Breakfast, Vampire, and Party
I woke up two minutes before the alarm went off, and felt actually pretty good. Surprisingly good. I got up quietly and meandered downstairs to meet Tom and we went to the hotel's restaurant, which was actually pretty good. I had fresh fruit and yogurt and a real bran muffin that all went down pretty well. Juice and milk and plenty of good, catch-up conversation with Tom. It's been several years since we've seen each other, since I last visited Columbus. Tom had lovely pictures of his girlfriend, and some good shots of when they were on vacation. She's pretty, sweet and looks like she has a great sense of humor, and from the way he speaks of her, it's very nice to just sit and listen. I think he's found someone to really love. That's just neat to hear.
As usual, he also handed me a packet of Stuff. Clippings, cartoons, and a video tape this time. Just stuff that he runs into and thinks I'd be interested in reading or seeing, and it's always thoughtful stuff. Stuff to get me to think or laugh or wonder over. It was very neat and it's a little like Christmas. He had a bunch of User Friendly stuff in there this time. I love the strip and it was keen to know he liked them too.
It was restful. Simple. Friendly and comforting in many ways. I enjoyed it a lot, and when we parted he said that we probably wouldn't see each other again until his wedding. But it was very keen to know that when we did see each other again the friendship would simply be as it always was. A very comforting thing.
When I got back to the room, I found Geoff awake and apologetic about the night before. It was encouraging, for me. It was just very healing for me when he actually apologized. It's so hard for me to tell someone, directly, what it is that I want and need and when they have no business telling me what to do. It's one of the things that has turned out to be very good for me, to actually verbalize that it is that I really need and want and not just bend to the desires and, especially, the needs of someone else.
The timing of the shuttle was really awful, and the air was grey with the possibility of rain, just the finest drizzle. So instead of waiting for the shuttle some more and being late for the game, we walked the less than a mile to the convention center. It is a very pretty city, clean and neat and small and filled with intriquing restaurants. It did take nearly the half an hour that Geoff said it would, but it was far less painful for me than I thought it would be. I was intrigued. I guess this low-altitude difference really does make a huge difference. Oxygen is a useful substance. Oxygen and water. Together. Breathing made painless.
Never really realized just how painful breathing in Colorado can get. I didn't go nearly as fast as Geoff does, but his main means of transport are his legs, but he was good and looked back often and waited for me when he got too far ahead. John does that too, more, now. We got there in plenty of time, especially when I found out that Will had set it for 11, so that folks could get started at noon!
Though that included drawing up characters, so I actually had to think of a Vampire character.
Geoff calls me one of the old guard of gaming, when I the very first thing I think of in Vampire is... well... honestly, 'Teenage Angst Fest'. He's likely right. But I thought I'd try it as he and Will and his folks obviously all get a kick out of playing both in Geoff's Kindred of the East game and Will's Vampire game. I wanted a taste to see what it was really like in play rather than what I'd only gotten from the books, which, honestly, only fed my dislike of it. I really dislike games where there is no way to make a difference and there's no point in doing anything, and it's all about doom in the end anyway and an apocolypse that no one can stop.
Then again, I've never played a game where the big plots laid on in the books actually either ever appeared in the game or, if they did, they were usually nicely warped and changed by the mind of the GM into something more personal that could be taken care of. Sure enough, Will delivered.
It was a really nice afternoon. Geoff wasn't in the game, both to allow him to prep for the party the Aspects were all throwing tonight, and to keep him out of my hair. Will and Geoff were wise about that. But he was able to help me with putting together a character, and his initial concept of an anti-social garbage man who absorbed everything he could from computers, the TV and libraries was very interesting to me and a lot like a lot of the characters I've played in the past. Quiet and effective when necessary. Not prone to hysterics or abuse, but a listener. As Carl has often said, I never play the talker and he wants me to, sometime. I sometimes wonder what I would actually get out in desperation; but I'm too much of a damned perfectionist to ever really risk that, I think.
I am also unfamiliar with, but intensely admiring of the first-person style of play they all have. Will's GM'ing techniques nearly require direct interaction with the character, so it was better that I had a quiet character as it was a bit of a struggle for me to speak as him. I'm used to third-person play, which is a bit more remote. First person play scared me a little bit, but I tried.
I've always admire Bruce Harlick's first person play. Something about taking on the mannerisms, voice and body language of the character. But I am so not an actor, and the problem may well be that I know that. Especially when it comes to actually showing emotions and stuff. I just really suck. Nice thing was that the character was built so that I didn't have to, and I hugged that to myself quietly.
Geoff was quiet and warm and spent much of the time wrapped around me quietly, just enjoying being near me and listening to the game and interjecting stuff here and there. He also even got me a half-decaf coffee, which helped me a lot. Nice thing about staying off caffeine is that it works so very well when I do use even a little of it. That was very nice. And when there was a break, we all wandered off for something to eat, and I got back a little early and napped in the non-smoking room, while they all conversed in the smoking room. They took an extra hour, and it was very nice to be able to sleep for a full hour and wake up feeling just that much better after the crazy night before.
The game itself was really keen. Four outcasts of society were being rounded up by some of the Sabbat, probably as cannon fodder, but we didn't know that. An Irish cop, a little abusive, a little on the take, and just a bit dirty and busted down from a higher rank into one of the worst beats in the city. A dental hygenist who wouldn't put out for her boss, becoming a strip joint dancer to simply pay the rent and feed her cats. An insurance salesman on the edge of going completely postal and studying up the arms, weapons and fighting power to do some real damage. And me. Each given a situation and a conversation and a moral question. Each answers and then the world goes black.
