Friday, March 31, 2017

Armored up at the Art Gallery

Welcome to the Art Gallery!
Athame Armory at the View from Valehaven Art Gallery

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Design Talks: Content Distribution

By Michael “Swoop” Zajac

Greetings! Welcome to a new article series where we will discuss various facets of game design in relation to our game. One of the key aspects of our community is the ability of any person’s ability to host an event. Due to this, any person who will be hosting will need to design activities for players to participate with, otherwise known as content. Great effort goes into great events, and the design and planning of these events are no exception. Keeping some principles of game design in mind while designing encounters and dungeons will aid greatly, which we will break down here. While not every person may go on to hosting an event, learning about how content can be designed and structured as a player can help give a vocabulary to any player to express and critique events and guide them towards events that cater to their needs.

Content Distribution
So you’ve decided you’re going to throw an event. You have a story you want to tell, have some cool ideas for some fights, maybe some interesting mechanics to mix up some aspect of the game. But how will players find your content? Will it it walk up to them, punch them in the face and scurry away, begging to be chased? Is it out in the world, needing to be found through investigating or talking to the right people? Whatever it may be, how your players reach the content can be just as interesting as the activity itself, and while some styles lend themselves to a certain style, an event holder can vary their distribution style to offer variety and choice to the players. Here I will offer three, each with its own pros and cons, but these can overlap and are only guiding archetypes that can be mixed and matched to offer new styles.

  1. Linear Progression
    The “Fight Down the Path” style quest
This style of questing should be familiar to many who have braved a few quests in the Realms. Whether it be fighting down a path to an objective, completing that objective, then moving on to the next objective farther down the path, or maybe a classic Riley Commons dungeon crawl, engaging in an interesting encounter in the main room then squeezing into the side rooms while the next room “loads”. Whatever form it may take, linear progression is popular in our game for a few possible reasons. Basically, you have a long path or series of rooms for your players to traverse with interesting encounters or things for the players to interact with at certain places. They achieve the objective, then move on to the next room in order predesignated by the event holder, progressing to an end goal, which may be a boss creature or some other summative test of the players.

Pros: This is likely one of the easiest styles to design, as it gives the EH the highest medium of control over the event, including things like pacing and resource (aka NPC) management and also narrative. This control lets EHs play with some effects and ideas that would not be feasible without this level of control, such as time sensitive effects or having dedicated NPC(s) be present when players arrive. Getting the players to the content is easy, as once they’re on the path there is a singular direction to move for progression and the next objective is usually within sight. Barring time constraints, this also guarantees all of your content is utilized. Setting the order in which players access the content also allows the EH to structure the progression in a logical way, gradually increasing in complexity and difficulty.

With great control comes great responsibility, and in this medium it is no different. While this style allows for great control over pacing and other aspects, because there is only one source of content  it also demands strength in logistics like organizing NPCs into their new roles and setting up the next objective and necessary props quickly to minimize players waiting around doing nothing. This can be tough both on the NPCs and EH, as they will constantly be bounding from objective to objective with little time to recuperate, which can cause both parties to diminish in effectiveness. There is also the problem of the fail state; can your players actually fail the objective? Since there is only one path of progression, the whole party dieing or some similar state can leave the EH and NPCs in a tough place. Do you give the party a Deus Ex Machina and Cry of Life them back, or do you tell your NPCs to back off if they killed too many players even the monsters have no tactical reason to let some PCs live? What if they get off track and take so long the EH would have to cut content that is integral to the plot or progression of the event? Not allowing a fail state can make the PCs feel their actions have no impact on the event, which can lead to disengagement. Speaking of engagement, one of the biggest problems with linear quests are issues with engagement. When you have one path of content, all the players will go down this path. It can very challenging to engage 30-50 players at a time, as most events will not have a 1:1 NPC to PC rate for combat modules and most puzzles or people to talk to can only handle a handful of people engaging with it at a time. This problem manifests in another classic Realms trope: the Questing Blob. A line of fighters, a line of support casters, then a bunch of people being jostled along in the middle, not interacting with anything and possibly waiting to get a chance to interact with some content. Seeing how the two rows of active participants are often only a portion of the questing party, this means usually the majority of your PCs are not being engaged with the content.

