Friday, June 28, 2013

Blast From the Past - Part 17

Today we have a full View From Valehaven from March 1992. There are a number of really interesting bits herein such as the announcement that the View was going monthly, the announcement of a private council that was formed to lay out the rules for the Realms (the per-cursor for the Event Holder's Council), that there would be a distinction between Realms and Non-Realms events in the View, and a number of really good articles on eventholding, making garb, stories that are still relevant today. [Thanks to Janna "Iawen" Oakfellow-Pushee for the scans.]

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Funny Pictures

In this series, we're posting some unique pictures of us as we play in the Realms. The challenge we present to you is to provide us with funny captions for the pictures in the comments section. Try to keep 'em relatively clean and fun. (Photo by Dustin Mack)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why I Want to Go - Finding the Path

Finding the Path
June 29, 2013 (Saturday 12pm) - June 29, 2013 (Saturday 6pm)

This is a one-day quest event that is the start of a series of six that will be held throughout this year. Instead of waiting years to see an entire plot this is your chance to get in on the start of a quest that will begin and end this year. The format of the event is a tournament, but it is also mentioned that things will occur that will start an epic quest. The event holder for this event is well known in Realms history as being a person who can throw epic events that are not to be missed.

The event is being held up at Creathorne and thus the majority of the Realms populous already knows this site well. This means the players will be free to focus on the developing plot as it unfolds. As mentioned the Event holder has a reputation for throwing awesome events; even if he hasn't been active in the Realms for some years now, he has kept his hand busy throwing events in other systems. Now he returns to the Realms.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why I Want to Go- The contract

The contract: Prequel to In Service to Fire
June 29, 2013 (Saturday 10am) - June 29, 2013 (Saturday 9pm)

This is a one-day quest event that is bringing new to the Realms. The quest is new so those who often feel left out of current plotlines can jump on board early in this one. The site is also new so there will be much to explore. The quest itself seems fairly straight forward; clear a new land of dangerous denizens. Those are often quite a lot of fun. Check it out!

As mentioned the site is new. It is actually designed with the intent to accommodate LARPing. The event holder is an old hand at the Realms, though he hasn't been seen here in many years. It begs to ask, what has his mind been devising all these years?!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Question of the Week - 98

Do you think Silver is useful as a combat call?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tricks of the Trade by Carrie "Tetch" Dolph

Articles designed to help Event Holders with common event pitfalls and problems.

Tricks of the Trade:
Dungeon Crawl tips: Making Scene Changes work for your event.

Unless you are fortunate enough to have both a really large dungeon, such as the Citadel, or a large mowed field of tall grass or corn, and a huge amount of NPC’s to staff such a large area full time, most Dungeon Crawls will involve scene changes as the next ‘room’ is set up.

What generally happens is the players have two types of ‘area’ to play in for these events – the Main Dungeon Room(s), and the ‘Holding Area(s)’. The ‘Holding Area’ is where the PC’s end up waiting for the scene change to occur, while the Main Dungeon Room is where the PC’s face whatever encounters the plot of the event is based on… 

Generally speaking, most EH’s fail to plan for anything occurring in the ‘Holding Area’ and due to poor time management, the players spend most of their time at the event there, rather than in the Main Dungeon Room!

Highly Recommended to Must Have in the “Holding Area”:
It is always a good idea to have food, water, and a Magic Marshal available to the PC’s during the ‘scene change’.  (Honestly, it’s a good idea to have a Magic Marshal available ALL the time!) This allows the players to learn about the plot in a ‘less hectic’ environment than the main combat floor (which is not the best environment to be casting divinations or Call Soul anyway), and allows them to rest and refresh while not in combat mode.

The Dangers of Down-Time:
One of the biggest challenges for an EH in most Dungeon Crawls is keeping the players occupied or entertained during scene changes. Generally speaking, any Down-Time in any event kills the momentum of the Event Flow, and usually leads to bored players.

