I wanted to write a quick post telling you about my first day back on the Newbie Council.
As I’ve written before I first applied to NC when I was level 15 on Tharius and was encouraged to give Guild of Rangers a try for a while instead :-). I was eventually accepted as a member under Julie and Stoney as co-heads and then continued as a member under Sarah. I don’t recall if I was a member under Loril and Stoneheft when they first took over, but if I was it was as Cready, the mage I swapped into NC when Tharius immed.
Things change. Pre-auth and the academy are radically different from when I first joined. Those of you who have seen the stock SMAUG setup know what I’m talking about. I was part of the project to revamp it way back when and if I search hard enough I could probably find the packet of paper that Sarah mailed to me when it was in progress.
Of course even those changes are gone, about 10 years ago Loril and many contributors set about revamping it into what it is today.
I spent my first day on NC going through pre-auth with a fine tooth comb and while I found a TON of stuff I’ve never noticed before it’s distinctly possible that I missed even more details. I tried very hard to come at it from the point of view of someone who was new to the game and I must say that it is very well written and doesn’t assume knowledge of commands. Everything you need is presented to you to get you through the area. My only long time beef is the wall of text that is help start 🙂
So dear reader, perhaps you are an explorer of great renoun, expert at spotting all the little details. Here are a few things I wonder if you know:
How many dragons are in pre-auth and what colour are they?
What 3 players are immortalized by having their stories recorded in pre-auth?
What is it that keeps shooting sticky fluid and capturing that poor bat??
There’s lots more. I really encourage you to take an hour and go through the Sunless Sea and absorb the detail in the area. I had more fun adventuring the area than I’ve ever had creating a character 🙂
Oh I did field questions from new players during this adventure through pre-auth … you know the regular [NC-ON] lifestyle, though as a thief I plan to avoid an addiction to those funky blue potions.
As promised, here is the continuation of Loril’s tale. When you ask someone to recap their adventures and they choose to do it in character you know that they have dedicated a great deal of effort to the work. I am grateful to Loril for taking the time to share her adventures from the Academy through to becoming an immortal here. Self conscious that the piece is far to long she has done her best to be brief but I will suggest that when you get to the end of it you will realize how much more she could have added in (indeed, we could have a weekly serial “The Adventures of a Blue Potion Junkie” and still take ages to relate the whole tale!) So from mountains of AOL CDs, weeks in preauth, a month in the academy … to her in game meeting with Stoneheft and Grunthos and many others, I present the continuation of Loril, in her own words!
As a newborn babe’s cries tugs at a mother’s heart, so did the cries for help throughout the lands tug at the heart of Loril. Born to Grace Gemstone (the one they called Queen), Loril knew self-reliance both by necessity and by blood. From Darkhaven to the far reaches of the land, she ran tirelessly. This one is blind in the Holy Grove, that one cursed among the gravestones. Healer on inumerable quests to defeat evil, nurturer to countless young adventurers to whom the world was a harsh place full of mocking and lacking in compassion. Running, always running. At times, her eyes streaming from lack of sleep and adequate nourishment, her muscles screaming for relief, her mind near hazed with the concentration required for countless healing and aiding spells.
In these days, she was heard to joke about her growing addiction to blue potions. Always broke, she found herself on occasion involved in a run of dubious aim. Her alignment dipping to evil, her heart ached. But these runs were lucrative – a very successful means to earn the gold required to continue her work aiding and sustaining. There was no time to rest or sleep for mana! Blue potions were the means. Dark warriors tempted her with huge crates brimming with blue potions for her services. And she accepted. Heart heavy, it seemed the only way.. But Grace, with the wisdom and vision of Stonegrip and Goldenrod noted all. She summoned her older son Stoneheft to her. Their consultation was brief. Stoneheft would set aside his own life’s work for a time, taking Loril under his tutilage to guide her growth and help her find her own way.
