Vampire: The Masquerade - The Early Years and Personal Horror

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Doc Sammy

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Okay, it's time for a mega-thread to contain this insanity once and for all....

Everyone here knows my stances on so-called "personal horror" and my stances on Vampire: The Masquerade, so I'm not going to delve too deep into that.

But one thing I always see the V5 crowd like to tout is that "V5 is closer to V1 because it's back to street-level "personal horror" again", when in all honesty, V5 feels more like a shallow Cliffs Notes-level pastiche of V1 mixed with Requiem 2e at the absolute best.

In my opinion, there's a revisionist history regarding 1st Edition Vampire, most of which is now endorsed by WW/Paradox themselves and even old-timers have now subscribed to this sort of revisionism, up to and including Mark Rein-Hagen himself.

This specific style of overly angsty, intentionally unfun, uncool, and pretentious personal horror is what I call the "Achilli School", as Justin Achilli is arguably the most vocal and successful proponent of these themes and playstyle and even when he wasn't working on the WoD, his successors more or less follow this school.

Some will say "But what about all the crazy metaplot stuff in Revised?", to which I can point to all the parts in Revised's line that chides players for going away from personal horror and doing "Vampions" and how Achilli used the metaplot to police the setting and remove anything he didn't like (the Ravnos, Gangrel in the Camarilla, the True Black Hand, etc) but overall, the more wacky metaplot elements that did exist in Revised can best be summed up as trying to bring about Gehenna and proving they were super-duper cereal about it.

V20 is the one Achilli-led work that breaks the mold on that, but V20 is meant to celebrate all the editions and versions of VTM up to that point, it's metaplot-neutral and all themes/styles of play are treated as equally valid. V20 wasn't going to be an actual line at first, just a one-off last hurrah for the game. So, I suspect that Justin Achilli was willing to leave his attitude of "One True Way"-ism at the door for this particular iteration of the game.

You look at the actual books in First Edition, and I feel like it's very much "D&D with fangs but with a veneer of personal horror" for most of the line, as most of the descriptions of angst in the corebook are just fluff.

I think a lot of said fluff was put in there to try and make the game look more intellectual, artsy, and deeper than it actually was. All the discussions of personal horror and trying to frame Vampire as a "Storytelling Game" as opposed to a regular RPG was done for the same reasons why AD&D 2E kept trying to draw parallels between the classes in the Player's Handbook to figures from real world history, mythology, and folklore to make it seem more educational.

(Tbh, I also strongly suspect that the shout-outs to goth and punk culture were there to make the game appear more chic and "alternative" and "with it" as well, tbh. Again, it's marketing to a new potential audience more than anything else)

Mark Rein-Hagen wanted to give his game an aura of respectability, or at least the pretense of one, as he wanted to both try and sell his game to people outside the traditional RPG audience but also avoid certain unwanted attention as well. VTM was a lot darker and edgier than AD&D 2E and putting on a façade of intellectual artistry would've been an excellent "Cover Your Own Ass" move in the era of the Satanic Panic.

Was the game always pretentious? Hell fucking yes. But was the pretentiousness meant to be taken as seriously as it is now? Honestly, I don't think so. Looking back on the early materials and looking more into both the hobby and wider pop culture at the time of VTM's release, I think it was more of a move done to boost VTM's image, increasing sales and as a hedge against moral guardians at the time.

With that said, I think a lot of players (and later developers) of the game did take it all completely at face value and MRH just rolled with it, as did many other old-timers who looked back on those days in retrospect.

I also suspect that the fabled road trip to GenCon that inspired the game's creation also was a lot less deep than it was presented as in the 2017 World of Darkness documentary. They drove through Gary, saw how bad things were and after someone made a dad joke about vampires wanting to live there, MRH decided he'd make a game about vampires. Tbh, I highly doubt any of them were thinking that much about humankind's cruelty to their fellow human beings or the overall economic decline of the Rust Belt.

For example, CT_Phipps CT_Phipps has been a fan of VTM from the beginning and has shared some of his experiences here and elsewhere but he is also very much an ardent advocate of the WW party line, which IMHO, is very much influenced by the Achilli School and post-Achilli revisionism of what the early game was supposed to be.

And this is not meant as an insult to Mr. Phipps nor is it meant to invalidate his experiences in the hobby or his own opinions and why he has them. I actually like CT Phipps, even if we disagree on pretend monster games sometimes and in fact, I'd love for him to contribute to this thread, whether it be for or against this argument I am making.

Now, all these years later, as the "Achilli School" became the main popular view of the WoD games within the fandom and the devs of the games themselves, MRH insists that the game was always a big angsty and "deep" game of personal horror from day one, as opposed to window dressing/sales gimmickry. But all the actual 1e books all say something a lot different.

Let's start with the core rulebook....

The one mechanic that actually kinda enforces the mindset of personal horror in the core rulebook is Humanity, and that can be explained by the fact that MRH and the WW guys loved Call of Cthulhu and wanted an equivalent to the Sanity Meter. These guys also did the same thing of trying to incorporate equivalents to other mechanics from games they liked (dice pools from the Shadowrun setting, the Clans were conceived as both a rough equivalent of AD&D character classes and fitting in as many vampire movie tropes as possible) and the like. D&D, Call of Cthulhu, and Shadowrun all get a shout-out in the back of the V1 corebook.

