Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How To: Commission a Decorator

The following post is also sold on the broker on Antonia Bayle in a book (as long as I remember to keep it stocked).

To begin with, please remember that your decorator is a player, just like you. While decorators enjoy decorating, often to the exclusion of all other aspects of the game, that does not mean they are a second-class gamer.

Please also remember that you are hiring someone in a GAME, and real life may come up to bite your decorator in the rear. Try to be understanding.

If you approach a decorator right before or during an in-game holiday or event (check the in-game calendar for holiday dates), you’re unlikely to be able to hire them. Most decorators spend the holidays stocking up on furniture and materials.

Before you approach your decorator, determine the scope of what you want done. Do you just want one room? A section of a room? Half a house? An entire house?

Which house do you want decorated?

How elaborately do you want it decorated? Do you just want furniture in the existing house? Do you want the walls of the house “skinned” (covered over with tiles, dividers, or other items to create false walls directly in front of the existing walls, so that you can have the walls look different from how they currently look)? Or do you want an entire house built from scratch?

If you want a house built from scratch out of building blocks, how big of a house do you want? Small? Medium? Large? A castle?

Are you having a home built? A bar? An orphanage? A medical center? Be sure you know what the theme of the home you’re commissioning is before you approach your decorator.

You don’t have to know an exact amount you want to pay your decorator. You and the decorator can come to an agreement. But you should still have an idea of your maximum price you’re willing to pay. Your decorator will know the minimum price they’re willing to decorate for, and the two of you can haggle from there.

Remember that the price you pay will depend on how large a project you want, as well as how experienced the decorator is. As a rule of thumb, the more experienced a decorator, the pricier their minimum price will be. This makes sense--they’re a desired commodity. You aren’t the only one who wants to hire them, and so their price will be high enough to make decorating your home worth their while.

If you aren’t sure what a good maximum price would be, think about how much you can make in an hour of gameplay. Then think about the fact that the average home takes at least a week of gameplay, if not more. (A smaller house will, of course, take less time. And a larger house will take longer.)

Also consider whether you’re comfortable paying everything up front, or whether you’d prefer to pay half at the start and half at the end. Make sure your decorator addresses WHEN you are to pay them. Keep in mind that in addition to your fee, most decorators request that you also cover fuel costs for any items they have to make, or commission costs for any furniture they have to commission. Find out beforehand whether you’re expected to cover these costs, or whether the decorator will take it out of their fee.

Never, ever, EVER insist that the decorator is to receive the payment after they’ve decorated. Too many decorators have been burned by people refusing to pay after they’ve done the work, or claiming “It isn’t quite what I wanted,” and then refusing to pay the agreed upon amount.

If a home isn’t quite what you wanted, TALK TO THE DECORATOR and see if they can make it closer to what your vision is.

There are a multitude of ways to choose a decorator. You can visit homes on the Leaderboards, find a style you like, and go about contacting the homeowner to find out who decorated their home. From there, you can contact the decorator directly (assuming they still play).

You can browse the Homeshow forums (http://bit.ly/eq2homeshow) for decorating styles you like, and send a Private Message to the decorators there.

You can post in the Homeshow forums or in the Homeshow channel (/join Homeshow if you're on Antonia Bayle, or /join Antonia_Bayle.Homeshow if you're on another server, barring Nagafen), requesting the services of a decorator, and laying out the scope of your project. I don’t advise this route, as very few decorators are willing to step up unless you’re offering a large chunk of platinum. It’s much harder for decorators to say no when you approach them directly, especially when you’re praising a home they’ve already built.

Much better are the first two options--talking directly to the decorator of your choice via in-game or the message boards. This has the added benefit of ensuring that you like the decorator’s style of decorating.

Your decorator may have ground rules when decorating. Some decorators don’t like having housepets out while they work. Others insist that the homeowner not touch ANYTHING until they’re done. Still others don’t mind you adding items, as long as you’re willing to allow the decorator to move them around.

Talk to your decorator. Converse with them to find out what they find acceptable and not. Yes, it’s your home, but why make it difficult for the decorator? While you’re paying them, they’re still taking THEIR playtime to do something for YOU. So treat them with courtesy, and try to create the appropriate decorating environment for them. If you want to add things after they’re done, that’s your prerogative; it’s your home. But while the decorator is decorating, it’s THEIR home.

