Newbie Reaction to INSL Pyramid

                While doing some research I ran across the following description of a Newbie’s personal experience of seeing the INSL pyramid in the Grand Plaza of Ada-Kar for the first time.  I found it particularly poignant in that it is similar to so many other people’s reaction.  I have lived here all my life and I still am awed by the pyramid.  I often enjoy watching the reactions of people when they see it.  Many of them, I am sure, are thinking exactly what Olivia Dollarhyde thought as she describes below.  Here, republished by permission of the author, is her reaction.

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                Though I caught glimpses of the INSL pyramid as I approached it, and wondered at its size and splendor even then, the building’s true magnificence only really hit me when I turned the final corner and saw it from across the Grand Plaza.  It is, of course, the sheer size of the mammoth structure that hit me first.  At one hundred stories tall, and with an internal area of over 3.5 million square feet, this is the largest building on Ada-Kar. 

                The blue ray of light shooting from the top of the pyramid can be seen even in the daytime.  At night this incredibly bright beacon illuminates the streets in its strange, electric glow, which shimmers like the aurora borealis.  To me, it looked like the finger of God reaching down from the heavens.

                The sides of the pyramid are reflective glass, which seems to change color as the sun moves across the sky.  On that crisp morning, the windows caught the sun’s rays and the side of the building glistened golden and green, like a calm sea at sunrise.

                Only when I was able to tear my eyes from the building itself did the rest of the scene come into view.  I was standing at the edge of the plaza, about half a mile from the great pyramid.  The area between was a huge, open square filled with monuments, fountains, lush landscaping, and people.  Lots of people! 

                They bustle throughout the square like bees in a hive.  People of every possible nationality and time merged together, blending and separating like birds in flight.  Children played tag on the grass as parents watched from nearby park benches.  Humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and aliens from the farthest reaches of space came together in apparent harmony.  Ancient Greeks hailed Zulus, and Alchemists communed with robots, while the pixies plotted pranks from the bushes.

                What confounded me even more was how normal everyone found it.  Everyone but me.  To me the world seems to shift under my feet as layer upon layer of disparate visions clash in my head; a cacophony of sight that threatened to overwhelm me.

                Then, more than ever, I felt the true weight of what being a Newbie in Valhalla really is.  I was in a sea of life, separated from all I once knew, or thought possible.  As the enormity of this thought receded, however, I realized that I somehow felt comforted by it.  All the chains and boundaries of the old world were behind me.  Ahead were possibilities.

Adventurer’s Guild Names “Most Useful Weapon”

                The Adventurer’s Guild recently polled many of its most successful members, past and present, to determine what the single most useful weapon is.  The weapon had to meet several criteria:

  1. Ease of Use
  2. Usefulness in all tech zones
  3. Effectiveness
  4. Cost
  5. Availability

                These criteria quickly cut down a number of potential weapons from the list.  A battle axe might be very effective, for example, but it is not exactly an easy weapon to master.  Similarly, a plasma rifle is an awesome weapon in Megalopolis, but practically useless in the Coalition of City States.  Magical weapons also had to be cut from the list not only because of their ineffectiveness in high tech zones, but also because of their high price tag.

                In the end, the bolt-action Springfield rifle with bayonet won the day. 

               You may not agree with the ultimate decision, but you can’t argue with the logic.  The weapon has been used extensively throughout Valhalla and different models of it are still being manufactured in both the Allied Nations and the Coalition of American States. 

                “This really is a remarkable weapon,” Edgar Stillwell of the Adventurer’s Guild explains.  “Firing a 30.06 round there is enough stopping power there to take down a charging Minotaur.    Since it is a bolt-action weapon it can be used in lower technology areas with minimal disruption.  While someone might not achieve great success in a TL1 area, its rate of fire will increase the odds of an eventual hit.  Even if you can’t score a hit at range, you still have your bayonet to back you up!”

Studies Show Location Trends for Newbies

                A study completed recently by Valhalla University in Ada-Kar shows an interesting new pattern in the emergence of Newbies.  The study took data from all the INSL registered Newbies for the past ten years, tracked the location of those that could be found, and then presented a questionnaire.  It then took this information and cross-indexed it against similar information known about Freebirths.

                As it turns out, the arrival of Newbies is spread more or less evenly over the world.  While there is some disparity among the overall numbers, many of these differences can be mitigated when certain facts are considered.  Those areas that appear to have fewer registered newbies have a greater number of Newbies that cannot be registered, such as unintelligent aliens or lower mythic races. 

                The only nation that has a significantly higher influx of Newbies is Ada-Kar.  In fact, about 23% of all Newbies appear in Ada-Kar.

                85% of the Newbies that arrive outside of Ada-Kar arrive in the Nation closest to their own home world.  The other 15% arrive at seemingly random locations. 

                The study goes on to show that 75% of all Newbies travel extensively.  They also join the Adventurers Guild and/or the Merchants Guild, or both, within three months of coming to Valhalla.  In fact, only about 5% of Newbies seek a sedentary life.

                When compared to Freebirths, these differences become even more stark.  70% of Freebirths never leave the nation in which they are born.  The number of those who travel beyond their borders does proportionally increase with the Tech Level of the individual Nation.  This fact can be explained by the ease of travel in Higher-Tech areas.

                Only 10% of Freebirths ever join the Adventurers Guild.  Of those 10%, nearly 60% are from Ada-Kar.

                The study did not pose possible reasons for this, but the evidence is striking.  Based on a number of conversations I have had with Newbies, I believe that their exit from the “home” world and the shock of coming to Valhalla leaves them a feeling of wonder that draws them into exploration and adventure.  Having no ties, and nothing to “go back to” forces them to find new bonds.  These bonds naturally link to other Newbies, even if they are not from the same root world.  Together they seek fortune, adventure, fame, or whatever else drives them. 

                As one close Newbie friend put it; “Why not?  I already died once.”

Home Buying with Perks

                I am in the market for a new flat, so I have spent a lot of time looking over ads of all sorts.  Most of it is frustrating, but I do enjoy running across some strange things.  Few of them have brought me as much joy as the chateau which includes:

  • 10 Bedrooms
  • 4 Bathrooms
  • Ballroom
  • 7 Fireplaces
  • Twenty foot high security fence
  • Private access to the Naiad River
  • Ten acres (7 wooded and 3 of gardens)
  • Gargoyle
  • Boat House
  • Stables

              Wait a second!  A gargoyle???

              Believing it to be a hoax, I spent a little time researching the subject.  I even took the time to see the property (and the Gargoyle) for myself.  I was not disappointed!  I was amazed to learn that Gargoyles are a feature in many lordly dwellings, particularly in the Imperial Nations and Xa’cor dy Yelpheet. 

              Gargoyles are enchanted statues created by powerful Alchemists.  These beings are sentient, but are tied to a specific location.  They cannot move beyond their boundaries.  While this does inhibit their powers somewhat, it makes them excellent home guardians.  And because they are magically linked to the dwelling and, by extension, to the home’s owner, they are completely loyal and transferrable to the new homebuyer.

               Man, I can’t wait to get a Gargoyle!