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Joe Rixman “Ancient Vampire Tales”

Posted on November 12, 2008 by Flames

The Horror Design Essay Project continues today with a little something from freelance writer Joe Rixman. Joe recently took part in our Halloween Horror series with the Tear-Drop Rattler.

Today he is going to tell us a bit about the work he did on a couple of books for White Wolf’s Vampire: the Requiem RPG.

Ancient Vampire Tales

I was lucky enough to be friends with a writer at White Wolf who thought my writing was good enough to open a couple doors. Thankfully, Matt McFarland signed me on for two books that he was developing freelance for Vampire, Ancient Mysteries and its sister book, Ancient Bloodlines. I have to tell you that I am probably the luckiest guy in the world to have gotten this opportunity and grateful to both the developers and the other writers I had the chance to work with on them. As to the actual books…

Matt was ruthless with his redlining (editing). Absolutely ruthless. Having said that, he also praised where praise was due. He had a very specific vision of what both books would be and I was just one of a group of writers whose talent I continue to marvel at (two of which are also freelance developers for White Wolf as well as writers, Chuck Wendig and Howard “Wood” Ingham). Matt is all about communication and it made working on these books such a joy. The suggestions he provided made my writing appear infinitely better than it was and I will always be grateful to him for that. I also learned a great deal on these books about writing for a game product. It ain’t for the faint of heart, let me tell ya! It’s tough. As a screenwriter and wanna-be novelist, I can tell you, the creative muscles used for game writing are totally different! Wow!

Both books demanded an intimate knowledge of the Vampire core rulebook, as well as the World of Darkness core book. I was encouraged to look through all the other supplements and gaming materials, but was told not to reference them unless it could be explained in our work without a player or storyteller having to go out and purchase that one. So, there will be some easter eggs for those savvy enough to catch things, but nothing that will make someone scratch their heads in confusion.
I can tell you that I actually saw the cover of one of my books before we had turned in our final drafts and quickly reworked a short piece to incorporate the cover into the storyline. The covers on both of the Ancients…wow…they’re absolutely stunning and I can’t wait for people to see them.

If I ever get the opportunity to write for White Wolf again, I would jump at it. However, I would make sure I’ve boned up on the mechanics and, in terms of advice for other potential writers out there, there is absolutely no substitute for playing the game. Playing the game helps you understand the structure, the mechanics and the overall tone of the line. Every White Wolf line has its own tone and feel. Make sure you know what you’re doing and listen to your developer. These are their books and you are their worker-bees. They’ve been at it a lot longer than most of us and they know what they’re doing and what they want. Listen, learn and keep writing.

Joe Rixman – November 2008

About Joe Rixman
Joe Rixman is a writer based out of Southern California. His credits include fourteen screenplays (including a short film he wrote, produced and directed) and a foray into the challenging world of game writing, having recently completed three projects for White Wolf’s Vampire: the Requiem line. The experience was overwhelmingly positive and he looks forward to writing more for White Wolf, as well as other gaming companies. Joe blogs fairly regularly at: and is currently at work on his first novel.

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2 Responses to “Joe Rixman “Ancient Vampire Tales””

  1. max brooks says:

    Joe and I came on as a writer with White Wolf on the same project, although I did some of the illustration for the Daeva clanbook (the comic strips… the best that can be said about my illustration “career” is that it’s on a boutique-only basis!). Immortal Sinners is stupendous, and I have forged friendships with all the other n00bs who were lucky enough to get a trial on this book. I hope, however slightly, that White Wolf can find a place for my talents in the future, but if not, getting to WORK with such fabulous people is worth remembering.

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