Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Studies in Underage Vampirism #3

A group of kids wakes up in a bloody cellar. They don't remember anything from the last 24 hours. They don't know it yet, but their young lives are already over. They are vampires.

Two years ago, I wrote about a vampire game I ran with kids who proved to be mature and intelligent enough to deal with the harsh theme. Alas, the challenges of life prevented me from finishing the tale. I say alas, because this means that you’ll never find out how it ended. That being said, you know what they say about happy endings and paying attention, so there’s that. Oh, and the Giovanni were involved, so there’s that too.

However, I will tell you what happened with my short vampire game this year. It’s quite the opposite of last year’s game and in my opinion and much better example of roleplaying.

It started just like the previous game, with the exception of having less violence and more digging. Thus, to save time, I’ll skip to the point where the PCs won the right to exist and received their first real mission – to find and destroy a vampire hunter active in a nearby city.

First of all, the starved kids had to feed. Most kids found victims easily enough; some with glee that had cost them Humanity points, others with a heavy heart and with some degree of compassion. It can be taken as a supreme testimony of their high-mindedness that they chose to spend XP to return their Humanity to high levels instead of gaining cool new powers. This is in sharp contrast to last year’s group, which chose to accept its damnation with murderous joy that led to a self-destructive orgy of death and destruction. And Giovanni. Lots and lots of Giovanni.

Art by Carlos
One of the kids came upon two young siblings sitting on a bench and going over board games and D&D books they got for their birthday. At this point, something broke and he decided that he didn’t want to be a vampire anymore. To this end, he separated from the main group and, using a combination of tear-jacking theatrics and the Presence discipline, got the aptly named Fosters family to adopt him. Once he got a room in their basement, he went out of his way to be a good boy, have the kids’ mother call him “son,” and spare the family his monstrous nature. He even went so far as to design a secret exist so that his new family wouldn’t know that he went out seeking human blood at nights.

At the other end of the spectrum was a boy who, while not succumbing to the Beast, nevertheless came to terms with it. He dug himself a little warren in an abandoned park and bit people freely (though still taking care not to kill anyone) before fleeing with Celerity. It was this kid who became the leader of the group, while the Foster orphan took the role of the wise loner to whom the group occasionally came for advice.

Preying and constructing shelters has taken an entire session because I insisted on roleplaying each feeding encounter. I am sick and tired of vampires being superheroes in gothic colors and I’ll be damned if I contribute to this trend. In my game, the Embrace is a curse and I made sure the kids experienced every iota of their damnation.

After feeding and finding safe havens for the night, the group finally went on a mission to hunt the Hunter. After long time spent wandering the streets and eavesdropping on police stations, insane asylums and a nearby army base, the group decided to use Animalism to get as many urban animals as possible to report on any unusual human behavior. After a while, a rat returned with news. A dirty, disheveled homeless man was seen carrying a shiny sword that shone like the sun.

At the same time, the Foster orphan decided to invest all XP he got into Science in order to find a cure for cancer. Yeah, it’s a cliché, but one has to appreciate the intention. Breaking into labs at night to conduct his research, he also started looking for a cure for the vampiric condition. And, if you think THIS has a happy ending, you REALLY haven’t been paying attention.

Art by Pierre-Etienne Travers

The rest of the group banded together to deal with the hunter and win their rightful place in Camarilla society. While en route to the spot where the Hunter was last seen, one of the kids had a pang of conscious and decided that he wanted to make it up to one of his previous victims – a young pregnant woman whom he attacked the night before, causing minor injuries. He knocked on her door, offering his services as a guardian or healer. His offers of help were met with shouts of “Help! Help! This is the crazy kid that attacked me last night! Somebody call the police!”

He ran away… right into the blade of the Hunter. The old adage proved to be true once again – No good deed goes unpunished.

A bloody battle ensued in which the group won, though not without losing much blood and resources. Even a crazy, hungry Hunter is still a threat to be reckoned with.

I am sorry to say, that while it was my intention to finish the story arc with this climatic encounter, the group insisted on pursuing their quests further. The Foster orphan tragically misunderstood Golconda as a geographical location in India and decided he wants to get his new family fly him there. The rest of the group wanted to investigate further into Hunter activity and find out where these strange men get their powers from.