Ever picked up a game and thought 'How do I run this game?' What is the first thing you do? Yes you read the setting material. You read the rules. You read the small short stories and the examples of play. And of course, if it is included, you watch films, read books and listen to music that are quoted as being inspiration for the game.
So recently, in a very lengthy online discussion on forum (so yes it did get a little bitchy) I was confronted with problem. A person wanting to run Vampire: the Requiem, and his players, dislike the setting of the game because they found the Covenants too shallow, and that there was no 'ancient enemy', like in Masquerade, and that the exploration of what it means to be a Vampire was too boring (or too emo). What he, and his players wanted, was an in built purpose (i.e. I am this type of monster and this is what I do) more akin to say Hunter: the Vigil, or even the Forsaken in Werewolf: the Forsaken. He wanted clearly designed goals for the players, and in his terms, quests. In turned out he and his players wanted their game to be more like the PC game, Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines.
So I sat back and had a think about this, how he could play a game within the Requiem setting that also gave him and his players what they wanted. And what I realized is this. Some STs are really quite lazy and unimaginative. All the things present in Masquerade were easily simulated in Requiem. In fact you know had books that presented you a multitude of options that you could use. It was up to the ST and not White Wolf, to say what was fact, what was history and what was just a myth. The complaint this ST had was that he was not given a consistent origin for Vampires.
You see, as stated in a recent White Wolf pod cast, Requiem replicates somewhat the experience of vampires in 'Interview with the Vampire'. The vampires are not gods, they have to fear humans, and they have no true clue as to their origin. Using this in a game, where the players and the NPCs are all for all intents and purposes immortal is important. It means myths and legends remain so. And that Vampires, due to the imperfect memories they retain by sleeping through the ages, have to rely on faith for their beliefs and codes of conduct. It means younger Vampires do not have to taken an elders beliefs as fact. This to me is exciting and means it is up to the players and ST to come to their own conclusions. Requiem is thus built on contradictions so that conflict arises due to conflicts of faith/belief/philosophy. And all of this is important to Vampires, as it up to them to believe what they want so that they can better understand their own place in the world and reconcile their monsterous nature. But, with such tropes so common in Vampire media, why is this such an issue? What was this ST and has players wanting from a game about Vampires? Ah, cool powers, things more darker than the player characters to kill, and some sort of higher calling. They wanted to be dark heroes.
This left me wondering. Is it bad to think that people are really not running the game as intended by the designers. Now, you can say, and this is fair, that players can run the game the way they like it. It's their game after all. But when you run a game that is so against the grain of the game as it is designed, where many of the important issues of the setting and systems that reinforce those, are made moot by the 'collateral damage' attitude taken in the game, why even bother using that game to run what you want. Why not find something that caters for the action you seek but simulates the Vampires in a more action orientated way. Hell just play Masquerade if you want ancient evils, and forget about whining how Requiem does not have that in the setting. And if that is still not enough why not just make the modifications to the game yourself. All the tools and ideas are there. And failing that do your own research and make up your own setting material.
I often feel like those that complain the most about the game are those who are too lazy to put in the hard work to make the game their own.