Re-learning old rules; and “Alien” Role Play.

So last night, my buddy hosted the first Old World of Darkness game we’ve played in probably years. We’ve been kicking around the idea for picking up the old world for quite some time; it was pretty much the cornerstone of my regular gaming group, and quite possibly the sole game we’ve clocked in the most hours with. I think it’s without a doubt that out of all the RPG systems I’ve played and collected, WoD was one I’ve spent more time playing than any of the other systems combined. I kinda feel like a scrub, since last night I don’t think anyone remembered the rules until mid-way through the game. NWoD, D&D 4E and the others just kinda bled out the old system in us.

My buddy also has one of the largest collections of old WoD I’ve seen.  One of the ideas we’ve been sharing is the urge to whip up some mini campaigns for all of the games we’ve never had a chance to play: The various changing breeds, Mummy, Kindred of the East etc.

But as I said, it’s been a long while. I don’t think we’ve seriously played the old rules since NWoD hit the scene. I think we’ve had a couple one shots of old Vampire or Demon, but those wound up with me generally trying to run the old games by the new systems and failing miserably. Or spending most of the time trying to re-learn the old rules. All of that aside, I think we’ll get our groove back by next weekend’s session. I love my bud’s games, but he is definitely a Storyteller over a mechanics guru. Most rolls last night were heavily winged, lots of hand waving and made up rolls on the fly. I think I was the only person really bothered by it, but that’s only because my years of ST experience came screaming back in my face mid-combat, so I knew something wasn’t clicking right. And since I’m not used to being a player, it bothered me. Oh well. That aspect was minor to my enjoyment.

Getting into an Alien Mindscape

The game we were playing was Rokea, which is part of the Werewolf: The Apocalypse line. For those unknowing: It’s Were-Sharks. Our storyteller LOVES sharks, and has been doing lots of research (and watching Shark Week) for months to run this game. Apparently, I’ve been missing out on hearing him go on about this game for a while. I think I’ve also missed out because my knowledge of sharks isn’t really on the same level as most of my peers. My fiancee is a nature buff to begin with, my friends are all about watching Discovery Channel. I thought I was into them….but after last night I think it dawned on me how much I don’t know about them. I think my knowledge is the amount required to enjoy Finding Nemo and Jaws.

It was hard for me to connect to the character and the setting just because I didn’t fully grok it. In other World of Darkness games, there’s a human connection there. I’m a surface dweller, I understand humanity’s effect on the world and its cultures. Playing the monsters hiding amongst the people is a very easy thing for me to get into….playing the monster who has never even seen the surface is a totally different ball park to me. In our backstory, only a couple player characters have actually gone up on land before. Only one has even bothered to live amongst them. We were not born into a human society….we are all Sharks, who apparently can turn into BIGGER sharks or Man-Sharks that remind me of a 90’s cartoon. Let’s take away any World of Darkness/Werewolf mysticism for a moment and analyze the concept that we are sharks primarily, and we live our lives accordingly. Our surroundings are much different, our motivations in life is mostly to survive.

We perceive things differently. Humans are stuck to rely primarily on sight and hearing during a combat situation. As a Shark, we are relying heavily on sight, smell, and our Ampullae Lorenzini to sense things around us in the water. I think the biggest barrier to cross was our role-playing of conversations between us. We talked at the table like any group would; but honestly, our characters are capable of transmitting their thoughts across the waters using their Ampullae in a process called “The Sending”. Language is a very restricted thing compared to the ways Rokea are capable of conversing with each other… and I think that was something missed to me.

Most of the session, the game to me was perceived as almost a farce. It reminded me of the many ways people like to mock the World of Darkness games….oh boy, we’re exploring the hidden depths of our inner emotions by role playing Sharks. Next week can we please play Weed-Whacker: The Trimming, so we could explore the drama of a never ending chore and the hunger for plant life?  But everyone else enjoyed it. I think the fact it was my barrier of personal imagination combined with the before mentioned block everyone had on remembering how the mechanics worked that soured my enjoyment.

But I’m not giving up on it. This week I plan on reading up more on both the lore behind this strange race, the rules of the game (so I can help the ST out since it’s his first time to even run a game in a year) and possibly a lot more Shark Week on Netflix. The post-session jam with the ST definitely showed a bit more insight that I missed out on, as well as perking my interest in, if nothing more, reading up more on the nature of our real-world marine life.

So just for conversation’s sake:

What’s one of the toughest things for YOU to get into character for? What’s one of the toughest games/roles you’ve ever experience just on Role-Playing alone? It doesn’t have to be limited to “Storytelling” games or anything fancy (although I bet a lot of you chime in anything with a morality rating turns you off 😛 ) Never got the hang of Paladinhood? Couldn’t imagine yourself as an Elf? Mon Calamari were just a little too strange for you? Light up the comment section, folks!