[Vampire: the Requiem] White Wolf crap at its best

Started by kris_h, April 15, 2010, 06:13:19 PM

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I'm disillusioned with the campaign I've been playing in for some time (about 3 years), so I thought that Forge is a good place to share my thoughts.

We've been playing WW games for some time now. Mostly vampire, first Masquerade, and now Requiem for about 3 years. Our group was changing from time to time, but it's more or less stable now; R is our GM, and B and M are other two players. We also have some other players on more or less periodical basis. I think that our experiences show nicely that system indeed does matter and that, well, dysfunction leads to diseasters. I need to get into some details first, so you can understand better what's going on and why I think it's dysfunctional.

Our campaign started with only two players, me and B. We are playing one of this lenghty soap opera style campaigns, with lots of sim and pretty strong GM authority over the story (I'd say its something between strong illusionism and sandbox-style play). It seemed ok at first, but lately I've started to think that this kind of stuff isn't as great as it seems. We've decided to play occult themed campaign, with both characters being members of occult-pagan covenant (Circle of the Crone). My character is a Ventrue (vampire aristocrats), ex-doctor of Jewish origin with strong interest in Kabbalah. B's character is a Mekhet (secretive style vampires), crazy surgeon fascinated by necromancy and other forbidden lore.

During our initial sessions, we've done lots of funky stuff; some good, some not so good. Apart from that, my character started building his position in the city (remember that he's a Ventrue, and control freak). Using his Dominate abilities, he gained control of real estate company; with help of one its managers, who became his ghoul and personal assistant. Our game is crossover-heavy, so my character decided to build an hospital for supernatural creatures, so that lots of funky guys like werewolves and mages could come there and get assistance without attracting unnecessary publicity (not to mention that it is a mine for possible conflicts and plot hooks).

At some point, I've quit from playing for about a half year. Mostly because of personal issues not related to our group and because I was somewheat burnt out after playing for a long time on a weekly basis. I just needed to quit for a while. But after some time I've become keen to play again and I've returned to the campaign (which was ongoing without my presence). What did I see? Lots of disturbing stuff going on. It seems that my charater's personal ghoul has become a vampire; he was changed by player B in some dramatic event (otherwise the ghoul would die and he was helping the players when I was absent). The group has managed to get a hold of millions of dollars which they've stolen from some bank in the USA (don't ask how...). Lots of this money has been invested into my character's company and hospital (thanks to the ex-ghoul who was in-command), my character's money invested into this stuff has become a little percent and he pretty much lost control over it (although he was ,,officialy" directing everything). It was frustrating to see that I've pretty much lost any authority over the content I've role-played into the setting, but I've decided to get over it.

And here we are, about one year later (lots of stuff happening in the campaign; some epic moments, some crappy stuff, as usual). One of the last sessions pretty much left me thinking what am I doing in this game. Our game is pretty much on global scale now, with characters flying in their private jets all over the world. During this particular session two less experienced players where playing with us. My character returns to the city to investigate rumors about his servants dissapearing. He gets attacked on the airport and pulls out the pistol (which wasn't to clever on my part). But it turns out that the attacker is some kind of magical phantom meant to frame my character; he fakes his death and it is supposed to look as if my character has killed the guy using magic. Dirty illusionist trick; whatever I would do, my character would break the masquerade... My character meets his ex-ghoul to talk about the stuff that is happening in the city (trying to get more info about missing servants) and signing some papers for the company (it later turned out that the papers stripped my character of his all money and the authority over company; ex-ghoul was plotting behind my character's back).

One of the newbies appears in the scene and tells my character that he knows where my servants are, we arrange a meeting. Normally I'd think about the situation more, but our GM often introduces new characters in this ,,dumb" way – i. e. ,,Ok, here's the new guy. Your characters should introduce him to everything they are doing and get along with the fact that they know nothing about him." Thus, I decide to go with the newbie – others are waiting and if I start opposing, then it could potentialy mean that the whole session is just broken by my actions. Guess what, my character gets ambushed and staked by two newbies. They work for my enemies, and everything was intended to frame my character into masquerade break and execute him. For the next few game hours my character remains staked (i. e. I sit bored), newbies sit and watch as the two remaining players travel from other part of the world to save me. To be honest, only one character traveled (played by B), because he's the only badass combat machine able to get me out of the trouble (my character is pretty much pushover when it comes to combat stuff). Player's M character is something akin to vampire version of Virtual Adept, so he pretty much helped the B through the Internet.

I've tried to get over with it, but honestly, I think that this session has broken every social contract rule possible. I've tried playing in the next sessions, but they where in the same vein – more boring sim-illusionist crap with no relevant decisions to make. Yeah, it's pretty much more a rant than a request for help, because I have decided to quit the campaign.

What's funny about this game: everything that has happened has some backup in the game world. Speaking in sim terms, everything was true to this fictional reality we where playing in: my character's actions during the campaign led to his downfall, NPC's actions where consistent with their attitudes and agenda, and so on. Yet, in the end I feel that I was cheated and my character was pretty much being deprotagonized over the course of last year or so.