You could make the argument the "Baptism by Fire" sample micro-adventure enforced "personal horror" with its lack of combat but it's meant to be just a starter session for inexperienced DM's. It's also supposed to be a springboard into the Ashes To Ashes adventure module, which has a ghoul ram and fighting against cartoonishly evil Satanic cultists, among other things.

If Occam's Razor is to be trusted, the shitty combat mechanics is more likely the result of relatively inexperienced game developers trying to crib something together rather than any intentional ploy to facilitate personal horror. Rein-Hagen had the most experience with game development of the original WW founders but Ars Magica was a small indie game during the Lion Rampant days and it could be argued how much of Ars Magica 1e's mechanics was the direct work of Jonathan Tweet versus Mark Rein-Hagen.

Now, as for examples of the gonzo "Vampions" stuff in 1st Edition, there are the obvious examples of Alien Hunger and Awakening: Diablerie Mexico, which get dunked on quite a bit by the Achilli School crowd, but even in more grounded 1e books such as the Storytellers Handbook, The Hunters Hunted, and the original Chicago By Night, you've still got quite a bit of gonzo Vampions elements.

The Storytellers Handbook has entire sections on gaining Golconda and even becoming human again, something seen as unacceptable in the Achilli School of personal horror in addition to character templates for mad scientists, faerie tricksters, and high-powered bloodlines such as the Baali and the Gargoyles, while the Players Guide introduces the four Independent Clans, all sorts of cool weapons and equipment, and Elder-level Disciplines and crazy powers that sort of go against the low-powered angstfests of an Achilli School-esque personal horror game (and this is the Players Guide, so I doubt these magical items, high-level Disciplines, and unique clans and bloodlines were meant only for NPC's)

Chicago By Night has tons of real world figures reimagined as Kindred, something that the Achilli School/post-Revised era all clamped down on and is still very much against. There are crazy stories of over-the-top gonzo characters in the 1e Chicago By Night setting, more if we also include Milwaukee By Night as part of it.

Characters such as Malcolm, Helena, Capone, Menele, Sullivan Dane, Inyanga, and Gulfora would all be condemned by personal horror fans if they debuted in a later book.

The Hunters Hunted has the Children of Osiris, rules for high-tech equipment, hedge magic, and psychic abilities, as well as poorly-disguised Kyber Crystals, and even references to an Elvish warlord. Even if you can start off as an angsty and non-powered normie fighting vampires at a disadvantage with Hunters Hunted, there's a lot more for playing elite Inquisitors, federal agents, hedge wizards, elite occult scholars, and ghoul bikers.


IMHO, Paradox/Nu-WW/Modiphius wanted to make a whole new Vampire game but they still can't get over their initial misgivings over Vampire: The Requiem's release all these years later, which is why they insist on not only keeping the Masquerade name despite all the radical setting and rules changes (some of which are taken straight from Requiem 2e, such as Touchstones) but they also go out of their way to prevent Onyx Path from making any new CofD material or even promoting the CofD stuff already out.

On a bit of another side note, I strongly suspect that the existence of the Storyteller's Vault and the fact that most of their old pre-V5 stuff still remains for sale on DTRPG despite their utter contempt for anything pre-V5 is more of a release valve to keep in the fandom's good graces and make more money, at least from my perspective.
 
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I also suspect that the fabled road trip to GenCon that inspired the game's creation also was a lot less deep than it was presented as in the 2017 World of Darkness documentary. They drove through Gary, saw how bad things were and after someone made a dad joke about vampires wanting to live there, MRH decided he'd make a game about vampires. Tbh, I highly doubt any of them were thinking that much about humankind's cruelty to their fellow human beings or the overall economic decline of the Rust Belt.
I don't know about this reference. I know they had already suggested making a Vampire/other supernatural-oriented game in the back of Ars Magica 2E also in part by MRH, because it suggested Mythic Earth (Ars Magica's setting) as the backdrop for that, I feel it was in the works before the Gen Con drive. Though I cannot be sure of that.
 
I don't know about this reference. I know they had already suggested making a Vampire/other supernatural-oriented game in the back of Ars Magica 2E also in part by MRH, because it suggested Mythic Earth (Ars Magica's setting) as the backdrop for that, I feel it was in the works before the Gen Con drive. Though I cannot be sure of that.

The initial concept of Vampire (and by extension, Werewolf, Magus, Ghost, and Faerie) being a distant sequel to Ars Magica is part of what makes me think the famous GenCon road trip that was discussed in the 2017 WoD documentary is a lot less important in the origin of VTM than a lot of people think.

