Saturday, August 26, 2006

The rumors are true. Last night, I rejoined the larping community, otherwise known as the dregs of the gaming community. Let me assure you, the way gamers compare to normal people, is the way larpers compare to normal gamers.

Overall, it was slightly better than my last attempt to larp, mainly because I was playing a wacky, zany soldier of fortune rather than a moody vampire. Still, as a cautionary tale, this larping event has prompted me to bring you:


1. Vampires are fat.

2. You can't just 'do' something. In normal roleplaying games people have unnecessary things like 'dice' and 'rule systems' weighing them down, but in Larping this has all been streamlined and replaced with 'rock-paper-scissors', 'decks of cards', 'arguing', and 'nothing'.

3. Unlike a normal gaming group, if you want to play as a movie/video game character, they don't hit you.

4. Remember to bring food. Larpers subsist almost completely on caffine.

5. The pretty girls always have boyfriends (pretty much true anywhere).

6. Police officers like to know why you're all running around an empty parking lot at midnight while wearing capes and fighting with toy swords (and let's face it, you don't have a good excuse).

7. Throwing your hands into the air and stomping off is an acceptable way to end an argument.

8. The girls wearing the very tight corsets, with their chests hanging out a foot in front of them, want people to look at their breasts. If they didn't, they wouldn't be wearing that outfit (I checked with several women I know and have confirmed this). Still, it may or may not be polite and/or safe to stare for long periods of time, especially if they have boyfriends nearby. Corset-wearing girls go from the regular, slightly reluctant women who just want to look pretty and were encouraged to wear a corset by their friends, and all the way down to the girls who talk about their massive busts with the guy in front of them in line, play with their breasts when they're bored (an admittedly cheaper alternative to a gameboy), and use their cleavage as extra carry-on space for loose cash and pixie sticks. I'm not saying that it's alright to outright stare at these girls, but getting guys to stare at their chests (and possibly other girls too, even if it's just to put the fear of God into them) is why they're wearing a corset in the first place.

9. Larping guys think they look good with a beard. This couldn't be further from the truth. No one under the age of thirty five looks good with a beard.

10. Larpers Are Really Perverted, but that's not what it stands for.

11. Even though it's 'live action', you can't just outright punch another player. Flip a card from your card deck, choose rock, and then punch him.

12. With just a little effort, any Game Master can be brought to tears.

13. If you don't want to hear about the characters of complete strangers, then don't show up.

14. Vampires don't shower (must be the running water thing).

15. Everything is excusable as long as it's done in character, including adultry, venemous attacks to a player's manhood/personal character, and murder. For example:

ANNOYING GUY: (Says really bad joke)
GM: "You, what's your name?"
MAX: "What, my real name, or character's name?"
GM: "Either."
MAX: "Max."
GM: "Max, kill him."
MAX: "Do I get experience for this?"
GM: "As long as you do it in character."
MAX: (Raises prop guitar) "CABONG!"

So I killed him El-Cabong style, earned 20 experience and never felt better! So bite that guy you don't like, have a threesome with that sketchy married couple, and go on that caffine induced rampage! Just tell the cops tomorrow morning that it was all in character.

16. You can fit fifty people (or thirty gamers) into a hotel room if you try hard enough.

17. Smile and nod. I don't understand what he's talking about either. Just smile and nod.

18. Bring a book.

19. Monty Python references are going to happen, so just accept it.

20. Every now and then you're going to find someone who really cares deeply about the game, and corrects the gamemaster every five minutes in order to make sure the rules are followed as precisely as possible.

It is your responsiblity, as both a gamer and a human being, to mess with these people as much as humanly possible. Throw food at them (both in and out of character). Report their activity to 9-1-1 (both in and out of character). Hit on their sister/girlfriend/mom while they're standing 5 feet away (both in and...well, you get the idea). Hit them repeatedly with a nerf sword. Hide their backpack. Interrupt everything they say. Point and laugh at their misfortune. If they kill your character, just make a new one and continue your assault. If they run off crying, never to Larp again, then your work is done.

