On Being a Vampire (sort of) or Why Fake Fangs Made Me Who I Am

I suppose I probably owe Shane another blog post he can email around the CCP/White Wolf offices and embarrass me with…

First things first: if you’ve never heard of Vampire: the Masquerade or World of Darkness, do yourself a favor and stop reading my drivel right now. Go here and buy the V:tM corebook. It’s a PDF and it will download immediately. Even if you never intend to play it, buy it and read it. Its immaculately put together, its exceedingly well written, its filled with amazing art, and it will change your life. How do I know? Because it changed mine.

That sounds superlative but it is very true. For every person who has ever looked up to me and thought ‘I wonder where she learned it all?’, there is an answer; my parents and White Wolf games. And since you can’t digitally download my parents, you’re going to have to go with the games. These books were so foundational for me that I have almost forgotten the impact that they made on me. I am proudly a V:tM lifer. I picked up the first book in my local hobby store just based on the cover and the art work. I brought it home and read it cover to cover. I didn’t actually start playing it until second edition rolled around and from there…. forget it, I was hooked. I used to carry the core book in my backpack at all times. I read it so much, I went through 2 copies by the end of high school.

Vampire (and all the other World of Darkness books) are immaculately written and constructed. They don’t pull pull punches. They use big words without apologies, reference historical record without pausing to explain, and include quotes from music and literature from across the world. I used to use my 2nd edition corebook as a guide to pick out tapes (yes, it was that long ago) when I would go to my local Strawberries (it was a record store, for those of you who never had one. And no, it didn’t smell like strawberries). For a kid like me who was aggressively smart, relentlessly curious, and fucking dark in my outlook, it was the magic combination. It’s set in our own world and didn’t seem like such a stretch to dream about 13 clans of vampires prowling in the dark, relentlessly manipulating human culture to suit their own insidious plots.

The best example, for me, is the story of Clan Brujah. When I first read the books, they were characterized as the hot-headed rebels (with or without a cause). Being a tweenager just discovering angst, this was just my speed and I really took to the clan. When I read the clanbook and discovered the Brujah started out as warrior-poets, intellectuals who rebelled against stasis and injustice… well, that was up my alley too as an intellectual rebel myself. When I read that their Clan founder founded Carthage… well, the real history is that Queen Elissa founded Carthage. She is my namesake and my great-great-great-great some-odd grand aunt. I have artifacts from the excavation of the Carthaginian Bay sitting on my mantle. I am – in real life – a descendant of Carthage and very proud of that. It seemed like the stars had aligned and I had found something… perfectly fitted to me. I even got the clan symbol tattoed on me.

There is something so compelling about Vampire: the Masquerade. The more of the books you read, the more you discover this overarching metaplot that spans mortal history. Its deep, detailed, and subtle. It prompted me to go read about the real history that the books were warping. White Wolf books inspired me to study the Borgias, the Avignon Papacy, and shadow propagation speed. They contributed more to my desire to learn than all 16 years of my “best education money can buy” schooling. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the Louisiana Purchase until I read about Napoleon being a Sabbat pawn! Then I wanted to know everything about that whole period of history.

I wasn’t crazy. I knew that the World of Darkness history was an alternative history. I didn’t think vampires or Mages were really behind the events of the War of the Roses, or whatever. (Although that would be totally awesome!) But because the books referenced these historical events so casually, without pausing to explain the history they were basing their events on, it made me want to learn the real history so I could understand the ramifications of the plotlines. My obsession with Vampire and the other franchises quite literally made me a smarter, more well educated person.

But it wasn’t just that. It also made me a better person, a stronger person. Sure, you can make a correlation about playing a game where you are trying to outwit other players translating into why I’m so cunning. You can make a correlation between playing a self-reliant, strong vampire in my foundational years translating into me growing up to be a strong, self-reliant woman. And all these things are true. But how did a game about a blood-thirsty, ruthless, stab-you-in-the-back-with-a-stake-and-drink-your-blood bunch of vampires help make me into a kinder, more generous person?

Because it did.

