Tuesday, June 30, 2020

View of the Vanfrost - Episode 3

by Eric "Rosetta" Willisson

It was an RTC night out! Janus, Bright, and I were joined by three of our petitioners, Tirvanel, Laika, and Arryn. We traveled to Rhiassa, where the Vanfrost can usually be found. We were met by Ulric and Aeston, but surprisingly Aeston left without saying much. Ulric let us know that the Vanfrost had been taking people all over the worlds connected to Norlund, so it was hard to say where we would end up. We agreed to try to meet up with Laika if we got separated, since he probably had the least planar travel ability. I took a few moments to study the Vanfrost, but was unable to get any hints at where it might lead. Fighter in the front, we entered the portal.

We found ourselves at the bottom of a circular room, with raised platforms receding like a stage all around us. The sign of Leo was on the floor, and there were decorations and symbols suggesting the Moon all around. In addition, Janus’ keen senses told him with certainty that we were in fact on a Moon.

A more pressing issue was that we were surrounded by automata. There were small ones near us, and larger ones farther away with some sort of light-based ranged weapon. Several of our number have plenty of experience with constructs, but we were unable to apply it because an intruder alarm sounded, and the automatons began to attack us. Thankfully, a storm of missiles, a Lightning Bolt, and a Sword of Light easily took them down.



Once we had a chance to look around, we found that there was a sort of orrery at the center of the room, with a representation of a Sun and five planets spaced equally around it (I am unclear on whether this presents us with information about Norlund’s new cosmology. It would certainly be interesting if it were, to coin a phrase, ‘aurorocentric’). There were also five small orbs, colored red, green, blue, yellow, and purple, on separate pedestals. Three of them were locked in place, but two, purple and green I believe, were free to be moved. In addition, there were archways with various colors spread around the room. Each looked like a doorway, but instead of a door, there was a slab of stone. On each stone were one or more phases of the Moon, in particular places, and in the colors of the orbs we had found.



We figured out that we could open a doorway by placing the orbs in locations indicated by the stones. The orbs were able to be placed near the planets, and they would hover where they were released. So, a purple full moon in the lower right position on a door meant putting the purple orb near the planet that corresponded to the lower right, with the orb on the far side of the planet from the Sun.

Because of some orbs being locked in place, most doors were impossible for us to open. The first one we did revealed a small chamber with a crystal we were able to take. The second contained a puzzle with a series of locks and keys. Unusually, each key fit every available lock, and the secret involved how the keys were rotated. They were akin to clock hands, and the hours had to add up to particular values. Once we had the keys oriented correctly, a new orb was released, giving us access to more doors.



The next door we opened, attached to the puzzle chamber, contained more automatons. These had shields which our Magic Missiles could not penetrate, but neither could their ranged weapons. Laika fought the ones who came close enough to engage in melee, which kept their shields up. The others lowered their shields to fire at us, and succumbed to our missiles. Behind them was another crystal.

We continued like this, picking up crystals and solving puzzles that unlocked orbs. There was a color-matching puzzle where we had to place nine tiles such that adjacent sides had the same color, and we used just the slightest amount of Foresight to pin down one of them and reduce the time we would have to spend. Before long, we were advancing down what seemed like one of the final hallways, where we were faced with a huge, well-armed automaton turret.

It was equipped with deadly beams of light, which were fixed in certain directions but turned on and off, and with small explosive “missiles” which took the form of artificery rather than the standard magical energy (they did turn out to be magical in nature, however, which we used to our tactical advantage). It was a difficult fight, which expended a chunk of our healing, but eventually, Tirvanel was able to claim the crystal in the room, while Laika got behind the turret and demolished it. Along the way, Janus called for Divine Aid and was rewarded with an item unlike any I have seen since Kahlenar’s pirate weapon. Some sort of long metal tube that emitted a directed blast at least as powerful as a Lightning Bolt.



With the turret destroyed, the final orb unlocked, and we were able to open the last doorway. It is worth mentioning now that we had examined some of the objects around, and found repeatedly that instead of the usual clockwork or magical sigils, they seemed to rely on the artificery of hair-thin metal wires. The automata worked this way, and the crystals were laced with them as well. This suggested that there would be sockets to insert the crystals to control a mechanism. Beyond the final door, we found such a mechanism, with crystal sockets, directional controls, and foot placements.

We entered the crystals into their panels, and found that we were unable to walk away. However, our attention was drawn to the other end of the room, which had a forcefield protecting us from a vast void, and a distant platform. We found that each of us was able to control one particular shape of tile, with an associated color. We had to manipulate the tiles into position to form a bridge spanning the void. When we had succeeded, the forcefield dropped and our feet were released. We crossed the new bridge, and on the far platform, found a giant acorn, as big as a boulder. It was an acorn of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. We will keep it safe until such time as it is ready to be planted.


Our mission completed, a portal appeared to take us back to the Vanfrost, and back home.

((OOC: Thank you again to Jason and his staff for finding a way to run this cool quest while we’re all unable to have in-person events! It was great to think and act as our characters again for a bit.))

Monday, June 29, 2020

Meme Monday

by the Meme Team


Friday, June 26, 2020

Home Questing: The Twelfth Task

by Christopher "Janus" Donnelly




This week I am giving you puzzles to solve.  You have until Wednesday the 8th at Noon.

Here is the link to the puzzles


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

[Transcript]

Hi all, Janus Here.  And welcome to Home Questing, the Twelfth Task.  This week I am changing things up a little bit.  Instead of the usual task that is a bit more open ended, I decided to create a set of puzzles for you to solve.  For each puzzle you solve you will get 2 points, and the first person to solve all of the puzzles will get 5 extra points, and four for second, and so on.

You have one and a half weeks, so a week from Wednesday [note: at noon], and your time starts now.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Tao's Dealer School: Blackjack


by James "Tao" Murphy 

Probably the most popular game offered in every casino.

Two ways to win; Your hand is higher than the dealers without going over 21, or the dealer busts.
For this explanation I am only going to talk about the standard game. Most casinos have some other “side bet” like the Jynx bet, or Tao’s triple. If you have questions about side bets, ask your dealer they do vary wildly and can add a lot of spice to the game.

You place a wager on the board. The dealer then deals, usually one card at a time to each player and themselves, until every player has two cards face up. Your basic choices are “Hit” or “stand”.  There are a few more choices I will go into later. Only 1 of the dealers’ cards will be face up. What is life with risk? Once all players have finished (usually from the dealers left to their right), it’s the dealers turn. They have very specific rules they must go by. If their hand is 16 or less, then they hit until its more than 16. If it goes over 21 then they “bust”, and all remain players that did not bust automatically win regardless of what they had for a total.

Hitting involves getting one more card to add to your total. Standing involves that you are don’t taking cards. You choose to take cards until you like your total, or you go over 21 at which point you lose, and your wager should be remove form the board.

Your object is to get your hand higher than the dealers without going over 21. Cards are worth their face value, jacks, queens and kings are worth 10, and Aces can be worth 1 or 11 your choice. So, if you have a jack and 3 your hands are 13 points. If you win your bet is paid even money; if you bet 4 you get paid 4, if you bet 25 you get 25. Quick note most experienced better make their bets even numbers. The why of this will be covered later. If you total is lower, then you lose. If, however it’s the same it’s a push you neither win nor lose. (Free entertainment)

The basic strategy is to ether have/make a strong enough hand to be stronger than the dealer or to think the dealer is likely to bust if they go over 21. Therefore, the dealer up card is important. This is your only clue as to if they are likely to bust or not.

