Saturday, August 31, 2013
The "warm-up set" of Vampire: the Masquerade went swimmingly. As is my practice, I've been volunteering to run old school paper & pencil, tabletop roleplaying games once a month for the Madison Geekery meetup.
It was a great time! I had the chance to be Storyteller for a couple people who had never played an RPG before, a couple people with sparse RPG experience, and a few people who used to play V:tM, but hadn't in many years. In fact, the last time I played or ran Vampire myself was about 8 years ago. Long time.
A couple months ago, I announced that I'd be starting a weekly home game for V:tM. Nostalgia called to me, and I've been keeping dozens of Vampire RPG books around since 1991. So, that was one of my reasons for wanting to try it again as a one-off. To see where the cracks were.
I fondly remember all those nights gaming in the early to mid 90's. The ten-siders, the fantastic successes and botches, lost humanity, frenzy, and freshly xeroxed starting characters strong enough to punch through a human's skull. It's a much different game than D&D. For instance: upon sundown, I asked each player to describe where their character lived, spent the daylight hours, and what they were doing after rising from their death-like slumber. Based upon their character concept, resources, and other backgrounds, they came up with a suitable response. Much more "sand box", except within city limits.
There were a lot of players. I wanted to be as inclusive as possible (I hate turning people away). The sign-up allowed for 7 players. Well, I emailed a couple on the waiting list and said they could join in, too. Then, one of my best friends and frequent gaming buddy was over at my house watching Hawk the Slayer on DVD the night before. I was telling him about the game (he's also going to be playing in the weekly home game). Turns out, he also wanted to join the one-shot.
As luck would have it, one or two people who signed-up couldn't make it last minute, so there were about 8 or 9 players. Not an easy thing for a Storyteller to negotiate when there's only 3 hours of game time and each character might decide to do his or her own thing - many Kindred are solitary predators.
Thankfully, there was a bar... that old RPG standby; and vampires being former-people, most wanted to socialize and be near others of their kind... for awhile, at least. That helped. Besides a single Nosferatu, everyone either played a Gangrel, Brujah, or Toreador.
I decided to use the sample chronicle from the back of the first edition rules. The game started in Gary, Indiana with Chicago casting a particularly nasty black shadow over the characters' home city of rust, decay, and general ruin. Even though Vampire is a dark game, there were plenty of light moments. Everyone had a lot of laughs. One gangrel tried to use his animalism to summon his pet bear to the bar, but with only a single success - a raccoon answered the call!
The plot revolved around a Chicago biker gang called the Blood Angels who worked for Lodin, Prince of Chi-town. Modius is slowly losing control of Gary, and constantly antagonized by Lodin and Chicago Kindred. As usually happens, the session organically evolved into its own thing, beyond my notes and theories about where the night would take us.
I gave everyone a taste of not only vitae but ultra-violence. There were enough bikers to satisfy everyone's bloodlust. Good times! My idea of using Blood Potency instead of Generation also went well. It seemed more appropriate. After character creation, I gave everyone a one sentence origin story - vampires were spawned from ancient demons; the last of which slain during the Inquisition.
As usual, the end of the night came abruptly. Just as the players were becoming comfortable with their character, the rules, setting, motivations, etc. it was over. "Is that it? Can we do this again?" A woman asked. One player suggested we continue another night. I still hadn't decided on September's game, and suggested a "part 2". There was wholehearted agreement.
Hearing the enthusiasm and being asked to keep the game going makes it all worth while. The conclusion will see the character's fighting Kindred, not just mortals with switchblades and 9mms. Modius is pleased...