Me: “You burst into the chamber just in time to see the Minions of Set pulling the blood fried pregnant woman out of the oven.”
A gasp went up from my players- for all their planning and use of the Celerity discipline they were too late.
Now you may well be wondering what the Hell is going on here so let me bring you up to speed. It was still the early 1990’s; post Clinton inauguration, pre Contract with America. Two great life changing events had happened to me since my last game with my old group- first and most importantly I had gotten married secondly I had started running White Wolf’s WORLD OF DARKNESS games.
Of course at the time of this story only one game in the projected 5 game series had come out; VAMPIRE THE MASQUERADE, but with a year of supplements to work from I had a pretty good campaign going even if it seemed like the creatures in the World of Darkness were in some kind of an Arms Race when it came to superpowers.
In my current campaign everyone was playing a vampire of one form or another
Me: “Ok let’s roll for Initiative.”
Yetch: “Oh I’m gonna be sick. That is so disgusting Al.”
Yetch was one of my regular players he was a nice guy and a good, well behaved player (aside from occasional moments of EXTEREME THESPIANISM). The only trouble was that I don’t necessarily think a man that got dizzy at the description of the sight of blood had the right mindset for horror gaming.
Francesca: “Honey did you take your Tums?”
I think Francesca was the one who was really into the idea of playing VAMPIRE. There were three things you noticed about her, first she was a Goth, second she had a chest you could roll an EXALTED die pool and not lose a single d10 and third she was Yetch’s girlfriend. That last part was the one that confused us the most, most girls go out with guys they know their parents will hate so I can only assume her parents were Anton LeVey and Wendy O Williams.
The funny thing was that this was when the trend of hot nerdy girls really began and it is a trend that continues today. Sadly I came of age in the 1980’s, an era when apparently all the geek hotties had been shipped to Canada. Which explains why we spent most of our Saturday nights desperately trying to watch scrambled porn.
But perhaps I have shared too much.
Me: “As you all watch with increasing horror the light braised flesh of her stomach begins to shudder and split apart.
Slacker X: “That is SO wrong, yet SO cool.”
Now Slacker X is and has been (at least until he reads this) one of my longtime players and friends. I will always admire the fact he was always indifferent to worries about things like employment and women. Somehow as a result that meant he always had a fresh supply of both.
Seriously folks, its like he’s a Jedi or something.
Hentai Wrangler: “My character Lady Bishonen draws her katana and spends a blood point to activate her katana.”
Me: “And then?”
Hentai Wrangler: “And then she waits to see what happens.”
Slacker X: “You always do that.”
Hentai Wrangler was actually in his twenties but he had a very young face and he was another one of that rare species of gaming friend that I wasn’t worried about hanging out with in social situations. He was a big fan of Japanese media, in fact one the reasons I gave him the nickname he has is because if not for him I might never have seen LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND, this is something I will never forgive him for.
Lando Molari: “I shout at the Setite elder, ‘We had a deal Madden!’”
Have you ever seen the TV series LOST IN SPACE? Remember the character of Dr. Zachary Smith? Well Lando Molari was that character- in every game, every time. He was always trying to go behind the other player’s backs for one reason or another it didn’t matter if we were playing in THE WORLD OF DARKNESS , DUNGEONS & DRAGONS or BUNNIES AND BURROWS.
The players didn’t mind much partially because Lando was an all around nice guy in real life and also because watching his characters get dismembered from their own actions was good entertainment.
Me: “The undead babies tear free from their fleshy prisons and begin crawling towards the party, their eyes alight with inhuman hunger.”
Francesca: “Ab3 where is the Goth in this? When are you gonna bring the Goth?”
Slacker X: “I pull out my twin chrome plated .45s and leap sideways while firing at them.”
Me: “Ok roll for it.”
Slacker X: “Ok.”
Me: “Wow that is a lot of ones…”
Slacker X: “Why me?”
Me: “The clips fall out of both your guns in mid leap and you crash to the floor well within crawling range.”
Hentai Wrangler: “Lady Bishonen attacks her blade and panties flashing in the night.”
Francesca: “My gangrel pops her claws and attacks.”
Me: “Well, unlike some people you make your die rolls.”
Slacker X: “Hey!”
Me: “The two of you cut a swathe through the slightly baked undead babies.”
Yetch: “My character looks around the room and says ’Who is responsible? WHO HAS CAUSED THIS MADNESS?’”
Me: “Uh was that shout in or out of character?”
Lando Molari: “I stay behind the rest of my party with my weapon drawn.”
Slacker X: “And how does that help?”
