship from my Knight, Lord Sir Gwen. I am glad to have the time again to journey, battle, and feast with everyone in the Realms. - Squire Charlotte


“I am thankful that the stacked deck tournament went well. I am thankful that my friend was able to realize his greatest wish. I was thankful for the people that supported my squire in his quest to be Queen. I was thankful to watch my Prince get his belt. I am thankful to find that my old adopted homeland is peaceful, at least during the day. I am thankful that I was able to see Dagger, and watch him be knighted. And I am thankful that my King got his Queen.” - Sir Tao


“I am thankful for everyone who was involved in helping forge as magnificent an ending as one could hope for a person’s life story.” - Sir Vawn


“For the lovely ladies of Folkestone who have been helping me deal with the very complicated and new-fangled way of mortal garbing of oneself” - Luc-DuBois


“I'm thankful to be in a nation that has supported my growth and interests. I'm also thankful for having great friends across the entirety of the Realms.” - Sir Elouan




Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Learning About Leather, A Guide for Beginners: Part I

by Derek “Hygar” Booke
Edited by Renee “Kindrianna” Booke

Introduction
Starting a new hobby can be a very daunting thing. Not only are you discovering the techniques and tricks of your chosen art form for the first time, but you’re also being exposed to new terminology and an entire market of products. In the beginning, you may spend just as much time obsessing over what to buy as you do actually crafting. Leatherworking is no exception to this. Some of the most common questions I get asked by new leatherworkers are: “What kind of leather do I need?” “How much leather do I need to make this?” My goals with this guide are to help you feel comfortable navigating those questions as they pertain to LARP and LARP crafting and teach you more about how leather is sold.
Animal Type
Many animals around the world are used for their leather, (sheep, goats, pigs, horses, deer, alligators, stingrays, etc.) with cattle/cows dominating the market and accounting for an estimated 65-70% of world production. Bovine leather has many qualities that make it desirable for leatherworking, chief among them are its versatility, firmness, and affordability. For the purposes of this guide, this is the type of leather that we’ll primarily be discussing since it’s the one you’ll be most likely to use for a wide variety of LARP projects. Helmets, bracers, greaves, pouches, and belts are all examples of things I have personally made using this type of leather. Surprisingly, the type of animal isn’t the only way leather is broken down by “type.” It gets even more complicated!
Leather Grade
There are also different “grades” of leather. Grade can tell you how strong and durable the leather is, and how much it has been altered from its natural state. Full-Grain leather is generally considered by many to be the highest quality there is, though that isn’t necessarily true. It is leather that hasn’t had its outer surface sanded or buffed. Beyond hair removal, it hasn’t really been altered and will probably still show imperfections on the hide such as scars, scratches or bites. This leather can be pricier than other types, but because it still has the full thickness of the skin any products made with it will last for a long time. Top-Grain leather is the “second best” and is far more common in the manufacturing of handbags. Top-Grain leather has the imperfections of the hide removed which does make it thinner but more workable. Oftentimes a coat or a finish is applied to top-grain leather so it can retain its appearance.
The last two leather grades I’ll mention here are Corrected/Embossed Grain Leather and Bonded Leather. In Corrected Grain/Embossed Leather the outer surface has been sanded and buffed to remove blemishes and natural texture and a new grain or pattern is basically stamped on top of it. People do this to make hides look more uniform throughout. If a hide has excessive damage, this technique might also be used to salvage it for market. If you go to buy this leather, it has most likely already been dyed and embossed. Bonded Leather is one of the cheapest types of leather you can get and commonly used in furniture upholstery. Imagine a bunch of leather scraps getting shredded and scraped down until they are almost nothing. Throwing them out would be such a waste, right? Luckily, Bonded Leather is made from those smaller scraps being joined with an adhesive (likely polyurethane or latex) onto some kind of fiber mesh. I know that is a gross simplification of the process, but it at least gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.
There are other classifications and grades beyond the common ones I have mentioned in this guide, so if you are passionate about this subject and want to branch out and do more research know that we have only scratched the surface here and there is an entire world of leather knowledge out there waiting for you. Additionally, the information above, while potentially interesting to some of you, may not come up if you’re buying leather from major retailers who have their own sale categories. We will talk more on that later when I give you my personal recommendations based on what has worked for me with crafting. In the meantime, there is another way that leather is broken down into categories/types after the hide is split and placed on the leather grade spectrum and that all depends on treatment and tanning methodologies.
Tanning Process
Simply put, tanning is the process in which animal skins and hides are turned into leather. On a scientific level, the proteins in the animal’s skin are being altered and changed to prevent decomposition and breakdown and increase durability. Historically tanning was a very smelly trade and tanneries were either forced into isolation on the outskirts of towns or, sadly, placed among the poor. The two common tanning techniques I want to touch on with this guide are Chrome Tanning and Vegetable Tanning.
Tanning can be done with a variety of animal, plant, or mineral products. Chrome Tanning uses chromium salts or chromium sulfate. This method is the most popular one to date and more than 80% of global leather production uses it. One of the benefits of Chrome Tanning is that it produces very water-resistant leather. Chrome Tanning is also much faster than Vegetable Tanning which tends to make it less expensive. Out in the field, because of what it is primarily used for, you may hear people refer to Chrome Tanned Leather as upholstery or garment leather.
Vegetable Tanning, while less common nowadays, is the more traditional tanning method that focuses on the use of natural materials. Instead of chromium salts, Vegetable Tanning relies on the use of tannins, an organic substance found in the galls, bark, and leaves of different plants. Though it does take longer to complete this process, it is believed to be more environmentally friendly. From personal experience, I believe Vegetable Tanned or “Veggie Tan” leather is the way to go for LARP crafting. While it isn’t impossible to brand or stamp Chrome Tanned leather, it is far more difficult, and many people rely on machinery to do so. Veggie Tan can be stamped, carved into, hand-tooled, wet-formed and easily retain detail even when using less expensive tools. It is also more of a blank canvas when it comes to color and dye, so if you want to experiment with dye or paint techniques you don’t have chemicals or a base coat that are going to get in the way. Please note that this is merely my personal opinion and I in no way consider myself a professional. For me, leatherworking is a fun hobby, and it is my hope that my experiences and experiments will save others some trouble and effort if they decide to delve in.
Conclusion
Hopefully, you have found this piece informative and helpful in some way. In the next installation, we will touch on how leather is sold and categorized by major retailers and break down some project-specific recommendations. Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

