Weekly Update: October 14th, 2019

Long time, no write! I’ve been delinquent in my duties for a long time, but let me get this one out so I can go on with my life.

Knife Skills

I started off September right: with knives! Sadly all they let me knife was some vegetables, because this was a culinary knife skills class at the local technical school. You might have been forgiven for thinking otherwise, considering it was taught by a certain Sue Brassard — a local chef, bearing no resemblance to the Shadowvale game owner. That Sue, as I joked, knows lots about knifing unsuspecting PCs, but she doesn’t usually advertise her skills.

Anyway, it was a very educational evening! We started with holding the knife, knife honing vs. sharpening, and some easy cuts, like chiffonade and mince. Then we moved onto the more difficult stuff — fine dice, brunoise, and fine brunoise, rendering some poor carrots into “carrot confetti”, as not-that-Sue called it. We ended with more reasonably-sized dices, as well as specific approaches to slicing onions and shallots.

All in all? I was surprised how well I did. I feel like a lot of the things we talked about — how honing is not the same as sharpening, how you should hold your fingers on your off-hand to push the food into the knife, how to do a chiffonade, how to peel garlic — I’ve learned from cooking shows. (Maybe the original Good Eats?) I also have a small amount of professional kitchen experience, from when I was working at the Adirondak Loj and had to sub in as prep cook.

And when it came time to do the difficult cuts, I was actually pretty decent at them. I couldn’t produce brunoise cuts at speed, certainly, but my table-mate kept expressing astonishment that I was managing to — slowly — create 1/8″ cubes of carrot.

My biggest struggle, as ever, was onions. I seem to be really, really sensitive to their volatile oils. At home I have kitchen goggles just for this, as I’ve learned none of the other ridiculous remedies work. (Yes, even that one you’re thinking of right now. I’ve tried them all). At the class? Not so much. Not-that-Sue kept trying to convince me that sticking my head in the freezer would help, and I eventually gave in. It did help that one time, but I think that had more to do with getting away from the onion.

River Styx Brewing Company

Recently Matt and I visited a local brewery, River Styx Brewing, located in Fitchburg, MA. You might recall that we liked their offerings at the Nashua River Brewer’s Festival, so it was only a matter of time until we made it there in person!

We sampled a flight of their offerings, and ended up coming home with three “crowlers.” That was a new term to me — it’s basically a 32oz pop-top can. In some ways I like that better than growlers, since the beer will stay fresh much longer while closed… but it also means you have to drink it all in one sitting, once you’ve opened it.

The crowlers were:

  • Hypnos, God of Sleep, a lavender chocolate Imperial double stout. I can’t stop raving about how good this is — and I don’t even favor stouts! Both the lavender and the chocolate come through exceptionally well, and I was surprised how well that floral note paired with the richness of the stout.
  • Morpheus: Hawaiian P.O.G, a sour ale featuring passionfruit, orange, and guava (hence the name). This is similar to the one they had at the Fitchburg festival, but this one hadn’t been aged on candy. Was not as fruity as I would have hoped, but still imminently drinkable.
  • Nectar of Aristaeus: Berry Smoothie. This was a milkshake IPA made with “hundreds of pounds” of berries. The fruit did quite a lot to mellow our the bitterness of the hops.

They also had Thanatos — which we’d sampled at the festival — on tap, but it was unavailable in crowlers. I’m told they sometimes sell it in cans, so here’s hoping!

The Big E

I finally got to The Big E this year — the Eastern States Exposition, basically a state fair for all of New England. (Thus fulfilling another goal on my 101 Goals in 1,001 Days list!) They offer a “$6 after 5” admission deal on weekdays, so I took a half day on a random Wednesday and met EB in West Springfield.

One of the interesting things about the fair is that lots of local people rent out their driveways for parking, often for much cheaper than the official fair parking. I ended up paying $5 to park on the lawn of some really sweet people on York Street, who invited me to sit on their deck and have a beer. (I declined).

Once inside, EB showed me around the various state pavilions. In the CT pavilion, they were shucking oysters and giving them away for free, so I had one of the best oysters I’ve ever had. I did some early Christmas shopping and bought some ice cider in the Vermont house, ate some apple cider donuts in the MA pavilion, and took a picture with a bear in the NH house.

