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  1. http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/new-orleans/louisiana/united-states/usla0788 --- for weather refrences http://audubonnatureinstitute.org/ --- all about the Audubon Institue (Zoo, Aquarium, Insectarium, Imax) http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/fq/ ---- lots of different history, hotels, and attractions https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Products-g60864-New_Orleans_Louisiana.html --- more attractions
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  2. Not that I feel strongly about any one particular place for next year, but....I'll just leave this here..... Pros: Has nearly everything we liked in Vegas, plus better food and more character. The food - Oh my god, the food! Beignets, pralines, gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya, crawfish, oysters, bananas foster, red beans & rice....... Escape Room place with rooms like The Voodoo Room, The Vampire Room, Haunted Swamp Room, around $30 per person. Ghosts, vampires, voodoo, creepy cemeteries. Cons: Smells funny at first Definitely need to go late fall to early spring. Maybe right after Mardi Gras for discounts.
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  3. At the gates of Dragon’s Roost Port, the base of Borrowed Time, a small Forsaken female rode up on a galloping skeletal horse. Both mount and rider were covered in black and red armor. Although many knives of various shapes and sizes were visible on her person, Syreena’s hands were empty, except for the reins, which she used to slow the horse to a walk as she drew closer. As always, the Grim tabard was worn over her armor. She noticed that the reinforced iron composing the fortifications of the port seemed relatively new around what looked like a former battlefield. Craters littered the landscape, with any form of growth burned away by fire and oil that still had a vague scent about the place that was intermingled with the sea breeze. Briefly, she wondered what had happened here, but she was only mildly interested. She was focused on the task at hand. It wasn't long before much attention was pulled towards the gates. The colors and the description of the Forsaken woman were enough to call plenty more guards into watchful motion. Of the gathered guards one figure stood out among them. A ranger, hooded and armed with a bow in hand, stood on the wall and peered down at their guest. The dim verdant glow of his eyes studied the tabard and every weapon that clung to her. Despite the potential threat of so many guards, Syreena was both amused and flattered by the attention. Still, it wouldn’t do her any good to get shot full of arrows before she’d accomplished what she came for. As her horse chomped the bit and shook his head, Syreena remained still and calm. "Brave, stupid, or both,” Faelenor called down to her. “Either way you've managed to get our attention." He turned to each of the guards that followed him and mouthed something to them before turning back to her. "What do you want?" The guard nodded and made his way down from the wall, motioning for another one of the orcs to follow him "I want to hire someone for a job,” she said to Faelenor. The two orcs emerged from the gate and advanced upon the undead. One held a bowling ball sized orb in its hand that he tossed into the air. A red wave emerged from it to wash over the mount and the rogue in a downward motion. The horse, being battle trained, didn't shy from it, but pinned his ears and snapped at it. As the cloud fell over horse and rider, it produced and unpleasant feeling but seemed to have no effect beyond that. “She’s real,” one of the guards announced. “What the fel?” Syreena demanded, putting a hand on one of the large daggers at her hip. " Standard procedure,” the guard explained. “An increased number of Legion infiltrators warrants the checking of every guest coming into the port." The orc motioned up towards Faelenor with an affirmative hand sign. "Oh," she muttered at the explanation. "Well, you could have warned me." Faelenor drew an arrow from its quiver as her hand reached for the dagger. The bow raised and the arrow was nocked all in the same motion. "Though in your case...being real is actually the worst of the possibilities,” Faelenor informed the little rogue. "You have come here to hire one of us?” She looked back up at Faelenor and slowly removed her hand from the dagger to place it back on the reins. "That's right. I want to hire someone. For a job. Like I said." "Yeah, I heard you the first time. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going mad." Fael loosened the tension on the bowstring, setting the arrow back into its quiver, but kept his mark on the tiny rogue. "Name your business here and now, and perhaps I can find you a fool to take your job." She frowned, looking around, having pictured this discussion not happening quite as out in the open as this. She stifled a sigh as she looks back up at the ranger on the wall. "I'm looking for help in finding someone." "And your idea of searching for help was to come to Borrowed Time of all places. You understand that you probably would have had a better chance at begging Sanctuary or the Alliance for assistance." Fael pulled out his comm mumbled into it. When he finished, he pocketed the device and shouts back down. "Wait there." He moved from his spot but guards quickly take his place. Syreena held her tongue, but she frowned, trying to remember why Borrowed Time hated her so much. Surely they wouldn’t still be this upset over Dora's knee. She waited where she was, but she kept a grip on the reins, ready to signal the mount to run if guards suddenly started swarming out of the gate. "Grumpy, aren't they?" she mutters softly to Bones, her horse. "You'd think they don't want the work." A moment passed before the gate opened. The ranger walked out alone, armed with his bow and a pair of blades on his belt. He stepped carefully towards the Forsaken, signaling with a quick wave of his hand. The gates closed and the guards pulled bows of their own from their stations. Such attention from the guards that she had initially found flattering, was quickly becoming irritating. "Your window of time is short and it's slowly closing,” Faelenor told her. “This is as close to private and within the walls of the gate as you are going to get. So start talking." She was in need of their service. They could care less of what she was willing to pay. But curiosity won out over reason. She slid down off her horse and took a few steps toward the ranger, careful to keep her hands away from her blades. "I don't want to go within your walls. This is fine." Suddenly overcome with doubt about her decision to hire Borrowed Time for this, she fell quiet for a moment, hesitating before stating her request. "I'm looking for someone. I haven't seen him in...well, years. But I saw a friend of his twice since the Horde sailed for the Broken Shore, a guild mate. I'm busy with other business, but I'm hoping for help tracking down this friend to find out what happened to the person I used to know." "Almost every tracker, ranger, or hunter in this establishment has something against you. It's to your fortune that I got here first, or else you may have lost more than a knee cap this time around." Fael hooked his bow back in its resting spot, eyeing the rogue and her surroundings. The goggled lens that covered his right eye