Suckers

Barnum was right, there really is a sucker born every minute. Calling them noble vampires doesn’t change that much.

When Vampire: the Masquerade came out, it was a revolutionary roleplaying game setting, that brought new blood into the subculture, and while the results have been mixed, it significantly advanced it’s sophistication. People who really are into roleplaying vampires probably know what I mean, people who aren’t, can imagine that for many this was a powerful vehicle of self-exploration, the rules were simple and encouraged smooth, minimally encumbered game of imagination.

Unfortunately, roleplaying has it’s history rooted in tabletop wargames and mathematical approach to strategy, so there are and will always be people who will try to exploit the mathematics of rules in order to win the game – if winning conditions are defined in any fashion.

And winning conditions are all that The Thist: Bloodlines is about. To put this long story very short, while the author(s) imply that it was originally meant as a support system for roleplaying — a noble cause, to be sure — as it is used now it is nothing more than a financial pyramid. An ingeniously evil one, because it’s legal:

  1. Everyone bitten by a vampire gets an invitation to become a vampire themselves.
  2. Everyone bitten only contains 5 liters of “vital blood”, period, and no more can be extracted. It does not regenerate.
  3. Every vampire consumes 0.25 liters of “vital blood” daily.
  4. Biting more victims confers higher status in the scoreboard on the vampire.

It goes without saying that if a victim is willing, they are likely to also purchase their own set of scripted fangs and join the game as vampires. Simple extrapolation shows that as soon as the pool of willing victims is exausted, unwilling victims will be introduced. Even though you cannot actually bite anyone without their permission, because the design of Second Life prevents it, far too many people will give the permission carelessly or without knowing what it actually entails.

This will slow the growth of the pool down, but only marginally, because the new entrants into the pool of vampires will mostly consist of careless or unknowing people who are, incidentally, more likely to enjoy treating the system not as a device for roleplaying and self-exploration, but as a button-pushing game. So they will seek out new victims and target people more like themselves, rather than roleplayers.

Eventually the number of non-roleplayers will exceed the finite number of roleplayers in the system, and cause untold amounts of annoyance to bystanders who don’t want to play it and consider the whole idea silly, not to mention shame the roleplayers.

Well, that’s exactly what happened.

Numerous calls to stake the impolite vampires so far resulted in nothing, since they’d have to give their permission just as the victims do, and more importantly, because they don’t realise that what they’re doing is annoying everybody. The makes of the game are starting to take countermeasures by rewarding roleplaying explicitly, but I think this is too little, too late — far too many people with no interest in roleplaying are already in the vampire pool.

There is only one hole in the system that I have been able to find so far: the victim scanner treats everyone who isn’t wearing the Bloodlines HUD as a potential victim. Since the HUD objects communicate by passing messages over open public channels, it should be possible to create an object that responds to this query with something plausible that excludes you from the potential victim list and saves everyone time and trouble, or at least, detects the scanner query and launches appropriate countermeasures, like a cloud of particle stakes.

Unfortunately, the number of possible channels is very high, and scanning for them is a rather complex endeavour, requiring controlled conditions, so I haven’t been able to figure out a way to do it without getting a set of fangs of my own, and even if I do break down and get me some fangs, it might take up to 66666 attempts to track the channel down.

Any ideas?