"The Unexpected Party" was the fourteenth of the FK Wars. It ran from Sunday January 13, 2013 through Monday January 28, 2013.
Other war-related sites:
Early in December, flyers begin to show up in the hometowns of Forever Knight fans. On the flyers are three runic symbols. Some days later, the same three symbols that were on the flyers appear carved in the snow outside CERK, laid out in flagstones outside Vachon's church, and spray painted on the water tower above Nick's loft.
On coming to Toronto, fans in the different factions quickly learn that several of the characters received odd Christmas presents. Natalie, Tracy, and Schanke had each received a wooden gift box containing a bottle of "private reserve" wine from Point Pelee Estates; and Nick, LaCroix, Janette, and Vachon had each received a copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's book, The Hobbit.
There is a mystery afoot. Can the fans figure it out before it's too late?
The factions officially playing in War 14 were the Cousins, Mercenaries, Nick & Nat Pack, Die-Hards, Knighties, Vaqueras, Ravenettes, Perks, and RatPackers. There was also one independent player.
- Mercenary Guild:
- Nick and NatPackers (NNP):
- Member: Libby Smith
- Member: Alexander Braun
- Members: Anne Jensen
In all, there were 40 people who signed up to play in War 14, not counting the War Mistress. Collectively, there were 161 story posts, including those made by the War Mistress.
Having said that, not all participants were equally active. It is true that posts were authored or co-authored by 31 different faction members plus the War Mistress. However, 9 people only authored (or co-authored) one post, and another 8 people co/authored either two or three posts. The bulk of the writing was therefore done by 14 people, including the War Mistress.
The Cousins had three of these "active" writers (Cousin Tok, Arletta, and Cousin Shelley), while there were two in both the Knighties (Brooksie and Knightie Nat) and Vaqueras (Teri and Naia Zifu). Not surprisingly, therefore, these factions all played a prominent role in the war. The other "active" writers were in the Die-Hards (Greer Watson), NNP (Susan B.), Ravenettes (Alexander Braun), and Mercs (Laura Davies), plus the one Independent (Bonnie) and the War Mistress. Neither the Rat-Pack nor the Perks had a player able to devote the necessary time to write with this level of frequency; and, as a result, those factions inevitably played a minor role in War 14.
No specific rules were posted for War 14, barring a description of the puzzle to be solved.
Management of CharactersEdit
There were no rules regarding the management of characters: factions were free to write them as they chose. As usual, though, the Knighties wrote about Nick, the Cousins about LaCroix, the NNP about Natalie, the Ravenettes about Janette, and the Vaqueras about Vachon (as well as mentioning Urs and the Inca in at least one post).
Some factions either didn't play or made few posts; and it should be noted that Schanke, Tracy, Screed, and Feliks Twist were all employed by various factions.
Calendar of War EventsEdit
This calendar lists major events officially scheduled during the War.
- January 13 - FK fans begin arriving in Toronto.
- January 20 - the Knighties hold a potluck dinner to which the other factions are invited
- January 23–24 - small white envelopes containing the final riddles are delivered to each of the factions
- January 26 - a party is thrown honouring the De Brabant Foundation's 70th Anniversary
Resources During the WarEdit
The War Mistress did not prepare a website to serve as a hub and archive. Instead, she established a Twitter account, and employed the wiki article on War 14 as a place for players to go to see the progress of war. (Since this use left the article less than encyclopedic in nature, it has now been renamed "FKWar 14 - War Mistress's Updates", and the present article created.)
To decorate the Twitter page, the War Mistress selected a large image of the map in The Hobbit to serve as the background graphic. Although only seven people actually subscribed to the Twitter account during the war, there were others who did check it at least occasionally. The War Mistress updated it fairly frequently.
Wiki Article on War 14Edit
Almost as soon as war began, the War Mistress realized that few fans were subscribing to her Twitter account, and turned instead to posting updates on the Forever Knight Wiki, where a page had been created in anticipation of the upcoming war. Strictly speaking, this was not a proper use for the wiki, which is supposed to serve as an encyclopedia. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the players, it was in many ways an acceptable substitute for a war site.
Within the first couple of days of war, a section had been added to the article listing all the factions and players (though not their contact information). From 14 January, the War Mistress also began posting daily updates to the "Highlights" section of the article. Though she only briefly listed a few of the events from each day's posts, it was convenient for those who found it difficult to keep up. (However, it should be noted that, as the war progressed, earlier entries were often modified; so the revision history of the article records numerous versions, especially for the "Highlights" section. To see this, click on the "History" tab at the top of the page.)
The War Mistress also added regularly to the "Quotes" sections of the wiki article. Among the excerpts she included were some that had been suggested to her by players.
In addition, by the second week of the war, the War Mistress took to providing information in the Resources section of the site, particularly the longer clues. This enabled people to find all of the information in one place rather than having to scour through all of the individual war posts.
- A list of all war posts can be found in the article FKWar 14: List of War Posts.
Prelude to WarEdit
Before the war proper begins, Janette comes to the CERK building, where she finds LaCroix reading the copy of The Hobbit that he (like she) had mysteriously received as a Christmas present. She informs him that someone has carved three shapes into the snow outside; and they both infer from these strange events that War must be in the offing. For now, though, they set that aside for the future, since their immediate intention is to attend a party at Feliks Twist's house. At much the same time, Tracy visits Vachon's church, sure that he is the one who sent her an unexpected bottle of Point Pelee wine for Christmas, though he denies it. Vachon shows her a flyer that he had picked up in Chicago, on which are three runes; and Screed recognizes these as the shapes in which flagstones have been laid out in the church parking lot. One of the shapes resembles a diamond; and Screed promptly decides that it might mean that diamonds are to be found, and starts to dig a large hole to look for them. Meanwhile, Natalie (who has also received wine) and Nick (who has also received The Hobbit) discover runes painted on the water tower at the loft.
Sunday to Tuesday (13–15 January)Edit
The first couple of days of war are primarily taken up with players' journeys to Toronto. What is perhaps most notable is the relatively small number of people who choose to come: there are only a handful of Die-Hards, NNPackers, and Mercs, rattling round in their respective HQs; only one Ravenette; and no members of the DP/Perks or UF, both factions that had been active in the recent past. (In the end, one of the former does take a small part in the war, but from afar.)
