Monday, November 12, 2012

Carnage 2012, Pt 6: The End of Days

No Cheap Beckett Here

The older I get, the less satisfied I become with things. On my 35th birthday, I went to watch Waiting for Godot in Cleveland and could only notice that it was performed by actors with a solid background in clown performance. My 40th birthday was spent in Dayton, Ohio trying to keep a bunch of 40-somethings motivated to stay up past 10pm. I learned that in Ireland, according to fans of its music every day is either a wedding or a funeral. I learned this decade the parts that I don't like about the Lord of Rings movies are those that are actually in the book.

It was with some relief when Peryton discovered the Carnage Convention back in 2009. I found a not-too-small convention, where one does get to know people, find great parties, and some of the best tabletop role-players ever. We're talking GenCon caliber gamerdom but with a bar in the middle of the place, and room party crawl measured in yards not light-years. All in a place where I could convince honeymooners to come. Right at the Vermont and New Hampshire border no less, for the walk-about exploring drunk like me.

It's sort of on that note, that Sunday morning came about. Everyone packing was being done quickly and without problem. I didn't even have to play the "Where did I leave the camera?" game, that I so love to. So Monk, Zach, and I headed out to lounge area to enjoy the morning view of the lake, still cloud-covered, mind you, leaving Pery to do her last minute hems and haws in peace. Finally ran into Dr. Nik, who was only a blur most of the weekend so far. Rainbow Chick and Wotan showed up as well. Wotan showed his own poetic side when relating to Nik his thoughts of the weekend. It was a rather nice spiel. I was jealous.

Peryton came limping from the car a little after noon, so there wasn't much else to do except say goodbye to everyone and get going. And leave Lake Morey. Margo, was hanging with Dr. Watt and the Two Dans again, and she was acting pretty despondent at my only casual wave. Peryton swooped my coffee cup, which I was trying to lose just I often do my camera, into my hand, so I cut the flirting short, to say, "We'll always have Paris."

And with that, the last plane leaving Lake Morey jockeyed down the runway. Carnage Noir was fini. Like any good noir flik, I just can't wait for the next one.

Oh did I mention that Steven Dresser won the Barroom Brawl for like the 100th year in a row?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Carnage 2012, PT 5: The Longer Night

The Dancing Horse

My CoC game "Bigger Than a Breadbox" was full. Derek, Zach, and Dan Mills of the Two Dans (Him and Dan Williams) showed up from last year. TomM, Rainbow Chick and Wotan (Scott's new nickname, hey I aim to please), and later TomM's son joined in. This is basically the continuation of what is becoming my "Castle of the Moth Cycle", which is in its 4th year. I suspect going to become my Lovecraft yarn that defines my style of CoC playing. Though I want it to go creepy, I can't get over street-level occult which just touches the supernatural. Well this year, I actually got to something Lovecraftian though Mills, the Antiquarian, reprising his role from last year took away my major plot twist. Still the players made the game for me.

Let me go into more depth on the players. Wotan took his rural county Sheriff role to heart, and even came up with a background story, that I loved listening to. Derek's reprise of his role as the cut-up FBI agent, and added depth to it as the guy who resigned to take the fall for the shortcomings of his and his partner's investigation last episode. TomM played his director who caught the brunt of Derek's animosity and had to deal the still-employed agent that was severely handicapped from last game, and the hot shot agent assigned to his unit to clean up the mess. Rainbow Chick jumped right into that over-qualified, highly ambitious FBI agent's shoes with relish. And the Antiquarian, adopted his role of a dead man walking around in a pizza delivery guy's shoes with solid resolve.

I don't want to give too much away, but for three years running the players have been able to foil the Mi-go from completing the rewriting of their version of The Unspeakable Cults. This year, they got pissed. The plot was supposed a little farther than it did, but I was having fun watching the players. So I have a good lead in, with Derek's, the Antiquarian, and Wotan's characters being pivotal to the next installment, "The Keys to Christmas Place."

Wandering Through the Midnight Corridors

As my game ran over, I was a little late for James Caprio's The Cube of Death, a geeky/nerdy game show with hit points. I was seated with the dorks. While the geeks and nerds rooted for their celebrities, us dorks shouted out wrong answers and got yelled at. I have no idea who I was sitting next to, but those two dudes were hilarious. I am good at being wrong, but I really had to step up my game in their proximity.

Checking out Club Andre, which was open already, all the kewl kids were there, but Peryton wasn't. I found her back in the room hamming up her stubbed toe for an Academy Award. After major surgery and four monologues, she muttered that she may come out and "be among" everyone. With that promise to think about leaving the room, I was out of there.

I spent a bit of time chatting it up with the Two Dans, and a woman named Margo who was wearing a Harry Potter scarf but rocking my world with Noir-style femme fatale snippy dialog and attitude. I almost didn't notice it when Peryton showed up.

