Tip Top Ten Special Edition - Madness 2021

The Most Anticipated Tournament of the Year

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Tip Top Ten Special Edition - Madness 2021

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Volume 1
Special Issue 1

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
A Pre-Season Interview with Lilith Anderson
By Tippletoe Timbers

As March Madness 2021 is getting started, I had the opportunity to interview Hellbreaker MadnessMaker Queen of the Rings Lilith Anderson! Together we reviewed Madness 2020, Tailoring Charms, and advice snippets for this year's participants.

Cover Photo: Tippletoe Timbers sits on a pile of totally-safe-explosives at the High Noon B&B. The Baron of Cadentia, Lilith Anderson, rests comfortably in a swing chair, legs criss-crossed with an icy glass of lemonade sitting on one knee.

Question 1: Madness Expectations
Tippletoe: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! March Madness is one of my favourite seasons, and I absolutely loved watching you and Ebon during the finale last year. It's great to catch up as the 2021 Tournament is about to begin! Speaking of beginnings, tell me a bit about last year. What were your expectations, a fifteenth seed underdog, going into Madness 2020?

Lilith: Honestly, I thought I would get in, maybe make it a round... two at most, and then get knocked out. Until recently, Swords had never really been my strongest sport, so I think I surprised myself just as much as I surprised the bracket betters.

Question 2: Challenging Opponents
Tippletoe: Last year you faced Gloria Blaze, Bile, Conner Reid, Doran Ilnaren and then his father, Ebon Ilnaren. Which fight were you most nervous about and why?

Lilith: Hmm, I think that's an even split between Gloria and Ebon, first and last. Gloria, because she had such longevity within the rings that her experience makes her dangerous. Ebon, because I had just beat his son the round before, and it was the Finals, so all the pressure was there.

Question 3: Pre-fight Rituals
Tippletoe: You used the tournament prize to challenge for Overlord and win the Triple Crown. What an incredible achievement! With some big titles under your name, do you have a pre-fight ritual or something you do before a high-stakes match?

Lilith: I wish I could say I have some tried and true ritual or something like that, but really, I just try not to think about it. When I fought Jewell for Overlord, I had a glass of wine with my wife, put on a cute outfit, and went for a run around the Isle before heading to the Arena. So I suppose something like that; a drink to loosen up, some physical activity to make sure your muscles are primed, and wearing something that makes you feel good about yourself.

Tippletoe: I've seen some real amazing outfits in the rings, and some of them absolutely torn to shreds. Or stained with blood. Any recommendations on someone to patch-up your wardrobe after they've faced someone's blades in the rings?

Lilith: I learned a trick from Ellie Luisante a long time ago that was an absolute godsend and that is a Tailoring Charm. If you're magically inclined, it's super easy to learn, and if you're not, there's a great shop in the Twilight Market that offers it as a service. Otherwise, I recommend not going into the ring wearing anything that you're overly attached to unless you're cool with it getting ruined.

Question 4: Ring Etiquette
Tippletoe: I am super-curious about your thoughts on ring etiquette! Salutes? Bows? Smack talk? Politeness? Make it as bloody as possible?

Lilith: I've always been the heckling sort so I love a good spot of banter. But you wanna make sure it's all in good fun. At the end of the day, it's a sport and there's gotta be some small modicum of sportsmanship. So have fun with it but don't be a supreme jerk.

Question 5: Cinderella Cinderella
Note: A ‘Cinderella’ story is when someone advances to the final four when they were seeded 10th or lower.

Tippletoe: One of the things that made last year so notable was that you and Ebon Ilnaren both had 'Cinderella' stories. Can you name one person in each division who could make the Cinderella achievement this year?

Lilith: There were a couple surprises in the seedings this year, I think, so it could very well be a lot of them. But if I had to single out one person in each... I'd probably say Haru Jeong in Ilnaren and Guvna Dris in Anderson. Both have their own special sort of moxie that I think could be a solid surprise in the long run.

Question 6: Favourites
Tippletoe: Recently you posted to the cork about the participants in the Anderson Division making you proud. Out of those sixteen people, who's your favourite?

Lilith: Hands down, Tali Zhdanova. She's my former Squire and was Baron of Seaside while I was Overlord. She's also really scary in the ring, not sure if you've seen her. If you haven't, I highly recommend keeping an eye on her matches.

Tippletoe: How did you meet Tali?

Lilith: By total happenstance. I put out a call for Squire applicants and she applied. She was the Talon at the time and I had seen her around here and there. I picked her because she seemed like the best choice at the time and the rest is history.

Question 7: The Unique Part of Madness
Tippletoe: One of the things that I really-really love about Madness is how unique and thrilling it feels. And even with high and low seeds, you never really know who's gonna be the Tip Top! Even really incredible people can get knocked out early. What makes Madness so different from high-stakes events such as one-shot challenges or single-elim All Ranks Tournaments?

Lilith: With challenges and other tournaments, you know they're going to come back around again and likely soon. It's easy to challenge and it's easy to have a single night of good performance in an All Ranks. It's a bit harder, I think, to string together multiple good nights without slipping up. Add in the pressure of one match ending your Madness run for an entire year and I think the stakes are just a bit higher. We all have bad duels, from Commoners to the Overlord, so I think making it in Madness ends up being a wild combination of luck, skill, and stamina. Emphasis on luck.

Question 8: Round One
Note: Do you want to watch the first round of Madness? Check out the cork for scheduled matchups in the Ilnaren and Anderson divisions.

Tippletoe: So, with Round One starting in less than a week, which fights are you most excited to watch, either from home via Sync or in person at the rings?

Lilith: There's three that I've definitely got my eye on. Two are the middle matches, the 8th and 9th seed matches in both divisions. Rachael and Jay could easily be a barn burner and Caleb and Eden could be super close. The third is Jaycy versus Mallory. With Mallory's history, I was really surprised to see her seeded so low. I think her and Jaycy could definitely be one of the best matched pairings in terms of skill and finesse. I'll likely come out to catch that one live even.

Question 9: The Lilith Anderson Slogan
Tippletoe: Second last question, three-second Lilith slogan! Go!

Lilith: Get good or get out.

Question 10: Last Words
Tippletoe: That just about wraps it up! As the most recent winner of Madness, any final advice for our 32 contestants going into the tournament?

Lilith: Just go in and have fun with it every time you step into the ring. Don't sweat it too hard and definitely don't overthink it. If you do well, great. If you have a rough night, just know someone at the Line is probably having a worse night. Otherwise just do your best!

Closing Insert Photo: Tippletoe Timbers with safety glasses and ear-plugs holds a rocket launcher with Lilith’s assistance. It’s aimed at a 1974 corvette stingray.

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Tip Top Ten - The Top Ten Seeds

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Volume 1
Special Issue 2

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
The Top Ten Seeds
By Tippletoe Timbers

Shortly after this article is printed the first round of Madness 2021 will begin! Anyone can lose a match, so this fantabulous gnome took it upon herself to interview the top five seeds in each division before the fighting starts.

Cover Photo: A collage of Tippletoe candids. Interviewing Doran Ilnaren at the Shanachie green room, having brunch with Mairead Harker at Nicole’s Bistro, catching Jaycy Ashleana at a booth in the Burger Shake Shack, surprising Matt Simon doing inventory in the Outback storeroom, across a table from Anubis at the Red Dragon Inn, and eating a ridiculously high-stacked burger with Bailey Raptis at the Black Magic Burger.

Ilnaren Seed #5: Doran Ilnaren
Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: I'll be sticking with my trusty spear.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: Because I had a lot of fun with it last year!

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: There are so many to choose, and some that aren't in it this year. I'd go with Hope, though, just to start off aiming high.

Anderson Seed #5: Ebon Ilnaren
Insert Photo: Ebon Ilnaren and Tippletoe Timbers spar at the Dragon’s Gate Dueling Sword in front of ten youthful students training in the art of swordplay.

Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: I use my bracers, which can change shape to any weapon I can envision. Depending on my opponent, it would be either a staff or a pair of katars.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: I enjoy Madness because it gives a chance to face off against fighters I might not normally encounter (such as Skunk the Great). It was also my first real introduction to the dueling sports some years back. Finally... my name's on one of the divisions, so how could I not participate?

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: My first instinct was to name Salvador, but no, that's who I would pick if I made it all the way to the final match for all the proverbial marbles. For Round 1? Runt. I've never actually dueled against him, and that would be a great opening match, win or lose.

Ilnaren Seed #4: Jaycy Ashleana
Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: Most likely just my fists. I still have my short sword - the same one I've dueled with all these years - but I mostly only use it for challenge matches. It's good training to be able to face a variety of weapons without one in my own hand. Besides, I've had a fair amount of success with them, so ... why not?

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: Why wouldn't I?

