Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Legends of Voraniss: The Story of Osag

As Scribed by Mouse

If you ask around the Realms, people will tell you all kinds of things about spirits. Some adventurers believe that spirits are simply the restless dead, while others will tell you that spirits are their own type of being from another plane of existence. Going farther out there, some people will think you’re talking about booze and they’ll get all excited. In Voraniss we have a special relationship with the spirits; for there are many that have chosen to take residence within our borders. Some of these spirits take the shape of animals, and we have built various shrines to them all throughout our territory. One of my favorite spirits is Osag, the Guardian Bear, and it is he who I wish to tell you about.

Osag’s legend is one beloved by our locals. It begins long, long ago when humanity first arrived within the lands presently known as Voraniss. Never before had they seen such ancient trees, and they felt as dwarves beneath a giant’s heel. Fish and game were bountiful, and so the humans were able to wander free from place to place as they followed after that which they hunted.

Osag was one of these early humans; a proud warrior who led his tribe forward by the point of his spear. Osag’s life hadn’t always been so blessed, however. He had grown up without parents, as many adventurers do. His mother had fallen early on to a particularly harsh winter famine, and his father had died a warrior’s death charging into combat against an enemy tribe. The others helped him as best they could, but he was expected to pitch in often; to prove beyond a doubt that he was more than a burden. The labor made him strong, and by the time he was a young man he was larger than most of the adults. Osag’s size made him a natural leader on the hunt, and the strength and wisdom that came with his experiences made him a fierce opponent.

I tell you this so that you might understand what was going through Osag’s mind when he first entered the forest and saw a wounded bear cub struggling to survive on its own. With no parents in sight the weakened creature mewled and cried out in distress. It was a perfect target for the hunters; easy prey for them to enjoy without risking their health or energy. But Osag couldn’t let them take the creature, for something in him related to its predicament. He remembered how alone he had felt without his parents to guide him, and his heart softened. Instead of dinner, the creature became his companion.

As Osag aged, so did the bear. It grew larger and more powerful, towering far above the men of the tribe when it stood on its hind legs. Many of the others in Osag’s tribe were wary of the creature, for they did not trust the instincts of a once wild animal; especially not one as huge as the bear. Osag didn’t mind though, and he continued to treat the bear as a brother. They hunted together, slept next to one another, and even shared their food.

One fateful winter Osag’s tribe was having trouble finding game. They had traveled northward towards the swampier regions of the land, but heavy snowfall had left them stranded and hungry while the deer outran them. The people began to get restless, and supplies were running low. As desperation grew one man suggested that Osag let them kill and eat the bear so that they might save themselves. Osag refused, and a fight broke out as tempers flared.

Punches were exchanged as the two men brawled to resolve their differences, and Osag threw his adversary to the ground where he got a mouthful of snow. Furious that he could not beat the mighty Osag with his fists, the man got back to his feet and reached for his spear. Raising his arm behind his head, he threw it forward before Osag could arm himself. Only, he didn’t aim for Osag…he aimed for Osag’s beloved bear. Osag cried out in warning, springing to life as he ran for his companion. There wasn’t enough time to get his own weapon, or to hit the soaring spear out of the way. Sorrow swelled up deep within his heart as the realization dawned upon him.

Osag did the only thing he could think of and threw himself into the spear’s path. The weapon pierced his lungs and pinned him to the ground. Everyone was in shock, but none more so than Osag’s bear who no one now dared touch. It stood up on its hind legs to roar, chasing off the scared and confused tribesmen before returning to Osag’s side to lay down and press a nose into his cheek. Osag knew there was no way he was going to live, and so he used the last of his strength to turn his head and smile at his friend.

When his remaining life finally drained from him, Osag’s strength failed and his forehead rested upon the bear’s nose as his body slumped. For days the bear lay beside Osag, not even bothering to get up and eat. Without his friend, his savior, his heart was broken. The spirits of the forest, those that whisper between the trees, were moved by the brotherhood of bear and man, and they took pity upon Osag who had sacrificed himself to save a creature of the wild. Using their great magic, they pulled the essence of the hero back to the woodland and gave him new form. Osag was to become a bear, a guardian spirit of the creature he had given his life to defend. Joy would return to the earth, and that year Spring came early.

To this day, you can find Osag keeping watch over all of Voraniss by his den near the swampland where he fell. He’s more bear than man now that the memories of his former life have faded over time, but they say he’s still always watching out for orphans and lost souls. If you watch long enough, they sometimes even say you can see him playing with the other bears like he’s always been one of them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Neden Kazoo January 2018

For the full text, please click here!

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Misadventures of the Neden Boys

by Cal "Syruss" Marsden

Arc Sphere Distortions

Arc Sphere Distortions
by Steven "Therian" Matulewicz

Friday, January 26, 2018

10 More Questions - Steve Nelson

10 More Questions with Steve "Torolf" Nelson

Photo by Jesse Gifford

1) What achievement either in or out of character are you most proud of?

There’s two that I’d like to mention. The first meant a great deal to me in part because it was recognition that was completely unexpected. That was receiving a Fireball from Shandar at FOB last year. The second achievement means a lot to me because it was a goal I set for myself and worked hard towards over several years. That was reaching the OOTL invitational in 2016 and finishing in the top half (just barely).

