Posted on October 6, 2011 by Flames
Our next entry in the Vampire Retrospective Project comes from Andrew Peregrine, developer of the Victoriana RPG by Cubicle 7 Entertainment. Andrew tells us about hist first experiences with Vampire, joining the Camarilla and the friends he has made along the way.
Masquerade and Me
Have I really spent 20 years playing vampire? Not only is that half my life, but twice as long as I’ve been with my partner. Is it wrong that Masquerade is one of my longest relationships? It isn’t even the first role-playing game I played. Like so many other gamers, Dungeons and Dragons claims that dubious honor, and Call of Cthulhu was my first horror game. So why do I feel like I owe Vampire anything special? In my case, it’s because I owe so many friendships to this game.
I picked up the first edition (first printing by the way, you know, the one that fell apart) on a trip into London. It may even have been the reason I took the train into the city that day, because it just looked so damn cool. Masquerade was one of those games that when you saw it you wondered why no one had done this before. White Dwarf, Dragon and Imagine magazine often printed letters from Dungeon Masters wondering what to do now one of their player characters had become a vampire. We’d all watched ‘Lost Boys’ and thought ‘vampires are back’ even though we all knew they’d never really been away. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were making vampires into protagonists, if not quite heroes. Cyberpunk and Shadowrun had paved the way for games with a darker edge. Vampire the Masquerade was simply the next logical step.
What I hadn’t realized when I picked up that green marble covered book, was that I’d been waiting for this game for a long time. It wasn’t just another horror game; this was a game of dark intrigue. This wasn’t just about playing an adventure, this was a game where the players could create their own plans, become puppet-masters or pawns, the hunter or the hunted. Not only this, but Vampire was a game all the girls wanted to play too. To be honest, everyone was interested when you mentioned you wanted to run a Vampire game, but at that age you noticed when the girls were interested too. I’d run a Chicago campaign with my usual group, and I was looking to create a new cityscape set in London when I got talking to a girl called Tansy at a fantasy live game. She wanted to play vampire and I was all too happy to invite her along. It turned out Tansy had a few friends who also wanted to play, as she was part of an all female D&D group. The two groups merged, sometimes in more ways than one. It was the best time for us all, either students or unemployed we played vampire as often as possible. My London game gave way to Ellen’s Parisian campaign, which game way to live events and ‘Vitae Sub Tenabrae’ an organization that ran vampire LARPs for years.
There was more to come though. I’d heard a rumor about some Americans trying to put a fan society together, so I dropped them a line asking to get involved. It turned out I was their first overseas member, and they were very happy to have just become international. I started advertising this new society ‘The Camarilla’ and suddenly I was spending all my time responding to letters and e-mails. When I moved up to London, running the UK Camarilla had already put me in touch with more than enough friends to have a gaming group ready to go when I arrived. This time it was Sabbat, which is still one of the darkest and most intense games I’ve ever run. One of the people I met through the Camarilla is Angus who now runs Cubicle 7. Had I not met him, not only would I have missed a lot of great Goth gigs but not have written Victoriana or been involved with the Doctor Who RPG.
Since then other games have come and gone, but Vampire remains one of my all time favorites. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve met through the game. However, even twenty years later the story doesn’t end there. Vampire remains as good a game for those new to role-playing as those who are more experienced. So it became an obvious choice for a new group to play (I love Requiem too by the way, the group just decided to go with Masquerade). So I picked up the books again, still so familiar. This time it was different though. When I began playing the game, all those years ago I only had the core rulebook. Just seven clans, no idea about the independents or even the Sabbat. Now I offer my players those same seven clans but it astounds me how much I’m not telling them, how vast the game has become. After all this time, Masquerade still offers mystery, intrigue and horror in equal measure, for both me and my new players. So, just like Chicago, London, Paris and Liverpool, now New York awaits another innocent group of Neonates. I have such sights to show them.
Andrew Peregrine – 2011
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