Tuesday, March 31, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Games That Shaped Me (Part 5)

Vampire: The Masquerade - White Wolf (1991)

It was the long, dark tea-time of gaming for me. I'd left school. My gaming group had been fractured by some going off to university. I'd started working for the local archaeology unit, and tabletop roleplaying games were the last thing on my mind. The archaeology unit encouraged me to go back into education, and after taking a BTEC in graphic design and a fine art foundation course, I was soon on my way to another part of the country, away from my home town, and off to university myself.

One of the first things I found while in my new location was that a group of students on my course had started roleplaying. A relatively new RPG at the time that was taking the world by storm - Vampire: The Masquerade. Hot on the heels of Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, White Wolf's Vampire RPG paved the way for a new generation of gaming. Everyone played vampires - members of different clans, struggling to survive in a "World of Darkness" where you wrestled with your own humanity, and desire to feed.

The game was really cool, and I was instantly hooked. I blew a lot of my term's money on buying out the local game shop's stock of rulebooks, clanbooks, guides and so on, and heap of ten-sided dice.

I got so into it that I started running the game for a group in my hometown when I went back between terms, set in the same game that I was running while at university. Then I started another game (this time Werewolf: The Apocalypse) with a group of people I met at the local comic shop that again crossed over with the other game. It was a mass of storytelling, narrative connections, and a whole lot of blood sucking.

I met my wife through the game, and we (foolishly) signed up to join The Camarilla - the live-action global LARP with a storyline and narrative that spanned the world. As we were both into making zines and graphic design, we started making newsletters for our clans which got us promoted quickly through the UK ranks (and Generations) - Debs became head of Clan Toreador, and I became 2nd in command of Clan Tremere. It was at these LARPs that I was introduced to Angus Abranson and Andrew Peregrine, which led to a host of game writing later down the line - and without those introductions I doubt I would have written the Dr Who RPG.

But, some people in the clans were not happy at our promotions, and Debs and I started getting hate mail - both in character and out - and we quickly decided to retire from the Camarilla and I turned my back on White Wolf.

Ironically, while Vampire: The Masquerade had such a massive impact on my gaming, my favourite of the World of Darkness games isn't Vampire. The aforementioned Werewolf gaming group went on to play Mage: The Ascension, and it was freakin' amazing. Paradox realms, secret dimensions, reality changing magic. Absolutely loved it. Vampire quickly took the back seat, and we played Mage a lot.

Things happened and I kinda fell out of love with White Wolf, selling about 80% of my World of Darkness collection. I continued the Mage game we were running by converting the whole thing over to Kult. It was darker, messy, and really quite horrific at times and lead to some of the most intense roleplaying I've GM'd.

Kult drifted away and I converted the game once again - keeping the characters and setting but running it with the next game on my Games That Shaped Me...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, the whole Vampire thing was very strange. I got into the live stuff as well, my only LARP inclination, and I seem to recall I even heard you and Debs being discussed at one meeting (in character, nothing sinister or nasty that I remember) although I only found out they were talking about my old mate Frankie later. It was fun but I didn't really get into it. I think I was falling out of love with RPGs in general and just wanted to play D&D. Plus I was earning more money and was able to do OTHER things besides sit at home rolling dice...

It is a great pity that I seemed to fade out of the Kult thing though - my fault entirely I think; to busy elsewhere. I do think Raindog was one f my most promising character designs - my first that was deliberately down at heel and not power-gamey...

Milo. xxx