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Archive for January, 2012

25
Jan

A Resounding Success

   Posted by: Dan    in Burns Night, News

With fewer than thirty tickets sold, the crowd at the Duke of York on Monday night was quieter than we expected it to be when the event was in its initial planning stages just three months ago.
The York Celtic Ensemble playsWe took only half of the entire floor that we had reserved from the Duke to fit the thirty-five of us into comfortable seats.  While we mingled as people streamed in, five students from the York Celtic Ensemble played a selection of fantastic music.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from them at all, but with a high endorsement from Andrew we banked on quality and were pleasantly surprised even so.  They played beautifully and I am hoping we will be hearing from them again in the near future here at the Wayfarers.

As people entered, they were greeted by Andrew at the top of the stairway just inside the Duke’s front doors.  A handbill that explained who we are and what we do was given to them, and included a pair of coupons – one for Flirty Girl Fitness and one for L.A. Fitness – that would provide some free or discounted workout time at each of the facilities to all of our attendees.

The well-donated silent auctionJust inside the door of the beautiful Queen Bess room at the Duke was our silent auction table.  Two pieces of art on canvas, six pieces of jewellery, an autographed series of books, monthly passes at LA Fitness, a ten-class punchcard at Flirty Girl Fitness and a handwritten letter to be sent from Scotland by us while we’re there were amongst our generously-donated auction items.  More than $400 was raised throughout the night from these tables with the help of our fantastic guests.

As the night went on, we all managed to mingle with most of the guests who attended thanks to the smaller crowd.  I was amazed at the diverse attendance, and so happy that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves even if they didn’t seem so sure on seeing the crowd. Dinner orders were taken as the music was wrapping up, and people were ready to eat.

As the music faded around 7:30, I stood up and said some words with the Wayfarers about what our cause is and what inspired it.

We are here today as our own fellowship – our own group of people here to make a difference. My name is Dan. Many of you already know me. I had the idea for the Wayfarers and our Quest one day while walking the immeasurably gruelling twelve kilometers to Paul’s house in early June of last year. “How great would it be,” I asked myself, “if I did more than twice this distance, every day, for weeks on end?

“What if I did it in costume? No – in armour?”
I knew before I’d finished the walk that evening that I wanted to do this – the fire lit in my head was not going to be ignored just because of the clear difficulties I already saw rising on the horizon.

To help me fight those difficulties I went to some heroes of my own.

Dan gives a speech - sorry, everyone!

My favourite part of the night was being able to introduce the Wayfarers.  I didn’t do it perfectly – the speech was far from my best work – but when I call these men my heroes, I am not just using a turn of phrase.  Each and every one of them has been a hero to me in one way or another, without even taking into account this Quest of ours.  This Quest is just taking it to a whole new level.

After I was done saying my piece, we sat down to a feast: people had a choice of Caesar salad, Scotch broth, or mixed greens for an appetizer, which was put down as I finished my speech.  The wait staff, Elaine and Melanie, were unbelievably helpful and on-the-ball despite the crowd; they were some of the best bartenders and bar staff I’ve had the pleasure of working with in any capacity.  The Duke’s kitchens were quick with the food, too: steaming Steak and Stilton pot pies, tenderly battered fish and chips, or rich Bombay chicken curry was brought upstairs on the double and everyone ate before anyone got restless.  I had the pot pie myself and can speak only to its quality – utterly divine – but have heard great things about all of the food that was served.  The brownie or sticky toffee pudding that our guests had the choice of for dessert sealed the deal and made sure that we would keep the Duke in mind for our next event.

Flirty Girl Fitness' gift, complete with boaThe silent auction ended just before 9pm, with the more than 15 items being given out and paid for in short order.  Despite our having the ability to take credit card payments for the items, everyone opted to pay with cash.  It made our job easier at the end of the night calculating our totals, and the promptness with which people handed it to us (and the smiles on their faces when they did so) went a long way to easing any stresses that may have come with running an event like this.

The event was without a doubt a resounding success, and the Wayfarers knew before we left that with it had come a significant new milestone: at the Duke, we hit $10,000 in worldwide donations.  This is a huge number and mind-boggling to all of us, and with it we can see our goal from a bit higher up on the mountain ahead.