All players are summoned by the receipt of one or more flyers marked with three large runes; and the Knighties, Cousins, and Vaqueras learn of the runic graffiti at the loft, CERK, and church on their arrival. Furthermore, Lacroix informs the Cousins that he saw similar markings outside Feliks Twist's house, scrawled on the sidewalk. Realizing that these runes are the key to the War, many players set to work trying to decipher them. Although identifying the runes themselves (teiwaz, dagaz, and inguz) is straightforward, the multitude of possible interpretations is daunting. Each faction comes up with different possible meanings, none of which gets them further forward solving the puzzle. However, some players do drive around Toronto looking at the homes and businesses of other characters and factions: they discover runes in a number of places associated with additional characters.
Only on Tuesday do the NNP discover a second clue, when Natalie comes round to the theatre and tells them about the copy of The Hobbit that Nick received for Christmas, and her own bottle of wine. When they examine the bottle, they see its label:
- Point Pelee Estates
lot # 0126-2100
A finite number of these ever existed.
Fewer still remain today.
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good knight.
- Point Pelee Estates
Puzzled over the identity of "Ludum Geratur", they nevertheless decide that this must encode a clue.
Meanwhile, some of the factions have their own internal matters to deal with.
Vaqueras: One of the Vaqueras, Teri, has primarily come to Toronto to honour the memory of her horse, Sizzlin', who had been part of three earlier wars but recently died. The others join her in a ceremony in which his bridle is hung up in the church. After that, Teri decides to stay on for the war.
Cousins: The Cousins have to cope with a new receptionist, Tammy, whose poor hearing mangles everything they say to her. Meanwhile, one player, MB, is brought to Toronto through a mysterious black disc that floats through his kitchen ("[T]he edge of the object bumped into him and SWOOSH he found himself falling into a long dark tunnel. An unknown amount of time later, he blinked at the bright sunlight and found himself sitting on the floor of a large reception area [...].") and deposits him at CERK. Having no idea where the black disc has taken him, he proceeds to make himself useful, helping the new chef in the kitchen—except that, every so often over the next few days, another disc appears and temporarily takes him home.
Independent: The Independent player, being unaffiliated with any of the factions, has no place to stay in Toronto. She wanders the streets, getting riper and riper, since she also lacks access to a shower.
Wednesday to Thursday (16–17 January)Edit
Although other factions may know about the gifts, they do not, as yet, know what particular significance they may have. As a result, frustration grows; and members fill in the time as best they may—cleaning their HQs, encountering FK characters, shopping, listening to music, and driving round town.
However, on Wednesday, the NNP discover that Schanke also got a bottle of wine for Christmas. Though they are having trouble figuring out the meaning of the label on the bottles, they suspect that its poem refers to the dwindling number of fans. Meanwhile, one of the Die-Hards decides to find out whether, in the absence of Perks, Tracy is willing to talk to someone from a neutral faction. She produces her own gift bottle of wine; and they figure out that the label may encode a date and time: January 26, 9 p.m. Unlike the NNP, the Die-Hards recognize "Ludum Geratur" to be Latin for "The game's afoot", and hence a reference to the War. Like the NNP, they interpret the poem on the label to refer to the decline of FK fandom. Paranoia is starting to develop in other factions as well: in the words of the Knightie leader, Brooksie, "This is the swan song of Wars and we are all to meet at the Pelee Winery Pavilion at the end of the War, get drunk, and then go home. Period. End of story. End of Forever Knight."
Nevertheless, unbeknownst to them, the plot is thickening. The one Independent in the War, Bonnie, runs into a mysterious (but polite) man on the street who hands her a CD. This proves to be a collection of cover songs played by a local band named Smoke & Fog. Then she spots a poster for an upcoming concert of theirs:
- Smoke & Fog
live @ Instagramme
Saturday 20 January 9:00pm
*Plus 1 with this flyer*
- Smoke & Fog
She immediately recognizes "Instagramme" to be the name of a new club that has taken over the building that had once housed Paparazzi. Some of the other factions also play the CD or spot the Smoke & Fog flyer; and Vachon suggests the Vaqueras go to the concert. However, though these fans may suspect that Smoke & Fog will prove to be a clue, in the short run they see them primarily as entertainment.
In the meantime, therefore, bored with the slow progress of War, the Vaqueras decide to spice things up by creating a fake flyer of their own. "A couple hundred copies were made on various bright shades of paper, which were then mailed to the various faction headquarters, placed under other factions' members' windshield wipers, given along with bribes to pizza delivery guys, and just generally placed around town for other factions' members to happen upon." (In the subsequent posts made by other factions, the number of flyers grows exponentially until it seems that the whole of Toronto has been paper-bombed.)
When the other factions get the new flyers, there is much initial excitement at the new clue. Most factions spend time trying to solve the runes. However, some do figure out that it's a fake, and that the Vaqueras are behind it.
The Cousins promptly decide to retaliate. They have their new chef, Alex, make pizzas full of hidden nasty ingredients and rig-up a bottle of Diet Coke so that it will explode when opened. These are delivered to the church. Not only do the Vaqs have a mess to clear up, Teri is injured. However, they are relieved to recall the rule that Wars leave no permanent damage.
Friday to Saturday (18–19 January)Edit
Hoping to discover more clues, the Cousins decide to inspect the copy of The Hobbit that LaCroix had received at Christmas. Finding part of a wine label, they consult the one Ravenette playing in the War, who looks in Janette's copy of The Hobbit, where he also finds a piece of paper. After checking the Point Pelee wine in the Raven's cellar, they decide that this all requires further investigation. In particular, there seem to be lot numbers missing; and they decide to order sample bottles from each of these lots, to be sent directly by Point Pelee Estates to CERK on LaCroix's credit card account.
The Nick and NatPack, on the other hand, are stymied by the individual clues; but, taking them all together, they conclude that they point to a cure for vampirism. They promptly inform the Knighties, who are intrigued by the notion. Deciding that cooperation is the only chance that the fans have to solve the clues, they send out invitations to all the factions to come to a potluck dinner at the loft on Sunday, "so that we can all compare notes on the runes and flyers appearing around Toronto".