Lando Molari: “Cover fire.”
Once combat was resolved the player characters searched the building for any sign of their longtime adversary Sid Madden Settite Elder- and yes his business cards did say just that. As you can see I had the Vampire side of the game pretty well nailed down but I rarely seemed to have any Masquerade going on; swordfights on high rise window washing scaffolds, exploding gas trucks and midgets in armored vans were the regular sort of occurrences in my game. There was very little brooding upon the vampiric condition, I can’t really say things were very ‘Gothic Punk’ at all, maybe they were ‘Gothic Pulp’
But on the other hand my game had been a very long running affair and there were always players joining in for a session or two… some even stayed for years. Some wouldn’t leave the game even when I begged.
And yes I did name an elder vampire of the Followers of Set ‘Sid Madden’- names were always my weak point.
Me: “You hear the sounds of sirens approaching.”
Yetch: “We better get out of here.”
Slacker X: “Yeah, the last thing we need is another run in with Detective Peter Gabriel.”
See what I mean? I suck at names.
Lando Molari: “Before we leave I search for anything of value.”
Me: “Your wits and investigation reveals a bloodstained business card.”
Lando Molari: “What the Hell is that about? I mean money or valuables. Maybe a vial of elder blood lying around.”
Hentai Wrangler: “Do I notice Count Orlock being an idiot?”
Me: “Yes, you see him bungle finding next week’s MaGuffin like Slacker X bungle a driving roll.”
Slacker X: “Hey!”
With that done I doled out the experience points and we cleared the room for the old school D&D group. I was running my game in the back room of a game store run by my friend Guido Jones- of course it wasn’t just a game store he also sold comic books and pornographic trading cards. I never got the whole pornographic trading card thing. What was the appeal? Let’s be honest here, even if masturbation isn’t bad for your eyesight it can’t be healthy to be staring that intently at a 3x5 card for any prolonged period of time.
Just my opinion folks.
My game ran on a Saturday afternoon and the notice board let it be known I was open to any and all players- so long as they brought premade characters and didn’t antagonize the main group too badly. It wasn’t easy trying to organize up to ten players at once but it was usually a lot of fun. I still can’t believe how patient my wife was through all this, most weekends I was off running a game on Saturdays and then Sunday going over my notes for the next week.
The woman is a saint I tells ya.
As I got ready to leave a very pretty college aged girl waylaid me in the doorway of Guido’s Geek Emporium.
Hottie: “Are you the guy that runs the VAMPIRE game?”
Me: “That’s what is says on my monogrammed stationary.”
Me: “What I mean is yes. Yes I am that guy.”
Hottie: “Would you have room for another three players next week?”
Me: “It’s an open game. We are always looking for fresh blood. Ha ha get it?”
Hottie: “Uh sure. So next week then?”
Me: “Looking forward to it.”
Once she was gone Slacker X approached me.
Slacker X: “Who was that?”
Me: “New player.”
Slacker X: “Awesome.”
Me: “And she’s bringing friends.”
Slacker X: “Even more awesome.”
Guido Jones: “She could be bringing her boyfriend.”
Me: “She said there would be three new players not her and a significant other.”
Slacker X: “Yeah if she had a boyfriend she would have wanted to establish it right away, this is a game store after all.”
Guido Jones: “Isn’t that going to be too many players for you Ab3? Let’s not forget what happened on Halloween.”
Me: “If you don’t bring up Halloween I won’t bring up Project Omega.”
I suppose it would be cruel of me to let that scene end without telling you about Halloween and Project Omega so let’s start with the debacle that was my Halloween marathon VAMPIRE Session. Many would say later it was a great game, others would say it was the worst thing they had ever played in; it was a story that featured a Vampire rock band, human sacrifices and murder by duct tape. The thing is I remember nothing of it. The morning of the game I started feeling queasy and by the time the evening rolled around I was suffering from chills and room clearing bouts of flatulence. I pumped myself full of aspirin and Pepto Bismol but as the night wore on I became paler and paler and my game mastering became more and more incoherent- at least that is what I was told. I still don’t know how much of the stories I should believe. Why would I have a long drawn out scene take place at a gaming convention where people where playing Live Action VAMPIRE THE MASQUERADE? Why would I try to convince the players that TV actor Burt Ward was Caine? Why the Hell would I have the players menaced by an Invisible Zeppelin? All I know is that by midnight Slacker X and Hentai Wrangler called my wife to take me home and I slept for two days.