That fabled road trip to Milwaukee was definitely the inspiration for Chicago By Night and V1's overall focus on the Midwest and the aforementioned dad joke of "Only vampires would want to live in a place like this" might've also helped convince Mark Rein-Hagen to make vampires the focus of this new game

It's fairly obvious that White Wolf always wanted to start out creating a modern-day sequel to Ars Magica but I have heard some rumors online that MRH initially wanted to have Mage (or Magus, as it was called in 1991) be the first game in this proto-World of Darkness concept but then decided to go with vampires for some reason. I've heard traveling through Gary inspired that choice and I've also heard people say that the release of the Ravenloft boxed set at that GenCon was what convinced him to go with vampires instead, but both of those are just forum hearsay that I first saw on Big Purple of all places, so I take those specific rumors of Mage being the original idea for the first WoD game with a mountain range worth of salt.

There's also Inferno, an unreleased and incomplete hellish ghostly-themed game concieved by Mark Rein-Hagen that never came about that sounded like it was sort of like the prototype for Wraith: The Oblivion and whose concept predated VtM as well.

If Ars Magica 2e was the Chainmail to WoD's OD&D, then Inferno was probably the Braunstein in this analogy.

I'd also love to see what TristramEvans TristramEvans thinks of this thread's main thesis and if he has any good things to input. I always liked how he equated the clans to various 80's-90's era high school cliques.
 
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Hey,

Thanks for mentioning me, Doc Sammy Doc Sammy.

Ironically, you've caught me at a bad time because the Renegade handling of V5 has done more damage to my faith in the Classic World of Darkness than anything since the original campaign originally ended with GEHENNA. As a fan of the classic "Chicago Era" of V:TM, well before Justin Achilli did Revised (which was a much more "international" version of V:TM and had a lot less focus on personal horror), I was willing to give V5 a fantastic amount of rope but they've proceeded to hang themselves with it.

Indeed, in retrospect, I'm not a fan of V5. I tolerated the "fiction only" snapshots of THE CAMARILLA and ANARCH books. I didn't dislike the dialed back systems of V5 and the existence of things like Touchstones but virtually everything I like about V5 is from Onyx Path Publishing carrying water (or more precisely bailing out) with their supplements CHICAGO BY NIGHT 5E and CULTS OF THE BLOOD GODS. I also very much liked the third party material from LA BY NIGHT, the Choose your Own Adventure text games, and the visual novels.

But, without mincing words, SABBAT: THE BLACK HAND and THE SECOND INQUISITION are two of the worst supplements I have ever read in my life. They're fine for what they are and I judged them as such in my reviews but what they are shallow reproductions of THE BLADE TRILOGY with light grenades alongside rabid one-dimensional EVIL vampires. This is also exactly what Paradox Interactive seems to want from their handling of the license.

They're VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE: BLOOD HUNT (the Fortnite rip off) as an RPG.

They started as the thinking man's alternative to Dungeons and Dragons (which needs to be thought of in context of the Satanic Panic - in the 1990s, TSR desperately wanted to market to children instead of college age gamers like it began with while V:TM decided to market to adults) but have now desperately portrayed themselves as just a bloody urban fantasy. This is ironically while Matt Mercer has been showing the much deeper story-driven version of Dungeons and Dragons on Critical Role (that helped create LA By Night before Paradox broke away).

I think you really undersell V:TM though, which was inspired by CYBERPUNK 2020's world of extreme class divides, HIGHLANDER (for its world of secret immortals), and CALL OF CTHULHU's focus on characters as well as investigation over roles. It wasn't the only game in town that was experimenting with something different from D&D but it was definitely going for a different vibe. You mock "Baptism by Fire" but it is an adventure (it may only be a single session but it's a fully complete scenario) but it's a game entirely about interacting with NPCs you aren't expected to either get quests from or kill. They are all fully realized people you are meant to cultivate long term relationships with in Gary, Indiana.

This is not Innsmouth. It is Innsmouth where you're expected to know the Marsh Family and spend many sessions plotting against them or working with them or both.
 
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Re: The Chicago Chronicles

Gary, Indiana and Chicago have a special place in my heart as the "secondary worlds" that I have most resonated with. I was such a huge fan of Gary, Indiana that I actually paid to the Kickstarter for Chicago by Night to do the write-ups for Evelyn Stephens and Allicia for V5. I also inserted a character that isn't a self-insert only because he's based on several of my PLAYERS rather than me. He's totally me as a vampire in looks, though.

(One is a game store worker, another had a very weird relationship with a lady he worshiped, and another was a massive bully-hunter--all loved the character and saw themselves in him)


890355._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg

But yes, what made Chicago and Gary so great was that they were following Warren Spector's "ideal video game" rules. Warren Spector, creator of DEUS EX, had the idea that the ultimate video game would be to perfectly detail an entire city block with every person and apartment in it as well as their complicated personal relationships to one another. The rest of Vampire: The Masquerade got international and focused a lot more on traveling Elders by the time of the Clan Novels.

Essentially, Chicago and Gary had the appeal of the fact that you had to deal with the consequences of your actions. You never left the general area as a vampire so if you killed Annabelle in Session 1, then you had to deal with the fall of Annabelle dying in Sessions 2 onward. Your relationships were the important currency of V:TM and while a shotgun to the face and can of gasoline WERE ways to resolve conflicts, anyone who made a b-line for the Prince was playing the game wrong or on a suicide quest. The NPCs were not just stats (the stats were terrible, I admit) but a chart of relationships that gave you an idea how befriending or annoying anyone would have a domino effect.

