The 9th Home and Garden Expo (HGE) in support of Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society, opened its doors to the public on Friday, May 19th. Taking place across nine regions, all called Hope and a number (1 through 9), the event will run through until Sunday June 4th, 2017, offering some of the finest in home, garden, and furnishing designs available across the grid.
With over 100 exhibitors taking part, the event offers something for anyone who is looking for a new home, ideas for furnishing and decor, wishing to improve their building (or other) skills, or who just wishes to keep abreast of the latest building / home trends in Second Life.
With so much to see, it is likely that more than one visit might be required to see all of the designs and gardens – and with the number of exhibitors, pointing to specific creators is a little unfair. However, there are some highlights worth seeing. Two of these are reminders of a past Fantasy Faire – sister event to Home and Garden. One is a design by Alia Baroque, another by Elicio Ember, each of which has wonderful echoes of Fantasy Faire 2015
As well as providing the opportunity to discover the best in housing designs ans itself, there will be a wide range of events going on through the two weeks of HGE, including talks, classes, entertainment, three breedable auctions, a roller coaster However, at the time of writing this article, the event website is conspicuous for its absence of any schedule or significant list of activities, so an eye should be kept on the Home and Garden website for updates.
About the Expo
The Home and Garden Expo raises money for Relay For Life of Second Life (RFL of SL). Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fund-raising event, and RFL of SL is one of its virtual counterparts. You can find more information about RFL of SL at the official website.
Expo exhibitors are required to have two 100% donation items at the Expo. These items must be new and exclusive to the Expo for the duration of the event.
100% of registration fees, sponsorship fees and donation items are paid to Relay For Life of Second Life. 50% of the proceeds from the gachas will be paid to RFL and 100% of the L$10 hunt items.
The 3rd annual Unmasking a Cure Medieval Faire opened its gates on Friday, May 19th, and will run through until Sunday, June 18th, inclusive. Whether you are into medieval role-play or not, the Faire is offering a host of events and activities right throughout the week, with something for just about everyone to try or enjoy – all with the aim of raising funds for RFL of SL.
The event, organised by a dedicated team of Unmasking A Cure RFL Team volunteers, features a wide range of events and activities and a programme of entertainments. There is, for example, the 5th annual UAC Grand Joust, with eight preliminary rounds leading up to the Grand Joust on the final day of the Faire; a Trivi-a-thon on Sunday, June 10th starting at 08:00; and the 2nd annual Relay Run around the event race track on Saturday, June 25th at 19:00 SLT.
This year, the event is taking place across two regions hosting the jousting tilts, gorse racing course, the sword fighting / mêlée amphitheatre, the archery butts, gotya garden, and a traveller’s camp. Some 80 merchants are participating in this year’s event, and on the entertainment front, the ChangHigh Sisters will be performing alongside top names from the SL arena of live performers, and there will be a stable of DJs to keep folk happy throughout the month.
The activities at the faire are open to all to try, while the merchants offer plenty of scope for shopping – including items available with proceeds to RFL of SL. Table games can also be found by those seeking quieter pursuits or a break from shopping.
Period role-plays are especially welcome, and are invited to visit the faire in character and explore the two regions. For those who would like to fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere, there is a limited number of furnished cottages and tents available for rent for L$250 a week or L$1,000 for a month, with proceeds going to RFL of SL.
For full details of the event, please refer to the Unmasking A Cure website.
The official events of Fantasy Faire are all but over. The Djs have played, the artists have performed, stories have been written and told. Memories have been born, friendships renewed or made. As it is with every year, Fantasy Faire 2017 will leave its mark on all who attended it, whether for their first time, their fifth or as someone who has been a part of the magic since its inception.
But while the formal events have now ended, it is not yet time to say farewell to the Fairelands themselves; they will remain with us yet a while – until the end of Thursday, May 4th, in fact. So if you’ve not yet had the time to visit this year’s realms, now is the time to do so.