A lot of players will use hand motions instead of saying Hit/stand, some kind of “Gimme” gesture will work for hit, and any kind of negative or “enough” gesture will work for stand. The dealer might make sure they understand the first few times you make the gesture. If you watch a table for a short while you will get the idea of it very quickly.

Now a special thing happens before anything else, is if the dealers up card is an Ace. If it’s an Ace they will ask every player if they want insurance. The way this works is they are warning the players they could have a hand that is 21 which means everyone else would lose. An insurance bet is an additional bet that is an half your current wager (rounded up). If your original bet was 18 your insurance bet would be 9. Once all players have placed the insurance bet or declined insurance, the dealer will check the down card to see if they have blackjack. If they do then they push back both the insurance bet, and the original bet back to the player who loses nothing. So in the example above, even though the dealer has a Blackjack, the player does not lose. If the dealer does not have a Blackjack, they take the insurance bets and play continues as normal with players making Hit/stand decisions. Quick math, the insurance bet basically pays 2:1. The likelihood of a dealer having a blackjack when they are showing an ace is about 3:1.

Now let’s talk about some rare special hands you might get. The first is a “Blackjack” that is on your first 2 cards you have any “ten” card and an ace. Your bet will get paid 3:2 (usually rounding down). So, if you bet 2 chips you will get paid 3; if you bet 10 you would get paid 15. If you bet an odd number like 5 you will be paid 7, therefore most experienced gamblers bet even amounts.

Blackjacks are usually paid before almost anything else happens. However, if the dealer is showing an ace, that process will happen first. Now when the dealer is showing an ace (or any card really) you can ask for “even money” you only get paid 1:1 instead of 3:2 but you will get paid before the dealer checks for Blackjack. Sometimes worth doing especially if you have bet an Odd amount.

Couple other special things you can do split and double down. Most experienced players only do this when the dealer is weak, but you can do it on any hand.

If your first two cards are of equal value you can split them to make 2 hands. But you must put another equal wager on the board. Notice I said equal value, you could split 8,8 for instance or split a king and a queen. As both cards have equal value. Like many things in blackjack, there is a special rule when it comes to aces. If you decided to split aces you have to put up another equal wager; however you only get one more card regardless of what it is. The card should be placed sideways. If you are lucky enough to receive another Ace, you can split that as up 4 total hands. Any other card besides an ace is played normally hit/stand. You must complete one hand before starting the next.

Doubling down is also possible on any two cards but most experts usually only do it when the have a total of 10 or 11 and the dealer is weak. You put up another equal bet and the dealer gives you 1 additional card which should be put sideways.

So that’s it, put up a bet, get two cards, figure out your strategy for either making a strong enough hand to beat the dealer, or thinking the dealer is going to bust. If you have kept reading to here, congratulations!, more than most probably. It sounds like a lot is going on, but if you watch a few hands you should very quickly pick up the feel for the game. Good luck



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Voices in the View

Introduction to the Series

by Alex "Elouan" Groom

This article will be the first in a series of articles in which people with marginalized identities talk about LARPing/gaming. If you would like to do an interview or write an article about your own experiences, and we haven’t reached out to you yet, please let me know! To kick off the series, I’ve written an article about my own time as a nonbinary person in Realms.

For those who don’t know me already, I’m Alex Groom (soon to be Cannamela), aka Sir Elouan of Rhiassa. I use they/them pronouns. I’ve been playing Realms for almost a decade now; I was a fighter for about six years, and have been a caster on and off in the last three. When I was asked to write about my experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community (specifically, a trans nonbinary person) who LARPs, I immediately knew the topic I had to write about. Today, I want to talk about how gaming can provide spaces for LGBTQ+ people to explore their identities, and how we as gamerunners and players can support that.

When I first started playing Realms, I was not out as nonbinary. If you go through my old Realms photos, I certainly looked like a typical straight cis dude; for the most part, I also acted like one. If you asked me, I would have said I was a straight cis dude. And yet...I didn’t quite know it yet, but I would be wrong about that. Or, at the least, I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to know better.

Learning about trans experiences is a lot easier nowadays than it was even a decade ago. We as a society have a long way to go, but we at least talk about trans issues more openly nowadays. In the town I grew up in, that didn’t really happen, even when I was in high school. I don’t want to go off on a tangent too much, but long story short is I didn’t have great resources when I was younger, I found better resources when I got older, and realized that I am some sort of not cis a bit over two years ago.

The issue then, was, how could I explore my gender identity and expression in a way that goes beyond just reading? The answer to that, for me at least, was through LARPing. LARPing gave (and continues to give) me a place to comfortably explore my gender. To be perfectly blunt, I’ve been wearing makeup and dressing how I want far longer in Realms than I have in real life, and longer than I’ve been out as nonbinary.

When you’re playing a character, there’s a layer of separation between you and the character. That separation translates to safety for someone who isn’t out but might be figuring out or experimenting with their gender. In my case, this meant changing how I dress and wearing makeup for the first time. The first time I wore eyeliner was to a Ren Faire, where I could pass it off as part of a pirate aesthetic. In Realms, my character turned into a demon just as I started realizing I was nonbinary (these two events are unrelated, for the record), and let me tell you, I used that 100% as an excuse to dress and look however the hell (pun intended) I felt like. And yes, some of that was just playing up the fact that I was now playing a demon. But, at the same time, I was using that as an opportunity to explore facets of my own gender. My character was arguably no longer a man or a woman, and that gave me an outlet for feeling out how I felt about my own gender.

Further, that layer of separation lets someone explore aspects of themselves they might not otherwise be comfortable exploring. A lot of us were raised with negative portrayals of LGBTQ+ people. Undoing those stereotypes and prejudices doesn’t happen overnight. And even then, a lot of us have internalized the hatred we saw LGBTQ+ people face when we grew up. I spent a good chunk of my childhood (age 6-12) in early 2000’s northern Michigan. I wasn’t even out as a trans person (or fully aware of being one), but I was already having queerphobic slurs thrown at me just for acting differently. Even knowing that that was wrong, it’s a hard thing to shake. And so, a lot of us build defenses to maintain the illusion (even to ourselves) that we are “normal,” if just to stop the bullying. Part of those defenses, quite often, is to strictly conform to gender roles. As such, not conforming to those gender roles can often feel dangerous - after all, we tell ourselves, that’s why we were bullied in the first place. If, however, someone is playing a character, they might be more comfortable stepping outside of those norms. “I’m not trans, my character’s gender just doesn’t match my own” is an easy out for anyone who might need that justification to be okay with breaking down the barriers they’ve built up.

Finally, LARPing gives me the chance to choose who I came out to first and who I interacted with while out. Even now, I don’t always dress or look how I want in public; sometimes, the possibility of harassment just makes it not worth it. Realms isn’t perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than a lot of other places. When I go to a Realms event, I know who the jerks are and generally can just avoid them. Even then, there are people in game who I know have my back. I know that if I’m having a rough time at a Realms event, there are good friends I can sit down with and talk to who will make me feel better. I also know that if someone is gonna be transphobic, I have friends who are gonna stand up for me, and I’m not on my own.