In comparison Guido’s Project Omega wasn’t that big a disaster at all, you see his master plan to increase revenue by teaching lingerie models how to play Dungeons & Dragons. The exact specifics of the plan were never really explained to me but it involved a lot of time at Victoria's Secret.
The week went by quickly enough with work, spending quality time with the missus and trying to keep our crappy apartment from falling apart around us. I was working for a place called Paper Shredder- the same outfit I had worked for when I was in college; my wife and I were still learning how to be a married couple and mushrooms kept growing out of the bedroom ceiling. There’s a story in all this somewhere but this isn’t the place.
Game night rolled around and somehow I was ready. I planned for the bloodstained business card to lead the players to a den of inbred Nazi cannibal white slavers. I made sure there were plenty of evil NPCs for everyone to fight, including the new players. I got to Guido’s Game Emporium an hour early, and started setting up. My regular players started to filter in, Yetch and Francesca got there first, as always and Francesca spent about ten minutes talking to me about her gangrel’s long term plans and inner landscape. I always had a hard time paying attention to exactly what she was saying because during the whole discussion my mind was warring between wanting to look at her chest yet not wanting to be caught looking at her chest.
By the time she had finished keeping me abreast of her character’s plans the rest of the gang had shown up. Slacker X and Lando Molari were pawing at my rulebooks trying to figure out how to spend their hard earned experience points.
Slacker X: “And a fourth dot of firearms…”
Hentai Wrangler: “Like it’ll matter.”
Slacker X: “Oh come on!”
Lando Molari: “You know what skill I need? The skill that can help my character become an expert in the art of deception.”
Slacker X: “You mean subterfuge?”
Lando Molari: “No, it’s the one that makes you better at hiding your true objectives.”
Slacker X: “That’s subterfuge.”
Lando Molari: “No I want him to lie better.”
Slacker X: “SUB-TER-FUGE!”
Hottie: “You guys haven’t started yet have you?”
Hentai Wrangler: “We’re starting now.”
Lando Molari: “Who is this vision of lovliness?”
Yetch: “More players?”
Slacker X: “Have a seat, and if you need to borrow any dice…”
Lando Molari: “No! Those dice are cursed! Don’t even touch them.”
Slacker X: “Man…”
Francesca: “Uh, who are those three kids behind her?”
Hottie: “These are my nephews, they always wanted to play VAMPIRE.”
Slacker X: “But you’re playing too right?”
Hottie: “Sorry, Guido is teaching me how to play D&D. Bye.”
Lando Molari: “As a great man once said, what a revoltin’ development this is.”
Slacker X: “Do you think Guido has any openings in his game?”
Me: “I think Guido has all the openings he needs tonight.”
Our new arrivals stared at us expectantly. They looked to be between 11 and 13 years old. Their eyes were full of that special brand of prepubescent menace I had learned to fear in Junior High.
Kid #1: “Is this chair taken?”
Kid #1: “Cool. Hey you’re pretty sexy. My name’s Mike.”
Francesca: “I’m Frannie.”
Kid #1: “What grade are you in?”
Francesca: “I’m a graduate student.”
Kid #1: “A senior? Wicked.”
Kid #2: “Hi I’m Greg. Is that your character?”
Hentai Wrangler: “”Yeah, a battle hardened survivor or two of Ab3’s campaigns.”
Kid #2: “What’s a bishonen?”
Hentai Wrangler: “Er, it’s a man with a little something extra.”
Kid #2: “Are you gay?”
Kid #3: “Check out my character. He’s a Brujah.”
Kid #1: “We’re all Brujahs.”
Kid #3: “Well you better watch yourselves of my character will totally kick the ass of everyone in the room.”
Slacker X: “What was your name again?”
Kid #3: “Brian.”
Slacker X: “Well Brian, would you like to borrow some of my dice.”
I checked over the new arrivals character sheets and finding no obvious problems we got started. I wasted no time trying to integrate the new players into the party.
Me: “The Coterie is at their usual hangout when they spot the three Brujahs the vampire Prince of Utica asked you to meet with. That’s you guys.”
Kid #1: “Wait… where are we?”
Me: “You’re in Utica.”
Kid #1: “No I mean where in Utica are we?”
Yetch: “It’s a bar all the local vampires hang out in called The Leather Nun. It’s –”
Me: “-it’s a place for quiet contemplation and hand crafted goods.”
Kid #2: “Sounds lame.”
Yetch: “What are you talking about? This is a total- OW!”
I didn’t want to throw a d10 at Yetch, especially not one of the prismatic ones, but I had to shut him up. I wasn’t about to let my violent perverted little role playing game corrupt the minds of America’s youth. That was the Internet’s job. At least some of my players caught on.
