DnDF17 Episode 2: Everything must be dwarf

Previously on DnDF17…

The members of Bacon Ipsum stared in growing horror at the flames consuming Moscone.

Datatello’s concern heightened with each area he recognized, but his eyes focused on his own neighborhood, wondering if his sister, Erikuhl, was safe.

Bakaryu had to use all of her mental discipline to stay put, seeing the glow and smoke from the Temple district.

Trailblazer turned away to seek Dirk in the crowd. Their handler had his head held down to his wrist, shaking it and prodding it, his visage one of consternation. She approached, waving vaguely at the door, “Where do you need us?”

“What?”

“I assume everyone’s scrambling at this point, but what are our orders?”

His eyes narrowed, “I’m not getting anything. What are you talking about?”

Perhaps just as confused as he clearly was, she pointed out the still-open door, hoping that the fires raging through the streets would be indicative enough of her question. His eyes widened, and he looked back at her, “They must have hit Site 14. Where are you going?”

This felt like some terrible comedy bit, and the timing was awful, “I don’t know! Where do you need us?”

He shook his head again, considered a moment, then reached into a pouch and tossed her a wrist brace similar to his, “Here. Take this. When Site 14 is back up and running, you’ll need to know what the plan is.”

He approached the prone, metal dwarf and leaned down to inspect. To Trailblazer’s horror, two needles rose from his chest and struck Dirk in the hand. Her years of surviving in the wilderness made it clear that this was poison, but no matter her abilities, she couldn’t pinpoint it.

“I’m fine! Go!”

With a frustrated shout to the patrons to look after him, Trailblazer joined the others, “The system is down. We have no orders.”

Even as she said it, as she listened to her companions’ reports, she saw the glow in the distance and knew that her mentor’s shop was, if not already burning, in danger of doing so soon. She focused on the reports, and nodded, “We need to get to the residential area first. The Temples have more power to stop this. We’ll go around in a loop.”

Datatello had already hopped onto his magical, rolling board and was heading toward his home, the others following. Erikuhl, his sister, was waiting, waving frantically when she recognized him.

“Are you ok?”

“Fine, I’m fine.”

“What about the kids?”

“They’re…” she trailed off, her eyes unfocused, as she tried to think – there were flames and children, and the children needed to be…led away from the flame. She had done that, yes. She nodded, “Yes, they are safe.”

“What happened here?”

“Dwarves! Large dwarves,” she started, rummaging through a pack and shoving things into his hands, “Take these!”

He looked down to see a pair of bracers and a necklace, a kind of upside down triangle with something carved into it. He had barely any time to don them, for lack of a place to put them otherwise at least, before three dwarves, large and covered in metal like the one Master of Coffee, turned in unison and began stalking toward them.

Things swiftly fell to chaos. Coming up swiftly behind Datatello, Kriv summoned fire and hurled it at the oncoming monstrosities. Either unprepared or unconcerned, the dwarves seemed to simply walk into the new flames. Bakaryu sprinted forward, first to ensure that neither Datatello nor Erikuhl were similarly engulfed in flame, and to open her maw and breathe a rolling ball of energy onto their attackers.

Datatello had retrieved his juggling balls, spinning them through the air; they gained momentum, as his companions attacked, and when he knew they were clear, he made his attacks, “You guys shouldn’t play with fire! You could get hurt that way!”

One of the weighted spheres flew directly at the dwarf closest to him, knocking into its head. It turned to stare quietly at him, and the half-orc moved closer to attack, punching him in his jaw. The dwarf had no reaction, but there was a definite sting in his own hand.

Trailblazer, astride Cloudy, came up behind the party. She took aim with her bow, the goat’s added height making it possible for her to use her longbow. The arrow shot out, whistling through the air to bury itself in the eye of the dwarf Datatello had just angered.  In the time that it flew, she drew another arrow. Before it cleared Cloudy’s head, the goat twisted and caught the arrow, chewing on the wood thoughtfully. Trailblazer stared at her, feeling betrayed.

Arrow still in its eye, the dwarf still stared at Datatello, its hand starting to shudder, opening and closing with a strange regularity, as if on a spring. The dwarf behind it, prone, lifted back to standing, like a fulcrum. Once straight again, he reached behind, drawing a battle-ax from its back. The axe grew, extending both the handle and its blades – blades that started to spin wildly.

The dwarf took a step and swung the spiraling blade at Datatello, slashing into the half-orc hard enough that the monk stepped back, inadvertently dodging the second blow.

The third dwarf standing near Bakaryu held up his arm, his hand popping down, as if on a hinge, and a circular blade came out, spinning menacingly. Before he lunged, he turned, seeing Trailblazer. He turned and started toward her.

