November 5, 2013
Being The Monster
So, you and your group have decided to pick up a World of Darkness game. Maybe it is in celebration of Halloween, or maybe it’s just because your last game came to an end and it’s time for something new, or maybe you have been playing World of Darkness for years and this is just the next go-through. Whatever your reason, World of Darkness games offer something a little different than the majority of other games out there. In other games, you play the hero. You play as a courageous adventurer who travels the land, performing good deeds for the downtrodden and liberating the oppressed. In World of Darkness, you are not typically a hero. If anything, you are the monster.
Looking at White Wolf’‘s most popular title in the World of Darkness line, Vampire (be it Masquerade or Requiem), characters take on the role of vampires, and not usually “super-hero” vampires who turn their curse into a weapon in order to save people from other vampires, but actual blood-drinking predators that stalk the night, feeding on mortals and manipulating the world from the shadows. In games like Vampire, you play as the very sort of monster that you would likely be trying to fight against in many other tabletop games. It is a lot like playing as the villain, but with an even darker twist.
So, what does it mean to play as the monster in a game? What makes it all that different from playing anything else? Well, for starters, the greatest challenge about playing as a monster is realizing that you are a monster. This is something that your character may be in denial of or they may embrace. Either way, it is dangerous. If they deny that they are a monster, their entire world is nothing but a personal hell that constantly strives to destroy that little sanctuary of denial they have built up around themselves. This can drive characters mad if it goes on too long, as denial can only take them so far. If they embrace being a monster, then they are lost. Whatever was left of their humanity is fleeting, allowing them to open themselves up to darker possibilities that will truly damn them in the end. Both can be very intriguing characters.
Being the monster also means that the game is not going to necessarily be about getting those awesome feelings you get in other games, but in struggling with what it means to be a monster, or, similarly, what it means to be human. Again using vampires as the example, there is not just some switch in their brains that goes from human to vampire upon their transformation from one into the other, and that is what makes it difficult. In their hearts, their souls, they are still human. They remember what it was to be human, and thus, becoming a monster can often make them realize just how important it was to be human. It’s the old saying that “you do not know what you have until it is gone.” Your humanity was lost, taken from you, and it can never come back. You, your character, are forced into a constant struggle for survival in which they must do terrible things just to make it through. Many characters end up embracing the monster inside of them, but this will still never grant them any reprieve from their suffering.
So, what does it mean to be a monster? It means that you are aware of what it was to be human, and realizing that you no longer have it.
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