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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Interview With Baron Klaus Wulfenbach (And Baronin Zantabraxus)


When one goes to Steelhead, one comes across some interesting personalities. Some are involved in more than one region in the Steamlands, but still a big presence there. One such man is Baron Klaus Wulfenbach (Klauswulfenbach Outlander). He is better known for being the ruler of much of Europa in the chronicles of Professors Phil and Kaja Folio, known in some places as the "Girl Genius" graphic novels. But he can be encountered at various events involving the Steelheaders and other Steam communities, as well as Steelhead's group chat. A strong character, he is generally friendly to those polite to him. Second Life Newser recently met up with "The Baron," as he is often known for an interview. This was in Winterfell during it's Giant Snail Race, so there were a few distractions.

Bixyl Shuftan: "So, Sir, when did you first hear about Steelhead?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Hm. It has been quite some time. I suppose I heard about Steelhead in general Caledon chat. The other lands at that time were mentioned as there was already a good few with multiple citizenships. Frau Lowey and I visited, and found it quite pleasant and welcoming. It became our second Consulate office, a small brick building at first."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Perhaps I should have asked this question first (pardon my clumsiness as a near miss by a giant snail can be distracting) To those new to Steelhead and the Steamlands, how would you describe yourself and your role here?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: (chuckles) "No harm done. The Consulate has two main goals. One is to encourage inter-sim diplomacy, by enabling information exchange and sharing notice of events. The other is to make those who might be interested aware of Europa, our history and to share those materials. I serve as my own Consul, as we are unable to provide transport between dimensions safely, but without the Vice Consul, the work would have been immensely more difficult."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Transport between dimensions? Sounds pretty tricky."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Essentially experimental, ja. Zanta was rather perturbed with me when she worked through the ramifications of my presence here."

Bixyl Shuftan:  "The ramifications?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Interdimensional experimental travel? I could have been killed. Permanently."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Perhaps this question is painfully obvious, but what were among the things that could have gone wrong?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We had already tested for a compatible environment on this side - as odd as this environment can be at times, so that was the least likely. Gates could fail during translation, causing travellers to be lost without options for recovery. There could have been hostile situations on this side undiscovered by testing. Also, dismemberment."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I guess there are plenty of risks into the unknown. (pause) I take it your very first trip through was uneventful?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Very, although I was surprised to find a poster of Lady Heterodyne inside a shop. Somehow the histories had 'leaked' over here - which is why I was recognized by a few Caledonians when I introduced myself. There were Jaegermonsters here as well, one of the Generals and a few others. Why I was not aware of this is a matter for some discussion elsewhere."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds interesting. So a few travelers spread word about you?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "I introduced myself to Caledon society, and decided the best way to manage exploration and also, to make my time here productive, was diplomatically. I made an appointment with Herr Guvnah and established the first Consulate office."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did things go with the group of Jagers that were here?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Quite well. I was glad to see them, as they are always good to have on hand, and they appreciated my presence as well. In fact, in short order the Vice Consul was made a Colonel."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Encounters with Jagers for most can sometimes be, interesting. I take it there were some events between they and the locals before your arrival?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Hm. I am not sure on that, Herr General did not provide reports to me, and since there were no crowds with pitchforks and torches after them, it was not a concern."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like they managed to avoid any serious incidents. What have been some of your more interesting challenges in the Steamlands since establishing your consulates?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Hmmm... good question, but I have an interruption. Bitte, a moment." The Baron stepped away momentarily to take care of some matters over a wireless, then returned, "Danke. ... Challenges, getting used to how this place works, of course. Armies are pointless, death is less inconvenient than a loss of garments or furniture."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Those do sound like some interesting challenges."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Learning the scale of values here - both financial and philosophical. Building and financing has been challenging, both positively and negatively. Frau Lowey has become quite good at all sorts of construction (I have rarely had sufficient uninterrupted time).

