Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Behind the Scenes - Feast of Highbridge III

To throw a good feast, you first need to start with a plan. And after you have gone over the plan in the most minute detail possible and made up a dozen different spreadsheets, it's time to do the shopping and then....the prep. To save time and your own sanity (as well as the sanity of your kitchen staff), it helps to do as much prep ahead of time as possible. But this in itself can be a long and arduous process depending on how much you're making, and how many ingredients or how involved your dishes are. Advance prep requires hard work, dedication, and organization on the part of the Feast-o-crat - something that Rhiannon "Tria" Chiacchiaro knows well. Here, a sneak peek into her kitchen and the time and energy that went in to making this year's Feast of Highbridge a success, as always.

The poor car is packed to the gills with groceries

Quite a bit of food

A veritable mountain of meat for the steak & ale pies

Concocting the filling for said meat pies

Pie crust was painstakingly made by hand

The pies are assembled...no small task

No sampling allowed! 
 The rum was condensed down to syrup
 for the seafoam shakes

Many lemons were squeezed for lemonade
 Two dozen, to be exact!

Three pounds of bacon worth of drippings

Andrew is attacked by the ganache
Maybe it was something he said?

So many zucchini breads

Why I Want to Go: Saurabian Questing

Sometimes I feel a little awkward writing these articles, telling you why I want to go to an event.  Most events all strive for the same thing.  Gambling, awesome food, tourneys to keep everyone entertained.

But this Saturday, we see something I feel we don't see as often:  Questing.  Good, old fashioned questing.  Saurabian Questing should be unique.  They have an interesting looking magical option for folks to play with regionals.  And while Saurabia is know for its exuberance, bright colors and HOORAY!-ness, the staff promises this is, in fact, a serious adventure for anyone who attends.
Personally, I am excited for anything this staff throws at us.  Saturday should hold a mix of fighting, thinking, dinosaurs and volcanos. Plus, they said something about a water park.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Where are they now- Mark "Cutter McMain" Marciel

Mark Marciel, played the game from the late 80’s through the mid 90’s. The following is some insight into his game experience in his own words.

I started as an npc during the days of "Lost Chest" which I believe was run by John Wrisley. I played a Demon in the Swamp with Phil Lamson for the day. I played until the late 90's. I left after that due to my feelings on how events were being run and the overabundance of magical weapons, and the hoarding of them by powerful groups.

The real Origin of my main and most well-known character, "Captain Cutter McMain", was at the very first Pyriden event held by Rich Trombly. All the attendees at the event chose a character to play for the event. Phill Lamson, aka "BS Eurbakka" the Freebooter and I were the only pirates. The rest is history. I won the event and claimed the "Champion’s Sword" as my prize. As well as a pair of gauntlets which each held one heal limb and were rechargeable by a healer. So I became a Paladin/Pirate? I guess. Back then the "Champion’s Sword" had a major bane to it. Yes it was ultra-powerful and ignored all armor and immediately scalped you if you were hit, but, anytime it was drawn from its sheath the was a REAL good possibility of the "Shadow Lord" showing up to kill scalp and turn players against the
event under his direct control. 

Cutter's Titles were: Cutter McMain Pirate Lord of Corsica, Knight healer of Pyriden, Priest of the first circle of the Church of the Catlord, and Knight of the Eternal Flame. I Co-Founded the Gamblers Guild. For a time in the Realms if your currency was not accepted at Gamblers Guild tables it was worth next to nothing. So I guess you could say that we controlled the Realms economy for a short while in a way. 

Cutter's homeland was the Island of Corsica off the coast of the Realms. Corsica and Tang-Hua were at War off and on for many years due to Corsica's pirating and looting of Tang-Hua ships. Then we had a treaty of sorts with Emperor Stonedragon for a short while where there were Corsican passes made of Stained Glass art. There were three in existence.

The treaty was abandoned when Lord Soth took control of the Corsican Cartels after Cutter disappeared into the Purple Mists on a quest for the Questing Beast. Some say Cutter died. He did not die but still lives in another place he calls New Corsica. He owns a Tavern and Gambling hall. You want more tails just ask.

Out of character, I co-founded the Marshall's Guild, NPC'd countless events, held The Corsican Games, and marshaled at countless events. I was the co-inventor of the Corsican Mug Battle with Sir Highrider. (by the way the way I have seen the battle done in recent years is not the original). ;)

I believe I was in the Realms in its infancy and through the days I love to call the days of high adventure. I Fought a field battle and was in a fight with Dame Gill who was one of the Realms first Female Knights, and as far as I am concerned one of the most honorable and best fighters I have ever had the pleasure of crossing swords with. I was wielder of the Champion’s Sword- the first wielder.
I took on a quest to return the soul of the head of our Church BS by questing for the questing beast. 

