It’s been over a month since Empire 10, and I’m only now writing about it. Because it went so well, there’s a lot to talk about.

That means it’s a long one. You have been warned.

So, last event I was playing in The League. This event, I started my new life in the Brass Coast; the only similarities the two nations share involve placing value on coin and contracts. Oh, and pretty outfits – although they have different ideas on what that means:

E10 New Home
Life in my new nation; I’m not in this photo, but the head of my new family is

I’ll start with the bad points, since there’s no such thing as a perfect event.

Travelling by train is a right old pain

Empire 10 came at an awkward time. My last days at college for the year fell on the 21st and 22nd of May, when we had to give a practical demonstration as part of an assessment. It was therefore crucial that I had to be in at least on the Thursday. Problem was, E10 started on the 22nd for a long weekend (one more reason to love bank holidays). I had to ask the tutor to schedule my demo first thing Thursday, and make sure all my other work was submitted so I had the rest of Thursday to finish preparations and leave on the Friday.

This made lifts even harder to find than usual, and I once more found myself hauling camping gear on and off the trains. On top of that, I made the mistake of getting the bus to Leeds station rather than a taxi, so by the time I arrived at Redditch station, my shoulders were already punishing me for it.

Respite came in the form of an unexpected lift with fellow players, one of whom I recognised from E9, so at least I didn’t have to fork out for a taxi.

Emiliana’s bad make-up day

My character, Emiliana i DelToro i Riqueza – or Em for short – is a cambion. One of the possible trappings for a cambion is metallic skin, either in patches or full cover. After some experimenting, I decided to go with the latter using Mehron’s metallic powder and mixing liquid. At home it looked great, although parts of it were flaking off a little. I thought at the time that I just needed to use more liquid, not thinking that maybe following this video too closely wasn’t such a good idea…

Flaky make-up I could deal with, somewhat. The other problem, not so much.

ChibiEmiliana
Chibified rendition of my new character Made with ChibiMaker

Mehron’s powder contains real metal particles. I thought I was being clever and different and all that by going for copper skin, since all I’d come across so far was silver, gold and one or two bronze. Turned out there was a good reason for that – copper oxidises. By the end of the first day, I was looking less copper cambion and more like the Wicked Witch of the West with horns. Because the make-up was flaking, I didn’t dare shave, so by day 3 I had stubble growth. Also, lipstick doesn’t stay on metallic lips (or maybe I’m just unlucky), so although I noticed photographers taking pictures during the event, I didn’t turn up in any published photos. Given how I looked even by day 2 after touching up, I’m not a bit surprised.

So instead I pinched someone’s idea on Facebook and made this chibi version of Emiliana – hopefully next time the live version will look better and I’ll get a real photo.

There was a silver lining to this, however – the nature of the game and the people playing meant that those I interacted with never batted an eye. The tarnished copper cambion went about her business – which included mixing with fairly high-status people – without a speck of judgement from those around her.

Origins and Cambions

E10 Ferrero
Duke Ferrero – poster child for Empire and my character’s former mentor

Ah yes, the interacting with high-status people… now this is where things get very interesting.

Last event, when chatting with the DelToros, they explained that it was their custom that any blood-family was sent to a different nation for a year so they could learn more about other cultures. So, when finding out how it worked between events, I had a brainwave involving someone I met as my last character about two events ago (and seen around before then).

Duke Ferrero is probably the most well-known character in Anvil, and certainly one of the most photographed. He’s also generally very likeable, charismatic and, sometimes, just downright silly. I got talking with the player behind the character before E9, and by the time I was ready to create Emiliana, when I had to form some kind of link with another nation, he was the first person I thought to ask. I knew I was in for some good story just from what he initially said, but I never could have imagined where it would lead.

This seemingly simple idea involved Emiliana being apprenticed to Ferrero as an apothecary. However, his warning that she was likely to be stranded somewhere gave me some great ideas, not just concerning story but also in-game banter. Some of my favourite moments involved winding him up about leaving her behind, particularly this one:

I spotted Ferrero some yards away with the family who run the Brazen Parador. He caught my eye, and flashed one of his big grins as he announced that he had a new apprentice.
I stared back, scoffing in disbelief that he would still be trusted with other people’s children, although as a Freeborn, I decided to have some fun with him.
My gaze turned to one of disdain as I called back “Try not to lose this one..!”
Ferrero glowered at me in response, making severing motions across his neck.
For someone usually so sure of himself, I considered such a response a small victory. It took some effort to stop a smirk creeping across my lips.

It also turned out to provide its own game, just by nature of where she’d been left. Part of that involved being Ferrero’s shadow for an evening, providing a writing implement for something he was doing. It took us across the whole of Anvil, offering a great opportunity to meet different people and pick up all sorts of rumours or other information.

Oh, it’s good to be back home again

On top of that, the archetype I’d chosen also provided things to do. Scriveners are in some demand in the Brass Coast, and even though I wasn’t always sure of the situations I was in, the very fact that she was useful, that she was providing a good service, made this game a lot more enjoyable than the whole time I spent playing my last character.

There were also the main reasons I chose the Coast in the first place – drums and dancing.

Well, okay, the dancing needs work, but there’s time for that – and what better time than during someone’s funeral?

As our dhomiro often explains to people; “If you see a Freeborn funeral where everyone’s looking solemn and sad, we didn’t actually like the person.”

Since this person was well liked by his friends, there was much dancing, music and general silliness 🙂 I only joined for a short while as I didn’t know him, but during that time I got to learn a little dance, and it was great fun.

As for the drums, the nature of Riqueza ritual casting means my hand drum, sitting unused in the corner of my bedroom for the past year, finally got put to good use.

There were other fairly minor things that all added to a great time; chatting with new group members, chatting with old group members and getting complimented on my costume, running an errand and overhearing a remark to the tune of not being able to remember their name if they played Brass Coast, not to mention helping out with the family’s main business – they run an auction in the main tavern.

Tasting of roses

Coconut Ice
Dawnish coconut ice, or rose flavour, made to sell for my new family

After the near-disaster with my chocolate at E9, I decided to take advantage of being in a new nation and well-travelled, to go back to a tried and true success in my sweet-making – coconut ice. The Freeborn love to experience new things and try new foods – another big reason I chose this nation – so it followed that I could use my real life experiments with different flavoured versions to bring in some IC coin. My previous successes with this sweet have been vanilla (traditional), mint, orange and lemon. I’ve had varying success with rum and strawberry. I’d thought about trying rose flavour before, and what with now making them for Empire, I decided to try a theme involving the different nations. With the Dawnish nation holding their festival of flowers every Spring, this was the perfect time to bring my experiments to Anvil, especially with the Freeborn sense of humour.

I made two batches – vanilla and rose. Vanilla became the Highguard variety, so it needed a change of colour (ever tried making black sweets that still look appetising?), while rose became Dawn variety. Both sold for a good price at auction, and I noticed that someone at least got my joke about Highguard and traditional.

What didn’t get sold, got eaten. To top things off, I was asked to make more for next time – it served as a big compliment and just made my weekend 😀

 

Photo credits: Beth Dooner