First Bite, Second Birth: A Contemporary Vampire Digital Larp Experience

Newly turned vampire characters connect with each other via digital conferencing and explore their nascent empowerment in a live action experience. This is an empowerment larp. The goal: to subvert the powerlessness participants feel in real life.

This is an experience that plays close to home with participants’ own experiences, marginalizations, and fears. Enacted with an emphasis on safety before story, First Bite, Second Birth deliberately explores paths to empowerment and the means to become empowered.

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vampire digital larp

Overview & Logistics

While this larp may be therapeutic and cathartic, it is not therapy. We advise you to use private and community therapy resources for further explorations of these themes.

Each run of First Bite, Second Birth has three sessions, running two to three hours each, but we expect to take the full three hours more often than not. This experience makes full use of the  time for focus on safety and debriefing compared to some of our other digital larps.

In this setting, how a character was turned – as well as whether that character sought it or consented – is entirely up to the players. We will not spring details on you regarding your turning (unless you request it) nor will you be paired with anyone unwilling. Character surveys and precise consent negotiation and safety methods account for the potential appearance of difficult subject matter.

Like most digital larps by The Geek Initiative, this larp is a continuity experience, meaning characters and events in all sessions will affect each other. Depending on scheduling availability and the amount of open slots in each session, players (as their characters) will get the opportunity to “log in” to other runs, creating crossover scenarios, subplots, and enhanced interaction.

This larp follows TGI’s safety, consent, and inclusion policies.

It is a digital larp.

Note: This larp does not rely upon or accept copyrighted vampire types, including other vampire-related role playing games or movie, book, and TV franchises. You are not permitted to play non-original or copyrighted characters. This is a freeform larp and each vampire may have different abilities based upon player preference. We are playing new vampires and the power structures we focus on are systemic mortal power structures and subverting them.

Out of game, we often refer to each other as “they” if unsure of pronouns. If you have other pronouns, please feel free to share them. We use this in game as well. It takes some time to adapt to this, but it’s the most inclusive and immersive way to play together and refer to each other.

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First, An Introduction

What did the moon mean to you? As a mortal woman or trans man, maybe it meant a cycle of blood you were conditioned to be ashamed of. As a black American, perhaps it meant an escape to freedom for your ancestors. As a victim of abuse or neglect, perhaps it represented the only constancy you’ve ever known. As a gay person, the moon let you travel a safe path into your community’s club. As someone who lost your lover to injustice, maybe it was the last thing you saw before your rage.

the moon. credit: https://pixabay.com/en/night-landscape-tree-fairy-tale-2539411/

As vampire, it still means those things – but now you have the power, and a lack of fear – as long as you let yourself. Are you scared of group of men in an unlit alley at night, or a cop pulling you over in a car? Does that fear leave you when you know your power, on an individual level, is greater? Or is it so systemic that it will cling to you like the breath of your oppressor, hunting the fear down your neck?

What did the darkness mean to you?

Were you the prey? Was it a place to hide from the truths you couldn’t reveal in the day?

Now the meaning of night has changed.

Darkness isn’t badness.

It’s the time of power for you.

This evening, you awoke to a world of possibility.

Once powerless, you now have power.

Once mortal, you are now Nouvelle Vie – a new vampire with new life.  

Once a creature of the day, you are now emboldened by the night.

Who turned you? Will you defy them?

And you aren’t alone. Like you, several other vampires have been turned today.

 

Second: The Gameplay

Night One: Your Awakening

You have awoken alone in a room – maybe your own, maybe somewhere unfamiliar – with a video intended to acclimate you to your new life. You have a computer terminal, and a single link exists there. Click on it, and this is what you find: no older vampires, but others, just like you, who have been recently turned. As you begin, there is no one there to guide you. It’s just you and other new vampires, struggling to figure out your powers. Sometimes, you’ll learn, your powers are unique to your experience.

One hour after you connect to the others, you all begin to feel something both foreign and fresh. It’s a deep, primal urge – the pit of hunger. If you ever had to go hungry as a human, you’re familiar with it, but the intensity of this is like nothing a human could ever know. You crave blood. Perhaps you find a bottle of it near, or the body of an unknown victim (will you drink?) Maybe you have nothing. It’s up to you to cope with it, to deal with it; to begin to understand this vampiric need.

Dawn comes, and it’s time to rest.

Night Two: Afterlife

Next session, you get an after-lifeline. A Seniorem vampire (who may have turned one or two of you) joins your little video conference. Maybe you have questions; rage; hate; fascination.

Night Three: Decide Before Dawn

And lastly, you’ll face a choice. Where will you go with this newfound power, and what will you do? What kind of relationships have you formed with the other new vampires?

Character Types

The Geek Initiative offers three ticket types for First Bite, Second Birth:

  • A new vampire / Nouvelle Vie ticket: 3 sessions as a new vampire.
  • An old vampire / Seniorem ticket (usually one available per run): 1-2 sessions as an important vampire who’s been around awhile. For plot and continuity reasons, this ticket type may be limited, depending on the run.
  • An accessibility ticket (one per run): for players who have difficulty accessing larp for any reason, including financial. This player may choose to play either type of vampire (some runs may have two Seniorem).

