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Monday, December 17, 2012

My Experiences as a Member of the Camarilla/Mind's Eye Society

I've already written about my time in Live Action Role Playing games, but I wanted to delve a little deeper into it as what I posted was more a brief summary of my experience rather than specific thoughts, feelings and moments.



When I first joined the local Camarilla, I was given my first opportunity to learn about the organization by becoming the Assistant Chapter Coordinator (ACC) for my chapter; Ascending Twilight. This also helped me to progress in the organization by earning "prestige"; the magical number that is followed to show your elevation in the organization by your assigned Member Class or MC. I thought this was great and jumped at the chance to earn as much prestige as possible. That was in 1996. Today, in 2012, the system has changed quite a bit but has also remained the same. I've been waiting for my MC review that has been sitting at the Regional level since about August. There is apparently some problem with the prestige reporting from 1996 - 1998. I'm not entirely sure what's going on right now, but I'm also in a position of not to complain or worry about it too much. I anticipate losing about 1 1/2 years worth of prestige that I earned while I was the Chapter Coordinator (CC) for Ascending Twilight because of this reporting error.



After a few months of being an ACC, I thought that I could do more but also wanted to spread my wings as a creative role players. That's when I first started down the path as a Storyteller (ST) for LARP.



In 1997, the organization decided to make some changes with the rules and reset the current campaign setting, or chronicle. This means that we began with a clean slate and new characters. Everything we had accomplished with our previous characters had no impact on what was going to happen in the new story. This gave me the perfect opportunity to begin as an ST, and we needed a new Domain Storyteller (DST). I won the election and there we were.



I knew that I couldn't handle the games all by myself, so I enlisted the aid of a couple friends, who became my Assistant Domain Storyteller's (ADST's). There were also Chapter Storytellers (CST's) to represent each Chapter in the Domain. We were full of ST's and ideas and this made the Domain a fun place to play. I was DST for about 7 months, and then something happened.



In those days, we didn't have the resources like Google Drive or Wiki's that we do now. I spent the 7 months of my term as DST trying to get answers to so many questions:


  • What was the proper format for my monthly reports?

  • Was there a report template for these reports?

  • Who/where do I send the monthly DST reports?

  • What all should I add in my monthly report?


Because I never received answers to these questions, it looked as though I wasn't doing my job. Also, important items that (I learned later) should be on my report were missing, and this became the inevitable downfall to my term as DST.



At one of our normal games, we received a large influx of out-of-town players that we were unfamiliar with. They were signed-in and we played game. (I should note that our games started at around 8pm and could last into the wee early hours of the morning.) At around 11pm, one of the out-of-town players shouted "Time out! Who is the DST? I need to speak with him." I came up to find out what the problem was and was informed that he was the Assistant Regional Storyteller (ARST) and he had some serious items to discuss with me. He, and 2 other ARST's, took me aside and began to berate me about certain item's that I had allowed to happen, such as:


  1. I allowed the diablerie of a Player Character (PC) happen without reporting it... even though I was not informed I had to do so. (Please see the definition of diablerie for more information.)

  2. I did not take serious action against the PC who committed the diablerie, even though doing so would have taken my out-of-character knowledge and brought it in-character.

  3. I did not personally verify characters that were brought into play from the 3 ARST's. Each of the ST's took responsibility for conducting sign-in. This was not a time where it was my responsibility and the ARST's apparently brought in characters that should not have been allowed in play.


I think the biggest mistake I made that evening was not allowing my ADST's to join in the "conversation" I was having with the ARST's. At the end of the very public chastising, I was told that I would no longer be the DST. This was my first instance of dissolution in the organization as I felt very mistreated by members of the Regional Storyteller staff. Life went on.



For the next several years, I would be a Coordinator and I would be an Assistant Storyteller, but until I returned in 2011, I would not hold a primary Domain position again. I think that this benefited me as others helped to define the basis of whatever reports were necessary. I'm thankful that today there is a defined process and even some templates that can be used for reports, and the scope of responsibilities for both the Storyteller and Coordinator offices are easier to understand.



After a personal setback in January 2000, I felt like I didn't fit-in with the people that I had literally grew-up with in the organization. Even though I was given responsibilities, I felt like I was looked down upon for mistakes I had made. I felt betrayed by several of the people I once called friend. This lead to my eventual departure from the Domain of Salem and joining the Domain of Dreams in Eugene.



