What is it and why did I originally buy it?

It’s the Vampire Storyteller’s Handbook published for the revised edition of Vampire: The Masquerade which came out at the turn of the Millennium.  It contains valuable essays on how to be Storyteller, rules and backgrounds for lesser known vampire bloodlines, guidelines for alternate setting, and, oh yes, more on how to be a Storyteller.

Why did I sell it? 

Because I was stupid, and broke, and desperate for some grocery money.

It ended up on The Used Book Store Pile along with Vampire: The Masquerade Revised Edition, the Guide to the Sabbat, and the Guide to the Camarilla. I regret selling each of these books. Although I would never run a Vampire: The Masquerade, these books were a part of my evolution as a gamer and a writer.

The Vampire Storyteller’s Handbook was the diamond among these gems, and I missed it the most.

Why? Because it contains some of the most down-to-earth advice on running roleplaying games, I’ve ever read, not just Vampire. And a lot this can be carried over into writing fiction.

Take a look at Chapter Three: The Storyteller’s Craft where learn the following:

  • There is no such thing as game balance in an RPG.
  • The rules cannot protect you from the Storyteller or other players.
  • There can be competition–and betrayal–between characters.
  • Here’s how you tie together Theme, Concept, and Mood.
  • It’s okay for your story to offend, its okay to give your Chronicle, if you so chose, and NC-17 rating and ask your players: Can you handle that? 

And anybody looking for guidance on how to deal with problems players, look no further than Chapter Four: The Troupe. It’s the best advice, ever, on how to the tame the Social Beast when it rears its ugly head in the game.

And it goes far beyond Just Kick’em out!, which is by far the most prevalent suggestion when game masters ask for advice on handling problem players.

There’s levels of behavioral adjustment; most transgressions do not warrant a boot from the game. (Or an attack from the Ethereal Mummy as Gary Gygax suggested in the AD&D DMG).

And sometimes you have the face the harsh reality: maybe all of your players are mooks and you need to fold the game.

In summary:

When I saw this book in good shape at a local used book store, I picked it up with almost a tear in my eye.

All too often in the hobby of games, people lose sight of that fact — they forget that the games are pastimes meant to be enjoyed rather than argued over. In fact, to hear some people talk at the game shops or on the Internet, the argument is the be-all and end-all of the game. For them, perhaps it is. But for the less bellicose among us, would would to well to remember that we get from the game what we put into it. As Shakespeare said, “the play’s the thing,” and no where is this more true than in games which the “play” (if we may reinterpret the Bard’s words a bit) is the whole purpose of coming together for an evening’s storytelling. –Page 7.

I don’t know if my younger self appreciated those words as much as my older self does now.

So Thank You: Bruce Baugh, Anne Sullivan Braidwood, Deird’re Brooks, Geoffrey Grabowski, Clayton Oliver, Sven Skoog, and everybody else who contributed to the creation of such a wonderful book.

It’s now on my shelf again.