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World of Darkness (2017) - full transcript

An in-depth look into how the World of Darkness and Vampire: The Masquerade created a phenomenon in the 1990's - a zeitgeist that helped shape film, literature, fashion, club culture, and ultimately fans, whose lives it forever altered.


- I am absolutely a
fanatic over this game.

I can eat it up, it's awesome.

- I love it.

I love getting to
be something else

and creating this character.

- It's a fun way to
express yourself.

- I've been talking pretty
much nonstop for the past

96 hours.

This is as important
as music and movies.

It's another way to
talk and communicate.

- It's a wonderful way of
connecting with a lot of

different people.

It really changes a lot for you.

It puts you into a different
world and it's just wow,

this is lovely.

- When you engage
something so deep,

so dark, so personal

in that intimate kind of a
way, you carry that with you

wherever you are.

- Here, you are an
outsider getting to play

the ultimate outsider.

All the sudden, you
have different people

that place different
values on what is gaming?

What is a role playing game?

- It was something that
opened people's eyes

to being able to express yourself
in a whole different way.

- This is one of the great
secrets of pop culture,

of the 21st century.

- The key moment
of my entire life

is when I first played
Dungeons and Dragons.

- Your dungeon master
has placed you

in a dreadfully
precarious position.

You're playing the most
phenomenal game ever created.

Your choices are limited.

Stand and fight or run.

Use your lightning bolt.

- I was just instantly
just addicted.

- Throughout the 70's and
80's, the most commercially

successful role playing games
were all fantasy games.

They were all sort of
variations on Lord of the Rings

for the most part.

You go on an adventure.

You kill a dragon.

You get some gold and
then you hit repeat.

Dungeons & Dragons
popularizing it.

- Dungeons & Dragons has
grown from an obscure hobby

for an obsessed
elite into a craze

shared by an obsessed
million or more.

- Role player, through
it, was something

that was really big in
contemporary culture.

Literally millions of people
were playing all the time.

It allowed something quite new,

which was a game that had
a very strong narrative.

People would be getting
into this so much.

- It's surprising how
much of your aggressions

you can take out just by
rolling dice trying to

kill some monster.

- Role playing games were an
opportunity to live the story,

ya know, be an actor,
tell the story,

but create drama.

- Yeah, I think the
role playing is,

we call it an art
form, role playing,

and it's just unique.

It's a unique experience.

- I found Dungeons & Dragons
at a very early age,

as a teenager, and we
had a group that played

and it wasn't something
we talked about.

To admit to being a
Dungeons & Dragons player

or role player, you
risked social ridicule.

- Role-playing games
were not understood.

It was new and especially
in the deep south.

You're a geek and a
nerd for doing it.

None of the cool kids
played role-playing games.

- I think that that is
where I found more of a

comfort level interacting
with people.

- I was the outsider.

I was teased, not invited
to birthday parties.

That was my life, ya know?

- Part of the role-playing game
hobby and prior to everybody

sitting down to play,
somebody's gotta come up with a

general story line of what
you're gonna play through.

- Well, we appreciate that.

- Alright.

- Thanks for calling me, okay?

- You can buy books
that give you stories

or you can write your own.

So, from a early point, we
were creating our own story.

- Stewart Wieck, White
Wolf's founder,

he and his brother started
a magazine that was

called White Wolf magazine.

The first couple issues looked
like their stapled together,

black and white paper,
white line art,

looked like something that
you'd see at a high school

freshman make out of his
garage because that's kinda

not too far from the truth.

- We pooled money ourselves
and we bought a box of

photocopy paper and I took
that into high school one day

and asked for permission
to use the photo copier

in the front office and
they said, "Sure, Stewart."

So, I printed my demonic
role-playing game magazine

on the rural Georgia high
school photo copier.

Initially, the sales on the
magazine were nothing.

I mean, we made like 100
copies of the first issue

of White Wolf.

We're not succeeding
because this looks like

a piece of garbage.

There was a decision
point to like, okay,

if this is really going to
be something we're going

to continue to do, we've
gotta be more serious

about it again.

That's the point at which
we borrowed some money

from our parents.

- That allowed us to do
the full color cover

and all this content.

But, the way we really got
traction with the magazine

was that we would go
every year to Gen Con.

Okay, we need, where's upstairs?

Does anybody have any idea?

- Gen Con is the oldest
tabletop role-playing

game convention in the world.

It's where if you make
a physical product

that rolls dice or uses
cards or has a board,

that's where you go to
celebrate your hobby.

Back then, magazines were
the only way you got

your information.

- So, we would drive up all
these copies of the magazine

and we would hand
out free copies,

just giving them out to
every gamer in line.

- Gen Con was a place
where you always saw

the next big game, the next
big breakout to happen.

- It would've been Gen
Con '87 that I first met

Mark Rein-Hagen of Lion
Rampant at the time

and Ars Magica was one
of those little games

from a little company
that I found and I was

blown away by it.

It was very artful, the
contents were spectacular.

- Ars Magica was
this phenomenal game

that won all these awards.

At the time, we
were not doing well

and I met Stewart and he
just seemed like the kind of

rock solid business guy.

- These are serious
fantasy game players

who are here to assume the
roles of imaginary characters

in imaginary places.

- The role-playing game industry
at that point was tiny.

So, for financial reasons,
Lion Rampant and White Wolf

magazine decided to merge.

Mark, at that point, decided
to move down to Atlanta

where the Wieck brothers were.

Thought was that we were
going to do everything

we were doing
already, but better.

- White Wolf moves from the
environments of a little

five points, which is
this very Bohemian,

artist friendly, counter
cultural cluster of

the weird and alternative
and misunderstood

that lives in the
middle of Atlanta.

