First things first, let's get the obvious bit out of the way. As is pretty much compulsory at Empire events, the weather was awful. Despite the previous weekends having been glorious, the rain came and kept coming. Tournament stud is a terrible site for churning up, given the ground is mostly clay and the drainage pretty much non-existent. Couple that with one main route onto the IC field and torrential rain, and you end up with mud. Over the course of the weekend it went from gloopy, to flowing, to sticky and back to flowing again. It was at its worst during the sticky phase on Sunday at dusk, as you walked around the site it accumulated around your footwear turning your feet to giant heavy clay boots. Really not very nice, and it severely curtailed my mobility as everything took twice as long to get to and was three times as tiring. Further to that, I'd purchased a lovely pair of new LRP boots, which I then did not dare to wear for fear of falling in the mud or completely trashing them. I shall have to save them for a drier event, I guess.
Still, it's a pleasure to say that the appalling conditions did not spoil the event. Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, I really do have the best group to play alongside. Even when stuck in our camp by the mud and rain, there was more than enough to be doing and plenty of awesome IC chat with members of the Forest. But mostly we just shrugged and stomped off into the swamp. The personal RP on Friday night was great for me, and I hope that it didn't get too much in the way of anyone else's game. Many background buttons got pressed that evening and sent the character into something of a meltdown. I tried not to over play it, but am still not sure if I got that right. Sunday and Monday were also pretty internally intense, and hopefully everyone came out of it OK OOC, and we can make sure that what needs to be done IC is done.
Back at E4, I'd submitted a research request. It took 'til Saturday to arrive, but boy was it worth the wait and the IC cash. Having harangued poor Dan Williams (you'll not often see that written down) as Angelo and then having been cut dead by him, I had resigned myself to more waiting. But it arrived quicker than I had imagined, and the contents were awesome. Much concern and hilarity and fear and conclusion jumping and the group was in a state of some excitement. Brilliant stuff. Thanks to all involved in getting that put together, it was epic in both length and content.
Speaking of Dan, he provided another highlight with the Arcane mark ritual. Despite having sworn off them, I managed to wangle one, and he was most excellent. I was struggling not to corpse. Cheers Dan!
The Hall of worlds is much better. No longer the Eternal's laundry room, it's a much better space. Thanks PD. Conclave is also better. Still not perfect, but way better than before. Saturday evening's meeting gave me an excuse to be IC grumpy, but was secretly much fun and provided a ton of game. I was a little sad to miss Sunday night's Eternal schtupping debate (© Asenath) and the melon-cabbage-babies (also © Asenath) due to other commitments, and if I'm sad to miss a conclave meeting then it must be doing something right. Fun games with the other Celestial Arch too, when I got to argue with them.
My characterisation is gaining coherence as I gain confidence too. Juha is a pretty complicated individual, but some help came from hearing other's opinions of him (thanks Sarah especially). I've been dabbling in the religious game and thoroughly enjoying it, and just generally having a great time developing him. New associations with people outside the nation also have made it even more fun (yes, pax_draconis even you) and its starting to feel more like a world of interconnected people than one of individuals. I just wish that I could nail the accent or not. At the moment it sort of comes and goes depending on how Varushkan Juha is feeling, and how strong his connection to the hearth magic is, but it likely just comes across as inconsistent (which would be a fair appraisal). I struggle to get the accent going until someone starts talking to me in it, and then I can't help it. P'raps I just need to get Tansy to talk at me at the start of every event. I was also heartened by compliments received on my costume this weekend. I always worry that I am letting the side down, there are so many brilliant costumes out there (Yes Ms Lyon Dixon, I'm looking at you!) that I worry I'm not authenticool enough. Compliments mitigate the worry some.
The nation is starting to feel a little more real too. I find it difficult to participate much in the general shoutiness/singiness of the nation, but I do love the folk tradition thing and it is fun watching the rest of the nation come together. Our egregore is brilliant (and not post-traumatic), and hopefully enjoys being spooky with the Circle as much as we enjoy being spooky at him. Zoria *cough* was awesome, and the parade felt proper and right. And the lesson we gave to the Academy on Varushka hearth magic and rules was much fun.
My only real complaint was with the catering. Tykes were utterly brilliant again, and Mhorish were decent quality at reasonable prices, but other than that it was a bit poor. The noodle man seems to have suffered a nosedive in quality and quantity. My noodles were a tiny portion in the bottom of a large box with a nasty vinegary sauce purporting to be chow mein. Others I spoke to had similar experiences. Feast was pretty unappetising as usual, I'm afraid and I hope I imagined that there was an OOC caterer on the IC field. I steered well clear of the offending place just in case my peripheral vision had been telling me the truth. Still, Tykes and Mhorish served for the weekend, and saw me right, so it's a pretty minor thing.
There were plenty of other highlights that included Mikhail's meltdown on Sunday night; getting to pursue the virtue game and all the conversations that came with it; playing politics by proxy; more magical theory exposition; inventing more rituals; getting hallowed, rp effected, and aura-ed all at once; compliments from the refs for our rituals; participating in new and exciting realms' rituals (and one night ritual); and metric craptons of awesome roleplaying.
I'm now trying to work out whether there's any way to balance spending my birthday with my family on the Friday and flying to Spain at 8:30am on the Sunday with getting to some of the next event. Either way, I am made of keen.