Monday, October 18, 2021

Meme Monday

 by the Meme Team

Friday, October 15, 2021

Memories of Dave - Part 3

From Angie Grey:

Dave touched so many lives. I wish I had an epic story of a single profound moment but I don’t.  I don’t even remember how or when I met him. I don’t remember how we became friends, other than he appeared and began to treat me like one.  I remember being surprised by our first invitation to his house, and even more surprised the first time he told me they’d be in Vermont and were coming to visit ours.  

He made a point of getting to know people in and out of character. He remembered surprising small details from conversations.  He made a point of always balancing his Realms and personal life and in doing so proved it was possible to stay relevant without being on the field every weekend.

Dave and I were planners. I’m fairly certain we are two of the people who have played a key role in organizing the most Queen of Hearts teams and enjoyed combining our efforts.  He loved to strategize and analyze. His enthusiasm was contagious.  I agreed to help organize more than one team because doing so meant another opportunity to work with Dave. 

Dave loved fruity drinks.  It didn’t match what most would have expected from a man his age.  His unabashed enjoyment of them (and bacon, and Hawaiian shirts, and… well you get the picture) made his friends smile, but likely got him a sideways glance in some circumstances. Yet I can’t imagine a time when Dave would have been concerned enough about what people thought of him to have made a different choice though.  Dave took the time to explore the world. He found the things he loved, and he loved them, deeply, without apology.  It was an inspiration to me, someone who was raised to believe it was better to fit into the “normal” mold, especially because he was skilled, smart and would have succeeded anywhere.  By being his awesome self, I know he inspired not just me but a lot of us to embrace who we are. I can’t imagine a more powerful gift. 

From Dani Lacasse: 

I'd like to take you to a time that wasn't too long ago but happened to be my first year in the realms. 2016. My first year in the game. And in 2016 the community held an event that holds a special place in my heart to this day. The realms hosted a fight-a-thon in honor of someone I never had the pleasure of meeting, Bud. 

And being my fourth ever, I was just so excited to go out there and fight, and if you could call me getting my ass handed to me 225 times to be exact, I did. 

And once we finished up, Dav came up to me and asked who I was and introduced himself to me and we chatted and took me over to a tent set up on the back corner of the tourney field and casually asked me what weapon sock I liked best. 

Flash forward a few events, this man who I vaguely remembered me and remembered that weapon sock I loved, he presented me with my first ever realms sword with that very sock. Standard 3 8", nothing eccentric to anyone else, but to me it meant everything.

You told me that not only did you decide to give me a weapon because of the fighting potential you saw in me but because I had inspired you, by participating in a fight-a-thon. Raising funds for someone I had never met and doing with a smile on my face the entire time with a community I barely even knew.  And I thought you were crazy at the time me inspiring someone like you!? Like John had said previously, you were someone who had been pointed out to me as someone I could always go to with any questions. It was surreal, but you told me that that was what this community was about. Coming to the aid of others when it's needed or required but when it feels right.

That very act of kindness and gesture from you is something I've held with me since, and maybe unbeknownst to but also a few lessons I'll never forget, a small gesture can impact someone so greatly.

And that you'll never know who's watching and whom you may inspire. 

So thank you Dav for not only allowing me to inspire you just that once but for also being one of my biggest inspirations.

photo by Beth Tozier

From James Murphy: 

It was a multiday quest, it was Saturday, it was summer, it was on Abe’s land in CT about 7? Years ago, it was hot.

We had to go all over site, fight uphill to get to the location, find a box? Do the puzzle, open the box get the things inside to get put together to make the McGuffin. Dav had brought his magic 6’6” I had my big shield. I decided I was going to be his wing man. We moved through the quest, sometimes being the front line, sometimes the back line. Different heroes came and went. But every time we encountered the enemy, we were in the center of it. Just about every encounter Dav had a few things to say; “stay with us”, “go help them”, “stay in a line”, “together”, and my favorites “get that person up”, and “Now!”

Several times we switched him on shield me on the 6’6”, His magic 6’6”. I felt honored. After a long day of fighting the monsters, we make it back to the fire pit. We are collecting our thoughts when a specific player talks about keeping everything for themselves. Some of the party thought that this was a pretty shitty thing to do. The player in question then said something like: well I am going to keep the stuff just the boxes I solved. I yelled a bit. I was hot, tired, exhausted, I had never been near the boxes. We were needed to keep the monsters at bay. The player then decided to share what was found.

As we were getting ready to break for dinner, Sir Vawn comes up to me and asks me what I meant by my yelling. Tao said something about sharing and putting together the thing and all of us working together. And Vawn agreed that these were things we should be doing. And then he said, “James does the player know you were speaking in character?” I was at a loss for words. I hoped they did. But I had not gone up to them and made sure they knew. In that moment I was embarrassed. I was humbled, I was quiet.

After dinner I sought out the player and we talked. This interaction has changed how I played the game. Any time I get into it with a PC, I always make sure that we both understand IC vs OOC.

I will never forget the fighting that day. But I will also never forget the lesson Dav taught me at break.

photo by Robyn Nielsen

From Michel Venne: 

I almost won a game of munchkins once versus Dave and his friend Thom. All I had to do was defeat a Lame Goblin. Because it’s munchkins, they both pilled buffs on the Goblin and I ended up losing. The amount of glee he took to remind me of this loss and my goblin trauma for over five years kept reminding me that despite claiming to not have a fantastic memory, he always remembered the things that would make us laugh. 

photo by Tom Burchell

From Janna Oakfellow-Pushee: 

When my FolFox treatments started sending me downhill, Dave was doing his own treatments at Emerson as well. One day we figured out we were separated by a curtain (but knew who the other was due to stating your name and birthday loudly to the nurses). I told them to check his ID, make sure he was old enough. He told me to keep it down over there and he'd get whatever drugs he damn well liked. We eventually made such a good ruckus the nurses opened the curtains and we piped down once we could actually see each other.  Soon we each drifted off to sleep in our chairs.

