Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Legend of Pinkie Berkowitz

The things i do for you oh gentle readers...So i'm going to another party. Kindred parties are pretty much the same thing over and over and over, ad Nauseum, ad Absurdem, ad Astra...
This one is being held at a large mansion. And i do mean large. Like the Winchester House on steroids or some shit. I didn't know there was a form of diarrhea that affected Architecture. If you look at any given group of kindred from a distance you can pretty much tell what they're like. You've got you social butterfly types with their easy smiles and hearty handshakes. You got your fight-the-power-kill-whitey types, (Like yours truly) who tend to shoot their mouths off and casually offend anybody within earshot. You've got you Fuck-off-Don't-look-at-me types who spend the most time staring at you, and then either getting upset when approached, or bolting. You've got your stick up the butt types who just never loosen up. And i'm not tarring the Invictus solely with this brush either.
Body language can tell you a lot. It looks like i'm in for a dull evening of social brinksmanship. But then again, this place is supposed to be haunted, so who knows.
Jesus fuck. why am I sober?

So. I have heard bad stories about the Camarilla. I had other options to try out if this ended up sucking or into some kind of power player circle jerk. But i must admit i was curious to try a large scale larp and it appeared that this would be one. Last year, they hadn't offered one as the system was brand new and hadn't been seen by rank and file player yet. (As it happens, there WAS an NMET Larp last year, but as far as i know it hadn't made it into the con booklet. Ah well. spilt milk...)
So i go. I sit down with my books and think about creating a host of characters for a nice spread of possibilities. But an idea sort of filtered into my head that i couldn't shake.

Earlier in the week, I had re-watched my copy of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and being a longtime fan of Hunter S. Thompson, I decided to play a character like him. a rough iconoclast with a sassy mouth and a propensity for recreational chemistry. Why not? We're both from Kentucky right?

I roll in, and meet Kelly Herrmann (Who I later learn is one of the major players in Cam organization) She helps me get oriented and points me at the storytellers to help get me approved for play. This was a bit of a shock actually. I had expected to have the basic concept disallowed and tossed in favor of some pre-gen. I was actually ready to do so. I have the ability to take on a pre-gen and just play it with as much Elan as i can manage. It's all about commiting to the character and the scene.
But, shockingly, they look me over and decide that this is just fine and hand me an additional 50 points of EXP to re-tool with.
Which i do with some speed. I get approved and off i go! They handed me a sheet with some coterie materials so that i could hook up to them and throw my story into their communal pot. But i didn't see them the whole first night. and i got into some trouble on my own, so it turned out that i didn't need it. But it was nice to fall back on and was a good bit of forethought.

Going to a Kindred parties alone, when you're new in town is a bit like being the fresh fish on the prison yard. People circle like fucking sharks trying to decide whether you're interesting or exploitable. Some come with a sexual edge, other so painfully sexless that you feel their bleeding edge of pain.It's hard to deny the grim meat-hook reality of kindred existence when you can see the pain writ large on the face of a fellow kindred, especially while he/she is trying to cajole you into some attractive form of self destruction.
I amuse myself by taking pictures. I always ASK first, as it is otherwise fucking pointless. Oftentimes, elders will dress in period garb. Clothes they find themselves more comfortable in. Most times, they can't wear this gear on a regular night. So it's an opportunity to let the hair down and be "Casual" Also, Kindred parties are an opportunity to show off and look good and my photographer's eye is drawn to such things. Whether excessive or tasteful.
Some people don't like me to take pictures. I've yet to meet a Mekhet who was interested. Most Daeva, like myself, get their feelings hurt if you DON'T ask. Even if they turn you down.
I'm putting together a Book on Kindred existence, using my own experiences and feelings on the matter. Working at the Stone taught me the value of pictures and how they can make even a dull narrative jump and boogie. So, I take pictures and dictate notes.
Naturally, the Invictus decide to poke their nose in my entirely innocent business.

Met some good people. Had expected to meet at least a few folks who required an OOC ass-kicking but that was not the case here. I guess it varies from venue to venue, but it seems like the Columbus area Cam has their act together as did the ST staff. If there were problems, they got solved behind the scenes and i didn't see anyone walk away from the game pissed. I can't say this about every game i've played in. Maybe the people who really love Larping stay with it while the people with maturity issues get bored and leave.

I have not, in fact, seen my first ghost. I did hear the Irish band playing. Heard a woman's sigh. Caught a scent of jasmine, but i've had way more intense hallucinations than that. I'm kind of underwhelmed. But then again, the restless dead tend to get more agitated when you fail to understand what they want. But on the other hand, our erstwhile host may have just hired a band to play Irish waltzes and move from room to room without being seen just to fuck people up.
Honestly though. The little girl singing in my head was way creepier.(Especially while sober) I started hearing her in the library. Nearly got attacked by an excitable Gangrel. Found a book with possible occult significance which i promptly handed over to the ranking Crone and made my exit as thing got spookalicious in the library. My curiousity is gonna get me killed.

The plot became obvious towards the end of the night. It was a bit of a scavenger hunt in the old house with the creepy ghosts. With some hunters in the neighborhood for good measure and occasional violent bits, for those who like a little violence. Not to mention the usual back-stabbing and throat-cutting. Most Scavenger hunt plots are dumb. But this one was well crafted and the ST staff seemed up on what was going on. The use of actual props helped a bit i think. As did the riddles. It gave investigator types like me something to chew on.The game was also helped by the fact that the Regency Ballroom was HUGE and had multiple areas for play. Although i will say that it worked against us when the ST had opening and closing remarks. Next year i'll bring my Bullhorn.

