Friday, October 31, 2014

Fireside Chat with Janus

This week we premier a brand new set of 10 questions.  Our first victi volunteer is Janus, who will tell us a little insight into what it is to be, well, Janus.  We sat down at a cozy tavern.  Beside a roaring fire and over some very tasty mulled ale, he shared a few things with me.

Where do you get your power?

This is a weird mixed bag of sources.  When I first started adventuring I learned to tap into the power of the land, and I have stuck with that for most of the spells that I cast, even the non-regional magics. Occasionally, Luna listens when I petition her for aid, and my lycanthropy does give me a few small benefits.

A bag filled with ten thousand gold just fell on your lap.  Now what?
Honestly, after buying a new pair of pants for questing and a second surcoat for feasts, I'd finally be able to tip as much as I would like to.  Oh, and maybe just gamble some of it away with my friends.

 What does your bedroom look like?
Oh, it is a complete mess.  There are remains of small magical experiments everywhere, not to mention tons of half-written books and other papers filled with notes.  And seeing as I just got this room within the past year, that is saying a lot.

 Tell us about your favorite feast dish.
So, my favorite feast dish is one that complements the day I've had.  Right now, i'm thinking back to years ago, after questing in the cold and rain, getting to sit down at a feast, it might be most of them in the winter, early spring or late fall, and just having something warm.  A soup, a chilli, or even Mac and Cheese.  They just hit the spot perfectly, warming me from the inside out.  For an individual feast dish that I remember, I would have to say the stuffed breads at Leviathan.  I always eat too many of them.

There are always new boots on the field, what advice would you give them?
You are not your spells.  You are not your weapons.  Even without those, you can still achieve amazing things.  Sometimes you'll find yourself without anything to aid you, and learning to rise above it leads to greatness.
Additionally, keep a list of things you have done, both the good and bad.  Years down the line, you'll be happy that you can look back at it.  I have my list of "Things I am no longer allowed to do" which contains many of my early mistakes, but I look back at it and smile.

What was your life like before you began adventuring? 
I was a simple farmer for many years before I went adventuring.  I lived with my parents, who are both alive by the way, my brother and sister.  You've met Luca.  She came to look for me after I had been adventuring for several years.

Are you currently squired (knighted) and if so, to what order? Who is (was) your knight?
I am not currently squired or knighted, but I was an apprentice to the Magi of the Realms under Cecil, until I was kicked out.  Of course, they later decided to call it graduating, but that's besides the point.

Are you married or courting and if so, to/with who? 
I am not.  I am too busy at the moment with rebuilding efforts.

Where and how do you spend your time when you're not adventuring?
Recently, I have been in Chimeron rebuilding after the defeat of bedlam.  When not actively rebuilding, often I am working on other theories or teaching at the University of Highbridge.

Tell me about the most epic spell you ever cast.  Did it succeed?
This is very hard to choose, but this is definitely one of the more memorable ones.  I was in the Mage competition at Queen of Hearts, and I had a ritual that was very well prepared ahead of time.  I had note cards and everything!  Well, when it was time to do the ritual in front of everyone, I dropped the note cards, and they went everywhere.  Then other problems started to creep in.  The stage was too small.  Candles were burning the wrong color and started to bleed.  The ritual asked for a 4 hour meditation period!  I even had to repeat steps because they were out of order, and those still didn't work right!  At the end though, the ritual succeeded properly, and my immunity to poison was cast. was either that or the time I engulfed a room in fire leaving nothing behind...or when I summoned a balloon sword that harmed things...or could fly by flapping my know, I should stop now.  I could keep going for hours.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

From the Kitchen of the Royal Patisseur of Chimeron

From the Kitchen of the Royal Patisseur of Chimeron 

(ie, Raynor's Winning Chocolate Pear Tart recipe!)

  • 1c steel-cut oats
  • 1/4 stick butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • Shaved or grated chocolate
  • Liquid caramel topping
  • 3 oz dried pears, cut into strips
  • 12 oz pear nectar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4c Fireball whiskey
  • 8 mini graham cracker crusts
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • For the topping: mix together the oats, sugar, and salt. Cut in softened butter until ingredients are well-mixed and slightly crumbly. Set aside.
  • For the filling: place dried pears and pear nectar into a large pot; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and whiskey. 
  • Simmer the filling mixture until reduced, stirring every few minutes. Once reduced, pour into each tart shell. Sprinkle topping mixture over each tart, and bake for 15 minutes. 
  • Remove tarts from over. Sprinkle with shaved or grated chocolate while still hot. Once cool, drizzle lightly with caramel topping. 
  • Serve and enjoy!

What You Missed Black and White Masquerade Ball

Photo by Jesse Gifford
 The King of Chimeron addresses the court with a message of hope and friendship.
Photo by Jesse Gifford
 Sir Shandar gives a speech, and makes a presentation of gifts.
Photo by Jesse Gifford
 Mayerling arrive dressed for the Masquerade Ball.
Photo by Jesse Gifford
 The Auction was a success, Scorpion Canteen!
Photo by Jesse Gifford
There were so many dancers, that the ball had to be moved outside.  Fortunately the weather cooperated.

Also, those of you who went to the event.  Head over to and review the event.  Event Holders and Feast o'Crats need your input to continue providing high quality events (and high quality food).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Here's What You Missed at Black and White 2014

Here's What You Missed At.......
Black and White 2014!