O'er The Lands of the Realms: Chimeron (Part 1)

by Jason "Aeston" Rosa



Description by Pat "Saka" Bobell

Introduction


Several nations are (and others once were) a part of the Kingdom of Chimeron, but at the heart of them all is the land of Chimeron proper. A storied place of magic and bounty, Chimeron is thoroughly intertwined with Faerie, and was lost to the Mysts until nearly thirty years ago as I write this. In the year 991, Chimeron proper reappeared to the Realms and was reestablished by Queen "Meg" Marguerite. Much has changed in the lands of Chimeron proper and its people through the past twenty-eight years of activity. Countless threats emerged and were vanquished. Nations rose to prominence and fell away. In the year 1002, Queen Meg went under the Hill to ensure Chimeron's continued survival. King Pyr then reigned until he took his place as Oracle of the Deep Fae in 1010. In the time since, the lands have continued to flourish under the rule of King Alexander Cecil.

As with many parts of the Realms, our land was naught but mountains, lakes, rivers, and rolling green hills and plains following the scourge of Bedlam, but Chimeronians are nothing if not industrious and proud of their home. In the years since the Infinite Dark's defeat, we have rebuilt and continued to develop our lands, taking great care to respect our history, our connection to Fae, and our role as a hub of trade and civilization within the greater Realms.

I have spent many a night flying above Chimeron, and more days than I care to count traveling to inspect Militia garrisons. I expect I know the lay of the land as well as anyone, though my grasp of detailed history is somewhat lacking. Nevertheless, I find myself writing a brief summary of landmarks within Chimeron proper to accompany Lord Aeston's fine cartography. The various villages and towns and smaller geographic features in Chimeron are a multitude, and both Lord Aeston and I thought it prudent to omit most from the map and this summary in favor of usability. Friends of Chimeron who wish to familiarize themselves with such minutiae are welcome to peruse (most of) my auxillary maps and ledgers at their leisure. For those of you who simply desire to travel or conduct business within Chimeron and know what is what while you are here, this map and information should be a great plenty. Should you discover any inaccuracies, please let me know.

Sir Sakariasvafnir Keeneye of Clan Rua Thar Cinn, Warlord of Chimeron
Monday the 25th Day of November of Year 1019


Cities


Chimeron

If the heart of the Kingdom is Chimeron proper, the heart of Chimeron proper is Chimeron City. (It is Chimeron all the way down.) A bit southward from the end of the Whitestone Mountain range, and near the western bank of the Rowan, "Chim City" is home to Chimeron Castle, the notorious Bar & Wench and the Scarlet Torch establishments, the main Militia Barracks, and many of Chimeron's active adventurers. Court is held daily in the throne room, unless it is not. It really depends on what else is going on. While Chimeron City has many fine inns, it is recommended that travelers make advance arrangements for their stay given the large volume of visitors and traders in the city throughout the year. The various marketplaces each have something special to offer, though the finest goods are typically found in the shops along High Street. Hardly a week goes by without a new play, concert, artisan exhibition, or some such thing taking the city by storm, so there should be plenty to enjoy if you have some time during a visit.

Norfork

If you take the northern road from Chimeron City and do not stray from the densely-wooded path, you will find yourself in Norfork. Situated at the intersections of roads from Banecroft, Qua Taereth Nunna, and Chim City, this is a city that knows what it is about. There is little arable land, so the main focus here is catering to trade, travel, and keeping livestock. There is some excellent metalwork being done here, thanks to all the mining towns skirting the Whitestone Mountains and more timber than the lumberjacks know what to do with.

