M. (la_cry_mo_sa) wrote in vampiretm,

Storyteller rant


So, I'm currently trying to run this Vampire game set in present-day Vienna. I don't have Wien bei Nacht (the licensed German sourcebook by Feder & Schwert about Vienna) so I have very little information about the setting. It's a bit weird; Vienna is actually quite important, but it's usually only mentioned in the books. I have a Mexican Samedi prince named Tenoch de la grandeza who is actually only about 250 years old but poses as a 600 year old Nosferatu, though he doesn't deny that he's Mexican (pointless anyway because of his accent). He came to Vienna after World War I to learn Thaumaturgy because Pochtli, who taught him Dominate in exchange for a great deal of Necromancy (which Tenoch, along with Thanatosis, learned from his sire Jorge de la muerte who he later killed because Tenoch was a mage in life and hated being Kindred. Of course it was very profitable for Pochtli, but Tenoch was young and naïve) in Mexico City, refused to teach him. Because he single-handedly killed a Sabbat pack that killed the former sheriff Tenoch was made sheriff instead. He acquired princedom by dominating the rather naïve prince Leopold into trying to force the Tremere to give thaumaturgic tomes to him. Leopold was obliterated for that and no one made the connection, so Tenoch became prince. His sheriff is a German Toreador named Julia von Sacher-Masoch who used to live in London during the Victorian Era. She spend some time in Bedlam because she suffered from severe depression and frequent nervous breakdowns; her parents fled to London because of the revolution in 1848, became Kindred shortly thereafter and disguised their feeding as incest. She felt guilty for enjoy the alleged incest. Her mother accidently embraced her when she was 14. She went to Bedlam where she became a Sabbat member and learned some Thaumaturgy (which Tenoch does not know). She later left Bedlam and the Sabbat and fled to Vienna because of her former Sabbat membership. She became a harpy, but the Sabbat eventually found out about her which is why they are attacking Vienna (VAV said the Sabbat has no real place in Austria). She was the one who actually witnessed Tenoch destroying the Sabbat pack and brought it to the prince's attention. She taught Tenoch German and Tenoch taught her Spanish. Because Tenoch despite his young age already depends on Kindred blood he regularly drinks from Julia – and only from her; he hides his dependence from everyone else – and is thus blood-bound to her. He knows that and regularly lets her drink from his blood as well, though she doesn't really need it except for the blood bound; however, unbeknownst to him she is immune to the blood oath. Because of her thaumaturgic knowledge she also knows about his real clan membership and thus has some sense of how he old he can be. He doesn't know any of this and Julia also didn't tell anyone.
I also got this paranoid Filipino Malkavian primogen named Reynante who is very paranoid and doesn't communicate much with other Malkavians because he is in fact a Kuei-jin. He wants to pave the way for the arrival of more Cathayans because of the amazing dragon nests the Tremere claim (according to the KotE companion).