No matter what you're into, this event always has a little something for everyone, and this year was no different!

The event started off with a large tournament to determine the new Champion of Chimeron.  Many Chimeronians entered, and the fighting was fierce, but in the end, Sir Oliver emerged with the title.

Following that, the event began in earnest.  There were multiple quests available for those who wanted to do some fighting, including multiple plot teasers from different event-holders.  Of course, the event would not be complete without a newbie tournament, which all of the new folks seemed to enjoy!

Father Yule's mailbox made it's magical appearance again this year, though those wishing to drop a letter into Father Yule's mailbox had to hike a bit to find it, hidden off in the woods - but the walk was nice, and the trip was well worth it. The paper ran out at least once, so this seemed to be a popular "quest" for many, and it should be interesting to see what wishes are granted when Father Yule makes his appearance at the end of this year.

There were also an area for carnival games set up outside the tavern,  which gave participants a chance to test their physical and mental skills in a variety of challenging and entertaining ways. Prizes included dance cards and various colors of tickets which could be used for a chance to win items in the auction.  The games included:  an obstacle course with increasing levels of difficulty (including the top level,  in which two individuals ran the course simultaneously, tied together!);  a puzzle game called "Curse", wherein players were given half the pieces to a 3-D puzzle and had to attempt to assemble the puzzle by obtaining pieces from others via "cursed" words spoken by those people (according to the games marshal, only two completed puzzles were turned in -but this was not from lack of trying!!!); a traditional scavenger hunt; an exploration game in which participants had to find various ley lines around the site (represented by white boards) and "attune" themselves by writing their name on said board; and various types of board games, including a cooperative race-type game which pitted one half of the event site against the other to  get each team's pieces across the board first. The games were well-run and seemed to be drawing a good crowd consistently throughout the day.

Let's take a moment to talk about the food - because Black and White always has some terrific food.  People who pre-regged got a punched card which allowed them to drink the Poison Punch, which was a delicious concoction with just the right amount of sweetness.  Some of the food offerings included:  strips of beef which you got to cook in a hot pot to your desired doneness; a selection of hot dips with assorted dipping items; sweet and sour meatballs and wieners; pigs-in-a-blanket; deli roll slices; French onion soup with toppings; and a risotto that was delicious even though I'm not sure what was actually in it. These are just the items that I sampled - I'm sure there was more I missed. The food, as always, is put out consistently throughout the day, so there's always something else coming out if you find that you've missed the last item. This is on top of the staples that can be found on the tables most of the time, such as bread and butter, cheese and crackers, cut veggies and dip.  There was also a selection of cookies and other desserts near the end of the event.

Once the day-time activities wound down, it was time to change into the fancy garb (and there was a lot of beautiful garb on display this year!) and settle in for Black and White court. A great many things happened this year - so here is a brief run-down of what you missed at court:

  • Lady Hope announced the top winners of the carnival games
  •  Squire Taliea of Rhiassa announced that invitations would be going out to individual Huntresses to participate in the annual Tournaments of Artemis
  • Sir Shandar of Grimloch presented Sir Lucas of Chimeron with a gift of new, hand-made weapons to repay the kindness shown to him by Lucas many years ago
  • Dame Twenaria of Ashenmark announced the re-launch of the Order of the Peacock with the focus of promoting good garbing practices by all. Belt favors were given to those who were seem by the Order as consistently upholding these ideals
  • Lord Sir Aeston of Rhiassa and Khalenar of Ashenmark presented Oaken Guard favors to those members who had graduated to other nations, so that they might always remember their roots. 
    • A patron's favor was also given to Jayne Wrath of Grimloch, for his support of the Guard over the years. 
  • Squire Monique of Chimeron sang a beautiful bardic to honor fallen comrades
  • Koshka of Myerling presented a gift of furred cloaks to Squire Taliea, Squire Gwen, and Sir Kyntela of Rhiassa, which mirror those given by Myerling as gifts to Sir Aeston and Dame Areni on the occasion of their wedding
  • Dame Freesia of Folkeston presented Bohis Nossetti and as new Page to the Knights of Creathorne
  • The Knights of the Eternal Flame presented two Fireball favors, one to Squire Gwen of Rhiassa and one to Saka of Chimeron
  • High Lord Sir Temorse of Ashenmark announced the founding of a new order, the Knights of Ashenmark, and named Khalenar, Killian, and Grindin as Knights Progenitor
  • Sir Hall named Sir Faelinn and Knight Commander of the Knights of the Crown
  • Phoenix and Borjid of the Magi of the Realms released Saka of Chimeron from service as their joint apprentice, having nothing further to teach him, so that he might make his own magical mark on these Realms
  • Lord Sir Tara Harkon, accompanied by House Griffindor, welcomed new members into said House 
  •   King Sir Cecil of Chimeron named Raynor of Ashenmark as Chimeron's Royal Patisseur for the coming year, the second consecutive year he has held this honor. The winning dish: pear and chocolate tarts

Following the end of court, it was time for the annual Black and White Auction, which is always a source of much excitement.  The tables were heavy this year with many different types of prizes. These included  mystery boxes, cookie towers, decorative items, garb items, weapon supplies, vouchers for items handmade by different skilled artisans in the Realms, and dream-catchers, along with various other interesting and useful items. A particularly hot item this year was a furry canteen shaped like a scorpion, sure to be a classic and undoubtedly destined for much use. All in all, the auction is always well-received, and this year was no different!