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: This is a hard question to answer. On one hand, I'm happy with my scheduled opponent (the current Archmage to my Diamond in our "off" sports!); she's a good person, I like her, and it'll both be a good match and I'll be happy when she beats me and moves on. I do feel she was seeded too low, though, even if she had a quieter year since last Madness. But if I were to pick anyone else? Hope, of course. She's the best at this sport and I love facing her in the ring no matter what sport it is. Besides ... Diamond vs. Overlord, and both of us being teammates? I'll do that any day!

Anderson Seed #4: Ettyn Gedda
Insert Photo: Tippletoe Timbers in front of the bawdy bar at the Cardinal Inn, surrounded by all of the folx who live and entertain from the upstairs rooms.

Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: Whatever's funny. Flails are pretty funny. So's a gauntlet to the face.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: Don't know. I was drunk. Think one of the whores at the Cardinal did it. Probably Angel.

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: Anya, because I know she's good for getting pissed with me after, win or lose.

Ilnaren Seed #3: Anubis Karos
Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: My daggers. Steel before mortal hands could forge it. Hilts of gold from the mountains by the Great Green. The edges fashioned into the teeth of a crocodile, to rend flesh into ribbons. They were my father's. In his hands, they have tasted a god's dying breath. In mine, they have driven my name into the histories like a branding iron. They will continue to do so.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: This and the Triple Crown alone stand unbested by me. I am a hated man, unjustly or not. In my chosen line, selfish barbarians who cannot do business with coin seek to take with a sword. Failures who delude themselves into thinking themselves heroes seek my head. Immortals with immortal pettiness and ill temper emerge from the centuries to challenge me over something I forgot the next day. Only a fool would not keep themselves sharp in a fight. And competition is a whetstone for the reflexes and the ego.

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: I am content to duel the worm that I drew. I have no preferences. I have those who I wish to duel again; to redeem embarrassments of the past. I'm certain you can surmise who I mean by my recent histories and the roster of combatants. But there will be another day for those. Like a falcon in the sky fixates on it's helpless prey, I fixate on the sacrifice the officials have given me. And we will see what the gods wish to witness from me from there.

Anderson Seed #3: Bailey Raptis
Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: When I personally fight, I almost always use a silver short sword called δηλητήριο -- that is Greek for poison, or bane. Do not worry, the blade is not actually poisonous, or...venomous. I can never get the two right. When my proxies fight for me, they typically fight sans weapons, since they are already made out of marble. They do not really need much more help.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: I signed up for Madness for the same reason I duel generally -- to sharpen my skills with my weapon, and my skill with my proxies. I am not so worried about the prizes or the politics personally. I just want to see how my skills have developed.

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: That is a tough question. I love and I hate whenever I have to fight my Real RhyDin teammates, because I want all of us to win and that is not possible by nature when we face off against each other. That having been said, I would love to have a rematch with Hope Naharis. We faced off two years ago in the opener of the 2019 Madness, and she beat me 5-4 in 10 rounds. Close as close can be, and I think we could put on another great show if we fought again.

Ilnaren Seed #2: Mairead Harker
Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: I've been learning to use a trident and building my skills with a longsword. Providing I get past the first round, I'll be using those. Against Amaris, however, we've agreed to use nonhuman forms and go in with paws and claws.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: I signed up to support the community and have fun. For some time, Madness has been the biggest annual event for Duel of Swords. It's interesting to see match ups between duelists that might not happen in a regulation setting.

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: That's a tough question. I think I would have picked Sal. Win or lose, those duels are always a challenge.

Anderson Seed #2: Matt Simon
Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: The usual...hands and feet but I'll have my knife, just in case.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: Dueling fans in and around Rhydin and even off-world look forward to it every year. Madness generates a lot of excitement and there's a ton of prestige, especially for the winner. Some might argue that it's easier to win in recent years, where the field's been 32 instead of 64, but I invite those with that opinion to come out and give it a try. To consistently win in this tournament, against this level of competition - some of the most intense that the sport has to offer - is by no means an easy feat. And it's fun to give it a go.

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: Salvador, maybe? He's given everyone a run for his money lately, and comes out on the right end. Otherwise, perhaps Kheldar because we've had some tight matchups in the past. But the downside there is one of us would have to go home after, and it's not super fun when you knock a friend out of an event like this.

Ilnaren Seed #1: Salvador Delahada
Half-Page Photo: Tippletoe Timbers sits in the immaculate Seaside Barony lounge, overlooking the waterfront. Across from her is Salvador Delahada, dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt. Sitting beside the Baron, sporting a stylish but conservative burnt orange bob, is Lauren Burton, PR Specialist.

Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: Depends on who I fight. Not everyone deserves Regalo. The tanto most see me use. Could fight with another knife, or maybe a blood staff. Might break a chair again for all I care. Or nothing at all.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: I always sign up for Madness. I like to fight. I like to ... test myself. See how far I can go. I don't even care if I win; I never win. I just want the experience.

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: I guess if it wasn't this girl I'm already paired with, I'd say Skunk or Luna. I don't know those names, so I probably haven't fought them. But maybe Jay. He never fights me. Maybe I'll get the chance in round two, huh?

Anderson Seed #1: Hope Naharis
Q: What weapon(s) will you be using during Madness 2021?
A: There are so many interesting choices that we see in the Arena so I think I'll be switching it up as the tournament goes. Provided I make it past the first round I'll be starting with the old reliable practice sword and will begin to vary it from match to match, getting more and more unorthodox. If I somehow make it to the finals well... maybe it'll look like crunch time in an Overlord Challenge.

Q: Why did you sign up for Madness?
A: Madness is totally different from any other activity in Duel of Swords. You show up once a week and it's do or die time. Unlike the Iron Fists League where you have a team to rely on you're all by yourself. There are pros and cons but you can still cheer your friends on and have some fun with the brackets. Madness is a heightened case of excitement since it halves the participants every round!

Q: If you could've picked your opponent for Round 1, who would you have picked, and why?
A: Myria. It takes a special lady to win Madness not once but twice in a lifetime and I'd love to get that matchup right off the bat.

Half-Page Photo: Tippletoe Timbers drinks a strawberry milkshake with the Real RhyDin crew at the Burger Shake Shack after Hope’s Overlord defense against Caleb Feren on Wednesday, March 10th. [L-R Bailey Raptis, Eden Parker, Tippletoe Timbers, Hope Naharis, and Jaycy Ashleana]

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Tip Top Ten: The Five-by-Five - Rookie Edition

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Volume 1
Special Issue 3

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
The Five-by-Five - Rookie Edition
By Tippletoe Timbers

We’ve had the chance to interview some pretty high-titled experts in the Duel of Swords. But let’s face it, they are the past. Our future lies with the newcomers, people who are recent to the rings and the mayhem of March Madness. Read on to find out why Skid’s hanging upside down in Old Market, what Anya thinks of fighting a giant, and a rumour about the next Rad Party in RhyDin.

Ariana (Seed 16)
Insert Photo: A candid of Ariana renovating the Governor’s mansion. She’s smiling, focusing on her work with a sense of pride, with dirt covering her varsity jacket and plaster dust causing her brown hair to have speckles of white among the messy strands.

Q: How did you hear about March Madness?
A: I heard about it from Jaycy... the uh.. Governor. Yeah her. She kept pushing me to get out and fight more in the regulation duels and I figured I would give it a shot.

Q: Why did you choose to participate?
A: A mix of nothing better to do and wanting to make a break into the scene. Everyone around town talks about these sorts of things, puts pictures up on the walls of their favorite duelers, watches streams and recap videos. I mean I have never been interviewed before doing this.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for the March Madness season?
A: Uhm... about how I prepare for any fight: by not at all preparing. You can't prepare for a fight until it happens. A plan can be made and you can have an idea for how to win, but when you step into the ring and square up with your opponent the plan goes out the window and you have to follow your instincts and reactions.

Q: How do you feel about your first round against Salvador Delahada?
A: I have heard a lot of things about the Baron, and I have seen the odds and know that he has basically been untouchable, all I can say is I am going to give it my best once I square up in the ring. Give everyone a good show yeah?

Q: You are relatively unknown in the Duel of Swords community, how do you think that affects your potential to win the tournament?
A: It means it makes for a good story if I do well, and if I don’t then it is what everyone expects. No one is going to favor me and that is almost how I like it.

Skid (Seed 11)
Insert Photo: Tippletoe is taking a selfie with Skid. Skid is tied up with rigging and hanging upside down from a lamppost in Old Market, his two-feet of horns barely touching the ground.

Q: How did you hear about March Madness?
A: Someone said something about madness and I chased them down and forced them to tell me more.

Q: Why did you choose to participate?
A: Once they explained it was a combat event and not some kind of madness-related ritual, I decided it'd been just too long since I'd hit anyone with something in a ring, and so I held on to that registration.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for the March Madness season?
A: Well, as you can see, I'm making sure all the blood goes right into my brain to let me make decisions more quickly. Also I'm very dizzy, which might make me harder to hit.