But In Queen Meg of Chimeron's wording:

"Cutter, you must quest for the questing beast, when you find it you must slay it, skin it, and bring its hide to me."

 No one had ever even successfully gotten anywhere near the questing beast for that was its power-the eternal search for it. So my quest was....well daunting to say the least. That was my finest moment as an honorable character. There were many tales, however, of me robbing and stealing and well...
being a pirate. Maybe I should write them down but I always tell a better story by a fire then write words”.

He currently lives in the Florida Keys with his wife in a “Pirate Paradise” he calls "New Corsica”. Professionally he has primarily been a truck driver. He plays a RPG on the rolld20 site and loves RPG PC games (Mass Effect trilogy/Skyrim/Dragon Age Trilogy)

His last visit to Realms wasn’t positive, “The last event I went to was a wakeup call that my days are passed. It was a sad thing to see NPC's with no masks or outfits or even acting really in character.
And those who wielded all the magic weapons with the most powerful fighters controlled the field. I saw a lot of bullying and lots of drunkenness. Not to say in my day we didn't PARTY. but I mean A LOT of drunkenness is bad. They say it has gotten better. But I don't know. I live far away and cannot afford a trip there these days.” He did say he, “would love to go to an event were all the old crew came back”.

In closing he said, “I had my day and my times in the Realms. They were some of the greatest times in my life. The Gamblers Guild, The Church of the Catlord, The Champions Sword and all its headaches. The Gypsies (Long Story). My one and only other character of note, Sergei Molestovitch the Cossack. Nights at the taverns. Sitting around a fire while the Gypsies and ladies danced. The Duke of Glendale events.... It was a magical time in my life and I miss it and remember it well”.

An Atypical View

Friday, March 27, 2015

10 Questions Bethany "Freesia" Tozier

Photo by Matt Norris
How long have you been playing?

This is my 20th season. I started at Feast of Blackwood 1 in 1995. There isn’t much to write home about it, because it was (sorry) not fun. I did not think I would try again, but Henry convinced me to go to a weekend event (Tournaments of Creathorne, 1996). The first event I really loved was ToC 1996.

How has the game changed since you've been playing?

There is a little less emphasis on role playing, but I see that changing again. There are also more tournament events versus questing events. Really, it is a pendulum. It is something that is always in flux and will eventually swing back.

The biggest changes I have seen have been those in the magic system (I was here for the Arc system) and how seriously we take ourselves as an organization. When I started rule 6 was “There is no rule #6” which was a reference to a Monty Python skit. Now we have well defined safety rules (which help when getting new sites).

There is also, sadly, a higher emphasis on drinking at events. It used to be once in a while, after questing, and then not as excessive as some.

Who have you learned the most from?

I do not know I can answer that and not bog down the site. In 20 years you learn a lot from a number of people. Let’s just go with the big ones.

Andy Disbrow is the first person I think of, though. While not the typical mentor he taught me that fun should always be first, unless it is at the expense of others (that may not be how you see him, but that is what he taught me). He also taught me the basics of event holding, and that no matter how hard you try someone will be unhappy with your event. He really rounded me out as a player and instilled the idea of NPCing and Role Playing. He also taught me that integrity is important as is loyalty, even if it is “to a fault”. Honestly, without him I would not be a Knight of Creathorne and I would not be a Knight of the Eternal Flame.

Photo by Doug Fisher

Dave Dolph taught me the value of a good story. He has a way with making players really feel involved. It is something I strive for still. One day, I hope to write plot lines half as amazing.

From Tanja Johnson, Kathy Fey, Terri Armstrong, and Kathy Journey I was taught that as a woman in the Realms I can be more than just “a girl in the game.” They showed me I can be a leader, a person to contend with, and I can be more than a set of tits. Whether they knew it or not, they showed me that I could be active, on the front line and in the eye of the storm if I wanted to. They showed me, through actions and deeds, that I did not need to have my Sig-O back me on my decisions, and I did not need to be a caster to ‘make it’ in the game. I adore them all for this!

From Janna Oakfellow-Pushee I learned that any moment can be great Role Playing. She showed me what it means to be truly passionate about a story line or part of the game. And I also saw what real burn out looks like (sorry love) because she pushed herself a little too far sometimes.

What was your best moment IC?

Can I pick more than one? I have played a lot of people. (We’ll just stick with Freesia, because that is who you know.)

