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  1. The Chronicles of Rhovaniel, Dúnedain Ranger Volume One: Wintering The Winter Solstice, marking the beginning of Winter, has come. The days will grow steadily longer, yet for now the long nights and cold winds reign. This is well. It is the natural ebb of the seasons, a time to look within, to seek rest and prepare for the year ahead. Hello and welcome, brave adventurers, to my Battle Log/Challenge amalgamation. For some reason, winter has truly captured my imagination at the moment. Maybe it’s because we had a few days of snow followed by a week in the Lake District that fell on the Winter Solstice, where the sun was down and it was dark as night by 4pm (in the South of the UK, we get a little bit more usually). But I was more aware of it and decided that it aligns well with both my desire to live a little more in tune with the rhythm of the seasons, my sense of turning everything into an adventure and also where I find myself at the moment: Needing rest, to seek healing for some physical ailments and to train. Train for the coming adventures. So, this is Volume One of my Year’s challenges. The Chronicles if you will. I am borrowing heavily from the great rangers on here that go before me: @Tanktimus the Encourager’s consistency challenges have been an inspiration, as has @Rurik Harrgath's sheer badassery and thematic challenges. I’m fairly sure I’m stealing the Chronicles idea from him too. My apologies. It would be a Battle Log, but I’m a social introvert and I wanna hang out with all the adventurers in the challenges With that in mind, I’ll try and link this first one in the start of all subsequent challenges, as another inspirational ranger has done (talkin’ bout you, @Jarric, and your goal setting). And those goals will focus mostly on the season. A mix of skill work, studying, training and just for fun goals. This Winter, the Goals are Thus (Runs till March 20, which google tells me is the ‘true’ start of Spring). I'll give updates on these when and where I can, but essentially this is it. No 'smart' goals here, just a slow and quiet onward progress. Rhovaniel’s Winter Goals - Read by candlelight at least 3 times - Read the Ranger’s Apprentice, book 1 - Read the Ranger’s Apprentice, book 2 - Re-read The Fellowship of the Rings - Re-Read The Two Towers - Re-Read the Return of the King - Watch all 3 Hobbit and all 3 LOTR films (/6) - See doctor about leg pain and be able to run again (and hike!) - See doctor and try to sort out my sinuses (maybe even regain my sense of smell?) - Be able to run 1 mile by Spring - Reach 77-78kg by the Spring - Finish knitting cardigan - Read stock book and start training on stocks - Repair jeans - Plan and sew one project to completion - Finish chapter 2 of Masters in History (my deadline is actually the end of Feb for this) - Plan 2023 Spring/Summer Adventures - Start writing again, in the small cracks of time I can find amongst other projects.
  2. Just two days after receiving the summons, Rhovaniel was back on familiar ground. For a moment, she stood and looked up at the Guildhall. Rebuilt just last year by their own hands after the attack, it nonetheless appeared timeless. They had made improvements here and there, but ultimately, they had been faithful to the original design, welcoming Rangers like her back home after long and often arduous journeys. A cold northerly wind whistled past her, reminding her that although it was slightly milder here than in the mountainous region where the Dúnedain made their home, it was still far from warm, and she hurried inside. Instant warmth greeted her. The fire was roaring in the grate, with several figures huddled round it, talking in low voices. A few rangers sat in shadowy corners, as was their custom. Usually, and in any other inn, Rhovaniel would be among them, but this was no ordinary visit to the Guildhall. “A large tea, if you would” she told the barkeep. “I’ve had plenty of ale lately.” “Often the case, this time of year. Even Rangers are not immune to the festivities, it seems.” “Oh, we know how to enjoy the merriment of the season, and still remain true to our aims, in the long term,” she smiled. The barkeep chuckled, and turned to refill the glass of another patron. Something cool in a long, slim glass for them. “Where might I find the Chaplain?” Rhovaniel asked when he’d finished. “In the back room. You heard about the Dandenite Ore?” “That’s why I’m here. I’m here to help get our hype back.” When she entered the back room, tea in hand, it was not just the Chaplain