Try not to offer too much advice, or too many opinions, either. Yes, it’s your home, but if you’re constantly telling your decorator how they should decorate, you might as well decorate the home yourself. A request here and there doesn’t bother decorators. When every little thing has to be changed, it does.

Walk through your house or zone with your decorator, and discuss with them what you want each room to be, and any ideas you have for how each room should be decorated.

If you’re having the decorator build an entire house from scratch, still map out ideas.

It’s always helpful if you have pictures of things you want the house to look like. Do a Google search, and come up with some images that are similar to what you want, so that you can direct your decorator to them. This will allow them to have a clear picture of what you’re interested in having your home (or whatever you’re having the zone decorated as) look like.

Whatever you decide, get it in writing. Have the decorator create a player written book with all of the details you discussed, including:
  • Pricing
  • Estimated decorating time
  • Whether you’re paying before or half before, half after
  • Whether you’re covering the fuel cost separate from the fee
  • What you want the zone to look like
  • If you’ve already paid for the work, make sure the decorator includes that you’ve PAID IN FULL on the house.

Have the decorator give you a copy, and have them keep a copy. That way both of you will have everything you need to know right in front of you.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

How To: Take Housing Commissions

Original post up at the Homes and Tomes Information Desk.

This information is for sale in a book on the broker on Antonia Bayle (as long as I remember to keep it stocked).

Always remember when accepting a commission that YOU are building a home for SOMEONE ELSE.

That means that what you build may not match their vision of what they want, and they may ask you to change aspects of what you have already built. DO NOT BE OFFENDED BY THIS. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while what you built may be wonderful, it may not be what the homeowner wants.

But also remember that you are just as much of a player and are equal in status to the individual who is commissioning you. The fact that you are working for them does not make you inferior to them in any way. Do not feel guilty if you need to take breaks from the commission to do other things in the game. Just because you have accepted a commission does not mean that all of your time must be spent working on the commission.

On the flip side, always be polite to your homeowner. A big part of receiving future commissions is the reputation you build. A decorator who is a pleasure to work with is more likely to receive commissions than one who is a prima donna, no matter what their decorating skill level.

The very first thing you should do when someone approaches you about a commission is to find out the scope of the project.

Does the homeowner want just a room built? Just a feature in a room? An entire home decorated? An entire home built from scratch?

Knowing the scope of the project will help you to determine how much you should charge the homeowner for your work.

After you have found out the scope of the project, you should agree on a price and payment plan for your work with the homeowner.

Are you including the fuel cost in your fee, or is the fuel cost an additional fee that they must cover? This is something you should think of before you discuss payment with the homeowner, and that you should tell them up front.

Will you be charging them per room you build? Or will you charge them a flat rate based on the estimated amount of time you think it will take you?

Are you charging them in Krono? Station Marketplace items? Platinum? A combination?

Is the homeowner expected to pay you everything up front? Or will you accept half now, half at completion?

No matter what payment option you go with, it is suggested that you bank the payment until after the completion of the home. If for some reason you must end the commission early, before you have completed the scope of the project, this will allow you to refund the homeowner.

If you have done some decorating, but not all, you are within your rights to retain some of the payment. You have done work, after all.

Often, we as decorators find ourselves busy during the 1st through the 7th of each month, as well as the 20th and 21st. We put our projects on hold in order to stock up on City Festival and Moonlight Enchantments items. If a holiday makes an appearance, we may be even busier collecting the once-a-year items holidays offer. MAKE SURE YOUR HOMEOWNER KNOWS THIS BEFOREHAND.

It may be necessary to remind them that you are a player in addition to being a decorator, and that you will be stocking up on items during those times of the month, so that they do not look at their home and wonder why it has been a week since any work has been done.

If for some reason you are unable to work on a project for an extended period of time, communicate with the homeowner and let them know what is going on. Even if it is something as simple as, “I have been having a hard time on your project and will be taking a weeklong break to work on other things and clear my head. The project will resume in a week’s time.”

Do you have problems with other people changing things as you are building? Let the homeowner know in advance. It is often a good idea to inform them of things such as, “I understand that this is your home, and you may wish to make changes or add details. Please refrain from doing so until I am finished with your project.”

There are two walkthroughs you should do before you start on any project.

The first walkthrough is a tour of your own work, if the homeowner has not seen any of it yet. This will ensure that the homeowner likes your style before agreeing to the project. There is nothing worse than agreeing to a project, beginning to build to the homeowner’s specifications, and then for them to say, “I am sorry, but your style does not suit what I am looking for.”