Grace sent a summons to Loril inviting her to meet in the square at Darkhaven. Loril, as was her way, was running then to the Art Gallery in town where someone, unprepared for adventure had wandered too far. The word came back, ‘Loril, yes – deliver the scroll but return here soon, girl.’ Loril, still caught up in the headlong rush to be in all places, aiding all people barely recognized the tone in that message but, as the square was on her path to the next call anyway, paused there for a time. As always, Darkhaven Square was teeming with people preparing for adventure, preparing for battle, stopping for a drink or pausing to pass a moment with a friend. And, as always, there was a constant stream of all manner of people hoping for something from Grace. Some were content with a smile or a blessing. Others lingered, hoping for some personal time. Still others begged a greater boon. Named well, her grace fairly filled the square and seemed to on occasion fill all there with peace and quiet would fall for a moment as all present felt restored and would faintly smile then carry on. ‘Daughter.’ Grace’s gaze fell on Loril. ‘Your brother has returned from his travels and will be happy to escort you for a time’. Loril, who’s thoughts had already wandered as she listened to various cries for help, absently looked at Stoneheft who was obviously discomfited by the bustle and, very likely the prospect of ‘escorting’ his little sister. ‘Rather scrawny’, she thought, looking more closely at this brother whom she barely knew. He looked down at her and smiled warmly and she felt in his regard the love and wisdom of one much older than his years.
And so began Loril’s age of learning.
Adrift, lonely when seldom alone, she had spent countless years driven by that within which compelled her to heal. Yet much of the knowledge of this world had remained hidden from her. Her skills had served her well and she had honed them until she was quite proud yet an emptiness had prevailed within. Stoneheft took her that first day to the waterfall near the ancient kingdom of Juargan. There they sat as he listened to her tales. After a time she fell silent as the constant drumming of the water drowned out the cries that previously had occupied her universe. A peace, strange but welcome, stole over her and for the first time in memory she felt truly relaxed. Loril slept then. And she dreamed. There was a great warrior – a man of stone, it seemed. Favoured-One of the gods. Or one god. It was unclear. She dreamed of a great rending and a long age of despair. But then another warrior. This one female. This warrior’s pain and courage drew the attention and favour of the gods. She dreamed then of a new age of great beginnings. Her mother was there then, sad, but great in her love of her people.
Awakening, Loril slowly became aware of her brother speaking. She rolled over to look up at him and saw again, that secret smile of wisdom and depth. The tale he was telling continued that of her dream and the two, telling and dreaming, became one and she knew that he was speaking of their family and heritage. He spoke of their Aunt Sunrise and Uncle Alazar, a cousin Calazar. He spoke too of Asterix whom she knew and had a certain fondness for… Fireforge.. others. He told tales of their times in the dwarven forest when the Gemstone family was great, vast, and renouned. Gemstone family picnics were famous for riotous fun, vast consumption of food and ale, and games. (And Loril inwardly grieved at the times she had missed during the long years of running.) Many days did they linger there as Loril first healed then began again to grow anew. And Stoneheft continued his teaching. Patiently, he helped her understand the ways of the world as he too had been far in these lands but he, unlike her, had not been running. His life’s work was to learn these lands in detail. Specifically he mapped the places he found, but more, he studied and learned the byways and peoples in the places he entered. Sometimes months would he spend in a town until he knew it as he knew himself.
As time passed and Loril knew peace, Stoneheft took her out into these lands to show her what he had found and in so doing, they discovered other lands together. Their combined skills resulted in many packs of parchment – maps, drawings, notes. Time passed and at times their adventures separated them physically but never mentally as they were now bound in a way few siblings ever enjoy.
One sunny day after a particularly exhausting time helping a Little One (as Loril had come to call the young adventurers she would meet at the Academy – a home she could never completely leave) re-equip, Loril made her way to a dock where she and Stoneheft would often sit and watch the dolphins out at sea. There she found Stoneheft and a younger Dwarf exchanging insults. Shocked, she hung back a bit to take in the sight and pull her mace to hand.. in case. Much would she loathe the thought of drawing the blood of one of her people but she would stand for no one who crossed her beloved brother. It dawned on her after a short time that these were the jesting insults of a pair of friends. The puns and plays on words would build until both Dwarves would fall about one-another in paroxyms of giggles that were contagious. Loril found herself completely completely entertained and sat quietly at the end of the dock, hugging and burying her face in her knees to stifle the laughter welling in her at the antics of these two silly … boys. Yes, boys! A side of Stoneheft she’d only ever glimpsed before now was revealed in its full and ridiculous glory! Frolicking about like a child one third his age, Loril was thrilled to see him so enjoying the moment.
