Monday, September 9, 2013
Origin session for V:tM
This was a fun one, but also a little scary with just a hint of annoying.
The first session of my old school Vampire: the Masquerade weekly home game explored the origins of these Kindred. Each player character started out as mortal, living their everyday lives before the embrace. Since there was six players, there were six individual storylines; however, a few intersected with each other. More intersection would have been nice, though not necessarily realistic.
As you can imagine, players had relatively little "screen time" for their respective characters. So, there was a lot of watching. Hopefully, I made each individual origin scene interesting enough to sit through. In that way, the session felt like a 2 hour pilot of a TV show. The pilot has many jobs: introducing characters, showcasing the environment, meeting important NPCs, creating drama and tension, setting the scene for what's to come - the chronicle before us. The pilot has to do it all. As soon as one storyline gets going, it's replaced by another, and then another. By the story's end, most (if not all) the main characters are in the same place at the same time, connected; ideally, working on a common goal.
As individual stories played out, each player character bumped into his or her soon-to-be sire. A gun shot wound victim drove himself to an aged veterinarian. I didn't actually came up with this, by the way. The two players sitting next to each other both wanted to be nosferatu. They concocted the setup and basically handed it over to me. Oookkkkaaaayyyyyyy...
For a couple seconds, I had no idea where to go with this one. Then, I had an inkling of an idea, and just told the best story I could. Shot-up guy is bleeding all over the place, the vet (played admirably as if his characters had spent many hours in a chair having old age makeup applied) taking care of him. Then, a man in a hat and coat, face burned and scarred with a straight-razor slash going along his neck and up his right cheek. He came in with a little cat that was having health problems. I had to think of something - why else would a vampire walk into a veterinarian's office? The nosferatu, Drake, sees the dying man on the vet's table. He finishes him off, and then offers some of his blood. It just so happens that the vet witnesses this and instead of killing him, Drake embraces him as well.
Two birds, one stone.
The next player was a student at UW Whitewater. BTW, this chronicle is taking place in the greater Janesville area. He talked to his guidance counselor, a ghoul for a sadistic, psychopathic vampire, who routinely funnels aimless students into his master's hands. The student goes over to Mark's house to set up his personal curriculum, etc. Mark probes him with all kinds of invasive questions, leaves to go make a phone call in the kitchen, allowing the student to check out the basement (door ajar with light visible past the stairs). Turns out, Mark has a sound-proof, human sized, glass cylinder in the basement of his old Victorian house. There's a 21 year old blonde co-ed who trapped in there. She pleads for him to help her escape.
Strangely, he tells her that he'll help, but doesn't. Instead, he cozies up to Mark, even though some tough biker dude in a leather jacket tells him that Mark is bad news and he intends on killing him soon. Instead of the biker embracing the student, Mark does once Jon's character tells Mark that he knows about the girl downstairs.
An interesting twist. I didn't plan on Mark being the gangrel, that was supposed to be the biker Venom. But Jon really wanted a gangrel character, so I altered Mark's clan to fit the player's concept.
A petty thief living her life on the streets. She sleeps under a bridge. She picks the wrong guys pocket - a tall, sinister man in a long black trench coat, receding black hair and pock-marked face. Going through his wallet, she notices his license. It looks like he was born in 1920. She meets a fellow homeless person named Johnathan, though there's something noble about him. Then, she's attacked by the guy whose wallet she stole. He tells her she's going to suffer. She's prepared to die. Johnathan knocks them both over, tells "creepazoid" (that's what she started calling him) to get the fuck out of here and leave her alone.
Johnathan decides to make her a vampire since her days are numbered out on the street.
Then, an ex-military dude wanders the college campus looking for direction. He meets a guy, the ghoul of Starker - Prince of Janesville (a dubious honor). This guy tells military man that his services would be valuable to his boss, Starker. Military man goes to meet Starker, they hit it off and the Prince embraces his new bodyguard.
Finally, a female student at UW-Whitewater, who occasionally does sexy cam work and has a rich, well-known family, gets picked out of a house party crowd by that creepazoid vamp. Ousted from the bridge, he's looking for some brutal fun. The co-ed follows him to an upstairs bedroom where he embraces her and then just leaves like a collegiate one-night stand. She wanted to play a caitiff, and it seemed appropriate.
Unaware that she's a vampire now, the co-ed inadvertently frenzies, killing her roommate. Starker has many connections, contacts, and ties to the police force in Janesville. He hears about the killing and sends military dude (yeah, I know. It's terrible that I don't know the player characters' names yet). to collect her.
Finally, every sire is required to present his new progeny to the Prince. They do. Yay, everyone is at the same place at the same time. Session's almost over, but there's still time for Starker to send everyone out to get creepazoid. He's not to be killed, though. Just brought to the Prince for questioning.
It takes a little while, but they track creepazoid down and eventually detain him. He's brought in so Starker can interrogate him alone.
Experience is doled out and that's where things ended. As you can see, this is a really long fucking post. It's no wonder that one of the players texted me the next morning complaining about the lack of playing time during the other character' origins. Understandable, but with relatively little time to prepare I did the best I could. Keep in mind that creepazoid will be a recurring antagonist. So, it was important to give him plenty of "screen time". Perhaps the origin session was biting off more than I could chew. It certainly seemed ambitious. At least, everyone's told me they're excited for session #2.
In any case, we're all set up for the next game. Unfortunately the players of military man and female student aren't going to be at a convention. Hopefully, my wife will decide to sit down and play Vampire with us.
p.s. I had the film Beyond the Black Rainbow playing on the TV about 15' away from the gaming table. There's hardly any dialog, just colorful visuals and some of the best 80's inspired movie soundtrack around. I looked, and there's no CD I can buy. Players said it added to the game, though there were a couple moments where it became distracting.