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Exploiting Dawn: The Tragic Tale of Min-Maximus the Vampire


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Exploiting Dawn: The Tragic Tale of Min-Maximus the Vampire

Min-Maximus the Vampire

The Tragic Tale of Min-Maximus the Vampire is a prequel of sorts, to the thread, "The Ballad of Min-Maximus", which detailed my Wild Talents campaign and some of the problems I encountered with a difficult player.

Min-Maximus the Vampire will go back to the beginning, describing how I formed this gaming group and offering more information about all the players who sat at that table. This tale will cover two campaigns that I ran with this group:

"All Flesh Must Be Eaten" and "Vampire: The Requiem" will be featured in this story. Both campaigns brought unique problems to the gaming table, and fan-favorite, Min-Maximus was particularly difficult during the Vampire run.

This story will feature a few costume-changes for some the cast. I wanted to move away from the Super-Hero names, since this story will cover entirely different games. I'm also giving Exploitii a new name, because it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Min-Maximus: America's Favorite min-maxer
Todd: Formerly Exploitii

Gabe: Formerly Gunmetal
Lilly: briefly Min-Maximus's girlfriend
Envoy: Played the teleporter in Wild Talents

Carter: Carter did not appear in the Ballad
Pip: Pip did not appear in the Ballad

Lisa: My wife
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Min-Maximus the Vampire part 1
In The Beginning

I got my first copy of Red Box Dungeons and Dragons right off the shelf at Wal-Mart. The money came out of my Grandpa's wallet. He thought he was just buying me another toy, but I would still be playing with that toy nearly three decades later.

By fifth grade I started running a campaign. I didn't understand the rules very well, so I barely followed them.

Seventh Grade: I was running elaborate campaigns in Dungeons and Dragons, TSR Marvel, Gamma World, and my own homebrew Sci-Fi. I understood the rules, but they interfered with whatever derivative, spoon-fed plot I was serving up, so I barely followed them.

There was more fudge on my dice than a Baskin and Robbins sundae.

In Highschool I got into Call of Cthulhu and Cyberpunk. I played them by the book and served a fudge-free diet of blistering difficulty. The players loved it, and I found my voice as a gamemaster.

At age 21 we all started hitting the bars and everything was about booze and girls. Gaming sessions gave way to parties, and best friends were replaced with wives and girlfriends. Our friendship wasn't about gaming anymore, and our new, adult lives were so busy that none of us missed it.

It's a lot like that Brian Adams song: "Jimmy quit. Jodie got Married. We should have known, we'd never get far."

In my 30s, life finally got quiet again. Still in touch with my life-long, ex-gaming friends, but I didn't see them much. For me, bars and booze had been replaced with Home and Wife. And that's when I started thinking about gaming again. I couldn't imagine actually playing an RPG, but I read over some of my old books, and started scouring the internet for information about the current RPG scene.

"HHHMMMMM," I said to myself at one point, "They've made an all new Vampire RPG that sounds a little less corny than Masquarade."

I had never run a game from World of Darkness—but I had some of the books back then, and I always wondered how Vampire or Werewolf or Ghost would actually play at the table.

I was so curious about the new Vampire, that I ordered a copy of Requiem from eBay even though I had no intention of running it, and no one to play it with even if I did.

You can imagine my surpirse when I got the book and realized that it required the "World of Darkness Core Rule Book".

In my day, a complete role-playing game came in a single book or box! Of course, that's all bullshit. Even in the 1e days you needed at least 3 hardbacks, and Red Box DnD was worthless without Blue Box DnD.

NEXT UP: I read my first "Modern" RPG in over a decade and it gets me thinking...
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Oooh, another thread! I really liked your last one and I can't wait to read all about this. I had been super curious about that vampire game you'd referenced in the other thread!


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Min-Maximus the Vampire part 2
Loneliness Galore

I finally get these two books I need—World of Darkness and Vampire: the Requiem. I like the new books. Rules seem streamlined, and I particularly like that setting and lore takes more of a "toolbox" approach so I'm not forced into such a specific tone or theme like with Masquerade.

The rules are clean and pretty well balanced—and beyond the basic assumptions of Vampire-Life, the rules aren't tied to a bunch of setting or lore either.

I could run this.

It wouldn't be all that different in tone and plot than a Quenton Tarentino movie or even a Cyber-punk campaign (without the heists). Vampire Society is similar to the "Criminal Underworld", sharing common conflicts and themes, but it would amplify the isolation and psychological horror.

If I were to run a Vampire campaign, it would put the players behind the eyes of a true monster.

Of course, all of this was ridiculous. I was never going to actually run a Vampire campaign. I didn't even know any gamers. My child-hood friends were either married or still doing booze and bars, and none of them had any interest in gaming these days—it just wasn't what our friendship was about anymore.

I tried to talk to my wife, Lisa, about my thoughts on the new Vampire, but she's not a gamer AT ALL. She can't even see in that spectrum. If she opened a Dungeons and Dragons book, the pages would appear BLANK to her!

So Lisa's eyes would glaze over, and I would realize that I've taken interest in the loneliest hobby in the world.

I got on the internet to try to clarify a few rules in World of Darkness. Here I found a world of active forums-- a place to talk gaming theory and share my opinions about Requium and the current state of RPG gaming.

Gaming Forums made me feel a little less lonely, but all this talk just made me want to run a real game even more. It was starting to become an obsession.


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Min-Maximus the Vampire part 3
The Singles Scene

At this point, I'm buying RPGs and reading them like they're literary classics. I returned to a revised edition of an old favorite—"The Call of Cthulhu". I went to a local gaming store to buy the latest edition, and while I was pulling it off the shelf, some guy mentioned that he used to play in a Cthulhu game.

