Karen "Brynn" Veale
How long have you been playing?
|Photo by Jesse Gifford|
What Fools These Mortals Be was my first event, in September ‘97.
How has the game changed since you've been playing?
Change is the only constant! It’s still largely the same Realms -- a place where anyone can throw an event and anyone can attend, where the rules are written by everyone interested enough to get involved, a place of high fantasy teetering always on the brink of total annihilation. The fighting is a little different, but the hit locations and the armor are the same. The spells are always changing, but there is still magic missile and heal limb, they still have paths and circles and generally the same sorts of verbals and components. So, not that different from my perspective.
Who have you learned the most from?
Clan McKrye taught me how to fight, how to work together effectively with people of different skills, how to cook, and how to give back to the community. Matt Brenner taught me how to tell stories, particularly the hard parts of turning ideas into realities that affect other people. Lady Anne, Lady Cassia, and Myrddin taught me how to dance, which is a big part of my life now, much as it seems small in the game.
What was your best moment IC?
Sadly, I have a terrible memory. So many things I only “remember” as stories that other people tell, rather than as memories of stuff I did.
But I still distinctly remember a moment from the night quest of What Fools, all those years ago. We had trekked out to the ritual space in the woods, which was brightly lit with floodlights. Rebecca and Thomas (now Dame and Mage, of Clan McKrye) had taken a few newbies under their wings for the nightquest, and our group was just outside the lights, facing out and watching the woods for trouble. And then, the lights went out, and almost simultaneously I had Rebecca’s hand on my back, shoving me while she screamed “Run!” I have never been so terrified and exhilarated, period. I remember thinking, as I ran full-speed through the unfamiliar dark woods (hoping it was the right way to the tavern), “I am so scared I can’t even scream!” I had no idea what was happening (the Furies had just materialized), and it didn’t matter. It turns out, Rebecca and Thomas were cursed earlier in the day so that when the lights went out, they would be overwhelmed with fear and run for the tavern, and they decided that it would be wise to stick near the newbies so as to get them back safely too. I’m still grateful to them for thinking ahead that way, even if it was metaknowledge. That, for me, is playing the game right -- knowing when to ignore metaknowledge, and when to accept that it can be useful to make the game better. They were fully in-character and didn’t give anything away or use the knowledge for their own gain, but also made the game more fun for those around them.
Of course, another shining memory was being made a Princess of Chimeron. There are no words for that sort of moment. It wasn’t something I could even fathom beforehand. I had no idea what was coming when King Cecil called me into his first court. I love Chimeron as an ideal and as a group of people; it is the place where I belong, both in and out of character. I hope there is a group somewhere in the Realms (official or not) for each player to be a part of -- and a word to the new folks, it takes work to be part of a group in that way, it doesn’t just happen by hanging around. When you get an opportunity to meet folks in game, take it, and see what you can learn from them. You really never know what may happen in the Realms.
What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?
Everything will be skewed toward fae plot, since that is fresh in my feeble brain.
Most unexpected moment as an EH: the feast scene from Now to ‘Scape the Serpent’s Tongue with the meat pies (yes, it makes me happy to put people off of tasty food for years). Though really, that one wasn’t a favorite for something I did personally -- I was one of the hosts at the dinner, being as creepy and evil-fae as I could manage, and at one point Megan Williamson, as a servant, did something with improper etiquette. We corrected her, and told her to go flog herself and then get back to work. Totally unexpectedly, a few moments later, Megan started slapping something out in the darkness and shrieking each time. It was fantastic -- we hadn’t planned it, and it was perfect for the mood. It was also terrible, because I had to try to act like I was expecting it!
Most terrifying moment as an EH: Waiting for the culmination of Cuchullain’s fight with the Oberons. Elly and I had finished up our behind-the-scenes work and were standing in the field within earshot of the epic fight happening in the clearing just on the other side of the treeline. I’m pretty sure I joked about making Sean sleep on the couch if the NPC side won this battle (both were real possibilities), because I am a wussy sort of evil plotmaster and he is not. After a few tense minutes, Elly and I agreed that we just couldn’t stand the anxiety, and we had to go off and clean another part of the site to wait it out.
