Vampire: the Masquerade Revisited

Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition LogoThe following is a guest post by Oalin (Dan Boud).

People love to say “I told you so”. It’s not enough for many to have the simple satisfaction of being right – they also feel the need to point out the blindingly obvious and rub it in. And nobody loves to say I told you so more than gamers.

Back in 2004 White Wolf games caused wide-spread consternation amongst the role-playing community when they announced that they were ending their hugely popular Vampire: the Masquerade line, along with all other offshoots forming their World of Darkness setting. The reason for this was that one of the game world’s major themes was an impending apocalypse which White Wolf chose to make canon, releasing  a many part supplement titled, The Time of Judgment, which outlined the cataclysmic events.

Some felt this was a gutsy move, putting up as opposed to shutting up about their implied end of days. Many, however, felt that White Wolf were killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

In the final quarter of 2004, White Wolf made their intentions clear when they released their follow-up to Masquerade called Vampire: the Requiem boasting a new system, a new world setting but more importantly, new vampires. And while the New World of Darkness boasted a far superior playing system it lacked the depth and mythos of its predecessor.  Requiem was not the follow-on that many had hoped for, but an entirely new rethink of the game. In the chat rooms and forums brands were being lit and pitchforks sharpened for an impending storming of White Wolf’s castle. If you ask any role-player, they’ll tell you that Vampire gamers are kind of like that.

The truth is, Requiem proved to be a solid successor. Most of the back-story was left to the game masters and the streamlined system brought in many new players. Once many of the old guard had dried their guy-liner a grudging respect was conceded. Still, there were those that wrung their hands and wistfully recounted the good old days when White Wolf still produced a vampire game that they felt  was actually worth playing.

Then something curious happened. In 2006 White Wolf merged with computer gaming heavyweight CCP, the company responsible for the multi prize-winning MMO, Eve Online. CCP were quick to announce their intention of turning the World of Darkness into an MMORPG. The twist was that  the setting would not be Requiem, as was expected, but rather it was to be based on their older, out-of-print IP, Masquerade. Seeming like an admission of guilt, the community response was a deafening “I told you so”.

The accusations were quickly quashed by White Wolf saying that they were not favouring the one over the other but that it was felt by both companies that Masquerade simply translated better into an MMO than its successor. They also stated emphatically that this was not about dropping Requiem but about resurrecting Masquerade.

For a game that is meant to be buried, Masquerade just won’t stay down. In mid march of this year, White Wolf once again tipped its hat to their Old World of Darkness setting by announcing a twenty year anniversary edition of Vampire: the Masquerade scheduled for release in September 2011.

And it gets even juicier. Not only is this 400 page behemoth of a source book going to address some of the issues that the Masquerade system suffered from in the past, but the developers are fielding suggestions and feed-back from the community as to the changes players would want to see in this ultimate collection. This “open development” has White Wolf hoping that they can give their loyal followers a definitive Masquerade edition.

White Wolf have once again stated that this is not a departure from Requiem but simply giving their loyal supporters what they keep asking for. And kudos to them for it, because much like it’s subject matter, Masquerade may be dead, but it is still very much kicking.

Follow the link below to be part of the process or if you’re new to Vampire check out what all the fuss is about. If you’ve never played Vampire: the Masquerade, this September might be the perfect time to get into it. And when you discover how awesome it is, just remember, I told you so.

About Oalin

Dan hails from the most southern tip of Africa and started role-playing at the age of 12. He would read out his Fighting Fantasy choose-your-own-adventure novels to his two best mates and let them make the choices. It was during that time he had the epiphany that the books were, actually, entirely optional and if he made up the stories, his mates could make any decision they wanted. Since then, Dan has never come across an RPG he hasn't enjoyed regardless of setting or genre. But does feel that D&D is his touchstone and that he is at his story telling best when running a Vampire: the Masquerade game.
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