Monday, 23 September 2013
Long Beach, CA
The afternoon of September 19th, dark clouds rolled in off the Pacific Ocean directly over the Harbor of Long Beach, California and the berth where the Queen Mary is moored. There wasn’t any rain, but it was an ominous sign, enough to signal an event that only occurs, at most, once a year; the Grand Masquerade. The premiere event for a twenty-two year old product line from White Wolf games, CCP, By Night Studios and Onyx Path Publishing became the setting for ghoulish vampires, howling werewolves, unseen wraiths, brooding mages and several twisted faerie changelings. In that early afternoon they began to board the historic ship, which has been host to such celebrities as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Princess Diana, searching for the promise of escape into a world of their own creation, a place where Vampires hunt the night, where they can put the everything behind them and lose themselves in a shared fantasy.
2013’s convention was titled Los Angeles By Night: the Grey Ghost Masquerade due to the venue’s nickname during its’ service in World War II. People came from all across the country and even from outside the U.S. to take part in the events all centered on the World of Darkness. The convention offered a plethora of activities for participants from Table top Role-playing games, Live Action Role-playing Games (LARPs), Discussion panels, interactive writing sessions, workshop’s for Storytellers and players, and the crown jewel; The Succubus Club. Speaking from personal experience, there was not enough time in the three days to do everything.
Table top role-playing events were coordinated by White Wolf’s Senior Demo team, the Wrecking Crew, led by Lead Storyteller Dave Martin from Phoenix, AZ and the Dead Gamers’ Society from Southern California, headed up by Michael Cantin and Louis Garcia. The two groups featured one-shot games for attendees that spanned between the Old and New World of Darkness. Games lasted for 4-5 hours, offering people the chance to play mortal Hunters roaming Phoenix, AZ in search of a twisted serial killer, Vampires haunting the strip in Hollywood caught up in Kindred politics in the 1980’s, Werewolves enforcing law and order in the Old West and a demo for Onyx Path’s newest, unreleased game line; Demon the Descent, run by Senior Storyteller Dave Martin.
Live Action Role-playing, referred to as LARPing, offered a wide variety of interactive events for convention attendees and community members to participate in. The Mind’s Eye Theater presented their highly anticipated “Blood & Betrayal” a conclave of West Coast Camarilla kindred attempting to ascertain a traitor within their ranks. Other events were put on by Mind’s Eye Society (MES) and One World By Night (OWBN). While watching the events unfold in what used to be the immigrant hold of the Queen Mary, I had the chance to speak with Paul Hackett, National Coordinator for Mind’s Eye Society about some of their events. One in particular Paul, playing an Assamite Elder named Stelios Hellgate, was very excited to discuss. MES puts on events for Vampire the Masquerade and other lines from White Wolf, but this year they have added a new LARP called Accord. “Its game where you can play almost any character within the World of Darkness. We have Supernatural characters working right alongside mortals, and the Diet Coke of Supernatural’s, like ghouls and wolf-blooded.” Paul went on to explain the premise of the game where characters work alongside each other to fight a common enemy, simply called “The Truth”, an entity from outside of our reality seeking to destroy it. Beyond the interactive events for role-playing, companies like Onyx Path Publishing and By Night Studios got the opportunity to premiere their upcoming schedules for the community.
Leaving the Queen Mary Sunday afternoon, the sun overhead shone brightly and the vampires, worn from the previous night’s exertions at the Succubus Club, retreated to their havens, looking forward to the next time they might mingle amongst kindred spirits.