More clues are starting to appear. The Knighties come across a flyer for a store named Inflated Ego that sells party supplies:
- Inflated Ego
Balloons & Party Supplies
***Sale On Now***
50% off select items
75% off balloons
(Sale ends January 26)
- Inflated Ego
The NNP also find a coupon, this one for a Chinese restaurant:
- Buy one get 111 free
Chinese food at Buried Treasure Restaurant in Toronto, good only on Saturday, January 26th between 6:05 and 11:23 p.m.
- Buy one get 111 free
Some other factions also find these coupons and flyers. All spot that they mention the same date as the Point Pelee wine label: clearly these are all clues. In the short run, though, the Inflatable Ego flyer simply aids the Knighties in decorating the loft for the upcoming party.
Rat-Pack: Libratsie finally arrives in Toronto. Deciding that the ground where Screed had been digging outside Vachon's church is not going to yield any diamonds, she is tempted to get some Chinese food. Then she realizes that the coupons she has for the Buried Treasure restaurant are only good on January 26. After she and the ratsies leave to go dumpster-diving for their dinner, four list ham(p)sters appear. Exhausted from all the posts that have been made in the war, they fall asleep in her car. (They are later found there by the Vaqueras.)
Sunday (20 January)Edit
Having discussed the clues they have, the Die-Hards conclude that it is possible that there is information not only on the wine labels but also on the gift boxes the bottles came in. Sunday morning, therefore, they contact Tracy to see if she still has her box. However, she had enjoyed a big family Christmas at her grandparents and left the box there.
For all the factions, much of Sunday is taken up by potluck preparations for the Knighties' party, which is well attended, and includes a food fight. After that, though, they all get down to the serious business of sharing clues. The various runes are discussed; the Smoke & Fog CD is played and their concert poster analysed; the Knighties share the Inflatable Ego flyer; the NNP share the coupon for Chinese food; and all agree on the significance of the wine label. Also, all the factions receive the news that the second lot of flyers had actually come from the Vaqueras. As the Knighties conclude afterwards, the party was a success. ("Well, I believe we leveled the playing field a bit. Not that that really matters in a War.")
The Vaqueras return to the church to discover that, in their absence, they have been attacked again. This time, someone has hired a Merc to bomb the place with confetti. It takes them forever to clean it all up, especially since some of it is sticky. To the end of the War they are still finding bits of confetti in odd places. They end with bags of the stuff, but no certainty who had hired the Merc to attack them.
Monday (21 January)Edit
On Sunday night, a mysterious client hires the Mercs to attack the Knighties. (Quietly, they "bricked" up every entrance and exit, including the windows, the roof exit, and the skylights. The sponge bricks were not only glued to each other, but the bottom row was glued down and the edges were glued to the walls of the building.) When Nick gets home from work early Monday morning, he finds that the only way he can enter the loft is through a secret entrance that only he knows about. The Knighties are all still asleep; and he heads for bed, leaving them to recover from the party.
The NNP decide to have wine and cheese for lunch, opening the bottle of Point Pelee wine that Natalie had given them. As they clear up afterwards, they realize that something has been carved on the back panel of the inside of the gift box that the wine had come in. Smashing it open, they stain the wood with the last of the wine to bring up the marks, and find a series of numbers: 06 05 11 12 31 12 15 21 09. However, when they decide to tell the Knighties, they accidentally inform the whole list. As a result, when Tracy tells the Die-Hards that she has got back her own gift box from her grandfather, they know to inspect the interior. A different number is found on the bottom panel, 11 18 27 17 03 21 10 27 09; and Tracy takes the box off to the lab to check whether there are numbers on the other sides as well.
Meanwhile, the Knighties wake up to find themselves imprisoned in the loft. Patiently they take all the fake bricks down, and decide to save them—just in case.
Cousins: MB finally finds time to leave the kitchen and explore the mysterious building to which the black discs have been transporting him. To their mutual surprise, he runs into Arletta, who tells him that he's in Toronto. She identifies the black discs as plot holes just as one swallows up MB and whisks him home again.
Perks: The leader of the Perks finally gets around to checking her phone messages and learns that there's a war on. Although she can't make it to Toronto, she decides to send gifts: coffee, brownies, and smiley stickers. These are FedExed to the DP Mansion with instructions to Mrs Hitchcock, their housekeeper, to deliver an appropriately-sized box of them to each of the factions.
Tuesday (22 January)Edit
On Tuesday, Alex (the lone Ravenette) checks out Janette's copy of The Hobbit for clues, and discovers that it is missing a number of pages. He sends Alma to CERK with a message for the Cousins.
The crate of wine ordered by the Cousins has arrived at CERK. However, as they are about to examine it, they are sidetracked by Alex's message. When they check LaCroix's copy of The Hobbit, they discover that, although most of the missing pages are the same as in Janette's copy, there are some differences: clearly this is significant. As well, they find that one page has the word "where" circled lightly in pencil. They realize that the copies received by Nick and Vachon will also have to be checked—but how? Finally, they decide to send an open letter to all the factions giving everyone the page numbers from both LaCroix's and Janette's copies, and asking for cross-faction coordination so that the problem can be solved.
Alex therefore co-ordinates with the Knighties, who have Nick's copy of The Hobbit. They discover that it is not missing all the same pages as the other copies. As well, it has the word "children" circled.
Other factions also mull over the new clues; but, lacking the gift copies of The Hobbit, they are limited in what they can do.
Wednesday (23 January)Edit
On Wednesday, the factions greet with delight the Care packages of brownies and coffee that have been sent them by the Perks' leader. Curiously, though most factions receive enough for each player to have a package each, the Ravenettes have been sent an enormous number of extra brownies.
Meanwhile, Bonnie (the Independent) decides to visit Schanke to see if he has kept his gift box. As it turns out, after visiting the NNP, he has got interested in the puzzle. As a result, he has already investigated the card that came with the wine and found a message in invisible ink: "Nine o'clock, it's a date. Bring something. Don't be late." However, neither of them can figure out what it means.
