[Vampire] Did anyone ever start with the embrace?

edited February 2012 in Story Games
The other Vampire thread kicked off a chain of thought...

I played in a few games of VtM back in the day. We always started with already "established" vampires (havens and all), which in retrospect kinda sucked (sic). Especially since the group was never very keen on threatening that establishment. Not something I'd like to revisit, personally, but whatever.

Anyway, I've been thinking and the book (if I remember correctly) opens with the story of someone who had just been turned into a vampire. And when I remembered that I slapped my forehead and said: "that's actually an awesome kicker!" It's really such an obvious thing I'm surprised I had not considered it before. And I don't know of anyone who has done it either.

"Ok you wake up and you're a vampire now, what do you do?" How do you deal with the fact that your phone is constantly ringing, and your mother is going crazy because you didn't come back from the party, and your boyfriend is god knows where, and holy shit you can't go in the sun anymore. All that stuff. And now there's this whole new world you don't know and new "people" you need to know and fear.

So, yeah, starting play with the actual event of being turned (or shortly before). Did anyone ever do that? Because I'm not familiar with any accounts of games like that (and we certainly didn't do it ourselves).

Comments

  • Weren't you supposed to roleplay out a prelude of sorts with each character, touching directly on this? It's been a long time since I read my copy of the rules, but I seem to recall that you were meant to do a kind of whirlwind tour of the vampire's early life at the beginning of every chargen, possibly including the time when they were stalked and/or seduced by their ultimate Sire. So not quite what you're talking about, but related somewhat.
  • Yeah. I just did this (relatively) recently. We're playing a pack of Sabat shovelheads who just (last week) have finally been accepted as full members of the Sabat. It's taken months (both real time and game time actually) to reach that point where we're basically starting level vampires.
  • We've always played it with humans, and then slowly introduced the Vampires/Mages/whatever during the first few sessions.

    IMO the interesting stuff in Vampire happens in the transition and acclimatization during those first sessions. After that it all turns into goth superheroes/supervillains.
  • Posted By: Sam!Weren't you supposed to roleplay out a prelude of sorts with each character, touching directly on this?
    Really? If so, our Storyteller never paid any attention to it. I need to dig out a copy.
    Posted By: WilhelmAfter that it all turns into goth superheroes/supervillains.
    Which is fun and all, if done well.
  • Posted By: TeatainePosted By: Sam!Weren't you supposed to roleplay out a prelude of sorts with each character, touching directly on this?
    Really? If so, our Storyteller never paid any attention to it. I need to dig out a copy.
    Mind you, I'm pulling this directly out of some very dusty memory banks regarding the first edition of the game, so I could be misremembering or the whole idea of a prelude was dumped in subsequent editions.
  • Sam's right, but in my experience preludes were routinely skipped in all oWoD games in favor of cutting to the chase. I think it's because the Prelude requires one on one time with the GM for each PC, leaving the rest of the group to wait. Most of the games I played were with teens when I was a teen and we weren't the most patient lot.
  • I've done it! It... it didn't add much to the character in question, because his was a more vampire-centric concept (A Caitiff pretending to be a malkavian) than one where the mortal side of his existence was really important. So, definitely let the players know you're going to be doing this in advance and that you want that to be important.

    I recall reading somewhere, I can't remember who said it, to start a vampire game with it being a few minutes to sunrise and the characters far from their normal havens and desperately scrambling to find shelter, and then in the morning assessing blood loss and go "Okay, who's hungry? Want to do anything about it?" To really drive home the basics about vampiric existence.

    I'd be tempted to do THAT, and then flashback to the embrace.
  • I've done it a few times. Mostly (oddly enough) with Sabbat games where you're often embraced in crisis situations and forced to acclimate quickly. Also, there's Giovanni Chronicles, which starts with the characters being embraced.
  • I did it in two games. One was Sabbat shovelheads, using pre-revised when _all_ Sabbat were shovelheads (actually a campaign starting during the 2003 assault on Baghdad, which I stikl think was kind of a cool setting). The other was a time-hopping campaign, where the first era of the PCs lives we focused on was spent almost entirely on them as mortals and culminated in the Embrace.