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I cut V5 a *HUGE* amount of slack for bringing back Chicago by Night and later Gary itself. I even wrote a adventure supplement for Gary called THE MURDER OF MODIUS.


However, that's just not the majority of V5. There's some genuinely great V5 content like SHADOWS OF NEW YORK and the LA by Night Chronicles by they are deeply removed from the supplements that seem to be wanting to play the game at a far less intimate and more fast-paced gunplay level. The Second Inquisition and Sabbat getting the attention they are getting is purely from a combat-focused narrative. The lack of major write ups for NPCs mean that, aside from CBN 5E and its supplements, there's no characters detailed enough to do the kind of deep dive roleplaying that was V1's master class.
 
But yes, what made Chicago and Gary so great was that they were following Warren Spector's "ideal video game" rules. Warren Spector, creator of DEUS EX, had the idea that the ultimate video game would be to perfectly detail an entire city block with every person and apartment in it as well as their complicated personal relationships to one another. The rest of Vampire: The Masquerade got international and focused a lot more on traveling Elders by the time of the Clan Novels.

Spector got his start in TTRPGs, although I believe he'd moved over to computer gaming by the time VtM came out.
 
You mock "Baptism by Fire" but it is an adventure (it may only be a single session but it's a fully complete scenario) but it's a game entirely about interacting with NPCs you aren't expected to either get quests from or kill. They are all fully realized people you are meant to cultivate long term relationships with in Gary, Indiana.


Keep in mind, I'm not mocking Baptism By Fire, it's not my intent. It does what it's supposed to do very well, it's a small adventure meant as a springboard for larger chronicles within Chicago and Gary.

I loved the V1 iteration of the Chicago By Night setting in particular. The city of Gary alone is enough to sustain a small chronicle for a while, which is a sign of good design.

I love the 1e and 2e stuff and I also love "Vampions" style games unironically, but my point is that V1 was a lot more in line with that style than most people want to admit nowadays or even then, especially compared to V5.

White Wolf tried to market itself towards adults in an era where the Satanic Panic was very much in full swing, which is why it insistently referred to VTM as a "Storytelling Game" as opposed to an RPG and also went for the "deep" personal horror, all sorts of references to punk culture, and of course, lots of edgy violence, sex, and swearing.

IMHO, WW wanted to have their cake and eat it too, and they succeeded for a while until Achilli came along and ruined everything. The loss of Andrew Greenburg a few years prior to Achilli also did not help as I think a lot of his contributions to the game in its formative years go unsaid.

So while Mark Rein-Hagen and many others associated with V1'era may denounce "Vampions" now and insist that it was always a game of pretentious boring personal horror, they're now just going with the party line.
 
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I lost interest in the early 2010s after spending around a decade in the fandom. People were more interested in praising the lore than in actually playing games. It was a cult. The edition wars were annoying, the company didn't know how to design rules, tons of one true wayism, etc.

I always preferred Chronicles 1e, even despite its many faults from being rushed out the door in the mid 2000s and the general emo goth atmosphere that I find cringe now. Of course GMC ruined it with metaplot drivel again (if you want a guide to designing Cthulhu pastiches without coming across as poorly conceived nonsense, then check out the dread beings in Midnight Worlds). I don't appreciate it when newbs who weren't even born when it released tell me they think it sucks because they've been told to think so without even reading it. They even say that the new editions released under Paradox suck because they copy Chronicles, when anybody who read the books (and not a wiki, because anybody can edit those and you can't verify any of it) knows this is claptrap. As I said, it's a cult.

I think it's hilarious how Paradox has driven the IP into the ground. It's been on life support ever since the ttrpg market crashed in the last 90s and early 00s due to competition from video games, but Paradox has soiled the brand name recognition by approving so much shovelware and alienating existing fans in every possible way. Bloodlines single-handedly put this IP on the map and they absolutely squandered that opportunity. Perfect example of how IPs are worthless and what's important is having competent people to execute things.

I do feel some schadenfreude at seeing all the old franchises I used to like go up in flames; that's happening everywhere in pop culture now and it has been a long time coming. That said, I'm more frustrated that nobody else has capitalized on this opportunity to make their own video games to corner that starving audience. There are a few indie titles in development like Nighthawks and Moonfall, but nothing AA or AAA. I've even checked out ttrpgs trying to do urban fantasy and most just don't do very much with it. No adventure paths, no plot hooks, no bestiaries, or other stuff that is useful to groups. It's disappointing.
 
Something that really interested me was the free quickstart booklet for Vampire 1e. The rules were a bit streamlined and different than the final product, but I distinctly remembering liking them better! They felt faster, quicker, more easy to implement.

I can't find this quickstart any longer (only the "Revised" quickstart). I'd love to compare the writing style of it compared with the final rulebook. Doc Sammy Doc Sammy do you know which booklet I'm referring to?
 