Andre's Billiard Room of Doom was hot. I mean the temperature was broken. But still, everyone was in there. That included Jeff Talanian of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea fame. As well as Steven Dresser, Zach, Pretty Boy, Byron, Rainbow Chick and Wotan, and various others. Monk showed up after hanging with his bunch of friends. The party itself was its usual affair, just more like a Roman bathhouse with everybody dressed, which prompted me to propose a 3am toast on the porch, overlooking the now still, and black as ink Lake Morey.

There were actually around three toasts. We didn't think Andre, Scott (the guard Scott), and Ben were coming. They came out of the room after 15 minutes, so the rest of us pretended to have waited for them. I think I was getting poetic, but don't really remember-- let's put it like this, there was more beer and liquor than anybody could finish.

After the ceremonial excuse for a bit of fresh air, we made our way back to Andre's Den of Iniquity. One by one we started dropping off. A fellow by the name of Arun slipped in and refreshed the mix with conversations the Matrix and other movies. I think we, Monk, Peryton, Zach and I, made it back to the room, in a pack, sometime between 4 and 5.

Don't forget Daylight Savings Time took affect that night...

Friday, November 09, 2012

Carnage 2012, Pt 4: The Long Day

The Sun Also Rises

I was awake before Monk's little chime started to wake him up for his 8am game. It sounded a lot like Peryton's tablet whenever we get an email notification of sales, so at first I was thinking we were making massive sales just by being at the Carnage Convention. Sales did actually go up, just not at 7:15am. I was awake and there was nothing to do about it. So I got up, put Zach's boots in the bathroom (a little ripe), cracked the window, and went to breakfast.

Pretty Boy was at breakfast and complaining about being up already. I pointed out that I too was up and moving around the dining room as well, then let it drop. His pain was great and there was nothing anybody could say to calm him down. Luckily he slipped off, hopefully to go back to bed, halfway through my pancakes. After eating, I did a quick circuit of the resort to see if anybody was awake. Not many that I knew,  even the morning riser Dr. Nik. Finding only Tom Dorman, who was a bit busy with like that staff duties stuff, I returned to the room and forced myself to nap.

At just before noon I was up. Peryton was almost out of room. I tried to prompt her with "Let's go be among them." You know keep each other company for a bit. She found an excuse to duck into the bathroom, leaving me in the hallway for over five minutes. Hrothgar came out of his room, which was across the hall, and we decided to walk up to the store again. All my beer had holes in the bottles or something.

No one was waiting for me to run my second noir game "The Dead End" when I returned. Peryton was texting wondering where the hell I was, I wanted to reply "Not in the bathroom" but decided not to. So I started sitting in on other games for a few minutes to get a feel for the GMs and the systems that they were running. And then I started doing the photo-journalism thing, making a point to get pictures of every room I wandered into.

I found Peryton running her "Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1: Black Stockings and Sippy Straws" BEAN scenario. Zach was playing as well as well as someone who seemed annoyed at me interrupting his enjoyment of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Pery tried to guilt-trip into joining, but I was enjoying wandering too much.

And the wandering paid off. I ran into Ccrabb and family. Ccrabb's oldest was running a D&D game for kids her age. Christopher, my editor's husband was there as well, and I always enjoy seeing him. I don't get enough time with that man, but I've liked him from day one. She gets jealous of her time with me though. So Christopher was off to do something with the youngest, so I sat with her while she tried not to be nervous looking at the curtains of the private gaming room where her daughter was performing.

We should've been talking about PeryPub business but mostly we just talked. We alternated conversations with Dr Watt and then Gaylord, who came by after another kid's game was wrapping up.  And then dinner plans came up, before you knew it it was 4pm.

An hour before a proposed dinner out, I started preparing characters for the night's CoC game "Bigger Than a Breadbox" Rainbow Chick and Uncle Scotty came by as well, recounting their afternoon's game.  So of course, I wasn't able to get them done before the dinner bell rang and we caught a ride with Tyler to Leda's. I was carrying my CoC book with me and was thinking about carrying it into the restaurant just to finish up the last three characters. Peryton and Dr Watt muttered "Nerd" under their breath, so I left my unfinished task in the car. Good thing that I did, I got to know Eric and Patti Rutin, the Dr. Who Monster Family from now on.  I have to say this was the easiest Saturday night dinner run at Carnage that I have ever had. I was able to get back and finish the last three characters for the upcoming game, AND tend to an stubbed toe for Peryton-- she married me for infantry medic experiences.