When Designing

Take Advantage of Space: If you are using a repeating area for a dungeon crawl, such as Riley, consider utilizing the space to its fullest potential. Speakers can be placed throughout the area for music and sound, access to electricity can allow special effects like lights or other props. On open event sites, consider what props can be preloaded at the beginning of the day to cut down on loading time between loading times.
Delegate: While we won’t discuss the logistics of running an event often, because pacing is key to engaging play, delegating responsibilities can be an important part of the design process. Designing with a head NPC or a team dedicated to setting up props in mind can free the EH up to make sure everything's running smoothly, allowing for smooth transitions between modules.
Flexible Modules: Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. Players quickly breeze through a room, or more likely, players take more time than anticipated. While some rooms always need to be in a dungeon in for various reasons, having extra rooms that can be added, cut or rearranged during the crawl can help keep timing and pacing on track. The key point is to see the problem coming early by putting time checkpoints in your event plan, as it’s much easier to choose which room to cut early in the day than when there are only a few key rooms left.
Optional Objectives: When there is one path that players must progress down in order to make progress, it can be a tough balance between making it easy so that every room can be passed in a decent time while also offering satisfying challenge to encounter. One possibility is to add optional objectives to each room. Timed challenges, random townspeople that need to be saved with some challenging twist, killing a monster in a specific way to gain more treasure, these are all optional challenges that still let the quest progress, but gives more skilled players a deeper challenge to gain more rewards. This lets PCs choose their difficulty level yet cater to multiple levels of skill, a key aspect of differentiated play.

Example Events: W.I.G.O.H 2, Ashen Bounty, Bind the Tide

The above are merely a few observations and suggestions for running an event using this style, and by no means cover all aspects. What are some suggestions for running a linear event that weren’t mentioned here? Have a pro or con that you think is should be mentioned? Feel free to drop a comment and ask questions, this is a talk! Next installment we will discuss open world style questing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What You Missed - Feast of Highbridge V

by Megan "Kyomi" Matulewicz 

For the past several years, the University of Highbridge has opened its doors to an open class day and Low Tea.  Now, I’m not sure about the Fae folk, but when Lord Atticus talks about the quality and quantity of food, he seriously downplays it.  Honestly, I’m not sure why seats for the feast don’t fill up within the first 24 hours.  
I have to give praise for the day board.  A wide selection of fruits and veggies were available for snacking during classes.  Each was presented in its own bowl for those with food sensitivities as well as gluten free options labeled.  Beverages included fruited waters, sweet and unsweet tea (actual tea, not the powder), coffee, tea, and cocoa.  
Then there’s the CHEESE.  How much cheese can you eat?  I think each year there is a minimum of a dozen different types of hard and soft cheeses of the highest quality, varieties that I recognize and occasionally purchase as a treat and new ones that tantalize the guests.  This year, Atticus and I were competing for the last nibbles of Humbolt Fog, a creamy, crumbly, tangy goat cheese that’s aged in ash.
While snacking was available, guests were attending a wide variety of classes.  Highlights include multiple leather workshops hosted by Heiger.  He provided all materials and guided students in creating a bracelet, circlet, and pouch.  Imagine, custom making your own leather!  Happy students were showing off color stained hands and wearing their creations at dinner.  Guest professors introduced a new style of magic called wand dueling.  It’s kind of like sparring, but with wands instead of swords.  Other highlights include doing some creation magic to rebuild a body of a fae that died from the aftermath of the iron road, dancing classes, guided meditation, and historical discussions.
The Feast/Low Tea began shortly after the end of classes.  An elegant menu was prepared by Aymise and her staff.  Each of 6+ courses was elegantly plated with complex flavors and unique recipes.  There were even travel containers so guests could enjoy leftovers the next day.  Finally, at the end of all that, guests had the option of staying in one of the rooms from a period Shaker museum.  For those of you that haven’t tried, this is really one of the best feasts around.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Can't Even, Spring Fashion

I Can't Even...
 by Sara "Zarine" Jessop
… Spring Fashion

            Last week I sat down to write about spring fashion, and how you can be the envy of all of your friends without even wearing Chartreuse. Then I got sidetracked by alcohol and the article took a drastic turn. Fortunately, spring lasts all the way until summer, so I still have plenty of time to guide you towards vernal fashion perfection.