Here are some tips to manage the Down-Time in a Dungeon Crawl Scene Change:

Keep the Down-Time brief:
An EH should do what they can to limit the amount of time it takes to set up the next scene and inform the NPC’s of their roles.
Making complete, descriptive handbooks for each planned room is a good way to do that. If you can do a complete description, and know who your Staff and NPC’s are going to be, get that information out to those key people well in advance of the actual event, so they have time to go over the information before arriving. On the day of the event, however, most NPC’s don’t have the time or inclination to read walls of text, so try to also have a ‘short form’ version: be succinct or use pictures/maps, and lists where you can. This allows the NPC’s to act autonomously without you needing to go over everything at every turn, saving huge amounts of time, and therefore, lessening downtime.
Another way to do cut down on time is to have at least one or two ‘rotating’ NPC’s that are sitting out of the current room to learn what is needed for the next room, and getting all the props, costumes and briefings ready for the next room while the current room is in progress. As NPC roles end in the current room, have those NPC’s filter back to the NPC staging area to get ready for their new roles.

Make the Holding Area part of the Event:
Since so much time can potentially be spent in the Holding Area, make it part of the Event! Don’t throw that time away.

Here are some of the things that I have seen used successfully to keep players doing things:
Puzzles to open the next level:
Whether its some sort of cerebral thing to get a few thinkers busy, or a co-operative challenge to get the whole questing party to work together, puzzles are a good way to allow a less combat oriented person time to shine while letting the (hopefully tired) combative types time to rest until the next battle.
Role play!:
We sometimes forget that this is also a role playing game. Allow role-play to happen by engaging the players with some sort of NPC to negotiate with to get to the next level, learn about the plot, or otherwise make the event more than just some kind of weird tactic-based practice.
 Travel Time:
While it’s not my favorite tactic, you can get the players to walk around the building, or something similar, in order to simulate ‘moving to somewhere else’ in a more realistic fashion. The common problem with this is that it gets boring if it is done too often, of if there isn’t any interesting scenery or interaction on the way.  So, if you choose this, make sure to throw at least one interesting something along the way: an easily solved puzzle or physical challenge (such as jumping over a ‘pit’ from stepping stone to stone, or getting through a ‘fence’), role-playing encounter, fun music, weird artwork… something to make it more than a useless walk around the building.

Make a ‘Rotating’ Main Dungeon Room:
If your Main Dungeon Room is large enough, split it in half. Instead of having a ‘Holding Room’, split your NPC crew as best you can and set up the second half of the Main Dungeon Room while the first half is in use. This allows the action to keep going all event long without long stretches of Down-Time.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Funny Pictures

In this series, we're posting some unique pictures of us as we play in the Realms. The challenge we present to you is to provide us with funny captions for the pictures in the comments section. Try to keep 'em relatively clean and fun. (Photo by Dustin Mack)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why I Want to Go- North South War 2013

North South War 2013
June 22, 2013 (Saturday 12pm) - June 23, 2013 (Sunday 5pm)

[Note: The author of this article is a member of the staff for this event.]

This is the annual event that features epic battles that can not be found anywhere else in the Realms. Everyone is split into two teams and they proceed to slug it out over the course of the weekend. There is a wide variety of tourneys that allow fighters and casters to shine. They include the perennial favorites such as Line Battles and Bridge Battles, but also include such favorites as the Pinwheel of Doom and Mage Battles. As always, the fights will be varied and some will be completely new. The thing to remember is that all the battles allow for large numbers of participants thus bringing an epic feel to every fight.

The site is a new one for many people. There is plenty of camping space and the Hall is excellent. There are swimming spots as well. Note that this will be a completely dry site as it is new for the event staff as well as the players. This event rarely lets down and this year should be a lot of fun!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why I Want to Go- Convergences 2013

Convergences 2013
June 21, 2013 (Friday 6pm) - June 22, 2013 (Saturday 1am)

For those not in the know, this is the annual night quest event where players NPC one quest and PC the other quest. This makes it so there are enough NPCs for all the quests for the night. This year there are two quests scheduled. Servais' Secret Lair is being run by Ashenmark and is a part of their ongoing plotline. I know some of what they have in mind and it should be a lot of fun. The second quest, Bandit Barron's Last Stand, is being run by Blackwood and features their ongoing plot that has the players working defeat some bandits. Who doesn't like beating up on bandits holed up in a fortress stronghold? 

This site has been used by the Realms in the past but it was so many years ago that for many players this will be a new site for them. Thus we will get all the "coolness" of a new site; new areas to explore and a sense of freshness sometimes lost on sites that we use a lot. The site itself has an excellent Tavern/Hall, plenty of camping and a large area of woods and trails for questing. The annual North/South War is being held on the same site on the next day, so this will make for an excellent start to a weekend of fun!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Question of the Week - 97

How would you define Honor?