who looked up but many other familiar faces as well. Despite the grim circumstances, she found herself smiling as she greeted old and new friends. Her smile came from fond memories, and it was a few minutes before the Chaplain could call attention back to the task at hand. “Thank you to all who answered the summons. I’m sure others will join us, as and when they can. Long leagues separate us all, but we cannot afford to wait till we are all assembled. Each of you know the peril that we face. We have all weathered a challenge without hype, and most have seen far less success than usual. Not all of that is our own fault. The effect of Dandenite Ore is not to be taken lightly. Without the hype, it’s power will grow. Challenges conducted entirely without hype, battling the effects of Dandenite as well as all the enemy can throw at us…” “It would mean disaster,” Rhovaniel said quietly. “Even far up in the mountains, I have felt its effects. It’s not just this physical building. The Guildhall is part of us, wherever and however far we Rangers go. I think that somehow, whenever we choose the path of the Rangers, we also choose the Guildhall. It has an energy, somehow, and we are all connected to it.” “You’re right!” One of the other rangers chipped in from the corner. “I wasn’t even near the Guildhall last challenge, I was many, many leagues south of here, and still I felt it. My energy, my desire to do anything at all… it just wasn’t there. Only, back then I thought it just a consequence of the season.” Many of the others murmured their assent, but before it could turn into a discussion on everyone’s hypeless experiences, the Chaplain held up a hand and the room fell silent. “This must be the work of the enemy; whoever stole it – or ordered it to be stolen – must know how devastating it would be to the entire corps. We use the Grind when we can, but without the hype… how long can any of us last?” “Which enemy, I wonder?” Rhovaniel murmured softly, almost to herself. “So many have tried to thwart us before.” “We shall soon find out,” another Ranger answered grimly, throwing back her hood to reveal short blond hair and a determined look in her eye. Rhovaniel smiled, remembering an adventure together now some months past. “That we will.”
  3. Mizbrek slipped off his horse with a jarring hop. Horses were too big for hobbits, usually, but, to be fair, Miz tended to disregard that when said about just about everything. The brown mare whinnied at him as he patted her on the side of her head, taking the reins and leading her forward. The road was largely grown over now, but not nearly as such as the city ahead of him. Fornost. Northern City, in the Sindarin. Deadmen’s Dike. An ancient city of Arnor. The trader in Bree had been right, and worth the bribe to send the hobbit on the right path. As he approached the front gates, Miz breathed deeply, hesitating. This was probably a bad idea. He could almost hear the cries of ancient warriors as he stepped over the threshold. The gates were barely there, merely crumbled ruins now, but just strong enough to still have some structure. A testament to the ingenuity of the descendents of Numenor. This site had seen much death and destruction. The brewmaster had no particular aim in mind, no spot to visit. There were no guidebooks or top ten lists of sights to see in this ancient city. Middle Earth was not the Discworld. But he did have a goal here. There was the slightest of noises. Undetectable, practically. Miz waited a breath, before rolling to his right, clear of the horse. As he came up he whirled around and whipped his staff off his back, catching the Dunedain’s sword on the shaft. The Ranger grunted with grudging surprise. “Quick, for a halfing,” he said. The man was tall, far taller than Miz. He loomed over him. His face was hooded, his clothes the usual worn, earth tones of his kind. “But you should not be here, burglar. The blood of Numenor still guard this place, and we do not take kindly to thieves.” “I am no thief,” Miz said, lowering his staff. The Ranger lowered his sword. “I did not come here for ancient trinkets. I came here for you.” The Ranger’s face, still largely hidden by the hood, betrayed a bit of shock. “Me?” “Well, not you specifically,” Miz replied honestly. “I seek the Dunedain, and you guys don’t exactly have an email address.” The Ranger tilted his head. “Your words are strange. Are you quite right in the head?” The hobbit sighed. He always had to adjust his speech patterns when back in Middle Earth. “I wish to become one of you, one of the Rangers.” At