Monday, February 29, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

10 Questions with Robert "Mullet" Hopkins

Ten Questions with Robert "Mullet" Hopkins

How long have you been playing?
My first event was Shadow’s Wrath, thrown by Robert “Drake” Hayes on his farm in Kingston, NH, 1997. I had a large gap while away in the Air Force from 2000, but was fortunate enough to come back home permanently for my re-debut at Feast of Creathorne 2012. The player I was in the beginning is a stark contrast to the player I became upon my return. Where once I kept very much to myself and my circles, I returned far more engaging of other players and nations. I also returned with my wife, whom had to endure seven years of bending her ear about Realms before getting here. I was very lucky she loves it as much as I.

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

I’ll state the obvious about the change in equipment. As far as I was concerned, Realms was a time capsule during my time away. I was very wrong, and blown away when I showed up with my hardware store PVC and duct tape logs. Feeling a 4’6” sword as light as a feather wasn’t a concept I was prepared to digest so suddenly. Organizations such as the Order of the List brought a season long competition in a way I had never seen before. The progression tempo of casters was a change I could not have anticipated. I remember the days when becoming a three path was a much longer process, and buy downs were more restrictive.

Who have you learned the most from?
I hate to leave anyone out, but Sir Guilliam has had the largest impact on me in and out of game. I admire his leadership, patience, honesty, and trustworthiness. When I think of players I’d like to emulate, Sir Guilliam’s mentorship is the example I try to follow. He sees the strengths in people and has helped develop them in subtle ways that isn’t forced or with ulterior motives.
Many others have had positive influences in guiding me to be the player I am today, such as Sir Shean, Sir Radstar, Lord Swan, and Sir K to name a few.

What was your best moment IC?
An occurrence comes to mind, and is very small in the grand scheme of things. I stumbled into an element where Sir K was fighting individual combat challenges wherein the judge would determine if the battle was worthy to him or not. It appeared the judge wanted three worthy battles. Between fights, sir K had his helmet off when a combatant stepped forward before he was able to fully don his headpiece. I rushed in to his defense with no armor, and a single 4’6” in an attempt to stall the enemy. I lost an arm and a leg in the scuffle, desperately attempting to wear down the foe’s two points of armor versus my armor less person. I fell on my back as I frantically attempted to defeat my adversary, managing to strike the necessary, albeit lucky, fatal blows, emerging the victor. This pleased the judge, the third needed, leaving us victorious to this encounter.
It seemed trivial, but it was the complete immersion during those mere seconds that stand out to this day. I was completely in the moment, it got my adrenaline going, and was rewarded with victory to boot. Moments like that I relish.

What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?
Not a moment, as much as an event. Shadow’s Wrath was my first event, and I NPC’d to “get my feet wet”. Being so new, I was given a menial, and in my opinion, the best task a newbie could be given. In order to maintain maximum immersion, the site could be live at any time. My job was to play a “crunchy” whose sole purpose was to pop out at unsuspecting players at any time. I was a pitiful foe at best, and was slain over and over again. I relished every moment of it. The surprise and sometimes fear I brought upon the unsuspecting prey was every bit as enjoyable for me as I believe it was to those I crossed paths with. Nowhere, and no time was safe. I don’t believe there was a dull moment for anyone that weekend.

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?
It’s very difficult to say as the game continues to evolve over time. There will never be a time where we are able to reach a realms utopia, but I do believe in the community at large doing its best to make this experience the best it possibly can be for the masses. I see very positive initiatives such the “No Jeans” to help garb, to feasting, bardic, and marshalling groups all player driven to improve the experience from within. I would much enjoy to see those drives continue to develop.

What advice would you give new players?
Be immersed. Get to know as many people as you can within your boundaries. Most of all, ask questions about everything and everyone. Learn the stories, people’s histories as best as you can. Most folks are more than happy to share words, knowledge, and lore. The game is far more fun with new friends, and getting to know goings on that surround you.

What do you love most about the game?
Night questing, bar none. I’d say the comradery of the people, but it goes without saying. The suspension of disbelief in the darkness is the aspect of the game I crave the most, as every sense of my being is heightened like a tight wire. The sheer chaos of a battle in the blind brings me right where I want to be, in the story, a part of it, a chapter with no clue as to how it will end. If I had my way, I’d night quest from sun down to sun up.

