Hey, hey! Just got back from GameHole Con and had a wonderful time as a guest and fan. First and foremost, thank you so much to everyone who attended my seminars and games. Conventions are always busy and I appreciate you taking the time. I played Legacy of Mana 5th Edition and had a ton of fun with my opportunistic dwarven rogue named Chance, thusly named thanks to a lovely Twitter suggestion, who managed to acquire a noble title and sainthood. Ahem. You may now refer to me as Saint Lord Chance.
I also played my first game of Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition with Luke Gygax, Tommy Gofton, Sarah Babe, and Skeeter Green which was run by Rob Weiland. The stream was generously brought to you by Demiplane and Six Sides of Gaming. If you've followed my work over the years, you might understand why this was a big deal for me.
The World of Darkness was my “haunted house” for a very long time, and I’ve enjoyed editing, writing, and developing stories and games in this near-world setting. There have been several editions of Vampire: The Masquerade, and my work is concentrated in the 20th Anniversary Editions (namely Vampire and Wraith: The Oblivion). My work in 20th Anniversary Edition gave me the opportunity to enhance the narrative experience without reinventing gameplay.
Vampire is also the property that taught me how to understand the creative difference between fan and professional while accommodating playing styles and licensing concerns. To be blunt: no matter my feelings, ultimately Vampire is not my creation and, as any professional writer worth their salt will tell you, sometimes you have to set aside your feelings and do the work that's requested of you even when you disagree.
As a fan, Vampire is really the first TTRPG I felt connected to. I still remember Gen Con waaaaaaay back circa 2001, emerging into the hall and witnessing a diverse group of players clad in black leather. That, for Past Me, was “it.” I felt right at home playing a horror game of survival and secrets, currying favor with terrifying monsters until that pivotal moment when my characters realized they were Damned, too.
I didn't play 5th Edition when it first came out. Partially, for lack of time. Partly, I felt there was a greater emphasis on attracting new Vampire fans and wasn’t sure where I fit. While I absolutely agree that’s important—it’s one of my design ‘pillars’—I also felt (and still do) that older properties can still include fans who’ve been there all along. The older an IP gets, the harder it is to make everyone happy. That said: legacy roleplaying games possess multiple styles of play. So yes, it's absolutely possible to accommodate existing fans and attract new players without sacrificing visions of a brighter, more prosperous future.
Approaching V5 as a fan, I opted to build a Madame Blavatsky-meets-Perry Mason ancillae character named Madame who just woke up from torpor. In the 1920s, she was a PI who hunted down serial killers, only to become one herself. (Yes, after she caught all the humans, she committed and investigated her own crimes for money. Hey, it’s Vampire. Right?) Madame also had a few strange beliefs; she thought that eyeballs granted her psychic powers. Spoiler alert: this is a total and complete lie with no in-game components or benefits whatsoever.
After telling Rob all this, I pretty much begged him to avoid revealing our characters’ clans up front. I felt—and still feel—that clans often present as stereotypical shortcuts for roleplay. While that can be powerful for storytelling, they can also suck the mystery right out of the game.
My goal as a fish-out-of-water character was to keep everyone guessing in a subtle way, all part of the show, without dominating the group. Should you watch the stream, you might even notice I slightly changed my costume for each act. Wholly intentional.
Avoiding game spoilers... From a fan perspective, the Hunger mechanic adds narrative tension and is a wonderful addition to Vampire, increasing the excitement for single sessions, and ensuring that feeding is more integral to gameplay. I did notice I chose more Disciplines at lower levels during character creation, because that gave me more abilities than focusing on one or two.
I'm still not sure about the other setting changes and how that’d effect long-term play for me as a fan, because it is a seismic shift. Madame, of course, doesn’t believe her world is so very different now, and is convinced Sabbat propaganda is hard at work—yet another lie that, when unraveled, would ultimately compel her to worry most about the survival of the vampiric race.
Alas, I must leave you now. Before I fly off to parts unknown, I’d like to take a pause and say “Thank you” to all the other artists, writers, editors, and developers who’ve worked on every edition of Vampire: The Masquerade since its debut in 1991. (Both with and without me.) It’s been quite a journey, I know, and I’m confident your contributions will never be forgotten. Thank you for breathing unlife into a world that’s a little bit like ours, but that much darker, always leaving us to Hunger for more.
It was a pleasure to watch, and I look forward to someday joining you in the new and hunger-filled WoD. - BCPS
It was a GREAT time!
Totally and absolutely duped... I loved it! 🥰