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Some Assembly Required: EQII's Festival of Unity

MJ Guthrie

Events: From rinky-dink, hole-in-the-wall endeavors to humongous, pie-in-the-sky extravaganzas, you really can't get content that's more player-generated than events designed and hosted by players themselves. Although many smaller venues are regrettably missed (unless you send in tips inviting us to come and check them out, so chop-chop!), Some Assembly Required manages to catch some of the larger events throughout the MMORPG galaxy. One of these events is this week's Festival of Unity being held on EverQuest II's Antonia Bayle server.

Since I covered last fall's festival catering to the evil-minded folks in EQII, the Festival of Discord, I felt it was only fair that I go ahead and partake in the cele... I mean, cover the one that brings all the good-hearted folks of Qeynos together in jubilant celebration. And let me tell you, those good guys know how to throw a party! If you have never been to the festival or haven't stopped by yet this year, you are missing out on quite the shindig.

Gallery: EQII's Festival of Unity | 16 Photos

EverQuest II screenshot
To learn more about this huge annual festival, I was lucky enough to steal a few moments of time from a couple of the organizers, Slipps and Tregarde, as they dashed about hosting, judging, serving, and generally organizing the many events. their enthusiasm for the festival was readily apparent, even when obviously tired from a long long and eventful evening.

And the Ogre said,
A long time ago, on a world far, far away, there was an Ogre Paladin named Klumpp who had the idea to create a celebration of life, love, and friendship for all of the goodly folks of Norrath. And what a good idea it was! From that initial idea sprung the Festival of Unity, which has grown each year since its inception in 2007. A testament to unity, Slipps related how folks kept the the festival alive even after its creator was shipped off for military duty, and Tregarde noted how the core of the festival's organizers have been a part of the event from the beginning or just shortly after.

EverQuest II screenshot
The festival itself is a giant roleplay event spanning an entire week meant to give the players of Antonia Bayle a large venue to, well, roleplay in! SOE supports the event by providing specially decorated venues, launchpad advertising, and the ever-popular festival treats (with their amusing side effects!). Characters can participate in a variety of ways, from hosting or participating in contests, booths, and taverns to just socializing while wandering about. Random roleplay is encouraged, although the organizers do ask all festival-goers -- whether rolepayer, non-roleplayer, good, evil, returning patron, or new visitor -- to respect the theme of the event and keep dark and nefarious plots away.

Wait, evil? Yes you heard that right. This sixth annual festival of love has a bit of a twist: Dark-hearted folks of the evil persuasion are openly invited to participate. Why? As the official site for the festival states, "The new world lore is establishing a working relationship between all cities and a sort of truce, even if its an uneasy one, as we face greater dangers than each other. In a reflection of the new world lore, we are inviting our friends and neighbors from all over Norrath to join in the Festival of Unity." Even in Norrath you have to change with the times. But don't think the Festival of Discord is going away! In fact, according to Slipps, planning for the fall festival will begin just as soon as this summer festival ends.

What to see, what to do
The Festival of Unity has many events that are considered staples each year, such as the Bardic competition (Slipps' favorite event), Wishing Well, the scavenger hunt, Feyiron Chef, jousting, RP dueling, the fishing competition, Over the Edge, and the Parade of Champions.

Of all the classic events, Over the Edge has the most amusing history. Slipps shares the history of this favorite event:
"The idea of the jump off as it was first envisioned several years ago was to take a bunch of scouts and such who needed safe fall practice and a healer or two and to leap off tall places until they got a few points. That first Jump Off in Antonica nearly seven years ago had GMs scrambling to the zone to find out why so many were dying... Then they stole my idea."
I'd have loved to be there and see the GMs' reactions! Unfortunately, time-travel was not an offered event. I did, however, get to watch this year's competition and enjoyed seeing everyone aiming for the various targets (and listen to the special event channel, which was /splat). This year there were three categories; Littlepea, Dekket, and Serrest won in the Splat portion of the jump, Brined took top honors in the Ultimate Splatter category, and Leruc, Melago, and Dulcimaia were the precision winners.

EverQuest II screenshot
Amid the yearly favorites, the festival continues to expand and offer new things, incorporating new ideas. Coming up with the ideas isn't always the problem; Tregarde points out that sometimes finding a way for ideas to work within the game mechanics is harder. This year two of the new events include The Great Rat Race and the Bug Hunt. What's not amusing about a bunch of drunken Ratongas racing? Participants and spectators alike were treated to plenty of amusement there. The Bug Hunt, rescheduled for the 21st at 3:00 p.m. EDT, involves "catching" the Fae and Arasai who are buzzing about on a sugar high.

All of the events have their own unique charms. The festival is likely to have something for everyone, from contests with prizes to stages for showcasing personal talents. In fact, there is so much that it's a struggle to attend everything! If you missed the bardic competition, you missed out on quite a showing of creativity. Although some might say that the true winners were the folks who were treated to the various compositions, this year's official winners were Tibbey (first place), Koehki (second), and Dulcimaia the warbling wyvern (third).

Get the forth!
Sounds like a bit of fun, doesn't it? If you have missed some of this week's festivities, don't worry -- there are still more to catch, but only for the next two days! Water activities seems to be the theme of tonight's activities. At 7:00 p.m. EDT, brave souls can participate in the high dive event at the oracle Tower, and at 8:30 a.m. EDT, folks can try their hands at the fishing contest at Windstalker Village.

Two different taverns will be offering refreshments and a place to socialize: The Rusty Grimoire opens at 4:00 p.m. EDT, while the Shaded Lotus starts hosting at 8:00 p.m. EDT. Both will be utilizing the open air tavern facilities at Windstalker Village.

EverQuest II screenshot
The festival ends on Saturday the 21st. This final day of events includes the rescheduled Bug Hunt, the date auction, and the closing ceremonies. Starting at 5:00 p.m. EDT at the lighthouse in Antonica, the Parade of Champions will march across the zone. Winners from the various competitions will lead the parade. At 6:30 p.m. EDT, there will be a date auction, and then the festival will officially close with a party and haiku competition held back up at Windstalker Village at 8:30 p.m.

For a full listing of the events and the rules for each one, visit the official schedule.

Raise a toast
Undertakings such as the Festival of Unity require months of planning and no small amount of effort from many parties. We raise a frothy mug and give a special thanks to Tregarde, Slipps, Lera, Skyana, Mrrshaw, Cogititation, and all the others others who helped organize this event for the benefit of fellow players. And let me dole out another special thanks to Tregarde and Slipps for taking time out to share their love of the festival. Tregarde says that "FoU is the most incredible player-run event I've seen in any game." After attending a number of this year's events, I find it hard to disagree. I can't wait to see what the festival brings next year!

Every two weeks, Jef Reahard and MJ Guthrie take a break from their themepark day jobs to delve into the world of player-generated content. Comments, suggestions, and coverage ideas are welcome, and Some Assembly Required is always looking for players who'd like to show off their MMO creativity. Contact us!

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