21. Stay in the back of the group and play with your cell phone until you're at least level 5.

22. Going to a Larp in a nice dress is the easiest way for women to get a lot of attention (which is why, I suspect, Larps were started in the first place).

23. If they give experience for attending pointless events (like clan council meetings) just claim you went. If it isn't quite enough experience to get you to next level, claim that it is. Gamemasters don't check. Lie like there's no tomorrow.

24. Nothing happening? Take a nap.

25. Massive rules update? Make a new character.

Just kidding! Spend hours upon hours recreating your character through a painfully complicated mathmatical process that takes one hour per person for all thirty players, causing the GM's eyes to bleed. You weren't planning to actually get to play this convention anyway. Remember, anything is better than suffering the ultimate damnation: restarting at level one!

26. Just walk away from annoying people. They'll simply move to the next nearest person and continue talking. If cornered, fiddle with your cell phone until they go away.

27. Despite the fact that the words 'live' and 'action' are in the name, LARPing is slower than a jigsaw puzzle tournament.

28. There is such a thing as a jigsaw puzzle tournament.

29. If you volunteer to help run a gaming event at the LARP convention, you'll be judging the jigsaw puzzle tournament (I learned this the hard way).

30. Bring paper and pencils. When you're bored, doodle.

31. A message to all women: don't let these guys hug you. They're most likely sticky, almost certainly creepy, and if you touch them, they're going to follow you around for the rest of the day. Still finding it hard to turn them away? Do they seem adorable in a pitiful kind of way? Borrow their laptop. Look through their movie files. Open any file marked 'hentai'. Now try again.

32. If you start dating a girl/guy you meet at a Larping event, this will become your every weekend.

33. Have other people make your character. This will save a lot of aggravation later. Just look for the big, older, extremely geeky guy that everyone brings their characters to...

...hey, wait a minute!

34. After your character is properly min-maxed out, simply do whatever you want. For example:

GM: "Your mage hovers silently above the entrance to the Omnicorp complex where the ambassador is being held hostage. After successfully casting invisiblity, you land unnoticed next to the gate's single guard. Your dark, magical aura surrounds him without him or the security cameras noticing. You are currently at 95% of your maximum mana. What do you do?"

Max: "I hit him over the head with a hammer."

GM: " successfully hit, leaving the entrance completely undefended."

Max: "I take his taser."

GM: "Alright, and then what?"

Max: "I leave."

35. Have a laptop? Bring it.

36. Don't have a laptop? Borrow one and keep it as long as you like. Most Larpers won't have the spine to demand it back.

37. Fall upon free food/drinks/candy/samples like a wolf among lambs.

38. Then: Star Trek references. Now: Homestar Runner references. (Hey, it's not all bad)

39. There are people more into Homestar Runner than me.

40. Women wearing stylish black business suits that cover them from neck to toe, coupled with black lace gloves, boots and little to no makeup, are actually far more attractive than girls wearing lacey over-tight 'Hot Topic' dresses, coupled with rediculously small corsets, six inch heels and little to no shame.

41. You'd have to go to a trailer park to find worse teeth.

42. The more elaborate the costume, the more pitiful the life (more true for men than women, as slinky black dresses are fine for other occassions, but full suits of plate mail, complete with animated shoulder dragon, are not).

43. The fantasy wrestling leagues don't actually have wrestling in them. Pretend you don't know this, put on the Halloween mask of your choice and charge the GM. (Note: It's probably best not to do this if the Hotel room is rented under your name)

44. Don't let the hotel room be rented under your name.

45. Remember that nice girl/guy that you talked with for almost an hour and convinced you to join the LARP? They won't be there when you go. I don't know why, but this always seems to be the case.

46. Have absolutely no expectations. Get a drink of diet soda, glance at the hot girls/guys out of the corner of your eye, and watch geeks flip out at eachother while pretending to be vampires.

