Categorized | Features, Game Designers

Interview with Developers Webb and Bailey on Strange, Dead Love

Posted on October 11, 2011 by Flames

Flames Rising is pleased to present you with a special interview, just in time for Sweetest Day! Earlier, we asked you to help us come up with interview questions for White Wolf Publishing developers Russell Bailey and Eddy Webb. We’re happy to share their responses as they dive into your burning questions about Strange, Dead Love, the new paranormal romance sourcebook for Vampire: the Requiem that debuts in early December. Thanks to everyone who commented and shared their thoughts on this sourcebook. The questions below were pulled from your feedback!

White Wolf Developer Interview about Strange, Dead Love

1 ) What are the inspirations behind Strange, Dead Love? Were you also influenced by television and film?

Russell Bailey: Our inspirations were primarily literary – we looked more at what you find in the fantasy section at Barnes & Noble than anything on TV. However, Dark Shadows gets a brief but very deep nod.

2 ) The concept of mimetic desire, coined by Rene Girard, seems very apropro for vampires in love. Did this theory influence this book?

Eddy Webb: Honestly, neither Russell nor I knew anything about Rene Girard until we got this question. So it wasn’t a conscious influence (although it’s possible we might have been thinking about things that this theory touches on).

3 ) Is Strange, Dead Love a book geared primarily for women? What will other types of players get out of this?

RB: There are a lot of female World of Darkness gamers, a lot of whom are romance fans, and this book’s for them. That said, I don’t think the appeal of paranormal romance is restricted to women. You don’t get a genre this big without a diverse audience, and male gamers who want to tell romantic stories will find lots to love in this book.

EW: I completely agree — I dislike the idea that a book has to be “just for women” or “just for men.” Statistically, there are a lot of women who read paranormal romance, and there were a lot of women (four, in fact) who worked on this book. That doesn’t make it a “book for chicks,” however.

4 ) Will the book cover how vampires can feel love and how that’s different from humans?

RB: For purposes of this book, I think we can assume that most Kindred experienced enough love during life to be able to recall it in death. As for Requiem in general, vampiric emotions may be echoes, but you listen to echoes real hard when you can’t hear the original sound. Vampires are capable of being driven by emotions, even though those emotions repeat the ones they had in life.

5 ) What kinds of relationships are possible in Strange, Dead Love? Mortals and vampires? Vampires and vampires? Vampires and supernatural creatures?

RB: The emphasis is primarily on romance between Kindred, and romance between Kindred and mortals. We wanted to keep a strong focus on Vampire, rather than do World of Darkness: Romance. That said, there’s a little bit about romance between vampires and werewolves.

6 ) Some paranormal romances touch on obsessed vampires who in love as a human. Will they be able to bring their dead lover back? Force an Embrace on them?

RB: We don’t talk about post-mortem Embraces specifically. However, we deal with the idea of giving up everything for love, and how that can end tragically. We also have a scenario that involves a reincarnated lover.

7 ) Will there be mechanics that prohibit clans or covenants from mating? An example would be what you did in Forsaken Chronicler’s Guide with the Uratha.

EW: Not for specific clans or covenants, although we do touch on a potential Fourth Tradition of “You Shall Not Embrace For Love,” and the political and emotional conflict that comes from that.

8 ) Can Kindred have or create half-mortal children?

EW: We didn’t touch on this, because we really wanted the focus to be on the romantic elements, not making a family. In straight-up Requiem I don’t believe this is possible, but with some of the shards we present, who can say?

9) What happens when a vampire breeds against all odds? Will multiple aftershocks be explored?

EW: Depending on which props and themes and world shards the group decides to explore with this book, that is certainly something that might be explored. However, as previously mentioned, Kindred procreation isn’t something we explicitly explore.

10 ) What inspired the project and why is White Wolf publishing this book?

RB: This is a book I’ve wanted to do for years. Simply put, I enjoy paranormal romance. I also wanted to do a different kind of Vampire book. Most of the time, we take a subject and talk about how it plays out in the World of Darkness. In this book, we take the World of Darkness and talk about how it plays out in a specific genre. I also got a chance to step away from my usual focus on vampire relationships as exploitative, and look at them in terms of other kinds of dysfunction.

It was a really fun and different way to work, and it makes for a really fun and different book.

11 ) What is sex to a vampire? Is it just foreplay for a Kiss?

EW: That’s how I’ve always seen it. Vampire can have sex, and Requiem vampire can even enjoy sex, but it’s nothing compared to the Kiss.

12 ) Will you cover how Kindred with low Humanity can love either in the text or with new mechanics?

RB: As I said above, we’ve downplayed the exploitative nature of vampiric relationships in this book in favor of somewhat more two-sided dysfunction. Instead of being about broken people, like most Vampire books, it’s about people so swept up in the experience of another person that they make questionable decisions, and feel good doing it. Next book after this, though, we’re back to horrible lizard-brain boyfriends.

13 ) How does the age of a vampire in Requiem factor into intimacy? Is there a difference between a centuries-old Kindred and one that’s only been around for a few decades?

EW: We didn’t get into that, because I don’t think it is a factor in most romantic fiction. Stories in which the centuries-old vampire suddenly falls in love with a mortal are common, and drawing a line in the sand one way or another seemed to rule out a lot of potential story opportunities.

14 ) Will Strange, Dead Love reinforce the Requiem setting and explore its bleak tone? Or, because it’s romance, will it depart from the World of Darkness?

RB: Actual, loving relationships involving vampires are definitely possible – even in the regular Vampire line. The difference is that in most books, we’d be covering the downsides of true love, the way love can make you more of a monster. There are a couple of stories in the clan books that get into that. You’ve got “Witches, Kisses and Bombs” in Savage and Macabre, the story in The Beast that Haunts the Blood about the girl in the locked room, the relationship between Ayesha and Cat in Kiss of the Succubus, and others.

I wouldn’t call it a reversal, but it’s definitely a wholly different approach.

EW: And to be fair, this book is specifically about providing different experiences that are not quite like Requiem. These are world shards, each with a slightly different take on Requiem, similar to what we did in World of Darkness: Mirrors. It’s still a Requiem book, and Russell and I had a lot of talks to make sure that it didn’t become a generic book about vampires in love, but due to the nature of the product, it’s going to feel a bit different from other Requiem books.

15 ) How deeply are the consequences of a vampire-and-mortal relationship explored?

RB: In Strange, Dead Love, we focus more on the explosive potential of love. We talk about the kind of big drama that erupts when people defy Kindred culture and the very idea of damnation in order to have a chance at love. Some of those relationships will end well, some of them badly. The uncertainty of whether a relationship will create bliss or disaster is at the center of the book.

16 ) What can we expect to see for new mechanics? Alternate rules on blood bonds, vinculums, blood sympathy? What about neonate summonings and Vitae orgasms?

EW: There are a few rules hacks in the book, but we don’t spend a lot of time on them. Relationships are complex, messy things (especially the kinds of relationships we explore in this book), and you can’t boil them down to a roll where you achieve orgasm after five successes. We do devote a fair amount of space to Storytellers, though, and give them some mechanical support to help them portray this kind of material more effectively.

17 ) Can ghouls and vampires love? Will there be coverage of what happens between the two?

RB: Unfortunately, I didn’t have space for ghouls. I adore ghoul characters, though, and I think we’ve given them short shrift in Requiem as a whole. As we do new books, I’m definitely looking for places where we can explore ghouls as people. Sexy, broken people.

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