Besides a Friend, Knight Commander, GISHWHES Team member, fellow Toastmaster, mentor, and so, so much more...Dave was also a huge lifeline of support for me during the treatments, at the roughest time of his own set.  I won't forget the pieces and side effects and stories he shared with me, since they were (terribly) unique to our situation.  Because of him, I became a lot braver going forth in Life.

photo by Dustin Mack

From Ben Lacasse:

Dave to me has always been more than a person to me, but more an ideal to strive towards.  I met Dave when I was 14 years old, and I’d grown up a poor inner city kid, wrapped up in all the trappings of inner city life.  My prospects were few save a good brain for word play, and a love for high fantasy media.  Dave, through facilitating Riverhawk practice, unknowingly opened a door to a life that I love to lead, and wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.  Through doing something so small as showing up to a fight practice and whipping our asses relentlessly, he fostered a group of nerdy kid’s love of Dungeons and Dragons into an infinitely more productive pass time.  That pass time made us lasting connections across a vast community of people who span the entirety of our region.  In my case, I work in the field I do because Dave helped connect me to a community that contained someone who was willing to take a chance on me when no one else was.  Dave connected me to a community where I,  who had an extremely complicated home life, was able to connect to respectable and genuinely good-hearted adults who cared for me like I was one of their own, Dave being one of them.  I’d never had that before, and I only have that now because by some twist of fate, our paths were able to cross.

 It goes deeper than that though.   Dave was golden enough to be an ideal, but was down to earth enough to be a real person, which is a blessing I’ve counted on many occasions.  My favorite memory that I feel best defines the kind of person that Dave is is my wife’s birthday a few years ago.  Those readers who know me know that I live woefully far away from everything I participate in, which leads to a lot of frustration come the end of eventing season when the new england weather makes driving long distances less enjoyable/possible.  That also means that usually when Dani and I have celebrations and don’t have the cash/time/wherewithal to plan them up to 100 miles away from our house, it usually results in relatively small gatherings because it’s hard for people to make those long treks.  Dani had had a particularly long eventing season that year and on a wednesday night I’d planned an impromptu birthday gathering a night or 2 before and just put out a mass invite and hoped for the best.  He and Christina were among a very select few who made it a point to be present for her on a day that many might consider small, but seeing Dani’s eyes light up when he came through the door of the restaurant was a moment I’ve relived regularly this last week when I needed a pick me up.  Dave was always willing to go the distance for those he loved, and there was never a time I was in his presence that I didn’t feel that.

The last time I got to play with Dave was Leviathan 2019, where he had taken the time to craft a special personal plot for Torolf where one of his old viking tribesmen had come seeking a ritual combat of some sort.  The whole scene was a labor of love that Dave personally crafted and gave to someone whom I love and respect deeply, and I felt so honored that when Dave needed somebody to help him that he reached out to me for the assist.  For everything that Dave’s done for me, I am just happy I was able to give him something in return, even if it will never compare to what he’s done for me. 

I love you Dave. Rest in power, brother. I wouldn't be the man I am without having you to guide me. When I need you, I'll look to Valhalla.

by Angie Grey

From Jamison Bancroft: 

Dave and I never really had a close relationship. Over the course of two decades, Dave and I didnt often find ourselves in the same place for long periods of time, and we didn't often find ourselves spending time with the same people. Despite that, Dave was still one of my biggest role-models within the game. 

See, that's the magic of Dave. You didn't need to know him or be close to him to feel the effects he had on everyone around him. Dave embodied everything good about the Realms and it's community. Dave was a genuinely awesome person, and he will live on in the minds and hearts of every person who had the privilege of knowing him, interacting with him, and even those who only get to hear stories of him. He is a legend.

by Dustin Mack

From Steve Nelson:

A memory I’d like to share of Dave was from about four years ago. It wasn’t any particular occasion, but he had something for me. It turned out he had commissioned a wood carving of my Realms character. He was all excited, telling me all about the process of working with the artist on the design. It’s incredible, and I thanked him for it but also asked why he had done it. He said that since his health problems, he occasionally wanted to do things like that and decided he didn’t have to wait for occasions or even really have a reason. It was just an uncommonly thoughtful thing to do.

by Robyn Nielsen

From Keith Cronyn:

At fight practice, I remember asking him how he was doing. He said he felt like he wasn’t in control of his health anymore, that he was just along for the ride. This was a somber moment. I told him when it seemed like there was no other choice, his choice was to keep going. To keep f***ing going. I didn’t realize at the time how much that meant to him; until he did keep going. Because he did. That was years ago, he fought through so much. And I’d like to think his spirit is still fighting now. Love you buddy. 

by Matt Norris

From Owen West:

One thing that will always impress me is the inherent value Dave saw in everyone around him. For me, it manifested in how excited he was to welcome me into his life and serve as my mentor. Put generously, I was a driven teenager who didn’t know his place in the world; little in comparison to the many accomplished adults who held Dave in high regard. Dave saw in me potential that not many had recognized, and his support and encouragement helped me grow in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. His constructive criticism was a perfect balance of a call to be better and an acknowledgement that none of us are perfect. 

Thankfully, Dave’s boundless energy enabled him to help countless young men and women like myself fulfill their potential. Dave was one of the best people I know and he will be forever missed.

From Beth Tozier:

Have you ever sat down to write, and had your mind flooded with images and moments? None seem distinct or complete, but they each represent a different moment in time with someone.