Third: Vampire Digital Larp Makeup, Costuming, and Practical Details

All vampires in this event come from contemporary times. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eschew fashions of bygone eras – you just need to have a really good reason for wearing them. Maybe you were dressed up as a princess to host a children’s birthday party (no copyrighted characters, please); perhaps you were at a goth club, larping, or trying on a Halloween costume. If you want to try something different but contemporary, consider something fun, comfortable, or unusual, like pajamas (you were getting ready to go to bed), bachelorette party gear, or maybe even activist gear. Other ideas include:

  • College student after first day of classes for the semester
  • Dance student dressed for a recital
  • Athlete geared up for play
  • A hospital patient in a robe

We want you to do what is most exciting and comfortable for you. If you’re looking for a larp you can do in your pajamas, this is it. If you want to dress up for something, you can do that, too. Feel free to start with something that makes you feel comfortable or empowered, and work on your reason for it from there. If you want help, just reach out and ask!

Costuming restrictions: No skin darkening or black face. Regardless of your skin tone, making your skin pale or grey-toned (according to your preferences and what you feel like you would look like as a vampire) is welcomed, but no one is required to lighten their face to play this game or portray a vampire, nor does “lighter skin” represent improved age, power, or status in any way. We ask for some representation of your vampirism; instead of changing your skin tone, you could paint darker veins, wear fangs, or used contacts with unnatural color. Please focus on what makes you comfortable and what is accessible to you.

We require sensitivity in portrayal. Note that this larp is designed to empower players and characters by portraying someone who was once powerless — but is now powerful. As a result, we’re creating characters together – characters who have experienced racism, homophobia, sexism, or a feeling of powerlessness or loss of control due to addiction, chronic pain, and other very real ailments. We ask for sensitivity and understanding in that many players are playing close to home here. We encourage players to consider exploring their own feelings of marginalization and powerlessness. Those wishing to explore struggles other than their own must think hard about this decision, perform precise research, and proceed with extreme empathy. You will not need to justify anything you want to play, but playing another’s experience is extremely sensitive subject matter when it comes to marginalization. Participation means understanding and acknowledging this point.

Verbal and symbolic restrictions: Derogatory language and symbols of any kind are prohibited. You cannot ‘play an anti-Semitic character who wears a swastika.’ You will be immediately ejected and banned with no refund. Marginalized players wishing to play empowerment scenes may do so, but some scenes may require a content warning for other players. An example: two players have consented to playing out a competitive brother-sister relationship in which sexism was involved. They decide that the woman vampire is more powerful than the male character, and the player wishes to play out her empowerment arc through the exploration of this in reaction to a sexist comment from her brother, changing the power dynamic in their family. In this case, all participants would receive a content warning about potential sexist language, and as a group we would determine limits on this language.

Seniorem vampire restrictions: There will be Seniorem vampires in this game – vampires who turned the younger vampires. These characters may be from many points in history. We request that the players of Seniorem vampires choose eras with sensitivity. Some characters will not be approved, such as Nazis, Confederate Generals, etc. This experience focuses on empowerment for the Nouvelle Vie and their players. Seniorem vampire characters may not prohibit the empowerment for these players by virtue of their historical significance.

We will permit certain characters who want to ‘do better,’ especially if it reflects your real-world attitude. for example, a new vampire who used to be a corrupt police officer. However, such a character would not be permitted to make violent overtures towards a black participant/character. Always consider real life contemporary context.

What do you need?

The setup is simple:

  • Computer with headset or mic (must have a setup that eliminates feedback)
  • Private space in which to participate
  • Ability to connect to Google Hangouts
  • Access to Facebook messenger

 

Glossary

  • Awakening: The moment at which you wake, fully becoming vampire.
  • Seniorem: A vampire who has ‘parented’ or turned other vampires, regardless of how long they have been a vampire themselves.
  • Nouvelle Vie (noo-vell vee; French): A newly turned vampire, whether willing or forced.

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Got Questions? Our Community Can Help!

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Sources & Works Consulted

Credits

First Bite, Second Birth: A Contemporary Vampire Digital Larp Experience

  • Game Designer, Writer, Marketer, and Facilitator: Tara M. Clapper, The Geek Initiative
  • Sensitivity Consultant: Adam Underwood
  • Editor and Assistant: Shayna Cook
  • Vampire Consultants: Alexa Wayne and Stefan C.
  • Translation Assistance (French): Alexa Wayne
  • Blood Type Mechanic and Effects: Stefan C.
  • Feedback and Promotional Assistance: Shayna Cook, Lizzie Butts, Micah Holt
  • Special Thanks for Your Support and Encouragement: Maury Brown, Jessica Karels, Jess Prime, Karin Edman, Evan Michaels, Chris Batarlis, Terry Crew, Manny Hishmeh, Steve Uyeda, JodyLee Duek, Josh Heath, Joe Hines, Ryan Hart, Adam Hulse, Sharon Underberg, Michele Mountain, Marshall Bradshaw, and Kevin and Kelly Phillips.