Friday, November 28, 2014

Breakfast in Mereen by Faelinn

For Feast of Autumn's Twilight III, we experimented with recipes from "A  Feast of Ice and Fire". Breakfast in Mereen is a dish eaten by Daenerys Targaryan in A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin.  In the book, Dany breaks her fast on dog sausage, persimmons, and duck eggs.  With supervision from the resident Daenerys (my cat), we put our own spin on the dish using one of her favorite foods (chicken) to make the sausage .
Note: I ground my own meat for the sausage.  I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and left on the little bits of fat for extra flavor since the meat was pretty lean.  If you are not as adventurous (or crazy), you can use store bought ground chicken or turkey. 
2 lbs ground chicken 
2 tsp coarse or kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp  dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 T white wine  (I used a semi-sweet white wine)
olive oil

1. If grinding your own chicken, grind through coarse disk then grind again through fine disk.
2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, spices, and wine.  Mix well using your hands.
3. Separate meat into balls (2-3 inches) and press flat with your hands.
4. Cook on flat top grill or in a pan with a little bit of oil until juice runs clear and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Serve sausage with a boiled quail egg and fresh mandarin oranges.

Fireside Chat with Lucas

Photo by Jesse Gifford
Lucas is a pretty busy elf, so for this interview, I settled for a missive exchange. I can't say the answers surprised me, much.

Where are your parents today?
My mother resides in Tuath Dannan, safely away from the destruction that my father brought into her life.  My father, well he is dead and the world is a safer place for it.  Or rather, he has not returned to the Fae cycle.  So one day he will return, it is a forgone conclusion. I do not look forward to seeing him alive and walking the worlds again.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
This may sound odd, especially coming from  a man of my reputation.  During this past Black and White Masquerade Ball, I managed to not cry during Royal Court.  When Sir Shandar presented me with custom made weapons, after telling the Court the story of how he and his friends had been presented with loaner weapons and armor at Queen of Hearts.  
Photo by Jessica Osio
It was a touching moment, not simply because I had seen what that young man had become.  But when I stopped to think about all that had come about, because of that one man.  His nation, his friends, the betterment of weapon construction in the game, the Order of the List, and how it was all simply because I casually took the time to welcome and help a young adventurer.  One act, and how many it has affected and touched for the better.  An impressive accomplishment by any standards.
What is your next quest?
There are villains and monsters left in the world?  I was away for ten years and you were not able to resolve all the grief and woe in the world?  Wait, are you insinuating, that you expect me to clean up the mess you have not dealt with yet?  I am less than amused.
Where do you get your power?  
I am the Champion of Faerie, I am the hero who defeated the Bujam, I slew the Ravenor, I brought Deathwalker low, I cleared the Banin from Brandon's Pass, I am Sir Lucas Harkon.  That is enough for me.
If you could be granted any wish, what would it be?
I want a magical mirror that tells me I am the prettiest elf in all the lands.  
(Note: Lucas didn't answer this question, so I did-- T)
A bag filled with ten thousand gold just fell on your lap.  Now what?
Photo by Jesse Gifford
Why are mortals preoccupied with the gathering of coin?  I would hand the bag of coin to the Royal accountant and have it distributed for bridge building, famine relief and armoring the militia.  I would request receipts, simply because it is expected by the accountant.
What does your bedroom look like?
I have no idea, as my wife is currently having it redecorated to reflect something she refers to as "our taste."
What advice do you have for a new adventurer?
Do not be an ass.  That one brief sentence will get you far in life, even after the shine of this lifestyle has worn off, not being an ass will continue to get you far.  
Tell us about your favorite feast dish.
Lady Cassia's Dragon Chili.  Being a lady of impeccable taste, she used steak in-place of ground beef to make her chili.  No wonder Lord Oberon kidnapped her to cook for the Fae Courts.
Explain your personal heraldry to us.