Duskwatch

I do not have much to say about Duskwatch. It is deep within the wildest of our forests, and with all the soft spots a consistent path through the trees is not really an option. The location on this map is only approximate - I gave Lord Aeston my best guess from flying overhead. My experience with the people there has been positive, despite their seclusion. All very even-keeled, hardworking folk. Most seem to be experts in their respective trades.

Brighton

Brighton was a town which went by a different name before Bedlam struck, but it was refounded and grew much larger than before as a new home to a sizeable Militia garrison near our border with Darkvale. Many of Chimeron's finest come up through the ranks in Brighton, and the Rangers there have been doing excellent work scouting for the always-impending conflict. Travel north from Brighton is highly discouraged. Those looking to reach Pax Tharkus should detour southward to Fort Griffindor, then west and north through Eagle's Rook and Blackavar. (A rudimentary road between Blackavar and Wren is in progress.)

Fort Griffindor

Following the Faerill River south from Brighton, Fort Griffindor is the home of - you guessed it - Griffindor! Their walls are 4 miles to a side, each perfectly facing in one of the cardinal directions. While it has historically been the target of much destruction, Fort Griffindor is only second to Chimeron City in strength and size in all of Chimeron proper. (This pairs nicely with Griffindor's tenets to to defend the innocent, provide for those who have no lord of their own, and to defend Chimeron and the Realms.) With a lake, river access within the Fort, and east-west trade flowing with Eagle's Rook, business is booming for those who call Griffindor home. If you have not yet experienced it, I highly recommend a walk along the river bank near the north wall early in the morning. That stretch of river is less developed and incredibly peaceful, and watching the sun rise over the far eastern wall is a treat.

Pinedale

Our other primary trade hub with Eagle's Rook is Pinedale, aptly named for the coniferous forest it was mostly built from. Getting from Pinedale to other larger cities within Chimeron involves either circuitous boat routes or slow overland travel along smaller roads to Fort Griffindor. As a result, most economic activity results from local logging, fishing, agriculture, and trade between Eagle's Rook and Rhiassa. I am told the Pinedale Distillery puts out top-notch...some sort of alcohol. Not really my area of expertise.

New Fleetwood & Eastfleet

Hopping all the way over to where the Mudbrook River flows into the Rowan, New Fleetwood and Eastfleet are the bustling homes to Chimeron's merchant marine. While New Fleetwood was established right where Fleetwood stood pre-Bedlam, Eastfleet sprang up in an effort to more quickly meet the needs of river traders supplying all the reconstruction efforts. In the years since, the cities have regulated trade such that ships exporting from Chimeron all pass through New Fleetwood, while those delivering goods within Chimeron must register their cargo in Eastfleet. (They claim this is because taking the traderoad north from Eastfleet is easier than sailing north against the current. I would hazard a guess that their trade officials spent too much time around folks from Ashenmark evangelizing bureaucratic processes and colorful charts.)

Willow Hearth

While this is a newly rebuilt city, there is a fair amount of old Chimeronian wealth here. The land east of the Whiteleaf River is so fertile this little corner of Chimeron proper grows fully thirty-four percent of our domestic produce. The architecture of the city is quite impressive, though I am glad I had the opportunity to see it before the reconstruction. Some of the noble families have magically aged their properties to try to recapture the ambiance of bygone Willow Hearth, but it is not quite the same.

Stoneroot

Last but certainly not least, we have Stoneroot. An unassuming name for a large city, but many of the folks who make this their home are anything but. It takes a certain type of character to live "in Chimeron's elbow," as some say. Some time ago a decent amount of trade bound for Paradise passed through, but since those lands were folded into Chimeron proper and mostly reclaimed by nature, the former trade hub has mostly become known for fortune hunters heading into the hills after cursed treasure and caravan guards for hire on the road up to Cawdyll. If you ask me, those stories are overblown and Stoneroot is mostly home to folk looking for the opportunities life in a Chimeronian city brings, but with a smaller price tag than the alternatives. There is, however, no denying that Stoneroot has a unique charm to it.

Other Landmarks


The Crown's Road

A marvel of modern magical masonry, The Crown's Road is forty feet wide and runs east-to-west all the way from Stoneroot, through Chimeron City and Fort Griffindor, to the northern bridge into Eagle's Rook. That entire length is seamless stone, curved just enough to ensure rainwater runs off to either side of the road. I consider myself fairly good with both magic and my hands, but I do not rightly know how this masterpiece was made.

Forests

You should probably stay on the path.
You may still end up in Fae.
You have been warned.

McKrye Pass

This is the most convenient mountain pass to get between Qua Taereth Nunna and most of Chimeron on one side, and Cawdyll, Blackwater, and Fairhaven on the other. Folks who have had too much ale might try to sell you on the notion that the McKrye chopped the pass out with an axe.

Mirror Lake

It does not make sense, but this large lake between Chimeron City and Fort Griffindor is almost always perfectly still. Even the surfaces of the fairly large, flowing rivers fail to show any visible trace of a current until you get about twenty feet away from the lake. Many around Chimeron call it "the Looking Glass of the Gods". For those of you who can fly, gliding over on a clear, starry night is a wondrous experience.