Who would you like to see the next interviews be with?
Jim “Quaran” Marden, Pete “Mellow” Starkey, Mike “Wrath” Doherty

Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
It’s cliché but thank you to all that make events possible. Without the hard work and dedication, there would be no game, so I give much respect to all the efforts put into making the Realms possible!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Wanna Live Like You, Bardic From Feast of Creathorne, by Ethan "JB" Goldman

Now Im a demon cannibal 
Evil, capital E
My heart has stopped, starting to rot
And thats whats bothering me
I wanna be a living human
And stroll right into town
With a pulse just like other men
Im tired of laying around

So oooo-oooo-oooo
I wanna be like you
I wanna live like you
Breathe like you, too
You'll see its true
A corpse like me
Can learn to be human, too

Now don't mess with me, Healer
I made a deal with you
What I want more than love, is man's warm blood
To make my dream come true
Now give me the secret, Healer
Come one, clue me what to do
Teach me the art, of man's beating heart
So I can live just like you

So, oooo-oooo-oooo
I wanna be just like you
I wanna live like you
Breathe like you, too
You'll see it's true
A corpse like me
Can learn to be human, too

You're making me cry, Healer
We could have been friends, me and you
A life for a life, such a reasonable price
Please learn to follow through
But Ill get by, Healer, yeah
Ill have to make do
I may be dead, I may be demonic
But at least Im not in your shoes

So, oooo-oooo-oooo
Im glad Im not like you
Livings nice but
That's not what you do
You'll see its true
A corpse like me
Can learn to be
Breathe like
Have a heartbeat like
Learn to be human, too!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What You Missed - Feast of Creathorne 2016 (photos)

A full hall (View Staff)

Full crowd at the craps table (photo by Jesse Gifford)
Hard at work in the kitchen (photo by Jesse Gifford)

Appetizer course: stuffed breads, stuffed mushrooms (photo by Dustin Mack)

Buffalo Chicken Dip! (View Staff)

Waiting the be called for tournies (photo by Jesse Gifford)

Eldritch v. Saegan (View Staff)

Partaking in some games (View Staff)

The Adventurers Guild table (View Staff)

Adventurers Guild quest -Squabblers of Catan (photo by Dustin Mack)

Creathorne High Table (View Staff)

Stews are being served (View Staff)

Some items available via auction (View Staff)

Vandoria's Vestaments sets up shop (View Staff)

Finely crafted weapons for sale (View Staff)

Another view of the hall (View Staff)

What You Missed: Feast of Creathorne by Jean Baptise (Ethan Goldman)

Boy, I feel sorry for you, missing all this.

Have you ever eaten a moose?  I have.  How about a bear?  I have.  And maybe if you go next year, you will. 

Besides the tried and true history of delicious game meat being served at Sir Shean’s event (And no, I did not convince him that people, goblinoids or dragons count as game meat), new things were attempted as well.  For the first time in probably ever, the Adventurer’s Guild set up shop in the Creathorne lands.  Monster arenas were crashed, ninjas were killed, and land rights were solved, all in roughly under a hour each. 

Besides the issues of steel, there were those of song, as the Bardic contest once again continued this year. I performed a fantastic original song to the rave reviews of completely not placing.  

More surprising however was the defeat of last year’s winner, Garharz, whose rendition of the Captain’s Wife Lament lost to the dark horse Tempest. Who cleaned house with a stellar cover of Celtic Woman’s “The Voice”.

Most suprising of all was court, or rather, how short court was. There was only one major announcement, where Neden announced a new loaner garb and gear service to the realms.

They also gave someone a N, but who really cares about this… Jim Boptop? Whoever he was, he’s not important.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why I Want to Go: Void Where Prohibited

Saturday brings the return of the rare questing event.  In a season filled with Feasts and Tournaments, a true, outdoor, encounter whatever-the-elements-have-in-store-for-us quest is a fantastic treat.
Knowing the crew that is throwing this event, we can expect nothing will be spoon fed to us.  We can expect consequences to poor decision making.  Immersion and roleplaying (the RP in LARP) will be de rigueur.  We can also expect to have a great time!  Fighting and puzzles will be around to help combat the scar spanning Fae.
Will you stop the construction of the Iron Road?
If fighting evil isn't enough to keep you warm, staff will have hot cocoa and hot tea in addition to normal questing snacks.  Please dress warm, though!

Don't forget that Ru Thar Cin is playing with a wonderful mechanic called Story Shards.  Read up more on that at the RTC plot website.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

On Grandfathering 2016 By Jason Gray

This year the EHC decided that the following clause would be used for Grandfathering spell changes from the council meeting:

"...all characters that had spells which were changed at this year's EHC may change the spells such affected at the first event they play..."

Based upon this, the following is the list of spells that I believe were changed significantly enough that they warrant being able to be grandfathered by spellcasters that currently know them:

Animate Limb (new name, bonus when cast on controlled undead)
Assassin's Blade (gained Eviscerate)
Circle of Protection (bigger rope)
Create Poison (gained Poison Weapon)
Enchant Blade (gained Silver Strike)
Eviscerate (removed)
Familiar (removed 5th circle options)
Implement (book/tome, removed redundant option)
Magic Missile (clarification)
Quicksilver Armor (removed)
Poison Weapon (moved into Create Poison)
Silver Strike (moved into Enchant Blade)

This is a pretty conservative list, and does not include spells that only had minor changes such as a name or editorial change. I also removed spells that were affected by a systemic mechanic change or clarification such as the Item Mechanic change and the requirement of Verbal Components to be written.