The ancestral heraldry of Clan Harkon has always been a silver jousting helm, the heraldry of Chimeron is a silver rowan branch. It seemed only natural to combine the two for myself.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

From Tria's Kitchen

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 box spice cake mix
1 box vanilla cake mix
6 eggs
¾ cups vegetable oil
1 cherry pie (bought or made)
1 pumpkin pie (bought or made)
1 apple pie (bought or made)
Decorating icing

2 packages cream cheese
2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Make or acquire pies, and, when cool, remove from the tins. Be careful not to break them.
2. Mix cake batter according to the box directions.
3. Place each pie in a greased, deep spring-form pan.
4. Add batter in these combinations, making sure to completely cover the pie:
Chocolate cake and cherry pie
Spice cake and pumpkin pie
Vanilla cake and apple pie
5. Bake each cake at 350 until a toothpick stuck in comes out clean (about 30-35 minutes).
6. Make frosting by combining all frosting ingredients with a mixer.
7. Let each cake-pie fully cool before attempting to remove.
8. Stack the cakes, with a thin layer of frosting between each, in this order:
Chocolate/cherry on top
Spice/pumpkin in middle
Vanilla/apple on bottom
9. Completely frost cake. Use decorating icing to write “EAT ME” on top.

Happy Thanksgiving

While there is much in our everyday lives to be thankful for, we pause now to consider the things that we’ve been fortunate to do and receive thanks to Realms.

-          We’re grateful for our chainmail patterned sunburns and bow bruised arms, without which we would not have gotten a chance to tell such silly stories to the mundanes in our lives.

-          We’re grateful that we’ve learned that the best toys can be made ourselves from bamboo, foam, and duct tape.

-          We’re grateful that despite our studies, jobs, and stressful lives we regularly get outside and PLAY!!

-          We’re grateful that we get to go to fantastic feasts that get thrown on non-holidays and experience dishes like Cherpummple.

-          We’re grateful we’ve had the opportunity to both be heroes and give others a chance to do so.

-          We’re grateful for our family, forged not by blood but by bonds strengthened with parties, fights, reconciliations, and questing till blue o’clock.

We, the staff of the View from Valehaven, wish you and yours a Thanksgiving filled with joy, happiness, and pie.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How To Make Beef Stew Like Twenaria

Lets get one thing straight.  I have oodles of respect for those feastocrats who have these beautiful books full of recipes.  But, recipes and I don't tend to get along so well.

Here at Stewpendous, we do things a little differently.

For a classic Stewpendous beef stew, I start with a pile of decent stew meat.  For the HUGE batches for Order of the List, I use about 5-7 pounds of beef.  I let the beef soak for a half day or so in red wine, garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and what ever else catches my fancy.  Then I usually drink the rest of the wine, so it won't go bad.  Remember, never cook with wine you wouldn't drink.  For this reason, I usually cook with Merlots or Pinot Noirs.
After a good wine soak (for me and the meat) the beef gets removed from the marinade, drained well, and dredged through some mix of flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, and garlic powder- mostly flour.
Shake off the extra, and take your biggest stock pot.  Heat up some butter, duck fat, or bacon fat.
When its nice and hot, brown your beef up with a couple finely diced onions and a couple cloves smashed garlic.  For this portion, keep the onions pretty small.  Once the beef is making your kitchen smell heavenly, you'll want to scrape the bottom of the pot really well.  Im sure there's some fancy name for the delicious brown grunge you'll scrape up, but for me, its just the good stuff.  If you have any left, a splash of wine can help you get every tasty bit up.  Now, add your water or broth.  Throw in some big onion chunks, a pile (I do equal meat and potato) of potato chunks (I leave skin on) and herbs.  This is where cooking gets personal.  Salt and pepper are sort of mandatory, really.  Im a garlic lover, and think rosemary is just the best.  When adding herbs, though, its often best to wait until a little later in the cooking process to add refining touches. Some herbs get bitter if you cook them too long.
From here, cover your pot, and get simmering.  Seriously, just let it go.  For a while.  Find something else to do.  Wrap a Yule present, write me a note saying you think I'm A-OK. Sip some more wine. Draw a picture, study some spell.  Or go hit something, if you are a fighter.  Make sure you stir every so often, make sure the pot isn't boiling.  Slow and steady, this is no soup race.  I usually leave my stew on the stove for 3-5 hours)
The longer it cooks, the more the potatoes will break down and add thickness to the stew.  When you have an hour or so left, you can add carrots, celery, peas, or what ever you want.  This is also the time to go full boar on your herbs.  Fresh is best, if you can.  If the broth is too watery, add some salt, and let the stock cook down with the lid off.  If you want the stock a little thicker, mash up a couple of the potatoes, blend them with stock, and then mix it into the strew.
Get your trenchers ready, my dears.  It's time to chow down.
There are no short cuts to a great stew.  As with many things, it is a labor of Love.  And I Love to feed you.
Stay warm and happy,