We have a number of other great events planned this year, so keep your eyes peeled… but I’d like to leave you with the end of the speech I gave on Monday, as I think it makes a point about all of you that should not go unheard:

Dumbledore’s Army, the Pevensey family and the Fellowship of the Ring have two very important things in common. First, they stood up against something bigger than themselves. They saw wrongdoing, they saw hurt and darkness and pain, and they said “I can do something about that.” Second, they did their epic deeds with the help of hundreds, even thousands of people.

Without those people, none of the heroes we read about now could have found success. Without you, we can’t either.

Thank you, everyone.

The Wayfarers - January 2012

20
Jan

Burns Night 2012: Silent Auction

   Posted by: Dan    in Burns Night

On Monday we will be holding our Burns Night event – three-course meals, live music, a few gifts to each and every ticket holder… and a silent auction!

A number of companies and individuals have generously donated goods for our auction, knowing that they would be going to help us in our goal to hit $100,000 this year.  Look at the things you have a chance to bid on if you attend…

Read the rest of this entry »

18
Jan

Training on Treadmills

   Posted by: Paul    in Training

On January 14th, four of the Wayfarers got together at LA Fitness for a training walk. Dan has a membership at the gym, and they were kind enough to allow the rest of us to go inside on a trial membership.

The goal was for everyone to walk about 27km: an average day on the Quest for the Cure.

The treadmills had a maximum time of 60 minutes per use, so the idea of a small break every hour worked quite well with the equipment we had to use. It was my first time walking an extended period on a treadmill, and turned out to be quite enlightening.

I am a man of numbers, so I used my phone to track the distance I walked every time I got on the treadmill. Our plan was to walk about 5 km/h, in order to attain our goal in 5 hours and 24 minutes of walking.

After a couple kilometres, I could really feel the lactic acid building up in my legs. I could walk 5 km/h, but doing so at such an exact pace was something I had probably never done before. I did my best to ignore the feeling, and before I knew, it was easy to walk again. After the first hour, I was right on pace with 5.02km walked.

I stepped off the treadmill for our 5 minute break, and experienced a very odd dizzying feeling. Walking for an hour without the world moving around you and then stopping led me to feeling like things were moving that were not. I began to walk, and then it felt like the world was moving around me while I wasn’t – though I knew that I was clearly walking. Within the break, the feeling passed, and each time I got off the treadmill as the day passed, the feeling was less and less pronounced.

The second hour, I kept the same pace up. I tried to play a game on my phone while walking, but after a few minutes realized it was more trouble than it was worth. I walked 5.03km. We took a bit of a longer break at this point, and agreed that after the next hour, we would stop for lunch.

About 40 minutes into the third hour, I was growing bored with walking and checked the settings of the treadmill. I found a rolling hills option that changed the elevation of the treadmill as I walked. I turned it on to level 1 just to give it a try and even increased the speed a tiny bit. I walked 5.16km.

Lunch consisted of a Subway Club at the sandwich shop and a break of at least one hour. We returned to the gym with only 12km to go out of our original 27km.

While at lunch I decided that I would continue with the rolling hills, and turned those on for the entirety of the fourth hour, and yet again, slightly increased my speed. I walked 5.34km.

My man for numbers came out in me during that last hour, and I decided that while turning rolling hills on made for a better workout, they wouldn’t increase my total distance walked, which I was tracking. With just one hour and 24 minutes to go, I decided to up my speed instead. During the 5th hour, I walked exactly 6.00km.

I still felt great so with 24 minutes to go, I wanted to push my limits. I set the treadmill for 6.4km/h and periodically brought it up to as high as 8km/h (as fast as I could walk without being forced to jog) and managed to walk another 2.52km.

The total I walked on treadmills that day amounted to 29.07km.

While I was able to do these distances in these times on a treadmill, I do not believe that the Wayfarers will be able to walk at nearly these speeds in the real world. I was surprised that I was never more tired than at the 2-3km mark on my walk and was proud of myself to simply push through that phase. I suffered for my pushing the next day, as my calves were extremely sore. I figured this was a good sign, as my pushing lead to gaining some strength in my legs. I’ll need to gain plenty more in order to be able to walk this distance every day for a month.

As a reminder to those who read this blog, there are still tickets available for Robbie Burns night this coming Monday. Even if you have prior engagement or are coming that day, please pass on the message and let your friends and family know of the event. We are going to have some great items up for auction, and you’ll go home with a full belly and some great parting gifts, while having supported a great cause.

