Friday, February 19, 2016

The Plane of Fiora, a place to conspire

This day, we tell you the tale of a far off plane, known as Fiora.  Home to Dack Fayden, and containing a city on pillars, the elite conspire against each other.   Welcome to the conspiracy!

With the new King Brago "Betrayal" Story, we have a new link to the puzzle right at the top: Nik Davidson authored:
Far from Theros, on the plane of Fiora, the High City of Paliano is home to countless intrigues and plots. The high lords of the city vie for supremacy. Move is met with countermove, and trust with betrayal, all under the auspices of the immortal King Eternal. But the king was a living man, once, and a friend to the elf explorer Selvala...

So Paliano is the city on the world of Fiora, the same as Dack Fayden's homeworld. We've seen it in
the comics once or twice, both a live town and Drakeston, the now ghost town of Dack's origins.

 Announcing! GVYJTHQXGR


Another interesting connection, which was suspected from the Dack Fayden card reveal code type in article: The Perfect Gift, in which is mentioned a character, "The Black Rose". In it, the revelation comes that Sydri, too, is on Fiora, which would match the renaissance architecture of the world, similar to the Fiora we saw in the Dack Fayden comics.  

The Black Rose, being referenced, is the underworld figure of Marchesa, whom we see the machinations of in the rivals of the Black Rose.

A week later, a University meeting is called to order with a movement made by Professor Muzzio to gain what he feels he rightfully has earned.

But from betrayal come consequences, and we find that Selvala was arrested for regicide.  She finds herself in prison. What is Selvala to do, but trust Grenzo, the dungeon warden.
And so we set the stage to conspire!

A new conspiracy announcement was made!  There are goals now to take the crown. Come to Conspiracy: Take the Crown.

Other tales and characters: 
Daretti: On his home plane of Fiora, Daretti was known as a goblin of uncommon intellect, talent, and ambition. His goal was both simple and audacious: to become a master artificer at the Academy in the High City of Paliano. As he rose through the ranks, the city’s mage elite tittered, then scoffed, then protested. In the end, it was not their plotting but Daretti’s own experiments that proved his downfall.

One of Daretti’s famed creations exploded, apparently killing him. In reality, the shock ignited Daretti’s latent Planeswalker spark, and he planeswalked to relative safety.
His legs were gone, but he was alive—and now had many worlds of knowledge and artifice to explore. He built himself an elaborate cogwork conveyance and continued his experiments in artifice, both on Fiora and beyond. 

Dack Fayden: Dack grew up on Fiora, in a small town: Drakeston.  While he was away on thieving adventures, a planeswalker named Sifa Grent came to Drakeston with an army of vampires and wiped out the entire population.  This began the comic story saga, with Dack hunting after Sifa.  He has rarely returned to Fiora in the comics. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Vorthos Guide to Innistrad

art by James Paick, (c) Wizards of the Coast

We saw many questions about the story/flavor behind the cards, well, here's everything compiled!

Welcome to the new site for the complete collection of all the stories for the Innistrad block, and stories relating to the plane.  For those that don't know, Innistrad is a Gothic horror setting of a world, one with werewolves, zombies, ghosts, vampires, and humans.  Dread is at every corner, and the moon rules all. 

Planeswalkers guides to Innistrad:
Mountain, by James Paick (c) Wizards of the Coast
Introduction to Innistrad

Gavony and Humans

Kessig and

Nephalia and the Undead

Stensia and Vampires

Set up for the Dark Ascension

Planeswalker's guide to Avacyn Restored:
Avacyn Restored: Angels (part 1)

Avacyn Restored: Humans (part 2)


Swamp by James Paick (c) Wizards of the Coast

Innistrad's trailer

 Dark Ascension's Trailer

Avacyn Restored Trailer

Lore and Planeswalkers:This section covers the lore of the Innistrad card set block, from the rise of the monsters to the dark ascension, to Garruk hunting down Liliana to remove his curse, to the fight between Liliana and Thalia, and the release of Avacyn!

The Dark Ascension

Art by Ryan Yee, (c) Wizards of the Coast
Liliana’s Mission  Liliana solves problems, and her latest problem brings her to Innistrad.

Sorin's Homecoming  Sorin returns to the Innistrad he knew, but things have changed. 

Cathars (and Liliana vs. Garruk) Repeated from above, this article tells the story of the confrontation between Garruk and Liliana. 

The Prison of Silver 
Here is the tale of the Helvault, and how Avacyn began collecting Demons to be trapped inside- and what became of her final attempt at it. 

The Church’s response  Mikeaus, the Lunarch of the Church of Avacyn, makes a hard decision on what to do, having seen Avacyn defeated and imprisoned in the Helvault.

The Fall of Mikeaus (Gisa vs. Geralf)  Gisa and Geralf are having a war of zombie-calling, and decide to take the fight directly to Innistrad's greatest city, Thraben. 

The Guardian, the Witch and the Angel  The fight between Liliana and Thalia, in front of the Helvault.

Avacyn Returns and Griselbrand’s Release This story covers how Avacyn and Griselbrand are released.  Liliana faces off with Thalia, to break the Helvault.