Friday, June 14, 2013

On the Web- The Realms Facebook Group

The Realms Facebook group provides a place for current players to connect as well as providing a tool many former players use to keep in touch.

It is an "open" group that anyone can join and contribute to.  Posts are not moderated.  

Topic range from announcements- 
to the silly- 

to serious conversation-

Some positives to the venue are that so many people already have accounts there and check it regularly, the level of real time interaction that can occur and the fact that there is a written record of the conversations that can easily be scrolled back through.

Those with Facebook accounts that have yet to connect with their Realms friends can also use it as a tool to find them. If you go to the main group page you can look at the member list (found on the upper right) and link to any of the 398 group members profile pages.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Funny Pictures

In this series, we're posting some unique pictures of us as we play in the Realms. The challenge we present to you is to provide us with funny captions for the pictures in the comments section. Try to keep 'em relatively clean and fun. (Photo by Dustin Mack)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

10 Questions - Cole "Dhamon" Wichman

Cole "Dhamon" Wichman

How long have you been playing?
My first event was ToC '98.  I was introduced to the members of Thorne Valley and was inducted that weekend, I believe.  I borrowed a weapon from Aelias and a shield from the Blackwood armory and that was my gear for the weekend.  I remember it well.  Paul Cote as the Mythdrannor elf king/prince (and Prince Nigel's bardic entries!  Hah!), the night quest where I swear I was surrounded by several hundred drow and driders. The most memorable part of the event?  The first time I heard an event wide "hold" called.  Hundreds of people shouting, fighting, full of adrenaline and liquid joy, and everyone freezes at the same time so that someone can find their lost glasses.  It was like magic wrapped in bacon. 

How has the game changed since you've been playing?
As with any community, people come and go, taking their opinions with them.  '98 was the first year of the circle-based spell system (if I remember correctly) and people were griping about it.  Now, in founding my own group and interacting with several other small groups in the area, I've come to realize that our magic system is the most diverse of all of them.  Now I see proposals to radically change the spell system again.  I saw the rise and fall of the Empire, and the rise of the Free Kingdoms.  I've seen players who started their careers with numbered jerseys become one of the best garbed at an event.  I've seen a drunken teddy bear who was always hitting on my wife voted "Most Intimidating" in the view awards for two years in a row.
One thing that hasn't changed?  People absolutely love this game. 

Who have you learned the most from?
Aelias (Nate Carr) taught me to fight. Guilliam (Everyone knows Henry) taught me to block. Trent Shadowdragon (Jon Jessop) taught me confidence (or how to fake it), Argus (Rich Crane) taught me to never take it too seriously, Artex (Bill DeMarco) taught me to be sneaky, Cinnabar (Kevin Betie) taught me that if you got him drunk enough, he would pee on people, and Mike Amend (Slaader, and he has other far less important characters) taught me a lot about what a friend should be, in game and out.  All of these people, and everyone else taught me what it meant to be a part of the game.  It didn't matter how rowdy, rude or dickish anyone was, they all had a deep reverence for the game.  That's what makes it so damn special. 

What was your best moment IC?
Hands down was putting Slaader back together when he broke.  Being disemboweled by Twenaria, weeping openly when he was making pizza pies at Green & Gold, relieved to see him alive.  I left the game for a while, and IC Dhamon was looking for other pieces.  When I came back in '08 for QoH, I learned that people had "fixed" him.  Still unbelieving, Dhamon left again, searching for the lost pieces of Slaader.  That's how he stumbled across Spira and the Southern Realms.  This and the Illinar plot really defined Dhamon's coming out moments, brought my RP to another level. 

What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?
As an NPC?  I distinctly remember having a blast as an NPC at a Rathkeale event at that park behind the Stop & Shop in New Hampshire, but I don't remember the event.  I wasn't confident enough to play important NPC roles in my early days.  Now I look forward to playing some wonderful parts.  As an EH?  Feast of Achoria A was a blast, and we spent a lot of Jon's money on it, but some people still tell me it was their favorite event of all time, so I guess we did something right.  The Spiran Hero Academy was a big hit out here, and I did my best to introduce the Realms to Oklahoma, including the subtle nuances that you just can't hand over to people.  My crew had a blast, and I'm incredibly proud of them.  My best moment as a Player?  ToC '98, by far.  So many people, so many NPC's, my seventeen year old self had no concept that such an epic time could be had.  I was blown away (thanks, Andy).  Winning second place in the Herald's tourney at the first Ace in The Hole tournaments is a close second.  I had a blast at that event, even though I practiced some poor decision making skills (sorry, Nate). 

