Stumbling into Exeter

Stumbling into Exeter

As someone who tends more towards telling fantasy stories, I honestly never expected to be into Vampire: The Masquerade as a game setting. I’m not entirely sure why I never expected this given that I’ve been fascinated by vampires since I was in high school and took a copy of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire out of the school library on multiple occasions.

Never mind that that book probably shouldn’t have even been in my high school’s library and the librarians absolutely shouldn’t have let me check it out when I did, but I digress.

Vampire: The Masquerade (or VtM) had been on my radar as a tabletop setting for about that long, as well. However, as is the way with a lot of tabletop groups that are fairly set in their ways, I never had the opportunity to participate in a game. My TTRPG group in high school and college was set on playing D&D at the time, and the suggestion of branching out to other systems was usually met with not wanting to learn another system.

I didn’t actually get the chance to actually experience Vampire: The Masquerade as a setting until my streaming community insisted I try Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.

I loved every single minute of it.

I left so much to chance with that first playthrough. I let a quiz choose my clan since my knowledge of the game setting was minimal and wound up with a Malkavian. This resulted in leaving conversations mostly to chance, too, as the game warps how the dialogue is presented as a Malkavian and adds spooky whispers to provide hints to deeper plot elements if you could decipher the meanings of them (I couldn’t).

After that experience and remembering LARP was a thing, I began a search for local VtM LARP groups, but that mostly fell through due to a combination of hearing negative things about more than a handful of them and, most recently, a certain global situation that shall largely remain nameless. I honestly thought I would never get to play with the setting at all.

But then TikTok happened.

I had been scrolling through my For You Page, seeing an assortment of videos full of Broadway and cosplay and original characters when I stumbled upon a video about a new (at the time) tag based on VtM: Exeter By Night.

@mattstormcrow

Come join us! #vtmtok #vtmtiktok #ExeterByNight #vampirethemasquerade #worldofdarkness #ttrpg #larp #vampirelarp

♬ original sound – Matt Webb

Story tags on TikTok were nothing new to me. I had participated in a couple in the course of the previous year on the app. However, I had no idea how this video in particular came across my FYP as I hadn’t really interacted with the VtM side of TikTok previously.

And yet, I almost didn’t care because this video was giving me the excuse I needed to try to play in the world of Vampire: The Masquerade for the very first time, and I decided it would be absolutely foolish to not take the opportunity. So I combed through the comments to find the link to the Discord server and jumped on in.

The entire community has been incredibly friendly and welcoming to a player like me who was largely inexperienced with Vampire: The Masquerade as a setting, although I’ve found the barrier to entry is a lot lower than initially anticipated as, while EbN is very loosely based on the v5 ruleset for VtM, it’s more of a rules-lite Nordic-style LARP in that there are no character sheets or stats you need to remember. You can establish a concept and work things out with other players for the scenes you may want to do or play out. There’s a large emphasis on consent and communication to the game itself, which I genuinely love.

When the first major in-game event started winding down (an attack by the local Sabbat on what was then-Elysium leading into the Anarchs and the Camarilla coming together to attack a Sabbat-owned warehouse in retaliation with said warehouse ultimately exploding), it felt like the perfect time to introduce a new character. I just had one problem, and it’s a problem I’ve often had when I’m new to something. Everything always looks so cool and I genuinely do not know what I want to do. I tend to refer to this as “being stuck in ‘oooh, shiny’ mode.”

And then I remembered The Deb of Night from Bloodlines. If you’ve never played the game before, The Deb of Night is an in-universe radio program that you could listen to at your character’s haven that had new segments as the plot advanced. There had always been speculation on the internet about whether or not Deb, the host of the show, was a vampire, but there was never official confirmation.

As I remembered how much I enjoyed The Deb of Night and that speculation, a thought occurred to me: “Well, what if Deb really was a vampire?”

From that basic concept emerged Rowan Grey, a radio host running a late-night program for one of Exeter’s radio stations. Being new to the setting, I elected to make Rowan a thin-blooded vampire, someone who had been embraced fairly recently but was clanless and therefore lacked the powers the other vampires had. Rowan has zero contact with the vampire who turned them and has mostly been making their way as a vampire on their own for the past two years.

Rowan Grey, thin-blooded radio host from Exeter By Night

Since their introduction to the game, Rowan has found a place under one of the three baronies belonging to the local Anarchs and uses the station they still work at to pass messages around for the local kindred. So far, this has been everything from Anarch-specific messages to in-universe ads for businesses run by the various kindred of Exeter. They’ve been learning Thin-Blood Alchemy thanks to one of their thin-blooded friends.

And I am having the best time.

Exeter is something of a unique LARP experience given the platform it takes place on, but it’s honestly been one of my favorites. The entire community has been ridiculously kind. The stories everyone’s come up with are just amazing, and I’m simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the end result of the gothic romance that is Shiloh (Toreador “ex” Sabbat) and Reggie (an Anarch Brujah).

If you’re into Vampire: the Masquerade and if you want to participate in a virtual LARP, maybe give Exeter by Night a look! You may find it as fun a time as I have.

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