47. If you do #46 at the mall on any friday night, it's free.

48. Bored? Leave. Go to the mall.

49. If you do stay, then live it up. Don't run from those werewolves, fight them! Steal a tank and head for the enemy base! Wage an all out nerf war with the Galactic Senate! Beat the lich king to death with a crowbar or die trying! Go out with a bang! Hit the annoying guy with a guitar! Do something!

50. No refunds.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Every now and then, as I surf the net, I come across a 'Greatest/Weirdest/Most Unexplainediest Mysteries' link, and see men with microphones ask incredibly deep and meaningful questions including, but not limited to: What's that? Did that guy really do it, or was it some other guy? How did they make that darn thing so big? OMFG GIANT SQUIDS!!!

Okay, so that last one isn't so much a question as a statment, but at least it's interesting. The other questions...are not so interesting. So, I thought I'd do my part for the sake of good television/reading and just wrap these up as quickly as possible. If you have any counter-point/disagreement, please feel free to enter the special comment/reply screen by pressing the small X in the upper-right corner of your browser. Now, let us begin.


Hairy guy. Next.


Ancient weathermen with WAYYYYYYYYYY too much free time. Just take any modern Weatherman who obsesses over 'dew-point ratings', drop him in ancient times, you get this.


Cup used by Christ at the last supper. Significance in bible (not the significance of the event, but the signifigance of the physical cup itself): very very little. Significance for historians/crusaders/Indiana Jones: ridiulously high. I'd love for them to finally find it after all these centuries, and then realize...*AHEM*...IT'S JUST A CUP! I mean, as far as I know, no one is focusing nearly as much on any of the other relics from the past...especially the ones that are much more durable than something made of wood. By the way, is anyone trying to find that weird table they had the last supper on? You know, the strange one that you can only sit on one side of? No? Well then, let's just move on.


Island nation during the time of ancient Greece/Rome. The only two things they are known for are having had a navy, and then disappearing. Volcano, earthquake, fissure, tsunami...just pick one of the hundreds of disasters that could have caused it to sink and then move on.






For the love of God! NO!!! There are no alien visitors coming to earth...well actually there is one case. Recently, scientists found a microscopic lifeform that doesn't match any known type, that is capable of surviving and reproducing within a complete vaccuum. Their main theory is that it rode on a meteor down onto our planet. Not front page news of course, but really the only way an alien is going to reach here. It's just too damn far away. Even if they travelled the speed of light, it'd still take decades to centuries to make the trip, and even if they could and did...what could they possibly want with us? In an intergalactic sense, we're nobodies. We've never even been to the end of our own solar system. I'm sure there's other life out there somewhere, but they're never going to reach all the way over here. Asteroids, airplanes, luminous gas, moonshine, DT's, paranoia and low self esteem are the real sources of alien conspiracy theories. Let's move on.


Uh...people in the past either had kids...or didn't...and descendants of those kids are around today...or they're not. If you want to believe you're descended from the lost tribe of whatever...then go ahead, I won't stop you. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

(This next one I'm going to cut and paste the exact words from the website)

There are literally six paragraphs underneath that title, and you know what? I refuse to read them. I'm going to post a comment on that site, and it will read: "You do know that this is the dumbest title in the history of mankind, don't you? Are you seriously considering the possibility of predicting the future through water and leaves? I'm a fair man, I've got a plastic cup of water and a pine needle in front of me. Just e-mail be the exact methods I should use, I'll send you back the lotto ticket numbers, and then we'll split the money. WAIT! I'm getting a vision...the ancient divine powers of two of the most common items on the planet are giving me the message...3...5...9...THAT'S IT?! PICK 3?! WHAT A RIP-OFF!"


