Like so many things, the game started innocently and simply enough. All five of us were already friends/acquaintances of each other, to varying degrees, and were stuck with the shared conundrum in that A) we were interested in starting up an RPG group and 2) the vast majority of our other nerd-friends all live in the South Bay, a good hour drive from our homes in San Francisco. We each independently approached a mutual friend, ChrisM, asking if he knew anyone interested in starting up a game group in the city. He saw the opportunity presented and connected us all with each other. We started up in the summer of 2013.
Over the next few months, what I originally anticipated would be a couple-times-a-month thing expanded into once-a-week-or-more. In the early games, I was often far more excited about the opportunity to cook the meal for my friends and would spend days seeking out new recipes. Now, the meal is often pulled together at the last minute, as I spend my off-days pouring over notes and researching story-lines. Our weeks between game sessions are often filled with group-emails and IM conversations about fine points in the game, and late-night text messages when some new twist of the plot suddenly occurs to someone.
My efforts to record the game has evolved as well. I started with simple note-taking but soon found myself posting brief snippets of some of the more amusing points of the game on Facebook. Friends and friends-of-friends–both people already-familiar with V:TM and people who were not–started expressing interest in my summaries. They became longer. It was the point at which I found myself posting a 5,300 word status update on the plot of the previous night’s session that I realized I had to find a better forum to record it.
Thus this blog began. Although I started writing up summaries of our sessions recently, in the interest of good narration I am
going back and writing hoping to one day have enough time to go back and write up the backstory on our early sessions as well.
Because, really, the amount of Story that has been packed into this game has blown me away. We are blessed to have a master storyteller in our friend-and-GM Jason. He runs the sessions with just the right balance of humor, tension, action, and drama (and a good number of accents). By taking the time to create this blog, I am hoping to not only preserve the joy of the story for ourselves, but also share it with any others who might also be interested.
We are playing 20th Anniversary edition Vampire: The Masquerade. Kara, Jim, and of course Jason have had many years of experience with tabletop RPGs but Chris and I have never played one before. Besides Jason, none of us had any previous experience with V:TM or any other White Wolf game or canon. Jason is using that inexperience to his advantage by creating a story world based on a lot of his own ideas and adjustments to the established canon.
Obviously the story takes place in San Francisco. Jason, Chris, and I were born and raised here, and although Kara and Jim only moved here relatively recently, all of us are passionate San Franciscans at heart. Together, we’re drawing on our own familiarity with the landscape, resources, and history of the city to build our characters and the story. Jason is also a historian by training and thus pulls in a lot of figures and elements from history, whether or not they’re in the established canon.
While my earlier posts are written from notes and memory, I eventually evolved into transcribing dialogue directly from our audio recordings of the game and then filling in the details around them. As I have gone on, I have gotten more comfortable with editing and rearranging scenes to give these pieces more of a narrative flow than what actually occurs IRL. Keep your eye out for short audio clips of the original recordings, though, which I cut down and link to when I feel they add a little something extra.
This blog also takes on some unusual storytelling techniques by interweaving quotes and commentary from our IRL selves with the plot and drama of the game.
My “style guide” has evolved over the months, but it’s basically as follows:
- It is written primarily in present-tense. My character, as well as my own real-world comments and meta-observations, are in first-person, while all other characters are in third. I tend to play a little fast and loose with POV conventions but whatever, I know what rules I’m breaking.
- “#” denote scene breaks and/or character POV shifts.
- Parentheticals “( )” represent out-of-game commentary, descriptions, or actions
- Bouts of dialogue are either elaborated narratively with action tags, or summarized in script-fashion when all it represents is a phone call or I’m feeling lazy.
- Short-phrase italics and ellipses generally represent stresses and pauses in dialogue.
- Full-sentence italics represent explicit thoughts, internal dialogue (such as telepathy), or unusual spoken dialogue, such as song.
- Any character may be read with any sort of inflection you desire, except for Emperor Norton, who must be read with the exuberance and cadence of Brian Blessed.
As you’ve probably gathered, this blog focuses on storytelling rather than game mechanics. Specific abilities, disciplines, and action scenes are largely glossed over and summarized for the sake of brevity, but note that our actual gameplay does pay close attention to dice rolls and game rules, both canonical and house-rules. (I do, however, sometimes describe specific dice rolls when they go particularly well/poorly in a dramatic/hilarious way.)
Please read and enjoy the blog and feel free to pimp us out to any other people you think might enjoy it. If you feel like commenting on the posts go ahead and do so, but please, DO NOT POST META INFORMATION OR ANYTHING THAT MIGHT POSSIBLY BE A GAME SPOILER. Like I said, all of us are new to this canon so we’re discovering things as we go, and sometimes our confusion and misunderstanding of topics is half the fun of the game.
Also, finally, fun legal times:
Vampire: The Masquerade and the World of Darkness is property of White Wolf Publishing. The game system, the names and details of the world, and many of the names and details of canonical characters are property of them. This is a derivative work of fiction not intended to infringe on those original copyrights.
The names and details of our characters, though, are property of us. Except for aforementioned pieces belonging to White Wolf, the narrative text and errata as it appears on this blog is copyrighted to myself. Work as it appears here cannot be redistributed in whole or in part without express permission of the author.
Awesome blog/post thing. Seriously the best story I’ve read in a while. Funny tense and..confusing but of the good kind I suppose. Hope it’s not a dead post but it’s been awesome so far sounds like a great group of people would love to get into contact or something but that sounds a bit crazy. Hope y’all have fun.
Thank you so much! And nope, we’re not dead yet! I’m usually behind on the writeups by a few weeks, depending on life, but I try and note what dates are still to come on the Table of Contents. I then back-date all posts to the day we played them, for easier archival indexing. Check back often, or sign up for email updates! 🙂
Awesome! I’ll set up email updates then, just read the whole thing in the past 3 days I read a bit too fast for my own good so no rush!
Awesome! Can I ask how you found us? I’ve been talking about the blog on reddit and some other places but I’m wondering where people do actually wander in from 😉
Found you guys on r/gametales actually have been reading up on vampires just to figure out everything better.
Recently rushed through the whole thing in about 3 days after finding your audio uploads on r/gametales. Everything about this blog is awesome! Your group is a ton of fun and Jason seems like he’s a masterful GM. You’ve convinced me to read up on and get into Vampire in the hopes that I can convince some friends to try it out.
Awesome! 😀 So glad you enjoyed, also so glad it made you interested in checking out the game! Like I’ve said, it’s been my first RPG experience but I’ve been blown away by the storytelling richness, even in the other game plots I’ve heard about 🙂
Here I am researching good old Uncle Tom, attempting to find a visual representation of his flag for a tattoo when I discover that in fact he did not die in 1723 by close range pistol shot in his hammock, but ‘lives’ on.
I enjoyed the story. Thought you’d want to hear from a relative.
Holy. Mother. of Cheese. Are you really a descendant of his??!?! 😀 😀 😀
I wandered in after searching “Real vampires in SF,” 😀