So, I got three players and three very different characters. A Caitiff named Seleyna who is a Swedish traveler only visting Vienna, a German Brujah brawler named (perhaps nicknamed) Bail who is in Vienna because of his martial arts club, and a very solitary Nosferatu hacker named Zenedar native to Vienna who regularly hacks into databases for fun. Zenedar also operates a website with which he organizes riots all over the world. Zenedar and Bail know each other from the internet; Bail often partakes in these riots and acts as a sort of henchman for Zenedar. They wouldn't recognize each other if they met on the street; Bail doesn't know Zenedar lives in Vienna, Zenedar knows that Bail is currently in Vienna but doesn't care. Neither of them know Seleyna. All of them have yet to be embraced. I haven't even run a prelude (and probably won't do it. Too scared.). I had my players come over to my house twice already; last week we filled out the character sheets and today we established some further facts about the characters. Words cannot express how ashamed I am because of that. I'm incredibly nervous and the fact that we already had two sessions without really accomplishing anything doesn't exactly make me less nervous. The players of Zenedar and Bail have zero experience with Vampire, though Bail's player has read some of the articles at the German White Wolf Wiki (which I know contain no misinformation since I wrote everything there). Seleyna's player also played in the only one-shot I ever ran which I talked about in earlier posts. I have incredible difficulties thinking of some way to connect the characters. You know, I haven't even started the game and there's already one thing that I've learned, and that is that I'll never ever have players chose different clans again. Next time I run a game everyone's going to be a thin-blooded Caitiff or a Giovanni or a Tremere or whatever, as long as the group's not as chaotic as the Ravnos. I thought that maybe Seleyna was accidentally embraced by a dissident Tremere (I disallowed the clan for players because I thought that in Vienna they'd have even less than zero tolerance for independent Tremere) who embraced her to save her life after feeding and later committed suicide by walking into the sun. I kind of want to punch myself in the face for allowing Caitiff in Vienna. At least she's not a thin-blood or a Last Daughter of Eve or something. Still.
I have a bit more problems with Zenedar and Bail. I thought maybe Zenedar broke into a Nosferatu database – because he breaks into random databases for fun and practice – and was embraced to uphold the masquerade or something. But, meh, I don't know. And Bail … he gets into a lot of fights. I haven't even understood his character until today. I thought he was some sort of gangster who beats up everyone for insulting his mother, but actually he just takes the honour and dignity of his allies really seriously and only gets into fights because of his principles, for example if the police are violent and abuse their power or if he sees some actual gangsters beat up a child or rape a woman or whatever. I thought perhaps he was embraced by the Anarchs for his zeal or by some Camarilla guy because of a Sabbat attack and they needed reinforcements (unlikely). Perhaps he was embraced by the Sabbat and the Cainite who embraced him was known so they knew he was a 13th-generation Brujah and not a whatever-generation Caitiff. Damn, I suck. I really have trouble getting the characters together. I don't want to tell three different stories. I have a thing for “orphans” which is to say for player characters who don't have sires anymore. However, I'm at a loss for ideas why no one of them has sires any more. It's easy with the suicidal Tremere. I don't know about the others though. And if I let their sires live I don't know what to do with them. Especially with Zenedar. His player used all of his discipline points to buy Mask of a Thousand Faces (not to make it easier for me but because it is fitting for the character) but still. Apart from that I thought that ~maybe~ I could have them meet at the Stephansdom where Tenoch and Julia made their haven so that they are introduced to the prince. Seleyna would have been picked up by someone, perhaps someone cleaning up after the Sabbat raid. I'm at a loss to explain why she hasn't been destroyed outright. Tenoch himself however has a soft spot for Caitiff because of him being a Samedi. He practices this very own masquerade so he can pass for far older than he actually is which is important in Europe where everything is run by very very old people. He hopes that his position as a prince will make it easier to learn Thaumaturgy so he can have a bit of his former life as a mage back.
Originally I wanted my game to be very apocalyptic, though I didn't really have any idea beside that. So I listened to this song about a snuff film and though that maybe a snuff film showing someone ripped to shreds by Obtenebration circulated in Vienna. ~Somehow~ they would find the Lasombra responsible for the act itself (actually I wanted him to be a Tzimisce but then I thought that since I already have a Samedi [and a Nosferatu] in my game a Lasombra would be better suited; you don't have to be too morbid and gory after all. Also I realized I'm probably stealing from Bloodlines. Again. Whatever.) but not the tape and the distribution of it. I want to offer them the opportunity to align themselves with the Sabbat at this point but if not everyone of them does the same I think I'll have to murder them. I need to calm down. It's not their fault. Anyway, in case they don't join the Sabbat (I don't know what to do in case they do) they would ~somehow~ deal with the Lasombra and then ~somehow~ find out that the Giovanni ~somehow~ videotaped the murder (perhaps the Lasombra regularly murders Caitiff or Tremere or whatever. Does the Sabbat have a hatred for the Caitiff? I don't think they do.) to draw attention away from the fact that a) there are a significant number of Giovanni in Vienna and b) what they are actually doing there (Endless Night ritual and stuff). I want to bring the Giovanni in because they are my favorite clan and I think I know a great deal about them. I feel secure, you know. Still, I feel like I haven't really thought this through. There's a lot of plot holes and I don't know how to fill them.
As for the apocalyptic stuff, I thought of a Malkavian doomsayer shouting prophecies from the Bible and the Book of Nod who doesn't have any significance other than hopefully providing some atmosphere and who one night mysteriously disappears (yay, another story see­d that I don't know what to do with!). Also thought that as a sort of side story some Garou burn down a comic book shop that sells Black Dog books. All of the characters have a humanity of eight or nine; Garou won't detect them. I don't know too much about Werewolf (huh! Maybe I should try storytelling it) but I think that not all of them hate vampires so there is a slight chance they might actually get along with the PCs in case they pick up on that and find the Garou who did this.

