VIP stands for Vampires In Pubic and is a role-playing game. I’ve been playing it every other Monday for the past five months (in University term-time). Last night the game came to an end. It was rather good fun. There will be another game (with different referees) starting in October. I intend to play a different character and I’m looking forward to that as well. I should point out that this game has been going on for some people for the last twelve years and for some only three or four. Others, like me, started five months ago.
Last night was fun, it was in places totally epic and in places actually nerve-wracking. It did confirm to me, however, that at heart I’m a ref. I was watching something really quite difficult to do last night (and indeed, for the last five months) you had players who’d been playing for years and some for only a few months. VIP is essentially a ‘find out what’s going on’ game – and that’s HARD for players who are new. Now we were warned at the start of our game that the game would be ending soon and we wouldn’t have much time to find things out. As a result I did decide to telescope some things into this year, then, when I knew it’d be finishing at the end of this term did some more telescoping.
The main problem for the Refs for the finale was always going to be the fact that you have older characters who are more developed and have more abilities (magical or fighting skills) and know more about what is going on and that you have total newbies who don’t know much of what’s going on or the skills and magics to survive in a big ass-fight. Bunny, my character, was always going to have an advantage by dint of the fact she’s a sneaky little so and so who spent her first few court sessions and also because she had been involved with a vampire as his ghoul (read indetured servant and loving it!) Also because I’ve been listening to people telling me about VIP for Gods know how many years.
It occurs to me though, especially given that there were only three really new characters who showed up last night, that I want something out of a role-playing experience that is not necessarily plot related in any way. Sure, if VIP had been going to continue Bunny had a whole strategy for finding out as much as possible but when we got told it was finishing I decided I didn’t care about knowing what was going on but I was just going to concentrate on Bunny’s personal goals…which were largely gain as much influence and power as possible and then give it up…due to having to severely telescope this she effectively gained all the power she could and gave it up in one night. (She persuaded the High Bard of England to give her Clan membership and a position in one night and then turned him down).
I suspect that my attitude to role-playing comes from my background in the arts – in order to get as much out of fart as you can you need to put as much in as you can. I tend to regard role-play as much the same. But from a ref stand-point I am not the norm I think, or at least, my lack of need to engage with plot, which admittedly only happened in VIP because I needed to get myself out of Pagan Soc every other Monday and if I wasn’t going to have a long time to engage with plot then I needed to get something else out of the role play.
There’s a whole different challenge for refs to engage newbie players, especially when they’ve just told them that the game wraps up in a few months time and definitely when players want to get plot knowledge out of the game.
I saw a brilliant solution to that problem in the linear last night, it was divided into two sections, one was the new less powerful vampires doing something completely plot relevant stealthily and the second was the more powerful vampires forming a distraction. The second contained a lot of references I didn’t get but that I’m assuming were enjoyed by the various people who’ve been involved for years, and for whom they were intended. I think what really drove it home for me that I’m a newbie in this system was when being briefed to be a fae people assumed I’d know the stats whereas I’ve never NPCd a fae before. Admittedly it doesn’t help that I can’t remember numbers to save my life.
I’ve been very caught up in my character so I really haven’t appreciated what the refs have been doing over the course of the last two terms to engage new characters whilst wrapping up a large amount of plot. Obviously I’ve noticed things within my own character arc but last night I got the chance to really look at things on a larger scale. Of course I came up with ideas for my own reffing and notions of what I’d have done in their place – can’t help it, it’s how I appreciate what other people are doing.
In terms of my own character, Bunny, she’s been trying to garner the courage and be as impressive as possible to contact her One True Love. Also, she’s had to find out where he was – now this really did let me extend or telescope her storyline as much as I liked which was pretty useful. Her notion of trying to impress him was to get as much power as possible and then give it up for him…so she got offered the power and turned it down in one evening – which was a bit of a shame but then I was meta-gaming to a short timetable! She’s also been crushing slightly on the person who seemed to be the worst possible man for her (oh yeah and her one true love is a sadistic, inconsiderate bastard). So, from purely my own perspective the top bits of my night:
– Noticing that I really enjoy roleplaying with Arg Mike but also wonderfing if the relationship between Bunny and Steven (VIP) has become blurred with that of S’au Nam and Rook Bailey (different characters in a game we’re both in) due to bad roleplaying on my part.
– On splitting up into groups Bunny got wished luck by Mr Guy Evans her slightly psychotic crush. She kissed him on the cheek for luck. This was the uber-highlight of the Bunny-Guy thing UNTIL the end, after we saved the world when Mr Evans was so excited that he bent her over backwards in a full-on snog. She almost felt a bit sad that she had to go and find George…but not really.
– Bunny getting the chance to perform her distraction skills both with and without success but with a great deal of humour…as well as a certain amount of trepidation – being faced by an awful lot of NPCs with swords was actually slightly worrying when you haven’t got a weapon of your own. The second time she tried to distract the monster and was completely ignored was almost a relief.
– Bunny and James deciding that if they were the only survivors from their group they’d take the glory for having saved the world themselves (Bunny to impress George, her True Love and James to impress Yalaria, his Sire).
– In the end fight Bunny decided to give her last two points of blood to save Daikon (who was dying in the middle of the battle) purely because she’d fallen next to him. This saved Daikon and led to him offering anything to Bunny who off the cuff asked if he was any good at finding people. Turned out he could locate vampires with pinpoint accuracy and so Bunny achieved complete closure for her ‘find George’ directive without me meta-gaming in anyway.