Possibly, but in any case we have no idea what he was actually like. There may have been a King in ancient England who was possibly named Arthur, but that's all we know. On the other hand, there are hundreds and thousands of actual people throughout history that we know existed and have very interesting and unique histories...but no one really cares about history, they want interesting stories. This is the kind of thing that annoyed Shakespeare back in the day. He wrote brilliant historical plays based on real political figures, and what does everyone go and see instead? Robin Hood. The Shakespearian equivalent of the latest brainless summer blockbuster. Julius Ceasar, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Jonny Appleseed...just aren't as interesting as King Arthur, Pocahontas, Guan Yu, and Billy the Kid. These magical, mythical characters have histories that include far more myth than fact, and are almost always considered more interesting than verifiable historic figures and events. There's no mystery about that. Whether King Arthur was real or not, England still got its knightly ass handed to it by the Vikings afterwards, so let's just move on.


See 'Holy Grail' entry.


A woman disguised as a man becoming pope? It's possible. Back in those days, the position of Pope was far more a political position than a religious one. There were popes that literally assassinated their way to the top, who were later artistically rendered in the stained glass windows of certain churches, burning in hell. Let's just leave it at: there were a lot of strange popes back in the day. Let's just move on.


Uh...I'm not touching this one with a ten foot pole. Moving on...


Don't make eye contact, just keep moving...


I've heard/seen/read and spoken to a lot of sketchy people on the subject, and I've come to the conclusion that whatever happens after death, we don't stay behind to visit. Ghosts are never seen by people who don't believe in ghost, are never caught on film, and never appear in the places where you would expect to have them: hospitals, prisons, old-age homes, old battlefields, museums and scenes of great tragedy. Also, do you know who sees them? People who believe in ghosts, who went out looking for ghosts, had a few drinks before searching, and when not ghostbusting, work the day shift at your local Wawa. Basically, rather fittingly, the cast of Scooby Doo (and Thelma's just there so she can try to get in Fred's pants, but will settle for Shaggy if necessary...and that's another post).


Okay, I'm not going to touch the subject of guardian angels, but as far as I know, no major religion believes in dead pets coming back to help their owners. Sorry. Come to think of it, would you want the ghost of your pet coming back, barking at all times of the night? If so, then I just recommend you get another dog. You can buy them and stuff. Pets are totally replaceable. It's great! (On a side note, I don't have the heart to break it to those people who spent 10,000 dollars on their pet's operation that they can just get another pet. It's not like, the last dog/cat on the planet. Man, aren't they going to feel stupid?)


No and no. I've had many discussions on the subject, and it all comes down to the fact that the government would never knowingly allow the destruction of American land/military forces of that scale. I'm sure that FDR knew that Japan might possibly attack, and Bush knew that terrorists might try something somewhere at some time, but let me ask you this: if Japan attempted to bomb the naval forces and failed, or only bombed even as little as a single ship, do you honestly believe that wouldn't start the war? World War 1 started for America because of the sinking of a single ship, and it certainly wouldn't have taken more than that to start WW2. There's no precedent for allowing the loss of that many resources just when the mere attempt of an attack would have been enough to start the war. FDR knew a pre-emptive attack from Japan was possible, but the only other viable option was retreat. In the same way, if they caught the terrorists in the act on 9/11, and the planes didn't crash, do you really believe we wouldn't have gone to war with the Taliban? Do you really think the president would go on television and say, "Well, the Taliban attempted and failed to strike a deep blow to America's heart...and I've had a very stern phone conversation with Osama, and if he ever tries to kill thousands of Americans again...then we'll definitely do something about it!" I'm all for taking a more moderate approach to world politics and the middle east, but I wish these political enthusiasts had theories that at least made a small amount of sense.


There's a lot of different "unexplained" psychic powers, so I'll do my best to sum up: the brain's only connection to the world is through your senses and limbs. You can read expressions and the sound of a person's voice, but not their mind. You can only bend spoons directly with your hands...and why would you want to bend a spoon anyway? You can intuitively guess what the future is, but you can't see it. You can see a hundred things in a single dream and one of them may resemble something that happens later, but you're ignoring the other 99, which may very well include your 8th grade science teacher staning on his head, a pink duck, and a giant killer number 2 pencil. People that believe they're psychic have the habit of ignoring every moment of their lives where they weren't psychic, and obsessing over the moment they ABSOLUTELY KNEW they were going to win a free whopper on the scratch off ticket. If you meet one, please hit them for me. Just tell them I was psychically controlling your arm.