After the auction came the event that many people had been waiting for -- the dancing! Under the capable and lively tutelage of Dame Bynn of Chimeron (assisted by Freesia, Faelinn, and Cimone) and accompanied by the musical stylings of Sir Makhta, dancers were lead through a variety of different period dances.  Some of the most popular dances were Toss the Duchess, a circle dance in which the ladies are twirled or "tossed" from partner to partner, and Hole in the Wall, a line dance which has a couple dancing with each other and with the couple next to them before being "tossed up the hall" to the next couple. This dance was the one that ended the night and it was a good choice because of a unique occurrence called "sharking," in which people not actively engaged in a dance couple could step in and take the place of one of the dancers in the couple, leaving that person outside of the line and free to "shark" another couple.  People always seem to enjoy this aspect of the dance as it adds an extra layer of excitement, and by the end, there was almost as much laughter as dancing happening! It's also great to see people dancing who would not normally be thought of as dancers.

The Chimeron Casino also made its debut during this time, and the usual suspects were seen around the tables.  Another activity to participate in, and very well-received!

So there you have it. Look at all this great stuff you missed! Don't you wish you'd come now? Well, don't worry - there's always next year - so try not to make the same mistake again! :)

WIWtG Artisans of the Blade 2

Feel the need to fight off the pounds accrued with the delicious food from the Black and White?  Or maybe you just need to show people that you are better at dancing with a blade than with a partner.

Artisans of the Blade (2) is a tiered tourney event geared at letting you showcase your skills.  People will be given a tier and will fight with like-abled individuals in various events.  Im sure we will see the classic and well loved fights, but I would be more thrilled about the more unique inventions.  For instance, the Zombie Hangman, and Rohodey's Challenge.  Who knows what that could entail?  Im sure it will be challenging.

So go to stay in prime shape.  Go to keep your blade sharp.  Go to have fun!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Question of the Week- 168

We've been trying a lot of new things over here at the view
- Captions on event photos
- Write ups on what you missed
- Multiple posts per day
- More recipes
- More "guest writers"

We have very few ways of collecting feedback on what you think (page views, favorites on facebook, recommendations on G+, rare bits of direct feedback staff receive), and we really would like to know.  Are you loving it?  Hating it? Sick of the facebook posts?  Have suggestions for improvement?  Let us know!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Belts of the Eternal Flame Janna "Sir Iawen Penn" Oakfellow-Pushee

The KoEF as an order date back to the earliest days of our game, and is a way to recognize players who exhibit dedication and commitment to the betterment of the  game.  The white belt not only signifies membership of the order, but is also an outward symbol of each knight's personal  achievement within the game.  Decorating the belt is also highly personal, and each belt is as unique as the individual knight. Looking at all the various designs, I know I am not alone in wondering about the story behind each one. As such, I thought it would be nice to put together a Feature series to highlight the belt artwork in the View, along with mini-interviews to both explore the meaning behind each belt, and to share some fun information about each knight. This gives all players in the Realms the chance to learn about the knights, the belts, and the order.

1. What year were you awarded your white belt?

 I was Knighted at the Black & White 2007. While it was out of game held at the

Belchertown's Sports Club thing (where QoH is usually held), In-Game it was within the

lands of Eagle's Rook, who was a part of Chimeron at that time.

2. Who administered "the punch" and-- be honest!!--did it hurt?

 Kathy Fey(Horn)/Sir Mahkta McKrye punched me, and it hurt like a bitch! I had

an impressive bruise that spread over my clavicle; Kathy had been doing a lot more

fighting and hitting practices (SCA & Realms), so she made that punch count! :-D

3. Whose belt did you wear until you got your own, and how was this significant for you? 

 I wore Kathy Fey's(Horn)/Sir Mahkta McKrye's belt. This was significant for me

due to the fact that she was my mentor, and the group of close comrades she had

surrounded herself with were varied yet still always striving to improve and to serve, and

thus I was taught by all of them. :) It was also bad-ass to me personally, because I

hadn't heard (at the time) of anyone else wearing it.

4. Can you describe your own belt's heraldry?

The belt has multiple colors.

Dark Blue Stripe up top is Feng Shui for me. It's one of my favorite colors, and

means (in feng shui) a lot of stuff: Clarity, Inspiration, Wisdom, Healing, Insight, Noble.

Black Stripe is for the Western Flank. In feng shui, it also associated with

Introspection, Stillness, and even sometimes Hatred (Iawen, who was known as Sir A

then, hated the fae and it was the least offensive way I could think of putting that on the

belt, heh. There are other things Iawen hates now, so it stays. ;)).

Green Stripe, which is the most faded now, was for me being a "Southern

Realmsie", so Chimeron notes, Faerie notes, pretty much all good at the time to me I

could see in green. Green for Feng Shui also meant things like Renewal (which I was

attempting to do when I retired Bouquet/Nimbus and started figuring out who to play as

a main PC), Hopeful, and Growth. Since then, both Chimeron, Fae Staff, and the

people in the South in general have helped me to grow in many respects. There is

always room for improvement, however, which brings us to our last part, the bottom.