Stories from 2013:

Odric, master Tactician, and the fate of Garruk (part 1) Odric encounders a planeswalker. 

Sorin, while cleaning up Innistrad, has come across Tibalt, and the duel begins!

Stories from 2014:
Garruk awakens from his curse
(part 2).  What is not described in the lore anywhere is the plotline of the Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015 version.  In the game, you follow Garruk's murders and hunts of other planeswalkers, eventually meeting Jace, who removes the sealing hedron from Ob Nixilus (on Zendikar), to implant it into Garruk (on Shandalar), stifling the curse from the Chain Veil.  Garruk, thereafter, sees himself as a monster.   Ob Nixilus, begins his journey to reignite his spark. 

Vronos, Planeswalker Cathar
Vronos, and Avacyn's mission  Avacyn sends one of her best Cathars after the cursed Garruk. 

Avacyn, restored, is cleaning up her areas, and asks a Cathar, Dovid, to help restore part of a loft. 

2016: The Shadows gather over Innistrad. See the new blog post!

The "world of" Articles:

The Plane of Innistrad, a quick comprehensive look-in for the world and its denizen.

Archived:  The world of Innistrad articles.

Stories: (Individual lore set on Innistrad)

The Journal of Raben, Cathar. Image of the "Bloodletter"
The Cursed Blade: Raben, the AR Game, and the Bloodletter
(AR game explained)

Death Trap  A story set in Innistrad. 

The Tale of Saint Traft

The Fall of Mikeaus (Gisa vs. Geralf)

Post Cards from Innistrad (part 1)

Post cards from Innistrad (part 2)

Worldbuilding descriptions of Dark Ascension:

The darkness rises against the humans, in Dark Ascension. 

Sorin Markov returning to Innistrad.

Specific points of plotline in Avacyn Restored:
Thalia vs. Liliana and the Helvault  This (at the bottom) article tells the tale of Thalia facing off against Liliana, and why Liliana wants to see the Helvault destroyed.

Tamiyo the Moon Sage Tamiyo's Biography, and what she's doing on Innistrad.

Tibalt the Fiend blooded  Tibalt's biography, a native of Innistrad.

Other random clips and look ins:

The Champion of the Parish  A side tale.

Inboxing Day: Dark Ascension- some explanations of faith and angels.

Character Blurbs from supplementary sets and releases:
"Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge – Commander (2013 Edition).  Back before Avacyn was restored (yay Avacyn!), the good folk of Nephalia often served as lunch for the not-so-good folk of Nephalia. Even today, after the Helvault was opened, Jeleva remains a constant threat to the province."

From the 10 commanders tales:  The name of Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge, invokes terror in Innistrad. Known to play cruel games of cat and mouse, she preys on her victims' minds before devouring their blood. She spends her days sequestered in an opulent mansion in Nephalia, but by night, her merciless predations know no bounds. No one's throat is safe from Jeleva, but it's the minds of archmages that she truly craves. She targets the most renowned personalities of Innistrad, intent on stealing their knowledge for herself. The powerful Church of Avacyn has put a price on her head, and monster hunters from across Innistrad track her through the dark province of Nephalia. Jeleva welcomes them. She likes the blood of monster hunters, and will happily steal their minds as spoils in her private war against the Church.

2013: Dack Fayden visited Innistrad in his chase after the planeswalker, Sifa Grent.  She was controlling vampires with a dagger artifact known as the "Ancient Fang", which Dack found on Ravnica.  After saving some townsfolk and Cathars (Ingrid) from Vampires, they help him track down Sifa's base, but she had just left.  The vampires are horrified to find that Dack brought the dagger, and Sifa takes Hermann, the Cathar Ingrid's father, hostage along with the entire town using zombies.  In the ensuing battle between Dack and Sifa, Dack summons a Sturmgeist to defeat the zombie, saving most of the townsfolk, but Sifa escapes.  Tracking her off world, Dack eventually loses the trail, and returns to Innistrad.  Meeting with Hermann and Ingrid, Dack gets some clues as to a "Malfegor" and is about to tell them about planeswalkers, but the two Innistrad natives are suddenly frozen- by Sorin Markov.  Sorin demands the Ancient Fang from Dack, in exchange for sparing Ingrid and Hermann, but also gives Dack the location of Sifa's homeworld, Grixis. 

Updated 7/6/16- Links and cleanup.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Better things, and oysters

So about 6 years ago, I started getting into oysters.  Many people (landlubbers!) will think that shellfish are gross, slimy, and odd animals to eat.  And while one of those things is true (the slimy!), there's a huge movement going on right now of people enjoying oysters.

What is an oyster, and why are people excited about it? 

Oysters are bivalve (two-shells) molluscs, like snails or octopus, that attach themselves to a surface and filter feed algae from the water.   They're like grazers of the sea, except instead of moving around, the food floats by them.

Because oysters are filter feeders, sometimes their flavor changes by the location they're grown, which means you can sample different and interesting tasting oysters depending on where they came from.  This is part of the excitement of oysters right now. 

