Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 13: Mind’s Eye Theatre

The live-action role-playing (LARP) adaptations of the World of Darkness are an interesting parallel system to the tabletop games, with a culture all their own.  While many games have had LARP versions created, I can’t think of another one that’s been played so consistently, to the point that vampire LARPers are one of the primary LARP stereotypes (the other being a sort of confused mix between D&D, boffer combat and the SCA).

While most of the oWoD games have a LARP equivalent (Demon and Orpheus don’t, possibly because they came too late in the development cycle), they weren’t all released in parallel.  In particular, Mage was considered ill-suited to LARP rules, and didn’t get an adaptation until around the time of Revised edition. (For reference, LARP rulebooks generally either take their name from the subtitle of the parent game, or have “Laws of the…” in the title.)

The nature of LARPs has one major effect on the collecting market: core rulebooks are more likely to have seen heavy use or have the user’s name in them than a tabletop rulebook.  An average tabletop game may have half a dozen players and and ST; an average LARP may have thirty players and half a dozen STs.  While not everyone needs a rulebook in either situation, those that get used may be carried around for an entire evening rather than sitting on the table most of the time, and with five times as many players around and in motion, it becomes much more important to identify your copy. (When I was STing a LARP, I got a set of NPC names from former owners of my rulebooks.) This is truest for Revised Laws of the Night, in my experience.  However, relatively few non-limited MET books are all that expensive.

“Mind’s Eye Theatre” (MET)is the blanket term for the WoD LARP line.  I’m going to break the list down by game line (in original game order, more or less) and edition. Some games only ever had one rulebook, so there won’t be much to say about them.

Vampire

1st edition:
  • Masquerade boxed set
  • Masquerade, 2nd edition
  • Player’s Kit
  • Book of the Damned
  • The Prince’s Primer
  • Antagonists
  • Elder’s Revenge

The item that started it all was the original Masquerade boxed set.  This was intended to be a kit that could start a troupe playing, rather than a single rulebook.  It’s a large, square box with a green marbled background and a vampiric tragedy mask.  A full box should contain:

  • Three rulebooks
  • Book of the Damned
  • 17 reference cards
  • A pad of character sheets
  • A poster
  • Advertising material for the Camarilla fan organization
  • Plastic vampire fangs
  • Two blood capsules (with a safety warning)
  • A small ankh necklace

Most of these have seen wear to the box (which is unsurprising for something of this size and age), and it’s rare to find a complete copy for sale.  A box with the functional material (the rulebooks and reference cards, possibly the BotD and some of the character sheets) should run around $15 on eBay.  Most other things are a tossup (I had to combine three boxes to get one complete one); by far the most often missing item is the ankh, since it has the widest function outside the set itself.  The fangs are standard plastic novelty fangs, and could probably be replaced by any cheap set available at Halloween without anyone noticing.

Masquerade the book is a standalone book with revised rules.  Player’s Kit and Antagonists are rules supplements; Player’s Kit also has advice on matters like costuming. Book of the Damned and Prince’s Primer are setting books with no rules that can be used for LARP or tabletop. Elder’s Revenge is a large-scale adventure, comprising two books that were originally shrinkwrapped together.  They can all be found for a couple of bucks.  BotD was available both in this box and a standalone; it’s essentially the setting material from the tabletop book without the rules. (A mass market edition, Book of the Kindred, was released as a tie-in to the Kindred: the Embraced TV series.  It’s the same setting material with the addition of a few short stories.

It’s worth noting that the rulebooks in this edition are the same size as the tabletop rulebooks, while the setting books are the smaller size of The Book of Nod.  Subsequent books in this line would all be the smaller size.

2nd Edition:
  • Laws of the Night, 1st edition
  • Laws of Elysium
  • Liber des Ghoules (The Book of Ghouls)

Laws of the Night was originally described as a handy pocket-sized reference book gathering all the existing rules into one place.  However, it’s hard not to see it as the next step in publication, which is why I’m listing it as a new edition.  The rulebooks were published in the smaller size, and the game could be run with just LotN.

All of these books can also be found for a few dollars.

Revised edition:
  • Laws of the Night, 2nd edition
  • MET: LotN: Anarchs Guide
  • MET: LotN: Camarilla Guide
  • MET: LotN: Sabbat Guide
  • MET: LotN: Storytellers Guide

The second edition of LotN came around the time of VtM Revised, and was a major overhaul in the game and its setting.  The powers, clans, etc. were brought into line with the tabletop game, and the metaplot was brought up to date.  The rulebooks contained setting material, rather than mostly having rules and relying on the tabletop game to fill the gaps.  They also have green marbled covers matching the trade dress of the tabletop version.

Most of these can be found online for a few bucks (although a good condition copy of LotN may run more, as explained above).  The Anarchs Guide runs closer to $15.

There are two limited variants of the main LotN book.  Each of the three Revised corebooks had a limited edition, with a leatherette and foil cover and a bookmark.  Unlike the tabletop versions, they contain eight pages of new material: LotN has new pages from the Book of Nod.  It usually starts around $20.  There was also a limited edition for Masquerade, with a black-and-silver cover and a Grand Masquerade logo; it runs around $30 on eBay.

V20-era edition:
  • MET: Vampire the Masquerade

This was a ground-up redesign released by By Night Studios, produced under license from CCP in the same way Onyx Path produces tabletop games.  There was a physical edition released as a Kickstarter reward; I’ve never seen one online, but would expect to run in the $100 range.  This edition is also available in PoD.  The Kickstarter also had a Deluxe version, with new Tim Bradstreet art; this has been delayed due to personal issues and hasn’t been released yet.