The Wayfarers are looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday!

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12
Jan

Burns Night: Five Answers

   Posted by: Dan    in Burns Night, News

We’ve gotten a few questions of interest over the last few weeks about our Burns Night and today’s the day to answer the top five for the public!

1. How is the money from my ticket sale being used?

Because this event isn’t free (and none of us – sadly! – has yet struck it big in the lottery), the ticket price reflects a 50% donation to the Canadian Cancer Society and 50% covering of costs.  All money used to cover costs are for individuals’ dinners; none of the Wayfarers will benefit financially from any event we run this year, and many of the things we are using for the dinner have been generously donated either by external corporations or by individuals, including the Wayfarers themselves.

2. How will the auction work?

The auction will be performed as a silent auction, with items (and descriptions) laid out on a table.  There will be sheets that will detail what the item is, who provided or sponsored it, the approximate retail value and the minimum bid.  The sheet will also state what the minimum “raise” is.  Bids that do not follow this minimum raise will be disregarded, so please make sure you’re paying attention!

When you make a bid, write down your name, phone number and the bid you would like to make.  We will be asking that you pay for your item on-site, and for this we are able to accept cash, credit card or PayPal, as we are able to make these payments directly to our charity service via tablet PC.  The phone number is only in case you have to leave the event before the auction winners are announced, between 8:30 and 9:00pm.

We have a few great items for the auction and have more coming in over the course of the next week – we’ll be making a post about some of them around this time next week, so keep your eyes peeled!

3.  Why are credit card and debit card payments not acceptable any more for ticket sales?

Because of the fact that we are collecting all of our donations directly to the organization and not looking to hand out tax receipts ourselves, we are not a registered charity (or even an incorporated not-for-profit) – we are just a group of guys trying to do some good.  Unfortunately, that means we don’t have the numbers we need to get a not-for-profit PayPal account, which limits our ability to take card payments online for things we need to use the money for – per question 1, above.

4.  Why are you holding this night on the 23rd instead of on its actual date, the 25th?

This one’s easy – because we all want to be able to celebrate on the 25th in our own way!

No, in all seriousness it’s because Monday night is a good night for the bar – it will cost us less to use the Duke, and that means more money goes to the charity.  And that’s a good thing for everyone!

5.  What sort of entertainment is being provided?

We are lucky to have gotten the York Celtic Ensemble, from York University, to play us in during cocktails and up until dinner starts.  During dinner we will likely be using a recording to give the poor musicians a break!

You will also be “treated” to some quick poetry readings from Robbie Burns’ repertoire as well as (possibly) some other Scottish-themed readings.

If you have any further questions, fire us off an email at burnsnight@wayfarerquest.com and we’ll reply as soon as possible!  And who knows, your question may find its way into our next questions post.

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9
Jan

Interview: Campaign Writer Sean Sinclair

   Posted by: Dan    in D&D

As mentioned before, one of the things we are doing as a group is creating a Dungeons and Dragons adventure to parallel our journey and help people have fun and get involved all at the same time.  Today’s post is an interview with the writer of that “adventure path,” Sean.

1. Why Dungeons and Dragons rather than some other system?

For most of the Wayfarers, Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a game that has been a part of our lives for years. We’ve tried our hands at dozens of different games and systems, but the one thing we always end up playing time and time again is good old workhorse D&D. When the notion of a quintessential adventuring party is brought up, it makes sense to take it in the context of the quintessential gaming system as well, so it’s only natural that the Wayfarers’ characters be a part of that.

We also felt that since D&D is so widely-popular compared to other, more niche systems, this would make the adventure more accessible to the common gamer.

2. What sort of player will this adventure appeal to?

We really wanted to make this adventure feel like ‘classic’ Dungeons and Dragons. What I take that to mean is that the adventure will contain a lot of elements that will remind a player of the first time they ever played Dungeons and Dragons. Over years of gaming, a lot of players and storytellers feel the need to branch out into ever more diverse and strange adventures just to get a sense of something ‘new’ – with this adventure I’m trying to bring things back to the core concepts and ideas that made role-playing fun for the first-time gamer, while putting new twists on common themes to keep those veteran players on their toes while they’re awash in nostalgia. The followers of the Wayfarers have so far come from either end of the spectrum – hardcore gamer to non-gamer – and I’m hoping that the adventure will be able to reflect that in its appeal to new players and veterans alike.