(Side note- This can also mean that if the farmer isn't careful, the oyster could also make you sick. Always ask where your oysters come from, and check your local health reports.)

These are the basics.  There's so much more to talk about!

Oysters for markets, flavor, and economies

Now oysters are growing in the food industry, which means you'll likely start seeing more places have them on their menu.  Getting a dozen oysters as an appetizer may be more than likely at a future gathering of yours.  

So why are oysters also exciting in the market place?  Well, you can support local farms, depending on where you're at.  Along both the US East and West coasts, there's plenty of farms growing oysters and other shellfish, and they're also just as excited about their varieties and types of shellfish that they can bring to the table!

As I mentioned above in the intro, oyster sometimes get different flavors from their individual bays, sea beds, and river mouths where they grow.  A Hamas Hamas will taste far different from a Olympia, or from a Kumamoto.  There are some amazing guides to oysters out there, on flavor, style, and location.

As for economy, oysters, if you can find out where they're from, support local farmers a lot of the time.  Oysters grown here in America adds to our local economies, jobcols, and eogical maintenance in terms of keeping bays clean from toxic substances which could harm people, fish, and oysters!  Oysters also accumulate calcium carbonate from the water, reducing CO2 in our oceans.  Their shells also make great homes for other ocean critters. 

A quick guide for oysters; the basics:

So there are varieties upon varieties of oysters.   Let's get started on some of the basics.

Most oysters people eat are among only a few species, even with the regional and water differences.  This makes things easier, depending on where you live and where your oysters came from.

Crassostrea gigas - The Pacific Oyster
The Pacific oyster originally came from Japan, and it's often larger than other oysters.  That "gigas" in its name is similar to "gigantic".  It's widely grown on the west coast, and its popular to be eaten raw or made into stews and chowders- often due to their size.  Most pacific oysters are eaten while they're smaller, raw.  A full grown one can be over 6 inches long! 

Crassostrea virginica - The Eastern Oyster
The Eastern oyster is one that's mostly grown, well, on the East coast.  The tastes for these oysters is more varied by the area where they grow leading to a terroir style of taste interest.  The shell is more uniform in shape than other oyster species- it's a lot flatter than the Pacific oyster.  People eat these raw or cooked, depending on size.

Crassostrea sikamea - The Kumamoto Oyster
The Kumamoto oyster is a small oyster originating from Japan.  Their flavor and size has drawn the musings in tastebuds across America, making it extremely popular.  This species of oyster is very small, but has a sweeter, mild flavor.  This is the oyster species that will make an oyster fan out of you!

Ostrea lurida - The Olympia Oyster
The Olympia oyster is the native oyster growing around the Pacific Northwest coastline; it's grown in small quantities by a few companies.  Very small, this oyster doesn't get much larger than a small chicken egg, but the scarcity and flavor of the oyster can make it a nice treat for people trying oysters for the first time. 

Ostrea edulis - The European Flat Oyster
This is the oyster mostly grown in Europe on the Atlantic coast.  People often favor this oyster for its taste- the salty, lingering taste can remain with you even after you've enjoyed your meal.  Lots of people enjoy this oyster raw, without any extra seasonings. 

As said, these are just a sampling of oyster types, but certainly the most commonly found at your local oyster bar.  Happy eating! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Want Not, Waste Not

It's a phrase I've been considering and trying to measure with my life for a few years now:
"Want Not, Waste Not."

"Wait!" you cry, "that's backwards! The phrase goes: Waste not, want not!".

Before you jump to that conclusion, consider that the phrase is not just backwards, but a different philosophy entirely.

When you argue for less waste, the idiom goes to the idea that you will have saved more, and not be hurting in the long run. But what if you lived your life differently? We're in the 21st century, and most of media, advertising, and entertainment are filled with adds to increase things you want, to buy, to need- but in reality, to only fulfill that first one: To Want.

Quick notice here: I don't mean that you shouldn't enjoy yourself in life. We all need things, and food, friends, and things to make our lives better shouldn't be excluded by any means. Just hear me out.

To want is where we may be going overboard in life. Do we need the newest music, or TV show? Do we need to own that movie on Bluray, with a 50 inch HD TV, with our fully stocked liquor cabinet, and ford F150, and...and...and... Or do we only want it? Measuring not what advertisers say we Need, and gauging what we actually want, may be what many of us aren't looking at right now. If we can measure what things and enjoyments we actually want, and bring that a little bit, even, to what we need, then perhaps we will realize too, that we're wasting a little less.

We may be wasting a little less of our "hard-earned income", or wasting a little less time browsing the internet and spending a little more time with what we actually care about.

Admittedly, this is a simple thing to say, but also not as simple in practice, especially considering the vast population and culture differences all over the world.  But someone said another lifestyle quotation to me lately, which I feel fits in well here in order to balance things out. 

"If you're not happy with where you live or the car you drive, you'll never be happy."

So this isn't to mean with "want not, waste not" that you shouldn't strive to be happy.  But there are many things in life that we want, that we really don't need.  And reducing that use can save us a little money and resources here and there, but also produce a bit less waste in the world.