Bixyl Shuftan: "Of the consulate in Steelhead, how long before the building was expanded?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach (klauswulfenbach.outlander): "Hm. Herr Lunar started to fix the parcelling, which was left over from before the Ambertown flood, and offered not only a larger area, but to build it himself. I would estimate that was... perhaps late 2008, 2009 Linden Era?"

Bixyl Shuftan: "That was a few years ago."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Some mentions about other events lately have made me realize how long ago some things have taken place. We had that new building for quite some time - three stories, a basement, and a handful of events in the ballroom."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What were some of the most noteworthy builds besides the consulates?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Herr Lunar built a... not a replica, but a model inspired by the Castle Wulfenbach for Steelhead's first RFL, and has since given it to me for Europa." *points off to the southwest* "Beautiful work. Herr Liam Bean and Herr General Szondi did most of the work on the island, incidentally. The Jaegermeister did the RAW and the mushroom-trees; Herr Liam did the lava pump and some of the other building. Frau Lowey built the Luftlowen so we would have a dedicated area for boardgames and such."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like quite a bit of work was done"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We need to find some spare prims, in fact. I had a few things returned despite what seemed a liberal margin when I was adjusting the build for Walpurgisnacht. We have our own 'sandbox' at height. Frau Lowey and Fraulein Nika both have constructions in work up there."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I imagine they can be busy sometimes"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Of course. There are those who see the staff group and expect it is some sort of 'appreciation society', but I expect everyone on my staff to be productive. We have an associated group for those who are merely interested." *looks at the notepad and adds, 'Wulfenbachian Emigres', open enrollment*

It was about this time a lady arrived, the Baron's wife, Baronin Zantabraxus (Zantabraxus Aristocarnas), "Greetings, Bixyl." We talked briefly about the race, then Zantabraxus steered our attention back, "It is not my intention to interrupt. Pray, carry on."

Bixyl Shuftan: "If you don't mind my asking, Baron, how did you and Zantabraxus meet?"

The Baron responded with a bit of laughter, with Zantabraxus giving a grin.

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "The time that mattered was when my lover drugged me instead of killing me outright and effectively dumped me in Skifander without resources or means to return home."

Zantabraxus: "He was rather charmingly lost."

Bixyl Shuftan looks a bit startled, "Well, an interesting way of meeting up to say the least."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Eventually, I helped her regain her rightful throne and we were together until I felt forced to leave urgently for reasons which I promised the Professors I would not discuss in detail."

Zantabraxus slides an arm around him, "It has been very good to see him again."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "It took me six years to get her here."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Did you mean Professors Phil and Kaja Foglio?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "They are writing a popular history of Lady Heterodyne's early years, ja."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, how well do you get along with them?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Sufficiently. It is Agatha who tries to kill them on occasion."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Trying to 'shoot the messenger?' "

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "She does not appreciate some of the more... hm... creative presentations. I have already been through that with those absurd and amusing Heterodyne Boys stories, so I am not as concerned with what might be said about me."

Zantabraxus: "That girl has a temper. I can see why our son likes her."

The Baron chuckled a bit, and Zantabraxus grinned slightly.

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh, Sounds like a few interesting stories."

Zantabraxus: "Klaus of course does not like a woman with a temper."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach snorted in amusement, "There was, seasonally speaking, that one story where Lady Heterodyne ended up in the rabbit suit."

Zantabraxus laughs, "Zeetha's suit was rather handsome."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh, sounds funny, not to mention appropriate for Easter. (grin)"

It was about this time that our attention was momentarily distracted by the Giant Snail race, but we soon got back on track.

Bixyl Shuftan: "Let's see, besides the building, what have been some of your more interesting experiences here, after the beginning?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Shapechanging is rather fascinating. Meeting Tinies."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, the Tinies have a good reputation."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We have something in common, it turned out."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh? What might this be?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach): "Waffles, (pause) Since my son so considerately let that slip."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles a bit, "They found out through your son?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "The Professors included it in their histories."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Lots of people like waffles, but the Tinies do seem to have taken their appreciation of them to an art form."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "They have this substance, 'Essence of Waffle'. Like ambrosia. Although, it is liquid, so perhaps nectar is a better name."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like something that would be useful for a Belgian chef."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "He would have to get it away from me first."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh, of course Sir. (grins) So, besides Tinies and waffles, what other events have been among your favorites?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "The Relay For Life is notable, in part because Frau Lowey is quite engaged in it. Winterfell's 'Boobiethon', as undignified as name as it may have had, was an excellent effort for a good cause. The Consulate staff did a calendar for three years supporting the same efforts."