2) Are you a fighter or a caster? Have you always been? How did you choose?

I’ve been a fighter since I first started. It’s a big part of what first drew me into Realms to begin with.

3) Have you ever owned an artifact, memento, or magic item that has meant a lot to you, and why?

I have two belt favors that mean a lot to me. One was presented to me by the River Hawks a couple of years ago at a Feast of Eagle’s Rook when they recognized Sirs Duncan, Vawn, and myself for our efforts in starting and mentoring their group. The other is an Eagle’s Rook favor given to me by Sir Vawn.

4) What group of people do you spend the most time with and why?

I enjoy spending time with the folks of Blackwood. They’re a fun and diverse group. Also, if there are Riverhawks around you might find me with them as well. And I wander too; there are a lot of great folks in the Realms to hang out with.

5) Who is your best friend in character and why?

There are a good number of characters that Torolf would back in a fight without question. Someday this will probably cause problems. But the three characters he identifies with most are Sirs Vawn, Tao, and Saegan. Aside from enjoying their company both on the field of battle and off, they all inspire and push me to grow as a character in different ways. Even though they don’t all really seem to appreciate the importance of Ragnarok. But I’m working on that.

Photo by Jesse Gifford

6) What event or moment had the greatest impact on you as a player?

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to become a better fighter. So I started sneaking off to tournaments and trying to fight my way to an OoTL invitational. Initially, it was pretty frustrating, but I took my lumps and paid attention to what better fighters were doing. And toward that goal, I started going to the Nashua practice and reaching out to some people at different points along the way for help. As I struggled to increase my yearly OoTL points, what I hadn’t planned on was that I also found myself more involved and connected with the community. As a result, I petitioned then joined Blackwood / Acteon, squired to the Knights of the Sable Dragon, and got to know a lot more people. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that combat is more important than any other aspects of the game. But for me it was the hook that pulled me in from the fringes and deeper into the game.

7) What event or moment had the greatest impact on your character?

I think one moment that had a big impact on me / Torolf was fighting in the nation's war at TOC 2016. I had fought in some comparably large line battles at other events, but always as a member of a smaller subgroup of the line. Since I had just started petitioning Blackwood, this was the first time I really felt like a part of something big in the Realms.

8) What is your most embarrassing moment, either IC or OOC?

Well, there was the time while petitioning Blackwood that I accidentally killed Sir K on a night quest. That might have been at Folkestone questing. Pro tip: don’t kill your king. Kind of funny that they let me join the king’s guard after that. But I guess every king’s guard should have a berserker or two.

9) What is the best piece of advice you'd give to other players?

If there’s something, you particularly enjoy in the game go after it. Find the people that are excited about it. They’ll be happy to share it with you. You don’t have to stick with it forever, and you don’t have to pursue it exclusively. But it will open doors and help you enjoy your time in Realms.

Statue by Mihail Melnichuk

10 ) What is the most important thing you've learned through the game?

Not to let my doubts and assumptions stop me from trying. You may have noticed I started playing this game a little later in life than most. I’ve also had a couple of injuries, and so far one trip to the QoH cooler, all of which did make me question whether I should be throwing myself into combat the way I do. But I’ve learned about hydration, and I’ve found that getting in better shape matters. And I feel like I’ve pushed through a couple of plateaus when I felt stuck. I think the lesson transfers to other areas of life as well. You can only achieve so much if you don’t try.

BONUS QUESTION #1: Who would you like to see the next interview be with?

10 questions with Illyana Golden; or 10 more with Joe Fontasia or Neil Tozier

BONUS QUESTION #2: Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print

 Always thank your healers and support casters.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What You Missed: Rhiassa Presents Feast of the Leviathan XX (photos)

 [Editor's Note: all photos by View Staff unless otherwise noted]

The menu

Pizza skin appetizer

A crowded hall 

Shops, games, and a carnival

Relaxing with King Cecil

Donations to the Royal Chimeron Casino

The other side of the hall 

A little winner

Deep in conversation

Very focused on the cards (Eren Pils-Martin)

Hard at work (Eren Pils-Martin)

Sir Gwen is made a Lord of Rhiassa (Jesse Gifford)

Torolf is knighted to the Sable Dragon (Eren Pils-Martin)

Tao is befuddled (Eren Pils-Martin)

Mathias is knighted to the KoEF (Eren Pils-Martin)

Performing a bard

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Thoughts on Speed pt. 2


I love the speed of our combat. I love being a ghost on the battlefield, moving in an out of my opponents reach, avoiding their blades by a hair’s breadth, and moving in mercilessly.

A large part of me wants to consider efficiency as a subset of physical speed, and just throw it in on that topic, but it's so very important that I had to break it away. When I talk about efficiency of a swing, I'm actually talking about a lot of factors. While  some might argue that you can reach a cap on your physical speed, I might counter that you can always improve on the efficiency of a swing.

The first factor is the path of travel the weapon makes. It's starting point, it's ending point, and the in between. The shortest distance for a weapon to travel is a straight line, right? Why is this important? Well if you can't increase your speed, decrease the distance your weapon has to travel. When you break down speed, it's usually a number relative to distance and time. Miles per hour. Meters per second. So on and so forth. If you think you can't swing a weapon any more meters per second, try decrease the distance. Simple. When a fighter first starts out, they usually have long armed wild swings that go way out of the way to get to the point of contact. You should be editing down your swings like an author edits their writing. Remove anything that's unnecessary to your point.