The second walkthrough is of the house zone you are planning on building in. The homeowner should give you a tour of the zone, noting any specific ideas for the home that they have. TAKE COPIOUS NOTES! Forgetting an important feature that the client requested is always a pain!

It is always a good idea to create a player written notebook with the scope of the project, the price you are charging, the payment plan the homeowner will be using, any details about the project that the homeowner has given you, and any information you wish the homeowner to remember.

Make two copies. Keep one copy for your own records. Give the second copy to the homeowner. This will allow them to reference your information easily, and will act as a reminder that you are a player with your own game to play (as long as you include that reminder in the book you give them).



Jazabelle's project for Jadirah

A copy of the Qeynosian Riverfront Property (created by Jazabelle), modified to fit on a Tenebrous Island Refuge. A shed for tinkering will be added on, and the entire island will be landscaped.

3000 platinum for the Qeynosian Riverfront Property.
1000 platinum for the landscaping and shed.
Fuel costs included in the prices.
Total: 4000 platinum
HALF PAID UP FRONT. Other half to be paid upon completion of the project.

I will be busy on the 1-7 and 20-21 of each month. If any holidays occur during the time I am working on your home, I will be taking time to do the holiday quests for furniture and the like.

I will not be able to work on your home 100% of the time I am online. I too have a game to play, and while I love decorating, sometimes I feel the need to do other things.

I understand that your home is an extension of you in game, and I will do my utmost to complete it in a timely manner.

It is likely it will take me anywhere from a week to several months to complete your project. I apologize about the time, however, as we discussed, I am not able to play as often as I would like. This impacts how quickly your home will be built.

If for any reason I find myself unable to work on your home for an extended period of time, I will do my utmost to give you warning in advance.

As we discussed, I prefer not to have anyone else working on a project when I am. You are welcome to make any changes or additions to the home once I have completed the project. Until then, please refrain from adding or changing anything without first discussing it with me.

The kitchen should have two large ovens, an old fashioned stove, and pan racks. This is the kitchen of someone who /loves/ to cook.

The shed should be a tinkerer's dream. It needs to be sturdy. It also needs to be /messy/. This is a tinkerer who constantly wanders off in the middle of projects to work on other projects.

There should be some sort of support structure at the edge of the island, for someone to hang over the side.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cogworts 2013 Judging

In a fit of over-achievement (kind of like the gnomes in question), the Homes and Tomes Judges decided to judge the dorm rooms of the Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Builds a Better Mousetrap Contest several days early!

Eureeka’s Dorm Room (Antonia Bayle, Small Homes)

“The creativity was great. The computer and microwave really caught my eye and the rat traps were wonderful as well.” - Judge 1

“Well thought out and executed. Traps were highly complex and very Gnomelike! Very elaborate designs on the traps. Job well done!” - Judge 2

“This is an exceptional entry into the Cogworts 2013 competition. The documentation was well-written and humorous, describing each of the working parts of the machine and exceeded the requirement. The dorm room had a very pleasing layout, including a kitchen, well-appointed bathroom and even futon rails. The documentation was easy to find and had a continuous ether theme throughout. I liked the thesis tying it all together and the diary was very, very good. There was a lot of attention to detail in all aspects of the dorm room. Each of the machines seemed to be very plausible for working in Norrath, especially after reading the notebooks.” - Judge 3

“A very well put together dorm. Strong use of a consistent theme (ether energy), and an impressive assortment of contraptions. Each device is unique, utilizing an array of mechanical, electrical, and elemental forces to trap the pesky vermin. The devices also preserve said vermin (more or less) without any messy cleanup. The addition of a thesis paper concerning the ether energy system was icing on the cake.” - Judge 4

Gnonny’s Dorm Room (Antonia Bayle, Small Homes)

“Enjoyed the magazine ordered dorm pieces, very creative in that aspect. Journal kept was funny to read and kept in line with the project. Great use of space, considering item count and what needed to be done.” - Judge 1

“Loved loved loved the candy monster! Though I’d have to say that it would be non lethal, as it would be eaten before it could do anything :)” - Judge 2

