Actually Played It: Vampire the Masquerade.

How to wake up in a meat locker in Rio.

“Let’s play a game” is how it started. I pulled in a third gaming friend and we kept it to the three of us. None of us ever played any of the Vampire games. I dabbled with Mage decades ago and was always intrigued by Vampire. My friends are veteran players and played their newly formed ‘licks’ with enthusiasm.

Night runnings

We had a solid 4 or five sessions starting with session zero. Both players made some changes to pregens. The initial premise went something like:

You wake up, strangers in a meat locker. You can see the blinking cameras in the locker, see slabs of meat hanging and smell the corpse of a man.

Rio is the city we started in. The Inquisition was running some kind of experiment on these brand new vampires. Along the way, the characters get introduced to a sire, the Camarilla, and the Anarchs. They just began working for a werewolf landlord, unbeknownst to them!

We used Vampire 5e from Modiphius (but currently available via Renegade Game Studios). Nice hefty tome of lore. D10 dice pool system that can be as light or crunchy as you want. It comes with some of that tasty ambiguity you’ll need to sort out as GM of Vampire —this isn’t a bad thing. It means for any given dice check you might have to decide is this a BIG deal or not and use the simple or expanded rules for tests. The players have taken on human threats with simple dice pool checks and engaged Inquisition squads using the expanded rules because —BIG deal! Both move the game fiction differently.

Our sessions were mostly in the ‘slice of new vamp life’. Meeting older vampires in both the Camarilla and the Anarchs. Getting hunted by Inquisition thugs. Oh, and feeding yourself. Vampire has simple mechanics for vampire feeding and there are expanded mechanics for the hunt! Xanti, a player-character, picked up stain marks draining the male partner of a couple while exploring the rules to discover where the lines for feeding are! We waited a couple of sessions before setting up the character’s coterie. This allowed the players to make choices based on play experiences so far. Good signals about what to do more of!

We used the PlayRole VTT. Easy to make character sheets with interactive dice pools and widgets that were very low friction during play. We used the “map” as a kind of Photoboard of who’s who and where’s what.

I am sad we ended our run early. It’s a combo of learning a game I was intrigued by (dice pools, game lore, underdogs) and the two gamer-friends that I got to spend quality time playing something we were all into - sans streaming, recording, etc, just friends gaming. I am extremely grateful for the experience! They tolerated my stumbling through the initial sessions with the rules!

To feed again

I’d for sure run this again. I would start with new vampires in a foreign city and in crisis. I feel this setup for players new to the game is perfect. They are learning as their characters are learning to survive. I am totally in love with the Vampire lore and how the setting books present it. I went in on both the Camarilla and Anarch books! I would still set up a dynamic where both these organizations are vying for the PC’s attention…or elimination. Letting the players decide where they belong and how.

Play Fearless!