Struggling with Investment in Vampire: the Masquerade

The Sword Emperor

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I am playing in By Night Studio's Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse LARPs (through the Minds Eye Society). I attend every session of WtA; I love it. But I can't build the same enthusiasm for Masquerade, and I'm wondering why.

In Werewolf, my first PC was a know-nothing cub who asked a lot of questions he got away with only because he was a cub, and when he discovered his dad was a Black Spiral Dancer, went about asking "so why do you guys think the BSDs are wrong?" I retired him a few months ago; he hit a natural conclusion point. It was gloriously tragic for the whole sept.

And my current PC is a well-meaning Silver Fang. Just imagine, like, the biggest werewolf fanboy, ever. He's also got traditional Silver Fang values, even though he also wants all the Tribes (and Fera) to work together. So he's a great ally, but he often says things that piss off other characters when he's trying to be nice. ("It's not your fault you were born Metis. You can overcome your curse! Gaia needs every soldier she can get.")

In Vampire, I just haven't felt the same connection. My first PC was a fledgling Ventrue, whom wanted to maintain his mortal life, which was complicated by A) being a recently Embraced vampire, and B) suffering from mental instability (caused by said Embrace) that tended toward destroying those relationships. I gave him some investigation powers, and figured he would wind up indebted to other vampires, doing their dirty work, gradually getting pulled deeper into vampire politics. I enjoyed playing him for a couple sessions, but all the other vampires were... too nice and understanding? Then I learned that Ventrue have strict training on their fledglings, and that fledglings are banned from interacting on their own terms. The whole experience made me lose enthusiasm for the character.

So I made an ancilla Tremere, a hardline believer in the Camarilla ethos, who had ties to the Anarchs. With the understanding that the local chantry accepts eccentric vampires. Again, an investigator: figured I would enjoy playing with magic, talking with other vampires, protecting the Camarilla, and helping younger vampires. And it just... didn't click. I felt weird playing the character being so enthusiastic, naive, and curious: it seemed out of keeping with his age and experience (as he had to be at least 50 years Embraced). He did kinda help on an investigation, but mostly it was sitting around talking, and I just didn't feel much out of the interactions. I haven't played him in a few months.

I'm trying to figure out what's missing from my Vampire experience. I've brainstormed and talked about the issue with a few people, but I haven't yet had the "a-ha" moment. Still, a few useful things came out of the conversations. Here's where I'm at.
  • I play impulsive characters
  • I like asking questions, learning things, and getting other PCs to reveal things about themselves
  • Struggling with a dark side (ignorance and rage; guilt and tunnel-vision; poverty and madness)
  • I need something to do, constantly
 

Tumbleweed

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Hey, I read you.

I was in a similar spot, years ago. Masquerade just didn't grab my attention, but Accord (the ridiculous NWoD crossover venue) was my jam. For very similar reasons, too-- I played a clueless mortal who had no idea of what was going on (which went well with my lack of knowledge about the NWoD). And, uh ... I just wound up playing Accord exclusively. Ehehm.

Honestly, the 'standard' Masquerade game can too-easily boil down to 'the cool kids club has a secret primogen meeting, while everyone else just twiddles their thumbs.' The political-PVP focus doesn't lend itself to 'let's go fight the bad guys!' aspect of Werewolf.

But yeah. Maybe talk with some of the other players/ST's in your area, and let them know about your problem? That way you could work with them to maybe make the game more interesting. For example, it might be interesting for you to create a new character that's explicitly linked to one of the other players (with their permission, of course)-- like a childe or a minion or somebody who you could then serve/scheme against in order to drive that character's plot forward.
 

Jadasc

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In candor: have you considered playing a Malkavian? Playing Malkavians flags you as someone who's going to ask probing, provocative questions. You've got social cover to be as impulsive or as active as you want, and because Auspex and Dominate are always useful when it comes to plot-chasing and shenanigans, you get asked on a lot of adventures. Plus, locally at least, there's a lot of inter-player support.

On a broader level, you may have to seed the clouds a little bit. Find some players who you're cool with OOC and arrange for some of those secret-ferreting conversations. Once people start to think of you as "one of those people who likes to talk," you'll get more of the play you want from others.
 

JustinCognito

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Have you thought about Allies/Contact/Influences? These are all solid ways to get a bead on plot, and Contacts in areas like, say, Occultist can easily clue you into whatever magical fuckery needs to be poked with a stick.
 

Susanoo Orbatos

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  • I like asking questions, learning things, and getting other PCs to reveal things about themselves
This might be a bit of a problem since.. vampire is abit of a game about keeping secrets(It says it right there on the tin!). I would imagine the only way you'd be able to get that sort of interaction where at the least they teach you about you know vampiring would be as someone's childe
 

The Sword Emperor

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Maybe talk with some of the other players/ST's in your area, and let them know about your problem? That way you could work with them to maybe make the game more interesting. For example, it might be interesting for you to create a new character that's explicitly linked to one of the other players (with their permission, of course)-- like a childe or a minion or somebody who you could then serve/scheme against in order to drive that character's plot forward.
I've talked with a few players, and I'm emailing back and forth with the ST. No conclusions yet, which led to this thread. I did brainstorm some ideal character concepts, but I am concerned they are all ideas that would get the PCs killed quickly. For example, I would love to play a Camarilla/Anarch-aligned fledgling Baali whose trying to understand why demons are so scary, but any meaningful interaction with other PCs would quickly turn into "kill the infernalist".

As for being someone's childe or minion, that's an interesting angle I hadn't considered: I'd need to find someone whose actively scheming.

