There is a subculture, a cult if you will, that revolves around games. Not computer games, not sports games, but role playing games (RPG). The general public commonly lumps all these games under the title ‘dungeons and dragons’, though there are many variations and types of RPG. For a simple definition, RPG consist of a table or living room full of geeks, acting out some science-fiction or fantasy Story. They assume or act out the role Of a hero, thief, magician or some other empowering character.
The RPG will almost always includes the use of dice to work out the ‘chance’ aspects of the storyline, and an RPG will always include gallons of caffeinated soda, snack food measured in pounds and fast food runs. The games can be as short as one to two hours, or be an all weekend marathon. Now this Ripping is all quite harmless: These geeks are relatively assimilated into society, and can function among the rest of us. Look around and one will see them staffing electronics retailers, maintaining computer networks and working bookstore counters.
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From time to time they actually mate outside heir culture and introduce fresh blood into their gene pool. Unfortunately Ripping is not the subject at hand. From Rap’s sprung forth a bastard child, a black sheep of a game subculture called Live Action Role Playing. (LARD). According to weeklies. Com, a LARD is …. A type of interactive gaming in which the players assume game identities and act as a specific character for the duration of the game. The game may conform to a scenario written by the moderator or Game Master. Alternatively the LARD may be based on individual decisions made by the partial pants. weeklies) The difference between Ripping and Lairing is the way in which the players act out their character. Ripping is generally third person, keeping the players identity intact and active socially throughout the game. Lairing is a stand-up, walk around in-character exercise in which the character is represented exclusively, not the player. An example of a harmless form of Lairing would be civil war reenactments. People meet together to play out battles and events in the context of history, and often create characters for themselves to more fully immerse themselves in the fun.
There is, however, a dark underbelly to the Lairing world. There is a specific LARD game in which participants act out Vampire characters. It is titled Vampire: The Masquerade by Steve Jackson Games. The premise is that participants make up a vampire character that they assume in gamely, sometimes for as long as five years or more. Within this alternate reality, the currency of success is social standing and prestige. In order to do well, you must gain status among your vampire peers. Boiled down, the game is essentially an overacted vampire soap opera.
Bickering, intrigue, plotting and scheming are the stock of the action. The game’s story arc is ongoing… Every gamely experience is affected by past gamely, and time away from the game is time out of the loop of the alternate reality. Different cities and states, even countries can affect one another, based on how participants interact when visiting other locations. (Jackson 1 1 0) For example, if a prominent Salt Lake City vampire went to Denver and created problems by bragging, accusing or challenging the local power structure, then the cities could be at odds with one another.
Each city has a ‘prince’, the currently elected leader of the area. According to Andrew at “A” Street Games in Idaho Falls, the current Prince of Idaho Falls is Jason Anderson, aka Darken Nightshirt. The Idaho Falls and Pectoral covens currently have good relations. (interview) One final note regarding Vampire: The Masquerade… In normal Rap’s dice are used to represent chance and fate, and explanations to represent what you might be doing. In an overacted stand-up/walk around game, dice are not only impractical, but detract from the “in-character” aspect of the game.
A third-person commentary would also ruin this aspect. To signify certain actions (for example “I’m invisible”) a special set of hand sutures are employed. As for the whims of fate, the developers have created a brilliantly simple solution. Conflicts and matters of chance are determined by rock-paper-scissors. Yes, the game that has it’s own religious newsgroup (alt. Religion. Archaism) is the tool with which vampires settle their conflicts in modern times. According to Andrew at “A” Street Games, “Some of the ‘battles’ can last for hours. It’s really really boring.
The longest one ever saw was like almost six hours. ” So how can a strange, underground subculture such as vampire Lairing be defended by reasonable people? Surprisingly, there are many benefits from such a freakish game, both to the internal community of vampires and the external community of us normal folks. A careful examination shows how vampire Lairing is really a win-win situation for society. There are essentially five types of people who are drawn to Vampire: The Masquerade. Not in any specific order there is Drama Geek, Displaced Teen Angst’s, Theatre Chick, Barnacle and Droller.