Waystones

Over the past two years, Captain Orion has led a project to have tall stone pylons placed roughly every half-mile along the major roads throughout Chimeron proper. Each pylon, or "waystone" as they have come to be called, is engraved with a unique number and shows the direction and distance to the nearest settlements from its position. At night or in inclement weather, the engravings are magically illuminated for legibility (and to serve as beacons if conditions are sufficiently poor).

Friday, November 22, 2019

Tricks of the Trade: Ritual Caster Q&A- Christopher “Janus” Donnelly


[Editor's Note: This is the first of a new interview series focusing on the different types of spellcasting in the Realms. The goal is to have experienced casters from all over the Realms chime in to teach us about their experiences, techniques, and tricks of the trade so that we might learn or be inspired to try something new! Please enjoy, and let’s kick off this series by diving into the art of Ritual Casting!]

1.) How long have you been a ritual caster and what drew you to the role in the first place?

I’ll be honest, and say I am not actually sure how long I have been a ritual caster, because over time I have found myself slowly doing it more and more.  As for what started me down this path, the answer is definitely flexibility.  Rituals for me have been a way to interact in a less rigid manner than I would have otherwise.

2.) What was the best ritual you have ever done and, in your opinion, what made it so successful?

So, the best ritual I’ve ever done was at Queen of Hearts when I was running for Champion Mage years ago.  Unfortunately, I believe the video of it has been lost to time(if anyone has a copy of it, please send it to me), but it was designed to be “the worst ritual ever” where every imaginable thing went wrong.  Steps were done out of order.  I dropped my note cards, had to publicly skip steps that were impractical (for example, meditating for one hour), had things occur well outside the ritual instructions, and had a few visual gags as well.  What made it work was knowing the environment, taking a new twist, and committing.

3.) How do you decide when the “right time” is to do a ritual?

This is tough, but it varies.  Sometimes it is because I have an idea that I want to see come to fruition.  Other times it is because there is an obstacle that we are having trouble with that we can’t come around to.  Other times it’s just because I want to have a conversation with a being to learn about something.  In general though, it’s when I have a goal I can’t solve just by talking to other people (and sometimes having them do what needs to be done.)

4.) What backs or powers your rituals?

For the most part, it is Chronos, although I have been known to call upon other powers when on other planes or when it felt more appropriate.

5.) Would you be willing to walk us through your thought process when faced with creating a ritual? Where do you start?

So, the first thing I look at are any external requirements.  Do I have to be sneaky to do it?  Do I have to be quick?  Do I have plenty of time?  Once I understand these external requirements, the next question I have is what resources do I have available to me.  Do I have people to help me, rope, or any other physical items?  Next, I think what type of symbology I can evoke.  Often times recently I have been using pocket watches to form the symbol of Chronos.  But I will take all these things, and at a certain point, I’ll just decide that putting more work in will have drastically diminishing returns and just start.  

6.) How do you decide what to ask for in your rituals? What is the oddest thing you’ve ever asked for?

In general, the answer is I don’t ask for specifics, but ask for ways to achieve a goal.  Asking for specifics might get you that specific thing, but won’t lead you to your goal.  Although, there have been a few times I have asked for an odd thing, the strangest of which might have been when I asked to temporarily borrow Indana’s spells after she went to sleep for the night.

7.) Can you describe a time when your ritual failed? Why do you think that happened?

Yes, there have been several times.  Sometimes I have tried to bend magic beyond where it will go, like when I tried to do a reverse ritual of banishment to summon a person who had just escaped.  Sometimes the ritual will have an effect, but would be essentially failed as I misunderstood the situation as a whole.  Other times I just didn’t put enough forethought into the ritual, or had to end it soon.  What is important is to learn from your mistakes rather than avoiding them all together.

8.) What ritual prop have you made that you are most proud of? Can you tell us about a ritual prop that holds the most meaning for you personally?

I personally have not made many ritual props and will rely on what I happen to have acquired over time.  That said, the ritual prop that has the most meaning for me personally is a sand timer that flows backwards, due to its symbolic connection to Chronos.

9.) What do you think the most important skills are for a ritual caster to have/master?

Confidence and improvisation.  Both help with covering mistakes when they are made and moving forward swiftly.  Some types of rituals are really just putting a show on for the Gods, so treat it as such.

10.) What advice would you give to a new ritual caster or someone looking to get into ritual casting?

Mistakes are how we all grow.  Early on, I made a ton of mistakes.  But in the end, I have learned from almost all of them.  That said, rituals are the same way.  You’ll make mistakes, but it will lead you to your own personal style of casting a ritual, so don’t be afraid of making a mistake and don’t wait for perfection.

11.) Who would you like to see our next interview be with?

