Amtgard Online Week 4

It’s the fourth week of Amtgard online and I think I’m finally getting my drive to create back. It has taken some time to adjust to the current situation and I’m still not happy about it, but at least I’m feeling somewhat productive again. I even managed to write an article. World Building: Quest Basics, and post it on the same day. I had some serious drive.

Not only did I write the article this Monday, last Thursday I did my own stream, a Twitch stream I’m calling Beers with Baelnorn. You can follow the channel HERE if you like, it’s my old Gamer Blog and Streaming account.

I’ve been talking about doing an Ask Me Anything stream on twitch now for several months, but I kept pushing it off. I’m not too big to admit that I suffer from anxiety and thinking about the stream was anxiety inducing. I’m generally pretty open about my mental health, although I don’t often bring it up myself.

Seeing everyone else doing streams really pushed me to finally do an AMA. I still had to find a way to fight my anxiety. My biggest fear was finding a way to fill up the time, especially if few, or no one, actually talked in the chat. It’s hard to do an AMA if no one asks any questions. I decided to try and find a topic people would be interested in. I asked on my blog, no one responded, so I reached out to people. Eventually Guin came up with an idea, event running. It didn’t take me long to realize that was the idea I would settle with.

I’ve been thinking about doing an event running article for a while now, but it’s a large topic with lots of parts. The furthest I’d gotten was a basic, unfinished, outline. My creative juices started flowing and I set to work on fleshing out the outline and turning it into a lesson plan. It only took me a few days to complete the class outline. One day to write, a few days to let it sit and then another day to revise it.

I had what I needed, content for my stream, it was my big weapon against my anxiety riddled brain. It worked! I managed to have enough event content to cover my first 45-50 minutes. I had two active people chatting, Gustav and Dee Metria. I was very grateful for their participation. Dee Metria was much more active during the lesson plan. She mad several worthwhile comments and even asked one or two questions I got to answer! I know two is a small number but it was exciting.

After the lesson plan had been executed I proceeded to talk to them for 15-20 minutes longer. Being able to generate conversation after the learning content was over was icing on the cake. It proved to me that I could do it. I think I found my perfect mix, a lesson plan first and an AMA after. It helps combat my anxiety and still gives the possibility for lively, open, conversation. You can view it on my YouTube Channel, HERE

Needless to say, I am making this a monthly activity. I’m so looking forward to it that I don’t want to wait a month. I already know what I’m going to talk about and I’ve created the basic outline. I’ll be talking about my article series World Building. So far I have two articles in the series, one, mentioned early is the Quest Basics article. The second is the first one I wrote which talked about two basic approaches to world building, World Building: Initial Approach.

I got the idea for this next topic by combining a few suggestions from Gustav and Guin. If not for them I may not have written the second article, Quest Basics. By writing the article before doing the stream, I will give people a chance to become familiar with the topic, allowing them to more easily come up with questions. And more questions means more conversation and more engagement overall.

I might not have to wait another three more before getting behind the camera. I might have the chance to teach a basic short sword class this Sunday for DH on their Facebook Group Page. We are still working out the details. This is something else I have been wanting to do for a while.

Earlier in the week I working on an outline for the class however I was having a hard time trying to decide what to teach and in what order. Thanks to Gustav I don’t have to do think to hard. He has outlines for 7 different classes that he’s ran or worked on and one of them was the basics. He’s a very organized person and the outline was a perfect starting place for me.

I’ve talked about it a little before, but Gustav and I were friends before we started playing Amtgard and which lead to us starting Amtgard at the same time. We spent a lot of time fighting in Gustav’s backyard in additional to the normal practices. A lot of how we learned back then was through those fights. This was the time before YouTube mind you; we learned some from traveling but a lot of learning early on was us figuring stuff out ourselves. I would teach him something and he’d teach me something.

That lead us to having a lot of the same philosophy on the basics and in fighting in general. There are of course differences in our fighting, but the core is very much similar. That lead me to having to make very few changes to his outline. It will be interesting to have Gustav watch the stream and tell me how he views things. Some of our style differences might show up during teaching and I’d like to hear about them.

Streams

This week it seems that people have gotten a little exhausted putting out content, at least at Dusk Hollow (Dallas, OR). They only put out two short videos and they were just court. On the other hand Inland Ocean (Redmand, WA) had two classes. One Grind Nation also got into the mix with two of their own videos.