Something that really interested me was the free quickstart booklet for Vampire 1e. The rules were a bit streamlined and different than the final product, but I distinctly remembering liking them better! They felt faster, quicker, more easy to implement.

I can't find this quickstart any longer (only the "Revised" quickstart). I'd love to compare the writing style of it compared with the final rulebook. Doc Sammy Doc Sammy do you know which booklet I'm referring to?


I know of the booklet you are referring to, but sadly I have not been able to find a copy of it to read. I'd love to find this 1e quickstart/preview version of VTM.
 
I lost interest in the early 2010s after spending around a decade in the fandom. People were more interested in praising the lore than in actually playing games. It was a cult. The edition wars were annoying, the company didn't know how to design rules, tons of one true wayism, etc.

I always preferred Chronicles 1e, even despite its many faults from being rushed out the door in the mid 2000s and the general emo goth atmosphere that I find cringe now. Of course GMC ruined it with metaplot drivel again (if you want a guide to designing Cthulhu pastiches without coming across as poorly conceived nonsense, then check out the dread beings in Midnight Worlds). I don't appreciate it when newbs who weren't even born when it released tell me they think it sucks because they've been told to think so without even reading it. They even say that the new editions released under Paradox suck because they copy Chronicles, when anybody who read the books (and not a wiki, because anybody can edit those and you can't verify any of it) knows this is claptrap. As I said, it's a cult.

I think it's hilarious how Paradox has driven the IP into the ground. It's been on life support ever since the ttrpg market crashed in the last 90s and early 00s due to competition from video games, but Paradox has soiled the brand name recognition by approving so much shovelware and alienating existing fans in every possible way. Bloodlines single-handedly put this IP on the map and they absolutely squandered that opportunity. Perfect example of how IPs are worthless and what's important is having competent people to execute things.

I do feel some schadenfreude at seeing all the old franchises I used to like go up in flames; that's happening everywhere in pop culture now and it has been a long time coming. That said, I'm more frustrated that nobody else has capitalized on this opportunity to make their own video games to corner that starving audience. There are a few indie titles in development like Nighthawks and Moonfall, but nothing AA or AAA. I've even checked out ttrpgs trying to do urban fantasy and most just don't do very much with it. No adventure paths, no plot hooks, no bestiaries, or other stuff that is useful to groups. It's disappointing.

Ironically, I have nothing against Paradox regarding Bloodlines 2 and it's present set up (they are officially announcing the reboot's new release date in September). They had Chris Avellone and Mistoda having written the script when the developers fired both of them as well as chunked 60% of the game's writing, which left them with no script as well as a game design that wasn't that great to begin with as well as only six months until release. Paradox firing Hardsuit Labs over this was the right decision.

A developer shouldn't be criticized if they actually say, "We need more time on this to get it right."

As for Chronicles, especially Requiem, I genuinely hate it. Basically, it's attempts to be a tool kit meant that while it was very good for "mature" writing, it was almost completely useless for creating a single organized coherent world to explore. Which is not what it wanted to do, I get it, but if you actually were invested in the secondary world and characters like I was in WOD then it just wasn't what I wanted or needed.

I love Slashers. I love horror films about them. I read Hack/slash religiously. I wrote a fucking book about them. I HATED WOD: Slashers. It was just so, "Who knows where slashers come from? Who knows what they can do!" I DUNNO, BOOK, WHY NOT TELL ME!
 
Something that really interested me was the free quickstart booklet for Vampire 1e. The rules were a bit streamlined and different than the final product, but I distinctly remembering liking them better! They felt faster, quicker, more easy to implement.

I can't find this quickstart any longer (only the "Revised" quickstart). I'd love to compare the writing style of it compared with the final rulebook. Doc Sammy Doc Sammy do you know which booklet I'm referring to?

I know of the booklet you are referring to, but sadly I have not been able to find a copy of it to read. I'd love to find this 1e quickstart/preview version of VTM.
I have both and the only difference is the art. The text is identical.

IIRC somebody wrote an expansion on rpg.net with rules for the other classes. It’s called quickstart expansion or something.

I agree about simple rules being better. That’s why board games are going through a Renaissance.
 
A developer shouldn't be criticized if they actually say, "We need more time on this to get it right."
Scrapping and restarting several years of work isn’t a good sign.


As for Chronicles, especially Requiem, I genuinely hate it. Basically, it's attempts to be a tool kit meant that while it was very good for "mature" writing, it was almost completely useless for creating a single organized coherent world to explore. Which is not what it wanted to do, I get it, but if you actually were invested in the secondary world and characters like I was in WOD then it just wasn't what I wanted or needed.

I love Slashers. I love horror films about them. I read Hack/slash religiously. I wrote a fucking book about them. I HATED WOD: Slashers. It was just so, "Who knows where slashers come from? Who knows what they can do!" I DUNNO, BOOK, WHY NOT TELL ME!
Ttrpgs are games meant to be played, not comic books meant to be read. I think metaplots and irrelevant backstory ego-stroking can eat shit and die in a fire.

That said, the emo goth writers definitely could’ve pulled their heads out of their asses and written an actual toolkit. CoD was advertised as a toolkit, but in practice it’s just a WoD clone without all the extraneous stuff.

