[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

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[Valkyrie] Rambling from Valhalla

Postby Valkyrie on July 23rd, 2012, 3:34 pm

The hubby's birthday is in about three weeks so I decided to get his birthday shopping out of the way via the internet. While I was purchasing his gift (Venture Bros season 2!) I decided to get something for myself. A special little sci fi movie from the early 70's.......


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ZZZZAAARRRDDDOOOZZZ!



I absolutely adore the movie Zardoz. It is probably in my top ten favorite movies of all time. Why? I'm not really sure to be honest. The movie, if you haven't seen it, is quite absurd and dated but I love it regardless. Whenever I watch it I find myself yelling "Zardoz!" at the television and giggling hopelessly at Sean Connery's ridiculousness (the man is clad in a bright red speedo, thigh-high leather boots, and bandoleers). The premise of this movie is that the world is divided into uncivilized Brutals and hyper-civilized Eternals. And let's not forget that the Eternals have mental powers and are immortal as well. Sean Connery is a Brutal who is also an Exterminator, which is essentially a person who kills and rapes the less violent Brutals. All Exterminators worship Zardoz, a giant floating head in the sky. Well, to keep a long story short and not spoil everything if you haven't seen the movie, Sean Connery's character manages to infiltrate Zardoz and go to the land of the Eternal, which was previously blocked off to Brutals with some force field type things. He returns balance to the world, and there is this amazing time-lapse sequence at the end that always blows my mind. So yes, Zardoz. If you like old sci fi movies I would recommend this one if you haven't seen it before. Kind of hard to get a hold of though. I first saw it on Netflix instant watch but they no longer carry it for that service. Soon I will have it on DVD to watch as often as I want! Wheee!
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Valkyrie on July 27th, 2012, 9:38 pm

We finally secured an apartment and are moving in tomorrow. It feels really good to have things coming together and not have everything be up in the air. Moving in tomorrow, start training for work on Tuesday…. It’s great. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my husband will be able to find a job soon as well but I guess these things take time. Job market is not exactly awesome right now. I’m trying to stay positive and smiley because I know unemployment is really hard on him. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. Luckily we have some money from the wedding stashed away to help me pay the bills so we will be fine. Though of course with the moving we won’t have internet right away but we have an appointment for it to be setup Monday, and so hopefully my absence from Mizahar will be brief and unnoticeable.

I know I haven’t been super active this week but this move has my head in a whirl and the weather has been absolutely beautiful so I just haven’t had the attention for Mizahar the last couple days. The weather really has been just gorgeous this week. Mostly mid-eighties (Fahrenheit) temperature and moderately bearable humidity (as much as I dislike humidity I’m not complaining, cause that means rain and MN has been in a bit of a drought for the first part of summer. Prior to this week with the high temps and low precipitation every cornfield I drove past was yellowing and even brown in some places. Which is rather worrisome if you consider bad corn yields affects the price of corn products. Hopefully Iowa has been doing better than we have.) So there have been lots of walks to parks by the Mississippi where the breeze is cool and the shade is pleasant. I can admit that as a Minnesotan I’m rather snooty and possessive of the Mississippi river even though it touches so many states. Mostly this is because we have the headwaters and the river is still pretty and clean up here, not all nasty like down by the delta. Sorry, but the water is just filthy down there.

Anyways, I hope that after we get all settled in next week I will be able to get back to developing Avanthal as much as I used to as well as giving Asha some love. I really have started to miss her and I want to give her more of my attention.
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Valkyrie on August 31st, 2012, 7:01 pm


Aesthetics in Avanthal


The citizens of Avanthal LOVE art. They are super obsessed with it. Which isn’t that hard to believe considering they live in a snowy wasteland with very little visual stimuli other then flat white stuff and slightly less flat white stuff. Now, I need to make a small disclaimer here and note that I am not saying that they dislike the environment in which they live. They love their winter city. But there is a real lack of visual stimuli (I will cover the Aurora in a bit so just hold on if that immediately came to your mind) so instead of moaning and complaining and wishing they lived elsewhere they just decided to make their own fun things to look at. So art is an important aspect of the city. Any community building you walk into will probably have many paintings inside and statues are found littered throughout the city as well as the large concentration in the Sculpture Yard.