Every year, Fantasy Faire, perhaps more than any other large-scale event in Second Life, brings forth a set of utterly unique regions. Each of them is as individual and different from the next as chalk is to cheese; yet all of them are bound together in a way than makes them a unified whole. Together they become not just a grouping of regions, they become facets of a place, a world; realms as united as they are different. Exploring them, it is hard not to feel like a traveller or adventurer travelling a route through a mystical place, on a quest which offers something new at every turn.
That’s why each year I try to bring just a flavour of these realms to the pages of this blog, and why I always mark the closing of each year’s Faire with a plea to all of you who have not enjoyed the Fairelands to take a last opportunity to do so. Whether you are a fan of fantasy or not, you are almost certain to find something among them that captures your attention, or calls to you in some way.
This year I found two regions speaking to me particularly clearly: Dawn’s Promise and The Spirit Pool. Admittedly, both regions have been designed by people whose work I greatly admire – but this is not why either of them became one of my two “Songs” of the Fairelands: both are simply exquisite in design and execution – and the they are far from alone. While it may be a little unfair to point to one or two more regions when all have a particular appeal, I’m nevertheless going to do just that in the hopes of encouraging visits.
Kakushi Pasu, the home of the LitFest and the DJ parties during the Faire is first on my list. I so wanted to write a song story for this region, but never managed to get the words to come together. Designed by Lokii Violet, Kakushi Pasu presents a beautifully executed oriental theme. This is more than enough to attract me; but there is something else about the region which held sway over me: a sense of tranquillity. Despite all the comings and goings of the LitFest, the DJ parties, the role-playing activities, Kakushi Pasu speaks to the heart of peace and rest – and now the core activities have drawn to a close, now is the time to discover this for yourself.
To the south and west of Kakushi Pasu, and reached via Egregore lies Anansi. Perhaps one of the most different environments of recent Fantasy Faires, this is a place which brings together so much: fantasy, steampunk, mystery – and menace. Designed by Beq Janus and Polysail, Anansi brings a touch of Ray Bradbury to the Fairelands through the circus-like look and feel to the region, which carries subtle echoes of Something Wicked This Way Comes. It is a place where each of the stores, sitting upon its mechanical legs or held up by great metal dragonflies suspended from the crane arms extending from stores higher up in the landscape, offer the challenge / threat of treat – or perhaps an insect-like stinging trick.
Further south, nestled between Dwarven Chaddul Ro and Halfling haven of the The Hill (both highly appropriate to this year’s Faire, given the Tolkien celebrations which took place this year), sits Ravens Perch. the fabulously atmospheric region designed by Kaelis Ember and lrriven. This is another place of which I should have penned a Song to add to my little series. A marvellous wrapping of Gothic and mystery, there are tales galore to be found here along the rose-choked streets, between the church-like buildings and around the Lady of the Rose. There is also a beautiful place of reflection to be found as well, a place of special remembrance which speaks to all of us who have lost friends or family to cancer.
These then, are the three regions, along with Dawn’s Promise (see The song of Dawn’s Promise) and The Spirit Pool (see The song of the Spirit Pool) which called to me in particular – and for numerous reasons. But again, they are only five of fourteen fabulous regions. So, if you have not had the opportunity to explore them all and listen to their voices, now is the time to do so, before they each pass into the West and beyond our ken.
Fantasy Faire 2017 SLurls (valid until the end of May 4th, 2017)
Since the dawn of the First Age, when the peoples of the world started counting the passage of Time, we have been here. Keepers of the waters; guardians of Life’s Way; shepherds to those seeking rest as their Path leads to the gates of Beyond.
Carved from the living rock above the waters and below the outspread arms of the Goddess, our halls are open to all, from above or below the waves. Like time itself, our waters flow outwards from their beginning in the hills, passing through tunnel and channel as they seeking the Spirit Pool, while the ebb and flow of landfolk and seafolk mark the beat of the citadel’s heart.