So, it's a perfect fit.

- Everyone worked together
and they lived together.

Your bedroom was your office.

- Mark's bedroom was his office.

- The house was always a weird
kind of eclectic mess of

creative papers everywhere.

- We're all stuck in this house
together and it was nuts.

- So, here was this
little company with this

really nifty, semi
successful independent game

and it's time for the annual
pilgrimage to Gen Con.

- You had to go through Indiana.

You had to go through
Gary, Indiana.

I had never seen a place, it
just looked like time forgot.

It was the worst.

- Their wholesale urban
decay brought about

by the economic disaster that
was the 70's and the 80's

ruined a lot of people's lives.

That's what Mark saw in Gary.

He saw the complete and
utter disdain for humanity.

We did that.

It wasn't the automotive
companies that destroyed.

Rust Belt, America, it was us.

People.

We let it happen.

- I remember us saying,
"This place is bad."

"Who would live here?"

Mark was like,
"Probably vampires."

- Instantly, I knew, boom.

You are the vampire.

You were human.

You've been fucked.

Your life is over.

It's this nightmare world.

What are you gonna do now?

How are you gonna survive?

Everyone in the
car went, "What?"

Like back then, the
idea of being a vampire

was just impossible to imagine.

- In role-playing games,

vampires were monsters
to be killed.

Their lairs looted for treasure.

- Vampires were always something
in Dungeons and Dragons

that you fought.

- You know, now it seems
so normal and ordinary

and such a plausible idea.

But at the time, it was
a definite glitch.

Normally, at Gen Con, which
is the great one convention,

I was a party animal.

I would party the
whole time, right?

This convention, I
didn't party at all.

I just sat and wrote
and wrote and wrote.

And it just all flowed out.

- Being in that dark
side takes me away

from my ordinary life.

You gotta explore the
deprivation and violence

that you don't do in
your regular life.

You don't have to actually
expose yourself to those dangers

but you get to experience them.

You can just get a bit
of an understanding

why you feel the way you
feel or act the way you act

by taking on a different role.

I met a lot of people I've
been friends with for years

through RP-ing.

You get a thing that binds you
together, this experience.

- Fuckin' daylight!

- Vampire at the
Masquerade clearly draws

a lot of it's inspiration
from movies like.

The Lost Boys and New
Dark and The Hunger,

sort of vampire
myths of the 80's.

It also draws from some
of the entire spectrum of

popular vampire mythology.

- Vampires have been depicted
differently in different eras.

In the very earliest
stories about vampires,

folklore stories about vampires,

vampires are not seductive
and they are not appealing.

Vampires are ghouls.

The Lord Ruthven is
somebody who is handsome,

is personable, and yet,
ultimately, he is revealed to be

a top of the food
chain predator.

But Dracula really is ground
zero for our contemporary

conception of the vampire.

He is where it starts, the
idea of the seductive vampire,

the appealing vampire,
the vampire who's

lust for human blood does
not make him unwelcome

in human company.

Anne Rice's Interview
with a Vampire was a real

turning point for a
number of reasons,

but the single biggest
one I think was that it

pushed the sexuality
of vampire stories

even farther forward.

- That provided the
contemporary idea of

they were tragic, romantically
cursed creatures,

ones you could sympathize with
and arguably wanna be with.

- I decided I would
not read Anne Rice.

I would not be tainted.

Of course, what I didn't
realize was that all these

80 vampire movies
that I loved so much,

all stole their stuff
from Anne Rice.

- Sleep all day,
party all night.

It's fun to be a vampire.

- What vampire did was it
essentially took ownership

of every previous
vampire myth said,

if you're a fan of
any of these things,

come play in our world 'cause
our world is the whole world.

- After we got back
from that Gen Con,

Mark really started
working on his vampire.

- Stewart was very much the
sounding board for me.

His office is across
the hallway from me

as I constantly burst in and go,

"What do you think of this idea?

"Okay, we're gonna have clans
and these clans will be

"the way, they'll be
like character classes,

"but we're not gonna
do character classes."

"They'll be like social
groups but they won't"

"give you anything extra."

"They will, they will,
but they won't."

He would go, "That
sounds good, Mark."

- One of the most powerful
design ideas in Vampire

is the idea of Clans.

- Monster entertainment
always, I think, has appealed

to outsiders but, if you are
slightly different in some

manner in your real life,
it's so nice to belong,

ya know, to a clan or a pack
and to have a clear purpose.

- That idea that
you would inherit

a world view and
political position

and history with your choice
of character had never been

expressed so fully and
completely before.

- When I first started
in role-playing games,

the biggest artists in the
gaming industry at the time

were guys that did
the D&D stuff,

but they weren't very dynamic.

There was gaming art before
Tim and then there was Tim.

- It was a lot of fun.

So many things before that
were very high fantasy art

to varying degrees of quality.

Ya know, classic
swords and sorcery,

big guys in armor and
dragons and women in

chain mill bikinis.

Vampire was the first
time where I really sunk,

pardon the pun, I
sunk my teeth into it

and it was the right
subject matter

at the right time for me.

I immediately knew
what I wanted to do.

Instead of having this
character on this page that

feels like a comic book,

what if I wanna make them real?

I wanna make them possible.

- He basically brought
this real world grittiness

that you could, you
could really believe

'cause they were real people.

- I would just get friends over.

I would say,

"Okay, who's gonna be right
for this character?"

My friends were in these bands.

That's my pal, Sherry Wall.

She's one of my favorite
people on the planet.

There's a classic right there.

That's Tim Shinkle.

My best friend, Joel, who
modeled for everything for me

for a long time.

It's my pal, Scotty Wilson.