Schanke has also inspected his gift box, and discovered a whole series of numbers:
- 17 03 21 11 18 27 07 85 15 - front sliding panel
06 05 11 12 31 12 15 21 09 - back
11 18 27 17 03 21 10 27 09 - bottom
17 03 21 05 01 22 08 11 23 - top
06 05 11 17 03 21 10 27 09 - left side
11 18 27 10 27 09 16 04 20 - right side
- 17 03 21 11 18 27 07 85 15 - front sliding panel
He and Bonnie conclude that it is probably a cipher, with The Hobbit as the key. When she accesses an on-line version of the book, she discovers that each group of three numbers represents chapter, paragraph, and word: the words, in each instance, turn out to be a number. Each series of nine numbers thus turns into a series of three numbers.
The first three numbers that she decodes ("twenty", "one", and "nine") match the ones on the flyer for the Smoke & Fog concert at Instagramme (20 January 9:00pm). Bonnie promptly heads over to the club. Hidden behind a bulletin board, she discovers a manila envelope containing a number of small white envelopes, one addressed to each of the factions playing in the war. That evening, she duly makes the rounds of all the headquarters, making deliveries.
Rat-Pack: Unbeknownst to Bonnie, she is spotted going into Instagramme by Libratsie, who is highly curious and therefore shadows her through all her deliveries. Lingering at the Die-Hard Headquarters in the hope of stealing their envelope and finding out what is going on, she falls asleep inside their museum. When she is discovered the following morning, she is given a tour of the costumes from the show.
Perks: When Mrs Hitchcock delivers brownies to the church, Teri (who is a Thug as well as a Vaquera) realizes that there is, indeed, someone at the DP Headquarters. She therefore goes over there. Inadvertently, though, she triggers an explosion in the jello that fills the basement of the mansion. Fortunately, the other Vaqueras have followed her, and are able to rescue her.
NNP: The NNP devise their own revenge for the Vaqueras' fake flyers: a set of flyers of their own—ostensibly for cleaning products, but featuring Vachon in a "Mr Clean" type pose.
Thursday to Saturday (24–26 January)Edit
The factions do not all notice their envelopes immediately. However, each faction, when the envelope is finally opened, finds inside a piece of paper with a riddle in the form of a two-stanza poem. Once the poems are shared around the factions, everyone concludes that there is going to be a party on Saturday night. The solutions to the riddles are instructions to each faction telling them what they are to provide in the way of food and entertainment.
- The Cousins order dozens of cases of wine from Point Pelee Estates.
- The NNP initially decide the solution to their riddle is "flowers". A day later, they decide it's actually "balloons", which they get from Inflated Ego.
- The Die-Hards, instructed to hire a band (and knowing that this is supposed to be Smoke & Fog), discover the impracticality of hiring a professional band at the last moment, especially when they still haven't figured out where the party is to be held. They therefore hire an amateur high-school band instead.
- The lone Ravenette, Alex, unable to solve his faction's poem, focuses his attention on talking to the Vaqueras about Vachon's copy of The Hobbit.
- The Vaqueras decide the clues are too much bother. ("This has been Waaaaaay too much work for Vaqs," complained someone else. "We're Slackers by nature and by design!") They therefore send both their envelope and Vachon's copy of The Hobbit over to the Raven for Alex to figure out.
- The one Merc on duty simply mails their riddle to the other factions. ("After all, she was there to cause mayhem, not try and solve riddles!") The Mercs then make blondies as their contribution to the festivities, sabotaging the dessert by adding laxatives and peppers. ("None of them liked the idea of being *required* to bring something to a party or give sweets away for free.")
- The Knighties are, by this time, utterly fed up with all the clues; and one of them simply tosses them all into the fire. ("I've had it with this war," Nat said, taking a handful of flyers and coupons containing clues that she had been steadily feeding into the flames, and throwing them on the growing fire. "We've been told what to think, who to talk with, where to meet for days. We've been given clue after clue after clue, until we're all tired and frustrated. None of us is enjoying this war, admit it.") They decide to focus their efforts instead on retaliating for the Merc attack, which they blame on the Cousins. They therefore take a lot of the sponge "bricks" and glue them into the shape of a bust of LaCroix, which they deliver to CERK.
Meanwhile, Schanke tells the NNP about the numbers in the gift box; and they promptly share them with the other factions. Various factions follow Bonnie's lead in deciphering the six series of numbers. However, as they are working independently (and only some of the results are immediately shared), it is Saturday before all the solutions are available to everyone. The final set of numbers ("one", "six", "five"), in combination with the circled words from The Hobbit proves to be the clue to the location of the party.
Cousins: It is revealed (in a post backdated to two months before the war) that one of the black "plot holes" had released several glowing pink rats into the dungeon, all of them female. Another plot hole transported McLisa's pet pink rat, Harold, into the dungeon from his cage in CERK. They have since been breeding. When the Cousinly Kitties, bored because the humans are all busy with runes and riddles, decide to explore the Dungeon, they let the pink rats out.
The solutions to the ciphers and riddles are:
|NUMBER||FIRST SOLVED BY||SOLUTION||INTERPRETATION|
|17 03 21 11 18 27 07 85 15||Bonnie||"twenty", "one", "nine"||numbers found on Smoke & Fog flyer|
|06 05 11 12 31 12 15 21 09||Cousins||"two", "thousand", "thirteen"||2013|
|11 18 27 17 03 21 10 27 09||Cousins||"one", "twenty", "six"||January 26|
|17 03 21 05 01 22 08 11 23||Cousins||"twenty", "one", "hundred"||21:00 hrs or 9:00 PM|
|06 05 11 17 03 21 10 27 09||Cousins||"two", "twenty", "six"||episode number of "Blood Money"|
|11 18 27 10 27 09 16 04 20||Cousins||"one", "six", "five"||street number for the Young People's Theatre|
He rages red in many cases,
Sometimes he blanches white;
But he will never sparkle,
Nor laugh with much delight
You need to spend more of his money -
A dozen bottles will never do.
You must buy your way with cases;
It's your entry fee - it's true.
Solution: bring wine
(implied: several cases of
Point Pelee wine)
Blonde and brunette, he and she —
You like them all; you can’t decide.
Detective, vampire, and M.E. —
You refuse to take a side,
Now you must please them all.
Their sound and range are wide;
So, go quick to book this band —
They’ll be your ticket to get inside.
Solution: book a band
(implied: book Smoke & Fog)
They blocked you in;
You couldn't get out!
Although you did
Both scream and shout.
Don't be klewless,
Just think twice;
You'll need these
To pay the price.