That is what just happened. I sat to write of times with Dave and Vawn and even that other guy he played for a bit, but my mind would not let me settle on one thing. I will do my best to put into words as many moments as I can.

I don’t remember exactly when or how it happened, but one day we were friends. I don’t remember us meeting, shaking hands; the beginning of our friendship isn’t there. At this point, it feels like Dave and Christina were always a part of my life.
He and Christina came to my wedding. We went to concerts. We drank fruity drinks. 
Had deep conversions. Argued. Went to KRF. We fought together, we fought each other. Always there was Dave and Christina, always there was Vawn. 

Here are small bits of what I can remember:

I was helping out, not so many years ago, at an Uncle Cecil’s Very Merry… whatever the title was that year. I was behind the bar getting things ready with Jake/Gideon. This is (roughly) how things went:
G- Who is that that looks like Vawn?
Me- (only seeing the guy next to Vawn) Who? That guy? He looks nothing like Vawn and I don't know, some newbie.
G- It is so weird. How can you say it doesn’t look like him?
Me- How can you say it does. First of all, that guy is at least 5 inches too short and has blonde hair.
G- What?! No, not him, the one in the Eagle’s Rook tabard.
Me- Really? REALLY?! *I shake my head and motion for Dave to come over* Hey Gideon, I would like to introduce you to Vawn. Vawn, this is my idiot friend Gideon.
Dave and I laughed that Jake didn’t recognize him. Naturally all night I was introducing them to each other, and introducing Gideon to everyone in the hall. Dave laughed, he rolled with it, and every time he was introduced to Jake, he reached out with a big grin and shook his hand.

Did you know Dave and I had similar surgeries in 2005? Yup; we had matching scars on our throats from thyroid surgery. For months, after we were healed, we would joke about how Freesia and Vawn got them. Beth and Dave; we would talk about what it meant. Me with half a thyroid, him with none; me with a benign diagnosis, him with malignant. We did our best to support each other, and I did my best to be there during those early (the easy) treatments.

We went to a lot of Ani Difranco concerts (an average of one per year from 2004 to 2019). At one show in Portsmouth NH, Dave and I headed into town a few hours before the show. We went to some little shop because he assured me they had a “Life altering cheese”. He was not wrong. In the heat of the summer show, outside in the sun… Dave, myself, Jarrod, Wendy, Robyn and Eren demolished a brick of cave aged cheddar from Ireland. And, my life was certainly changed with that cheese!! It turns out, we sent so many people there looking for “Life Altering Cheese” that the store added a sign to their display “Cave Aged Life Altering Cheese.”

Bedlam; Vawn was entirely opposed to us opening Bedlam to get Bouquet out. He reg'd for the event, he showed up, and he refused to enter hell with us. 
“You cannot put the whole of the realms at risk like this. You don’t know what you are going to unleash.”
“And neither do you. We will handle whatever happens when it happens. But, we have to get her… Vawn, I have to get her.” 
“I’m not going in”
“Okay. If I don't come out, tell them I fell for something I believed in.”
I’m not entirely sure, but I do not think Vawn ever forgave Freesia for that. Though, when we emerged he was there. Yes, Dave stayed in the parking lot at the event where we started. Vawn waited to see if we would make it out and what would follow after us. And, over the next 8 years, he fought with us to undo what we did.

The most recent, and final memory I have was dinner just a few weeks ago. Neil and I sat with Dave and Christina in their living room. We ate take out, we laughed at the “You were the scary guy” story (ask Christina to tell you). We joked about the past, we spoke of the future. 
Neil and I would have sat there all night if we had been able. But, we couldn’t do that and we eventually had to say goodnight.  As we left, I hugeed Christina, told her I love her. I hugged Dave and I told him, “I love you. Thank you for being my friend.” He told me he loved me too. 

That last dinner, that last hug, that last moment, I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Why I Want to Go: Black and White

By Crystal “Cressida” Welch


Dearest Friend,

It has been far too long since I have danced with another being. I must confess, I have been practicing dancing alone in the woods, but the spirits I accidentally summoned were less than amused. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that you meet me at the Black and White Masquerade Ball this coming Saturday under the waxing gibbous Moon and dance with me. If dancing is too fearful a thought then we may enjoy the grand tournaments, delectable dishes, and the performances of courageous bards together. Feel free to take a peek at the charming wares provided by the best vendors and put in tickets at the auction. I hear there are some simply marvelous trinkets to be won this year, and though my home is filled with too many things already, you know I cannot resist the urge to win fabulous prizes. If you prefer games of skill and chance, then seek out the casino and remember me if you win. Oh, and please help me to remember to go out questing, as a certain magic mailbox must be found if we are to post mail in time for Father Yule to receive it. I already know you will look stunning at Court, just remember not to get the delicious dessert selection on your fancy garb. See you soon dear one. 

All the best,


P.S. Do not forget your mask at home! Death and the Order of the Peacock are watching after all. 


Everyone! It is that time of year again: the leaves are turning, the weather is crisp and beautiful, and we get to don fancy garb and dance in the woods! I have missed this event terribly. It is one of the few opportunities I get to gather with so many people I adore and just have a relaxed time with some of the best food. I do hope you attend, particularly because in celebration of the Realms being back up and running, the event is free to attend this year. That’s right, free! So I hope you come and join me for a dance and a good time at the many activities during the day. I may even have a special performance in the works…

Memories of Dave - Part 2

 From Christina Clements:

When I agreed to write this story of Dave, I assumed that on further contemplation one perfectly Dave anecdote would eventually come to mind.  Afterall, I have known the guy for more than fifteen years, alarmingly close to half my life.  But the harder I thought, the more I came up empty. There were so many short, important memories of Dave, so many 5 minute thoughts that are precious but insufficient to embody his influence or personality, as the background is muddy and too long to tell.