I decided that my list would be conservative as learning spells has become quite fast with people often learning a full path of spells in a single event, and I have even heard of people learning two paths of spells at some of the larger events of the year. 

Keep in mind that the Magic Marshal or Event Holder of the first event you attend may have their own decision on what spells can be grandfathered and these are my own thoughts and what I will be doing if I am Grandfathering anyone.

10 Questions with Sara "Zarine" Jessop

How long have you been playing?

My first experience with the game was a double header weekend in 1998. Black and White and Yoma. Two totally different styles of events so it was an interesting experience. I was a teenage girl who really just showed up because my boyfriend and his friends pressured me into trying it. I thought the game was interesting, but I was a really different person then so I thought it was kind of stupid and I was a bit embarrassed about even playing at all. But almost 20 years later, here I am.

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

Besides weapon and armor being lighter, and cheaper? The attitude of the game has changed a lot. There is a lot less PvP, everyone 'gets along' (or so it seems) and there is a lot more worry about offending people and hurting feelings. This can be both good and bad. I felt a lot more immersed in the game when there was more PvP as the world felt a lot more real. There was a continuity to it that we don't get as much from plots which change from week to week.

Garb has gotten better. Yes, I said that. I know there is still room for improvement, but I think it has come a long way since I first came into the game.

There are a lot more kids, and I don't just mean because I am old. I mean actual little tikes running around. I personally am not a fan of more kids, but it does allow more people to continue to enjoy the game even though they are older and busier, where as back when I started most people felt that they needed to walk away from it when they got to that point in life.

The Omnibus has changed a lot as well, and I don't mean just the rules. It is much more verbose, more serious. I miss the simpler, thinner, more fun focused rule book.

Who have you learned the most from?

Ah, my least favorite question because it's the hardest to answer. When you've been around as long as I have, you inevitably learn a little bit from everyone, and everything you learn is important in some way. Everyone in Invictus deserves a mention here, just for showing me that I can do things that I never thought possible. But I suppose you want me to single people out.

Jon (Trent) is obviously the person I have spent the most time with both in and out of game (he's like a fungus that just keeps hanging around), and as such I am sure I have learned the most things from him. Most importantly he has instilled the most confidence in me both in and out of game.

Diana (Kiira) has helped me a lot with learning to craft and how best to build my spell paths and use them effectively. She also pushes me to be better in all aspects of the game.

Mike (Vuel) has helped me a lot at practice. His patience with me has helped a lot and he always pushes me to do just one more fight. If it weren't for him I would spend a lot more time sitting on my butt at practice.

What was your best moment IC?

My Gladitorium (initiation into Invictus). I'm not sure I have ever been more nervous for anything, ever. I actually felt sick to my stomach from nerves and excitement. Then I felt sick from exhaustion from all of the fighting (though Vuel did most of the actual fighting, it was a lot more physically demanding than I expected). In the end, I felt that I deserved that tabard, and I felt so proud to have Shandaar present to me. The feeling of hard work paying off was the best feeling.

And joining a nation that I believed in was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

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

I very much enjoyed playing Delphi, the Oracle of Blackwood. It was a different role for me, and I really liked thechallenge of role playing someone new. Creating a costume and a personality for a face character was really fun, and I was really grateful to have the opportunity to play someone important who got to help shape the plot. It was also a lot of fun to watch people fight for Delphi's honor with that ridiculous staff during the tournaments.

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

I would really like to see more collaboration between eventholders and plot writers to make a more consistent world. It would be nice to have things cross over from event to event, instead of having to wait a year to not only continue a plot, but for it to even exist again. It would also be nice for the PCs to fail every once in a while, and to have it still matter next week.

I'd love to see the return of more PvP (reason: please see 'how has the game changed...'). We can all still like each other outside the game, but why do we all of our characters have to get along all of the time? Why can't we all go to war with each other and then go have pizza?

What advice would you give new players?

Don't be embarrassed too easily. Talk to people. Don't be afraid of screwing up. Enter tournaments. Go to practices. Visit all the fire pits and listen to all the stories. Ask questions. Get involved.

What do you love most about the game?

How absolutely life changing it is. I met my husband here. I have met almost all of my friends here. It is not an exaggeration for me to say that if it weren't for this game I would not be where I in in my life, and I am in a pretty damn good place. It's shaped who I am more than just about anything else in my life, and I feel like I am not the only person who can say that.

Who would you like to see the next interviews be with? Please list three people.