Q: How do you feel about your first round against Gatito?
A: He is not my local butcher but, given that we're fairly well-acquainted, I'd have to say I'm looking forward to it.

Q: Where did you first learn to fight?
A: As a glorious predator at the apex of many an environment, I mostly learned how to fight from the things I ate. Also, this lady whose name is a secret. Shhhh! Also also, I may have forgotten the lady's name.

Morgan LaFey (Seed 14)
Insert Photo: Tippletoe sneaks up on Morgan at the docks while he works on the Heathen. Morgan is poring over plans spread over a crate, his eyes are focused, scrunched in serious consideration, a smudge of soot on his cheek.

Q: How did you hear about March Madness?
A: Honestly, it's a pretty big buzz in the dueling circuit, right? That's where I heard about it. I think I overheard someone talking about it in the arena one night.

Q: Why did you choose to participate?
A: Why? Why not? I dunno. I can't sit still for very long, I think. I'm kinda stuck right now, and I'm hoping it can keep me busy for a little while, you know? No real crazy profound reason. Just filling my time for now.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for the March Madness season?
A: Uh... Practice. Privately.

Q: How do you feel about your first round against Anubis?
A: I was hoping I could avoid him, but it's probably better to get it out of the way. I either win, and don't have to think about him for the rest of the season, or I lose, and go back to sitting. And probably spend another month getting the feeling back in my fingertips.

Q: I hear you plan great parties! When is your next party, what is the theme likely to be, and who is invited?
A: You heard that? I do love a good party. You know what? Yes. I'm going to throw a party when my ship hits the water. Reveal my new flag. You'll be top of the guest list! Anyone can come, and I'll make sure there's plenty of food and drink. Let's make the theme nautical, yeah? Wear your best sea-faring outfits!

Anya de la Rose (Seed 7)
Insert Photo: Tippletoe helps Anya in her greenhouse at her home where she's working on an illogical number of seedlings to go out in spring.

Q: How did you hear about March Madness?
A: I saw a flyer in the Arena, and Conner was talking about it around Valentine's Day I think.

Q: Why did you choose to participate?
A: One of the things I like the most about any of the dueling sports is the ceremony. The Challenges and Tournaments are always so exciting, how could I not want to be part of something called Madness? With a name like that in a city like this, you know it's interesting.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for the March Madness season?
A: I took some time off of dueling, honestly. I'd been at it a lot recently and I wanted this to be more of an event, not just another in a series.

Q: How do you feel about your first round against Runt?
A: I'm terrified. He's a giant. How did I end up against a giant? Did you see that we're fighting in the Outback because he doesn't fit in the arena? If I ever figure out the whole seeding committee I'm mailing them horse manure. Right now I just don't want to leave one of them out by mistake.

Q: How do you unwind after a tough match?
A: Win or lose, I tend to go home, have a bath and a glass of wine and fall asleep early. I tend to be cold after any sort of tough fight. Something about the energy they take.

Luna Sanguinem (Seed 15)
Insert Photo: Sitting in the Solarium’s cafe, Tippletoe, dressed in purple with a feathered hat, sits across from Luna who is wearing a green dress, glass of tea in hand.

Q: How did you hear about March Madness?
A: A lot of the sports channels

Q: Why did you choose to participate?
A: I've been looking to return to the duels for a few months, and this seemed like a good time to do it, win or lose it is about the experience.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for the March Madness season?
A: I have been returning to hunting and sparring in my free time, otherwise, I have decades of training from my home that prepared me for combat.

Q: How do you feel about your first round against Matt Simon?
A: Honestly, I am pretty intimidated by the skill he has shown by holding the barony of Battlefield park as long as he has, but, I am confident it'll be fun.

Q: I hear you’re a cook, what is your favourite meal to make?
A: A rabbit stew, fresh rabbit hunted by my daughter and I, vegetables foraged from the woods themselves, there's just... something about doing every single part of the process yourself, and even scavenging for vegetables, the flavor is different from anything garden grown.

Editor's Note: All of these interviews were completed prior to the participants' match-ups.

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Tip Top Ten: EXCLUSIVE Interview with Jake Thrash

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Volume 1
Special Issue 4

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
EXCLUSIVE Interview with Jake Thrash
By Tippletoe Timbers

The first round of March Madness 2021 is about to finish. There have been tears. There have been upsets. Predictions have gone into The Stew. With one match remaining, I decided to hunt down a retired duelist, the most popular half-orc in town, and ask him about the history of March Madness. Meet this issue’s guest: Thrashin’ Smashin’ Jake the Red!

Known for his business, the Red Orc Brewery, Jake Thrash creates some of the best brews in the multiverse. We recommend you pick up a Badsider to go along with this article! Jake started dueling in December of 1994, and was the third person to take the Diamond. He has been the Diamond of Fists five times in total - three of those back-to-back-to-back.

Cover Photo: Tippletoe Timbers sitting at an old oak table at the Red Orc Brewery. Tippletoe is taste-testing four types of Badsider and laughing while Jake Thrash is waving around a chair like a lion-tamer. Several wide-eyed goblins are peeking in from the doorway.

Question 1: The Beginnings
TT: So I can’t imagine the Arena without The Line and the Red Orc Brewery. Tell me what this place was like when you first started dueling here, twenty-seven years ago?

JT: Noisy? I remember a lot of loud, fancy-talkin’ duelers, like Max, talkin’ a lot of smack and gettin’ it on in the rings. A lot of names and faces that folks don’t much remember anymore, like Siera Redwin, Valmion, Max (aka MadMadMax), Binzo, Maloria, Luthien, Yasafel, and so many more. The place was always bustling. Has it really been twenty-seven years? I feel old now. I may keel over. I need ale.

You should have met the assassin beaver, Marx. I think you’d have liked him.

Question 2: Memorable Fights
TT: Tell me about one of your most memorable fights, it can be a challenge, tournament, or regulation.

JT: Well, there have been SO MANY duels, it’s kinda hard to pick out one. I remember the first time I stepped into a ring. It was against Siera Red. Sidestepped her opening thrust, and she eyed me suspicious-like askin’ if I wasn’t sure I’d been in a ring before. I assured her I hadn’t, and she proceeded to thrash me all about the ring for the rest of the duel. I was pretty much hooked from that moment on. (Both on Siera, who became a close friend and drinking buddy, and on dueling.)

Beating Dalamar in TDL was pretty satisfying. I think I surprised him. TDL overall was pretty fun.

Many, many years later, won a challenge defense against G’nort. G’nort told me once he had no clue how to fight me. Shutting him out in six rounds felt pretty good. I was in peak form around then. I just knew what he was gonna do. I’m pretty rusty now.

Ah! Smiles… I remember one I enjoyed. There used to be a dueler named Karen Wilder that always insisted on duelin’ with a pool cue. That always kinda bugged me. Felt like it disrespected the bloodsport, ya’ know? So, instead of drawing my blade against her, I grabbed a chair and dueled with that. Grins… I confess I enjoyed winning that one.

Question 3: The First Year of Madness
TT: Both of you were present for March Madness’s inaugural year in 2007, what do you know of its beginnings? (how it started, who came up with the idea, the reception, the turnout, etc.)

JT: Wow...hmmm...can I opt out of that one due to ale? What do I remember…the half-orc guzzles some ale…Chris Graziano got it all started, as I recall. He used to be the DoS Coord. I think he’d seen some March Madness thing elsewhere (something played with a rubber ball, I think it’s something like a game the orcs play, except with a dogskull and weapons) and wanted to bring that sort of competition to Rhydin.

Madness was a huge hit, right from the start. People were down for it in a big way. The size of the field has expanded and shrunk a few times, but it’s still one of the most popular events of the year.

Nostalgic look… Those first few years, Maria Graziano and I took turns eliminating each other from the event. (They kept putting us in the same bracket.)

Question 4: Working with Kal
TT: The Madness Pool and Betting is owned by the Line, but sponsored by Red Orc Brewery. How did you end up working with Kalamer Ar’din?

JT: I dunno. We were probably drinkin’ ale at the Red Dragon, or maybe throwin’ knives at a dartboard, and the topic of sellin’ ale at the Line came up. We both like sharp pointy things, so hangin’ out seemed kinda natural. It just kinda progressed into a partnership.

I probably sent a few barrels of Badsider over to the Line, and his barkeep served it, then asked for a re-stock, and things just followed along.

Question 5: Seeding
TT: As part of the seeding committee this year, there was very little documentation on how seeding was done in the past -especially when there were four divisions. What are your thoughts on the seeding process for a tournament like this?

JT: In past years? Always seemed to be a bit of a mystery. I think Cas used to write up rankings based on challenges, tournies, and stuff. Those got used as part of the seeding at times. It’s subjective, of course. But, once you get past the opening rounds, it’s anyone’s game.