    I kinda miss Vampire...
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: masqueradeballAlso, there's Giovanni Chronicles, which starts with the characters being embraced.
    The very thing I was about to say. But the starting point in the Giovanni Chronicles is still basically the shovelhead situation, thrown back in time a few centuries - an emergency Embrace that is shared by all the characters. It really is the easiest way.
  • Yeah, both of the games I ran did. That's what the book said, why would you do otherwise? ;)

    One game was an introduction to non-RPG playing friends. It was by far the most interesting, if rather short lived. I learned that people who didn't come out of D&D or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't think of giving an average person who became a vampire any real combat skils. So, when I introduced a vampire hunter it was fucking terrifying. Other things that completely weirded them out, the Prince offering a goblet of his blood, their sire playing politics with them (they were siblings in that way, and unauthorized). We only played a couple of sessions, largely due to the disconnect of me unable to think of a plot that didn't involve fighting, and them having made characters who did not fight. Before that, we got into a lot of "This is your life now. What next?" And we touched upon things like, how do you keep your job and what do you tell your family, etc.

    Another game was a dark ages game that began with the sire embracing the childe. A few sessions in, the sire was killed by enemies, and things really got heated up. This was a one-on-one game with my college roommate. Because we played through the embrace, the connection to the sire was stronger than I think it would have been otherwise. In games I've played since, the sire is often barely more than a background note.

    Both of these games were also introductions of Vampire to the players. So a lot of the ignorance of how things work was played to full effect. I know personally, as I played more of it, I grew less interested in starting out with the embrace because it had already been done.
  • Posted By: WilhelmWe've always played it with humans, and then slowly introduced the Vampires/Mages/whatever during the first few sessions.
    Yeah, I've never played Vampire, but the one Mage campaign I played in started with the Awakening, and it was a really great way to kick off a campaign.
  • Most of the Vampire games I've run, started with the mortals, and then hit the embrace after the second or third game.

    It's always better to establish some context.

    I ran a great True Black Hand game once, where the characters competed in various pursuits for the right to be embraced by members of a clan of their choice after learning all about the various clans/bloodlines/etc. Those characters who did exceptionally well in these ordeals, earned the right to be embraced by higher generation vampires.

    That was a fun chronicle while it lasted.
  • Posted By: Sam!Weren't you supposed to roleplay out a prelude of sorts with each character, touching directly on this?
    Yeah. I played in at least one, maybe two Vampire games that did that.

    It was okay. Not transcendent, not groundbreaking, not even great. Kind of fun for what it was, but -- because neither of those campaigns were about dealing with suddenly being turned into a vampire -- it felt a little like padding you had to get through before you could play the actual game. It's not a good idea for every game of Vampire, is what I'm trying to get at: if your game is going to be about something else (politics, history, action, revenge, love, whatever), then you'll likely get more mileage out of jumping straight into that rather than running around doing the "OMG we're all vampires now, how does that even work" routine.

    Generally, I'm in the camp that says you shouldn't put off the "good part" of a game too long. If your game is about something -- and a good Vampire game should be, if only to avoid the goth superhero cliche -- then everyone should be pushing to bring that something into center stage as soon as possible. That way, when you bring in whatever other minor themes you want to play with (the unbearable angst of vampiric existence or what have you), it can immediately be put into the context of what the game is mainly about and not just devolve into directionless wankery. So if you want to run a game that's specifically about being turned into a vampire and figuring out how that even works, then yeah, absolutely that's where your game should start: jump right in with both feet, night one of their undeath, and watch the fireworks. Other campaigns about other things should start in other places.
  • Posted By: vulpinoidMost of the Vampire games I've run, started with the mortals, and then hit the embrace after the second or third game.
    This is the typical timeline for human to vamp ratio in games that I've played. It's a fairly typical setup, the noob vamp exploring things (I blame Anne Rice for this phenomenon). Even in Requiem, the demo adventure starts you all out as "you wake up, and suddenly you're not human any more. There's four people in the room with you".

    Heh, actually, I've OVERPLAYED this scenario in a variety of world of darkness games! It's fun the first two times, but after that it's so cliche.

    Enjoy losing your humanity!
  • I've done this (play the "change") in every white wolf game where it applies.

    play a few sessions as "human" and the character already grouped together and doing things, then introduce the supernatural.

    It always made for play where the group was much more tightly bound to each other (for good or ill). Even my best Exalted games went through the same thing. I honestly can imaging playing these game without playing through the transition.

    The best bits were always sitting inside that transition. :)
  • It depended on the game, but yeah, I ran a lot of Embraces.
  • Oh, I also ran a mortal game where a malicious wraith stole the PCs body for a joyride and turned it into a Wraith game as most of it was spent figuring out the nature of being dead and navigating Stygian culture (while trying to get his body back!)