hummed as he looks around. Syreena wondered what he was looking for, then figured he probably thought she wasn’t alone. Maybe he expected the entirety of The Grim to come charging out at the gate to take over Borrowed Time’s base. In the interests of a better chance of doing business, she refrained from voicing such sarcastic thoughts. "So either you believe yourself rich enough to pay for this job or you aren't terribly keen on keeping your head... but I'll bite,” Fael continued. “Give me a little more to work on." "Everyone has something against everyone," she says mildly. "Last I heard, you guys take jobs. If that's no longer true, I'll leave." She tilted her head at him. "You want more details... Does that mean you'll take the job?" "Like any establishment that provides invaluable service to their patrons, which I can understand if you aren't familiar with that concept, we also have the right to refuse you. Given your past history with us I shouldn't really have to go into too much more detail. However, through some miracle, the order to send you away wasn't given. So, I'll ask again. The details of the job... we will need more. We need to send the right mercenaries to do the job after all... unless you want Cobrak hunting down an old friend of yours?" "I...didn't say he was a friend. I said I saw his friend," she argued, having second thoughts again. She was reluctant to admit to a group of mercenaries who hated her, what Lucion meant to her. She bit her bottom lip briefly, not even seeming to notice that her filed pointy teeth drew blood. "Maybe this isn't a good idea...." she says, as she started to turn away. She stopped though. If not Borrowed Time to help find Razvaan , then who? "Is it? Can you do business with me without bringing personal issues of the past into it?" "Why do you think you weren't made a pin cushion at the very start of this?" He held out his hand and with another wave the guards stowed their bows and moved back to their regular positions. "So, if you want to discuss a business proposition then now is your chance. Consider my interest a show of good faith." She glanced up at the guards, then she took another step closer to Faelenor. After another moment's hesitation, she began speaking only loud enough so that, barring any special powers or equipment, only he and her horse would hear her. "All right then,” she started. “I'm looking for a man named Lucion. He's Forsaken. He once led a guild called Broken Sanity. Recently, I saw his friend and guildmate, another Forsaken by the name of Razvaan, but I lost sight of him before I could catch up to him and talk to him." "Where was it you last saw him?" He asked as he shifts the bow on his back. "In Dalaran, on the street between the Legerdemain and the wine & cheese shop. Maybe two weeks ago? I saw him once before that too, on a ship leaving from Bladefist Bay for the Broken Shore." "Anyone else with Razvaan when you found him? Perhaps something more notable to help track him down. The streets of Dalaran and ships leaving to the Broken Shore aren't exactly enough to go off of. Two weeks ago leaves a large enough time frame for him to be long gone by now." Syreena’s frustration was evident as she shook her head. "No, I don't know. If it was easy to find him, I would have by now. That's why I need help." Noting the frustration, Fael gave a sly smirk. "I'm simply gauging the expenses of the work. Given the complexity of this job and the resources needed to find him I imagine you know it won't come cheap. Being that this is a mercenary establishment, talk of compensation was inevitable." She nodded, seemingly not upset at all at the subject of the cost. "How much? And also, I assume that, since this is a paid job, that a certain amount of....professional discretion....is....'standard procedure'?" she asked, using the guard's words from earlier. "That's dependent on the merc who gets the job and what their definition of professional discretion is. My interest was personal. But as far as fees go I want to make sure you understand that the more you pay the more professional the work. Dirty deeds aren't done dirt cheap. Once the contract is made and signed you are guaranteed what you pay for. " Fael looked over the rogue once more before asking his final question. "Why not go to the Grim for help? Couldn't you just yell out your mantra and have a pick of the first that yell it back to aid you for free? You had to expect that question to come about eventually?" Her brow furrowed, twisting her patchwork-stitched face. She shrugged, kicking at a small piece of debris in the dirt. "I don't see many of them much. I mean, they're busy....killing demons, and Alliance, and elves in the Nighthold, and...." She trailed off, looking up at Faelenor with a frown. "Does it really matter anyway? It's not a dirty job. I'm not trying to hurt anyone or anything. I'm sure you guys wouldn't take a job like that for me." "Discretion comes with caution. You know who you are but even if you weren't Syreena these questions are still extremely relevant. Our forces aren't exactly laying around waiting for the next job to fall on our laps. But someone has to watch over the port and today just happened to be my day. So yes, it does matter. Simply because we would be sending one of own to do the job. And if it means making sure they come back alive, I will ask for any information I find relevant. As for the job, I will talk with Cobrak and see who he wants to assign it to. If no one cares to work then I may just pick it up myself. Give us until tomorrow to decide. I will send you a message when the decision has been made." He took a step back and bowed his head. "All things considered...this is the best that I can do for you." "Oh," she says. Then she winced. "Cobrak? Are you going to tell him it's for me?" "He has eyes and ears all over the port. He'd know it was a job for you even if I decided to keep it a secret. Besides. Who do you think gave the order to listen to you? It's up to the discretion of the merc if they want your job. We don't hold them to any oath or mantra. So long as they know what they are getting themselves into and won't bring back harm to our port... they can deal with whom ever they want." She tilted her head, considering that. "He already knows I'm here...." she muttered to herself, looking back up at the guards on the wall as if they were suddenly going to start shooting at her. "Umm, okay. I'll watch for your message then. And you'll let me know how much it will cost?" "Yes yes...variable costs are just so difficult to determine right away. Now then..." He gave out a whistle and the gate doors opened. "I will discuss this further with him and I will get word to you tomorrow. Tread carefully...Syreena." "Okay. Thanks....for not shooting me." The little rogue nodded, then backed up a couple steps before turning to find her horse, who had wandered a short ways off. Apparently Bones had given up his search for grass in the burnt area. He was eating dirt. Syreena yanked his head up by the reins and mounted up, looking back at the ranger and the guards on the wall. As the gate began to close, Syreena wheeled Bones around and kicked him into a gallop, going back the way she came. The ranger stepped backwards into the port and watched as the gate closed. He let out a sigh, taking a moment to relax himself before making his way to the office. "Why didn't I shoot her again?" he asked himself as he walked up towards Cobrak’s office.
