Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why I want to go to the Western Front

Why I want to go to the Western Front
By Steve Nelson

The snow is receding (hopefully), the winter feasting season is winding down, and outdoor practices will be starting soon. It’s time to repair your armor and refoam some weapons. Or maybe read up on the rule changes from the EH and figure out how they impact your build. Perhaps you need to figure out a grandfathering? The questing season is right around the corner. There will be puzzles to solve and monsters to slay. It's the revolving seasons of the Realms. Somewhere an event holder is already planning your next epic struggles. Somewhere a crafter may be gathering rare and arcane materials to create the monster you will battle or the puzzle that will stump you.

I’ve been wandering the realms for a few years now. I’ve gone questing, dungeon crawling, tourneying, feasting and to war. I’ve gone to practices and crafting nights and helped run them too. What I haven’t done yet is step behind the curtain of eventing. But it’s been on my mind for awhile now. I mentioned that in my ten questions which is probably how I ended up writing this.

There are a few reasons I’m interested in battling on the Western Front. One is that I’ve noticed that year in and year out I see a lot of the same names on the Realmsnet event descriptions. I also see a lot of the same faces behind the monster masks, in the kitchens, and marshaling on the fields. The effort and time that people put into this game is remarkable. So certainly, at least, part of my motivation is to help shoulder some portion of the work. Even though I don’t feel ready for marshaling, and I suspect it’s for the best that I not cook anything.

But I also have a lot of curiosity about how things work. The metaphor of herding cats comes quickly to mind when I think about the twists and turns that happen while questing. What if they all turn left when they were supposed to turn right? I suspect there’s more than a little plot revision happening on the fly as the adventurers wander through a quest.

Now to be fair, I know that my role play is not strong. So I don’t anticipate being ready for any intricate or plot heavy kind of NPC roles real soon. But a grunting troll or cackling goblin I’m sure I can pull off. However, as I’ve said often enough, I love to fight. And I certainly see NPCs doing that. In fact, it sometimes looks like a pretty grueling pace of fighting, dying and circling back to do it again. That I’m confident I can do. In fact, that is something I’ll enjoy. I believe the technical term for that kind of role is a “crunchy”. And I’m guessing that in general the more crunchies, the better at least in terms of not burning them out and preventing idle swords while the thinky types are solving puzzles.

Lastly being an NPC looks like fun. You do a lot of the same kinds of things that you might while questing. But you get to see it from the other side, you know what the solution is and probably agonize as the questers try everything else. You have to think on your feet when the adventurers do the unexpected. You get to step into another character without long term commitment. And you get to be the bad guy! Who doesn’t deep down want to be the bad guy sometimes? When else would you get to wield a boulder? So hopefully, sometime this year I will be manning the ramparts on the Western Front. Care to join me?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Social Question: Special Holiday Edition

The In-Character Question: 

What or Where is your best place to hide an Easter egg?


 [Editor's note: responses courtesy of Ryan Welch, Britny Fowler, and Ethan Goldman]

Jean-Baptiste: "In a kitchen."

Ivan: "Under my hat of course! NO ONE WILL EVER FIND IT. I will get to keep it. I am the smartest monster I know."

Zatarra: "I would open a portal to Mythrandor and throw it in."

Vawn: "Probably in a tree. Not ridiculously high up, but enough that you wouldn't necessarily think to look there." [Staff note: perhaps surrounded by twigs? #eaglevawn]

Tria: "Depends on what you mean by best. The most interesting place is just an open field in Faerie because I promise you that it won't be there the next time you look. Funniest place is usually in Tam Lin's hat, except when he eats it." 

Grey: "Don't look at me. I don't do that egg thing."

Tarun: "If I'm playing fair, in the laundry, where its bright colors will be masked by the dyes of the cloth. If I'm not, on a caravan headed out of town."

Hippy: "In a mushroom patch, of course."

Ezra: "As soon as I tell you my best hiding place, it's no longer my best hiding place. But of course, the purpose of hiding Easter eggs is to put them someplace where kids can actually find them, so... Underneath the King's throne seems like a fun hiding place."

Syruss: "I would hide the eggs in the blood of my enemies...just kidding. I hide them under barstools and find them as the night goes on."

Crispin: "Well, if it needs to be findable, I guess... Inside a hollow tree! But it depends who's looking."   

Charwindle: "What's Easter?" 
Kamilla: "Well... apparently there is this holiday where they hide painted eggs...." 
Char: (even more confused) "That makes no sense! Eggs belong either in a bird's nest or your stomach." Kamilla: "Yes, but if you were to do this where would you hide an egg?" 
Char: "I do not understand this world."

Tam Lin: "Easter omelettes."