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?
I think what people are doing with the garb swaps and raising money for newbie outfits is awesome, and should be encouraged by the entire player base.  What I'd like to see are people developing ways to make our weapons look better.  The "popsicle stick" moniker that has been around for decades has become so commonplace, and it kinda bothers me with all this new latex/calcamil weapons looking stunningly gorgeous all over the internet.  Yes, I know full well that they're not at all safe for our combat style, I'll put my eye out, and all of that, but I think there are several mediums out there that support more aesthetically pleasing yet still safe for Realms weapons.  I'm currently experimenting with camp foam striking surfaces to see how they hold up.  I also love the long-running plot lines like Illinar and Bedlam, and hope to hear about more of them (and integrate them into our events down here!). 

What advice would you give new players? 
Frequently, people say "talk to everyone" here.  While this is good advice, I know that not everyone has the confidence or even the desire to talk to a collection of strange, new people, regardless of how willing the community is to respond.  For those newbies, I say this:  Watch.  Listen.  You'll know when you're ready to write your name on a tournament entry sheet, ask someone to teach you a spell, or interact as your character as opposed to a nervous version of yourself.  When you're ready to dive in, do it with guts and gusto, and let yourself become a part of the community.  You'll inevitably make friends, fight monsters, meet crazy seers and have a fantastic time.  Trust me. 

What do you love most about the game?
The community.  The people.  I would get giddy with anticipation to see my Realms crew, and I'm the kind of person who could just hang out with the House of Sloth all weekend if they were my people.  And y'all are my people, every last one of you. 

Who would you like to see the next interview be with?
Jon Jessop (Trent Shadowdragon), you're next, sir. 

Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print? 
It's been an amazing experience to be able to put together an event down here in Oklahoma.  It comes with it's own set of challenges, from dealing with a group from a full or significant force LARP group (Dagorhir, Amtgard) and integrating them with the people I trained and people from other lightest touch groups.  Not a single one of them allows head shots, and all of them have their preferred weapon construction techniques.  My goal is to make the Oklahoma City metro area THE midwest LARP destination with our events.  Finding non-public park event sites with accessible facilities, teaching 60 people the rules, etc.  The list goes on.  As you've likely seen from pictures, we have good looking garb dp fsr and I have very skilled people at my side on this, and I am incredibly excited for things to come!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why I Want to Go- The Spiran Games

The Spiran Games: A Southern Realms Event
June 15, 2013 (Saturday 12pm) - June 15, 2013 (Saturday 6pm)

The Southern Realms continues to chug along, keeping up lively practices and throwing events. This is their second event and will be a series of tournaments. It looks like there will be a good variety to keep everyone happy. In addition there will be some non-combat tourneys. They promise cool prizes! I like what I see happening in Southern Realms and wish them all the luck!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Question of the Week - 96

Events have a required minimum time of 6 hours. Do you think this is too long, too short, or about right?

Friday, June 7, 2013

What You Missed - ToC20 Part Five

Photo by Tanja Johnson - 2013

Photo by Tanja Johnson - 2013

Photo by Tanja Johnson - 2013

Photo by Tanja Johnson - 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What You Missed - ToC20 Part Four

Photo by Sean Finn - 2013

Photo by Sean Finn - 2013

Photo by Sean Finn - 2013

Photo by Sean Finn - 2013

Funny Pictures

In this series, we're posting some unique pictures of us as we play in the Realms. The challenge we present to you is to provide us with funny captions for the pictures in the comments section. Try to keep 'em relatively clean and fun. (Photo by Dustin Mack)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What You Missed - ToC20 Part Three

Photo by Dustin Mack - 2013

Photo by Dustin Mack - 2013

Photo by Dustin Mack - 2013

Photo by Dustin Mack - 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What You Missed - ToC20 Part Two

Photo by Angela Earle Gray - 2013

Photo by Angela Earle Gray - 2013

Photo by Angela Earle Gray - 2013

Photo by Angela Earle Gray - 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

What You Missed - ToC20 Part One

Photo by Cathy Hopkins - 2013

Photo by Cathy Hopkins - 2013

Photo by Cathy Hopkins - 2013

Photo by Cathy Hopkins - 2013

Question of the Week - 95

Have you ever wanted to throw an event or plot? If you have wanted to, what held you back from doing so?