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  • V5: Super edgy or what?

    I just read the Polygon review of V5. Now, before I get into this, I have been a vampire fan, player, and GM since first edition way freaking back, though the majority of my play time was in 2nd edition (and all of it's vampion wackiness). I don't have a ton of the books anymore, but I never remember encountering anything from old WW or Onyx Path that made me think "geeze guys, tone it down", with the possible exception of the Tzimisce clanbook back cover. I mean, heck, I'm also the kind of guy that got mad that Deadlands didn't include more accurate reflections of slavery and the brutality of the West. My memory may be super duper faulty, but I don't recall the books making a big deal out of the mature themes other than including them there and telling people not to get reality confused with fantasy.
    The Polygon review spends a lot of time focusing on how uncomfortable the reviewer was, and how WW is working to help with potential discomfort. They even have apparently added a big disclaimer in the book about how to deal with this kind of thing. It even mentions a stand alone book to help players deal with the situations brought up in game.

    So the question is this: Does the new edition include more things that some would call "edgelord-y"? Is new WW just more aware of the potential problems with including mature themes? Is it a partial reaction to the whole almost-pedophilia and supposed endorsement of the far right? Could some of it be a culture shift (new WW is Scandanavian while old was American)? Basically, is the new edition more concerned with being so edgy and cool they forgot about just having some fun?

  • #2
    All I am going to say is if this

    As Carl explained it, Vampire is about drinking human blood. And that, for me at least, is where my problems began.
    is part of the review, you're probably playing the wrong game.

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    • #3
      Yeah, if only in relation to the review, it seems Polygon had the wrong person review V5. They should have gotten someone who was at least on board with the basic premise of playing a vampire to begin with, because if you don't even want to do that, you're probably not going to like anything else about the game.

      That said, I haven't read through V5 yet, but I haven't heard people talking about it the same they talked about Beast, for example, so I doubt it's that edgy.

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      • #4
        Sadly first one and then, less sadly and with the Gentleman Gamer Matthew Dawkins stepping up to the plate (and recent statements by other parts of the WW team) the second one.

        The truth is VTM had a fair amount of 'shock' factor when it first released in what I would like to think of in the same vein as when Brett says "Damn" in Gone with the Wind (the movie), although I would not even then have considered it quite 'edgelord' in content outside of BlackDog the WW team certainly pushed the envelope on what could be done (Phil Brucato on his personal FB page has posted some anecdotes of those early days with 2nd edition. It was a swing and a HIT.

        What the new WhiteWolf have attempted to do with the initial release is much the same. But sadly in many ways this one was a Swing and a Miss, and they have admitted already as such and are working to undo the missteps that were made and I wish them all success in doing so. While it doesn't feel like the VTM that I know and love I do think that with a little more care and attention there is a solid game in V5, one that ironically will take people closer in some ways towards the themes of Dracula and Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles"(especially Interview with a Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned) as well as some of the other inspirational pieces from which Vampire the Masquerade came in to being.

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        • #5
          Definitely seems like there is a wide berth of views on the game, but I for one am loving everything I read and think V5 is going to finally be the game it was always meant to be and not as much of a "super heroes with fangs" game that it leaned towards in older editions. YMMV.

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          • #6
            Honestly, I think it's more a matter of public opinion having shifted about what is acceptable or not, rather than V5 deviating wildly from the path laid by V1-V3. A lot of Black Dog titles would provoke strong reactions, if they would be published today. Yet, at the same time, society is moving in a disturbing direction poltically. In that climate, V5 is maybe controversial to begin with. Also, that sentiments between Europe and the US differ, could reasonably have added to the issues.

            The Polygon reviewer reminds me of a player in my very first Requiem game. She quit after two sessions. But as she was a teacher, I am not sure, what her motivations on joining the group were. After she left, I got the distinct impression that she was kind of "spying". My take on that: do not play a game when you object to the basic premise. I am personally avoiding Engel for this very reason, and am not really happy playing Warhammer 40K.

            If someone enjoyed 2nd Edition, V5 is definitely not too edgy.

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            • #7
              I think part of the amount of warnings, labels and "advice for considerate play" is simply evolution of roleplay. Just like we first invented cars and then later invented seat belts, we now learn what we can do to make roleplay better - and that's a good thing. In my last Werewolf session, I left it up in the air whether a character's father was alright, ratcheting up the tension every time she asked whether he finally came back. Then the player burst out that she didn't want to lose a father in fiction too. Oops.

