Vampires, Nosferatu, Ghouls and other Rape Fantasies

Since the game Shadowrun was first came out there have been players who absolutely must play some sort pole-smoking, euro-trash fashion victim. There have been loads of homebrew rules for the players in question to play their favorite sort of blood sucker. Be it the North American Vampire, the European Nosferatu or any of the other ridiculous variants.

The various players will try to claim that it’s for the role-playing experience. They want to play something outside the norm, as if playing a cybernetically enhanced street monster is normal. I haven’t seen any trolls walking the streets lately nor have I ever witnessed a flying mage streak across the sky. I have yet to see someone control a computer with mere thought via a cyber-deck, wireless commlink, or a set of bullshit magical powers. I can’t claim to have seen someone interfacing with a giant robot nor wirelessly controlling a formula one race car just by thinking about it.

Despite having a game completely devoted to vampires, people still feel the need to incorporate their rape fantasy into every possible gaming system. This is especially true now that Shadowrun shares a common set of rules with the “The, The, The” game company. By that I mean White Wolf and their games “Vampire the Requiem”, “Promethean the Created” and “Emo the need for Prozac”.

In Shadowrun the movement to shoehorn in Vampires officially came when their cousins the Ghouls were offered as an available player type. These flesh eating monsters were allowed to be part of a shadowrunning team because the authors spent a great deal of time and effort to transform them from mindless necrophages into vampire lite. The official inclusion of the vampire was fully realized in 4th edition with their arrival as a fully available player race. The rule change was a mere formality; vampiric PCs had existed on the internet since 1st edition.

Most game masters who allow their players to indulge in their rape fantasies will just gloss over the fact that it isn’t blood that keeps them alive but essence. SR Vampires can’t just go to the local blood bank for take out. They either have to attack someone or find someone dumb enough to allow themselves to be fed upon. But don’t worry the gm will also gloss over the rule that Vampires drain essence permanently. The real reason behind the gloss over of the rules is create player monstrosities. You know what I mean; unstoppable necromantic juggernauts capable of tearing their way though a squad of military grade cyber-soldiers.

Wait a tick. Did he say “Rape Fantasy”? Yes I did and I meant it. Playing a vampire is a way of fulfilling some deep seated need to play out a rape fantasy. How can you say that it’s about rape? Actually it’s quite easy when you do the research. How many players or Goth freaks have actually examined the roots of what a vampire actually is? What, did I hear that correctly? Practically none of the players who feel the need to play a vampire actually understand the roots of the monster? Let me ask another question. How many players have actually read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”? What was that?  Only slightly more than have done the historical research? I can’t believe that. Surely you jest.

The historical roots of the vampire come from the universal association of blood with life. Humans have always understood the connection between blood and staying alive. Blood is spilled when a predator kills it prey. The predator is usually covered in it as it feeds. Warriors understand that if one is wounded the injury his very life is dripping onto the ground. He also understands the need to staunch that flow, be it by bandaging or fire. He also understands that if too much is spilt he becomes a lifeless corpse.

Humans need to feel safe, we all understand that feeling. So did primitive man. He needed to come up with a way overcome the uncertainty that death brings. Do we just cease to exist or do we somehow continue to exist in another form? Whether someone goes to be with the animal spirits or travels to paradise be it the Elysium Fields or Heaven or an eternity at a free all-you-can-eat Chipotle. So if someone can exist after death, is it possible to come back?

That’s where blood comes back into the equation. What does a rotting corpse need to come back to life? Quite simply it needs to have blood flowing though its arteries and veins again. Quite obviously it can’t just start making its own again. What if that body could just somehow find a means to get blood from somewhere else? Where could a worm buffet find blood? Wait a second, doesn’t blood flow freely when a predator rips out the throat of it prey? Is not a predator covered in blood as it rips out the guts of it victim?