The buildings are also considered artistic works and Iceglaze tries hard to create structural masterpieces. Now, there is something really important you should know about the typical style of Avanthal buildings: there isn’t a typical style. From being all crammed together up there in the North the artists are just a wee bit competitive. As I’ve established earlier art is pretty highly regarded and every artisan wants to make a name that goes down in Avanthal’s artistic history. So every artist tries to outdo each other by inventing some crazy new concept unlike anything built before. The only real prevailing artistic theme is BIG. The bigger the better. Big huge swooping buildings, huge peaked buildings, huge round buildings, etc etc etc. Big. Their sense of style is similar to the style of Las Vegas in that it’s difficult to tell if they ever considered making things match. Giant flamingo over here, some pyramids over there…. Your average foreigner who comes from a place that actually has a flowing theme in their architecture might even find Avanthal a teensy bit tacky. But the citizens just eat it up. On the rare occasions when they venture out into the world they might find other cities’ architecture to be new and interesting for a while but ultimately dull and boring (its all the saaaaame blaaaah). They like seeing new shapes and lines in design. Every building is unique unless its built solely for functionality (lets be honest, who can afford to make even the stables rival the Aurora Showcase or the lighthouse) though usually those buildings are designed by an amateur crafter (OH. MY. MORWEN. Did you know that when you put two sets of parallel lines together they make a square?! Brilliance!).

Ok, enough about their inability to pick a consistent design theme. Now, here is where awe and brilliance really comes out. All statues in Avanthal are made of uncolored ice or icestone. Many of the buildings are made of icestone. If you haven’t spent much time around ice I would like to inform you that it’s somwhat reflective. During the day, whatever. No big deal. But at night…… At night the aurora comes out and brings a whole new meaning to beauty in Avanthal. All those plain, clear, reflective surfaces are now filled with shifting greens and blues. Imagine Morwen’s palace at night with the aurora shining down on it. Amazing, right? Right. Suddenly, all those clashing designs hardly seem to matter when you realize what kind of effect the aurora has on the city.

Alright, that is all I have to say about Avanthal aesthetic. Any questions or comments would be appreciated it. I wrote this on a jittery caffeine high so I won’t be offended if you say this makes no sense and who is this psycho running Avanthal.
Last edited by Valkyrie on September 25th, 2012, 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Valkyrie on September 3rd, 2012, 7:40 am

Tomorrow I will be heading home from an awesome and rejuvenating weekend with my dad and stepmom’s family. My dad lives in the northern part of Minnesota (about an hour or two from the border which means about a 4-5 hour drive for me from where I am currently living in MN) so I don’t get to see him a lot with work and all. Sometimes I forget how hard it is to be away from the people who love me and have always known me. We may have our differences but at the end of the day we are family. Being able to be up here with them has been a breath of fresh air for me. It’s pretty late and everyone is getting to bed here but I wanted to pop on quickly and share the good vibes with a nice variety of mellow music.

It’s always a good day to smile.







EDIT: A tired and tipsy Valkyrie should not be allowed computers or she will attempt to internet hug everyone.
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Valkyrie on November 15th, 2012, 4:43 pm

I just wanted to write down how much I utterly enjoy working in Avanthal. It’s been a completely amazing experience and I have grown so much as a writer and even as a person. I adore each of the PCs that play in my city. We have a small but dedicated group of players up there in the north and I always feel honored to be able to watch their characters grow and progress. I think that is probably my favorite part of being a Storyteller, watching the growth and development of characters. I love feeling like I “get” a character and can provide them with opportunities to push themselves further and explore their character more. I really do have to give a big thanks to my players, they put up with me so well. I’m by no means a perfect ST and I have my faults but for some reason or other they continue to work with me. I’m always interested in trying new things and different ways of doing things and the players in Avanthal have always been patient in letting me experiment with the city and the way it works.