There are people who haven't done this yet?? Lets try to get a good variety here: Elias (Nate Carr), Riverstone (Allyson Cunningham), Rillan (Joe Sims)

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

Are you tired and need a pick me up? Too much gold in your pockets? Need a 'you' day? Come check out “TheAlchimia Lupanar”, Zarine's new bathhouse and apothecary! We have many professionals waiting to assist you in your 'needs'. We also have many tonics and tinctures for whatever ails you! Open positions are also available, contact me if you wish to apply!

Are you a man? Are you single? Are you rich and/or powerful? Zarine is single. Just sayin'.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Support Casters Guide to Combat Casting

Preface: This article was originally written as a guidebook.  It has been broken down into sections, so as to make it easier to read.


-Colin Powell

            Every path has a beginning.  Perhaps this is not your first attempt at support casting in the world known as The Realms, but this is the beginning of this guide, so we will start here. Everything within this guide is assuming you know little to nothing about the spell system by which the game is played.  Bear with me, for this intended for all experience levels.

            Let us start with defining what a support caster is, in this case.  A support caster is someone who aids those who play the role of fighters in this game. This is mostly designed for those who work directly in combat, or front-line casting, although other areas will also be discussed.

            To think that Support Casting is an “easy” path would be a mistake.  To have spells is one thing, but to use them effectively is quite another.  So, while having supportive magic can make you very useful, you can excel in it by simply adding tactics and honing your intuition, which does not happen instantaneously. Let us also not forget, support magic can help you make many friends—or paint a giant target on your back.

Preparing for Battle

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

            Preparedness is a necessity not only for being an effective spellcaster, it is important for everyone. What good is a fighter without weapons, without armor? The same can be said for a spellcaster without a spellbook or without the proper spell components.

Speaking from experience, showing up to an event without the proper tools and equipment can be debilitating. Having to write out a quick spellbook, trying to bum a dagger, and asking around for rope are not fun before the start of an event. It costs time that could be spent on discussing battle tactics, warming up, or simply readying your mind to the battles that lay ahead.

            It is good to keep all the tools of the trade (i.e. spellbook, components, and weapons) together in a bin or bag so they are available. Also, be sure that your props are combat safe and before an event and after an event, before they get put back away. That will give time between events to ensure you can replace or fix anything that needs to be.

Next time: Spellbooks and Spell Selection!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why I Want to Go: Feast of Creathorne

This article could quickly be summed up in four beautiful words:  mini bear meat pies.

Like many of us, I love adventurous eating.  Game meats can be hard to come across in day to day situations.  And while the idea of a huge chunk of roast meat is appealing, the idea of mini bear pies is incredibly intriguing.  The whole concept is a juxtaposition of ideas.  A HUGE TOUGH BEAR in an itty bitty pie.  Love it.

Also to be noted are the other courses (all are listed on the Facebook page).  A few others that caught my eye were the stews, especially moose, and possibly venison.  A well done venison dish is just stellar.  The other two courses I am excited about were deserts.  Not just multiple desserts, but 2 WHOLE COURSES of desserts.  Brilliant!

Aside from food, there will be Order of the List points to gather, a casino to play in, and a Golden Ticket raffle.  With so much to do, and eat, why wouldn't you go to the event?

Not the mini bear pies I was thinking of

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On Necromancy by Ethan "Jean Baptiste" Goldman

Hello everyone, this is Jean Baptise.

Magic is interesting, it changes annually and while we all derive different ways to power our magic or present it, they all effectively fit under 50 or so different magical effects.

I will like to take us on a journey to examine magic, it's impact on society and our impact on it.
First and foremost I will like to discuss the most reviled and consistent magic, that is necromancy. I say consistent because while healing magic, alchemy, and blacksmithing all can be presented, and powered with different "Flavors" a necromancer is almost always "A shady figure who defies death for his own convenience." Evil is implied.

However I believe necromancy at it's root is misinterpreted. After all the powerful and frequent mocker of death has never been the necromancer. It is the healer, who denies death so utterly we do not even bear the scars of suffering, whose capacity to fix is bottomless. Death's a mild concern really.

In addition the spell death wish does not dredge any one from the river styx, rather it prepares for the eventual raising of the person.

The reason for this is very simple.  Necromancy actually isn't about the dead, atleast not initally.

The most consistent thing about necromancy is the ability of control, over yourself and others. As such necromancy is actually a "Commanding magic" that implants decrees like "Follow this man". However the brain gives such commands rapidly and thus any order like "Follow" can be overrulled by thoughts like "Hunger" or "Indignation". Even Death Wish, a fifth circle spell, can only give a living body simple orders. To handle this the spells can only be cast while dead, which will allow the commands to be uninterrupted and obeyed faithfully by the body.

