Ugh… Vampires

Says it all really, doesn’t it?

But why does it say it all? Why do so many of us cringe at the word Vampire these days? Hmm… I wonder…

Oh yeah, this heap of shite:

Or “Twi-Shite” as it’s fondly known amongst my friends.

I know this is probably like flogging a dead horse to most of you out there at this point but after spending copious amounts of time in the presence of teen girls at recent family events I feel it can’t be reiterrated enough. Twilight is a scourge on the face of prose and it is extremely frustrating seeing stuff like this get published for vast sums of money. There is clearly little or no quality control in some publishing houses and unfortunately many good writers are being overlooked in the face of this ‘make-a-quick-buck’ utter brain fluff type fiction (I wonder if Easons would consider replacing their ‘paranormal romance’ section with the ‘make-a-quick-buck’ section?)

Rather than go on about the series many flaws (though I’m not ruling it out as a future blog post) I thought I’d introduce a particular Vampire favourite of my own, This:

Vampire: The Requiem

It is a LARP (Live action Role-playing game for all you muggles) where you create a character who’s more often than not a vampire and you attend ‘court’ or vampire meetings. It’s similar to drama improv and it is immensely cooler than I’m making it sound here. For example on a typical evening we’d meet somewhere on Maynooth campus because they have plenty of rooms we can use for free. We show up in character, some people even dress up. There’s a Prince or head vampire that runs the meeting and there is endless amounts of scheming, backstabbing, violence and crazy events. Most recently my character made a deal with a much older, higher up vampire to put my powers at her service in exchange for information on my missing sire (the vampire who turned me into a vampire), however, my character is far too young to actually have these powers and now that other vampire staged a coup and became Prince she will be calling in her debts pretty soon…

Awesome right? I used to play games like this with my cousin when we were kids only much less detailed and much more PG, We’d pretend we were dragon riders or the crew of a space station and inevitably run around his back garden with various props yelling at each other. So I’m still a big kid really.

 Everything is interconnected, political manoueverings in Dublin games affect us in Maynooth and the best part is I’ve been playing for about nine months and I still haven’t had to read the rulebook! (take that Warhammer 40k and your ridiculously complicated game) People are more than willing to help noobs ann as my character is a vampire who’s only just come out of hiding after 80 years it makes sense that she wouldn’t understand anything. For more info check out Camarilla Ireland

The reason I went on about this in such length is that the games are excellent resources for writers. Not just for people writing about vampires, they have games involving all manner of mythical creatures and horror scenarios, their Changeling: The Lost  rulebook helped me with my current WIP. The fluff surrounding the games is often well written but the real reason they’re useful is characterisation.

I initially had trouble with this, all my characters seemed the same or else they were crude, sitcom style cut-outs. It is difficult to underestimate the effort some people put into their characters for Vampire. It’s more than just amazing acting (Disclaimer: I do not count myself among the good actors), there is huge detail to their back stories and motivations. If anyone wants to know how to write really in-depth characters with complicated relations to each other but not use an information dump then go to a Cam game. I specifically made my character shy and distrustful so I could sit and observe, as she (and I) gradually learned about the people around me so the plot gets managebly more detailed and compelling. The characters seem realistic because it is real people considering their actions and motivations based on their character sheets, It’s a great example of character driven fiction as we have no foreknowledge of the plot.

A schedule of games can be found on their website and they are played monthly in Dublin, Maynooth and Cork.

Go forth and characterise!