And I didn’t realize this until going to the Grand Masquerade but it did that to the entire community who played these games. I’ve been to what can only be described as a “metric fuckton” of conventions. DragonCon, GenCon, E3, PAX, SDCC… you name it, I’ve been there. Nerds, Geeks, and Dorks are pretty universally nice people so understand how much nicer the World of Darkness community has to be to merit this being so notable. The people that we met at the Grand Masquerade were several orders of magnitude nicer than the people I’ve met at other conventions. And not just a few people – not just the White Wolf and CCP staff. Every. Single. Person. There was not a soul that I met at the Grand Masquerade who was anything less than welcoming and kind in the way that made me think of Mrs Weasley from Harry Potter. Sure, I was there as media and people wanted to impress, right? Wrong. They were all this nice to each other. I think the bulk of the convention took place in the lobby, where people stood around and shot the shit with each other all day and all night.

Most people had no idea who I was and would just strike up conversations with me, excited to talk about shared interests. When they found out Joel and Ian had been playing for 2 days, they didn’t shun them. Instead, they all fell over themselves telling them cool things to check out, giving them information they could use, asking them if they needed any help, wanting to make sure they were having a good time. I met so many people, I quickly lost track of all of the names. But, without fail, they would always stop when they saw me to ask how I was, how my latest game was, to tell me tales. And, upon leaving our conversation, they would stop five people behind me to greet some new friend with the same unfailing joy. People that I met in the elevator for 5 minutes became as life long friends, stopping by games just to get a quick hug. All around me, people dressed in incredible costumes were sitting down to chat as if they really were cohorts for the past three centuries. Even the man who sat next to me on the plane ride to and from LA, who happened to be going to the Masquerade, was unfailingly polite, soft-spoken, and a proper gentleman.

I have to note how completely weird it is for me to strike up conversations with people I don’t know. As much as I am Miss Social, I don’t usually just start talking to people I don’t know. It makes me very uncomfortable. I’m outgoing yet shy. When I do talk to people, the conversations are superficial; the weather, my shoes, the Red Sox. Falling so naturally into meaningful conversations with every person I met never happens to me. Never. Not at goth clubs, not at rock shows, not at poetry slams, not at fucking knitting circles. Even sitting in my own living room, it takes a while for me to warm to a person enough to just… talk.

Maybe it was the New Orleans heat but I warmed up fast. Usually, when I’m out and about with a lot of people, I will say something polite about a stranger’s outfit just to get into and out of the expected conversation quickly and painlessly. It’s a good social gambit; it eases an introduction and the conversation is usually short, light, and complimentary. It’s almost a habit. Say something nice, chat for three minutes, and leave. Everyone feels good, hurrah. But, at the Masquerade, my polite overtures all instantly turned into long, deep conversations. I don’t think I managed a conversation under 20 minutes with any person there. A simple “hi, how are you doing?” to a group of slightly-intoxicated LARPers ended up with me sharing a chair with one of them, laughing loudly as they tried to teach us how to LARP (and debated with Joel about 4th edition D&D) For the rest of the con, every time we saw them, they would always wave hello or come running over for a hug and a chat.

And I have to say, too, how much I hate being hit on. I hate it. I hate it! Some dude going up to me and telling me how “hot” and “fuckable” I look. Yeah, no. Please die. I’ve gotten prickly to the point where I can barely take a compliment on my appearance from anyone without getting offended. Luckily, I live in Los Angeles, where such things don’t happen to girls that aren’t 5’9″ and 100 lbs.

Yet again, the folks at the Grand Masquerade showed chivalry and civility. They didn’t “hit on” me. They paid me gracious compliments, stopping to comment about my poise and elegance instead of noting ‘you got some tasty tits’ like your average bar brute. They showered me with compliments in a way I’m not used to… and they were so humble and sweet about it that I fairly glowed. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been told by strangers that I look “stunning” and not gotten pissed off about it. Instead, it made me happy, made me feel good about myself, made me calm and comfortable instead of instantly threatened. I don’t think anyone realizes what an accomplishment that is. For me to be genuinely flattered and pleased by a compliment from a near-stranger is nigh-unto unheard of! Yet it happened, night after night. It even got me to act (sort of) like a lady; letting people take me by the hand, open doors for me, push my chair in. It made me realize how much of my energy can be “keep away” and when I was comfortable and reigned that in, people were right there to be as gracious and kind to me as I could hope for. I let my guard down and, for the first time, I was rewarded with the best in people instead of the worst.