“The layout of the dorm room was very pleasing. The living area had all the amenities. I liked the loft bed with the desk underneath and the bathroom was interesting. The windows with a view was also a nice touch. The overall theme was Better Homes and Sprockets which tied it all together. The notebooks were thorough and fun to read. I found the mousetraps to be very plausible in Norrath. I would like to have seen more working parts and more steps in the documentation, but it was very well done. Congratulations on your thoughtful interpretation of a gnome dorm room.” - Judge 3

“Very creative dorm! Each trap is distinct and unlike the last, with very creative ways of dealing with the rodent. From drowning, to electrocuting, to shredding, to being chased by a giant freakin’ candy robot, this dorm has it all. I liked that the additional two devices shared a theme, and that they’re both initialized by triggers beside the bed. Those gnomes sure do love their creature comforts.” - Judge 4

Nikoll’s Dorm Room (Antonia Bayle, Small Homes)

“Most of the rat traps were very complex builds and very cool to look at.” - Judge 1

“Wanted to give points for DOMINO, but did not see a full steps guide. Otherwise, it was a very well thought out Gnome workshop.” - Judge 2

“The gnome completed the steps for each mousetrap. There were tinkered creations here and there! All of the mousetraps could plausibly be used to catch mice in Norrath. I only wish I could be as good as the contestants.” - Judge 3

“The coffee grinder/brewer is a fantastically detailed piece of equipment, and looks the part too. Small details like the spinning cog as part of the door controls are a nice touch. The traps are particularly evil in this dorm. Launching the rat into a spiky wall, or burning it alive, these traps don’t fail to deliver.” - Judge 4


Judging was very close on this contest. Because the rest of our contestants were eaten by the rats they were attempting to trap, or were blown up by their creations, we’ve decided to offer the following prizes:

EUREEKA wins the GRAND PRIZE of a fully decorated home designed and decorated by the members of Homes and Tomes.

GNONNY and NIKOLL each win a Tinkerer’s Bedroom Essentials AND a Tinkerer’s Shop Essentials, to be gifted to the character of their choice!

Unfortunately, the sheer detail these gnomes put forth explaining their machines precludes a single tome holding the contents of their work. However, once their dorm rooms reach the Hall of Fame, the dorm rooms will be taken down briefly so that each gnome may pop on in and copy the books for themselves. When the dorm rooms enter the Hall of Fame again, the second trophy shall be placed in the home of the gnome’s choice.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Chapel Maze to Anashti Sul 2013

Somewhere hidden amongst Freeport's streets
A temple to the Forgotten sleeps.
Every Nights of the Dead it awakes,
Mortal life it forever forsakes.
If for prizes death you would cheat,
Proceed to Jazabelle's to partake!

When: October 14 - November 22, 2013

Where: Jazabelle's Lavastorm home in Freeport on the Antonia Bayle server. Alternatively, you may visit The Chapel to Anashti Sul on the Leaderboards, under Massive homes.

Why?: Because Nights of the Dead is awesome, but sometimes you need to take a break from grinding for the house items! So instead you can run a maze and answer a riddle for prizes (I know, I know, not that different...).

Prizes?: Yep! Prizes will be awarded on the 23rd of November. Details can be found in the book inside the chapel.

Other servers offering prizes:
Possibly! It depends on whether other people are willing to hand out prizes on other servers.

Other NotD fun:
The MazeMansion from 2011 is open again, and offering prizes to anyone who completes it!

The Peaceful Crypt from 2012 is open again and offering prizes to anyone who completes it!

This year's maze is The Restless Crypt.

Yes, the Restless Crypt does look rather similar to the Peaceful Crypt. However, the route to run and the riddle at the end are quite different. Happy mazerunning!

You are welcome to run whichever of the three mazes you wish, but if you have run mazes in prior years, be warned that you will only receive token prizes for running a maze you have already run. You will receive a full prize for running a maze you have not yet run.

(For those interested in seeing a photo album of the construction of the zones, click here. Don't worry, there are no spoilers.)


  1. Kiosha
  2. Tiercen
  3. Senya
  4. Lealani
  5. Malicce

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Homes and Tomes Credit Union

The first time prestige houses went on sale, I excitedly purchased several. Unfortunately, one of my purchases was a Personal Dojo, which I'd sworn to never buy--I had selected it while browsing the sale, and forgot to move off of it when I went to purchase the house I actually wanted.

The default dojo.

To my mind, the dojo was much too small for the amount of money SOE was asking for, even at sale price.

But I'd purchased it.

What was I going to do?