We also visited Storrowtown, the 19th century village they’ve recreated, looked at baby goats in one of the agricultural barns, and ate a famous eclair from the 4H building and admired the cross-stitch work there.

Oh, and I ate a late dinner of poutine on the midway, which was possibly one of the less exciting things I could eat there. (But still delicious).

It was fantastic, and I just wish I could have visited for longer! I barely scratched the surface of everything there is to do there.

Nothing says New Hampshire like marrying a bear with sunglasses.

Bathroom Renovations

… are done! I’m absolutely thrilled with how everything turned out. I haven’t yet taken a bath in my new tub, but I am looking forward to doing so!


I’ve been playing a lot of ESO lately, and I wrote about my impressions of the latest expansion.

I’ve been doing more stuff lately with Feline Good Meowporium, the trade guild I’m in. I really enjoy the trial group they run on Tuesdays and Sundays, even though I can’t always join. I haven’t been able to heal much, because there are two dedicated healers who always scoop those roles up, but I’m enjoying dpsing with Falanu again. Last week we did normal Cloudrest+2, and veteran Hel Ra Citadel. The latter was a first for me, and now I have that Ra Kotu bust for my house.

Speaking of housing, I am working on an overly ambitious design for FGM’s Halloween housing contest. How overly ambitious? Well, let’s just say it involved buying a house that cost one million gold, and printing out maze designs. The deadline to enter is October 21st, and I have to be done by October 28th — we’ll see if I can pull something together in that time…


I’ve started a bunch of books, but haven’t finished many lately.

I’m currently reading Black Powder War, the third in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, which so far is interesting, but far too easy to put down. I’m entertained that once again my choice of SFF reading has taken me to an alternate-history Istanbul 😉

In search of some, ahem, adult literature, I found myself reading Lidiya Foxglove’s Queen of the Sun Palace series, a spicy m/f fantasy romance with an interesting power exchange dynamic, which lists as inspiration both Sleeping Beauty and the life of Marie Antoinette. I thought was fun, at least, and very much My Thing, but it has some unusually hostile reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, so I figure it’s not everybody’s cuppa. Anyway, I just finished the second book, and I know just enough about the real life Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution to wonder how this can possibly end well…

Matt and I have also been working our way slowly through the Audible Original performance of Treasure Island, which is fantastic, featuring the voices of Daniel Mays and Catherine Tate, among others.

I’ve also been picking at S.T. Joshi’s biography of Lovecraft, which I had apparently read a chunk of before? I didn’t remember how much Joshi forces his opinions on the text, but wow, he sure does. I usually agree with his conclusions, but sometimes he says things like “Lovecraft thought all poetry after Yeats is crap, and I agree,” and I have to kind of side-eye the both of them.


As I’ve written about on Facebook, I decided to dive headfirst into the wide, wild world of (the new-ish) Doctor Who. Previous to this, the only thing I’d seen of it was the famous “Five Doctors” episode of the original show.

This all started with a craving for more David Tennant, after enjoying him so much as Crowley in the Good Omens series. I asked my friends if I could start watching with his 10th Doctor, and the answer was mostly, “yes, but you might as well watch the 13 episodes of Christopher Eccleston first.”

So I started watching from the (new) series one, and found, to my surprise, that I liked many of the episodes. After years of railing against the popularity of this series, it actually quite entertained me! Though, as I said on Facebook, I feel it’s best when it’s a human interest story, and doesn’t delve too much into the science — because let’s be real, there’s not much science behind an alien with thirteen lives who travels through time in a sentient blue deus ex machina.

The best part of this has been watching in tandem with EB, sharing our snarky comments over Messenger. She’s a big fan of the series, and she’s going through a tough time right now, so it’s been a great way to connect with her at a distance, while getting additional info on the show. I post most of our best exchanges on FB, but here is one that still makes me giggle, shared during “The Empty Child,” i.e. gas mask aliens during the Blitz plus introduction of Jack Harkness episode.

“Captain Jack apparently pilots a rave.”