Areni: "Under a bridge, or up in a tower in Rhiassa. Because we have a lot of those in Rhiassa, bridges and towers."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An Announcement from Sir Tao

Announcing Sir Tao’s new player challenge:

If you have been playing for less than one calendar year and,
if you have not taken Tao’s new player challenge before:

Come see Sir Tao of Blackwood. He is the distinguished (old) guy who is being turned into a troll, so he has the funny ears. He can usually be found somewhere around casinos, food, or fire pits. 

(This is both an in and out of character thing)

Why I want To Go: Neden BBQ

This weekend, shake off your winter dust at an Order of the List tournament and get a jump on this year's points.
If the Order of the List on not on YOUR list of things to do, check out the Casino.  Who likes to win gold?  We all do!
Theres also shopping, and food.  I still don't get how people don't like shopping, but every one loves a good old fashioned BBQ.
In addition to the Order of the List fights, there will be some other fun tournaments going on.  And while we all know Neden is a super peace loving crowd, there are rumors of odd things in the woods. Im sure they are just looking for hot dogs, though.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

View Award Nominee Profile- Michael Zajac- Bard

Photo by Jesse Gifford
How many times did you perform in 2015?

Last year was quite the whirlpool of activity for Swoop, with many occasions to perform, especially since I’ve tried to expand my performance schedule within the Realms in various mediums. From chamber music, to tournament competitions to general merry making, I have been active on the tavern stages in many venues. Officially, I believe I have competed in 4 sanctioned bardic tourneys, and been asked to provide music about 3-4 separate occasions.

Why do you opt to perform in Realms?

While there are many good reasons to perform for your friends that I would normally spout to anyone remotely interested in performing at an event, I come from a different point of motivation. As a full time music student I do not lack performance opportunities in the real world and thus use larping as a venue for fulfilling an unmet need in my daily life. Similar to the merchants who offer high quality, low priced garb and weapons so that many people can utilize them to improve their and fellow players’ immersion, I offer my service on behalf of a better game. From the ballad of the great battle or fallen hero whom many remember dearly, to a playful cadence that springs the tavern to their feet, live music has a way of adding much to the atmosphere of any event. As many of our events are causes for celebration of fellowship, hard work and community, the addition of music is often the missing element that conveys the mirth of when we come together to revel in our shared fantasy world.

What do you do for performances and what are some things you keep in mind that you feel helps to make you successful? 

I will break this question into two sections, since the main two formats of performing, tournament competitions and tavern ambience performances, or “gigs”, require two separate methods of preparation.

For announced tournaments, I always do wholly original compositions. There is much history hidden in away in various libraries, tales and adventuring minds that deserves to be codified into song. Usually with enough foresight, the quest can be broken into three steps. The first step is collecting the story itself. After hearing a hot tip of a past event or deciding on a general theme to cover, I’ll contact my older connected sources who can guide me to a person who had personal experience or a trove of information (such as the library of Ivory or the various Realms websites). From there I’ll conduct an interview or research all the major points and important details of the event in question, sometimes seeking multiple sources for clarity. The next step is always the hardest, the composing. I’ll let The View and its readers onto a little secret from the bards: most people are foggy on what true “period music” sounds like, so composition choices are vast. The first and hardest choice is always on the stylistic setting of the piece. From the Renaissance to Baroque, to writing swing and rap tunes, I have run the gamut. Often my guiding factor is the character or central emotion of the subject to portray. Then I begin the inner workings of the piece, lyrics and chords and catchy choruses and such, which is a nice exercise due to the lack of composing in real life which takes a week. Also, writing lyrics has been a new frontier, since apparently words are hard.

Photo by Dustin Mack
For setting up for a gig, the process is more about quantity over quality. Usually I aim for 8-9 songs, which goes about 45 minutes, an hour with some percussive interludes. I usually stick to a certain genre, such as Irish or sea chanteys, to give a sense of unity to the set. Then there is the task of finding selections of songs and, when possible, editing in some Realms culture into the lyrics. The rehearsals usually take longer for these performances, due to the increased bulk of music needed, though having recordings and other resources helps.

For the third step of both types of performances, the warm-up before is a pivotal step. Depending on my comfort level with piece(s) I may do a quick rehearsal over any sections or songs that need reinforcing. The form of the piece is where the most problems lurk, so as long as that run smoothly,
the song usually goes well. When I work with an accompanist I or instrumentalist we usually tune, do
some technical warmups, then a full run through the piece or pieces. I try to not warm-up too early for a performance, lest nerves or being cold impact my performance, usually within 15-25 minutes. Being able to break away from the crowd and find a quiet spot to focus is a key component of my pre-performance success.