Vampire historical settings

  • The Long Night
  • MET: Faith and Fire
  • MET: Vampire by Gaslight

The Long Night and Faith and Fire are the 2nd and Revised Edition sourcebooks for the Dark Ages setting; Vampire by Gaslight is the Victorian Age sourcebook.  The Dark Ages books can be found for $1 or less; VbG seems to run around $10 these days.

Werewolf

1st edition:
  • Apocalypse

This is the Masquerade-era rulebook for Werewolf.  It’s full-sized and can be found for $1 or less.

2nd edition:
  • Laws of the Wild, 1st edition

The equivalent of Laws of the Night; also $1 or less.

Revised edition:
  • Laws of the Wild, 2nd edition
  • MET: Book of the Wyrm
  • Changing Breeds 1-3 (volume 4 available only as PDF and PoD)
  • Hengeyokai

LotW, the core rulebook, is less common than LotN and can suffer from the same condition issues.  The cheapest copy on Amazon right now is $20, although I’ve seen it for less.  Book of the Wyrm and Changing Breeds can be found for a few bucks (as noted above, volume 4 is only available on DriveThruRPG).  Hengeyokai is closer to $10. (Note that the cover image on Amazon is incorrect: it shows the Werewolf rusty metal background with no symbols, while the actual cover is a light green with red Chinese characters.)

The limited edition of LotW is relatively rare; I’ve seen it less often on eBay, and the current low price on Amazon is $65, though it’s certainly obtainable for less.

Historical setting:
  • Laws of the Wyld West

The Wild West sourcebook (not to be confused with the recent W20 sourcebook); goes for a few bucks.

Note: From this point forward, if I don’t mention the cost of a rulebook, assume it’s available for a few bucks on Amazon.

Mage

  • Laws of Ascension
  • Laws of Ascension Companion

As mentioned above, this was a relatively late release, which is why there are only two sourcebooks.  The limited version currently has a low price on Amazon of $35, but it’s relatively obtainable on eBay compared to the other two.

Wraith

  • Obivion

There was only one edition of this (WtO doesn’t really lend itself to LARP play). (If you want to look for it on Amazon, it’s here.)

Changeling

  • The Shining Host
  • The Shining Host Players Guide

Another setting that didn’t lend itself well to LARP.  The Players Guide is rarer and runs between $5 and $10.

Hunter and related titles

  • Laws of the Hunt, 1st and 2nd editions
  • Laws of the Hunt Players Guide
  • Laws of the Reckoning

The Laws of the Hunt books aren’t connected to HtR, but are about mortal and psychic hunters.  LotR seems to be running expensive at the moment; it starts at a $20 BIN on eBay, and the others on eBay and Amazon start around $40.  I don’t know if that’s representative of its current supply/demand or just a fluke; I didn’t pay that much for it.

Kindred of the East

  • Laws of the East

Only one book for this one.

Mummy

  • Laws of the Resurrection

Only one here too, but then again that’s 50% as the parent line.  (This is based on MtR, not the earlier VtM supplements.)

General WoD/MET supplements

  • Book of Props
  • Dark Epics
  • Laws of Judgment
  • MET Journal, issues 1-8

A catchall here.  Book of Props is a guide to prop-making from the Masquerade era (another full-sized book) but doesn’t have specific rules content.  Dark Epics has Vampire trade dress, but isn’t Vampire-specific; it’s general advice on running a LARP. (It does have some rules content, such as centralized rules for weapons and influences.) Laws of Judgment covers the Time of Judgment scenarios for Vampire, Werewolf and Mage, and is the only non-limited edition hardcover in the line.  MET Journal was a magazine that had general LARP material and rules for game lines that wouldn’t warrant a full supplement (such as The Great War setting for Oblivion).  (Note that the first couple of issues precede the Revised line, so may not be 100% rules/setting compatible.)

Accessories

  • MET Discipline Deck
  • MET Gift Deck
  • MET Prop Deck
  • Storyteller ballcap

The three decks were cards with rules for use in-game (Disciplines for Vampire, Gifts for Werewolf).  These look like they were useful, but unfortunately were from the 2nd edition era, so they aren’t fully compatible with Revised.  The Prop cards represent items like weapons, with statistics.  The ballcap was just a black baseball cap with “Storyteller” written on it, so they could be picked out of a crowd.

The decks don’t turn up all that often, and can run around $15.  It seems to be more common to find unopened sets than opened ones; there may have been a tendency to lose cards with use.  Take note that they were originally sold in multiple plastic-wrapped packs, so you may come across a set that’s missing one of the sections. (My copy of the Gift Deck is missing one of the three.) I’ve never seen the Storyteller cap turn up for sale; I don’t know how much it would sell for, though I can’t imagine it would be that much since it would be fairly easy to recreate.

The Camarilla

The Camarilla has been around since 1992, as the licensed MET fan club.  They’re now called the Mind’s Eye Society.  There are two products they produced that are likely to turn up for sale: various editions of their membership handbook, and Requiem magazine.  I’ll go into these in more detail when I cover magazines and promotional material.  Note that one of their later handbooks was printed with Revised-era MET trade dress and has a White Wolf logo; it’s not a commercial product but it is, arguably, a White Wolf WoD product.

And that’s MET, which takes us through all the games proper!  I still have promotional items and magazines to cover, though.  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says “I don’t mind; the only thing that bothers me is that someone keeps moving my chair.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s