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Gaming In The 90's: What Were The Early Days of Playing VTM LIke?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Camilla View Post


    I'm weird in the fact that I still think katanas are cool. But a good sandbox game that mixes action with politics, now that's my kind of WoD game.
    Yes, exactly.

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    • #17
      Did anyone ever do crossovers with WoD back in the 90's. I know there were a few WoD fan games in the 90's that did just that, one for Highlander and the other for Sailor Moon (Senshi: The Merchandising), but I'm unsure of how much of that bled over into the actual gaming tables and LARP's.

      Did anyone ever bring in White Wolf's Street Fighter game into their VTM or WoD games? I consider it part of my WoD headcanon, but am I alone in this? Or were things really that gonzo in the halcyon days of 1e and 2e prior to the advent of Revised Edition?

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      • #18
        The only crossover I did with Vampire was Werewolf, and that was prior to the actual Werewolf game, and things were very different from the game itself.

        I did own Street Fighter, but I never played it. And a "friend" stole it so yeah.

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        • #19
          VtM, and in many ways largly the WoD both within and outside the hobby has caused many things much more common today to be possible.

          While it is arguable that it was the first, it was certainly instrimental in bringing in more female players, and it also went out of its way to use both masculine and feminine descriptions and pronouns throughout its writing. While I'm not going to pretend that companies writing material formtheir primary fan base (males) was wrong/bad, WoD in many ways allowed for females to join in and enjoy the game as well, in ways other companies generally didn't, somewhat understandibly. Or rather, the nature of the game did, being more grounded in the real world and less about fantastic things generally outside and unrelatable to us. Things like not getting XP for kills, but rather from existing and overcoming. Or making social/intellectual interactions acceptable methods of challenging the group (as oppossed to combat). These things did exist before hand, but where less common and not generally the assumption of the game.

          Additionally, WoD really focused in on mature gaming/story telling, putting more focus on repurcussions for actions, including moral, ethical, and social aspects of things to be important for play and enjoyment ofnthe game, but didn't back down from presenting undesirable real world issues (slavery, sexual violence, violence, etc. . .) as existing and real. Not good, or ok, but present.

          Vampire in particular also introduced concepts that sort of through a lot ofnthe real world gender differences out the window, so male vampires where not sex crazed animals any time a high appearance female walked by, and females could more very easily get strong or tough, and everyone could not only talk their way out of fights, but even actively fight in non-physical arenas. It also tried to focus a lot more on personal issues rather than exclusively encounters, introducing things like Allies/Retainers/Ghouls and suggesting including aspects about the characters family and friends as background and hooks for play rather than just unused filler.

          Another aspect that was much less common back then, but not unheard of was that the system generally tended to focus much more on setting than on rules systems. But even beyond that, the WoD sort of went out of its way to allow for each of it's game lines to function together, within the same setting, but leaving enough wiggle room that individual groups could not do that if desired.

          1st Ed WoD introduced much of this as possible, while 2nd Ed and even more so in Revised era really started to dig in and focus on these things. A lot of 1st Ed was not really sure what it wanted to do yet, offering a very broad scope of possibilities, (such as the idea of killing your Sire and their Sire making you mortal again). I'd say one of the most noticable changes in 2nd Ed was the inherent nhilism in it's writing.

          2nd Ed was a bit notorious for trying to rewrite the game, or in some ways force it into a very bleak PoV overall. Nothing really mattered, there where no "good guys", everything was evil, you just didn't see it (the church, the Salubri, even your friends all had darkmsecrets that made them irredeemable). In some ways this was interesting, but they went way overboard as well, as essentially nothing mattered to the players. There can't be light, or even shadow when everything is dark. It just losses its impact.

          On the other hand, 2nd Ed/Revised tended to try to present possibilities for other "bad guys" to be a little more relatable, if not "misunderstood". Its very subjective, but generally speaking it is an equal amount of hits and misses. For instance Werewolf started to focus on just how the antics that a pack raid on a local Wyrm controlled company hurt innocent people, and Mage started to include the idea that the Technocracy where not just nameless evil people, but despite being the opponents, where also directly responsible for many of the medical advances that do amgreat deal of good in the world. Vampire, on the other hand, and again this is subjective, they also tried to introduce the Baali as "poor misunderstood" victims, which sort of went away from Gothic or Punk and into (whiny) emo territory. But it was also a big step into that everything is dark, nothing matters approach.





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          • #20
            So if one were to write a story about a VTM gaming group in the 1990's, how would one best capture the feel of that era and the gaming groups of the 90's?

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            • #21
              One detail that may matter for your story is the age of your players. In the early nineties, as others have pointed out, there was still significant fear of triggering a moral panic. Vampire now just seems like it has grey and gray morality, but at the time there were some real concerns about "adult themes". Understand, that circa 1992, that could simply mean an openly gay character who mentions it in passing, or just playing the "monster" as a vampire.

              In an age before widely popularized internet access (I can remember the days before you could pick your own e-mail address; it was assigned by a sysop. Mine, for a little while was CJZT49b@yahoo.com.) it was not easy to find a playing group. Some players either met one another in school D&D clubs, and aged up into adult players. Others might encounter one another in gaming or comic book stores.