Disease Weapon is similar except that what it gains domain over is a virus, the virus then infects a body. The presence of this living thing interferes with healing magic, which has difficulty recognizing the body as dead, which is why a diseased body has to have twice the magic expended to heal it, as most of it gets burned away. Unexpectedly the virus is entirely benign otherwise, which is why the disease doesn't actually make living harder, just healing.

Embrace Death likewise gives one a state of undeath so one can master his own body, that way in your undead state one can command your body to repair itself and restart your own consciousness by controlling your body remotely from your phylactery.

Finally I have a theory on the nature of the undead. While they do have the same memories and can disobey certain commands, they clearly are not the same soul, if that was so then things ike protect the soul wouldn't work and  they wouldn't have the specific signal of undead that is so distinct from "Dead".

The reason is that the spell itself is actually sentient, a artificial half soul that uses the mind and body of the target as proxy. This is why they are absolutely loyal to there maker, and why you can usurp someone's control by casting a necromancy spell after someone else.

This means it may be able to be used in rituals o create golems or other artificial life.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Thoughts on the 2016 Event Holder's Meeting-

I’d like to provide more information and context in relation to the EHC’s decision to bypass customary process and put the arbitration committee in place without an active proposal.  As has been mentioned in the Realms group on facebook many times, it was a unanimous decision made by all Event Holders present because the feeling in the room was that it was an immediate NEED.

The questions that then come to mind for me are, : “why did they feel it was an immediate need?” and, “why did we feel we had the right to bypass the typical process even if there was an immediate need?”

In the administrative portion of the meeting we were talking about cheating charges. To be clear, we weren’t talking about things like rhino-hiding or making an unsafe weapon, we were talking about “acts that would be considered unlawful in the real world”.  Things that jeopardize player’s safety and that could increase Event Holder’s potential liability. In my mind it was important that we were taking appropriate action on these items promptly because if our players couldn’t feel confident in our ability and willingness to do so, it would be more likely to lead to outside law enforcement being involved in these issues or someone getting seriously hurt.  It wasn’t until the conversation was occurring that the ridiculousness of it being handled once a year in that setting was acknowledged by all.

A question has been asked on why if it was so important wasn’t there a prior proposal made in advance.  Frankly I think a lot of people would have said it was a good idea, but didn’t have faith that the room as a whole would see it that way. Consider it like not bothering to nominate a candidate you think is unelectable.

So, once we decided there was a need why did we feel we could do it?  I can’t speak for others, but in my mind it was a change that had minimal impact on players. We weren’t changing what was/wasn’t legal or the potential consequences for breaking rules. We were only changing the way it is  administratively  handled.  Historically the administrative section of the meeting hasn’t required formal proposals and has allowed for more flexibility in how it has run.  While we’ve moved toward more structure in that area, I’ve perceived it as a courtesy not a requirement.

On a historical note, we have bypassed procedure before. Prior to a proposal that we talk about grandfathering every year, there was a year where it wasn’t proposed but due to changes in the omnibus it was obviously needed.  At that point the EHC decided doing something that everyone present agreed was necessary was more important than following the letter of the rules. I believe the time it was phrased as “we had an obligation to”.  There was absolutely no push back or questioning of that decision.

I do think some mistakes were made. First I think that the majority of Event Holders have consistently felt that if something was a strong enough need, we as a body did have the right to override the established practice.  We should have incorporated that into the rules prior to this.

Second, I think we were on a high (and also a little loopy).  We met for 11 hours. Most of us drove at least another 2 that day. We took minimal breaks. We finally came to a consensus on something that we felt was significant and meaningful. It was like not just learning that the candidate you thought was unelectable not only might be, but actually having them elected.  We were excited and proud.

Perhaps if we weren’t, we would have given more consideration to the question of how those outside the room would view it and how to best present it to mitigate that (perhaps we shouldn’t have 11 hour meetings once a year to decide things, but that is a bigger question).  I think we should have started off by saying we understood that we didn’t follow procedure and were sorry that player’s weren’t able to give feedback.  We should have made it clear that it wasn’t done lightly and is not something we anticipate needing to do regularly.

I am also concerned about the marginalizing of complaints of the community members who weren’t at the meeting. I have the unique position of being part of the Senior Leadership for a democratically run company (we win awards and stuff, it’s a pretty cool place). It has taken me many years to learn that if you want an organization where people step up and contribute their time and energy, you have to minimally be willing to let them have a voice and share their opinions and engage in a constructive dialog with them—even when they are expressing their opinions in a way you find unproductive. If you don’t they become disenfranchised, checked out, and stop contributing.  We need contributors. We need people to care.