I like having concrete options to pick from rather than self-absorbed authors being vague as shit. I can make up my own explanations because I’m a creative person, but most gamers don’t want to bother and especially don’t want their time wasted by navel-gazing.

It’s trivially easy to make lists of explanations and random generation tables. I keep lists of brainstorming myself.

“There are many possible explanations for slashers. Here’s some sample origins for you to choose from or inspire you. Multiple origins may exist in your campaign, or just one.” See? How hard is that?
 
Ironically, I have nothing against Paradox regarding Bloodlines 2 and it's present set up (they are officially announcing the reboot's new release date in September). They had Chris Avellone and Mistoda having written the script when the developers fired both of them as well as chunked 60% of the game's writing, which left them with no script as well as a game design that wasn't that great to begin with as well as only six months until release. Paradox firing Hardsuit Labs over this was the right decision.

A developer shouldn't be criticized if they actually say, "We need more time on this to get it right."

As for Chronicles, especially Requiem, I genuinely hate it. Basically, it's attempts to be a tool kit meant that while it was very good for "mature" writing, it was almost completely useless for creating a single organized coherent world to explore. Which is not what it wanted to do, I get it, but if you actually were invested in the secondary world and characters like I was in WOD then it just wasn't what I wanted or needed.

I love Slashers. I love horror films about them. I read Hack/slash religiously. I wrote a fucking book about them. I HATED WOD: Slashers. It was just so, "Who knows where slashers come from? Who knows what they can do!" I DUNNO, BOOK, WHY NOT TELL ME!

Ironically, the toolkit approach of Requiem 1e is why I liked it and why I like V1 and V2 so much as the metaplot isn't there at all in V1 and barely there in the first half of V2's run (and most of what was there was focused in Chicago, oddly enough. But I prefer Chicago By Night 1e over 2e)

The metaplot is why I utterly despised both Revised and V5.
 
Scrapping and restarting several years of work isn’t a good sign.



Ttrpgs are games meant to be played, not comic books meant to be read. I think metaplots and irrelevant backstory ego-stroking can eat shit and die in a fire.

That said, the emo goth writers definitely could’ve pulled their heads out of their asses and written an actual toolkit. CoD was advertised as a toolkit, but in practice it’s just a WoD clone without all the extraneous stuff.

I like having concrete options to pick from rather than self-absorbed authors being vague as shit. I can make up my own explanations because I’m a creative person, but most gamers don’t want to bother and especially don’t want their time wasted by navel-gazing.

It’s trivially easy to make lists of explanations and random generation tables. I keep lists of brainstorming myself.

“There are many possible explanations for slashers. Here’s some sample origins for you to choose from or inspire you. Multiple origins may exist in your campaign, or just one.” See? How hard is that?

Yeah,

I'm not a big toolkit fan as the reason I play tabletop RPGs is for the narrative experience. I enjoy entering into living worlds and thus am a huge fan of NPC write-ups, tie-in novels (I actually was part of the deal that got the Clan Novels republished), metaplot, and stories that contribute to the idea that the player characters are part of a place that is going on around them without their involvement.

I can make my own adventures but find it much easier when there's a set of defined rules, relationships, and matters that I can repurpose as I see fit.

Saying, "It might be X, Y, and Z" doesn't help me as it means that things are just hazy and I have to figure it out. Which defeats the purpose of buying material.
 
Yeah,

I'm not a big toolkit fan as the reason I play tabletop RPGs is for the narrative experience. I enjoy entering into living worlds and thus am a huge fan of NPC write-ups, tie-in novels (I actually was part of the deal that got the Clan Novels republished), metaplot, and stories that contribute to the idea that the player characters are part of a place that is going on around them without their involvement.

I can make my own adventures but find it much easier when there's a set of defined rules, relationships, and matters that I can repurpose as I see fit.

Saying, "It might be X, Y, and Z" doesn't help me as it means that things are just hazy and I have to figure it out. Which defeats the purpose of buying material.
My background is the d20 boom where it’s normal to have modular content and no metaplot, so I’m used to having functional toolkits. WW sucked at it, tbh.
 
Ironically, the toolkit approach of Requiem 1e is why I liked it and why I like V1 and V2 so much as the metaplot isn't there at all in V1 and barely there in the first half of V2's run (and most of what was there was focused in Chicago, oddly enough. But I prefer Chicago By Night 1e over 2e)

The metaplot is why I utterly despised both Revised and V5.
I didn’t like the lack of campaign settings either. D&D has a bazillion of those, including 3pp. With urban fantasy you’re expected to get married to this one pretentious emo goth setting and you’re not allowed to change it or the cult will excommunicate you.
 
I have both and the only difference is the art. The text is identical.
WHAAAAT?!

You're right! I just downloaded it and did a read-through.

Man... I still like these rules better than the full game LOL

Has anyone done a retro-clone of the quickstart rules? Seems like a pretty solid basis for a rules-light Vampire game.

</derail>
 
Scrapping and restarting several years of work isn’t a good sign.