            I have been combing through all of my fashion periodicals and attending many vogue model soirees and I can tell you that this season is going to be fabulously fun. I can't even wait, dear reader, to tell you all about it, so let us jump right in!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Arc Sphere Distortions

Arc Sphere Distortions

by Steven "Therian" Matulewicz

Friday, March 24, 2017

10 More Questions with Callahan "Syruss" Marsden

Photo by Jesse Gifford

1)    What achievement either in or out of character are you most proud of?
There are a few things that stand out to me both IC and OOC. IC I am proud to have won Champion of Queen of Hearts, Order of the List, gone through Dog Status to earn my way into Grimloch, but recently IC I am most proud of helping Nymbous guide Neden into a new era with new members. It was important to me to help this group get back to throwing multiple events, training members to NPC and staff others events as well as helping evolve the petitioners process.

OOC two things stand out, I will forever be proud of the fact that Eddie Reed, Kyle Vaihinger and myself as squires to the Blue Rose helped bring back Blue Rose into event-holding. Because of this I got to help out with many of the Blue Rose charity events raising money for members of the community who have suffered loss or illness. It was through these charity events that I got to see the strength of this community.

2)    Are you a fighter or a caster? Have you always been? How did you choose?
Throughout my career I have been everything. From fighter to three path, from support caster to quest build, I have very much enjoy trying new things in this game to see what I can excel at and improve upon. 

I chose my paths of magic based off of challenges I want to give myself (seeing how good I could get with magic missile and lightning bolt, coming up with fantastic Shaman builds, writing great rituals when I was a Channeler). Whatever I think I can have fun with, push myself to experience new things with or what I think I can add a new spin on I will try.

3)    Have you ever owned an artifact, memento, or magic item  that has meant a lot to you, and why?
I have been fortunate enough to own a lot of magic items in my career, at the height of my magic item collecting I believe I was around 22.

Magic items are fun, neat trinkets that can help remind you of a story, quest or challenge that you excelled at. Two items that stand out to me are the Mask Rohde gave to me when he ascended to be the New Dark One, and The Champion of Chaos sword given to me by Jaha that I got to design in a R2D2 looking robot sword.  But despite all of that I cherish artifacts much more.

I have this tambourine I got at a Newbie event that Janna Oakfellow-Pushee threw that I still carry to this day, multiple belt favors from various Queen of Hearts teams that still make me smile, an amazing treasure chest I got from an Awesome Lady (Areni) as a Cecil gift that Andy and I use to store the New Eden Casino funds in, and of course my Knightly Hilt given to me by Eddie Reed when he, Emilio Jimenez and myself launched our Knighthood back 2013.

4)    What group of people do you spend the most time with and why?
I generally hang out with everyone, I am a social butterfly that way. I enjoy Realms as my extended family and enjoy hanging out with many different pockets of friends. However, these days I find my time being spent a lot both IC and OOC with the Neden Boys. Whether we are event prepping, building new artifacts for our museum, working on the Hardware for Heroes bins, NPCing, questing, or weekends/weekdays get-togethers (for game nights, karaoke, dinners etc.), the Neden Crew truly is family to me and I look forward to seeing our crew all together at every opportunity we can.

5)    Who is your best friend in character and why?
My best friend IC is Nymbous O’Leary (shocker, I know). We have accomplished so many goals together and are constantly pushing each other to come up with the next crazy project or business venture.

My other best friend is Rohde, now the Dark One or Dark Rohde. Rohde (Ben Grant) pushed me so hard when I was new, his constant growth as a fighter pushed me to try and keep up, a lot of where I am skill-wise today is because of that motivation (that and late night practice with him and Jaha).
Finally Grebinar is someone who rejuvenated my Realms career, his time as my squire taught me to teach, set goals for others, but most importantly have fun with the game again. Grebinar will always have a huge special space in my heart.

