By Annie Tran:
It’s a Friday night, and I find myself on the prowl for vampires, werewolves and other mystical creatures of the night at the Vampire Masquerade. Why, you may ask? Well, that’s what I asked myself too that night.
To learn more about the Vampire Masquerade, a LARPing (live action role play) group based in Mountain View, I shadowed staff member Ralph Lacy, who has been playing for a little over 18 years. “Essentially, what you need to know is that LARPing is basically a more grown up version of Cowboys and Indians with a few darker strains of fun,” he said. “In Vampire Masquerade, this society resides next to ours. As vampires, though, we try to avoid being noticed by humans and really it is more like a political play for power in each individual clan or maybe even control for the whole city itself.” In other words, this LARPing game is like a soap opera with constant drama and action.
Before I continue, I have to admit I did walk in with quite a few prejudices. What was I going to find, a group of 30-year-old virgins? Overexcited pimply teenagers? Nevertheless, I walked in, ready to spend four hours of my Friday night with freaky fake creatures of the night. And, boy, did they give me a shock when I first met them. I was instantly surrounded by a sea of forty or fifty black coats in varying degrees of costumes.
“Hi, I’m Annie. Are you guys the…” “We have found us a feast tonight, clans!” Each player had created a thorough identity, complete with statistics, characteristics, abilities and attributes, all of which was written in small character books. Over my four hours as a vampire, I encountered several in-depth characters ranging from a deranged 16-year-old to a redneck genius, complete with dirty overalls and a flashing moose hat. In reality, both characters were played by people in their late 20s.
When getting down to the nitty gritty and the most basic understanding of the game, a vampire’s goal is to maintain as much of his humanity as possible due to his immortality. In doing so, the players of the game create their own plot lines with each other by communicating through online forums. These plot lines can vary from holding philisophical debates among themselves or full-on battles between the clans.
To feed oneself as a vampire, it would depend on the amount of activity one does as a vampire. In this particular game, feeding would consist of the Prince, the controller of the game, doling out blood beads to the vampires who need it.
To participate in this particular game of LARPing, one can go to masquerade.endo.com. All participants must be of legal consenting age (18 or older) or obtain parental permission to the darker elements of the game.