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What does this all mean? Well, these are some classic e-mails I found in a roleplaying folder. Just a fascinating look at a terrible game and the fallout from it.
Barry, who was running the game, was a great roleplayer (one of the best I have ever come across) and he had all the tools to be a really good Storyteller too. But ... his games were so frustrating.
Indeed he had run New Orleans before with another group of whom Andy was a member.
Anyway, read on for some insight into this game and the social interaction of gamers.
WARNING: some language and gaming content may not be suitable for the nervous or young reader.
From: Gregor Hutton
To: Martin Cameron
Date: 12 April 1999 12:55
(note: I've been at this (writing the e-mail) for ages ... sigh)
Barry's game ... blah de blah de blah
**WARNING**: I am about to rant for some time!!!
I can detect that most of the other players are not too happy with my character ... but I'm playing a rebel and I don't see what's too wrong with that. I mean it's one of the basic parts of the Camarilla ... but:
Basically, ALL of Barry's NPCs are immovable rocks that will not deviate from the One True Way ... the prince is a tyrant and there is no difference of opinion between Prince Grosvenor, the Tremere leader Atticus, Delroy, Gurnal or my Mentor ... eh, that's hardly realistic?
The Camarilla are not all lackeys that follow the whim of the local Prince, there is a freedom that is allowed as long as the kindred do not break the Prince's laws. Prince's are all too aware that they can be removed by the Primogen of the city .... but
... this doesn't seem to be the case in New Orleans ... Grosvenor berated me (almost word for word in the same Barry manner) in the same way as the leader of the Chantry and again (almost word for word) as Delroy. Individually they can all have their opinion of the Luscious One, but they all have the same opinion ... bah humbug ... call me old fashioned but...
Where is the courtly intrigue? The disagreements? Barry says the Prince has no opposition to his rule? The Tremere leaders openly cow to him? WTF? Where are the voices of dissention? None? He is like no Prince i have ever come across...
(And right now I can imagine Barry smiling as he reads that and saying... ... yes, he IS like no other prince you have come across.)
>well, fuck that I'm off ... i don't wanna play DC by Night mofo
The Prince has let the Sabbat into the city to 'monitor' their strength and then says he cannot throw them out because 'they have already entered the city'... l don't think he's thought about his story too carefully and although his characters all seem to be different in appearance they are all of the same mindset ... the Prince's i.e. Barry's
His game seems more like a Sabbat game under the leadership of a tyrant Archbishop (the Princely equivalent in the Sabbat) ... Tony asked Grosvenor about freedom (you know, the thing that the Camarilla stands for, as long as we hide from mortals) and he said 'that is something for the Sabbat'. WTF? I'm jumping the fence ... I'll get an even break from them that i won't get from Grosvenor
We got attacked last night by seven Sabbat who hopelessly outgunned us (they all were Gangrel scouts I believe with claws ... as they ran across roads they were like black blurs and out Celerity'd everyone in the party of 5 ... Tony was in town pleading with Grosvenor for help and sorting out his true love).
Anyway, we (somehow) killed two and staked one of the initial three Sabbat, all of us getting mauled or thereabouts in the process ... fair enough we thought.
Then, four arrive with magic missiles and start badgering us ... they didn't attack or try and take me away because Barry realized that we couldn't fight back and would have all been killed. (at this point I was getting a few looks from Gerry as I was taunting them, but then they are in Camarilla territory and whatever ... and if he's going to send that sort of force up against some neonates then he should really play it through to its conclusion ... whethere it be my death or abduction or a strange Nosferatu saving the party or some Gangrel saving the day and becoming our friends ... but oh no, we can't have that)
anyway they killed their fallen comrade so I could not give him as a present to the Prince (and we were all shot by tonnes of these magic missile things)
then Delroy turns up with 4 ghouls (I had phoned Slim's bar for help) and he beats up the four sabbat and stakes them (what a pile of shit!) where we vampires were getting a real kicking. Anyway delroy then threatens me because I said there would be a fight and there wasn't one (well, not a big one), and then he compalins because his car is shot up in the fight! Wait a minute ... you've just staked four Sabbat members and your complaining about a shitty car that cost 20 000 at the absolute most? (Not once did he show any thanks that we had survived an attack by a hostile sect). Then he started calling Denis a bitch and Denis threw him on to some spikes (which he crawled off fairly quickly). He was ranting on about killing us all and lying to the Prince (he needs me but he doesn't need you... yadda yadda ...) in between beating me up (I didn't resist) and doing Denis... just a pile of complete rubbish really
We went to see Grosvenor and he offered me a choice ... get this: show him respect or die... wait Barry i think you'll find that's the Sabbat's line (join me or die) ... he should have expelled me, blood bound me or used me as bait to catch the Sabbat..or forbidden me from feeding in certain areas of the city or banned me from Elysium (places of safety) or demanded that I owe him a boon (or face expulsion from his city), or any one of these Camarilla punishments ... but, oh no that would require social interaction, a whole area of the game Barry has made redundant...
