A creaking hunter among dust and cobwebs, you prowl the night places, seeking the souls on which you feed. You have done this since time immemorial, or so you believe; you have no memories of living as a man-thing like those you catch and eat. But human traces linger; your fingers trace clever arabesques in the dirt of your grave-place and with the flourishes come whispered songs in a language you've forgotten. Far away, in a museum, hangs your portrait in oil by a master five hundred years dead--you might have been lovers but the diary you kept then is long lost.
You walk among the people and smile their smiles, setting them at ease so you may lure them into lonely places. Subway tunnels replace the midnight moors, online chat boards have replaced royal assignations. But the political climate here is changing; an authoritarian regime and their insistence on identification papers means that soon you will move on. You remembered liking Constantinople—what do they call it now?...
In Thousand Year Old Vampire you chronicle the many centuries of a vampire’s existence, beginning with the loss of mortality and ending with inevitable destruction. Prompt-driven play and simple resource tracking provide easy rules for exploring your character’s human failings, villainous acts, and surprising victories. Expect gut-churning decisions and irreconcilable acts.
The game mechanics are simple and intuitive. Play progresses semi-randomly through a book of Prompts which let you explore your vampire’s wants and needs, resolve problems, and chart the decline into senescence. Play can happen entirely within the character sheet or can become a journaling activity--both work equally well.
Vampires, for the purposes of this game, can mean nearly anything that is functionally immortal, doesn't like daylight, and preys on humans for sustenance. I like Montague Summers-type vampires myself, but this system is designed to be flexible.
All you need is the book or PDF, a d10 and d6 are recommended but optional. This is a solo game for you to play in lonely places wrapped in darkness, but can be played multiplayer if you like. Play can take from one to three hours, depending on how you go about things.
Your vampire is made of four Traits: Memories, Resources, Skills, and Marks.
Resources and Skills are used when resolving Prompts and Prompts in turn create more Resources and Skills. Using a Skill makes it part of your vampire’s being; there may be Skills you won’t wish the vampire to ever use—and it will break your heart when the Vampire uses them against your will. Marks are the scars and quirks that the centuries have pressed into your vampire; these determine how the mortals recognize you.
Memories are the core of the game. You have up to five Memories, and each Memory is made up of up to three related Experiences. Experiences are created every time you resolve a Prompt; as many lifetimes slide by you begin to forget as you have too many Memories to hold. Some extra Memories can be fit into a Diary, but this Diary, too, will fill up and, worse yet, it can be lost forever with all it held.
Memories begin with your name, your relations, and the land and circumstances of your mortal life. They are Memories of love and strife and labor, and how you were turned into a vampire. Most of these Memories will be forgotten in the millennia to come. Sacrifices will be made to retain what little you can. And regardless of your effort, these oldest Memories still corrupt and change…
The mechanics of Experiences and Memories are heavily influenced by my years playing Burning Wheel and honing my skills at writing productive Beliefs. Also influential are Jared Sorensen’s and Luke Crane’s Freemarket, a game in which players can change or experience each other’s memories in a fantastic mechanic I never really got to properly explore. Thousand Year Old Vampire plays nothing at all like either of these wonderful games, but just rifles them for their jewels and then disappears into the night.
The Prompts are a mix of events which affect your vampire--questions that let us learn about the character and their world, and moments where the vampire pushes back at player control by doing terrible things. The Prompts are flexible enough that a vampire can be created with any background.
Prompts use a tiered progression system and a semi-random selection method. With hundreds of Prompt entries of varying levels of rarity, the game can be replayed many times. There are no spoilers with this game.
There are two ways to play a game of Thousand Year Old Vampire: the Quick Method or by Journaling. In a Quick game you simply maintain a character sheet for your vampire, writing down Experiences and tracking Traits. In a Journaling game you keep an in-character diary, writing longer responses to the Prompts. Play to your taste.
A brave player might write their journal entries right in the game book.
Reviews and Interviews and Play-throughs
Just got a super nice bit on Shut Up and Sit Down. They are indirectly responsible for my getting hooked on Flamme Rouge, so be careful.
Five or So Questions on Thousand Year Old Vampire, a thorough interview with Brie Sheldon at Thoughty.
A Thousand Year Old Vampire Arises on Kickstarter, an in-depth interview with Sean Hillman at EN World.
Thank you all for the time and attention you've given my game!
Rewards, Goals, and Timelines: What you get and when
Book-level Backers will receive a 8.5" x 5.5," 100+ (prob. 130) page, full-color hardback game book. This book is going to be the most perfect realization of my vision for the project. All the Kickstarter money is going toward an editor and sensitivity pass, printing, and shipping costs--everything else is already taken care of.
The book is going to be a traditional offset-type print run producing a full bells-and-whistles beautiful hardback. There will be gold foil, embossing, and hopefully bookmark ribbons. It might have a dustjacket but probably not (retailers don't like dustjackets).