6)    What event or moment had the greatest impact on you as a player?
This question is a doozy. I think the greatest moment was my first Green and Gold. Seeing the game in its large majesty with huge armies pining for the win, the epic night quest, the BBQ, my first time camping - everything about the flow of that event had me hooked.

I would also say watching the community come together for the Massey Family with Blue Rose's first charity event. It was the first time I got to see our community's charitable heart in effect, I saw the community come together for one of their own, raise much more than expected and prove to me that this community truly is a family.

7)    What event or moment had the greatest impact on your character?
Three things stand out. Rohde ascending to become the new Dark One, it was the first time I lost someone IC, he also beat me to the punch to becoming a god lol.

Jaha and I going on the quest Now To 'Scape the Serpents Tongue. Still by far one of the best quests I have ever been on. It pushed Jaha and myself with all of the fighting challenges and was one of the first times I felt that I was having an impact on the quest. This event I also got my first magic item by myself which was the Shield of Air. One of the coolest shields I ever had.

Squiring Grebinar however was the biggest impact on my character. It cause me to step up and be something for someone else, it allowed me the opportunity to pass down a wealth of knowledge I had stored up from everyone who helped me grow into the role of Knight. But as I said it reinvigorated me as a player.

8)    What is your most embarrassing moment, either IC or OOC?
Man there are so many moments….. I have never shied away from a NPC role thus having been involved in many a dresses, diapers, various body paint.
There was the Min Banana Hammock, splitting my pants crotch while commando during a Victory Ball match at Queen of Hearts, or at my first feast event (Feast of Rhiassa) signing up for a Bardic Tourney without knowing what a bardic was, I got to play a terrible impromptu game of charades to which I chose a random answer from the crowd to get off of stage as quick as possible. I just saw tourney and signed up…actually signing up for things I didn’t have the details on have lead me to many great memories.

9)    What is the best piece of advice you'd give to other players?
Get out there and learn from everyone…..There is so much to do and try so don’t be afraid to have new experiences. Everyone has something to teach and everyone has something new to learn.

10)What is the most important thing you've learned through the game?
The most important thing I have learned from the game is that if I step outside of my comfort zone, work with others, and push myself in everything I do then there is very little I can't achieve.

11) BONUS QUESTION #1: Who would you like to see the next interview be with?
Christopher Marques (Jaha)

12) BONUS QUESTION #2: Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
Yeah if you haven’t checked out a Neden event in awhile give it a shot, we are doing some really interesting things mwa ha ha . Also if you want to know more about your Friendly Neighborhood Neden boys check out:

Photo by Casey Lemay

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fate of the Unfallen

Fate of the Unfallen
as told by Steve "Torolf"Nelson

The following is a tale from the lands of my birth in Midgard. May it please Arioch and settle a portion of our debt to him. It is an ancient saga, and my people considered it a great tragedy. Traditionally it is told by a grizzled old graybeard to anxious young warriors on the eve of their first battle. And though my beard is gray I am perhaps not yet so grizzled, nor am I by any means a bard. But I will try to do it justice. It is also my hope that this telling will help the heroes of the Realms better understand the importance of Ragnarok to the Norlund Realms and the differences in how we embrace death.

The tale begins near the dawn of the current age, with a young warrior whose name has been forgotten to time. We simply call him the unfallen, although in truth he was the first of many. Some believe it is by Odin’s design that the names of all the unfallen are veiled because the forces of darkness could use such knowledge for terrible ends. Regardless, this young warrior was both strong and fearless in battle. But he also possessed great luck, which is another quality my people value. In fact, we think of it as a type of magic or power. And those who possess it are sought out as allies to help an endeavor succeed. So over the years as he rose in power and renown, other warriors soon flocked to his side, and he became something of a leader on the battlefield. And though he never became an earl or king, he certainly became what we consider a hero. Tales of great deeds and victories in battle surrounded him.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why I Want to Go, Feast of Highbridge

Why I Want to Go, Feast of Highbridge
by Diana "Kiira" LaPierre

You sure it isn't Hogwarts?

