During my long absence from the blog-o-sphere, I had my first real opportunity to play Vampire the Masquerade.
I say first REAL chance because I played once before back in the early 90's but the GM was, how you say...inexperienced. We had a pretty consistent group when I was younger and we usually shuffled DM/GM duties between 3 people (myself included) that way everyone got a chance to play and no one felt they HAD to DM. Anyways, one of the regular "players" found a new game called Vampire that had just come out and he was a huge fan of the genre to begin with. Well, we were all pretty well entrenched in D&D and didn't have time or the inclination to learn a new system so he kindly bought the book and learned the system so he could try running it.
We were all suitably impressed by his dedication because up until that point he had only really been interested in playing and learning the Monster Manuals by heart. In fact, we had been playing with him since early in our high school years (circa '84-85) and he still hadn't fully grasped the D&D rule system, but damn if he didn't know the secret weak spot of every damn monster in the book.
So he got the books, we sat and made up characters. Which, coming from D&D, was quite a difference in character creation. I think this sort of threw us a little because we were used to a little more crunch in our character creation and having something that simple was unusual. But we managed to get through it fairly quickly and the game began. I can't really remember what the adventure consisted of, I just remembered that it lasted a little under 22 minutes before the GM got flustered and frustrated by not having more rules to govern actions and what players could do with their characters. He threw up his hands and said "F*ck it, lets play D&D. Someone else DM." And that was the end of my experience with Vampire and the entire White Wolf system. From then on we saw it as a weak, poorly defined system that didn't really make much sense. "Might as well just act it out and forget the character sheets!" was uttered on more than one occasion.
Present day: I'm with a new gaming group and a couple of them are big fans of the White Wolf system and we had an off week with a couple of regular players missing so I thought it was time to give it another shot. As evidenced in my last post, Pathfinder gets a little TOO crunchy so I thought going back to a very simplistic system might be a fun diversion. I was right in one regard; it was a fun diversion. The GM was very versed on the rule system and he ran the game well, but I started feeling the same way I did before. It still feels a little too simple for my tastes. Not that its a bad system, just not to my tastes. A lot is left up to the GM's discretion and if you don't have a good GM, this could cause problems with consistency. I do like that player's are encouraged to try anything (within reason) and anything seems possible, but sometimes that sort of freedom can cause indecision because inexperienced players don't have any sort of guidance as to what they are capable or allowed to do.
I think overall, I would play the game again, but given a choice, it wouldn't be the top of my list to play. Now, if I could just find a GM willing to run a Call of Cthulhu game. Always wanted to try that system too...