Later that night, Loril made a fire and the trio sat around it, staring at the stars. Few words were spoken for some hours. They shared out some ale, the males worn out from their earlier antics, Loril sizing up this Grunthos .. this person with the ability to bring out the child in the brother she idolized. It was apparent that he too worshipped Stoneheft. She found herself warming to this strange warrior. Just as she was thinking the other two had nodded off and perhaps it was time for her to turn in as well, Grunthos started speaking very lowly. It was poetry, after a fashion. Some readers might recognise the words spoken that night as Vogon poetry and, as like as not, those same readers would agree that they’d sooner face Balzhur on a bad day than ever again hear such.
As countless thousands of years of equally countless lovers can attest: sometimes there is no accounting for true love. And the stirrings of love were felt in Loril’s heart that eve’. She sat enthralled as Grunthos’ voice reached such a pitch that the dolphins themselves cried out to the heavens for relief. The dogs of New Thalos that night were heard to yelp and whimper as they gnawed at their own hind legs seeking relief from the sound they were too dumb to understand and too sensitive to ignore. Stoneheft, long asleep by this time, likely heard nothing over the sound of his own snoring. He was oblivious to the future building on that dock, that would grow on that dock, and that would eventually be consummated on that very dock.
The following months passed quickly. More organised in her life’s work now, Loril found she required first one, then another employee – she simply couldn’t carry all the items a Healer requires to perform her tasks effectively. One of these, an orphan Loril had found wandering dazed and bloody in the streets of Thalos, was named only Lyra. Loril and Lyra became fast friends, sisters in the way of female friends throughout the world. Of sweet disposition, really, Lyra was a also a steadfast warrior who tolerated little nonsense and went about her tasks as Loril’s bearer and defender with a steadiness and determination that at times concerned her friend and employer. Loril would try to encourage Lyra to go out, have adventures of her own, meet some people. But Lyra, grateful to her friend for saving her life would smile and quietly refuse.
Loril, Grunthos, and Stoneheft wandered the world. Loril’s work as a Healer continued as did her passion for her Little Ones. She professed that she was living on Cloud Nine as her love for Grunthos grew and grew. He patiently escorted her on many a doomed or ill-fated rescue effort and just as patiently layed down his life along side her time and again when, as still was her wont, she dragged him headlong into disaster in an effort to heal and assist. Try as he would to convince her that others needed to learn to get themselves out of the trouble they’d found on their own (or better still, not get into it in the first place), she would just as patiently explain to him, ‘it’s what I do…’. He watched as some took cruel advantage of her naive ways, never leaving her to her folly, his sword ever ready to fell the nasties in their path so that those she felt she was aiding could prevail.
And at night, on that dock, they would go over the day’s experiences and discuss other ways she could continue her work yet not allow the thoughtless to benefit unfairly. Loril adopted her concept of Tough Love for the Little Ones and others during those quiet talks.
It was during this time that a mischief-loving vampire named Xenedra took notice of our Healer and asked her if she had interest in the Newbie Council. At first, Loril could see no reason to join an organisation to do what she had always done anyway. As she discussed it with the two men she adored, she grew to realize the fit was a natural. Belonging to the Newbie Council would bring focus to her work for the Little Ones (to whom she had sometime previously decided to devote herself). There would be other members from whom she could learn more and perhaps, with the knowledge she had gained with Stoneheft and Grunthos, she could contribute in her own way to their esteemed ranks. The Council did that for her and more. The Council headquarters became her home. The soft grass under the Council’s tree became her bed when Stoneheft and Grunthos were off on their own adventures.