My boyfriend plays Bail and keeps telling me to calm down. I don't tell them that I'm nervous or that I think I'm not prepared well enough or that I'm afraid that I'll suck as a storyteller (which I do! If you can't get anything done in two sessions then you suck!) but he somehow knows and tells me to stop worrying (“I'm not nervous!” - “Are you serious? Do you realize how fast you are speaking?”). He actually had me doing some meditation exercises today. Seleyna's player told him and Zenedar's player that I have already ran an one-shot on my birthday without really having problems and my boyfriend doesn't really get how I can be so nervous and not easy-going at all now. I don't know, I didn't really know a whole lot about Vampire back then and now I got a glimpse of how much there is to know and I feel like I know so little. I know you don't have to know much but still. A guy who wrote a bit for the German wiki said I should really try storytelling because it would be a shame letting all the knowledge I show by writing articles go to waste. I know that. And I know that I know enough to run an one-shot (it's intended to be an one-shot, ffs! And I can't get it done!) - heck, I have already proven that I do. Still, I don't know. The people make me nervous. Last time it was a lady I have known for years and I tell her everything, and another girl that I don't care what she thinks of me (bad grammar, but I hope you know what I mean) so it was easy to just let it go. Also, the Camarilla. To tell you the truth, I just hate the Camarilla. I would much rather run a Sabbat game (especially in Mexico City because I feel very safe with Mexico City) or even the anarchs, but I think the Sabbat is a bit too hardcore for new players and the anarchs are probably a bit too chaotic. I haven't really read anything about the Camarilla, I don't know too much about it because I just didn't care. This is why I chose Vienna: Because of the Tremere, who I think are actually quite interesting. I thought maybe I'd have to deal a bit less with the Camarilla than in, let's say, Paris, because I think the Tremere are actually more in charge of the city than the Camarilla.

I don't think the ideas that are not related to the players are that bad but I suck when it comes to player involvement. My players are going to send me some more background about their characters; I only have descriptions that are all less than half a page long. Today I argued with them about the quality of life in Vienna. I don't know why that is. I'm actually a very creative person. Creating is all I do. Honestly. And still …
I don't know yet when the next session will be. I want to get it right this time. I want to actually run the game. I'm not going to fuck up a third time. I think I will not meet with them again until I feel as safe as can be (I think I will never feel completely safe. >.>). What makes matters worse is that with every meeting the expectations grow – and decline at the same time. It sound like a paradox but I hope you know what I mean.

The players are so nice to me. They don't reproach me or anything, they just make some sarcastic remarks about how me might perhaps start the actual game in about three months or something. I know that if I were in their position I'd totally reproach the hell out of my storyteller. I try to calm down by telling myself that even Mark Rein Hagen used to suck (have you read his anecdote in one of the books where he played with his family and his father didn't get that you can't win, destroyed his plot and made Mark really angry?) but it's no use if you're not prepared well. I thought I was prepared well. I thought running a “prelude light” (read: not the whole biography, just the embrace) would be a piece of cake; I described my ideas above and because I actually don't really like the ideas for Zenedar and Bail I somehow didn't find the words to actually describe what's happening and I didn't even construct a single sentence. It's a bit hard to describe, but I often have trouble translating my thoughts into words. Also, I didn't realize how many plot holes there were. Part of me is almost glad for not starting the game today because of all the plot holes I didn't notice. I only do now because I tried describing it. Bigger part of me feels very ashamed though. I wish I would have read Midnight Siege. I wish I would have read the Guide to the Camarilla. I wish I would have read Time of Thin Blood. I wish I wish I wish. I wish I would have spent the last months reading stuff that's actually useful for a chronicle and not Sabbat books and Clanbook: Ravnos and Chaos Factor and Blood Magic and all that. I know that's silly because I didn't think I'd ever get people together to play Vampire again. Still.

Apart from Vampire I have zero roleplaying experience. I have only run this Vampire one-shot once and that's it. Maybe I should have started with D&D or something. No use thinking about that though; I have this game and I want to finish it. *laughs* Hell, I want to actually start the game. I remember searching the internet for some story ideas/inspiration for my first one-shot and someone mentioned Project Twilight, maybe I should look into that. Probably doesn't solve the problem of bringing the characters together though. I feel lousy for even considering a premade plot after two basically useless sessions.

*takes a deep breath* Anyway, I feel a bit better having written that down. I think I am really not going to get my players together for a third session until I have everything sorted out. I am very lucky that they are so forgiving, I really am and I know that. It's a bit hard not additionally to stress myself to put together an even better story to compensate them for the time they have wasted. I'll try though. I really need to calm down, perhaps get some distance and really take my time to sort everything out. *nods*
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