Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We're Getting Too Good at This: Dark Gathering '13

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

To make up for missing so many calls and texts from the day before, I got myself out of bed around 9:45. And no one else was made any noise before noonish. I had forgotten that Peryton had brought my laptop with her for me to use, so it remained sitting in a corner while I mostly read some Emile Zola short story because it hurt my hands to type anything on my Kindle's typing program. Sitting out in the hotel's lobby was crowded and a bit over air-conditioned, so I ended up back in the room observing the the Rituals Peryton Awakening. There might've been some napping as well, who can say?

At noon, Hrothgar was running his signature game Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein with an aptly named scenario called "Roll Up! Roll Up!" Which I had to miss, I think the dude put his games where I couldn't get in them. Robin and I both had signed up for the Kruppa's "The Inheritance" using CoC. The point of Kruppa Hoot is indeed to get a chance to play in an Andre Kruppa game, after all. But it meant that I wouldn't get to play in any of his games this year. I think it was an indicator at how things are starting to mix and grow at these gatherings in Syracuse.

Inheritance was designed for Peryton though the author probably didn't know it. I don't want to give up much, but it was a daydream come true for her.  I think Ccrabb got a chance to say as little as possible as she had played in the session before. I got a chance to try my hand at more than one character. I took a look at my two characters and made some character decisions and hit the game running. The character that would've made things hard on Peryton died quickly trying to be a hero. The other, a bit of a narcissist and too clever for his own good, ended up helping out Peryton's character. The ending was ugly, not because of any bad GM technique. Not at all, but because we led it there. Andre was in awesome form acting out treants gone wrong and giving depth to minor characters. Well minor characters about to have their hearts ripped from their heaving chests. It was very gory and hopelessly depressing, Peryton was smiling.

All We Ever Got Was Tomato Sauce

Dinner at Tullys, because Carnegie's was closed. Having had the chicken everything else, I went for the whole nine yards and had the chicken Parmesan. As much as I dislike getting stuck in ruts, this last dinner to end all Dark Gathering 13 dinners was a success. Okay there is something said about comfort food in a cozy spot done repeatedly.And whatever Tully's is doing with their chicken is proof of that.

Hrothgar was running Crawlspace in a scenario called "Beer Run." This ran opposite of my own Crawlspace game "Cigarette," which had been posted months before David even thought of a game to run let alone what slot. So I really guess the man just hates having me as a player.

Then again, he knows of the Last Game Curse at the Hoots. The year before I was his Last Game Curse, I was really too tired to play so my character was an ass. Here I showed skill with characterization but I left all the major play to the players around me. And I was only being one of the things that make up the Last Game Curse in smaller gamer gatherings. But I am meandering here.

The Tomato In the Theater Revolution

Did I mention that Andre Kruppa, THE KRUPPA, decided not to run on Sunday night? And not only decide not to run on Sunday night, he decided to play in my game? This is a major coupe in the GM mile stones of my life. Last year I had Dr Nik and Dr Watts (Nik Palmer and Tyler Dion) both accomplished GMs jump in on my game last year. All of the GMs mentioned here are part of the reason why I have been impressed with the New England gaming scene since I stumbled upon it some five years ago. And the Kruppa is a rarer fish than most, and finicky in the extreme.

Since its rough draft, Cigarette was a good game to showcase as what I am going for with the Crawlspace horror RPG. Its title required a prop, if only as an eye piece. The story that would unfold could not be garnered from the scenarios name. And I had a good idea as to where it would go. Despite it being the last night of a Hoot, nothing was going to diminish that.

Just the cast of players was proof it. Rainbow, Peryton, and Wotan, probably the best "method role-players" I have met in two decades were there. And though she is too shy to admit it, CCrabb is as capable as the best of them. This is all with The Kruppa settling in to exercise his player muscles as well. At this point I should correct an error I have written earlier, Andre Kruppa has quite an extensive history in theatrical productions-- he just humors me as I rant about obscure stage movements. Along with a little lighting help, some Brecht-influenced RPG drama with players that practice Stanislavski's truths was going to unfold.

Now what happens in Crawlspace is that players assume the personalities of Actors trapped in a universe of B horror movies. Despite the obvious camp involved in the premise, I feel I have nothing to apologize for. Like humor is a helpful tool for getting a point across, a theatrical convention can be used to help getting repeat Characters from one horrifying and often fatal scenario to another. And most movie Actors would love to have the control of their Characters as most role-players do in any given scenario. Bringing two mindsets together, I think, will be just the thing for getting the best players and GMs together for some masterpieces of horror role-playing. And hopefully my handful of card tricks will provide a decent parlor game as the mechanics.

What can I say about how Cigarette turned out in play? Well, it went directions I never imagined. I was a tired and cranky by the end of the scenario. Because of the very capable and rule-twisting minds around me, the whole session made it worthwhile. And Wotan definitely understood what I was trying for. He is the biggest influence on many of my rule revisions. But I still want to complain to the Kruppa and Dr Nik for making me think that "play-testing" helps. It does, but sheesh. The hobby is like work sometimes.

I am playing. The evening's session was awesome. I am not sure how it gets done, but I know some of the best role-players ever.

