Here’s a classic: youth, memories, and eternal lifedeath. Most of you probably know what I think already, but let’s give it a roll, shall we? I’ll recap.
Creatures of Theme
“Damnation is doing the same thing over and over, and getting the same results.”
— J. Carlton, Nosferatu Harpy of Baltimore
In vampire media, the damned are not just long-lived, but eternally similar. Nick Knight obsesses over right and wrong. Spike engages in bloody devastation for women who barely know he’s there. Louis… has some daddy issues. What drives them to good and evil deeds remains the same, decade after decade. In order to capture this, Vampire posits that the Kindred are more eternal than even they would like to admit.
Vampires aren’t so much creatures of habit as they are creatures of theme. Being a vampire isn’t about living and growing for another century. Being a vampire is about still being the same person a century later. As young as you are, as old as you are, just as you are.
Does that mean vampires are immune to character development? Not at all. What it means is that a character’s life defines her unlife. Her circumstances change, her ideas change, and the world she deals with changes, but the feelings in her gut remain the same. The crusader becomes the activist, the mother becomes the leader, the junkie becomes the preacher, but she continues to view her world through the lens of emotional experiences as a mortal.
As a player, this can help you ground your character. As the intrigues of the Danse Macabre surround him, as the Beast roars for release, as years of torpor distort the facts of mortal life, it can be hard to connect with your character on a human level. The eternal nature of the Kindred, however, ensures that their strange horrors and alien hungers never separate them entirely from the people they were — people like us.
The Kids Aren’t Alright
On the other hand, not everyone’s Embraced in youth or middle age. Some vampires are born near the end of their natural lifespan… and others, an accursed few, return from the grave much earlier. What happens to a child who can never grow up?
World of Darkness books have dealt with the subject before, but I’m curious what you think. What themes of gothic childhood and innocence entrap these unfortunates? What’s happened in your games?
First one to mention Hard Candy gets shot in the leg.