With all this in mind, there’s some easy steps that you can take to make your game supportive of players who went through the experiences I went through. The first is to avoid making disparaging or sarcastic remarks about someone who has changed up their appearance, or is playing a character of a different gender than their own. For all you know, that is a trans or gender nonconforming person testing out the waters for the first time - and first impressions are hard to shake. If you make the game feel unsafe for them, it may be a long time before they feel safe to express themselves in that game, if ever. Finally, be supportive of your trans friends. If you do see someone being transphobic, call them out. You don’t have to change their mind, but saying something - especially publicly and visibly - tells the trans friends in your game that that sort of behavior isn’t tolerated, and lets people who aren’t out yet know that the game will be safe for them when they’re ready.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Legends of Voraniss: Jagtor, Savior of Mirador (Part II)

[Editor's Note: click here to read Part I]

by Renee "Kindrianna" Booke


It should be said, as referenced within the tale of Otter, that storms possess power. They speak a primal language belonging to the old ones and the very land itself. The new sound that Jagtor could make out, belonged to a beast beyond his comprehension, a predator of the deep so old and strong that it had lost the will to communicate beyond a roar or a wail. All that was left was a hunger for destruction, and the Giant understood the creature’s will without words. He could feel it deep within his bones as every survival instinct he had hit him at once, urging him to leave the danger of the ocean.
                When the creature broke the surface of the water, Jagtor saw its tentacles first. It grabbed at the ships he had been unable to catch, tossing them with ease; smashing them into the rocky cliffs until their wooden bodies splintered and cracked from bow to stern. Briefly, he saw what looked like a beak hiding rows of serrated teeth when the creature turned nearer in the water. It filled him with horror to look upon a creature so ancient and terrible as this. Debris littered the coastline, but the abhorrent Kraken’s appetite had yet to diminish. It turned its sights on Mirador and the ships that Jagtor had rescued in the harbor.
                Jagtor was no warrior, and it would be a lie to say that he hadn’t strongly considered running for his life, but when he heard the screams of his neighbors and friends upon the shore behind him, something within him stirred. The artist became a warrior, for Mirador and her locals still had many stories to tell, and many sunrises to embrace. Jagtor rolled up his sleeves, took a deep breath, and turned towards the deeper water where the Kraken approached. Bards sing of this moment in many ballads, from wind tossing the Giant’s hair as he strode forward to contend with a leviathan even larger than himself, to an epic staredown between two titans battling over the fate of civilization. The truth was nowhere near as pleasant at this, for the battle was long and ugly.
                The Giant ripped through muscle and blood, holding the suckered limbs of the Kraken at bay. The beast continued to grab at him, trying to pull his head beneath the waves. Their wrestling match left Jagtor gasping for air as he choked on salty water and breath every time he managed to get his mouth and nose above the surface. His punches carried the strength of boulders, forcing the creature off of him in short bursts, but always would it return. It had more arms than he, and each of them a potent weapon that tried to clasp onto his skin and stretch him in ways his body didn’t want to go.
                Covered in ichor, water, and slime, Jagtor couldn’t hold onto the briny tentacles. He’d manage to capture one, straining all the muscles in his body to try and beat it into submission, but the darned things just managed to slither free, leaving him tired and forced to do it all over again. He knew he had to stay away from that beak, snapping at him and getting closer with every failed attempt to subdue the behemoth. His only chance was to get away long enough to find a weapon.
                The next time the creature came at him, Jagtor shoved it backward with all his strength and started to run. He squinted his eyes, raising his hand above his brow as he peered through the storm. There was so much wreckage and despair about him, but he couldn’t let himself be distracted. He had to find something to change the course of this battle before it was too late. Breathless with fatigue he willed himself to go faster, for the thrashing Kraken was right behind him.
Suddenly, a blinding light caught his attention and he made haste towards it. It was the lighthouse!  Still a beacon in the darkness of the storm’s devastation he had forgotten all about it until the light had crossed his eyes. Jagtor grit his teeth and planted one enormous foot against the rocky coast while his hands grasped the bottom of the lighthouse. With a mighty heave, he tore the tower from its foundation, loose stones tumbling free down into the water. He spun the building around his head like a child’s toy, turning to slam his newfound club into the head of the beast.
The tides had turned, and Jagtor smashed the Kraken as hard as he could. Blow, after mighty blow, the creature sustained at the onslaught of the Giant, and it shrieked and writhed in agony. They fought until the dawn when both their titan frames could hardly move. The Kraken whipped one last tentacle for Jagtor’s ankle, and the Giant felt his legs pulled from under him.  His back hit the water with a loud splash, creating a wave of its own. Down into the depths, the two did sink, never to be seen again.
When the people did behold that Jagtor had saved them from the wrath of that beast, they proclaimed him the savior of Mirador and adopted the likeness of the monster for their banner so that they might tell Jagtor’s story for a thousand ages. That night, they poured out drinks for their fallen hero, whispering their prayers and thanks over spirits and ale. They lamented he would never see the world the way he wanted, giving his all for their home. A hero deserved better than death they agreed.
                Their prayers and mourning would not go unheeded for long, for the spirits always bear witness to truly heroic acts. We know not whether they are always watching, or are simply drawn to greatness, but they know when they are needed. With their magic, Jagtor’s spirit was transformed into the form of a salmon, so that he might swim hither and thither as freely as he pleased; his courage rewarded with new life and freedom.
The broken husk of the lighthouse still stands upon the shores of Mirador, a testament to a Giant’s strength, and a monument to one of the greatest guardians to ever live. Local maps simply call it “Jagtor’s Spear.” The telling of this legend continued into the times when humans began to settle in Voraniss, and Jagtor the Salmon became a favorite of sailors and travelers who believed his wandering spirit would protect and guide them on all of their journeys.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Meme Monday

by the Meme Team


Friday, June 19, 2020

Home Questing Task 10: Results!

by Christopher "Janus" Donnelly 


Hello, and welcome to Home Questing: the tenth task reward show.  This week, I challenged you to make the cleanest bawdy limerick you could.  We received a few really good entries (along with my own, so let’s get right into it.

From Cressida is this:

My queen has a guardsman named Mike
For whom she always did like
One day she took a tumble
On Mike she did fumble
She’d fallen right onto his “Pike”

From DelHemar is this:

Two heroes did surely get bored
As they sat in a circular ward
With loud benediction
One broke her restriction
With the gentleman's two handed sword.

From Janus is this:

There once was a klutz wearing lipstick
Who was saved by a knight called Ulric.
She asked for his sword,
Then shouted a chord
As it’s long since she felt a prick.

In addition to these, we received an extra non-judged entry from Cressida.  So for your reading pleasure,  The Word Choice Limerick:

There once was a bard from Chimeron
Her word choice she’d best think upon
She wrote a huge play
But the battle stole the day
When her lead actor shouted “Lay on”


This week, for a guest judge I thought to myself “When was the last time I had heard a bawdy limerick?” and the answer jumped out at me: being sung in a Chimeronean kitchen.  So I asked Lady Indana Ward of the Order of the Spoon to judge these perfectly clean limericks. 

Take it away Indana:

Hello lovely Lords, Ladies, and Gentlefolk. Lady Indana Here! I was quite pleased to be asked to judge this week's At Home Questing, as I quite enjoy a bit of bawdy humor, and a clever rhyme. So let’s get this ball a-rolling.

Third Place (3 points): Janus.

I’m having a hard time understanding where this limerick fell short, but it left me reviewing the meter, to make sure it matched (it does) rather than laughing. Perhaps it was the unusual rhyming of lipstick, Ullric, and prick? 

Second Place (4 points): Cressida

This limerick produced a light chuckle from me, making it a solid candidate for singing in the kitchen at future feasts.

First Place (5 points): DelHemar

This limerick produced a wicked grin on my face, truly the sign of well penned prose. And I mean, come on, “two handed!” Oh my!


Thank you Indana.  From my side of things, here is how things are coming out.

Disqualified: Janus

Once again, I am going to have to disqualify Janus.  This time just because I really disliked the limerick he wrote.

2nd place (4 points): Cressida

This was a solid limerick, and I really enjoyed it.  It was really tough putting this at 2nd.  But “She’d fallen right onto his ‘pike’”, while clean, the innuendo is very strong.