Rosetta, as his style of ritual is drastically different than mine.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

Throwback Thursday

Taking a look back at posts from previous years in the View:


2011:
November 1:
10 Questions with Ian "Bright" Pushee
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2011/11/10-questions-ian-bright-pushee.html


2012:
November 23:
Trivia from the second Order of the List Invitational - how many answers do you know?
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2012/11/trivia-from-order-of-list.html


2013:
November 15:
10 Questions with Tucker "Temorse" Noyes
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2013/11/10-questions-tucker-temorse-noyes.html


2014:
November 24:
Tria's famous "Cherpumpple" recipe:
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2014/11/from-trias-kitchen.html

November 17:
A Behind-the-Scenes piece by Mikey on how to trouble-shoot missing props as an EH:
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2014/11/behind-curtain-consequenses-for-failure.html


2015:
November 2:
The satirical stylings of the Silent Scribbler:
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2015/11/an-atypical-view.html

November 6:
10 Questions with Eric "Rosetta" Willisson
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2015/11/ten-questions-with-eric-rosetta.


2016:
November 29:
Zarine gets serious about hats in her popular "I Can't Even" column
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2016/11/i-cant-even-keep-lid-on-it.html

Part 3 of Gerry "Gray" Chartier's Sorcery 101: Thoughts of the Journeyman Caster series
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2016/11/sorcery-101-thoughts-of-journeyman.html


2017:
November 22:
Mouse's bardic from Nedengiving 2:
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2017/11/bardic-circle-mouses-bardic-from.html

November 28:
Part I of An Amateur's Guide to Healing like a Pro, by Gerry Chartier:
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2017/11/an-amateurs-guide-to-healing-like-pro.html


2018:
November 29:
Nataliya "Shader" Kostenko talks about her Order of the List experience
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2018/11/my-order-of-list-experience.html

The Arc Sphere Distortions comic continues
https://viewfromvalehaven.blogspot.com/2018/11/arc-sphere-distortions-continued_5.html



Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Know Your Role by Keith


We play a role playing game. Surprise right? One aspect of that is that we are role playing, taking on some character, and portraying them through our actions and words.

On an individual level, this might mean that you play a character; that has individualized and personality traits. For example: You’re a pirate. And you say “Y’arr I’m a pirate.” Great right? That’s not what this article is focusing on.

Rather, I’d like to talk about our roles within the community, in regards to each other. You might be familiar with the concept if you play tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, or if you play MMO’s. Some such roles might be “tank” or “DPS” ( damage per second), or healer. Each of those has roles within a scenario, the tank draws damage from the enemy to protect its allies, the DPS deals damage to put the enemies down, and the healer keeps them going when they’re not doing their jobs well enough.

It works. It keeps them interacting with the game, and with each other.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what your role is. I just am advocating that you think about what it might be while you’re designing your character.

The first step might be identifying realistic roles within our game. An obvious one is fighter, but fighter sort of takes on a lot of the combat roles we see from other games, a fighter can fill both the Tank and DPS roles, a lot of the times. You might make an argument for Lightning Bolt casters, or Assassins as being the DPS, because they have armor piercing blows, however, both of those spells would have a challenging time making it through multiple enemies in quick succession, where as a fighter might be able too. Depending on the circumstance and skill level, of course.

If direct combat isn’t your thing, what other roles might you design for, or play to? There is support casting, of course, which would essentially fill the above listed healer role, a lot of the time, but what else?

Informant. Our game specifically has the role of information gathering, it’s largely built into what was the Seer path, however, anyone who takes spells and abilities specifically for the sake of being in the know is essentially an informant. This is an important role to play towards, because if you’ve ever been on a quest, you know there are people that simply have no idea what’s going on, and they just sort of are riding the wave of the quest wherever it takes them.

Now you can build towards a role from alternate avenues, for example, while you might not think of yourself as a support caster when you have a necromancy build, it’s pretty easy to build a support caster from that build. At the same time, there are some really combat effective spellcaster builds, like a 1 path, with resist magic, 1 point of armor, and aura of protection, and enchant armor. They might be a little more situationally specific, but that’s not a bad thing so long as you’re aware of where you fit in.

So what happens to person who plays against their role? In my humble experience, if you play against the role you’ve built your character to be, you’re going to have less fun. For example, if as a fighter, I try to play an informant role, I will probably find I have a harder time at it than say a Seer type build. That isn’t to say I can’t be in the know, by asking the people around me, but it will be inherently more challenging for me. Likewise, if a 3 path with no combat spells tries to go toe to toe with a big bad monster, they might get frustrated with the challenge that comes from it.

I might be stating the obvious in that, and you might think I’m an asshole telling you how to play the game you love. But the heart of this piece comes from a piece of advice that I often give to newbies; when you’re starting out don’t play an assassin. Weird advice right? Why do I tell people that? This game is community based. We are here to play together. I don’t care how shy or introverted you are, you come to the game to play with other people. So build a character that encourages you to interact with other people. Assassins, classically, tend to be the hide in the shadows killing folks kind of characters. And while we have them in our game, they don’t tend to be as self sufficient as they seem like they should be. They aren’t always as combat effective as you think they might be, and they certainly don’t encourage you to play well with others.