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  4. Sometimes, in the fleeting quiet moments between battles, when my mind is left to wander as it will, it takes me back to him. Those memories are still whole, untouched by the wicked sorcery of the human professor. At times, I am grateful that these most precious memories were spared. Other times, I think it would have been a mercy if they'd been taken or scrambled with so many others. I remember the first day I met him. That day was at least ten years ago. I was buying poison in Undercity when he approached the same vendor. He seemed to know him. They made small talk and joked with each other, while I was still waiting for my purchase. I got irritated with him, but he started talking and joking with me too, as if we were old friends. He soon had me laughing along with them, my irritation forgotten. I remember sparring outside the front gates of the Undercity until we were both beaten and bloodied. And then we’d spar some more, telling ourselves we were only trying to determine which of us was the better fighter. In truth, we both knew we were evenly matched, but we continued the fights for the sheer joy of combat and each other’s company. I remember hunting mages with him in Felwood, positioning ourselves carefully -- one to ambush the mage and the other to intercept after the inevitable blink. We made such a bloody sport of slaughtering the felcloth gatherers there. I remember sneaking through Stormwind Park together, collecting coins from the Elders, and murdering any Alliance who crossed our path. We’d laugh as we ran and hid from the guards, reveling in the bloodshed and the danger. I remember the quiet talks about fighting, about The Grim, about his guild, about our pasts, about anything and everything. They were secret talks. In those days, Grims did not have close relationships with non-Grims. It just did not happen. He also led his own guild. I met a few of them now and then, but I never got to know them very well. The time we spent together was most often private time shared by just the two of us. “Marry me,” he said one day during one of these talks. I had never before considered the possibility of marriage. What would I do with a husband? What would I do as a wife? I was Forsaken. I had once been dead and was now undead. I would never be able to give him children. I couldn’t even be with him as a wife should be with a husband, and I had no desire to be that way with anyone. I was also Grim. Grims did not often marry, and they never married outside the guild. There was no chance he would abandon his own guild to become Grim. He was too willful to ever take orders from another. “I can’t,” I answered quietly. “You’re not Grim.” I expected him to be disappointed, or angry, or insulted. Instead, he laughed his carefree laugh and said, “You are Grim through and through.” He disappeared sometime after that. I thought him lost forever, claimed by a final death, or some new adventure. Two years later, I would see him one more time. Eight years ago…… The Alliance had invaded Orgimmar again. They seemed determined to kill Thrall. I was part of a small unit of Grim aiding the defense. By the time we got there, most of the Alliance had already been killed or driven off. We helped kill the remaining Alliance as they fled. As the last stragglers were dealt with, something about one of the other Forsaken there caught my attention. He cut down a druid that was trying to sprint away in cat form. In my mind, memories stirred as I watched him move and fight. He was different though. His eyes were now a frosty blue instead of the glowing gold I remembered, his daggers were gone in favor of a large sword, and he wore plate instead of the usual supple leather. Still, I knew without a doubt it was him. “Lucion.” I breathed his name without thinking. Although it was barely a whisper, he looked at me then. After all the time that had passed, I felt nervous as I approached him. “Do you remember me?” “I remember I gave you a flower in Undercity. A lotus. I remember you wearing a black dress. You are all grown up now.” We talked the rest of the evening. It was like before, but it was also different. He told me some things about the time he’d been gone, but he didn’t remember everything. Something about a warlock, a crystal, and a priest with all the answers, and something about empowering the Forsaken, but he didn’t know any details. I was so happy he was back, and I vowed to help him find answers. I never saw him again.
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  5. NEW ORLEANS! YAS! C'MON DOWN Y'ALL! I SWEAR it will be worth it!! And I could ACTUALLY attend that one!!!!!!!!! Party in the French Quarter/ BOURBON STREET Y'ALL! Do it. Just do it. Yes.
