Saturday, November 12, 2005

Shake your fist at heaven and curse the day you crossed ME!

One of the reasons that i feel i've gotten bored with Vampire Court is that it's starting to get boring and same old same old.
This ain't the way it's supposed to be. Larp shares a number of things in common with Soap Operas. One of the things that is most appropriate for a vampire is that Court instead of being a dry and orderly recitation of events, appointments and edicts handed down from on high. Should be a contentious and seething cauldron of hatred, envy, and barely concealed political violence.

How do you get this?
Well, i've mentioned that Princes ought to be doing their level best to try to keep various factions. but this in no way substitutes for a player who is proactive about generating plot for themself. Ben Vandegrift actually had a neat idea about this. If two players came to him and told him that they were having a feud with one another, then as long as they role-played a churning, wall-punching, vituperative hatred of one another, then each player would receive extra XP. I like this idea. More to the point, I know it works.

There are couple of guidelines of course.

My Enemy,My Friend
Take my message to heart and learn it's basic truth. YOU SHOULDN'T EVER HAVE AN IN-GAME RIVALRY WITH SOMEONE YOU DON'T LIKE OUT-OF-GAME.
Do I really have to explain why? Well, alright, if you insist. It's too easy to go overboard. it's too easy to lose your actual temper, it's too easy for out of game politics to fuck up the fragile social dynamic of the game. It's too easy for real emotional issues to creep into the game. It's too easy for all the fun to get sucked out of the game not just for you, but also for the people caught up or draggged into your personal drama.

This is not the plan.

It's the same reason why it's a bad idea to try to game with a person you've recently broken up with. It's too hard to remain objective and soon the game becomes a mere backdrop for the greek tragedy that your life has become. It turns out that this isn't fun for anybody.

So, my advice to you is to pick someone you LIKE to be your arch-nemesis. That way you have greater opportunities for intentional drama and less unintentional drama.

Script some, Improv some.
One the one hand, Don't tell each other everything that you plan to do to one another. Let some things be ugly surprises. Nothing kills drama like too much scripting. Also you can't really control too much of what the other players do.
However, that said, There's nothing better than having an opportunity to sit down and plan out some of the madness to come. A bit of scripting can determine the shape of a rivalry between two characters and in fact can help the two players determine the limited circumstances in which the two characters might work together or even bury the hatchet.
Watch some wrestling on TV. These guys have this down to an art. Shifting alliances, betrayals,last minute saves. It's all in there. A very wise friend of mine once explained that all wrestling writing follows from a simple premise. "One guy has the belt. All the other guys want the belt, All plot follows from this."
This is not rocket science. Nor is it hard to explain how this will work. There might be a situation where the arch-nemesis rides to the rescue simply because he/she can't bear the idea of allowing someone else to grease you. Nor crab the exquisite and drawn out plans for your horrifying tortuous demise.

It's more than just hate.
Immortality has a way of fucking up relationships. So does power and ambition. So it's no surprise that oftentimes relationships in the WOD go incredibly sour. It follows from this that arch-nemesis(sies? Saes?) can have had a romantic relationship prior to commencement of hostilities. In fact, the relationship may be an on again-off again kind of thing.
So if you're a couple, you might try this. Although, it occurs to me that what i said about having a problem with the person that you're having "hostilities" with, goes triple for any situation where you and your girl/guy are on the outs. Somebody should take a break until it's sorted. If it ever is.
But, an arch-rivalry between former paramours offers great dramatic potential. And even the possibility of some occasional in-character snogging.

I'm not actually British. I just like saying "Snogging".

It's not about the Mortality either..
This ought to be evident, but if one of the combatants dies the drama is over. Now, i'm not saying that there can't be some skirmishes of a martial nature. but psych-ops and social brinksmanship is more fun really, and allows others to play along.
Sure there will be some gang vs. gang trouble, but honestly if the feud is going to be PERMANENTLY settled then a couple of things ought to happen.
1) It should be planned.
2) It should be face to face, mano a mano. Perhaps a private duel.
3) Perhaps the duel isn't even to the death. Torporing for a long time might be just as effective.
4) A decision ought to be made previous, as to who's going down. (Maybe one of the players is just tired of that character and wants him to go out with a bang.) Although maybe it's finally time to see who's better in that arena. As long as there is a agreement that neither character dies cheap. Cause nobody likes to go out like a punk. By the end of the feud, the two characters ought to hate one another but at least respect one another.

Just cause it's over, doesn't mean the end.
Okay, so you and your enemy have been going around and around. and either you have shed some blood or maybe kissed and made up. Who knows. Conflicts can take on a life of their own without the people who've started them. Let's say that a bloody feud breaks out between two elders and it sucks in a couple of dozen players along the way. Hostilities in the feud may continue over things that happened during the elders war. Even if one is now dead or the elders are now boon companions.
Let's say that one of the actors in our little drama gets whacked. The story may yet continue. Does he have sleeper agents?
Perhaps a plan to strike out from beyond the grave at his enemies. I used to have the occasional character who would create something called the "Omega Protocol". The "Protocol" was usually something that would put the screws to the local Masquerade, if not the Masquerade at large..After all, If I'm dead, why should I give a shit about the Masquerade. Naturally, my death generates a dozen brush fires for people to run around and piss on. That's what we call plot.
Naturally, I did stuff like this with the full consent of the ST's. I'm not some kind of nut.

Sono Finito


At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Acid Reign said...

.....Have you heard the news? It's ok to spam blogs, as long as a bit of flattery is thrown in!


.....Back in the 1980s, I ran a D&D game where two factions of players feuded. It got really ugly, and to this day there are certain players I won't have anything to do with! And worse, some of the participants still have hard feelings over it 20 years later. While they are no longer trying to kill one another's characters, they still tend to line up opposing each other in any disagreement. We're actually lucky the thing did not permanently kill more friendships than it did!

.....I think you've got to at least state up front, as an ST, whether infighting is going to be condoned. If so, stiff warnings about leaving the angst on the playing field are in order!


At 6:49 PM, Anonymous jenn said...


glad to have found the crank report again - and can i just say i've really missed gaming with you - definitely one of a kind. (all that flattery and i'm not even planning on spamming you *g*)


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