The Trouble With Being Stuck In Darkness

Posted: October 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

I bought my first Vampire: The Masquerade gaming book in 1999 when I found a worn copy the Revised rule book in a used book store in Granada Hills, CA.

I was already familiar with the World of Darkness, having read several of the novels published before then. So when I had the chance to buy the rule book for $15, rather than try to convince my parents to let me buy it new for $50, I jumped. I’d been playing D&D for a few years before this, and had even ventured onto the old White Wolf RP chatrooms, but getting the rule book is where the addiction really started.

I ran tabletop games for my friends, played in the ones they ran; mostly Vampire and Werewolf. I continued this, almost weekly, until a friend invited me to come check out a massive Live Action game being held down in San Diego. With over a hundred players and multiple game sites, the old San Diego game opened my eyes as to what was possible. It opened a whole new world of gaming opportunities for me.

In 2002 I joined a small Live Action game hosted at UCLA, the following year I joined my first One World by Night chronicle (a world wide World of Darkness gaming organization) and the rest, as they say, is history.

I met some of my best and truest friends through playing in the World of Darkness, through the ‘gothic horror’ that never really got to ‘gothic’ and never quite made it to ‘horror’. I met the amazing woman who later became my wife through the very same group. Every weekend I had one or more games I could attend, and even travel to other cities and states to play in their own chronicles. The world was made wide and dark and wonderful for me.

However, now in the twilight of 2015, I find myself taxed by it.

I’ve been playing this game, almost weekly, for 13 years now. I’ve been Camarilla, Sabbat, Anarch and Independent. I’ve played every Clan and Tribe and Guild and Seeming and Kith and Chorus. I’ve been Vampires, Werewolves, Wraiths and Demons and Changelings and Mages, Hunters, Kuei-jin, Hengeyokai and even a bloody Technocrat. I have walked in the shoes of every aspect of the World of Darkness, and even some of the New World…and it doesn’t hold any mystery for me anymore. The wonder is gone. The shadows have all been illuminated, there are no more dark corners to venture in to.

The World of Darkness isn’t dark for me anymore, it’s just poorly illuminated.

I walk into LARPs now, look around, and can pinpoint exactly what types of characters everyone is playing before I even meet them in-character. He’s playing the Bruiser Tank, she’s the politicking bureaucrat, he’s the socialite, that’s the meta-gamer, the bragging minmaxed twink, the anti-fun rules lawyer, and over there is the person whose only social interaction is through LARP. The same faces and characters, just painted and colored a little differently each time, over and over and over and over again.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, by no means is this my Dear John letter to the World of Darkness. The World of Darkness if probably my first, truest and more sincerely loved Gaming System and likely always will be. This is more my heartfelt conversation that maybe it’s time that we took a break and saw other people for awhile, or that I need some space because I’m feeling smothered.

That should be easy, right?


Unfortunately, most of my local gaming community is still swept up in the apex of that passionate love affair that WoD can bring about, and who can blame them? She’s a dark and terrible mistress that sucks you in and holds you close. She’s comfortable, familiar, always there and everyones best friend…

But when the realization that you’ve been playing the same game so long that some of your fellow players were in Elementary school when you started, it really puts things in perspective.

A fellow member of the community recently put up a poll about ‘Which Game Should We Play Next’?
The choices were all World of Darkness, the same old assorted flavors.
“Can I vote for anything but WoD?” I asked.
“What vexes you about WoD?” he replied after I presented a small number of possible alternatives, to which I gave an honest and very brief summary of what I have detailed above.
I see your point, and cannot form anything but a token argument. I will say this though, as many people can attest, you will not receive “the same plot” from any game I run.”
Yes, dear friend, yes I will get the same plot. I’ll get the same characters and same faces and same out of character drama.

The fact of the matter is, that when there is only one ‘game’ in town, regardless of the flavor of that game, the community inevitably withers and dies, or becomes misanthropic and dysfunctional. Unfortunately, I’m already seeing signs of the latter which is, in same ways, worse than the former.

The simple truth is that a gaming community needs diversity in order to survive, it needs a multitude of genres and systems in order to allow people to branch out and grow and experience new things. Unfortunately, when trying to get a community to try and experiment with new systems, you might as well be trying to ask a junkie to go cold turkey. They’ll fight you, make excuses, say nasty shit and act like they know better. Ultimately, however, when you keep trying to make people understand the inevitable statement of, ‘Well, maybe you should just find a new group’ comes out.

‘Maybe you should just find a new group’, well ain’t that just a field-goal kick to the jimmy? If I wanted to ‘find a new group’ then why would I spend my breath trying to get them to try something new, let alone spend numerous weekends hanging out with the same group? If I wanted to game with another group, I’d simply tell the current one to fuck off or just stop communicating and attending events.

Gamers in general, and especially LARPers, are extremely creative people. They kit-bash together costuming and props out of nothing and they come up with truly dynamic and wonderful characters and settings, given the opportunity. So imagine what they could do when offered more than one paradigm to play in, more than one world to explore and enjoy?

Ultimately, maybe this is just one Elder Gamer’s burnt out rant. Maybe it’s just me venting.

But maybe, just maybe, there is something else out there, rather than being stuck in Darkness.


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