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  6. The charter was finally received from his Majesty's council, the Praetorian will begin looking for new members with haste. This king needs a worthy guard, after what had happened to his father, and the dangerous now facing the Alliance, we must do all that we can to assure our people that the King is safe. I must say my faith in the Alliance, after the death of his father, King Varian Wrynn, Highlord Fordragon, and the subsequent weaknesses exhibited by the Silver Hand after the assault on Light's Hope by the Ebon Blade, in concurrence with the Legion invasion, had shaken my faith to its core. I used to express only absolute faith in the Light to cope with what was happening around me... and exude confidence to those who followed my lead, and in the end it took me to a place I never wanted to go. That doesn't mean that I do not believe in the Light, or have any less drive to achieve its goals, but I think I had so much self doubt after all that had happened that I forced myself outwardly to act a certain way... so that nobody else could see the doubts that I was in fact facing. I am not sure I even make sense now... but I just know I need to return to the teachings of the Light. It's true teachings, that which I was fortunate enough to learn from some of the greatest Knight's of the Silver Hand. When I was younger, I lost my family as many who are from Lordearon did, and was beset by conflict. A mere squire in the Silver Hand, necessity forced my martial training to accelerate, and I was fortunate enough to end up under the command of the Grand Crusader, before the events of Stratholme that saw his unfortunate demise... the fervor the original Scarlet Crusade fought for is what I remember, and I remember it through a prism that I am certain is lost upon many and that many do not understand. They know only what it became, the bastardized version of it that the Legion created. But before that, it was my only symbol of hope... my only true crutch, it kept me upright in so many ways. Oh certainly the Light was there, but I was young and the teachings of wiser men then me, now dead, seemed of little consequence... the Light was always there, but the Crusade was -MY- hope at the time. That is what I truly was unable to convey when I sought to revive the banner. A long forgotten hope, that during desperate times, gave me the personal strength to carry on. When I combined that with the faith that came later in life... after seeing the Naaru in Shattrath, the perseverance of Highlord Fordring against the Lich King... I tried to meld them into what I thought the Crusade could become, and I thought that I could overcome its perception, that righteousness could win the day. However, as I got more and more desperate, as the times grew more and more perilous, the evil that I sought to combat, and the image I sought to repair... overcame me. This was my weakness and my failure. The Light and its true teachings are what I need to lean on, and not some glorious image of what was, or what could be. I need to follow MY path and Light willing, I shall work to correct the errors I have made.
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  7. Eight months ago….. The Legion was invading Azeroth. We had been fighting them all over the world. Wave after wave of demons kept coming. Plans were being made to travel to the Broken Shore and fight them there. Although I would not be among the first to travel the Shore, I took a walk one day from the gates of Orgrimmar to Bladefist Bay and observed the preparations being made. Weapon smiths, cooks, armorers, combat trainers, and other various vendors were there, trying to make some coin for themselves while they better prepared heroes to fight a never-ending enemy. These heroes—champions, mercenaries, adventurers—were lined up at the Bay, waiting their turn to board the ship that would soon take them to battle. Perched on a post at the land end of the docks, I watched them as they loaded themselves aboard with various expressions. Some looked eager, some frightened, some resigned. All had sharp weapons, shiny armor, and a sack full of food from the vendors. Each one was determined not to be among the first casualties of this crowd when they landed, as if giving their coin to the vendors would prevent that. I was just about to return to the city when I caught sight of a Forsaken on the deck. By now, I had given up all hope of ever finding Lucion. He still crossed my mind from time to time, but I had long ago accepted that he was nothing more than a sweet memory of happier days. But I recognized the priest on the ship. If Razvaan wasn’t second in command of Lucion’s guild, he was close to it. I had met him a few times back in the days when Lucion and I were close. If anyone knew what happened to Lucion, it would be him. “Razvaan!” I called his name as I ran down the docks, but he didn’t hear me. The ship pulled away from the docks, along with my chance to learn what had become of Lucion. I decided to head to the Broken Shore right away. However, when I went back to Orgrimmar to begin preparations, I found an opportunity to strike at Sanctuary which eventually led to the Ghostlands and a three-month delay. One month ago….. After watching Razvaan leaving Bladefist Bay, I found myself thinking more often of him and Lucion. I wondered if Lucion could have been aboard that very ship. The possibility would not leave me. I did my share of killing demons on the Broken Shore, but that wasn’t my only goal there. I kept an eye out always for Lucion or Razvaan or anyone else wearing Broken Sanity’s colors. I told nobody. Muatah once told me that it was wrong to waste time looking back. It was not the Grim way to reminisce or go searching for long lost loved ones. I would find no support there. I should spend my time killing Alliance and demons, not chasing ghosts from long ago. Then one day in Dalaran, I saw him again. Through the crowd, a block or so ahead of me, I caught a glimpse of Razvaan. I called out to him and tried to push through the mass of people, but again, he didn’t hear me, and I lost him. For days, I sat on the railing of the Legerdemain balcony, watching for him, but if he passed by there again, I never saw him. Frustrated, I considered my options. I was no tracker. I had no skill for finding people in a city as crowded as Dalaran, or a land as big as the Broken Shore. If I wanted to find Razvaan, if I wanted a chance to find out where Lucion was, or even if he was still alive, I would need professional help. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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  9. New Orleans proposal: Dates: January - March 2018 (not during Mardi Gras) Travel: Louis Armstrong International Airport Home Base: House on Bourbon St. ($ will depend on how many people sign up, $1500 a night) Includes Hot Tub Balcony Kitchen Large Living Space Within Walking Distance (of home base): Day Cemetery Tours $25.00 Steamboat Cruise $32.00 Cocktail History Walking Tour $65.00 Food History Tour $55 - $120 Riverwalk Free Audubon Aquarium $29.95 Cafe Du Monde $5.45. Cafe Du Monde Coffee And Chicory Regular $5.74. Cafe Du Monde Coffee And Chicory Decaf $5.88. Cafe Du Monde French Roast Coffee $23.99. Twelve Cafe Au Lait Pralines $13.99. Six Cafe Au Lait Pralines $23.99. Twelve Creamy Pralines $13.99. Six Creamy Pralines Eat Alligator Voodoo Museum $7.00 Night Karaoke Free Burlesque Show $15 general admission / $25 VIP Live Jazz Free Ghost Tours $15 - $100 Bourbon Street Free Drink Absinthe Varies
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  10. I'm bummed I ended up not going to TECON 2017, but it was for the best that I stayed home as my wife went into labor the Sunday during TECON. Even though west coast is easiest/cheapest for me, I'd really like to get out and see one of the other proposed cities like Boston or New Orleans. Growing up in LA I'm pretty tired of it and want to get out, though I admit there can be some cool stuff to see, its just so congested, dirty and expensive here. If you do end up scheduling it for California, I can get some pretty cheap and nice beach cottages on base here at Coronado Island (San Diego) http://get.dodlodging.net/propertys/North-Island-Beach-Cottages, last I checked each was like $85 per night. I'd prefer to get out of the west coast (best coast).
