Getting Sources and Inspiration to Play Vampire: The Requiem
Vampires have been part of people’s storytelling traditions for hundreds of years. Vampire obviously concerns itself with the gothic tradition and a familiar modern setting, so certain sources are more influential than others. Some titles listed in this article don’t necessarily feature vampires but are thematically or dramatically suitable for consideration.
Looking to fiction for information
The following works of fiction are helpful as sources of information for your game:
- The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. One of modern fiction’s most popular entries in the vampire genre, these books are probably more widely read than their seminal forerunners. The first three titles in the series are the most suitable for Vampire, as later books in the series grow more epic in scale and more involved with the stranger fringes of the supernatural world.
- Dracula by Bram Stoker. This is the one that started it all, drawing on real-world history and eastern European lore to make the vampire a contemporary monster.
- “The Vampyre” by John Polidori. This short story arguably marked the first modern usage of the vampire as a sentient creature (as previous incarnations of vampires were little more than blood-drinking corpses). Possibly homoerotic, this story came out of a group of friends that included Lord Byron (upon whom the Vampyre, Lord Ruthven, is modeled), Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley, who made no small contributions to the gothic and romantic movements themselves.
- “Carmilla” by J. Sheridan LeFanu. A wonderful example of the idea of vampires hiding among their prey, Carmilla (or Millarca, or…) moved in and out of the lives of her prey, coming back and reinventing herself as their memories left her depredations behind. “Carmilla” has sexual overtones in the same manner as Polidori’s “The Vampyre,” further establishing the vampire as a sensual metaphor.
The following works may also help inspire a mood for your game:
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
- Trainspotting and Filth by Irvine Welsh
- The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
- The Unburied by Charles Palliser
- The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Following movies that matter
The following movies may provide both information and mood elements for your game:
- Nosferatu, either the original F. N. Murnau version featuring Max Schreck or the Werner Herzog version featuring Klaus Kinski. For weird, unsettling vampires with their own strangeness and derangement, you can’t beat the tale of Count Orlock.
- Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. Speaking of weirdness, this movie depicts the filming of the original Nosferatu, calling many elements of the production into question. Was the movie cursed? Did the supernatural really plague the crew? Was Schreck really a vampire himself?
- The Lost Boys starring Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, and Corey Feldman. While it occasionally lapses into lampoon and camp, this is a horror movie at heart, especially in regard to its treatment of vampires. It almost single-handedly establishes the modern vampire as a hip, cool, and counterculture icon, much like the rebels and antiheroes of the Romantic Movement.
- Near Dark starring Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton. Want to be scared by vampires whose actions have no moral accountability? See this movie.
- The Hunger starring Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. Bringing the vampire-as-sexual-metaphor notion to the big screen, this is one of the most sensual vampire movies ever made. It also opens with a cameo performance by Bauhaus, for those who like a bit of musical counterculture with their film.
- The film adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, deserves mention, as does Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, but both works are mentioned in the fiction section.
To gain further insight into the personal politics and corruption typical among vampires, check out these movies: Dangerous Liaisons, Blade Runner, Mulholland Drive, The Manchurian Candidate, The Sixth Sense, Croupier, Casablanca, and Amadeus.
Listening to vampire-style music
It gets touchy here: So many bands that are popular at any given moment vanish without a trace shortly after their popularity peaks. As such, we’ll just touch on a few musical genres and discuss their applicability, listing a few key performers and composers.
- Classical: Any elder who has spent over a century among the undead probably has a greater knowledge of classical musical than popular music. With its intricate arrangements of instruments and careful composition, classical music is the archetypal sound of both refinement and conspiracy spanning centuries. As you might expect, requiems are excellent examples of these types of music. Recommended composers include Beethoven, Bach, Dvorak, and Mozart.
- Punk: Punk’s original sound rose out of a desire to rebel against the status quo and be seen and heard doing it. While punk hasn’t aged particularly gracefully, it has at least retained its hokey pop sensibilities, losing only the irony of such accessibility. Punk bands not to miss include the Sex Pistols, the Damned, the Misfits, and Black Flag.
- Goth: It doesn’t get any more vampiric. Lyrics about bats, blood, and vampires flirt with religious, pagan, or even blasphemous overtones, all put up against a bombastic wall of sound that’s heavy on percussion and discordant guitars. Key goth bands (even though many of them deny it) include the Sisters of Mercy, This Mortal Coil, Faith and the Muse, Switchblade Symphony, and Bauhaus.
- Hey, who are we to tell you what music to listen to? No doubt you have your own musical tastes and your own ideas for using a certain song to highlight your Vampire experiences. You don’t even need to confine yourself to “vampire music.” For you, a certain Johnny Cash or Public Enemy song might suit a certain story or chronicle far better than Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” ever could.