Solution: bring the
fake bricks that were
used to attack them
You are neutral,
Though you attack -
From Cousins to Ravens
To the Nick&NatPack.
From this set you may remember -
Nat ran past all they provide
For birthdays, "I'm sorry", or just parties
As you know, there's no free ride.
Solution: bring flowers
(implied: buy them
at Humber Nurseries)
They lift her up
When she is down;
Lift off the ground.
One bunch, two bunch -
Don't be late!
You'll be pumped
Right through the gate.
Solution: bring balloons
(implied: use the
coupons from Inflated Ego)
You know you like it,
It's what you need.
You'd share it with
Your friends, like Screed!
Grab it! Nab it!
Buy the pound.
Bring it with you
When you come 'round.
Solution: bring cheese
She does not whip,
nor cream the butter;
She does not
She does not eat
sweet baked desserts,
your entry makes.
Solution: bring the brownies
that were provided
by the Perks
He's not lazy;
No, not crazy.
He likes to feed
On things that bleed.
So, now hurry;
Go get that take-out.
This is no crime time
After prime time stake-out.
Solution: buy take-out food
(implied: using the coupons
from the Chinese restaurant)
You're on your own -
How sad for you.
BTW, you stink
Oh my! Pee-yew!
No fairy godmother
Will get you a date,
So make it work
And don't be late.
Solution: get yourself
a dress for the party
The Party (Saturday, 26 January)Edit
Although the fans still have no idea what is supposed to be happening at the party, each faction eventually decides to go along with the instructions—more or less, with occasional modifications. Where the party is being held perplexes some of them well into the day. However, when the celebrations begin, wine has duly been provided by the Cousins, Chinese food by the Vaqueras, blondies by the Mercs, and party decorations by the NNP, while the Ravenettes bring the Perks' extra brownies.
When the fans all arrive, they discover that they are attending a 70th anniversary celebration honouring the De Brabant Foundation—organized by Feliks Twist, compèred by Captain Cohen, and attended by many of the characters and a crowd of dignitaries, as well as the fans. The "bricks" that the Knighties have been told to bring turn out to be party favours. ("Oh, I get it - bricks, foundation - that's clever. Yes, very amusing.")
After Cohen's speech, the party begins. Besides the food, there is dancing in one of the two theatres (with a band that was booked by the Die-Hards), while the other theatre has carnival games and a bouncy inflated castle.
Mind you, some fans are still puzzled. While this all satisfactorily accounts for the riddles on the wine boxes, coupons, labels, and flyers, how do the runes fit in? However, all is revealed when Screed returns to the hole that he had dug in the carpark at Vachon's church, investigates further, and finds a chamber containing a treasure hoard. Just as it all starts to cave in, he escapes with a huge gem (rather resembling the Arkenstone from The Hobbit) and a mysterious clue to a cure.
Sunday to Monday (27–28 January)Edit
With the celebration over, the fans return to their respective faction HQs and, over the next couple of days, say goodbye to one another and head home.
The following is a small selection of memorable quotations from war posts. (More can be found in the Quotes section of the War Mistress's Updates page.)
- Cousin Shelley boarded the plane to Toronto. "Its war!" she whispered excitedly to her seatmate. "War, I say!" The woman squirmed a little and looked uncomfortable. "Are you in the service?" she asked tentatively. — Cousins: "Getting There"
- "Isn't Ludum an olden times pain reliever?" — NNP: "Does That Wine Go With Lamb?"
- "The first runes," said Greer, sitting down. "The Nick and Nat Pack think it has to do with finding a cure for vampirism."
"I'm sure they do," said Don. "And not for the first time," he added. "They're inclined to read that into *everything*, aren't they?..." — Die-Hards: "Pots Of Potluck"
- 1992 was the year Forever Knight came to life, but it was also the year the Pelee Winery Pavilion came to life. One couldn't help but wonder whether it was truly a war for Nick's mortality… or a war for a bumper crop of grapes after a particularly harsh winter. — NNP: "Clueless In The Kitchen"
- "I wanna boing in the castle!" Naia said. — Vaqueras: "To Dream the Impossible Dream"
Behind the ScenesEdit
Much goes on behind the scenes both before and during war. Although some of this discussion and correspondence is private to the factions, there is also much that is open knowledge. War 14 proved contentious, largely because of mistiming, miscommunication, and differing expectations. The following section includes some analysis of the problems and their cause.
Preamble to WarEdit
At the end of War 13 (held 2 to 16 October 2010), the listowners declared that there would certainly be another war, to be held in no more than two years. Indeed, only a year later the first suggestion of war was made by Rebecca Hinson in response to the quietness of the FORKNI-L mailing list. However, the listowners immediately said that it was inappropriate to consider having a war so close to two holidays, American Thanksgiving and Christmas. Instead, it was suggested that the topic be raised in the following year.
War talk began again on list in March; and on 21 March 2012 the listowners called for proposals. Over the next few days there was a fair amount of discussion, both of the best length for the war and the most appropriate date. However, an April war was vetoed by the listowners, both because it would be too soon for the factions to organize but also, again, because of holidays (this time, Easter and Passover). There was then some tentative talk of having war in June; but the discussion quickly petered out.
The subject was raised yet again in the fall; and, on 23 September 2012, McLisa (one of the listowners) officially opened the discussion of war, calling a few days later for prospective premises. In a second post the same day, "War: Back to our roots?", she then added some suggestions:
Almost immediately, as in the previous year, people began to point out the difficulty of scheduling war in the late fall with holidays approaching. Once again, therefore, war was postponed. This time, though, a firm date was set for the following year: War 14 would run from 13 to 28 January 2013.
Three people submitted war premises.
In making their selection, the listowners were guided by their desire to alter the way war had evolved over the years. "I want to try for a less factional approach this time, like the earliest wars," was the way McLisa put it in one rejection letter.
The person who submitted the chosen premise also hoped for change. As she put it:
As is customary, the person who submitted the chosen premise became the War Mistress. She was an experienced player who had already participated in several wars; but she had not previously acted as a war leader.
Preparations for WarEdit
The people who submitted premises were informed of the listowners' choice in early December. From the perspective of the person who was to be war leader, this came as a surprise. She had not expected her premise to be the one picked. Furthermore, she was very busy over Christmas. As a result, she did not have much lead time to devote to her war preparations—particularly, devising the details of the premise. Not having been war leader before, she sought advice from the listowners.