That connection is where the walking dead come from. It is just an extension of predator and prey. The difference is that time the predator is an unnatural force that cannot exist without a supply of new blood. So now the prey must be human because no mere animal can provide the special brand of blood makes a human separate from beast.

Now just what is this new supernatural predator going to look like? Will he look the same as he did in life? Will he be suave? Will she be sexy? Will the living want to have sex with an unliving blood drinking, flesh eating monster? To answer that question one must dig up the recently deceased and examine the process of decomposition.

As a body begins to decompose undergoes certain processes. Moisture is lost forcing the skin back pulling it tight. This is especially noticeable at the fingernails and facial hair. The skin at the fingernails recedes giving the illusion of growth. The flesh sinks lower exposing more of the hair follicles which makes is appear as if the hair is still growing. The gums also receded exposing more of the teeth making it appear as if the teeth have become more feral, especially the canines. Fluids in the chest cavity and stomach putrefy and start to flow out of the only two exits available. It appears as if the corpse has recently eaten as the mouth is stained red and has had a bowel movement. Blood settles in the portion of the body laying on the ground appearing as a fresh bruise. The rest takes on a waxy pallor. Occasionally gases will build up in the torso and evacuate sometimes as a rush of methane sounding similar to groan or a fart. Here is our general composite of the walking dead. Pale complexion, quite often gaunt, blood stained teeth that seem to have enlarged, the finger nails that look as if they’re still growing. There is evidence that a man’s beard has lengthened. Sometimes they groan, occasionally they appear to have recently digested a meal and crapped their pants. Stinking fluids that obviously aren’t blood, but some foul ichor that leaks out if the corpse is pierced.

Thus we have our foul smelling, noise making, mouth bleeding, fingernail and beard growing, meal digesting, defecating, fang endowed friend. Now that’s sexy. Wait a second that isn’t sexy unless you’re a necrophile. Nobody is going to want to play a stinking corpse that’s rotting from within. This is quite simply a quick review of the historical vampire. It took something else to start people down the road of actually liking the image of the undead. For that we have to touch on the person most responsible for bringing that image into the main stay. An Irish author named Bram Stoker.

It was during the Victorian Age when Stoker wrote “Dracula”. He wanted a blockbuster of a novel; something that would make him a sizable profit just like most authors. So we must ask ourselves what is the one thing that always sells, the one thing that everybody wants? Well of course the answer is obvious its sex my dear reader. Sex sells period. It was just as true then as it is now. Stoker’s time was during the Victorian Era and sex was taboo. It was viewed as a disgusting act merely to create children and shunned by proper society. The real truth is that what went on behind closed doors was then as it is now, however it was not proper to write about it. Thus to hint at sex in a literary work would have been scandalous and the author shunned with an old fashioned book burring thrown in for good measure. Stoker used the next best thing to the intimate act of sex. He used the dance of predator and prey. The act of piercing the flesh with teeth substitutes for the act of sexual penetration. The exchange of sexual fluids is replaced by the act of feeding on blood. It is an act of violence where someone becomes a victim. It is an act of rape, which leads to death, Predator and Prey, plain and simple.

Most people at the time did not want to see a brutal murder on stage. In fact nobody at the time wanted to see that in the movies. Thus we enter Bela Lugosi a handsome man at the time, who spoke with a Hungarian accent. The ladies liked him and so too did some of the men. The image changed from a walking corpse to a robust good looking man. He was attractive and as Dracula, he was rich and powerful, more than a mere human. He had special powers that mortals could only dream of. But at the end of the movie, he was killed off as he was still a monster. Later movies would make the vampire more human, attractive, and tanned. The ladies just loved Frank Lengella. Then we enter into the age of a certain author. A former erotic story writer who goes by the name Anne Rice.