What are some of the challenges you face regarding performing?

Especially with performing my own pieces in tourneys, nerves affect my breathing often. While I try to remain calm before performing, it’s very nerve wracking to put your personal work out there, especially when it’s about someone and that person is out there. Otherwise, I find audiences to be respectful and very grateful of quality performances.

Tell us about a memorable moment you had while performing?

My favorite time performing was probably one that I prepared the least for, At ToC this year playing the vuvuzela for a captivated audience. I originally was not going to perform, but I believe when Effa came over and asked if I was doing something since there was a lack of performers, I remembered I had packed away a few horns, as I assume everyone does. I love having performances that are interactive with the audience, as watching people clap, stomp or dance around a fire are often the nicest compliments to a musician. Having the circle of people sit around the fire, hooting and clapping at me and a little plastic horn, was a lot of spontaneous fun.

If someone wanted to get involved in performing in Realms what advice would you have for them? 

For those out there wanting to get involved in performing, I wholly recommend it! There’s lots of skills that can be shown off to your fellow realmsies, from music to dancing, to acrobatics or comedy. The first thing I would say is practice! Though we play a game where we pretend to have skills and magic that we don’t normally have, this is something that requires rehearsal and time spent honing a craft to truly wow people. Be able to go through your whole act, without stopping, at least once or twice before the big day. Second, while you’re rehearsing, remember that you’ll be interacting with an audience as well! Showmanship goes a long way in a performance, so smiling, looking confident, and how you carry yourself whilst performing will greatly impact the audience’s opinion. Thirdly, I have had a lot of success with getting audiences involved in some minor way while I perform. Having them clap, sing a repeating line or otherwise involve themselves almost always gets people to enjoy your performance more, while also takes some the of the stress of the solo spotlight off yourself. The key thing with this is it must be tasteful, so less can be more. Finally, remember the Realms is a magic space for many people to flaunt their more eccentric sides, so many people are very open and offer a good forgiving audience, perfect for the enterprising bard. So go out there, have fun and make some moments happen!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Good Taste: Feast Review for Highbridge IV

[Editor's Note: photos courtesy of Jason Rosa; bangers and mash photo courtesy of Britny Fowler]

Highbridge is an event known for its daytime education (fun, IC classes taught by PCs to PCs) and for its immense feast.  In the past, Rhiannon set a table of devastatingly good food.  This year,  Melissa managed to fill those shoes (and bellies) in an amazing fashion.  While this was my first Highbridge, I was stunned at how tasty the food was.  While I do not claim to be a gourmand of any sort, I do love food.  Of course there were a few glitches, but these are unavoidable when serving such a massive amount of food pre plated.  Many dishes came out cool, but still incredibly tasty.  Each course had a MADE FROM SCRATCH bread to go with it.  What?!?!  No, seriously.  I could have been thrilled with the breads alone.  But why stop there?

The first course was the "salad course"  Out came these delightful little plates with baby spinach, dots of balsamic, a pecan half, and topped with a goat cheese filled raspberry.  It looked like a little bloom,
and I was pretty excited, but shocked, as this is not what I heard about for portion size.  I gobbled down my raspberry and nut, and quickly stole a few others.
This lead to a fun IC interaction between Atticus/Tam Lin (the host) and Aymise having a fun argument about portion size.  She rectified the situation with a different salad:Below is a picture of the "salad course".  Bangers and mash with proper brown gravy, served with a side of peas with mint.  
Due to my diet, I missed out on the delicious traditional bangers, and was served the vegetarian version, of veggie Italian sausage with mushroom gravy on mashed.  While the Italian sausage didn't mesh perfectly with mushroom gravy, the gravy and potatoes were delish, and the portion size was intimidating.  I ate about half the dish.  The star of the course, in my mind, was the home made Parker House Rolls.  They were little half circles of delight, I would have eaten about 6 given the chance.  There was no chance to steal any, as everyone else promptly devoured theirs.

After the "salad" course was a soup course.  creamy and smooth potato and leek soup was simple but elegant.  Its hard to get the flavor balance right for this soup, it can easily be bland, or too oniony, but this was just luscious. It was served with home made rosemary focaccia that was crispy and chewy.  
A small (though bigger than the first salad) salad of spinach, goat cheese, candied pecans and a fresh raspberry vinaigrette rounded out the course.  This is the one course I ate everything (the portion was very reasonable)

While some people might have seen this as a strange detour from the traditional English fare we had been feasting on, the chicken curry is, in fact, a very very common dish at English dinner tables.  This
curry was very well spiced, no easy task.  The palette of the chef behind this dish was able to balance the flavor and heat in a way that most people cannot hit.  The choice of chicken thigh meat was the way to go, as many other cuts of chicken can easily dry out before picking up the flavor from the sauce.  Served with a wonderful, crispy naan.