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  11. A little poking around also turned up these two options for Nola: House: 10 Beds, 4 Futons, 2 Lofts. 7 Baths Sleeps 32-Max. 1 Block to Bourbon St. "Excellent for Bachelors parties and Large Groups, 16 separate sleeping spaces. Sleeps 1 to 26, Max of 32 guests. For Ultimate Privacy rent the entire property. You and your group will have the entire property to yourselves, including; Hot Tub, Courtyards, and all other spaces. Great for large groups... wanting privacy & luxury. Furnished with beautiful Antiques, Original Historic Architectural details, stained glass, beamed ceilings plus a 42' Plasma flat screen TV in the Main House & a 32' Plasma flat Screen TV in the Mardi Gras apt. DVD, Stereos and all the conveniences of home & Hot Tub... The Kerlerec House is located one short block from the French Quarter and one block from world famous Bourbon Street. It is located at the center of all that New Orleans has to offer, the local scene on Frenchman Street, as well as all of the amazing tourist attractions. You will be staying just a short walk from some of the most famous restaurants in the world. Experience New Orleans day or night as a local would in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, or enjoy 1 of our 3 Lush Court Yards. You can rent our entire Property for only $1,500.00 to $1,900.00 (depending on season & special events) For the utmost in privacy and comfort." Exclusive Bayou Oaks Plantation "6 Bedrooms, 7.5 Bathrooms, Sleeps 2-30. Stay in this exclusive private Plantation home nestled on award winning Bayou Liberty 30 miles from the Historic French Quarter! .. $1,251/night" (Click on the link to see the pictures, they say more than words possibly could.)
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  12. The 25-man Pontchartrain suite appears to be $1060 a night which would be a nice $42/night per person. Notably though, it says it accommodates 25 for hospitality events, not for sleeping. If we got it, most folks would need to get their own accommodations as well.
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  13. So just to jump on the New Orleans bandwagon, I'd like to suggest the following: Accomodations: Omni Royal New Orleans Just a few blocks from Jackson Square, we'd be right in the middle of everything. They have 3 suites available, the largest of which holds up to 25 people. We would be a block from Bourbon Street, which is where all the mayhem happens. We would be within walking distance of just about everything you wanna do in New Orleans, from graveyard walks to haunted tours to the Voodoo museum. I have a whoooole list of things we can do besides these things, but if we go in an offseason (say winter, January maybe) we will get low prices and it shouldn't be too hot for all you sweaty people.
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  15. I think after a big city trip like Vegas, a more rural trip might be in order. Portland, OR Pros: Lots of Indie restaurants/bars/pubs. Cheap stay Easy access to camping/rafting out in the wilderness Vegas-esque shows for half the price. Cons Far trek for east coasters Summer weather is never predictable. If not there, I'd be perfectly fine with a trip to Boston or a beachhouse/cabin of some kind in the Midwest or New England, but I'd think I'd skip another big city trip if its New Orleans or Atlantic City.
