Some Basic Design Directives for V20

Well, now that we’ve announced that we’re doing a 20th edition of Vampire: The Masquerade, I just want to take a few minutes to say hello to all you old faithfuls (and maybe a handful of new converts as well). Ever since we started talking about doing this, our intent has always been to make the book we thought that we’d like to buy, if we weren’t the ones working on the books themselves.

You’ve hopefully seen Shane’s initial comments. Let me add a few more, and maybe clarify a point or two.

First, let’s talk about what this book is.

The Classic Vampire Experience: Remember the first time you picked up Vampire, and you first became immersed in the world? For me, I couldn’t stop thinking about the game. I acquired the habit of looking over my shoulder, of scaring myself with shadows and fantasizing about the secret vampiric conspiracies that ruled us all from their havens in the shadows. With the 20th anniversary edition, we want to tap into what made players fall in love with Vampire and let it spill onto the page. We’re gonna get florid. Vampire is our crazy ex-girlfriend and we’re scrawling her a handwritten note confessing a desperate, to-hell-with-everyone-else kind of love, and she’s agreed to give it one more go with us.

A Thank-You to Vampire Players: This year is the 20th anniversary of Vampire, and we certainly wouldn’t be here without the loyalty and enthusiasm of the people who played Vampire in its various incarnations throughout the years. We want to show, with this book, that playing Vampire is a fucking awesome pastime, and we want to remind you, whether it’s been an hour or a decade since you last played, that we love it as much as we hope you do.

A Zeitgeist: Vampire exploded into hobby games in 1991, and it very much evinced the gothic and punk subcultures from which it drew, with their own roots from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. We want to revisit those classic archetypes and breathe new life into them. Skinheads, goths, street preachers, metalheads, punks, wild-eyed poets, gangsters, urban primitives, dapper mods, eerie pagans, and every icon who makes for a memorable character in this snapshot of time — these are the denizens of Vampire’s world. While this certainly doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play “the archetypes of now,” it means that our focus is on the attitude that made Vampire the phenomenon it was… and remains.

A World of Darkness: Vampire evokes at once an urban alienation and neo-mystic sense of belonging. It’s high society and the low life. It’s angst and monstrosity and sketchy drugs and a dangerous flirtation with a femme fatale who dragged you into a damned immortality of blasphemous power… and the urges of the implacable Beast. Gargoyles and gothic architecture. Soaring skyscrapers and dilapidated tenements. Cops and junkies; corrupt senators and seductive bohemian artistes. Razorblades and torn fishnets. Leather jackets and a broken rosary and a stolen revolver with the serial number filed off.

With all those high concepts in mind, let’s take an honest look at what this book isn’t.

An Extension of the Metaplot: This isn’t post-Gehenna or mid-Gehenna. It’s those numberless, frenzied nights before Gehenna, when the end of the world was around the corner. We’re not going to advance any of the metaplot storylines. We’re not going to refer to supplements (except maybe to say that such-and-such originally came from Sourcebook X, and we’ve polished the information for the 20th Anniversary Edition).

A Sneak Peek at the MMO: This is not a marketing tool for the MMO. Metaphorically, this book is White Wolf at a bar with a long-time player and we’re sharing a drink, telling stories and remembering why we became friends in the first place.

A Transition from the Original World of Darkness Storyteller System to the Storytelling System: We’ve been listening to feedback for over a year since the 20thAnniversary Edition was a twinkle in a crackpot’s eye. While the new World of Darkness’s Storytelling System makes several refinements to the original Storyteller System, it does so by lowering the power level of its supernatural creatures, flattening the effects curve, and adding a bit of density to the ruleset. That’s tonally at odds with the original World of Darkness, for which the system had a significant amount more open-ended wahoo. We’re sticking with a refinement of the original ruleset that could handle — and, indeed, encouraged — everything from “You notice that she’s gazing longingly at you from across the room, and you can practically taste the loneliness in her life as you scrutinize her soul-aura” to “HOLY FUCKING SHIT, HE JUST TURNED INTO A NINE-FOOT BAT-MONSTER MADE OF SENTIENT, POISONOUS BLOOD-ACID.”

I know you guys have more questions, but I just wanted to get a few words out so you can hear straight from the dev’s mouth… er, keyboard what the intent is here. I’ll have more substance for you today (the open playtest effectively begins today, so I’m working on getting you those materials) and as we move forward. On Twitter, I’m @jachilli. You can also keep up with @eddyfate who’s undertaking more of the dev work and @rich_thomas_ww who’s the art director. As well, @shanedefreest is the shepherd for community, and is often the first point of contact for all new information of a non-developmental nature.

For now, back to tweaking Blowshitupus. Level Four of this Discipline is way broken.

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