Anne Rice turned the vampire into an angst driven anti-hero. Her greatest creation Lestat was once a man who had lost his grip on humanity and was quite simply was a monster who all the ladies liked. The average female reader wanted to have Lestat come into her bedroom and bite her. She would writhe on the sheets is sexual ecstasy. Rice fused the pornographic with the description of the vampiric bite. No longer was it just an act of violence now it was an embrace or a dark kiss. Thus the act of becoming a vampire had transmuted into something quite sexual and desirable. This however is just a fantasy any sane person knows just how they would react to being assaulted like this. They just like I, would cry and beg for their lives screaming to anyone to save them.

This led to the vampire becoming more publically acceptable. The Goth movement which had at that time been an offshoot of the punk scene had an avenue into the mainstream. Thus it wasn’t too long before someone got the idea to create a game. That game was Vampire the Masquerade by Mark Rein-Hagen. It was originally intended to be a game of personal horror where the character had been killed then raised by a creature of the night. They were now undead abominations who had to try and find their way in a hostile world where if discovered death was sure to follow. That idea lasted for about thirty seconds at the unveiling at Gen Con. Soon it was undead X-Men where the sunlight challenged player characters were ostracized by the world they sought to conquer by any means necessary. The players quite often skipped over the whole encounter where they were violated and murdered, only to rise sometime later as a monster.

That’s right I said monster. The historical vampire is clearly a monster; he is a predator who feeds on victims to sustain himself. He is a walking corpse, who must kill the innocent to perpetuate his unholy existence. Night after night he stalks the night in a manner similar to the way a great white shark seeks out its prey. The act of becoming a vampire involves no less that four separate acts. First, the prey is stalked, unknowingly breathing its last few breaths. Second, the victim is attacked, be it by stealth of via a blitzkrieg rush. Third, the victim is drained over the course of time other times he has his throat ripped out in an orgy of violence. The prey resists most likely screaming to whatever deity to save them, begging for mercy. Of course there is no mercy the victim dies pure and simple. Finally, sometimes if the vampire feels lonely or playful he decides the give some of his own blood to the dying victim damning him to become a monster in his own right.

Thus I present you with the facts of playing a vampire. The character is a monster who murders and rapes his or her way throughout their unliving existence. They are not undead heroes who save the day. They are abominations that would be sought out and destroyed in reality. No sane person would ever want to be an actual vampire. The current version of the vampire is incorrect. The vampire is not a sex symbol it is quite simply a preternatural serial rapist and killer.

Edited by Brad K.

Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

or

Here we go again

So, what have I been doing? A lot: I’ve gotten married, bought a house with my wife, weathered a layoff right after 9/11, and endured a bunch of crappy jobs. Finally found a job where I could put my psychology degree to work. Had my wife give birth to a beautiful baby boy on April 20th 2008. So what else do I have to say? Since the beginning of these articles… lets call them what they really were: scathing rants; a purging catharsis of frustration and gaming angst. So what has been learned from all them? Well a few of things. Number 1: munchkins are bad, number 2: gaming groups change, and either evolve, or die out when they don’t, number 3: there is something worse that a munchkin. You can call that kind of person a Backstabber.

I didn’t think I’d find something worse than a munchkin, and their creative number work. Their plethora of useless flaws taken in an attempt to create the uber-munch; be they Magical Ziggurats, or Walking Battleships of soulless destruction. But, I managed to. We had a guy join up with our crew some time ago, and he seemed to be one of the coolest players I had ever run across. Lots of sass and flash; the incredible ability to make everyone laugh, and one of the coolest character concepts I had come across. But, there were signs in the beginning that I should have caught. The attempts to have me remove a couple of players, the constant talking behind people’s back, and that sort of thing. Unfortunately I didn’t, much to my own shame. I should have, but I too was entranced by the flashy role-playing and the laugh-fest. It wasn’t long before I bought into it. I did get rid of one of the players, and we kept going. It wasn’t until much later, when he was finished badmouthing people, as well as doing the same in another group, and, to top it all off, quitting when his work was done. When I finally came to my senses, and realized what I had done, I could only sit back and take stock of what had happened, doing my best to fix things. Which, at the time, I didn’t know if I could even do; but, I still had to try. Unfortunately, like the old fairy tale of Humpty Dumpty, “All the Kings horses and all the Kings men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.” The damage had been done, and I couldn’t fix it. As a result, some of the players went their own way.

