Tag Archives: vampire the masquerade

Twenty Years of Darkness


Twenty years ago, my girlfriend at the time came home with a new roleplaying game: a big green book called Vampire. Me and a friend of mine made up characters – globe-trotting Archons that went around assassinating people and solving problems, if I recall correctly. It was utterly ridiculous, but we were enthralled because it just seemed so damned different from the other games we were playing at the time. I saw echoes of my aggressive style of Cyberpunk mixed in with the ancient and baroque tapestry of those Anne Rice novels she was into.

Since then, I’ve played a lot of Vampire. I mean a lot. I was involved in one of the playtest groups for the original Mind’s Eye Theatre, I ran (and played) in a number of tabletop games with friends, and I’ve owned every edition of the game at one point or another. I’ve been playing in Vampire live-action or tabletop games since 1996; even this past weekend I played in a Sabbat LARP, and I’m going to play a tabletop chronicle of the Transylvania Chronicles in a few weeks. Sure, I’ve played in and run just about every other World of Darkness game in some form or fashion,1 but time and again I would come back to Vampire.

I even met my wife at a Vampire LARP (I played a Toreador; she played a Gangrel).

Now, I help create books about vampires. I’m working on a video game about vampires. Two of my best friends have been a Vampire developer at some point. And all because of that damned (Damned?) green book printed in 1991.

Twenty years is a strange amount of time to think about. I actually lived a fair amount of my adolescence in a world that didn’t have Vampire in it, but the game has had such a huge impact on my life that I have trouble thinking about a world without it. Justin says that it chokes him up a little that it’s been twenty years, and I agree, but it’s more than that. For me, it’s not just the history of a game, but it’s also my history. My life as told by the secret wars between undead fictional bastards.

So, cheers to Vampire. Here’s hoping for another twenty years of making memories.

  1. Off the top of my head, I’ve played or run both versions of Vampire (including the Dark Ages and Victorian variants), Werewolf: The Apocalypse, both versions of Mage, both versions of Changeling, both versions of Hunter, Wraith, Geist, Mummy, Kindred of the East, and even the GURPS translation of the World of Darkness. And that’s not counting any non-RPG versions of those properties.

What I Learned from Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Vampire: The Masquerade - BloodlinesI haven’t done this in a long time, and the breakdown I did of “The Witcher” is one of the most-viewed pages on my site. So, I’ll start going through my Steam queue and catching up on these not-quite-reviews and not-quite-game-design-deconstructions.

Over the summer I played 25 hours of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, and then briefly toyed with some of the game mods. Here’s what I learned from it.

Choice should be balanced. One of the things I remembered about the game when I first played it was that you could resolve problems in multiple ways, similar to games like Deus Ex. Different clans have different strengths and weaknesses, and implied that stealth and seduction were just as viable routes to resolving problems as combat.

Continue reading What I Learned from Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines