I'm honored and excited to have a guest post for you guys today! My buddy Tom (long time friend and sometimes commenter on my blog) has written up something that I hope you'll all enjoy. I love Tom's style, and I'm glad to share his stuff with you. Here it is:
An Innocent Bystander (or How I Got Sucked into a World of Darkness Campaign)
A while back (two years ago?) a friend of mine (K, who is playing in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer game that I GM) started playing in a local WOD (World of Darkness) campaign at the FLGS (friendly local game store) that a friend of mine owns. It didn’t take K long to declare that the WOD game was her most favorite game of all time (which piqued my interest).
Anyway, life went on with me blissfully unaware of what was creeping up behind me…until a few months ago, when Loq asked me if I would be interested in watching a WOD session. After looking at her Blog to try and get a feel for the game I decided to take Loq up on her offer to check out the game in person. A couple of weeks later I walked in the front door of the store to watch my first WOD session.
Let me just say that, as I entered the store, the only thing I knew about WOD was from watching a bunch of guys play Werewolf about 20 years ago, and also hearing stories about a Vampire group in a nearby town. Let’s just say that I was more than a little apprehensive when I walked into the place.
(Please Note: this is all from memory, so I may have some stuff wrong.)
Upon entering the store I noticed several “pods” of people in various locations, some talking in hushed tones, some laughing and joking, and a couple scribbling in notebooks. A couple of tables were filled with food, as the group participates in a potluck on WOD nights.
Loq and a couple of other people were sitting at a nearby table. She was helping a new guy work on creating a Changeling character. Loq invited me to sit down and she started to tell me about the game.
The WOD game takes place in Austin, Texas. Most of the action takes place in a fictional area of the city depicted on a map I saw floating around. Some locations on the map are The Cemetery House (where the Mages hang out), The Hedgerow (a bar/meeting place) Jaks’ house (where the werewolves sleep) and a couple of others that I can’t remember.
I looked around the store, trying to figure out what was going on with the different groups of players. Loq told me that they were playing out various “scenes” (player characters interacting with each other). I noticed a small table in the back of the store where the Storyteller (ST, what I always called a GM) was talking to K.
After a few minutes the ST finished with K and left the table. Then he and took a couple of other players outside to talk to them. As it turns out, stuff that take place in indoor locations happens inside the store, and stuff that happens outside happens outside the store.
I wandered around the store, listening in on several different conversations, trying to understand what was going on. From what I could pick up it sounded like there were several different storylines going on at the same time. (This was later confirmed to me by the ST.)
Loq told me that the ST employed a couple of “deputies” to help run the game (one dealt mostly with the Vampires, one with the Lost/Changelings). The ST worked with the rest and was the guy who thinks up all of the storylines and is the final arbitrator of any major conflicts. (With a group numbering anywhere from 15 to 20 people, this was NO small task.)
A couple of players explained to me that this particular WOD game was a hybrid, partly live action, partly tabletop game adjudicated by die rolls when necessary. Players were always “in character” unless they were holding a hand to their chest (which meant they were speaking out of character) or when they were watching the goings on of another group.
As I observed I found out that the game had a LOT of WOD character types. Loq and a couple of others were playing Changelings. Several guys at one table were talking about weird stuff I didn’t understand (turns out they were all Mages). Another very loud group of guys and one gal were involved in some sort of fight (Werewolves). One guy was sitting back and watching like I was (Hunter). Another guy was talking to himself…a lot (he was a Geist/sin eater, someone who can talk to and is haunted by Ghosts). Later on I would meet the lone Vampire of the group. Someone told me that the only character type not allowed in the game are the Promethean: the Created.
As the night went on I became more comfortable around the players. I talked to some of them about their characters and what storylines they were involved in. Some talked with me about other interests we shared. Some talked about what else was going on in the game.
Then several of them, including Loq, K, and the ST, gathered around a large table in the back of the store. It seems that there was some stuff going down at the Hedgerow, a local meeting place for most of the characters (except the werewolves, whose territory didn’t cover that location anymore).
A couple of players were in an upstairs workroom. Another was trying to spy on them. As the characters interacted with each other something started to happen in the main room. Some sort of disturbance had developed into a tear in the middle of the air. Two sets of huge claws reached through and into the Hedgerow. They pulled at the tear, widening it until a large “snout” poked through and breathed fire! It was a dragon!
Things become hectic as vines shoot out of the opening and grab players. Some players run to their rescue and others start fighting the dragon, trying to force it back through the tear. The ST describes how someone jumps out of the tear and into the room. Then he looks at the new guy and tells him he is IN the game and to go for it.
(All through this “scene” the ST and several players all tell me that this kind of major conflict rarely happens in the game. The ST later tells me that what happened was a consequence of certain things that had been building in the game for a long time.)
More craziness happened. The building catches fire. AND the cops show up. Then I find out this particular group of cops are all Werewolves. I think I hear someone call them “The Ghosts”. Who better to call when bad weirdness happens? Then I find out that one of the Mages (who was also involved in the fight with the dragon) is also cop. He has several of the other players taken in for questioning.
As the final scene of the night ends the ST calls everyone together to discuss the evening’s events. Some players talk about their favorite things that happened. Others talk about who was fun to watch. The ST hands out experience points. Everyone gets two, a couple of players get an extra point for cool things they did in the game, and one player gets another for being the best or most entertaining player of the night.
As things wind down I talk about the game with the ST for a couple of minutes, say my goodbyes, and head out the door. I think it’s after 1am. I’m wasted physically but my mind is in overdrive, replaying everything that happened during the game. I had a great time. Everyone treated me just like one of the gang, and I got to know some of them a little bit better. I start to think about character ideas…