Apparently, they aren't.

They've instead restored all of the missing content and it's still set in Seattle. They've just been polishing it all so it didn't look like its pure jank.
 
Has anyone done a retro-clone of the quickstart rules? Seems like a pretty solid basis for a rules-light Vampire game.
Not to my knowledge. But there’s several rules lite vampire-themed games on drivethrurpg if you can scour through search results.

The two I recommend are Feed by Whistlepunk Games and Vampire City by Vagrant Workshop. They’re both toolkits but each provide multiple wildly different sample settings to get you started and inspire your creativity. Feed focuses on the emotional and interpersonal aspects of being a vampire, while Vampire City focuses on the political and territorial aspects.

There’s a number of others, but these two have the most robust and flexible guidelines I’ve found so far. With Feed in particular, I was able to easily create a conversion of Nightlife.
 
I didn’t like the lack of campaign settings either. D&D has a bazillion of those, including 3pp. With urban fantasy you’re expected to get married to this one pretentious emo goth setting and you’re not allowed to change it or the cult will excommunicate you.

I mean, he's not entirely wrong...

The "hurr durr play Some Other Game"/One True Way-ism mentality of certain toxic elements within the personal horror crowd is a major sore point for me

Has anyone done a retro-clone of the quickstart rules? Seems like a pretty solid basis for a rules-light Vampire game.


Your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter
 
I mean, he's not entirely wrong...

The "hurr durr play Some Other Game"/One True Way-ism mentality of certain toxic elements within the personal horror crowd is a major sore point for me
I never understood personal horror, not really, until after I read Feed. The White Wolf mechanics suck and require a ton of cognitive dissonance, but Feed

I’ll use a comparison.

In White Wolf your PC steals a candy bar and then develops schizophrenia as a result, unless he adopts of the Path of Blowing Up School Buses Full of Nuns which causes him to develop schizophrenia if he don’t blow up school buses full of nuns.

In Feed, you fail a temptation roll that causes your character to dump his girlfriend after one last fight. You mark her off your character sheet and write “Renfield” instead, replacing that human trait with a vampire trait. In roleplaying terms, your character pulls a junkie off the street to become his Renfield. The Renfield is slavishly loyal due to mind control, but the PC never buys her flowers, never takes her out to dinner and a movie, never talks about problems and works through it… she’s the Renfield, not the girlfriend. That’s personal horror, and the rules actually support it rather than get in the way.

After this epiphany, I don’t understand how anyone can like White Wolf except due to indoctrination that they must obey the tribe and mindlessly repeat cult slogans when prompted or else be kicked out of the tribe. Nevermind that the rules are shit and don’t portray personal horror well if at all. I don’t give a fuck about lore because unless the PCs actually lived through it then it’s just irrelevant factoids. (A key reason I like Nephilim is because it let you create past lives as royalty and so forth, going back to 10,000 BC, making the background personally relevant to the PCs rather than distant and irrelevant.)
 
Yeah,

I'm not a big toolkit fan as the reason I play tabletop RPGs is for the narrative experience. I enjoy entering into living worlds and thus am a huge fan of NPC write-ups, tie-in novels (I actually was part of the deal that got the Clan Novels republished), metaplot, and stories that contribute to the idea that the player characters are part of a place that is going on around them without their involvement.

I'm pretty much a toolkit guy. Even when given a metaplot and other elements I often chunk it to do my own thing. Because at the end of the day, I want to create and enjoy what I create. Other people's ideas aren't bad or anything, I just like my own spins.
 
"The horror, the horror" - Joseph Conrad
View attachment 62438

In fact, I've used that as the description of how V:TM is SUPPOSED to work.

Vampire should be a power fantasy that only stops being appealing the moment you stop to think all the sex, drugs, blood, power and wealth comes at the mere price of your soul.

And yes, if you don't mind being a monster, it's awesome.

Sort of like being a gangster.

Yes, you may die horribly but it's a helluva ride. You can also play those vampires.

However, for the "full" experience, you're probably that 1 in 10 vampires who suffers from a lingering conscience.
 
In fact, I've used that as the description of how V:TM is SUPPOSED to work.

Vampire should be a power fantasy that only stops being appealing the moment you stop to think all the sex, drugs, blood, power and wealth comes at the mere price of your soul.

And yes, if you don't mind being a monster, it's awesome.

Sort of like being a gangster.

Yes, you may die horribly but it's a helluva ride. You can also play those vampires.

However, for the "full" experience, you're probably that 1 in 10 vampires who suffers from a lingering conscience.
One of the sample settings for Feed is playing b-movie villains whose humanity is just a cover for their villainy. Since the system doesn’t treat humanity loss as an arbitrary punishment but necessary to develop superpowers (the only downside is worsening hunger), it works very well.
 
One of the sample settings for Feed is playing b-movie villains whose humanity is just a cover for their villainy. Since the system doesn’t treat humanity loss as an arbitrary punishment but necessary to develop superpowers (the only downside is worsening hunger), it works very well.

