At Modena Play we had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Carl, historical writer of Vampires: La Masquerade and a member of White Wolf. Here is how the fifth edition of the game was born and what news await us!
Il Modena Play has brought many news to the community of players and role players, with new releases and many interesting goodies, including the publication of results DD&D investigation into discrimination in the world of RPGs. We Seekers have even managed to gather almost all our editorial staff at Play, trying many role-playing games and meeting many friends.
During Sunday, we had the opportunity to try the fifth edition of Vampiri at the tables of Need Games, at whose stand we went wild shopping (in this sense, here is the review some Subsidies for the Narrator!). But to make matters worse, we also had the pleasure of a long chat with Jason Carl, one of the historical authors of Vampiri and member of White Wolf, as well as historical game designer of the third edition of D&D. And if his curriculum vitae is not enough to make you love him, I just say that his Twitter profile is called vampiresnvino, which explains well the (very good) priorities of this man.
Thanks also to the acute questions of the members of other editorial offices, not only many emerged from this round table backstage on the creation of the new edition of Vampiri and Bloodlines 2, but also many juicy references to upcoming works of the franchise.
We take this opportunity, therefore, to thank Jason Carl for his availability, patience and charm (as I told him: he's exactly how I would imagine a vampire. One of the cool ones, of course!), Need Games for giving us the opportunity to meet Jason and try Vampires with Alex Melluso. Furthermore, I personally thank our long-time collaborator, Leonardo Gallori, for his contribution to the questions asked to Jason Carl.
Let's see what has emerged!
Challenges, questions and solutions: Jason Carl tells how the fifth edition of Vampires was born
Many questions, including the initial ones, have revolved around the process creation of the new edition of Vampiri which, as Jason Carl told us, was very long and complex, requiring years of playtest.
But above all, the creation of this fifth edition also meant a long process in which the creators of the game had to question what, actually, Vampiri it were. Stripping him of years and years of manuals and superstructures, the five White Wolf writers have tried to understand what was the real heart of the game and what, of the old man Vampiri, it was worth keeping.
The first thing that Carl and his colleagues asked was, in fact, which mechanics to maintain of the classic game. The 10 dice obviously could not disappear, as it was immediately understood that it would have been fundamental to maintain Humanity as well. Following that, basic skills and attributes also remained.
Later, White Wolf members tried to apply many systems to the game; their main goal was make Vampiri faster and immediate to play, then ending up choosing the current system. In particular, the discovery of Hunger system, which manages to make dice rolls, and history in general, more dangerous. But, in general, Hunger has turned out to be, in many ways, the true heart of Vampires, as it pushes players to stage the humanity of their characters, making the game deep and visceral.
A Generational Clash: Players and Vampires Compared
With this new edition, White Wolf wanted to create again a product with which new players could grow and to which they could approach from scratch, while remaining faithful to the atmosphere of the past edition.
In this sense, Jason Carl told us that the decision to focus on conflict between new and old generations it was also taken to allow younger players to empathize with Vampiri. In fact, although all the old vampires have disappeared to fight jihad, there is a lot of tension between the vampires left between the generations who grew up without technology and those of the digital natives (or of the older vampires who still find Instagram fantastic).
If older vampires can feel distrust of new technologies, of which they do not understand the operation and which seem almost the result of magic (but it is not that younger non-computer vampires know much more, huh!), younger vampires do not have problems using these tools.
However, if younger vampires are right in recognizing the potential of the internet and smartphones, in many ways the suspicion of older vampires was not entirely unmotivated. Indeed, governments can track user conversations, and discovering a Facebook group dedicated to the exchange of blood between vampires does not make a good impression. Therefore, with the emergence of the Second Inquisition, the vampires found themselves more isolated than ever, since they had been cut off from electronic communication. However, some younger vampires are unwilling to give up on technology, with all the risks involved.
The time for Thin Blood has come!
In this crisis, they have acquired a very important role i Thin Blood, who despite being despised by older vampires, can integrate better into the human world, acting as messengers and spies. Also, when a Thin Blood kills a complete vampire, by drinking its blood it can acquire all the skills of the clan to which it belonged.
Consequently, Carl told us, the generational conflict with these vampires will only intensify, since theirs adaptability it could lead them from a pariah of the world of the undead, to a new ruling class. In fact, when Thin Bloods understand that they can acquire the powers of the clans by killing other vampires, according to Jason Carl it will be "dinner time".
The Metaplot will grow a lot, says Jason Carl!
Obviously, all the interviewers in the room wanted to know what had happened to the Elders and, above all, to the clans not present in the basic manual just released in Italy.
First of all, Jason Carl assures that the metaplot, the great and complex Vampire lore that has fascinated fans so much in the past, will grow a lot with this new edition of the game. Indeed, at least three years of publications regarding the setting are expected.
The first publication we will see will be Chicago By Night, the sourcebook that will re-introduce the clan of the The shadow. We take this opportunity to remember that, along the lines of this work, it was also written Rome By Night, just from an Italian: let's talk about it Thu! In any case, Chicago By Night it will be just the first of many publications that will expand the game world and finally answer many of the fans' questions.
One of the most interesting publications will be The Fall of London, which will tell how the Second Inquisition chased the vampires out of London, finally making the city free of bloodsuckers… or so they think. In fact, the volume will tell how the Sabbath is still present in London thanks to his spies. In addition, Jason Carl ensures that in The Fall of London will also show the Cult of Mitra.
But even more interesting is the announcement of the release of a manual dedicated to the Second Inquisition! This volume will not only better explain how vampire hunters 2.0 work, their methods and their hierarchies, but will also give instructions for play a member of the Inquisition.