The unfailing kindness of the community was certainly reflected in the CCP/White Wolf staff and their volunteers working the event. The security staff was unfailingly polite and made sure everyone was safe without feeling at all imposing – in fact, they were like big teddybears filled with positive energy. No one would even want to cause trouble with them around! The exuded such calm and serenity that it was almost like meditating. The storytellers bent over backwards to accommodate us, to make sure that Joel and Ian understood what was going on and were having a good time… all without calling attention to it or sacrificing the fun for the other players. I want to say a special thank you to Dave M and Jason C, who went out of their way to make sure we could play in whatever games our (er…. mostly my) little hearts desired. Every storyteller we had was amazing, the games incredible, the players sublime. My first experience LARPing I had expected to be terrifying and overwhleming – and it was. But as soon as I crossed my fingers and said “Out of Character, I have never LARPed before and I’m a little lost,” everyone stopped to help me out. No judgements, no looking-down-the-nose… just happy to share what they loved with someone new.

I need to back up for a second and talk about Shane and the CCP/WhiteWolf staff. I met Shane a few months ago, when we interviewed him for MachinimaRealm. (Well… Joel interviewed him. I just sat there because I am afraid of the cameras.) Afterwards, we had lunch and talked about Vampire. It helped me remember how much it had meant to me. Not playing since college, not being around people who played, had made me forget what an impact it had on me. Shane helped wake that up, get me excited, helped me recover a part of me I’d lost. He’s like a Vampire Santa, showing up with jackets and ball tickets and (best of all!) great conversation. He and his girlfriend Elizabeth are charming, intelligent, and considerate – the type of people that you look at and think “wow, I’m lucky to know people like this.” They are people who just ‘get’ you.

I say all of this to put my next statement in context.

The CCP/White Wolf staff as so nice they could almost make Shane look mean. Okay, not really but you get my point. I thought Shane (and also Elizabeth) were anomalies – those rare people you run into in life who are smart, kind, and all of these words that I’m going to have to start going to a thesaurus in a minute to not overuse. But they are representative of the entire White Wolf staff. They are all those rare people who are that nice and that smart and that kind. It’s unreal!

I really have to thank each and every one of the CCP/White Wolf staff too. Shane, Greg, Mike R, Stacey, Eddy, Russell, Mike T, the other Mike T, Rich… I know I’m going to forget someone if I keep listing names so I’ll just say the whole staff. They went above and beyond to make sure that not only we but every person at the Masquerade was having the time of their (un)lives. They spoke so highly of their community and they really worked to provide a great experience for that community. I have never met a staff that was that enthused and in love with their community. It was, literally, all they could talk about – and they glowed like newlyweds when they did! They took such fierce pride in what the community was doing, in what it stands for, in what it means to each other. Honestly, you are all some of the most incredible, charitable, giving, and honest people I’ve ever met… even the Lasombras.

And it was an experience. Every place we went was like stepping into the World of Darkness. The set dressings, the costumes, the city – it felt like I really was in the books I’d read for so long. If you wanted total suspension of disbelief, it was there for you. Or, if you needed a break, you could just… breathe and not be in it. You were never forced to be in the moment. Even in the deepest LARPs, no one pushed you to go past your comfort zone. Some people might think that “oh these crazy people think they are vampires all the time.” Nope. Not at all. Everyone was very aware that this was a game and just wanted to have a good time.

I don’t really know where I am going with this. I don’t think it’s possible to get across in words how much this game meant to me or how much discovering how incredible the community is means to me. It’s woken up the part of me that connected with these games; the smart, curious, considerate, and generous part of me. The best part of me. I’m excited to get more involved in this community; to try LARPing, to play in the office and introduce my coworkers to the World of Darkness, to play in Better Off Dying. The people that I played World of Darkness games with growing up are some of the best people I’ve met. If the Grand Masquerade is indicative of the overall community, the people that I will play with in the future will become some of the best people I will ever meet.

So thank you; to the staff, the storytellers, the fans, and the friends. I can feel this indescribable something traveling through me once again. Maybe its passion or excitement or curiosity. Maybe it’s coming out of Torpor. I don’t know what it is but thank you for it. I’m excited to be coming back to all of you, to get to know all of you, to share blood not in a literal sense but in a metaphorical sense as we become family. To people who have never played, I’ll say it again. Pick it up. There is no game, no book, no experience like it.

Oh, and one last thing. Play a Brujah. Seriously. We’re the best clan.

33 Responses to “On Being a Vampire (sort of) or Why Fake Fangs Made Me Who I Am”

  1. Jonni "Khat" Santschi Says:

    I don’t think we met this GM, but my hubster Michael and I have known Shane for going on 15 years… and many of the others you have now met – and we hope to meet you in future.

    Now you have gotten the WW bug, though, you are officially part of the family. My husband and I met through the game and still maintain most of our old friends – and it’s like we grew up together – marriages, kids, degrees, jobs, moves, etc…. most of us have found it’s for life. Personally, we’d taken hiatus early 2000s and came back GM 2010 (after Shane personally called a bunch of us and told us VtM was back and he wanted us to come back to play), and it was like falling back home (and by HOME, I mean that safe place where you feel loved and inspired) – only better – because it wasn’t just Cammies or OWbNers or TTers… was the whole lot of us in one big incestuous huddle under the GM flag.

    Over a decade ago, Shane made the joke of having t-shirts made that said “White Wolf – getting geeks laid since 2001.” Now, I think we can update those to “WoD – bringing fans HOME for 2 decades and counting.” Glad to have you in the family. The next 20 years should rock all the more!

  2. Thanks! Looking forward to meeting in the future! It’s very cool to see how many people have met friends and partners through the game. It really, really does feel like a family in the best sense of the world. I kept saying to my coworkers that I felt like I was home. I think that is something that people who aren’t a part of the community (yet) don’t get… but once they meet the people who play, they get it instantly. I don’t know what it is about the games but there is a certain alchemy that brings out the best in people. Whatever it is, I’m glad to be a part of it!

  3. Ah – figured out how to sign on via Facebook! If you are now into LARP, contact me if you like and I can hook you up with my network – many old players with huge careers and families who still find time to play on the side. Unlike Shananigans who gets to play for a living! ;D

  4. Ah awesome. Thanks! I’ve never LARPed (aside from a few hours at TGM) so I’m def looking for a group here in LA. I’ve reached out to the Cam folks here, thanks to Jason, but I’m def interested in finding more. Tabletoppers too! I’ll find you on Facebook.

  5. Great. I weaned myself off Cam almost a decade ago and now after reading your article, I’m ready to jump in a costume and take off to the nearest game: gas money, babysitter, and not having a clue about the new history or rules be darned!
    Excellent article, reminds me of all the great folk who have become so very, very dear to me – those folks I met when I wasn’t even being me, lol!

  6. Hi, Elissa. I want to say that, while I didn’t get your namesake until you mentioned it, I did associate you with the inimitable Dante Alighieri. I’d say “I’m sure you get that a lot,” but I’m not sure how many people know who that is. ;)

    Throughout your post I was mentally cheering, pointing at the monitor and yelling “this! This! So very much this!” I owe a huge debt to White Wolf for contributing to my life in ways so deep I’m not even sure how pervasive it is.

    As a young lexophile, Vampire enamoured itself to me immediately by its almost casual inclusion of words like “protean,” “obfuscate,” “gangrel,” “brujah,” and the like. And it presented me with a panoply of new words to research and add to my ever-expanding lexicon.

    In school, History was one of my weaker subjects, as it never really interested me, but as with you, once I found an excuse, I devoured it. I swept up so much about the Renaissance and Victorian periods, largely due to Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade and Victorian Age: Vampire.

    I started paying back my service to White Wolf in ’99 when I joined their nascent demo teams. That didn’t work out, but I contributed a lot to the teams as a whole, and later joined up on the first official moderated chat as one of the first Storytellers. Then I opened up a news site. Then I started contributing graphics to the community. Then I became a WW forum moderator. Then I opened up a Wiki. (I linked a couple of these to you on Twitter.) Now I’ve got my name in V20, Shane roped me in to represent the WOD Chat community, and I still don’t feel like it’s enough. The more I give them, the more they keep giving me, and the more I have to repay them again. It’s the best kind of relationship. It’s been five years since the last time I played in a World of Darkness game, and another five before that since the last time I ran one. But I’m still an enthusiastic member of the community, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.