Dave managed to get my parents to drive 3 hours to Belchertown to see my knighting but to keep everything a surprise he made sure I was so busy and distracted I did not notice my own parents loitering at the event site until after I had received my belt that night. His grin at my surprise was entirely Dave.  He seemed to enjoy orchestrating surprises and gifts for other people. 

When I got a new car as an idiot 22 year old he checked my owners manual when I had stepped out to make sure it had a tire pressure warning light. His plan, he admitted to me, was if it did he would add the little colored stem caps that alert you to low pressure on tires.  I know he would have done it. 

He did once tell me if someone ever intentionally left me on the side of the highway he would come get me. I truly spent my entire early twenties believing that if I was ever truly in a bind and needed a no questions asked ride out of a bad situation Dave Hayden would have been that ride. He managed to do the impossible dance of both treating someone like an adult while watching out for them. 

A lot of people have said he was the ultimate knight, and obviously I agree, but he was also such an amazing friend.  He was the least judgemental dispenser of advice, patient with the errors of youth and inspiration to us all. Mr. Hayden, you will be deeply missed.  I hope I never stop hearing your stories or advice in my mind. Thank you for helping me grow up, and I will try to use your example to keep improving on my own path.  

Photo provided by Christina Clements

From Pat Bobell:

There are many examples of Dave's strength of character in the context of the Realms, so I'd like to share a brief story about him from outside our community.

Back in January of 2020, I needed to precisely-cut a couple hundred pieces of foam board for a board game prototype. I'm pretty good with an X-Acto knife but am not a masochist, so I asked Dave if I could use the laser cutter at his maker space. Luckily for me, he said he planned to spend Martin Luther King Day working there and said I was welcome to stop by.

When I got there, Dave wasn't working on any of his own projects. It turned out he was there to help a boy (who had been through his own health saga) to make a project he was excited about. Even with everything Dave had on his plate, he was incredibly generous with his time and skills helping both that boy and me with the things that we wanted to accomplish. I'd come to know Dave over the years as a thoughtful, giving person who strove to embody his ideals more consistently than most people I've known. This example of his drive to encourage and work for others, however, stood out to me. Seeing the effect Dave's attention and care had on the boy that day left a powerful impression, and inspired me to be more proactive with volunteering my own time.

That boy and I are just a couple of the many, many people whose lives have been improved by Dave's direct action or indirectly by his example. Through each of us, Dave's light and life will continue to shine.

photo by Dustin Mack

From Kyle Yazinka:

In 2012 I took a Knights of the Realms challenge to general one of the large war maneuver events. I decided North/South War 2013 was where I wanted to complete that challenge. When the event staff asked who wanted to be general, I was the only one who wanted the position. Dave did not think the general spot should be won unopposed so offered a two out of three match against me to decide who would general. After the fights Dave told me he expected the outcome of the fights to go exactly how they did but that he didn’t think someone should be given a spot without any type of opposition. I don’t know if he knew it was my KoR challenge but helped me whenever I needed it throughout the whole weekend. He mentored me to be the best beginner general I could be and taught me numerous things that still help me to this day to be a better leader and role model for our game and in life. Before this interaction I don’t think we had ever had a one on one conversation and I am grateful that he took the time to work with me so I could approve at something that I love. Everyday he showed the characteristics I strive to replicate in my life.

photo by Angie Grey

From Leanne Micciche:

Dave was someone who, no matter what, went out of his way to make people feel included.  One of my favorite outings with him was the last concert we went to.  He had messaged me online and asked if I wanted to go with him.  He asked a bunch of questions about the venue, if I was up on any of the latest music, and such.  His excitement was palpable even online.  I told him I'd love to, but only if it wouldn't be weird going with a very pregnant woman to a Judas Priest concert.  He said he would be delighted to go with me and offered a very surprised and excited congratulations!  He went out of his way to make it a fun and enjoyable trip even though the logistics and planning of our very different schedules made it challenging.  

photo by Robyn Neilsen

From Matt Brenner:

I wrote this roast for Dave’s celebration of life party a month or two ago. I knew that other people would rightfully want to talk about Dave as a paragon, or Dave as a mentor. That was not our relationship, though. Dave and I joined the Realms right around the same time, and our growth in the community closely mirrored each other’s. I wanted to poke loving fun and share a memory from before we were knights and leaders. Even a paragon starts out as a person with a few ideas and a sense of humor. We all start somewhere, and that makes our growth all the more impressive when it happens.


So, I am trying to think about what I was going to say tonight, and it was suggested to me that I do a roast. And I was all, “Holy crap, you mean I could stand in front of the room, make fun of Dave, and everyone has to listen? Sign. Me. Up.”

There’s a formula to roasts, right? You need to make fun of the target’s minor flaws and moral inconsistencies, but you never hit the major ones. You want people laugh, but not to go, “Oh no you didn’t!” This is Dave we’re talking about, so I’m thinking damn, I have this so easy. I don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting on any huge moral failings, so all I need to do it pick out the little things that we all do. Awesome.

For example, there is this one thing that Dave . . . no, no. That’s not actually an inconsistency. Instead, let me tell you about the time he . . . shit. That’s not actually bad thing at all. Ok, fine, but there was the one time at my Christmas tavern where . . . fuuuuuuck. That’s actually being a decent person. What the hell am I supposed to do here?

Oh, and by the way, the worst part of trying to put this together? Dave’s the guy who sits so high and mighty with holding fast to his moral compass, and he’s not even going to care that I just used a bunch of expletives. Damnit Dave, that’s a low hanging fruit. People who can take their ethics so seriously should at least be willing *tisk* *tisk* us about our language. Give me something to work with!