Smirks to himself… next year they should use Conner’s predictions as the basis for seeding. That should play havoc with the brackets.

Question 6: Four Divisions, 64 People
TT: You’ve fought in March Madness multiple times. Tell me what it was like with four divisions and sixty-four people?

JT: Longer? It only amounted to an extra week for any dueler, so it wasn’t that much different in terms of fightin’. I guess there was more bettin’ action as the field was twice as big. Things might be a bit smaller now, but it’s still a pretty popular event. (Especially if you are placin’ sidebets over at the Line.)

Question 7: Fighting Your Friends
Insert Photos: Archival photo of Jake Thrash winning against Kalamere Ar’Din in 2014. An archival photo of Jake Thrash fighting Aurast Dagger Sasc in the finale. A third photo with Jake Thrash being awarded the March Madness 2014 prize.

TT: In 2014 you and Kalamere were both placed in the Falon Division for March Madness, he was top seed and you were ranked third. You ended up fighting each other for the division. Tell me about that match-up, what were you both feeling and thinking going into it?

JT: Ah, yeah. The half-orc chuckles. That year sucked. We all wound up in the same division that year. Which meant we had to eliminate each other to advance. How do ya’ plan to fight someone you’ve been duelin’ with for years? Who knows all your tricks and strengths? I think I just imagined that Kal was a stranger, and fought him like I’d fight a level boss. Nothing held in reserve.

Question 8: Upset History
TT: What is your favourite upset in Madness history?

JT: Hmmm...that’s a hard one. Favorite upset? I guess if you’re lookin’ at where people have bet in previous tourneys, Kyra beatin’ Matt in 2013 was a pretty huge upset. Not many folks predicted that one.

If you look at the tourneys, as subjective as the seeding can be, it’s been a pretty good predictor of who might be in the final play-off. Most years, it was a sixth seed or better. Last year with Lilith Anderson as fifteenth seed winning was pretty impressive. Guaire Bryne in 2012 was a bracket burner too, but he wasn’t that popular, so I don’t know if people were bettin’ against him because they didn’t think he could win, or they didn’t want him to win.

Amaris beatin’ Maggie this year in the opening round was a surprise! I didn’t expect that one, so now I am rootin’ for Amaris to go all the way. Love seein’ the newcomers laying out the beatdowns.

Question 9: Ultimate Madness
TT: If there was a Madness tournament of every dueler past or present, who would be your top two seeds?

JT: Top two...man that’s hard. There have been some tough duelers over the years. How about this! The two finalists I’d most like to see beat the heck out of each other! 2010 winner, Maria Graziano, and 2017/2019 winner Myria Graziano.

Question 10: Jake’s Bets
TT: Let’s turn our focus to the present. Looking at the current pool of contestants, who are you betting on to go all the way, and why?

JT: Amaris wasn’t someone I was lookin’ for when things started, but with that opening win, I’d love to see how far she can get. Also gotta root for Runt. I mean, frost giants in the duelin’ rings? How can you not love that? He and the ogre had to face off in the first round last year, which was disappointing. Would have liked seein’ them meet a few weeks in, after leavin’ a trail of broken bones and busted brackets behind ‘em. Hope to see Runt win before he gets too big to fit in any of the rings.

Going back to your previous question, Ultimate Madness. I’d also pay good money to see Runt and Crunchem in the final. Though...maybe not in the front row.

Parting Shots
JT: Be sure to grab a six-pack of Drop Dead Red before supplies run out! Do it for the fashionistas! Bashionistas? Do it for Koy!


Bonus Content! The OOC Story behind the 2014 match between Kal & Jake:

JT: I heard Kal comment to someone that he didn’t know what strategy to go with given that we both had talked strategy so many times, and joked he’d just roll a die and send random moves. I thought to myself “how the hell do you fight against that???” I considered doing the same thing, and just throwing random moves, but thought that actually wouldn’t be much fun to watch. (Nor did I trust him to *actually* go random.) So, instead, I decided to simply ignore whatever move he chose. I picked a set of five strongish moves beforehand, and just used those, regardless of what he chose. By round five, I had a commanding lead (4-2), and then it was just a matter of finding the last point.

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Tip Top Ten: 15-2: The Upsets

Post by Tippletoe »

Volume 1
Special Issue 5

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
15-2: The Upsets
By Tippletoe Timbers

In March Madness we expect to see upsets, and with Conner’s Curse™ in full swing both divisions have been hit pretty hard. One thing they have in common is that the #2 seeds, Maggie Harker and Matt Simon, were both upset by #15 seeds. In this issue we take the time to meet with the Women of Wonders: Amaris and Luna!

Amaris Silhaeven: 15th Seed, Ilnaren Division
TT: Hiya Wolfheart Ladysilver! Thanks for taking the time to meet with me! I have five questions to ask you regarding your stellar match against Baroness Harker.

AS: Hi Tipple! Sure, fire away.

TT: Question 1, how did you feel going into the match against your close friend Maggie?

AS: I mean, we’ve dueled before many times. I was fired up and wanted to win. When I heard that I’d be facing her for my first round, my stomach dropped because I didn’t want her to lose, but I also wanted to win. I accepted that that was who I had to face first, and as it came closer to our match, I thought of it another way. I got it out of the way early on. If she won, I’d of be disappointed, but at the same time, I love my sister, and I’d cheer for her. It was just a roller coaster ride, excitement, worry and FUN! it was so much fun!

TT: Question 2, you both decided to go “paws and claws”, fighting in your wolf and bear forms. Why did you two want to duel that way?

AS: I like using my wolf form, you know. It’s a part of who I am, and Maggie accepts that about me. We’d fought this way before and thought it’d be fun to give a show to the others and just go at it paws and claws.

Insert Photo: A snapshot of Amaris and Maggie dueling each other, Maggie as a polar bear spinning on her back, whie Amaris as a black wolf grabs at her with one big paw.

TT: Question 3, Only one person, a bettor named Jelani, has you pegged to go past Round Two. Do you think you’ve been underestimated? What do you think your chances are against Myria Graziano - a two time Madness winner?

AS: Underestimated? Maybe, but this is other people’s nobles. I get why others bet against me. I’m younger than Maggie, and people see younger, especially those that don’t know me and think ‘unexperienced’, but we’re pretty evenly matched when it comes to our accomplishments. I look up to her a lot. My next match… I mean, I have confidence in myself, and I think I can keep winning, but my record against her hasn’t been great. So, all I can do is focus on having fun, doing my best and not stress myself out on whether I can beat someone or not.

TT: Question 4, People have a lot of mixed feelings about kids in the rings. There are some spectators and fans who love it, who believe we need to nurture the next generation of fighters. Others think it’s too violent for anyone considered a minor. What are your thoughts on that?

AS: I was the weapon that killed my parents. It was an accident, mind you, but because I had no control over myself, I caused their death. I lived in torture for a while ‘til I broke free. I took care of myself on the streets as best I could at 9, and if it wasn’t for all the love and support of kind people and family, I wouldn’t be here now. Dueling at a young age has helped me reign in my weapon side and learn control. Aunt Rachael, Pops and Maggie are just some of the many that have helped me find that balance between when to be dangerous and when to just be me. Aunt Rachael, Uncle Ian, Pops and Dad got me armor and blades. I was taught how to use them and how to behave in the ring.

I get that some adults think it might be too violent and respect their choices by not letting their own kids in the ring, or when they make whispers about it, but that is just their opinion, and everyone has one. I say unless they know the full story of said kid, I would say it’s best not to just assume you know what’s best for them. I’m glad if spectators and fans enjoy when I or other kids get in the ring.

TT: Question 5, What are your plans after March Madness, win or lose?

AS: Plans? Well, I mean win; I’ll go as far as I can. I’d like to go all the way and see what’s next when I get there and just have fun as I go along. If I lose at the next match or at any point, I’m gonna be proud that I got where I got and cheer on my fellow duelers, because I’d want them to do the same for me. Supporting each other even when against each other doesn’t mean we don’t like or at least respect each other right?

Photo Credit: Mist Gul

Luna Sanguinem: 15th Seed, Anderson Division
TT: Hiya Lovely Bracket Breaker, Luna of the Land! Thanks for taking the time to meet with me again. I have five questions to ask you about your match with Baron Simon!

LS: Good Evening Tippletoe, it is lovely to be sitting here with you again.

TT: Question one, when we interviewed last you said you were intimidated, but confident it would be fun. How do you feel now? Was it fun?

LS: It was incredibly fun, and nice to get out and stretch again. I feel a bit surprised in all honesty, but proud of myself for keeping up the training even among work.

TT: Question two, you took the lead against Matt Simon right away, getting two-and-a-half points ahead before he scored in round four. What was going through your mind during the first part of that duel?