1st Place (5 points): DelHemar

This was a really good limerick, and barely eked out it’s win by being the most “believably clean.”  I still remember that time Nos broke his restriction by idly swinging a 6’6 at a tree, so this really has the two levels going for it.


 So, with the points for participation, that brings Cressida to 9 points, and DelHemar to 11 points for the week.


And here are the overall scores so far:



DelHemar - 101.5
Cressida - 72
Laika en'Naur - 20
Aeston, Areni, and Gwen - 18.5
Bart - 11
Iawen - 11
Saka - 10
Vawn - 10
Syruss - 10
Luc-Dubois Coupant - 9
Osa - 8
Kwido - 6
J'reth - 5
Nalydros - 5
Rosetta - 5
Sagart Hawkshade - 5
Tarun Ul-Sikar - 5
Thayet - 5
Orion - 4
Vanduke - 4
King Alexander Cecil - 2.5
Jace - 2
Kara Nithisdottir - 1.5
Thoril - 1.5


As a reminder, when this ends, there will be prizes that go to the top 5 contestants.  Right now, the 5th spot can be tied with a single good entry, and 3rd can be taken with 2 good entries.  So you still have a chance!


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Rumors for June 1020

[Across the Realms]


Time Snarls are still being spotted here and there throughout the Realms.  One commoner in particular from Chimeronian lands seems to have come forth, preaching about the Maiden who was the Sword, the Shield, a religion (or faith) called "Valdheism", however it is hard to get through the accent to tell if this is the correct pronunciation.

[Eagle’s Rook]


With borders being shut down save for emergencies or trades/services (needs of clothing, food, etc.), the country seems to have fallen under a silence.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Boff Brawl - Championship Final Fight

The Winner of the first championship semi-final match was: Tao with Samurai Jack!
The Winner of the second championship semi-final match was: Saka with Korra!
The Winner of the third championship semi-final match was: Kyro with Skeletor!
The Winner fo the fourth championship semi-final match was: Kindrianna with Leonardo!

Now all of these Champions who have survived through the grueling preliminaries and semi-final rounds will face one another in the final fight to determine the Ultimate Boff Brawl Champion!


Player 1 - Saka. Character, Korra.

Strategy: 

This will be a legit fight, so it'll take some serious preparation and strategy. Korra's gameplan consists of 6 easy steps.

Step 1: Diplomacy
Contact Kyro a few days in advance and suggest it'd be entertaining to have Korra quickly dispatch the other two fighters, then have this whole thing end with Skeletor and Korra arm-wrestling for the championship. The anti-climactic end should appeal to Kyro and Skeletor's senses of humor, and the idea of their strongest opponent opting into a situation so vulnerable to hypnosis and physical attack should be irresistible. There's a good chance Kyro and Skeletor will do something treacherous before that point anyway, but that's what Step 3 is for.
Step 1: Check.
Step 2: Preparation
In advance, discuss Skeletor's strengths and abilities, any of Korra's physical or emotional weaknesses he may attempt to exploit, and plan to take Skeletor down no matter what happens, regardless of what illusory or predatory tricks he uses to try and throw Korra off her game. We saw what he tried to pull after his last victory. No quarter.

Also, gather lots of flower pollen and bring it to the fight.

Step 2: Check

Step 3: CONSTANT VIGILANCE
If Skeletor does anything remotely sketchy, skip to Step 5. Even if it's before the fight, or in the middle of Step 4.

Step 3: Check
Step 4: Do The Thing
When the fight starts, Korra's opponents will likely expect a sudden and devastating attack on the obviously-outclassed human and turtle who brought swords to a demi-god fight. She will happily oblige, because it doesn't matter how good you are at running, jumping, sword fighting, yelling quips, or tossing smoke bombs when all the ground around you for 100 yards is liquid beneath your feet, you plunge deep belowground with no available purchase, and those lovely, pointy swords are suddenly just as entombed in solid stone as you are when Korra returns from a low horse-stance to a focused and collected ready-stance. That was a long sentence, but we're still only a few seconds into the fight! (Note: If interrupted by a necessary jump to Step 5, mop up what's left of the swordsman and/or swordsturtle after handling Skeletor.)

Step 4: Check. Proceed to Step 5 or 6, as appropriate.

Step 5: Wreck (what's left of) Skeletor's Face
While Skeletor is powerful, he is also mortal. He barely survived having acid splashed in his face. He's been killed and reanimated. (Not that I hold that against him, who among us hasn't come back from the dead before?) He's overconfident and prone to self-destructive fits of rage when a plan doesn't go exactly his way. My favorite tidbit, however, is that while you wouldn't know it by looking at him, Skeletor has a crippling pollen allergy. Get some pollen in that hollow noggin of his and he's worse than useless. You know what's really good at keeping pollen out of your body? Silly things like nasal hair and eyelids. You know. Things Skeletor famously doesn't have.

With any luck the deal struck in advance with Kyro will give Korra the first move, but she'll be  expecting sneak attacks so it shouldn't matter much. Korra's not messing around with Skeletor - this matchup is Avatar State territory. She'll rocket into the air with firebending, then whip up a wind and use it to overwhelm Skeletor with the gathered pollen. He's got energy blasts, hypnosis, teleportation, dimension doors, and immense physical strength. The only weaponry he has that may not be metallic is the Havoc Staff. If Skeletor doesn't drop the staff himself while trying to keep from sneezing his teeth out, Korra will make the most of the skeletal sternutation and try to rip the Havoc Staff from his hands with metal bending. (Or earth bending if it turns out to not be metallic. Pretty sure that smooth purple rod is metallic though.) Once that's done, or even if she somehow isn't able to wrest the staff away, all Korra needs to do is keep her distance and maintain a barrage of boulders, ice shards, galeforce blasts of wind, maybe mix it up with a little fire. Every time Skeletor teleports it takes him a couple of seconds, and he can't fly. All of his ranged attacks are slow radial beams fired from his position, and he can't use multiple kinds of magic concurrently. Korra can easily outmaneuver and overwhelm him from the air with ranged area-of-effect attacks. Even if she gets hit with a few energy blasts, she's tanked significantly worse hits from Vaatu and come up swinging. The Avatar is notoriously resistant to external control when in the Avatar State, so hypnosis attempts are just a waste of Skeletor's time - something he'll have very little of. She. Will. Break. Him. Even beyond her competitive nature, nothing gets Korra invested in a fight like taking down some jerk who thinks he should rule the world. Skeletor's attempted antics after his last fight will just be fuel for the fire.

Step 5: Check. Loop back to Step 4 if skipped, otherwise continue to Step 6.
Step 6: Victorious Revelry
Korra is notoriously prideful after a big win. I'd say she's earned it.

Step 6: Pending vote!

Player 2 - Kyro. Character, Skeletor.
Strategy: 
Regardless of the outcome of Operation Half-Decent Underlings, I would have Skeletor take She-ra’s Sword of Protection. Activating the sword would make Skeletor’s skin indestructible and grant him extraordinary strength.

At the beginning of the battle, Skeletor would teleport away to Eternia, steal an Eternian spaceship, and watch the battle from his crystal ball. If at any point the combatants agree to all work against him or if it was just Leonardo or Samurai Jack left, Skeletor would move to Plan I hope we didn’t host this in the Realms. If it is just Korra left, he would return to the battle field to accept an Arm Wrestle challenge.

Plan I hope we didn’t host this in the Realms:
Skeletor would fly to the closest asteroid belt and hurl the largest asteroids he can find towards the battlefield. While one would destroy all life on the planet, he would throw 3-4 to be safe. Skeletor would then return in the spaceship to claim victory.