What You Missed by Sam "Kazul" Stadtlander

This past Sunday found me, and several other adventurers in the small village of Wildwood, in southern Chimeron. We were there in response to the missive sent by the village’s priest of Gaia, Marcus in regards to five children who had fallen ill: Daniel, Michael, Margaret, Zeke, and Juliet. Upon entering the village, our group spoke to a few of the townspeople to gather what information we could. Maria Thornwood, the village alchemist, provided access to several useful potions for our newer adventurers. The butchers in the village spoke of strange customers they had gotten recently; customers who purchased a whole bull and took it before they finished carving it up. Although, I wouldn’t have needed them to even kill the animal; it’s more fun to hunt live prey... Anyways, the other townsfolk we met included the sheriff, Sasha, and the blacksmith, Damien, who joined our group as our guide through a nearby silver mine. One of the children’s fathers gave us a quickly sketched map he made while going to investigate the mine himself. He claimed to have copied it from one he found in an overseer’s room of sorts before the map faded. Twenaria led us all in a prayer to Gaia, to seek her Blessing, and soon after we all headed out.

Our group ventured into the silver mine where we found a room with some bodies lying about. The bodies turned out to be miners who were working the mine and had been moved up to main entrance. One of the younger adventurer’s séanced one of the bodies and we ended up communicating with one Michael Silversmith who had died in the mine some 600 years ago. He told us of the purity of both the silver in the mine and the springs that were very good for healing.  After the spirit had faded our group advanced further into the mine. In the next chamber we encountered a number of undead who, after being slain, would drop bits of silver.  After clearing the room, we continued on and eventually came to a room that had a lock on one of the paths. Doing a little bit of investigating on my own, I sent my animal companion, Gwen to scout ahead. She managed to get through the lock and when she came back she warned of ‘death’ being up ahead. However the rest of us couldn’t advance until will found the key so we knew our next move. Shortly after Gwen returned to me, I was some how contacted by a man named Joseph, a Necromancer, and a veteran of the Bedlam war,  who was studying the mine further in. He wished us safe travels and we went down the other path in search of the key. 

Instead of a key in the next room, we found a tainted wellspring. We discovered it’s taintedness after I offered to touch the water and found it trying to disease me. I was fine due to my purity, but we couldn’t just leave the diseased wellspring there. We needed to drain the spring and plug it up, and seeing as how I was the only one with purity, I ended up drinking the whole pool. Let me tell you, diseased water tastes quite gross. The things I do for you adventurers..... sheesh. Ah well, Discordia gave me a cookie, for it. Ah, as I was saying, after I drank the entire pool, the others managed to plug up the pool to prevent it from refilling. 

We advanced to a room with some golems who would not let us pass without first testing our knowledge of weapon construction and our proficiency with our weapons in honorable combat. After twelve of us had passed these two trials, myself among them, everyone was allowed to pass and we discovered one of the golems had the key! 

On our way back to the room with the lock, we encountered more zombies, and other undead creatures who tried to disease us. We collected silver from them and eventually we made it back to the lock. After successfully getting through the lock, we met none other than Joseph. He was able to give us some more information about what had been going on in the mine, and explained he was there doing some research of his own, while looking for artifacts of power. Joseph also explained that the bodies in the room we met him had been skeletons, but now were partially put back together. Included in some of the bodies, were various cow parts, which led  us to the conclusion that someone was trying to make a minotaur. In the tunnels, we came across a small chamber off to the side in which Gaia had gifted us with a wonderful bounty, such that we could rest and regain some of our strength. Though when you drink a whole spring of disease water there’s really only so much that can be done.... but I digress.