It’s sad, but it really took a bad situation to open my eyes to the reality of the hobby that we share. While being a munch needs to be avoided, there are worse things. This leads me into another story. Back on 2000 or 2001 –I can’t recall the exact date, but it was still at the time when Mr. Backstabber was around— I decided to take a swan dive. It was amazing, my form flawless, my technique masterful; everything was perfect, except for the fact that asphalt isn’t water. So it was ‘whammo!’, and I almost broke my right arm in the process. The way I fell put every bit of force into the palm of my right hand, straight up the arm, all the way to the shoulder. I lost the use of it for about 3 months, give or take a couple of weeks (I can’t really remember the exact amount of time). Of course, we have a game coming up during that time, when my arm is next to useless and hurting like the devil. Everybody comes in and asks how I’m doing, except for Mr. Backstabber. After that comes a player who –how to put this in a good light— is a munchkin, and further, in need of Ritalin. But, that only has a minor part to play, and isn’t the point here. Mr. Backstabber is sitting there with the rest, making himself the center of attention. My munchkin player sits down next to me, puts this little glass jar on the table, and grabs my arm. While I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, he takes a small dab of stuff out of the jar and rubs the salve into my wrist (which was hurting the most). Up to that point I had tried everything to lessen the pain: heat rubs, Ibuprofen, cold rubs… you name it, nothing worked. The fellow, who had always been a well meaning guy, was a munchkin. I can’t deny it; he had annoyed me too many times to count. He had found out (from my mother) that I had hurt myself, and gone out before the game to buy this stuff called Tiger’s Balm that you can get it at a health food store. It didn’t cost more the a few dollars. But, he had heard I was hurt, took it upon himself to try and help out, and did. The balm took a lot of the pain away. Mr. Backstabber couldn’t have cared less, and I learned something that night. While a munch can be a real pain in the butt, if the munch is actually a friend, you’re better off with him than Mr. Backstabber. So given that, I’d rather have the munchkin who’s a friend than the backstabber who’s not.

And you know, with this being a good while after these troubles, I think its time to drop a note to some the people who had to go their own way (including my munchkin player). Maybe invite them to a game, and blow off a round of fireworks from my stash. After all, time has a way bringing new chances.

Thus endeth the lesson.

This lesson was edited for grammar and flow by my pal Lady Korishinzo since I really never mastered either. 🙂

Let the Lessions begin again.

Here we go again. I know it has been a long time; but yours truly has been having a busy and altogether good life. Almost eight years ago I proposed to the woman who became Mrs. NightLife on June 9 2001. Then my son was born on April 20 2008. As I learned, there is a whole lot of planning to do for this to occur, and it is more complex than I imagined. Now you know what Prof. NightLife has been concentrating on. But, that’s neither here nor there. I feel I must remind you most of the articles here were written a long time ago. New ones are on the way 🙂

‘Happyland’

Happyland is a term I came up with to describe the kind of a world that a munchkin wants to play in. It’s a generic term to give a catchall idea of the qualities which munchies like to have intrinsic within the game realms they wander in whether it’s Sci-Fi like Star Wars or Fantasy like AD&D or Palladium or our favorite Science Fantasy game ShadowRun. Regardless of the world or it’s tech level, magic or it’s lack therein of. They want one simple thing “Power”, power that they may lack in their real lives or an overactive need to get everything with paying any price. But what ever problems they may have in their little lives, they are the bane of every role-player, loony and real man to ever play in a game. They either don’t realize what their quest for game power does to a game or they don’t care, I’ll illustrate. One of my previous players went and jumped ship with a couple of the other guys and started their own game, because I’m a cold-hearted opinionated bastard and I believe in the idea of ROLE-Playing not “ROLL-playing”, but that’s a different subject. I’ll elaborate on the CHOB factor later. The former street shaman decided to play his dark-elf fireball loving combat mage because he finally had a chance to try to get to be one on the BA’s (that bad asses, son.)