The schedules have been posted and instructors have readied the syllabi and course materials. Students will be able to expand their minds, methods, and tastes, spending a day in classes and sampling the delicious cheeses and treats throughout the day.

At Feast of Highbridge, you can pursue your academic achievement to your heart's content! There will be all sorts of classes available, including magic dueling! Bring your books, parchments, and quills: there will be plenty of notes to take, pictures to doodle, and notes to pass. Instructors of all kinds will be providing hours of enjoyment through learning and discussion.

During the afternoon, class is in session. In the evening, however, be prepared to expand the horizons of your tastebuds! The annual feast, which is legendary, will leave you bursting at the seems. Aymisara (Melissa Metzger), A.K.A. Winner of The Views Feastocrat of the Year 2016, will be providing a several course meal to delight you delectable senses. Don't forget to leave room for dessert!

I want to go to Feast of Highbridge, because cheese. Cheese cart! Mmmmmm, cheese. Also, the courses are sure to be educational and riveting, and the food delicious and abundant.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I Can't Even... Yuck

I Can't Even …
by Sara "Zarine" Jessop 

            Today is the first day of spring. Of course, you'll be reading this on the second day of spring, but nevertheless winter is over and springtime is here! Soon, the snow will melt and flowers will bloom, or at least that's what my gardener claims. It is time to cast of the heavy vestments of winter and don our lighter, more colorful apparel.

            Speaking of color, I suppose we must address the elephant in the room. The Order of the Peacock announced at this years Feast of the Leviathan that the spring color would be Chartreuse. “Zarine, what the bloody hell is Chartreuse,” I was immediately asked by half the room. The only ways that I can think to describe it involve either excrement and/or regurgitation, so it's easier for me to simply show you:

From the famous painter, Pantone.  I'm sure you've never heard of them.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Arc Sphere Distortions

Arc Sphere Distortions

by Steven "Therian" Matulewicz

Friday, March 17, 2017

What You Missed: The EHC

by Pi "Kwido" Fisher

43 proposals this year, and 25 passed.  A large number of them won’t affect your weekly adventuring, but here I am to reprise last year’s account of What You Missed: The EHC.  (Spoiler alert: you missed an opportunity to vote.)

Firstly, we wanted to give all you fighters out there a power buff, because too often we hear the complaints that casters are in a power creep.  So from now on, as long as you’re wearing armour on at least ¾ of a hit location, the entire location counts as being armoured.  So now I expect to see everyone wearing belly-button chain shirts, because everyone knows that those extra few ounces of armour slow you down too much.

Next, I want to talk about Fireballs.  They’re magical.  Because, you know, they’re balls of fire.  How often do you see those when there’s no magic involved?  Thought so.  Fireballs are basically just boulders that don’t break your stuff.  They’ll kill you, unless you’re one of those casters with Resist Magic or Resist Death.  Gone are the days of seeing a ball of fire on a quest and having no idea what it’ll do to you. Now you can sleep soundly at night assured in the knowledge that you die when it hits you or your equipment. Not really sure why your impending death helps you to sleep at night, but I'm not one to judge.

In case any of you casters were wondering, you’re allowed to use arrows and javelins that are longer than your weapon restriction.  So enjoy your comically-long arrows.

If you had any spells that allowed you to compel people to do your bidding, by turning them undead or by giving them a death wish or by making them answer your questions, you should read the new Compulsion Caveat.  It makes them all consistent in what you can and cannot do.

If you rewrite your spellbook and get the signature of the EH or MM when you grandfather (which you probably won’t do this year), that signature will be able to replace the need to get signatures of the people who taught you your spells.  If you wash your spellbook or have some other reason to rewrite your spellbook, you’re still SOL.  Oops!  Remind us to fix that next year.  The signature used to need to be either on the list of your current spells or along with the description of the spell.  While I don’t remember which one it was, they’re now both allowed.