Naturally enough (it might be mentioned here), Stoneheft and Lyra got to know one-another. She, like Grunthos was somehow able to bring out that silliness in Stoneheft which few others ever saw in that serious student of the world. But as well, Loril witnessed a softer Stoneheft in Lyra’s company. Never having been the object of anything approaching tenderness in her life, his attentions were at first rebuffed as strange and alien. Eventually though, Stoneheft’s courtly adoration struck a chord. He found a way past her shield of shyness and well, that’s another story for another time. They call each other DearOne. Let us leave them in their bliss.
In time, Grunthos and Loril realised that they belonged together (well, rather, one day Grunty said, in that way of his, that he wanted her to be his … ahh well, others get the bended knee and a single perfect rose… You didn’t really think Grunty was that type, did you?) In those days, it was traditional for an immortal to perform the ceremony. Loril couldn’t bring herself to impose upon an immortal’s time and many friends and family had to badger her into asking. She approached Brittany, the then Newbie Council head, and the date was set.
Loril sat that morning in the Western Lounge with her mother Grace and fretted. She had a ring for Grunty but it just didn’t seem adequate. All her attempts to buy one in auction had ended in someone outbidding her. Newbie Council members seldom retain any wealth. She couldn’t fight for one herself and she had so devoted her time to her ‘guys’ that she hadn’t found anyone else to aid her in her quest. A longtime friend, Alexander Trueheart, died thrice that day to get the best ring he could alone – a Draupnir. Loril cried until she laughed and laughed until she cried at the thought of that dear warrior’s sacrifice … his only concern being that he wouldn’t be in time.
More than 100 people were counted on the dock that early evening. Loril was more nervous than on any rescue mission or run. Her hands and knees shaking, her voice at first tremulous soon gave out altogether! Only through immortal intervention was she able to continue and then, catastrophe and evil of evils! (A slanderous note exchanged hands that night but no more will be spoken of that in this missive. Love WILL conquer all and time has proven that with these two) The catastrophe was of world-shattering effect. Some claim the imbalance in the Realms that night – perhaps the weight of that many people (and their gifts, pets, and assorted inventories) so concentrated in one location – caused the world to end as it does at times. Yes, the gods always return the world shortly to some semblance of what it had been but those who are careless (and those too in love to reason) will often lose what they have recently gained. That was the fate of Loril and Grunthos that evening. The world re-built and they were both without their wedding rings.
… but the world continues to turn. Life is a circle, Loril will be the first to remind us. Loril and Grunthos Edelstone were wed and were one and so, were still on their Cloud Nine. Treachery and catastrophe both were forgotten. On they continued, this day helping Stoneheft finish mapping the sewers or Shadowport, that day showing a Little One how to look after himself.
The world was growing and her work took up more and more of her time. Grunthos was impatient for them to settle down. Stoneheft took Grunty’s side and wondered aloud how committed she really was to her family. This was too much for her. The Newbie Council was too busy for her to take much time off. She was torn and soon realized a clean break was the only way to save her marriage and her relationship with her brother. Loril retired from the Newbie Council with heavy heart one fateful night when the guys weren’t around. She carried with her for many years the well-wishes from so many that night and hopes they all know what those words meant that night when her life’s work, it seemed, had come to a full stop.
The circle continued as Loril and Grunthos learned she was with child. Oh glorious and fear-inducing days of preparation! He was born in the hills near Moria and was named Jeltz after a prominant member of Grunty’s home city of Azgoth. Jeltz (who chose a Cleric’s robes like his uncle) never knew his brother Dramar. He was a silly, bouncy and fun-loving youth who brought much pride to his parents. In his teens, Jeltz became insane and, it is believed, took his own life for he was suddenly never seen again.
