Conor T, and a life with the World of Darkness.

“I’ve been a fan of the World of Darkness for over half my life. Growing up in the Northern Territory – one of the most sparsely populated regions of Australia – meant that there wasn’t much of a local scene for roleplaying or card gaming. All the same, I joined the local university’s club when I was 12 and started role-playing every Friday and Saturday night. By 14 I was playing Vampire: the Masquerade, and it would have been around then that my group discovered Jyhad. Most of us had also played Magic: the Gathering and followed Richard Garfield onto his next project. We stayed on for the love of the setting as much as anything, and we all had decks corresponding to the clan of our character in the RPG. I was the local Malkavian player, so that meant a Malkavian deck for me. I enjoyed playing them, and think the early cards (some of them now banned) reflected the clan pretty well.

We played a lot, but didn’t have a great grasp of the rules. In the early days we seemed to play with a four-card limit for all collectable card games regardless of what the rules said! We didn’t have a tournament scene or any organised events, so decks were more focused on fun and theme. I remember one of our local players could never get his head around the predator/prey mechanic, but that’s one of those smart parts of the design that meant the game flowed well and kept our crew playing. The rules, once we started to understand them better, really felt like they were written by someone who knew what they were doing. We liked playing Rage and Overpower too but they were more of a free-for-all. Fun games, but little turn structure and everything was happening all at once. Rage could sometimes end up feeling a bit like Solitaire, although once they released ‘The Wyrm’ set for that game it started to give people more of a goal and structure.

When I moved to Melbourne, the scene was bigger and better organised, that’s for sure. You had signature characters being released, like Vykos and Anatole, which was interesting if you knew the canon. But the deck design was less about fun and, it felt, more about having 25 copies of Form of Mist. Deck-building became less about clan-specific cards and RPG themes, and more about knowing what cards were out there and what could best compete. Not having the self-enforced four-card limit really blew me away when I hit the tournaments. Back home in Darwin, we’d always talked about how broken the game would be without it, never knowing that was truly how the game was meant to be played.

I have a strong connection with the World of Darkness still – every month, I run a LARP for 30+ players that’s a fusion of Vampire: the Masquerade and Vampire: the Requiem. But, I drifted away from Vampire: the Eternal Struggle across the early ’00s. Reality and life got in the way, and I travelled a bit. I would keep coming back to the game over the years, steadily up until Third Edition and occasionally after that. I’d have loved to see the game expand out to more supernatural genres rather than pushing them as allies or retainers, opening it up to Kindred of the East, or even going for a different era like Vampire: the Dark Ages. I think what I appreciate about the game, and the reason why I do occasionally come back to it, is about the core mechanics. The game’s structure is well-defined and, while complex, it’s easy to understand given a few games. There’s a big appeal to how playable and dynamic the game, which goes back to the strength of Richard Garfield’s original design.”

‘Anatole’ (Camarilla Edition), John Van Fleet

For those of you looking for context on where Conor grew up, here’s a headline from the local newspaper. This is one of the least sensationalised headlines… the NT News have some doozies!

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