Arm Wrestle challenge:
If Saka and Korra were to agree to the arm wrestle, Skeletor would accept. Skeletor would never pass up the opportunity to prove his strength and I would not deny him this. Skeletor would sheath She-Ra’s Sword as he doesn’t need its power to win. He would put on a spacesuit, so he wouldn’t need to worry about Korra removing the air or surrounding him with water in an attempt to suffocate him. Next he would throw on his Terror Claws as they increase his strength and add a little additional protection to his hand. Lastly he would put on a Corodite breastplate that Eternians use to increase their physical strength.

Skeletor would bring his pet dragon along with him to watch over the fight. If anyone else tries to help Korra, he would order the Dragon to put them to sleep with his Hypno-Mist breath.
As soon as the match begins, Skeletor would summon portals completely surrounding them so that Korra can’t bring any matter from outside to aid her in the fight. The only solid surface would be beneath them. If Korra was to pull any rock or metal up underneath them, Skeletor would summon a portal there as well and drop them both into space. He would close the portals and Korra would eventually succumb to suffocation.

If Korra were to use her free hand to summon fire to throw at Skeletor, he would use the Havoc Staff to redirect it at her. If she manages to bring any water into the fight, he would freeze it in place and toss it through one of the portals. If Korra continues to use her free arm for bending, Skeletor would throw his Mystic Chains at her to disable her free arm.


Skeletor’s base strength is far greater than that of any human. His armor would augment his strength even more. In the unlikely case that Korra manages to start to overpower him, he can draw the Sword of Protection and use the near unlimited strength it provides to win the arm wrestle competition.

Player 3 - Tao. Character, Samurai Jack.
Strategy: 
The decisions you make and the actions that follow are a reflection of who you are. You cannot hide from yourself.

The sword strike evil
Rocks steel bones can’t hurt me
It’s time for firepower

A turtle, A skeleton, and a young bender walk into a bar, because they are never going to see it coming.

He can jump good, he can survive being hit by a beast the size of a mountain, repeatedly. He has fought lava monsters, robots in the thousands, and still he keeps coming. This time his strategy will be on the simpler side. Hit hard, hit fast, use the spikes on the motorcycle, use the guns, use the rocket launcher, hide, play the game.

It will be hard to overcome the power of the pack behind the turtle. He has fought many who trained together it will be done.

It will be hard to find the litch, but He is trained in jiujutsu once found It will be done.


It will be hard to get to the Bender, but he has survived more than they can do, it will be done.

Player 4 - Kindrianna. Character, Leonardo.
Strategy: 
On the last episode of Boff Brawl, Leonardo managed to pull off a victory despite the disdain of his opponents and consistently being underestimated in each of his matches. Little did anyone know, Leonardo was, in true ninja fashion, saving the best of his abilities for last.

His opponents would have you believe that Leonardo is just a “turtle with swords.” This does him a great disservice as a character. So, let’s get this out of the way before anyone dares to tell him he doesn’t belong on the battlefield again. Some of Leonardo’s feats of strength include destroying an entire army of demons, defeating the Mystic Ninja, wielding the Gunshin sword (which is comparable to Raphael’s Banrai that could allegedly shatter mountains), holding open the jaws of a t-rex as they pushed down on him @ an estimated 12,800 pounds of pressure per square inch, (roughly 6 times more powerful than an alligator,) and turning into a freaking dragon. If that doesn’t convince you, canonically Leonardo has super speed and is shown dodging lightning bolts and laser guns which would mean he can react to things 280 times faster than sound.

Ultimately, Leonardo is a character with so much utility and skill that even Batman would approve. Using his Odachi blade, he would open a portal to get to Skeletor’s location and try to surprise/beat him up before he can run/teleport away or hypnotize anyone (or attempt those super-effective pizza tricks from the previous rounds). Skeletor may not be the strongest combatant on the field, but he is the most clever. If successful, Leonardo would next target Korra for their grudge match.

While her power is commendable, Leonardo did attain the rank of Jonin (Ninja Master) in his world. He has mastered ninjutsu that would be useful against opponents like Korra such as pressure point fighting which, as we have seen in the original Avatar series, can negate bending altogether. Even if she did manage to strip away his weapons with her bending (you’d have to ignore his super-speed stats), he would still have this formidable combat style to take her down. Leonardo has engaged in many hour-long battles with the Foot Clan before. His stamina is above and beyond normal, and he knows how to fight while injured. By Lore, the TMNT can survive being stabbed and still fight. Additionally, Jonin Leonardo has mastered the Healing Hands technique, which allows him to heal himself. He can fight unarmed, he can fight with swords, he can fight with laser guns (Korra struggled with electricity), and he can fight with his Ninjaken, which canonically, have been sharp enough to cut through metal! This is all before you consider A.) Leonardo’s ability to stay calm and make tactical decisions in the heat of battle, while Korra is known to fly off the handle, and B.) Leonardo could turn into a dragon and eat Korra.

What this fight should come down to is a bushido battle between Samurai Jack, and Leonardo, duking it out with swords the way battle was meant to be. But… Leonardo wins that too since Jack’s sword cannot hurt him and Leonardo is totally radical.

If all else fails, Leonardo turns into a Kaiju-dragon, manipulates fire, and then eats everyone. Afterward, he invites the entire Realms to a pizza party to celebrate his victory. The end.



Monday, June 15, 2020

Meme Monday

by the Meme Team


Friday, June 12, 2020

Home Questing: The Eleventh Task

 by Christopher "Janus" Donnelly





Here is the form to submit your Highbridge class: https://forms.gle/dBXumGtoGxRVSr539

If you would prefer to send something to me directly rather than uploading to youtube or some other image hosting site, please email it to techiemikey@gmail.com.


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

[Transcript]

Hello, and welcome to Home Questing: The Eleventh Task.  Due to our new format, we are just going to go right into this.  This week, your challenge is to pitch a new Highbridge Class.  The most unique class will win.  In addition, there is an additional 10 bonus points you can earn.  All you have to do (well...all is making it a little simple, but...) what you have to do is film yourself and upload at least a 10 minute long video of you teaching that class.  Alternatively, you can submit a fully fleshed out syllabus if you are camera shy.  You have until Friday at noon, and your time starts now.

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


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Behind the Scenes: RealmsCraft Questing 1

By Ryan "Orion" Welch
Picture credits noted in captions

Pat “Saka” Bobell, Ryan “Garen” Keller, and I are immensely grateful to everyone who came to play at RealmsCraft Questing 1. With 4 staff and 16 players across 8 hours (plus 6 test players a couple days earlier), the event was even more successful than we had hoped for! We would like to give you a peek behind the curtain and share some of what we did to create this atypical quest.

Warning: Potential spoilers ahead! If you are in one of the groups which we have allowed to do a make-up run of the quest, proceed at your own risk.

At the Virtual Reg Desk (Pat Bobell)


We wanted to build an environment which felt immersive and familiarly Realms-like. Normally when designing a Realms event we are constrained by prop availability, budget, and the basic laws of physics; while Minecraft has its own limitations, we were able to do things which we would never be able to pull off at Ye Olde Scout Camp. No black tarps here--our lava hazards are the real deal!