The heraldry was Nimbus/Bouquet's - a silver Dragonfly like symbol, with the

wings protecting like a shield and the 'tail' becoming the point of a sword. I fought sword

and board back then and I loved every minute of it. If I could go back in an instant I

would, hitting all the practices available so I could at least get above newbie status

again, heh. Anyway, I digress. Silver was Aging (which I was doing in the Realms in

real time and also with experiences), but it also has Playful connotations, plus when

paired with Blue it's pretty bitchin'. The heraldry was so faded, though, I took a marker

to re-outline the heraldry for you. In between each of the stripes was also a Silver

Stripe. Other meaning of Silver are traditionally a feminine color, going along with the

moon (Luna in our game), and lights the way forward, clearing out all sorts of

obstacles. That's what I had hoped to be as I went forward as a Knight in the Realms -

a trailblazer in many directions. ... Life happens. I still attempt to do things differently

that the usual PC, ST, MM, or EH, but I can't think of anyone now who'd call me a

trailblazer, heh. ;)

5. Why did you chose that heraldry to represent you?

Because they were the colors I felt both bonded me to characters and also to

nations at the time, and plus the silver in the design was to remind me that you don't

have to be 'the golden boy (or girl) of Realms' in order to still serve the community.

6. Who did the artwork on your belt?

I did. :)

7. What do you remember most about your knighting?

Randy speaking for me, and not recalling who else did, because Cheech flipped

it around and said, "It's not a he, it's a she!" and asked me forward. I was all O.O

8. What does being a KoEF mean to you?

A lot of things... falling asleep on the keyboard, but let me try... :)

When I chose to put down my belt (to the chagrin of some), it was because I take

very seriously the first vow we get asked when joining the KoEF, and that's along the

lines of "Do you swear (promise, etc) to do honor unto yourself..." <-- and when Cheech

asked me of it, "and to the Realms" had a pause behind it, meaning you had to take

care of yourself, honor yourself FIRST, and Realms second.

I think that's what screwed me up shortly after the Knighting, and then for a good

chunk afterward. Now that I've been allowed and joyfully accepted back the belt, I

understand better (I think) why so many players can get burned out with the game and

the community before any such accolades (if any) might pass their way: it's because

there are people out there, like me, that made the Realms first. This caused themselves

to suffer: with relationships, family ties, friendships, job histories, schooling, some even

medical; it was different for everyone of them (and myself), I'm sure. And yet the

burned-out feeling remains.

For some, this means taking a step back and re-evaluating. Some find the only

way to take care of themselves is to leave the Realms entirely. Others find new ways to

play and/or involve themselves a bit less, while still attempting visibility. Still others go

another (yet worse) route; staying connected in the game and community in the least

way possible, but willing and ready to spill bitterness and jadedness to any newbie that

would grant them voice and an ear.

May I not fall into that last category, if I can still help it. And since I've

been "helping myself" first over Realms, I feel that the relationships have gotten

stronger. There are those who have moved on from me in friendship, and others who no

longer seek my plot counsel on things, and so forth. Seven years ago that would have

bothered me to the point of serious stress and tears. Now, I have the experience, the

love, the confidence and courage to shake it off.

 Each KoEF that I've acted with before and since being Knighted, I think, has that

air about them, too. They're here because they had a moment of mental introspection,

or took a break, or what have you, and then came back to the game and rocked on.

And they've served, and they've loved the community. The community is much

improved because they are there.

This is why I'm proud to be KoEF, and this is also one of the things I think that

makes a KoEF...

You know, it's like that Nelson Mandela dude: "The greatest glory in living lies not

in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." Sometimes it takes a good fall to really

know where you stand.

Fresh Faces Macayla Wells

Photo by Jesse Gifford

How did you learn about Realms?
I learned about the realms through Mitty "Siobhan Cridnhe" Magoo and Rob "Widget" Luger just this year. I attended one event just before Creathorne and I was hooked immediately. There was just something about watching dozens of people trotting around a forest, clad in chain mail and slapping eachother about with foam weapons that made me think "I've found my people!"

How many event have you been to?
So far I believe I've attended 7 or 8 events. My first being Casey "Karmha Celestine" Lemay's Dragon Quest event. I'm very excited to say that Black & White will be my 9th (or 8th) event.

Have you ever LARP’ed before?  If so tell us about it?
Yes! No? Sort of.. I suppose if a variety of one day zombie LARPs counts then I've been at this for a little while, just in a vastly different environment. I've done my fair share of post-apocalyptic LARPing but never a fantasy/fighting focused LARP.  Don't tell anyone but I'll take camping in the middle of somewhere over running around a warehouse trying to avoid the blood spitting biter three feet to the left any day.

What is your character like?  Where are they from? What is their race? What is important to them? 
Sarabi Nadir, (simply Sarabi or small cat to some) is a sand cat from the deserts of the far West.  The Nadir family has had a long standing tradition of traveling from the burrows and to the wetlands to learn their way of magic... And to steal, extort, and murder. Sarabi's adamant refusal to learn her family's sheisty ways infuriated them. One day she woke up to find the burrows empty. As she was in her first few days of traveling East, Sarabi came across the satyr Siobhan who, other than squealing excitedly at the small size of a sand cat, offered to bring her along as they traveled.

Since arriving to the Realms, Sarabi has been as all cats are; generally disinterested in anything that she can't chase, eat, or sleep on. But when her tail isn't dragging on the ground, Sarabi tends to be a bouncy, smiling, cheerful little cat who will gnaw out the eyes of any undead or threat that encroaches on the people she considers her family as they are most important to her.  Fame and money are petty things to her that she doesn't, often,concern herself with.