Carnage 2012, Pt 3: Surprises

The Weekend Is Going Too fast

Friday AM, I woke up too early and with a headache. I think most of it was Peryton's glowering stare after she heard about me being a jerk. And she reminded me, that I only died once in Andre's game. I had only been beaten down, drugged twice and had an overdose of sedative before I died the night before. I swear to godsheads that I was starting to feel like a Who song. So I started with the Dean Marten method of dealing with a hangover, which is scientifically proven, hair of the dog with as many apologies as required.

Monk and I bumped into David Crowell, Hrothgar, as my supply of beer was dwindling before noon and dragged him out of the door for a little fresh air, as we walked up to the store for more. We mostly enjoyed the morning air, really, and bought some room supplies as well as beer. Hroth was telling me about a game called Fate of the Norns that he was trying out. Little did we all suspect is that he'd probably be playing in every game that one get into at Carnage convention this year.

I walked in the front door and got a look from Nissi who was working when she saw the two six-packs I was carrying. I smiled and nodded. Those looks of hers would prove more than helpful later. Hey if I were a pagan, Bacchus would rule. I remember telling David, "It's Friday morning, and I am already thinking this con is too short."

My first game was at 1pm, and it was full. Steven Dresser, Lucas (from last year's "Castle of the Moth"), James Caprio, his betrothed Mary and a couple other new friends (Christine and Bob, I believe). I had two objectives with "The Bad Penny:" Get my TROTT system some play-testing, and make a straight Noir adventure. Now I asking me to do Noir is like asking a bear to live in the woods, and I think I got the basic tropes and plot devices right. The butler did it by the way. Rules-wise, I am really getting tired of explaining my rules, maybe I should stop writing them. Well here's to many more years of explaining them though. Better character sheets will help.

At dinner I ran into Peryton, with Andre, Ccrabb, Ben Osenfort, or Pretty Boy from here on, and the soon-to-be Caprios. Andre and I shared little jabs and pokes to show we still got along. But I knew he wasn't happy with me. I went to lay down, my head was hurting, as it should've been mind you.  I started getting texts from my Carnage son Zach. He seemed disconcerted as to where I was, I replied he then stopped messaging.

Making Space

I took Friday evening off of running to actually run in a game presented by someone that I haven't already gamed with. I chose TomM's Discworld scenario. I thought from all the gear and miniatures, maps and massive character portraits, it was a well-marketed game series, but no the guy put all this together through random fan memorabilia and his own game system. Pretty Boy was there, we've liked role-playing together since GenCon of this year. TomM gave him the secret mission of "keeping me under control," which is what I get for being That Guy once at a close-quarters convention. TomM's son was there as well, and another fellow. Dr. Watt, Tyler Dion, was there as well. And one other fellow, who did a great "Nobby." Ben and I played the least colorful characters of the game, but Pretty Boy was able to work in his sexual innuendo filled lines for everyone around the room. Dr. Watt did an assume Nathan from Metalocalypse for Igor, and TomM's son did a great Count Chocula/ Count Down. I am going to make more time for other people's games in the future thanks to TomM.

Afterwards, Zach found me and we caught up. We of course spent some time with Joe the bartender, Zach's Carnage Uncle, as I am his Carnage Father, of course. The Zach Pack, Heather, Derek and Patrick, listed in order of my notice showed up for my midnight game of "The Roll of the Dice."  An MSPE game. Well Jimmy, Dan Williams, didn't show up so none of wanted to play. Actually I am lying, I wanted to go hang, the RPG room was lonely.

Negative on the Fly-By, Space Boy

People were doing the post game cocktail hour, maybe three. My excuse that I was waiting for Peryton to come out of Andre's game. After a while Zach and I ran into Hrothgar and Pretty Boy. Over my shoulder I saw the back of Peryton's head sitting next just behind a booth wall and talking to Nissi. I excused myself, happy to see the old ball and chain out and about, and swooped in for a shoulder touch and kiss on the surprised cheek. Nissi's eyes widened as I on my bombing run.

Inches from grabbing a strange woman's bra strap and kissing her unknown face, I met Petra and her husband Scott. Rainbow Chick, a nickname given to Petra by Ccrabb some months before, looked surprised but not terribly bothered at my mug well within her personal space. To my own credit, I didn't go blank at the awkward moment either.

"You're not my wife." I said quickly. "Lovely hair." And I introduced myself quickly to Scott first and her. Not one to miss a beat, Petra became "my game wife" and Scott became Uncle Scotty.

Suddenly without warning, the bar closed. Not like it was 2am or something. Ben and I headed back to my room to pick up my beer supplies for the greater good of the party. I was speaking real loud as I opened the door and went straight to the refrigerator, Ben put his finger over his mouth. We had found Peryton, curled up in bed, really sleeping hard. Upon seeing her, I proceeded to ask 20 questions about her night.

"Do I really look like I want to have a conversation right about now?" Was her reply. Gotta love that woman.

