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Friday, September 30, 2011

NorCal Renaissance Faire

Every year H4773r and I go, at least once, to the NorCal Rennaisance Faire. And this year is no exception. On September 17th H4773r and I attended the NorCal Ren Faire, taking advantage of the 2 for 1 admission deal. Of course we dressed up in our Ren Faire finest. I do consider Ren Faires in the similar vein of cons. Although I know they're different I still think it's a great place for getting dressed up, interacting with history and theatre geeks, and possibly even learning something new about this awesome time period.
H4773r and T1nk (photo courtesy of T1nk)
We had what's I'd call a fairly predictable Ren Faire experience. We watched some of our favorite entertainers, we browsed at all the shops and wished we had more money to buy things, ate delicious food, ran into a bunch of different people we knew, and interacted in fun and silly ways with atmosphere folk. Just because I know what to expect at this Faire doesn't take away from how much fun I had. Also, running/going with people I know just makes the experience that much better.

The NorCal Ren Faire is located at Casa deFruta off Highway 152. General admission prices are $25 and children under 12 are free. Parking is around $5 for general and around $10 for VIP, you can also pay an addition amount to be driven by a horse drawn cart to the front gate. Food and drinks run about $8-15 for food and $3-8 for drinks. If you're a vegetarian like myself, you will have an extremely limited amount of food choices. I recommend the Acropolis in which I enjoyed the Athenian. A sandwich of sorts filled with lettuce, tomato, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, and Greek yogurt sauce. Trattoria di Stromobli and The Quail Inn also have some great choices. I was able to bring in my own snacks and water in my basket. I was not stopped nor told I couldn't bring in any outside food and I don't see anything in the programming that says otherwise. I also tried maple pecan chipotle brittle from Chocolate Delights and Confections. It was delicious.

Some of my favorite entertainers to watch are the joust (although we missed it this time around). The Belles of Bedlam: I am slowly becoming  fan of this group. Unfortunately it's nothing against them I just happen to have been a fan of  The Merry Wives of Windsor first. And both groups have similar style of performance. Moonie and Broon: one of my favorite comedic acts. Right now it's just Broon and lord help him until Moonie arrives in October. I say that sincerely and with love. We were able to catch the final show of day and Broon had just decided to make it a whatever he felt like show. It's was still pretty entertaining.

Merry Wives of Windsor (photo courtesy of T1nk)

Broon (photo courtesy of T1nk)
Vendors of choice: we always stock up on Belle Star Incense and I always wish I had money for Native Earth goods. I have to say Native Earth gave me some great customer service despite the fact I wasn't actually buying anything.

Of course I think everyone should attend a Ren Faire at least once. You have to chance to learn about history in a very unique way. The actors that portray Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare and Sir Francis Drake always do a wonderful job. Over the years I've learned about fencing and falconry and a few other things about the Renaissance era.

And if you need more incentive to go NorCal Ren Faire is doing themed weekends as well as "free" concerts. The day we went we were able to enjoy a bit of The Tempest. Go and have a great time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Inspirations and New Content

Photo courtesy of T1nk

One of the main reasons I began going to cons is discovering I could meet some of my favorite comic artists, as well as other people I'm a fan of. I had not realized, until I started attending cons regularly, that I could meet people I admired in rather small, intimate settings (IE. Artist's Alley or Exhibitor's Hall). Every con I attend I try to find my favorite artists and purchase whatever I can directly from them or at least, "donate" some cash.

So I've told you this story to tell you about new content I'm adding to Tales. On weeks that I don't attend a con or review a con I'm going to start doing a comic artist spotlight. Today I'm going to start with one of my all-time favorite webcomic artists - Erika Moen.

I'll be honest I don't remember how I discovered Erika. Although I'm inclined to say it was through Danielle Corsetto. When I began reading Erika's work I started with DAR, and I fell in love. It's an autobiographical webcomic that's just freakin' adorable. I love her simplistic line style and a bunch of the stories were just touching. I think what appeals to me most about her comics is the insight and raw emotion behind a lot of her work. Aside from DAR some of my other favorite pieces include GirlFuck and When We Hold Hands. Erika is currently working on a collaborative piece with Jeff Parker called Bucko.