At this point, we were starting to feel the effects of 3 full meals served (each course was a meal unto itself, by design)  Many plates were going back tot he kitchen with a  lot of food still on them.  Sadly, mine was included.  To mangle a song quote:  The spirt it willing, but the flesh is getting full.  
Thankfully, we got a 'break' with a palette cleanser.  There was some dickering at the table about the flavor of the sorbet, but it was a lemon/lime basil.  The first flavor was a sweet, syrupy taste, which was followed by a citrus zing, and the herby greenness of the basil.  Perfect texture.  Many people asked for seconds on this course.

For those who had the professor package, a croquembouche of profiteroles filled with cream and drizzled with chocolate could be had.  Again, very well executed, pretty to look at, and just as
delightful on the tongue.

This was the knock out course for me.  1- after this, I couldn't eat any more.  2- I am sure the nothing could top this course, it blew me away.  
I ordered the beef, and was shocked at the rare roast beef with roasted veggies, asparagus, and
yorkshire pudding.  This is one of my favorite dishes, so I was beside myself.  The only complaint is the food was cold when it hit the table, but this is nothing against the chef.  When serving 40 plated dishes at once, some are going to get cool before they hit the table.  The beef was perfectly cooked.  PERFECT.  I got crispy edges with seasoning, rare center, and incredibly tender.  The roast potatoes were nice, and the yorkshire pudding was filled with nostalgia for me.  fluffy and crispy, with a slight chewy texture, yorkshire pudding should be served more often.

The trio of desserts (each full sized) included sticky toffee pudding, treacle tarts, and banofee cupcakes.  

To round out the meal, tea was served.  Not just the beverage, mind you.  No, proper English (low) tea.  Scones, sandwiches, and other snacks.  Which no one had the room for.  A shame, it all looks lovely.  

In sum, this feast was fantastic.  Easily one of, if not THE, best feasts I have been to.  The flavors were all perfectly balanced, the theme was clear and adhered to.  The only negatives were minor: cold food, and an upsetting amount of wasted food due to portion size.  While I understand the point is to have an overwhelming amount of food, it was kind of heartbreaking to see so much of the delicious food sent back to the kitchen, then to the trash.  Half portions of the servings would still be a meal unto themselves, and would allow folks to enjoy (most) of each course.
This feast is absolutely worth the drive and the price.  I ate better here than I would at most restaurants.
All in all, I know I will be trying my damnedest to hit this feast next year.

On NPCing by Keith "Saegan" Cronin

NPCing is an important part of our game. Some people don’t really like doing it, but everyone should at the very least appreciate the people who do do it. When I NPC my favorite thing to do is to actually just be a crunchy. Personally I’m not much for a the big flashy roles, like the big bad, or the five man dragon, no I want to be a lowly goblin, or a delicate kobold. I want to be guard #7, or “that pirate over there”. For me it has the least pressure, but it also gives the most opportunity to interact, and create the background of the story. So here I’ve written my guidelines on how to be more crunchy.-

  1. Understand the narrative.- Whenever we have NPCs at an event, we’re trying to tell some sort of story. Whether it’s a simple forray into a long forgotten castle, or a treacherous trip down memory lane, the EHs have some reason for needing you to NPC. Having an idea of what that is can only help you play the part.
They may not give you much to go off of. They may say something like “Big Bad is leading them down this road to the next encounter, you’re helping.” But that gives you an objective, you’re bait. So work with that. Call out to the PCs, be loud. Get their attention, and let them know you’re something to interact with. But do it in character. Don’t shout “Hey PCs come this way!” when you can say “Gobo smells something yummy!”  Any flavor you provide will only add to the experience.

  1. Don’t be competitive.- Every now and then you see an NPC that just sort of abuses the abilities that comes along with being an NPC, whether that’s the unlimited nature of the lives, or some hefty special calls. And you see them just going through and killing all the players. Whether it’s spawning directly behind them, or tapping their weapons with fireball swings. Sometimes you might ask yourself “Did the EH want them to do that?” but you can usually tell, because if it’s just one NPC, that NPC is just got their competitive spirit going and they need to take a second to cool it down. 

  2. Think about the powers you’re given.- Powers are given for two reasons: To help the narrative, or to provide balance. Are there only three of you NPCing? Were you told you could swing fireball on every swing? Are there 50 PCs? You might want those fireballs. Are there 5 PCs? Well, that might be a different story. Another aspect of understanding the powers you’re given is, making sure you know what they do. If you have some wonky weapon call, understand it before you use it. There will always be that one PC that missed the rules, and doesn’t know that the goblins can insta-scalp him. If you don’t understand it, I would encourage you not to use it until you can get clarification on how it’s supposed to be used. It could be a simple step to the side with another of the NPCs and just asking, but it’ll save some trouble for the roaming Magic Marshall if you can explain what your own powers do. 

