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Three Bizarre Elements I Didn't Know Came from "The Vampire Chronicles"

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  • Three Bizarre Elements I Didn't Know Came from "The Vampire Chronicles"

    If you’re like me, then until recently, your exposure to Interview with the Vampire was limited to the film adaptation. If you read the original book, you might have thought the film was a decent adaptation, but the book probably didn’t throw too many surprises at you. You could see where Vampire: the Masquerade and, eventually, Requiem got their inspiration for a few ideas: for example, the gothic romance of being one of the undead, the sexual undertones, and the existential horror of eternity.


    Sexy, sexy eternity

    But did you ever read the sequels? For those who don’t know, Interview with the Vampire is just the first book in The Vampire Chronicles. It’s followed by The Vampire Lestat, focusing on Louis’ companion, the titular character. And then The Queen of the Damned, which I understand to have been translated into a terrible movie. In fact, The Vampire Chronicles continues to this day – there’s another entry on its way.

    Delighted with the first volume of the series, I picked up the second one – both for the pleasure of reading and because I wanted to see more of the inspiration for two of my favorite game lines. I got inspiration, yes, but not what I was expecting. There are things in these massive volumes that I never would have thought came from the same author who penned Interview, and so many eerie resemblances to our favorite fang-based roleplaying games that I’m shocked – astounded – that I’ve never heard these books sourced for what follows in the rest of this post.

    Now, I’m going to be talking only about the first three books in the series, because those are the ones which came out before VtM was released in 1991. It’s only fair. If I started arguing that VtM drew from Prince Lestat, I’d have to suppose Mark Rein-Hagen was a time-traveling wizard.

    So, what elements of VtM and VtR come from The Vampire Chronicles? Let’s start with…

    Pure Gonzo
    You may have read stories of players who run vampire rock stars or who go on crazy epic quests. “Ludicrous,” you might say. “This isn’t what the game designers intended. Where would anybody come up with such absurd ideas?”

    Ah, but you see…

    “Right now I am what America calls a Rock Superstar.”


    Lestat, demonstrating his mastery of the First Tradition of Kindred Law

    This quote is from Lestat, and I swear to you that I’m not taking it out of context. In The Vampire Lestat, our hero awakens from torpor to discover it’s the 80s, and that he likes rock’n’roll music. He hooks up with a heavy metal band called Satan’s Night Out and becomes their lead singer. You can actually read some of his lyrics (or listen to them on audiobook). And it’s not like a small-time band. Oh no. He goes on tour. He plays internationally. The climax of the book takes place in San Francisco, during his Halloween night special performance, to a massive crowd.

    He makes a point of saying that he is, in fact, the Lestat from Interview with the Vampire, which became an actual published best-selling book in this setting. He goes on to write The Vampire Lestat, a wildly successful "sequel" to the original volume.

    So, what does he write in his autobiography?


    ... oh...

    … Imagine if one of the vampires in Masquerade just started penning out the history of vampires, including literally all of their secrets. Like about the Antedeluvians, the Sabbat, the Masquerade – all of that. There’s even a line in there where a methuselah tells him “hey, I’m telling you the big secrets, and don’t you dare tell anyone else”. Which, of course, he is presently telling the reader.

    There’s also the globe-trotting adventures. Travel is a common element between all the books I’ve read so far, but there was always something important about the places they visit in the first book. Arguably, the later books focus more on the adventures than they do the locations themselves. Point is, if someone says your charismatic and sexy globe-trotting vampire has no basis in the material, you can point to the two books in which Lestat proudly declares, “I am the James Bond of vampires.”


    The great thing about Google is that you can type "vampire James Bond" and things come up.

    This is all a very long way of saying that if Lestat were playing Vampire: the Masquerade, he would very much be the kind of player who says “to hell with you I can’t take True Faith – now tell me about Temporis”.


  • #2

    Generations and Blood Potency
    “The older the vampire, the more powerful” is a concept that’s surely older than TVC. But I can’t think of any other material where the concept of the blood’s power is so elaborately detailed. Like in every other bit of vampire fiction ever, the oldest vampire is the most powerful: in this case, it’s Akasha, the queen of the damned. She’s about as close as the setting gets to an antediluvian, and she has the startling powers to prove it. Telekinesis? Summoning fire? Resisting the sun? Trivialities.


    Weakling!

