Blood and Smoke, Blood and Smoke: the Strix Chronicle, Daeva, Gangrel, Marlowe, Mekhet, noir, Nosferatu, Onyx Path, pen 'n paper, Raymond Chandler, roleplaying game, Rose Bailey, The Endless Night: A Valentine to Film Noir, The Little Sister, The World of Darkness, Vampire, Vampire: the Masquerade, Vampire: the Requiem, vampires, Ventrue, white wolf
You’re not human tonight… Maybe I never was or ever will be… Maybe we all get like this in the cold half-lit world where always the wrong thing happens and never the right. …you’re not human tonight.
That dripping, noir morsel is from Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister.
Back in the mid 90s, a sixteen-year-old me opened up Vampire: the Masquerade. I’ve never been the same. That’s the short-hand version. Today, Blood & Smoke: the Strix Chronicle was released. I’ve written for White Wolf (and Onyx Path) before. I wrote a novel, a short story, and a little game writing on the side. But this book is the thing that tickles that teenage fan boy rattling my ribcage.
I wrote the vampire clan chapter and the “All Night Society Chapter.”
This book is an overhaul of the Vampire: the Requiem game. Rose Bailey, the developer, gave the book the most focused and relentless vision of any group creative project I’ve ever worked on. I’m a writer who benefits from an editor who works me. She worked me, and I’m proud of the result.
One of the things that Rose did with the line (and that I felt very comfortable diving into) was dousing it all in Chandleresque noir. And if you need a little foreplay to get in the mood, I have just the thing.
Howzabout a teaser sample, loveling? Here’s a little micro-ficiton for each vampire clan.
Something dead approaches…
Daeva: the ones you die for
He warns you. You’re going to do it anyway. You both know that. Eyes like TV ads that enslave you to debt. Voice like the fast food jingle talking you into suicide by tiny bites. The wanting. Every happiness you already have turns to bile. You smile. “Yes,” you say. “More,” you say. “Anything.”
Gangrel: the ones you can’t kill
Wasn’t the howling. Weren’t the claws or magnesium eyes or the lizard brain keening, “Run, run, run!” Was the change. Like them trashy drive-in horrors, only on rewind. Monstrous bulk shrinking — snout flattening — fangs dulling down to pearls — fur receding to a naked obscenity. The smiling little girl walking towards you on filthy feet. That’s what did it. Ten thousand beasts pressing out on her belly like it’s a theatre curtain on opening night. That’s what emptied your bowels and sanity.
Mekhet: the ones you don’t see
That shit-eating grin. The shit-heel prick. How’d he get into your game? “Not playing the cards; I’m playing you,” he croons. He’s not wearing shades, but you can’t see his eyes. Chuckle. “Always wearing shade,” he says. Did you talk out loud? The fucker is playing the cards, because you just did a bottom deal, a triple lift, and two moves that ain’t got names. You know his hand. He’s already lost. Bastard’s not even looking at his cards. He knows. He doesn’t say, “Fold.” Says something else. Says your secret. The thing no one else knows. The thing you sit up at night praying no one ever finds out. The table flips. Loud noises. Your poker buddies beat you bloody. Through it all, you see his grin. He just fades away, and the last thing floating in the tobacco smoke is that grin.
Nosferatu: the ones you fear
“Shhh.” The voice behind you sounds like a squeezed handful of grave worms. It tells you that it will follow you home. It tells you that if you can make it to your front door, by the long path or the short, without turning around or nary a peep, it won’t kill you. When did you lose your shoes? The pavement turns to tongue meat, tasting your bleeding soles with every step.
Ventrue: the ones you can’t deny
“Let’s make this interesting,” she says. She tells you all the heinous things you are about to do. You laugh in her face. Ridiculous. Then, one by one, all of your limbs betray you. You see everything. You see it all through the socket windows of your Judas body. You try, and fail, to scream through the frozen smile fracturing your face.