A few Sundays ago, I wanted to start another Thousand Year Old Vampire run but I didn’t fancy doing it alone so I dropped a message into my family chat. “Does anyone want to play a writing game with me? It’s about figuring out what a vampire did over their lifetime.” I knew my sister, S1, would join. I doubted my other sister, S2, would join. I hoped my mom would join.
When the time came S1 arrived eager to play, even though she had no idea what was about to happen. I didn’t hear anything from the always busy S2. There was no sign from my mom either, which upset me a bit, so I messaged her privately asking if she had time to join. “I’m not very good at writing and making things up, I dunno,” she said back. I applied about more pressure, as the favorite child, and she joined.
We had a huge amount of fun, and it’s ended up being a Sunday routine of ours that we’ve done for over a month now. S2 even graced us with her presence which has been wonderful.
This was a very novel experience for all three of them. I don’t believe they’ve done any creative writing since being forced to at school – even for the youngest of us, that’s over a decade ago. It was very obvious that they were … resistant to lean into their imagination too much, too quickly.
The most confusing reaction – that cropped up multiple times – was are we allowed to write this? Both my mom and S1 had this reaction at different points, and I wasn’t entirely sure who they thought would stop us.
TYOV is primarily a single person game. There are multiplayer rules, but I’ve not paid any attention to them. When it’s time to make up a new resource our vampire has aquired, I’ll say “okay, mom, what’s the item?” and she’ll have a think and say “a kettle?” and then I’ll say, “okay, S2, what’s cool about it?”, “it never runs out of hot water!” (“what about booze?”, my mom will say, “yeah! hot vodka!” S2 will screech, “no wait normal tempurature vodka!” mom screeches louder, attempting to keep us sane, “too late – it’s hot vodka,” I decided) and then maybe I’ll figure out the event that meant our vampire aquired it and type it up. We all contribute a bit.
On one occaision the prompt required us to make a new immortal creature. “Does it have to be a vampire?” S1 asked, still grasping around for the acceptable boundaries of imagination. “Could it be Dobby?” There aren’t many things that my sister will nerd out on, but Harry Potter is up there.
“It can’t be Dobby!” my mom decided. “That’s plagorism!”
I think it’s probably closer to copyright infringment, but I was a bit taken aback that my mom’s first thought was that we’d all be thrown in a prison cell together if we wrote down the name of a houseelf. The Google doc we were writing was, after all, just for us. (In the end, we did go with a gnome-like elf, but who went by a different name.)
There were a few other occaisions where one person or another got caught on the idea that we were breaking a rule that their imagination just couldn’t get past. “Well, I’ve never heard of a vampire that can do that,” someone said. It wasn’t that they were against the idea of a vampire that could do a unique ability, it was that there was a door in their imagination that we had to kick open before they thought it was allowed.
The first couple of hours certainly felt like we were hitting those doors all the time. They were opened though; with practice they all seemed to be more comfortable with just making stuff up.
Anyway, at the end of last session we just woke up the Overlord of the Vampires, who’d been in a petrified state for thousands of years, so I’m very excited to play again tomorrow.