And of course, I have to give thanks to the ST’s that came before me in Avanthal. They left me with a magnificent city to work with. I’m honored to be able to pick up the reins after them and add my own flavor and spin to the city. I like to shake things up and make changes for people to react to and deal with but the same framework and spirit will always be there. Avanthal will always be Avanthal, and the snows will always fall down. I can never be the same person or the same Storyteller that those people were, but I can keep pushing the city forward and utilizing the amazing work that came before me.

A few other thanks that are really overdue, Capricious first of all for being a great JST. You’ve done a lot for Taldera and you’ve been a great sounding board for all my ideas, both good ones and bad ones. I’m sure Cinna would say the same and she is another person I’d like to thank for working in the region with me. I of course have to thank Gossamer who came up with the concept of Avanthal and has been very helpful in answering all of my questions concerning lore. And last but not least, I have to thank the wonderful Colombina, who mentored me during the last portion of my AS-hood and continued to patiently field my questions when I became DS.

The snows are coming to my region of the world soon, we’ve had a few dustings already. When winter comes I hope the snow will give me even more inspiration to bring new and interesting things to the city. And maybe develop a few things I’ve had on the back burner for a while now. Well, stayed tuned Avanthal! You never know what might come next.

Alright, I think it’s about time to wrap this up before it gets too sappy and everybody begins to edge away slowly from the dramatic chick. Have a good day everyone, and good luck with your NaNo goals!
Last edited by Valkyrie on November 18th, 2012, 4:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Capricious on November 16th, 2012, 2:43 am

Thank you.

Though this phrase is extremely simple, it really suits what I feel. Thank you for being a wonderful storyteller. Thank you for pushing players to their limits and expecting only the best. Thank you for loving your city (I believe this one makes all the difference!) all the way through the good and the bad. There are a thousand ways to say it and mean the same thing, but I think I will stop now and quit rambling. The message has been received, I'm certain!
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Sliver on November 25th, 2012, 4:22 am

Aww this is so great!

I hate to say thank you because I feel like I spam it in everything I do related to you Valk, and I it seems overdone at this point, but I second Capricious's sentiment. You are an awesome ST and you put up with all of my nagging and questions, make all sorts of cool plots and ideas, and are always encouraging even when I look back at my posts and think, "Aww jeez, poor Valk or Capricious has to read this whole mess, what are they going to think, what was I thinking?"

Who knew a Hedgehog and a Norse war angel would make such a crack team? Thanks to both of you. I can't wait to see whats in store for the Everwinter City! :D
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Valkyrie on November 25th, 2012, 2:28 pm

Thank you both for your kindness Capricious and Sliver!

Well it finally snowed here. We’ve had a few dustings in the weeks prior to this but it’s been too warm for it to stick around longer than a couple hours. The ground temperature has finally dropped enough so that the snow isn’t just melting immediately. It snowed Thursday night as we drove home from Thanksgiving with my in-laws, it always sucks when your first winter driving experience of the season has to be at night. Especially when your car tires are pretty bald (new tires are on my Christmas list! Well actually they are the only thing on my Christmas list). The drive was fine of course but it always makes a person a little nervous.

I really rather like the snow and cold. It’s wonderful to cuddle under a huge pile of blankets and sip hot chocolate or apple cider. It’s even better if you can slip a little whiskey in your coco or cider. Warms the tummy. I especially enjoyed the onset of coldness this year because it means my apartment isn’t sweltering anymore. I keep my thermostat set at 60 F but for the past month (prior to the snowfall Thursday) it’s been easily 70 – 75 F in here. I think it’s from the elderly folks who live around and below us. We don’t have to pay for heat in this apartment so I think most people keep it cranked up. It’s just rather depressing when your apartment is so hot that you have to sleep with the window open on a 30 degree F night. What a waste of energy. But I keep the thermostat down, so now that it’s finally cold-cold out the room temperature has gone down to something a little less sweat inducing.