In the next chamber we encountered some members of a mercenary group called the Black Wings, Juliet and Morrowind. Juliet seemed to be the higher ranking of the two. We fought them as well as more undead of various sorts. As we were heading to the next room Joseph explained to us that she was using a form of projection so we could see her even though she wasn’t actually there. 

In the chamber following, which appeared to be a vault of sorts, there were many items scattered around, including a ‘stealable’ banana peel. Many gems and other various trinkets were collected. Eventually we found the room where Juliet really was and we managed to defeat her and her minions after a while. In that room, we also discovered a well that appeared to be the source of the other springs. The Black Wing Necromancer was finally defeated by ‘purging’ the well by dumping a large amount of silver into it, which was also tied to Juliet dying. The well became pure and holy once again, and we decided to carry some of the holy water with us, to use for curing the children.
After defeating Juliet, we realised we were underneath Grandfather Oak. On our way out of the mines, heading towards the heart of the tree, we came upon an altar in a room with a glowing duck. The duck, when touched, seemed to be linked with some sort of trap in the room, creating an area of darkness and awakening the enemies. 

After a bit more fighting and trudging through tunnels,we came to the roots of Grandfather oak. Seriously it was a lot of tunnels, I really need to stretch my wings after all that walking underground. The roots were being protected by three guardians who had been corrupted as well. As we cleansed the guardians using the holy water, they helped us beat the others as well as attack the undead that continued to bother us.

Progressing through the roots, we reached the heart of Grandfather Oak where we came face to face with seeming the root cause, pardon the pun. The unknown male declared that we were too late and that his work was finished. However, adventurers being how we are, attacked and very nearly all got wiped out. The enemy, later found to be known as Kas, at least thats what it sounded like...., left us there to rot and vanished from the tree with his minions. All hope was not lost however,  we lived to tell the tale thanks to a well-timed Potion of Raise Dead administered to Phoenix by Viro before he went down. My regeneration triggered and I was able to help bring everyone over to be raised.  And Death Watch is so immensely useful, as it allows me to recount this tale for you all. But the journey was not quite finished there. Yes, we let the bad guy escape, but we fixed the wellspring and once we got back to the village, we were able to cure all the children. Talking with Maria, the alchemist, once the children were cured, we were speculating that Kas, the enemy that left us for dead, is a Banin. Maria also offered to be our guide should we need to venture back to the mines, provided she was given about a months notice. 

And that’s the fun everyone who could not assist Marcus in the village of Wildwood missed out on. Thanks for reading.

May your Spirits’ Soar
~Kazul, the Dragon

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From Gwen's Kitchen- Hot Ruben Dip

~1 cup sauerkraut, drained and rinsed (more or less to taste)
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese
½ lb. deli corned beef, pastrami, or roast beef, sliced extra thick, diced
~⅓ cup Thousand Island Dressing (more or less to taste)
Serve with crackers or rye bread

This recipe can be made on the stove top or crock pot.

Stove top: Melt cream cheese and Thousand Island Dressing over medium heat. Stir in Swiss cheese until melted. Add saurkaut and corned beef and stir until combined. Serve warm. This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and reheated in the oven.

Crock pot: Combine all ingredients and heat on low until cheeses are melted. Stir occasionally to blend all ingredients. Serve warm.

WIWtG Opera House

The staff of this plot line has piles of experience throwing and playing this game, and are known for doing miles of work with other games, too.  I'm sure that will help them shine with their next exhibition with Opera House 2: Silence Falls.

While I confess to missing the First Act last year (which was carried out during a crazy blizzard, an impressive feat!) I heard great things about it.  The crew faced some real challenges with attendance issues with NPCs and PCs, but still pulled off a solid plot start in spite of New England's attempts to ruin their event.

This year, the event seems to be a bit of a mystery, and I, for one, am terribly intrigued by the write up.

I do love a good mystery.

Monday, November 24, 2014

From Malaki's Kitchen- Chicken Milano Over Fettuccini

(4 Servings)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces dry fettuccini pasta


  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 3/4 cup of the chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add the cream and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and saute chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a board; cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from the skillet.
  3. In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil; stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce; stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce.
  5. Cut each chicken breast into 2 to 3 diagonal slices. Reheat the sauce gently if needed. Transfer the pasta to serving plates; top with chicken and coat with the cream sauce; serve.