I tried a variety of things with the dojo, from a small home to a general store. But nothing quite worked out. The house just wouldn't cooperate with my ideas. The center dividers kept getting in the way, and I couldn't seem to get my mind to see them as anything other than center dividers.

The dojo sat mostly empty for months. Then a chain reaction happened. First, I remodeled the Homes and Tomes guild hall (now outdated--we've moved to a T3 in the Commonlands). Everyone had a 20 item limit for personalizing their office space. As guild leader, I decided that rule didn't apply to me. My office took several hundred items. That was fine for a while.

However, guilds are not static creatures. They grow. And as members moved up in rank, more and more people needed offices. That meant that my several-hundred-item office was taking up space that was needed for other offices. So while everyone else had an office in the hall, I moved my office to a prestige portal which linked to the guild hall. This way, my office would only take one item instead of several hundred, and I could decorate to my heart's content.

Once I'd created my office, the depots, crafting tables, and apprentices that once lived in the Everfrost home I used as an office needed to move somewhere else. Why not the dojo? It was a small space, perfect for housing apprentices, depots, and crafting tables! I just had to think of a theme that would work for the space.

I was standing in the guild hall, staring at our banker and wracking my brains for an idea when it hit me. Homes and Tomes' concept is that of a construction and interior design company. Many companies have their own credit unions. Additionally, the guild had elected to leave our harvest depot public, and to move our rares to a home controlled by the officers. If I put the rares in the credit union... the ideas began to flow.

And so the Homes and Tomes Credit Union was born.

Located on the Leaderboards under Small Homes on Antonia Bayle, "The Homes and Tomes Credit Union."

The teller windows disguising the center divider of the dojo.
As I was building the Credit Union, I looked around and realized the bank was very empty without employees. I thought about using plushies, then realized I had the perfect employees available: tradeskill apprentices. Tradeskill apprentices were another item that I just couldn't seem to work into any of my existing homes. I had originally planned to create a "bunk house" for the apprentices, but moving them into the Credit Union to act as tellers was a perfect solution. Plus, I'd have personal harvest depots available, with the supplies for the apprentice dailies ready and waiting. So I moved my apprentices into the Credit Union (along with the apprentices of a few friends), and wound up with Tellers and Guards. Hooray!

Windows I and II.
Of course, that isn't as much of an issue now that they made the apprentice daily items stack, but when the Credit Union was first created, the items didn't stack (yes, the Credit Union has been mostly done since February. I just didn't have an urge to post it. But then three people in under a week asked me why they couldn't find it on the leaderboards, so I had to clean it up and post it...)

The bank has a suggestion box. Be sure to leave your suggestions!
Having a mailbox in a bank didn't sit right with me. At first I had the mailbox tucked away behind the window in Teller I's area. But I soon realized that I didn't like how hard it was to get to (while the windows are big enough to squeeze through, it's a bit of a hassle having to run and jump every time you want to reach the box). However, while it was back there, I had it sunk into the counter. I realized that it looked a lot like a simple box with the bottom hidden. And a suggestion box seemed like the perfect solution to the mailbox delimma. I could have it in plain sight, yet not have it be a mailbox. (Duh.)

Back of the Credit Union, where the vaults are.
The vaults came about because I hate how the default personal harvest depots look. They're too tinkered. Flipping them and tucking them back so only the trim shows creates a perfect vault door, however.

Each has a plaque overhead detailing what's inside, so that guildies and non-guild individuals depositing items don't accidentally store guild rares in with my personal stash of items. Holiday items are separated out from commons and rares, and Frostfell has its own box.

Closeup of one of the deposit boxes.
The wall of safe deposit boxes used to be a wall of sales crates. Inside, I kept my fuels. Then SOE kindly added personal fuel depots, and the sales crates were no longer necessary.

I firmly believe that sales crates should be easily visible, so I removed them from the wall (they were only holding my fuel anyway, and now I can use them to sell other things!), and replaced them with normal crates.

It makes sense for a bank to have safe deposit boxes, doesn't it?

The signs are Coldain Signs, flipped and sunk.

The safe. AKA the fuel depot.
Speaking of the fuel depot, I had it hidden under the counter behind teller window VII at first. Then I decided that it was too much of a hassle to hop through the window to refill it, so I moved it to the wall and turned it into a safe, complete with key. I'm not particularly happy with the gold frame, but it's functional and matches the rest of the Credit Union.