Drama Geek (G) is the simplest class to define. While not exclusively male, the G is referred to in the masculine due to the overwhelming number of ales falling into this classification. There is always a guy from high school that got way into drama. Way into drama. He was the ‘volunteer’ for anything that got him in front of a group. His rendition of Hamlet is the reason generations grew up loathing Shakespeare. Well it is no surprise to find him ten years later still plying his craft. Displaced Teen Managers (DATA) are both male and female, and their name pretty much sums it up.
While wearing heavy black everything, they stumbled upon this game that their parents hated and of course began playing regularly. The Data’s use the game to aka some counter-counter-counterculture statement about themselves, and will discard it as soon as they move out of mom & dad’s house. Theatre Chick (ETC) (note the Euro spelling of theater) is that girl who went to France that one summer. Or, more likely, that chick who always wanted to go to France but never did. ETC loves all things gothic and sophisticated, especially red wine.
She will have the special editions of the complete works of Anne Rice. Signed. ETC craves attention and Vampire: The Masquerade provides her with it. (See trolleys) Of note, the male version of theatre chick is exactly the name, but gay. Barnacles are those weird people you might know (for example the character Milton from Office Space) who essentially have no social structure to which they belong. Somehow, through an acquaintance they were introduced to Vampire: The Masquerade. Now it is exclusively their circle of friends. They often become more comfortable in-character than out.
Finally there are the T rollers. To understand their name you must understand a fundamental principle of geek gaming. Of all the geeky games there are to play, Vampire: The Masquerade draws by far the most females. All heterosexual males involved participate in some degree because women are there. As a fisherman trolls a lake for fish, Trolleys are casual players who are looking to score with a vampire. Of all classes, Trolleys may be the most normal, possess some semblance of common social skills and can blend in with the public.
Clearly the most obvious benefit of this game is that it isolates these people from the rest of us. Aside from the occasional coffee shop or music store run in, their free time is consumed by this game which as the title ‘masquerade’ implies, is hidden from us. An important side effect of this isolation is their development of unique social markings which we can identify from a safe distance. These markings also allow us to screen out vampires from key jobs and positions of power, such as banking, law enforcement, government records and clergy.
By using their own markings to relegate their employment options, they provide us a tool to effectively control their economic status. Note the striking similarities from male to female. Black lips, heavy black eye makeup, a passed off look, and painful-looking piercing are typical. While the male is not wearing a black top, it is black and grey. It may be safely assumed hat his jacket or sweatshirt is black. These markings, while not universal, tend to follow a similar pattern, and with a little practice anyone can spot a Larger anywhere.
As for the Larders themselves, the game provides them with very tangible benefits as well. In many cases the participants are not exactly socially adept, and by pretending to be someone more empowered than themselves, the players can feign a sense of social order and belonging. This is called a social construct, when a group creates a norm for themselves that seems reasonable from their point of view, but does not make sense from an outsider’s perspective (Berger 271) They are able to create community, albeit a weird, dramatic, vampire one. Another benefit to the gamers and society is mating.
Within this subculture of frilly gothic death, people still get it on. The benefits to those involved are obvious. (Benz 5) The benefits to society are a bit more veiled, and will be discussed further on. This mating inevitably leads to fertilization, which leads to vampire babies. Assuming that the child will be brought up with gothic vampire inspired values, we can deduce that the child will also participate in the culture of its parents. Lee Vine 8) So We have the subculture placated and genetically isolated. They are clearly marked for safety and screening purposes.
What is next? What is the master plan? The concept is best described using a pop culture icon: Planet of the Apes. In the movie’s background story, humanity worked to increase ape intelligence for society gain. In our scenario, the isolated genetic stock of the vampires will require only a few generations to devolve from any sort of classification as Homo sapiens. Perhaps at that time Homo Gothic could be the new Genus/Species assignment. Once free of human classification, the pale, dark eyed apes can be retrained to perform our menial household chores and production jobs.
By allowing this subculture to exist, to pretend to be vampires, we allow the participants to imitate a social order, and to experience physical intimacy which would normally be out of reach. Some may say that we are playing God, that the geeks are meant to be selected out. Only time will tell if our society is ushering in a new era of ease, or a nightmarish turn of events which will make us, not them, the slaves.