I thought I could start new in Eugene, and it was working out fine until I was put into the position of Chapter Coordinator. There were decisions that had to be made, and I was not the person who should have been making them at that point in my life. I let people's opinions cloud my better judgement, and through that I made some bad decisions. I think I was CC in Eugene for about 3 months before I had to step away. I kept playing for a while longer until certain people started to bend the rules of the game way too much.



I'll admit that I put in a great deal of work when I create a character for these games. Because of this, I have felt personally slighted when people abuse the rules to manipulate me or (especially) to kill-off character's that are close to me and my character. This happened with my pack in our Sabbat game. Our pack was seemingly causing too much of a problem with certain people, so one of the players played a non-player character (NPC) that was specifically designed to kill our leader.



The way it was handled bent the rules of the discipline (power) called Vicissitude. This power allows the wielder to manipulate flesh and bone, however you need to actually use your hands to do so. The flesh and bone does not simply move to your whim and you cannot make yourself into a pile/pool of flesh with other disciplines or a certain combination discipline. Either way, the NPC could not (by the rules) drape them self over another person, yet this is what happened and our packs leader died. Shortly after this exchange, I decided to take a long sabbatical from the organization.



From 2004 - 2011, I stayed in contact with only a few of the friends that I had made while in the Camarilla. Without social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook, I probably wouldn't be in contact with many of them now... or vice-verse. Of the friends I made during my original tenure within the organization, I only have regular contact with a handful of people. Now that I'm back with the new organization, I occasionally get a chance to meet-up with old friends and reminisce about the old days.



Now it's 2012. The organization has changed quite a bit. It's now called "Mind's Eye Society"... at least in America. I don't feel as much of the camaraderie with other Domains as I once felt. Early on, there were week's where several of us would go to Oregon City, Portland, Vancouver, Corvallis, Eugene and still make it to the Salem games. This helped to breed an air of companionship, friendship and trust. It feels like that aspect has been lost to us. Back then, our core local group would host regular tabletop games and other social activities. Now it feels hard to get anyone motivated to do anything fun.



Maybe it's because I've done a lot of growing-up since those days and now that I feel like a responsible adult (some days), I feel like I don't have much time to take on extra activities. Perhaps this is a feeling that is shared with others. We're responsible adults now and not fun-loving youths able to stay-up until the wee hours of the morning talking, playing games, hanging-out at Denny's and the like. Perhaps what I'm feeling... and perhaps others... is the horrible side-effects of getting old. We are not as young as we were in 1996. Some of us aged more than others during that time.



There's talk about a new chronicle starting in 2013 and how the organization is going to make some major changes to the different games. There's talk about keeping the Camarilla and Sabbat in separate "universes", making a New World of Darkness venue and capping MC for certain venues to try and level the playing field. I'm not actively a participant in these talks so I'm very frustrated when I hear of new changes and I can't express my opinions on the ideas to the proper individual's. While I understand the reasons behind things like MC capping, the games I play are collectively called the "World of Darkness". It's not the World of the Camarilla or the World of the Sabbat. The system was originally setup to incorporate ALL aspects of the various games; from Vampire to Hunter and everything in between. If it's not the World of Darkness, then why am I paying an annual membership fee to be here?



I apologize that this ended in a bit of a rant. In writing this, so many emotions came flooding back to me. I hope you understand that I'm merely stating my opinions and I, just like you, have the right to express them. If you disagree with anything I've written, I welcome your feedback. Fair warning: I took speech and debate in high school, and I was fairly good at it. :)



Thank you for reading.

2 comments:

  1. Nowadays if you state anything other than a glowing opinion as a member of the MES, you can look forward to losing MC, DA's, petty behavior by those in a position to screw you over, and any number of other circle jerk consequences. I suggest that if you are going to leave feedback about the MES, you take the time to guard your identity if you are still or plan to be a part of it. They can be quite vindictive.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanx for the feedback. I dropped MES several years ago because I didn't have time for the petty political BS. 3 months prior to my leaving, I had officially earned my MC 9. 2 months later, I was up for review for my MC 10, and they dropped me down to MC 8. That was the straw that broke my back.

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