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Kickstarting Vampire: The Masquerade – Chapters

Vampire: The Masquerade – Chapters is the forthcoming game by Flyos Games.  Intended to translate the White Wolf roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade into a board game, Chapters will be a story-driven game where players take on the role of a coterie of vampires, tasked with investigating the former Sabbat territory of Montreal.

It would be fair to say that the World of Darkness is becoming a shared world, as Chapters will feature Mr Damp, one of the main protagonists from Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, with players able to take on role of this powerful vampire during a specific scenario in Chapters.

With the Kickstarter for their board game due to launch on Tuesday 4th February 2020, I spoke to Flyos Games about how they adapted the roleplaying game and what is so appealing about Vampire: The Masquerade.

There seems to be a lot of love for Vampire: The Masquerade at the moment.

It’s amazing to see how much the community cares about this. It’s kind of crazy. We already have over 3,000 people subscribed to our newsletter, just to be aware and reminded when the game is on Kickstarter.

As you will see on the Kickstarter, the game is expensive, because it’s 250,000 words. There are eight writers and four illustrators. There are a lot of funds that we need to raise to be able to pay these experts in illustration and writing rules.

We think it’s going to be able to raise the amount that we need to make sure that we can give the quality we want with no compromise.

Has Chapters changed from how you initially conceived it?

The idea has remained the same. I think that’s why there’s so many people backing this project.  We are Vampire: The Masquerade fans.  It’s a game we’ve been playing for more than fifteen years.  The idea was that we want to play more, but we can’t, because of kids, jobs, sickness or snow.

Every single week, we were supposed to get together to play Vampire: The Masquerade, but we couldn’t, because life gets in the way.  So, we had this crazy idea…  Imagine you if could play an RPG with no games master – an RPG in a box, that you can play alone or with up to three friends – to create a Vampire: The Masquerade RPG experience, but in a board game setting.  You have the freedom of choice and role playing of the tabletop RPG that we love, but with the mechanisms of a board game.

As we’ve already made two board games, we knew how to make this happen. We have experience in translation, production, crowdfunding, pledge management and deliveries. We have the network of support that we need to make this project happen.

There will be more than forty scenarios and every step of the way we have involved the community. For example, in our Facebook group we asked what our next Ministry character should look like and we made a contest out of it. We had a lucky winner and made a playable character based on their feedback.  What was really surprising is how much support and trust we had on this.  It’s mesmerising and humbling.

Chapters reminds me of Mansions of Madness. Did you ever consider using an app?

We already had an experience with apps, with Until Daylight, our second game.  It is something we want to do.  We like them, it is just the cost of developing an app is tremendous. There was confusion when we launched Until Daylight, as people thought it was video game, or that the app was mandatory.

If an app happens, it is going to be a stretch goal. We’ll see we what the community really wants and we will consider it.

People sometimes play board games just to unplug. Technology is everywhere and sometimes you just want to shut it off.

It’s nice to have an option, if we can afford it.  It is in our plan, but it is definitely not our main focus.

So, you are focusing on getting the main game done?

The game needs $250,000 to be successful.  This will be going into just creating the game. There is a team of fifteen people behind it, and there is still a lot of work. The stretch goals are here to actually enhance the overall experience. For example, we have already eleven playable characters in the game, but there’s also three exclusive miniatures coming when you back on Kickstarter.

There is this market, in Kickstarters, for people that want miniatures all the time. That makes sense because it’s so much fun to paint them and use them, especially in something like Chapters.

With these miniatures, what we want is a cinematic experience, where you can close your eyes and you’re in a specific place you’re doing a specific move, and you have this miniature that is actually something genuine and realistic.

As for the stretch goals, what we want to do before anything else, is make the game we want to make – the core that we need and that we not going to compromise on.  This stretch goals are the wiggle room.  We do not want you know to give a skeleton version of the game and fake stretch goals that was the game we wanted to create all along.

What about side-quests?

Stretch goals are basically side quests and are not part of the main storyline, but they’re nice to have. For example, there is trouble in the sewers, where you can investigate what’s happening after a specific event with a Werewolf; that is a Kickstarter exclusive.

There are also important non player characters (NPCs) that we can miniaturise, such as the Prince or Sheriff, you will encounter as standees, but we can make them as miniatures for the stretch goal.

It is an expensive game, but it is going to weigh close to twenty pounds. It’s a huge box and it’s going to take a year to play it.  Since the setup takes 10 minutes, you can play a quick scenario alone for 30 minutes.

You can play different scenarios that you have unlocked differently to the first time and you can finish the scenario in a different way and can finish the campaign in a different way as well. The replayability of it is amazing.

How long does it take to play a typical scenario?

That will depend upon the number of players you have.  What we say is basically one scenario is 30 minutes per player.  If you’re rushing through, it’s going take less time than if you’re playing with other players.

Do you have any kind of sort of an ideal situation for playing chapters?

The base idea of the game was; “I want to play more and whenever I want.”

