This weekend, I joined almost 35 of my friends in the High Fantasy Society kingdom of Vivex Derestrix and camped out at Givhans Ferry State Park. In HFS, we call these camping trips ‘events,’ and consist of participation in an organized two- or three-day long live action role playing game. These events are our opportunity to act out our characters in an immersive environment (we typically ban all non-period[-looking] items, such as cell phones, watches, cigarettes, etc), wear fantasy-esque (and usually hand-made) clothing, fight with what I call ‘weapon analogues’ – that is, padded swords, daggers, hammers, shields, flails, clubs, etc; and generally ignore the stress of the real world for a while. It’s great fun, and naturally enough we get a lot of strange looks since we often share the park with ‘mundanes’.
All in all, the event was fun. Even though it wasn’t perfect (not by a long shot, either) I had a great time. There were a lot of new people out, a few I’d never seen before, and that always makes things interesting. The roleplay was a lot of fun – my character is going insane in response to some… issues he’s experiencing – and it was fun to play that sort of thing. Unfortunately, my crazy didn’t get much notice, since everyone was going crazy, but it was fun nonetheless.
My real issue with this event comes not from the actions or attitudes of my fellow members, but from the park officials administrating the camping grounds. Our group paid over $150 to the park in order to allow all of our members to camp and reserve one of the pavilions available. We were repeatedly ‘informed’ (euphemism for threatened) that if we did not have parking passes on our vehicles, then our members would still be subject to the entry fee of $2 per person per vehicle, every time we wanted to leave and return, despite the fact that we’d already paid these fees. To make matters worse, they only gave us 10 parking passes – not enough passes for all of our vehicles.
Friday night, many of us slept in the pavilion. Brandon, Scarlett, and I were among them, and while it had been a long day, we listened to stories of events past until about 3am. This is something of a tradition with many of our members – sleeping in the pavilion means you don’t have to pack a tent, which was my motivation for doing so. We were informed by park staff that we were no longer allowed to do this – apparently there’s a policy (that had never once been enforced) that sleeping in the pavilion is not allowed.
That’s all fine. We can deal with the parking issue – it’s only $2 per person, and we don’t often leave once we arrive – that’s part of the immersion. And the sleeping in the pavilion thing – it’s a technicality, and we’ve never done damage before, and it’s never been enforced, but it is a policy, and if they want to start enforcing it, that’s fine too.
What isn’t fine is when, right before our Feast begins (wherein the group is treated to a great deal of amazing food prepared in a medieval style and served in a medieval court setting, complete with servers, acclaims for our High Table as they enter, roaring fires, great atmosphere, and sometimes courtly intrigue and drama [real and roleplayed]), we are informed that we have to vacate the pavilion, at 10:00, so they can “clean” the pavilion.
There was apparently some concern about alcohol (which isn’t permitted on national park grounds), which wasn’t present, but instead of trying to address those concerns, they trumped up a reason to kick us out of the pavilion. Alcohol was apparently not part of the reason – this may have been rumor, which is almost all of what I have to go on (so I’ll be updating as I get more information) – but instead the reason for the ‘cleaning’ was because another group had reserved the pavilion for Sunday. Technically, you can’t reserve the pavilion for after 9pm, but I didn’t know that meant you couldn’t use the pavilion after that time… Still fishy, but meh.
The end of our event was ruined because
the new park ranger (“That dude was NOT a ranger, he was just a camp host on a power trip” – our Reagent and founding member Devra, who cleared all of this up with the ranger yesterday – HUGE THANKS!!) wanted us out.
The only other negative I dealt with during the weekend was the weather. Solid blue skies for a week, then nothing but overcast for the weekend. I knew this was a risk – I’d been checking forecasts since Monday that predicted this – but I brought the telescope anyway on the off chance I’d be able to see something through a break in clouds, maybe. Alas, it wasn’t to be. I’m not terribly bummed though – the sky isn’t going anywhere fast, and there will be more opportunities.
I’d like to end with an observation I made while nearing Saturday’s end, as I waited for Feast to begin. I was sitting on a log, talking with Tasha and our friend Sam, and I realized that I was feeling pretty good. I felt something like an inkling of the euphoria that I usually get (begin bipolar), and knew that in that moment, if I hadn’t been taking my Latuda, I’d be in full-on ‘omg everything’s amazing and great’ mode – euphoria defined. That made me a little sad, knowing that the meds were preventing me from having those high highs, but I quickly realized that, with the chaos of the day, my energy crash in the middle (I wasn’t eating right at all), and all the things that went wrong, if I hadn’t been taking my Latuda, I would have been overwhelmed with negativity by the time I’d gotten to that point. I’d have been in the middle of a depression, or angry spell, or whatever. I’d have missed out on the happiness I did have. In the great scheme of things, that’s a net win.
I’ll deal with the in-game stuff in another post – I just needed to get this off my chest before proceeding.