Tuesday, July 4, 2017

[Esoteric Order Duets] "Come to the Sunshine” (13 Candles)

After many years in her New Hampshire idyll, Charlotte is thrust quite suddenly into the harsh world of vampire politics. A cross-country train journey ensues and Charlotte finds a new haven.


  1. I do hope we meet Future!Charlotte in Aaron and/or Amy's misadventures. She will, of course, by that point be a bitter, twisted, low Humanity monster due to years of seeking Golconda without success. Now she has concluded that it was all a horrible lie, and is taking her revenge on the world for having seduced her into putting her trust in a myth.

    Sorry. I really don't care for Salubri as a concept. Putting one in the psychedelic era in the way you have done is actually the only way that a Salubri story could work for me. But of course, no story of '60s idealism is complete without the inevitable collapse into '70s disillusionment and '80s voting for Reagan. Especially "in the World of Darkness!"

    But Salubri illustrate for me the problem that V:tM did too good a job with its basic set of clans (and, actually, I'd even exclude Malkavians). Those cover the bases of what you want vampires to be more than adequately. All the additional clans and bloodlines are either colorless (e.g. Lasombra) or dilute the vampireness (e.g. Tzimisce). Some, of course, are horribly racist.

    As for the Salubri, It's not just that they're diluting the vampireness (although they are) and that the somewhat shallow "third eye" stuff looks a little culturally appropriative from a 2017 perspective. They're also too clearly meant to be the "good guys." (The Baali have the opposite problem.*)

    Vampire has this tension between its "in the World of Darkness" official position, in which this is supposed be this corrupt, crumbling world in which every day is a struggle to hold onto your morality, and the tendency of the designers to bring in clearly defined white hats and black hats. Usually, as I think I've commented before, this manifests as defining the Anarchs as the people that the player characters are going to, or at any rate should, be aligning themselves with, as an overt metaphor for what Rein DOT Hagen thinks the players should be doing in the real world. And that sort of works, because it's part of the "punk" in "Gothic-Punk" (even if the game's heart is really in the goth rather than the punk).

    But the Salubri are the same thing, manifesting with aesthetics that don't fit the rest of the game, and more so. I never intended to use them in the game that I ran at the time, but nowadays I think I'd rewrite them as creepy cult leaders. Take what's clearly meant to be a clan flaw that makes them supergoodies and turn it into a reason why they are horrible manipulative selfish monsters who have to fool deluded mortals into letting themselves be exploited. Clan Disciplines: Dominate, Presence, Auspex. Absolutely no Obeah as written - it practically breaks the game world for me that there is a vampiric Discipline that is so positively flavored. But I might see if were possible to come up with a Discipline that made mortals *feel* good - turn the Salubri into walking drug addiction metaphors.

    *Bonus points with the Baali for the casual assumption in naming them that Baal = Eeeevil. Without bothering to consider that Baal was the chief god of the Phoenicians. You know, the people who settled Carthage, home of everything that is good and philosophical and perfect in V:tM's history,

    1. I am entirely prepared for things to go precisely how you've outlined them here. Things start going pear-shaped almost as soon as Charlotte settles in L.A., as you'll hear in next week's episode (which we just recorded).

      And therein lies what appeals to me about playing a Salubri--the stakes (ahem) seem that much greater, the potential fall so much farther.

      (I do, however, completely agree with you regarding Salubri and Malkavians in terms of overall vampire mythology, which is why it's funny that I'm playing one of each at the mo'... But yeah, due to their inherently disruptive nature from a Mary Sue *and* mythological perspective, the duet format is the *only* way I'd *ever* consider playing a Salubri. I can't imagine showing up to a group game with one.)

      There's definitely some interesting grist to be milled over the Salubri as a symbol of cultural appropriation. I know what Des and I will be chatting about over dinner tonight! :D

      I know Des has hinted that she's got some ideas on the "true" history of the Salubri and Saulot, and I suspect it involves them not being nearly the pure heroes that they make themselves out to be in their own mythology. Can't wait to turn over that stone!

      I have an image in my mind of Charlotte becoming some sort of guru/cult leader, either during this chronicle's arc, or (if she survives) over the course of the late 60s and into the 70s. Might be an interesting end-point. The question is whether she's a cynical leech, building a cult of personality around herself, or some sort of truly ascended aesthetic, living out in a cave in the high desert of Apple Valley, dispensing wisdom to those Cainites as care to seek her out.

      Fundamentally, I'm equally rooting for a total fall from grace or else a total Golconda arc. I think either would be a really fun journey. We shall see.

      And who knows? Maybe you'll have a different opinion of the Salubri by the time we're done? I will win your love, Voord!

      (Obeah will always be terrible, though, I admit.)