I’ve been hearing rumors about how edgy the new Vampire game was, but boy oh boy I didn’t expect it to get this horrible:
(cw: discrimination/violence against LGBT peoples, murder, xenophobia, torture)
Even before the launch of Vampire: The Masquerade ’s fifth edition ruleset, the team behind the classic tabletop role-playing game was already busy courting controversy. A series of unforced errors prompted White Wolf Publishing to issue statements disavowing perceived links to neo-Nazi and white-supremacist ideology in its game materials. Now, with the release the new Camarilla sourcebook, the team is again apologizing. This time, it’s for using the imprisonment, torture, and murder of members of Chechnya’s LGBTQ community as the backdrop for one of its major plot points.
This is apparently a line from the new Vampire book:
The recurring international controversy over the persecution of homosexuals is a clever media manipulation designed to keep the focus on Sharia law, away from the true inner workings of the republic. While homosexuals are indeed held in detention facilities for days, and humiliated, starved, tortured, and eventually fed upon and killed, this is not the point. The point is to distract from the truth of what Chechnya has become. That said, even among the Kindred [vampires of the Camarilla] any kind of “homosexual behavior” is punished harshly. … There is unfortunately nothing we can do for our brothers and sisters in Chechnya who suffer under this — interference is ill-advised at this point, but should any Kindred (or even kine [mortals]) seek asylum within regnums under our control, granting it may win allies to our side who are not just well-trained in combat and thankful to us, but also knowledgeable in the ways of a people who might already be preparing to attack us.
Looks like they’re going to implement changes in the wake of this mess:
According to White Wolf’s statement, the incident will lead to changes at the top.
“White Wolf is currently undergoing some significant transitions,” the company said, “up to and including a change in leadership. The team needs a short time to understand what this means, so we ask for your patience as we figure out our next steps.”
White Wolf is basically being led by literal nazis or people trying to court literal nazis (aka literal nazis) at this point so Vampire is basically dead to me forever now. Everything about this new version has been so openly racist, homophobic, and and misogynist in every single way imaginable that it is impossible to defend a single aspect of this vile trash.
They literally wrote out the goddamn holocaust with a conspiracy plot that, in real life, is usually a massive dog whistle against the Jewish community. I hope that entire company burns to the ground. You should not be allowed to come back after making something not just that offensive, but morally repugnant.
Real not surprised by western media company using Czeczenia situation like this but it is still repugnant
The only affection I have for White Wolf games is the Bloodlines PC game, and a good friend of mine swears by MAGE and wants to run a game with us at some point.
But yeah, seeing this shit has me REAL not interested in playing their games anymore.
If anyone is looking for a substitute, I hear good things about Urban Shadows:
Magpie has their own problematic games. Personally, I find the fact that Cartel is based on a real cartel and a real location in Mexico to be VERY problematic, but I don’t think there’s the venom you see with White Wolf in that.
The last new version they did (oh God fuck you Google, uh 2004 still counts as new right? Time to take the “Neo” out of my name ) was really cool and they did a good job taking the cool stuff from the prior World of Darkness books and improving it by basing the clans on shared belief systems instead of bloodlines.
I played Vampire a lot in the 90s and early 00s and despite the kitchen sink approach to its content the one thing that stood out to me was how it focused on bloodlines and factions and ancient vendettas a bit too much in its rules and world building versus how of course the reality would be the players all playing characters from whatever clan they thought was coolest and magically getting along well enough anyway. It was a system that had bigotry ingrained into its factions instead of ideals* and other lame stuff but it was a pen and paper RPG so of course you could play it however you wanted. At the same time it’s about vampires, which have been used as metaphors for both “weird foreigners” infiltrating civilized society and also for fascists slowly corrupting and destroying civilized society since forever. So intentional or not that’s not necessarily an out there thing to work into a game about vampires.
I haven’t had any interest in this new one though as it just seems like the worst of all worlds. I remember when the first few articles and speculation about what it was promoting came about and people were acting like that was crazy and I couldn’t believe how much people were willing to let that slide. That was kind of insane coming from vampire players, I mean you enjoy fiction about shadowy cabals of beautiful monsters with superpowers due to being of special bloodlines lording over people, you really don’t see how this would attract a certain crowd? I made a post about this in a different thread but any niche hobby or interest that involves young people interacting in person is going to appeal to folks who want to spread bigotry.
*This was something I loved about Planescape too, which was very much a “No no D&D is still cool kids! We have factions and dense urban settings too see? See all the factions?!!? Uh, uhm, Tieflings! They have horns AND yellow eyes AND fangs AND cursed bloodlines too come on we’re trying! ! !” kind of product, but right out the gate they broke up their factions by personal belief, which inherently promotes role playing interaction in general rather than role playing barely restrained conflict most of the time.
So there’s been some pretty wild developments in this story:
The actual Chechen government is aware of their depiction in the game, and are using it to further their agendas by claiming it’s part of a persecution campaign against them. There’s even a report that the local distributor for Moscow has been called into court in Chechnya for questioning.
Probably unsurprisingly, White Wolf is shutting down. The Chechnya sections of these supplements are going to be removed, and they will be the last books developed and published by White Wolf.
Looks like Modiphius is picking up the label.
“We are thrilled to become the official stewards of this incredible roleplaying game,” said Chris Birch, President and CEO of Modiphius. “And we look forward to developing and publishing the official Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition (V5) tabletop roleplaying game under license from Paradox. We’re committed to providing fans with a truly exceptional range of new products to help them enjoy this rich, exciting world.”*
Here’s the part that stood out to me:
The White Wolf brand team have completed re-editing the Anarch and Camarilla supplements to go to production early January, with pre-orders shipping in late January for web orders and early March for retail.
That tells me they’re taking the shit that got them in trouble out, but it feels sour that they aren’t addressing it directly.