In addition, there is also the release of one Player's Guide, which will give access to new clans, new backgrounds and new rules.
The importance of international partners
Regarding the fact that the fifth edition of Vampiri she was more than willing to do a lot
meat lore in focus, Jason Carl was very clear: the ideas are there and White Wolf has worked hard to re-imagine the World of Darkness. If desired, they could write a new manual for all existing vampire clans.
However, White Wolf still has only five people, with limited funds and manpower. For this, Jason Carl stressed the importance that their international partners will have: in many ways, in fact, the release of new clan manuals will also depend heavily on the availability of White Wolf's business partners. The more these partners will be willing to bear the costs for the production of this new material, the more Vampire manuals we will have available.
In this sense, Jason Carl has shown that he has high hopes for Need Games, which brought the fifth edition of Vampires to Italy, where the game has always had a large number of fans.
What will become of the rest of Dark World?
If the interviewers (including me) hopped on their chairs at every little news about the reappearance of the old clans, the thirst for information about the other protagonists of the World of Darkness was also very well felt. Would we have seen the Werewolves, Wizards, Changelings and Mummies (among many)?
Jason Carl has revealed to us that it is being worked on Werewolves and Maghi, also trying to develop their metaplot and rework their game system to make it compatible with that of Vampiri. In general, we want to continue making it possible to play many of these creatures simultaneously in the same campaign. So, we will probably also see for Werewolves and Wizards a system similar to that of Hunger, that is, respectively Ira dice and Paradox dice.
At the moment, moreover, particular work is being done on the metaplot of werewolves, since we need to understand how to develop their lore and their role as environmental protectors. Indeed, in a world where the danger of pollution and global warming is anything but averted (and indeed, in some ways it is even getting worse), the Werewolves have substantially failed in their task. How will they be able to live with this awareness? What kind of impact will this defeat have on them? How can you fight when you know you will be defeated? There is little to say: the return of the werewolves will be pretty heavy.
Su Changeling e MummyJason Carl hasn't gone too far, but he can confirm that the former is returning to the pitch in turn and that there are gods plans also for Mummy.
Bloodlines 2: a parallel universe?
Obviously, questions about Bloodlines 2, the new chapter in the Vampire-inspired video game.
Jason Carl has revealed that he has worked very closely with Paradox, the manufacturer of Bloodlines 2, so that the metaplot of the video game was as close as possible to that of the role-playing game. So de facto when we play Bloodlines 2 we will be immersed in the novelties of lore introduced by the fifth edition of Vampiri.
However, Jason Carl also pointed out that the plot of the video game will cause that his metaplot will take a different path, making the world of Bloodlines 2 and Vampiri also quite different.
This decision was also born thanks to a series of meetings with the leaders of Paradox and with the observation of the biggest franchises of the moment, such as D&D, Marvel and Star Wars. What made the Marvel universe so popular, for example?
According to Jason Carl, one of the major strengths of this franchise is the fact that the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that of their respective comics did not perfectly match. In this way, Different fans can more easily find stories that interest them, thanks to this great variety.
"But won't that divide the Vampire fan community?" we asked.
"This would only happen if the fan community was ever united," Carl replied.
Playing safely: what Jason Carl thinks about the new Vampires policy
As Vampiri is a game in which we explore the concept of humanity and, inevitably, we also end up exploring the concept of evil, according to Jason Carl it is essential that players can play role in safety.
Although some players have complained, because according to them the sense of Vampires also lies in making players uncomfortable, White Wolf writers disagree. In fact, in the new edition of the game, as we explained in the review, an entire section has been dedicated to playing safely and responsibly. A leitmotiv that we find is the fact that we are interpreting monsters, but that we must not be monsters: play Vampiri it doesn't have to be an excuse to hurt people.
In this sense, Jason Carl told us that a good part of their ideas on how to keep the game safe and respectful derive precisely from 'LARP experience, in which Jason participates very much. Indeed, it is common practice in many LARP's Vampiri ask, with hand gestures, the other players if they are okay and if the scene played makes them uncomfortable. In response, a raised thumb means that everything is fine, while a horizontal thumb invites caution, because the player feels a little uncomfortable; finally, the thumb pointing down is a clear negative signal.
How does the X-card implement the exploration of evil?
Furthermore, according to Jason Carl, explicitly insert guidelines to make the game safer, such as the X-card or the initial declaration of intent, it helps to explore the aspects of evil even more deeply.
In fact, outlining limits on what players will experience, within those limits one can explore everything else with the lightest heart. In addition, the introduction of an X-card gives players and female players a safety rope, which allows them to more confidently explore new strong themes, as they know that, if something goes wrong, they could always use the X-card to get out of it. .
At this point, however, I felt the need to ask Jason Carl if someone, in his gaming experience, had ever actually used the X-card. In fact, from what emerged during the Gender play Last November, none of those present at the conference had ever seen the X-card used, even when it was explicitly made available to players.
And to my surprise, Jason Carl said yes, has seen more than one person use the X-card during the beta-testing of the fifth edition of Vampires!
The future of LARPs: will they change in turn?
As already mentioned, Jason Carl is a great LARP lover, so much so that he confessed to having participated in the Vampire LARP well before he started playing role-playing games. It was only natural to ask him, therefore, if he had plans to integrate the fifth edition of Vampires with the LARPs.
And indeed, there would be plans! Carl's idea would consist injoin the world larper community of Vampiri, agreeing on a single regulation and a single setting. However, this project is still in its infancy and a course of action has not yet been decided.
Source of the cover image: Geek & Sundry