I had the pleasure of meeting Erika at APE a couple of years ago and tried very hard not act like a creepy fan while I gushed all over her. She was very nice and humble about all my praising. Yet, another reason why I love this woman. Seriously, check out her work. She makes the best fart jokes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dungeon Master

As mentioned last week one of the events H4773r and I particpated in was Dungeon Master. Dungeon Master is a cross between LARP and theatre. The Dungeonmaster group employs actors who have previously rehearsed a scripted RPG-like event. On the night that Dungeon Master performs audience members are invited to submit a "character" that will then participate in the theatrical event. It sounds more complicated when I try to explain, but it's actually very simple and involves some great improv.

H4773r and I had expressed interest in participating as characters and were given a "character sheet" to fill out. The character sheet asks for your names, race, class, stats, and any other information you might want to add. I decided to create "Bellafrose" a female, human sorcerer who likes to set things on fire. H4773r created "Nye Kwill" male, human cleric who had a habit of falling asleep at odd intervals in order to "meditate and commune with his god."

Bellafrose and Nye Kwill (photo courtesy of Rayne Stransky)

Once everyone was settled into the room the Dungeon Master himself began to explain how the show would go and as well as the "rules." The two main rules, all combat must be performed in slow motion and all spells cast must be rhyming couplets. We only had 10 spells to use for the whole evening and the same spell could not be repeated twice.

And then show began. Our story began in the area of Atoll, where all of the stories take place, with a meeting of fans for a special panel of Dr. Prozac Dr. Efraim Zoloft (Thanks, Rayne!). Just as Dr. Prozac Dr. Zoloft made his appearance he was kidnapped by evil people A.K.A. "goths". A party was then assembled to find the goths and retrieve Dr. Prozac Dr. Zoloft.

Dr. Prozac Dr. Zoloft being held captive (photo courtesy of Rayne Stransky)

Our party consisted of one actual actor from Dungeon Master who was our guide, myself and H4773r as our characters, and (I'm not kidding when I say this) several children. Ok, they were more like tweens and a teenager, but barely. I don't recall what the kids were playing except for the teenager who played a dumb, but very funny, half-giant and another tween who also played a sorcerer and was very good at rhyming couplets.

Party has been assembled (photo courtesy of Rayne Stransky)

The "game" basically goes as such: an actual rehearsed scene with the Dungeon Master actors is performed that moves the RGP story along. That scene is then followed by a scene with the audience members as the party and other Dungeon Master actors. For example, right after the party was formed we began another scene in which the party was asked if we wanted armor and weapons. We voted yes, even though we were reminded armor and weapons would slow us down, physically. The game went more or less smoothly. We managed to solve our clues as to where the goths were hiding, and even convinced some kind of Rat King, who makes all the traps in Atoll, to let us pass. We had finally reached the goths, when the main female goth began monologue-ing and H4773r used the opportunity to slay her (it was actually pretty funny). We then began an all out battle in which most of the party died (including myself and H4773r). However, not all the party died and were able to return Dr. Prozac to his panel.

At the end of the story Dr. Prozac Dr. Zoloft was able to give his speech which mostly talked about how a party should play in order to succeed and then everyone was invited back onstage for bows. Additionally, the audience votes for it's favorite audience participant. As I mentioned in the previous post, H4773r won. It's unfortuate we don't live anywhere near Los Angles otherwise we'd very much take advantage of his winning prize, free passes to the rest of the season. I'm hoping he can go back in December for the end of the year show. I really think H4773r won the audience over when we were discussing the vampire blood needed to barter with the goths and H4773r made an excellent "Twilight" reference.

H4773r accepting his reward (photo courtesy of Rayne Stransky)
Aside from their live stage production Dungeon Master has also progressed into the webseries world. If you're into webseries such as The Guild, Legend of Neil, or Standard Action then you'll definitely enjoy The Legend of Atoll series. 