Lots of individual spells have small changes, so I’ll throw them all here.  Aura of Protection was meant to protect from certain calls.  With the addition of some quotation marks, that intent is now clearer.  If some event-specific call happens to break through armour, Aura of Protection won’t do a thing to stop it.  Call the Soul used to be so restrictive in terms of what could be used as a material component.  Now you can use any objects that feel the same, such as four Aces and one King.  Skew Divination lets you specify a topic instead of a caster, so now you can try to prevent anyone from learning about The Big Book of Burgundy, rather than preventing Sir Biggs from learning about whatever Sir Biggs cares to learn about.  ID Creature no longer uses the word “chanting”, because you only have to say the verbal once.  Reforge has two uses, because people thought it was too weak.  I agree with them.  Enchant Armour works whether or not you know Repair Armour (let alone have a casting remaining).

Three updates to caveats.  All your sashes for spells like Purity now have to be visible.  Hope you find some sashes that look decent with your garb!  I recommend avoiding surveyor’s tape.  Spell Failure wasn’t changed, but now it’s referenced by the correct spells.  The Potions Caveat no longer applies to poisons, because the caveat deals with things like needing to put a sigil on it.  Who wants to draw a sigil on a bouillon cube they’re using to poison a soup?

Another change to the undead spells is that the MCs for those spells now match.  Animate Lesser Undead, Animate Undead, and Undead General now have the same MC requirements.

Some small changes were made that are just barely outside the purview of the OEC: the learning progression now doesn’t require you to learn a spell at an event after you choose to not learn one.  When you release a magic item, you can do what everyone thought you could do and include a tag instead of writing on the item itself.  The way we used to count votes at the Players’ Meeting is how we intend to keep doing it, but now it matches what the rules say.

“Omnibus Knightly Powers” used to be a thing.  I’ve definitely seen event descriptions that say those things will pass.  Unfortunately, they were moved from the Omnibus and put somewhere else, and now they aren’t in that other place.  Well, a new section has been added to define what the KoEF and KoR can do.

Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for.  There were a few proposals that kept us in the OEC up for nights on end.  Tip of the hat to Pat and Jen for doing most of the heavy lifting.  Tucker decided that the Omnibus had a ton of clutter, so he rewrote a lot of sections.  If you’re a fan of flavour text, you might be upset by this change.  It doesn’t change any rules, but the rulebook is shorter now.  So yay!  Next, Tucker wanted to move things around so the order makes more sense, and he wanted to add section numbers.  This turned out to be an enormous help for the OEC, since we were able to more easily talk about where changes happened.  Again, no changes to the rules.  Last, but definitely not least (especially in terms of how long it took us), we changed all the pronouns to be gender neutral.  If you want to know why this was an important change, ask around.  Lots of people have a lot more to say about this than I have room for.  I’ll just say that not a single person at the EHC voted against this, which is not something I can say for the proposal that updated the rules for how we vote at the Players’ Meeting to match what we actually do.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Wrath of Irvin Ruggles: Part II by Renee "Mouse" Booke

[Editor's Note:  click here for Part I]

Doing the smart thing probably would have put Ashryn on a one way carriage ride to someplace far away, but smart wasn’t exactly her style as much as unorthodox was. She had stopped for an afternoon nap alongside a major road, and sprawled herself out on the grass. Her hat was on top of her face, offering her the respite of darkness. It was quite the hat too, somewhere between ostentatious and luxurious. Made of black leather, it had a wide brim and a braided silver band at the base of the crown. There was more than one plume too, with a mixture of long-tailed chicken, peacock and pheasant tail. With most of the feathers being dyed, the plumage presented itself as a vibrant bouquet of obsidian, violet, pomegranate and other in-between shades of purple.

Most of her clothing pushed standard fashion boundaries. Where many people said “Too much,” Ashryn Reymaris always said: “Not enough.” Her coat stood out as well, largely because of the scintillating purple velvet that shifted colors every time it caught the light of the sun. The garment went down to her ankles; and the cuffs, as well as the collar and lengthy lapel, were trimmed in an equally posh black velveteen. The buttons, of which there were eighteen, were a polished silver; and each of them was engraved with a different Elven rune. Four adorned each cuff, and ten ran the rest of the length of the jacket.