LS: I was just acting as if it was training, remembering the way the staff responded to my own movements. In words though... probably, “You’ve been fighting for years, trust your gut and breath.”

TT: Question three, four people have bet on you to make it past the second round. What do you think your chances are against the frost giant Runt?

LS: After round one, I’m honestly not sure, I was pretty certain I wouldn’t make it this far, and would take the opportunity to learn and improve for next year. I would like to say pretty good, but there’s always that nagging voice, ya know?

TT: Question four, if you make it Round Three, would you rather face Suturi or Dris? And why?

LS: I think Dris. Suturi is interesting to watch fight, and I always enjoy turning on sync to watch runs of old matches, but the chaos of hers is a little beyond what I’m prepared to handle in the rings. Dris is one of those duellists I don’t see on Sync often, so it would be a new experience. Both matches I feel would be fun, just... in different ways.

TT: Question five, what are your plans after March Madness, win or lose?

LS: After March Madness, win or lose, I intend to cheer on those remaining, return to the rings more often and keep going in preparation for next year.

Bonus Content! Another beautiful illustration by Mist Gul’s player:

Maggie Harker as a polar bear on the left, Amaris in her large black wolf form on the right

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Tip Top Ten: Fashion!

Post by Tippletoe »

Volume 1
Special Issue 6

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
The Fashionistas
By Tippletoe Timbers

Right now people are worried about the dismal state of the brackets, and their out-of-season bets. But y’know what I think about? Style. This isn’t about what you wore to the Governor’s Gala, or at the Tranquility Ballroom during the date auction. This is about your fashion in the ring. Let’s see who wore the best threads in the first two rounds of March Madness 2021.

#10: Hope Naharis
Some people might say that Hope rocks the jogger or jumpsuit look better than anyone else. Add to that her trend-setting statement of wearing anyone else’s Real RhyDin jersey but her own. But what stood out to this gnome is the headwear!

Insert Photo: Close-up of Hope Naharis wearing a pirates hat in Round One versus Jedi.

Who doesn’t love a good pirate’s hat?! If we could, however, make one small recommendation: feathers. Hope-of-the-Real-Pirates, you need feathers in that captain hat!

#9. Bailey Raptis
Bailey Raptis normally tops the fashion charts! But we will admit, it is hard to be so stylish in between duels and magic. Not duel of magic. Black Magic. As in, the burgers! But for St. Patrick’s Day* he found a way to embrace the holiday spirit.

Insert Photo: Bailey Raptis is dressed in a green Black Magic Burger t-shirt. His hair is dyed green and there are four-leaf clovers painted on each cheek. He wore a leather jacket, jeans, and no-slip shoes of black hue.
*Note: Tippletoe Timbers does not endorse the characterizations of gnomes as chubby gold hoarding creatures. Gnomes are not Leperchauns.

#8. Rachael Blackthorne
Darkgaze Steelblade is known for her calm, cool demeanour. Rarely anything gets this Watch Woman ruffled. She’s consistent. But also, consistently stylish! Perfectly selected colours, fine detailing, a well-tailored fit.

Insert Photo: Rachael Blackthorne descending the staircase from the Blackthorne skybox. She is wearing black, red, and gold. Black leather gloves with gold gemstone adornments grasp a five-foot-long staff with a gold filigree pattern of wolves and panthers. Her tunic has the same gold embroidery. For jewellery, she wears the brass and fire opal Key on her chest and a rose gold and ruby ring.

#7. Doran Ilnaren
Gutsy Dreamer brought some hot threads to round two versus Jaycy Ashleana! Fighting togs in Rock Hard colours with black boots was just an eye-catcher. It was also well fitted, very well fitted. Go watch the replays on Sync™.

#6. Karma Armstrong
While I think dusters are *so* last season (I’m looking at you Caleb), Karma puls it off with that cute bodysuit underneath. Not to mention those chain accessories. The gauntlet gloves were a nice tough.

Insert Photo: Underneath the duster, Karma wears a long sleeved bodysuit belted around the middle with leather. Downward from there, opaque thigh highs and boots that stopped just below the knee. She is in the process of putting on gauntlet gloves before stepping into the ring.

#5. Sheridan Driscol
Drisnor Bardfellow is a man of excellent taste in clothing (but much superior taste in music)! Another stylish St Patrick’s piece that was on fleek!

#4. Luna Sanguinem
LoveBreaker WhimsyVibe made short work of Matt Simon in Round One, and she did it in ranger vibes that would put Ranger Brootality (Gren Blockman) to shame. Gren may profess to love the trees, but LoveBreak Luna is the trees. Long legs, green dressing, hair that catches just right in the wind. All the whimsical toughness of someone who strides The Wilds without a world-weary care!

#3. Anya de la Rose
When the great fashionista Killer Koy dresses you for a fight, you know it’s going to put you in the top three. Anya already features princess-like fashion taste, but she was smart enough to wear something with mobility in her fight against Ragey Runt.

This ensemble is less about the individual pieces, and more about the artistry of the whole. The vibe clearly reads “I can fight a giant and be the sexiest lady doing it.”

#2. Morgan LaFey
Tippletoe loooooves a man in armour. Ow ow! Practical, Protective, Proper Posture. It all shows up in Morgan LaFey’s Adamantine suit from round one against Anubis. The photo doesn’t do justice to the look of solid ruggedness underneath that gleaming helmet.

#1. Amaris Silhaeven
Amaris was fashionable for both rounds of Madness. First, she was a sleek-looking wolf (pictured in an earlier article). And then, against the two-time winner Myria Graziano, this Fiesty Fashionista was sporting the BEST COLOURS of ALL TIME! Purple and Orange. Plus some Tippletoe-approved-sass. And did you see her hair?! Gulpin’ glitter guppies it put the sparkles in my sails!

I happily declare Amaris Silhaeven to be the Most Fearsome and Fiesty Fashionista of Madness 2021!
--- END ---

Bonus Content! While the colouring is different, this is an example of Rachael’s tunic and gloves.

Note: Images and descriptions were either stolen from the Green Room or adapted from live play!

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Tip Top Ten: Cinderella DoctorSquire Suturi

Post by Tippletoe »

Volume 1
Special Issue 7

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
Cinderella Suturi
By Tippletoe Timbers

Cinderella Cinderella! Suturi is the Cinderella of March Madness 2021, an eleventh seed making it all the way to the Division Finals! I found her in front of the Red Dragon Inn for an interview! I had all sorts of excellent questions planned, but Suturi is just as chaotic outside the rings as inside, so join me on this wild ride! Read on to meet Snooster the Seventh, learn about Suturi’s family, and why Ebnor BlackEye (Ebon Ilnaren) should be extra careful of getting licked!

TT: Hiya Cinderella Suturi!


Insert Photo: Suturi gives Tippletoe a horrible toothy grin while her tail absently sweeps over figures drawn in the dirt. Sutri is wearing a long patchwork shirt made of flesh.

TT: Oooooh, what were you drawing Doctor Squire Suturi?

Suturi: Death Bubble plans. Or what non-doctor squires call Death Bubble plans!

TT: Interesting! I'd love to hear more about the Death Bubble plans later. Ready for some questions?

Suturi: NOPE!

Editor's Note: Suturi nodded here, so Tippletoe decided to proceed!

Question 1: Doctor Squire Suturi
TT: You said earlier that you are a Doctor Squire! What are you a Doctor of?

Suturi: I am a doctor of science! I have a lab and everything that I will soon be moving into the Arenacade so that we can replicate the HIGHER Nooooooooooooooooon BOOM ROOM from the desert place that I cannot remember the name to!


Meet SNOOSTER. The seventh. They die quickly.

Insert Photo: A large monstrosity trundles into view, towering over Tippletoe and Suturi. It had a long windy body of a snake, tail rattling, and a saddle upon its scaly back. However, it also sported a comb at the top, a wickedly hooked beak, and chicken legs. And tiny lizard arms. Tippletoe’s mouth is open wide, Suturi is beaming proudly.



Question 2: Snooster
Insert Photo: Snooster has fallen on their side, Suturi reaches out to pet them and Snooster bites her hand. Suturi seems indifferent.

TT: I have so many more questions now! Okay, next question then, what is Snooster and why did you make them?

Suturi: Snooster is my horse! I made it because I wanted a horse and my very first Snooster was the size of a turtle!

TT: Snooster is a pretty awesome Snicken Hizard! Way better than a horse. Or a turtle.

Question 3: Family
TT: My next question is about you and Skid. I've heard he's your Pa. Can you tell me more about your family?

Suturi: I HAVE LOTS. There's Da and Mum and kinda gramma but not really and Lily and Rose and Tes and of course Eddie but I'm not sure why Mum keeps saying kidnapped and Stockholm syndrome and I definitely don't keep him in a cage anymore and he loves me! OH. And my real Grandmum who's like a goddess or something and stuff.