  3. Don’t be afraid to provide challenge.- Now that I’ve got you worried about competitively swinging fireballs, I’m going to tell you not to be afraid to provide a challenge. Narratives need challenges, and conflicts. It’s okay to bring the PCs to the brink of failure. It’s okay for them to fail. In fact they should fail sometimes, because then they’ll go get help. They’ll go get help and they’ll come back, and try harder, and if they do win, it’ll be a better memory for them. It will be more fun for them, and that is the heart of NPCing right there. 

  4. Interact. You might think standing in the dark in a field, casually bopping someone on the head is enough. That you’ve done your part. But that’s only one dimension of NPCing. You need to interact as much as you can, whether it’s talking, gesturing, or straight up frontin’. Give them something to interact with and you’ll make the experience better for them. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What You Missed! Feast of Highbridge

[Editor's note: all photos by Britny Fowler]

Etiquette Class

Important discussions taking place

Always time to squeeze in some gambling....

Magi round-table discussion (sans table)

Feast is in full swing

And now it's time for tea...

Delicious-looking desserts

Tune in tomorrow for a What You Missed feature dedicated exclusively to the food!

What You Missed, Feast of Highbridge

Written by Britny Fowler

Classes portion
An amazing event is what (you missed). For some reason I ignored realms time and actually showed up a little before the event to register for classes. Tam Lin had everything neatly arranged and organized with different “periods” throughout the day for those of us who forgot to pre-reg our classes to be able to make a cohesive schedule. We had paper printouts with a grid of the schedule to help us keep track and direct us where in the University our classes were.

Let me just speak about the site for a moment, if you’ve never been there it’s amazing. It’s a huge old stone building that the Shakers once lived in turned into a museum with hotel rooms. Two huge great halls, one that we used as the main room and one used first for dance classes and then as the dining hall for the feast.

Throughout the day there was a dayboard of fresh bread, honey butter, chips and a couple of types of cheese for everyone along with water, tea, and coffee. For those of us who had paid for the professor package there was also a never ending cheese cart with at least two dozen different cheeses throughout the day, crackers, various olives, pickles, tea time sandwiches, and granola. Let me tell you, if you are ever looking at this event and debating between the regular package and the professor package, always choose professor package if you can.

There were four different time slots for classes throughout the day, with classes ranging from Magic Missile Theory to Economics, the full list at the end of this article. In addition to these classes there was also a challenge set up by the Knights of the Realms. You had the option to sign up individually for a 20 minute time slot with the knights for this challenge, and again, if you are stuck debating, just do it. It is well worth it.

I myself had the opportunity to take, Auroran Sign Language with Sir Iawen Penn, Intermediate Dance with Dame Cimone, Introduction to Etiquette and Refinement, taught by Dame Freesia, and Questing Skills, taught by Kovaks. In between ASL and Dance I met with the KoR for my challenge and can tell you it was great, and it’s different for everyone.

In between classes I kept making raids on the cheese cart and wandered around the university. Some people came and went throughout the day that just happened to be passing through but couldn’t come to classes or the feast. After classes were done I had some free time to explore before the feast while the Magi Roundtable met in the main hall. That almost turned into a mess… something about King Cecil being late because he was off scalped somewhere? I was told not to worry; it was normal. Also of note that throughout the day a Time Snarl kept appearing throughout the university. Someone tried putting a CoP around it but that didn’t last long as someone got curious. I DO NOT want to know what weird time things were done and which angry Drow gods are involved this time.

Feast of Highbridge: Class list
KOR: Knights of the Realms Challenge
BARD 102: Musical Practices of the Ancient Bard - Swoop
CRAFTING 108: Teng Huanese Cord Wrapping - Sir Lysis
DEMONOLOGY 100: Basics of Demonology - Sir Rhaeden
ECONOMICS 104: Coinage and Its Usage - Sir Shean
ECONOMICS 203: Running a Successful Business In the Realms - Kyomi
ETIQUETTE 102: Etiquette and Refinement - Sir Freesia
ETIQUETTE 202: Feast Attending and Eating - Magus Faelinn
GAME THEORY 101: Statistical Analysis as Defined by Probability - Sir Tao
HERBOLOGY 167: An Introduction to Tea - Sonya
HERBOLOGY 267: Intermediate Topics in Tea - Eve
PHYSICAL EDUCATION 111: Self Defense - Sir Lysis
PHYSICAL EDUCATION 114: Introduction to Dance - Dame Cimone
PHYSICAL EDUCATION 384: Dance Independent Study - Dame Cimone
RECENT RUNES 103: Introduction to Beast Runes - Magus Rel
RECENT RUNES 105: Introduction to Fae Runes - Sir Rosetta
SORCERY 105: Introduction to Magic Missile - Magus Rel
WISDOM 105: Questing Skills - Beyond Spells and Swords - Sir Kovaks
WISDOM 223: Puzzle Solving - Magus Janus
WISDOM 251: Auroran Sign Language - Sir Iawen

What you missed Feast of Highbridge, the actual feast.