Mine haunts me mildly. The conversation written down here only captures what I remember of it, and you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking it's anything close to Will's amazing patter and lovely, disturbing lines of reasoning. What was very interesting was the reoccurance of the characters in each conversation and how they worked in in each later scene.
There is a pile of garbage outside an apartment building and someone musta upgraded to a new sound system and replaced everything with CD's as there's boxes of records out here, even with a nice player with a well-balanced table and counter balanced arm for least pressure on the precious vinyl. I'm looking through the boxes for stuff I want to take home and a voice says, "Amazing what people will throw away, isn't it?" He makes a conversation of one as I watch and listen. He seems a nice enough crackpot with an appreciation of the things that I see everyday. That there are things that some folks find absolutely no value in that I'd snap up in a second. Implications of value under the surfaces. I kinda like this guy. Then he moves a bag and we find a body under it. I swear. Not only is it a body, it's the body of a policeman (actually the big Irish policemen, who had already been taken). Dead bodies are paper work, lots of work and a delay in the pickup schedule and I'll be late at work again. Dead cops are even worse. The detectives will want to paw over everything here.
The crackpot says, "Well, I could just cover him up and we can walk away."
"Pick up still has to be done. I might as well get it over with." I walk back towards my truck.
The guy's gone over to the body and poking around at him, weird guy, "Hey, he's still breathing."
"Huh?" I walk over and sure enough, the guy's breathing. Doesn't seem to be having any trouble breathing, this might make things a lot easier. "I'll call for help."
"Hey! I know. I could do you a favor and just kill him for you. Wouldn't be aaaany trouble at all..."
I whirl on the guy, "What? No! No killing him. Why the fuck would you kill him? He's more trouble dead than this way."
"Well, hm. Okay. You don't want me to kill him, I won't. But then do you want to load him into your truck and take him to the hospital?"
"No. I'll call the right guys and they'll take care of it."
"What if he's about to die? How can you know he's not going to die between now and the time your guys get to him?"
"Wouldn't you feel guilty if he died while waiting for these dudes?"
"No. It's not my problem."
And everything went black.
All the candidates end up strung, end to end from a catwalk, with a dead dog tied to the very bottom one. I was taking all the load of the other three at the top, the policeman under me, the hygenist under him, and then the business office firecracker. Eventaully, he pulls up the dog and 'eats' it and then thinks a bit and sees that the drop to the floor below will probably kill him, so he starts climbing. The girl nearly kills him by untying him from her wrist, but he gets up quickly enough. She's also screaming the entire time. The policeman nearly kills both of them by trying to saw them off his wrist, but he recognizes the girl, so stops. I don't have a knife, don't think of throwing people away, so just help each one up my body, releasing the strain on me as they get up on the catwalk. Another dog, which I get the major portion of and then we get talked to. Rationally. By the guys that took us.
And the sweet line we get is that we're the chosen. Those thrown away by others and given another chance to take on an entirely new life. Do a few things for them, pass a few tests, and then enjoy this new freedom as we like. Lots of cool explanations about words and phrases and what's what and why. Including the whole drinking of blood thing and all the things that come with it. An interesting interlude with the hygenist who actually started out a vegetarian. (eek!) There's even a den mother that takes us all in and makes us in to a pack and we drink each other's blood and suddenly finding that we like each other a bit more than we thought we did.
Packing complete and all that... we got to stat up to real vampires. I really like picking the extra stuff after having gotten to play Micky for a bit. I've always been of the Mary Kuhner school of a character builds themselves in play, not just on paper. I really liked what he turned into. That's when we were presented with the next, real problem. Figuring out and dealing with a possible threat to the organization.
Only problem was that it was already an hour past the time the party was going to start and nearly everyone in that room was a host of sorts for the party. I was also starving by this time, but reassured Will that I loved the game he'd run and Geoff and I and several others went food hunting. Only problem is that my body absolutely refused to have gaming/Food Court food. So Geoff was very good and we went to a good restaurant in the convention hotel, where I was able to have a good salad with blue cheese and bacon bits and savory crab cakes with a lovely, sweet, dense basalmic vinegar reduction and a mango salsa that was actually pretty yummy. A good, small meal that was really yummy and made everything settle down.
Geoff and I also talked a lot and I think I finally made a connection and an analogy that made sense to him, and the whole thing for late last night was resolved. That's a real good thing, that we can talk things through and work at it together, to make things make sense instead of just leaving it where it hurts. He'd also been making noises about leaving his party early just to be with me if I left early, and I told him that it would be silly. He was the one throwing the party and he'd gotten sleep the night before and I needed more of it. He shouldn't make decisions that were only for 'my good', as the resentment would build up eventually. It was a big social event that seems to be one of the bigger ones of his year, and it had been a while since he'd been in Pittsburgh and it seemed good for him to catch up with he people he most liked. He thought that over and nodded, decided not to leave when I did, which was midnight. Pumpkin time.
I had fun back at the party talking with dirque and Carl and talking about meeting up with Gretchen and folks over in Santa Cruz sometime. My brain wasn't working too well, but it was fun. At midnight, Carl and I turned into pumpkins and I wandered over to the Hyatt to get them to get a cab for me, but while I was waiting for the cab, a guy opened another cab door and said, "Will you take me to the other Hyatt?" and I jumped up and asked if he'd share. Not only did he share, but he has a voucher from the Hyatt, as they'd overflowed over to my Hyatt! So the ride was, essentially, free, though the voucher didn't cover the whole fare, so both the guy and I pitched in another dollar each, and the guy was not only covered but had a good tip for a five dollar fare.
Sleep was sweet.