this, the Dunedain laughed. “Go back to your hobbit hole, halfling. One does not simply become one of the Dunedain Rangers.” “You had no training? You were born sword in hand, knowing how to strike an Orc from 400 yards with an arrow?” At this the man paused. Miz continued. He was a time and dimension traveller. He knew his history. “A great darkness stirs in the East. I feel it, as I’m sure you do. If he hasn’t already, one of your kind will soon ride to meet up with some of my kind, and head to Rivendell for a great council with Elrond. I am no mere halfing. I am Mizbrek, Hobbit of the Shire, Brewmaster of the Pandaren Monks, Slayer of Dragons, but I need more. I need help, I need training. I can be of value, but I need to become a Ranger, in order to help fight the coming darkness. I would not be pushed to the side, nor cower like an ailing pet.” The Ranger sheathed his sword, pulling back his hood to reveal a greying, weathered, bearded face. “You have fire, Mizbrek Sogbrannon**. There is no process for this. We have never trained anyone but our own people.” He turned to the East and breathed, deeply. When he spoke, there was a weariness there. “But you are right that a darkness is coming. Many of my people feel it. And I would be a fool to turn down aid, regardless of its source, or its size.” He turned back to Miz with a smile. “I am Noratir, a Dunedain Ranger. I will show you our ways. This will not be easy.” “Nothing worthwhile ever is,” Miz said, as he followed the Ranger, who began walking towards the gates. The Brewmaster swung his keg around as he took the reins of the horse, grabbing two small cups attached to the top of it. “Except, that is, having a drink. Beer?” Noratir’s laughter boomed through the quiet ruins. *Note: I did my best to research some Lord of the Rings lore and the Dunedain, but may have gotten a bit wrong! **The closest translation I could come to Brewmaster in Sindarin. Last Challenge Run Down The last challenge was probably one of my most successful yet! I lost 6 pounds since the start of it, am feeling significantly stronger, and stuck to my goals like never before. A lot of this I credit with putting a significant loot goal at the end. While I can’t afford to be buying a new phone every 5 weeks, I’m going to try and put something fun at the end of this challenge. I’ve put a few options here but am still nailing down what makes the most sense for me. My plan for now is to pick 2 of the items I've listed below under loot goals, but I'm leaving this open for whatever floats my boat at the time! Challenge Overview I’ve carried forward a lot of the habits from last time, with some tweaks, as I think they’ve all worked well. The idea here it to lighten up in some places, where it makes sense (6 days of workouts instead of committing to 7, 1 variance on the purchasing challenge) and buckle down in others (not allowing myself to eat back exerted calories). The biggest hurdle will be in Week 3 - I’ll be visiting my in-laws in Utah again, with a stop over in Las Vegas for two nights (one on the way there, one on the way back). My in-laws are pretty healthy and active, so it shouldn’t be TOO bad, but the last time I was there I went up about 8 pounds. Mind you that was also Christmas. But the idea with this challenge is to work very hard for the next 3 weeks so as to build up as much of a buffer, and be as good as I can there. I’ll also need to work on speaking up and being vocal about my needs - saying no to a glass of wine, taking time to go to the gym (they have access to a health club while there which is great), stuff like that. Move like Aragorn - Workout 6 days per week (M-Sun) - I may well continue 7 days a week but I’m allowing one rest day. I’ve been enjoying the daily workouts and I feel like I’m getting good result from them, and I have enough variance in them I don’t think I’m tiring out any particular muscles. Eat like Legolas - Consume no more than 2100 calories (1 variance per week) - largely the same as last time for me, but with this I will be doing my best not to eat back my exerted calories. I was doing that a bit the last little while, and I think it’s good practice to work towards keeping my consumption low. As before though I allow one variance per week, and I will allow myself to bank them (or take an advance on one). So yes, I could do 4 in week one. Sleep like Treebeard - All devices/tablets off by 10:15pm - last challenge, going to bed at 9:30 worked well for me, but I’d often end up in bed reading til 11 or 11:30. So for this challenge we’ll work at getting everything