I'm interested in your opinion about the situation; there's always something to learn. I know that my post pretty much sums what Ron is preaching for some time, just wanted to share some first hand experiences with this kind of dysfunction (brain damage?). If there is nothing to discuss here, then well, hopefully this example shows where dysfunctional WW-style gamplay leads to.

I've got lots of other stories to share, but I've decided to keep this post as short as possible. If you want more stuff, I can post some other remarks about this campaign and gaming group. I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Larry L.

Hi Chris,

I am, to put it mildly, not a big fan of White Wolf. I guiltily admit to reading this in the hopes of being able to say "Yeah! That's totally why Vampire sucks!" But, from what you've described, I'm not seeing any evidence of dysfunctional play. I'm a little confused. The stuff that's going on in the game fiction actually sounds like it might be reasonably entertaining. It's clear this particular game is not your particular cup of tea, and that's 100% okay. But do the other people in the game seem to not be enjoying themselves?

Do you know some of these people in some non-game context? (Friends, co-workers, whatever)

Welcome to the Forge!

Callan S.

Hi Chris,

I kind of get the vibe that play for them was becoming just boring, so they turned on someone in real life in order to get some jollies.

I'm not sure how much one can attribute this to white wolf, except in that they hand you a book with no real procedure to play that has begining, middle and end, then without any boundries you basically had a lord of the flies situation at the gaming table (not between your characters, but between yourselves at people - think of the gaming table as an island...). I'd think more the sort of brain damage that is the idea that lack of procedure IS a procedure, which is propergated around roleplay culture as a whole.

I dunno, where do you want to go with this? Perhaps with some compassion I'd say often people are often used to someone else restraining them rather than self restraint - when the other guys at the table are told by the stupid book it has procedure, but actually provides no restraint on them really at all, it's plausible that they were shits simply because they thought they were being restrained by someone/something else.

And on the personal responsiblity side, are you going to keep playing games without any real structure/procedure to them? I mean, it can go well, but it's essentially a gamble. Though I'll grant there aren't many RPG's with complete procedures (though on the other hand, there used to be none).

Where do you want to go? You might have come at this originally like everyone does with board games - you can just play. But as far as I can tell, try 'just playing' with an incomplete procedure and...you get your actual play account or similar, alot of the time.


I have to admit I see this a more a problem with the GM/group then anything that is WW or Vampires fault.  Personally I love sim type worlds where you are let loss to do whatever so I might have really enjoyed that game.

But if you are not having fun there is absolutely no reason for you to stay.
Mobius a.k.a Charles


There's an interesting problem there, in that there was a pretty mundane reason to deprotagonise your character while you weren't there: You weren't playing him!

How did you leave your character? What were the expectations in your group for what to do if someone is absent? Because one natural way I've seen people treat this is to say "well let's just sideline that character until X comes back to play them".

The snag is, that can turn into something else, particularly if you haven't explicitly worked out what to do in that situation:
People can do a sort of "serves you right for not being committed", and de-emphasise your contributions until you "earn" back credibility, which is a pretty daft and cliquey way to go about things.
On the other end of some scale people can really like what you contributed, have it be fundimental, but with you not there to suggest what happens, move it in ways that don't match what you've intended.
Or people can even play your character for you, either in person or not, giving it a specific role that they think you will like, regardless of if you actually will.

Loads of options, some or many you might not be happy with. It's one of those risks of putting work into something and leaving it in someone else's hands. It's extremely hard to give you creative influence in the game without you being directly involved, and so in that situation protagonising your character might damage your own creative vision just as much.

To comment on more (ie the specific events of the crappy session) I'll need some more information about how that GM normally does stuff, particularly "big events" (it could be, irony of ironies, that this was actually done "for" you as a big entrance!).

Aaron Baker

As a white wolf fan (at least they have flaws instead of perfect characters like DnD...), I still sympathize.
Frankly, I have seen very few good vampire games, werewolf and mage games seem more inclined to good parties and working together...
Then of course, there was my experience in the Camarilla, where (to quote our Domain Coordinator) "If these guys did in RL what they did in game, and did in game what they did in RL, we would have the best domain in the world."  Yes, they played vampire as buddy-buddies while doing more political backstabbing in real life than you would see in a political convention.

Then again, I remember a Gurps game where I discovered after the game that one of the other PC's had killed my character in his sleep (I wasn't told this during play, as the GM rolled for me to see if I woke up, I failed, and was dead in one hit).
I left the game and didn't play with that GM or player again, and frankly, I didn't ever feel guilty about it.
I would say that part of role-playing is socialization, and that having a friend betray you in game makes it hard to maintain the friendship, which can end the game.  If you are feeling guilty about wanting to leave, I would say "don't."  If you are feeling frustrated that you no longer have any gaming group, well, it can be hard to find a group you fit with, but you can do it.
Not sure if this helps or not...