    Thanks for your excellent blog post. I expect regular reports on how Better Off Dying is going. (:

  7. I just have to say that game(s) my girlfriend and I got to share with you at the Grand Masquerade were among the dearest and best memories we can constantly bring to the front of our thoughts when we think back on the Grand Masquerade! From that first moment meeting you in line where we talked about me having ticket number 1 for the GM special edition V20 book to that rousing Sabbat game where we were trying to save all of blood magic and Disciplines, you were a beacon of what a true contributor to the gaming community of not just World of Darkness, but its life as a whole should be! Thank you for that, and we look forward with great anticipation to see you at next year’s Grand Masquerade =D!

  8. "The Lasombra" Says:

    Ahem… “even the Lasombra” indeed. ::shakes head:: Once a Brujah always a Brujah. ;)

  9. I’m glad you got the reference. That is, actually, where the name come from. An excellent author, if I do say so myself.

    It’s been interesting but not unexpected to see this resonate with people. As I figured out in New Orleans, there is something about the people who were drawn to Vampire… we’re people who are smart, curious, and kind. It’s that last bit that truly stands out. I proudly consider myself a nice person. I try to be polite to everyone, to be welcoming, to be generous. And, for whatever reason, that seems to be a common trait in the people who are attracted to these games. I don’t know why that is so but I’m glad that it is so.

    I also think it’s cool that White Wolf and CCP seem to hire or at least encourage people who are fans of the game to get out there and make a living. A lot of game studios don’t really care about the welfare of their community. The people that I have met from the company seem very concerned that the community is healthy, happy, and getting something positive from the experience. They seem to recognize and reward talent. That is rare and something I wish more companies did. It think it helps build a positive community that is getting all of the right things out of the experience – knowledge, encouragement, positivity – and applying those things to other parts of their life. Gaming (especially video games) can be ghettoized as a “waste of time where you don’t learn anything.” But I think Vampire is one of those rare games that encourages and incentives it’s community to do more than just roll some dice on Sundays. Many scientists and specialists are looking at how ‘gamification’ can enrich and encourage students. For me, and I think for others, Vampire was that “gamification” that suddenly made learning even more exciting.

  10. Welcome. We are always glad to have new members to our community. especially old members that didn’t know they were part of our community. I live in San Diego and I know there are a bunch of games in OC and Riverside. There are also NWOD games in LA. So you should come join us sometime. We would love to have you.

  11. Thank you! Both you and your girlfriend are some of the people that I would highlight as kind and generous beyond my wildest expectations. I had a phenomenal time gaming with you and getting to know you! Please keep in touch and I look forward to seeing you both next year!

  12. And proud. I believe the quote is “I am what I am, I did what I did, and that will never change”? Suck it, Shadowface :P

  13. I’d say I’m sorry but I’m totally not lulz! Thanks for reading, reminiscing, and enjoying with me!

  14. Thank you, Matt! I look forward to it. I’ve reached out to the Cam LARP in my area and am happily getting ready to try my hand at their oWOD Sabbat game, when they get it running. I’ve never played nWOD until TGM so I’m still a little hesitant. However, the thing I learned in New Orleans is that what is important to me in the experience is the people more so than the game. Because the people are so fun, I have fun no matter what I play. I may give some nWOD a try some time in the future – schedule permitting and my ability to learn how to LARP allowing! Thank you for the warm welcome. I hope to see you in a game in the future!

  15. I could talk a lot about this (and probably will at some point — hooray Skype gaming), but I think some of the energy comes from the fact that folks like Russell and me actually came from the community. When I walk around the convention, I don’t see fans — I see the people I’ve been gaming with for nearly 20 years. In fact, I still have problems getting used to the idea of being a “celebrity.”

    I’ve been meaning to do a blog post about the mindspace of going from being a fan to being a creator on the thing you’re a fan of. Maybe I should get around to that.

    Also, I’d REALLY encourage you to boil this or your previous post down and submitting it to FlamesRising for their VtM Retrospective: http://www.flamesrising.com/submission-guidelines/vampire-the-masquerade-retrospective-guidelines/

  16. Lisa Wood Says:

    I’m guessing the Matt up there is Matt J! I’m another local from San Diego and eagerly welcome you to the LARP scene, local or not(though local does make it so much better for me).

