To sum it up briefly, a player in a large live-action Vampire: The Masquerade game which I was running, who was not apparently taking the game seriously at all, had his ill-conceived character’s life torn apart as a result of careful and painstaking machinations by another player character. The player freaks out, threatens to attack me physically for not having prevented him from doing so, and in this childish tantrum, tears the gaming group in half.
And now for part 2.
Before I go any further, there’s a couple of other people important to the unfolding of this drama that I should introduce you to. The first, I shall call Coma Kid. Coma Kid was the subordinate storyteller who approved Boris in the first place, and was a close friend of him and his entire clique of casual players. Coma Kid was a diabetic of a fairly dramatic sort, and had a number of other mental and emotional problems to boot. This was a terrible combination for a number of reasons, the first of which is that he would often show up to a game with his blood sugar way out of whack. Part of this was just irresponsibility on his part, and part of this, his friends candidly confided, was a cry for attention. On several occasions, I had to take him aside and tell him “Okay, no storytelling for you tonight. You’re incapable of stringing together a coherent sentence or navigating your way across the room. If you must hang out here, you can play a character, but you’re not making decisions for anyone else while you’re like this.” A few years later, he died at his computer desk, playing City of Heroes with a jumbo Big Gulp cup in his hands. He was not a guy, in short, who had his shit together. He was also a close friend of many of the casual gamers.
Then there’s the fellow I’ll call Moriarti. He was the Domain Coordinator, and in that sense theoretically my partner, though he was quite firmly in the other camp; those players who wanted nothing more than to hang around and chat. The Domain Coordinator was an elected position, as was my own position as Domain Storyteller, and had been elected a couple of years running because nobody else really wanted the hassle of dealing with all of the endless out of character politics and bullshit which CONSTANTLY plagued this organization. He would turn out to be far more adept in this position than I ever gave him credit for.
Once the schism had formed in our group, things just got worse and worse, and couldn’t have done so at a worse time; the yearly elections were coming up, and there were a lot of hurt feelings going around (there were other things going on as well which were in some cases also important but not so game-related which I won’t include here). These elections were probably the single worst thing about the Camarilla, since the people who ended up running the games were often not the most qualified or the most capable, but those most capable of greasing palms and stabbing backs. The out of game politics always dwarfed the in-game politics, and it seemed like a lot of people were more interested in playing games out of character than in-character, and the organization seemed to be set up specifically in order to service this.
Coma Kid was being propped up as a challenger against me in these elections. He knew that he wasn’t qualified for the position, but was pliable enough that he would do what his friends told him to do; the very reason why he approved their appalling characters and why they wanted him in charge. There was no clear victor emerging in the lead-up to the election, and things were looking a bit acrimonious. It was then that I, and all of my closest friends in my group, got word that we had been suspended from the organization.
The Camarilla had a tiered organizational structure. Just as I had subordinate “chapter” storytellers, I was subordinate to a “regional” storyteller, who was subordinate to a “national” storyteller. An identical hierarchy was in place for Coordinators, and in our case, the regional storyteller and coordinator were both located out on the east coast, whereas we were on the west. As such, we never had more than e-mail and occasional phone conversations with them. Moriarti informed us, just before the elections, that the Regional Coordinator had had us all suspended, but would not tell us why. We were all outraged, naturally, not just because I was, naturally, a much less attractive candidate in the election if I would be unable to perform my duties, but because there was a structure in place for this sort of thing which was not being observed (and which in my years in the organization was never once observed that I saw); the person making the “grievance” which resulted in the suspension was obligated to first speak to the person they had a grievance with in an attempt to settle the matter personally, and subsequently let them know both of the reason for and term of their suspension. None of these happened in this case.
I was not altogether shocked at this; I had seen it happen many times, almost always for political reasons, but never so broadly and egregiously as this. I demanded Moriarti, as my Domain Coordinator and putative partner, get some answers for me, and he promised to do so. He seemed very sympathetic, and indeed, took me and all of my fellow suspended players out for lunch in order to discuss this injustice against us. His treat. What a great guy, right?
Weeks passed. No word came. My outrage only grew. Finally, in a final act of disgust, I went onto the national mailing list and publicly denounced the Regional Coordinator for this abuse of power, and announced that my friends and I wanted nothing more to do with an organization which treated paying members who had put so much work into the organization this way. My resignation was accepted, and we were stricken from the lists.
But not before one more thing happened: We were told that it was not the regional coordinator who had suspended us at all. It was Moriarti. The one who had been so friendly and so sympathetic and so helpful. The one who delivered us the news that his superior had done this to us. The one who was friends with Coma Kid and who wanted him to win the election for the position I held.
And when the election was called and held the next day, you can guess who won it.
I was frankly impressed. I had to give it to him, his act of subterfuge and backstabbing was so masterful, so thorough, so well-acted and maintained, and at such personal expense that I couldn’t help but concede that he had earned this win. The man was a sociopath and a manipulator such as I had never seen. The fact that I had no further interest in all of this out of character bullshit impinging upon my pretendy fun times also had a part in my willingness to simply abandon it all and walk away.
We all ended up joining another group, which we played with for a while (before also abandoning it because of the amazingly poor fashion in which it was run; I voulenteered one night to play an NPC in order to advance a plotline being run by the fellow who was running the game and ended up being told, in-character, to go sit in the washroom until I was summoned to see the Prince, and was left there waiting for two and a half hours out of a four hour game, unable to interact with anyone or contribute in any way. This made a poor impression on me).
The combination of resentment, disgust and grudging respect lasted for quite some time. Longer, in fact, than the game we left did. With half of the players gone and Coma Kid utterly unable to salvage what was left with his extremely limited skills, it fell apart almost immediately, from what I was told, and the group I had left ended up collapsing into another group as well. I was, to say the least, gratified to learn that all of Moriarti’s efforts had netted him exactly nothing in the end, no matter how masterfully they were played.