A Bridge Over Troubled Lava (Ryan Welch)

Of course, caves full of lava are pretty standard fare in Minecraft. We needed something which would bridge the gap (pun intended) between the blocks of Minecraft and the feel of the Realms. That’s why we came up with our Player Abilities system.
Part of the Ability Selection Process (Pat Bobell)


Essentially, every player can choose from three classes: Fighter, which comes with heavy armor and strong weapons; Skirmisher, which has light armor, a decent weapon, and a little bit of magic; and Spellcaster, which has the weakest weapons but the most magic. The two classes with access to magic could take spells from the Support, Mage, or Seer paths. We chose spells to emulate based on how applicable they would be to our quest and partly our ability to recreate their effects in a virtual setting. In this domain, Ryan K. put his past experience with Minecraft command blocks and adventure-mode maps to very good use! Some spells were relatively easy: Divine Aid sends a chat message to online marshals and Magic Missile is more or less an exploding snowball. On the other hand, creating other spells like Ward: Undead and Light required a great deal of creative engineering. Minecraft lets builders program and execute a single code function using "Command Blocks". You can see most of the Player Ability command blocks in this photo (the stacks of purple and green cubes.)

Chains of Command Blocks Drive Spell Effects (Pat Bobell)

The spells were hardly the only thing we used command blocks for, though. We needed to be able to reset encounters between questing parties without having to do it all by hand every time. In other cases, we used them to create stop-motion animations, spawn monsters, trigger special effects, or control puzzles. All of the rooms are fully automated and do not require any input from a marshal. Of course, manual controls are still available in case something doesn't work as intended, or if a marshal needs to adjust an encounter to account for party composition.

Back-End Controls for the First Room (Ryan Welch)

Despite the new medium, we still implemented many of the same strategies we would use to design an in-person Realms event: first we outlined the general flow of the event, then we identified the concepts or mechanics which would be featured in each encounter. Each room was created semi-independently, and we used a tool called WorldEdit to copy and paste the builds into their final positions. After adding some connecting pathways and other finishing touches, we had a complete quest!

Arial View of the Quest Layout (Ryan Welch)
Running the event itself also had a lot in common with normal Realms questing, which frankly surprised us. We still needed to make sure that people had properly “checked in their spells” (read: successfully passed through the ability selection process), we tweaked difficulty and responded to marshalling requests on the fly, and enjoyed watching from the sidelines as players conquered our content.We even did some NPC combat and roleplaying! Overall, it was an excellent digital substitute for a proper Realms event and we're looking forward to running another in the future.

Peaceful Mining Camp (Ryan Welch)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Legends of Voraniss: Jagtor, Savior of Mirador (Part I)


by Renee "Kindrianna" Booke



There was a time before the age of Giants was brought to a swift and brutal end; a time where Giants and Elves lived comfortably as neighbors and trading partners. Each month, ships carrying both their goods sailed down the sunny river of Grianmhar'isen to the sea. The sails on those ships were like clouds of silver that glistened and gleamed in the light of the hot sun; gliding with ease over the cerulean roads. The Animal-Kin loved to stand upon the shores and behold the floating treasure barges, and each sailor warmed his heart on the promise of fortune and adventure that lie within the vessel he was sworn to.

                Mirador was more a market than a town in those days, with a busy harbor and a lonely lighthouse standing guard ‘ore a rocky shore. The few people that did dwell upon the coast fit almost exclusively into one of four categories: craftsmen, traders, fishmongers, or sailors. Very rarely, an adventurer or two would sail in or wander by, but they never stayed long, and they were never Human (at least not until well after the year 757). Mirador had always been a stepping-stone to people like that. It was the strong locals, the ones with salt in their veins and wind in their souls that were content to stay and carve out a life for themselves. The greatest wizards in all the world couldn’t do what they could, turning sweat and blood into legacy.

                If Kenkilit is now considered a city of mountains, a sturdy and unmoving stronghold carved into the earth, then Mirador would have been her opposite. Her streets were alive and constantly changing with markets that were never set up the same way twice. All manner of odds and ends and trinkets born of imagination lined the harbor. Competing traders loudly called attention to their wares, drowning out the shrill cries of the gulls above. Even in the early morning fog, there was always someone hustling around setting up or taking down a booth before moving onto the next job. Most of note was the smell; always did the air smell of fish and salt, the latter of which was so heavy that sometimes it clung to the skin.

On the outskirts of this ramshackle fishing and trade hub was a home much larger than the others but sparse in luxury. This was where Jagtor lived. His home was not large because of vanity or love of coin, but because of necessity. Jagtor was a Giant and a famous one at that. His jewel crafting skills knew no equal in all the land, and many believe that to this day a craftsman of his caliber cannot be found the world over. Talent, however, could not hide Jagtor’s surliness. He was a grumpy sort, preferring a life of solitude and labor to all the merriment of the harbor’s exciting ways. Despite his best attempts to disappear into the background of life, he was a bit of a fixture around Mirador, and to some, a local attraction.

                In those days Giants by and large preferred the company of their own kind. Jagtor was a fascinating exception to the rule and was often hounded with curious, but well-meaning questions. The question he hated the most and the one that he got asked most often was: “What’s the weather like up there, Jagtor?” He cringed every time he heard it, always waving it off dismissively. He would have preferred to talk about his craft or art, or his thoughts on Giant architecture, but no, all his talent was reduced to a single-minded obsession with his tallness.

                Very rarely he’d be asked why he chose to live in Mirador, and his reply was always the same: “Inspiration.” Jagtor believed that if he remained with the other Giants that his works would be just like theirs, and he was far too proud an artist to settle for mediocrity. Determined, he set off into the world and journeyed to Mirador where things changed daily and he would be exposed to things he might never see otherwise. You’d never know it by his frown, but Jagtor was quite attached to Mirador and its magical sense of wonder and freedom. When he wasn’t being pestered by curious Elves and beasts, he was free to be his most creative. With Mirador as his muse, he could create rings of aquamarine and sapphire that were as complex and faceted as the ocean itself.

                He worked more than ten hours a day, preferring the early mornings and evenings where he could behold the vibrant colors of dawn and twilight, carefully noting how each affected his view of the ocean. Each jewel he made told a story and the subtle changes in color and how the light might hit a single cut or blemish were all a part of that narrative. It was only when it became too dark for him to see the intricate details of his work did he cease for the day, wandering down to the harbor to enjoy the cool breeze and peer out towards the horizon. He wondered about all the colors of the world that lay beyond what he could see, and they danced like sparkling spirits upon the edge of his consciousness. Deep in his soul, he was a wanderer, but it was very hard for a Giant to set foot upon a ship and take off for places unknown. A ship of such size and strength had yet to be built to his knowledge, and perhaps never would be in his lifetime.

                The disappointment didn’t trouble him too badly, for, after all, an artist rarely has idle time to daydream if they are busy chasing their next project or idea. Jagtor dedicated himself to his work and created many of the prized jewels that would one day be claimed by the terrible usurper King Velindahl and beset within his golden throne. Fate, however, always seems to have a mind of its own. For it was not Jagtor’s destiny to labor into old age. Something else was in store for him.

                One day there came about a storm so fierce that its rains flooded the shores and its wind ripped the trees from the soil. The drums of thunder pounded like booming proclamations of war, and lightning shot through the sky roaring like some kind of dragon too bright to behold, and too frightening to watch. That day, buildings crumbled and sailors ran for cover, many abandoning their ships in the harbor afeared for their own lives. Jagtor did not run. The brave Giant instead waded into the water, pulling back some of the ships that had broken free. He secured them to the harbor with rope and anchor as best he could, once catching a broken mast in his palm that was about to fall onto some horrified sailors. He held the timber until they escaped, looking around in desperation for what problem might come next. It was then that he beheld another sound through the chaos of the storm, the sound of his own doom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Boff Brawl Semi-Final Match 4

The Winner of the first championship semi-final match was: Tao with Samurai Jack!
The Winner of the second championship semi-final match was: Saka with Korra!
The Winner of the third championship semi-final match was: Kyro with Skeletor!