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              • #8
                I'm fairly ambivalent about the new edition, at least till I have a chance to try it out, but yeah, even I kinda thought that Polygon reviewer was an odd choice. The vampire-as-sex-metaphor is a really complex idea (and not necessarily universally agreed upon), but it felt like the author decided vampires symbolized exactly one thing, and that one thing was a problem for them. Which is totally fair, of course; we've all got boundaries. I even thought there were some valid points, which it sounds like Carl was pretty good about addressing, but it's like...a review should take the thing on its own terms.

                That doesn't mean it must be for everyone (or that it's immune to criticism), but if the thing is fundamentally not in your wheelhouse, there's a danger of being myopic. Or at the least not being that useful as a review. If I get squicked out by the idea of vampires, I probably know I don't want to play the game called "Vampire", which narrows the article's audience considerably. Interesting as a personal essay, yes; maybe not as a review. That's not me trying to be dismissive (like I said, valid points, and criticism is an immensely nuanced topic), but long story short, I don't think the Polygon piece was a very accurate barometer of V5 on the whole.



                Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

                VtR: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2ndTricks of the DamnedBtP: Secrets of VancouverCofD: The CabinActual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
                Podcast: The Breakup

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                • #9
                  While I have linked that in my megathread, I have to say, why would anyone expect Polygon, who's motto might as well be "this is problematic!!!!11111", to give V5 an honest review?

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                  • #10
                    As others have said, Polygon isn't a great source for a direct review. Especially if you are okay with the premise of being a blood drinking monster. Polygon has personally not been on a source to trust except for interviews since their dragon's crown review where they spent a notable amount of review disliking the art for personal taste reasons and dinging it through it was clearly harking back to the old school swords and sorcery Era of advanced D&D and he-man.
                    Last edited by InCogNito; 08-02-2018, 09:48 PM. Reason: Adding more context

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                    • #11
                      I wouldn't say its super edgy, I would say there's something about it that makes me think of a videogame. I feel like bloodlines was the primary visual they wanted to hit and it hits hard.

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                      • #12
                        Kult always seemed the RPG that went for the shock value... But then Kult is not as popular as Vampire. I think part of the trouble is that Vampire wants to do horror like Kult but can't exactly do it and target mainstream RPG market at the same time, because mainstream is not going to like disturbing horror themes.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Yossarian View Post
                          The vampire-as-sex-metaphor is a really complex idea...but it felt like the author decided vampires symbolized exactly one thing, and that one thing was a problem for them. Which is totally fair, of course; we've all got boundaries. I even thought there were some valid points, which it sounds like Carl was pretty good about addressing, but it's like...a review should take the thing on its own terms.
                          This is just me, but I don't feel it's that complex at least on the surface. There's a cogent argument that vampires have represented suppressed sexuality for as long as the vampire myth has existed, but it's not really up for debate since the inception of the vampire novel as pop fiction with Carmilla and Dracula. Honestly, if I had one thing to say about the social commentary and general unifying theme of VtM over the entire course of its history as a game, I'd say it's a philosophical exploration of the linkage between sex, violence, and power, and the sexualization of violence as an outlet for repressed sexuality, that permeates post-Victorian Western society.

                          One question I love to post elsewhere when discussing this and adjacent topics, is "what does Full Metal Jacket have in common with VtM?". Seems a nonsensical question at first, that is until you stop to think about what the Kubrick film is really about. How about "what does Alien have in common with VtM"?

                          Is it an uncomfortable topic? Yep. That it's uncomfortable is really the point, isn't it? How many people uncomfortable with this theme in particular, would be equally uncomfortable had they been run through an action scene where vampires were turning heads into chunky salsa with shotguns, instead of a feeding scene? So what happens when that all that hunger generated by the combat scenes have to be satisfied by feeding; how many folks really give it a second thought and add two and two together?

                          That's why I think characterizing VtM as "edgy" rather misses the point, and why I kind of have to give reviews such as the Polygon article an eyeroll. Guys like the reviewer can't see the forest for the trees.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                            This is just me, but I don't feel it's that complex at least on the surface. There's a cogent argument that vampires have represented suppressed sexuality for as long as the vampire myth has existed, but it's not really up for debate since the inception of the vampire novel as pop fiction with Carmilla and Dracula. Honestly, if I had one thing to say about the social commentary and general unifying theme of VtM over the entire course of its history as a game, I'd say it's a philosophical exploration of the linkage between sex, violence, and power, and the sexualization of violence as an outlet for repressed sexuality, that permeates post-Victorian Western society.
                            See, I think it is more complicated, but I don't necessarily disagree with you. I just think it's a spectrum. Are vampires suppressed sexuality, like in Stoker? Are they queer/transgressive sexuality, like in Carmilla? Are they emerging sexuality, like Let the Right One In (or, hell, Twilight, for a more obvious example)? Or is it indeed sexuality as violence/rape, like in...let's say 30 Days of Night, since I actually can't think of any media that explicitly goes there off the top of my head..