What do you remember most about your first event?
A number of arrows landing in particularly painful areas of the male anatomy, one of which causing a gentleman to tumble off a short wall. He laughed. The bowman laughed. I laughed. Every one in the immediate are laughed. Twas a good moment in time.

Photo by Jesse Gifford

What things have helped to make you feel welcome in game?
The people I've met since being a part of this game have helped me to understand it considerably.

What parts of the game do you find most challenging?
Honestly, the fighting. It's not difficult to pick up a sword and flail about, hoping to hit someone (because you just may). It's learning this particular style of fighting that throws me a little.

Do you have any game related goals (as either a player or character)?
Maybe some day, when I'm all grown up, I can be a Knight.

What advice would you give other new players?
Regardless of what happens in game, don't ever let it get to you out of game. Stuff goes down that doesn't need to go down if you allow these two worlds to merge like that. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions; there are a variety of ways to learn but experience isn't always the best first option. Most importantly, get to know the people! Sit down at Garharz's table and play cards, attend a feast and talk to people, spend some time around a fire. The more you get to know people the more fun everything can be. :]

What have you enjoyed most about the game so far?
The fun! The games! The questing! The shenanigans! Fire pits and wine, gambling and dancing. Beautiful people and wonderful new friends. I've had an absolute blast. What isn't there to love?

Photo by Jesse Gifford

nything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
Try not to shoot the sheriff.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What You Missed, Feast of Neden

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Photo by Jesse Gifford

Add caption

Ode to Meatshield by Casey "Karmha" Lemay

Oh Meatshield, you are my friend.
Always with me til' the very end.
My commands you listen to, which makes you the best!
To the point where I think "Hey we might win this quest!"
You don’t waste my spells, are loyal and true.
I couldn’t of asked for a better fighter then you!
Now some people may think your undead and cruddy,
but you my friend are the best BATTLE BUDDY!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What You Missed- Feast of Neden by Angela "Phoenix" Gray

While it started slowly, with many people drifting in late, Feast of Neden was a solid event with a little something for everyone.  We were fortunate to have a beautiful day and the combat, which included informal practice and four Order of the List tournaments, happened outside. The day was relaxed, and in addition to combat there were people playing games, working on crafts, browsing in Karma’s shop, and gambling at the New Eden Casino.

Food included salad, soup, and bread that was out on a day board.  Rumor had it that the vegetable beef soup was “Nick's-mom-made” and was excellent.  The main meal was catered BBQ with ribs, chicken and a variety of sides (slaw, squash, corn, and mac & cheese).  Desert which was also homemade (primarily by Casey “Karma” with some additional contributions from Nick's mom, Jason and I) included a full variety of fall favors with mini apple pies and mini pumpkin cheese cakes as well as pineapple upside down cake, mint chocolate chip cookies and a “Neden Bash” (think Kahlua bash from Feast of Folkestone but with crème de mint instead of Kahlua and thin mints crumbled on top instead of heath bar pieces).

A unique tournament was the harlequin humor bardic. Tuilli kicked it off with a bawdry song. He was followed by Rhiannon who recited and original and humorous poem. She however forgot she was in Neden and kept it pg.  Garharz, did not make that mistake and his raunchy verse took the prize.

Also of note was the auction. There were about a dozen items which include leather goods from Chaos Dwarf Armory, mead, event admissions, and a certificate for custom bracers from Karma Creations.  We felt extremely fortunate to win it for a mere 25 gold.  Even a magic hat only brought in 200 gold. There were many deals to be had.  

Behind The Curtain: Consequenses for Failure by Mikey "Janus Donnally

The crazed mage Lacklion knew the heroes would try to stop him.  After all, the Unseen Evil has been kept at bay for thousands of years, and today would be the day they could enter the world again.  The stars were aligned and the ritual was nearly finished.  Only five minutes remained until the force was unleashed.  The heroes were fighting to break through his wards, but they would never get here in time.  A force of power walks up to Lacklion.  “Look, the PCs are later than we expected, and we don’t have the Unseen Evil masks ready for today, so the ritual is going to take an extra hour to complete.”  Lacklion glared at the force of power, but accepted it’s fate.  In an hour and five minutes, the force will fail to be unleashed, all due to those meddling heroes..

Recently on the Realms facebook group, someone mentioned that having magic items on quests do not matter, because all quests succeed anyway.  I have been on several quests which have failed, but I have also walked away from most of them alive.  This is because a party wipe is only one kind of failure.  In today’s article, I am going to be discussing the different types of failure the Realms can provide, when failure should occur, and the consequences for failure.

Every quest should have a purpose.  Even if it is just a silly time-filling quest, there should be a goal for the quest (or even better, a series of goals).  When the goal is achieved, the quest is over (although sometimes at this point, the goal is changed to “escape/get out”).   The other way the quest can end is when the goal is no longer possible.  While a good quest can have no plan for failure or even be unable to be failed, the best quests I have been on have had failure with severe consequences as an option.

The first kind of failure (which is the way most people think of failure) is the dreaded party wipe.  Every person on the quest is dead, and nobody is going to be alive again without outside intervention.  When this occurs, it is almost exclusively with a small group of PCs on a short quest (think an Adventurer’s Guild or Nexus quest), because someone with embrace death, feign death, intervention, a Magic Item, regionals, or cry of life will save the party if it is a 30+ person quest.  One of the other reasons this is rare is if a party wipe occurs early in a quest (lets say after 1 hour in a 6 hour quest), the EH has a tough choice.  Either the party will stay dead for the next 5 hours and everyone will be unhappy or some sort of deus ex machina will occur so the players can keep having fun.  A demon will start making deals, gods will raise people, or just a cry of life will go off for no reason.  With small parties, a group can be rescued and returned to their start point (once again, see the Adventurer’s Guild), but this method only really works in a quest setting where multiple quests are occurring at once.  It doesn’t solve anything if all the PCs are on a site-wide quest through the woods.