The party ended up back in Andre's Billiard Room of Doom. Zach and I bid everyone adieu about 4am. The son I never had wanted to go sleep in his car, so I cop-wrestled him into our room to bunk with us. It was nice having family around.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Carnage 2012, Pt 2: Too Much Too-Much-Good

On the Road to Morocco, err Lake Morey

Getting on the road a little before 10am was not as hard as I figured it would be. I was cheerful because my breakfast was a leftover tuna fish melt from the Tully's somewhere up the road from the motel. When you own cats, tuna fish is a rare delicacies. Monk and Peryton had goodies from their own caches, so don't think I left them eating their fingertips. As our GPS was down, Pery was utilizing her smart phone and spreading out maps in the back seat, while Monk and I giggled about our incredibly witty jokes.

During the climb up the Vermont mountains towards the "central valley(?)", where I-91 runs and where anyone who doesn't drive to New York for milk or has a dog sled lives, I noticed the weather extremely unremarkable. The creeks and ravines were incredibly low for the time of year even. I mean I saw half of roads washed away after Hurricane Ilene. But this year, the 14th Colony of America's weather was better than Cleveland Ohio's. And with an hour and a half to spare, we arrived at Fairlee VT and the beloved Lake Morey Resort.

The Too Much Too-Much Bit

We did dinner with CCRABB, Tyler, and Tom Mechler, TomM from here on out, at the Hungry Bear Tavern.  We had been trying for an Indian food place which had shut off its lights 20 minutes earlier than its sign on the door said it would. Still the Bear had one of those wet burrito things called an enchilada with cream cheese and mild salsa, which was not bad. I was a bit over-excited at seeing everyone, so I drank. Now I know that doesn't surprise anybody, but when I showed at Andre's Thursday night pre-convention game, I became That Guy.

The game was fun though. Ccrabb and TomM probably would be too polite to call me annoying. Peryton was annoyed that I kept having to leave the room, because it broke the utter darkness of the theatrical set. Andre and Nyssa were handling me, but openly bothered. I think Toe-head, Ray Hickey, was a little jealous as he had do some of the best role-playing I have seen to date-- usually he's That Guy, just without as much vigor as I was putting into it. Now all that said, I was having the time of my life, and didn't mind getting killed three times.

What I regret is that I came back to argue with Andre about the scenario and its characters, instead of just enjoying myself in the Andre Billiards Room of Doom afterwards. I suppose I was paraphrasing Elton "Thursday Night Alright For Fighting." Definitely had a belly full of gin. But where was my mind at? Monk got me back to the room, laughing at me of course.

Carnage 2012, Pt 1: A Town Called Maliced

Whiskey Island Devastation and Famous Last Words

Getting off of work on Monday night, two days before we traveled to Vermont, with a lay-over in Syracuse, NY, was supposed to be a good thing. But when the winds knocked out our power at 9pm, yes sub-tropical cyclone Sandy hit Cleveland, and our waterfronts were washed over as well, that kind of killed that idea. The next day was spent first re-establishing contact with the outside world and avoiding the boredom that comes with a lack of electricity. Peryton made her way to work, and I climbed on top of our garage to remove tree branches from phone and cable lines.

Our little emergency radio, with its electric crank kept the radio and light present. We could even charge our cell phones, with enough elbow grease. And the little elf that wanted to be president, Dennis Kucinich, was proven right when the city of Cleveland-owned power company restored power to our little burg in less than 16 hours, while the more affluent customers of First Power were enjoying privatized triage and given five day waiting periods. Sadly, the winds had damaged our cable... sigh.

One interesting conversation of the Days Without Power was with my step-dad.
"You be careful driving." Don "Maybe just not go. "
"Oh the actual conditions on the ground are always not that bad." Tom "I was in the Red Cross."
"I am writing this down." Don
"Famous last words they may be, eh?" Tom
"I figure those will be drowning sounds." Don
"I'll call when we hit Syracuse." Tom

Ataxic Forward

Peryton was called into work Tuesday, so we couldn't leave until after 2pm or so. I actually spent most of the AM going back to bed, after waking up with Pery who had to leave early. And something happened that doesn't happen too often. I imploded. While lying in bed, amorphous anxieties would creep up and I'd realize that I was awake, every 15 to 35 minutes. Was it the storm? Was it new pressures at the job? No. It was because I had promised to clean the cat boxes out before the old woman got home.

So around 2pm, we were headed out. While we got to enjoy rush hour traffic in Buffalo, I had our trip to Syracuse down to the minute, including the inclement weather which had ceased around the New York border. Missing the correct exit to the airport to pick up Monk, added some time to my figures, but we got there. And I had a rather sleepless night in our traditional Red Roof Inn.

To quote Tyler Dion from the following afternoon, "It was like the night before Christmas."