It was the early 90’s, and my group had moved away from heroic fantasy and charged headlong into the new hotness – Vampire the Masquerade. We absolutely loved this game and played it exclusively for several years. It was edgy. It was different. And it made your characters seem powerful, even when you were just starting out. At least until you started figuring out how much more powerful everyone else was…
So it was my first campaign as a Vampire Storyteller, so I picked up the only city sourcebook available in the beginning, Chicago By Night. It was glorious. My group all started out with newly Embraced vampires who literally knew next to nothing about what the hell was going on in the World of Darkness – which is just how we liked it. So, as can be expected, these first characters were pretty much wish-fulfillment-type vamps that pretty much brought out the crazy in every single one of my friends – often to hilarious results.
One of my players was a guy named Matt. Now Matt in real life definitely has the gift of the gab. In another life, he had to have been an Arab horse trader. He’s got more than a little wannabe-gangster in him, so Chicago was right up his ally. By the second session, he went full-on criminal, and, as usual, dragged the rest of the group along with him. He also has a different attitude towards role-playing games and survival. “I don’t care if I die, as long as I die smooth” pretty much sums it up.
He chose to play a Caitiff vampire – an outcast Kindred whose Sire abandoned him shortly after Embracing him and dumping him in an alleyway. Matt’s character knew absolutely nothing about being a vampire and certainly knew nothing about vampire society – especially the fact that his very existence was a crime. So armed with his new form and powers, he bravely (and immediately) sets off to become the vampire Al Capone.
He talks the group into doing street rips on drug dealers to get cash and weapons. Now Vampires vs. Humans wasn’t much of a competition in the game, and they all swiftly became drunk with power.
Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that everything in Chicago – every gang, every institution – that could provide a vampire with some power or influence was already controlled by vampire, and those vampires generally took a dim view of other vampires taking their stuff. So, after hitting some of the local Bloods one too many times, the vampire who controlled the Bloods decided to get involved.
It’s Saturday night in Chicago. The group’s out cruising for a new target and trying to find other vampires because they haven’t seen any others yet. It never occurred to them that everyone else was avoiding them like the time bomb the group obviously was. They attack a corner and quickly find themselves gunned down by AK-47 fire. When they wake up, they’re all staked out on the rooftop of Cabrini Green waiting for the sun to come up. Oh, and there’s a vampire whom they’ve never seen before interrogating them one by one about who they’re working for.
Of course they can really answer any of these questions because they have no idea whatsoever who any of these potential employers are.
So…four sessions in…in a game where their characters are effectively immortal…they are facing final death by suntan on a rooftop.
But wait! Matt comes to the rescue by agreeing to return all the money and drugs they stole and offers up himself (and everyone else) to work for this vampire in exchange for their lives. The vampire accepts as long as they all agree to become Blood-bonded to him which of course they agree to (because they have no idea what that means), and now they’re all slaves to this guy.
It could be hard in V:TM to come up with a reason why four, solitary, undead, predatory strangers would team up as a party. Umm…not so much this time thanks to Matt Capone.