You might be asking yourself “How can I go about that?” “How do I know if I'm traveling at the most efficient I can be?” First of all, assume you're not. Look at pictures or videos of yourself fighting, get a good outside view. Ask yourself, where is your arm in relation to your weapons path of travel? Are you fully extended way too early? Where is your weapon in your ready stance? Is it as close as it can be to your enemy, while also not leaving yourself exposed?  When pictures, and video is unavailable, ask your friends. “What does my stance look like to you?” It's not perfect, but having them show you, can help you edit your starting position. Another trick is to use a mirror, look at yourself at ready, look at your attacks, figure out what to edit out, and edit down.

The second factor of efficiency how much you can do with one swing; Can you parry, feign and strike in what seems like one fluid motion? If you can, you'll leave your opponent feeling like you've just released lightning from a bottle. This can take some editing and practice as well, because you need to have an understanding of what the minimum motion you need to make in order to make a feign effective, you need to be able to predict what shot will come from that action, and what opening those two things leave for you to take advantage of.

Something to consider, in editing your feigns, is the ability of human perception, and the how much of our combat is a result of predictive behaviors. At any point in the act of combat, you are communicating something to your opponent, and they are communicating something to you. Being aware of what you're communicating, and lying, is the art of feigning. If you can communicate that idea with a smaller or less relevant motion, then you are creating a more efficient feign.

The other component to efficiency is the understanding of distance. Previously, I talked about editing down the distance a weapon travels when you make an attack, but now I'm talking about distance in a different way; what I mean in this instance is the the understanding of when your opponent move's into the maximum reach of your weapon, and when you are in theirs. Watching two fighter's who are accomplished in this is very exciting for me because so much is happening while nothing seems to be happening at all. That might sound confusing, but let me try to explain what happens, the two fighters face off, straddling the invisible line that is each other's maximum reach, then they begin to rock, like two tides, slipping to and fro over the line, trying to bait each other into swinging, slowly, imperceptibly, becoming more daring until someone slips up, and either moves in too close, and the other attacks instantly, landing a blow or they trick the person into believing they have moved in too close, and the attack misses, but now the attacker is open, and taken advantage of. Mastering this means standing unflinching when an opponent swings missing you by a hair's breadth, and you capitalizing by moving in unerringly as the swing moves passed it's peak, and you strike them down. Master this concept, and your opponent will think you're an untouchable ghost on the battlefield.

You might think the concept of efficiency in fighting is new and exciting, but in reality, you've probably been learning it the entire time. One of the first things I hear people teach a newbie is just how small a motion you need to make with your wrist to make a successful block or parry. It is literally the first defensive correction we make, almost every time. But it's all about being more efficient, just find ways to work that into the rest of your combat, and you'll be golden.

I should note there are times, when fighting less efficiently will be useful, in that it can land you a shot sometimes, but today we’re focusing on speed, and how to be faster, and understanding efficiency can be a key to that. So think on that, and next time we’ll think on thought.

See you on the field,


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Misadventures of the Neden Boys

by Cal "Syruss" Marsden

Stacked Deck Rules 1018

by James "Sir Tao" Murphy 

Good day ladies, gentlemen and any others that have poker at heart! Stacked Deck is proud to announce, new for 1018: consistent rules, bonus for more play (if you make the final table) and generally more, more more!

Ok, enough of that.

Some changes this year:

- Posting the results as soon as possible on the Facebook site
- For each tournament you play in this year, if you make the final table you will get an additional 100 chips.
- For each point you earn this year, if you make the final table, you will get an additional 100 chips
         - For the remainder of the year we ask that all tournaments use the blind structure down below (we will provide a written copy)
- Each tournament will hold back one buy-in, and one rebuy (if four or more rebuys were purchased) for the end of the year pot. Please turn it over to Sir Tao or a member of the Gamblers Guild.
 - This year there will be more payout then just first place. Prize pool might (might) also include something Blue.
- Chip stacks will be more uniform to buy in, please see suggested buy ins/stack size down below
- If rebuys are allowed (tournament director’s discretion), then they should be announced before the start of play and they should be equal to the initial buy in. usually they should only be available for the first hour or less. 

Suggested buy-ins to chip totals:
Less than 25 gold, 4000 chips
25-50 gold 4000-7000 chips
51-100 gold 10,000 chips
101+ gold 15,000 chips

Suggested chip denominations:
Basic 4000 chip set up:
8 25’s
8 100’s
2 500’s
2 1000’s
Any additional chips necessary should be in 1000’s (for example you would add 3 1000’s to make the 7000 stack)
Rebuys should also be in 1000’s

Blind times can vary, depending on how long you want your tournament to last.

