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Just how "gothic" is Requiem?

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  • Just how "gothic" is Requiem?

    We've been discussing the thematic differences between Requiem and Masquerade with my troupe lately, and we came to interesting (if far-stretched) conclusion.

    Masquerade adheres more to the European Gothic genre (and, ultimately, scene, intertwined with Punk elements that attest to the origin of Gothic music), with ancient cosmic horrors that still haunt the oldest, largest cities of Europe, while the inclusion of Northern America in the larger picture (aka the Jyhad) is still underway. Old rivalries and terrors dating back to the Crusades and the antiquity, still shape the nights tonight. Of course, many of those are not elements of Gothic literature, but they ultimately these tropes were tied to Gothic Horror and Gothic Punk (partly because of innovations introduced by Masquerade).

    Requiem, just based on the vibe we get from it, feels like Gothic Americana, fitting more accurately the definition of Southern Gothic we found on Wikipedia. The characters themselves are the source of horror, rather than the ancient forces that be like in VtM. Characters like the Unholy and the flavor of the Gangrel clanbook, as well as that Southern aristocratic vibe I get from the Invictus, seem to support this (?). In-game conflict and political history seems to resemble Old World baggage, more than an ever-present threat. Big power players of the Danse Macabre do not necessarily receive orders from ancients, but simply try to keep alive the old ways, those of their sires and grandsires.

    Edit: I'm not saying this in a bad way, I really really like the feel of Requiem.

    What do you think?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Gothic
    Last edited by stylanski; 01-18-2017, 11:19 AM.


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  • #2
    That's a really interesting way of looking at it. I have long said that Masquerade is more Punk, Requiem is more Goth, in reference to the music genres and the subcultures surrounding them. Both deal with existential angst, but the former externalizes it and the latter internalizes it. But comparing to literature, it makes a lot of sense to say that Masquerade is more European Gothic and Requiem is more Southern Gothic. Very cool analogy!


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    • #3
      in general chronicles of darknes fumigates all the camp that permeated CWOD

      Camp isnt always a bad thing or a good thing.


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      • #4
        I don't know jack about literature, but this sounds pretty convincing. I should go read the Wikipedia articles about Goth...-ism? Gothicness? Goths? Gothic literature. Yeah, that sounds good.

        Originally posted by Prince of the Night View Post
        in general chronicles of darknes fumigates all the camp that permeated CWOD

        Camp isnt always a bad thing or a good thing.
        I'm not really sure how that's relevant.


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        • #5
          Yeah, the Southern Gothic is a big inspiration for Vampire. Pretty sure I've even quoted Flannery O'Connor in a book.


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          • #6
            While I find the comparison interesting (and I'm not going to contradict Rose jumping in and confirming some influence there), I have problem with how "European Gothic" is being defined here.

            There's nothing particularly European about the way VtM modifies the basic Gothic literary tropes. When I think about things like cosmic horror and ancient mystic conspiracies, I think about the "Northern Horror" that Southern Gothic is compared to. People like Lovecraft, and King.

            Maybe a better contrasting term for VtM would be "Existentialist Gothic." Existentialist literature (which horror authors like Lovecraft and Poe are often included in) plays on the external fears of loss of control or insignificance in the face of an uncaring universe. Existentialist literature also shares a lot of thematic overlap with the punk styling of the WoD (I've seen people label Fight Club as an example of this, to which I think is a good case).

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            • #7
              I never thought of either game in terms of "Gothic", but instead I think of them in terms of scale. Both are excellent at what they do, but they focus on different things. Masquerade's scale is immense. The world it literally ending, or on the verge of it. Elder vampires have powers capable of wiping out towns. If elder vampires are practically demigods, the Clan founders are ancient otherworldly beings of a similar nature with Lovecraftien horrors, capable of bending the world with their dreams whilst they sleep, let alone when they wake. Organizations cross the world with immediate agendas they work at a fervor pitch to achieve. Where as Requiem for me is local, personal, the world is still ending, but not the world at large, YOUR world is ending. it's not about power, although that's a part of it. It's about redefining yourself after this transformation. Figuring out how much of your life can be saved and how far your life extended. You don't care about the world, or some ages old organizations, you care about your friends, your family, the city you grew up in, or the one you find yourself in. The rest of the world can take a hike, because your world is large enough as is. But all that is just my thoughts on the matter, everyone views things differently, and that's for the best, variety is the spice of unlife after all.