Dusk Hollow

I watched the court videos from DH. It was nice to see that awards are still going out. They even gave awards for things done after the quarantine went into effect. That probably means the park’s monarchy is still keeping in touch with each other and making a point to watch what people are doing.

It might also be easier for them to find reasons to get out awards. They have had a lot of people doing work on streams in comparison to many other parks in the Pacific Northwest. They have also used Discord to talk about each other have been up to and share projects they are working on.

DH also was running a talent competition, which is what they planned to take up their usual 3 hour block. Sadly it didn’t go as planned. Only one person, Farlanok, entered the contest. He sang a song on Facebook Live, which you can watch HERE. He was, by default, the winner. He won a park level item that lets him cast Lycanthropy once per game.

I think the concept of an online talent contest was a good one, I was disappointed that only one person entered. If I had thought about it soon enough, I could have wrote a short story or monologue and read it aloud. Sadly I didn’t think of it till right now, as I am writing this blog.

Inland Ocean

The two Streams that Inland Ocean did were about Amtgard classes. Heron did a class about the Warrior class, which you can watch HERE. Drusk did a class about the Scout class which you can view HERE. I was able to watch Heron’s class but not Drusk’s.

Heron is a Paragon Warrior and her knowledge of the class shows it. She went over the class abilities, talked about their strengths and weakness and some strategies concerning how to use them. It was very informative, I’d recommend it if you are interested in the Warrior class, both how to over come it and play it.

On Tuesday Oromis organized a Google Hangouts session to replace their in person fighter practice. I was only able to join for the last half hour or so, but it was fun. We talked about fighting. I mostly listened but I added a few things, especially when it came to footwork exercises you can do anywhere. You can view the last half of the conversation HERE. If you want to hear the conversation about footwork it starts around 14:20.

The whole experience kept up my level of drive for fighting. I need to keep that for when people are able to meet up and fight again. I’d hate to waste this energy.

One Grind Nation

Dalos did two combination interview and AMA streams. The first one was with Peter the Quick which you can view HERE. The second was with Xion which you can view HERE. The only one I managed to watch live was the Xion one, which I liked but I’m sure both are worth your time.

The Xion interview got me thinking about my basics, like a lot of things have been lately. This time it was mainly foot work and shots. That wasn’t what they talked about most but it was certainly covered. It even helped me to decide I would actually take some time to work on muscle memory where I can despite my little apartment.

Next Week

Over the next week as much is planned. It sounds like people are a little burned out making and organizing content. So far it’s been mostly the same people doing all the work so it’s understandable. In most cases it’s one or two people in the monarchy doing all the organizing and they are getting burned out.

If anyone who is reading this is incharge of finding and organizing content, please make sure you find someone you can offload some of the work to. Maybe you could take turns organizing streams for the week, giving you effectively two weeks to plan out your streams.

So far OGN said they would do another stream but they didn’t give a date or time. I imagine they will probably do two. To keep updated like there Facebook Page HERE.

Sadly DH hasn’t released a schedule, nor could I find one released for IO. I know that I want to do my short sword basics class this Sunday for DH. I don’t really feel like I should unless I’m put on their schedule. So we’ll see if I’ll be streaming this Sunday or not.

Sadly that doesn’t bode well for content this week but I’m sure it will bounce back soon. In any event I’m excited for the streaming I’m going to be doing going forward. I hope you are too.

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World Building: Quest Basics

Welcome to the next article in the series “World Building”. The first one was World Building: Initial Approach. That article talked about how you approach the world you want to create. It would help if you learn the two basic approaches to building a world, the Macro Approach and the Micro Approach, which that article outlines but it isn’t necessary.

This article will talk about the basics of setting up quests in your world. It has a heavy emphasis on game design. It will give you the tools to help you succeed in telling the story you’d like to tell.

The Five Quest Types

There are five basic quest types, Acquisition Quests, Delivery Quests, Defend Quests, Attack Quests and Disable Quests. These five quest types are the basis for just about any quest you can think of. You can combine these five different quests into interesting quest lines and add various quest modifiers to change them, making them more challenging. No matter what modifiers you apply, when you boil it down to the basics, you’ll still have these five basic types of quests.

Acquisition Quests

The first type of quest we are going to talk about is the Acquisition Quest. This quest is any type of quest where you must go, find an item and return or use the item. For example, there is a missing child and you must go and find that child and return them to their home. The key here is that you are finding and obtaining something.