    I also discovered VtM in my teenage years. I was a Freshman in High School, trying to discover why these were supposedly the best years of my life since I felt so out of place. Sitting beside the drama building I discovered the gamer group who gave me access to the VtM books as well as a life long love for the game. There is something in those books that immediately hooked me; hooked me enough to get dressed up in black and play paper rock scissors at midnight. Those books also helped inspire me to read, to learn, to figure out what they were referencing.

    I hope your blog just inspires ONE person to download the book and find a love affair with a new world. Look forward to playing paper, rock, scissors with you and yelling praises to Caine!

    Lisa

  17. So you hated it then?
    :D

  18. Oh, we played Changeling table top together! Hello there. :)

    This was a great read- thank you for this. And I can relate on so many points… particularly the bit about how VtM augmented one’s education. I didn’t start playing until I was out of High School, but I was never into history or writing, but the amount of history I’ve learned since in researching character backgrounds has changed both of those things immensely. And it’s done wonders for my vocab (I have a friend who swears obfuscate isn’t a real word…)

    But the bit about how nice people were? Yes, yes, and yes.

    I’m socially awkward – I’m sure that it has nothing to do with my favorite past time involving I’m pretending I’m a vampire or a faerie. :) But I don’t do crowds well, and I’d only been a member of the Cam for a few months with no real chance to actually game… but I’d decided months ago that TGM was going to be my graduation present to myself, and dammit, I was going to deal with crowds and people and panic attacks and I was going to like it, because my favorite game was having a 20th birthday party.

    And yet… everyone was so exceedingly kind. People who learned I was new would stop me in the lobby and demand to know if I was enjoying myself. People would stop me near the door of the Monteleone at 2 AM and make sure I wasn’t walking back to the Sonesta by myself. Someone saw me wearing my badge when I was grabbing a sandwich one night between games to make sure I’d heard the location had changed. And so I went from forcing myself to go to this thing I knew I’d struggle with, to now counting down the weeks to the next one, and looking at my calendar to see how many other events I can make throughout the year.

    So… thank you. for articulating this so well. And for stealing the scroll out of the Duke’s safe. And giving the kid the picture of his mother back. :)

  19. I was at GM this year and it being my first WW convention, was impressed by it. Much of what you wrote transcribed to me, especially about the kindness of people. My husband and I are not LARPers. He never has LARPed and I only did once with an ex of mine. We are big table topers. I’m a local to New Orleans and some of the cons I’ve been to here have had some very ugly (not so nice) people.

    It is funny, even though I am a local, I felt like I was an outsider. This didn’t stop the fellow con goers from being welcoming. I know most people were not from the south, but it sure felt like some amazing Southern Hospitality. It truly was amazing to see so many people who were actually happy to be there, and didn’t act like it was a chore.

    Thank you for a lovely article (especially love the fact it is from a fellow lady). Maybe next year I’ll try one of those LARPs out, or maybe I’ll get my husband to run one of his epic table top games. Either way, this con and all those people made me want to be a part of this larger community that I had no idea existed.

  20. Oh MAN, Eddy, I am so excited for Better Off Dying (or what I call it – Sunday Funday Super Vampire Happy Time Hooray)! I think I said in another comment somewhere how completely awesome I think it is that White Wolf/CCP has hired from the community. I think that perpetuates the passion within and without of company walls. And, as I’m sure Joel will tell you, I totally geeked out about our game at TGM. I think my quote was something to the effect of “we’re playing with the people who MADE THE GAME. If I could go back in time and tell myself that I 14, I’d think I was SO COOL!” I spent the past 15 years of my life hanging out with rock stars so it takes a lot to get me to geek out. So be flattered.

    The best part about that game (aside from, you know, the game being awesome) was how nice and *normal* you guys were. Rock stars and game devs can both be total diva dicks. They can also be totally uninterested, not engaged in the experience, aloof, and unhappy. All of you guys were so enthusiastic, friendly, funny, and generous that it was easy to forget we hadn’t been gaming together for ages. That was something that I really enjoyed and I know Joel and Ian did too. It’s a lot easier to do our jobs when the people we’re talking to are people we enjoy talking to. So thank you – for a great game and a great experience! And for MaxXx too. She’s pretty neat and I’m excited to explore her as we game.

