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LA By Night (Web Series) review

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  • CTPhipps
    started a topic LA By Night (Web Series) review

    LA By Night (Web Series) review

    https://unitedfederationofcharles.bl...ne-review.html


    Los Angeles by Night is one of the classic supplements of Vampire: The Masquerade that I have extremely mixed feelings about. Published in 1994, which is 25 years ago, it was a a supplement that created numerous spin-offs as well as helped inspire Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines. It also helped kill the Anarchs as a viable political faction in tabletop gaming. At least until The Guide to the Anarchs by the good people at Onyx Path Publishing.
    Nelli G and Victor.
    The Anarchs have always been, at least at my table, the lesser evil of the Camarilla/Sabbat/Anarch trifecta. They're the youngest of the Damned and thus the ones most likely to cling to a shred of their humanity. Given the Brujah clan were inspired by Keifer Sutherland's David (The Lost Boys), this isn't to say they're nice people, but they I've always had my sympathies.

    The depiction of L.A. in Los Angeles by Night, however, indicated that the Anarchs overthrowing the elders of California led to a complete disaster. The Anarchs continually warred with each other for territory, were ruled by micro-princes, and no one rose above being a bunch of Sabbat-esque packs versus the more enlightened Kindred like Chicago by Night's Maldavis. From that point on, it was more or less just the Camarilla versus the Sabbat with the Anarchs as an afterthought.

    Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines effectively trashed the Anarch Free States and that was after it had been trashed in the table top game by the Kuei Jin (scary Chinese vampires! Dum-dum-dum!). Except something happened there as the Anarchs in that game were incredibly likeable. Nines Rodrigues, Damsel, and Smiling Jack were able to articulate in a few scenes what almost a decade of supplements had failed to do: what Anarchs were about. It was a simple but effective pitch, "Don't get screwed over by Elders." This would carry over into V20 and eventually V5. V5 actually making the Anarchs have a serious comeback and retake the Free States.
    A game in-session.
    I've long been a fan of Jason Carl and his work in creating Vampire: The Masquerade LARPing as we know it. There would be no Minds Eye Theater if not for his efforts. I wasn't a fan of Geek and Sundry or Twitch before this but the idea there would be a "professional" series of actors playing a game of 5th Edition intrigued me. So, I decided to give it a shot. What did I think?

    I loved it. The cast of L.A. By Night is excellent with Erika Ishi (Annabelle), B. Dave Walters (Victor Temple), Alexander Ward (Jasper), and Cynthia Marie (Nelli G) all having great chemistry. I even like the substitute Xander Jeanneret (X) who wavers between the best and worst of the Malkavian clan. The guest stars of the first season are great too with Mass Effect's Mark Meer and geek Renaissance woman Satine Phoenix.

    The premise is a coterie of vampires are the territory holders of Griffith College. This fictional location is the hunting ground of three Anarch vampires (A Nosferatu, a Ventrue, and a Toreador) that comes under fire when they find out a fourth vampire is hunting there. With some effort, they discover the poacher is a 13th generation Brujah fledgling named Annabelle.

    The group quickly bonds over their shared (in)humanity and their desire to educate Annabelle in the in's as well as out of Kindred existence. This is set after the events of the video game as well as incorporates elements from the original Los Angeles by Night. They live in the turf of Isaac Abrams, Baron both Hollywood as well as the Valley. Soon, they find themselves subject to attack by a conspiracy involving both the Second Inquisition as well as a Kindred enemy of Victor Temple.
    Annabelle falls victim to Kindred presence.
    I really enjoyed watching this web series as while you wouldn't think watching people play tabletop gaming would be exciting, everyone does an excellent job of staying in-character. Their mild cosplay and acting chops means it staddles the line between tabletop gaming with LARP. Erika and B. Dave Walters are the standout performers but no one does a terrible job. Well, people who hate "funny" Malkavians will probably have issues with Xander Jeanneret's X but I gradually warmed up to him.

    Jason Carl is a fantastic Storyteller and does a good job of managing the unpopular Hunger Dice of 5th Edition with big dramatic moments. He's good at voices and manages to insert genuine menace into characters like Isaac Abrams and humor into goofball students at Griffith College. I'd really like to see him do a Los Angeles by Night 5th Edition as it would undoubtedly be far better than the original (and the original had some good moments--they were just divided between bad ones). Maybe even do some novels with some of the changes from the show incorporated into canon. Hey, Jason, if you're reading this--I know people who write vampire books.

    Character-wise, Annabelle is both frustrating and endearing as she tries to be a high Humanity Consensualist (i.e. her victims know they're being fed on - bad Masquerade breacher!) in a much more cynical group. Victor is stereotypical Ventrue who runs the music business of L.A. like a vampire Suge Knight but with (ironically) less overt evil. Nelli G is a perfect Toreador--beautiful and silly but probably the most cold-hearted of the bunch. Jasper clings to his humanity better than anyone but Annabelle but his condition has made him monstrous in other ways.
    X is either a Malkavian or from Seattle.
    Is it really worthwhile to sit down and watch other people playing a tabletop roleplaying game for hours? I didn't think it would be and only stayed because of Jason Carl and my love of 5th Edition at first. By the end of the first episode, though, I was hooked. The actors' chemistry and dialogue managed to insert me into the world far better than I would have thought possible. I don't know if it's scripted or not but if it is genuinely off the cuff, they deserve amazing props for their ability to stay in-character even things like Blade and Underworld are mentioned.