Kriv’s eyes narrowed, seeing the change in direction, and lashed out, a blast of electricity arcing through the air toward their attackers. All but the potential leader, wielding the battle-ax, seized suddenly, then fell unceremoniously to the ground.

The leader turned toward his attacker and began stalking toward Trailblazer, a well. Bakaryu acted immediately, stepping in front of him and driving forward with her sword. The dwarf looked at the sword, taking a step forward, still staring at Trailblazer.

Another step.

And he fell slack on the blade.

The team looked around, Bakaryu looking over at her dwarf companion, who was muttering about nightmares, “Maybe you should wear a disguise or something.”

“So Ryu, ask me if I have anything that would work as a disguise for Trailblazer.”

Datatello grinned, “This is a joke he’s been telling lately. I don’t really get it, but it is pretty funny.”

The paladin smiled, “Ok. Kriv, do you have something that we could use as a disguise for Brunhilde?”

Kriv reached into his cloak, digging around a bit, before pulling out a large cloak. It was clearly too large for the dwarf, but it would most certainly hide her from view. He handed it over, “Try this on. If it’s too long, maybe Cloudy will hem it up for you.”

Datatello watched all of it joyfully, “I don’t know what you’re paying for your magic classes, but it’s worth it.”

The others looked at him, but he went peacefully into a meditation. He twirled then brought his quarterstaff down, shouting his holy cry, feeling his body start to heal.

“Maybe you should ask if the wizard has a health potion,” Kriv offered helpfully, frowning when his cloak came into view. The corner snapped him in the face.

“It was a genuine ask,” he grumbled. The corner snapped him the other way.

Bakaryu, realizing that her companion was still injured approached, reaching out to offer him healing.

With the battle over, and the healing done, the group looked around to see the fires creeping in. Kriv cleared his throat, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had some sort of hose and a never-ending supply of water to help put out this fire.”

Datatello smiled, “Ok. Kriv, do you have a hose that we can use to put out this fire?”

The wizard sighed, “It’s not as useful if we don’t have water.” He gestured, as he spoke, a tube started falling out of his robe, and with each gesture, more fell out.

“I recognize this! But listen, Kriv, this isn’t a time for joke.”

Trailblazer shook her head, “Datatello, you live around here – do you know anyone who can help us put this out, so we can continue on?”

A grunting sound, followed by hands waving, became apparent, as Erikuhl started to shout, “I can help!”

She grabbed the tube coming out of Kriv’s cloak and began to run, pulling it. It continued to flow until, finally, the end popped out.

“We need a water source,” Kriv sighed.

Datatello made his way to a nearby entry to the aqueduct below them, while Kriv’s cloak dropped another hose out, as if annoyed. They connected the hoses and, after some additional work and questions, they had a pump to bring water out of the sewer and toward the fire.

They took a moment, breathing deeply and centering themselves, trying to not think about the city burning around them. At some unspoken agreement, they headed out again, Trailblazer gesturing, “Let’s get to the template district.”

A little over halfway there, they came across a dwarf sprawled on the ground, black, spiderwebbed marks on his face, as he struggled to breathe. Datatello called Trailblazer over, and she approached, recognizing him immediately as Wuric, a traveling merchant who had the displeasure of being in town.

“Kill me,” he begged, through harsh breaths, clearly unable to move otherwise, “Please. Please. I don’t want…this.”

She could see the black poison in his skin spreading, the same as Dirk, and Trailblazer waved to Bakaryu, “I need…I’ve seen this before. I don’t know what kind of poison it is.”

The dragonborn approached, holding her holy symbol in her hand and kneeling. She channeled the power of the storm through her, focusing it and shaping it, as she reached down to place her hands on his chest.

Before Trailblazer could shout, to warn her, two needles whipped out, just as they had in the Master of Coffee, but they stopped, evaporating. The black lines on Wuric’s face began to recede; his breathing returned, even and steady, and finally the only indication of his previous condition were two pinpricks on his cheek.

“What happened?”

“Dwarves. Some dwarves attacked,” he muttered, sitting slowly, “focused on dwarves, but they attacked everything. I fend them off as best I could, but something got me with some poison, I guess. I couldn’t do anything. I felt my mind retreating, like I was losing grip of it, like I was being pushed to the back. And there was…this voice. So loud. It just said…all things must be dwarf,” he finished, shaking his head.

Kriv approached then, hand raised, “Still want us to kill you?”

The dwarf blinked rapidly, “No! No, no. I’m ok now.”

As her companions spoke, Bakaryu concentrated on the poison that she had just cleansed. It felt…like power of the undead. Her sense of the divine made it clear, the clawing sense of evil dissipating, along with the poison in the dwarf before her.