Now we’re on to the Tennant series, i.e. my original reason for watching, and I’m liking him quite a lot! I’ve heard it’s pretty normal to imprint on your first Doctor, so I’ll probably always have a soft spot for Eccleston, but on the whole I found the adjustment to Tennant pretty easy. It helps that he’s nice to look at 😉

The other thing I’ve been watching lately, in keeping with the season, is Vincent Price films. We have a selection that we own that we watched every year (House of the Long Shadows, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Madhouse, the episode of The Muppet Show that Price was on, etc), but we also check each year to see if Netflix/Amazon have any new offerings. That was how we ended up watching The Cry of the Banshee, which… I do not recommend. There is a whole lot of rape and women screaming, not mention losing their shirts for absolutely no reason.

Last night, in keeping with this theme, I re-watched Dragonwyck with my friend Jess. You might recall I reviewed this one when I first watched it. Jess made an interesting observation about the length of the shots in this 1940s movie — modern movies rarely have shots longer than 7 seconds, but this movie often lingers for 30 seconds or more. Fascinating!


I continue to PC Shadowvale and NPC Madrigal 3.

Matt recently took up a role as staff on Mad3, which means he’s going to be busy with that, although my role should stay about the same.

I have to start thinking about what game I want to play after Shadowvale ends, which is closer than I realized — only five events remain! My most likely candidate is Cottington Woods 2, probably with some variation on the character I had meant to play in the first campaign: Galina, a witch and herbalist loosely inspired by Baba Yaga. I’m not nearly as invested in being a healer in my next game, though, so I’ll have to figure out how to do that within the witch header.

On the freeform/interactive literature front, I’ll be heading to Mythic Consequences in the UK in November, and the weekend-long game Tutankhamun: Evil Under the Egyptian Sun in Retford, UK, in February 2020. I’ll also be returning to Intercon this year, and actually just proposed a game! (Not my own: The Drinklings, a Nordic-ish game that I played at Consequences last year).

That said, Matt and I have decided to skip Consequences in 2020 (and probably the 2021 weekend-long game), just due to how expensive the bathroom renovation has been.

And that’s all I have to say for now! Not exactly bite-sized, but this is what happens when I don’t post for a while.

How to construct an orc shaman costume

Or: It’s Not Easy Been Green

Or: A work in progress

As I wrote about earlier, I recently had cause to create an orc shaman costume for an NPC role in Madrigal 3. When staffer Griff contacted me to request I play this role, this might have gone through my head:

Original concept art for an shaman from the World of Warcraft boardgame. Maybe the game itself; I don’t recall and vanilla WoW was a long time ago.

Okay, okay, the orcs of Aerune are not Warcraft orcs. But let’s be real — there were gonna be some similarities. And I’d been wanting to make a costume like this for yeeeeears.

This is what I ended up with:


(Better pictures as I improve the costume and take more)

Let’s break it down by piece.


Most of my work went into this. I wanted something that looked like scraps of leather roughly hewn into a garment, and I had only a month to work, so I headed for my favorite place for fast and cheap costuming: Savers. I literally bought almost every piece of leather or pleather that seemed like it might work. This included:

  • a black pleather skirt with a faux snakeskin front panel
  • a grey pleather jacket, well-worn
  • a black suede skirt
  • a tan suedecloth skirt with interesting cutwork
  • a black leather jacket
  • a copper-and-blue leather-look vest

Not all of these made their way into the skirt. Mostly, what you see here is:

  • panels from the black suede skirt, decorated with strips cut from the cutwork suedecloth skirt,
  • the arms, and strips from the front of, the grey pleather jacket, some decorated with faux fur, and…
  • the snakeskin panel from the black pleather skirt, arranged over a suede panel and some faux fur to create an interesting centerpiece.


The belt was one with an interesting tie detail I purchased from Target. The faux fur is actually stuff I had lying around from an old cosplay. I put slits in each of the panels near the top, and slid them onto the belt. Once the belt was on my waist, I arranged them where I wanted them, tying the tie portion of the belt over the centerpiece.

I tried to hot-glue the panels into place once I had them where I wanted them, but hot glue doesn’t work so well on leather (and my husband leaving it in the hot car for a few hours probably didn’t help). Oh well! It doesn’t provide full coverage, of course, but I wasn’t expecting it to do that — I still wear shorts underneath.

The top

… was entirely improvised, because my first choice plan didn’t come together.

See the original orc lady picture? And her boobtastic leather jerkin? (Jerkin, heh). I wanted to do something like that. Short on time, I tasked my husband with removing the arms from the black leather jacket, and adding grommets so it could lace up the front.