When she asked about the existence of a war leaders' list or loop, she was told that one no longer existed. Nor was she steered towards the war leaders' Yahoo! group, there being uncertainty whether it still existed. As a result, she did not have direct contact with the faction leaders for preliminary organization.
Furthermore, at first, the War Mistress assumed that it was her responsibility to send out a call for permission slips. In fact, this job is normally undertaken by the listowners, who thereby are assured that all the players have, indeed, submitted the slips. McLisa, one of the owners, therefore quickly informed the list that players were to send their permission slips to her, instead. Unfortunately, as a result, the War Mistress was never supplied with a list of participants, and therefore did not know how many people were playing, or even what factions were taking part. Only once war began was she able to work this out, to some degree, from the posts people made, from which she was also able to get contact information for some of the participants.
From the players' perspective, this information had—in previous wars—been made available to them on a war website created by the war leader to serve as an information hub. For War 14, however, the War Mistress chose not to make such a website; nor did she initially inform people that she intended to use Twitter and the Forever Knight Wiki instead. Nevertheless, this did gradually became known in the first few days of war; and a list of participants was belatedly added to the wiki page.
As the War Mistress had participated in wars before, she had a mental image of the way that wars play out. The premise, as she saw it, was never in itself of particular significance, but existed primarily as an excuse for the participants to come to Toronto (or, more accurately, write stories in which their war personae come to Toronto). Her expectation was that, for the most part, the players would spend their time "attacking" other factions and countering the attacks made on them.
For this reason, the War Mistress assumed that her three initial story posts—which introduced runes in three locations (CERK, the loft, and the church), and mentioned Christmas gifts of The Hobbit and Point Pelee wine—would be sufficient to get the ball rolling. "I was waiting for people to go off and do their own thing. But no one did," she later wrote in a private e-mail.
There were, of course, some factions that had their own private plans: the Vaqueras, for example, opened with a memorial ceremony; and the Cousins were evolving a story arc about "plot holes" which culminated in the infestation of CERK with glowing pink rats.
However, most of the factions had not come to War 14 prepared with their own plot ideas. Thus, instead of launching into major story arcs to which the premise itself would be no more than tangential, they approached the war passively. In other words, they assumed that there would be an early attack (by whoever on whomever) to which they would then respond: early attacks had been common in other wars. In the absence of such inter-faction activity, players turned instead to the war premise in search of something to do.
Although the War Mistress's story posts had mentioned Christmas gifts of books and wine, the instructions that she posted focused on the runes. Besides appearing in three locations specifically associated with popular characters, these runes also were printed on flyers that each participant received in their hometown. The runes, in other words, were the call to war. "[W]ill you figure out the mystery before it's too late?" said the instructions; and the players promptly interpreted this to mean that they needed to solve the mystery of the runes on the flyers they had received. The instruction post depicted them; and, with this as guide, the fans therefore set to work to figure out what they might mean.
Unfortunately, this focus on the flyers was not actually quite what the War Mistress had intended. Her final post, "Not With A Bang But A Whimper", made after the end of the war, is something of an apologia. In it, she explains her original plan:
In other words, the War Mistress expected the fans to brisk past the runes on the flyers to focus on the runes at CERK, the loft, and the church. However, since only the runic flyers had been mentioned in their instructions, the fans thought that these were the main clue. Thus, the War Mistress's plans for a treasure-hunt plot were immediately derailed because none of the fans intuited her intentions.
Of course, the factions did not all respond in the same way.
- Some fans went on-line immediately, seeking to identify the runes and find out what they mean. Although each has an equivalent letter in the Latin alphabet, they have acquired a wide range of mystical interpretations. Everyone discovered that teiwaz is T, dagaz is D, and inguz is NG. However, these sounds did not seem to stand for anything in their own right. When it came to the mystical meanings, different factions sourced different interpretations. These, they then tried to combine to form a message. A wide variety of different "solutions" were proffered, some seriously, but others merely tongue-in-cheek.
- Other fans wrote posts in which the three runes were found to have been painted in other places around Toronto, typically associated with other characters. The Cousins were the first to do this, putting runic graffiti on the sidewalk outside Feliks Twist's house. Other factions followed suit, seeing this as a way to fill in time while more assiduous players did the hard work of figuring out what the runes actually meant.
For the War Mistress, this was acutely frustrating:
To encourage the plot to move along, the War Mistress tried to seed information about the runes by directly contacting some of the factions. As she later put it (by e-mail), "I told them: 'This is what the runes mean, please convey that in your post.' But what they wrote was 'maybe the runes mean this? No, that can't be it; let's just sit here longer and ponder more possible interpretations.'/And then they just sat there, ruminating over the runes. Endlessly." In this respect, the lack of a war leader list may have played a part: it meant that there was no way for the factions to be collectively informed officially that a particular interpretation was the correct one. Nor, of course, would any one faction simply take the word of another that their solution was correct: each muddled along on its own, at least at first. (Eventually, out of sheer frustration, the factions began to cooperate in finding solutions to the clues; but that came later.)
As she explains in her apologia, the War Mistress then tried "prodding" the factions to get them look at the runes on the ground. ("I told C.E.R.K. the ice was quickly melting away, to encourage them to see what was on the ground beneath. I even hired a Merc to block up all the doors at the Loft in hopes the Knighties would have to go up on the roof [...].") To her frustration, these hints never produced the desired response. On the contrary, the Knighties assumed—not unreasonably—that the attack on them had been made by one of the other factions (and eventually, erroneously, decided that the Cousins were to blame).
As the War Mistress saw it, she had three options. First, she could simply jettison the war premise entirely. However, the fans did not seem to have evolved any alternative of their own. Second, she could try to come up with a completely new premise. However, the fans seemed fixated on the dregs of the old one. Third, she could expand the original war premise so that it would be sufficient to support a full-scale two weeks of war.
The War Mistress decided on the third option. A mixture of riddles and ciphers was therefore fed to the factions for the rest of the war.