                            The answer to all those questions, of course, is yes, but it's rare to be all things to all people. I mean, the Western vampire myth has origins in folks trying to cope with women dying in childbirth (there's the other half of the Alien metaphor), which is a surprisingly common trope all over the world, actually.

                            This is just vampires in general, not VTM in particular. The problem I have with the Polygon review is that the reviewer knew this wasn't really his thing, and that in fact this thing was kind of a trigger, which makes it hard to separate what may be an issue in general with what's definitely an issue for this one person. If you're not on board with vampires (or at least one interpretation of them), it seems like you wouldn't be the person suited to talk about a game where you play vampires.

                            Which is not to say I don't want people taking a long hard look at vampires and sex and murder and what's acceptable about sex and murder and vampires. I just think the review was kind of a non-starter because of the writer.



                            Social justice vampire/freelancer | He/Him

                            VtR: Curses of Caine in Requiem 2ndTricks of the DamnedBtP: Secrets of VancouverCofD: The CabinActual Play: Vampire: The Requiem – Bloodlines
                            Podcast: The Breakup

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Yossarian View Post

                              See, I think it is more complicated, but I don't necessarily disagree with you. I just think it's a spectrum. Are vampires suppressed sexuality, like in Stoker? Are they queer/transgressive sexuality, like in Carmilla? Are they emerging sexuality, like Let the Right One In (or, hell, Twilight, for a more obvious example)? Or is it indeed sexuality as violence/rape, like in...let's say 30 Days of Night, since I actually can't think of any media that explicitly goes there off the top of my head..

                              The answer to all those questions, of course, is yes, but it's rare to be all things to all people. I mean, the Western vampire myth has origins in folks trying to cope with women dying in childbirth (there's the other half of the Alien metaphor), which is a surprisingly common trope all over the world, actually.

                              This is just vampires in general, not VTM in particular. The problem I have with the Polygon review is that the reviewer knew this wasn't really his thing, and that in fact this thing was kind of a trigger, which makes it hard to separate what may be an issue in general with what's definitely an issue for this one person. If you're not on board with vampires (or at least one interpretation of them), it seems like you wouldn't be the person suited to talk about a game where you play vampires.

                              Which is not to say I don't want people taking a long hard look at vampires and sex and murder and what's acceptable about sex and murder and vampires. I just think the review was kind of a non-starter because of the writer.
                              Oh, the "vampire as sex" metaphor is absolutely more complex. My point was that it's superficially simple enough most will figure out "vampire = sex" for themselves. And, sexuality as in violence and rape, Buffy would be best for that in my opinion.

                              Perhaps it's my cynicism talking, but the various factual inaccuracies and certain tip-off statements give me a decidedly less charitable opinion of the reviewer than you. It's a different experience from an act of physical violence in a fantasy RPG? well no shit. Why is that? How does that inform VtM's themes? How did your perspective impact the feeling of discomfort? Did it push you towards self-examination, or challenge preconceptions? The impression I got from the article, was not that the author had been pushed to recollect traumatic events or topics, was that the author was being pushed into unexplored territory and concepts, and shied away. Which is fine, sensitive topics and new information aren't always comfortable, especially if sprung upon someone without forewarning.

                              And, that's what concerns me about the tenor of the article and WW's disclaimers. In the past, it's always been about front-loading players with the understanding they'll be dealing with uncomfortable topics, and that in some cases there's no way around that, and that the impetus is on the ST and players to work together to handle sensitive topics and discomfort in ways that are respectful, but productive and at the end of the game session, taken as a whole fun. The gold standard, as far as I'm concerned, is that players walk away from the table with a better understanding of the themes around which the game is built than they had when they sat down.

                              The reviewer doesn't seem to have walked away from the table with any kind of understanding at all. And, were I in the author's position, it would have been a golden opportunity to stop, and start asking Carl questions about the game's themes and the relevance of his and the book's presentation. Instead, it's just a whole lot of "content" about how to avoid sensitive topics altogether, which at least to me is borderline sacrilege. I agree they picked the wrong person to review the product, but I think that stems from the author demonstrating themselves as someone not terribly introspective.

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