What do you do when you live in a small town in northern New England and your hobby is playing games? It’s a tough one. Unlike more urbanized areas, where it seems like there is a community of games players in every bookstore and hobby shop, most small towns in Vermont and New Hampshire are lucky to even have a bookstore or hobby shop.
What generally ends up happening is that, in order to satiate your growing desire for gaming, you buy games, you horde games, you hungrily seek out games like a junkie looking for his next fix. Your den or living room or basement is suddenly a library of old Avalon Hill games, the original brown book Dungeons & Dragons manual, and a big box of Magic cards, none of which have ever seen the light of day — or at the least they haven’t been touched since you were in high school.
Inevitably, this collection of gaming hardware sits unused. Your town is too small. Your friends from high school or college who shared your gaming enthusiasm wandered away to the four corners of the Earth and are too far away. But there are others like you out there and, almost as if by fate, you bump into this guy or that girl at one of the region’s larger conventions.
Maybe you were wandering around Havoc or TotalCon and, wouldn’t you know it, you’re sitting playing Star Fleet Battles with a guy from your hometown. Hallelujah! You share phone numbers and one Saturday the two of you sit down and actually play a game. You shout praise to your deity of choice: “Buddha, you the man!” “Krishna rocks!” “Cthulhu, I’m sending the thank you card right now!” You get the picture.
The funny thing is, this guy or gal you just met at Convention X has friends who live just a town away who used to game too. Pretty soon your dining room table is surrounded by like-minded gamers all enjoying a quick game of Advanced Civilization, and the five or six days it takes to finish that lovely game are some of the best days you’ve had in years. You are at peace.
In a weird kind of way, that’s how Carnage Gaming got started — with just a gang of random people who met this way or that and shared a joy for the hobby of playing games. Luckily, we all lived relatively close to one another, having taken up residence in and around what Vermonters and New Hamsters call the Upper Valley, a region predominated by the communities of White River Junction, Vermont, and Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Sure, some of us were living in Burlington or Springfield, but, for the sake of making descriptions easy, we lived in the Upper Valley. We bounced from one house to the next, although one house did and continues to be our base of operations, and we played games together. We enjoyed the time we spent learning to love games new and old, became friends, and even arranged to share rooms at hotels as we began visiting conventions as a team. Trouble began to brew from then on. Something was about to happen that would scar us all for life: we decided to put on a convention ourselves. The devil smiled that day, I’m sure.
We became frequent visitors to one particular convention that will remain nameless in order to protect the innocent. We looked at the confusion, the difficulty in registering, the general feeling that a lot of people just weren’t having fun and we said “Hey, we can do this and maybe, just maybe, do it a little better.” So, we tried. We threw some money together, found a location, and set out to create Carnage at the Crossroads way back in the 90s. So, with a hotel in place and a mission in our hearts, we set forth to give New England gamers a place where they could come, be themselves, enjoy their games and have fun.
We got some help from other gaming groups in the area, TotalCon gave us all the support we could ask for, the Northern Conspiracy offered to lend a hand, and generous Game Masters too numerous to name lent their time and creativity. We hit our fair number of bumps and had some significant bruises, but in the end all fared well and we decided we’d do it again. Well, we’ve done it again now for quite a few years.
We still hit speed bumps and potholes, and the whole thing gets rattled so hard sometimes that the dashboard falls right off, but we’ve held on and, more often than not, people who attend Carnage cons have fun. That’s the best. That’s better than ice cream. That’s better than rolling three straight critical hits in a game of D&D. We know we’re not perfect, but we’re trying, and if you leave a Carnage convention and can say “I really had fun,” then you personally have made our day and made glorious the reason why we do this. We love to play games and we want you to love to play them as well.
The Entire Staff of Carnage Gaming