BAH BAH his game is driving me nuts, but in fairness I think I am driving him nuts too ... ha ha ...
it's like playing Andy's game with more violence and grosser NPCs ... honestly there is not an NPC that we could beat up or coerce into helping us ... sigh
dreadful ... just dreadful.
i can't say the party helps that much either, we're all pulling in different directions, but the story (what there is of it is completely unengaging)
Tony's managed to bug out as he has exams ... looks like i'll have to go back to school...
Actually, he's threatening to kill my character off, if only :-) I might have to speed up my move to Edinburgh to get out of this one :)
>how was barry's game last night. he was saying on
>saturday that he was getting a bit sick of it so i don't
>think that it will last.
pile of wank ... see above (on the upside i got 4 xp and we all got in a fight so that was quite good, Tony got a lot of roleplaying with his background but in general ... ughhh)
>ron was also telling what was happening in his game
>and how much xp i get to spend in the intervening
>85 years. hmmm obfuscate at 4 could be on the cards.
yes, Ron's game is much better. Also, I like my character in Ron's game. If he could get rid of the pesky Mages it would be pretty cool. Although, Alesandro needs a lobotomy oops, that's what left the skull cap ha ha
Hmmm, i wonder if i can wangle a few extra dice here and there what's Ron's favourite drink?
But yes, while we were away you could have become a very proficient nossie
From: Gregor Hutton
To: Andy O'Hara
Subject: Barry's New Orleans?
Date: 12 April 1999 16:51
Here's an opinion I sent to Martin about New Orleans and how Bazza might improve it...
I'm not sure if he's got some stories up his sleeve, but at the moment it's just a bit of a mish-mash really. The Prince is ordering us about, which some of the players don't seem too bothered about (Ron and Gerry get on quite well with the Prince as they are quite obedient), Denis doesn't believe he's a vampire (which is actually OK, but he doesn't fit into the game as it currently stands and he's not into Barry's current scenario ideas), Michael is doing his own spying on western kindred thing, Tony has just left the city I think and I'm playing a rebel Tremere (a Brujah-like wizard) which means I'm currently at loggerheads with the establishment. (which as it turns out in New Orleans is everyone ha ha)
The Prince wants us all to be highly obedient and respectful ... well, my character isn't going to play ball, and the more the prince rants at me then the more I will rile him up ... might doesn't mean right, but the prince is giving it a go...the worrying thing is that there are no dissenting voices in New Orleans apart from mine. Grosvenor is a real tyrant (but I don't think Barry sees him that way) who flies off the handle far too easily. Hmmm, my character will probably get iced soon, but believe me I've only been speaking out of turn and i've not burned any of his paintings or killed anyone yet. (sticks and stones and all that ... ) ... in fact I haven't raised a blow in anger yet, although I've been on the receiving end of quite a few kickings so far.
I think Barry is very wary (paranoid) about what i'm going to do, and so he is really straightjacketing the party (and particularly me, he has a real fear over Thaumaturgy)...
The big problem is that Barry's main characters are so uniform and inflexible (last night I basically got ranted at in the same manner and for the same reasons by some Sabbat scouts, Delroy (a Brujah gang leader... about as rebellious as a doormat), Atticus (the Tremere chantry leader... another subservient to Grosvenor) and Grosvenor himself.)
Bah, it's really quite frustrating, but we'll see if he can turn it around, although he's getting a bit bored with it himself from what I hear.
