|More Live Action Misadventures|
By Rp Bowman
I fully sympathise with and support poor Archimedes in his observations of Vampire: The Masquerade. Unfortunately, I have played in ten games myself and have had the shame of running the first four.
Why do I do this to myself, again and again? Some mad dream or some hindered need, perhaps? Despite the bitter disappointment that came when I opened the first boxed-set version of The Masquerade back in 1993 (God! Could I really have been that young and foolish? I spent $30 US on that thing!) and discovered, to my horror, that they actually expected me to play Rock-Scissors-Paper in public and semi-public gatherings; despite this I forged ahead and INVITED MY FRIENDS TO PLAY.
I invited all my friends and, a month or two later, they were no longer my friends. I was specifically unwelcome at their houses any more. It was horrible, unthinkable, and I didn't even know what was happening.
Here's what goes through your head when you decide to run a game of the Masquerade:
"Hey, I spent a chunk of cash on this thing and I kind of had fun playing tabletop Vampire... kinda. Only the GM was always getting in my way. Maybe a Live Action game will require less - perhaps even NO - GM involvement. I can just leave clues and props around, give people some basic motivations and the story will run itself. It'll be, like it says in the box, experimental theatre."
Now, I don't know about you, but I've never actually sat all the way through an experimental theatre show of any kind, but my father did, back in the sixties, and he can't comment on it without the kind of haunted look he gets when he recounts tales of torture in Vietnam.
The second thing that you think about the game, once you start running it and it becomes obvious that everyone still feels a need to run EVERY LITTLE THING THEY WANT THEIR CHARACTERS TO DO by you, as the GM (the "Narrator" in White Wolf parlance) is: "Aw, they still like my decisions. I'm flattered, I'm going to do this again, soon!"
You overlook the chaos, the one friend who won't return your calls, and the remains of your tidy house. You ride high on the glory of commanding a crowd of free-thinking artistic souls, people taking gaming to new heights, and you set up a second game. At this game, there are more people, and you notice to your delight that the amount of females in your life has increased exponentially. Not only that, these females are bedecked in sexy, universally-flattering black and net and are wearing the kind of dangerous make-up you only see in 1980s rock videos.
"Oh yes," you think to yourself, "this is much better than THE OLD WAY."
But, what you don't realise is that, while you and your male compatriots chat about the sexy, sexy women before the game, they're talking about how powerful their characters are or, if you're lucky, drugs.
By this time, it's too late. People you never even realised existed enter your life. People who DON'T LISTEN TO YOU, but don't extend you the courtesy of telling you straight out like your friends do. Also, it gets harder to think up plot threads for forty or fifty people, and they have plans of their own and... and...
You declare, about the third night that, whoops, no one noticed the house was laced with C-4 and this Orgy of the Damned (three people running around the house shouting, fifteen bored people smoking on the couch, several people asking where the liquor actually is and two people trying to find a place to pretend to imaginary shag a child prostitute) has now been blown sky high. Only they don't get it and they just go outside and mill about on the stoop. So you tell them they're all dead and they toast you with something that isn't blood and then you realise that, of the fifty or so people in your life, none of them are people you know.
Maybe, if you're lucky, you get the message, apologise to your dysfunctional and now even-more-badly-emotionally-scarred friends and return to the game table.
But, maybe you're like me and you think "what went wrong? Maybe I'll try being a player." And you're heard stories about people who actually (Shudder) TOUCH one another in LARP, so you join the OFFICIAL FAN CLUB OF THE MASQUERADE and, just to hedge your bets, you make sure the fanclub is playing the Fairy-Tale variant of the world.
And you walk in, fearing the worst, only to find that, no matter what you say, no matter who you contact and no matter what you do, NOTHING EVER FUCKING HAPPENS. In fact, the rules are written (if you can understand the rules) so that people are encouraged not to interact with each other. They put "Shy" in as a character trait in a game which relies on social interaction for its entire dynamic. Not only that, there are no plotlines (that make sense, anyway) and the GM smiles benignly and receives everyone who comes to her (and you must come to her to have something to do) like a lost, foolish puppy.
No one seems to know the rules. You're stuck in a society hungry for power that isn't there, currency that doesn't exist and pretty faces who won't talk to you. Further more, in the US, there are no drugs, cigarettes or alcohol.
So you find some guy, some new guy, and you make his life hell for the entire evening. And, the next day, they come round and everyone tells you how great you were and how they are really looking forward to seeing you the next evening.
Oh yes, Archimedes, they told me that, too. It's called "encouraging the meat" and the idea is that you'll be so hungry for praise and adulation that you'll return. You clocked the guy who tried it on you, but me, no, I was too gullible and I returned again and again.
I can feel the urge rising in me again, as well. "I'll write a better game" I think to myself. "I can do better than that. I'll write a LARP that really doesn't need a GM where players police themselves and old players are forced to give new ones plot hooks and advice. I'll serve it with peppermint jam on a lovely gingham dress. Oh, la de dah, life will be so very shiny with so very little piano."
I'll laugh as they drag me back into their clutches. They won't even suspect. Hehe. Hehe.
Malludituri te Salutant.
We who are about to game badly, salute you.
Copyright © 2001 Rp Bowman