Thursday, October 20, 2011

Milestones in my gaming life: Vampire the Masquerade


Perhaps more so than the Dragonlance series of modules, Vampire: The Masquerade and the entire World of Darkness family of RPGs and splatbooks garner a generous heaping of scorn from the OSR crowd for departures from sandbox gaming into the storyline approach.

Still, it does hold a special place in my heart for a series of RPGs that I was into at the time that took the idea of an immersive setting and ran away with it. (The others were Star Wars D6, Cyberpunk 2020, and Shadowrun.)

Furthermore, it -- along with Star Wars D6 -- did teach me how to craft storylines and branching episode adventures (which my players often managed to subvert and ignore) and gave me a better understanding of characters and their motivations in the overall running of the game.

While this may seem strange to some of you, I do have to point out that I learned in college (and am still learning now) the extent of my narcissism, arrogance, shelteredness and self-centeredness (however pleasant I may smile or modulate my tone of voice) had as one of their consequences the inability to understand other people's points of view.

Why would someone abandon their post to check on their wife or their child in a time of crisis (earthquake, fire, zombie apocalypse)? Why would someone betray their principles or their lifelong friends?

A more clear analogy would be likening my NPCs to those in early computer RPGs -- they had set speeches and generally waited in the same area to be spoken to by the PCs.
Call of Cthulhu and its fantastic ubercampaign Masks of Nyarlathotep, Vampire: The Masquerade and a later game known as Kult helped me understand how to make them more lifelike.

Of course, the reason I originally picked up Vampire: the Masquerade was because it would allow me to play games akin to the movie Lost Boys. That pretty much fell by the wayside, and I eventually gravitated more to Champions for my superhuman fix, and Call of Cthulhu and Chill for horror.

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