RPG writer Steffie de Vaan talks about developing Vampire The Masquerade - Fall of London
RPG writer Steffie De Vaan discusses developing Vampire: The Masquerade - Fall of London available to buy for pre-order here and at friendly local game stores.
Co-developing Fall of London was an amazing challenge and opportunity. The chronicle takes place across six sprawling chapters, delves into the Memoriam mechanism (with a twist), and sees the return of many beloved characters—or at least, characters we love to hate which in Vampire: The Masquerade is kinda the same. It also afforded me an opportunity to work closely with my co-developer Matthew Dawkins, which is always a treat.
Fall of London counts six chapters (plus an epilogue and three appendices) written by six different authors, one for each chapter: Klara H. Herbøl, Kira Magrann, Mike Nudd, Andrew Peregrine, Hilary Sklar, and Steffie de Vaan.
Getting all chapters lined up required extensive brainstorming before writing even started (“How are we handling x? Where did you leave situation y?”) and then, after first drafts, redlines. Redlines are the part of the project where the developer edits chapters so they’re all facing the same direction—it’s called redlining because traditionally it’s done in red pen. By definition, a single continuous chronicle across several chapters will require more fine-tuning (and thus more redlines) than stand-alone chapters.
As added difficulty modifier, we were determined to make Fall of London flow as freely as possible, letting Storytellers choose the order of the chapters. We couldn’t just do a hand-off from chapter 1 to 2—chapter 1 needed hand-offs to chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5, and chapter 6 needed to account for all possible paths and options the characters made.
The chronicle comes with a rich cast of Storyteller characters. Some you’ll know—what’s London without Prince Mithras or Queen Anne—but many were newly written by us. They inhabit that perfect Vampire range of “ally two seconds away from throwing me under the bus” to “sworn enemy who’s somehow backing me in a coup” and “elder definitely manipulating me.” They come with their own motivations and try to use the characters for their own gain, but the characters are far from powerless.
The characters are kicking the proverbial hornets’ nest and, depending on their timing and angle, can send the hornets this way or that. That’s something Matthew and I were committed to from the start—make sure the characters’ actions shape the story and the future of London.
In short, a lot of facets needed to come together for this book, and I think we pulled it off. I have the writers’ pool to thank for that. They were amazing about communicating with each other and helping each other out, which is critical on a book of this complexity and size. The characters can go anywhere, do anything (fair warning: some choices might see them in torpor), and side with any Kindred they choose. That’s exactly what makes Fall of London such a stellar chronicle, and I think you’ll enjoy playing (or running) it.
Lastly, someone asked whose side I am on. I am #teamAnne. She is patient, cunning, and absolutely ruthless—such a wonderful character to hate. She’s also not needlessly idealistic, nor does she have a god-complex (yes, Mithras, I am absolutely looking at you). All in all she’s a great character and, as the self-appointed spokesperson for Queen Anne, I can assure you rumors of her practicing Dialerie are patently untrue.
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