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              • #8
                I think the amount and type of gothic vary depending on where you look. Early Requiem deliberately uses a lot of abstractly gothic aesthetics, particularly in the art. That drops out over time in favor of the very contemporary look and feel. I like both styles, but most of my work is on the contemporary stuff.

                Talking about very general influences, punk lyrics were a big influence on my early Vampire prose.


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                • #9
                  Surely I am not saying anything original, but these really interesting considerations take Requiem-Masquerade integration to a much more interesting level.
                  Camarilla and Sabbat fighting in the Old World at the tune of Ancient Jyahd, facing millennia-old threats and myths, corporatist oppression against religious fanaticism.

                  The New World, home of Ancillae and adventurers, jealous and loosely aligned Groups of vampires building their influence while exploring their damnation with lesser concerns due to vast distances.

                  Mekhet and Daeva as New World bloodlines or multiclan strange groupings: the mysterious and shadowy former Aztecs and Maya vampires and the new, syncretic Creolo vampiric subculture.

                  Striges, a old foe reawakened by ... Wars in the middle East? Bahari cultists ?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Manfr View Post
                    Surely I am not saying anything original, but these really interesting considerations take Requiem-Masquerade integration to a much more interesting level.
                    Camarilla and Sabbat fighting in the Old World at the tune of Ancient Jyahd, facing millennia-old threats and myths, corporatist oppression against religious fanaticism.

                    The New World, home of Ancillae and adventurers, jealous and loosely aligned Groups of vampires building their influence while exploring their damnation with lesser concerns due to vast distances.

                    Mekhet and Daeva as New World bloodlines or multiclan strange groupings: the mysterious and shadowy former Aztecs and Maya vampires and the new, syncretic Creolo vampiric subculture.

                    Striges, a old foe reawakened by ... Wars in the middle East? Bahari cultists ?
                    I do love me some Masquiem.


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                    • #11
                      Coming a bit lately, but...

                      Originally posted by stylanski View Post
                      We've been discussing the thematic differences between Requiem and Masquerade with my troupe lately, and we came to interesting (if far-stretched) conclusion.

                      Masquerade adheres more to the European Gothic genre (and, ultimately, scene, intertwined with Punk elements that attest to the origin of Gothic music), with ancient cosmic horrors that still haunt the oldest, largest cities of Europe, while the inclusion of Northern America in the larger picture (aka the Jyhad) is still underway. Old rivalries and terrors dating back to the Crusades and the antiquity, still shape the nights tonight. Of course, many of those are not elements of Gothic literature, but they ultimately these tropes were tied to Gothic Horror and Gothic Punk (partly because of innovations introduced by Masquerade).

                      Requiem, just based on the vibe we get from it, feels like Gothic Americana, fitting more accurately the definition of Southern Gothic we found on Wikipedia. The characters themselves are the source of horror, rather than the ancient forces that be like in VtM. Characters like the Unholy and the flavor of the Gangrel clanbook, as well as that Southern aristocratic vibe I get from the Invictus, seem to support this (?). In-game conflict and political history seems to resemble Old World baggage, more than an ever-present threat. Big power players of the Danse Macabre do not necessarily receive orders from ancients, but simply try to keep alive the old ways, those of their sires and grandsires.

                      Edit: I'm not saying this in a bad way, I really really like the feel of Requiem.

                      What do you think?

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Gothic
                      Hmmm. I think I'm agreeing with it.

                      Rose Bailey's additions are appreciated too, it's always good to see a developer's thoughts. For myself, I loved the distinctly gothic aesthetics of WoD and Requiem 1e more than 2e's contemporary-styled choices. The writing was superb in the latter, but for me, the former ones had a much stronger visual impact, more distinct "vampire" feel. The 2e book still says "gothic" on the cover, but when skimming through the book, the most gothic parts, IMO are the page and text-box frames which kept the wrought-iron looks. I might add it's just my personal preferences and I know others like the looks of the new book.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PMárk View Post
                        Coming a bit lately, but...



                        Hmmm. I think I'm agreeing with it.

                        Rose Bailey's additions are appreciated too, it's always good to see a developer's thoughts. For myself, I loved the distinctly gothic aesthetics of WoD and Requiem 1e more than 2e's contemporary-styled choices. The writing was superb in the latter, but for me, the former ones had a much stronger visual impact, more distinct "vampire" feel. The 2e book still says "gothic" on the cover, but when skimming through the book, the most gothic parts, IMO are the page and text-box frames which kept the wrought-iron looks. I might add it's just my personal preferences and I know others like the looks of the new book.
                        Hmm... I'm not sure what you mean by "Gothic" that is present in 1e and absent from 2e...