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  16. ALRIGHT I'M BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR. Act 3 is here. Act 3 is where you finish up the story. You want to resolve all the plot threads that you've given out so far (unless you're leaving some kind of hook for a new, future story) and close off the story so that your players can reach a satisfying conclusion. Act 2 is full of vectors, bouncing off and around on different issues, many of them incremental to whatever the big, fat main tension of your story is. Act 3 will typically have one vector and it will be compressed in time. If you're going to run only one event in tandem with your story, make it this one because the drama and tension are only heightened if everything comes crashing to a roaring conclusion here. Act 3 typically starts with a big, momentous decision from your character or characters, which is why you want to hit them on a personal level right at the end of Act 2 so that this decision and them being at their lowest coincide. This is the stuff of heroes. Characters that are beleaguered on all sides still standing up and fighting for themselves and what's right in the face of insurmountable odds. Act 3 is also where the stakes of your story sit. Whatever the stakes are or have been up to now, they need to be dwarfed by what you're rolling out for Act 3. If the difference between success and failure for the hero is too small and inconsequential, then you're losing out on a lot of tension and drama. This act 3 start is also right when your characters are complete. The character arc almost always completes at the end of Act 2 and beginning of Act 3 because you want them to make this decision here and contrast it with who they were way back in Act 1. The characters enter their final form (for this arc you're writing, anyway) and then face off against the villain when they're at their peak. The character that is incomplete in the third act isn't any of your protagonists; it's your antagonist. The third act is where your antagonist's inability to change, inability to overcome their flaws, and inability to complete themselves like the main characters have just demonstrated falls back in and implodes upon themselves. This is why villain double down on their villainous flaws and would rather die than change, in most cases. The principle characteristic that defines your antagonist in most instances is his inability to change like your characters do. That is his great weakness. That is why he fails, in the end, because even though he starts off with this great boost of confidence and power because he's satisfied with his incomplete self, that incompleteness will always crack and crumble in the face of a character that has overcome their flaws rather than built themselves on them. I'm going to go into this a bit more when it comes to villains, who really deserve a section all on their own, but this character consciousness is important for Act 3. If you're going to tell me that redemption villains don't fit this mold, don't worry I'll address that later. The short version is: you're right, but you really have to do your homework and dot your i's and cross your t's to get there. The long version is below. While Act 3 is where the villain falls apart, it's also where the villain is at their most menacing, threatening and dangerous. In most stories, this is because whatever the villain has been plotting has almost come to fruition, and just like the hero has been gaining power and abilities over the course of the ability, the villain has as well. (The heroes couple their power gain with overcoming their flaws/deficiencies. The villains do not, and typically, sell out themselves and make themselves more flawed in order to get the same boost in power.) This power will very frequently backfire on the villain, and just as quickly as its granted, also be taken away. But don't take that preceding bit to justify not letting your characters be awesome. Because Act 3 is where you take the ropes off and let your heroes be as super cool and awesome as they can be. During Act 2, you can beat up on your players, get under their skin, hand them defeats, because the promise at the end of the rainbow is getting to beat the shit out of McBaddie like a rock 'em, sock 'em robot. All that tension that you build up with failures in Act 2 gets released in Act 3, when they get to kick the snot out of the villain. But if you focus in too much on your villain's self-defeating nature and he kind of undoes himself with his bad bargains and flaws catching up with him, then you're not giving the characters a chance to relieve all that tension that you built up and then it festers and rots into unsatisfying frustration. Striking this balance, when you can hit it, works wonders. Because players like just as much to beat the tar out of someone while at the same time, being shown that that person's addiction to their own flaws is what made them fall. Because the heroes are almost always ideologically opposed to the villain, when the villain's ideology turns out to be rotten to the core and destroys him from within, watching that happen is super great. You're seeing that you were right all along, kind of thing. You can play with this a bit, too, if you want. Every villain should be sympathetic, and if you drive that to an extreme, you can have your characters sympathize with the villains so much so that it's a bittersweet victory. But in general, the bad guy is irredeemably bad and gets beaten pretty badly by the heroes anyway. It really depends. Back to Act 3 structure stuff for a second, there should almost always be a "twist in the third act" which is not about the overall tension, but about the act tension, essentially. The twist in the third act serves three big functions: 1) It breaks up the story a bit so that whatever strategy the characters walked into the third act with needs to also change. This creates a need for the story to adapt around this twist and become something different. When you don't do this, you just have punching and fighting for the whole third act and it can get a bit stale. 2) It refocuses the story from big stuff to small stuff. The first half of the Act 3 fighting typically happens on a very large scale, with large scale goals. It is when the big, epic, flashy stuff happens and the resolution to those big, epic, flashy things begins to really resolve. The twist almost always narrows the focus and drills it down into a single point. For LOTR, Gollum showing up in mount doom is the twist. The first half of the third act (with Sam and Aragorn playing high calibur double duty) sets up the stakes to the end of the massive conflict, but the twist focuses it in entirely on Frodo vs Gollum. Two husks, addicted to the ring, fighting over the fate of the world. When main characters, typically supporting characters, get mortally injured, that's the twist and the tension shifts from "saving the world" to "saving this person's life." When the villain injects himself with the unstable super serum and becomes a rampaging monster out of desperation, even if the stakes are the same or bigger, because we're drilling down to the conflict on just that one villain, it serves the same purpose. 3) It puts the initiative back in the villain's hands. When Act 3 begins, the hero is the one taking the initiative and implementing a plan and strategy to overcome the villain. If there's no twist, a lot of the time, there's no swapping of the initiative between the hero and the villain, and if that swapping doesn't happen then the story can get static. By giving the villain a moment to redefine the fight (because 90% of the time, the twist is a result of something the villain does,) you are making the story more dynamic and more of a back and forth between the protagonists and the antagonist. The twist can also go the opposite way, in the right circumstances. Instead of the twist being something that the villain does, (stab the love interest, hit the self destruct button, or drink the unstable potion) it can be something the hero does. If you stowed away 2 of your 8 characters to follow up later with backup, that's your twist, and it's executed by the hero. It shifts some structural stuff around (you need the characters in Helms Deep to be desperate in order for Gandalf arriving with the rohirrim to feel good) but with the right set up and context, it can be great. Once the characters adapt their strategy to contend with the twist, which places the initiative back in their hands, we're ramping up to the climax. The climax is the single point, the one thing that happens, the very moment where the most tension will be released. It's not a sequence, or a scene, or anything else, it's one action, really at the end of the day, it can be boiled down to one sentence. The ring falls into the lava of Mount Doom. The Death Star