Delivery Quests

Delivery Quests, as the name suggests, is any type of quest where you must deliver something. This can be as straightforward as delivering a piece of mail or it might be more complicated such as having to deliver packages throughout the countryside. The key is that you are taking something from point A to point B.

Attack Quests

Attack Quests are quests in which you are attacking some sort of area. For example, you must attack a castle. This is not to be confused with killing an individual, that is the Disable Quest type, which we’ll talk about later. This is simply attacking and overcoming an objective. For example, attacking a castle.

Defend Quests

Defend Quests are the opposite of Attack Quests, you must defend a place, an area or maybe even a person. This basic quest is one of the easiest to understand and doesn’t take much explanation. For example you might need to defend a merchant from being attacked by bandits.

Disable Quests

Disable Quests are probably the most ambiguous quest type and hardest to grasp. Many people would identify this as the Kill Quest but I found I needed to broaden the scope. This quest type is something of a catch all. As the name suggests the goal of these quests is to disable a person or object. In some cases, disable, might mean kill. A dead person is certainly disabled. However the objective might not be to kill, perhaps the goal is to overcome a trap, or to find a way to disable a person, without killing them. If a quest doesn’t fit the first four quest types, it probably fits this type in some fashion.

Using Quest Types

Now that you know about the five quest types, it’s time to learn about how to use them. There are two basic ways that you can utilize them, that is by adding modifiers and by linking them.

Quest Modifiers

You can modify the five different quest types in different ways to create a more complicated quest. Doing this can create some of the more familiar types of quests. For example, the escort quest. The escort quest is typically a combing of the Delivery Quest and a defend modifier. In most escort quests you need to deliver something to some place and defend it while doing so, thus adding the defend modifier.

Another quest modifier might be time. Perhaps the quest has a timer, requiring you to finish it in a certain amount of time. Perhaps you need to defend an area for a certain amount of time to succeed.

Quest modifiers are anything that modifies a quest in some way to alter how you are required to achieve the basic quest objective.

Linking Quests

Linking quests is how you create a longer quest. This is effectively adding quest segments to an overall quest. For example you might want to create a quest where your players attack a castle and then turn around and have to defend it from invaders. This is the combining of the Attacking Quest and the Defending Quest. You now have two quest segments that add up to an overall quest.

Linking Modified Quests

The height of complexity is linking quests which have been modified. We’ll be talking more about this later in the article. In most cases when creating a quest you’ll be doing this. Let’s take some previous examples and combine them.

We’ll link the Attack Quest and the Defend Quest with the time modifier. Perhaps you have to attack a castle which is the first quest segment and the second segment you need to defense the castle. We can add the time modifier to the second segment, making it so you have to defend the castle for 5 minutes to achieve your goal.

Creating a Story with Quests

Now that you have learned the five basic quest types and how you can connect and modify them, it’s time to show you how you can create a story using quests.

You can take two approaches, very similar to the Macro and Micro Approaches talked about in the previous article. If you have certain mechanics that you’d like to use you can expanded upon those mechanics and then situate them in story. This would be similar to the Micro Approach of world building.

The second approach is to create a story and then apply mechanics to tell said story. This is very similar to the Macro Approach to world building, where you look at the larger picture first.

You can also combine the approaches, which is often the case in my experience. For example you might have a basic idea for a quest mechanic, then you apply story to that quest mechanic. You then might find you need to make the quest more complex to fit the story.

No matter which approach you ended up using you’ll probably take an overall basic quest type and create a longer quest by sandwiching in linked and modified quest segments.

Let us take a story and work out a quest for it. The players are tasked with going to Castle Wyvern and retrieving the Orb of Chaos and returning it to to King Theleos. The problem is the Horde of Chaos is also hunting down the orb. This sounds like a simple Acquisition Quest, but let’s make it a bit more complicated by linking quests and adding modifiers.

Lets go ahead and break the quest down into three different quest segments. We’ll link an Attack segment, a Defend segment with the modifier of time and end with a Delivery segment with the modifier of defend. Overall this will create a more complicated Acquisition Quest.

The first segment is attacking Castle Wyvern to get inside. The second segment is defending the castle from the Horde of Chaos for 5 minutes while the players “look” for the Orb of Chaos. Once they find it the third segment begins, which is the delivery segment with the defending modifier. The players need to return the Orb of Chaos to King Theleos while defending it from the Horde of Chaos.