My first fun/big IC moment (that had me directly involved as Freesia) was questing with Thunder (Wes Woodman) and Zula (Matt “Frenchy” Daviault). No shit, there we were, Feast of Chimeron 8. We had worked all day to translate a batch of scrolls and thus created “Super Phred!” Super Phred tasked us with sneaking into a cabin that evening while the rest of the realms attacked a fort so we could steal an axe from a troll that we could not kill just yet (the green axe killed the orange troll, the orange axe killed the green troll). On our way to the cabin we did great, nice and sneaky. Zula drew the short straw and went inside the cabin. Thunder and I waited a few feet from the door, ready to rush in when Zula messed up. From the outside, Zula was taking WAY too long. Inside, Zula could not find the axe (it was above the sleeping troll). Outside we suddenly hear the door creak, a *THUD* and “RUUUUNNNN!” as Zula blew past us. We ran like hell with the Troll (Sean Veale) hot on our heels.

The next was at a Winter Fest. No one knew I was wearing a ring. I shattered weapons, killed a hobbit, made all sorts of mischief, before someone figured it out. Oh the stories I have from just that one weekend! (Ask me!)

The ultimate moment was at the height of the second war against Zermarx. We had been fighting almost nonstop all weekend going from nation to nation to take down cult-sects when we had to go to Idaris/Blackwood. At the time, the Planer Shield Stone was broken (again) and caused most of the nation to be undead. It was easy for Zermarx to get a foothold because… undead. The leader of Idaris (Blackwood) at that time was Dark (played by my husband).

Photo by David Harvill
I was in Creathorne at the time, as was Sir K. We went in and the first time barely made it out by the skin of our teeth. Sadly, one person was left behind. Of course, it was Sir K. I wasn’t going to just leave him behind so I convinced the others to go back. We lost again and I watched Dark scalp his own brother, Sir K. I was furious. Dark also took the Mace of Rhomer (which we needed).
I wasn’t leaving him behind. Forget the mace; I was going back for K.

I went in alone; me against Idaris and the armies of Zermarx with nothing but an astral dragon in my brain, and a magic five foot in my hand. I watched them as they lined up and prepared to face the next wave of the Realms army. I spotted Sir K tied to a post with an Idaris Tabard draped over him as if he were a trophy. I kept my eyes on Sir K and I got more and more angry.

There was a bright flash, white hot burning in my stomach, all the way inward to my soul, and the undead fled before me. I could only guess it was Gramantus’ power. I had never asked him for anything from him until that moment and we had been tethered for a year at that point. The only undead not to run was Dark.

I got Sir K, and walked out, staring Dark down the whole time.

When I reached the rest of the Realms, they were astounded I was back. I placed Sir K on the ground, pulled the Idaris tabard that had been placed on him off, pulled his Idaris Belt favor off, pulled of the belt favor I wore, and began the loudest tirade of my life.

“I swear at this moment that I will not stop until not only Zermarx is dead, but that thing as well. Dark and all of his people should be considered enemies of the Realms for the atrocities they committed against us all! This is the final straw.” And at that moment, I set all of the tabards and favors on fire (yes, real OOC fire). Dark sent Dagger out with the Mace of Rhomer as an “olive branch” and I killed Dagger on the spot, ripped off his tabard and threw it to the ground (I did not set that one on fire).

It took Kwartz coming out (at a Folkestone Questing) and 20 minutes for the rest of the realms to talk me down. The convicing factor was when Q said “We did this once, to Neden, and it was wrong.”
Gramatnuz was silent for a number of weeks after that. But, we spoke again about what that boon had cost us both.

The end of that war was amazing to tell as well.

(Afterward, people were shocked that Neil and I hugged, kissed, and laughed about the whole thing.)

Oh! Have I told you about the time Thunder, Argh and I snuck into a tower to retrieve the final shard of Narsil? Oh yeah, we climbed a tower while Chimeron sieged the front, and the heroes wanted to leave me behind in said tower!

Or about that time Thunder was a Jedi and I was a Sith? That was interesting.

There was also that time Thunder died trying to save me from an Oni. Oni-No-MAKI!

Hey, how about that time I protected the ‘annoying blue bug’ (and future queen of Fae) behind the shield of Amon until the whip-me-beat-me women went away?

Did I tell you how I became tethered to an astral dragon named Granamtuz?

Have you heard about the fight to save the realms? Or when I helped open the gates of Bedlam?

Weren’t you beside me when we fought through the Bedlam and Fae to reach Mad Tom?

Or how about… (ask me to tell you a story, and I will tell you a tale).
Photo by Casey Lemay

What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?

