Posts Tagged ‘Kiss of the Succubus’

Dead Girl’s Guide: The original introduction to Kiss of the Succubus

Model: Dixie Cyanide, Photographer: Megan Walker

The clanbooks, in better hands than mine

(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.

Interview at the Dead Gamer’s Society

Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus

Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus

I recently did an e-mail interview with Louis Garcia of the Dead Gamer’s Society on meetup.com. I really had fun talking about creating the clanbooks and the process of relaunching Vampire: The Requiem in 2007. I also shared part of the outline for The Danse Macabre.

Vampires, families, and dirty dansing. Go check it out.

By the way, one of the questions references an earlier interview with RPG Review.

How crime novelists don’t get women

All Tomorrow's Bodies

"All Tomorrow's Bodies," EVE Online illustration

(This post is not about my personal problems. At least, not anymore than normal.)

What I write for work is basically crime fiction. If you look at the places I’ve been given free reign with the Vampire property, you’ll see that my influences are movies like Go, Brick, and The Godfather.

At one point early in my career, Will Hindmarch told me to “Be Fucking Mamet.” Which I interpreted as “American Buffalo.”1 When I developed the EVE: EXILED storytelling game, my characters were criminals whose trust, and lack thereof, was a key mechanical force in the game.2

Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus

Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus

All of that’s by way of saying that for, basically, a supernatural romance author, I have a long background with crime. I also have a long background with writing about women. You can’t write a book called Kiss of the Succubus and not.

Which was why I was interested in seeing best-selling thriller writer Christopher Rice write “Why Crime Novelists Don’t Get Women.”

Really, it’s more of a “how crime novelists don’t get women.” Rice outlines four archetypes he’s really tired of. I thought I’d share my own impressions of them.

The Cop’s Wife Who Just Doesn’t Get It

You know, the ultimate cop’s wife is Mrs. Columbo. She’s clearly a real presence in his mind, but you never see her.3 If you didn’t actually watch any Columbo movies, you’d get the impression that she represents the silent female.

But she doesn’t. Mrs. Columbo is a real character… a meta-character, actually, because she’s a character Columbo tells stories about. The relationship between Columbo and Mrs. Columbo is an important part of the narrative even though we only see one side of it, via an unreliable narrator.

I like to imagine, by the way, that if the Mrs. Columbo franchise had taken off, we’d have seen dueling narratives between Kate, talking about “Mr. Columbo,” and her husband, and, as viewers, had to guess where the truth lay between them.

The Babe Assassin

Elektra: Assassin

Yes, White Wolf has like three of her

By all rights, I should love this character. Put simple, I love it when pretty girls do violence. It’s because of trauma in my youth. The problem with the babe assassin4 is that she’s generally written as if she’s some sort of exotic animal the writer only read about in a 19th century children’s book.

She has no weight, no texture, no smell. Her clothing says nothing about her. If she’s hurt physically, it’s in a way few of us can relate to, like a gunshot wound. As Rice points out, she usually has epic sexual trauma in her past, but it’s rarely relayed convincingly.

Violence is, I believe, traumatic. I’ve been the victim of it and it’s no fun at all. Inflicting it is something I frequently have to write about and so have researched in some detail. The problem with the babe assassin is that violence doesn’t affect her. She doesn’t have the right traumas or the right callouses.

Let’s be clear, here, I’m not talking about realism, exactly, I’m talking about continuity. There’s no way that a person puts a man’s hand in a garbage disposal, eats dinner at a five-star restaurant two hours later, and doesn’t have some kind of internal life worth writing about going on.

The babe assassin has the same problem with her actions and her breasts: they both lack gravity.

The Ice Queen Bureaucrat

Servalan, with androids

Oh, Servalan. You warped me.

Bureaucrats in crime stories are horribly mistreated. They’re either hard-assed yet compassionate, which is at least a personality, or they’re Vulcans. Rice is talking about the Vulcan type. Pressed shirts, pencil skirts, need every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. Usually, about as close as they get to a personality is that they have “something to prove,” usually that they can do that something “as well as any man.”

Say what you will about the babe assassin, but she rarely quotes “Annie Get Your Gun.” The problem with the ice queen bureaucrat is that it’s usually impossible to imagine how she does her job as well as any man, because she lacks any of the abilities of the people under her command and any of the personal charm or team spirit you actually need to advance as a bureaucrat.

She should at least be plausible as an example of The Peter Principle, but she isn’t.

The best example of a positive spin on this character is Jacqueline Pearce’s Servalan from Blake’s 7, and she’s from entirely the wrong genre. Servalan’s icy and bureaucratic, yes, but you can see how it works for her as a management style. She actually does pretty well managing Travis and the other egos under her command, while maintaining political relationships appropriate to her position.

The Lesbian Cop

Maggie Sawyer

Maggie Sawyer

Well… uh… Maggie Sawyer. That’s all I really got here. Sawyer is a recurring character in the Superman comics. John Byrne may be John Byrne crazy, but it’s interesting that he created two of the least offensive homosexual characters in comics. While the Batman franchise has half a dozen interesting police characters, Superman‘s only got one and a half.

None of my favorite books have lady cops who are overtly lesbian in the way that gentleman cops are overtly straight. Which is part of Rice’s point, I think, but it also leaves me with relatively little to talk about.

The most notable thing I remember about lesbians from a crime novel is that ones in The Black Dahlia are kinda like vampires.5

Others

Pauley Perrette as Abbey from NCIS

The shy hyper-specialist, pictured here for Chuck Wendig

Rice misses a few of my “favorites,” though I’m sure that’s more his word limit kicking in than a lack of insight. A few more to avoid or carefully reconsider:

Dashiell Hammet made the secretary kind of mandatory, to the point that it’s become a multi-gendered archetype. At the risk of short-changing a rich character, Archie Goodwin is Nero Wolfe’s secretary, and perhaps with all the slash that implies.

The kind prostitute is related to the hooker with a heart of gold, the main difference being that she probably doesn’t want to sleep with the lead. (Possible she will, anyway.) She’ll listen to your troubles, but she’s got her own problems here on the streets. She acts mysteriously like the social worker, another archetype. Yeah, she’ll call you if she hears anything. (Which she will.)

The shy hyper-specialist would rather be down in the lab than out on a date, which is good, because she’s the best at what she does and what she does usually involves fragments of human tissue or psyche that the rest of us would rather see intact. Nonetheless, her attractiveness will be noted in passing.

Of all of these, she’s the most likely to get her own series of books.

_____

  1. Which, if you notice, is also “The Pardoner’s Tale” and Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
  2. Hjalti Danielsson, who was the project’s muse, wrote a very good piece based on the EVE RPG before its cancellation.
  3. Except in her own movie, the only evidence that Columbo isn’t entirely making her up.
  4. Or her roleplaying sister, the Lesbian Stripper Ninja.
  5. The movie makes this more overt, and for all its flaws, actually has a lot to offer vampire storytelling.

Kiss of the Succubus

An extraordinarily cute picture of Kiss of the Succubus and one of its fans.

Dixie Cyanide with Kiss of the Succubus, photo by Megan Walker

Dixie Cyanide with Kiss of the Succubus, photo by Megan Walker