Well, the result was cleavage-baring. It, uh, also looked more like fetish wear than it did something a hard-working orc shaman might wear. (The color probably didn’t help — tan leather = tribal, but black leather = motorcycle gang or dominatrix). The only Earth Shock involved would be my boobs exploding out of it.

(Since this blog is mostly PG-13, you won’t be getting picture of that).

So, in a pinch I found a white T-tunic I had once made that wasn’t doing me any good any longer. I cut most of the length off it, and cut off the arms, until I had something that looked like a sleeveless shirt. No hemming, because orcs don’t need hemming. It still looked entirely too clean, though, so I soaked it in coffee for about 6 hours and then washed it, which left it a nice off-white. The olive cake makeup I was wearing added further grime to it, which is all to the good, as far as I’m concerned.


The vest

… was actually a piece I made for the weekend-long game Once Upon a Time in Tombstone. You can see it on the Old West’s derpiest ranger here:


I considered using the copper-blue vest, which fit better, and sure didn’t look like fetish wear, but it still looked too modern to my eyes.

The teeth

I used this tutorial on using moldable plastic to make orc teeth.

This was my first time working with moldable plastic beads (I opted for InstaMorph, which was available on Amazon Prime in large quantities), and I didn’t know what to expect, so let me say just a few words about it as a lesson.

Moldable plastic (with brand names like InstaMorph or Friendly Plastic) is sold in bags of hard beads. When you drop the beads in hot water (~170 degrees Fahrenheit), they get soft and clear, and become moldable. The material dries white, but you can paint or dye it just like hard plastic at that point.

There was a lot of trial and error in this part of the costume — good thing I got a larger bag than I actually needed! Part of the problem is, the tutorial doesn’t really tell you how much material to use, and I kept using way too much. Protip: if the material smooshes over your palate when you try to make the mold of your front teeth, you’re using too much.

After I made a base I liked, I made the teeth. And then tried to attach them.

This is where I learned that bogglingly, the heat gun I own has a lower setting than my hair dryer. Trying to warm up the base with my hair dryer, I succeeded in nothing more than a) blowing all the materials around my work table, b) ruining the base. So if you’re going to do this, I recommend investing in a real heat gun.

Eventually I got a pair of teeth that I was happy… ish with, and dyed them with coffee overnight. I say “happy-ish” because these were far from perfect. They cover my palate too much, so I talk with a serious lisp. (It’s hard to be threatening with a lisp). Also the teeth need to be angled farther out, so that they don’t rub up against my lip.


Being green

Most of my green skin, as you can tell, is not paint. Thank god for that, because I did not want to spend all evening painting myself green.

Both my arms and legs are covered with opaque tights — these, in the “smeraldo” tone, which is a word I’d never heard before ordering these. It must be Italian for “orc-colored” 😉

(I’m someone’s Jade Princess, I guess)

For the arms, I used this Weeping Angel costume tutorial to make gloves out of opaque tights. I never got around to affixing nails to them, which is fine, because I was only ever seen in half-light. I also used Fray-Check instead of nail polish for securing the cut edges, as that was easier to find in my house and, I find, works better.

I ordered some Mehron cake makeup in “olive” to paint my face and exposed skin. As you can see, it’s not a great match. Flat green may have just been better. Or I could get a different shade of tights, I suppose, but there’s a lot more work in making a new pair of gloves.


The jewelry I wore came from my costume closet — a set of coral and blue beads, and an amulet-like piece.

Sandals were, alas, just my dress sandals.

I collected a bunch of chicken bones to do the “bone-threaded-through-dress” look of the inspiration picture, but never got around to doing anything with them. They’re still in my fridge, though 😉


As you can see, this costume could use a lot of improvements. Some of the things I hope to do to better it are:

  • Color match the paint and the tights/sleeves better
  • Adjust the sleeves to fit better (or make new ones — depends on how I decide to match colors)
  • Add details and accessories, i.e. chicken bones
  • Find better shoes
  • Make better-fitting teeth

I hope this was at least somewhat interesting/useful in its current state, however!

Madrigal is magical

Recently I NPCed for the first event of Madrigal 3, the third game in the popular Madrigal series — the boffer larp that gave us the even-more-popular Accelerant rules system.