If you want to build yourself in the community, play a role that makes you interact with people. Support casting is probably number one for this. But there are certainly other roles that do the same thing. Ultimately at the end of the day, play what makes you happy, but I hope this article has put some thoughts into you as to what that might be.

See you on the field

Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ask Zarine


by Sara "Zarine" Jessop


"How do I teach werewolves table manners?"


********************


Oh, honey...

I don't have any experience in training werewolves. Where I come from we kept our dogs outside. However, I have lived in Invictus for several years now and I've lived with both Trent and Daekara, so I do have some experience in the area of teaching resistant, crazed lunatics how to behave properly for brief periods of time.

Change like this does not happen overnight. Well, I mean, unless there is a full moon. So, I suppose firstly you'll want to do this at whatever time of the cycle that werewolves are at their most domesticated, and for goodness sake, don't let them know what you are trying to do! If they get the slightest hint that you are attempting to change them for the better they will very likely run for the hills and then you'll be even further from success than when you started. This would all be much easier and less dangerous if they want to learn, so tricking them into having a desire to become more well mannered is highly recommended. Perhaps give them a small treat when they do well. They will associate that with good behavior and want to improve.

Typically I would start with general manners if they do not possess them. Saying excuse me, please, and thank you, are basic staples of good comportment in any situation. Easy things like keeping elbows off the table, using a napkin instead of their arm, and actually using the flatware instead their hands are all obvious and fairly easy things to learn. They are either doing it or they are not. Make sure that they have these basic things down before moving onto more complex things like multiple forks, big and small spoons, and other things that sound dirty but are legit things everyone should know about table settings.

Adults, much like children, learn by example. Invite people to dine with you who already bear the ability to eat in a sophisticated and refined manner. I would gladly help in this endeavor. In fact, if you have specific individuals in mind, I would gladly host a nice dinner for them at Alchimia Lupinaar. Being in an environment that fosters a more elegant and formal ambiance will make it easier to break old habits, trust me.

Let us remember, I was not brought up to be as I am, I had to learn. And I didn't have the luxury of someone to teach me other than myself. Good breeding means nothing. Plenty of us mongrels have elevated ourselves beyond our so called 'birthrights'. If a dock tramp's daughter can learn how to tell a salad fork from a soup spoon, I'm fairly certain a werewolf, or any manner of creature with the propensity for intelligent cooperation within society, can do the same. It might be more difficult, but anything worth doing often is.

Good luck, my dear, you are going to need it.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Rumors for November 1019

[Across the Realms]

As the chill begins to creep into the bones of all those in the Realms, fall is here and on its icy winds comes talk of a bewinged creature with rounded horns that is supposedly able to breathe blue fire that will never burn out but also never spread. Many townsfolk have started seeking after this creature in hopes of an eternal flame for the winter that fast approaches.

[Blackwood & Folkestone]

The ship known as the Hell's Bucket was seen pulling into Portsmouth harbor in Folkestone late on the 9th day of November. The King and Queen of Blackwood were seen disembarking with Sir Mathias, Lady Mataiya, Squire Seeker, and others of their party/households. All headed home after a long journey for the royal honeymoon.
Freesia, still tight lipped about where they went, was all smiles and only stated that they all needed rest after the long voyage.

[Chimeron]

Militia patrols around Chimeron Castle increased significantly following the annual Black and White gala. Regular traffic into and out of the castle is largely unaffected, although visitors are occasionally stopped and questioned briefly. The guards do not appear to be looking for anyone in particular, although a few individuals seem to be disgruntled with their duty assignment. Patrols in the city remain unchanged.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What You Missed: A New Be-Gi-Ning

Expedition Report
Location: Gi
Date: 9 November 1019

I met several other adventurers in the Chimeronian countryside to discuss the purpose of our first foray into the world of Gi. After years of war between our civilizations (see After Action Reports dated 27 Feb. 1016 and 31 Mar. 1018), the time has come to broker peace with the Risen Kingdom. I made these intentions clear to my fellow adventurers--several of whom, as it so happened, at very recently traveled to this region of the Realms from far-off lands. Fortunately, discussions of our strategy for dealing with the Risen Kingdom have been ongoing since the most recent Feast of Chimeron, so the departure from military force did not come as a surprise.

An agent of the Subtle Thread (number 40-something) and a “hired mage/guide” (I am unsure of whose employment this individual was working) named Zooklin joined us as we made our way to the portal. Despite being in the underground caverns, the biting wind pushed the first freeze of the season up against our party, and we drew our cloaks tight around us while the remembered sunlight provided little warmth as it hid behind a bleak gray dome of clouds.

… then we entered Gi, and things got even worse.

Our first impressions aligned with what little information we had available ahead of time: that Gi is a barren, desolate world. The grim tragedy of the wasteland was somewhat mitigated by a magical tapestry which Zooklin carried with him--in his own words, it provided a little “bubble of Realms” around it. The phrase invoked memories of a similar artifact hauled across an even more desperate landscape during the Bedlam War, which was an unwelcome comparison.