TT: Do you think they will come and watch your Division Finals fight?

Suturi: Da might! Mum's stuck up so no. She doesn't like the duels. Kinda gramma… She's really involved in the playing but she's got weird people stuff to do. She's like a governatorer or something. SNOOSTER WILL THOUGH.

TT: Wait, a governor? What's your grandma's name?

Suturi: Uhhh... she's got a million! I think ... Ashlebite? Yeah! Mum calls her a whole bunch of names some days - or used to - and now calls her Jayrellastein. She's not REAL gramma though. Someone scienced her mum said.

Question 4: Dueling … for Body Parts
TT: Is your Da, Skid, the reason you got into dueling? Or was it a member of LuvBonez from the Round Robin Cup?

Suturi: What's dueling?

TT: The thing you do in the ArenaArcade? or the Outback? People use different weapons, you usually use your tail?

Suturi: OH. YEAH. I play! I just want body parts for the lab. I like Minionios though! She's fun! We share bones.

TT: Have you ever gotten body parts for the lab from dueling?

Suturi: YES. I once gave gatito LSD and a fire toad in my lab!

Editor's Note: At this point, Suturi was actually shaking her head in the negative.

Question 5: Friends
TT: What other friends have you made through dueling?

Suturi: ALL OF THEM. I don't like friends but I love everyone I don't remember. I love Runt! But he didn't eat my tail. I wanted to grow a new one. OH WELL.

Question 6: Tails
TT: Speaking of your tail, what sorts of tricks can you do with your tail?

Suturi: I can eat it! I can tie it! It has a mind of its own though. One night it took off and went caterwauling through the lair! I was still attached though so I was kinda dragged along for the ride. I grounded it after that. I don't use it to play though! That would be uncivildoctorized!

Insert Photo: Suturi demonstrates tying her tail. She has pulled it forward and tied a knot, and is tugging on both ends to make it nice and tight.

Question 7: Suturizilla
TT: How did you make yourself into a Suturizilla for your fight against Runt?

Suturi: Science! I wangdingled my uvula to swell it and my postula up after mixing a veritable myriad of giant an -- HEY WAIT A MINUTE. I CAN'T TELL YOU MY SCIENCING. You'll eat my cookies.

TT: I'm pretty confident your cookies would give me a stomach ache.

Question 8: Ebon’s Body Parts
Insert Photo: Suturi is in the process of gnawing at the hand Snooster bit earlier. It was dripping silvery blood that hissed and seemed to leave a burn mark every time a drop landed on her leg.

TT: In your next round, you're going to be fighting against Ebon. What's your strategy to, uh, get his body parts for your sciencing?

Suturi: What's strategy?

TT: How are you going to get his body parts for sciencing? Will you turn super big again? Will you let your tail play this time? Or will you gnaw him like you are gnawing your finger? That kind of thing!

Suturi: I don't know. No one lets me have them when I ask. Most people don't let me lick them! CAN I LICK YOU?

TT: No thank you!

Question 9: A Perfect Day
TT: Describe to me your perfect day!

Suturi: Octonoruary 71 billion. Not too hot, not too cold, and it's open all night!

Question 10: Last Words
TT: Do you have anything you want to say to the great people of RhyDin?

Suturi: NOPE. BYE.

Insert Photo: Suturi drags Snooster by the tail away from a concerned looking Tippletoe.


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Tip Top Ten: EXCLUSIVE Interview with G'nort Dragoon-Talanador

Post by Tippletoe »

Volume 1
Special Issue 8

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
EXCLUSIVE Interview with G’nort Dragoon-Talanador
By Tippletoe Timbers

As we draw nearer to the end of March Madness 2021, I thought we’d take some time to wax nostalgic with G’nort Dragoon-Talanador aka “G”. G’nort was the first person to win March Madness back in 2007 against opponents such as Rakeesh Sah Tarna, Maria Graziano, and Tarl Cabot. His winning prize was the Old Market District Barony and a challenge grant prize gifted to Horatio Macbeth. G’nort officially retired four years ago at the hands of Madness 2021 Ilnaren Division #1 Seed: Salvador Delahada.

About G’nort Dragoon-Talanador
For those of you new(er) to the Duel of Swords scene, here’s a few facts about DoS legend G’nort. G’nort first appears on the historical standings November, 1996. He reached the rank of Warlord in five months (back when losses counted for every duelist). G’nort has held eleven different DoS titles, four of them twice.

If you’ve heard of the Team Dueling League, the first dueling sports team event, G’nort also held some records there. He has the most all-time duels and all-time wins in the league, and led the Company of the Dragon to victory during the 519 Season earning the Best Captain award.

Read on to find out who G looks up to for inspiration, the origins of G’nort 3:16, which ex-wife he hates the least, and possible invites for a Charity Dueling Ball!

Cover Photo: Set in the Talanador Towers, Tippletoe Timbers sits in an rich, velvet overstuffed chair across from G'nort Talanador. A fireplace roars softly between them, and a finely carved table is set with two tumblers and a bottle of scotch. G'nort is leaning back casually, a smile playing on his lips with an eye towards the camera.

TT: Thank you so much for meeting with me Mr. Dragoon-Talanador! Can I call you G'nort? G?

G: Truly a pleasure. I can always make time for good publicity, and please, call me 'G'.

Question 1: The Beginnings
TT: Let’s start off getting to know you a little bit. How did you find yourself in RhyDin and end up the rings?

G: Ah, well. Back in the olden days, people used to just randomly find themselves passing through portals and ending up here. I, myself was one such soul. Sailing on my ship and passing through the fog. Once through, finding there weren't any familiar stars, so ended up settling at the first available port. Turned out to be Rhydin. As to the rings, one of my first friends here, you might remember her, Ellisa Morgan, asked me to come watch her perform in her first Warlord's Tournament. Extra support, you know. Of course, I did. Then a few months later, I decided to experience the rings myself and once I did, I was completely, how would you say it, hooked, addicted even. Despite the horrid record I held in my early days, I kept at it. The rest, as they say, is history.

TT: What was it that hooked you so completely, that kept you going even with a rough early start?

G: Ahh... it was the competition, the sport of it all. The feeling of exhilaration not only when you make a successful strike, but when you were able to come away with the victory. The determination to be a success in everything I do. I couldn't simply sit there with a horrible record, no, I had to become better. I can honestly say that never once did I ever think of quitting in those earlier days. I had my goals. The first, of course, to increase my ranking, make Warlord, then see where to go next.

Question 2: Creating Success
TT: You have some very notable achievements, as a duelist and as a team captain. What does it take to be successful like that, both individually and in leading teams to a championship victory?

G: I'm assuming you're referring to my tenure as owner and captain of the Company of the Dragon Team Dueling League team, yes? In the league, it was usually much like a chess match. You can have a team of all star caliber fighters, but if you don't know how to best utilize them, what good is that?

So, the best way to lead a team to victory is knowing yourself, building a team for overall success rather than individual, and knowing the best positions to place them in, and when not to use certain fighters in certain situations. I'm not ashamed to admit that there were many times that I willingly sacrificed a fighter on my team in order to ensure a better matchup overall. Much like one sacrifices a pawn to the queen in order to get closer to the king. I would say that I was very good at what I did back then. Only had a couple of poor seasons in, what was it, eleven? Twelve seasons?

You have to be good at strategy to be a good captain.

As to successful, individual success, that's more along the lines of just being, well, good, I guess. Know your opponents, know your own faults, keep on fighting to be better. I may not have been the best, though I will always say I am, but I was very, very good. Knowledge is power, after all.

Question 3: Dueling Heroes
TT: As someone who was very, very good, did you have any heroes or mentors you looked up to? People you aspired to be like in the rings?

G: I mean, early on, I suppose there was a few that I looked to as a sort of goal. I don't know if I would call them heroes of mine, but fighters that I respected. My third duel ever was against a Warlady named Merewyne. After she defeated me, she took the time to give me advice, tips, and help, you know? So in that regard, I would say I respected that to the point of wanting to be good enough to help the younger and newer fighters out when I could. Others I respected, I would say, were Iain MacKenzie, Luthien, Jake, Bishop, Kalamere, even my old foe Lupton, who I had many run ins with.

Question 4: Memorable Duels
TT: Can you tell us about a few memorable duels? One that you really enjoyed, or a nail bitter you'll never forget? Or perhaps a high stakes challenge you felt was significant?

G: Do you know one thing that really grates on me? Undeserved ego. When someone thinks they are so good, but have done nothing to earn those bragging rights except happen to get lucky once. So, I am very glad for this question.

There was one fighter I remember clearly, because of this incident, named Jacob Ryleigh. One night, we fought in the rings, pretty standard match, really. Anyway, Jacob managed to defeat me. No big deal, after all, I've lost plenty of matches in my life. However, the very next weekend, he happened to come in with a woman, and they were sitting at a table. He pointed me out to her and said, I forget the exact wording so I'm paraphrasing a little. He said “See him? That's G'nort, he's a Baron and I beat him down last week.”

