2011-03-10 : Hungry Desperate and Alone

Back in 2005 I went several rounds with vampires as protagonists. What I came up with was a neat little set of three interlocking games: Hungry Desperate and Alone.

They don't work! The math is wrong. In the first game, for instance, the horror stat acts as a brake on the developing action, so that the interesting stuff never kicks in. I don't recall precisely but I expect that the other two have similar problems.

Anyhow, I linked somebody to them on Story Games and I thought maybe I'd share them here too.

1. On 2011-03-10, Marhault said:

I remember these.  Good stuff.  I liked Toward One better though.  Any chance you'll repost that too?  (or Before the Flood?)


2. On 2011-03-10, cc said:

I thought the SG thread ended up being pretty weird.  I don't get this fascination with humanising vampires.  Humans don't have romantic relationships with cattle, pigs or sheep, so why would a being that predates upon humans be drawn to humans in this manner?  Makes no sense to me.

Vampires make sense to me as exploration of our own predatory nature.  On the whole we don't take part in the messy business of killing for food, we're quite willing to buy meat in safe and anodyne plastic packing, all the bleeding and squealing remote and removed.  By making the prey humans, by playing out the act of predation, it gives us an opportunity to explore these functions in a dramatic context.

There is a human meaning there, but it's not about sex, or alienation, or even control of your intimates (because fundamentally they are not your intimates at all).  It's a personal view, of course, but I find the regularity with which this view of vamps as essentially still human prevails quite surprising.


3. On 2011-03-10, Gordon said:

I have no idea how Vincent's games and cc's comments led to this, but now I want a vampire game about Bernie Madoff.  A Ponzi scheme mechanic is enticing me with its' sinister charms.

Plus, you get to suck the blood of Spielberg, Katzenberg, and Zsa Zsa Gabor.  That could be cool.  Also Elie Wiesel - not so cool, but powerful.


4. On 2011-03-10, nolandda said:

I don't understand how cc's conclusion follows from his premises. It seems like a distant relative of the "If we allow gay people to marry then people will be marrying farm animals soon." argument.

These arguments miss the point that humans are able to communicate and possibly reciprocate feelings. An emotional relationship where the stronger party is able and possibly even motivated to destroy the weaker party is not at all without precedent. See: Shahry?r and Scheherazade, some tellings of Beauty and the Beast, etc.


5. On 2011-03-11, cc said:

nolanddda, wut?

That... seems very bizarre to me.  I'm not saying it can't be done; clearly it has been done.  It just seems kinda pointless to me.  Plus, you can look at all those love-across-the-class-barrier type stuff and see that it is romantic precisely because it describes a situation that is rare in reality.  And in all of these the participants are still human, and the barriers that separate them socially imposed (or magical, in the case of Beauty)

It seems pretty simple to me.  Vampires are not people, they are undead.  And they they don't just exploit humans, they kill and eat.  Getting emotionally touchy-feely with prey species is not something you see a lot of in nature, and in fact most of our, human, relations with other animals are with other predators (cats, dogs) rather than with prey.

So whatever, I just find the idea that vampires have these relationships with humans thoroughly unintuitive and requiring a big leap of logic.  Frex, do vamps have a sex drive? They don't reproduce like humans, so why would they be hung up on all the romance stuff?  Would their brains respond to the hormones and chemical influences that we experience as "love"?  Maybe, you can do anything in fiction if you want, but it just seems odd to me as an assumption.


6. On 2011-03-11, Gordon said:

cc - I see the key aspect of a vampire not as "predator", but rather as "parasite."  The vampire ideal is not slaying, but feeding and re-feeding.  Not cat and mouse, but ant and aphid.

Far, FAR creepier to me.  And not so simple.


7. On 2011-03-20, Josh W said:

So in the first game, the fact that intimacy is supposed to be a thing rather than just a stat label, forms the core of the first game's interesting conflict? The more emotionally painful it is to drink their blood, the better for materially for you?

I take it you'd rather a build up of parasitic angst + a get out clause, and the whole "growing understanding vs containing awareness to firefighting pain" dynamic is just one that doesn't interest you much any more? Or at least, it's not worth the price/risk of prematurely ending relationships you'd rather were ended by players' comfort zones.

To put it in other terms, the unusual thing about that game is that instead of the classical "drive people away with abuse to protect them from your nastiness" vampire relationship thing, you're focusing on a "distract people from your own nastiness with more pressing concerns, i.e. abuse and subtle sabotage, so they never notice it, and you can keep on doing it".

I'm not that interested in playing out vampires except as power and status games among a parasitic secretive elite, so not much of this sings for me, and I'm not totally confident about what this is supposed to be, but if it is all damaged relationships, then cutting off those relationships is like death in other games; it's a threat to be mostly avoided, and too much effort being used up in avoiding it saps the game's energy.

Also, the "angry means they stay away" bit isn't really covered by rules in the same way other reactions are. In fact the anger system might actually act as an attractor, because they may find it difficult to act against you without coming into contact with you.


8. On 2011-03-21, Vincent said:

> "Distract people from your own nastiness with more
> pressing concerns, i.e. abuse and subtle sabotage, so
> they never notice it, and you can keep on doing it".

Right on.

I was going to say that these days I'm not interested in vampire protagonists at all, but it's not quite true. I'm working in the back of my head on not one but two games where you might play a vampire protagonist. In both of them, (1) you might be a vampire but being a vampire isn't the point, and not all of the PCs are vampires, and (2) becoming a vampire is something that happened to you without your consent, but it didn't take away your ability to decide what to do going forward.

Both games, being only notional, share their vampire rules. I'll tell them in Apocalypse World move format. A vampire PC is always in one of three conditions: sated & lethargic, lean & hungry, or ravenous. Every night, roll+self control. On a 10+, in the morning you're lean and hungry. On a 7-9, in the morning you're ravenous. On a miss, in the morning you're sated & lethargic.

I think that's pretty funny.


9. On 2011-04-05, Tim Ralphs said:

That is funny. That's so funny I might steal it, alter it a little, and put it in my current AW campaign.


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