Zantabraxus (zantabraxus.aristocarnas) looks amused.

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, a major event here in Steelhead." *chuckles at the name*

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Steelhead participated as well, ja. Unfortunately, in some ways, this last year's event was the last one."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh, sorry to hear."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "The organizers felt it had done what they set out to do. They needed their energies placed elsewhere."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh, I see. (pause) What were some of the plans for the Steelhead Salmons this year?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "I do not know. I believe there is, or will be a merchant area set up in the train station, but I am not part of the subgroup. I support the campaign as a whole when and how I may, but there are at least four teams to which I must attend, ja."

Zantabraxus: "Fuzzball Ortega would know more about the Salmons."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What were the other teams? Four does sound pretty busy."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Steelhead Salmons, ACTS, Caledon, New Babbage... perhaps more, I am not sure. ACTS covers many communities. When the Consulate sponsored an RFL sim... two years ago, I believe, we had to credit it to Æther Chrononauts (now ACTS) to be as fair as possible."

Bixyl Shuftan: "You sponsored a sim? That was generous"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "They were just starting at that time as well, and allowed them some extra success that first year. My budget was treating me well at the opportune time. ... RFL's run weekend, Fantasy Faire, events such as that - they allow the most extraordinary builds to be created. Fascinating work, always enjoyable to see what can be done. On a smaller scale, Walpurgisnacht always provokes some amazing costuming from the attendees."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, I think I was there, interesting event."(for those who don't know, Walpurgis Night is an European holiday much like Halloween about six months away from it)

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Our first annual event, and persisting yet (grins)."

Zantabraxus laughed.

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh, I take it went better than planned?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "I believe the first was... 2008, ja. It had to have been. Some events need some momentum for success. Walpurgisnacht has always been extremely well attended. From the very first, in fact. Because of its success, we usually host one on Steelhead's nearest Friday, and we have started holding a third, somewhat experimentally."

Zantabraxus: "It has an interesting historical background, which I find appealing."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Duchess Eva and I have had to be careful about our scheduling, however. She has her Beltane celebration in the same timeframe, although hers always started earlier in the evening, and Walpurgisnacht times itself to include midnight specifically. This year she has it early, due to her personal schedule and the holiday being right in the middle of the week."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh, so a slight change of plans?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "More room. No conflicts, as the Caledon celebration is literalist - on the eve itself, until midnight. The other two events will be on the weekend. Beltane will be the weekend prior this time. Zanta, perhaps he would like to note the history you mentioned." *nudges her to explain*

Zantabraxus: "I need a few seconds, love. Could you start?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Ah, certainly. The holiday predates Christianity, but was given as the feast day for Saint Walpurgis, a martyred virgin. The older idea is that the eve of May 1, like the eve of November 1, is when the 'veils between the worlds' grow thin. Spirits can move back and forth easily, including malign spirits."

Zantabraxus: "It is celebrated in Europe, traditionally, and is 6 months distanced from All Hallow's Eve."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Mortals dress up in fancy dress, like demons themselves, to avoid being taken by the spirits."

Zantabraxus: "In Germany, in particular, it is linked to stories about the Brocken Mountain."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Which is why we have that on the Consulate lot during the dance."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Brocken Mountain?"

Zantabraxus: "It is one of the highest mountains in ... Harz, I think, in northern Germany."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "The temperatures at the peak are more extreme than its height would normally predict. ... Saxony, really."

Zantabraxus: "Similar to All Hallow's Eve, bonfires are prevalent."