The absolute, quintessential,
gypsy white trash

vampire is Scott Wilson.

Wow.

So, instead of having
it be some count

that lives in, ya know,
Romania, 400 years ago,

I started with a
different culture.

- It immediately makes it like
wow, this is our vampires.

I can be one.

I can just go down to
the club and be one.

- I don't know whether or
not I realized how big.

Vampire was going to be until
these visuals came in.

I was like, this is
cool on another level.

- Tim Bradstreet's
artwork was one of the

best decisions we made.

- The full pages were it.

They were gothic pun.

They expressed the
moment of the time.

They expressed characters.

They were perfect.

Funny thing is, we had no
money left for a cover.

We were screwed.

- They had actually commissioned
a piece of artwork,

Vampire with a blood tear and
a helicopter crashed in the

background and a
motorcycle and stuff

and it was just, didn't
really feel right.

I came up with the idea of
wanting to do something

that was a little more
photographic and a little more,

let people just put their own
vision of what they thought

vampires could be onto that.

- So we got in his car.

We bought a bunch of roses
with the last dollars

in my pocket and we
went to a stone place

and we bought a piece
of green marble.

We snapped that photo
and I am absolutely

100% convinced that if
it had a stupid, cheesy

gamer, I'm a Vampire, that
wouldn't have worked.

- At that time, the world
was changing a lot.

The sort of old guard
Republicans in America

were coming up power.

The Berlin Wall had
just come down.

Music was making this
revolution, this sort of

hair metal poppy scene of
the 80's was fading away

to the Seattle punk scene.

- In the early 90's, there
was an undercurrent

of a need for change.

There was a need for a dark
voice and those people

with dark voices emerged.

- 1990 was the first time
that you heard about it.

It's first advertisement for
this game called Vampire

was just a big black paper
with just white Vampire

across it.

- When Vampire the
Masquerade came out,

I'd seen nothing like it.

This beautiful green cover
with a red rose across it,

just absolutely beautiful,
I had to pick it up.

- This is vampires
and goth and punk

and that, of course, makes
it vastly different

from any role-playing game
that has ever come before.

- Here, you are an
outsider getting to play

the ultimate outsider.

That was catalytic for us.

- It wasn't even really so
much playing the vampire

as becoming the vampire.

- It's not just reading a
novel about an anti-hero.

Those moral ambiguities and
moral challenges are yours now.

- I can hear her heart beating.

My mind screams with lust.

Now.

- Suddenly, people who had
never been interested

in role-playing games before
or geek culture before

were interested.

- I remember working in the
store after the Vampire

first edition had come out.

There was sort of a
steady stream of ya know,

these sort of goth kids
that were coming into

the game store which was weird

'cause they didn't
buy anything else.

They didn't socialize
with anyone.

They came in and they bought
their White Wolf products

and they left.

- They wanted to share
this thing with us,

this thing that we loved.

It was a new
sensation to be cool

or to at least think
you were cool.

- I grew up in a very
not progressive part

of the United States and I
didn't really have a lot

of friends, so all of
my spare time was spent

reading books or drawing or
doing all of these things

that were kind of by
myself and in my own head.

Then, when I finally
met one or two people

who actually played
these things,

it was like a whole other
experience because suddenly,

I was getting to hang
out and be with people

that were just as into these

strange little ideas as I was.

Looking at those books, looking
at every single little bit

of that stark black and
white, beautiful art

with all the detail,
all that ink work,

I was enthralled.

It was just so, my
imagination went everywhere

just getting to look
at all of that stuff.

It's not just here is a
mechanical system of numbers,

but rather, it's like, here
is a way you can really

collaboratively create some
universe with each other.

- Vampire had the artwork
and the clownsiest stem

of this idea that
you're the monster

but what really made
it revolutionary is

that it shifted focus
away from rolls and dice

towards storytelling.

- Vampire was written differently
than other role-playing

game products.

It was produced differently.

It looked different.

It read differently.

It was not just a collection
of numbers and statistics

and tables for how to
kill monsters or how to

have a car chase.

- When it came out,
it was a revolution.

This was during a time when
games like roll master

were great and they had
these hundreds and hundreds

of pages of tables that they'd
go through and look through.

We started realizing that what
we felt was most powerful

was the conversation.

It wasn't really, can I
jump between the buildings,

roll the dice and so, that became
more and more meaningless.

- Horror fiction is really
popular because it allows

us to engage with a lot
of big moral questions

and these issues about humanity
and often about belonging.

Role-playing is a very
good medium for exploring

some of those dynamics
specifically.

- It's not an external
force you're fighting

which you can kill with
a sword or a fireball.

It's the conflict within you

which makes it much more
psychological type of game.

- It doesn't look very exciting.

If you walk into a room
and people are playing

pen and paper, they're
just sitting around.

It's happening in this sort
of shared imaginative space

between all the players
and that means that

you can't see it
unless you're playing.

It's all happening
in their minds.

- There's Mark
Rein-Hagen's head.

Come show me.

Turn, look down.

Show me the whole business.

- At Gen Con, game
just explodes.

- Clone of Chaos.

- I went over to the White
Wolf booth and I was like,

"Dude, how's it going
for you guys?"

They were like, "It's nuts."

It was crazy.

White Wolf grew so fast.

I mean, they literally went
from being a garage company

to a million dollar
company overnight.

- People's appetite for the
game was just ferocious.

- Going from living
in a house together

with our warehouse in
the yard to ya know,

renting a warehouse building.

- Vampire was taking
the industry by storm

and we became known as
the company that would

throw the crazy parties.

- The late night, gothic
punk scene in Atlanta

was incredibly strong.

- We went out every night.

We were there in the clubs
where this is happening.

