World of Darkness (2017) Movie Script

- 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.
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.
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.
- 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!"
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."
- 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.
- 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.