By the way, that last bit only worked because I lied. When has Dave ever actually lorded his personal sense of ethics over us? I’m serious. He’s not doing that – that’s us. We’re the ones looking at his standards and going, “Damn, I don’t know that I can live up to that.” Dave’s the innocent one here, we’re the one casting aspersions on ourselves.

Innocent. Hah, ok, finally something I can run with. One thing I admire about Dave is that he is a man who can mildly embrace his vices. The man mixes a damn fine cocktail, and don’t even get me started on his homemade cordials.  . . . that’s it. I mean, he can drink and party with the best of us, but I can’t think of a single time that I had to clean up after some sort of physical or emotional mess that he left behind. Looking around the room, that’s a damn sight better than I can say about many of the gentle people gathered here tonight.

On the topic of vices, I wish I could talk more about his poker skills, but I’ll be the first to say that I don’t belong at the tables he plays at. But it’s funny, though, that a man who is so devoted to the ideal of truth is also such a solid poker player. I mean on some level, poker boils down to lying to your friends well enough that you can take all of their money. Now I’m trying to imagine some sort of Star Trek mirror universe where we have Evil Dave effectively bilking everyone out of their hard-earned money while stroking his goatee. You know he’s evil because he has that goatee.

WAIT! Oh my God, Dave, are YOU the evil one? I can buy that this is the twisted, evil mirror dimension – I’ve done my share of doom scrolling over the past few years – but are you the EVIL Dave? I hate to go there but if you’re the evil Dave, what the heck would good Dave be like? Of course . . . Vawn.

I’m sure tonight is going to have people sharing a ton of Realms memories. I want to share one of my favorites with you. The obvious choice would be to talk about when I got to recognize Dave as a Knight of the Realms, calling out his achievement and bringing him into the highest service order our community has. But no, I want to go a little further back – I want to say it was 21 or 22 years ago at Time Everlasting, the Final Moongate. This was one of those epic quests – it concluded a few years of events in a grand open world adventure where we meet new and alien creatures before slaughtering them mercilessly in the name of advancing the plot. Anyway, during a down moment, out comes Dave in standard NPC blacks, a black domino mask, and a black shady cap. It was the height of turn-of-the-millennium Realms fashion. Anyway, Dave is nonchalantly walking about as some NPC, and eventually a young adventurer stops him and asks who he is. I’m sure he used some flowery language because this is clearly a role-playing NPC, right? When asked, Dave just sort of plainly say, “Oh, I’m the Destroyer of Worlds.”

“The Destroyer of Worlds? Really?” Because this seems pretty dubious, right?

“Yes. Oh, where did you come from?”

“The gate to our plane is right over there past the hill.”

“Thanks!” And so off goes Dave, the Destroyer of Worlds, to the gate that leads back to the Realms.
Now this whole thing just feels surreal, even for an event, right? Like it this a real NPC, or is Dave just f***ing with us? But that’s not my favorite part. My favorite part is that whole exchange is so ridiculous that up storms Lackey – he was playing Subutai at the time, some Mongolian-themed Man-Lion archer with an outrageous accent that was definitely not Mongolian. Anyway, up storms Lacky, screaming at the top of his lungs, “When the Destroyer of Worlds asks where you are from, you DO NOT tell him where your home is!”

The rest goes as you might expect. Destroyer of Worlds get to the Realms, Cecil banishes the Destroyer of Worlds, and the Destroyer of Worlds shrugs and disappears. It actually went on for a handful of events, and that was a fun story while it lasted. It mostly centered around how bad we had screwed up, which is pretty typical for us heroes. But after all of these years, the one thing we don’t know is was this Dave’s grand design from the get go, or was Dave just f***ing with us in the beginning, never once thinking that the heroes would actually find a being called the Destroyer of Worlds and immediately without hesitation show him where we keep all our stuff? I’d like to think that he was just trying to f**k with us, and us heroes on that quest got to contribute in some small way to Dave’s eventual descent into cynicism with the so-called heroes.

I know that there are going to be a lot of heartfelt stories tonight. What I really want to say is that I remember when we were all a lot younger and dumber, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to grow beside you my friend.

Photo by Cal Marsden

From John Rescigno:

My favorite memory of Dave is the one I shared at his party before his passing.

At Feast of Teng Hua, we were all very excited about the Game of Thrones final season premiere, and we’re all itching to get home after the feast. 

Dave was in the kitchen pretty much the entire day helping prep food and primarily washing the mountains of dishes from the hundreds of Dangos that we all feasted on over the course of the day. 
While we were cleaning up, the only two things on our mind were Dangos and the premiere. To pass the time, we started singing the word Dango over and over to the tune of the Game of Thrones opening song. 

Dave’s eyes grew wider than the dish he was drying as of to say “I’m surrounded by crazy people”, but he kept on working and serving.

From Cal “O’Leary” Marsden:

This was tough for me to do; picking and choosing which memory of a friend to share. What story makes me smile the most? Was it the time he led Eagles Rook up a small mountain for a private quest? Was it a dinner party, or meeting up to craft something, or the time he gave me my fireball and said some of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me? How can I pick just one?  I put off putting a lot of what I was feeling in writing as somehow writing things down made things much too real and perhaps this was me avoiding the reality of this situation. That a really meaningful wonderful and supportive human being, someone I was lucky enough to call a friend, had passed on leaving a void that can never truly be filled as it is when we lose someone we love.

So, instead of a Realms story I wanted to talk about how Dave, throughout the years, taught me one of my biggest life lessons; something I take into my counseling practice when working with social emotional students. Something I will use throughout my life and something that I try to instill with everyone I work with. 

"You are not the sum of your mistakes."

