It's So Hard to Say Goodbye
It has been a busy start to the year. New job, buying a house, crashing on a couple of writing projects (waiting on feedback from a first round draft) and juggling a billion little things. It fully occurred to me last week what moving means. Not just saying goodbye to my favorite bar, Jack Rose, or my favorite movie theater, the Uptown where I took my wife on one of our first dates and where her grandmother went when she lived in DC in 1940s. No, it means one hard truth:
I am losing my gaming group!!!
The group of gamers that I have scoured the internet for, went to gaming shops to find, recruited from friends who did not even know their friend was a gamer (I can sense them, akin to Highlander), and rattled the very gates of Heaven and Hell to find. After finding them came the mutual vetting: they, debating if they dug my style of GMing and my sense of humor; me, deciding if they meshed with everything one else, were dependable and welcoming to people from all walks of life. Plus... they must be open to a little booze while gaming (not necessary to partake), and my kid has to give them the stamp of approval. It was basically three full time jobs but worth all of the effort.
The group started almost four years ago. I won't lie, it was not perfect; we had people come that did not pass the vetting, or had to drop out because real life happened. The group even had one player move to another state for a year and then rejoin, after moving back. That should speak volumes in itself. What epic campaign brought these gamers together?
The collector's edition of The Mask of Nyarlathotep!!! The group started large for a Cthulhu game with five characters:
Theron Wyrd: Worldly scholar and antiquarian of long forgotten lore. (Plus writer of this little gem.)
Minnie Abbott: Artist and modern woman, whose parents disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Freddie Hawthorn: Stunt coordinator and daredevil who saw things in darkest Africa no man should.
Jackson Perry: Con artist and criminal, seeking vengeance for a wrong done to him.
Ronald McReady: Professor and veteran, suffering from his time in the trenches.
Around London, the group had pick up a number of other players but three became steadfast companions.
Philomena Watz: Nightclub singer and entertainer turned adventuress.
Harvey Lewis: Scared WWI vet turned construction worker, supervising renovations of NYC sewers.
Theophilus 'Theo' Chandler: Everyman turned boxer, race car driver and mechanic.
The scenario was a house of fun as they struggled against Nyarlathotep's machinations, with many a new PC generated, only to fall to his wicked schemes. They came to realize that their actions in Hong Kong (six months ago in real world time) likely doomed them to fail. Instead of a room full of angry gamers, things were said like, "DUDE!!! That was incredible, all of this time you let us follow our own lead, no matter how wrong and IT WAS TOTALLY LOVECRAFTIAN." One of the best feelings you can get from a game that ran almost 3 years.
I ran other games: Trail of Cthulhu, Delta Green, Pathfinder, Wild Talents and more with the group or with a mix of them and others. But I will always remember the Mask Campaign and how FANTASTIC they were: how they loved the hand made matchbox (which a certain player still has) and the mini-tomes that were baked in the oven to give them that aged feel. And when I knew I had them? The mood was tense, something scary was happening, and one of them would try to crack a joke. And it didn't work. The scary moment was too real. Those are the moments when we all became the story.