|Diablerize Thunder, and shit Lightning!|
I figured the best way to celebrate a day of "getting together with friends and family to eat a hearty meal" was by playing a game where the opening act is all about "getting together with friends and family to be a hearty meal!"
Okay, so technically, we played on Black Friday...
|Maybe I should have run Gehenna...|
The game is split into four separate sagas, taking place over different centuries. 1444, 1666, 1888 and the Final Nights. The first act of Part I involves the PC's (Mortal, at this point) receiving various invitations to the estate of Lord Claudius Giovanni. A mysterious nobleman whom nobody ever seems to have actually met!
Had he been a vampire, I wouldn't have fallen asleep in English class.
It soon becomes readily obvious that the "guests" are not truly guests at all, but rather have been brought in as the main course for members of Lord Giovanni's inner-circle of the damned! When Hardestadt and the troops of the fledgling (and still hypothetical) Camarilla crash the party, Lord Giovanni and his guests quickly embrace their meals, in hopes that in the confusion, they can escape. The ruse works, and Hardestadt is too busy interrogating the bewildered PC's to pursue. Instead, he has the neonates imprisoned until he can figure out what to do with them.
Thus begins the Camarilla's lengthy application process, with acceptance allowing them entrance to the safe and lucrative Sect; denial meaning final death. As the hammer falls, the council's ruling is that they will be spared should they make themselves useful by serving as spies against their sires.
|Also, one has to be Hardestat's butler.|
The game ran smoothly with PC's playing pre-generated characters. (I found it appropriate considering that any actual PC backstory would be largely ignored in this setting.) Everyone settled into their role fairly easily, with a personal shout-out to Stuart, who played a female viking that was easily more macho and intimidating than any male viking character I'd ever seen. (For his take on the session, read here).
However, as a story-teller, I found this particular story in Giovanni Chronicles to be especially challenging. The mood of World of Darkness is horror, and nothing is more horrifying than being powerless. With the PC's playing mortals for the first 80% of the session, they are about as powerless as they come. The problem comes with the other 20% being the PC's interaction with the Camarilla elders. As new PC's, they are little more than powerless against them, too. So for 100% of the game, there was very little the PC's could say or do to affect the goings-on around them.
Thankfully, the rest of the chronicle appears to change matters, but when the first session of a game (the "keep-your-PC's-interested session") involves over four hours of exposition, how much interest can one expect to keep? For that matter, how much attention does a PC deserve to give?
Another issue arises because the PC's know what is going to happen. They know that their mortal character is going to encounter a vampire, one that will likely feed on their blood and embrace them into their fold. There's only so many ways you can describe someone's fangs revealing themselves in a hungry manner before it loses all of its terror whatsoever.
Thankfully, my group consisted entirely of veteran role-players who knew the system, knew the ropes and gave it their all. And while certain parts of the story lost their gothic horror grip, I did what I could to add my own flavor in to make things chilling. I am told a specific scene involving iron maidens being particularly harrowing.
All-in-all, I think the session went well. It has taught me, however, that for future games I likely cannot run it directly from a book, but rather need to prepare my own notes and expository dialogue instead.