Agent 37 was present on the Gi side of the portal, and was elated to see us. She was stuck on field assignment duty because her superiors were worried about the contamination she might bring back from Gi if she were to return to the Realms. I know that the Subtle Thread is very precise in its research, so the justification behind her exile did not worry me nor the rest of the pary.

The portal opened on to a path, traversing through what might almost pass for a forest in Gi. As we traveled it, we were set upon by a pack of very large and very hungry wolves. Their presence indicated that the world was not quite fully exhausted, and their large size (physically and numerically) was remarkable. Their resilience and combat abilities were also notable. Further research is required to determine the exact state of the predator-prey food chain in Gi.

Agent 37 told us that she had discovered an abandoned Risen Kingdom output nearby some time ago, and offered to guide us towards it. Our supply of supporting magics was shallow to begin with, and the wards which remained unbroken in the portal (see After Action Report dated 2 Mar. 1019) further hindered our capabilities, but with Sir Tao and his two Seeds of Life serving as our sole source of healing, we pressed on while more wolves were drawn to our path. We passed a landmark which might be generously described as having once been a lake, although its murky surface swirled with mud and death. Across a set of footbridges and over a ravine, we finally reached the destination. A Risen Kingdom flag, battered like our party as we beat back the last of the wolves, hung limply on a pole at the foot of a small hill, watched over by an equally battered barracks. We approached, and opened the door carefully, only to find it deserted (true to Agent 37’s reports). A few forgotten morsels of food sat on a table, and a self-tending fire struggled to keep more than half the hall warm; compared to the wicked world which existed beyond its four walls, the interior was downright comforting.

Zooklin conducted an elemental ritual to expand the influence of his tapestry to surround the building, thus establishing a sort of Realms foothold. Using the barracks as a launching point, we split the party into smaller groups to scout the surrounding area. The previously omnipresent wolves seemed to have lost interest in our existence, although we soon found ourselves in the company of a few large snakes which circled the edge of the tapestry’s aura. I personally stayed behind to provide background information on the Risen Kingdom to a few newer adventurers. Groups returned periodically with various types of materials scavenged from the wilderness, including some thead-like essences which we were able to weave into the magical tapestry to strengthen its effect.

The first time I ventured outside of the barracks was in support of a “twinning” ritual proposed by Zooklin which would connect one of the doors in the hall to the portal, thus circumventing the trek to our newly-established outpost. Unfortunately, the tapestry’s aura did still did not reach much past the outside of the building, and in order to complete the ritual, we needed to travel all the way back to the portal so that we could place a focus near it. This meant that we had no protection against the full brunt of the plane of Gi.

Without the tapestry, Gi’s atmosphere is dulled by an orange haze which shrouds everything in a veil of misery. That same misery is also conveyed upon the air, whose awful stench is so powerful that even a being such as myself--HAVING NO NOSTRILS TO SPEAK OF--is left with an indescribably treacherous taste overpowering the remaining senses. Honestly, I would rather deal with the wolves.

When we approached the portal, we discovered a young woman defending herself against a pack of giant cats (again, the fact that such a barren environment can support so many large predators calls for further investigations). She did not seem to know who we were, and did not shy away from us, so aided her efforts while securing the focus to the portal to complete Zooklin’s ritual. At the request of the woman, who called herself River, we also helped her block off the entrance to the den from which the giant cats were emerging. She was so grateful for our presence (and surprised to see so many strangers) that she offered to show us the way back to her village and introduce us to her family and neighbors. However, she admitted that she should get permission from her father first, and invited us to reconvene with her at a point on the path half an hour later. We took that time to discuss our options for our upcoming audience. It seemed likely that once River carried word of our appearance back to her father, the alarm would be raised and we would find ourselves face to face with an angry mob. Bearing our primary objective in mind, we returned to the agreed upon meeting location only lightly armed and bearing gifts in the form of local and exotic (e.g. from the Realms) resources. As promised, River was also there, and no angry mob was present. We followed her along another path and into her village square, where I was sure we would be ambushed… but were instead greated (apprehensively) by the mayor and River’s father. By my count, the village had three buildings and five citizens.

After introducing ourselves and chatting with the mayor, it quickly became obvious that these people had no idea about what had happened to the Risen Kingdom army which had marched through the portal almost two years ago. As far as they were aware, the local militias had been called up and were still deployed in a far off land, fighting a foriegn threat.

After quietly discussing amongst ourselves, we decided that it was better to reveal the truth of our journey to the citizens and deal with the reaction immediately instead of building an entire relationship with these people off of a lie. I had a private conversation with the mayor, whose brother was one of those militia soldiers called up by the Fallen King, and delicately explained my own role in the war to which he was deployed. All things considered, it went better than I expected.

Night quickly fell, turning the cold wasteland into a bitterly frigid one, and we departed the village in order to avoid overstaying our welcome. We debriefed the meeting in front of the barracks fire and debated our next steps, but did not reach any concrete conclusions. Further action is needed in order to define the next phase of our mission. A few more scouting groups briefly explored a few points of interest under the rusty moon, and when they returned, the party evacuated the chilling barracks for the warmth of our own hearths.