...At the point, where it became obvious that the Hunters had arrived to make trouble, I was told by the Invictus types that it was unsafe to leave the house and that we should all stay. Uninterested in bedding down with a hundred other predators strange to me in a creepy old house fulla ghosts. Not my idea of a good idea. Deciding to leave the house, i did so unmolested. Apparently the hunters attacked just after I left. Can't imagine how i didn't manage to get tarred with that brush.
Strange feelings on this nervous night. People are giving me the stink-eye. Makes me wonder whether i've chosen the right path for myself. Who can know? Who can say? When i came up with my Mission, I knew there were going to be kindred who weren't going to like it. An actual book that someone can hold in their hands is proof and maybe more of vampire society. Some get, that i'm trying to help educate my fellow Carthians, other's like the Ordo and the Invictus who are built heavily along the idea of personal mentorship, see my work as a dangerous risk. But Carthians don't have the same luxuries that they do, and we need to deal with the young and ignorant among us.
So, a book. That's the plan. But already, with their noses out of joint over photos, the invictus ass-reaming is engaged. I've been scoped by at least two people with Auspex...That i know of.
With rumors of hunters in the area, it's not hard for me to put 2 and 2 together. Even one of the ranking Carthians came over and had to talk to me about the thing. Oliver Hearst seems like a good guy, But the Invictus are here in greater numbers than us. And even though the Prince of this domain is a Carthian, he has to deal with some dude named Talbot who is a major league Invictus hard-ass.
So there's heat. If they knew about the rumors about me driving an Invictus Prince in Kansas city to a nervous breakdown, they'd be all up in my grill. I'll have a talk with the Prince, and hopefully clear this up.

The next night was even more interesting. Our erstwhile host, Now identified as Mr Bouchard, set the terms of the scavenger hunt, warned of us the traps and set us loose to seek our fortunes. I was convinced that Bouchard was actually old enough and Ventrue enough that he'd gone crazy and was, in actuality,the Ordo Dracul that he has supposedly taken the house from. Turned out not to be the case. We received some clues from that maniac's diary and off we went. Pinkie, having become curious about the house and all the rest of it, elected to stay and try to puzzle it out.
And that's when i met Emma Moreland. (Or rather, Tracy Matson as she's known in daylight hours.) A very cute young lady with a positive gift for dialect, who ended up working with Pinkie on the case. We actually managed to find at least one of the clues all by ourselves. It was a dinner table that had been involved with at least 1 murder in the house. We also managed to help with ferreting out some of the clues and the Carthians started working as a bit of a team.

So, Me, and the English Rose, get called on the carpet by the Invictus, as a whole. This Talbot guy had showed up and decided he didn't like the idea of my little book and my pictures. Of course, the nature of my little project had gotten around the Invictus camp fire and had grown in the telling. Now i was of course taking sneaky pictures and taping kindred without their knowledge. So naturally they sent their boys around to collect me. (At least their guy was polite.) and we had a sit down. Naturally, they read me the riot act. I've been in tenser situations though, and had my poker face on. Oliver turned up to speak on my behalf, which was kind of him. But what saved my bacon was the fact that i told them the truth. Which i don't think they were prepared for. So, rather than butcher me on some kind of rumor and deal with the political fallout of it, they elected to let me go and admonish me to keep my mouth shut. Naturally this is not enough for some...

The next night, The Carthians sit down. We decide we want no damn part of owning this house. We also decide that since the Ordo want it so bad. We'll sell our action and our keys to them in exchange for consideration. In a deal brokered by Oliver, we manage to score a large estate for ourselves which Emma ends up owning in trust for the Carthians in the area. Pinkie hits on the idea of creating a Carthian Archive for his works and for the works of other carthians similarly interested. Such works would be held in the trust of trusted Carthians (Like Emma and Oliver.) We spend the rest of the evening talking politics with a couple of Invictus who seem interested in debate.
But as the evening wears on, it becomes obvious that one of our number has been ganked. Also, the Invictus Harpy sees fit to bring around the Sanctified Bishop with an earful of wrong information. He sermonizes at me for a bit and tells me that the Prince himself is talking about having my head separated from my shoulders.

...I fail to quake in my boots. which unnerves them a bit. It also unnerves Emma. So i go beard the Prince in his lair and ask him straight. The Prince is naturally shocked to hear that he's now killing fellow Carthians. He admits that i need more education. but that's not at all what he said. it occurs to me that the Harpy may have a hard-on for waxing me. and that sooner or later she'll find a sympathetic ear and her hands will be spotlessly clean.
So, with that bit of data bumping around in my skull, and our goals solved. I decide it's time to take my leave.
I have to say goodbye to my English Rose. And that hard. We'd come to like one another in a short amount of time. and i felt bad for causing her some problems. But i didn't want to tar her with my brush anymore. and i've always been rambler. So, i said my goodbyes and took my leave.
At least, i tried. I didn't get out without incident. A pair of hunters jumped me and shot me. One nearly got me with a stake. but they weren't expecting me to bugger off at a high rate of speed. Which i did. I found another car and hotwired it and left town. Hungry. covered in my own blood, pissed.
I'm gonna make some people sorry for the way this shook out.


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