3. What sort of adventures do you enjoy? How are you bringing that to this one?

My favourite stories in gaming have always been those that involved a sense of discovery, a true adventure. While I respect a good hack-and-slash dungeon crawl, or a thrilling mystery, the sense of awe one can instill in their players with a well-delivered description of some wondrous setting or event, to me is unparalleled. As a storyteller I find it incredibly rewarding to create a rich setting for my players and watch as they get just as much satisfaction from uncovering new lore about the ruins they’re exploring as they would get from defeating a Great Red Dragon. To that end, the focus of the adventure, much like the Quest for the Cure, will be the journey itself. Going to fantastic new places in search of knowledge, truth, and ultimately the creation of some great memories to be looked back upon at journey’s end.

I’ve always made it a priority to ensure that the players feel as though their characters are actually part of a living, breathing world, and this adventure should be no different.

4. Who inspires you as a storyteller or DM?

It’s difficult to really draw specifically from other DMs, as running a game has as much or more to do with personal style as it does with the actual written material. Over my years of gaming (of which there have probably been too many) I’ve played with a lot of different storytellers, each with their own styles and strengths. Paul Grylls for example is exceptional when it comes to creating believable characters in his NPCs, and in creating balanced combat encounters. Drew Rocheleau gets into character for his NPCs like no other DM I’ve seen, and creates very deep plots for his players to delve into. The key as a DM is to be able to recognize these abilities in others and do your best to synthesize them all together into something that works for you and your particular group of players.

I’m sure that I’ve drawn from dozens of different sources to make my style what it is, and I would have to say that what drives me to create a really good story are the books I read, the movies I watch, and the games I play. Almost everything has its points of inspiration, and I find that absorbing nearly any kind of entertainment can put me in the mood to create my own. I often find that walking out of a good movie, or finishing a great book, the first thing I do is sit down and brainstorm some new ideas for a D&D campaign I had put on the back burner, or start writing a short story that I had only ever made the skeleton for.

5. Can you tell us about something specific that you’re looking forward to with this adventure?

One point I’ve always been adamant about in gaming is combat with purpose. That is, there should never in an adventure exist any fight which simply acts as a vehicle for gaining experience points and treasure; There should be a real reason for the battle, and the players should be invested in its outcome. Not every combat needs to end with either A) Victory, everyone lives and the monsters are dead, or B) Defeat, the party is never heard from again. I really want players to walk away from combat with a sense that “Yes, we made it through this, but at what cost?” I’m really excited about this adventure because it will be the inclusion encounters like these, with objectives that extend beyond simply a victory or defeat concept, that will make each adventuring party’s experience a different one.

Who the party is able to help or save along the way, and the choices they make – especially in the midst of combat – will have very real implications for the plot. More than anything, it makes me look forward to gaming groups swapping stories about their time playing this adventure, with no two being alike.

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4
Jan

Burns Night Approacheth

   Posted by: Dan    in Burns Night, News

The Duke of York Pub, TorontoWhen I started bouncing the idea for the Wayfarers around in my head – and in the heads of my friends – I knew that it would be a lot of work.  At first the work involved was simply training and getting gear together; then it expanded to getting the word out and trying to raise funds.

Since then it has exploded to nearly monthly events, starting with this month’s Burns Night on January 23rd.  As already briefly discussed, our Burns Night at the Duke will be a $60 plate event that will include live music, delicious served food and a chance to meet the Wayfarers and talk to us about what we are doing.

We have finally put together the Burns Night Order Form – a simple sheet that you can print off to give to a Wayfarer with cash (if you know us personally) or email details from to us.  Remember that we need a choice made for each of the options at the bottom of the sheet, for every person that is attending.

Accepting anything other than cash payments ends up costing us money; we are willing to do it via PayPal but need to charge an additional $3 (for a total of $63 per ticket) in order to cover our own costs and not take away from the fundraising that we are performing.  If you would like to attend but will not be able to pay cash until the event itself, email us and tell us so.  We will reserve your seat.

That said there are still seats available and we would love to have you for a night of great food from the Duke itself, live music provided by the York Celtic Ensemble and a cause for the ages.

Order your tickets now by emailing us here!

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