The second type of failure which can occur is the PC’s run out of time to complete their objective.  While a clear example is “Complete the quest before Midnight, when the gate closes,” a more muddied example is to “kill the lich before he completes his ritual.”  These quests can easily fail with the PCs still alive.  In fact, as time runs out, the PCs usually push harder and spend any tricks they still have in reserve just to try to save a few extra seconds to avoid failing.  

The third variety of failure is simply just not achieving the objective.  This is most common in situations such as “defend a point or person,” “catch a target before he escapes,” or “find the widget.”  Any time a clear objective becomes impossible (or impossible in a reasonable timescale) is a failure for the quest.  Sometimes, as the PCs arrive to the the room where the magical Amulet of Andor exists, a demon will be in process of stealing it, and should the demon get away with the amulet, the PC’s lost the quest.  Failing this quest should also have consequences (which I’ll be discussing in just a second...I promise).

The final flavor of failure is not exactly what most people would view as failure.  This is when PC groups disagree on what a goal is, and a decision is reached which works against someone’s goal.  A recent example would be The Shadow King.  A group of players (which I was amongst) wanted to redeem him and fix the mistakes that were made.  He was eventually defeated and put to death, which is what some people wanted done.  The people who wanted the death of the Shadow King succeeded, while people who wanted to redeem Jonas failed.  Having both choices and conflicting goals can lead to cases where some PCs succeed while others fail, and this leads to interesting choices.

Now that we have covered some of the different ways a quest can fail, there has to be a consequence for failing.  Consequences should make sense based on what actually occurred.  If a demon stole an amulet which gives it protection from magic, then magic missile and lightning bolts won’t work against the demon in future encounters.  If a lich is doing a ritual to gain power and succeeds, perhaps he is now able to control PCs with Embrace Death.  If the quest was to gather the 5 parts of a sword to reforge it to slay the evil horrors and only 4 parts were recovered, then it is going to be a lot harder to slay the evil horror (I will be discussing this case in particular in a future article).  The demon shouldn’t suddenly ascend to godhood.  The lich shouldn’t join up with the PCs to help them go questing, and the evil horror shouldn’t be easily killed by something else instead.

Besides making a consequence sensible, there is an important rule about designing consequences which needs to be emphasized.  If you threaten a consequence, you need to follow through with it.  If you fail to follow through, there is no reason for the PCs to believe the consequence next time.  The corollary to this is to not threaten anything you are not willing or able to follow through with.  This doesn’t mean an NPC can’t bluff or lie, but if the consequence for failing a quest is the Realms will be destroyed then either A) there is no way for them to fail the quest, or B) if they do fail the quest, the Realms isn’t going to end (whether you wanted it to or not).  Why should a PC believe the Realms will be destroyed now, after the many times it has not been destroyed already.  On the other side though, if you follow through on the threats you made, the PCs are more likely to take you seriously when you give them an ultimatum in the future.  They are more likely to believe you when you say they have exactly 5 minutes before the bad guy succeeds at turning a city to a smouldering ruin.  They will not think you are bluffing when you threaten a characters life.

To sum up, when designing events in the future, don’t underestimate the value of planning for failure. Tying together PCs goals, actions, and resulting consequences in a logical way will add to the depth of your world and the players’ immersion.

Do you agree? Disagree?  Did I miss something?  What are consequences for failure you have encountered? Feel free to leave a note in the comments.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blast From the Past- View From Valehaven Jan/Feb 2006

This is an excellent View to check out. First it is huge, bigger than similar issues. It has so many good articles, interviews and stories. The best part is that it is only 8 years old. Many of the names in this issue still go to events or are names we still talk about in stories. It is our recent past.
[Thanks to Janna "Iawen" Oakfellow-Pushee for the scans.]

WIWtG Black and White

If you read the description of the Black and White Ball that is on Realmsnet, the Ball seems to be a rather modest affair.  DO NOT BE FOOLED.
The reason there is not much in the way of "Heres why you should go" is because everyone knows.  The Black and White has a long history with the game, and most people can't imagine a year without this pillar of an event.  Unlike many of our cornerstone events, this one focuses on culture:  food, court, fashion, and dancing are center stage at this gala.
Sure, during the day, there are a few mini quests (some are private, as a heads up) and some fun tournaments, but the real fun begins at night.
A few tips about this event:
* Bring 2 sets of garb.  You will want your run around/questing garb for the day, and your fanciest attire for the evening.  And tradition tells us to wear a mask, so death will not notice you.  Tradition says you should also wear black and white.
* Have fun and get tickets!  There is a great auction, but you need to earn those tickets.
* There will be court.  Not just court, but Court.  Its capitalized because it is always a Big Deal.  It can be long, but very interesting.
* Be hungry.  While this is not technically a feast, the only thing preventing it from having that title is sitting space.  Vast amounts of food.  Its all delicious.  Except the crabbies.  Terrible, those.  Just slide them to me, and I will save you all from them.
* Flaunt it!  Wear your fanciest, show it off, and enjoy the evening.  Ive even heard rumors of a reward for Best Dressed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Secrets of - Part One

Part One- Events

The single most important resource for the Realms is (yes, even more than the View From Valehaven). It provides up to date event announcements, player and character lists, the ability to create event listings, automates voting for the View From Valehaven Awards, facilitates the Event Holder's Council proposals, has an online version of the rules/Omnibus, and has other useful tools. And while nothing on it is truly secret, for a new player (and some experienced ones) there is a lot of good material on that not everyone might know about. This series of articles will endeavor to highlight some of these resources.