Adventures of Mo by Steven Johnson

Originally published in the print View from Valehaven

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fighting Erect

Fighting Erect, by Stephen Johnson
My back is very tight today, tight enough that I can already see I'm going to be popping Naproxen and lying down on the floor in my office periodically to try to get it to loosen up. It's been over a year since I've had it spasm enough that I have had to pull my legs in with my hands when getting into my car, and I am glad to say that I don't think it's that bad. It's just tight enough that I can feel it even when I sit and there is no position that feels "right".
The strange thing is, I had fight practice last night and I actually had a pretty damn good night. I won the grand melee twice, beat some really good fighters - both young and old - and ran around like a maniac during some dot-the-i, cross-the-T drills.
When I headed to practice last night, my back was already achey. I went anyways, of course, and don't regret it one bit.
I noticed early on that I wasn't able to lean forwards easily when I was warming up. My stance when my back is acting up tends to become much, much better.
I fight erect.
By that, of course, I mean that I don't lean forwards. I don't have much of any mobility at the waist because if I overextend in a lunge and wind up leaning forwards too far, I risk really tweaking my lower back and having it spasm on me. That would mean having to lie down for a bit, or worse - having to skip the gym for more than a day, or having to skip the next week's practice.
I definitely think I'm a better fighter when I can lean a bit and add more movement to my fighting style. Any experienced fighter knows that an extra inch can mean the difference between a hit and a miss, and the ability to lean forwards can give you that extra inch. It's frustrating as hell that on some nights I just can't pull that off.
I think it's fascinating that my style has adapted to my injury and that I'm still able to be competitive. The funny thing is, when my back is tight and I'm "fighting erect" I think I get hit in the head less and I probably have better form. Leaning puts your head into range and is something I've long taught young fighters to avoid.
I used to ask young fighters to tell me what they would see in their mind when they pictured a Buddha. They would invariably say he was smiling but they would usually recognize that he has a big ol' belly. When you push your belly fowards, your shoulders stay back. Fighting like that will keep your shoulders and head over your hips and if you try to lunge while pushing your stomach forwards, you will wind up with remarkably good form. I would call it "happy Buddha" style in the hopes that an odd name would help it to stick in their minds.
When my back is tweaking out on me, I'm not generally very happy. It hurts or is at least distractingly uncomfortable, and keeps me from fighting to the best of my ability. I wouldn't pretend to have it as bad as other well-known (and better) fighters who also struggle with and fight through back problems, but I definitely have bad days with plenty of discomfort if not outright pain. It isn't fun and I wouldn't recommend it to a friend.
That said, I suspect that in the long run I'll be better served by continuing to call the style "happy Buddha" instead of "fighting erect".
I'm 44 and don't know how many good years of fighting I've got left in the tank, but I'm definitely at the stage of my Realms career where the last thing I really want to do is get known as "that dirty old man". Therefore, I will continue to use "happy Buddha" to remind myself and my trainees to keep their shoulders over their hips and not lean when they don't really need to.
You should too... it's a good reminder to keep your head back out of the way of those pesky head-shots that can end a fight practically before it's begun.
Yeah... but in my head? I'll be "fighting erect", baby.

10 Questions- Patrick "Saka" Bobell

Photo by Angela Gray

How long have you been playing?
I started going to WPI fight practices and events in the Fall of 2010, so I have been playing for a little over four years now. My first event was "Beyond the Hag and Hungry Goblin," the first Book of Moons event at the Citadel, and it was epic. I was dead a lot, didn't understand much of what was going on, and Rel taught me Light as my first spell and signed off on my napkin-spellbook. Good times.

How has the game changed since you've been playing?
Well, the game itself really hasn't changed that much in my short time here. There have been a few changes to the spell system and other parts of the rules, of course, but what has changed the most about the game for me is the way I see it. Each year I meet more people in the community, and now that I'm out of college I have more time to help with or play at events. I'm gradually getting a better understanding of how our game works, where it came from, and how much time and effort people put into it to create the environment for everyone else to be able to enjoy.