Back in my early years of Realms I started off as more than off putting. I was a divisive player who often put his own fun over those of other players at events. I was quick to do bad things, help villains and laugh it off as evil RP. Due to those actions, often times I left the event feeling great and someone else would leave the event feeling crummy. 

Dave was one of the first people to offer me guidance on this. At a time when I was looking to grow I had already burned a few bridges because of some of my more sinister IC actions. When I was looking to change and evolve as a player both by playing New Characters with different Role Playing personalities but also as a player taking on bigger NPC roles to test my theatrical chops, I was reasonably met with hesitation and in a lot of cases had people not wanting to utilize me outside a crunchy role. 

I couldn't come to grips with people hating Cal the player because Syruss was a jerk. 

Dave was the first person to tell me, "Well, do people ever see Cal or do they only see you as Syruss the jerk?" That profound statement led to me taking more and more on in the community. With the help of Dave letting me be a part of Eagles Rook and getting to play a good guy that led to me having more relationships with the people Dave Role Played with. I started showing up to events early with him to set up and stayed late to clean. He helped me to reach out to the Chimeron crew too so I could help marshal Green and Gold which led to me helping marshal other events and evolved into me loving to Marshal those big events such as North South War (when I wasn't playing) or Queen of Hearts which is one of my favorite things to do. All the while making social strides. 

One day when I was picking up pikes from Dave for a What Lurks Beneath event we got to talking about where I was and where I am now,  noting that there is always still room for more growth. I thanked him for being so awesome to me over the years and for giving me the push to become better. I told him it would have been easy for him to write me off like others had done and that is when he said those fated words of, "Cal, no one is the sum of their mistakes and we are all capable of change." It was a powerful moment that shaped me as a person. 

Through my years of psychology schooling I focused on change and what makes people change and why. There are two things that are present in changing; a person's desire, without this change can't happen and a catalyst for change, something to help motivate and cause a person to want to change. Dave was my catalyst. He never gave up on a friend he saw potential in at a time where it would have been easy and understandable to do. He saw someone capable of more and fostered that and truly helped me grow. 

So Dave, on behalf of myself and every student I have had the pleasure of reaching and helping evolve as humans, thank you. Thank you for being not only a kind friend when I needed one but for being my catalyst of change.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Memories of Dave - Part 1

We asked members of the community to share with us their memories of playing Realms with Dave. If you have any you'd like to share on future posts please email them to the editor's desk at

by Robyn Nielsen

From Sara Jessop:

I was asked to ‘write a short blurb or story about Dave’, but trying to condense Dave down into a ‘short blurb’ is nigh impossible. Zarine is only Zarine because of Dave. I developed her entirely through writing, which never would have happened without his encouragement, so really the fact that I’m a writer who writes too much is his fault.

Years ago I floated the idea of writing a basic bitch column for The View called I Can’t Even. He encouraged me to do it, even though I was nervous, so I wrote a ridiculous article about pumpkin spice. Reading that article now, I hate it. Truth is, it wasn’t great. But Dave encouraged me to keep fucking going. So I did. 

Later, when I was going through a particularly rough time, he tried to encourage me not to quit. He pointed out to me ways that I could separate myself from my character.I didn’t want to hear it. But I needed to. He helped me to see that while I was upset because people weren’t considering the person behind my character, I was doing the same thing. Ultimately I decided to take a break, but when I came back I took that advice he’d given me and applied it to my blog. That blog almost didn’t happen either. I was nervous after what had happened, but I went back and read this: ‘I do hope you will find another outlet, though. You're a very talented and entertaining writer.’ I believe he meant that, because Dave did not say things he didn’t mean. So once again, I kept fucking going. 

When I got snubbed by the Peacocks I was hurt and angry. He taught me that titles and clubs aren’t what make you great and I wasn’t ‘less than’ because I was rejected. Through every time I was shunned, I remembered he taught me that people aren't always going to like who I am, and those people will be more vocal than the people who do. I could be angry about it or I could keep fucking going. I’ll admit that I embraced the power of ‘and’ in this case, but the fact remains that I’m sure I wouldn’t be in the Order today if it wasn’t for him. 

The last message I have from him says, ‘I'm just getting caught up on your recent articles and wanted to drop a quick note to say that I'm glad you're writing again and they were, as always, a pleasure to read.’ I don’t know if he ever realized how much of who I became in the Realms was due to him. How many times I kept fucking going because he encouraged me to. How much he did that for so many people and how much of him is in all of us. How much he meant to individuals and to the community. I can only hope that he did.

Dave was the very best of us. The amount of people who’ve said they wouldn’t be who they are today without him is staggering. He gave us ‘Vawn’s rule of awesome’, encouraged all of us to ‘keep fucking going’ and to ‘be kind to each other’. He was an inspiration in so many ways, but for me the most important was his ability to be honest without cruelty or bias. He’d tell his best friend that they were wrong and his worst enemy (if he had one) that they were right. Doesn’t matter who you are, he’d disagree with you in a way that still made you feel heard and valid. It’s a completely lost art but something that is so necessary for communities to have. I hope that he taught enough of us to be kind, to be understanding, and to listen. I hope enough of us will ‘be the things you loved most about the people who are gone’. I hope there is enough of Dave in all of us to keep fucking going. I hope we make him proud.

by Michelle LaPlant

From Athena Teatum:

Dave Hayden played the best paladin I've ever seen, in any game anywhere. He played the role of the true hero to the hilt, and his character, Sir Vawn, is always going to be synonymous with that in my head.

So. It was my second year in the Realms. I was a newbie at an event run by Carrie, all set in this strange manor, and I was following around a group of older players. They wanted to do a ritual, but there was too much noise and distraction around, so we took over a small side room and shooed out a few other people so we wouldn't be disturbed.

One of those people apparently was upset that we had taken the room, and started spreading rumors that we were doing something evil in there.