In candor: have you considered playing a Malkavian? Playing Malkavians flags you as someone who's going to ask probing, provocative questions. You've got social cover to be as impulsive or as active as you want, and because Auspex and Dominate are always useful when it comes to plot-chasing and shenanigans, you get asked on a lot of adventures. Plus, locally at least, there's a lot of inter-player support.
I've got a Malkavian concept, though the clan was just a tag to explain the concept. Playing a Malkavian for the reason you suggest interests me.

On a broader level, you may have to seed the clouds a little bit. Find some players who you're cool with OOC and arrange for some of those secret-ferreting conversations. Once people start to think of you as "one of those people who likes to talk," you'll get more of the play you want from others.
How do you mean?

Have you thought about Allies/Contact/Influences? These are all solid ways to get a bead on plot, and Contacts in areas like, say, Occultist can easily clue you into whatever magical fuckery needs to be poked with a stick.
I don't know how to make the most out of backgrounds, and I always imagine everybody's got everything they need (though I'm coming to learn that might not be the case).

This might be a bit of a problem since.. vampire is abit of a game about keeping secrets(It says it right there on the tin!). I would imagine the only way you'd be able to get that sort of interaction where at the least they teach you about you know vampiring would be as someone's childe
Yeah, see, I don't want to have secrets: I like it more when I'm revealing things.

The Ideas
Here are the character concepts that I came up with, if we're talking entirely about ideals.

Bloodthirsty Assassin: An Assamite whose unapologetically addicted to the taste of vampiric blood. Better believe he’s happy the Tremere curse preventing diablerie is broken. Mercenary and indifferent to his own Clan’s structure. Time during sessions divided between seeking contracts (always either in pursuit of vampires, or in exchange for vampiric blood) and murdering anything by which he’s contracted. Part of the fun’s in the shock value and morbidity of the character; the other part’s in the thrill of gory berserk assassinations.

With some modification, this could be a ditzy fledgling Ishtarri Toreador, obsessed with vampiric blood, curious about the forbidden fruit of diablerie, and eager for any opportunity to show off their skills.

Boon Addict: This Malkavian wants to gain and owe as many boons as possible, and he’s willing to do literally anything to win this numbers game. He is entirely too lassaiz-faire about offering major (or even greater) boons to others, excited about being called on at any time, and relating to people how he earned this or that boon. This increasingly absurd and dangerous game of boon escalation is a prank (“hey, don’t do this – also, the concept of boons are absurd”), but also something that feels comfortable. Time at sessions would be split between seeking boons for anything and everything (looking for any excuse) and executing on whatever has been asked of him.

Drama Queen: This incredibly abrasive Toreador (Volgirre Bloodline) is thin-skinned, impulsive, and rude. He views Toreador as the greatest Clan (and counts himself among the greatest Toreador). He hates Nosferatu and actively seeks their destruction, along with anyone whom he thinks slights him. He’s prone to abuse boons, offer them at snap decisions, and generally make terrible decisions. The point of the character is that he exists to be dramatic, cause a scene, create gossip, and be troublesome. I expect he’ll get fucked over at least as often as he fucks over others, but the fun is in seeing him try so goddamn hard at politicking that Elders go “ah, I remember being so young”.

Seeker of the Forbidden: This well-meaning (Setite/Malkavian) is fascinated by the dark side of vampiric existence. What’s the big deal with demons? Why are we forbidden to seek Golconda? How does stepping on a Path change you? I love the idea of this character sharing the results of his research with other vampires (“so, I tried summoning a demon, and here’s what happened”), debating whether these things are right or wrong (“sitting in on a Sabbat fire dance was a religious experience – here are my thoughts…”), and using his dark knowledge to useful ends (“oh, wow, a plot that can be unraveled only by somebody who has Lore: Baali? My time has come!”). His dramatic poles are “obsessed with the forbidden” and “compassionately curious”.

Warrior-Hero: Fuck the Sabbat. Fuck the Blood Accords. And while we’re at it, fuck anyone who preys on mortals. This Brujah styles himself as a classic Hero, and is drunk on the exploits of legendary vampiric warriors. There is good and evil, and he is on the side of the angels. He’s loud, boisterous, and rides frenzy like he’s possessed. Time would be divided between rallying other vampires to murder Sabbat and other threats, interrogating anyone who seems less than enthusiastic (just imagine him as Sheriff!), and actually going out and killing things.

Thoughts? Because I feel like any of these characters would die in a session or two.
 

Susanoo Orbatos

Social Justice Huckster
Validated User
Yeah, see, I don't want to have secrets: I like it more when I'm revealing things.
Learning people's problems and helping them overcome them can be a key part of the Fera experience... (shadowlords are assholes) conversely Vampires who give away their secrets are generally preyed upon.. so thus kind of an issue with what you want.. as for your ideas...






Boon Addict:
This Malkavian wants to gain and owe as many boons as possible, and he’s willing to do literally anything to win this numbers game. He is entirely too lassaiz-faire about offering major (or even greater) boons to others, excited about being called on at any time, and relating to people how he earned this or that boon. This increasingly absurd and dangerous game of boon escalation is a prank (“hey, don’t do this – also, the concept of boons are absurd”), but also something that feels comfortable. Time at sessions would be split between seeking boons for anything and everything (looking for any excuse) and executing on whatever has been asked of him.

This is the one I think would be your best bet, maybe throw in munchausen syndrome! and some deep Lore cuts like "Why I remember that time Hardestat came to me..." you could have fun confusing people whether or not you are crazy, messing with the system. Randomly decide to make up fake boons to go do something. Always report it to the Harpy.

I feel like people would let you get away with this for the most period of time. And if you turn out to be really useful maybe forever.
 
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