This game came about as a result of a number of people in a pub saying, approximately “why aren’t there any good terrible once-a-month-Vampire LARPs of the sort we all grew up playing any more?” to the wrong person, who foolishly agreed to do something about that. However, 20 years after one of them first ran a terrible Vampire LARP in a pub, the refs really want to see if they can finally get it right.
Crucible is an attempt to strip away the bits of Vampire LARP that were pointless and annoying, enhance the bits that were fun, and to centre the thematic struggle of the game. We hope to ensure that all the characters are Vampires who are forced to struggle with their own monstrous natures, and not just superpowered trenchcoat wearing badasses with a sunlight allergy.
(It is, however, fully possible to play a superpowered trenchcoat wearing badass with a sunlight allergy in Crucible, as long as you’re also willing to have them struggle with their own monstrous nature. We really do want to keep the bits that are fun.)
Will I enjoy this game?
The design team think you are more likely enjoy this game if:
- You enjoy social conflict with other players, politics and emotional drama.
- You are willing to explore what it means to be a monster.
- You prefer a rules-light approach.
- You don’t mind submitting a (hopefully simple) downtime once a month.
The design team think you are less likely to enjoy this game if:
- You prefer games without an externally created narrative.
- You prefer to play a heroic figure.
- You are motivated by system mastery, or building the most mathematically effective character you can.
- You dislike engaging with downtime systems.
This game will incorporate PvP and PvE conflict. Much of the PvE conflict will be expressly designed to generate PvP conflict as a consequence. It is intended that the PvP conflict be primarily social, with rare explosions into sudden, shocking physical violence, in keeping with the theme and mood of Vampire: the Requiem. Character death is very possible, but is intended to occur rarely, and not by accident.
Setting, Backgrounds and Influences
While this game contains all the traditional themes of a Vampire LARP, where Vampires are the predatory rulers of the night who manipulate and control mortals society from the shadows, the concerns in this game have been shrunk in scale, and personalised. Where, in a more traditional game a player character might seek to bend politicians of a particular party to their control, or to take control over a vast swathe of the criminal underworld, in Crucible, they will instead attempt gain sway over specific named humans, who are perhaps members of the local residents association, or a specific drug dealer.
We think this fits with the theme of personal horror that Vampire is concerned with. Being told “your people in the Conservative Party don’t seem to want to take your calls – you suspect that another vampire might be trying to subvert your control of the party” is abstract and impersonal, but “one of your rivals has killed or suborned Jane Routledge, your contact on the residents association” is much more immediately and concretely personal.
(The other reason for this is that the game takes place in London, a city that is too large and too populous for a group of 20-30 predators to have any trouble at all operating around one another and avoiding too much competition for resources. A smaller setting, with fewer resources, is much more claustrophobic, and creates more opportunities for interpersonal conflict.)
These personal connections are not represented with mathematical systems, and we have no need to track “Influences” or “Resources” or similar items. The refs will keep a track of the personal relationships that characters make that might enable them to ask favours or make demands of these NPCs.
This game takes the universe of Vampire: the Requiem (2nd Edition) as it’s basis. Basic familiarity with that setting is assumed. Many concepts not mentioned with specific mechanics in these rules will function more or less as one might expect – Embrace, Blood Bonds, Ghouls and other concepts from Requiem 2nd Edition that are not expressly mentioned in these rules will all form part of this game. PDF copies of the Vampire: the Requiem rulebook can be purchased through DriveThruRPG, although it’s not 100% necessary to read it in order to play if you have a working familiarity with almost any edition of either Vampire the Masquerade or Requiem – everything else you need should be on this website somewhere. (If you understood the words “Embrace” “Blood Bond” and “Ghoul” in the context of those games, you’re probably OK – there might be slight variations from what you expect, but you definitely know enough to play.)
This game has a “plot” that is external to the PCs (but that is crafted in reflection of and response to them). There will be NPCs to interact with who have their own agendas with regard to that plot. The plot is intended to be something that players can interact with to the extent that pleases them, and we very much hope that some characters would be able to play almost the entire span of the game without engaging with it, if they chose not to, but the final session of the game will be the culmination of a external plot line. Exactly what that is and looks like will be determined by the actions of PCs, of course.
The nature of Vampire: the Requiem is that there are number of powers that enable characters to dictate what another character will do, or impose feelings on them. We are convinced that this is part of the fun of Vampire LARP, and are not shying away from this. We further believe that is is a core part of playing a Vampire that there are times when the character is *not* in control of their own actions, having lost control of the more monstrous part of their nature.
System Design Decisions
- The only mathematically important stat a Vampire possesses is their humanity stat. Everything else runs from that, or is constant across all characters.
- A character’s humanity stat represents how well they have their beast leashed. Inhuman acts or circumstance, or monstrous acts remind the character they are not human and weaken their control on their beast, but it is possible for them to claw back their humanity by forcing themselves to refrain from monstrous acts. “Humanity” does not directly correlate with any form of moral code.
- Powers available to PC characters can ultimately only push themselves or others closer to their beast, never further away from it. At best, they may offer a short period of temporary calm, at a cost.
- Experience has taught us that the only systems that get invoked in uptime (and generate fun game) at Vampire LARP are those that govern supernatural powers. This means we have no need to track a character’s skills, or influences or wealth with precise mechanics, as these are only relevant within the scope of the more free-form downtime system. Players are free (within the bounds of common sense and fair play) to declare their characters are as wealthy, knowledgeable, or skilled as they like as part of writing their backgrounds, and the refs will bear that in mind when relevant.
- Non-Vampire NPCs may have completely different powers not listed in the player-facing rules.