Now, of course I didn't much care for him using me as a way to score points with his girl, so naturally, I prodded him to back it up and see if he could do it again. This put him in a poor position because now he had to save face with his girl. So, he agreed, and stepped into the ring, where I promptly shut him out in six rounds. Would have been better if it was a perfect, but, the shutout was still very satisfying. Needless to say he was very humbled and all I said was that he should be careful what he brags about.

Aside from that, I mean, I've had very many challenges, both as a challenger and defender, so I can't honestly remember much about them any longer, except for my last challenge for Overlord. I mean, I had -always- said that I never felt the need or want to go for Overlord, and that was true. But once I became the first person to hold all the Baronies, there was nothing left until I realized that the only thing I had left, was in fact, to become the first All Title Holder in the Arena. So, I had to challenge Rand for that title. Which I did, and which I won. My only regret is that the match took so long to complete because of how incredibly cautious I was being. Nerves, you understand, was a very important match at the time.

Question 5: G’nort 3:16
TT: You've left a lot of legacies at the Arena, being the first All Title Holder among them. But the one people hear the most, even our newest duelists, is the reference G'nort 3:16. What is G’nort 3:16 and how did it come about?

G: They still say that, huh? Ahh, that's wonderful. G'nort 3:16, to answer the question, is simply no slashing. I would say it every time I successfully destroyed someone when they tried the maneuver against me, which was often. I, of course, would say it very emphatically. 'G'nort 3:16 says -NO- Slashing!!' It came about sort of as an alternative from some advice I got from the previously mentioned Iain MacKenzie, who had always told me that slashing was a poor attack because it was generally slower, clumsy and had very little strategic value, whereas stepping aside gained the same benefits and more. So, I took it to mean that I should never slash anyone in a match, then got more, shall we say, 'obsessed' with the idea.

The G'nort 3:16 part came from a sort of alternative to what is known as a Christian Bible, where there is John 3:16, and then taken from an alternate reality where a person was saying Austin 3:16. So, I simply modified that to my use and thus was born G'nort 3:16. And I became very well known for that catch phrase. Which pleases me greatly.

TT: So, after you started G'nort 3:16, did you ever slash?

G: There were occasions where I have been seen to slash, yes. There were only ever three acceptable reasons I would do it. One. Because I knew my opponent well enough to know when they were susceptible to getting hit by it, and by then if you got hit by me with a slash, it would be incredibly demoralizing and pretty much guarantee the win. Two. To prove a point that slashing is dumb, which, of course, costs you that point and shows that slashing is, indeed, dumb. And Three. When it's funny. I had an entire routine for the funny ones which involved a great deal of theatrics. Which made it even funnier if my opponent was gonna get hit, cause that's doubly demoralizing. Of course, there are people who don't agree with my assessment, and that's fine.

Question 6: March Madness
TT: Let's talk about March Madness for a bit, What can you tell us about the origins of March Madness? How it got started, why the divisions were named after specific folks, how the seeding was done, whose palms were greased in the process?

G: Mmmm, ah yes, the main purpose to this interview. This I remember clearly. It was the brainchild of the then Arena Coordinator, Chris Graziano, who modeled it after a tournament he enjoyed on his previous world. Once he came up with the model and announced it, my god, the excitement for something like that hadn't been seen in years. I can't say if he worked on the details alone, which I imagine he had some input from others, but the very idea of having 64 different fighters competing, it pulled people out of retirement! Very exciting.

The divisions, that was, again, Chris' brainchild, he wanted to pay tribute to who he felt were important duelists of the past. Honestly, I can't even recall without researching what those division names were, but I know he gave a good amount of thought into choosing them.

As to the seeding, he chose three others to be division managers, of which I was one of them. Chris was as well, and I can't remember who the other two were at the time. He gave us all our individual ways of choosing how to do the seeding, which was not easy at all, because it was the first Madness, people came out of retirement for it, and we were encouraged to take lifetime accomplishments in the Arena into account. This meant a good deal of work finding all the accomplishments for 16 individual fighters, lifetime! For me, if I recall correctly, I counted the titles held, the level of the title, like Overlord and Baron vs Warlord, tournaments won, challenges, special events that occurred, etc. Not a simple task.

And, of course, not everyone agreed with the seeding, because some felt slighted they were lower than they thought they should be, and a few thought they were higher than they should. But it was an extremely fun thing to do. I mean, hell, we had OVER 64 duelists enter! A waiting list, so incredible.

Chris said the following Tournaments would only be for the previous years accomplishments, making it easy after that. As to whose palms were greased, I mean, nobody bribed me at the time, so for anyone else, you'd have to ask them.

Question 7: Winning Madness
TT: I can't imagine how amazing that first year must have been! And then, you not only helped organize it, you won it! What was that like?!

G: Pretty intense, if I recall correctly. I mean, it was the first Madness tournament, probably the largest ever overall, the most challenging to seed, and then I was the first winner. Honestly, I didn't expect to win it all, but I wasn't going to not try. I mean, the first rounds, the pressure isn't that bad. But the further you get, the more stressful it becomes because hey, I'm closer to winning this thing. Then, the final? Yes, that was just as much, if not more, pressure than a challenge match would be. Except in that one, you would be the first ever. That's historical.

TT: Do you remember any of those fights? Is there one that stands out to you as being a key win on your way to history?

G: Two, actually. The first being the Horatio MacBeth match, which I advanced due to his injury. Nobody should like a free pass in a tournament like that. You should earn your way. The second, of course, would be the Final. Few people could name the person who came in second in that match without looking. It was Tarl Cabot, by the way. And nobody wants to be known as the Almost Won, or Number Two. You want to be the number one, winner, victor. Like I said, that final match was more stressful than a challenge match, so, winning it and becoming the first was pretty memorable, especially since the tournament still continues to this day.

Question 8: Tournaments and Leagues
TT: It definitely does, and it's been incredibly rewarding to help contribute to the tournament this year. You've seen a lot of different tournaments and leagues come and go in twenty years. What makes something stick? Why do things end? And do you think there's a life expectancy on something like March Madness, which now only has 32 participants?

G: Well, it's sad, really. There have been many good ideas that were used over the years, leagues, etc. First thing that answers the first two questions is, 'Interest.' There has to be an interest in something in order for it to stick around. If there's no interest, nobody will bother with trying to run something that's intensive and challenging to organize and administrate. Both tournaments and leagues need participants, and they need participants who are interested in them. Sometimes, that just goes away for something brighter and shinier. As to a life expectancy for Madness? I can't really say, because I haven't been paying too much attention to the Arena to gauge the fighters interest in such a thing. But, being the realist I am, I would say there is an end of life to it. That would make even me sad, but I would understand. I hope not, though, it really is the best tournament in all the sports.

TT: I think you're right. I think all good things do come to an end, but it's nice to enjoy them while they last.

G: Exactly.

Question 9: Community
TT: Something really stood out to me while I was researching for this interview. When you won, you got both a Barony and a Challenge Grant Prize to hand out. Instead of just picking a recipient for the prize, you consulted the community of duelers. Why did you do that?

G: Mmm, I remember what you are talking about. Honestly, I felt that the free win I got due to Horatio's forfeit left a slightly bad taste in my mouth, but I also felt that for a free grant, and grants were a new idea at that point in time, that it shouldn't be taken lightly. I knew if I just picked someone, I would be scrutinized a great deal for it. Calls of favoritism, preferential treatment, etc. would be coming my way. But, I knew there were several people who I thought could really use something that was rare at that time. So I decided that I wanted to gauge public opinion on the matter to see who they might think deserved a chance at a title. Was pretty interesting to see what happened after that.

TT: What did happen after that?

G: Well, I got a lot of opinions on the matter. Some funny responses, especially from Marc Franco, the big blogger at the time who made fun of everyone. Would have loved to have him want to get it. I believe I eventually gave it to Horatio, but I can't really remember off the top of my head. Would have to go through records to look that up, and, well, who has time for that?

TT: Maybe some of our readers will be inspired to look it up!

G: Maybe they will. And maybe they get to learn some history along the way. Wouldn't that be nice?

Question 10: The Wrap Up
TT: Okay, last question. If there was a Dueling Charity Ball, who would be your top five invites and would you come yourself?

G: Well that depends, am I giving any money? What's the charity for? Is it something I can support? I mean, we got a lot of factors to take into consideration.

Assuming it would be something I'd support, I would say I could make an appearance. I mean, I am such a nice guy and love helping out those in need. That sounded sincere right? Okay good.