If your blind time is 20 minutes each then this will last 3 hours and 20 minutes with no breaks.
If you wish to have a longer tournament then each blind could last longer, for example this could last almost 5 hours if each blind is 30 minutes. It is also allowed to use only a certain number of blinds. For example 6 half hour blinds to make 3 hours will stop at 500-1000 (less blind pressure)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Arc Sphere Distortions

Arc Sphere Distortions
by Steven "Therian" Matulewicz

Friday, January 19, 2018

Fresh Faces with Madison "Lupa" Neal

1. How did you learn about Realms? 

I had originally learned about the realms from Emily Murphy (Kara) as I had gone to school with her at the time. She had been talking about the event she was going to and I was extremely interested.

2. How many events have you been to? 

I've been to 11 events thus far.

3. Have you ever LARP’ed before? If so tell us about it?

I've technically larp'ed before as Emily and I had been in a larp club at our school. Though it was not a full larp, it had followed the rules of Shards.

4. What is your character like? Where are they from? What is their race? What is important to them?

My character is more on the side of jokes and takes things less seriously unless she really needs to. Lupa is a high elf from a land that is not a part of the realms. Lupa finds her friends and necklace to be the most important things to her.

5. What do you remember most about your first event? 

My first event was the feast of Leviathan last year, and i remember two things the most. The very important life lesson of, it's really hard to run in a cloth corset. I also remember walking up to the guys of Invictus (shandar most definitely included) and asking them how I can join at my first event.

6. What things have helped to make you feel welcome in game? 

In all honesty, it's just the people. Almost everyone is nice, welcoming, and understanding (especially with newbies.) Some lend armour and weapons to new people, some give tips and tricks to others, and even get people started with gold so they can get garb.

7. What parts of the game do you find most challenging?

I find fighting with short arms to be the most challenging. When fighting against people who are taller than me, I find that they have longer arms and I really have to try and be smart with how close I get.

8. Do you have any game related goals (as either a player or character)?

In fact, I do have some player and character goals. As a player, I really want to have a family, I want close friends I can hangout with and enjoy my time with. As a character, I want to prove myself to everyone, that I can be a good fighter; that I can hold my own.

9. What advice would you give other new players?

I'd give other new players the same that I got, enjoy your time, find people you like hanging out with, and if people give you advice you should probably listen to them.

10. What have you enjoyed most about the game so far?

I've enjoyed spending my time in the game. I think I've enjoyed my time the most with shenanigans and fighting (you can technically count those as the same thing).

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Question of the Week and Responses

Question of the Week #8 Responses

Welcome back everyone! It's been a couple of weeks but we have for your reading pleasure the results of the latest Question of the Week, below. This question asked everyone to boast a little bit and tell us which of their abilities they are most proud of. Take a look!

Getting ____ed up! 

Fighting ability.  I'm not a great fighter by any means, but I've progressed a lot since I started, and am good enough to defend those important to me.

Being the fastest heal limb in the West 

Elric of Rathkeale
Im proud of my ability to animate and control the dead. It one thing to bring the dead back to life. Its another thing entirely to get them to the sweet spot of not really alive and not really dead

Jericho Axelthorne
Ability to learn new things

The ability to figure out how others think and how to predict they're has helped me in all facets of the game.

The Spider
For some reason people tend not to notice me.

How well I play ring around the rosy...such a merry game is it not?

Well, those were certainly some informative responses! Thank you everyone!

The next question of the week is below. It's a little esoteric this time but I think it will tell us a lot about how you perceive the world around you! Please answer it right away before you forget!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WYM Feast of Leviathan XX

Leviathan is a complicated event, because a lot is going on, and it's really impossible to be apart of everything.

With games lining every table, puzzle challenges, economy games, carnival games, a casino, adventures and contracts from the adventurers guild, and some vendors to peruse, if you're bored, it's your own fault.

I was a busy man, meeting with the Knights of Blackwood, and the Kingdom of Blackwood, about nation politics. But business is one of the things people come to Leviathan for. I would try to name all the honors that went around but, honestly I know I'll forget some.

While every time someone gets knighted, or given a title, it's important, it's important to them and it should not be forgotten, looked over or passed up, I really need to mention two things that happened at Leviathan this year.

First, Matt “Mathies” Butler was knighted into the Knights of the Eternal Flame. He’s been playing this game for an age longer than some of our players have yet seen, and the sheer amount of passion he has for our community cannot be put into words without being understated. He's a role model through and through and absolutely deserving of the title.

Secondly, Lani “Gwen” Jones was elevated to be a Lord of Rhiassa, stepping up along side Aeston and Areni and taking the name Stromgate. This was a landmark moment, taking the reins of a nation is a huge responsibility, beyond simply establishing a new pecking order, there is a lot that goes on in running a nation. Especially one with such a brand and pedigree as Rhiassa. Beyond that, taking the family name of Stromgate is important as well. As a community we use the word family a lot. We say “my realms family” we interchange nation and family often, and generally speaking the community does a lot for the people that come into it. It's just a thing. But taking family name, a noble name is rarer. It represents a deeper connection, and has not happened since perhaps the time of Bedlam.

Take a second to recognize these things. They have meaning that transcends these pages.

It would be a crime to speak of Leviathan and to leave out the food, and I have to say for me this was a pinnacle year for this event. The appetizer round was awesome, I loved the idea of needing to venture out in order to acquire other appetizers and needing to hobnob with the other folks of the hall. As I already said, I was a busy man at this event and an excuse to pull myself away from all the business at hand and just mingle was welcomed.