With enough know-how, slave labor and whips, anything is possible.






Baby, why you gotta make daddy hit? *TRIPLE SMACK!!!*


You know, I think I'm just going to stop here. People believe some really stupid things. I wouldn't be surprised, but some of these people seem very intelligent, and put an amazing amount of time and effort into researching all this. Why can't they see it's pointless? Why isn't it enought to accept that the world is the way it is, and if it isn't a spiritual belief and it isn't a legitimate scientific theory, then it's probably just psuedo-science, which is fancy talk for 'crap'.

I think they're just looking for something to make them special and important, and proving that something mythical is in fact real will do that, but so will getting a steady day job in a field you enjoy.

So, I'm going to do my best to give these people a head start, and say the following:

There are no alien visitors, no bigfoot, no such thing as psychic powers, no ghosts rising from the grave, the Aztecs weren't even advanced enough to get beyond ritual slaughter, and if the president ever ordered people to allow an attack on the nation, he'd be immediately removed from power. Cripes, the president can't even have a wild fling with a chubby intern, and people think the government would allow him to give the 'thumbs up' to a foriegn attack on U.S. soil?

You know what, who am I to tell you otherwise? Enjoy your conspiracy theories, scratch-off lotto tickets, American Idol, Dan Brown novels, Chicken Soup for the Soul collections, and John Edward performances. Me? I'll be busy on wiki, adding 'Note: not actually true' to all the conspiracy sites.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Heya! Things are kind of busy at work today, so I thought I'd just to a quick one. First, it started as a simple question I heard on the internet: who would win in a fight, Mario or Sonic?

I ignored the question and went on to more worthwhile pursuits.

Just kidding, of course.

Assuming Mario has fireflower, and Sonic has a few rings...I have to give it to Sonic.

Both can attack head on, and Mario can do it at a distance (assuming he has fireflower), but Sonic can slam through mario at top speeds and move a LOT faster through the air. If you still think this places them on an even ground, take into account what happens if they're hit.

Depending on the version of Mario, if Mario is hit he either turns back into large mario, or shrinks directly back into small mario. In any case, as he gets hit, he weakens. Sonic, on the other hand, is just as strong after being hit, with the only penalty being he loses his rings, and as long as he gets at least one ring back, he can still take at least two more hits, and possibly more if he can keep catching that one ring.

That being said, there is one scenario where Mario would easily win: underwater. Again, assuming Mario has fireflower, Mario could easily swim up out of Sonic's reach and rain fireballs (hey, if you accept mushrooms making you big, you should accept using fire underwater) down upon the incredibly slow Sonic, who can't even swim in any of his games. Even without fireflower, Mario could just swim up out of reach and wait for Sonic to suffocate, as Mario doesn't seem to need to breathe.

So, if the fight's underwater, Sonic doesn't have a chance, but if the fight's virtually anywhere else, Mario won't even know what hit him.

Besides, Tails is a much more useful sidekick than Luigi, and I'll take Knuckles over Toad any day.

Now that I'm finished with that episode of pure geekdom...let me start a completely new episode of geekdom!

I've bet you've always wondered: How exactly does Max crash into a new Role Playing society, or roleplaying message board? I think it would go a little something like...


"Hello? Where am I? Has anyone seen my hat?"

The Avatar, who didn't even have a single clue what an Avatar was, or what the Nexus was, or even that his hat was clearly still upon his head, didn't so much teleport into the Nexus as much as he wandered into it. There was no portal, no lights, no fanfare, and his expression was one of only honest bewilderment. He reached to scratch his head.

"Oh! Never mind! I found my hat, but I would once again like to state 'Hello' in the form of a question, and ask where I am...everything is more...real here."