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                          Hmm... I'm not sure what you mean by "Gothic" that is present in 1e and absent from 2e...
                          Largely the entirety of the visual style, as Rose mentioned earlier. The b&w arts, the arranging of the scenes, the clothes, the backgrounds. The Bradstreet full-pagers. To me, it had a very distinct Vampire-feel, different from Masquerade, but still one of my favorite books visually. One of my best friends, who isn't an rpg-player, or WoD-fan (not even a goth, or metalhead, although he could appreciate "dark" things aesthetically), said when I shown him the 1e and 2e books, one after another, that when looking at just the pictures of the 1e book, skimming through, he immediately entered the state of mind akin to the one when watching for example Interview with the Vampire, while the 2e pictures are felt more like they could show anything, most of the time, like everyday scenes and people. Not all of them, but the overall feeling of the book was just less Vampire-ish. Of course, on the other end, one could say that the old books were caricaturistically goth-y (as the subculture) and vampire-y in a cheesy way. Different people, different tastes, as always.

                          Edit: I'd even go further and say, that parts of the aesthetics that remained from 1e, like the aforementioned borders, or the symbols of clans and covenants feels to me a little out of place among the overall different visual style of 2e. For me, the two just doesn't sync, although it's highly personal, of course.
                          Last edited by PMárk; 02-07-2017, 09:24 PM.


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                          • #14
                            Vampires are alternately pretentious and crass. They're the kind of people who put tidy little wrought-iron fences around everything... then proceed to splatter the rest of the page in blood.

                            Another term I used a lot, back when we relaunched the line in 2007, was "concrete gothic." Less gargoyles and corsets, more the romance of the city and the skyline looming like a predator.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Rose Bailey View Post
                              Vampires are alternately pretentious and crass. They're the kind of people who put tidy little wrought-iron fences around everything... then proceed to splatter the rest of the page in blood.
                              Always liked the blood-spattered theme and the requiem wrought-iron borders nearly or just as much as Masquerade's green marble+rose+b&w cemetery gate borders. Both are very strong visually IMO.


                              Another term I used a lot, back when we relaunched the line in 2007, was "concrete gothic." Less gargoyles and corsets, more the romance of the city and the skyline looming like a predator.
                              Honestly, gargoyles and corsets might be the basic gothic rope, but I'm not sure that Req 1e, or even Masq had all that much of them. Ok, maybe little more corsets here and there, but I think it was more of a punk/fetish/high class direction as clothing on pictures went. The gothic aesthetics were more in the backgrounds and architecture on - and the overall arrangements of - the pictures I think.

                              Your 'concrete gothic' is an interesting concept, although, in my opinion it's more like 2e kept the gothic themes and romance in the game itself and in the writing (I won't argue about that in the least). However, the illustrations themselves are indeed more like contemporary horror/everyday city than anything gothic. It just doesn't bleed the gothic feel as 1e and Masq did. I want to stress that I won't argue neither that It's an absolutely legit choice on your part as a developer to alter the visual style to your tastes and vision. Some people, like me might like it less, because in our minds the gothic aesthetics and vampires are something like hot-dog and mustard. Not in the sense of every vampire dressing as getting ready to a night at the Waydown (although the overall attire of charcers could be part of it, yes), but in the sense of general feeling and backgrounds.
                              Of course I could imagine someone who doesn't like that much, thinking all those iron fences and spires and bare branches in front of the moon are painstakingly pretentious and groans every time something like that coming up in the illustrations, who want to see 'normal' people and scenes because it feels more realistic and/or easier to relate. I don't say either approach is objectively better. I just said my personal preferences and that in my opinion (and in the opinion of my friends/acquaintances) the gothic aesthetic conveys the vampire theme more strongly and added that also in my opinion, the more Southern Vampire feel* of the 2e illustrations are a bit out of sync with the visual bits kept from 1e, which were designed with the gothic aesthetic style in mind.

                              To being constructive, one of the directions I think would be good for Requiem, if you want it truly distanced from the gothic looks is something akin to Only Lovers Left Alive (which is the most Requiem-ish movie for me, accidentally. Martin said it's the ultimate Masq 1e film, but I started with Revised, so it's a Requiem film for me as general feeling goes ).

                              *Point of fact: I read all of the Southern Vampire series and liked it, in general.
                              Last edited by PMárk; 02-08-2017, 06:29 PM.


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