This was pretty much the only thing I had to complete in order to get the Credit Union ready for publication on the leaderboards. The home has been done for months (aside from the clutter I left sitting around as I used it as a dumping ground to empty out my inventory when necessary, which I cleaned up when I published it).

Windows VI and VII.
I have fond memories of banks from my childhood. My grandfather's house was situated right next to a bank, and my great grandfather and I would walk down to the bank approximately once a week.

My grandmother used to treat her daughters to the complimentary coffee from the bank. So of course, the Credit Union had to have complimentary refreshments in honor of that.

Mmmm refreshments. The coffee is missing (I forgot to put it down).
 I'd meant to have an urn of coffee and cups, but I forgot to put them in before I published. They'll have to be put in after the Credit Union hits the Hall of Fame.

Behind windows VI and VII. Tellers hard at work.
And here's a peek behind the teller windows off to the sides. I made sure to put in a ledge so that the poor Coldain can see over the edge...

That concludes the tour of the miniscule Homes and Tomes Credit Union.

I did make sure to tuck crafting tables under the counter at teller window IV, so that apprentice dailies are easy no matter which side of the counter you're on. Additionally, the Credit Union acts as a portable crafting room for homes I'm working on. I can just plop down a portal to the CU, and easily travel back and forth between a home fully stocked with tables and materials, and the home I'm decorating. The crafting tables are reachable from the zone-in point of the CU, so there's no need to even take a step!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Builds A Better Mousetrap 2013

The brave members of the Qeynos Fire Brigade*

Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Builds A Better Mousetrap, 2013

The explosion rattled the windows of every building along the block. Thick clouds of smoke belched forth from the burning establishment.

Faintly through the raging flames, the words “Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic” glowed cherry red on an indium sign. The words “Dormitory 2” seemed to be slowly melting off.

Down the block, the members of the Qeynos Fire Brigade threw on their gear and headed to the correct address without discussion. Apparently, this was a common occurrence. The members of the hydromancy team began conjuring water as soon as they were in range.

Soon, sweat poured down their foreheads and soot stained their garments. They panted for air as they battled the uncommonly powerful blaze. One by one, they exhausted their powers, falling to the ground.

Hours later, the last ember flickered and died. Nothing was left of the second dormitory, or the two dormitories to either side of it.

A white-haired gnome peeked around a lamppost, his receding hairline standing up in tufts.

“Oh dear, oh my. Poor lads! My lasses! Everyone made it out fine, just a bit of property loss this time around, and the insurance assures me the premium hikes will not be too bad. Thank you so much for your prompt response! If you have any need of our services, the members of the Cogworts School will be happy to assist you in any way!”

The entirety of the Qeynos Fire Brigade--brave men and women, one and all--winced and cowered away from the tiny gnome, before taking a collective breath and straightening. The Captain stepped forward and bowed politely.

“Professor Cogworts, thank you, but we have no need of your assistance.” Her voice was raspy from the smoke. “However, you’ll have to find new accommodations for your students until such time as your dormitories can be rebuilt.”

“No fear, no fear! The kind gentleman over at the Lion’s Mane said that we can rent out the rooms there for a miniscule fee. Very miniscule. Just a few thousand platinum, plus we have to promise to get rid of the rat infestation he’s been having. His current rat traps haven’t been working. Nothing seems to work. But it’s not a problem at all! We’re gnomes! We'll figure it out!

“Oh, and we can’t disturb the other guests. Not that we would, oh no! The students would just be studying and doing a little bit--a very minor bit--of tinkering homework in their rooms, you understand. Most of their work happens at the school, in the classrooms, under teacher supervision, of course! Nothing like this EVER happens!” He waved his hands energetically at the smoldering remains of the three buildings.

The Qeynos Fire Brigade valiantly restrained themselves from rolling their eyes. This was the third such call they’d had this month alone. The others had been minor in comparison to this, but still! Even their sole gnomish member sighed and shook her head.

Professor Fulbright Bartholomew Cogworts the Third raised his voice. “ALL RIGHT!” he bellowed, voice much too loud for his minute frame. “STUDENTS! Pack your bags, if you have any left! Line up and march yourselves over to the Lion’s Mane!”

Gnomes of all ages began popping out of the shrubs and from behind nearby homes. They were soot stained and smelled strongly of grease and smoke. It was a wonder none of them had gone up from sheer proximity to the heat, if the smell of oil coming off of some of them was an indication of how greased up they were!