explodes. Tirion Fordring kills Arthas. Arthas kills his father. What this climax will look like will change depending on the story, and there will be different techniques for different contexts. I have some die hard habits, like I love the immediately pre-climax speech, either the hero explaining how much he's gained and learned and how good this will feel or the villain coming apart at the seems and choosing death over defeat, but whatever works for you works for you. But it's a big moment that you want everyone to focus on as much as possible. Your antagonist doesn't have to die here, but they do need to stop putting up a fight. This is where they lose. I actually want to dwell on this for a moment, because I'm going to address it more thoroughly later, but the antagonist needs to extremely definitively lose at this moment. What that loss looks like will also change in the context of the story, but a lot of the time it's going to be death. But there are other options, too. You can depower the villain (after having burned himself out trying to kill the heroes) and then have him escape. You can have the villain be captured. Hell, you can leave the villain in the hands of the heroes and let them come to their own decision on what to do with him. But I highly recommend death, and if you choose not to go with death, you better make sure that the heroes feel good about this defeat. Also, don't repeat something that you've already pulled before. If the heroes cornered the villain and he teleported away, you can't repeat that, because it'll just feel cheap and frustrate the players. If your villain gets thrown in jail and then he breaks out, you can't ever lock him up again, because the heroes have definitive proof that he'll bust out. I'm a very big fan of depowering villains. If they're a shadow priest, they become magic locked and can't cast any more. If they have some great weapon, it's taken from them at the very least, but shattered in the final fight preferrably (think Frostmourne.) If they're a paladin, the Light abandons them. These kinds of things. After the climax, your whole job is wrapping up plot threads and phasing yourself out of a GM role. Players are good at picking up the pieces to stories. Most players will grapple with what happened on their own and you don't need to coach them through it. If you're done with your story, they're probably going to extend some piece out of it and create their own non-GMed RP and that's great. In fact, I tend to think the mark of a great event/storyline is that people walk out of it grappling with it, and the fallout of it extends for a bit. In story terms, this is called the denouement (which I think is pronounced DAY-NEW-MAW, because it's french) and outside of NPCs that you've introduced or any items, locations, powers, anything you need to explain a resolution to, you should be hands off here. Let the players resolve their characters on their own. Don't force that. And even though it's technically not an act, I want to take a moment to acknowledge... Sequels RPers love continuity. It's why we police people's lore. It's why we constantly reference our backstories, or old stories that we took part in. I've never in my life met an RPer that RPed without an eye towards the larger continuity of the server, world, whatever. When you've finished your story, you're adding to that continuity. My recommendation first and foremost: don't continuity police your own story. In the same way that I think the best approach is to be hands off with the denouement of the story, be hands off with the continuity of it after the fact. People will adopt it into their RP and the characters naturally and you don't want to stymie that by hounding everyone that references things after the fact. I've seen this happen from time to time (and I super fall into this trap all the time) and it almost always has negative results. Interestingly enough, the results aren't purposefully negative. It's not malice. People don't get mad at you. But they do feel a distance from it. RP is the gift that you give other players, and your storyline is a gift that you give other players. Once it's over, don't try to own it or take it from them. Let them play with it how they want. If you become overbearing about it, it creates this weird sense that they're playing with someone else's property, and they put it down and put it away. This is the last thing you want. Let them pick it up and go from there. But when a story ends, especially a good story, there's always a huge temptation to create a sequel. You want to recapture the magic! You want to go back to your favorite places! Your favorite things! You want to get the band back together and go on another tour! And there's a part of me that really wants to shit on this impulse, but I actually kind of have a hard time doing so. I think sequels can be a trap, sure, but I also think that they're fun and RPers sign up for continuity, so get them on board. The big thing that I recommend when it comes to sequels (or spinoffs, also) is that you work hard not to invalidate the original story. The Two Towers is the sequel to Fellowship, but it doesn't retroactively shit on aspects of Fellowship. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen basically does. The defeat of the cube and megatron is basically unwritten in the opening minutes of Revenge of the Fallen because the Decepticons wake him up immediately. All the gains that had been made over the course of the first movie are instantly undone with that act. This is the kind of thing you want to avoid. If you killed your villain, keep him dead. Even if he's a likable villain that we all want to see more of. Just let him be dead and move on to something else, or someone else. His old apprentice tries to finish what his master started. Someone finds the shards of his old weapon and falls under the same curse when they reforge his blade. Someone who chased the villain all their life turns their focus on you for stealing the kill. Absolutely bring back old elements of the other story, NPCs, locations, what have you, but do yourself a gigantic favor and use that moment to create contrast. When you journeyed to the village enslaved by the McBaddie, it was barren and desolate, but when you return to fight McBaddie Jr, it's vibrant and alive. This contrast shows the characters the gains that they've made by completing that first story. And it gives them something to fight for (keeping McBaddie Jr from returning the village to the state they originally found it in.) Essentially, the failure state for the story becomes: back to square one, the positive changes that you've made are all erased. The last thing I want to mention when it comes to sequels is watching out for backstory bloat. Unless the group of people you're running for are exactly the same, which would be a miracle, you're going to have new people walking into this story who don't have the same basis for it that the long term holdouts do have. Boil that story into bite size chunks, throw away all the plot detritis and focus on what matters. A LOT of stuff is going to have happened during your first storyline, but let everything that's not absolutely essential go. And don't cater only to the people that have been here before. It can be easy to get wrapped up in collective nostalgia, especially when one player shares your enthusiasm for your story, but don't let that become a barricade keeping new people out. Yes, the relationships that have been forged and changed over the course of the first story matter, and you don't want to trample any of that stuff, but make sure that you as the GM are being as welcoming and open as possible when it comes to these folks joining the storyline team. Creating plot hooks for new folks to get on board, things tailored to them and their characters and their skillset, that's a one way ticket to an engaged player, even one who's new to your story. Don't be haphazard. Don't give them a thread that you could have given to anyone. Give them a thread made for them, that only they could take. If people see you going out of your way to get their character on board on THEIR terms rather than your terms, you're going to get a great response from them. ------------------------------------------ Alright, so that's my act structure breakdown. I have a lot more that I want to address and talk about, but I'm not really sure what I want to get into next. If there's something that I've mentioned that you want to get some more thoughts on, let me know. Here are some topics that I want to cover in future BaernRantz: -McGuffins -Villains -Tropes/Cliches -Lorebreaking/Lorebending/Lorepolicing -Creating character arcs for characters you don't control -Creating stakes Shit, I'm sure there's more. IDK I'm going to just keep posting until I've exhausted my own well of unorganized thoughts that I want to get on paper.