Bixyl Shuftan: "It does sound like something American fans of Halloween would enjoy."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach *studies futuristic borders and shakes his head at the confusion made of things*

Zantabraxus: "In the case of Walpurgisnacht, it is to encourage the warmth of spring and the light of the sun to come, to welcome the change of seasons."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "And hide from the evil spirits. (grins)"

Zantabraxus: "I think secretly to help people feel less frightened of malign spirits. But 'welcoming the Spring' sounds less embarrassing for people than 'Hiding from the ghosts' hm? (grins)"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Our version is simplified - fancy dress and dancing. Duchess Eva welcomes the spring. We hide from the demons."

Zantabraxus: "That is the historical context."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Found Brocken Mountain on the map, a little more than a kilometer high."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "It acts taller than it looks."

Zantabraxus: "Our celebration is, as Klaus said, the night celebration with fires and spirits. It makes me think of that theatrical production I saw on the machines here, Klaus, 'Night on Bald Mountain.' One of the staff recommended it to me."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Ahh, from the entertainment, ja."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What was it about?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "It is part of a presentation called 'Fantasia'. We use the image for that on top of our own 'Brocken.' "

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, that's more widely known."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Although the music is written about St. John's Eve, it was used to illustrate this Walpurgisnacht-like scene in a most fabulous and artistic manner. The master demon, in fact, has a Russian name, not a Germanic one."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like there's much being planned for this year ... a Russian name for the master demon?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "It was a useful base for imagery. 'Chernobog'. One of the old Slavic gods, as the researchers have it, who was demonised by the Churches' influences. None of this is Scientific in any way, but it is a popular spring celebration that we share here."

Zantabraxus: "Czernobog?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Another spelling in Roman alphabet, ja. It does not always transliterate well."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like the event this year will be bigger than usual."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "With the 'Early Bird' time in addition, possibly so. Gräfin Wulfriðe will be helping host that, as she is an Easterner and will be well awake for it. Duchess Gabrielle will be doing the music there; Duchess Patty for Caledon, and I believe Fraulein Zanya Cross for Steelhead. So: Caledon, Wednesday the 30th 22.00-midnight, Steelhead, Friday the 2nd 19.00-22.00 including the 'afterparty', and Europa, 09.00-11.00 Saturday the 3rd."

It was about this time when the interview was interrupted by more giant snails "and a giant Herr Gullwing." After a bit, we composed ourseves again.

Bixyl Shuftan: "Perhaps I should have asked you this earlier, but whom have been the more interesting residents to interact with in Steelhead besides those mentioned?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "In Steelhead specifically? There are always the exiled Steeltopians, of course."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Exiled Steeltopians?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "For want of a better collective name, since Steeltopia vanished. The Emperor himself is in durance vile."

Zantabraxus: "The Bad Blue Wolf springs to mind."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, I recall a number of encounters with him."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Invertigo Caldwell, ja. (pause) Let me see... the Managers, of course, are quite worthy of note. Tensai has been a very courteous and gentle hostess, especially when I was introduced to Steelhead. Extraordinary work that they do, when they have time to concentrate on it. Their RFL sim, for example, that was the inspiration for Nevermoor."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Now that sounds interesting. So that was the inspiration for Nevermoor?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Many of the elements built for that were transferred to the neighbourhood. Frau Tensai's Teslatron was in Port Harbor for a bit as well."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like you've been pretty busy, were there some future plans beyond the festival later this month that you can discuss?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We have a new, small office in Philomenaville; we hope to be able to contribute to that community. The Baronin is hoping her schedule will permit her to enter some En Garde tournaments, and we should like to host some of those around the Steamlands as well."

Bixyl Shuftan: "The fencing games?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We have several pistes, along with Tuesday classes, over in Europa; one here on the pub. I should like to invest in a few more, gradually."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I'm sure fencing fans will approve."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach then chuckled a bit.