The variety of foods was awesome, and it seemed that there were constant options and at every turn I was both enjoying one thing, and absolutely missing out on another. This is a huge compliment from me because I can be kind of a food snob.

So what did you miss? You missed a lot. Honestly it was a mistake, you should have been there. And I didn't even cover things like the NPC auction, the view awards, or the things I'm sure I missed myself. I didn't cover the decoration, the atmosphere, the immersion. You missed a feast as it should be.

Oh well, next time I'll see you on the field,

Keith “Saegan” Cronyn

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017 View from Valehaven Award Winners

Below are the results for the 2017 View from Valehaven awards presented at Feast of the Leviathan

Best Special Effects
1-   Rhiassa Presents: Echoes of Ragnarok III
2-   TOC 24
3-   Feast of Blackwood VIII
Best Props/Costumes:

1-  Folkestone Questing 2017
2-  Feast of Blackwood VIII
3-  Rhiassa Presents: Echoes of Ragnarok III
Best Night Quest:

1-  Folkestone Questing 2017
2-  The Event Which Must Not Be Named VI
      Feast of Blackwood VIII
3-  TOC 24
     Feast of Chimeron XXV
    A Grave Discovery

Best Plot:

1-  Folkewood Initiative / New Verai
2-  Echos of Ragnarok
3-  Risen Kingdom

Non-Feast Event for Great Food:

1- Black & White 2017
2-  A Very Merry Yule at Cecil's Crazy Uncle's Tavern 2
3-  The Event Which Must Not Be Named VI

Best Feast:

1-  Rhiassa Presents: Feast of the Leviathan XIX
    Feast of Blackwood VIII
2-  Nedengiving 2
3-  Feast of Highbridge V

Best Dish:

1-  Nedengiving Cranberry Sauce
2-  Blackwood Pizzas
3-  Aymise's Curry
Best Tournament Event:

1-  Rhiassa Presents: Queen of Hearts XXIV
2-  TOC 24
3-  Blackwood Tournaments VI

Best Quest:

1-  Folkestone Questing 2017
2-  Rhiassa Presents: Echoes of Ragnarok III
3-  Chimeron Questing

Best One Day Event:
1-  Black & White 2017
2-  N/S War 2017
3-  Nedengiving 2

Best Weekend Event:
1-  TOC 24
2-  Ashen Bounty VI
3-  Folkestone Questing 2017
     Feast of Blackwood VIII

Best View Article:
1-  I Can't Even: Plating (Cranberry Sauce) by Sara "Zarine" Jessop
2-  What You Missed: Echoes of Ragnarok III by Keith "Saegan" Cronyn
3-  What You Missed Songs of the Abyss by Michael "Swoop" Zajac

Best View Series:
1-  I Can't Even
2-  Why I Want To Go
3-  What You Missed
     Neden Kazoo
     10 Questions

Best View Poem/Fiction:
1-  The Wrath of Irvin Ruggles by Renee "Mouse" Booke
2-  The Imperium March: A Tale of Danger, Dungeons, and Dosh by Callahan "Sir Syruss" Marsden
3-  You Will Be Missed, Meatshield by Casey "Karhma" Lemay

Best Group to NPC:
1-  Ashenmark
2-  Blackwood
3-  Invictus

Up and Coming Group:
1-  Voraniss
2-  Nation of Arken
3-  Zimeya (Snake Cult)

Best Newbie:
1-  Madison "Lupa" Neal
2-  Shane "Jack" DeShone
3-  DJ "Varrmagn" Sapienza

Best Bard:
1-  Michael "Swoop" Zajac
2-  Renee "Mouse" Booke
3-  Dano "Piper" Knobel

Best Craftsperson:
1-  Derek "Higer" Booke
2-  Eric "Randolf" Marques
3-  Illyana "Illy" Golden
     Anthony "Levi" Quintana

Best Photographer:
1-  Jesse "Mestoph" Gifford
2-  Matthew "Thon" Norris
3-  Samantha "Cylas" Flanagan

Best Artist:

1-  Alexa "Kite" Lecko
2-  Maryanne "Shalindra" Betie
3-  Keith "Saegan" Cronyn

Best Vendor:

1-  Vandoria Vestments
2-  The Bronze Forge
3-  Karmha Creations
     Derek "Higer" Booke

Best Dressed:

1-  Alexander "Gavin" Sokolowski
2-  Sara "Zarine" Jessop
3-  Renee "Mouse" Booke

Best Feastocrat:
1-  Lani "Gwen" Jones
2-  Melissa "Aymise" Metzger
3-  Ben "K" Greene

Best Servant/Kitchen Staff:

1-  Jeremy "Nighthawk" Grayson
2-  Lani "Gwen" Jones
3-  Becky "Kovaks" Baron

Best Combat Marshal:

1-  Keith "Saegan" Cronyn
2-  Josh "Shandar" Learned
3-  Callahan "Syruss" Marsden

Best Magic Marshal:

1-  Matt "Mathies" Butler
2-  Jason "Malaki" Gray
3-  Alexander "Gavin" Sokolowski

Best Trainer:

1-  Keith "Saegan" Cronyn
2-  Josh "Shandar" Learned
3-  Callahan "Syruss" Marsden
Best Mentor:

