I’ve been thinking a lot about Zak Smith’s call for a Cities and Robots game that would be for electronica and hip hop people what Vampire: The Masquerade was (is?) for goths. Then Patrick Stewart made like a script for an intro to ananime series sorta inspired by what the world of this rpg might look like, involving lots of robots. Zak replied with a body part-targeting mechanic that would be useful for a game involving lots of robot combat.
I think these are great ideas, but not for a game designed for the people we’re talking about. I agree with "Cities" being important, but "Robots" are only important in some sub genres, and only as background reference in others. I think the average white male thinking out loud on his computer overestimates the importance of robots.
Goths want to be vampires, but hip hop and electronica people only sometimes want to be robots and only under certain circumstances.
I consider myself an “electronica” person, and I sleep with a reformed goth who played a lot of Vampire. I should be able to figure this out.
This post is about some reasons why Vampire was the shit for goths, so we can replicate them.
Subcultures exist because the people in it are not turned on by the popular culture. There are flavors missing. A goth’s favorite flavours are seduction, the tension between primal urges and self-control, the dynamics (often sexual) between dominant and submissive members of a group, hidden potentials, silent implications, the feeling of being special and more powerful and intelligent than an average slobbering human, and ultimate refinement.
Vampires are all these things. Vampires are so refined that their sex and their eating are the same thing, and they spend all their time either trying not to eat and fuck (white-knuckled good guy vampires and spock in heat) or eating too much (debaucherous bad guy vampires).
“Goth” is just a word for the state of wanting to be a vampire. It took almost zero thought to figure out goths would be into a roleplaying game about being a vampire. Every day is already roleplaying.
What the game did was provide a gothy looking, esoteric, hard cover object that contributed to your goth score simply by being on the table. Books are inherently goth, and this book was one that only you and your friends understood, making it the secret bible of a secret group of people. It was a book your parents wouldn’t be able to read.
CHOSE YOUR OWN VAMPIRE
Not only did you get to be a vampire, but you got to be your favorite kind of vampire through the different Clan (bloodline?) books. You could be a Nosferatu, a Lost Boys, an Almost-Werewolf, an Interview with a Vampire, a Only Lovers Left Alive, a Kurt Cobain, a Insane Clown Posse, whatever. Your personal favorite way to be a vampire had an entire book’s worth of support, so even though you were already in a special club among your friends, you might have had an even-specialer club all to yourself with your own special book.
I don’t know how to actually play a game of Vampire, but I hear that combat is only a small (albeit important) part of the game. You usually only have to fight if you’ve seriously fucked up. Most of the game is spent actively trying not to reveal your true powers. It’s all about furthering the fantasy.
Any game that hopes to be the Vampire of another subculture has to support the fantasy that people in that subculture are trying to live up to. It’s difficult when The Physical Book is by itself a valuable thing to goths. A weird book no one can understand but you is just such goth crack. It doesn’t carry the same weight in electronic music scenes.
Next time I will speculate on what a game would have to do for subgenres of weirdo drug festival music and also hip hop which is very different.