So, it's informing the game
and you could not separate

the game from club culture
and club fashion.

- It began to aggregate different
looks of counter culture

into one beautiful, blended,
gothic punk aesthetic,

which then, in turn,
certainly began to appear

everywhere else.

- Stuff that was really
niche, all of the sudden

became this sort of bigger
and broader subculture

visual aesthetic.

Thousands of people,
inarguably, by those classic

vampire depictions
of you can be this.

- We have vampires,
we need werewolves.

Right and so, we're gonna
put ourselves on the spot.

Here's the games
we're going to make

and I guess we'll make them.

- Now we gotta make them.

- We were really creating
a world of darkness

and the idea was that in
the world of darkness,

these vampires
existed side by side

with these werewolves
and these mages

and the lingering after
effects of ghosts.

There were other games
that kind of supposed

different supernatural
creatures would be in contact

with one another, but the
world of darkness idea

that these all shared a
world, that their societal

structures overlapped one
another or often intruded

on one another, that's
really I think,

what made the world of
darkness stand out.

The same time, these live
action rules for playing.

Vampire the Masquerade emerged.

- The first live action
role-playing game product

was called The Masquerade.

It was a big box set.

There'd never really been
a LARP product before.

Once you actually had
something on the shelf

for people to buy, next
to the table top game,

then it exploded.

Then it got big.

- LARP started out
as an acronym for

live action role playing.

It's a form of role playing
where you embody the character

and very often, you also
dress up as your character

and try to portray their
actions as fully as possible.

- LARP existed before this.

This is what made it huge
in the same way that

there was science fiction
before Star Wars

and then there was Star Wars.

All of the sudden, instead
of like five or six people

playing around a table,
you had 15, 30, 60,

hundreds playing in
parks, college campuses,

in night clubs.

It was more like an event.

- Up until Vampire, most
of the live action games

were people in a
field or in a forest

with padded foam swords
running and chasing

and hitting each other.

The Vampire live action game
was more of a social drama.

All of the sudden, you
had different people

that place different
values on what is gaming?

What is a role playing game?

- We are all being hunted
because we are one!

- It completely changed
the type of people

that would play an
event like that.

- Calm down!

- They were not
traditional gamers.

They were theater people.

They cared about the
narrative, the story,

the drama, they
wanted intensity.

- What people get
surprised by often

is how powerful role
playing as a form is.

- You made me this monster!

- Everybody's creating
the story every moment

through the game.

When you speak, you
are creating it.

When you are not speaking,
you are also creating it.

You're doing something
kind of difficult

and awesome together.

You created this world

and you made it real
for a little while.

- I felt the timing was perfect
for this role playing game.

So, I went to friends of
mine, said what do you guys

think about transforming
the world of Vampire

into a living, breathing
organization?

Our interest was
building a community.

- Camarilla Fan Club was
extraordinarily important.

White Wolf was one of the
very first role playing game

companies to have a
dedicated fan club

that would go out into the
world and show people

how cool their stuff was.

- That was something that was
really different with Vampire.

We didn't build large communities
around our D&D games,

but when it became
Vampire and then,

when it became live action,
then all the sudden,

we were bringing other
people from other cities in.

- We felt a really easy
point of entry for someone

to get involved in the
world of darkness

where friends would say,
"Hey, what about this"

"game in the back?"

"Come with us, take a look
and see what you think."

- Those people were passionate
about what they were doing

and so, they continued to
inspire other people to be

passionate and it was a big
part of how the brand grew.

- It grew so fast, we simply
could not keep up with it.

It was impossible to keep up
with how fast it was growing.

- Not only across cities,
but across continents.

- Camarilla Fan Club
organized LARPS regularly.

In Europe, it reached
millions of people.

- Vampire became
more than a game.

It became a culture, a
culture that opened doors to

different kinds of people
with different ideas,

but we were all joined
by this common interest.

- What I loved about
the Vampire culture

was it didn't matter
what gender you were.

It didn't matter
what color you were.

It didn't matter what ethnic
background or cultural

background you came from.

They were all a vampire.

- I remember reading many
Dungeons and Dragons books

and I'd see a black person.

World of Darkness was different.

- What I find really cool
about Vampire the Masquerade

is that it created that
foundation of equality.

- I had the community finally

that accepted me for what
I am and allowed me to be

what I wanna be.

- I have always
been outta place.

I never really fit in.

I was a gamer, Dungeons &
Dragons and stuff like that

and a friend of mine got me
into Vampire back in '93.

About two years after that,
we start getting to LARP,

which was recently
released at that time

and we became the first
Camarilla based Vampire group

in San Diego.

A lot of my close friends who
I'm still friends with now,

we started off in
a Vampire LARP.

I like dressing up
like a monster.

It gives me more of
this sort of feel,

ya know, not like many
people and I can be myself

'cause this is basically me.

I realized that my
friends were more family

than anybody else.

I'm much happier that way.

- Here it is, the
White Wolf bus.

Woo, now they wanna
film this road.

Oh, that's scary.

- Frankly, anywhere we went,
there was a very different

kind of fan that was around
the White Wolf booth

holding our games than
you saw anywhere else

in the convention hall.

- You know, when you're
at a RPG convention,

you're talking about Magic
and you're talking about

ya know, knights
hitting each other

and none of that is what the
World of Darkness was about.

- Going into a gaming
environment was a boy's club.

Vampire the Masquerade
wasn't a boy's club.

- I have people to this day
come up to me and say,

"Man, I remember that Gen
Con after you came out"

"with Vampire, suddenly, there
were women at Gen Con!"

- It became inviting to
girls because here were

suddenly games that were
about stories and characters

and relationships.

- They would come to the
convention and go to no one else's

booth except our booth.