1-  Jason "Aeston" Rosa
2-  Dave "Vawn" Hayden
3-  Angela "Phoenix" Earle Gray

Best Roleplaying of Magic by a Spellcaster:

1-  Lord Higer Athame (Derek Booke)
2-  Gavin the Green (Alexander Sokolowski)
3-  Templar Mouse (Renee Booke)

Best Roleplaying by a Player Character:

1-  Aryss Destevaul (Nikki LaRoche)
2-  Jean C'est Magnifique Try Baptise (Ethan Goldman)
3-  Torolf (Steven Nelson)

Best Roleplaying of a Single NPC Role:

1-  Scrooge (Jame Murphy)
2-  Prince of New Verai (Neil Tozier)
3-  Skrunk (Sean Veale)

Best Grunt NPC:

1-  Keith "Saegan" Cronyn
2-  Sean "Wil" Veale
3-  Tucker "Temorse" Noyes

Most Honorable in Combat:

1-  Keith "Saegan" Cronyn
2-  Steve "Torolf" Nelson
     Henry "Guilliam" Giasson
3-  James "Tao" Murphy

Most Dependable Person to Help Eventholders:

1-  James "Tao" Murphy
2-  Jeremy "Nighthawk" Grayson
3-  Sean "Wil" Veale
     Patrick "Saka" Bobell

Best Role Model:

1-  Keith "Saegan" Cronyn
2-  James "Tao" Murphy
3-  Matthew "Cecil" Brenner
     Jon "Trent" Jessop

Greatest Contributor to the Realms:

1-  Jason "Aeston" Rosa
2-  Andrew "Shean" Disbrow
3-  Matthew "Cecil" Brenner
     Matt "Mathies" Butler
     James "Tao" Murphy

Monday, January 15, 2018

Arc Sphere Distortions

Arc Sphere Distortions
by Steven "Therian" Matulewicz

Friday, January 12, 2018

10 More Questions - Josh Fitzgerald

10 More Questions with Josh "Lakomasoi" Fitzgerald

Photo by: Jesse Gifford

1) What achievement either in or out of character are you most proud of? 

Gau Dring, while I cannot take all the credit for where we are as a Nation I still am most proud of the people in Gau Dring who have gotten us where we are. We have won the Up and coming group two years in a row, which seemed odd the second time around to still be up and coming but something I think we received with pride. We placed 3rd in the Wa
r tourney at ToC, while there were larger groups and more experienced we did what we could and showed up, as a group this had to be one of the best things we could have done together.

I am also proud of Big Game Hunt while it has taken some time off this was something needed and there is a plan in place to return to the realms this coming year better than before.

2) Are you a fighter or a caster? Have you always been? How did you choose? 

I am a caster,  shy of a few times I have been a fighter due to plot reasons or regionals or other variances I have always been a caster.

I enjoy it, I enjoy the flexibility and RP chances that I am given, it is nice to have the ability to do things I normally can’t do in real life. I can get my fighter fix at practices or NPCing when I really want to.

3) Have you ever owned an artifact, memento, or magic item that has meant a lot to you, and why?

Magic Items- personally I’ve only ever owned two Items. Currently it is the shield of Air, this was a gift from a friend and something I have kept close to me since. The other item was the Jury Rig Amulet I don’t own it anymore but it was a nice little item that helped newbies along when they were just starting out.

EDIT AFTER Cecils: The Staff of the Monkey King- I put this on my list as a “If you could ahev anything” I have wanted that staff since I found out it was a thing, I didn’t care what it did, it was more of the idea behind the item. It started out more of a joke that I wanted it, but eventually it became something I strove to own. The person who owned it made me want to be worthy to carry it. Now that I have it I have to learn about what it really is. For me this Item is a new path of learning.

4) What group of people do you spend the most time with and why?

Gau Dring, they are my Nation and my family both IC and OOC

5) Who is your best friend in character and why? 

I don’t know how to answer this, however if I don’t mention Kyara I think she might kill me.

Photo and Editing by M.G. Norris Photography

6) What event or moment had the greatest impact on you as a player? 

Learn to Fly: This was the first chance I actually had to throw an event for the Realms. I have to thank John Berrini for the opportunity to give back to the community, this event was a huge success in my book, not only for kicking off a plot line that is ongoing, but also for the positive feed back and learning experiences that came from it.

7) What event or moment had the greatest impact on your character? 

The Bedlam Plot, I think a lot of people can pull from those events, however for me It really gave me a different direction to bring Lako as far as his interactions with the Realms.

8) What is your most embarrassing moment, either IC or OOC? 

Feast of Leviathan, Giving Enlon his Title of Champion. At the time Lako was poisoned to embarrass himself, so announcing myself as Top in front of the entire hall I felt was a good way to do it. That entire time up there things kept go awry, from the announcement to handing Enlon the sword sheath from Swoop.While it was embarrassing I don’t think I would change it, also some people still refer to Lako as the Top which for me is just entertaining.

Photo by: Dustin Mack

9) What is the best piece of advice you'd give to other players? 

Stick to your character and have fun. If you are playing the game as a character stick with it, people may tell you to change it because it isn’t popular, or it isn’t strong in current game sense, who cares. Stick with what you have fun with and run with that idea.