It was not long before, once again, Loril gave birth to Dramar. This strapping lad chose the life of a Healer and his mother’s breast swelled with pride. She showered him with all manner of gifts and trinkets. Grunty chided her for spoiling the boy and not letting him strengthen and grow on his own. Perhaps he was correct. Perhaps it was just fate. Perhaps, perhaps. But Dramar too lost control of his mind. He was heard yelling long into the small hours that he wanted to die. Then, one day, he too disappeared.
Loril grieves to this day for her two sons. She fears ever having another child and despairs that after this long she may no longer be able … but time passes, and the world moves on, and the circle continues. Stoneheft had neared his ultimate goal of mapping the entire world and was casting about for a new occupation when one day, a Newbie Council member for whom he had great respect approached him about membership. Stoneheft was inducted and shortly thereafter, Jonqualyn and his brilliant wife Mariyah approached Loril as well. She was back home and this time with her beloved brother.
One day, it seemed no time at all later, she was called to the highest opportunity to help these lands. Lascivias, Serina, and Sarah called to her and asked her if she was ready. The circle was complete. It was time. And there, suddenly visible beneath her sandals was the Cloud she had always known was there. It whisked her high above Qetag’s Reach from where she continues to try to find ways to help her beloved Newbies – her Little Ones … and the circle continues.
When I asked Loril to share a few words with us I knew that whatever she sent would be fantastic … and she never disappoints. I strolled down memory lane with Loril’s words and despite her concern that it was far too long I couldn’t stop reading. I’ve split Loril’s submission into 2 parts: the person Loril and the character Loril. I hope you will find both as fascinating as I did. For the record, I have no trouble believing Loril spent two weeks in pre-auth, somehow I still think of her as some strange chimera of wide eyed newbie and (nearly) all-knowing goddess. Without further ado, in her own words, Loril!
When I got my first home computer, I simply couldn’t wait to get onto this Internet that the network geeks at the data center where I worked were all abuzz about. In those days, everyone was inundated with 30-day free disks from AOL and CompuServe, among others. Being a very frugal person, I figured out pretty quickly how much these places would soak you for money if you let them … and so I didn’t let them. I used them for the free connection so I could research for an ISP that I figured offered the most for the least. Nucleus (nucleus.com) offered exactly what I needed – a BBS so I could talk to people about this brave new world, a connection to an entire world of knowledge (which is everything to me), and a few gaming pastimes (my true love!).
Now, skooch in close, kids and listen carefully … it was ALL TEXT. All of it. Text menus, chat rooms, games, ALL TEXT. Well, and ASCII pictures which were often lame, and more often brilliant. I spent crazy amounts of time, pre-Google (!) just looking around the world at what people were building and talking about. And that’s another topic altogether. We’re here to celebrate 20 years of the Realms of Despair. Hosted by Nucleus was a game called Mutants and I spent a lot of time dying 🙂 on that game but there were always players there and we’d chat. I was intrigued by one of the offerings – RoD, offering “Endless Medieval Enjoyment” – which was right up my game play alley. But everyone told me, ‘bah, you don’t want to play that – it’s always so laggy’. Well, hell. I was lagged enough at the time (though really, 1200 BAUD was pret-ty spiffy in those days ;)) and I didn’t need more lag. Yet, every time I logged in (remember the connection sound on those modems?), I looked at that tagline again. I finally couldn’t resist any longer. Lag be damned, I NEEDED Endless Medieval Enjoyment!
And it has been endless for me. I spent a full two weeks – real time! – in pre-auth. I read every help file I could to make the best possible character that would fully represent my alter self. I finally made it into the game and probably spent a good three months in the Academy! Yes. 😛 I did. After a time, a bud from Nucleus, name of Garlok, remade a character he’d allowed to delete and showed me a few things. I lost track of him, sadly, because his infectious use of the cackle social was a delight. Garlok, if you’re out there, hey man, get in touch.