I don't dislike Humanity loss as a mechanic but I think the mechanic was poorly done as it would go down way too rapidly via the original rules when it should be a slow burn to damnation. Bloodlines is too forgiving where you can kill dozens of people but only the "innocent" count, Paths are just trashfires for the most part, and only V20 really had one that I found to be functional.

(V20 had vampires stabilize at Humanity 4. That's when you're a cold blooded murderer but only if you have reasons to be. 1-3 are when you are just doing because you're a monster--that made sense for "supernatural mobsters")

Basically, my view is V:TM is a magical version of Grand Theft Auto. You are completely devoid of society's checks on your behavior except for a handful of rules that will get you killed. You may be murdered by the Prince or Anarchs eventually but it is a helluva ride. Murder, mayhem, and rampages are all possible as long as you don't leave a whiff of the Masquerade being broken or destroy someone's pet human or favorite museum.

However, while you CAN play Claude, you can also play Nico Bellic. Who doesn't WANT to be a hitman but really can't be anything else.

And while you may LOVE being a monster like Claude, well, it doesn't change the fact to 99% of all other beings on the planet, you're a piece of shit people should hold in contempt. Congratulations, Ventrue vampire with no conscience, you're Jeffrey Epstein.
 
I think there is something to be said about the character sheets, available skill and abilities vs. what other games were out at the time as to why they thought they were innovating, or at least why they thought Vampire was more apt for storytelling:

Three Attributes were directly combat relevant (Strength, Dexterity & Stamina), two were sometimes relevant (Wits & Perception). Less than half of nine Attributes. Four Abilities were combat relevant, (Brawl, Dodge, Firearms & Melee) with two that were sometimes relevant (Athletics & Stealth) out of 30. Less than 20% of all Abilities were combat relevant at all.

That to me said that "this is a game that isn't just about beating up bad guys." It's contemporaries at the time I would consider RPGs like Cyberpunk. For me, the biggest indicator for how someone was going to play Vampire: the Masquerade (Or Cyberpunk, or any other RPG that had aspirations outside of an action-adventure milieu), is if they came from or played D&D first. There was constant chatter among my storyteller circles about how to "break the D&D mindset" of players who came to Vampire from Dungeons and Dragons.
 
We should totally create a Pub-Creation of VTM Gary, Indiana. We can populate it with NPCs, Locations, and Valuables. :grin:

I suggest Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, away from the lights of the big city Regina. :heart: I know next to nothing about Moose Jaw, but I can make it up as I go along. That's in tradition with WW. :happy: For example, I say there'll be a big BDSM nightclub with a 3 story atrium, go-go dancers, and silk aerialists! :music:
 
I don't dislike Humanity loss as a mechanic but I think the mechanic was poorly done as it would go down way too rapidly via the original rules when it should be a slow burn to damnation. Bloodlines is too forgiving where you can kill dozens of people but only the "innocent" count, Paths are just trashfires for the most part, and only V20 really had one that I found to be functional.

(V20 had vampires stabilize at Humanity 4. That's when you're a cold blooded murderer but only if you have reasons to be. 1-3 are when you are just doing because you're a monster--that made sense for "supernatural mobsters")

Basically, my view is V:TM is a magical version of Grand Theft Auto. You are completely devoid of society's checks on your behavior except for a handful of rules that will get you killed. You may be murdered by the Prince or Anarchs eventually but it is a helluva ride. Murder, mayhem, and rampages are all possible as long as you don't leave a whiff of the Masquerade being broken or destroy someone's pet human or favorite museum.

However, while you CAN play Claude, you can also play Nico Bellic. Who doesn't WANT to be a hitman but really can't be anything else.

And while you may LOVE being a monster like Claude, well, it doesn't change the fact to 99% of all other beings on the planet, you're a piece of shit people should hold in contempt. Congratulations, Ventrue vampire with no conscience, you're Jeffrey Epstein.
Yeah, Feed does that pretty well. It treats humanity/vampirism as a darkside/lightside mechanic, with actual temptation to lose humanity because that’s the only way to develop vampiric traits. It’s unrelated to morality: you lose humanity by alienating specific human traits. Like that Girlfriend/Renfield example I used.

Look, the pdf is free direct from the author so you should read it for yourself rather than my recounting:


The rules are very flexible and you can easily adapt the White Wolf setting to it. I did that on one of my blogs.
 
We should totally create a Pub-Creation of VTM Gary, Indiana. We can populate it with NPCs, Locations, and Valuables. :grin:

I suggest Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, away from the lights of the big city Regina. :heart: I know next to nothing about Moose Jaw, but I can make it up as I go along. That's in tradition with WW. :happy: For example, I say there'll be a big BDSM nightclub with a 3 story atrium, go-go dancers, and silk aerialists! :music:

Better yet, let's make "Roanoke By Night" a thing instead.

Roanoke, Virginia is already a Gothic-Punk hellscape IRL
 
Better yet, let's make "Roanoke By Night" a thing instead.

Roanoke, Virginia is already a Gothic-Punk hellscape IRL
That's easy, the morning after the PCs get there *poof* completely empty. No NPCs, no factions, just empty beds and some creepy shit carved into a tree.

1686849652724.png
 
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