(This one’s for Hope. She knows why.)
After writing new material for Requiem for Rome for a few weeks, I was going to pull back from Vampire material a little bit. (I still might. What do you folks think?)
As it happens, though, I was doing a little cleanup, and I ran across the original introduction to Kiss of the Succubus. I thought it might provide an interesting peek into the clan book design process.
Originally, Ayesha of “All Tomorrow’s Bodies” was going to be the book’s compiler. The framing device was going to be you, the reader, traveling cross country right after the Embrace, with only Ayesha’s notes to guide you. The detective story elements that I used in “All Tomorrow’s Bodies” were going to be a stronger theme throughout the book.
The rest of the plan was pretty much the same: the Old Bat and the plot and most of the same stories were going to be in there, though the documents were going to be in a slightly different order.
However, Chuck Wendig wanted to use a fledgling on a roadtrip as the framing device for Savage and Macabre, and I felt that it was more archetypal for a Gangrel than a Daeva. So Kiss moved over to being a family album. That let me shake up Ayesha more in the parts of the book she kept, which made those stories stronger, and the ongoing story in the series that much better.
That progression of the clan books was important, especially at the start of the series. We didn’t want to jar players who’d been with us and were used to a sort of top-down, scholarly approach to content. Well, we didn’t want to jar you too much.
So the series starts with a history, something that’s almost a World of Darkness book as it would be written from inside the World of Darkness. You pretty much know how to relate to that already. The second book is a family album. It’s a bit more personal to the compiler, it’s a bit more flowery in a couple of ways, which suits the Daeva really well. And then, bang, Gangrel gets even more personal, because almost the entire book is someone’s diary. Which sets you up for a plunge into conspiracy and occultism with the renovated Mekhet, after which you make a blind turn down the wrong alley and meet the Nosferatu entirely on their terms.
And with that, here’s a peek into a version of the book that never quite was.
[PRODUCTION — This is a neatly handwritten document, probably a photocopy, even better if it’s a mimeograph. The original author is Ayesha, the lead interviewer used elsewhere in the book.]
Good stories start with dead girls. My upbringing talking, obviously, but I graduated early from Nancy Drew to Black Mask. Did a lot of reading, before I could play. So, here’s the start of your story, and here I am, the dead girl to get you started.
I’m dead. You are, too. That’s why you need to listen to me. I don’t know who did it to you, but from now on: the world’s out to get you. Doesn’t matter who you were yesterday. Tonight, you’re a predator. And you’re probably hungry.
You’re a [PRODUCTION — put vampire scratched out or markered over or something?]. I won’t use that word again. You don’t get to, either. You don’t say that word. You don’t tell the truth about what you are to anyone, ever. Early nights, that’s going to be very hard. Do you have a girlfriend? Probably not. If it’s a chick that ripped you from the grave: she’s not your girlfriend. Hopefully by the time you see her again, I’ll have taught you enough to keep her away.
Rule one: start lying. Get used to it now because it will be very, very hard. Right now, you’re fighting the urge to go running to your mom or your best friend or somebody and tell them everything you know. Which is not much but is too fucking much for anyone to hear. Do not pick up the phone, do not press send. Do not ever tell the truth again.
Tell anyone, and someone will die. Maybe you. Maybe them. But there is not a single kind of good that can come from you telling what you are. The worst, stupidest lie you can tell is better than someone knowing that you’re a half-step away from opening them like a milk carton. (Oh, and by the way, you are. I’m sorry.)
Why am I helping you? Because helping you helps me. Somebody’s just handed you my biggest secret, and you’re in a very good position to blow it.
What do I want in return? Anonymity. If you make it: rewrite this. Change the personal specifics in this document. Hand it to the next sad sack like you. [PRODUCTION — Assume this has been done, several times over. If you have any awesome ideas to make that clearer, go ahead!]
Alright. Now let’s get you dinner.