“Were the dwarves strange looking?” Trailblazer asked, rubbing her face.

In answer, Wuric began gingerly removing chainmail, asking her for help. While the black had receded, there was already metal plating across his chest. She nearly recoiled but steeled herself, leaning forward. It looked like iron. The aura itself was faint, and growing fainter, but it was there.

“When did this start?” Trailblazer asked.

He shrugged, “Never had it before.”

“How long ago were you attacked?”

“Hard to say when all you know is pain. Every moment is an eternity when you’re in agony.”

No one said anything, and Trailblazer looked bemused.

“Was that too dramatic?”

Datatello scaled a building, feeling that he needed to watch for any further bad news. The fires seemed to have died down, or at least not spread, much to his relief. As he scanned, he saw pockets of dwarves, all heading in the same direction – not speaking, not showing signs of camaraderie, simply…marching.

Trailblazer helped Wuric up, eying the abandoned cart of TaskRays and nodded toward it, “You should get out of town.”

He nodded, taking up his cart, and waving, “Thank you. I, uh, I owe you.”

As the dwarf retreated into the distance, Trailblazer turned back to the party, “So let’s get you to your temple,” she grinned at Bakaryu.

They were close, so it wasn’t long before they entered the courtyard of the temple district, all centered on the towering statue of a flower, multi-colored with the stones and metals that made it. Many of the temples were untouched, but damage had been done to both the Temple of the Maker and Temple of the Storm. Puddles of water surrounded them, clearly the work of magic.

The Temple of the Maker was razed to the ground.

Bakaryu approached the Temple of the Storm, where Longshore, a bronze dragonborn that she knew through the temple was finishing some work.

“You made it, Ryu,” she breathed.

“Yes, I made it. What…happened here?”

“You knew? The dwarves. They came. They did not bring the love. They brought only pain and poison. You’ve seen the poison?”

“Yes – we healed one of them, on the way here.”

“How so?”

“Restoration,” she shrugged, unsure how else to explain it.

“Oh? Good to know that something so simple can do so much good. I will send word.”

“It seems to be undead in nature.”

Longshore nodded, “Yes, we sensed that as well.”

Trailblazer approached, then, “Are they attacking non-dwarves”

The other dragonborn frowned, “They focused on the dwarves. They came and went directly to the temple of the maker. One of them called them traitors, called them…undwarfish.”

Kriv nodded, “A very short conversation.”

Longshore said nothing to the wizard, “He said they were…bringing down, or, no, taking away from dwarves society by trying to allow others to be equal to dwarves. That dwarves were superior, and that if others could not live up to their standards, then they should live in the dirt.”

Datatello pointed, “Did they go in that direction, when they left?”

Longshore nodded, “Yes.”

The other party members turned to look in the direction, trying to determine what they could be headed toward. No one could put their finger on what they could be headed toward – it seemed innocuous. But they knew, at least, that that was the direction they needed to head in.

Ohana

Wow.

I got home a little after midnight, throat sore and super stuffy, but none of that mattered because *DREAMFORCE*.

As some of you know, things have been a struggle lately. And travel plans had me in San Fran for a limited amount of time. But that time was SO WELL SPENT.

My first Dreamforce was in 2014, and I had been using Salesforce for about 3 months. It was overwhelming. It was lonely. I was a solo admin, and I’m not always good at talking to strangers, so I didn’t put myself out there that year.

But I went to a ton of sessions, took so many notes, and I went back to my job inspired to be a leader in my company. I refreshed our org, found super users, focused on problem solving…I started on the path to getting certified.

Having stumbled onto Salesforce, in the way so many of us do, that was the perfect way for me to start. It got me excited for the platform and the potential.

Skip ahead to #DF16.

Things change, and they change fast. In 2 years, I got certified, got involved, and started meeting people in the community. I became more comfortable going up to people at Salesforce functions and introducing myself. I became more comfortable sharing knowledge and resources with people. I still struggle with asking for help, but I’m getting there.

This year was inspiring in a different way, but once again, in exactly the way that I needed it to be. I’m just going to say it: Dreamforce is the Room of Freakin’ Requirement.

It searches my heart every year, and it pumps out what it needs, and I come back with ideas and excitement and something new.

This year it was community. Ohana.

Working from home can feel isolating, even when the majority of the community activity happens online. But it’s one of those things – feel isolated, pull away, feel more isolated, pull away more, and on and on. And as an introvert – someone who recharges by seeking solitude, I feel like a cell phone. I become reliant on the charger (my house) to the point that time off of it, I’m less likely to hold onto my charge. 5 minutes in, and I’m looking for an exit. I don’t like that.

I had it in my head that, despite the friendships I have made in the community, I would continue to feel isolated at Dreamforce.