Let’s be real — sometimes when you NPC, it’s kind of a drag, and you just do it for the CP. But this time? I had a legitimately amazing time. There were good fights, good RP, a fairly comfortable monster camp, and a chill, organized, and conscientious staff.

My motivation for joining the Madrigal perm NPC team was simple. With both Shadows of Amun and Cottington Woods ended, I needed a new source of CP — for Ianthe, my Fifth Gate Silverfire character, as well as my soon-to-be Shadowvale PC Melys. I knew a lot of awesome people who were involved with Madrigal, and it had a rock-solid reputation, so I thought it would be the best bet.

The Site

The game is held at Camp Woodstock, a YMCA camp in Woodstock, CT, in that section of central New England where all larps seem to take place. It’s not far, thus, from Camp Frank A. Day (where Cottington ran), Camp Eagle Pass (where Cottington and Shadows both had one-day events), and Ye Olde Commons (where 5G did its winter revel).

As far as camps go, it’s fairly typical — working bathrooms, water that sometimes smells sulfurous, some buildings winterized, some not, and of course no (or almost no) air-conditioning. What makes it unique is the building we use for Monster Camp, a large winterized (i.e. heated) building that sleeps 44, called “the Boathouse.” It’s rare for NPC housing and Monster Camp to share a space, but it’s also super-convenient — you can go back to your bunk whenever you need costuming. As if that weren’t nice enough, the Boathouse also has bathrooms right inside (so no trekking off to a separate bathhouse), a wraparound porch, and an amazing view of Black Pond.

If you’re bug-phobic, however, the Boathouse seems to be sited in the midst of a spider vs. wasp turf war. I mean, it’s nature… it kind of comes with the territory. But if that concerns you, I thought I would note it. On the upside, I didn’t find any ticks on me this weekend, despite being in the state that brought us Lyme disease.

The Staff

The staff is mostly folks I know from other larps — indeed, a good chunk of them are folks I play 5G Silverfire with. Best-known, perhaps, is the game owner Rob Ciccolini, the creator of the Accelerant system which has taken over live-combat larping in New England.

Overall, counting staff and NPCs, I think there were about 30 of us this side of Monster Camp. This number will be relevant!

Mostly I was impressed by how calm and collected the staff was. The most hectic I saw it was right before game on, but even then, it was a controlled chaos. (More on that under Logistics).

It was also good to see how invested the staff was in our having fun. I started to get a little worried when I caught Rob a few times asking NPCs (including me) if we “had enough to do.” At first my reaction was, “Oh god, I’m not doing enough, I’m slacking off, GUILT!” But then I realized, when he phrased it as, “Are you getting the kind of roles you want?” that he legitimately just wanted to make sure we we were having a good time. I really appreciated that.

Another thing I liked is that the staff weren’t pushy at all about asking us to go out on mods. It was very much left up to NPC choice if you wanted to go out on a role or not. Theoretically, this is always true, but in some games I’ve felt more pressure than others to jump on whatever role was offered to me. In this way it’s easy to push myself too far in a weekend. I felt a little guilty for missing a field fight by going to bed early-ish on Saturday night — especially given numbers — but I felt like I was encouraged to do what I needed to do for self-care.

It was also interesting to see the staff brainstorming how to help players who weren’t having fun, or who didn’t know quite what to do with themselves. Thanks to a somewhat loose schedule, we were able to react with agility to such things — I know at least one mod I went out on was designed specifically for a certain PC who was having a rough time, and I’m pretty sure Sunday’s field fight was adjusted to give reincarnated characters (i.e. characters who were the reincarnation of Mad2 characters) some idea of their powers and limitations.

The Players


For those of you who don’t have a sense of scale… that is huge. Like, both sides of 5G are capped at 75 players — the crossroads event might get us up to 150. Shadows probably never had more than 80 or so. I think there might have only been 40-50 Cottington PCs by the end. All of these are ginormous, of course, beside theater larps, which generally aren’t much larger than 20-30 players.


To someone mitigate this vast disparity between PCs and NPCs, PCs were encouraged to take shifts NPCing. It wasn’t mandatory, but I think it was incentivized with CP or in-game currency. In any case, it was very very nice to every now and again have fresh-faced new NPCs popping up to help.