- Having almost a 50% ratio
of women was unheard of

in the role playing scene.

- It was big business
at this point.

It was a serious
competitor to D&D.

They had a goofy
cartoon in the 80's.

All of the sudden, we've got
like prime time FOX show

that's just coming out
after the X-Files.

- I got a call, this
guy, and he said,

"I'm so and so from the
Creative Artist Agency."

"We're the agency that does
everything in Hollywood."

I invite Mark into
the office and say,

"Hey Mark, what do
you, this message,"

"what do you think we
should do with this?"

He just goes running screaming
through the office.

"CAA called, they
called, they called!"

- This is what the Prolog Clan
will do to all you Gangles!

- The thing about
it was that it was

an Aaron Spelling show.

Strike number one.

- You Gangles are
cruising for broo-ha.

You chose the wrong place.

- So, Mark moved out
there on the west coast

and they were putting together
the film deal with Spelling.

- Everywhere I could, I'd
try to manipulate it to be

a better show than
Spelling wanted to be.

- Alexandra!

- He got his sticky
old hands all over it

and just made it slop.

- Alexandra!

- It was still Vampire
the Masquerade,

ya know, Crescent
City, the whole game,

but I was really turned
off by the show.

I couldn't even watch
all the episodes.

- At that time, one of
the big controversies

that came up for White Wolf
was a guy named Rod Ferrell.

- You cut yourself,
let them drink it.

It runs through their
veins for a few moments.

Then, your blood
becomes tainted.

- He murdered people in a
sort of cult-like fashion.

- Prosecutors plan to
seek the death penalty

against Rod Ferrell.

- We were like,
"Oh, we're fucked."

- The fact is, it was a
whole vampire culture.

People who wanted to dress
like vampires, drink blood

and generally behave
like vampires.

Clearly, that caused a
lot of consternation.

- Had church leaders
speaking out against us,

political figures
speaking out against us.

- Was so absurd, the
accusations from the media

and from the state
was so ridiculous.

- Horror has always
been a problem for

religious groups
because clearly,

all of the horror creatures exist
outside of God's universe.

They're not God's creatures.

God didn't make werewolves.

God didn't make vampires
and it was clearly a thing

that people found
very disturbing.

- For the murder of
Richard Wendell, you are

hereby sentenced to death.

- We had nothing to do with him.

He didn't even, by all
accounts, play our games.

That point, there was a
number of internal struggles

between the development
team in Atlanta

that was making the
games and Mark.

- Mark had moved to California
to open White Wolf West

and he was frequently in
conflict with some of the more

traditional business-minded
people at the office

and there were also
people who felt like

that west coast office
was just bleeding money

and they weren't
generating anything.

- One memory I have is that
I had just gotten back from

Germany and this amazing trip

and I just ran three LARPs and
I come back to White Wolf

straight from the airport,
no one has any idea

how exhausted I am or
how little I slept

and I come in the warehouse
and the entire company,

they all give me this look.

Like, "You fuckin' asshole."

- The late 90's, the
entire table top industry

was going through a
fundamental shift.

The entire publishing trade
was being massively disrupted

by digital entertainment.

- The same problems the book
industry led to our main

competitor, TSR, who ran Dungeons
& Dragons going bankrupt

and it nearly bankrupted us.

We had layoffs, which
it was a hard time

and so, in the middle
of this atmosphere of

hardship for the company,
the west coast office

became a more difficult
thing to keep going.

- I just thought that
you wouldn't wanna

get rid of the creator.

But ya know, what
I didn't realize,

the entire company would wanna
get rid of the creator.

Made me feel like shit.

I mean, I hate that.

As much as I'm
always the outsider,

as much as I'm always the
guy who is not loved,

ya know, it destroyed me.

- In 1998, White Wolf
Publishing as a company

was struggling, which is ironic
because at the same time,

Vampire media and
entertainment was booming.

You had Buffy, you had
From Dusk Til Dawn.

And a lot of what you
saw in those shows

were influenced directly
by the World of Darkness.

- One of the great untold stories
about early 21st century

popular culture is really
how much World of Darkness

influenced the resurgence
of vampire culture.

- You better wake up.

The world you live in is
just a sugar coated type.

There is another
world beneath it.

- Blade came out in 1998.

That was basically
based on Vampire.

- Blade definitely was Vampire
the Masquerade on steroids.

- Blade.

- I thought the trailers
looked so fuckin' awesome,

ya know?

I was excited to see the movie.

- That's him!

Get him, fuck him up!

- It didn't occur to me until
I was watching the movie

and I'm like, "Oh, wow!"

That looks like a thing
that I did, ya know?

It was just where he stops
at the end of that scene

where he shh, then
there's Blade.

It was almost the
exact same pose.

A couple years later, I
talked to the writer

of the first movie.

He's sitting next
to me and he says,

"Ya know, on Blade one, dude,"

"we totally had your art books."

I'm like, "You're kidding!"

Really?

He goes, "Yeah, yeah,
we had your portfolio",

"your vampire portfolio."

"We had your art book."

I was like, "So, you
just borrowed my stuff"

"and you didn't
hire me for that."

He's like, "Oh."

I mean, Blade was a character
before Vampire, of course,

but when did Blade start
to look really badass

and take the safari jacket off

and the green goggles?

I rest my case.

A little while later,
I get a phone call

from Guillermo Del Toro.

I was like, "You're
Guillermo, aren't you?"

He's like, "Yeah."

He goes, "Listen, we're gonna
work together right now."

I was like, "Right now,
what do you mean?"

He goes, "I've got a
film, it's Blade 2."

I was like, "Oh, really?"

He goes, "I'm gonna make sure
you get paid this time."