Who have you learned the most from?
This is sort of an insane question for me to try to answer; I've been extremely fortunate in having the opportunity to learn very many things from so many people. If I have to narrow it down, though, I'd have to say that I've learned the most from the SMAS family, from this year's group of newbies all the way up to the wonderful alums who have been helping out with practices and workshops before and after my time at WPI. They've taught me how to be a better friend, leader, role model, and person. They have helped me find my shortcomings, and let me help some of them find their own strengths. The lessons I have learned and continue to learn from my time with SMAS will stick with me wherever life takes me.

What was your best moment IC?
Photo by Jesse Gifford
There are a handful of moments that stand out to me...becoming King Cecil's Page and then Squire, joining Rua Thar Cinn and Chimeron, working hard with my team at Pressure Point, and the top-secret mission Saka went on with Larry Saurus, Rex. However, my best moment as Saka was during the quest to retrieve the Crown of Chimeron from Jonas Cooke's vault.

The twelve of us had made it far through the traps and locks and creatures guarding what Cooke stored within, but we still had a long way to go. Most of us were dead; to my knowledge only Monique and I were left alive, with the exception of Atticus, who was incorporeal. I don't recall what we were fighting in that room, but one of the things had me cornered on a balcony while another was advancing to attack Monique among the bodies of our friends in the courtyard below. As I backed away from my attacker, my mind raced, trying to think of a way out of this. I was coming up blank. My magic missiles were cast earlier in the fight, and all I had left was Guidance, my dagger, with which to best the monsters.

It hit me, with a sense of hopelessness and shame, that we were about to fail. We were the twelve who had been selected to restore the Crown, and the honor of our nation and ourselves, after being humiliated by Tenebrous in our own Court. With the memory of that evening came the rage that had burned within me while I watched from above my regenerating body as Tenebrous lifted the crown off my King's head and banished himself to safety. There was no way I could let such an insult stand. I looked the monster striding toward me in the eye, and it stopped in its tracks.

After that, I remember a few seconds of excruciating pain and unbridled fury. The pain quickly subsided, but my anger did not. I destroyed the creature in front of me, joined Monique, and together we quickly dispatched the rest of our foes. After the fight, my mind started to calm, and I realized that my arms had become black wings, and I could no longer speak. Instead, a strange warble came out of my...beak? My body had transformed into that of an enormous bird, and as I glanced around I saw that the majority of our foes lay folded and collapsed at impossible angles, one of them missing its head. My friends, as they were healed, looked around wide-eyed at the carnage left in my wings' wake.

As we quickly came to understand what I had done, and as I discovered what I was apparently capable of, I'll admit that I was as terrified as my friends were impressed. Looking back, that moment was transformative for me in more ways than one, and I am proud to know that I made a difference in the success of that expedition.

What was your best moment as a[n] NPC/EH/Player?
I really love NPCing, both because I get to help make the game fun for the PCs and because it's nice to mix it up with the variety of roles. Getting to run around as a rowdy goblin with friends is a blast. My favorite moment, however, was at KoEF Questing a while back when I was NPCing the Watch of Lacunae quest and *ahem*...certain individuals... repeatedly disregarded warnings from Pater Yule not to set the watch exceedingly late in the War against Bedlam. The warning was supposed to be the result for PCs who chose to go to that time, with the assumption that they would take the advice. However, since those certain individuals tried it three times, there was a little improvisation that resulted in me getting to run those individuals down as a bois in the black tide they unleashed upon the event as they ran in terror back to the tavern. It was a fun combination of getting to really sprint all-out, and seeing shock and fear in the eyes of some people who don't exhibit that sort of thing very often.

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?
I would like to see the lines between groups of players get blurred. For a lot of people, those lines don't really exist to any significant extent, but we do sort ourselves into spellcasters and fighters, we all have our own reasons for playing the game, and there are so many different aspects of it which each of us enjoy the most. What I'm saying, I think, is that I would like to see more respect for one another, even if we don't understand or agree on certain subjects. In my experience our community does this very well on typical sources of vitriol from real life, like politics and religion. Those opinions don't diminish any individual as a player, and more importantly as a person. I'd like to see that same sort of respect extended, at least OOC, throughout the various aspects of the game as well.