First a bit of background of the other game. Now they’ve got a rookie Gm, one who’s never attempted to run a game of SR in his life and from what I hear he’s pretty good for a rookie. He’s got the basics and isn’t afraid to restore what he perceives as balance. Now after a good munchie string of adventures with jobs that pay 15k to 30k a run which happen twice a week. Now remember I said, I was a CHOB (cold hearted opinionated bastard) because I only give a run once a month with a week recoup time, sometime with a bit of hospital time too and I only pay 15k to 25k per job total. Now he the decides to get his game on the ball and enter the realm of the real role-player. So he needs to take some things away namely a warehouse full on everything out of the mainbook and Street Samurai catalog except for the cyber. He implements the plan to restore things but get stopped by sheer numbers and the luck of the die. Sorry buddy better luck next time. Don’t worry you’ll get it.

Now, back to example. The dark elf decides to cut himself a deal. Their Gm had previously come up with a ruling on the cash for karma idea.( Bad concept, bad FASA, bad, bad, bad!.) His idea was that one karma point was worth 500¥. Personally I gagged at the idea, but hey it’s not my game and I don’t have to deal with the problems it’ll cause. Now he decides to buy himself 200 karma points. Yes I can hear the coughing from the real-roleplayers, and yes I’ve done the math 200 karma points will cost you according to the formula he’s using 100,000¥. But don’t worry it gets worse. So he decides to take this karma and initiate himself to a 17th(?) level initiate. Yes, I said 17th level. Now the new Gm had no idea what his player had done and even the guy I ranted and raved about in lesson #5 was upset. (You know I may have to reevaluate my opinion from lesson #5 and see what I can do about getting Wayne Newton into the office of the Queen of England.) This yo-yo had decided to completely upset the balance of this guys campaign in his quest for power. 17th Grade initiate geez, what’s the point in even playing anymore a character like that anymore, it’s time to retire that combat mage. Now you may ask yourself, “But NightLife all you’ve done it give an example of a munchkin and no advice, how can this help me with this kind of yo-yo in my game?” Fear not the advice begins right about……Now!

Now believe it or not it’s sometimes possible to get a munchkin to reform and become a powergamer and with a tiny miracle even a real role-player. But it takes time and pressure and a rolled up newspaper ( that’s a joke son.). But, really it can be done with some of them, however it’s a sad fact just like a alcoholic they have to want to. Explain to them the reasoning behind experience and it’s associated rewards. I.E.

“No, you can’t have the 100 skills points and the megadeath laser guided missile launching 50. caliber assault cannon with the hydrospanning smartlinked custom gripped ivory handle and your cake too.”

No really explain to them that the big guns, the big skills , and the really powerful magic/psi/phy adept powers come only from experience having them from the get go defeats the point of the game. Remind them that victory that his hard fought for is a 1000 times sweeter than victory handed to you on a silver platter with a dinner mint. Solving a problem it far more rewarding that just blasting it to smithereens. But sometime blasting it is the solution, but not most of the time. Show them if they can think their way out of the current situation that they can get a satisfaction far beyond the norm from having used had used their brains rather that their fists. Show them how to lose themselves in a character that more than just archetype but a living breathing extensions of themselves. But if all else fails and they aren’t interested in role-playing and won’t work with you or the others and he/she is causing problems and you don’t want to put up with it anymore. You can try this method to quote BlackJack “Since the player exists in reality you can simply lecture him. And the lecture should have one aim: To make him feel like shit. Degrade the bastard. Insult his role-playing ability, because if he is playing the same bad ass all the time he’s not being all that original. Let him know he’s messing up the game for everybody else.” If this doesn’t work try this to quote BJ again ” If he says he doesn’t care, tell him, but only as a last resort, to “Go find someone to play D&D with, you can’t handle a game as good as Shadowrun.” Make sure this takes place before or after the game so it doesn’t interrupt play. And if he still doesn’t care…tell him to go home.