Ha!

- I would say after
that, it, I think,

became very problematic

because after that, White
Wolf, in a very real sense,

in a very legal sense went
to war with the club.

- White Wolf, the sort of
rock and roll cultural mavens

of the last decade now became
the guys that had lawyers

and suits in a lawsuit
with their fans.

- When the lawsuit happened,
the community was shattered.

- Even though White
Wolf won that lawsuit,

they really lost the
court of public opinion.

That was the end of the
Camarilla as we knew it.

Some people were
very hurt by it.

- The response to that is
you started to see sales

just drop and sort of go away.

- I saw the sales had gone down.

I have friends who run
these game stores.

I said, "I'm not selling
Vampire as much any more."

- We were used to selling tens
of thousands of something

and now, we're
selling thousands.

- We knew that we made a game
that was popular in the 90s.

We also knew that role
playing games, overall,

were declining, but what we
didn't know at the time was,

was it us or was it them?

Was it a product problem or
was it a market problem?

- At this point, we
had hundreds of books

around Vampire the
Masquerade and we felt like

we had explored so many
of the topics that were

there to explore that we
were starting to move into

minutia that only applied
to a small group of people.

- There was so much vampire
stuff that we had created,

this world was so
rich, so developed,

like new players were
just too intimidated by

I have to know what.

We decided we needed to
restart and I think then,

we decided the best way to do
that was to sort of fulfill

this inherent promise
that we'd made

from the very beginning.

For a 1991 ya know,
the advertising is,

Gehenna is coming.

- Gehenna is coming soon.

- From 1991 on, we had said
in our books at some point,

the elder vampires will wake
up and they will be hungry

and it will fundamentally
change the very existence

and the nature of what it
means to be a vampire.

- The world will turn cold

and unclean things will
rise up from the earth

and storms will roll,
lightning will light fires,

boils will fester and their
bodies, twisting, will fall.

- It was the vampire apocalypse,
we called it, Gehenna.

- The you will know, it is time.

Gehenna will soon be upon you.

- People in the
industry were like,

"Whoa you guys, that's radical."

You're insane. - Insane.

- You're taking one of
those popular products

in the marketplace and you're
just gonna stop doing it?

- When I started playing
World of Darkness,

my mom had gotten very sick

and I ya know, had a lot
of feelings about that

that I didn't really
talk to people about.

So, getting to play a character
that maybe acted out

or do stuff was a really
great way of taking

all of that emotional stuff and
putting it into something.

The first time I went,
go into the room,

have a basic costume,
nothing really super cool

and I walk in and I
see all these people

and they're engaged
and doing stuff.

I chickened out.

I turn around and I
walk right back out.

I didn't say anything
for like 30 minutes.

Then, people started
talking to me and I was

responding in character,
then all of a sudden,

I was just doing it.

I felt exhilaration.

It was awesome, it
was very thrilling.

It was scary too.

It's intense and it requires

a lot of social skills actually.

I learned so much about
what I can do as a person,

being able to play all
these different roles

and I learned a lot
about other people too.

The World of Darkness
and the LARP community

is very close knit.

For me, what is cool
is involving people,

telling really great
stories and making it fun.

- The war itself had
become more perilous.

The weapons had evolved.

- With all the upheaval that
was going on at the time,

the last thing that
White Wolf needed was

yet another legal battle.

- Who are you people?

- You're in the middle
of a war that's been

raging for the better
part of 1,000 years,

a blood feud between
vampires and lichens.

Werewolves.

- When I saw
Underworld, I thought,

"They must have
contacted White Wolf"

"and done this movie in
association with them."

"I thought it was that close."

- They essentially make a
World of Darkness movie

just straight up.

- The chain has never
been broken, not once,

not in 14 centuries,

not since we elders first began
to leap frog through time.

- There's cases where we
felt movies or other works

had taken too much
of our material

and Underworld was a
good example of that.

- Ah yes,

the lichen.

- Underworld is a washed
down version of Masquerade.

The whole vampire
verse werewolf thing

came from the World of Darkness.

- We had a protracted
legal fight but,

we reached a satisfactory
settlement on it

and the settlement
allowed them to

continue making the movies.

- That was the only time
that we were acknowledged.

The rest of the time,
we were just copied.

- 2006 to 2008, you saw
that the Twilight novels,

the Sookie Stackhouse,
Charlaine Harris books,

those were very clearly
influenced by World of Darkness.

♪ When you came in,
the air went out ♪

- I think the greatest copy
of Vampire the Masquerade

was True Blood.

- Anybody that saw True
Blood first season

thought that same thing.

They knew about Vampire.

They went, "Is this the
new Vampire show?"

"Is this a new White Wolf show?"

- The first vampire was Cain.

Being a vampire is
the mark of Cain.

It's God's punishment
for bringing...

- The True Blood TV series,
they actually talk about Cain.

The first vampire, I
mean, that was sort of

a defining point of our myth.

- Your majesty, you've had
me abducted by werewolves.

- They had kings of
different cities.

We had princes.

They had sheriffs,
we had sheriffs.

- Listen, Bill was
in fact kidnapped

by human or vampire.

I am duty bound as
sheriff of the area

in which he resides to find him.

- It had gotten to a point where
there weren't even really

pretending not to copy
our stuff any more.

- In 2004, we relaunched
the World of Darkness

in what a lot of players call
the new World of Darkness.

It wasn't Vampire
the Masquerade.

It was Vampire the Requiem.

- There was a lot of excitement
looking forward to it,

to it coming.

- I was excited to see a
reinvention of this world

that I'd grown to love.

When I received the book, I
started paging through it

and did not speak to me at all.

- Requiem emphasized lust
story and more rules

and procedure.