    Here’s where it gets interesting. Vampires in TVC get more powerful in two ways. First, the natural aging process makes them more powerful over time. Sure, not a surprise there. But did you know they can get more powerful if Embraced by a powerful vampire? The same thing happens if they drink a powerful vampire’s blood. Or, if you want to really get into it, Diablerie. I wouldn’t say they exactly suck out the “soul” of the vampire, but there’s a scene at the end of Queen of the Damned by which I would be surprised if it wasn’t inspiration. The climactic confrontation ends with the mother of all vampires stabbed to death and her innards devoured for their power by another vampire, actually transferring the literal spirit that grants vampires their powers.

    Auspex
    Auspex is one of those weird vampire powers. If it was just some random bloodline’s power, I wouldn’t have given it much thought. Psychic vampires, okay, sure, put it in the same book as the cannibalism Discipline.


    The bloodline's insignia, in case you thought maybe I was exaggerating.

    But it’s a core Discipline. For years, this bothered me. I couldn’t figure out where the designers got the idea. What on earth is it about vampires that suggests they could astrally project or read information straight off an object?

    Then I open up The Vampire Lestat, and learn that Lestat could read peoples’ minds to learn whether they were bad guys. I thought, “Okay, weird, he must be delusional.” I mean, there’s never anything more than a vague suggestion of this power – if even that – in Interview. But no, it comes up again. We learn that Lestat has had this power for centuries – even during the time of the original book. And he can use it to sense events going on even while in torpor, for miles around. And it’s not just him. This is actually a fairly common power among vampires. It’s a major point in Queen of the Damned that some vampires can’t read others minds.

    So, there you have it. Psychic vampires.

    There’s lots of other stuff too. I’d be shocked if the Toreador and the Daeva weren’t directly inspired by The Vampire Chronicles. The terms fledgling, neonate, elder, and childe all make appearance. The idea that humans lose supernatural gifts upon becoming vampires is reflected in the tale of Maharet. And so much more.

    I went more than ten years without knowing any of this. Now, I'm not saying that Anne Rice was the originator of all of these ideas, but I don't know of an earlier source for any of them. I am saying that it'd be hard to convince me the designers of VtM and VtR weren't inspired by The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned.

    Thoughts?

    Comment


    • #3
      In fact, those books are listed in the "we were inspired by these things" section.


      I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

      Comment


      • #4
        Clealy this is what a very old being wants us to bealive. Anne Rice is clearly a cover up for where the facts really originates from. So is you...

        *gasps in conspiracy*

        Comment


        • #5
          Don't forget the time White Wolf threatened to sue the film makers of Underworld for IP infringement, and Anne Rice joked that maybe she should sue White Wolf. But... time for an anecdote thread? All right, just off the top of my head:

          - Most of the original Discipline names came from an old dictionary Mark Rein•Hagen pick up at a used bookstore, and used to keep around the offices;
          - The Storyteller System was based on the Shadowrun system, just using d10 instead of d6;
          - Kindred: The Embraced, the television show based on Vampire, was produced by and created by Aaron Spelling, father of Tori Spelling and producer of such classics as Melrose Place and 90210, after the cover of the core book caught his eye and he flipped through it (and MH•R was a "consultant");
          - Also, Kindred was "on the bubble" - Fox was unsure if they were going to renew it, but the untimely death of the lead actor due to a motorcycle accident persuaded Spelling to tell Fox to cancel the show, as "Julian Luna was the show";
          - Another tie to Kindred: Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries books (and thus the True Blood television show) were influenced by the couple episodes Harris caught during the original broadcast, combined with the stories she heard about the local Mind's Eye LARP;
          - The original game design tried to minimize the influence of Dracula (heh, good luck), and instead took more cues from Varney the Vampire, Carmilla, and The Vampyre (and Rice's work, of course);
          - The Sabbat Clans were always meant to be antagonistic and never intended to be playable (look at how many threads there are about Vicissitude and Obtenebration - but, you can't tell a player they can't have something, because then they must have it);
          - Everybody knows the Brujah are based off Lost Boys the movie, and most know that the Tzimisce (or at least Vicissitude) are based on Necroscope and Dracula, but did you know that the Tzimisce image is specifically based off Gary Oldman's "Old Dracula" from the first half of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula?
          - The Dark Ages line was kind of an accident - each game was supposed to get an historical "signature setting" (Wild West for Werewolf, Sorcerer's Crusade/Renaissance stuff for Mage, World War 1 for Wraith, and I think the 60's for Changeling(?), but DA was such a success, years later we got Victorian Age Vampire.