Finally it was time for the actual feast. We all go downstairs to see the huge U-shaped table set up with full silverware sets and goblets of water. As we all find our seats those of us who got the professor package were called up for rootbeer floats, which turned out to be BOTTOMLESS rootbeer floats. Then the servants brought out the salad course, instantly our minds went to Tam Lin’s announcement about how there would be little food because this was low tea, as we saw the plates with an artful arrangement with three baby spinach leaves, a single goat cheese stuffed raspberry, and a couple drops of chocolate sauce. Suddenly Tam Lin shouts for the cook, angrily berating her for this insult to the university and the servants come out with our actual “salad” bangers and mash. After this course was a hearty potato leek soup, followed by the serving of alcohol and chicken curry over rice. After that was a light palate cleanser of sorbet along with the reopening of the cheese cart for those of us with the professor package. Did I mention that you should REALLY get the professor package!? This time the cheese cart also had little mini cream puffs and was even more amazing!!!

After the sorbet was the main course of either beef or poultry, with puff pastry and a vegetable, followed by a huge trifecta of dessert in the form of a tart, a cake covered in gooey caramel, and a cupcake thing with toffee and banana in it that I don’t remember what it was called but it was amazing.

We all spent the evening, eating, drinking and being merry. Talk of the current war in Fairie and the invasion of the Realms by the Risen Kingdom was had, and also talk of classes from the day. I know at least one person who signed up for the university as a regular student. There was also discussion of elven heritage, along with the theory that elves are created at 200 years old and never have childhoods. Some talk of planer theory and inter-planer travel.

Of course while this was all going on there was a group gambling and playing other games of chance on one side of the room. Loud raucous tales were told, and a grand old time was had by all.

This year the Kitchen at Highbridge was run by Melissa/Aymise for the first time ever and she did a phenomenal job with her staff of roughly a dozen people cooking and serving over the course of the event. The food was impressive, the sheer quantity astounding, and also whatever you do, DO NOT take Sir Tao’s bet of trying to eat every bite of each course in front of you. If you need more reason behind this… ask Swoop.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How to Make Gold and Influence People by James "Tao" Murphy

So I run a casino, and a question I am often asked is: "How can other people make gold?" My usual answer is to go adventuring, kill things with pointy teeth and take their stuff. However, Edanoe has recently decided that my “Kill it, it’s got pointy teeth!” philosophy is not-so-good. As a matter of fact it’s bad, and I should feel bad. As part of me being turned into a troll, I have stated to realize that there might be better ways to earn gold. 

Here are a few:

Help people with gold do things, like unpack ca….wagons, haul boxes into feast halls, generally be available to pick things up and put them down.

If you are handy, and can make things, make them and sell them for gold. That’s right, have a shop that sells stuff. Here are some of the good and bad parts of that. You get gold, you are invited to feasts, you get special seating at feasts away from your friends and countrymen, you have to bring extra stuff to events, you eventually have enough gold to hire people to pick things up and put them down for you. Some other things to consider are that you take green stuff in some place called the "real world" and have to give some of it up for materials, etc. Welcome to the greater economy.

If you can cook stuff: cook stuff to sell at non-feasts (bringing food to a feast is not a good idea). You get to be popular, people like you, you are feeding them. However, you bring extra stuff to events, you take the risk of making stuff that no one might like, having things go to waste, having your friends give you puppy-dog eyes because they don’t have any gold but want your yum-yums. Things to think about: green stuff, real world, greater economy.

Quick note about “cook stuff:” a while back I was part of a successful “Smachies” shop. We literally brought a few loaves of bread, some basic sandwich stuff, and sold “Smachies” so the idea of cooking does not have to involve heat.

And of course, like the Blackwood Clontarf Casino; offer distractions, hopes, dreams, disappointments, and thrills. Things to think about: green stuff to buy equipment, bringing said equipment to and from events, casinos can have bad days, sitting behind a table for hours at a time, not eating at feasts, everyone thinking you have more gold then you do (well, this may or may not be true), asking friends to do the same, paying dealers even when the casino has a bad day, celebrating when someone wins a lot of gold.