    Brevity is SO not my strong suit but I’ll work on boiling. Thanks!

  21. Oh MAN, Eddy, I am so excited for Better Off Dying (or what I call it – Sunday Funday Super Vampire Happy Time Hooray)!

    I am too, quite honestly. I had been debating a “back to basics” Vampire tabletop game for a while, and this was just a perfect confluence of events.

    And, as I’m sure Joel will tell you, I totally geeked out about our game at TGM. I think my quote was something to the effect of “we’re playing with the people who MADE THE GAME. If I could go back in time and tell myself that I 14, I’d think I was SO COOL!” I spent the past 15 years of my life hanging out with rock stars so it takes a lot to get me to geek out. So be flattered.

    I really am. Thank you. That means the world to me, honestly.

    Rock stars and game devs can both be total diva dicks. They can also be totally uninterested, not engaged in the experience, aloof, and unhappy.

    One of my coworkers once said that my superpower is that I can be excited about anything. That’s not entirely true (I can also be a snarky son of a bitch when riled — that’s my Brujah/Irish side), but I just don’t see the benefit in being a dick to people that like your work.

    So thank you – for a great game and a great experience!

    I was nervous too — I mean, ACTUAL media people from LA were coming to play in MY game! Would I suck? Would I talk to fast? Would it be boring? OH MY GOD SO MUCH COULD GO WRONG.

    But it didn’t. And it was awesome. And it will continue to be awesome.

    And for MaxXx too. She’s pretty neat and I’m excited to explore her as we game.

    Hell, I’m just glad that someone actually GETS some of the punk culture stuff I crammed into her. That made me incredibly happy!

  22. Thank you for the warm welcome! San Diego isn’t *that* far from LA… but if someone could see to invent a teleporter, it would make visiting way easier.

    TGM was my first time LARPing… and it was pretty scary! There is a huuuuuuuuuuuge meta game that comes from people’s actions (as opposed to reading it in the books) that was a lot to take in all at once. But that is also what makes it so cool – that this world is driven by player actions all around the globe. It feels expansive, it IS expansive. So I’m excited to try it out, to get to know the community (that’s what I’m looking forward to the most), and to gain a dot in rock paper scissors on my personal character sheet.

    I hope this helps to reawaken some old players and hopefully bring in some n00bs as well. Having gone to the convention with 2 people who literally had only ever played one short session of V:tM the day before we left to cover the event, I can speak for the communities willingness – nay, giddiness! – to welcome brand new players and help them learn the ropes. There wasn’t a single person who gave attitude about “helping n00bs”. Everyone had such overwhelming joy about them as they shared with us. That is something that is so rare and something all three of us really valued. I’m excited to see what happens over the next few years because I think there are a lot of other good-hearted, smart, engaging people out there who would be perfect additions to the community and who would enjoy the game… so huzzah to finding them! And hopefully, I’ll meet some of you SD LARPers some time in the future!

  23. Oh totally. Hatey hated it. lulz

  24. HI! I had a BLAST at that game. That was the game that I was the most……. afraid of? Nervous about? Something like that. Changeling was something I had never played and only read. I haven’t played any WoD games since 2003 (college) and while I was probably “5 dots in White Wolf lore” back then, I’m back at a 1 now just because I haven’t thought about it in so long. (I mean, seriously. I forgot what Golaconda and Viniculum were. Rereading has been like 2 weeks of “oh YEAH huh?”) So I spent the two weeks prior to TGM frantically rereading books, trying to get my knowledge to pass muster. I was really, really, really concerned about slowing down the games and taking away from other people’s enjoyment. Changeling was the one book that I really just glanced over… I was really worried I’d be out of my depth but I also really wanted to try the experience because I had never played. I had such a FANTASTIC time playing with y’all that it put all my fears to rest. The Storyteller, the players, the game… it was all great. Plus, I had a backpack to hide in. So that was awesome.

