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Kind of a slow week on Cinemechanix playtest front. I’ve got the Hobomancer sample game almost finished and will hopefully be posting it next week, but otherwise there’s not much going on right now, so I’m going to take a break from the design journal this week and talk about cyberpunk vampires. I’ve been watching True Blood, because apparently I want to be reminded of every World of Darkness game ever played, so I know why I’ve got vampires on the brain. Not sure where the cyberpunk part of it came from.
As you probably know, your classic cyberpunk stories usually have different subcultures who add hardware and get genetic modifications as a fashion statement. There’s usually a vampire subculture of people who get retractable fangs and dress up like rejects from a Cure video. Those people are posers. If you really want to be cyberpunk vampire, you need to do some internal work so you can actually sustain yourself on blood. Depending on how many liberties the game takes with science, a vamp who’s had the right mods may be able to live off of any old blood or might have to drink from well-paid blood dolls whose blood has been enhanced so it’s got all the necessary vitamins and minerals and shit. If you want to really sell your vampirism, you can also get some subdermal hologram projectors that make it look like you’re on fire when sunlight hits (without causing any actual damage, of course). It may also be possible to tweak cloaking tech to make you not show up in a mirror without actually making you invisible. Tech that emits a subliminal signal of some kind or drugs in your own blood can mimic vampire mind control (though in the latter case it only works if the person you want to hypnotize drinks your blood first).
Since a stake through the heart will take out normal humans, you can condition yourself to hate garlic, and goths are already put off by most religious symbols, you’ve just got two traditional vampire traits to figure out. Shapeshifting isn’t going to happen without allowing for really crazy technology (though retractable bat wings for that Santanico Pandemonium look might be doable), so let’s focus on the ability to create progeny. All that requires is some very genre-appropriate exploitation of the less fortunate. Just use daddy’s money to dangle some cool mods in the faces of people who can’t afford them but want to be part of the vampire crowd. The progeny probably don’t get the full vamp package of course, but they get enough to get past the bouncer. The fine print in the agreement also provides for something to keep them in line. The cheap version is just a brain bomb that the sire can set off, but depending on the tech it could as complicated as something that allows the sire to remotely access the progeny’s sensory organs and override their brain, basically turning the progeny into a puppet.
When the sires get a little older, most of them probably outgrow wallowing in the unbearable angst of their privileged lives, just like goths in the real world. They reverse and remove all the mods and get day jobs, take over the family business, start their own fashion line, or whatever respectable young elites do in the dystopian future. The progeny, meanwhile, still have their fangs and technological leashes and can be called upon by their now-upright citizen masters whenever they’re needed. There are probably some who never outgrow their vampire stage and start their own vampiric conspiracy, secret society, or corporation, complete with Byzantine organizational structures, political intrigue, and terrible accents. If they can stop LARPing long enough, they might evolve into a potential employer or enemy of the PC group.
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