First up, lets look at the singular best feature of the site, the one you will be looking at the most.

In the bottom right of the site there is the list of Upcoming Events. This shows the next 5 events that are upcoming with title and date (you may have to scroll down to see them all). You can click on the name of the event and this link will take you directly to the event write-up which will give you all the information you need about the event.

After the list of 5, there is a link entitled Event Calendar. Clicking on this link will bring you to the current month with all the events for that month. There is a wealth of information on this calendar.

-Dates in Red are combat practices. Click on the name and it will give you more information about the practice site. These are times and places that a person can show up to practice their combat skills. Most practices last a few hours. You can check out the different ones to see which one is close to you.

-Dates in Green are events that have a site and are confirmed as a Realms legal event. There are some factors that have to be met before an event can be deemed legal and Green means that the event listing has met those criteria. The event will still need to fulfill other criteria on the day of the event (have the required number of players, etc) before it can be deemed a legal event.

-Dates in Blue are for events that have not met all the requirements to be a legal event or are defined as not a legal event by the person who placed the event up on the Calendar. Often some eventholders will "reserve" a date by placing it on the Calendar without confirming a site. Other times the Blue may indicate the date is being used for something other than an event, such as a site clean-up day, or the Event-Goers Meeting. Often dates in Blue will change to Green before the day of the event to signify they have "fixed" whatever was holding the event back from being legal (such as confirming an event site).

Note that some dates can have multiple different events on it. This is shown by a dividing line between the two (or three) events. However, they are all still listed in the same Date box.

The Event Calendar is rather robust. At the bottom of the Calendar a person can move forward or backward on the Calendar to other months. Or they can choose a specific month and year to move directly to that month.

All event write-ups remain up on realmsnet even after the event has ended...all the way back 1999. Here you can read the Event Description. Often this will give some indication of what the event was all about (assuming the eventholder (EH) for the event wrote a good one). There can also be an Event Wrap-Up as written by the EH. The third thing is that a person can review an event and these will also be shown here. This is a good way to research what other people thought of the event, especially if the event is part of a series. Or for you to leave what you thought of an event.

You'll be checking out this feature of realmsnet a lot as you plan out your event-going schedule.

The Secrets of - Part Five

Part Five -

The Secrets of - Part Four

Part Four - Email Lists

For those who do not know, there are a number of email lists players can join. You do this from the realmsnet site. You reach this by clicking the 'Mailing Lists' link on the left side of the main page.

The first option is 'Sign Up'. This provides the various email lists available. Note that you will need to be logged in with your account to join any of these. The three biggest of these are the announce, icrealms and oocrealms lists. The first announces upcoming events, the second is for players who wish to interact or make announcemenets of an IC nature and the third is for OOC announcements, such as for lost items.

To the left of each Mailing List, there is the Membership category. This is a pull down list. The first pulldown defaults to 'Unsubscribed' which means you will receive nothing from this list. By clicking on the pulldown it will show what email addresses you have available "(as dictated by your account info). Simply choose which email you wish to get emails to. The second pulldown defaults to 'Normal Emails'; this means that when an email is sent to this list you will get it right away. There are other options here which allow you to receive the emails in a bundle by day, week or month and as text, hmtl or mime. These other options are great if you don't want a lot of emails hitting your inbox.
There are a number of different email lists available. Check them out and see which ones interest you.

The second link under 'Mailing Lists' is 'RealmsNet Archives'. This is really cool. I know for me personally, I tend to read an email and then delete it. However, there are times when I think about an earlier email and wish I could remember what it said (like the time I went to a practice and no one was there and I checked the oocrealms archive and saw the practices were cancelled over winter break - after I made the 5 hour drive). On this page you can see a list of the available email lists. To the right of each is the Archive column that shows a Month and Year. By clicking on the pulldown button you can change the Month and Year. Hit the 'View Archive' button and you'll see a list of all the emails that were sent to that email list for that month.

The Archives are an excellent way to see the Realms from the past. Both the oocrealms and icrealms archives let us see past struggles (the ooc list has a slew of arguments/questions) and stories (the ic list is full of character interactions that showcase the various plots from the past). If you've ever been curious about the Realms past this is one way to see it.

Question of the Week - 167

What items have you made for your character or events?  Tell us about one or two that you are particularly proud of?

Friday, October 17, 2014

What You Missed- Green & Gold by Jesse "Mestoph" Gifford

This year's Green & Gold was a much more subdued affair than years past.  A bare handful of people turned out to compete in the annual contest of Youth and Skill vs. Age and Treachery.  The competitors all seemed to be in high spirits and looked forward to the day's events.

The day began with the traditional lining up of the competitors to divide them into their respective teams.  This year, however, the traditional Secret Chaos Ninja Battles began before the teams had even been established!  It took several of the participants a few moments to realize that if they were the last one's alive, then their team won.  That was several moments more than they had as some of the people faster to catch on rapidly dropped the people around them.  It came down to a faceoff between Quinn and Rorin, with Rorin emerging the victor and scoring the first points of the day for the Gold Team.

