Rebuilding Vampire: Awakening From Torpor

In Vampire: The Masquerade, vampires can enter a state called “torpor,” an extremely deep slumber basically comparable with stasis. This word entered my household’s regular use years ago and is one we sometimes whip out in front of “normals” without noticing except for when we see the confused faces wondering, what language are these two speaking? That’s two very long sentences merely to get to my point that I feel like I’ve fallen into torpor regarding development of the vampire game.

It’s not that my interest has waned in any way, but that the forced breaks during classes have cooled my writing engine and now I’m finding it very hard to get it restarted. Obviously I’m trying – this post, which really doesn’t say much – is me turning the key in the ignition, letting the car sputter, hoping the car will finally turn on.

Ok, enough of the car analogy.

My point is, to have stepped away from this project for months (and the occasional short post I threw in there was merely a way for me to keep the topic current in both my mind and yours, but not really a full-fledged effort at actual on-the-fly game design) makes it really hard now that I have time to go back to it with the same level of enthusiasm as in the beginning. Not impossible, just hard.

I’m not saying anything that doesn’t apply to any writer, I know. I’m just working through my own awakening from torpor.

I continue to hold Gen Con as a deadline for a playable-with-me first draft (this being a draft that is playable only if I’m running it, that is, one full of mnemonics, short phrases completed in my head, references that I’ll understand), which leaves me about a month’s time to work through the parts I know are still missing and put the entire thing together into some semblance of order.

I’m also fighting an innate tendency in my own personality: the close-enough-you-can-see-the-finish-line drop in interest on a project. By nature, I’m far more efficient on the early stages of any project; I have energy, ideas, desire to get the thing going, motivation. I’m a starter, one who gets fires burning. But I have a problem in the long term, as I lose steam or get distracted by other new projects. It’s simply a reality, and unfortunately I have not had the fortune of partnering up with others who can complement my early-in-the-game fire with the endurance needed for the long haul. Given how writing this game has been such a solitary endeavor, it means it is up to me primarily to work through the lethargy and find the inner reserves needed to see this project to its end. Which I desperately want to do.

So, one month left, and perhaps about 25% more of the game to get designed enough for a first playtest draft. I can do it. I just have to shake off this torpor and get designing again. By Dracula’s teeth, I will finish my first full-fledged game.


  1. I think it is something in the air. I just realized that it’s been two months since I’ve blogged. I for one and still here to lend an encouraging word if that helps you get started. I’ve enjoyed the process to date and look forward to reading more soon.


  2. Do it up. Something that works really well for me in finishing a can-only-play-it-with-me first draft is just outlining. Even bullet points with sentence fragments – the important thing is to get all down! I usually have big bold notes to myself like ((WHAT DOES THIS DO??)) and ((DOES THIS MATH WORK)) on certain things, but rather than get sucked into those details I leave them incomplete in order to get the general framework bullet-ed out.

    Hope that helps!


  3. My, my my. You, JJ and I all posted today!

    The spiral is coming back around. The torpor is losing its grip! Let’s ride!

    Tell ya what – you have a playable Vampire scenario ready for GenCon, I’ll have a Lady Blackbird pastiche scenario written up for VAM.


  4. Oh, and by the way … the images you find for these Vampire posts are always cool. But THIS one beats them all!


  5. Mick, I wouldn’t really call mine a post. To use Daniel’s analogy I’m jump-starting my car; but the Wheel of Fortune is on a favorable rise.

    I also second the vote on the pic in this post, awesome. Only Mick’s vampire pic tops it.

    Hey, Mick, what’s this about Lady Blackbird & VAM? What happened to DRYH?


  6. @JJ
    By ‘Lady Blackbird pastiche’ I merely meant I intend to put together a package with a basic overview, a starting situation, some pre-intertwined characters, and a goal and then let the players loose on it. I’m using Fate for the rules, though.


  7. @JJ

    Also, even though your post was an embedded video, it was the fact that YOU posted it that got it in my face almost right away and helped me re-ignite my desire to engage with my hobby life. So for that, I count your post as a legit post. It kicked my torpor in the ‘nads.


  8. @ndp
    That’s kind of the end-result I want to have going to Gen Con: something I can understand enough to run a first playtest, even if it would require a degree in Ancient Languages to decipher by anyone else.

    I’ll be honest, I’m also terrified of getting to that point. It’s a great thing to talk about “my game” when it’s just theoretical; people get excited by possibilities. But once it’s set down, then it’s a thing and things can suck. And as a first draft it probably will suck. And that’s fine, actually, but it doesn’t stop being a terrifying proposition.

    But I’ll get over it. 🙂


  9. As far as the image goes, I just have pretty good Google-Fu. I originally wanted an image of a vampire (Bela Lugosi?) getting up from his coffin, arms crossed over his chest, stiff as a plank and levitating into a standing position. But couldn’t find it, and this one came up and it carried the very same visual image, so here it is. 🙂


  10. @Daniel M. Perez

    You might not get over the terror until like 2 years AFTER the first playtest, for that matter. But you have guides and companions on the journey.

    Wow. I was ALMOST able to resist the temptation to write, “Dude, it BETTER suck! It’s a vampire game!”


  11. I feel your pain, Daniel. I am struggling to finish key aspects of my game to reach Beta before my 2nd kid pops out (late August).

    One day, everything is great. The next day, I am too tired to deal with it.

    I need to feed on some mortals to get my vigor back.


  12. On the subject of torpor though, I would like to comment about diablerie.

    I think it is kind of bogus that the black tendrils in your aura can be avoided just by dropping into a short torpor. Maybe that was intended and the texts are just unclear, but my impression is that you can diablerize someone (in both oWoD and nWoD) and then drop into a short torpor to cleanse yourself of the taint (especially easy for someone with a high humanity).

    I think you should have to actually play out that time period. Play out running scared from anyone with auspex. Play out trying to keep it a secret. So if you go into torpor, your time period of having black marks in your aura should freeze in time as well.



  13. @Greg Christopher
    It’s a cycle, yes. It’s taking actual work to push myself, but that’s a good thing.

    And re: torpor
    Diablerie never came up in any of my games so I never had to deal with this. But I would rule against torpor acting as an etch-a-sketch for that taint. You go into torpor with that taint? You’re just a sitting duck with a big neon arrow pointing at you.

    In this game I am writing there is no torpor per se, unless the players decide they want it in, in which case they would come up with the rules on how it works by themselves. It isn’t a detail that I am terribly interested in making a core part of the theme I am exploring.


  14. Since WoD is the big setting/game that I always wanted to play but dont have the group to do so, it has never come up in my games either. Because there have been none! 🙂

    However, I am just a couple months away from switching my playtest group over from Serenity/Firefly to WoD to test out my vampire section for Synapse. I cant wait to test out this really cool point-buy system I developed for building a set of vampire abilities.


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