Genre: role-playing game
Number of players: no recommended number; typically size 4-5 (four to five players and one storyteller)
Objective: play a vampire in a gothic horror version of the modern world

White Wolf publications has gained a fair notoriety in mainstream culture, mostly due to their best-selling role-playing game, Vampire the Masquerade (V:tM).  What actually makes the game infamous is that certain violent individuals are claimed to have been influenced to do their brutal acts because of the game; this is without merit as the game does not condone violence and even provides a disclaimer against such actions.  Finally, most of the individuals who committed such violent acts have been accredited with having prior violent tendencies and even signs of psychological disturbance.  But enough history and defense.

The world of V:tM is referred to as the World of Darkness (not within the text of the setting, of course).  It is a stark gothic world almost identical to our modern world, except that supernatural creatures thought to be merely myth and folklore bestride the earth alongside normal human beings; for Vampire, the focus on which of these preternatural entities is obvious.  The system itself is moderately easy to understand.  It is a success-based system, meaning that dramatic actions and the consequences are determined by the number of successes, die results that equal or exceed a predetermined number (the difficulty).  Whenever one needs to roll, it will usually be a combination of two traits; specifically an attribute (e.g. Strength, Appearance, Wit) and an ability (e.g. Stealth, Science, Subterfuge).  The difficulty of the task will be determined by the Storyteller and ranges from 1-10, with 7 being considered average difficulty; some tasks will require more than a single success in order to achieve the task.

What truly makes Vampire interesting from an education stand point is that it’s a role-playing game that can teach one how to socialize with others.  Vampire is less about fighting and bloodshed and has much more about politics and socialization, and the machinations therein.  The game encourages a steep learning curve, as there are severe punishments within the setting for particularly innocuous offenses.  Most role-playing games, when played right, encourages the socialization of its players through the constant interactions of said players; Vampire, however, outright teaches you how to interact with others “or else!”  Also, V:tM takes the time to do a great deal of historical research in order to accurately, as this is a suppose to be a realistic modern setting, flesh out the world.  This can make for a good launching point for players to test how accurate the research is, how valid the conclusions and inferences the game makes are, and to see if the protrayal of historical events are accurate within the real world.  So, again, Vampire stands out as it both draws you into a fictional world, but also tries to ground you in your very real world.

Next week: Titan