Zantabraxus: "I should like to practice some today, speaking of."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We have on staff, due to Fraulein Käpitanin Stereo Nacht, one of the En Garde... hm. Mentors, perhaps? I am not sure of her title. She and her wife are also exceptional builders, and are redoing the Wulfenbach Aerodrome."

Zantabraxus: "It is exciting to see the updates they have sent pictures of."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Redoing the Areodome? About how soon will the changes be finished?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "There is no firm deadline, and the visual changes will be minimal. It is more for efficiency - she is doing it in mesh. A few prims here, a little land impact there.... We have customised Warbugs, although I am not sure how often they are used. They are, however, available for any to fly."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I haven't heard them mentioned in a while."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We had someone that I thought would be hosting a regular flight, but he seems to have lost interest quickly enough. We left the time-block on the calendar, however."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Perhaps you'll find someone else soon."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach smiles, "It would be pleasant to know that the island is in frequent use by all sorts. Fencers, fliers, zombie-hunters...."

Zantabraxus: "We should put some effort into locating somebody, Klaus."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "We might need someone active in the dogfighting first, and then persuade them to come base their activities on Europa."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Zombie hunters? Sounds like something another of my writers would enjoy looking into"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Wander around Europa, you never know what you might find."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I imagine it gets interesting."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Eventually, it would be pleasing to expand our landmass, but the economy would have to improve considerably first."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Yes, I imagine many people are having problems in that department."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach noded, a bit grimly. Zantabraxus put a hand on his shoulder, nodding too.

Bixyl Shuftan *checks his watch* "We've been where a while. Was there anything , or anyone, else that you wanted to mention?"

 Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Fraulein Zanya Cross has been responsible for the Wulfenbach clank troops that can be seen in a few locations; she has also created the amazing and popular hunting events during our twice-yearly Games Day."

 Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, those events can be fun."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Fraulein Käpitanin Stereo Nacht created Games Day for us, and it is held during the summer and winter, depending on schedules (no fixed dates).  We try to involve as many communities as possible, time permitting. (pause) Ah... Zantabraxus, anything else we can add?"

 Zantabraxus: "Annechen is responsible for most of the buildings we have. She is a talented and strong right hand to my husband."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Ah, I never mentioned the Æther Salon. It was started over five years ago, and given over to me after three. Technically, it is a New Babbage event, but it is open to all Steamlanders. We have speakers from everywhere, on a variety of subjects."

Bixyl Shuftan: "When is it?"

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Third Sunday of the month at 2 PM. There is an aether-journal for transcripts, http://aethersalon.blogspot.com/. "

Bixyl Shuftan: "I'll try to drop by the next one, once I find out where it is."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "I am surprised you were not aware of it. I have included it in Steelhead's notes for announcement often, and Aether Chrononauts as well."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Guess I just put off giving it a visit ... I'll check it out next time. Or rather, this upcoming time."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: "Heh. Herr Jimmy's presentation will be an exception. Instead of tomorrow, it has been deferred to the 27th. We ran head-on into Easter."

It was about this time the interview came to an end. We talked for a few more minutes about Steelhead's mischevious blue wolf Invertigo Cadwell, "Oh, sweet lightning, his roadtrips alone, his infested mines, his mortal enemies trying to bribe me." But eventually we soon went our separate ways.

Bixyl Shuftan

3 comments:

  1. I was told some time earlier that the artists of the "Girl Genius" webcomic had heard about Baron as a personality in Second Life, and didn't have a problem. I can certainly see why as he's a constant reminder of their work, and never strays from being "in character." He may bend a little, but in all of my observations, and interactions, with The Baron, I've never seen what could be called a true Out Of Character moment.

    His sense of humor can often be subtle. A regular at Steelhead's Friday Night parties, he does things his own way. Normally sporting a full, less than fully combed head of hair, it was a bit different when Steelhead had a "Woodstock Night." One might think the Baron would sit out a party full of dancers in tees and jeans with long, unkempt hair. He showed up anyway ... in a business suit and had gotten a haircut for the occasion.

    Like the "Girl Genius" character, "The Baron" does things his own way.

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