Monday, February 1, 2016

[Esoteric Order Duets] Neon Masquerade (Classic World of Darkness) - Episode Three: Free Fallin'

Aaron finds a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing as he begins to formulate a plan to save his sire and possibly revolutionize Kindred society in the process, all while trying his worst to save his fledgling acting career.



The campaign wiki can be found here.

17 comments:

  1. There's a reference to Joe Frank during the session. For those of you who have not experienced his brilliance, here's a sample. (They're sadly pretty hard to find online nowadays, it seems.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9YwALw73gY

    In my WoD, I've decided that Joe Frank can always be found playing somewhere on the radio. Always.

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  2. I'm surprised Karen took having her entire life view shattered over a few seconds so well.

    It's probably because she's just a figment of Aaron's imagination. Really, it's shocking that his agent is supporting him in these crazy delusions rather than getting him the psychological help he so obviously needs.

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    1. I think Aaron subconsciously knew she was going to, and 'disappeared' her.

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    2. Max's head canon adds a wonderful new dimension to my listening to these podcasts.

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    3. Yeah, I kind of wish I'd thought of that angle...

      There is actually a small overlap between Max's head canon and how I'm running things, as will be revealed. For now file the overlap under "D" for "Delusions"...

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    4. I'm really loving the dynamic between you and Des during these sessions, especially since she seems to believe you are gas-lighting her at every occasion.

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  3. OK: I don't care if you change the lyrics to be about vampires. Free Fallin' is still one of the least Vampire songs imaginable. No, that is *not* a challenge.

    But another excellent episode. Starting to verge on Papers & Paychecks with the recurrent "roll to see if you manage to get up and go to work" thing.

    "So what did today's session teach us?" "That the neverending angst and despair of existence are cool and sexy!"

    Out of interest - you've gone with the canonical West Coast = Anarchs set-up. That inevitably distances this from the default Vampire model of playing newbies under the thumb of the Camarilla, with ridiculous amounts of stylishly-dressed court intrigue. Given that you're basically taking a short holiday in the World of Darkness, were you tempted to go with the classic set-up?

    Also, if Aaron meets the hilariously overpowered furry eco-tanks at some point, that will be very amusing.





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    1. You can't just say "Free Fallin'" is "still one of the least Vampire songs imaginable" and not give your reasons for saying so. It actually fits quite nicely!

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    2. It could be worse. Larkins could just get lazy and start using Atreyu songs for every post.

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    3. Okay, here's where I earn my "pretentious Storyteller" bona fides...

      As is standard WoD s.o.p., I have a loose story structure planned out for this...Chronicle...in advance. What I did was put together a playlist, with each song representing a chapter. There are 15 songs on the playlist, so I've divided the...Chronicle...up into three arcs of five chapters each.

      The playlist had to follow two rules, one hard and one soft. The hard rule is that I couldn't include any song released after 1989, and the soft rule was that the song had to be connected to L.A. or the West Coast in some way. Either the band is from that region, or the song specifically references L.A. "Free Fallin'" falls (no pun intended) into the latter category.

      There's also a personal connection for me and that song, as I distinctly remember having my 11-year-old mind blown when that song first came out and I heard the line about vampires living in the Valley moving west down Ventura Blvd--I took the lyrics at face value. I still associated vampires with living in castles in Transylvania, and wasn't familiar with Anne Rice or Near Dark or The Lost Boys or any of that emergent urban fantasy stuff at the time, so the idea of vampires living and mixing in contemporary society was a real eye-opener. Plus, I was *living* in the Valley at the time, so it had a certain extra sense of reality for me.

      Anyway, I'll probably post the whole playlist on Spotify once the...Chronicle...wraps up. (Note to self: create Spotify account.)

      I was talking with Des just last night about her decision to go full True Blood with Aaron's aspirations, and it's hilarious that the only reason he's doing it is to keep his job on a soap opera! Oh, Aaron...

      As for the set-up: I do intend to return to the classic WoD in the future, both in the actual modern-day and the Dark Ages, so there will be opportunities for Camarilla-style intrigue anon. But the other conceit, aside from the playlist, was that Des got to choose the location, and that that would then influence my design. I committed to running whatever location she chose "as-is" as a sort of interesting challenge. Before settling on L.A., her other choice was Mexico City, and--hoo boy. Makes L.A. look like the safe choice!

