In 1993, my love affair with White Wolf had just begun. The next year would see the book that would turn it into a marriage. Her name was Werewolf, and she was gorgeous.
Werewolf Second Edition is a gorgeous book, inside and out. The art, layout, and background all mesh together into a damn near flawless RPG book. What sent it over the top for me was the afterword by Bill Bridges, expressing a love for the Wild and pledging to donate proceeds to animal charities from the book.
That was a watershed for me. The idea that RPGs could be used to effect real change had never even occurred to me. I began to develop a bad case of hero worship for the WW folks. After that came Mage, and Changeling. I was an utter fanboy, drinking the WW kool-aid with abandon. It felt nice to be involved with products that took on societal taboos,and were up front and loud about it. It was nice, it was delusional, and it couldn’t last.
Two things killed that love affair for me: Collectible Card Games and the rise of LARP.
Magic the Gathering, in a nutshell, tried it’s best to kill tabletop RPGs dead. I don’t blame retailers for fleecing the fools buying their way to victory, Nope, I blame all the statistic loving rules lawyers and power gamers who could use a fat wallet to feel better. I defy anyone to tell me that those games are all about skill, if you need certain cards to win. I never had to pay five bucks to buy into a D and D game. I don’t even blame game companies for trying to cash in. I do blame those that bet the farm on it, and damn near killed RPGs in the process.
Then came the LARPers. I can’t fault WW for the innovation. LARPing had been around for ages, and their crew developed a quick and easy way to run them. What I can fault is the type fo people LARPing attracted. Where RPGs once attracted people who had to use their imagination, it now had people who had sewing skills and could act.
Both these things changed the gaming world,and in my opinion, not for the better. The CCG boom attracted all the scumbag sports card guys,trying to get back some of their failed investment in variant comic books. And the LARP community attracted every rejected Ren Faire wanna be who could afford a cool wardrobe. Several of them seemed to have a tenuous grip on reality. I liked hanging out with guys from a local LARP, but they had enough in game and off game drama to fuel several soaps. My best time LARPng involved me and a friend dressing up as ICP to play vampire versions who had been turned into Sabbat assassins.
Around this time, I became involved deeply with a smaller game company. They used a system similar to WW,but even more primitive. But they were looking for people to contribute,to help out. So I drank another vat of cult juice until they crashed and burned.Menawhile, it appeared that WW and CCGs had been taken over by all the guys who used to beat me up or mock me in school.
By this time, I’d had it with WW. They were the kings of the RPG block,and they knew it. They’d always been cooler than the D and D people, and now they were outselling them too. And with it came pride. I’ve never experienced anything but love from any of the core staff people at WW, but the other con people and volunteers were slowly turning into elitist pricks. So I put away the Pale Puppy brand juice, rejoicing when they decided to end it all. I thought it was an excellent move.
So there I was again, lost without an RPG to love. I was just about ready to quit again when I ran into Deliria. Now here was something I could sink my teeth into. If you’ve never read the core book for that game, you haven’t read the gold standard for RPG books(next to Werewolf Second Edition,it’s a dead heat tie). Phil Brucato conjured magic with that book. I will always thank Phil for that, for restoring my faith in RPGs. I even booth helped for one great con, before the company crashed and burned in a cloud of bills and drama in the mid aughts.
I should also thank Phil for bringing me back from hate land on White Wolf and the World of Darkness line. It’s been through conversations with him that I’ve grown to appreciate what magic the early creators of WOD did. So I now proudly display my WOD books in my office, and hope to add the 20th Anniversary editions as soon as I can afford them all.
Thank you, Phil, Bill Bridges, Justin Achilli and crew. Thank you for bringing me back to a hobby I love, and one I hope to pass onto my children. Here’s to you folks for changing the landscape. Thank you, and good night.