Faith in Role-playing

Today in many games especially games like Shadowrun it has become the way for the games to work is to choose one religion over another as the correct way things in the universe. In SR it is the pagan religions that turn out to be correct and expressed throughout the games and the characters within. In the real world it is especially cool to be pagan and receive special treatment in the world. In job selection, on college campuses and the like. It became O.K. for one type of faith to predominate the rest. In the early part of this century is was the WASPS who controlled everything and they were what was considered vogue. Everyone wanted to be one of them because they held the power. Before that it was the Catholics and the Protestants and so on. Today it is the Pagans and all that the term encompass. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to slam anybody’s personal faith. I respect everybody’s right to believe in what they choose to. From the Native Americans, who have a beautiful religion, one that I admire and respect deeply, although it’s not one I choose to believe in, to the Houngan of Haiti to the new Druids of England. What I however perceive as a problem is that today as before one is being chosen to come out on top in today’s game world. Now it’s cool to slam those who believe in the Cross or the Star of David. It’s O.K. to ignore their contributions to the world in favor of what’s in vogue right now. For that matter the followers of the Space Brothers are more in vogue than the Judeo-Christian faith. For the most part they are ignored in favor of the pagan religions and those characters who follow these beliefs are portrayed as either stupid or evil and sometimes both. Now the point of the article is not to say that Judeo-Christian faiths are better. Not by any means is this the intent of the article. the intent of the article is to criticize the choice to ostracize one faith over another.

When the pagan religions where on the down and out that was wrong. When the Jews where persecuted in W.W.II that was wrong. Telling any one their faith is incorrect or evil is just plain wrong. Except today it’s “PC” to do it to the mainstream. It’s the gaming companies do the same it’s correct and “PC” to make one faith seem to be the correct one over another. As Huston Smith, a theologian on many religious practices and faith once said, Each religion is special in it’s own right. No one faith is correct over another. Each one is deserving of respect and admiration. Each is just as right as another as each seeks it own way to express that which is divine in the universe. Now to reiterate I’m not trying to tell you that one faith is better than another. Wicca is just as valid to those who practice it as Islam is to the Muslims. But in gaming today it is popular to deny many groups of the validation of their faiths. Only once has a priest ever shown up as a character and he was a minor one at best. When a Houngan showed up he was portrayed as a villain of the deepest dye. I have never heard of hero or even a secondary character in the books being a Rabbi or a Shinto priest, for that matter I can’t remember seeing a atheist. Who’s belief for that matter are just a valid as any one else’s. I’ve yet to see somebody portrayed with a Norse idol except for Winterknight who practice the toxic versions of that. None of the characters in the SR books have had beliefs from Africa. I haven’t seem anybody except for “Pride” from a module from 1st edition who had any connections with Africa and it’s religious practices. The aborigines from Australia made a cameo as a bad guy, but no real information on the beliefs of dreamtime. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that it’s just plain wrong to have one religion coming out on top over another. No one faith is better than another and each is just as deserving of respect as another.

From my personal experience I’ve met people from many faiths who’s beliefs have impressed me. From Rick a guy who’s on the out’s with me as we plainly don’t see eye to eye on many things and don’t really like each other right now. I did respect him for his beliefs and the strength of them. The same with a guy we all called Ogre up in Dayton who practiced Wicca, and the strength’s of his beliefs where just as impressive as a guy from Zaire who’s name I can’t even pronounce. His African beliefs were just as strong and beautiful as anyone else’s.