You can play solo, that’s definitely one of the best things. You are playing coterie of vampires. You can tag along and bring someone from your coterie to help you out in specific situation. Imagine you like playing a Toreador, who is very good with presence, but then something happens and you want to have someone who uses their fists, so you can bring along your Brujah or Gangrel.

Two or three players are the average in the board game industry and that’s why we went to four players maximum, as the difficulty level is going to scale with the number of players.  Four people is the maximum you can play and you can have so much strategy.

The character sheet is pre-set and the tutorials will explain how to play it.  After each scenario, you’re going to receive some experience points. You will be able to change them over the course of the game.  It’s a roleplaying game and you can do whatever you want.

With four players you’re going to be able to make the combat and the dialogue situation as good as anyone can get and rely on other players’ skills and expertise, so it’s really up to you.

As Chapters is a co-op game, do the individual characters have specific goals that they need to achieve?

There are no goals for specific vampires. The thing is, it’s a Vampire: The Masquerade game, so there will be some opportunities to do something dirty.  Ultimately, you are a coterie investigating something very dark in Montreal.

Montreal is a city that has been under Sabbat influence for a hundred years. They’re gone, having been killed by the second Inquisition, but it doesn’t mean that their presence and influence is completely gone.  There are a lot of things going on and there’s a lot of secrets and lore to discover.

You are functioning as a coterie, not just as a Ventrue or a Toreador. In specific combat or dialogue situation, there will sometime be options only available to specific clans, or if they have certain skills, they can unlock other options.

We want to encourage people to go and play the roleplay part of it.

How easy was it to translate the disciplines into Chapters?

It was one of the most exhilarating moments, because we were able to make it as part of a gameplay mechanism into our game.  It was making so much sense, that from the beginning we were thinking of renaming every single point of the disciplines, as it was not exactly adapted from a specific edition, it was just adapted to the board game aspect of it.

When Paradox Interactive saw everything, they said let’s just put the real name on it, because all the fans will be so thrilled to see that. We’ve looked at it and it was like making so much sense that we uploaded it to our Facebook group so everyone could see.

One thing that stood out to me was the setup time is only 10 minutes. How did you cut down that time?

When we created Until Daylight, we’d made a lot of add-ons.  One of the backers asked if we can put all the add-ons inside the core box.  As the play mats were a little bit bigger and the card holder was too high, we had to change the size of the box so everything could be put in the core box. We loved it; it was way easier for transportation.

People do not like to have a core box on their shelf of board games, and then some add-ons here and there. They want to have everything at once. That was such a user-friendly experience that we’ve decided to make it happen in Chapters.

Everything is already lined up and organised.  For example; every scenario is going to have a number on it, so you don’t need to get all the cards with that number. It’s a booklet and its done. It’s one tile, sometimes two, but you set it up, you use your miniatures and then you put it back, and that’s pretty much it.

As we’ve made the organisation of the box already included, it is going to be so much easier to set and put back.

What’s the timeline afterwards?

After it has successfully kickstarted, we start the writing of it.  We have more than eight writers, including some guests of honour.  We have Matthew Dawkins, as well as a writer from Succubus Publishing to write on the game.  We have a lot of writers that are ready to jump on this and what we need is the funds to make it special

It’s amazing how close we are to making this work. We’re working sixteen-hour days, six days a week.  It’s nonstop. Sometimes we receive emails at 4.00am, and we cannot stop because it’s such good news. We’re endorsed by Modiphius, Onyx Path and Bloodlines 2.  Everyone is behind us.

At the end of the day, we’re fans of Vampire: The Masquerade and we have the chance to see its rebirth.

When is the expected release date for Chapters?

It’s going to be in 2021. There’s going to be six months writing. We also want to translate it as much as possible to other languages, as translation roughly costs $20,000.

We discovered that Brazil has an amazing community, who are very close to Vampire and the World of Darkness, they have a Facebook group with more than 15,000 members. There are a lot of Italians that want it, as well Germans. If we can afford it, for every single 1500 backers, we will start the translation.

Even if we had more languages, it’s not going to slow the production or delivery. We’re thinking close to July 2021.  That is a conservative deadline.  We were two months late on Until Daylight, and we were very transparent on this.

We’re going to be very transparent and include the community in every step of the process.

Finally, why did you call it Chapters?

Vampire: The Masquerade – Chapters is a chapter.  The first chapter is Montreal.  What we want from Montreal is a bridge between the roleplaying and board games community, it has to be easy to play, but hard to master.  Later on, we’re going to have Chapters 2…

So there will be a sequel?

Of course there’s going to be a sequel, because the second chapter in a book comes after the first one, right?

Chapters 2 is way down the line. It’s in five years, but yes, that is our plan. We want to take our time, as we do not want to rush things because we are excited. Storyline is very important for us, as good storytelling makes a whole difference, especially in a story-driven board game. We want to make it right.

The Kickstarter for Vampire: The Masquerade – Chapters can be found here.

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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