Warning: if you don't play White Wolf's "Vampire: The
Masquerade" this might not make much sense
I'm playing in a Vampire live-action RPG on a local high-school campus. The game meets every Wednesday and I'm surprised I haven't heard of the troupe before now. All of the other players are strangers to me, but there are a lot of them - about fifty or so - and I'm impressed by the degree to which they are able to stay in character. I'm playing my favorite Patricia, and I'm happy that I can immediately get into character and get going.
being a new character on the scene, my time is largely spent trailing around
after other, more established characters. At one point, I latch on to the local
Nosferatu, but the clan ditches me rather easily and I find myself wandering
through the halls, looking for player-characters. I bump into some Brujah punk
who mouths off at me and, just as we're getting ready to throw down for combat
(Trish, it seems, was in a very bad mood) word gets around the group that
something bad was happening, and we had to get out of the building. I don't
understand what this something is, but the other PCs do, and the fight
fizzles as everyone scatters and we head outside. I'm a little relieved,
actually, as I'm quite sure Patricia would have gotten her ass kicked.
Outside, the scenery reminds me of the University of Connecticut, although it really could be any large, reasonably old college campus. Buildings of a type ranging from pre-WW2 to painfully modern are separated by lawns and commons of varying sizes and somewhere to my left, there is the obligatory goose-infested lake. Most of the characters are hanging around a particular quad, as the Prince is supposed to hold court, soon. During this period of idleness - it seems that if the bad something is happening, it's happening elsewhere - I'm introduced to the Prince and get Acknowledged, so that's one worry off my mind. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the Prince isn't the sort of person to tolerate Patricia, so I see a challenge ahead of me.
I see a friend of mine, BC, hanging out on the steps of one particularly ecclesiastical-seeming building and I dash over to say hello, as I haven't seen her for years. However, she chides me to stay in character, saying that's she's one of the games Alliants (I remember that's the name of the troupe, Alliant) who's only job is to keep an eye on the players and make sure they stay in character. We can catch up after the game, she says. Fair enough...
characters run onto the quad, in varying degrees of distress. It seems the something
is manifesting more obviously now. Several of the PCs have odd designs drawn on
their arm in red ink (with a muttered caveat that the designs represent a gash
encircling their right upper arm, and blood coming down) and others have the red
ink and what looks like rubber-stamped impressions of chessmen on their
left arm. This has all spontaneously manifested on certain characters in the
game, and everyone is reacting accordingly.
As I'm curiously examining on affected character ("Does this hurt? How about this?" - Trish is a sadist, after all), I spy a character who is running back towards the 'high school', which I know would be bad for her. Thinking it might be a good idea to have a character, any character owe me a favor, I grab her by the arm and tell her to stay with me. The player is about my height, skinny with short blonde hair cut in a bob and wearing a minidress of turquoise-blue fuzzystuff (it has short strands, sorta fuzzy, but it's not faux-fur) and I wonder, in passing, why the player isn't freezing. The blonde girl initially tries to shake free of my grasp but then acquiesces. A few moments later, we're sitting down on the concrete together. I have an arm around her in an entirely fradulent guise of protectiveness, and we're talking quietly as chaos continues to reign. It seems the gashes/markings are very bad news, indeed. As we chat, I get the impression that this character is very immature or childish (demeanor: child, obviously) and I'm starting to think that I might indeed have someone I can manipulate - providing Patricia's weakness for looking after kids doesn't get the better of me. Patricia's nature demands that she have someone she can push around, but she's feeling conflicted about the possibility of using this apparent ingénue...
Finally, as things settle down, the blonde girl says, "Are you my slave now?" which makes me laugh.
"No, things are usually the other way around with me," I say, "When I bother with that dynamic, that is."
"What's your name?"
"Patricia DeMontfort." Said with my usual formality.
The girl chuckles, a hint of derisiveness in her tone. "So proud of her name."
"And so I should be. I worked hard to establish a reputation for it." I sigh a little. "Not that it does me much good here," because, of course, it's a new troupe which has never heard of Patricia.
"So don't be so attached to it, or your reputation."
At that point, the conversation becomes disjointed, as we discuss power dynamics, apparent and actual and I'm distracted by wondering what the girl's dress is made of - and why she hasn't told me her name, yet. As the dream fades out, once again I'm impressed by the sheer level of roleplaying I've seen with this group - no mass out-of-character moments, players who really seem to listen to each other - and I wonder idly if I can commit to playing with this troupe on a regular basis...
Tell me your dreams