We talked about Sandy Peterson's RPG Masterpiece for a few minutes, and I felt like he wanted to join in a game of Call of Cthulhu with me, but didn't know how to ask. Trying to feel out a potential gamer is a lot like The Singles Scene at a nightclub—It's awkward and uncertain, and no one really knows what to say.

It was a miss, and pretty soon I walked out of the store with Cthulhu in a plastic sack.

Would it be possible, I wondered, to build a gaming group out of complete strangers?

Cthulhu is practically a house-hold name at this point—maybe Call of Cthulhu players are out there--just waiting for a Keeper to come along and alleviate them of their socks with a mind-bending trip into Lovecraft's warped brain.

Cthulhu's simple rule-set would be easier to run for a guy like me, just getting back into gaming after a more than a decade, and Hell—Unlike most RPGs--Call of Cthulhu even has a few published campaigns I would deign to run.

But—and this was a big but—it was very hard to imagine hanging around the local gamestore, striking up conversations with perfect strangers, and asking if they wanted to play a game with me. These days I've got no problems shaking my ass around a gaming store looking for players, but this was a long time ago, and the whole idea seemed like madness.

So I turned to the internets, but it was a ghost town out there. This was still the early days of social media—Facebook was already king—and most people had it, but you could still feasibly live your life without an account in those days.

Sure, there were a lot of people looking for Gamemasters in places like L.A., New York City—but Oklahoma City had jack-shit. OKC is a big city, but if there were any gamers here—they were hiding.

Even though I was fishing in a dried-up creek, I did get a nibble. I found this tiny Google Map group--"OKC Gamers". Sign up and it puts a little pin right there on the map to show other gamers where you are, but what my eyes saw was a dismal affair.

On a map of Oklahoma City and all its surrounding suburbs—nearly a 40 mile radius—there were only 7 pins, which then became 8 when I joined. There were two or three posts seeking games, but they were dead—years old and zero response.

But one was only six months old, and simply said—"group of 3 looking for 1 or 2 more gamers."

I sent a message, asking if the add was still active, and what game they were running. It took nearly a week to hear back, but he finally replied, and said he might be able to work me in. They were playing a Champions game that was some sort of mash-up between Indiana Jones Pulp and Street Wizard magic that sounded ghastly to me.

I looked into Champions and decided it was way to crunchy, but it didn't matter anyway, because they already had a gamemaster.

See, that's the thing—I'm a gamemaster only—I have zero interest in RPG gaming as a player.

I found another site: Meetup Dot Com. Here you could form or join local hobby and interest groups, and I found two RPG groups—but both had less than 40 members--The Oklahoma City Snake Charmer Club had more than that.

At least it wasn't completely dead. There were a handful of posts that were less than six months old, but the only ones that ever got a response were 4e DnD—and from what I could tell—Most of these planned meetings seemed to always fall through.

In the end I think—when its time to put your money where your mouth is—and go meet a complete stranger from the internet to play a fairly intimate game—A lot of poeple end up backing out at the last minute.

Next Up--The desperate search continues.
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Damn, this is very recognisable. With me it was gaming at school, uni and then nothing for years until I gave my oldest son a D&D session with his mates for his tenth birthday, which I GMed for a further three years and then found my own gaming buddies via Meetup.


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Min-Maximus the Vampire part 4
Carlos the Dwarf

I'm sitting around with my wife one night wishing I had an RPG group. Lisa is flipping through the channels, and I have a laptop open with the "Mansions of Madness" PDF on screen. She stops on an old, syndicated episode of "Freaks and Geeks", and it happens to be the Dungeons and Dragons episode.

Actor, James Franco, portrays a high school tough who ends up in detention with some nerdy kids. Franco listens to them talk about Dungeons and Dragons all day, and decides he wants to give it a try. The Nerds try to discourage him, because they don't want Tough Kid to ruin their campaign, but Franco insists under threat of violence.

Tough Kid shows up for the session and rolls a character. "You have to be a Dwarf," Dungeon Master says after reading the dice.

"But I don't want to be a Dwarf," James Franco says.

"It's the rules!" another kid says, "You have to be a Dwarf!" Tough Kid was on Nerd Turf now—and he would be playing by their rules.

Then, much to the tables dissatisfaction, James Franco chooses Carlos as his character's name, and the game begins. After a montage where we see the group having the time of their lives, Tough Kid steps up for the final scene.

"I am Carlos the Dwarf," James Franco says to the King, "We have slain the Dragon, Rescued your daughter, and brought peace back to the kingdom. How may we serve you now?"

Everyone cheers, and they schedule a session for next week. Franco is one of them now.

"Is that what playing Dungeons and Dragons is like?" My wife asks.

"Yeah," I answered, "It's a lot like that." And for the first time, my wife sat and listened to me describe exactly how an RPG works. I explained dice mechanics and basic flow of play. She actually asked some questions, because the whole thing seemed a lot cooler now that she had seen James Franco play.

Again, I sang the litany of how difficult it is to find players.

"Aw," Lisa said, "Maybe James Franco will join your group."

That night, I wished so hard for a gaming group, that a vampire stirred in his coffin, and Min-Maximus woke from a long, deep Torpor.

Next Up—The Rise of Min-Maximus
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That night, I wished so hard for a gaming group, that a vampire stirred in it's coffin, and Min-Maximus woke from his long, deep Torpor.
Next Up—The Rise of Min-Maximus
I can hear the "Dun dun dun!" music in my head...


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Oooh, another thread! I really liked your last one and I can't wait to read all about this. I had been super curious about that vampire game you'd referenced in the other thread!
I plan to talk quite a bit about the Vampire campaign, particularly from the writer/gm point of view.
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