Best roleplaying moment no one saw: Olivia (Queen of Argyle) and Paris (Duke of Magic, Jason Micciche) had a battle of wills over a fae blade that had been dropped in the chaos of the Siege of Argyle. No PCs were nearby. Paris was just picking it up -- and I leaped over and held it down by the blade and told him there was no way he was taking it. We had a little staring contest, and then he said with a nasty smile (that he does so well),”Hurts, doesn’t it?” which is when I realized how I had grabbed the sword. He hadn’t swung it, though, and I was too far into the role playing at the time to do anything but smile and say “Yes, but you’re still not taking this”. And for whatever reason, he let go. Did I rule-of-thumb it as the plotmaster? Yes. Was it an amazing scene? Also yes. And my hand was “burned” for the rest of that event (along with the whole country, alas… which was also awesome, story-wise).
Best uncharacterizable NPC moment: Many years ago, the players got into a war with the Seelie Court. We Seelie troops were running around skirmishing with the players for hours… but then there was Tea Time. Obviously, the Seelie have Rules for War, and they are very civilized. And at Tea Time, everyone puts down their weapons, and takes Tea (this was how they gave everyone a water/snack break). And once Tea is cleaned up, everyone resets and goes back to killing each other to win the war. Sitting down the NPCs and PCs together in the middle of the event was just so novel. I love the unexpected moments the best, rather than the big final boss fights.
What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?
This was the hardest question for me. I can’t think of much that I think needs directed change. The most unpleasant part in my experience was trying to line up enough NPCs to help out -- some events were easy, but many were hard and run with a tiny crew. I’m not saying that folks don’t NPC, they do. But figuring out a good system to get them to where they are needed would make events better for everyone. I don’t know how to make that easier (or maybe folks just didn’t often like NPCing for us?).
What advice would you give new players?
I’m sure folks will disagree with me, but my advice is that this game is not about winning. Sure, there are tournaments and evil villains. But there is always another tournament, and there’s always the next evil villain ready to destroy the Realms. This game is about camaraderie and telling stories. Become a part of the community, and you’ll get to the bits where you can win a piece of the game. Stick around. Listen.
Help out, even for a hour in the weekend (particularly for clean-up). You will get to know people faster, and you’ll feel useful no matter what happens the rest of the event. Don’t take one refusal to heart (the timing often is just not right) -- offer again later. EHs will look forward to seeing you at future events, which is a good thing.
What do you love most about the game?
Since people have very rightly pointed out that the community is paramount, I’ll highlight some other aspects. I love that we have the flexibility to redefine our game, both at the top level but also within each event and each group, to incorporate the brilliant ideas as they come along. I love that we have ways of recognizing folks who do amazing, difficult, and often thankless tasks, which doesn’t happen often enough in the ‘real world’. I love working in the kitchen with a good staff. I love spending a weekend doing absolutely absurd things like building gates out of hula hoops and crepe paper, and strapping giant snake heads onto my friends. I love telling stories. These things are important because the community collectively believes they are, and that gives them real value even in a world of fantasy.
Also, feasts. Think of all the people in the world who have never been to a feast!
Who would you like to see the next interview be with?
I’d like to hear more from some of the younger generation of women fighters (I was one for years, and Rebecca almost killed me when I told her I had learned a spell -- she assumed I was not in my right mind). Luckily, there are many more to choose from now: Illy, Monique, and Tara come to mind at the time of writing this.
Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
Don’t lose your sense of wonder. The best parts of the game are immersive, and you can’t be part of that if you’re being too cynical. Those moments come from participation within the game, not from the staff or the NPCs. You can learn a lot and not become jaded, at least for a long time.