Ebon's Gate 1998
(Notes from former gamemaster Lyredaen.)
The first "Ebon's Gate" event ran Friday, October 30, 1998 through Sunday, November 1, 1998.
It started because Lyredaen liked campy Hallowe'en carnivals and haunted houses. I wanted to build a little Hallowe'en carnival in the game, and convinced Banthis that it would be a brief but fun "change of pace" from building his critters/combat/systems. We were doing a huge push that August to finish Premium Homes and everybody had been working incredibly hard on all that. We thought, "Oh, this will be fun! Something to look forward to! A little area, a few games, and some merchants, you know, just a small event for Hallowe'en, since it falls on a Saturday this year". We weren't even thinking of something as big as the Jug, just something like all those silly/fun school carnivals you went to as a kid.
We requested permission for the idea from our wonderful PM Fawn, who after conferring with everyone in St. Louis, came back and gave us permission to build it... but she also said they wanted us to "up the stakes", make it bigger than we'd planned, and turn it into a ticketed event, which was largely a new thing for Gemstone at the time. (No pressure! Gulp.) We then presented the idea to everyone on the GM team and lots of people were enthusiastic about creating things for it, so we decided to go for it.
We started construction in late August and it took us about 60 days. MANY talented people from all across the various "GM disciplines" jumped in to do everything from event area construction to building shops to rides to games and a scoring system to auction and raffle items, to doing quality checks on that massive amount of new stuff. It was different from anything we had built before, really, and I remember having a lot of fun working on it because we could be as "campy as we wanna be". People came up with some hilarious stuff! I think of all the project teams I ever participated in, we laughed the most during this one because of the awesome things everyone created.
As far as the event name: It's Gemstone's equivalent of Hallowe'en, but we couldn't call it Hallow'een of course. We cycled through a few names early on. First it was "the Hallow'een carnival" then it was just "the carnival", and then it was "Day of the Dead" (also a real world reference we quickly discarded). Then it was "Lorminstra's Gate" meaning the portal to the underworld, and intended to refer to the actual Gate you passed through to enter the event area. That last was discarded because we didn't want to upset or offend anyone who seriously roleplayed worship of Lorminstra with our campy, demented little carnival. So by early September, the final name became "Ebon's Gate", simply an oblique reference to "Lorminstra's Gate".
So there is your window into how that old 1998 vintage sausage was made. Yes, it really was called "Ebon's Gate" back then. :)
The original 1998 outdoor portion of the festival area was roughly 150 rooms large, not counting the interiors of all the shops and rides and game areas. The main event area consisted of two roads, both circular, one inside the other. The outer road was the "Keeper's Circle", and the inner ring was the "Circle of Souls". The inner Circle road surrounded the "Big Top", which contained many of the games and gambling. Merchant shops were entered from various points on both of the Circle roads and the Maze of Spirits. There were additional areas such as Lorminstra's Garden and the Well of Souls (a mausoleum in the garden, was also a wishing well). The Garden contained the entrance to the Haunted House. Finally, there was the Isle of Tears with a short boat ride to reach it, with some shops being located on the isle.
We built some wandering NPCs. I know there was "a black cat", but I have no recollection of what the others were - appropriately spooky, I hope!
We built a parade with floats that ran in the evenings, and a Shadowy Carriage ride that you could ride around the Keeper's Circle (sort of like a streetcar, you could board it and then exit anywhere along the Circle).
The event was opened on Friday afternoon with GM-led roleplay and a small "invasion" event of undead, after which adventurers gained access to the Ebon's Gate grounds and could explore for a few hours before merchanting and gaming opened up on Friday evening.
A branch of the Wehnimer's Landing bank was added to the event area so patrons would not have to leave.
Order of Voln and "that society that shall not be named" had special functionality inside EG for "returns".
There were even two deed puzzles put into Lorminstra's Garden. I don't know if anyone ever discovered them and bought deeds!
We had the Shadowy Carriage, a Ferris Wheel, a Carousel, and a boat ride from the main event area over to the Isle.
Games and Gambling
Games and gambling were held inside the immense tent called the "Big Top". There were also auctions held inside the tent but I do not know what specifically was auctioned.
Tickets were awarded for winning games, and the total number of tickets "won" were tracked on a per-character basis and visible to players on a "leaderboard" in the event area. Prizes could be purchased with your tickets. Prizes were also awarded to the top few overall ticket winners. Unfortunately I have no record of what those prizes were, or who the top ticket winners were.
Ring Toss Booth
Stone's Throw Booth
Water Tunnel Races
We had a number of "live merchants" doing alterations and such across the 48 hours we were open, including Mouse, Dreamspinner, and Filippa; I believe there were others as well, but unfortunately I have no record of their names.
Moirae the Seeress and Eldred the Seer (a crotchety old husband and wife shamelessly ripped off from Max and Valerie) spent many hours happily roleplaying with adventurers and haunting them with ghasts. :)
We had nine raffle tents where various raffles were held throughout the weekend. Some unknown number of auctions were done for unique one-of-a-kind items.
Many shops were opened - no shop inventory list is available in my notes. I may be able to identify at least the item types for more of these shops, will update if I can.
Listing of Shops:
Ambra's Couture - clothing
Ambra's Perfumes - sachets, perfumes, pomanders
The Well-Silvered Pouch
Acheron's Charms - original charm bracelets
The Ringing Bell
Frexden's Fatuous Fashions
The Golden Mask - masks...
Flargle's Farmin' Supplies
Ezmerelda's SweetShoppe - candy
Asphyxia's Groggery - positively stunning drinks
Tripple's Apprentice Workshop
The Keeper's Touch
The Mournbloom - flower-themed mournbloom items
The Mad Hatter
Leeds' Oddities and Collectibles
The Toy Maker - huggable toys in many combinations
Dreamspinner's Haven - clothing and custom alterations
The Hair-Raising Experience