It was a sunny day for Vamhadras. Typically, no matter the season, there were always biting winds and fog rolling down from the mountains, but that was not the case today. Waterford had the benefit of being the furthest province to the west, which probably helped. Unlike the province of Dendrin to the northeast, Waterford was only surrounded by mountains on its northern and southern borders. In the east, the Uskvyne River separated it from the province of Ardenton; and to the west was the primordial forest known as the Fanged Vale. In its own little valley, Waterford had the luxury of being shielded from the harsher weather, and higher altitudes that plagued the rest of the Kingdom with an endless cycle of winter.

                Ashryn issued a lazy yawn, turning over on her side to glance down the road. The hat slipped from her face, and she grabbed it up to place it back upon her head before propping herself up by the elbow. She smacked her lips a few times, and her pointed ears twitched. Footsteps could be heard, heavy ones. Thus was the nature of humans, she found. They did not carefully tread over the delicate earth. They were brazen creatures, full of passion and stupidity all at once. She wasn’t sure if she admired their unbridled zeal, or detested it. She may have been eccentric to her brethren, but there were still some patterns of their thought she was victim to following, which she was all too happy to acknowledge.

The owner of the footsteps slowly came into focus, and Ashryn got to her feet. A human peasant, from the looks of it. He wasn’t past his prime, she discerned from the lack of graying hair, but he was no spring chicken either. Aging lines were just beginning to tell their story upon his sun-kissed skin. Slung over his shoulder was a large burlap sack, and he had both hands wrapped firmly around the mouth of his make-shift bag. As he neared Ashryn, his steps slowed. He seemed worried.

Sensing his discomfort, Ashryn removed her hat and gave a sweeping bow. “Pleasant day to you, my good fellow. Come, come. Don’t be shy.” She stood back up, returning her hat to her head where it belonged. Her dark brown hair was long and straight, not a single strand out of place on her well-groomed head. “What brings you out this way?”

The peasant grunted softly, taking the time to drop the heavy package onto the ground. He rolled his shoulder uncomfortably, taking what comfort he could in the brief reprieve. “I don’t want no trouble wi’ ye, lass. I’m just headin’ for Waterford proper, aye?”

Ashryn smiled sweetly, placing her palms together. “I assure you that I am no trouble for the likes of you. I am only out here warning travelers that goblin activity has been increasing as of late. You should not be traveling alone.”

“I know all about them green menaces. I jes’ came from Perlshaw where they took ov’r our town’s silver mine. I’m tryin’ to get to Waterford proper and see if I can’t get Lord Bateson ter send us some soldiers,” the traveler said. “Had to take all I had ‘n get out real quick. Without the mine, ‘s only a matter a time before the town falls too. Sad times, these.”

Ashryn clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Whatever do you mean? I find that every day is a good day to be alive.”

“I mean, we got greenies in the mine, pirates in Setnir, war in the Northern City-States. Jes’ feels like it’s all goin’ to hell some days,” he said sadly.

Ashryn quirked a slender brow, and her hand came to rest upon the pocket that held her previous correspondence acquisition. “Pirates you say? I hadn’t heard anything about that. Do tell.”

“You ain’t heard? You livin’ under a rock or somethin’? Cassie Turanaska, that real famous Bard, has everybody talkin’ about it. Captain Drythier Sul’Garthe’s ship, the Dread Howl, was spotted in northern waters off the coast of Setnir for the first time. This ain’t no Tuh’Chiri Empire trading vessel.” He sighed heavily, looking up to the sky. “Vestulaan help us.”

Ashryn chuckled and waved him off. “Thank you for your information, traveler. I shall take it into account when I make my own traveling plans.”

“Yeah, yeah. Jes’ don’t say yeh weren’t warned, lass.” He hoisted the sack back up with a labored heave, looking over his shoulder at her. “Yer tellin’ me not to travel alone, but here yeh are out on the road jes’ standin’ around. I don’t get yeh Elf types,” he muttered, and began walking again.

“I’m not alone!” Ashryn called after him. “I’ve got the sun in the sky, the earth beneath my feet, and the wind in my hair! That’s all I need!”

“ASHRYN REYMARIS!” A loud, booming voice cut through Ashryn’s gleeful retort. A heavily armored figure was hustling down the road.