I’ve also learned that it is dangerous to make assumptions that if there are a few voices there are few opinions.  I’ve heard people say it is a small group of people that are bothered. I do think it is a minority, but I know there are more people that have concerns than are saying it publicly.  I’ve heard it written off to politics and who likes and supports who, and I acknowledge that it is easier for people to critique people they don’t like/get along with. That said, I suspect that while there are possibly people who are being extra critical due to personal feelings related to those involved, there  are likely others who have concerns but  aren’t expressing them out of respect  

The reality is the Event Holder’s Council created expectations from players that they would have an opportunity to give input that we then didn’t meet, questions and even frustrations are logical.  In the same way, those expressing opinions about the decisions, need to understand that Event Holders who are feeling insulted and disappointed have a right to those feelings as well.

At the end of the day I, personally, am proud of the Event Holders for putting the arbitration committee in place. Think about what it means- As a player you get the confidence of knowing that problems will be addressed promptly and efficiently. As an event holder you know you’ll get support in taking care of issues promptly. That is a BIG deal!!

 I am also proud of players for caring enough to express their feelings. I hope that the conversation soon moves from expressions of anger to constructive dialog, and I hope those on both sides of the discussion continue to remember how much we all care about and contribute to our community, we have people that do it differently than we would, but in general we’re all doing the best we can with the tools we have, and we all deserve to get treated with respect.

- Angela Gray

Good afternoon, everyone.

I've been a Realms event holder every year since 1999. It's not the longest run in that room, but it's close. Regardless, I have absolutely no standing to speak for the council, no one does. I'm going to, however, go beyond my station and try to do so, because something needs to be said by us. I welcome my fellow event holders who dissent with any part of my opinion to do so, please, in any area where you feel I am not representing your point of view. I'm just one voice among many.

As most of you know, at the recent Event Holders Meeting we heard cheating charges regarding an individual who was involved in what was defined by some as an "assault". It would be improper to go into any specifics about that incident, but suffice it to say the great majority of people there treated the issue with dire seriousness.

As we discussed all sides of the issue in great detail, one of the things that was evident, was discomfort. A good kind of discomfort, though. The kind where you instinctively understand that what is happening is more important than you thought it was going to be. We discussed the circumstances of the cheating charge, but much more as well. We talked passionately about past precedent and future implications, about how to best render this decision for the good of all individuals involved and the good of the community. The arguments from all parties and ensuing discussion took over an hour in which the majority of the room was cast in deafening, grave silence. It wasn't something taken lightly.

There was a thought that developed. Oddly it developed independently in several people but collectively at the same time. The issue we were discussing was bigger than this once incident. We were discussing the implications on life and property, mental and physical health, issues of fear and perception, how our community was going to define itself. It happened organically. This incident of cheating led us to consider much larger issues about how well equipped The Realms is to deal with issues like this one and beyond.

The idea of an "arbitration" group had been brandied about in the past. I had poked around with the idea in the past and other people have too. Let me be clear though, speaking for myself only, I've never had any reasonable expectation that something like that could happen in such a diverse and divisive environment as the EHC. As much as I had thought it was a need, I've dismissed it as a fantasy.

Then, all of a sudden, one individual brought the idea up, rather passionately. I had never spoken to that person before about the idea. To my honest surprise, the idea wasn't immediately rejected by the room as impossible. Shortly thereafter, another individual suggested that the creation of the committee should be part of the action that we take in response to the cheating charges. Again, that suggestion was generally accepted by most of the room. As the conversation continued, it was accepted by all of the room.

I think something special happened at that moment. That diverse and divisive group of people collectively came to the understanding that we had the opportunity to do something that was very important and very necessary. Something that should have been done years ago. Not everyone was comfortable with it, not fully. People knew it was a break from convention. Most did, in any case.

Individuals justified it in different ways, and each person would have to tell you their own way of thinking. Some honestly think that doing so was a normal part of the amendment process - there are no specific guidelines about what amendments are and they change drastically from one year to the next. Some people might have believed that it was fully against established procedure yet thought that the importance of the issue was the greater need. Some people might have believed that the rules do not actually prevent in-meeting proposals and omitting them is a matter of moderator preference. Some people probably believe that the moderators have the power to override procedure as a matter of course. There were about 45 people in that room and I guarantee you would get 45 different answers as to why each individual decided that it was the correct course of action.

I'll pause to insert a personal opinion. Each of those 45 reasons was a valid one. Equally as valid, are all of the voices that are disagreeing. Everyone has a valid perspective here and there is no answer that is objectively correct.

But moving on. As a collective room I think most people were in awe that we had the momentum to make such an important change in that situation. When we cast the first of many votes, the one that would decide if we would go on to create the committee, everyone looked around in awe as they saw it was unanimous assent. That was a very powerful moment. I think, for many of us, it reaffirmed that we were all in that room for a common purpose, and that as much as we argue, sometimes tooth and nail, that the best interests of the Realms was what we all, very deeply, cared about.

What followed were a lot of details about the wording of the text and the selection of the members and I'd be happy to relate it all (in general terms) to those who need me to. But the important part of the story ends there. Again, it was a slow, careful process where each individually was extremely concerned that we were doing everything as correctly as possible. I can't emphasize that enough.