              It is unlikely a teacher who is serving as advisor to a school's D&D club would suggest Vampire; it would be seen as too adult. Even in a gaming shop, the clerk/owner would likely have hesitated to suggest the game to minors. I never knew it to be "banned", and I doubt a storeo-owner would refuse to sell it to a minor. But, any adult who would steer kids towards an "adult content" game might be suspect. If a teenager went home from a store with a copy of Vampire, and their parents were a particularly strident moral majority activist, things could get very difficult for a business owner.

              It's hard to overstate that the early years of VtM, in the states anyway, took place amid the early 90's culture wars. In a way, it was a breath of fresh air in gaming, because of that timing, but it was not uncontroversial.

              If your characters are any sort of minor, give some consideration to how they first find VtM.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                One detail that may matter for your story is the age of your players. In the early nineties, as others have pointed out, there was still significant fear of triggering a moral panic. Vampire now just seems like it has grey and gray morality, but at the time there were some real concerns about "adult themes". Understand, that circa 1992, that could simply mean an openly gay character who mentions it in passing, or just playing the "monster" as a vampire.

                In an age before widely popularized internet access (I can remember the days before you could pick your own e-mail address; it was assigned by a sysop. Mine, for a little while was CJZT49b@yahoo.com.) it was not easy to find a playing group. Some players either met one another in school D&D clubs, and aged up into adult players. Others might encounter one another in gaming or comic book stores.

                It is unlikely a teacher who is serving as advisor to a school's D&D club would suggest Vampire; it would be seen as too adult. Even in a gaming shop, the clerk/owner would likely have hesitated to suggest the game to minors. I never knew it to be "banned", and I doubt a storeo-owner would refuse to sell it to a minor. But, any adult who would steer kids towards an "adult content" game might be suspect. If a teenager went home from a store with a copy of Vampire, and their parents were a particularly strident moral majority activist, things could get very difficult for a business owner.

                It's hard to overstate that the early years of VtM, in the states anyway, took place amid the early 90's culture wars. In a way, it was a breath of fresh air in gaming, because of that timing, but it was not uncontroversial.

                If your characters are any sort of minor, give some consideration to how they first find VtM.

                I definitely will. I'm thinking they start out as D&D players who hear rumors through some of their older friends about how cool and dark Vampire is, and so they save up the money to buy the 2e corebook at a local mall or chain bookstore (a place where a clerk is less likely to ask questions about a bunch of 13-14 year olds buying a copy of the Vampire corebook) and from there, they find out how cool it is and start running campaigns with it.

                I've decided the timeline will be 1995-2001, covering the Middle School and High School years of these gamers (Seventh through Twelfth Grade, the boys being around 12-13 when the story begins and 17-18 when it ends).

                I'm thinking for various reasons they only have the corebook to work with for a long time, and so will often fill in with crossovers from stuff they like such as a lot of the anime that was available at the time, some stuff from comics and movies, and video games like the early PS1-era Resident Evil games. They may discover LARP later on, I'm not sure.

                I'm thinking in the later chapters of the story, the boys get the supplementary materials that add the Sabbat and Independent Clans. They may also get Werewolf and Street Fighter, and possibly Mage. I'm not sure about going much further than that in terms of expanding the WoD. When Revised comes out, they totally ignore it and largely miss out on the metaplot because for them, this stuff is expensive and because they're having plenty of fun with the stuff they do have on hand.
                Last edited by Camilla; 08-13-2017, 03:59 PM.

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                • #23
                  While it will be a difficult subject to balance in the writing, the interplay of RPGs and personal psychology is always a tricky thing. For instance there was a kid in our group who was a top notch student in high school (honor roll every year) but he was below average height and as a result he would prefer to play things like minotaur warriors. An astute person can learn a lot about gamers just by watching what they play and how they play it.

                  ​Now combine that aspect of psychological bleed over with the base line carnal undertones of any vampire storyline and the developmental ages of the players in your story and things can get complicated, if not uncomfortable rather quickly. Especially if one or more the players had alternative inclinations that didn't match the societal norms of the time. Even in California, near San Francisco you couldn't exactly discuss the character development from lesbian blood orgies or the slaughter of holy men for a necromantic ritual without making most adults within ear shot alarmed, if not calling authorities.

                  ​Of course you can take this psychological rabbit hole a few levels deeper if you go into the concepts of "play as yourself" games. Basically the entire game is a thought experiment where you create character sheets based on what you personally can do and know. Then you run the game to see how your real life would react to those circumstances. I remember one such game where each player had to decide how they would deal with their own families. Most tried to live a double life, some ran away from home, one blood bound the whole family (this got very messy), while another used Dominate to remove all memories of them ever existing. All it takes is a single frenzy and your only recourse is a "tragic house fire" to cover the evidence. Some of these games can push unstable people a bit far, while for those with a better grasp on their own identities, such games can be powerful methods for analyzing one own existence.

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                  • #24
                    If you really want the feel of the 90s, it is important to remember that society was different during the 90s than nowadays. While we still have flareups of sexism and racism due to certain visible politicians encouraging those dying ideologies, they were much more ubiquitous than they are now. Homophobia and transphobia were quite common and elected officials were publicly advocating prison time (or insane asylums) for homosexuals and trans people without triggering public outcries. In general, people were a little worse than they are now, though the end of the Cold War meant that they were more hopeful than they are now because there was real hope for the future (there were 2.3 billion less people in 1992 than there are in 2017, which means that dealing with the issue like global poverty seemed a lot more possible).

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