    Doing that transition interests me the most out of all the various WoD settings, new and old.
  • I've done it either way, but I got tired of the whole "Holy shit! I'm a vampire!" thing after a while. Back in the day it was fun to play with new stuff as it came out and became part of the canonical world, so you didn't actually know what it was going to be like. That would actually be neat, to run an Ultimate (in the Marvel sense) chronicle where everything works differently so that the players had that confused and eager feeling again.
  • Yeah, normally we skipped over the "explanations of vampire shit, etc." unless someone had a background that indicated they were told bad information or put in an impossible situation from the jump. But we did the Embrace, the first Hunt, etc.
  • For people who have actually played out your Embraces - did you do it as a group, or one-on-one? In the one-on-one case, did you do it with everyone else present or not?

    When we did Giovanni Chronicles, the GM had a few questions he asked each of us about the circumstances right around the act - "Do you resist? What do you see in your Sire's face? What is the first thing on your mind as you rise from death?" - something like that, and we went around that table and talked through them. It took about five minutes per player, and I feel like it got us off on a great foot with our characters. Right away, we formed a few tighter character relationships, a few tenser ones, based on the way we understood each other's personalities as they were revealed through the answers. It was an excellent use of the first "set" in a session, and if I ever get the urge to play Vampire again, I'll do at least that much.
  • edited February 2012
    I played and ran several games where the players started off as humans and eventually became Vampires. It was even better when we ran a campaign where not all the players joined the Camarilla, some even chose to find ways to become Werewolves. We had an 8 player group at the time so this kinda just became a larp. It was awesome, but short lived because the players did not like the PvP aspects when they arose.
  • Posted By: ccreitzFor people who have actually played out your Embraces - did you do it as a group, or one-on-one? In the one-on-one case, did you do it with everyone else present or not?
    Everyone was there, most of it was 1-on-1, though WW's troupe style, where non-involved people played NPCs, also was sometimes used.
  • I started my successful V:tM Sabbat chronicle with the characters freshly embraced. The concept was that there was a traitor in the Sabbat who'd given vital information on the sect operations and locations within the city to the Camarilla. The Sabbat elders had discovered the leak, but rather than scramble around trying to defend themselves from the incipient Camarilla assault, they decided to withdraw from the city, and attack a Camarilla stronghold elsewhere. The other portion of the plan was to leave a single Sabbat pack, newly embraced, that the Camarilla wouldn't know about, to disrupt Camarilla operations once the Sabbat had withdrawn.

    The first chapter was all about them trying to prove themselves as Full Sabbat before the withdrawal. They weren't given any guidance whatsoever, other than that if they failed, they'd be destroyed when the Sabbat withdrew.

    I also played through all of their preludes, to greater or lesser extents. Once or twice, I think I may even have done a joint prelude, but for the most part, it was one on one, outside of the normal sessions of play. The only prelude I didn't do was my main player, who was the largest motivation for getting the game going in the first place. He'd actually been so eager to get started that he allowed one of the other players, an experienced GM, run it for him. I was kinda miffed by that, but I let it stand after they described it to me, as it was probably more depraved than I could have managed, and I kind of proudly confess to some doozies with the others.

    This is the game where my group was very much in flux over the life of the chronicle, so I did a lot of preludes over the year or so that the game ran, probably close to 20. I also had, just as a fond reminiscence tossed on at the end, an absolutely outstanding Malkavian, a Clan I was always leery about letting people play, because people usually used it as an excuse to act retarded.
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: WolfeI also had, just as a fond reminiscence tossed on at the end, an absolutely outstanding Malkavian, a Clan I was always leery about letting people play, because [...]
    I felt the same way until I played one, and had a great experience trying to play a character who was believably paranoid schizophrenic, instead of a wacky fish slapper. The usual "prejudice rarely survives contact" thing, I guess.
  • I did every time it was significant (i:e: the game was as much about the human aspects and relationships as it was about the political back-stabbing). I dispensed with the formality when running silly as hell super heroes of the nights games though - it brought little to nothing to the table then.

    Generally we'd take a whole session for the making of characters and their embraces, players would be handed NPCs (or play *their* PC in some instances, I remember one player embracing another - was a pretty coll game) while we were running another player's embrace. Worked well, allowed to ground the PCs and start threads for the up-coming game.
  • So clearly this is far more common than I was led to believe. And also maybe not as fun as I expected?

    I think the main advantage is that you can introduce NPCs in "real time" so to speak. When the PCs meet the prince for the first time, the players meet the prince for the first time.

    If I ever get around to running Vampire at some point I'll definitely keep this thread in mind. Thanks all for your input.
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