If you provide a thing or provide a service, or something that someone else will pay for, you can get gold. If you have gold and you pay for stuff, you get stuff, then that person has gold to buy stuff.

Welcome to the greater economy.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Bads in Black: Interview with Lord Goldmist

We meet them almost weekly as we square off against them, losing life and limb so constantly I believe certain adventurers have discounts on revival magic.

But what lies behind the mask?

What makes there nature so incompatible with the rest of us. I mean I eat people, why can people deal with that and not a kobold? To uncover this, I Jean Baptise, ace reporter (Sorry)… a reporter , will go to deadly realms and forbidden kingdoms in what I like to call

Bads in Black

For my Pilot episode we are going to uncover the most recent threat, the Risen Kingdom, a group from an outside universe controlling monsters made of the void itself. They are led by the Warrior-Diplomat Emissary Starblade who will be my interviewee.

Or so I’d like to say but he is as the laymen put it “An asshole”, who is uninterested in interviews that don’t distract the warriors of the realms from tanning his hide as red as his tabard. Point being he wouldn’t accept an interview. So I found someone else who will accept an interview to talk smack about him, which he will never be able to defend unless he agrees to an interview. In short: I win.
Picture "borrowed" and "improved" by Jean Baptiste

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What You Missed - Blue Rose Charity Casino Night (photos)

Perusing the auction items

A sampling of the items available

The poker tournament

Poker tourney jackpot

Enjoying table games

Sealed deck Magic Tournament

The man himself, with a snazzy new accessory

Kwartz chats up the room (photo by Casey Lemay)

How many people does it take to hang a pinata?

That sword (and part of the pinata) is toast

Unfolded Bob Buck and other rare currency, part of the cash auction

High and low stakes bingo prizes (photo by Casey Lemay)

Aeston calls bingo (photo by Casey Lemay)

Sampling the delicious spread

The Clontarf Casino is busy (photo by Casey Lemay)

The crowded hall (photo by Casey Lemay)

Therian tests his mettle in Deal or No Deal

Kevin expresses his heartfelt thanks

What You Missed - Blue Rose Charity Casino Night by Jason "Aeston" Rosa

[EDITOR'S NOTE: included at the bottom of the page is a special thank-you from Kevin "Kwartz" DeSousa]

As I have been assigned the enviable task of writing up the “What You Missed” for the Charity Casino Night, I want to use this forum as an opportunity to do a couple other things concurrently. I would like to explain to all of you how the event took form due to the overwhelming support for one another that we create as a community, and I want to earnestly thank the individuals who made the event successful.
It began, of course, with a tragic event. It's a terrible thing, but it wouldn't be right if we ignored the fact that all of this was set in motion because of a horrible moment that changed someone's life forever. On a day in January, Manny DeSousa, sister of one of our community's most storied members, Kevin (Kwartz) DeSousa, was struck by a vehicle when she was crossing the street in Boston. She sustained serious head injuries and was admitted in critical condition to the hospital. 

Kevin had been living, somewhat reclusively, in Colorado for the past few years, but the relationships forged in our community do not so easily wither with distance or time. Kevin was a Knight of the Blue Rose, an Order that prides itself on brotherhood and taking care of one another. And it was a fellow knight, one of Kevin’s oldest friends, Ray McGuirk, who first brought the idea of this event to the table. We had raised money for community members in the past to great effect, so we knew we would have success throwing a fundraising event to help Manny's family. The Knights got together to plan. The loose shape of a social event with gambling and food began to take shape. PJ Gray arranged for the hall, and since the Order of the Moose makes its hall available for free for charity events and since PJ had a previous relationship with them, we were able to eliminate a significant expense from our overhead.

Somewhere along the line, the idea changed from "generic social event" to Casino Night. James Murphy had already volunteered his services to help entertain people, but all of a sudden the main burden of entertainment would be on the Clontarf Casino. It would take a lot of transport, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. But James didn't even hesitate. He made available all of his equipment and all of his experience, and the wealth of suggestions and advice he gave was even more valuable than the substantial amount of gold he contributed to the effort. 

But if there was one moment, one act, that made this event gain the momentum it needed to be efficacious, it was the generosity of Henry Giasson, who of his own accord picked up the phone and offered to fly Kevin in for the weekend. Our initial thought was that we would have a humble, laid back event that would be able to earn a modest amount for the charity, but with the boon of Kevin attending, all of a sudden the concept took on a life of its own. The promise of him being with us stirred many people to action, securing promises of help and attendance that went far beyond what we initially expected. Henry, through his selflessness, had elevated every aspect of what we sought to do.