One more thing before I proceed to tell you my MUD story in a biography (and probably lose you before the end of it!), I want to answer the question about why I stuck to text all these years. I’m a gamer from way back. Atari, Nintendo (original and Super), Intellivision, and PlayStation. Not to mention what I still believe were the best PC games ever invented. Perhaps, in fact, it was “Quest for Glory: So You Want to be a Hero” (originally named “Hero’s Quest) and numerous other Sierra games that spoiled me forever for graphical games. Thank you, Ken and Roberta Williams and Al Lowe for, in my opinion, “completing” graphical games. In my mind, they are done (though I’d buy another in a heartbeat). They had actual stories, beauty in pictures and in music. I can’t, and couldn’t, imagine that ever being done better. I’ve always been a reader.
The last week has been another detour through adding experience points to characters. The baby barb that I started to kill Brutus with hadn’t put on a point of xp since I wrote that blog post, so it was time to finish him off. Ended out with a 933 hp base, which I was pretty satisfied with. I also levelled 2 thieves for other people and I felt the came out with decent enough bases, 742 and 728 respectively.
This is not another blog post about the evils of leveling or rerolling … this is another blog post about “while I was levelling I tried something new and ..” 🙂
This week’s wander was to the Catacombs of Mahn-Tor, a nifty little adjunct to the Keep of Mahn-Tor. Once you gain entry there’s a few sealed off tombs that make you grateful that pass door can still be brewed. Might have even found a bug, because once you door bash them open after repop you can’t walk through them and door bash thinks they are open. Each of the tombs can provide you with a fight, whether the remains of the King and Queen or just the ancient warrior spirit. You will additionally confront ghosts, spirits and even a wraith in the hallway.
I’ve noticed that there certainly seems to be more to the area than what I’ve discovered, the flame of the elder was nice as are the cotton bindings but the burial armor seems out of place. Whenever I see a piece of equipment with negative stats and no apparent use it triggers alarm bells in my head. Additionally some of the vaults can be opened and closed. I have not yet determined if bringing the corpse of Mahn-Tor into the catacomb is triggering anything yet, I haven’t gotten it figured out just yet, but I’m having fun trying out different ideas.
I’ve run away with the king and queen’s body before too, I just haven’t decided where to take our mummy jerky yet 🙂
I think that today’s post will be a short one. I want to take the time to single someone out for their efforts, someone whose focus in the game is unrelenting and also counter to the general culture of the game.
Without further ado I wish to applaud Loril. Loril is, without argument, an outstanding champion of the new player. I do not simply mean that she is helpful to new players, but rather that she actively and rabidly promotes the new player experience on the Realms of Despair. For many of us the new player experience ends long before we hit avatar, when we begin thinking about buff gear and running with other avatars. To try to recall 6 months down the road what things were important to new players is near impossible … never mind for those of us who have been around since prior to the Shattering.
Returning after a long hiatus I assumed that to some degree I would have a new player experience. I have spoken with many other returning players and there is something that I discovered. You can’t go home again. You return to the game remembering where you left off, recalling the things you used to do. Even after all the time away I had a tremendous recollection of commands and equipment. I could look at someone else’s character and tell you what pieces were new after the time I stopped playing without referencing rodpedia or any other site. That somehow Loril has actively maintained an eye for those gameplay elements that are important to new players is remarkable.
As a guild leader I genuinely desire to teach new players about the game. Not just “how do I gear them up so they can go to Seth” … because runs have rarely been my primary source of entertainment in the game … but rather how can I be a comprehensively good player. My idea of that means having as good a time checking out a level 10 area as an avatar one, not for the mad lootz but for the fun of figuring out the puzzles and seeing the creativity that people have put into the game. I have sometimes failed but every time I talk with Loril I find this spark reinvigorated.
Does she remain an enigma to many players who are baffled by her focus? Sure. Those who simply play the game to experience a small amount of the content and amass text wealth to the exclusion of community and comradarie will have a hard time understanding how someone can spend so much time working with people under level 10. Understand her or not her efforts continue to benefit new generations of new players, whether chasing sigil making bots out of the halls of knowledge or adding exit descriptions to the connecting forests and areas around Darkhaven.
To conclude today’s sermon from the mount, thank you Loril for your efforts. I am certain that a great number of people benefit from your assistance and have no idea that you’ve provided it.