This is where Dave's character comes in.

I'm not exactly sure what those people told him but I do distinctly remember opening the door to find myself inches from an angry mob, and, more importantly, the business end of Vawn's pike.

He demanded to know what we were doing, and little baby newbie me barely stammered out "we... we were trying to summon a lich's soul jar to us so we could disenchant it without the lich catching on to what we were doing?"

And Vawn just kind of stared at me for a second before lowering his pike and responding something along the lines of "Oh. Well. That sounds good. Did it work? Do you need any help?"

Meanwhile the butler of the manor, who was secretly the Lich, had overheard our conversation and was bolting out the door. Vawn was on him in a flash.

It was just such a slapstick moment and very and keeping with both of our characters and I think it sums him up to a T. He was unquestionably dedicated to doing what he thought was the right thing, a terrifying force to stand against, but when he was on your side, you knew everything was going to be okay.

I'll miss you, Dave. I'll miss LARPing alongside you and going to Ani DiFranco concerts with you. Please consider this my best attempt to sing you into the Summerlands.

by Casey Lemay

From Sarah Fournier:

I’ve only had a few interactions with Dave Hayden, but every single one of them was pleasant. The very first time I met him was at Queen of Hearts 1018. It was a month after my dad, Decion had his stroke. I was still in a haze. We were standing under the awning of the gun club, looking out at the Chess field. He introduced himself to me, with tears in his eyes, and said something highly complimentary of my dad. I don’t remember exactly, but I think he said that my dad is one of the best men he’s ever known. At this point in time, I had recently shed 100 gallons of tears and was too numb to cry more. 

I smiled woefully and thanked him, and he gave me a warm hug. He said that he wanted to do something for my family, treat us to dinner at our favorite restaurant or anything to take a bit of the burden away. I didn’t know at the time that he understood exactly the pain we were going through. I wish that I had had the capacity to cry in that moment, because knowing what I know now, he would have been safe to cry with, and mourning with someone who knew my dad would have really helped me. I was so numb to everything then, and I wished I had been able to react better because I could tell Dave was a truly caring man. 

After Queen of Hearts, I’d see Dave at my occasional visits to Lowell fight practice. He was always kind, genuine, and helpful. I wish I could have the honor of practicing with him for years to come. I am so grateful for the few interactions I have had with him. Reading everyone’s beautiful stories has even further shown me how lucky I was to have those moments with him. He is the pinnacle of a Good Man, and he has truly inspired me, and The Realms, to be better.

by Dustin Mack

From Ethan Goldman:

I met Dave Hayden waaay back in October 14, 2014, I know this date exactly because it was my birthday! Oh boy howdy. And I was gonna spend it playing video games and eating at a restaurant.

I was in school heading from the library to my Introduction to Public Health class. For some reason there were these 3 losers dressed up in armor in the middle of the south campus Gazebo wearing ponchos. "Well, what's this", I thought, so I went to check it out.

They were selling Cider for the Realms! 1 dollar for a cup. "What's the Realms?" I asked the three, who I found out were Swoop, Steve Anthony, and Vawn. "You see the realms is a LARP." Well whats a larp?
"Its kinda like DnD but you can do this?" He picks up a sort of toothpick and poked Anthony with it, who dropped dead instantly. And that was AMAZING to me, I mean I basically dropped out of the DnD club the week before and I needed something to do, and it was REAL. Kinda, it felt more real. "Wow that's amazing." I said, repeating myself. "You know it's my birthday today."

So Vawn, knight that he is, said "you know what, you can have some cider for free. We have practice every Tuesday, so we will be in that creepy building over there tonight!"

So I drank my cider and latter that day I WENT HOME! It was my birthday after all, I had plans. But the next week, ho boy, I showed up.

And I was bad! Really bad, so bad that my first event in just a few weeks later I got kidnapped! Not only did I not know they could do that, I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYONE ELSE GET KIDNAPPED ;n; 

But Vawn said, "Ya know what, it's difficult just to show up, so lets celebrate your first event with SWORD MAKING" and I learned how to make swords. (And I immediately forgot, If i don't have the instructions in my face I forgot how to do anything, thats why you have to check in spell books).

So flash forward several years to the ECHOES OF RAGNAROK. Allow me to explain, EOR is a quest series created by Jason Rosa with a simple plot. Sure you guys destroyed Bedlam but what about the SOCIOECONOMIC PLANNING? YOU GOTTA BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE BOYS WE ARE VIKINGS NOT PIRATES!

And Vawn said "Wow I love laws, but man I remember having a nation, I should ask some of my friends to join me." So somehow I got asked to make a Eagle's rook alt. I don't think Dave asked me directly, he has a sense of self preservation, but I was asked and that genie left the bottle in the first Aladdin movie.
So naturally I, being 2015's greatest newbie, had the perfect plan for a character, I just needed the rubber stamp. So I go to Vawn and go "Hey I got a character idea, for my Eagle's rook Alt, but first I gotta get something confirmed. You know how Eagle's rook a police state, right?"

And he said "No."

But you have to understand my confusion. I come from Neden, a land where the first, second and third autocratic despots have each said "Rules are meant to be broken", we aren't a civilization we are a perpetual frat party about drinking and partying. In fact if you think about it, all of the North is like that. Neden likes drinking and hates structure, Grimloch likes drinking and hating the undead.

And Invictus likes drinking and hating Grimloch.

So I was in a bit of a pickle so I say "Okay but hear me out."

And Vawn, despite his better judgement did.

"See you guys hate undead and stuff, and you got these prisons, so I got a idea for a character who is like the Iron Mask yeah? Hes a prisoner locked away for his dangerous crimes and is just referred to as a number, but hes allowed out on parole work, like saving someone elses planet.