Newsflash: I was so wrong.

I have made friends, of course, but more importantly, I’ve built a family in the community. I have, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, “visitors, well-wishers, and distant relations.” Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Maybe it was because I didn’t have the whole week this year, I spent the majority of my time in community-based activities: User Group State of the Union, Awesome People Party, volunteering in the Admin Meadow (my personal favorite! Please, please, please let me do that again!!), DnDF16, celebrating LOVE…basically surrounding myself with my family.

It reminded me what is important. I came back with a list of priorities and goals, and I know that I have a whole community of people that will keep me honest and focused on those goals, that will remind me to focus when needed.

So thank you, Ohana.

This post brought to you by (in alphabetical order, to help me): Adam, Amber, Amy (x2!), Annie, Ashima, Ben, Beth, Bill, Brian, Chris, Dale, Denise, Doug, Erica, Gillian, Jen, Jennifer, Justice, Juliette, Kris, Kristi, Nana, Mark, Melinda, Misty, Ross, Sarah, Scott, Shonnah, Stacey, Steve, Stuart, Vinay…and pretty much everyone else!

ohana

 

 

 

A Polymath’s Guide To…Submitting Speaking Proposals

There are 6 days left to submit a speaking proposal for Dreamforce 16. If you’re considering it, on the fence, not sure, I’m here to tell you to give it a shot. You have something to share. I promise.

Sit down, let me tell you a story.

Within 6 months of starting this job (the one that I’m saying goodbye to this week), I was a Marketo Certified Expert. And you know, I still didn’t feel like an expert.

Less than a year after that, Marketing Nation Summit put out a call for speakers. I had never done a speaking engagement that large. I wasn’t a Marketo Champion. I still didn’t feel like an expert. Maybe I just was feeling invincible, or more likely a little nihilistic – what does it matter if I’m accepted to speak or not? It won’t solve the world’s problems. *dramatic weeping*

I figured it would be a good practice for writing a proposal. I thought I might get some feedback about why my submission was passed over.

Instead, a few months later, I got an email saying “Hey! We’re super excited to have you speak at Summit!”

I was really excited, too. And then I was nervous. Now I had to actually, you know, create content and present. It wasn’t enough to feel kind of ready to share information, or to kind of feel like I knew what I was talking about. I had to present myself like an expert. I had to ensure that people weren’t wasting their time. No pressure.

Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret: these events want you to speak, and they want you to succeed. I had two contacts to help me prepare – one to make sure I had everything I needed, and one to help me ensure the content was accurate and helpful. We did dry-runs and presentation reviews, and they were available to answer any questions. I didn’t have to be an expert in everything because they were there to help me become one, at least long enough to impart some wisdom.

Moral of this story: there is no reason not to submit, if you feel even somewhat inclined to do so.

speaker

But how do I go about it?

  1. Think of a mistake you made, especially early on – some lesson you learned the hard way. OR think of something that your users or coworkers struggle with that you’re just really good at. Either option will likely be a popular or useful topic.
  2. Every day, navigate to the speaker submission page. Trust me. It’s weird, but it helps. Just a tab that sits there, reminding you to at least consider it.
  3. Determine if you want to present solo or with someone. If you want to present with someone, reach out to a few people you know or would like to get to know better, and ask them.
  4. Come up with a few titles – a funny one, a serious one, a straightforward one. Whatever you think of, write it down/type it up. You can settle on one before you submit.
  5. Write an abstract. It needs to be fairly short, and it needs to pack a punch. I’m a fan of extended metaphors, so I usually default accordingly.
  6. Ask people 100% unrelated to your job to critique them – could they reasonably understand what your session is about? If so, guaranteed someone even remotely associated with what you do will also understand it.
  7. Fill out the submission form. Don’t send it in yet – you’re nervous, I get it.
  8. Fill out the submission form again. Your confidence is building. The information is already there, right?
  9. If you didn’t press submit the second time, go ahead and fill out the form once more, and this time press that button.
  10. Congratulations! You just submitted an idea!

Now guess what? You’ll probably forget about it. It takes a while for event folks to pour over submissions and decide what makes the cut, and your life is going to continue on. You’ll have the same people complaining, the same folks asking questions, the same men and women inviting you out for a happy hour(I imagine you’re more social than I am – maybe not. Maybe, like me, you’ll just keep playing games.).

I’ve since had sessions rejected, too. And, yeah, it kind of sucks, but it’s really not that bad. It doesn’t mean you can’t go to the event, doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. It also means you don’t have to miss any presentations to be there for yours. It means that you can go and have fun and not be pacing around your hotel room reciting the lines to a fake rap you wrote to wow the audience.

So what’s stopping you, really? Only you are.