After that Spring run, four of our full time members went on part time/inactive status. They had gotten jobs, were finishing school or needed to get back to their personal lives. Doing this kind of work is stressful and assumed at the time a certain level of poverty, so it was understandable. We were sad to see them go, but there was nothing to do but push on. We started looking to replace them, and chose Mr. Fox and Suzeaux Ryette. They, perhaps foolishly, accepted our invitation in the summer of 2011, and molded into the crew almost immediately. Summer has always been a slower season for us, and living in a house with no central air, we became serious night owls. We had been discussing some long contemplated storylines and lamenting the lack of villains in our steampunk story. We had also been discussing how disconcerting the change in direction that our characters had taken was. We all started as pirates, who by their very nature, aren’t necessarily good guys. The renegade label was chosen for a reason. But with the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and with nobody exploring the idea of the dark underbelly of steampunk, all of the stories had gotten a little bit tame. Late one summer night, Delacru sat at his computer and started giggling and typing. In all honesty, this wasn’t that unusual, and we thought nothing of it. At the time Cedric had his computer monitor mounted to the wall above his work station, and we were still at a point that we left chat open on our facebook pages. Cedric was tooling on leather when the first ping hit. He didn’t even look up. And then there was another and another….and his screen filled with chat box messages. “What the hell….” He read the first one, and we were all staring at him as he turned to Delacru and very seriously asked him “What did you do,
Dave? What. Did. You. do?” Delacru burst into laughter and explained. He had created a facebook account for a fictional villain we were working on, Faust Horcrust. And then, he got onto the SCARS chat box and started posting, in character, as this person. The SCARS community didn’t know what was going on, and didn’t know what to make of the new person. Being the geeky people that we are, sitting in the same room with each other, we started acting out our characters in the SCARS chat box. Everyone caught on pretty quick and we had a blast. We called our crew mates in the middle of the night and told them to get on line to play. By morning, SCARS no longer had a chat box because we had added more than 100 members. So, we started playing in the group. We made accompanying videos and audio recordings. The posts ran 180 plus messages long of people online role playing. It was such as success that we set up an in person role play experience at San Japan for that July. And thus, SCARS v. Order as a LARP was born.
We set up a scenario and told people that it was going to be free form role play, just like online. Tons of people showed up. We were in no way prepared for the explosion both in numbers and in activity that this caused in the community. While fun for some, it caused a ton of problems at the convention, and there were some people that were out right offended by the interactive role play. Up to that point, we had done in character performances, but they were scripted inside of ASI and only we participated. This involved everyone that wanted to play, and it was chaos. We knew after that first attempt that we were out of our league in this, and that while we were great at working with each other in improv situations, involving that many people with no experience with improv was a recipe for hurt feelings and disaster. On the plus side, it shined a huge light on the dark side of steam, and created a huge movement of “bad guy” characters for us to play with.
We booked more, and more and more conventions. By the time that Dickens rolled around in December 2011, we were already looking at bookings in 2013. New steampunk conventions had begun to pop up all over the country including several in the SCARS area. The online role playing had reached such a fevered pitch that it was in desperate need of its own home, and the community was growing faster than we could keep up with. 2012 promised to be the busiest year that we had seen yet, and it didn’t disappoint.
We closed out the year in Dallas, Texas at the Difference Engine Convention, and started preparing immediately for the busiest con season that we had booked to date. Before our first scheduled event, Clockwork Con in late January 2012, we got a phone call from Donald Tennant in New Orleans letting us know that Del had passed on in his sleep. He was 48 years old. We gathered what crew was available, and traveled to New Orleans for his wake. Donald graciously let us stay in his house, and after a memorial pub crawl, we took the next day to wander about the Quarter talking about Del and how much this city meant to him. We were all a little down, and in sombre moods as we somewhat aimlessly wandered into the French Market. As we passed the front office, a small blonde haired woman darted out and grabbed Cedric. She asked him if we made our outfits ourselves. We told her yes. She, in what we would come to know was a typical way, turned her head sideways and said with a sly smile “Do you sell this stuff as well?” We promptly produced business cards and introduced ourselves. Her name was Ann Meyer, and she was the Director for the French Market. And out of the blue, she offered us a job. Contact her online, fill out the paperwork, show up with product for vetting, pay the city and have a place to sell our wares year round. And at this point, the world opened up around us, the clutch let go of the roller coaster and we all held on for dear life.