And now for the last of the semi-final matches!!!


Player 1 - Kindrianna. Character, Leonardo.
Strategy: 
Leonardo’s greatest weapon in this match, despite how cool his swords are (I’m looking at you, Aeston), is going to be patience. Drifting through the battlefield like a phantom out of a campfire ghost story, I’d instruct him to employ a combination of guerilla tactics, smoke bombs, and stealth right out the gate. In their first matches, two of my opponents relied on fighting defensively to gather intelligence, and ranged attacks respectively; neither of which they can do with Leonardo. Why? Because they cannot find him if he doesn’t want to be found, and they would exhaust energy and time in trying to find him, leaving them vulnerable to other opponents.

Janus utilizing Garnet’s Future Vision would prove problematic to this strategy, so Leonardo and I would resort to dirty ninja tactics by flooding the “rivers of possibility” as it were. Or startling Garnet so badly (not hard for a ninja) that they might unfuse.

Furthermore, Leonardo and I will rely on our opponent’s more destructive and flashy capabilities to create debris and hiding places, cover, and opportunity. If all else fails, the two of us can reminisce about the ’80s while Donatello invents a gadget to shut down all these wonky powers and bring the battle to a contest of swords and will, and no one is more defiant than a teenager with a chip on their shoulder.

P.S. Cowabunga.


Player 2 - Kovaks. Character, She-ra.
Strategy: 
Any plan only lasts until first contact with the opponent. The best plan is to have no plan at all. Newbie flail, Falcon Scramble, whatever you want to call it. Button mash and hope for the best!


Player 3 - Saegan. Character, Korra.
Strategy: 
Both Kovaks and Kindrianna stood back in the previous round, trying to allow other competitors  to interact to get the focus off of themselves. I would have Korra go directly for Kovaks/ She-ra first. Utilizing earth bending as a strong offense. Causing spikes of earth to erupt from the ground and demolishing She-ra quickly.

I would keep an eye on Kindrianna with Leonardo, so as to keep their stealth from being an end to me. Hoping that my initial assault on She-ra would cause Leonardo to go after Garnet, and the stealth and invisibility would over come them.

We’re Leo to come after Korra initially, I would assault him with water. Relying on his turtle nature to cause him to be free of fear of it. But I would simply freeze the water and leave him in stasis, disabled from the fight.

As for Garnet; the use of future vision and time magic is a conundrum, as being able to anticipate a person’s entire moves to is a strong match. However as a speed fighter I understand the importance of stillness. I understand that action requires time to react and decide. I would have Korra overwhelm Garnet with thousands of minor and unrelenting attacks to overwhelm them and remove the advantage of predictability by sheer overwhelming action.


Korra is a tournament champion and has the ability to destroy cities. We would win.


Player 4 - Janus. Character, Garnet.
Strategy: 
So, first things first, be sure to go into the fight with the upgraded fists that Bismuth provided you.  That way you essentially have three blades on each fist, which is like having six swords.  Now that appeasing Aeston is out of the way, time to go on to the main strategy.

Protecting yourself:  Keep your fists closed unless you need to grab something.  Your gems are two of your biggest weaknesses, and as long as the gloves are on, they will be hard to crack or shatter.  Be careful about Korra and her earth bending, so do your best not to be her sole focus...well, if she realizes it’s you anyways.  If she starts moving the gems around, shapeshift to keep them attached to you while fighting back.  I know you can go all eldritch horror on her, like when you taught Pearl, Stephen and Amethyst a lesson about keeping secrets.

Now, Korra and She-Ra share a weakness.  They are hot-headed.  And if you arrange it properly, you can use that against Leonardo.  Use future vision to make sure it’s not a terrible idea, but if you shapeshift into Leonardo, and anger Korra and She-ra using your savage burns, you can have the three of them focusing on fighting each other.

When the dust clears, one should survive.  If it’s She-Ra, be nimble and get in really close, so you are in that zone where it’s really hard to use a sword.  If it’s Leonardo, use your rocket fists from range.  If it’s Korra, once again distract her, and an opening will show itself.  And when in doubt, trust your future vision.


Finally, if it looks like somebody is bringing in allies (I’m looking at you Leonardo), call in the rest of the crystal gems.  I’d like to see them stop a giant woman.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Meme Monday

by the Meme Team


Friday, June 5, 2020

Home Questing: Task 9 Results

by Christopher "Janus" Donnelly

Hello and welcome to Home Questing: The ninth task.  This week the task was to submit a picture of a stuffed animal dressed up to look like yourself.  So let’s get right into the alternate reality where we could have been stuffed animals:

From Cressida is a picture of her as a pupper:





Here is DelHemar as an owl:




(full album with further detail is available here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=11AVdOGf582bt15jPbF3Y4UAUq6croYgz)


Here is Syruss as a bear:





And here is Janus:





So, since today is arguably about fashion (just on stuffed animals), I needed a guest judge who has experience judging in that vein.  After much thought it became clear to me that Freesia would be an ideal candidate, so take it away Freesia:

Let’s talk about what I am seeing first, and then I will let you know who wins.

First: Cressida, what did you do to scare that poor puppy? I like how regal you look, and how terrified that dog looks. Such contrast cannot go unrecognized. The headpiece and the dress look fabulous on you both; but I think you take the win over that puppy. Perhaps a little therapy for your familiar is in order after this ordeal?

Next: DelHemar, you look as surprised as your unicorn-bird-something-or-other. I like that. But, where is your horn? Just kidding, you don’t need a horn. I love the detail on the pouch, and like that you obviously put in the extra time to make that mini-you-vest for this bird-thing you dressed up. (Seriously, what is it?) I also adore the mini-sword. That “Mini-You” is ready for battle.

On to the next: Syruss, in what abyss did you find the mini-you-bear and why does he look like he wants to bite me or kiss me? I cannot figure out if he is half winking or ready to maul. The belt, the bat, the hat and the horns. How amazing that you found a bear just the right size. I am convinced this is the bear I would take along on a quest if you weren’t around. 

Finally; Janus, what a happy bear! What a delight to see the look of “I know those runes and I am going to cast a bunch of spells for you” that you always make at me. Who knew such a creature existed that truly captured the look of “Yes, I know what is happening before it happens” that you give many adventurers. Also, is he wearing a backpack? I think he is. I love that your vest and sashes really bring out that all knowing smile.

And now, for the results:

This was a little tough to judge. I wish more people had participated. But, we were distance celebrating ToC, so I get it. 

Fourth Place (2 points): Janus (really, why does bear-you look like he is keeping secrets)
Third Place (3 points): Cressida (The look of terror and the regal stature, can’t beat it)
Second Place (4 points): DelHemar (the details!)
First Place (5 points): Syruss (ready to take that bear questing)


Thank you so much for that Freesia.  Now for my perspective on them:

As he always seems to be, once again I have to disqualify Janus. That stuffed animal is technically a pillow, so sorry about that.

In third place (3 points) is Cressida.  The dog seems to be missing a few personal touches from it.

In second place (4 points) is Syruss.  The bear is unmistakably Syruss, and is absolutely adorable, but it almost looks like Syruss didn’t risk his own bear stealing his pouch.

In first place (5 points) is DelHemar by a hair.  There are tons of small little details that were custom made just for the owl (unless I am really misinterpreting scale here.) up to and including a small pouch that really stood out.

So, including the points for participation, the scores for the week are Syruss and DelHemar tied at 10, and Cressida at 7.  

Stay tuned next week for yet another Home Questing challenge!

