I started playing RPGs before at least some of those reading this were born. My copy of the original D&D rules were softbound booklets that came in a little white box, with truly horrendous illustrations and rules that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Fortunately, I stumbled in to a gaming group in the back room of a local science-fiction/fantasy bookstore, and thus I was truly introduced to the hobby. I even went so far as to try to make a living in the field—I was part of Gamelords, Ltd. In the early ‘80s, as art director, illustrator, writer and editor. But that didn’t work out (or at least it never really made enough money), so I got into other things for a while…. Science fiction fandom, the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), costuming, and so on…
Until Vampire: the Masquerade came out. Around 1995, some friends lured me back into the shadowy world of tabletop role-playing games with the prospect of (1) vampires, and (2) a STORY-based game where dice rolling would be minimal and character development would be emphasized. We started with the basic book and D.C by Night – a city we were all pretty familiar with (possibly more so than the author of the book). My first character (who still shows up from time to time) was a Gangrel – in fact, he was based on the cover illustration of the DC by Night book (see above!), because I thought he looked cool, and I like dynamic cover art. The story got very interesting at times; we only had two players, so it definitely gave me a chance to do stuff (I don’t usually play tough guys, so this was very different for me). The story ended up migrating from the DC setting to nearby Baltimore (we were pretty familiar with it too). Eventually, I also created a Tremere character to alternate with (because the Gangrel and the other player’s character, a Ventrue, weren’t getting along very well anymore….).
And when Vampire: The Dark Ages came out, I was very delighted. I am a medieval history junkie, especially after years of SCA and accumulating two shelves’ worth of research materials. I teamed up with some folks I ‘met’ on the old Vampire-L listserv to start a V:DA chronicle… it didn’t last, but my online creative writing-and-kibitzing partnership with Myranda Sarro and Sarah Roark definitely has been one of the BEST things that came out of that. Those stories – played via email and online chat, and only ONCE in person – were the foundation of this blog’s story and many others. Starting in the Dark Ages, and running up through the Italian Renaissance, those stories introduced most of our main characters to each other – and provided the very necessary detailed history for developing those characters believable, well-rounded, powerful and flawed elders in the modern era, each with secret skeletons in their respective closets that were based on incidents that had really happened in game.
Those stories had to be played around things like babies/small children, work schedules, orchestra gigs, family obligations, time zone differences, and White Wolf’s deadlines (we not only played these games, we wrote for them, which sometimes seriously cut into our own gaming time). Then there was a long hiatus… leaving Heart of Darkness, our most ambitious and far-reaching story unfinished, the fate of our characters languishing in limbo. Until two years ago, when we resurrected the characters out of mothballs
post-ritus-stupor torpor, and sent them marching boldly into the pits of hell the epic finale…. And finally finished the damned thing. FINALLY.
We’d still LIKE to do a bit more…someday. (Be warned, Gabriel. I have PLANS for you….) But for now, real life is a bit more pressing, as happens sometimes. Sarah has this wonderful, darkly funny vampire comic called After Daylight she’s doing (check it out), and Myr is writing dark horror and raising two lively boys (along with her husband). And I am taking thousands of pages worth of chat transcripts and seeing if I can turn them into a coherent narrative that other folks would enjoy reading….