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    4. OK - why is Free Fallin' un-Vampire?

      Well, Mark Rein DOT Hagen - the game designer too sophisticated for mere "letters" - is really, really (really, over and over again, he never shuts up about it) clear about Vampire being all about the "Gothic-Punk."* Among the many words that do not come to my mind when I think of Tom Petty are "goth" and "punk."

      More seriously, while the connection to punk is pretty superficial, the connection between Vampire and goth culture is extremely close, and (unusually for an RPG) goes both ways, thanks to Vampire's LARP offshoot.

      Vampire is also centered upon what we would now call a hipster aesthetic - it's the game that's specifically about "if you play this, you are better and more sensitive than people playing those games that aren't dedicated to Vaclav Havel" and I can't quite square that with Tom Petty's relentlessly mainstream heartland Americana sound. Where he would fit, in my head, is the right sort of Werewolf campaign. Werewolf is a lot less clear about what its aesthetic is, mind you - more flexible, because it's less well-conceived.

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    5. Yeah, I agree--normally Tom Petty is TOTALLY Werewolf. Exhibit A: You know the name of the album "Free Fallin'" came off of? Full Moon Fever. #micdrop

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    6. I suppose it's just my Western-ness showing, but I am a true believer in gothic western and western punk. It exists and might look and sound different than the Super Euro-centric Goth Punk aesthetics and it's different way to play the game, but still valid. I think we're drawing a lot from Near Dark and Lost Boys in terms of the feel and style of a Western Vampire "Chronicle."

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  4. Oh, it's definitely valid. I'm not a believer in badwrongfun: "un-Vampire: The Masquerade" not "un-vampire." But it's playing against the grain of the game itself - in sort of the same way as if you played it in a consciously right-wing way, but more so than that. Scratch Vampire, and beneath the surface it's pretty conservative (as vampire fiction tends to be) - you can see this in how easily Kindred:The Embraced rewrote it to make the Ventrue the good guys. Its left-wing leanings, however aggressively expressed, are basically incoherent and contradicted by its Anne Rice-inspired obsession with aristocrats, fine art, and being part of an exclusive little group that Gets It. (You out yourself as one of the people who don't get it by putting scare quotes around Chronicle :))

    But its aesthetics are not at all incoherent. That's part of what made it revolutionary at the time. The physical design of the book: ankh, calligraphy, loads and loads of black, an ongoing story of doomed (or is it?) love told in panels with captions - like illustrations from a 19th century novel - interspersed throughout the book. This made it an art object that was, pretty much, dressed up to go to a goth/industrial club and recommend Death: The High Cost of Living to their friends. As far as music goes, it came with recommended playlists to set the mood. (I remember Bauhaus. There's a surprise.). I'm afraid that The Lost Boys (Near Dark is a slightly different matter) is very much the kind of mainstream '80s stuff that Vampire is against: it's the bright but self-absorbed teenager who sniffs and starts talking about The Hunger. (Which I believe it also recommended at some point, although my memory there is less precise.).

    I can't imagine playing it the way it wants to be played myself: for one thing, I'm too old to be that *earnest*. (Which is why I keep making fun of it. This is another reason why the connection to punk is pretty superficial, like the left-wing politics - Vampire is utterly lacking in punk's sense of irony.).

    One thing I find fascinating about your particular campaign is that you're only setting it two years before the game was published, but it's really revealing to me what a gulf there is between the late eighties and early nineties. Part of this is that, I think inevitably, your campaign is informed by nostalgia for the eighties and its mainstream while Vampire, as a product of 1991, reacting against all that. Basically, you're setting it in the America that has just done its level best to give Reagan a third term, which is the America that Vampire really deep-down hates.

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    1. Although weirdly, I've done a bit of digging, and Rein Dot Hagen did consider himself inspired by The Lost Boys. I have to file that under "If so, utterly failed to hit what you were aiming for." He apparently didn't notice that The Lost Boys is *funny*.

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