off by 10:15, including my eReader. Shop like Gimli - Buy nothing non-essential (1 variance under $20 per week) - Another carry over, but a good one. This made me think a lot more about my spending - I caught myself in various situations where I would have bought something unthinkingly. Again, my definition of essential is somewhat broad - I do include basic beer, scotch and wine in that, as, I mean, I’m only human guys. But I often end up buying fancier beer, scotch or wine than I need, along with various other trinkets. No more! Clean like Sam - 20 mins housework weekdays/1hr housework weekends - Ms. Miz has asked me to put this one on here, and I’m happy to oblige. We will be doing the 1hr together on the weekends (and it may or may not be accompanied by some wine from our cellar!). Study like Gandalf - Reading (2/4 of these tasks daily) - I’ve noticed I’m reading a bit less lately and spending more time on social media or gaming. While I enjoy all these things, I’d like to spend a bit more time reading. I initially made a list of all the things I’d like to read in any given day and realized I’d be spending 2h reading every day! A bit much. And since I find myself often feeling like reading different things on different days, I thought I’d allow that. So my goal is to complete 2 of the following below daily, whichever 2 work for me on that given day. 30 minutes of a book The Economist Espresso (short daily magazine put out by the Economist) 1 full newspaper 10 minutes of a magazine (Economist/Atlantic/Golf Digest) Loot Reward for Perfect Score - One of the following: New dress shoes, new sport band for Apple Watch, bottle of good Scotch (~$100), Apple Watch charging stand/dock, Kettlebells, New Dumbbells, 40 Hearthstone Packs, or one Character Boost in World of Warcraft I am considering Week Zero a kind of soft launch/practice run for this challenge, where I'll do my best to stick to it, but I'm not holding myself to anything in particular. So the challenge officially starts on Monday!
  4. Hey Rangers, My name is Tim. This is my first 6-week challenge ever. It seems like a pretty cool thing. I have quite a few goals, so this will be smaller versions of those. A little about me: I am an I.T. guy for a call center and as of this month I am also a college student again. I am taking a programming class and will slowly but surely be getting my degree while working full time and getting healthy. I have a lot of leveling up to do. Back at the beginning of December, I decided to change my lifestyle and lose weight. I have gout and during a flare-up in June, tipped the scales at 347.0 lbs. This didn't motivate me to begin exercising, although I did slightly alter my eating habits. Around Thanksgiving, I decided that weight loss would be my New Years Resolution. I decided that if this was the case, I needed to begin researching it so I'd be ready when the time came. I began to read about workouts and nutrition daily. After a week, I decided that I couldn't wait until January to start. I was way too excited about it, so I started on December 1st. I didn't weigh myself on December 1st to find out what my starting weight was (I didn't have a scale at the time), so my first weigh-in since June was on December 6th. My nerves were jello as I stepped onto the scale for the first time in 6 months. Did I weigh more? Less? Was I even doing anything useful? My nerves were put to rest when the scale showed 329.1 lbs. Since then, I have gotten my weight down to 315.6 lbs. I work out 6 days a week (unless something comes up). I try to do 3 days of lifting and 3 days of cardio, although lately I've been doing more lifting than cardio. When I lift, I am doing circuits, so in between sets, i'm doing seated crunches on the bench. My heart rate gets just as high as it does when I do cardio. I really don't like running, but I think a lot of that has more to do with how out of shape I am and how much I suck at breathing while doing it. Nutrition has also become very important to me. Most days, I eat 200-250g of protein, 150g of carbs, and 50-75g of fat. This adds up to 2500-2700 calories a day. My RDI is something like 3500 calories/day. I keep track of all of my food using MyFitnessPal. My name is tgsmith489 on there if you'd like to follow me. Now for my goals: + Increase Bench Press by 25 lbs (+4 STR, +1 CHA) + Be able to jog 0.5 mile at speed of 5mph. (+3 STA, +2 DEX) + Drink 64 oz of water at least 6 days of the week. (+3 CON) ++ Side quest++ - Get up to $300 in savings. (+2 WIS)
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