This Halloween we’re celebrating Vampire: The Masquerade’s 25th anniversary with the Endless Ages fiction anthology, with stories covering every era from Vampire’s 1st Edition through to the 20th Anniversary Edition.
We begin our journey with a preview of “Tiger” from author Michael J. Martinez:
When Vampire: The Masquerade came out in 1991, it was the freshest, craziest thing my gaming group had ever laid eyes on. Sure, we’d played horror games before — Chill, Call of Cthulhu — but this was different. This time, we were the monsters. And we reveled in it! We roleplayed our tragically hip, gothic-punk angst with gusto. We were beasts! Lest beasts we become! (Dude, we were 19 and in college. Shut up.)
But our Storyteller (hello, Drew!) was very keen to remind us that the myth of the vampire was far more than just Victorian romance and Cure songs. When our characters met their elders, and the elders’ elders, we faced real monsters. He made them alien, cruel, inscrutable, and horrifying. Afterwards, when the game was done, the lights were on and the beers were flowing, we talked more about the machinations of these horrible elder beings than our own actions in the game. They were scary.
Elders are indeed horrifying. We as Vampire players have all these ideas for our characters, how they’ll grow and change through the centuries, how they’ll climb the ladder of power in clan or sect, level up their Disciplines, and truly rule the night. But the scariest elders give us pause because they remind us that “growth” in Vampire: The Masquerade is a double-edged sword. These characters we come to know and love also become more unknowable and most definitely unlovable as they amass power.
When I got the chance to contribute to this anthology, I wanted to explore that alien otherness of elder vampires. I thought of some of the iconic princes and elders in the game, and how displays of mere mortal power were so completely immaterial to vampires like Vykos or Mithras. We tend to think of princes and elders in beautiful galleries or well-appointed boardrooms, wearing tailored suits or outdated finery, moving mortal pawns and neonates around the chessboards of their domains. But surely, over time, they outgrow such petty trappings.
So what happens when mortal power doesn’t matter anymore? What happens when an elder’s supernatural might is enough to ensure compliance in whatever she desires, or instant death otherwise? What does it matter what she looks like? Where she meets? And how can she possibly seem anything other than terrifying to everyone around her? That ultimately led me to “Tiger,” the story of a neonate presentation gone very, very wrong. I’m excited to see this out there, and grateful to Jaym Gates and the team at Onyx Path for letting me play in this very special sandbox. I hope you enjoy it.
The party had been one of the finest Samantha had ever seen, set amongst the paintings and sculptures of the Contemporary Art Museum downtown. Gilt with enough ostentatious wealth – gold-stemmed glassware, designer gowns, plastic surgery – to remain just on the proper side of gaudy, the venue was impeccably decorated, the mortals impeccably dressed and chosen to sate the palates of any number of Kindred, in any way imaginable.
And it was all for Samantha, for her coming out as a Ventrue, ready for presentation to the prince. It was a celebration among Clan Ventrue and its selected guests, all of whom gently questioned and harshly assessed her, even as they offered their hearty congratulations to her sire, David.
Samantha, however, had studied assiduously and done her work. She’d turned $1 million in seed money into stakes in several online companies and venture capital firms through a mix of wise investment and head-turning supernatural persuasion. She learned the rites and rituals of the clan, handed down since time immemorial. She knew which Kindred in the city should be heeded and cultivated, and which could be safely dismissed – though never ignored.
She even picked the right undying designer for her evening gown, if the harpies’ reactions were any indication. When Angelica Ruiz, the Toreador social media sensation, posted a selfie of the two of them to her four million followers, Samantha knew she had nailed it.
Then David’s watch vibrated with a text message. And that’s why she was in a limo now, heading toward Cooper Park, away from the party and the fun. It was time for her to be presented to the prince.
“Of course, she summons us in the middle of the damn party,” David groused, texting furiously. “Of course, she refuses the invitation to the coming out just so she could make her own little statement.”
Samantha reached over and placed a hand on his knee. “It’s all right, David. From what you’ve told me, this really isn’t anything new. It’s how she is.”
He looked up and gave her a smile – the smile that ripped her out of her old life and charmed her into the Embrace. “You’re right. Can’t expect much more from a Malkavian, even a prince. You remember everything I told you, right?”
She nodded. “Of course. It’ll be fine. Everything else has been fine so far.”
The Endless Ages Anthology is now available from DriveThruFiction!