Meanwhile, from the perspective of the players, the war was becoming increasingly frustrating. They had initially assumed that, once the runes were identified, their meaning would be obvious. However, this was not true: the number of possible interpretations seemed limitless. With no external guidance (or at least none that they recognized as such), they found themselves spending the first few days chasing their tails. Indeed, with the war seemingly stalled, several fans began to wonder whether this might even be deliberate: was someone trying to undermine the war, perhaps with the aim of demonstrating that War no longer worked? Was someone even trying to put an end to such group activities?
If this seems paranoid, it needs to be seen in context. Over the previous couple of years activity on the mailing lists had drastically declined. As a result, the effort required of the listowners—and wars, in particular, demand quite a lot of behind-the-scenes time—might have come to be seen as unduly onerous. Attempts were made to contact the listowners to clarify the situation, but proved fruitless. (As it turned out, one of them was very busy in RL, and the other's internet service had unexpectedly been disrupted.)
In all fairness, it should be pointed out that the phrasing of the clue on the wine label was inadvertently suggestive. The War Mistress had indeed intended "A finite number of these ever existed./Fewer still remain today" to refer both to the dwindling numbers of Forever Knight fans and to the small collection of Private Reserve bottles of wine laid down for the final party. However, "Merry Christmas to all/And to all a good knight" had simply been an allusion to the recent holiday (for War 14 was held in January) combined with the usual "K/night" pun. She had no idea that there were some fans who feared that the intention was to say "good-night" to the Wars, and perhaps even to the FORKNI-L list itself.
However daunted, though, the players were not about to give up the game. Collectively, they decided that it behooved them to make the most of what they thought they'd been given. If—having no idea where they were intended to go—they could not move forward, they could at least enrich what they had been given with additional detail.
Some of them therefore spent their time writing up information from Wikipedia in stories in which their war personae researched the runes on the flyers. Others blithely posted tales of tours of Toronto in which they spotted runes in a wide variety of locations associated with other characters from the series, or locations associated with factions that were not participating. However frustrating this might have been to the War Mistress, from the players' perspective it provided story material—something that, to them, was in seriously short supply.
At this point, two factions decided to take things into their own hands. The Vaqueras planned an attack; the Knighties a party. Both of these are time-honoured War activities; and both were greeted with great relief by the other players, who promptly responded.
Unfortunately, by this time, the War Mistress (who had initially hoped for precisely this sort of faction action) had decided that, in its absence, she needed to be more hands-on in her management of the war. She had therefore determined to feed the factions with additional clues: first, with flyers for various businesses with "specials" associated with January 26; second, with a series of number ciphers hidden inside the wine boxes; third, with a code based on The Hobbit; and fourth, with hints and pranks designed to steer people's attention to her original runes, in the hope that players would decide to investigate them more closely.
To achieve this, the War Mistress e-mailed the faction leaders with instructions about writing their stories. For example, the Nick and NatPack were told to write a story in which their war personae examine the wine box that Natalie had received for Christmas and find a series of numbers inside. She did not specify just how the box was to be examined, however, and was therefore appalled when the writers added some excitement to the story by having one of the members smash the box open. She had assumed that they would simply write a story in which their war personae looked at the box and "found" the numbers she had given them, after which the faction would ask her what to do next. At that point, she intended to provide them with further instructions, but only after their story was written.
As the War Mistress provided more and more detailed instructions to the players, they became increasingly frustrated: all their time seemed to be taken up with fulfilling her instructions, limiting their ability to develop their own story lines. Meanwhile, from her perspective, she felt as though she were herding cats.
The War Mistress's eventual decision to use the wiki article as a substitute for a war site did provide the players with considerable useful information as the war progressed. However, perhaps in an attempt to add humour, she wrote some of her updates to the "Highlights" section in a style that seemed to many players to be noticeably subjective (at least in comparison to previous warleaders).
The first intimation that the "Highlights" section was to include more than simply a summary of each day's events came on January 15, when the War Mistress wrote, "Susan B & Karen G are awarded 10 points for their clever deductive skills in their post 'NNP - Deciphering 101.'"
No such "rewards" had been part of any previous war. Fans were perplexed. Did the War Mistress intend a genuine incentive? However, no list was ever posted telling people how many points were to be won for what type of post: the number of points seemed to be arbitrary. Furthermore, not only players were awarded points, but characters also: thus, on 17 January, Schanke was awarded ten points for his deductive abilities in another NNP post, "Donuts With Don". Of course, players soon realized that the "points" were to be taken tongue-in-cheek. However, including points even as a joke seemed to many to be anomalous.
Particularly irritating to the players was the arbitrary way in which, on occasion, the War Mistress then decided to take points away. Thus, on 21 January, she awarded the NNP five points for finding the numbers carved inside Natalie's wine box. However, she simultaneously penalized them ten points for smashing the box in the process. From their perspective, they had simply been following the instructions as given; and, if those instructions had been inadequate or incomplete, it was her fault, not theirs.
Even though no one took these "points" seriously, it was an annoyance to players generally to discover that the War Mistress saw fit to deduct points from any faction simply because some aspect of a story they had written had failed to suit her.
The War Scribes' PerspectiveEdit
For any faction to take active part in a war requires it to have at least one member with the skill and time to write. It is typical of war that a majority of participants take part primarily in behind-the-scenes discussion on faction loops. Indeed, there are always some who want to be in a war but, because of time constraints, are able to do little more than let others write them into stories. During War 14, there were a relatively small total number of players. As a result, there were several factions that at times found themselves with only one active member. Of course, in some cases this situation could be anticipated. (The lone Ravenette, for example, obviously knew that he would be the only person representing his faction.) However, there were other cases where people had originally intended to play a greater role only to be stymied by unanticipated real life events.
Obviously this threw a greater responsibility on those in a position to participate.
What is less obvious is that, since writers normally include other members of their faction in their war posts, this absence of players in real life is not necessarily clear to someone reading a story about their fictional exploits. (Not, at any rate, unless the scribe includes the absence of other faction members as part of the story.) Just who was and was not actually around behind the scenes was often known only to other members of their faction.
This would have consequences as the War Mistress began to direct players to write posts.
In any war, a faction's war scribes need not only to progress their own faction's story arcs, but also respond to other factions' posts. It is a tenet of war that attacks must not be ignored. Similarly, when a party (or other pan-faction activity) takes place, each faction needs to contribute ancillary posts. Midway through War 14, more or less simultaneously, therefore, war scribes had to write posts that described their faction's reaction to receiving a new delivery of flyers (albeit phony ones sent by the Vaqueras) and write posts about their preparations for the Knighties' party (and possibly also about its aftermath). The Vaquera scribes then had, of course, to respond to posts describing various counter-attacks. And, midway through the second week, all factions had to respond to the DP's gift boxes of coffee, brownies, and smileys.