Make decisions IC that aren’t always popular but are true to your character. Get involved in plot, create your own interpersonal plot, Meet people and learn from them. Enjoy what you are doing, you are playing a game get involved with as much of that game as possible.

10) What is the most important thing you've learned through the game? 

Confidence, the ability to do something, fail, learn from it and grow. Also keep people in your life who are there to support you, not beat you down. Find a family who is willing to help you grow but isn’t afraid to tell you when and where you messed up. Don’t be afraid to start all over if you have to.

BONUS QUESTION #1: Who would you like to see the next interview be with? 

Kelly Bonci/ Dame Twenaria- or put names in a hat of people who have never been interviewed. Interview them.

BONUS QUESTION #2: Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print.

This is a really dangerous question. I considered Quoting the Odyssey, like the entire thing right here.

But in truth, Grow. Give back to this community and help it grow. Get to know opinions outside of your Circle, meet people you don’t normally talk to. Go out of your way to meet and get to know as many people in this game as you can.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Echoes of Ragnarok: 3D Printing Overview (Part Two)

Echoes of Ragnarok: 3D Printing Overview (Part Two)

Alexander "Elouan" Groom

Plastic.  It’s very useful.  It usually melts at a reasonably low temperature, is lightweight, has a decent strength to weight ratio, and is relatively cheap.  As it turns out, though, plastic can also be finnicky. Combine this with new technology that is still being figured out, and you are bound to have some problems.  

As I mentioned last week, printing the parts does not end at the software stage.  The transition from a digital file to a real object you can touch and hold is not a perfect process; even if the software is perfectly set up according to what should theoretically work, the real world will almost always find a way to interfere.

Sometimes, it interferes in a good wood.  The software I was using is set up in such a way that it’s build time calculation is inaccurate; however, it is almost always an overestimate rather than an underestimate.  In other words, all of my prints took less time than I expected.  This is always good; if you budget your time based on what the computer says, and the computer always overestimates, then you’ll always have a little bit of extra time to work with.  However, such a positive difference is rare; most of the differences between the theoretical part and the real one were issues that I had to deal with.

The first issue I had was an issue I had never encountered before.  This is bad for me, because it takes time away from actually working on the part; it’s good for you, because it means I have to describe how to approach and solve such an issue.  About halfway through printing, the printer would shift where it was printing towards the back of the printer by half an inch.  In other words, instead of getting a nice part, I’d get a part that looked like it had been sliced in half, and the top half translated backwards.  

A rough diagram of what happened to all of the parts in the initial build.  I had never seen this before, nor had any idea what would cause this.

A bit of googling of this issue (aside: Google is your best friend when troubleshooting 3D printing problems.  A lot of companies don’t have a good FAQ/troubleshooting page for their 3D printer, and some are downright unhelpful, but online forums commonly contain people bringing up obscure issues and the solutions to said issues) revealed that the most likely culprit was a stepper motor driver overheating.  I had also found through research that this was a design flaw with the Makerbot Replicator 2X; the driver for the stepper motor did not have a dedicated fan to cool it, and was located in a spot with poor airflow to begin with.  Put simply, the printer was getting too hot in a specific spot.  

A quick tangent: issues like this happen a good bit, especially when you first start printing with a new printer.  Some problems are design flaws that are difficult to test for or see coming, and aren’t address.  For example: the SD card slot for the Makerbot Replicator 2X is located inside the build chamber and is vertically oriented.  While obvious in hindsight, it might not be apparent during testing (especially given that there are other priorities) that a piece of plastic could easily fall into this, bend the springs pins used to make contact with the SD card, and render the SD card reader on the printer entirely unusable.  Other issues are just from the company being rushed, or dealing with the issue in newer models, but not fixing it in older models.  Either way, identifying these issues and finding work arounds is part of the art of 3D printing.

My solution to this was to leave the door slightly open during the printing process.  The door is simply a piece of clear plastic on a hinge; the printer could not care less whether this door was open or closed.  Mostly, the door is there to keep the space warm, so that you use less electricity to heat the part.  I was willing to sacrifice some power efficiency to try out this solution.  Lo and behold, this solved this particular issue entirely....

...only to leave me with a new issue: stringing.  Stringing is when strands of thin plastic connect two different locations on the part.  It looks like this:

An example of a part with a high degree of stringing.  Notice how awful it looks.

Now, this is mostly an aesthetic flaw, but these parts were designed around looking good and printing cheaply and quickly.  I had already sacrificed on structural integrity; I wasn’t going to sacrifice on aesthetics as well. To some extent, this could be removed by hand; however, this would still leave some aesthetic defects, and would be incredibly tedious for the volume of parts we were working with.

There are two ways to solve stringing: lowering the temperature of the extruder, or increasing the retention amount on the extruder.  Lowering the temperature makes the plastic solidify more quickly; as such, it tends to stretch less when the extruder moves away from the part.  Think of like cheese on a pizza; if you pull away a slice when it’s still hot, you get strands of cheese connecting the pizza to the piece you just pulled away.  If you do this while the pizza is cooler, the cheese separates more cleanly.  (Can you tell that I am writing this close to my lunch hour?)  