And then, when all is said and done, we had a Facebook conversation about it all. It wasn't the most productive conversation at times, on all sides of the coin, but I agree people needed a forum to express themselves. If anything, I hope that moving forward, people can try to comment in a way that is always respectful of one another and that doesn't lead to being as emotionally charged. Many people did that already, and I thank those who have tried to meter their passion with an appreciation that opposing viewpoints are not wrong viewpoints, just different.

Again this is all just my opinion, and I will leave with a thought that is wholly my own as well. The idea of who is correct and who has the right point of view in this situation won't lead us to a place where everyone can agree. Everyone can't agree. And no one is really "right", in the end, because there is no "right", there are just different perspectives on what is best for us as a community.

For my own part, I think a group of people, acting in good faith and with honorable intentions, did the best they could with what they had. It's not a perfect situation, it's not a perfect outcome. As human beings, we have to work with flaws and imperfections to the best of our ability.

To some of you I seem like an old veteran player, but trust me, compared to many in that room, I am inexperienced and naive, so I probably lack the standing to express this. Nevertheless, I am truly proud that everyone there tried their best and showed one another that they deeply love the Realms and that they deeply care about one another and the community. Expressing it like that, in that moment, was a rare and special thing. I understand the perspective of those of you who can't agree with the decision or the method that came from that meeting, but please, if you can, try to be proud of them too.

- Jason Rosa

Valentines Day Greetings, from Soft

Dear Realms,

While I don’t profess to be the expert on love that we evidently believe Syruss to be (Guard #69 still hasn’t professed his, shall we say, undying love to me, so don’t know how much of an expert he actually is.) I am apparently the only one around who is excited for one of the most important holidays of the year, Valentine’s Day! Think of all the reasons we fight, quest after quest, facing countless horrors! Love is a beautiful and pure driving force that can motivate us to accomplish even the most sisyphean of tasks! Let us not forget all the different ways we express that love either, even outside the realm of romantic partners.

Love for our country, love for our gods, love for our fellow creatures even! I myself have felt the thrills of showing up at a dungeon entrance, not a single zombie to keep me company, only to spy the brilliant reds and bold black markings I associate with family. In that way, it’s more than pride we feel. When you’re willing to face incalculable odds, jeopardize your very being battling ancient gods, and just as soon make sure everyone has warm winter garb or a fun gift at Cecil’s, that’s how you know it’s love. Love is intimacy, of several sorts, and intimacy is nothing more than shared experiences that bring people closer together. What we do in it’s most simple terms is love.

So on this coming holiday, don’t get down if there’s no romance in your life. Gather those clansmen, raise that long dead relative, take a swig of love poison, or even yes, make that first move on the necromancer you’ve had your eye on.

Necromantically yours,

Illumier Soft­Nosetti

P.S I forgot I was married, Guard #69, never mind, I’m taken.

10 Questions with Pi "Kwido Sedna" Fisher

Photo by Jesse Gifford

1) How long have you been playing?

I first LARPed with the Realms combat system at a Summer camp in 2011. Hillary Fotino and Rhiannon Chucciaro were counselors, and the camp was looking for someone to lead a LARP. The first legal event I made it to was Feast of Blackwood III, in October of 2012.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

View Award Nominee Profile- Steven Matulewicz- Bard

Photo by Jesse Gifford
How many times did you perform in 2015?
People have different expectations of what it means to perform.  Some people see performing as just standing on a stage with an audience, or being in a competition.  In that case, I have not performed this year.  I have, however, added singing, and teaching songs, to 4 events this year in various roles I have played.  I have also sung on quests to entertain various questers, and I have contributed various filks and tunes to be part of quests because I find it adds to the RP immersion and it can inspire plot.  I have also incorporated story telling style into some of the NPCs that I play, so not only to educate people on the plot and Realms history, but to make conveying the information more entertaining.  Because performance, for me, boils down to first the intent to entertain. Sometimes, I have performed for many, and sometimes just for one.  I would say in total, perhaps 8 times this year, more or less.

Why do you opt to perform in Realms?
I find the Realms a welcoming place, and relatively forgiving if you make mistakes.  But mostly
because I can incorporate music and song into various activities. From day to day and in our lives, song, dance, telling stories.... they are not always well received.  Singing on a Skype call is usually frowned upon, for example.  But I also like that many times in the Realms there is an element of improvisation necessary.  Those can be some of the best moments.

Photo by Meghan Matulewicz
What do you do for performances and what are some things you keep in mind that you feel helps to make you successful?
Normally, I will sing or I will tell stories.  For me, I need to stay relaxed and enjoy the act of performing.  I try to keep in mind that "this is not surgery", that if something goes wrong, that it's OK.  There is nothing super- critical riding on my voice, or on the stories themselves... and if a mistake is made, there is plenty of room to recover and correct.