Blompkin appeared to be a cartoon, but not of the wacky-zany variety. If through their travels through time and space, one of the Avatars had ever been to a planet called 'Earth' and seen animated movies such as 'Wizards', 'Flight of Dragons', or 'The Hobbit', they would have recognized his look. He was drawn to human proportions, but not very well. Everything about his animated appearance suggested his drawing was 'rushed' and for a fantasy story of some sort. Still, he had all the trappings of an adventurer, with a small bow over his shoulder (along with an empty quivver), a dagger in his belt, a belt that looked as if it had been recently repaired after a failed attempt to put his dagger in it, a light suit of leather armor, simple brown pants and boots (animators didn't go into much detail with that), a small pouch of solid yellow gold pieces, a full head of sandy blonde hair, a pleasant face (with a very small nose that was little more than a crooked slash of a pencil), a knit cap upon his head, and a small lute under his arm.

He briefly considered casting a charm to help show him the way...but for some reason couldn't remember any. Funny, he never had trouble using his ill-defined minor magic powers before.

"Oh, and if you've seen my powers, I'm looking for those too!"

ANDROMACHE (other player):

There is a silver shimmer of light a short distance from the new Avatar. As it intensifies, a woman solidifies into Proper.

Andromache Chthoniaos is a striking figure. She is tall, athletic, and undeniably womanly. Her skin (very visable) is a sunkissed mediterranean complexion and her voluminous black hair, pulled back from the front of her face, falls in soft waves over her shoulders. Her sleaveless clothing is white, losely flowing over her form. She wears sandals with a turquoise stone set on the strap between her largest and second largest toes. The laces wrap criss-cross most of the way up her toned calf muscles.

She has one child on her right hip, and another on the left who almost instantly wriggles for freedom and is allowed down onto the grass. The girls, approximately a year old, are almost certainly twins, although the one on her mother's hip is slightly larger and has sleek smooth hair while the youngster with the wanderlust has wild black curls more like her mother's.

With slightly wobbly but determined strides, the little adventurer approaches the new Avatar and, reaching into a very small pocket in her purple overalls, produces an impossibly large orange with one leaf an a small cluster of orange blossoms still attrached to the stem. The moment the orange emerges, the air is filled with the aroma as if the assembled figures were standing in the center of a grove in full bloom or ripeness or if somehow possible-- both. The child squeals with self satisfaction and offers up the fruit to the stranger with a sparkle in her eye.

The other child, in turquoise overalls, claps her hands in appreciation. A soft breeze wisks the newcomer's "missing" hat off his head and it bobs gently in mid air before him like a boat on an invisible sea. The child in purple seems to nod in approval and babbles something in an unrecognizable language. The children both laugh.

Andromache, who has been closely observing the children's behavior towards the stranger smiles broadly and looks across to him. "Kalispera, Avatar. I am Andromache Chthonaios. It is my pleasure--"

"Aiyah!" Interrupts the aqua-clad child.

"Our pleasure," The woman arches an eyebrow and corrects herself with a smile, "to greet you. This is the girls' first official welcoming outing and they're taking their job most enthusiastically." She sets the second child down and nods her forward. "Go ahead Angel, intoduce yourself."

Instead of introducing herself, the child points to her sister and says, "Tee-ah!"

Thea points back and grins "Kay!"

"Good job girls!" Andromache laughs. "On behalf of my family and the citizenry of Xenia, Welcome you to the Nexus."


Blompkin was simply dumbstruck. This was the most well defined woman he had ever seen in his life. Every other woman he had known up to then had been drawn with much fewer lines. They usually only had a general womanly shape, a simple single colored dress, an incredibly small nose and ears, and hair that stood more or less as a single solid mass. He wasn't sure who Kalispera Avatar was, or why Andro-makey has mistaken him for them, but one thing he had learned in his travels was not to wear more than one pair of pants at a time.