As to who I'd invite, top five? I honestly have no idea. Whoever has the most money, I guess. And Sal. I'd definitely invite Salvador. He's a trip. Maybe, I don't know, my ex-wifes club. See what happens when they get together, maybe bash me, or better yet, bash each other. That would be highly entertaining. Dig up Matt Simon, too. Whoever is old and grumpy, just to make them even grumpier, I think.

TT: Scary Sal and Old Man Simon are great! I like them. Well, mostly AncientSkies Matt Simon. I think Surly-Scary-Sal might eat me one day. Now, you have an ex-wife's club? Or does your ex-wife (wives?) have a club?

G: I just assumed they had a club. There's so many of them, after all. And Sal would never eat you. You're a female. And gnomes are so tough and gamey. Not a lot of flavor there.

TT: Well that's reassuring! Speaking of ex-wives, someone in the office wanted me to ask you this. Which of your ex-wives do you like the most, or, hate the least?

G: Oh that's easy. Kaja. Kaja Adair. As to why her, it's cause she understood me, completely. We were in a free for all match, and we teamed up, eliminating the competition until it was down to me and her. So, of course I did the gentlemanly thing and tossed her out to win the match. She didn't get angry or anything. She totally understood.

Parting Shots
TT: Well thank you so much for spending this time with me, it's been a pleasure to meet the legend! Do you have any last words or parting shots?

G: Oh it has been a pleasure, absolutely. And yes, a couple last words, considering how much I love talking it seems. For the fans, First, this is an interview, I still have no intention of returning. Second, G'nort 3-16 still says -NO- Slashing!! and third and finally, Είμαι συνταξιούχος. Look it up.

Bonus Content!

It was so amazing, as someone who looked up to G back in the ‘old’ days, to interview him IC. He was very generous in sacrificing a couple of hours for me. I had so much more I wanted to ask him, especially OOC. But I stuck to one question.

Q: You dueled for an incredibly long time, 20 years. What was the best part of dueling, for you?

A: So, those 20 years, the best part of it really has to be the people I met along the way, sometimes going to gatherings and such. One of the ways I always described dueling was that it was the closest to professional sports a guy like me could get. Competing in a real sort of way against people from, literally, all over the world. I mean, they have professional gaming events, chess tournaments, etc all over. Dueling was that to me and I met some pretty great people during that time. So, those were the best things.

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Tip Top Ten: EXCLUSIVE Interview with Gatito Lindo

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Volume 1
Special Issue 9

Tip Top Ten
March Madness 2021
EXCLUSIVE Interview with Gatito Lindo

By Tippletoe Timbers

Another season of March Madness has come and gone! Not a single bettor predicted the finalists, let alone the victor: Gatito. His journey is far from over, with the Mad Test-Free Overlord Match tomorrow, Monday May 3rd at 9 PM ET. Read on to discover what kind of music Gatito enjoys, his thoughts about winning, and what format you are likely to see in tomorrow’s challenge.

Cover Photo: Tippletoe Timbers and Gatito enjoy a light afternoon fare in the rooftop gardens of Matadero. The table is set with bright coloured macarons, angel wings, palmiers and coffee. Tippletoe is wearing her New Haven Wisteria Wrap, face painted with light touches of purple, glittered gold, and green for Beltane. Tippleote is listening intently while Gatito chuckles. Gatito is barefoot and wearing jeans. His shirt is black with a graphic of a lucky cat eating a bowl of noodles, with the words “Hopeless Ramentic.”

Question 1: The Madness Journey
TT: Well let's dive right into it! March Madness is always such a journey, and you had quite the voyage versus Skid, Anubis, Myria, and Jay. Which of those rounds stand out most in your memory and why?

GL: It absolutely is. It’s a tough and exciting journey. They’re all memorable and they were all incredibly skilled. But if I had to choose, I’d say Skid. We had so much fun in that fight. It’s always a pleasure to fight him, but we really let our hair down for that one. I’m glad I got to destroy Lego City with him.

Insert Photo: Gatito, as a golden-furred beast, fighting against the Nightmare Skid in a fully established Lego city. Skids claws are tearing into the fur, while Gatito rakes his claws through the Nightmare’s scales.

TT: Whose idea was that, the Lego City?

GL: That was Gallo’s idea. He overheard me talking to Sal about fighting Skid in a different skin, and suggested we fight in a miniature city, like something out of a kaiju film. We thought about doing foam blocks at first, but Lego makes a nice sound when the structures shatter. Plus, we could pick up pieces of the city and use them as melee weapons if we wanted.

Question 2: Second Skin
TT: My second question is actually about that different skin! In that first fight against Skid, you fought in a different form. Can you tell us a bit about that? Are you a Terran Leopard? Something else? Was it a one-time thing, can you always do that?

GL: Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I am a Child of Seline. It is one of many forms She has given me, and it is something I can usually do at will.

TT: One of many forms? Do you mind sharing some of the other forms you have?

GL: They’re all related, but there are five in total. Aside from this skin the one I wear most frequently is fully feline. If you have seen a clouded leopard hanging out in the rafters, beneath a table, or on a bar stool, that was me.

It’s pretty awesome, I have to admit. I really enjoy hunting in that form.

Question 3: Joining Madness
TT: Why did you enter Madness?

GL: It sounded like a lot of fun. Plus, I thought I might learn something from getting to fight so many skilled duelists. I’m pretty new to the sport and to armed combat, so I’m always looking for ways to get a bit better

TT: And did you have fun? How do you think your skills improved?

GL: I had a blast. I feel like I learned to persevere and push a little bit harder, and to be stiller, so to speak, and more observant.

Question 4: Finals vs Suturi
TT: You had a nice bookend to your journey, fighting the father, Skid, at the beginning and the daughter, Suturi, at the end. Tell us about the last match, against Suturi Skidspawn.

GL: It’s pretty incredible how that worked out, huh? Suturi is an unpredictable opponent, so I knew going into it that it would be a tough match. I suspected it would be fun, too, and it was. She’s got that scientist’s mind, so she switches gears quickly and tries new things. Plus, she has that tail. She nearly put me on my arse with it.

TT: What was going through your mind and heart when you were declared the winner of March Madness 2021?

GL: I couldn’t believe it. It felt like I was experiencing half a dozen emotions at once and it was hard to process them all. I never thought I’d get that far in my first year. It almost felt like a dream. I was excited and elated and little bit incredulous, I guess.

Question 5: Challenging Hope
TT: In your correspondence with the Overlord, you imply that you’ve faced her before. What’s your impression of Hope Naharis? How are you feeling about the challenge on Monday?

GL: I have. I faced her once as the Squire of Seaside, during the course of a test, and she predictably kicked my arse. She’s incredibly skilled and she’s got a lot of … what did Conner call it? Grit? She’s a really tough opponent. So I’m a little bit nervous, but mostly I’m excited. Win or lose, I know it’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully, a good show for anyone who comes out to watch.

TT: I will definitely be there! The Mad Test-Free Grant means you get to choose the format of the duel against Hope. Are you leaning one way or the other? Best of three? One fight?

GL: Oh, good! I hope it’ll be a fun time for everyone. Right now, I’m leaning toward best of three, I think, but that could change.

Question 6: If you were Overlord…
TT: Next question! If you were to become Overlord, what would you do next? Banish all the Barons? Court for their Loyalty? Take a trip on the yacht?

GL: Take a nap! No, seriously … I haven’t really thought about it. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, you know? The yacht sounds like a really good idea with the weather warming up, though.

TT: The yacht is amazing! Or so I've heard.

GL: I’ve never been on it, but I can only imagine it’s as grand as the title it serves.

Question 7: The Name Gatito
TT: The name Gatito. Where does it come from, and what does it mean?

GL: It’s what Sal called me shortly after we met. It’s Spanish for kitten.

Question 8: Describe your ideal date!
TT: Describe your ideal date!

GL: I don’t know if I have one. All that really matters to me is time spent with the other person.

TT: Let's say you have your ideal person, what would you two be doing?

GL: Something quiet, I think. A picnic maybe. I’m not big on clubs or things of that sort.

TT: Awe, that's nice! I like picnics!

GL: I do, too. Good opportunity to talk, or not. Peaceful either way.

Question 9: A Few Fun Facts
TT: Alright, second last question. What are a few things people are unlikely to know about you that you'd be willing to share with our readers?

GL: I speak six languages, but French is the first among them. I learned to bake from my mother. And … I like opera.

TT: Your baking is sublime! Your mother is an excellent teacher.

GL: Merci. Oui. Elle était magnifique.

Question 10: The Matadero
TT: Last question! Is the Matadero haunted?

GL: Define haunted.

Insert Photo: Tippletoe is quickly packing up her tape recorder as the tree limbs rustle around her. The lighting of the photo has been adjusted to add an otherworldly tinge to the sunny afternoon and the tree limbs rustling in the breeze.

A Tip-Top Gnome from Tip-to-Toe: I'm Your Tippletoe!
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