Designer Blog: Vampire: the Masquerade - Heritage
Vampire: the Masquerade – Heritage was always meant to be a game about stories.
Detailed stories that would intertwine nicely, forming a web of intrigue that would connect its protagonists –the vampires with each other.
I was already playing the “Vampire: the Masquerade” RPG for almost a decade, as a player but mostly as a storyteller. And a couple of years later, I would delve into the most exciting aspect of gaming, the live action role playing (LARP).
It was a given, that the game based on this magnificent IP had to be story-driven, immersive, engaging, respectful of its title and its fans.
The basic idea was simple and quite direct.
The game’s main players should be the vampires.
According to the theme, those undead beings exist with the humans side by side, feeding off of them and steering their history towards where they please… and always to their advantage.
This would mean that the players should portray influential vampires with the goal of siring more progeny, thus extending their ‘terrible’ bloodline. But anyone familiar enough with the setting would know that “siring a progeny” can be a long-term procedure, because they would have to choose their childer carefully. So it had to be a choice!
And so, the 80-card Mortal deck came into life. Consisting of 80 unique types of people that would populate the world in the medieval times. Each with their own “behavior” and “way of reacting to things”. For it was expected of a Marquis to oppose a peasant revolt whereas an Innkeeper might stick with the rebelling folk and where a Mercenary might even see opportunities on both sides.
I had to keep this in mind, and make sure that a story was told properly.
And so the idea of colors came to life. A color that would mean something, describing the viewpoints, the way of thinking, the status, their philosophy, their tendencies and even their ambitions and destinies. And so, each character got a different combination of color patterns and class types.
Class types – there would be four of them, the militarist, the financial, the shady and the wise. All of them as generic, yet as descriptive as the colors. A priest could be of a shady, if into politics, of a wise if into spiritual growth or of a financial class type if guilty of simony. There would be no defined lines for each person could be different into their own unique way.
The deck was ready! Next were the Battlegrounds! Different stages where all these people and vampires’ stories would mix, where their interests would clash and where their worlds would collide. These needed to be the excuses of them fighting yet they didn’t need to be defined. “Of Clans High and Low” – the battle of the vampire castes across the medieval centuries, “The Beast Within” – the inner conflict happening into the vampire’s rotten heart as its humanity struggles to remain alive, and finally “The War of the Princes” – the stories of how the vampires managed to manipulate the rulers and the kings into countless of wars and crusades. These would be the first three and the next would follow suit “The Masquerade”, “the Inquisition”, “the Anarch Revolts” and much…much more.
The game’s premise would be simple for each player.
Choose and sire a progeny and have it influence the world, based on its colors, type and abilities. This illusory freedom of choice, where a player would embrace the Viking Jarl seeking to promote the kings of the north, at the cost of succumbing to their Bestial nature, or the Shieldmaiden who’s more virtuous and still a supporter of the north, but yet more sympathetic to the common folk and the Low Clans.
Players need to have a difficult time picking one over the other as their plans would clash all into the form of one single choice. And as time would progress things would become even harder…
But then again, in the world of Vampire: the Masquerade, in the World of Darkness, fear, hardship and despair are common and quite painful…
Next time: Let’s talk about change – what makes this game a “Legacy” board game