Again, I have many memories of many roles. The saying once was “give me a goal, I will succeed” when asked to be a bad guy. Ask me any time about my years as Amato (girl), Sclos the child of Lolth, the Queen at the Shadow ball, or more.

Amato was a role I still have the props for, because she is still around with her twin Amato. The Role Playing involved was like non I had ever experienced. Also, seeing the reactions of players when I showed up in a pink Folkestone tabard was priceless, especially Jarrod’s.

My crème de la crème though, was the year that Kevin DeSousa (Kwartz), Illyana Golden (Illy), and I threw the first Realms Aid. The realms had suffered another loss. Our friend Krista had lost her battle with cancer. It hit home and hit hard for a lot of us; losing Krista was tough and a lot of us still feel it. So, with our extended Realms community we threw what I consider the most successful tournament event of my career. We raised over $4000 for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. As an extended staff we threw 5 events total to raise money against a silent killer. Seeing the community come together for this has made me more proud than any other moment in my in the Realms.

This is another place I have stories. Ask me to tell, and I will!

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?

I’d like to see us go back to more quests. I am a ‘questing fighter”. I do not do tournaments often, if at all. I am a paste eater through and through. I’d love to see a central location where we, as a game system, can put our props to share as well as developing better costuming for our NPCs.

What advice would you give new players?

Photo by Robyn Nielsen
Get involved, push your way to the front and listen to the bad guy rant. Help solve puzzles. NPC often. Don’t join a nation right away. Learn, make goals, even if they are secret goals (my 1st was to kill Mahkta with a pike. I eventually did, and I told her 5 years later it had been a goal). Talk, meet, reach out, and understand that sometimes people are assholes. Don’t be an asshole and don’t let the assholes ruin your fun.

What do you love most about the game?

Everyone says community. That is not false. I have made more lifelong friends through the Realms than in other parts of my life.

I also love running around in the woods and playing pretend. I love telling stories and helping immerse people in a world of make believe.

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

Janna Oakfellow-Pushee (can be read here), Joe Sims, Rori Boyce, and Dano Knobel (can be read here)---hey, I cannot choose just one!

Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?

It is not about what you get. It’s not about material things. It is not about awards. It is about community and about the feeling that you made a difference.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What You Missed - Northern Spring Tournaments

[Editor's note: all photos by Jesse Gifford]

This was a tournament event, as the name implies. Standard individual weapon-style tournaments were run including single short, sword and marn, sword and shield, and single combatant to name a few; as they were limited, each fight was fought best two out of three. The top four finishers were awarded Order of the List points unless, of course, a member of the Order of the List finished within the top four....which did happen on more than one occasion. There was also a bear pit running for most of the day, providing ample opportunities for both practice and general entertainment for those not actively fighting in a tournament. In addition,  combat training provided by members of the Order of the List was available for all who wished to learn new skills or sharpen existing ones.  

Syruss provides combat training to Akari

The top tournament winners:

Sword & Shield
Single Short
1. Rox
1. Dygen
1. Malaki
1. Grebinar
2. Slade
2. Syruss
2. Tir
2. Torolf
3. Temorse
3. Illy
3. Guilliam
3. Vuel
4. Syruss
4. Saegan
4. Illy
4. Dygen

Single Combatant
Sword & Marn
Sword & Dagger*

1. Grebinar
1. Slade
1. Temorse

2. Dygen
2. Nos
2. Dygen

3. Tao
3. Mestoph
3. Guilliam

4. Malaki
4. Tir
4. Tir

* single-elimination

Florentine tournament: Temorse v. Qwe

The interesting thing about the Northern Spring Tournaments was where they were held.  They were run primarily by Folkestone, a northern nation, but were held in a more southern location than one would usually expect.  Confused? Don't be! The reason for this was quite simple, and also quite admirable. Since many newer adventurers to our Realms tend to come through the Chimeron militia, the tournaments were held in a more southern location in order to encourage more widespread participation of these newer adventurers in tournaments such as these. The intent was two-fold as well; since the tournaments were run for Order of the List points, newer adventurers were also able to gain exposure to the Order in addition to the chance to earn points early (so as not to be potentially shut out as the season goes on).  Younger players who entered all of the tournaments were also given a certificate for a new weapon courtesy of  Folkestone. 

Overall, this is what you missed - a fun day of fighting, a nice opportunity to see friends,  a good way to get newer adventurers involved, and a solid start to the new Order of the List season.  

Single short: Hunter v. Don

Sword and Shield: Kiira v. Akari

Sword and Marn: Aioffa v. Quayloth

Hand-and-a-Half: Taliea v. a disembodied hand