I’ve been working on Vampire or things involving Vampire for over three years now. Every time it comes up (especially recently with the discussion around Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition), there’s been a lot of fond remembrances and half-serious jokes made about goths and goth culture. Black eyeliner, clove cigarettes, and The Cure inevitably come up in conversations.
And yet, that was never Vampire for me.
Since the first edition of Vampire, the world was always described as “Gothic-Punk,” and it was the “punk” part that always grabbed me. While some folks were dying their hair black, listening to Sisters of Mercy and wearing black trenchcoats, I was dying my hair blue, listening to Black Flag and… well, wearing a black trenchcoat, but at least it was covered in patches and pins. Even worse than being a punk in a goth world, though, I was a skater punk, sporting Vans and riding my board while the hardcore punks shook their heads and scoffed. But through my late teenage and early adult years, my social DNA always had more punk than anything else.
Now, I’m reaching middle age. I have a mortgage and stock options. I’m about as far from a young rebel as I could be. And yet, while some folks think back to the times where they wore white makeup and ratty top hats, I still remember wearing a beat-up leather jacket and high-tops and telling the entire Brujah clan that I would be happy to beat their asses one at a time or all at once.1 That will always be my Vampire, a world that was always a little more punk than gothic.
A few quotes from various editions of Vampire: The Masquerade:
First Edition: “The Punk is described in the way people live. The gangs rule the streets and the Mafia has never been reined in. You’ve got to be tough to survive, and even tougher to get anywhere. The world is more corrupt, more decadent, and less humane than our world.”
Second Edition: “Rock, punk and rap are even more of an escape and release, and rebellion is codified in styles of dress and speech. All in all, the world is more corrupt, more decadent and less humane than any suburbanite would like to believe.”
Revised Edition: “In order to give their lives meaning, they rebel, crashing themselves against the crags of power. Music is louder, faster, more violent or hypnotically monotonous, and supported by masses who find salvation in its escape. Speech is coarser, fashion is bolder, art is more shocking, and technology brings it all to everyone at the click of a button.”
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- I was actually playing a Malkavian at the time with three Physical traits, but the Brujah didn’t need to know that. ↩