In War 14, however, the war scribes also had to fulfil the War Mistress's instructions. At first, these were not unwelcome: in a stalled war, new clues promise plot developments. By the second week, though, the War Mistress had prepared a battery of instructions just as the factions had decided to embark on their own endeavours.
Thus, for example, the War Mistress decided that players needed to be reminded of Feliks Twist's significance as Nick Knight's financial advisor. She decided to do this through a crossover story involving the Rat-Pack and Die-Hards, in which the one participating Rat-Packer would be given a tour of the Die-Hard Prop Museum during the course of which she would receive an info-dump on Feliks Twist's involvement in the episode "Blood Money". To her dismay, however, it turned out that the lone Rat-Packer was suddenly too busy in RL to write the story. Time was lost, therefore, in passing the assignment to the Die-Hards—who did, indeed, have an active scribe. Nevertheless, although she took on the job, she was not in a position to write it immediately. At that time, she was finishing up her previous assignment from the War Mistress, to find more numerical ciphers inside Tracy's wine box. She then had to write a story responding to the DPs' gift of brownies. Only after that was posted would she be in a position to write the crossover. Yet, even before she had begun to write it, she—like all the other scribes—had already been given yet another assignment: to write about the doggerel riddle that was delivered to her faction in a small white envelope.
Not surprisingly, the small number of active scribes started to feel more than a little put-upon—both by the absence of any relief provided by fellow faction-members, but also by the War Mistress's demands.
Mutiny in the RanksEdit
By the middle of the second week of the War the plethora of seemingly insoluble clues had largely broken down the usual constraints between factions: the Cousins and Ravenettes began to share clues—and even approached the Knighties—in an attempt to pool resources and share analyses. Increasingly, suspicions were being aroused that the final solution would prove to be a party: the various brochures and coupons, in particular, indicated sources for party supplies. The details were another matter. Figuring out the location depended on the combined forces of all the factions that were trying to solve the ciphers and book-based clues.
The doggerel riddles were sent by the War Mistress to the factions on Thursday, 24 January, with instructions that they were to be solved by Saturday. (By that time, everyone had long since figured out that this would be the day of the party.) By comparison with the ciphers, the riddles were absurdly easy. Perhaps insultingly so: certainly, for many people they were the final straw. Some factions wrote posts in which they deliberately chose to ignore the contents of their white envelope or passed their riddle over to the other factions to solve.
By this time, the War Mistress was receiving private e-mails complaining about the way the war was going. The one thing she could hope to salvage was the final party; yet, as the time grew near, even that seemed unlikely.
One thing that the War Mistress consistently failed to take into account was the sheer length of time needed for the scribes to produce their posts, especially since many of them wanted to incorporate her clues in actual stories. Some factions (among them the Die-Hards) had such a back-log that they could not get around to posting their intentions until Saturday. As she feared, though, there were certainly other factions that were, almost to the last minute, still debating whether or not to attend.
Just in advance of the party, the War Mistress updated the Highlights section of the wiki article with the following:
This would later be deleted.
In the end, of course, the factions did all attend the party; and, if they did not all provide exactly what the War Mistress had ordered, their alterations were—in the circumstances—only a petty mutiny.
During her party posts (and the Highlights section of the wiki, as it appeared contemporary with those posts), the War Mistress proferred multiple pseudonyms: "Meg Dawson", "Alice White", and "Rapunzel Shorn(e)". Each in turn was listed on the War 14 wiki page that she was using for updates. However, the first two were almost immediately struck through, and left up in that way for only a short time before being deleted. The final pseudonym remained up for about a week before it, too, was deleted. The War Mistress later explained that the first two pseudonyms were an in-joke related to the television series Leverage, intended to amuse a couple of players whom she knew to be fans of that show. "Rapunzel Shorne", on the other hand, was an attempt to mollify the players by suggesting that the War Mistress's prestige and dignity should be stripped (or shorn) from her.
In the end, the War Mistress deleted all pseudonyms and decided to remain anonymous.
- ↑ Rebecca's suggestion was made in the post "Ahem" made 20 October 2011
- ↑ McLisa's response was made in the post "Admin: NOt yet on war time" made 21 October 2011.
- ↑ McLisa made the first call for war proposals in the post "Admin: Open for WAR proposals" on 21 March 2012.
- ↑ McLisa opened the discussion with the post "Admin: War Talk" made 23 September 2012 , after an abortive war-related joke between a Die-Hard and a Merc (which missed its mark, and caused some consternation on list).
- ↑ The second call for war proposals was made in the post "War: Admin: Need more war premises", made 29 September 2012.
- ↑ McLisa decided firmly on January in the post "War: Admin -- January it is, now date" made 3 October 2012,, with the actual dates (16-28th) determined in the post "War: Admin- Oops, thanks, Steph" made 3 October 2012.
- ↑ Excerpted from e-mail message, "War premise, Thanks, but we're using a different one." Sent by Lisa McDavid to Greer Watson on 8 December 2012.
- ↑ Excerpted from e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 4:13 AM.
- ↑ This information comes from an e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 10:42 PM.
- ↑ This information comes from an e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 10:42 PM.
- ↑ This information comes from an e-mail, "Re: Forever Knight wiki", sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson on 2 February 2013 at 10:42 PM.
- ↑ Excerpted from e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
- ↑ Excerpted from an e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson sent 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
- ↑ Excerpted from an e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson 2 February 2013 4:13 AM.
- ↑ Excerpted from an e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
- ↑ Adapted from an e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson 2 February 2013 11:42 PM.
- ↑ Excerpted from an e-mail sent by the War Mistress to Greer Watson 2 February 2013 4:13 AM.
- ↑ "Compassing the Box"
- ↑ "Brownies on the Doorstep"
- ↑ See the wiki article as it appeared on 26 January 2013 at 19:40.
- ↑ The explanation of the three pseudonyms was supplied by the War Mistress in an e-mail to Greer Watson, dated 2 February 2013.