To some we are a place of commerce, folded between land and sea. To those seeking Answers or uncertain of their way as their years wane, we are a place of Sanctuary and peace. The waters of the Spirit Pool offer rest and clarity of vision and thought to those who seek either.
As the world turns, so we have seen the rise and fall of many; but while the years fall like leaves from a bough and the ages unfold as the petals of the flower, we remain. These walls, ancient before the world grew old, tire not. Though countless thousands of feet have walked our piers and halls, the stone beneath them does not fade nor wear. Our banners do not fade.
“Timeless” some might call it; but that would infer we have escaped time. But how do you escape something to which you’ve never been held in thrall? We simply Are; and that is why the weary, the lost, the lingering souls caught between one realm and the next, find their way to us.
Beneath the Goddess’ outstretched arms, within the shade of covered terraces and walks, guided by the lanterns held aloft by the Handmaidens of the Pool or within the waters of the Pool itself, all who are uncertain, all who seek reset before passing beyond the realm of the physical, are welcome here.
As a trader or traveller coming to this citadel for commerce, you may not see them moving among the people here, but we do. Our promises is to care for them, provide the peace they need so that they may hear their own calling. We do not offer direction; we do not encourage passage one way or the other. Each of those bound by time must make their own choice as to which path they will take.
That is how it always has been, here in the midst of the Spirit Pool, and it is how it always will be. We greet you now as friend and traveller, and offer our halls as a place of trading and meetings. And we will welcome you again, one day, when your spirit is in need of rest and your thoughts in need of focus, when the Spirit Pool calls to you once more.
As anyone who visits the Fantasy Faire Flickr pool will know that among its many achievements, each year’s Faire bring forth an outpouring of creativity through people’s photographs of the Fairelands regions. It’s also not unreasonable to say that fantasy art as a whole is one of the staples of Second Life photography as a whole, such is the popularity of fantasy realms in-world.
It’s therefore fitting that Fantasy Faire embraces this wellspring of individual creativity each year by offering Second Life photographers and artists the opportunity to display their work. In fact, this year fantasy art is doubly celebrated, with not one but two galleries of art to be appreciated.
Both can be found within Opal Flight, the Arts and Entertainment region of the Faire, which sees Haveit Neox and Lilia Artis bring forth a magnificently unique region which is itself a work of art, extending as much below the waves as it does above. The galleries play host to the work of 40 artists, including the likes of noted Fantasy Faire photographers Alisaundra Andel and Caitlin Tobias, as well as a host of names familiar and perhaps new to those who follow Second Life art. You can find the full list of artists, with links to their Flickr streams on the Fantasy Faire website, so I won’t repeat them here.
The first of the galleries is presented above the surface of the water on the west side of the region, beautifully hung from the stems and leaves of great white gallery plants. A path of floating leaves offers the way to them, but such is the scale of the gallery space – and if you have the luxury – I would suggest flycamming to view the art more completely. Follow the path around to the end of the art display, and it will lead you onwards and beneath the waves to the underwater part of the region.
The second of the galleries can be found underwater within a coral rotunda at the centre of the region, which if teleported to directly can also act as a gateway to the undersea environment Haveit and Lila have created; an environment I thoroughly recommend visiting.
The art displayed within the galleries offers a broad mix of style, narrative – something regular readers of my blog will know attracts me – emotion, power and sense of fun. The names of the artists are not directly displayed, but provided you are within whisper – I think – range of an image, touching it will cause the title and artist’s name to be displayed in local chat. I have no idea of the criteria used to select the images, but the number of images displayed by any artist seems to vary between one and two pieces.
On a personal note, and through both of my visits to the galleries, I did find myself feeling that the this exhibition is a little one-sided, with the onus very much on avatar studies. But over the years, Fantasy Faire has produced some fabulous realms over the years, many of which have been the subject of photographs and art. So having a few of these recalled among the preponderance of avatar sets would not have been amiss, and might have further broadened the depth (and possibly the appeal) of the exhibition.