What are some of the challenges you face regarding performing?
Many times, because I am a baritone, it is very hard to find any songs in my voice range I can do without a partner.  Or if I do find a song, it is always this sad, gut-wrenching song about lost loves or dead comrades.  Most of the happier songs are in the Tenor range, and usually have a few notes that are a strain to sing.  So expanding my repertoire can be difficult.

The other part is, somewhere along the line, I developed stage fright.  I have become too critical of my singing, and have not taken many opportunities.  So there has also been almost a decade since I have done more than an occasional performance.  But this year, I wanted to get past all that, and just enjoy myself.  So it can be a lot to get by, to even venture in front of an audience, regardless of size.

Tell us about a memorable moment you had while performing?
Being able to see that you have effected someone's mood, be it to be happier, sad, or whatever the conveyance may be... that is for me the highest compliment and is the achievable goal.

My favorite moment this year was at UCCT.  As part of my NPC, Drualus, I taught people so sing a very old song, the Apple Tree Wassail.  If people sang it, it would make some of the NPCs shy away.  It was a great thing for me, to hear singing and laughing on a quest.   It is encountered very rarely, I think.  But I feel it added to the mood of the quest and was enjoyed by many.

Introducing the Arbitration Committee by John Berrini

It is my honor to express some thoughts and introduce a landmark decision that happened at this year’s Event Holders council.  It was determined, by unanimous decision, that The Realms EHC was in need of a subcommittee with the purpose of  “holding accountable, to The Realms at large, those who are accused of negatively affecting our community in a timely manner outside of the EHC meeting.”
Here is the proposal as it was approved:
Changes(To the Omnibus)
  • Under the section “Becoming a Realms event holder”
Add the bullet point “In order for the event to be legal the event must abide by the valid rulings of the Arbitration Committee”
  • Under “Cheating”
Rule violations may result in formal charges being brought against a player to the Arbitration Committee for the purpose of disciplinary action. The person(s) responsible must be notified of this action before the meeting to allow them to speak on behalf of their action.
EHs who want to bring formal charges should report them to the Arbitration Committee

  • Add a section to “Part 3 Realms Administration” between the sections “Becoming a realms event holder” and “Magic Item rules” entitled Arbitration Committee.
Arbitration Committee
The Arbitration Committee is a group of five members and two alternates nominated and elected yearly at the EHC that seek to resolve issues, by speaking or meeting with the affected individuals and, in the case where actions are detrimental  the community levy penalties against individuals.
Being found responsible for breaking rules by a simple majority, the Arbitration Committee may levy punishment consistent with the charge and working to resolve the issue in the future.
At an emergency meeting of the EHC a 2/3 vote of the council can overturn or amend the actions of the Arbitration Committee.
The 2016 Arbitration Committee consists of - Jason Rosa, John Berrini, David Hayden, Ben Greene, Jason Gray Alternates - Henry Giasson, Jeremy Grayson

Although this proposal was not completed at the EGM, I did write the majority of it there, with input. There are provisions in the omnibus for an emergency EH meeting to pass such a proposal. We talked about doing this, however logistically; it made more sense to add this language to another matter being pushed forward.

The issue of procedure was far overshadowed by the (unanimous) support for the action
More noteworthy than the manner in which this provision was introduced and passed, was the social growth displayed by our community. For me personally, it is inspiring that members of our community banded together and reconciled the need for advancement above the red tape. The good will of the game was pushed forward of our habit to micromanage, the spirit of the game was pushed forward and we are stronger with a better product to show for it.
In my address to the EHC there were several important points discussed.  The most important issue to me was the difficulty a large body, such as the Council, has working to adjudicate personal infractions. To build on this is that we are all a close knit community and airing dirty laundry in a room of friends was difficult to do, especially in a fair manner.
The time these things take to sort out is also a consideration. The two such instances that I’ve been a part of took upwards of two hours each.  Not only is this exhausting, but it takes a good deal of time away from the once-per-year-meeting  we have each year to further develop our game
With the old system after the lengthy and difficult decision is made, our community is left with the challenge of enforcing punishment in a game where “Every EH is God at their event.”  This discouraged bringing issues to the EHC due to fear of inaction and the frustration of non-enforcement from friends of the punished. The length of inaction could also be a factor in that a theoretical infraction happening in March would take eleven months to be heard. Having to wait up to a year to bring someone up on charges was not only disheartening, but left the wronged party with the burden of bringing up wrongdoings up to a year old up to the council
Hopefully one of the unsung benefits of this now being in place is the increase in personal discipline of each player. It will certainly improve the accountability of our members. In any case, this resolution makes the game stronger in discipline and in unity. I am happy to have a part in it.