The after-party started up as soon as I brought up the lights. Hrothgar's family was in town so he swung in for a second then slipped out. I was able to speak with the Sorrentinos. And things were jamming. Peryton got tired earlier, so I slipped out with her. Unlike our arrival, we left together. The keys to a happy marriage: write for the same magazines and like to spend some time together.

And so ended the 2013 Dark Gathering.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Way Things Should Be: Dark Gathering '13

The Promise of a New Day With Headaches

Though I kept waking about every 40 minutes from about 7:15am on, my phone wasn't buzzing at me so I made myself keep napping until about 10:30am. I then I realized, I had no idea where my phone actually was. So after a shower and an aspirin, more for old age than a hangover, I was wandering around the hotel and knocking on doors like a meth addict looking for a lighter. Probably not as dramatic as that, because most of the time I spent having morning tea with Wotan and Rainbow in their room. The phone was in Doc Time and Kalts' room. I had left it on the gaming table to not miss phone calls from Peryton the night before.

Returning to our room at noon, I kicked the bed where Peryton still slumbered as best she could and mentioned that she was running at 1pm. I am going to diverge a little here. One of the topics of catching up between Hrothgar and myself on Thursday was a bit about the ins and outs of being a drunk. I pointed out that Peryton just wasn't drinking all that much anymore.
"I think she's hinting at something." I told David with a sad aspect.
"She's telling you to pick up the slack of course." He replied with a wink and chuckle.

Apparently, he was right. I was pretty bright and chipper and having a beer at noon, and the poor woman was acting like I had just boiled essential salts and reconstituted her ashes from the wreckage Hindenburg. While she did have a couple drinks the night before, I don't remember her being as warm and toasty as I have seen her before. So it is true, I guess. Boy, she'll be sooo happy to hear this.

Tony and Stephanie Sorrentino around 12:30 or so. Maybe they were there earlier, I didn't see them until around that time. Peryton's Robinhoo game, "Secrets of the Silver Grove" and the Kruppa's "The Jazz Man" Lucid Dreams scenario both were moved back to later starting times. Sheesh 1pm is too early for us Hooters these days, boy we know how to party.

Shaking Hands and Soccer Updates

I played in Peryton's Silver Grove and was happier than I have been in a while with her sessions. She was extremely nervous, but when things got going, it turned out to be a rollicking adventure for of weirdness and special effects (figurative ones) fun. No really. I cannot tell you how much fun I was having, and I was playing a character I didn't even like. I got to beat up Ken-doll stormtroppers and watch sun flare sentients shred their skins all while saving my beloved Aunt Betty from kidney robbers. Now it would've been better with my Pyramid-heads and Sewer-Monkeys thrown in, but hey nothing is ever perfect. Of course, my role-playing style was complimented by the practiced naturalism of Wotan and Petra, and the quizzical nature of Hrothgar. It was a nice coming together of an interesting setting, and four high caliber role-players, well three and a half since I was involved. 

During the game, JerryTel was kind enough to text me commentary on the bayern Munchen versus Borussa Dortmund Champion's final. It was really kind of awesome. Monk jumped in asking for details on the get-together. I felt like Baron Munchhausen getting telegraphs from other far-off adventurers.

Dinner was at Tully's. I was not enjoying myself as much as I would've liked because of problems with the seating but the place's chicken made up for that. The Kruppa's group showed up after a while, but we couldn't really share a table, so we bid adieu until the after-party.

That evening I played in Wotan's "Lost on Echo Mountain- What Remains" for Call of Cthulhu. Now this man has been talking about crafting this scenario since I met him at Lake Morey last November. He always sounded to me a little insecure about GMing after so many years of not doing so. What I didn't know is that the man is a liar. Echo Mountain was an awesome game to play in. It was very much like when I was first exposed to CoC scenarios, in its detail and drama. And the plot flips, not twist or tilts. This was some pretty hardcore horror role-playing where Delta Green players would feel comfortable. I frankly liked everything about this yarn. The twist and the creatures involved, but mostly Scott's well handled action at the climax. We all died, but we never knew we were beat until we were beat. Very well handled "violence."

Andre's "Executive Meeting" Lucid Dream's session went fast, I hear, which for him means like five hours. Apparently Stephanie S. who I also hear is new to this adventure gaming thing, sat back, took notes, and then kicked ass. I have so little information on this game, or Tony and Stephanie S for that matter, I cannot say much. I did hear that rules worked "without a glitch" from someone in this game.

The after party ... well... it was "good." Actually it was great, we all pretty much had worked out our nervous energy the night before. Rainbow had provided us with a cheese and grapes platter, which was the best meal that I had had in a while. Total decadent indulgence there. Tony and Stephanie were there to say "hi" to a bit more. CCrabb, Hrothgar, and I started a game of musical chairs to start up conversations with everyone, but mostly to try and get the comfy chair. Everyone disappeared early, well 3:30, which gave me, the Kruppa, and Ccrabb a night cap together, which is always good for the soul.

At 4:45 I was back in my room, in its comfy chair, and had just finished reading Doc Time's Time Shredders. All was quite, even the wedding reception and the local kids partying away a Saturday night had died down. I was in a good place.