Slacker X: “I walk past the women …selling oven mitts and approach the new arrivals. I say ‘The Prince wanted me to let you know that you are welcome in his city as long as you don’t cause any trouble.’”
Kid #3: “You hear that guys? Some other vampire thinks he can tell us what to do!”
Kid #2: “I spend some blood, pull the hatchet from my overcoat and start whacking people at random.”
Kid #3: “Radical!”
Me: “A hatchet?”
Kid #2: “You Oked it. See right there? Small axe.”
Francesca: “What the Hell Ab3?”
Me: “Uhm, I thought he meant that deodorant body spray stuff.”
Me: “Well it was capitalized!”
Yetch: “Why the Hell brings an Axe to a- OW!”
Hentai Wrangler: “-craft fair?”
Me: “Good save.”
Yetch: “None of this makes any sense.”
Me: “You’re playing a Malkavian get used to it.”
Kid #2: “Do I hit anyone in the face?”
Me: “Let’s roll some dice.”
Kid #1: “I pee on the bar!”
Lando Molari: “Vampires don’t pee.”
Kid #1: “What if I spend a blood point?”
It didn’t take long for things to spiral into chaos, with the Masquerade in tatters the three Brujah wandered out into the streets in search of more trouble; perhaps spurred on by relative easy and bloodless kills.
Hentai Wrangler: “Lady Bishonen has had enough of this! She draws her blade and orders them to surrender to the Prince’s justice.”
Kid #2: “I throw a knife at her.”
Me: “Roll your dice.”
Hentai Wrangler: “I catch it in kid air.”
Me: “Very nice, lotsa tens there.”
Kid #3: “And while she’s catching the knife I shoot her with my Desert Eagle.”
Me: “Oh God.”
Hentai Wrangler: “So this is torpor…”
Kid #1: “I run off and steal a car.”
Kid #2: “I use my Potence to pick a manhole cover and throw it as hard as I can at someone.”
Kid #3: “Dude you totally said manhole.”
Lando Molari: “I use the Presence discipline to cow the other two.”
Me: “Sorry guys you’re cowed by Lando Molari’s vampiric awesomeness.”
Kid #1: “And I run him over with the car!”
Kid #1: “You said I could steal a car.”
Me: “But I didn’t –”
Kid #1: “You saying a car couldn’t reach him yet?”
Me: “Sigh. Sorry Lando.”
Kid #2: “Now where’s that Gangrel chick?”
Francesca: “Watching in horrified disbelief.”
Yetch: “There’s never an invisible zeppelin around when you need one.”
Kid #2: “I spend some blood and flex for the Gangrel chick.”
Francesca: “Not interested.”
Kid #2: “Fine I use Presence to call her over.”
Me: “Well, lets make some rolls and see what happens.”
Francesca: “Oh great. I guess I flounce over to him.”
Kid #3: “No way. I Presence her over to me instead.”
They pretty much played a kind of vampire ping pong with her for a few turns while the remaining two members of the party tried to peel Lando Molari off the grill of the Monte Carlo.
Yetch: “My character says 'Will I allow you to continue to violate the peace of my domain. I SAY THEE NAY!!!!' Then I get some Tremere spells ready.”
Slacker X: “I just open fire and kill them, I kill them a lot.”
Me: “All right lets get some combat rolls.”
And one botch later the party’s last stand ended what Slacker X’s charcter accidentally shot Yetch’s character in the back. I could hear Guido and the Hottie giggling in the next room which meant someone was getting treasure. I decided to call it a night.
Me: “Sorry about tonight guys.”
Slacker X: “I never thought anything could be worse than having to watch MANOS THE HANDS OF FATE. I was wrong.”
Hentai Wrangler: “To think I missed a night of fandubbing for this.”
Me: “I’m really sorry.”
Lando Molari: “As soon as I wake up I’m selling my soul to the devil for more disciplines.”
Me: “You did that already.”
Francesca: “Ab3, if Mark Rein Hagen were here he would slap your face. I can’t belive you let- Hey! My eyes are up here!”
Me: “I was hanging my head in shame, really.”
Yetch: “Thanks for everything buddy.”
Me: “Oh great sarcasm from you too.”
Yetch: “No. No. Really. Thanks. Whenever you run a bad game she wants to have angry sex. I mean really angry. You’re the best.”
Me: “Oh… well enjoy.”
Kid# 1: “That game was awesome. What time do we start next week?”
So that’s why I started running games at my apartment, but that’s a whole other story.