Final Thoughts

Once you have become well versed in the five basic quest types and thought about the various modifiers that you can add to them, you’ll be well on your way to mastering quest building. When you get down into the minutia of quest building you might start to see some other patterns emerge, such as quest modifiers sounding like basic quests.

You’ve probably noticed the defend modifier shares the same name as the basic Defend Quest. Despite this similarity they are slightly different. The big difference is that one modifies the effects of one of the other basic quest types and one is a quest unto itself. It’s a minor distinction but can be important when you get into more complicated quest mechanics.

This approach doesn’t just help you create quests for LARP and other role-playing games. It can also help you tell a story. The basic principles written above also applies stories. The hero journey is just one big quest. Perhaps you’d like your character or characters to encounter certain obstacles but you aren’t sure about the story driven aspect of those encounters. You could in theory map out the hero’s journey through the quest mechanics listed above and put a story onto the mechanics later.

Now that you know the basics it’s up to you to take them and create something amazing.

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Amtgard Online Week 3

This was the third week of no in person meet ups for Amtgard but that certainly hasn’t slowed down the content. I personally only watched streams on Sunday and I guess I could include Tuesday (Yesterday) but that’s into week 4, technically.

Stream Watching

Sunday I watched several of the Dusk Hollow (Dallas, OR) streams. They had 7, 30 minute streams, I did not get to watch all of them. The first one I watched was Vale’s fighting stream. It mostly consisted of some fights with Duey, in various styles and a Q&A. He brought up some opening moves and shots, but most of the teaching was based off of questions. You can watch it HERE.

The second stream I watched was Critias’ stream. It mostly centered around showing various different shots you could do. It was pretty interesting. He showed a lot of shots. He also did some Q&A. You can watch it HERE.

The third stream I watched was “Chatting with Ozzward and Guests” which turned out to be Minerva and Critias. It was very erratic, but some of the topics included what classes were best, a bunch about monk. Ozzward hates it, Critias likes it, and several other random topics. It might not be the best stream to rewatch but if you want to, you can watch the first part HERE and the second part HERE.

The fourth stream was Vale talking about wizard. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch most of the video, I mainly watched the last ten minutes. My roommate and I got talking, plus I made myself some lunch. I did get in a question about why the longsword wizard is no longer really a thing in v8 Amtgard. It used to be fairly common back in v6 and v7. You can watch the stream HERE.

The last stream I watched on Sunday was Indra’s, my squires. He talked about fighting and mostly took questions from the audience. It was the first time he streamed and one of the first times he’s taught anything. He was very nervous, despite that I think he did alright. If you’re interested in watching it you can view it HERE.

The two streams I didn’t watch on Sunday were Punkow’s Bard stream which you can watch HERE and Akryn’s Monster stream which you can watch HERE.

The stream I was most engaged with this week though has to go to Dalo and One Grind Nation. It was on Tuesday the 7th. It was a class he normally teaches at Sword Knight Boot Camp, an event dedicated to teaching foam fighting. The class was Combat Computer and focused on sharpening your fighting mind.

The main takeaway away was how to size up an opponent and make a game plan. The class ended with an excersize you can do at home, or anywhere really. You make a list of your strengths and weaknesses as well as a list of your opponents and then you make a game plan and break it down to it’s smallest details, including foot movements, then you imagine the fight. This way you can go through many different fights without ever lifting your sword.

I’m of course over simplifying the class. It really got me thinking about how I fight and what I can do to improve. I highly recommend watching the video, which you can do HERE.

Beer with Baelnorn

I finally set a time for my first Ask Me Anything Stream. It’s April 9th at 7pm PST. I have created an outline to talk about event running, so there is something to talk about if there are few questions, but it is still an AMA. I figured I would grab some beers, answer questions and just chat.

Even if you don’t have any questions for me I think the stream will be worth your time. There will be a lot of information about event running that I hope will demystify it. Plus, who knows, maybe you’ll see a drunk Baelnorn.

Rather than streaming this on Facebook I plan on doing this on my old Twitch Channel. I used to stream and run a gaming blog; this is a holdover from that. You can follow the channel HERE if you want to be notified when I start streaming. You can also join the Facebook event HERE if you like.

I hope to see you all there.

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