So I'm going to be making some role playing blog posts here on occasion. No promises about how often. There are some other blogs that I post to and I only have so much writing in me from day to day, but I do want to post the larger events in my chronicle to this blog. So first my concept and how I came up with it.
It all started with the current season of True Blood. The story about Lilith and the vampire "Authority" got me thinking about Elysium games. For one thing much as I'm happier with True Blood's treatment of vampire society this season than previous seasons I still find the overall story lacking. I blame White Wolf for setting an unrealistic bar on this front. I want the Lilith mythology in True Blood to be as rich as the mythology of Cain murdering his brother out of love and then twisting the power of God back around on himself as a curse for what he had done. I know not everyone reads the Book of Nod in this light, but I very much see the Noddist texts and the nature of Golconda to point to a mythology where God was actually totally ok with what Cain did. After all, it's a rather epic sacrifice. However, when he continues to offer Cain access to the kingdom of heaven Cain's own guilt warps the offerings into curses. Either that or God is so put off by the fact that he has lost the individual who gave him the greatest sacrifice imaginable that he decided to curse Cain instead of bless him, but he gave him a way out if he can overcome his own guilt. Between that and the role the Dark Mother plays in the creation story and the end days there is a richness filled with deep psychological torment and complexity that would make Poe blush at least a little. I really want that from True Blood, but while they are creating a ground breaking excellent vampire story if you look at TV history it's no Black Dog buffet.
So that brought me to wanting to run an Elysium campaign. Now I've always been very apprehensive about the idea of an Elysium game. You give players that kind of power and they are bound to run amok with it. Much like a good Wraith game you need players who are willing to dig into the story and aren't going to power monger. You also need a storyteller who can out think all his players. The last time I really played vampire I was in mid college and I wasn't nearly good enough at storytelling to do that kind of wrangling. However, I am now 30 (at least for a few more days) and I have an end times Mage chronicle that lasted over a year under my belt where at least one of the players wanted to take the story in a completely different direction than I or most of the other players did for at least 80% of the chronicle. I felt like on a basic skill level I could handle an Elysium game.
Awesome, so that's one barrier down. Now for the larger barrier. I'm not playing with experienced White Wolfers. My partners have both played a little bit of White Wolf since meeting me, and two of the other players in the campaign only have a Changeling game with a little over half a dozen sessions as primer in the WW universe. If I tried to jump into an Elysium game none of the good plot twists would ring true because the players don't have the lore knowledge to make any of it make sense. They are a talented, mature excellent group, just without lore context.
So I got to thinking about that problem and thought it might be interesting to play out the entire life of a group of vampires. You could slowly build up their understanding of Vampire society. It's also a fascinating opportunity to create organizations that are completely unique with a complete set of "errenous assumption", because let's be honest every group in the World of Darkness has their own set of assumptions about what is right and true, and they are ALL wrong. White Wolf was very clear about that one fundamental element of the world from the beginning. It was never your side, my side and the truth, it was 500 different sides on a slow day and a truth that no one ever actually understood but each storyteller could craft for themselves. That's what I have always loved about the game.
Ok, so now I had a rough framework, what was I going to do with it? I wanted the game to involve major meta lore, so that when the game moved into a modern Elysium style setting I could easily engage with major WoD events and have the players understand what was happening, and I had to figure out how to pace a game like this. The solution lied in the basic campaign model as described in the White Wolf books, that ironically very few people adhere to.
A chronicle in the WW model is a series of stories. Where each story has a conclusion, comes with extra experience and gives an opportunity to start a new story and take the chronicle in a different direction. So I thought each story could be a time period moving forward through history. The waypoints along the way could change based on inspiration, the direction the players take the story in etc. Each time the chronicle moved forward in time they would be given a chunk of experience that would represent the accumulation of power represented by the "Age" background in the Elysium book.
All that was left was establishing the first setting. Choosing something truly iconic in the history of the Vampire experience, but doing so without going so far back in time that I'd be dealing with Elders who's only place in a modern context would be Gehenna. After giving it some thought and pouring back over the Book of Nod and reading the Erciyes Fragments for the first time I decided that a recreation of the first city was in order. A city where man and vampire lived in harmony, and where vampires were worshiped as demigods, though they seek no worship. It goes against written cannon, but is hardly impossible that an elder survived from the first city and sought to re-establish that ephemeral Utopia again. It would be a naive act, but elders can be shockingly idealistic and silly when they put their minds to it. So the game is set in a recreation of Enoch, hidden in a valley in the Balkan mountains.
The players will be raised to live symbiotically with humans. Not exactly "mainstreaming" as the trendy kids are calling it these days, but also hardly the debauchery of modern Kindred living. While I wouldn't describe the results of this little experiment as being devoid of evil I wanted to create something with an idealism to it that will hopefully rub off on the players. Then as time progresses and they move into the world they will have to interact with and adapt to more pervasive Cainite norms.
I would love to post more details about my plans, but the first session hasn't happened yet, and I don't want to put anything in here that the players shouldn't know. I will hopefully be posting summaries of the games themselves and occasionally putting up NPC docs, and maybe even PC stat sheets and back stories. I'm definitely curious about what people think of the chronicle as it unfolds.