Amidst all the banter she must have missed his approach. Ashryn sighed, shaking her head slowly from side to side. “And him. I’ve also got him.”

To Be Continued…

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ask Syruss

Dear Syruss,

There's so many paths of magic out there with so many spells to chose from, I can't help but feel so overwhelmed! Healer, blacksmith, sorcerer, necromancer - help! You seem like a guy who knows what he wants - how can I decide which path is right for me?


Losing my (Magical) Mind


Dear You’re In Good Company, Who Needs Minds Anyways (henceforth known as Y.I.G.C.W.N.M.A, pronounced *yeeg**cwin**ma**)

I hear ya, so many paths of magic, YET NOT ENOUGH!!!! I NEED MORE, MORE, MORE I TELL YOU!!!! THE GODS WILL TREMBLE AT THE MIGHT OF MY-- er, ahem, er, I mean -- yeah, so many choices, so many choices…..

I always choose magic based off of my immediate needs. I find once you are able to bend the physics of one magical plan it is easy to grasp the small connections that makes casting similar.

Best question to ask yourself: “WHAT DO U WANT TO DO????”

Once you answer this, most of the time you’ll know which path of magic to pursue, I mean most of the schools of magic contain the names of the things people are seeking to do.

You want to heal be a healer, you want to channel your god? Be a channeler. You want to see the future become a Seer, heck you want Assassin become an assassin-er…um, er, ok not a perfect example but you get the point.

Not sure on specifics? Maybe you have a general idea.
There are three general types of Magic. Support Magic, Offensive Magic, Plot Magic.

I know what you are thinking: “Syruss, what? Are you Bananas?” The short answer is yes; the long answer shouldn’t be written down, but hear me out on this magic thing.

Sure there are other spells and not all of them will seem like they fit in those three categories but let’s just look and see.

Support Magic: Magic that helps another adventurer (Raises, Repairs, Aura of Protection, Weapon Augments ETC)

These are the types of Magics you find on your healers, blacksmiths, shamans and buy-down-mancers. They are the friendly bunch behind the lines that you are often yelling “ARM...ARRRRMM….SOMEONE HEAL MY ARM!!!!!” at and are the ones responsible for fixing it and keeping you in between them and harm.

They fix you, heal you, and generally hate you when you yell so be kind to those at your behind…

Combat Magic: Magic you can use to inflict harm (Magic Missile, Lightinbolt, Armor Piercing, Poison, Disease, and Transformation)

These types of spells make you, the caster, into the weapon.

With these spells accompanied with some protection spells (Armored Cloak, Resist Death, Resist Magic, and Protection from Missile) you will be a formidable force flying throughout the ranks casting your destruction without fear of harm or reprisal.

Lastly some of my favorite: Quest Magic: (Guidance, Fortune Tell, Find the Path, Divine Aid, Precognition, Intervention, Foretell, Séance, Vision and Prophecy)

This is perfect if you want to coast through a quest. Don’t know the riddle? QUEST MAGIC. Forgot the Main Villain's Weakness that was written down on a Tomb in room 3? QUEST MAGIC. Want to ask the gods to return your friend's soul but get a Pie instead (no seriously, this happened to me I was the worst Channeler ever)…you guessed it, QUEST MAGIC.

Quest magic is super helpful, and can add a ton to your weird schtick. It can be as creative as you want to be, limitations are that of your imagination and the local gods' willingness to fly by the cuff.

But you have options and it is super easy to learn spells now too. The time gods have long vanished with the mandatory dagger-carrying gods and church or guild worshiping gods, so now it is easier than ever to become an all-powerful mage.

Also if you learn a bunch of spells and hate them be patient, in like a few months the gods will say you can pick a whole spellbook's worth of spells…that is, unless you are a figher.

Until next time kids, hope this helps sorry if it doesn’t and remember it is like Sir Lord Nymbous O’Leary always says: “What do you mean there is no protection path anymore, at least they didn’t mess with my embrace…..WHAT, NOOOOOO...”

Love Always,

Sir Syruss O’Leary

Knight of the Blue Rose
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