Some of my most memorable moments as a gamer didn’t happen in front of a TV – they happened around a table, surrounded by paper, dice, and friends.
When I was about 15, I was introduced to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and was instantly attracted to the idea of a game in which the only bounds were that of the imagination.
I spent countless weekends exploring dungeons, battling monsters, and developing characters that I became truly attached to in a way I never experienced with a video game avatar.
Several years later, I discovered a tabletop game that radically altered my perception of what this type of game could be: Vampire the Masquerade.
Vampire wasn’t about loot whoring and stat building, or venturing into hidden catacombs in search of treasure. Vampire was a social game, focusing more on storytelling than number crunching. I won’t spend too much time outlining the details of the Vampire universe (you can find that here), but according to White Wolf lore, vampires have always existed, as well as other supernatural creatures. The vampires control virtually everything from behind the scenes, and are a bunch of evil, conniving, plotting, scheming, manipulative, backstabbing bastards.
The first rule of Vampire the Masquerade: Don’t fucking trust anybody.
With the storyteller (DM) at the helm, my friends and I would participate in stories filled with more danger and intrigue than a James Bond movie. As a fledgling vampire, you are thrust into a world with a political and social infrastructure thousands of years in the making, and you are really far behind the curve. The more you pull back the curtain, the more deadly things tend to become.
The second rule of Vampire the Masquerade: Survive at all costs.
The only real way to survive is through accumulating contacts and power, not through finding a vorpal longsword +1. The more power you accumulate though, the more you inevitably want – and sometimes people get in your way. I will never forget the time that I committed diablerie against my groups leader (killed him and took his powers) simply because he got in my way.
The third rule of Vampire the Masquerade: See rule #1
For a couple of years now, CCP, the makers of Eve Online, have been working hand-in-hand with White Wolf to develop a World of Darkness MMORPG – a game based off Vampire the Masquerade. Initially, I wondered how the hell this could even be accomplished. When I think of MMO’s, I think of questing, looting, and raiding. I knew that for an MMO based upon Vampire to work, it would have to be a vast departure from the typical formula.
It sounds like CCP has found a way, and are really going to nail it.
The MMO, just like the original tabletop game, is going to focus more on social interaction than anything else. Sure, there will be tons of gore and gruesome hand-to-hand combat as you collect blood and territory, but you will also be engaging in dirty vampiric politics.
The game will take place on a single shard, in modern day cities that are allegedly “seamless,” like the world in Dark Souls. Walking into establishments will be like walking into shops in Grand Theft Auto, so everything occupies the same space.
You will start off as a human in the game. There is no set amount of time that you will be human. That depends on how long you can survive, if you want to try. You might even be able to hide out for weeks, boarded up with a group of friends and an arsenal of weapons. Just like in Vampire the Masquerade though, guns aren’t really going to be too effective against the undead.
The real game really begins when you die.
There will be 3 defined types of gameplay in the WoD MMO:
Coffehouse – The social aspect of the game, with low to no conflict.
Theme Park – The spirit of WoD, with all of the politics, backstabbing, etc.
Sandbox – The primary focus of the game, where you struggle for control of cities.
There will be positions of power in the game, like princes and harpies, who claim leadership over a city. To gain a position of power, you will have to be voted in by other player’s, who will inevitably have their own hidden agendas. That’s right; the leaders of the city won’t be NPC’s. The players holding political offices will set the rules. Who doesn’t want to be a prince – or assassinate one?
And it sounds like you will be able to. One of the coolest features mentioned so far for the WoD MMO is perma-death. The developers say that it is really hard to accomplish, and would take a lot of planning and preparation – but you can potentially kill another players character permanently, eliminating all of their progress.
The first rule of Vampire the Masquerade: Well, you know.
It also sounds like you will be able to play as any of the original 13 Clan types from V:TM, and they are incorporating all of the disciplines as well. I don’t know if there will be crafting, but I certainly hope that there will be fleshcrafting if you are a Tzimisce. Generation will not be used as a replacement for level, but it will be implemented.
There will also apparently be a wide array of fashion choices for players, so you can make your character truly unique.
I don’t know when this game is coming out, but I simply can’t wait. If you are as excited as I am, and are thinking about playing, remember this: When you meet a smooth-talking vampire named Wigriff in a dark alley, don’t believe a goddamned word he says.
* Pictures may not actually be of J.C. Wigriff
** J.C. Wigriff never actually dressed like a vampire.
For more information and updates on the WoD MMO, visit World of Darkness News.