    I have a few issues with the plot and pacing at times with the combat not really translating well with a few exceptions (like the club fight) and the first forty-five minutes of Episode 1 being a bit of a bore. After that, though, I was hooked on the entire series. The guest stars are great and seeing people act the roles of characters like Ramona and Victoria Ash are a tremendous boon. Only aged 38 year olds like myself probably care about Jeremy MacNeil and Tara but I'll gladly show my appreciation with my wallet to get early views. Could the villains have ended up being a bit more threatening? Yes. However, the character interaction was among the best I've seen at a table.

    For those who don't have any money to spare, Geek and Sundry has also made the first two seasons available on Youtube with the one I just reviewed available here:

    Episode 1
    Episode 2
    Episode 3
    Episode 4
    Episode 5
    Episode 6
    Episode 7
    Episode 8

    9/10

  • LimeFlavored
    replied
    Originally posted by Sycophant View Post
    Oh whoops. Its V5. I don't own those books and remain mostly a V20 kind of guy right now
    It's similar enough to V20... I don't plan on having any "non-core 7 clans" right away, so you don't have to worry about Banu Haqim or Ministry showing up... the power levels are lower (10th Generation is the top of the playable line in the core), and I'm sure we could figure out the other differences to keep you close (I haven't studied the V20, so I'm not sure about the finer points).

    Leave a comment:


  • Sycophant
    replied
    Oh whoops. Its V5. I don't own those books and remain mostly a V20 kind of guy right now

    Leave a comment:


  • Sycophant
    replied
    Originally posted by LimeFlavored View Post
    No nights have been decided on, I wanted to get the posse together to determine what works best for everyone. You guys on FB Messenger?
    Yeah I am. I'll PM it to you. When I have a chance I'll check out the site

    Leave a comment:


  • LimeFlavored
    replied
    https://emeraldnights.obsidianportal.com/ Is the page I put up to attract some others, EmeraldSpecter.com is my website that will house the background info and releases for the show.

    Leave a comment:


  • LimeFlavored
    replied
    No nights have been decided on, I wanted to get the posse together to determine what works best for everyone. You guys on FB Messenger?

    Leave a comment:


  • JRRParker
    replied
    If you're still looking for online players, I may be interested as well.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sycophant
    replied
    I may be interested. Do you know what nights and frequency of the game?

    Leave a comment:


  • LimeFlavored
    replied
    I shouldn't say "more than likely"... it'll be online for sure unless I can find locals, of which I've so far been unable to find.

    Leave a comment:


  • LimeFlavored
    replied
    This will more than likely be online. If I could gather locals, I would... but I'm content with whatever I can achieve. I'm in Portland, OR... so if anyone else wants in on this, I'd be a happier camper.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sycophant
    replied
    Playing local or online?

    Leave a comment:


  • LimeFlavored
    replied
    I'm working on a "non-professional" version of something like this. It'll be set in Portland, OR and will be video... I'd like some cosplay, but it isn't necessary. The "in character most of the time" is a desired outcome, as is video.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sycophant
    replied
    This series was a miss for me at first. Jason Carl didn't impress me at first and I don't care for V5. I had already liked Erika from Sagas of Sundry and B. Dave Walters from We're Still Alive (both were amazing btw) but when I tuned in I just couldn't get into it at all.

    I let some time pass, started another V20 game that wound up being Anarch/Independent in slant with a great group of players, and decided to give it another go. I think a good part of it was Jason's voice at first, it almost sounded like he didn't want to be there (to me anyways). But after I gave it another shot I really started to dig the series and Jason. We even had a viewing party with said players for Season 1 Episode 1 since most hadn't seen the series yet and I used it to help give the players a bit of a reference to Vampire in general and to the Anarchs. Come to find out one of my players has a close friend who is also a friend of Erika's so she geeked out a little bit finding that out

    Even if you aren't a fan of V5 overall the players are great, and the main 4 do an amazing job, especially through season 2 and into the premier of season 3. They've earned the nickname "vamily".

    The only one I've been on the fence with is Xander Jeanneret's X because he's too close to being a fuzzy bunny Malk and I've experienced too many over the years. Most of his characters that I have seen are VERY similar except his character in We're Alive: New Frontier (I think his name was Bandaid, who I like a lot). That isn't to say I dislike his play style as he had a great scene in season 2 with Erika, I just think he's currently falling into the trope with Malks that many veterans of the game dislike.

    The seasons aren't too long by internet show standards and to me it's worth the time investment. Season 3's opener was REALLY well done

    Leave a comment:


  • Frontline989
    replied
    Jason Carl is really good. Rolls with everything the PC's throw at him and never seems caught off guard. The actors are great at their roles also.

    Leave a comment:

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