Most had nothing in their hands. A few carried a favorite cog. All had determined expressions on their faces.

It was time for them to build a better mousetrap.



Open to any Everquest II player. Must make a gnomish character on the Antonia Bayle server to participate. If you do not have room on your normal account or are from another server, a free account is an acceptable alternative.


Contest runs from Thursday, August 8th at 12:01 AM PST - Saturday, August 17 at 11:59 PM PST.

August 8th: Contestants must submit their item lists to Jazabelle via PM on the SOE Message Boards before 11:59 PM PST.

August 9 - 10: Items will be obtained and created by Homes and Tomes.

August 11: At 12:01 AM PST, contestants will receive trustee on the home they are to decorate, and will receive an IN-GAME mail with the address. All addresses will be located within the Lion’s Mane in South Qeynos, and will be the two (2) room inn rooms.

August 17: At 11:59 PM PST, contestants will lose trustee status on the homes they are decorating, and judging will begin.

August 18 - 20: Judging will run from Sunday, August 18 at 12:01 AM PST - Tuesday, August 20 at 11:59 PM PST.

August 21: Winners will be announced on Wednesday, August 21 before 11:59 PM PST.

Each contestant must submit a private message to Jazabelle on the Everquest II message boards.

Each private message must include:

  1. The contestant’s Antonia Bayle gnomish character’s full name
  2. The contestant’s main character
  3. The contestant’s main character’s server

  • All materials will be supplied to the contestants.
  • All materials must be either Tinkerfest craftables, holiday craftables except Frostfell, or common craftables.
  • Each contestant will be provided a budget of 20 platinum to be spent as they wish on rares for rare furniture or dungeon looted furniture for their home.
  • All contestants will be provided with a crafted housing expander (+100 house items) for a total of 300 item count on their home.

  • Each home must contain at least five (5) unique mousetraps built in the Rube Goldberg style
  • Each mousetrap must have a book explaining the steps to its process. Books will be provided, and will not count against contestants’ platinum allotment. 
  • Each mousetrap must have at least five (5) steps. (Example: The cheese is placed on the pressure plate. When the mouse steps on the pressure plate to eat the cheese, the thermagauge pressuredongle is triggered, which in turn spins the cog that presses the unilateral unwinder. This causes the chains holding the parrot cagerator to unwind, releasing the parrot, which eats the crackers. The crackers are keeping a weight balanced. When the weight is no longer even, the scale tips, and the mouse cagerator is lowered, caging the mouse.) The more detail to your explanation, the better! 
  • Each home must have, in addition to the five (5) mousetraps, at least two (2) other Rube Goldberg machines fit for dorm life. (Think a Norrathian style gnomish toaster, a Norrathian style gnomish Ramen maker, a Norrathian style automated quill inker for homework...) 
  • Each of the two other machines must also have five (5) steps from start to finished product. 


All eligible entries will be judged by a committee from Homes and Tomes. Judging will be based on the following criteria: one fourth (1/4) complexity of machines; one fourth (1/4) criteria (fulfillment of); one fourth (1/4) creativity; one fourth (1/4) catching of mice (machine functionality). Individual results will not be released.


The decorator with the most gnomish entry from all eligible entries will win the Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Grand Prize, with four (4) runner-up prizes given to the players whose entries are ranked #2 - #5.

One (1) Grand Prize: A fully decorated home of the contestant’s choice, decorated and designed by members of Homes and Tomes, and one (1) commemorative player written book with a copy of the contestant’s machine submissions.

If the winning contestant is on another server, the contestant is responsible for obtaining all materials on the manifest list, so that a member of Homes and Tomes may travel to their server and load the home’s layout for the contestant.

Four (4) Runner-Up Prizes: One (1) commemorative player written book with a copy of the contestant’s machine submissions and either one (1) Tinkerer’s Shop Essentials or one (1) Tinkerer’s Bedroom Essentials. If the contestant is on another server, the contestant is responsible for obtaining a blank notebook so that their machine submissions may be copied over into it. Alternatively, they may choose to copy the machine submissions over themselves.


All homes will have screenshots posted at the Homes and Tomes Event Forums at http://homesandtomes.com.

A copy of the machine description books will be placed in the Norrathian Research Library, and will be provided to each of the judges in a commemorative player written book.