          Other random things:
          - You can still find ads in old White Wolf magazines for Faerie and Ghost, before they changed the names to Changeling and Wraith, respectively;
          - Just like you can find old ads that claim Exalted is the "pre-history" of the World of Darkness;
          - Much like folding in the Tremere from Ars Magica, White Wolf originally wanted to incorporate Engel (Angel), a German game they were distributing, into the World of Darkness;
          - Jim Butcher's Dresden books are based off the Mage character he played in college;
          - At conventions in the 90's, White Wolf often had the largest floor space, and had a pop-up castle(!) with working drawbridge.

          That's all I can remember right now.

          Cheers!
          Last edited by nothing; 04-05-2016, 03:36 AM.


          If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
          'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by nothing View Post
            - The Sabbat Clans were always meant to be antagonistic and never intended to be playable (look at how many threads there are about Vicissitude and Obtenebration - but, you can't tell a player they can't have something, because then they must have it);
            Always Chaotic Evil antagonists are stupid and boring, so of course people want to improve them. Once Sabbat stopped being Always Chaotic Evil Anti-Masquerade Nazi Infernalist Communist Christian Secret Society - why not play as the Sabbat? What makes them so different from the assholes in the Camarilla?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by nothing View Post
              Don't forget the time White Wolf threatened to sue the film makers of Underworld for IP infringement, and Anne Rice joked that maybe she should sue White Wolf.
              White Wolf didn't just threaten to sue Sony Pictures but did; the case ended in a confidential settlement.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by The Sword Emperor View Post
                Thoughts?
                Excellent recap; I think you're spot on about all the things VtM cribbed directly from Rice. Some additional elements that come to mind are Lestat's sire Magnus as a sort of proto-Tremere; Armand's Children of Darkness as an inspiration for the Sabbat and/or Gehenna cults; the Fang Gang as a role model for Brujah and Caitiff culture; and the whole business with Akasha as the basis for the deep history of VtM Kindred. The last bit is probably the most important for the tone and feel of the game -- are there any examples of vampire fiction before The Vampire Chronicles that trace vampirism all the way back to the dawn of recorded history?

                I've always enjoyed the globetrotting Katanas & Trenchcoats side of VtM right alongside its personal horror aspirations -- it's perfectly in keeping with one of the primary inspirations for the game!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have to wonder if there's a bit of feedback going on here, especially with Requiem.

                  For example the way sunlight damages older Kindred far more than young ones in Requiem 2E (a freshly turned neonate will last about two hours, while a low-humanity elder will be a pile of ash in seconds) is quite similar to how it works in True Blood (where Bill survives going outside in the day for about ten minutes and Godric is dust instantly).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                    White Wolf didn't just threaten to sue Sony Pictures but did; the case ended in a confidential settlement.
                    IIRC, the issue wasn't so much similarities to the World of Darkness games (which draw from a whole host of literary and cinematic sources) as to a specific Nancy Collins book that White Wolf published.

                    Elphilm, I remember Robert E. Howard's one full length Conan novel having the titular hero run across a millennia-old progenitor vampire, one Princess Akivasha, in the crypts beneath the Pyramids. I thought way back when that Rice probably based Akasha on that character.
                    Last edited by Matt the Bruins fan; 04-06-2016, 07:29 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Nice catch!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nothing View Post
                        - Kindred: The Embraced, the television show based on Vampire, was produced by and created by Aaron Spelling, father of Tori Spelling and producer of such classics as Melrose Place and 90210, after the cover of the core book caught his eye and he flipped through it (and MH•R was a "consultant");
                        - Also, Kindred was "on the bubble" - Fox was unsure if they were going to renew it, but the untimely death of the lead actor due to a motorcycle accident persuaded Spelling to tell Fox to cancel the show, as "Julian Luna was the show";
                        (Just jumping in on a couple points here because one has an additional related anecdote and the other is actually wrong/a common mis-attribution...)