- Vampire became
more gaming oriented

and rules monitoring than role
playing and storytelling.

- That was a big departure
for a lot of people.

Tim Bradstreet wasn't
doing the art.

The art was very
comic book style.

- If you look at
Requiem more closely

and if you look at the
nuts and bolt of it,

there is this huge change.

It can be played to win.

- When Vampire Requiem
had come out,

all of the people that I
was playing the LARP with

were like, "What?"

- To me, Requiem was
another role playing game

and I love role playing games,
but it didn't speak to me

like Masquerade did.

- We sold more books
with that launch

than we had ever sold
before on any other launch.

100,000 units, which for 2004

in the role playing
game industry,

might as well have
parted the Red Sea.

It was an incredible launch.

- While they sold a
lot of the core book,

what was very telling is
they didn't sell much

of it's companion books.

- White Wolf with a new game,

who wasn't going
to buy that book?

Everyone was going
to buy that book,

but after that first book,

I saw people were not as
interested and I thought,

"Oh my goodness, maybe White
Wolf just committed suicide."

- What do you do in a
situation like this?

You have fans who love the
traditional World of Darkness

but they're not buying
the game any more.

You tend to launch a
brand new version of it

and no one's buying it.

- Know any games we can play?

- One of the reasons that
we weren't resonating

with the youth of the role
playing game industry

is because the youth
weren't in this market.

They had found another market.

- Book publishing was dying.

It was clear everything
was moving electronic

and we were trying to
basically create a property

that would be exciting again.

- Bloodlines truly captured
the sense of story

from the role playing game
and the live action game.

It was a new way to play
something that we were already

enthusiastic about.

- Bloodlines is a game that
was put out by Activision

and we were all excited
about the potential.

So, we felt like we
needed to get into being

our own development studio.

- That's when CCP steps
into the picture.

- The idea of EVE was that
we would create a world

with rules and that the
players inside that world

would then create the game.

- Don't tell me what
you're looting.

I don't wanna know until after.

- The game is about people
interacting with other people.

- Shut up.

- EVE Online is a massive,
multiplayer online game

which you play by logging onto
an online server somewhere

and you start playing
it together with

a lot of other people.

- Felt like a perfect fit because
what they were doing was

completely based around
stories that were driven

by the community and
so, we felt like,

this is exactly
where we wanna be.

- I met Hilmar for
the first time

at EVE three in 2006

and at one point,
Helmar just says,

"Everybody keeps
talking to us about

"merging and working with
CCP, but it's like,"

"they want to add Coca
Cola with Coca Cola."

"You're like a cheeseburger!"

"We would go great together!"

- Here comes this odd
Icelandic company

that makes this
weird space game.

They sort of seem like the
great white hope, so to speak,

that they're gonna come
in and save everything

and make it awesome again,

make it bigger and
better than ever.

- You all know this guy.

- For me, it was huge
because ya know,

it'd always been a thought
of World of Darkness.

I was really into revitalizing
a lot of the things

that were now struggling
at White Wolf.

- We went through the entire
merger and acquisition

process in four months.

It was like drinking
from a fire hose

that was full of
Icelandic vodka.

- All of the hardcore fans
is like where is the stuff.

Here, have our money.

But nothing was
really happening,

so that was frustrating.

- This point, White Wolf's
community was a mess.

You got a lot of resentment.

There was these broken promises.

So, the idea was sort
of get em all together.

1300, 1400 fans of different fan
clubs all in the same room.

- So, we put something
together just for you guys.

This was made to capture
the mood and the feel

that we're gonna try to pursue

with the World of
Darkness in a month.

- You won't believe me.

In fact, I shouldn't tell you.

Some secrets are best
taken to the grave.

They're all around us.

They control everything.

They have always been here

waging their secret wars.

- The big question up to
that point was, ya know,

which version of the World of
Darkness are they gonna make?

- So, behind the scenes,
we've been working on it

for three years
and we still have

a very long way to go.

So, that brings me
to the announcement

that I know a lot of you
guys have been speculating

about for a long time, which is,

what version of what
White Wolf product

is this game gonna be based on?

The answer is...

- You thought you were
at a rock concert.

- That was the moment
when I realized,

"Holy shit, they're
bringing it back."

"It's coming back."

- When they said that, I
felt role playing games

matter again to me.

- This was the
ultimate validating

holy shit moment.

We're going back
to what's awesome

and we're gonna spend
millions of dollars

on the franchise you
grew up with, you loved.

- It was terrifying and
exciting and cathartic.

We are gonna be able
to walk into a living,

breathing digital world and
it was going to be glorious.

- It was huge.

The level of excitement,
all the old grievances

sort of swept away.

We announced we were gonna
do this 20th anniversary

printed book.

Tim Bradstreet was gonna
come back and do the art.

- Doing V20, for me, it
was revisiting, ya know,

an ex-lover in a way.

Here we are, we're gonna
go down this road again

and it had been a while.

Felt great.

- People had gotten the
book back in their hands

the way they did originally.

They got to share stories and
reconnect with old friends.

- Even thought traditional
role playing games

were far less popular than
they had been in the 90s,

people who were fans were
still playing these games.

LARPing was super popular
all around the world

during that whole period.

- There was a community
aspect to playing this game

that really transcended
just fun and escapism.

- What's special about
role playing is that

you have a very clear
purpose typically

and you, very often, have a
strong sense of belonging.

The characters are
very rarely isolated

and that can be quite
liberating, I think.

- Story telling is the
currency of human contact

and that is exactly at
the very heart of what

role playing is.

- Even if we don't necessarily
know we are called players,

you do belong to this collective

and it has this sort of
transformational potential

for everybody.