Conclusions:

We took the first steps on the road towards peace, and having done so, I now feel like there is a real chance for success in our mission. However, we must plan our next moves very carefully-- by revealing ourselves immediately, we have sacrificed any element of surprise which we might have been able to use against the Risen Kingdom. The Fallen King almost has seen what we have done, and we must be wary of the trickery which his minions have shown in the past.

Attachments:
Additional report from Sir Tao
Additional report from Clove
Additional report from Rex Larrysaurus
Additional report from Agent 37

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Captain Orion Mars, Chimeron Milita
Sworn Member of the Azure Guard
Squire to His Majesty, King Sir Alexander Cecil
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Attachment 1: Report from Sir Tao

Tao the wizard talked to Zooklin, the hired mage/guide when we explored Gi. After some experimenting, he was able to figure out how to make items of power function there. Any items of power that go through the gate are rendered mundane as they are surrounded by kind of shroud. This can be overcome one of two ways. Only one of these will work currently. The way we know is to have the item disenchanted. Once this happens the shroud dissipates, and the item can be reforged. The second would be if we knew the name of the shroud then we could disrupt it, but this would only last 5 minutes.

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Attachment 2: Report from Clove

Five adventurers sleep. Thoril and cyrus cause a ruckus in the dreaming at a fae lord's tea party. I weave through a loom to solidify our outpost in Gi while questioning why we're here.

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Attachment 3: Report from Rex Larrysaurus

IC: When I got to Gi and found the spells on the ground, like I normally do, one of them let me forget a name. I didn't think about it much, like I normally do, other than maybe it'll be useful for some weird thing later. When we meet the villagers and learned that they try to forget their dead, I understood why I had that spell. It wasn't a useful trick for adventurers. It's just the way things are there.

OOC: Best use of regionals for storytelling I've seen so far. That was touching to me in a way that no other Realms event has been.

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Attachment 4: Report from Agent 37

After 252 days since opening the portal from Gi to the Realms, it was wonderful to see the adventurers of the Realms again. They came through the portal they had secured and managed to go from the portal to the abandoned Risen Kingdom outpost without being eaten by the huge wolves. Some of them brought food to share with me. It was nice to eat Realms food again and to not worry about being food. In the outpost, a wonderful warm fire was set up and warm drinks helped to protect us from the frigid Gi air. Special thanks to Clove, Rowan, and Rowan's incredibly helpful Didelphis virginiana in their tireless work on the loom, modulating standing waves to cancel out influence from Gi and avoid detection.

Sapere aude
Agent: 37
The Subtle Thread


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Why I Want to Go: Mountain View 2


By Alex “Elouan” Groom

Several years ago, a group of adventurers journeyed into Gau Dring in order to deal with the emerging threat of the Guild. The Guild had built a hidden fortress under the mountain city of Dahm, and Gau Dring asked for aid in rooting out The Guild and ending it’s threat to their nation. However, when the adventurers arrived, they found the city ransacked, members of the Guild slaughtered, and an unknown army looting and ravaging their way through the city. With heroic efforts, the adventurers of the Realms were able to drive this army back into the mountain from whence they came, and several members of Gau Dring were able to construct a barrier to contain the threat.

However, as the years have worn on, the barrier has begun to weaken. Whatever is sealed in there is more powerful than initially anticipated - much more powerful - and will break the barrier soon. As such, Gau Dring has called upon the Realms once more, to delve into the mountain, find out just what is trying to break this barrier, and hopefully deal with the threat that lies at the center of the mountain.

On an out of character note, I have been working with the event staff for several weeks now, and can say that Gau Dring has some great encounters planned for y’all. Returning to this event will be Gau Dring’s classic reactive monsters. These monsters, while harder to kill, fight in a more theatrical way - staggering from blows, big, exaggerated swings, etc. They also tend to have some of the best costume design I’ve seen in Realms. Having seen these in action several times, I can tell you the effect is really cool, and leads to some really awesome moments.

In fact, costuming all around is quite impressive for this event. I know the staff have put in quite a bit of effort into really differentiating their monsters, and reflecting the character of each NPC in their clothing. Whether it be the malicious Eshkin, or the lowliest of undead, an incredible amount of attention to detail was paid for the costuming of this event.

Additionally, the staff has a lot of content planned for the day, with the intention being to run the event from 10:30AM to 10:00PM. On top of that, there is a wide variety of types of content. There’ll be skirmishes, there’ll be big fights. There will be small puzzles, there will be puzzles that span entire rooms. Along the way, players will uncover scattered documents of all sorts, helping them to piece together the history of Dahm, The Guild, and thensome. I truly think this event has something to offer for anyone who enjoys questing, regardless of which aspect they enjoy.

Finally, this event takes place in Hicks arena, and will use the moving wall system that has been used there several times. Personally, I always feel like this perfectly creates the feeling of navigating a winding cave system, exploring further and further underground.

All around, I am really excited for this event. There is still time to pre-reg, and paid pre-reges get a bonus perk at event sign in. I hope to see many of you there!