And it took a bit but me and Janna convinced him that the character was worth running. Thus entered Prisoner 37, a hard man doing hard times.

And im minding my business, enjoying the crisp Norlund air and i meet Chimeron. And Kovaks, curious about the strange man in irons, wanted to know just what I was doing penance for.

So I answered. 37's crime... Serial Jaywalking.

You see there was a rotary and thats like 6 different roads so when you just run across it, well what can they do?

So after a bit of socializing and Prisoner 37 learning his tattoo was on backwards cause he did it in the mirror, Kovaks ends up talking to Vawn "Hey did you really just give this guy life imprisonment for Jaywalking."

And Vawn, who was never super into the idea, responded with the tired patience of people who dont get into winter drama. "Well you know." He shrugged.

"Jay walking is dangerous. He could've gotten someone hurt."

And Vawn didn't need to play into a bit done at his nations expense just for someone else's joke, but he did it anyway.

And on a side note, if I was never handed a glass of free cider i would have never learned what LARP was, and I wouldnt have met any one I hang out with now, my entire social interactions are precipitated on that one random ad campaign. So thats a fun tidbit.

by Robyn Nielsen

From Greg Falconer: 

I think my favorite story of Dave would be a past feast of Leviathan. We were doing a Viking themed thing for Torolf and Dave was wearing very dark makeup around his eyes. Dave set everything up and the fight went perfectly. However, after this he had to play Vawn and the make up didn’t fully come off his eyes. I had switched back to Daekara and went to talk to him. I asked him how great the fights were in the summerlands where he got two blackeyes. Dave got this silly smile and just started poking me in the stomach for the rest of the event telling me to stop being a wise guy. He looked so happy in that moment that I want to remember him looking like that.

by Cal Marsden

From Jason Rosa:

I think a notable hallmark of Dave's character, Vawn, was that he was so much of a "good guy" that it often brought out the cracks in other people's "good guy" personas. There are probably a hundred examples of this but one always comes to mind.

In the early 2000s, a few years after we started playing, it somehow became very in vogue to throw plots that had a lot of moral ambiguity. In fact, Dave had lost his first character, Kethrellen the Red, because of how he tried to do what he thought was best in a very morally ambiguous moment and I have to believe that a lot of the reasons behind his conception of Vawn were because he wanted to be in a position where he could always know he was doing the right thing.

When I came up with the idea for the What Lurks Beneath plot I really wanted to avoid moral ambiguity. It was a very simple - there are trolls worshiping an eldritch horror demon thing under ground and you, the heroes, need to just get rid of all of that nonsense. Dave remarked to me on a couple of occasions how much he enjoyed having a plot that drew the good-guy-bad-guy line so clearly.

Well, that was until the third event in the series, where things sort of went awry. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing morally ambiguous about how I WROTE the event but the PCs managed to invent their own conception of what was happening. They thought that they specifically had to unleash an evil demon onto the Realms in order to kill it. That, in fact, was not the plot at all but there was no way of telling them that.

Vawn, who had reached that same erroneous conclusion along with everyone else, decided to be resolute and tell the questing party that they were all going to stop and that they were not going to be allowed to continue to release this (completely fabricated) demon. Of course no one wanted to straight up challenge Vawn but they did want to continue the quest because that's what questers do, regardless of the questionable outcome.

So instead of fighting him on it, one of the party's spell casters that had a lot of divination (I remember who it is but I'm not going to throw them under the bus) grabbed me and walked me over to the side. They told me that they were going to pretend to cast a divination spell but not ACTUALLY cast a divination spell and calling me over was part of the ruse. After a little prop-work and hocus pocus they marched back over to the questing party and confidently announced that their divinations had told them that releasing the demon was the right thing to do and that Vawn had to suck it up and help. He begrudgingly went along with it.

The ironic thing is, of course, if that caster had actually used the spell then I could have just used that opportunity to tell them that their assumption was way off in the first place.

After the event Dave expressed his frustration with me that I would have written such a plot twist into an event series that I had touted would not have those kinds of moral issues. I know I should have kept the OOC secret but I just couldn't handle his cold, judgmental stare. I explained to him that he was tricked and that that divination spell was never actually cast. I don't think that made him any happier though.

by Angie Gray

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Ballad of Sir Vawn, Avatar of Vandor

by High Priestess Kindrianna Athame (Renee Booke)

The Summerlands beckon to the souls of the true,

The greatest of heroes who saw their deeds through.

They come with their honor to the codes that they swore,

And now our Sir Vawn stands tall at their door.

True to himself, both in word and in deed,

White Knight of the Realms when she was in need.

Heart full of valor, a path without fear,

His life and his courage have led him straight here.

The next journey waits just beyond golden trees,

In a land full of hope and sparkling seas.

Vawn, you have earned your peace and your rest,

And those that have known you are eternally blessed.

Templar and Knight, defender and friend,

May songs of your deeds never come to an end.

The darkness still fears you, and has for so long,

For the blade in your hand shines righteous and strong.

We’ll try not to mourn as we celebrate your life,

Free from the mortal-bound cycle of strife.

But the most important thing you should know,

All along it was your Light that helped us to grow.

You were there by our side when Wayland’s fortress fell,

And a swift wave of Bedlam began to rain hell.

Not once did you hesitate, you jumped in the fray,

For a true Knight knows no other way.

May Vandor’s warm light guide you as you roam,

Carry Eagle’s Rook with you forever as home.

And should evil strike, putting us to the test,

Then your soul will cry out to complete one last quest.

Watch over us all from your paradise,

And be with us always when we need advice.

It’s hard to be happy while watching you go,

But you’re with the Gods now and we’re down below.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Meme Monday

 by the Meme Team