Other parts continued to fall into place as people stepped up to help. Steve Hinkle, proprietor of NexGen Comics, offered to run a sealed booster Magic tournament to draw more people in. People and nations began to pledge goods and event entries: Grimloch and the Bronze Forge, Karmha Creations, Chaos Dwarf Armory, Blackwood and the Clontarf Casino, NexGen Comics, Rhiassa and the Gilded Lion, Neden and Baptiste Butchery, Ashenmark, Chimeron and Realms Outfitters, Eagle’s Rook, the Gambler’s Guild (and especially John Berman), Creathorne and especially a wealth of valuable items from Andy Disbrow, and Folkestone. Members of every group above donated items and certificates to the auctions, gold to the cache we had to sell, and food for our various dinners, and none of them were the least bit shy about donating cash on top of all of these things as well.

The event itself welcomed people from all around the Realms. Members of Ashenmark, Rhiassa, Grimloch, Invictus, Creathorne, Neden, Chimeron, Blackwood, Folkestone, The Blackhearts, The Oaken Guard, Mythguard, and an array of other individuals as well. People who had been friends with Kevin for decades, and people that had never met him before. People who showed up to have fun, people who showed up with the intention to spend hundreds of dollars. It was a true community event, and it demonstrated how deeply everyone feels the bonds of that community when they know others need them the most.

We did our best to provide as much entertainment as we could, all with the hope of earning money for the charity. People bought gold as they arrived and gambled at table games all night long. We had 16 entrants to the high-stakes poker tournament, which I am told is the largest Stacked Deck table to date. People were served drinks from the bar and ate from the vast array of food that we had available, a first dinner, a second dinner, and dessert. The Magic tournament went on into the night. People beat a piñata for candy and gold, people played bingo for an array of small prizes, people spent money on tickets for the prize auction and for the cash 50/50. The Clontarf Casino hosted games of Deal or No Deal that solicited much excitement and many spectators. The cash-bidding auction showed off some of the most impressive items I had yet to see at an event.

As we got to the end of the night, my wife and I counted up the donations as best as we could. In the end the sales of gold (including the limited edition Blue Rose coin) amounted to just about $3500. Sales of tickets for both the prize auction and the 50/50 were about $700. The cash-bidding auction itself raised just shy of $1000. Event admission fees were well in excess of $1000, with 100% of that money going right to the charity. Including bingo, the piñata, and people donating money just for the sake of doing so, all in all the grand total of the night (after a couple of recountings) was an even $6700. It was more than any of us expected, and we tried, feebly, to express the depth of our gratitude that night to everyone in attendance.

When Kevin spoke to the crowd at the end, he spoke about family, and friends, and how looking out for one another is at the very core of who we are as a community. We use that word alot, “community.” In those times when we are at odds with one another, which can be often, the word is sometimes spat out as an insult. I’ve seen the word leveraged as guilt, I’ve seen the word muddied with personal grievances. It’s not always a word that we treat as respectfully as we might, given that what we have built here in this world is in a lot of ways very unique. But during times like these, times where we are besieged by tragedy and must rely on one another, that is when the value of this community shows itself. At the Blue Rose Charity Casino Night we came together as a community. We came together to celebrate our friendships. We came together to accomplish an important task for all the right reasons.

To everyone who participated in the evening -  those who planned, those who donated, and those who attended, you have my deepest thanks, and the thanks of everyone in the Knightly Order. We are very proud of what we were able to accomplish together. You should all take pride in it as well.

A special thank-you from Kevin "Kwartz" DeSousa:
Before I left, I’ve been playing this game for 14yrs.  I’ve been gone for 7yrs and the kindness and generosity that I saw and felt on Saturday March 12th, was the single most humbling experience I have ever felt.  My mom used to hate the fact that I would spend all this money for events weekend after weekend after weekend but I would let her know that the people I hang out with on the weekend are like my extended family.  That proved true at the Blue Rose Casino Event, raising $6500 for my sister, to help with hospital bills, to help with rehab, and her future is phenomenal.   Also to be accepted like I did by players that I never even met was also a fantastic experience.  By the way Phoenix, you owe Rubis a new Harry Potter Scarf!!! 

   I did call my parents in Portugal @ 6am in the morning to let them know how AWESOME you all are!  The next day when I gave the lockbox to my niece and had her open it in front of the family tears came to our eyes.  I can sit here and say thank you until I’m blue in the face but I don’t think those words do you all justice.  Everyone who went to the event, donated money and time to assist the Blue Rose you are all AMAZING, and I can say without a doubt that March 12th will go down as the greatest event I have ever been too.   So since I have a small English vocabulary, “FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY FAMILY’S HEART, THANK YOU!”