Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Go Away Vampire, and Never Come Back

The other day I was asked by JD why I have such hate for the Vampire and Werewolf games produced by White Wolf Publishing. In a lot of ways my hatred for the games is based around the very deep disgust that I have with the way that the games affect the people who play them. But there is more to my disgust with the games than just how it affects people: they're adults after all and they don't have to play if they don't want to. I despise the game system and the story lines of the games just annoy me to no end. So, in other words, I have three major reasons for hating those games: Story, System, and Player Attraction.

It's All in the Story of the Game

I love games that tell a story. 

There's nothing better than when I sit down at my table and begin the set up to the world and let my players tell a story that's more evocative and entertaining than anything else I could be doing. The only restrictions on where my players can go are those 'red lines' that we won't cross and the limits of their imaginations. What I get when I play Vampire is a system with too many societal limitations on my players and too many Anne Rice fans writing the supplements. I fucking hated the Vampire Chronicles and it didn't change when I got the chance to play in one of the books. 

I fucking hated the Vampire Chronicles and it didn't change when I got the chance to play in one of the books. 
Werewolf was a different story for a long time. I had first started getting hints of the storyline from the collectable card game (CCG), Rage: The Werewolf: The Apocalypse. There were hints at a larger story and by reading the cards I was given just enough of a tantalizing glimpse for me to waste my money on the actual book. The story of the game is incredibly convoluted and it often creates a situation where players are given to being combative towards one and another. Now I'm all for killing the fucker who's making you mad, but there's something dark within the human psyche that is brought out in how these games are played that I don't like.


Roll 6d10s and Pray for Success

The Storyteller System was what the games used when I was introduced to them, and I fucking hate it. Every time that I would do any task beyond wiping my own ass it seemed as though I was rolling three d10s and hoping for two successes. Now there are those who are going to read that last statement and say, "but you play third edition Dungeons and Dragons where you roll all the time with your skills!" 

I have enjoyed listening to Call of Cthulhu games on many occasions . . . I have never enjoyed listening to, let alone playing, in a Vampire the Masquerade or Werewolf: The Apocalypse game.
Yeah, I do play third edition Dungeons and Dragons, home of the skill system. But you know what? I've never had a Dungeon Master who was so myopic that he felt like I had to roll to climb a two foot step, whereas, I've had to make that roll in Werewolf on multiple occasions. Again I can hear them say, "but you had a bad Storyteller!"

My only answer is that they were good Dungeon Masters and they were good on the few occasions when we played Call of Cthulhu - a system that is expressly story driven. I have enjoyed listening to Call of Cthulhu games on many occasions (and I highly suggest you listen to that podcast from RPGMP3.com as Hal is a boss Game Master), by contrast, I have never enjoyed listening to, let alone playing, in a Vampire the Masquerade or Werewolf: The Apocalypse game. It's not the fucking Game Master, it's the system and story.



He Placed His Hand Upon My Thigh and Asked, 
"Do You Trust Me?"

My final problem with the Vampire and Werewolf games has less to do with the games themselves and more to do with the people attracted to the games. Let's face facts here: no matter what system you are playing in the hobby you will encounter some seriously unbalanced motherfuckers out there who think the game is real. Usually you can bounce these people from your games in a pretty straight forward manner, but in Vampire and Werewolf there tends to be so many of these cats that it's impossible to get rid of them all.

It's like watching a kid get his ass kicked for his lunch money and having to hear him defend his bully by saying, "but he's really a nice guy."
What really turned me off on the Vampire games, though, was when I went to play in one about ten years ago and walked in on a bunch of people just waiting for the orgy to start. Walking in on something like that once is bad enough because you leave feeling creepy when that's not what you came for, but when it happens again with a completely different group of people you start realizing that the connection isn't your bad timing but the other consistent factor: the game.

Werewolf on the other hand encourages bullies. 

I can not tell you the number of times that I have attempted to play the game only to watch the 'Alpha' start dominating the other people in the game. I mean, I'm sitting there watching grown men and women cowed before this 'alpha' doing his bidding and all I can think is fuck off. You're grown men and women and this peckerwood is bullying you in a game. I'm watching people I know actually get emotionally upset during the game and then defending the game afterwards. It's like watching a kid get his ass kicked for his lunch money and having to hear him defend his bully by saying, "but he's really a nice guy."

I can't stand a fucking bully. 

I've stood up to them my whole life and I don't give a damn about what the game says. Fuck bullies in all their forms; they don't intimidate me, and I won't let them intimidate others.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for explaining in such detail! I don't necessarily agree about the system, but I see now where you're coming from. Never got accustomed to the clientele these games tend to summon myself. Got some decent games out of Vampire (1E), though. But I DMed for some punks and it was a good bit more Rammstein than Anne Rice.

    Nowadays I'd use WitchCraft:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CJ_Carella%27s_WitchCraft

    It's a d10 system that should work and a world that's easily more Twin Peaks than Interview with a Vampire.

    Did you get a chance to DM one of those (Vampire, Werwolf)?

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    Replies
    1. I had never heard of WitchCraft, but now that I have I might actually give it a try as it sounds pretty interesting.

      And I never had an interest in running Vampire but Werewolf did tempt me. Unfortunately the bully thing is a running theme that the Master Planner and I have not figured out how to counter act yet. I'm thinking that I'll probably have to find new players before I attempt it as all the ones I normally play with have been forced through that shit storm and are used to things working that way in the game.

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    2. The pdf version of WitchCraft is, as far as I know, still free, so there's no harm in checking it out.

      The bully-phenomenon is an interesting predicament. Have you considered using a historical variant like Werewolf: Wild West? A strong historical context could shift player behavior towards genre relevant tropes. Or you could try to take only women as players (not that they couldn't be bullies, but it might be interesting to see what happens)? What about soldiers or Martial Artists? They wouldn't find the violence that empowering...

      Anyway, I'm not here to defend any of those games. Never had heard of that reaction to the game (the bullying), but maybe it's not that surprising. And somehow it is fascinating.

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