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  17. Not just because I live there, I'd like to pitch a bit about Los Angeles. Pros: -Having locals means cars, parking, pickups from LAX are super easy -LAX is one of the most important airports in the country, flights are easy, cheap and direct -The weather will be nice even during the off-season so winter trips can still be sunny and warm -Disneyland, Universal Studios and Six Flag are all awesome destinations for day trips -Transportation is easy (Arahe, myself and Seguul are all locals with cars seating 15 people just between the three of us.) -Renting beach houses/hollywood houses is straightforward and easy. (Like this place with a heated pool and hot tub.) -People who need to be cheap can chill in the apartments of the locals for freesies. -Locals have the in on cool places, like Karaoke, Korean BBQ, Bars, and Clubs off the beaten path Cons: -Driving is the main mode of transport -Pacific ocean is cold as fuck -Long trek for East Coasters -Just did a West Coast centric TNGCon The thing that I think works best about LA is that because we have locals (5 of whom went to Vegas this year) we have a lot of flexibility when it comes to pricing, entertainment, activities, you name it. The flights into LAX are cheap ($300 from Boston to LAX) and direct (people were doing layovers in LAX to go to Vegas!) and transportation would basically be provided for free from those locals. Housing could easily split into folks that want to rent a party house and folks that want to crash on couches because they need to be cheap. The money that you're saving on housing? Well, now you've got cash for your Disneyland trip or Universal Studios trip.
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  18. My main reason for not going this time was a lack of vacation hours for family vacations. Going forward, I can budget those hours a bit better and perhaps attend! I like the idea of Boston, but I would go one step further and say Cape Cod. One can still get to Boston pretty easily, but it's Cape Cod! Beach houses are nice, and I don't care what Shaelie says! I know that Cape Cod has some cool lighthouses, nice beaches, and some amazing seafood (which I'm all about). Dunno what resorts/hotels/whatevers are there. For New Orleans: Pros -Unique culture, food, atmosphere, and entertainment -Casinos, jazz houses, and interesting night life, as well as some familiar vacation things -Mild winter/early-spring season (but watch out for the rainy season...) -All the booze, both cheap and expensive Cons -No, seriously, watch out for the rainy season! -Hot as balls in the late spring and summer months -Not -hard- to get to, but maybe out of the way for both West Coasters and New Englanders -Stay away during Mardi Gras
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  19. The major thing that prevented me from going this year was timing. But, I should be in the United States again in late March. So if it were to happen in early March or April, for example... Just saying! Once I'm in the U.S. though, getting around the country isn't a huge deal. I'll already have flown around the world, so hopping to another state from California is a breeze. Or road trip it with Fhen and Xara.
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  20. 5.8.16 What the world has taught me today….. It’s perfectly acceptable for a BT bully to humiliate and injure a Grim Forsaken for NO REASON AT ALL. Nobody will bat an eye. Nobody will get upset. Nobody will call for war. But If that Grim Forsaken inflicts the same injury on a pretty BT elf that everyone likes, then everyone gets all in an uproar and calls for bloodshed and war. What a load of kodo dung! Was I supposed to just take it and do nothing? Should I just let Cobrak and others like him do whatever they want to me and not retaliate? Did he really think that? Screw him. Screw them all. With felfire. Lilly suggested I stay low until this blows over. Leyu’jin once told me not to lie or hide from my actions when I know I’m right. I’m not going to hide from them. If they want to hate me for something Cobrak started, that’s their blindness. If they want to do more than that, well, I’m not completely stupid when it comes to precautions and revenge. I have a feeling some will want the blood to be flowing as readily as drinks at Cantina tonight.
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The Twisting Nether Gazette is a role play forum for characters on the RP-PVP servers Twisting Nether and Ravenholdt.  We have been active since November of 2005, a few months after the Twisting Nether server originally went live.  Our purpose is to provide a safe and inclusive environment where role players can meet and interact with each other, and, of course, post their amazing role play stories, art, bios, and journals.

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