I’m Not A Vampire, But I’ve Played One For Half My Life

I walked into the house and out of the cold Minnesota evening with my friend, and immediately knew the scene I was looking at People were seated around a table with pieces of notebook paper containing words like “Clan” and “Generation” scrawled on them in various states of bad handwriting. That old, familiar dark green book was being thumbed through, and the discussion was moving towards defining the difference between one’s Nature, and their Demeanor.

17 years on, and I was still walking in to my old, dear friend Tom’s place to play Vampire: The Masquerade.

Maybe you know the game, maybe you don’t. But as a lot of my friends and I go, we know it pretty fucking well. If you compile the entire length of time we have been playing in the same world, with the same characters that were lucky enough to not be eaten by a pack of hungry Sabbat neonates, I would estimate you’re looking at over 20 years of history. At times, multiple games, all with the ability to interact with each other if they so please, could be found all over the Twin Cities. We were packed into the back corners of bars and coffee shops, crowded around bonfires, hidden in basements and apartments, or just walking down the street. We could be wearing plain clothes, three piece suits, or straight jackets. We were defiant Irish Sabbat, scheming members of the Giovanni family, diabolic Tremere trying to further our blood magics, or ass-insane Malkavians trying to keep the voices in our heads quiet long enough to fuck over those same Tremere.

In fact, we did it so goddamn well, our local culture and lifestyle rag, City Pages, wrote about us as the cover story.

And after last night in that room with those people and those character sheets, we are back at it. Why? Why the hell not?! Throughout the years, this game has introduced us to people who ended up as our most trusted companions. People learned the confidence it takes to walk into a room of players they’ve never met, and act like they fuckin’ own the place. Even the writing I do today would be nothing if it weren’t for scribbling out scenes, designing characters, and fuck all else from playing Vampire, and more specifically, Mind’s Eye Theater. For those who are unfamiliar with it, that’s just a cool way of saying LARPing. No, not dressing in medieval-style garb and throwing bean-bag “spells” at people. We were,always blending into unsuspecting crowds, or out of the public eye altogether while we played, and were throwing rock-paper-scissors instead. But yes, we spoke and acted as our characters instead of rolling dice around a table. Not that one is better than the other, mind you. That’s just what it was.

And so it is again. Now, with networking tools like Facebook readily available, we can coordinate sessions, resolve conflicts, and further the game on the fly, then turn the sessions where all of us gather physically into more immersive and dramatic scenes played out in an evening.

I gotta say…I’m pretty damn excited to be playing again.

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