Thursday, June 4, 2020

View of the Vanfrost - Episode 2

by Joey "Ruthade" Chipman

Echoes of Ragnarok: The Vanfrost Paralogues: Svartalheim?
A Report by Ruthade

Commander Cronin, I hope this missive finds you well while you tend to matters around Kenkilit. I apologize for my abrupt absence the other day, but Thoril had been gathering adventurers to join him on a journey through the Vanfrost, a portal which would lead to the various domains connected to Norlund. Intrigued by the prospect of seeing how Norlund was fairing after we… made new gods, I decided to join Thoril on this adventure, as did Elowen. Thoril had also gathered John Baptiste, Tuilli, and Varrmagn to join us. Unfortunately, Varrmagn had far more important matters to attend to, but the “Rainbow Ruffians” could most likely handle whatever the Echoes of Ragnarok could throw at us.

After meeting with Ulric in Rhiassa, he directed us toward the Vanfrost, which we Ruffians crossed. Before we even had a chance to check our surroundings on the other side, we were beset by a squad of six or seven Dark Elves! On the upside, Thoril, Elowen, and Baptiste could rush in to deal with them quickly. Even Tuilli took down at least one of them with a Magic Missile, though I flubbed my shot. However, once battle began, I couldn’t help but feel a bit more restricted than usual. My imagination, perhaps?



With this wave of Drow downed, we finally had a chance to check our surroundings. Stone everywhere, much of it just stone, but with what appeared to be doorways carved directly into the cliffs and several rocks spilling out from the doorways. Traveling a bit ahead, the stone on the ground was also carved into tiling. A legitimate door stood before us, just one, rather than a set. Before we could investigate this door further, though, Baptiste had wandered off to the side, where he provoked an Earth Dragon!



The dragon rushed forward and chomped at Baptiste, knocking him down. Elowen was able to wound this dragon, but it took a double dose of Lightning Bolts between Tuilli and I to burn down that beast! As Tuilli revived Baptiste, Thoril, Elowen, and I serached through a pile of bones this dragon was guarding (Dark Elf and Dwarf, from the looks of them) until we pulled an old key from the pile.
Back at the single door, we investigated more closely to find a keyhole. There was only one door to what should’ve been a set, though, and where the other door was, some of us probably could’ve squeezed by. However, Tuilli did not seem up to doing anything as laborious as climbing through rubble tonight. Besides, as Thoril claimed, “We fought a dragon to get this key; we might as well use it.” One gently curving corridor later, Thoril, Elowen, and Tuilli provoked a smaller band of Dark Elves guarding another set of doors. Baptiste and I lagged a bit behind, but the Rainbow Ruffians managed to fell this group, too.

Walking through the doors these Dark Elves guarded, we entered a large, round, domed room. The center of this room was sealed off by a force field, but there were alcoves around the room, each containing a lever and two blank bronze plates. Another bronze plate was in a corner of the room far from the doors we entered, seemingly torn off the wall but too heavy to move, and there was one final plate near a set of locked doors to the south of the room. I tried to rub down the fallen plate with some paper and a pencil, but nothing appeared. As I investigated this plate, the others stepped into separate alcoves and simultaneously pulled the levers.




Pulling the levers finally made SOMETHING appear on these bronze plates. An S-shaped curve with various vines, fins, and other shapes appeared on the torn-off plate. This plate also had a single white scratch on the bottom. Once the others the pulled the levers, however, a force field appeared in the doorways, trapping the others in their alcoves! I rushed over to the southern hall of the room and looked at the plate there, which bore another shape with a similar structure to the one in the corner but was incomplete. It also showed ten white scratches on the bottom. There was a mysterious stylus accompanying the southern plate, so I picked up the stylus and tried to finish the shape I had seen in the upper corner. This didn’t accomplish anything, though.

Around this time, the other Ruffians started shouting how they were seeing marks on the plates in their alcoves, too. Sketchbook in hand, I rushed around to the others to see what shapes appeared to them and jotted them down. All of the shapes we saw had a similar S-curve to them, but the top and bottom of that curve differed for each, and various shapes and fins appeared at the bends of the S. Each of their plates was labeled with a different number of white scratches at the bottom, and we soon realized our goal. The top, left, right, and bottom of each S cycled through different patterns in Shapes 1 through 9, and we needed to finish the Shape for the 10-scratch plate. After figuring out the patterns, I finally drew the needed Shape, and the others were freed from their alcoves. Coordinated efforts take a while in the Realms, but this was honestly one of the smoothest I’ve dealt with (heh heh heh).

That relief didn’t last, though, for the 10-scratch plate also unlocked the doors near it, and past those doors, we were met with four “Golems” (animated suits of armor, in this case). Elowen made the first strike, but it appeared to do no damage to that Golem. John Baptiste rushed by some Golems and noticed there were runes engraved on them, seemingly powering them. With Baptiste’s descriptions of these runes, I looked them up to find they matched with the common characters for “F”, “A”, “L”, and “N”, though Elowen seemed to recognize them more easily. Elowen had fallen at one point, but Tuilli was able to riase her, while I attempted to strike a Missile at one of the Golems. Still, no blade, no bolt, no tiny bundle of magic could make even a dent in these Golems, and we were trying all we could on all four of them.

Meanwhile, Thoril slipped into the far east corner of the room and found a similar Golem buried face-down under some rubble. After making his way over to Thoril, Baptiste cleared the rubble away and found a button on the back of the fallen Golem’s neck. …which Thoril immediately pressed. …which reawakened this fifth Golem.

Someone condemned this reaction with a now-famous quote: “Goddammit, Thoril”. The condemnation was a bit premature, though, as this Golem also bore its own rune, matching the common character “I”. Elowen finally figured out the five Golems spelled the word “FINAL”, so we begin to dismantle the Golems in order.



Deactivating these Golems opened two more rooms in the back of this one, each bearing a chain. Thoril and I took the west chain, Elowen and Baptiste the east. We try to yank on them, but I honestly couldn’t contribute as much as I hoped. But Elowen and Thoril eventually pulled just the right way, and pulling these chains FINALLY brought down the force field protecting the center of the main domed chamber.

Here, we found four round stonelike plates marked with rings, two in the north, and two in the south. Beside each set of plates was a chest containing clusters of colored orbs attached to each other. Each plate would only accept clusters that looked similar to the colored rings engraved on them; otherwise, they just kind of rolled off these plates. The plates acted much like measuring scales, and with just what was shown on the scales, one side was weighed heavier than the other. While Elowen and I tried to figure out the southern scales, John Baptiste quickly balanced them; we didn’t need all of these clusters, but we did need the same number of each color orb on each side. Baptiste then joined Tuilli and Thoril on the northern scales to figure out how to balance them. I’m impressed Baptiste reasoned this out so quickly.



One other feature about this room I neglected to mention: at the center of the center of the room was a locked fliptop door. It would not budge before, but once both sets of scales were balanced, this fliptop flipped up, and we found…

…an acorn? A giant acorn? Unusual, but after picking up this giant acorn, the Vanfrost opened up once more, and we were able to return home after a surprisingly involved adventure.

I will confess, I am not intimately familiar with the ins and outs of every world affected by Ragnarok. We both know Helheim is the land of the dead, and I’ve heard Niflheim is icy, while Muspellheim is fiery. Where I get hazy is Svartalfheim versus Jotunheim. After consulting with the other Rainbow Ruffians, and judging by the Dwarf bones, endless stone and beautiful stone architecture, it seems like we stumbled into Svartalfheim.

I do have questions about this adventure, though. If this was Svartalfheim, where were the Dwarves? And what significance does this acorn hold? I’ve heard the worlds of Norlund could be held together by a tree, so does THAT have something to do with it? Also, what are we going to do with this acorn?