I think he really jumped in without knowing what he was going to do, only knowing what his Prince and his lackeys were like. He needs a story and badly...
anyway, here the e-mail i sent to Martin
i'll get in touch soon
From: Gregor Hutton
To: Martin Cameron
Date: 12 April 1999 15:02
I think Tony's been giving him some constructive criticism and he's maybe been making changes ... unfortunately Tony won't be there for the next while :-(
I think that he lords his NPCs over us too much ... you know it's either the Prince or a Mage or Delroy or a really powerful Sabbat pack (he says they were just weak scouts ... well, Barry if they're weak then we're fucked when the real stuff arrives, cause the weak ones could have killed us ten times over ... )
I mean there's not one humble NPC in the entire game, no NPCs who maybe just maybe look up to the players for help. we are not allowed to be heroes to anyone, we're not given the opportunity to save anyone.
Instead we are the lackeys at the bottom of the tree looking up as the sentinels fight out their cosmic wars .... and we should stick in our place.
We should only do things that older and more powerful vampires order us to ... and we should shut up if we don't like it ... sigh
Really, anyone below us on the grand scale of things is ignored (and sometimes, you know, even they give us no respect, like the bartender in Ron's bar!)
Maybe he should do more humanity centred stories (I think it would fit in with Denis's character quite well and I'm sure the rest of the party could all be social and ROLEPLAY when faced with morality questions and situations), you know a children's hostel that the Prince is demolishing to build an art gallery or something, and we defend the rights of the children and fight off some toreador neonates that have been sent down to scare the kids ... we get our mentors to petition the Primogen to overrule the Prince ... and we win! The prince is not pleased but there is not much he can do ... he just casts a menacing glare at us in Elysium and we have to watch our step. Even when we meet von Bachman, he lets us go when he finds out that we are the kindred that saved the children's hospice... That sort of thing. You know, we heard that von Bachmann was all bad (and he almost is) but ... there is still some good left in him.
Camarilla games always work better when you aren't being ordered about by the Prince. I'm sure there are plenty of Brujah, Toreador, Ventrue, Nossies etc. that are about our power level that we could interract with. We shouldn't even get an audience with the Prince, he's wayyyyy above our level (as Barry keeps reminding us..sigh)
Bah humbug ... New Orleans sucks!
earl winston malboro, jr (luscious smack daddy)
From: Andy O'Hara
To: Gregor Hutton
Cc: Barry James
Subject: Barry's New Orleans?
Date: 13 April 1999 12:38
Barry's New Orleans ... ?
Well ... my experience of that was ... fragmented, for a start, as it very rarely ran - not a criticism of Barry, but simply the fact that he wouldn't run it without the full complement of players, and the group we were playing with (Martin-Joe, Mark, David, Chris) were seldom all there.
As to story, well ... we didn't have a clue either. We kept running into NPCs who all had their own agendas, and who weren't for letting us in on anything. At no time did I get an overall sense of what was going on, but that, admittedly, was in part caused by the character I was playing; however, the characters we *did* meet, apart from the Elysium, who were a fucking waste of space, were: Menza, the Mage, who has his own agenda; Wojtaz, the Tremere (whom I eventually got to know); Tobias Creed, the gang leader, who had his own agenda, but (I think) let us in on what he was doing; the Chinese (ha-ha) who just made life difficult for other characters while running their pseudoHellraiser schtick ("Yes ... beyond that is The Curtain of Razors, and The Fields of Blades ... he he he..."); the Sabbat pack (overpowered wankers - although I came close to killing Leon, my Sire, a couple of times), including Bachman, possibly, apart from Grosvenor (Chris kept calling him Guvnor to get on his wick), the character which personifies Barry himself the most; some mad Lupine-Spider things in the Bayou, where there is also a Cairn (we thought) and which the Sabbat are desperate to get their hands on; some Demons, which funnily enough, were powerful as fuck; the Sabbat Mages, who were stinkingly powerful; and Darla and Lucy, who had their own agenda... I found the game difficult to get into, perhaps because I felt that although the characters all had links to what was going on, none of them ever had the chance to join up (the links that is, not the characters).
We ended up being sent, by the Prince, to Houma, to await Death, basically, which is almost what happened. If we'd done what the Prince had wanted us to do, we would have been Dead as well ... Oh, yeah and the Prince has a Nosferatu/Assamite/Gargoyle retainer who is funnily enough, powerful as fuck (yep, you guessed it ... ). Do you think there's a pattern here?