I saw many familiar faces PC side, too — several people from my 5G Silverfire team, folks I knew from Cottington Woods and Shadows, etc. I’m kind of surprised how few people I saw that I knew originally from theater-style larping, even among those who have made the jump to live combat. I’m guessing a lot of them are tied up with Crossover?

Funny little detail: there were something like 20 players — three team’s worth — from Virginia, who traveled all the way up here to play in this game. Apparently there’s a nice-sized Accelerant diaspora down there, thanks to people who played Mad1 and 2 and started Numina, and people who played Numina and started Ascendant. I met up with a group of them doing NPC shifts, and learned a lot about the culture of Accelerant in that area. It speaks to a point I heard raised at NELCO — that there are Galápagos Islands of Accelerant larps across the U.S., all experiencing this sort of divergent (sometimes convergent) evolution.

The Setting

Madrigal’s setting is a traditional fantasy world, called Aerune, with some unique details that make it really wondrous. Players come from one of thirteen countries, which vary in geography from canyon-scarred deserts to glaciers to impenetrable forest, and take inspiration from a wide range of historical cultures. In addition to that you choose one of ten races to play, many of which have sub-races. These cover ground between popular fantasy races like elves and orcs, to animated constructs, to the shoathri, a race of animal shape-changers. Also, though the game takes place a thousand years after the events of Mad2, some returning players have chosen to create connections to their Mad2 characters, via their character’s ancestry, or by being the reincarnated spirit of the original character, or even by just waking up a thousand years later.

Despite their origins, all players have one thing in common — they have all come to the “lost” city of Nocturne, whose ruins which have risen from the ground after being swallowed up years ago.

I happened to be bunking near Katie and Jerry, the two staffers who wrote plot for the lands of Blacktallow and Dremasque, so I learned the most about those cultures. Blacktallow has kind of a steampunk-y feel to it (to me, at least) — ostensibly it’s a place where chivalry is valued above all else. It also seems to have a lot of warring house political plot going on. (Jerry compared one of his Blacktallow NPCs to a particular GoT character — which was somewhat lost on me).

I found particularly interesting the Dremasque, a culture where the nobility is cursed to go mad due to having the bloodlines of a dead mad god. In addition to wearing motley as their sort of national color, they also wear masks, which are meant to be a reminder of their curse. The Dremasque have created professions based around dealing with an aristocracy that may someday become a danger to everyone around them — Joy Eaters, who are supposed to help cure Madness, and the Black Masque, who are a unique sort of assassin, tasked with killing nobles who are beyond help and have become a danger to others.

One of my favorite NPC roles was a Dremasque noble who had had an unfortunate experience in the woods and had temporarily lost Lucidity (their term for sanity). The staffer who wrote it, Jerry, told me it was kind of intended to suss out what the PCs who had chosen to be Black Masque wanted — did they want to be merciless killers who would off someone who was begging for their life, or were they more interested in compassion? Well, my NPC lived, so I think that speaks highly of the players who chose that path…

Some other interesting cultural tidbits are that the Tatterdemalion, a nomadic people, are famed candy-makers, and make medicinal candy, and that the Khoros, a vaguely Viking-inspired people, mark their prowess in battle by decorating a leather skirt.

For anyone who asked me: given the name, is there singing in Madrigal? Well, there definitely was singing, but I’m not sure how official it was! Apparently the Madrigals are pieces of music with great power within the world, although they only crop up officially in-game every so often.


As some of you know, I have a bit of a fascination with larp scheduling, so indulge me while I say a few words about that.

I realized that most of the games I’ve NPCed for in the past were games with set time-frames — both Cottington and Shadows, for example, were beholden to three-year arcs. Madrigal, which is an ongoing game with no set end, felt different, and definitely had less of a sense of urgency.

There was a schedule — but, as staffer JJ warned me beforehand, it was largely useless to me, as a non-staff NPC. It blocked the weekend in 1.5 hour blocks, but only indicated what buildings were in use and where staff members were going to be at those times. Big, all-town events were marked, but individual mods were left to the discretion of the staff in charge of that plot. Regular NPCs had no schedule; they were assumed to be available for whatever when they were sitting in the common room of the Boathouse. I was given one role to prepare for ahead of time, and then a couple of other roles were offered to me once certain plot writers learned that I was down for roleplay. For only one of those roles (the Dremasque noble) was I given a — short, but well-written — writeup.