As you get so caught up in
the moment, that you forget

that you don't think you
have leadership skills

and you stand up and lead.

Then, after the event,
you're like, "Wait, what?"

"I was a leader?"

That's still something
that you did

and nobody can take
that away from you.

- Making video games
is really hard.

It's really hard
and making an MMO

is even harder on top of
that because of the sheer

volume of systems and
scope of those systems

and players who need to be put
in contact with one another.

- We knew this, but it was
also kind of mock through

within CCP, we know it is
going to be incredibly hard.

But impossible is nothing.

We eat the impossible
for breakfast.

We did EVE and we're
gonna do this.

- In the MMO, a lot of what
the creative director wanted

was players to be able to
express themselves visually

and the idea here was the
players would be able to wear

whatever they wanted.

So, visually, they could
create this look for them.

So, we had multiple fashion
designers working at CCP.

- CCP approached
me to bring me on

as a designer because they
wanted to honor the tradition

of World of Darkness
and it's aesthetic

but at the same time,
push it forward.

My aesthetic is very tribal
and has goth elements to it.

I gravitate towards a darkness.

I came on as the role of
Digital Fashion Editor

where I worked with a
team of illustrators

and we created
fashion collections

that represented
each of the clans.

I thought it was just
such an incredible world.

This was the first jacket
that has ever been created

digitally from an
actual fashion piece.

We took this jacket and
we put it into the.

World of Darkness environment

where the characters were
able to wear the jacket

within the game setting.

We were able to digitally
make everyone's fantasy

and something that you would
dream of wearing in real life.

- I like to be complimented.

I like to be told
how awesome I am

and ya know, I'm cool.

Yeah, it's always,
ever since I was a

really little kid,
it's always been about

putting on the costume.

When I start to put
on the costume,

I start to kind of just
distance myself from myself.

It's always fascinating
when I realize

I can see the moment
when it's clicked,

that I've transitioned from
Caroline to the character.

Sometimes it's a very
noticeable click almost,

like switching the
channel on a TV.

With Requiem, I like to play
the more apologetic monster.

I don't necessarily
enjoy what I do,

but a girl's gotta eat.

With Masquerade, there is
so much more opportunities

for me to decide
that I'm a monster

and I feel good about it.

Some days, I want to
explore a part of me

that I might shy away
from or that I don't

quite understand why
I'm like that and LARP

gives me a cheaper
alternative to therapy

to explore myself.

- Role playing has a
long history of being

your self therapy
from I think it was

in the 20s or 30s where
it first started

in the sense of be your mother
as she leaves your father.

It's right around the
standard through that.

That's role playing.

- There are therapeutic
methods that look a lot like

role playing and you
never know which thing,

which random moment in this LARP

or role playing game is going
to resonate with something

in your life, that suddenly,
something in your mind clicks

and you're like, "Hey, this
reminds me of that thing."

If you're not prepared for that,

then it can be a little scary.

- When you engage
something so deep,

so dark, so personal in that
intimate kind of a way,

you carry that with
you wherever you are.

- EVE was the economic engine
that drove the company.

CCP had raised capital to
develop two new projects,

DUST 514 in it's Shanghai office

and World of Darkness
in it's Atlanta office.

- The problem starts when EVE
starts to lose subscribers.

Now, we're seeing a
trajectory where

it's not really going up.

It's just going down.

So, we're like whoa.

We need to do
something about this.

So basically, all teams
in all continents

go to work on EVE.

- CCP was a good
company to work for,

but once you sell something
to someone else,

it's theirs.

White Wolf was now
part of that company

and White Wolf needs were
subservient to CCPs at that point.

- All of the resources
we needed to make the.

World of Darkness MMO
were actually being

taken away from us and our
project was suffering for it.

- The following news that we got

was that workers at
White Wolf is fired.

So we're like okay,
this is bad probably.

- You don't come back from that.

Yes, it took a few more
years for the project

to get shut down completely,
but that's the point where

the company, basically
the fans I think,

just didn't believe it.

- The decision comes
to shut it down.

Ya know, I'm part
of that decision.

There was only a second
who made that decision.

You could say I
killed it but, yeah.

- I felt a huge amount of
responsibility towards

the fans and I still do.

I mean, it made me feel
terrible to feel like

all these people had put
in so much effort and time

and belief and faith.

It made me feel terrible.

- They canceled the MMO,

it felt like, okay,
this is the end.

- In many ways, World of
Darkness helped some of us geeks

come to terms with
being who we were

and that hadn't happened before.

- Created a complete
cultural movement.

It was something that
opened people's eyes

to being able to express yourself
in a whole different way.

- You know that feeling
you've had when you've

walked out of certain movies
and you just feel different.

As an entity, it
exists in that way and

it's pretty special.

It's a very special thing.

- When you have somebody
come up to you and say,

"I read your book."

"It changed my life."

You're just humbled by that.

It's just like writing the
book's changed our lives too.

- We Rabnos are so few now.

We're so very few.

But we are strong

and we are clever

and when we band together,

we are a force to
be reckoned with.

Our hope is to rise again,

to reignite that passion
that we used to feel

and to drink in a
new generation.

- It's just time for there
to be a new expression

of the World of Darkness
in a way that will

capture the imagination
of millions,

millions of fans.

- There's a lot of
different groups of people

that you'd never get to meet
if you didn't play the game,

so it's a beautiful thing.

- As soon you join in,
the community's lovely.

You find this really
broadening network

that you can connect with.

- Role playing has
changed my life

in so many ways.

It brings a sense of
understanding between people.

That's why we're here, right?

- We just have it
in us, this quest

and this thirst for darkness.

I think World of Darkness
really brings out

other parts of who we are
and who our souls are.