Today I am voicing my opinions in a place where I feel I am safe to do so. Let me clear upfront, what this is and what it is not. This is not a rant. I find that rants, while cathartic are not productive in anyway. This is an assessment.
Let me begin with my pedigree or lack thereof. I have been playing Vampire the Masquerade for over 27 years (approx). I remember going into my local gamin store to find the newest lead based miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons and see what Palladium had released that week. There I met the crucible, the font of my world, the green and black marble cover with a single rose laden upon the cover. There it was, Vampire the Masquerade, a new game from White Wolf. I forgo any desire of lead based miniatures and dice and purchased that book. My eyes were in for a treat, immediately greeted by the art of Tim Bradstreet and a story from a Vampire to someone that witnessed their nocturnal activity. But nestled within those pages were the words that spoke an incantation to my future. Then came the hardest part of any new game, finding people to play with. Our DM had finally reached the end of our campaign and said that he was looking for a break, if someone else had something to run he would enjoy passing on the throne. It was at that moment that I stepped up and tried my hand at storytelling. I will not bore you with lies and tell you everyone had fun. It was the longest 4 hours of my life thus far. Let us say, my desires to be a great storyteller met final death that day. But like all creatures of dark origins, they never stay dead for too long. Fast forward to 2017 and I am still running the game, and starting a new career. Little did I know that I was about to undertake a new calling. But let’s work on that history…
It was after I had joined the Military that I found a group of people who played the game and after some time of being a hang around, I was finally asked to play. Rising from the ashes of that first failed attempt I grabbed my book and created a character and was born into the night. Many of my paychecks were spent upon several things, Vampire the masquerade books, beer, and more beer. It was around the time that I started playing again Vampire was introduced upon a new medium. Bloodlines was released by Troika studios and well… it crashed and burned. But what it did do, was seed the knowledge of Vampires everywhere. Much to the chagrin of the Camarilla elders. This game was my Doom, my Duke Nukem, my Command and Conquer. This was the moment that I knew things were going to change. Little did I know, that they were going to change as drastically as they did. It was about this time that Kindred the Embraced hit television screens. We’re not going to talk about this now. Maybe some other time.
Vampire the Masquerade has always pulled an eclectic crowd. From parks all across the world as people played the game in Live Action Role Play (LARP) or deep in the basements of houses, dice were thrown blood was spilled and the war between the Camarilla, Anarchs, and Sabbat were played out in many different fashions. there has always been an edge to the game, that borderlined between the unwanted and undesired. The people that made up the gaming circles, and LARP troupes were as vast as the characters they played. But there was always an unwritten rule, a good amount of troupes that played stuck too. Everyone is welcome until they prove themselves an asshole. This mentality had held true for may years. Even when the game switched from Vampire the Masquerade to Vampire the Requiem. We’re not here to talk about the latter, but we will keep it there as a placeholder.
Vampire tries again:
White Wolf attempted to make a new version of the game, by calling it 5th edition an amalgamation of the original Vampire the Masquerade game and marring it with Vampire the Requiem. A game that by all rights should have landed well, with people still playing the original Vampire the Masquerade game, Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary (V20), and Vampire the Requiem it should have landed and united the crowds. Oh but times were a changing but White Wolf was not. So let’s just say that mistakes were made, people got upset, and twitter did what twitter does. White Wolf was consumed by Mofidious and well I wish I could say that’s where it ended. But no, all tragedies have to go on after the second act. The fall of White Wolf has been documented by people with a better acumen of the English Language than I do.
I feel that I have left the casual reader out, if you’re still reading this I apologize I do love to yammer on. Let me bring you up to speed real quick. In this game you play a child of Caine. Yes that Caine, cursed by God to wander the earth until the end of time. But what good is a curse if you can’t share it? So of course Caine sired 13 children. Those are the progenitors of the original 13 clans. Wait did you say Vampire Clans? Yes the movie Underworld stole a lot of ideas from this game. So to sum this up you play a Vampire that is trying to maintain it’s cling to humanity, but every choice you make, every time you pick up those dice it could lead to losing another drop of that precious humanity. The only thing that allows you to walk through the mortal world unmolested, and keep your prey oblivious. Because the moment the sheep learn about the wolves, that’s when bad things happen.
Vampire meets Critical Roll… kinda.
Fast forward to 2019 and a web series was created called LA by night. What should have been a walk into the horror of the game turned into deGrasse high meets Hot Topic. Well let’s just say that they set the stage for what Vampire the Masquerade 5th edition was to become. How this game could go from Victorian levels of horror to goosebumps is beyond me. But I understand, I am not the target audience. I stopped being the target audience when Modiphious was purchased by Renegade Game studios and the focus shifted to Video Games. Ok, that’s being too generous, the game turned into a point and click dissertation on why capiatalism is bad and you’re bad because you want to play a Vampire your way, not the way that the writers want you to play. See Vampire the Masquerade coteries of New York. Regardless, here is where the long time players were separated from the new group, on-ramped in by another show like the critical roll. Let me be honest, I have no problem with the critical roll, it’s not my thing. Well let me get back on track here, LA by night was followed by Seattle by night, and then many other twitch streams that followed. All the while, those of us that preferred a horror experience, were ostracized, cut from the flesh of the body like a cancer. Unfortunately we’re the ones that bought the books. Renegade studios has not released their numbers on Vampire the Masquerade profit margins as of the date of this text.
It is time that we, the players take our games back. I implore you to grab some free software from the internet and produce original content of your gaming group playing this game. Audacity is free, Shotcut is free. Go snap some photos of the city you’re in. Take a Haunted city tour get some ideas and scare the crap out of your players. This is our night, and it’s time we take it back!