On the whole, I felt like the game didn’t suffer from this loose schedule. That may be largely because, as I said, it’s an on-going game, and there’s no set destination we had to arrive at. It gave us the freedom to do things like ditch an entire field fight because we realized the PCs (and NPCs!) were too exhausted for it, or to change the game plan to help players have fun. It also allowed NPCs to rest when they needed to. I mean, I loved Shadows, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that its strict (and mostly adhered-to!) NPC schedule sometimes made me feel like I didn’t have any downtime.

I also felt the large staff — and the delegation to that large staff — was a strength of the game
. I don’t think Madrigal has an official “don’t NPC plot that you write” rule like Shadows did, but it seemed like they generally obeyed this separation of concerns. (Which helps avoid the “staff/NPCs can’t bi-locate” problem of some games).

Since food is part of logistics, let me say a word about that, too. The meals handled by the actual Camp Woodstock cafeteria staff, which has its pluses and minuses — it’s more reliable, and doesn’t take players out of game to prepare food for others (a real problem at Shadows), but it also was pretty institutional in nature, and they straight-up ran out. By the time a friend arrived to dinner, for example , there was nothing left but salad and corn. As an NPC, Madrigal pays for only your Saturday evening meal, as well as all the snacks lying around Monster Camp. You can also purchase the breakfasts served at the cafeteria. Given my current diet, there wasn’t much I could eat of the breakfasts or snacks, either way, so I brought a lot of my own food — which worked out fine, as there was a fridge.

Stuff Wot I Did

“Finally, Lise gets to the interesting parts,” I can hear you saying 🙂

Over the course of the weekend, there were scheduled to be five field fights; we cut one of those when it became clear that the Saturday afternoon field fight had taken it out of everyone.

In three of the four field fights the opponents were hobgoblins — an enemy who had recently been raiding around Nocturne. I had to miss two of these for various reasons, but hopefully I more than made up for it the Saturday afternoon fight, which shall live in infamy.

Why was the Saturday afternoon fight so infamous?
Well, first you have to understand its purpose was partly pragmatic. The camp was hosting swimming lessons for locals from 4-5pm that day, and had requested we not be in the parts of the camp close to the water between 3:45 and 5:15 or so. We could, however, use the field between the barn and the administration building (affectionately called “the Cube” — Time Cube jokes were made).

An hour-long field fight is REALLY FREAKING LONG, so to make us all not die of heat prostration, staff had decided to split it into five waves. It ended up turning into fighting for ten minutes followed by resting for 5-10 minutes. During the rest, the NPCs would retreat into the Cube (which had A/C!) and rehydrate, which was framed as the hobgoblins retreating to their fortress and regrouping.

Still, even with rest breaks, it was a grueling fight for NPCs and PCs alike. That I held up fairly well is a testament to how I’ve become more fit — despite the heat and the climb uphill to respawn, I kept a high level of energy throughout.

During that fight, where I was cut down again and again and again by PCs — sometimes without even getting to attack — I decided that my new motto was, “if I can’t die gloriously, at least die hilariously.” Which, really, when you’re outnumbered six to one, is sometimes the best thing you can do.

Throughout the weekend, I also played an undead pirate in Sunday’s field fight, a Scaled One defending a treasure, an orc raiding through a portal, and a shadow with a crossbow. (Really, most of what I did was crunching).

One of my two face roles was the Dremasque noble I wrote about above. The more notable — the one I had been asked to prep in advance for — was an orc shaman who was making Poor Life Choices ™ that would affect the players in the year to come. When I was asked to do this role, little did anyone know that I had been wanting to make a Warcraft orc shaman costume for yeeeeeears, and this was just an excuse to channel my inner nerd.

Chankra, in all her glory. I got to name her myself, and I named her after an old WoW character of mine. Of course.

I’ll write more about how I made the costume in another post, but suffice it to say, I had fun as her, and I look forward to kicking puppies and taking candy from babies in future events.

In Summary

Really, if anything should be clear from what I’ve just written, it’s why this game has garnered so many players. It has an experienced and caring staff, a good site, and a fascinating world to play around in. I’m kind of wishing I were a player, but I will be more than happy to continue being an NPC. I hope that if you were on the fence about this game, you’ll consider giving it a chance — on either side of Monster Camp!