Another, far more relevant thing he had learned was that when a kind, mysterious woman offered you a gift, you had better take it. After all, you'd probably wind up needing the item to complete the quest. He knelt before the beautiful woman and proclaimed, in a completely sincere tone of voice,

"Oh magnificent Queen Andro-makey, I humbly accept your orange, and swear to thrust it into the very heart of the evil dragon that is terrorizing your kingdom, the Nexus. Fear not my lady, for my fruit will strike true, and its peel shall rend the fell beast's head clean off its metallic black shoulders, or else my name is not KALISPERA AVATAR!"


Thea looks confused and not quite sure what to do with the orange now that the man is kneeling, she looks to Mommy for guidance.

Andromache's gasps. Her eyes widen in the knowledge that all of her years of conditioning and NOMOS training, and field experience are about to fail her utterly. Desperate not to offend or embarrass this new avatar, in the microseconds that she has to attain control of herself she is overcome with a manic internal mantra, mustnotlaughmustnotlaughmustnotlaughohgodshelpmeimustNOTlaugh! She closes her eyes for a perilous moment. Her sides ache with the effort of self-containment, and a single tear slides down her cheek as she takes a deep breath and opens her eyes.
Fortunately the effect is that of a woman overwhelmed by a gallant gesture and not one close to collapsing in a choking fit of hysterics.

Kay, whose own one-year-old standards of decorum are slightly more flexible just giggles delightedly.

An agonizing moment passes as she checks herself once more before removing her hand from her mouth which she offers to the kneeling toon. "Gallant stranger, please rise." She speaks at first somewhat tremulously, but by her second sentence, her tone is warm and even again. "You are clearly and individual of great honor and grace, and your first actions in this new world are both inspiring and encouraging; but as I am not any kind of royalty and you are no one's subject here, you must not feel compelled to kneel."

"Furthermore I apologize, for I have forgotten myself and greeted you, Kalispera-- 'good-afternoon' in the language of my homeworld. I should have used the common tongue for your benefit."

Thea tugs at her mother's skirt and Andromache remembers the mystical-orange-of-dragon-slaying, which threatens once more to break her etiquette, but she takes another breath and continues smoothly. "The orange my daughter, Athena, offers you is one from the trees that grow in my domain of Xenia. It is a gift of friendship and welcome. It will help you find your way to our home, should you seek to visit us, and hopefully it will refresh you after what has no doubt been an extraordinary journey. It will not kill any dragons, nor will any product of my domain do harm to anyone; but it may be a comfort to know that the slaying of dragons is not as necessary in the Nexus as you may have been led to believe."


Blompkin had heard of this kind of situation before: royalty in disguise. Obviously, the queen before him took delight in disguising herself as a mere peasant woman, in order to escape the everyday drudgery of palace life. The mere thought that such a well drawn woman was not integral to the plot, was just downright silly. Still, he knew it was best to play along.

"Of course you aren't!"


"Your majesty...and by majesty, I mean 'simple peasantwoman'..."


"I humbly thank you for this normal, everday orange, that is definitely not an ancient and powerful artifact, forged within the deepest depths of the dwarven kingdoms, by the greatest fruitsmiths of the world, using only the largest seeds, purest water, dirtiest dirt, brightest sunlight, and strongest mithril."


"I am known as Blompkin, humble subject to all kingdoms, and fighter of evil, regardless whether it is in dragon, goblin, orc, troll, slightly larger orc, or evil sorcerer form."

Blompkin gently took the orange with a smile, as the words 'home-world' bounced off his brain like rubber. That was a concept he wasn't quite ready to come to terms with. The words 'home', 'Xenia' and 'visit' fit in his mind just fine though. Once again, in a completely serious tone of voice,

"With your permission, your majest......miss, I would gladly accompany you back to your, and meet your husband, the Lord and ruler of all Xen...........humble smith."

With a friendly nod to her daughters, Blompkin then hopped up to his feet, sending his head perfectly back into his hat, and mused to himself, as he placed the orange away,

"I'm surprised that this orange wouldn't be-head a dragon, though. After all, it should be great at neck-tearin'!"