This is going to be a handsome book that does its darndest to be ancient and mysterious.
Included in the appendices we might find: Alternate Prompts, designer notes and material to help understand the intentions of the game, thank you's, play examples, suggestions for safe and fruitful play, and multiplayer rules.
I will start offering stretch goals which increase accessibility. That would mean donating copies to collecting institutions, discount tiers for fixed- and low-income backers, and possibly a limited softcover POD print run to be donated to a prison book distributor.
The shipping goal is July 14. That's a very, very padded shipping date but after the delays with my last Kickstarter I am taking no chances. It's my intention that this will be sent to the printer before January 1, come heck or high water.
And I'm keeping the book cheap because I want folks to have it.
The cover is going to look like a well-traveled journal that has been in many book collections and had many adventures. Oh wait, let me show you a mock-up (final will prob have name on front with gold leaf, embossed leather bits, foreign language screw-up fixed):
Backer Reward Levels
Shipping will be free in the US, and discounted everywhere else in the world. Shipping is expensive to the EU, and I'm sorry. Shipping is (almost certainly) direct from US, so be aware of that.
I'm doing my best to keep the rewards simple. I want you to get an awesome book with free shipping. I think we can all agree that this is a commendable goal.
The Book and Butterfly Backer Level is your chance to get a copy of Revised You're a Fucking Butterfly. What is this?, you ask. Well, according to the back of the booklet "You're a Fucking Butterfly is a larp for 10-52 players. You will swear, berate, and bluster your way around the meadow. These ferocious butterflies take no shit from no one as they seek the perfect mate with whom to tear this joint down."
More specifically, you're getting a 12 page, hand-cut, butterfly-shaped booklet with a swear word right there on the cover. Colors are random.
The DELUXE Petit Guignol Backer Level needs some pictures:
Yes, this is the tiniest vampire hunting kit you've ever seen. These are made by my pal Amanda Mueller, and these go out to folks who back at the $350 DELUXE level. You can see how adorable they are! About 4" in their longest dimension, these will prove invaluable when your character goes rogue. Note: every piece will be slightly different depending on what boxes and bits Amanda finds, each will still be equally good for tiny vampire slaying.
Petit Guignol, by the way, has become the near unpronounceable shorthand I use for this game system. It's a nod to the "Theater of Blood" movement known as Grand Guignol (large puppet), but I change it to "small puppet" because the space of this game is intimate and maybe happens in the space between my arms.
I should be fulfilling through Blackbox using the Blackbox Survey. There will be a handful of items available for you to add to your order, including:
- Dear Leader + Presidentiapocalypse 2017
- The Complete The Oracle
- The Habitition [sic] of the Stone Giant King
- Apollo 47 playtest pre-release cards
- Everything is Dolphins
- additional copies of Thousand Year Old Vampire
I made this. My name is Tim Hutchings. I am fired up with excitement about this project in a way that I have trouble understanding. I make lots of games and some of them get awards and things, but this is the first game I've felt this great about. It's unnerving to actually feel good about something--how do people handle this?
Part of the excitement of this game is my making it in a different way. It's happening quickly; it's intuitive. The solo play has allowed quick iterations through many playtests. I'm going to quote myself from an interview with Brie Sheldon at Briecs.com:
The game works, and a year of refinement to get it five percent better isn’t worth it. It’s done, and like an artwork it might be slightly flawed but that’s part of the thing itself. I don’t necessarily want an extruded, sanitized perfect thing; instead I have, like an artwork, a piece that becomes a record of its own making. If I work on this game another year it won’t get better, it’ll just get different—2019 Tim will have different priorities than I do right now and all that’s going to happen is that TYOV will torque around to reflect that. I might as well let 2018 Tim have his moment and give 2019 Tim new things to worry over.
I make games that are silly and I make games that are ugly and this game is neither. It's desperate and cocky and horrifying. Every time I play this I have at least one moment where my guts churn and my head swims as I am shocked at how events unfold.
Please let me share this with you.
Risks and challenges
If you've read this far I want to thank you. You're taking this as seriously as I am. High fives.
The goal here is to deliver a quality book on time. My last Kickstarter was for the game Dear Leader and I delivered a quality game, but it was way overdue. Never again, I say, will I be that late. But books are more straightforward. I've delivered three book Kickstarters in the past without serious delay or hiccup.
The risky part of this is that I expect I'll be printing the book in China. There are vagaries inherent in this process. China is far away, things can go wrong. Trade wars erupt; postal contracts are broken. If things look dicey I can always POD here in the US, or if we are very well funded I'd love to actually print the book here offset. I was proud to print my three previous books here but this book is too expensive to make here unless we get into the high backing numbers.
Good communication is a challenge. I dislike receiving endless Kickstarter updates with little or no content in them and I wouldn't wish that on you. However, I pledge to keep backers updated on the progress of the book. And if you are concerned or curious at any point please give me a holler!
- (22 days)