H4773r and I had a great time with event. You can read his thoughts on the event, here. I think it helps that we're also both actors. And I would very much like to see and/or perform with them again next time I'm in Los Angeles. Meanwhile if you're in the L.A. area you should check them out. Tickets are only $10 and it's guaranteed no show is ever the same.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strategicon: Gateway 2011

On Thursday, after what seemed like exceptionally long drive, we made it to Los Angeles and our hotel. Seeing how H4773r and I are pretty broke right now I opted to stay at a Motel 6 about 2 miles from the con location, the Sheraton.  The Sheraton did have rooms available for the con, and it definitely would’ve been preferable, however it just wasn’t within our budget to afford a room here. Seeing as how the con runs almost 24-7 for the weekend I will definitely be looking to stay at the Sheraton next year when we attend Orccon. I thought the Motel 6 was fairly decent. It has clean beds and working plumbing, and that’s all we really need for a place to sleep at.

There are several fast food places nearby: El Pollo Loco, Little Caesar’s, Panda Express right near the Motel 6 and on the way to con locale is McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, Taco Bell and Carl’s Jr. As far as restaurants go the Westin has The Grill and there is a Denny’s near the Hilton. As well as within the Sheraton are some very nice restaurants: Rendezvous Lounge, The Brasserie, Paparazzi and a Starbucks. And within very short walking distance of the Sheraton is a Subway.

Wi-Fi in general was a bit hard to come by. The Motel 6 charges $2.99 per day (not bad, but not great). The McDonald’s offers free Wi-Fi and we passed by a local coffee place called Internet CafĂ©.  The Sheraton offers free Wi-Fi in their lobby area, but when hundreds of gamers are using it all at once you imagine it’s pretty slow.

We woke up fairly early on Friday, the first day of the con, because I had decided for the first day we were going to walk there. There are several parking lots nearby. The one right next to the Sheraton $10.90 (not including tax), was probably one of the cheapest. All other parking goes up from there. There is also street parking available. Right next to the Sheraton it’s free street parking for 2 hours between 8am-12am. Further down the road is a very small strip of street parking that’s free on Saturday and Sundays, 2 hour parking Monday through Friday. We did end up driving to the con and parking after Friday as walking seemed more inconvenient when I have to pick up and transport people.

My Friday was spent meeting my fellow D20 Girls in person,Rayne Stransky and Ammo Larribas. And then running around the con exploring and taking photos. H4773r spent all of his weekend playing Pathfinder/PathfinderSociety. I learned how to play a new board game coming out this week, Orbit. Doug, one of the developers, is a great guy and wonderful game player. Check out his game if you have the chance. We also did play a round of Munchkin (one of my favorites) Friday night. I also met some casting directors for a new upcoming reality show called “King of the Nerds.”
Early Friday morning board game room (photo courtesy of JC)
Games Library, Friday (photo courtesy of JC)
H4773r plays Pathfinder (photo courtesy of JC)
H4773r attempts to explain Munchkin (photo courtesy of JC)
Saturday I worked with the D20 Girls to give free guided tours for Strategicon. We gave a great one to a Girl Scout troupe (I hope I inspired new girl gamers!). Once we were done with the tours we had some time to take more photos (another project we’d been hired for) and I also just relaxed around the con. Along with my fellow D20 Girls we also met a couple of guys promoting NeonCon. Hopefully we’ll get some D20 Girl representation out there. H4773r and I spent our Saturday night participating in a con event, Dungeonmaster. (I will hopefully get some photos/footage later.) It was actually a lot fun for us D&D/Theatre people. H4773r was voted audience favorite and we won passes to future events.

Sunday was also another day working with the D20 Girls on tours, photography, and judging a costume contest. The costume contest was a little light on participants, but we had fun anyway.

The D20 Girls Project with winner (photo courtesy of Rayne Stransky)
Steampunk LARP GM
Angry Birds the board game

Video game room

I spent my evening hanging out in the video game room playing Left for Dead 2. I’d love to finish playing the single-player campaign.

Monday as our last day we were able to wander around the con and take in some more games. I think I was just too exhausted by this point to function clearly and mostly just people watched. After another exceptionally long drive we made it safely home.

I definitely plan on participating more next year and will make it a point to learn at least 3 different board games and play in at least one D&D/D&D-like game. I’m also looking forward to the convenience of staying at the Sheraton hotel. Maybe if I can get enough funds together I’ll treat us to an awesome dinner at one of the hotel restaurants.

Thanks to everyone who supported the D20 Girls Project and thanks to Strategicon for hosting us.