Nevertheless, given how easily an art exhibition can be overlooked with so much else occurring at Fantasy Faire, I do very much recommend that anyone who enjoys Second Life art and photography stop by Opal Flight and visit the galleries. And as noted, while doing so, they take the time to explore the region as a whole. It truly is a delight.
This year, Fantasy Faire once again presents the hunt in an expanded, story-based quest in which visitors to the Fairelands are invited to participate. In previous years, a call has gone to Heroes and Heroines to come to the Bard Queen and assist her in righting wrongs. But this year, it is the Bard Queen herself who has seemingly vanished – and that could be very bad news for the Fairelands!
Watch the trailer to find out more!
So – if you’re ready to be the Hero or Heroine – here’s a quick run-down of what to do and what to expect.
A Quick Overview
There are in fact two quests available – the The Bard Queen’s Song, which forms a multi-part adventure, and a treasure hunt.
The Bard Queen’s Song is multi-part, HUD-driven story you can complete in one go, or complete in stages; it is an Experience based activity, so all your progress is automatically saved, even if you remove your HUD. These notes are about this quest.
The treasure hunt involves seeking the treasure chests hidden in each of the Fairelands involved in the hunt (one per region) and touching them to claim your prize. The hunt can be completed before, after or during your progress through The Bard Queen’s Song, or without ever engaging on the main Quest.
First off, you’ll need the Quest HUD. This can be obtained from the kiosks at any of the Faireland realms landing points. Two versions are available:
L$250 – provides you with the quest HUD and tools to get you going
L$350 – provides you with the quest HUD and tools to get you going and male and female costumes so you can be more in character – and it will help you recognise other Adventurers, so you can help and support one another!
When you have purchased your HUD package and unpack it.
IMPORTANT: if you purchase the Deluxe HUD package you must REZ it to unpack it do not wear it to unpack, as doing so will cause the gift card to be lost.
When you have unpacked the package, wear both the HUD and the Farion NPC (which will sit on your shoulder, but be invisible – it will appear once you have met Farion on the Quest.
As noted above, The Bard Queen’s Song is Experience based. This means that if this is your very first Fantasy Faire Quest, or if you revoked the Fantasy Faire Experience from 2016, you must accept the Experience via ta dialogue similar to the one shown on the right (note that as I never revoked the Fantasy Faire Experience, the image on the right refers to the 2016 Quest – the dialogue box you see will reference The Bard Queen’s Song).
It is essential you accept the Experience by clicking Yes, otherwise it will not work.
If you have previously participated in the 2016 Fantasy Faire Quest and did not subsequently revoke the Experience, you will be automatically accepted into The Bard Queen’s Song without this dialogue appearing.
As with most HUD-based activities, the HUD tracks your progress, provides hints, provides access to various options and displays information pertinent to your progress, such as the scrolls shown below.
The following options are available on the HUD:
Teleport – displays the clickable teleport list (shown above right)
Sponsors – displays a list of Quest sponsors’ logos
Help – provides a note card on using the HUD
History – displays dialogue box allowing you to replay the videos (“cutscenes”) which introduce the various parts of the Quest or obtain note cards (“logs”) introducing the various parts of the Quest
Lists – displays a list of the Fairelands containing a treasure chest if you’re on the treasure hunt (shown above left). Regions where you have found a chest are greyed-out (as with Mudrana)
Setup – offers you a number of settings:
SAVE – saves your progress to date in the Quest (which should happen automatically)
RELOAD – reloads your progress to data if required – this is sometimes necessary if you crash for any reason while on the Quest
RESET – completely resets your status in the Quest, allowing you to start over from the beginning, if you want. Use this option with care, as all your current progress will be lost!
Make sure you wear the Farion NPC – it will not be visible until you’ve completed your fist task (finding him!) – but one visible, you can touch him at any time for additional clues – some of which will be vital for progress without frustration. Should he turn transparent for any reason, just touch him again to pop him back into view.