I know this seems like a silly thing to concern oneself about but I’ve been sweating my tail off for a month and it’s irritating. I hate being too hot and I get disgusted at how wasteful it is when you drive up to the building and everyone has their window open in November. I also don’t like being robbed of opportunities to curl up under a pile of blankets with my slippers on (this one the most). Alright, well I’m done complaining about the room temperature though I’m sure it’s an intensely interesting subject for everyone else, hurhur. Have a good day!
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Valkyrie on December 13th, 2012, 6:05 pm

Doing Justice to Plots


When coming up for things to do in the lovely city of Avanthal I often find myself gravitating to long, drawn out plots that take a full season or two to reach their conclusion. I like letting things build up and keep people guessing at how things are really going to be resolved. I also enjoy drawing things out so that all PCs have the opportunity to incorporate plot elements into their writing and affect the city in those small ways that build up to an atmosphere over time. There are a lot of drawbacks to this choice of plot structure. Sometimes it’s hard to think of ways to keep PCs involved without boring them to death with the same old thing since most of the action takes place over an extended period rather than one or two large quests. But that just sort of comes with the territory, I think all Storytellers inevitably worry if they are being effective about keeping PCs interested. I can probably even extend this out to say that it’s likely all writers worry about whether they are keeping their characters interesting for others.

But it is what happens when it comes to the conclusion of these plots that drew me to write this scrap. I put a lot of thought into the larger story arcs that occur within the city and I spend a lot of time looking at the various possible conclusions and how I can involve PC interaction and choice while still achieving the desired effects on the city. Some plots have conclusions that are more set in stone than others. By that I don’t mean I’m only willing to consider one possible outcome for a plot, but more that the nature of the conflict dictates that the PCs discover the solution more so than they create it. The point I'm trying to make with this paragraph is that I put a lot of time and thought into the stories or plots I come up with and I so want to do that time and energy justice.

I’m never really unhappy with the conclusion that I’ve chosen, but sometimes I worry that I don’t do the plot justice when I am writing the actual threads. That the way I’ve chosen to go about the conclusion or directed PCs isn’t getting the most out of the awesome idea I’ve got in my head. And I don’t mean this in a “OMG all my PCs are going to hate my threads and despise my writing choices”. I more mean this in a sort of, am I getting the most out of the plot I’ve constructed? Am I providing the most satisfactory conclusion and attainment of that conclusion? Or am I still leaving things on the table? The thing that really worries me is that I’m not getting the most out of a good idea. I get really excited about ideas and I don’t like feeling that I haven’t met my personal expectations. I can’t “re-do” plots so I want to milk it for all it’s worth and make sure I’ve produced something I can be proud of and that PCs can be happy they participated in.

Ultimately, worrying about whether I get the absolute most and best out of something is not a life altering problem. But it’s certainly something that is on my mind a lot when I write. Am I rushing things, or drawing them out too much? Did I accurately describe this asshole character in such a way that the PCs will dislike them as well? Or possibly like them if they are similarly aligned, whatever. I’m happy with the big picture but it’s the details that concern me. Often a day or two after I’ve written a post I go back and think ‘Darn! I wish I would’ve said this instead of that or offered this choice instead of that one’. Sort of like being happy that you got a B+ on a test but really wishing you had striven for an A.

What do you other writers out there think about being confident that you’ve gotten the most out of your ideas?
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[Valkyrie] Tidings from Valhalla

Postby Coren on December 13th, 2012, 6:18 pm

well, if you think that you haven't gotten everything out of a single idea yet, bring it back in some other form and try it once again. A single idea can be preformed in a lot of ways if you break it down to the basics. So trying again is always an option in my opinion. Then again that might just be me.

But to answer your question. I think I don't get everything out of the most of my ideas. But such is the curse of being a bad writer :). Still I see very plot and thread that you complete as a learning experience for the following ones. So maybe you can't get everything out of an idea now, maybe a few plotlines down the road you are able to.
As an addum, you are working with other people writing in your story here too :) that makes everything a lot more difficult.

Still I enjoy your plots valky and can't wait to see them come to fruitino :D
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