After that was the picking of the generals (Green/Kyro, Gold/Gherradynne), with the Green members debating hotly amongst themselves while the Gold team went with their traditional, "Not It" and proceeded to find a place to sit and some shelter from the light rain that was still persisting.  Field battles commenced and the teams were rather closely matched with all three fights coming right down to the wire.  Spirits were high, and all seemed to be enjoying themselves.

As the afternoon progressed a few more competitors filtered in, all veteran players, requiring the rebalancing of the teams.  This required a seldom seen adventurer from Eagles Rook named Lance (oddly decked out in the gear of Prince Gideon, lost in Gaol the night before) to switch sides, and the balance seemed to go with him.  While the Gold team was still possessed of skill, the team was comprised exclusively of spell casters and the Green team had a Circle of Protection.  This put the Gold team at a distinct disadvantage in the following Castle Siege, Bridge Battle, and Point Control fights

With the day waning it was decided to end the day with a game of Magic Missile Wiffle Ball.  Two innings of complicated rules changes, and general confusion, and it was decided the better way to cap off the day was with a good old fashioned game of Kick Ball.  Gold took an early 6-0 lead at the end of the top of the first, but Green would not be denied and put three runs on the board during their half of the inning.  Gold would increase their lead by two their next time up, but Green came thundering back in the bottom of the second and plated four runs.  This would not prove to be enough, and Gold came out on top 8-7.

It was not the usual Green and Gold we've all come to expect, but the staff and the players made the best of a less than ideal day.  In the end, everyone seemed to have a good time, and it was more about camaraderie than competition.

Editor's Note- Apparently Jesse did not exaggerate when he said it wasn't about competition as the morning after I received the write up he sent the following note, "I forgot to include in my write up that the event was declared a tie, Green winning the tournaments and Gold winning the kickball game."

10 Questions- Jon "Zatarra" Landerfin

How long have you been playing?

Photo by Rob Luger
TOC 16 (or was it 15, it's really a blur) was my first event. I know at least 5 years because I don't qualify for the newbie tourneys anymore. 

How has the game changed since you've been playing? 
Every time I see this question the typical answer is combat, what with bamboo weapons and more focus in tourneys. However I prefer to stray away from combat so I'll say the questing has changed. I have seen more involvement of npcs on a larger scale. From more people volunteering so the numbers are greater, to the actual interaction and complexity of even random monsters. Even the generic garb they wear has become more than a blank tabard. 

Who have you learned the most from?
Too many people to mention here. Everyone you talk to in the game you can learn something from one way or another. Bones was pretty helpful in my beginning days. Partially the reason I joined Blackwood. Rillan has been pretty great trying to get me more into combat, as well as Shandar and Vuel. Sir Shean and Trent for lore and back in the day stories, kinda different between the two I'm sure. Trent always has the ones that makes me wish I was around back then. 
What was your best moment IC?
O boy. There's a few I probably shouldn't mention on fear of being scalped. I will say the Event Which Must Not Be Named 2 had a pretty epic moment. The questing party had to travel through the dark woods. Walking down dark paths which seemed like nothing was there, then suddenly red eyes were everywhere! Was pretty awesome and scary to happen suddenly. But the moment is when we made it through and met Aragog the giant spider. He was very grumpy and spitting at people because he would only talk to Hagrid. So Razmuth and I developed a plan to put me on his shoulders and try to pretend to be Hagrid, I mean I had the beard right. Needless to say it failed but the party got a good laugh. As I walked away, I'm sorry, as Razmuth walked away with me on his shoulders all I could say was "man really wish I took shape shifting". 

Photo by Jesse Gifford
What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?
It was one of the first Blackwood events where i was the bid bad npc. I was given a megaphone, a magic item, some spells and told to riff. I was protected behind a barricade that the pcs had to break down before getting to me. I remember shouting at all the players and calling out some, when suddenly the wall fell and within an instant there is a Wrath standing in front of me. I figure I got this, I have spells....and then he says flat!

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game? 
The currency. There is little focus on it other than vendors and auctions. I feel this causes a lot of people to keep their coin in ooc areas until needed. Few times it's been applicable on quests and suddenly you see some people go running back to get their currency. I always carry more than enough on me (yea that's right realms thieves, what's up) and have handed it out for pretty random reasons. I like to give some out to newbies that really have no idea there is currency in our game. 

What advice would you give new players? 
Photo by Robyn Nielsen
Talk to everyone, kill some, bribe others. Don't be afraid to take anything that says "stealable", it says it for a reason! The fallout from taking it makes for some awesome stories, and you will usually find someone to call your soul. Get yourself out there and known. Stay away from petitioning immediately, even if it's the group of friends you've entered the game with. You never know if they'll be active years from now when you are still heavily attending events. 

What do you love most about the game? 
The people. The community we have is amazing. At first there was only a few I talked to and conversed with. Now there are more than a hundred on my Facebook and it feels my realms friends are really all who comment and like things. You have taken over. I don't even know who was on there before I joined the game anymore. 

Who would you like to see the next interview be with? 
Cody Garcia 

Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
Look down people! Not only does it save us small folk from being bumped and pushed around in line battles and conversation circles, but it may prevent you from losing your pouches and valuables as well. Just saying! ;)