    Thank you for being a part of that. I’m glad that you had such a great time too. It’s something I am very much looking forward to attending next year. It was an experience that was so positive and welcoming and FUN that I can’t wait to go again. Hearing about people stopping to help you out, or make sure you were okay… being a part of this really generous community is just awesome. We may all be bitey vampires and sparkly fairies in game… but the coolest part is that, in real life, we’re all chivalrous knights (regardless of gender). And that is awesome.

    Thanks for gaming with me. And for letting me give the kid the picture back on my own time.

  25. This is basically everything that I wanted to say in this blog in 3 paragraphs. Tabletopping is all I know – and, boy, do I love it! But being around so many welcoming, encouraging people, I was so excited to step out of my comfort zone. I played a bunch of table top games I’d always wanted to try (and one I’d never heard of. WTF is a Geist?!!?) I tried LARPing for the first time. And, through all of it, people were supportive and funny and amazing. I’m glad you (and so many other people, it seems) had the some sort of positive experience I did. I hope to see you next year and hopefully roll some dice with you… or go through your very first epic battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors!

  26. As much as I’m excited to try LARPing and get to know that community, my first love will always be tabletop. I’ve been wanting a tabletop game for ages and I’m excited that this came together and we’re continuing it. Viva technology!

    I think this may have been the case of “the spider being just as afraid of you as you are of it”. I was very concerned that we’d come off badly, especially with two new players and myself who only half-remembers how to play. But it came together and now we have a great game out of it.

    I really, really like MaxXx. I was never an sXe punk myself (I was Miss Nu Metal) but my entire background up until my current job is music. I’m decently familiar with the culture and this gives me a reason to want to explore what I know more. I guess that goes back to V:tM being something that encourages me to learn. While I know enough history of the sXe punk bands to get by working in music, I’ve never really looked into it. So I might pick up Get In The Van or something by Ian MacKaye and read it while my interest is piqued. It provides this awesome jump off point for me to explore a topic. And one can NEVER have enough books…

    Looking forward to Sunday!

  27. [...] And someone sent a link in an e-mail this morning for the LARP organization that I’m a member of and I read the post. I liked it so much I thought I’d share it here for anyone who may be interested. On Being a Vampire Sort-Of…or…Why Fake Fangs Made Me Who I Am [...]

  28. The GM was the first real LARPing experience for Emily and I as well. At first we had some difficulty in the Cam since everyone was kinda there on character business, but some nice Anarchs were kind enough to tell our characters how the power structure worked, how to mostly avoid, and how to get by (the simple fact it WAS the Anarchs and not a Cam group made us chuckle for days). We finally found a table that was mostly open to sit down at and talk with the other people at it. Turned out we sat down with a nest of Settites! No need to fear as they actually started introducing our characters to other characters not only in their clan but in others throughout the Cam as well ^^! And then the 5-way philosophical discussion between this Philosopher King Brujah and 4 Settites ensued for a great deal of the rest of the night. When you can make the Snakes tie their tongues in a topsy-turvy tangle as you offer counterpoint and new arguments against theirs, all-the-while with a broad smile across all their faces, you know you had a good night =).

    From the vids, it looks like your LARP(s) were just as involving and fun to behold!

  29. So… funny story…. or funny line of occurrences. The pregen I played WAS the Philosopher King Brujah. I only played it for the one night (Friday). I ended up talking to a whole nest of Setites, along with a few other clans. I ended up meeting the guy who played the character the next night and finding out that the exact same thing happened to him. Hilarious!

  30. so…apparently Philosopher King Brujahs are supposed to ally with Setites to get the job done right…I like this plan! I’m glad to be a part of it =D!

  31. Notamakebelievevampire Says:

    Grow up. Just, grow up. Oh and lose some weight and get laid more. Sooo funnny, my grandma founded Carthage. Get some therapy too.

  32. It’s interesting that the person insulting strangers on the internet is the one advising me to “grow up” and “get therapy”. Oh Adrian, don’t worry. You’ll learn your lesson soon enough :D :D :D

  33. I loved reading your post. I found Vampire the Masquerade shortly after it was released when my friend bought the book and got our D&D group to try it out (Vampires?! That’s weird but okay I’m in).

    I looked down on LARP when I was younger as weird and strange until I tried it. It is easy to sit back and judge others when they are different but who knows where I would be if I had not tried it out. I would certainly not have all the friends I do now if I had not followed some people to a Troupe game being run at UCR.

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