The other solution is to increase the retention amount.  This is basically how much material the extruder pulls back into the nozzle after it is done printing a particular area.  Pulling back more material creates a cleaner separation between the nozzle and the part when the nozzle moves, leading to less stringing.

Ultimately, I decided to start by lowering the temperature.  This setting is much easier to change in the software I was using, and my research had produced a number of suggestions on good temperatures to try out.  The retention amount is more finicky, and seemed less likely to produce good results on the first try.  As I wanted to waste as little time and material as possible, lower the temperature was the right choice.  

Thanks to a combination of know how, good research, and a bit of luck, changing the extruder temperature removed the stringing problem altogether on the first try, and the parts printed without any major flaws.  However, there were still a number of minor flaws I had to go back and fix.  For example, on the vertebrae, there were a number of thin areas in critical areas that might have been fine, but that I wasn’t entirely confident would survive the event.  To fix these, I went back to the Solidworks model, and changed these areas so that they were thicker.  I then saved these as new .stl files, and reprinted them.  This eliminated the problem, and produced satisfactory results.

The raven skulls and fangs, successfully printed.  The fangs show a small amount of stringing on the raft; and one of the rafts misprinted; however, this structure would be removed, so the stringing in this case did not have to be addressed.
Quick aside: I was in a rush to get these done, and optimistic/overconfident.  If I had more forethought, I would have printed a single part at a time until I got the settings/part right.  I did this on most of the parts, but for the first couple of tries for the first part I worked on I printed the entire batch.  Don’t repeat my mistakes: print only one part at a time, until the part prints as you want it to.  And keep in mind that issues may crop up when you have multiple parts that didn’t occur when you only printed one part; just because the print worked with one part, does not mean success is guaranteed for multiple parts.

Now, you may notice that those parts don’t look exactly like the CAD fires.  They have a flat structure underneath (the raft), and in some spots (especially the eye sockets of the raven skull) excess material (support structure).  These excess pieces of plastic are there because they were necessary for building the part; however, we don’t want them on the final part.

The solution here is good old fashioned cleanup with tweezers, pliers, and a file.  The tweezers and pliers were used to pull off the support structure and rafts (which print in such a way that they come right off); the file was used to clean up any leftover material.

Next, any secondary machining operations we needed to do were done.  On a number of pieces, I drilled out some holes so that these could be looped on necklaces.  If I had rushed less, I would have designed the parts to be printed with the hole (including the ones we took from an online depository; these files can usually be modified as needed, if you have CAD software, and adding a hole would have been an exceedingly simple operation).  This can have some drawbacks (3D printers don’t always print holes very well, especially if they are horizontal), but in this case it probably would have simplified my life a bit.  At any rate, this was done using a basic hand drill, and added maybe a couple of minutes to the entire process at most.  Finally, a number of units also suffered from layers delaminating (i.e., pieces splitting apart along horizontals planes); this was easily remedied with some hot glue. At any rate, we kept our secondary machining operations to a minimum, and as such this step was relatively easy.

Finger bones, cleaned up.  The flat piece in the picture is the raft; this structure exists for printing purposes only, and is waste material (i.e., can be thrown out/recycled).

Finally, we assembled the pieces into a test unit, to make sure they looked good.  Here are the final results:

A finished necklace.  The players would build these over the course of the event; we wanted to make sure that they looked good, actually fit together nicely, and were sturdy enough.  This test piece used almost all of the bones we ended up printing, save for the wishbone

We were incredibly satisfied with how the pieces turned out and looked together.  Ultimately, there are some small improvements that could be made in the future (adding holes to parts, not using rafts with certain pieces, increasing the thickness in some areas, make some areas flatter, etc.).  However, an important thing to keep in mind is that you are almost certainly working with a deadline and/or budget, and at a certain point you have to say, “Yes, this is good.”  A common phrase in regards to this is “The enemy of the good is the perfect.”  If your parts are good, and meet your standards/requirements, unless you have extra time on your hands, it’s usually not worth going back and fixing small issues until the part is perfect.  At best, you’ll end up with a slight improvement for a lot of effort and wasted material (low return on your investment); at worst, you’ll end up in an infinite cycle of improvement and never actually getting the project done.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t aim for perfection; rather, that at some point, real world constraints catch up (time and money, namely).  In some cases there just isn’t much you can do about the reality of the situation, and you have to compromise somewhere.  It may not look like we compromised much, but that’s because we did a lot of our compromising up front.  We went in and optimized for aesthetics, build time, and built material; we knew that we would suffer on the structural integrity end of things, but also knew that we could get away with some loss of structural integrity.

At any rate, that’s the 3D printing process in a nutshell.  Get a CAD file, set up the print in software, do your print, identify issues, fix issues, and repeat until you have a part you are happy with.  In the end, the process is one that can be a lot of trial and error, even when you fully know what you are doing.  Over time, as one obtains more experience with 3D printing, you can reduce this process by quite a bit, to the point of where the only problems you are dealing with are those “strange” issues (such as the stepper motor driver overheating).  As this technology becomes cheaper and more available (I personally have a DIY kit that cost less than $200; this even came with 1kg of material to work with, and requires no special tools to assemble), I think it is definitely something that event holding teams should look into and start utilizing for building props.