Any and all unspecified expenses/costs in conjunction with participation in this Contest and/or acceptance or use of a prize are a winner’s sole responsibility. In the event that a prize item is unavailable for any reason, the Cogworts School of Tinkering and Mechanomagic Build A Better Mousetrap 2013 committee reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to substitute an item of equal/greater value. Prize must be accepted as awarded and is non-transferable. No coin substitutions. Winners will have thirty (30) days to claim their prizes from the character submitted to Jazabelle as their main character. Designing of the Grand Prize will be an open palette with moderate input of the homeowner for the Homes and Tomes decorators to work from.


Winners will be contacted via in-game mail, private messaged to the contestant, and announced on the original contest thread on or before Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Sponsor will save the layout of the Grand Prize for at least sixty (60) days, and encourages the winning contestant to also save the original layout.


If/when the owner of the Grand Prize opts to publish the home on the Housing Leaderboards, the dedication player written book must be kept in a clearly visible location and if/when it reaches the Hall of Fame must donate the Housing Award to the Homes and Tomes guild hall to be showcased.

If the owner of Grand Prize is on a server other than Antonia Bayle, Homes and Tomes shall publish the Antonia Bayle version of the home under the name “Tinkerfest Home for <Contestant’s Name>” and shall place the trophy in Homes and Tomes’ guild hall to be showcased.


Jazabelle Wra’Eth and Homes and Tomes of Antonia Bayle.

*Many thanks to Anjana Icebloom, Lowgan Alv'Torea, Havanli, Narrel Blaze, Sanaki, Tajar, Talaeren, Taizhar, and Viorna Clematis for your help in modeling for this image; Darkzephyr Vierus, Kurogo Battousai, and Zhadowsee Dragonbane for your help proofreading the introduction and rules; the members of Homes and Tomes for your help putting this contest together.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Equal Treatment For All

Because there seems to be some confusion, I am not talking about EQ2. This post is about EQNext, and Gabor Sziksai's artwork on the front page of https://www.everquestnext.com/. No, I'm not asking them to remove the chainmail bikinis, if they have chainmail bikinis in the game. I'm asking for options. This is my opinion. These are my experiences in games. You are welcome to disagree, but keep it civil.

Gabor Sziksai's artwork is gorgeous. I cannot deny that, and I wish I had even a fraction of his talent. If you haven't looked at the artwork over at https://www.everquestnext.com/, go do so. Like EQNext on Facebook, follow it on Twitter, and do that Google+ thing to get some awesome wallpapers too.

With all of that said...

Really? I mean... really? Can we please get equal treatment here for the men? Why do they get awesome looking full coverage armor? I want to see miniscule codpieces with testicles bursting out the sides, please. Or something. Because the boobshelves just don't do it for me. And if those sexually attracted to women get fanservice with boobshelves for their front-facing braces of missiles, I want banana hammocks that don't cover bulging nutsacks.

Haven't we progressed beyond this yet? I admit, I like to look good in the games I play. And I run around in a corset most of the time, but with my corset, I wear PANTS. The only thing that's showing are my shoulders and a little bit of the top of my chest. I specifically chose the corset that covers my stomach.

The artwork is perpetuating the stereotype of the female in games.

Female characters are usually seen very few ways.

1) You're a man playing a woman to try and con people into giving you free stuff.

2) You're a woman playing a woman to get free stuff.

Everyone likes to give free stuff when you show a little T&A.

Everyone knows if you aren't playing to get free stuff, you're going to play a male character.

It doesn't matter that you could be a woman playing a woman simply because you're more comfortable playing your own sex. Everyone knows women don't do that. Real women who play the game without trying to get loot for free play male characters. The fact that women in games are so often oversexed means that you're regarded as a loot-seeking whore whether you are one or not. The miniscule bikinis don't help matters one bit.

And while I have nothing against those who want to dress their avatars in little bits of nothing (and I have been known to dress my character in a little bit of nothing when the mood hits), I certainly hope there's the option to dress my character in something with more coverage. The males' armor is fantastic. I hope there's something just as fantastic and nearly identical for the women.

While on the topic of women, I noticed their musculature. Carting around those braces of missiles certainly has been good for their abdominal muscles! Hopefully EQN will include a breast slider... so that we can slide those puppies DOWN. Not all of us want to look like escapees from a breast implant advertisement.

So, yes. Gabor Sziksai, your artwork is gorgeous, and I will download the hell out of it when it's revealed.

But by anything you consider holy, please don't let the dark elf reach over her head. Or everyone's getting a free peep show.