This would be the newest thing to do.
From the WW LJ:
Another idea that’s coming up evolved in a similar way. As I’m writing this, first drafts have already started trickling in for the tentatively-titled New Wave Requiem, which is a historical book for playing Vampire in 1980s America — think of it as Requiem for Rome meets Miami Vice. It all started as a joke between myself, Joe, Russell and matt about taking cheesy 80s vampire movies and making them into SASs. I tried to put the idea aside, but it kept gnawing at me for weeks. Finally, I wrote up a very rough outline for it, and gave copies of it to everyone involved, as well as Rich for his perspective. There was a lot of side conversations about focus and logistics and how it would look and read, but I never once heard “That idea will never work.” It’s not a new idea (it’ll technically be the fourth historical Vampire book we’ve done), but it’s a different kind of “historical book,” and absolutely an idea that would never have flown as a traditional hardcover release. It’s another experiment, another step away from what’s safe and solid for us, and I’m excited as hell to see how it turns out.
You don’t have to sell me! Actually, thinking back on it, I’m betting I was at least partially inspired by Eddy’s inspiration, since I recall him mentioning his 80s vampire stuff way way back. It’s a pretty solid way to run a Vampire game.
I’m stoked to pick this up.
It’s 2020: Orlando. Walt Disney World is bigger. Universal Studios has become a true rival to the Mouse. The rulers of Miami are emerging from a brutal civil war; Tallahassee has been disturbingly quiet for over a decade. An old Prince is sleeping; a disbarred lawyer who started his political career in a nursing home watches over the city. With a Sheriff’s approval, of course.
One day, there’s a letter.
“Hey, kids. Long time no see. You guys ought to drop by Dubai; the moonlight is thrilling. Bring the ambulance driver.”
Orlando Trash 2020: Dubai Trash.
“Mickey Rourke is in this movie. Val Kilmer is in this movie. It’s directed by Michael Mann, or maybe Tony Scott. But it’s not The Hunger. Luis Guzman has a role as a shiftless drifter who erupts into surprising bursts of violence.”
Hm. I never did get Luis Guzman into the movie, but in retrospect that was just as well. Danny Trejo made it in.
This is the first campaign I’ve ever run to completion. I planned for it to last about one long story-arc; this was really liberating in that I didn’t worry about handing out experience too quickly, and I didn’t worry about whether or not the world would be playable long term. I just went full speed ahead with whatever caught my eye, following the leads of the PCs, and it worked like a charm.
Things I concentrated on:
Cool NPCs. I do good NPCs, so I wanted to let that shine. (Also I’m modest.) I like to think I have a strong range of voices, and since every NPC was played by a well-known actor, it was even easier to make the characters memorable. I had to pull off imitations of Val Kilmer, Meryl Streep, and Nathan Lane — sometimes in the same scene — but I was pretty sure I could do that.
Big blatant plots. It turns out that it’s almost never a lose to telegraph stuff from a mile away, and it’s always easy to turn around and surprise players when you need to. Also, I have a tendency to automatically do mystery plots, and I wanted this to be an action flick rather than a detective thriller. So while I wrote in a certain amount of mystery, I never wanted it to be too mysterious — answers weren’t ever that far away. It is not my fault that the players occasionally decided to kill the source of the answers.
Balance between shooting things and talking. Given our approximately 3-4 hour session time, a good fight wound up taking up most of the session, as I discovered a few sessions in. That meant, to me, that the right thing to do was to throw in a chance for a good fight scene every two or three sessions. I think that worked well. I could have stepped up the fight scenes if the group had seemed to want more of them.
Player-driven. I let ’em do what they wanted, and it all worked out okay. I was ready for just about any turn of events, although I would have been sad if the group had split up. But I was ready for their allegiances to go wherever, I had spurs to push them back towards the action as needed — I was a leaf in the river of their plot interests. Boo yah.
Things I want to do better next time:
Foreshadowing. Example: in the last session, I pulled out Jack Trash’s body, and that was cool, and I showed them a letter clarifying a couple of issues. Also cool. But it would have been better if I’d pulled out Trash’s corpse in the previous session.
This goes with planning; I didn’t really have an overarching plan. I had a few key NPCs with strong motivations, and I let the world react to what the PCs do. Good for me for empowering the PCs and avoiding railroading, but it meant there wasn’t as much build as I woulda liked. I think the way to fix this is to have some cool multi-session things in mind, and remembering to drop the setup scene in there.
I’d also like to take more advantage of player backgrounds. I didn’t pay enough attention to that, particularly in Teo’s case.
But all in all? Quite happy.
I’m gonna count Orlando Trash as a successful campaign at this point, which means I’ve run two successful campaigns. Maybe three if we count the Iowa City Vampire campaign; it’s vanished in the mists of time for me, but I think we didn’t go more than five or so sessions. Regardless, everyone’s enjoying Orlando Trash and I still get compliments on Huey Long’s Men of Action, so definitely successes.
Okay. Two is not enough for a trend analysis if I was being a scientist, but I’m being a GM.
I get into running games with larger than life PCs. I like running for PCs who can affect the world; I tend to want them to be close to very important NPCs, without a lot of layers of bureaucracy between them and the authorities.
In both games, the PCs have wound up as operatives of the ruling powers, while still maintaining a strong degree of independence. I’m not sure if this is an inherent tendency or if it’s just a convenient frame. That’s something I’d like to play around with in my next game. Hm; if I’d ever done Whitey Bulger’s Men of Action, it would have fit that formula. Of course, Men of Action games kinda fit that by definition, don’t they?
I tend to mix action and talk. I’ll happily run a session that’s almost purely action, but I won’t run two of them in a row.
I like dumping problems on PCs. I do it for the emotional rush that I believe the players get when they resolve the problems. My goal — this is pretty much stolen from Carl Rigney — is to ratchet up the pressure on the PCs to the maximum possible before they shatter into a million pieces.
Sometimes those problems come in the form of mysteries or puzzles or conspiracies. My players seem to enjoy getting to the bottom of those. Discovery is a big emotional payoff, in my experience.
I like strong, broad archetypes. I don’t reuse ‘em over and over again; Prince Sabado is pretty much completely unlike Huey Long. There was no Sheriff Steel equivalent in Men of Action.
Some of my players read this. What else do I do a lot?
Once I chew on all this some more I’ll talk about my next game, which’ll be fantasy, and which is preliminarily named Tarnished Brass. I think.