                        The failure of K:tE had a partial influence on the two-years-later-produced by Spelling series, Charmed, coming into existence. Because Kindred had failed to balance the factors involved (it was largely considered "too Melrose" for those looking for the supernatural/vampire aspects, particularly as it deviated significantly in some regards from the game-as-presented, while simultaneously considered "too weird" by those looking for "Melrose" and/or something they thought would be more "Dark Shadows", or similar -- this was cited in two different magazines back-in-the-day), Spelling went in the direction of keeping with the supernatural (and even keeping the locality of taking place in San Francisco, as both shows were set there), but shifting focus to a more tried-and-true demographic relative to the (sub)genre that was being aimed for: target tween/teen girls, make it female-led (which appeals to both genders if albeit for often different reasons), and make use of then-current pop-culture items/references popular with teens/young people (much/most of the first season had stories directly cribbed from other shows/movies, and the theme song was, of course, directly pouched from the then-recent "The Craft"... which also played the "cater to teen/tween girl audiences" card...). An important-if-often-overlooked tidbit of 90's trivia...

                        It's a commonly cited but untrue comment that Fox didn't renew the series/was on the fence because of Frank Markel's death -- Fox had already made the decision to not continue with the series during that summer after it aired ('96) due to relatively low ratings and middling public reaction; it was cited/quoted *later* that Markel's death (Sept. 24th, 1996) put the kibosh on any possibility of Fox/Spelling/Leekley Productions trying to "resurrect" the series, as it were, at a later/other time. An important clarification. (Ironically, of course, *if* the series *hadn't* been cancelled that summer, Markel wouldn't have been in England that Autumn but would have been in CA shooting more episodes for a second season of K:tE... which means he wouldn't have died -- at least at that point in time -- in a motorcycle accident as he did. Ironic and sad... )
                        Last edited by Just John, Forever...; 04-10-2016, 07:25 PM. Reason: spacing, as always...


                        I have been around here for waaaayyyy too fucking long...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Elfive View Post
                          I have to wonder if there's a bit of feedback going on here, especially with Requiem.

                          For example the way sunlight damages older Kindred far more than young ones in Requiem 2E (a freshly turned neonate will last about two hours, while a low-humanity elder will be a pile of ash in seconds) is quite similar to how it works in True Blood (where Bill survives going outside in the day for about ten minutes and Godric is dust instantly).
                          Welllll... not exactly. Bill survived for "x"-minutes outside because (as indicated in later seasons) he still had some of the influence of Sookie's blood within him (Season 1); otherwise, he would have burned up in just a matter of so many seconds/half-a-minute-at-most, as is the case with the vampires on that show, in general, when struck by direct sunlight (diffuse/indirect sunlight had notably less of an effect, though albeit still dangerous). The difference between Godric and anybody else was/is largely a matter of fractions -- a few more seconds, here-or-there, relatively speaking -- which isn't the same thing at all as presented in Requiem.

                          On an Anne Rice-related note, however, a semi-similar thing occurs with her vampires: those who are only a few years "turned" can be killed by sunlight, but usually leave behind a "burned in a house fire corpse", with those who are at least some decades or a couple centuries undead being turned to ash, as illustrated in difference between approx. 70 y.o Claudia -- ash -- and turned-only-a-few-weeks-ago Madeleine, who died with her but left a burnt-but-essentially-intact corpse behind, as indicated by Louis. As the centuries go on (or a vampire becomes more empowered via stronger vampires' blood), however, that bell-curve shifts again and they begin to develop a degree of durability against the sun (minor/buying you only so many seconds) which in turns becomes surviving even being out for an entire day but often being emaciated/mummy-like as a result, and often requiring decades or even centuries to recover unless bolstered by the blood of other vampires (even vampires who might be much weaker than they are, as even weak vampire blood helps hasten the recovery process, as indicated by Lestat saying so in TVL). So even that is still a step-to-the-left different, if still have some similarity.
                          Last edited by Just John, Forever...; 04-10-2016, 07:40 PM. Reason: spacing... forever my enemy...


                          I have been around here for waaaayyyy too fucking long...

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                          • #14
                            Just John, Forever... In my haste, I only gave the crux of the matter. It was my understanding that Fox had canceled (or rather, had decided not to continue/renew) the show but had made no official statement of cancelation at the time, and that Spelling was still fighting for it, but Markel's demise was the main factor in Spelling letting it rest.

                            I was also completely unaware that Charmed was a Spelling production.

                            Cheers!


                            If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
                            'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Just John, Forever...
                              When they get really old or powerful, it gets even better. Akasha was practically immune to sunlight - it bronzed her skin. Lestat demonstrates this power in Tale of the Body Thief, where he attempts to commit suicide by staying out in the sun. He's not quite as invulnerable as Akasha - if Akasha gets a perfect bronze tan, it looks like Lestat spent a couple hours too long in the tanning bed.

                              As for K:tE, I'm curious - what's the source for the info on why they decided to cancel it?

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