What advice would you give new players?
Well, there is a lot of advice that I already give to new players who are open to it, but I think the best bit of wisdom I could offer would be simply to talk with people, as much as you can. The Realms is one of the most diverse and accepting groups of people I have ever encountered, and the best thing you can do as someone just joining is to make new friends and discover that for yourself.

What do you love most about the game?
Just about everyone answers this question with "the community," and I think a big enabling factor for our community is the wide breadth of interests and niches our game has with low barriers to entry. People in our game sew, cook, craft, fight, problem solve, write, read, learn, draw, design, lead, follow, volunteer, all while playing the same game. That creates a fantastic common ground, and that is what I love the most about our game.

Who would you like to see the next interview be with?
I would like to see interviews with Jerry Pearce, Dave Hayden, Angie Gray, Steve Yazinka, Zach Senchuk, Paul Tilton, Jay Bonci, Zack Reynolds, Alex Newbold, and Aaron Metzger. I'm pretty sure none of them have done one yet.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Belts of the Eternal Flame

Jason "Sir Aeston" Rosa

1. What year were you awarded your white belt?

It was in 2006, at that year’s Queen of Hearts.

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

It was Seth Flagg, and surprisingly it wasn’t that bad. He punched me in such a way that the impact was not that painful but it pushed me back a bunch. I recall flying through the air much more so than being in pain.

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

I wore Steve Johnson’s/Sir Duncan’s belt, which, of course, was very meaningful. Perhaps more than anyone else, Steve put my on my path of continuously working towards the betterment of the community. He showed me that a single individual, properly motivated, can change the entire course of the Realms solely through their effort. I’ve been running with that example ever since and endeavor to pass it on to the people who have learned from me.

4. Please describe your own belt's heraldry.

In emulation of Steve’s belt I chose to have my belt painted with the traditional diagonal stripes. The heraldry in the center is that of the nation of Vinehaeven.

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

A couple of years prior to me receiving my belt I experienced the only true ‘burnout’ I’ve ever experienced while being a part of this game. This was somewhat aggravated by me becoming very, very ill, and having to move from the Worcester area back to my parents’ home in Connecticut to begin several months of convalescence.

Though I never doubted that I would return to the Realms, when I finally started getting better I was somewhat stymied; taking a hunk of time off made me somewhat hesitant to come back, unsure of what could have changed in that time or the welcome that I would receive after being gone.

At the same time, however, a great opportunity presented itself. Many of my hometown friends still lived in the area. They were underclassmen to me in highschool and had stayed in the area to attend community colleges or the UCONN branch campus part time while they worked. I was able to move back to my home welcomed by a group of good friends. These friends, by the way, through a very, very circuitous set of events, had a bit of Realms experience to speak of (translation: Sea Elves).

We discussed the idea at length and decided that we should all return to Realms together as a new nation, a small, tight-knit group of friends who called themselves Vinehaeven. The name and heraldry was a homage to the state flag of Connecticut, with three grape vines on it. Over the next couple of years we made some of the best memories I have as a part of the Realms, not the least of which was working together to start UCONN practice and the Oaken Guard. This was the era that I received my belt and, to me, the symbol represents the bond I have with those friends and what we achieved together in those years.

6. Who did the artwork on your belt?

Andrea Ruzzo (at the time Andrea Farr) now a loyal Rhiassan, then the Captain of the Oaken Guard.

7.  What do you remember most about your knighting?

Not a great deal. I remember that Seth spoke, and Seth pretty much always gives away the surprise while he is trying to speak on a person’s behalf, so I knew it was me before he called my name.

8.  What does being a KoEF mean to you?

To me, being a Knight of the Eternal Flame is a responsibility. A happy one, but a responsibility nonetheless. I believe that Knights of the Eternal Flame are called upon to be leaders of service, to dedicate what free time they have to moving the community forward, and to properly shepard newer players into the game, among many other duties. I believe that receiving a while belt is as much a commitment as it is a reward and that if a person receives one, it is just the beginning of their mission, not the end.