I can't really give an objective opinion of Barry's game, as we didn't play it for long enough and I wasn't involved enough with the plot to comment on it, but it seems to me as though Barry has a very definite idea what's going on, and the players' role is simply to uncover that, like archaeologists dusting down a relic: it may as well already have happened, because the extent to which the players can influence what is "going on" is peripheral at best and diversionary at worst. Kind of partying at the end of the world, instead of trying to prevent it.
Perhaps that says more about the players and their characters though, although I do feel that part of the GM's role is to draw the players in rather than just let them watch: this was also my argument with his DC game there was very little the player characters could do - we were Heralds of the Apocalyse, only there to unite the various NPCs against the real threat, which we were no match for.
Incidentally, why is it that I always end up sending you these massive emails?
From what Ron's told me you're playing (to a certain extent) Case McKenzie again (no offence intended, it's just that the characters' extroverted and volatile behaviour sound very similar - whether or not that's the case is another matter) and with the attitude that Barry took to Case, you're for the Bad Fire by the sounds of it.
I think to a certain extent as well the party never unite against a common enemy - which is typical for both the groups I play with, although less so with Chris et al - but this issue is never addressed, I feel. Barry's approach to that was to send all the characters to Houma, where we admittedly fought against the Sabbat, but the original decision that the whole party took was to join them, rather than fight them, because of the various characters' natures ... Not really what I'd thought when I ran away from the Sabbat and joined up with them to be honest ... Sounds as though the party you're in are the same ...
Anyway, enough monologues, let me know what you think (both of you)
From: Gregor Hutton
To: Andy O'Hara
Subject: Barry's New Orleans?
Date: 13 April 1999 13:10
Yes, I had thought of Case McKenzie last night when I was thinking about Barry's game, although it wasn't a conscious decision to make a Case clone ... (would anyone want to? ha ha actually, I unearthed a really funny prop a while back form my London game that I showed to Tony again. It was the letter Case sent Tony on leaving London that appeared to drop him in the shit with the Prince and your character Joel. Tony nearly had a seizure when he read it first time round as he was the Sabbat spy in London trying not to get rumbled. Looking back, with what he found out later on (i.e. the Prince was his best pal looking after him and already knew who he was), it was very funny ... )
Perhaps, Earl Winston is the other side of the Case McKenzie fence, as case would do something about it (i.e. hit people, run about, start fights with Barry PCs ... er NPCs) while luscious really only tries to get others to do it for him (and so far only partially successfully, the party did beat up the Sabbat for me but I think they were fingering for a fight anyway ... just the Sunday night crew really)
Lord scrolin was asking how the game had gone last night (Tony had refused to spill the beans ... wait until Barry and Gregor are in the same room to find out ha ha) and Barry said i'd been killed off just a little joke at Scrolin's expense) by being boxed into a coffin and sent to the bottom of some lake ... I said he's stuck me in a box of concrete and posted me to London. Poor Lee almost choked on his cup of tea he was laughing so much (that's when I kind of made the Case connection) ... as I told Lee I was being punished for turning into a Giant Green Oni in a cemetery in violation of the Masquerade (no that was Michael), or was it killing a prostitute and waving a big gun about in public (no that was Ron's witchfinder general), or was it doing a Lara Croft in the cemetery guns blazing and then throwing the Brujah leader on to the metal spiky fence (no ... that was Denis), then maybe it was scrapping with the Sabbat and staking one of them (much to his packmates anger) ... eh, no that was Gerry...
My crime (and boy am I guilty of it) is running my mouth like a harmonica player on absinthe ... but hey it's hardly unusual in the Camarilla... you'd think some Juggler-like NPC would want to get me to do his dirty work for him and use me as a potential martyr against the tyrannical Prince ... but i don't think that'll happen.
Hmmm, i'm sure his Warharnmer FRP years ago had more character-centred action, maybe he should get back to his roots? Where things happened involving us rather than around us.
I kind of prefer to be in role-plays rather than sitting in the front row
(it's not a very good spectator sport)
guv'nor nice one heh, why don't I run into chris's character in game :-)
ta ta for now, heh Andy you got some balls sending that to Barry ha ha