Shane Stimson wants you to let out your inner vampire — no cape or fangs required.
Stimson and his friend Chris Anderson are starting a modern-dress theatrical game in Red Deer that requires at least 30 imaginative adults to pretend to be vampires for a few hours on the third Saturday of each month.
There’s no need to wear a costume, but players might want to hone their political and/or social-climbing skills, so reading up on the history of the Medicis wouldn’t hurt.
“There’s a lot of social maneuvering” in the game, said Stimson, 39. But, unlike in some medieval role playing, there’s no stage fighting involved — in fact, no contact is a rule.
Stimson, a married father who works in the oilfield services industry, has been among 50 participants who have been involved in an on-going vampire game in Calgary for the past 18 years. He considers it to be a fun, social experience, like being part of a murder mystery night.
The premise is that somebody calls a gathering, a bunch of ambitious, greedy or vengeful vampires show up, “and if you have a conflict, it’s settled without physical contact.”
There’s always intrigue, he said, with the formation of alliances between different vampire “clans,” as well as shameless status seeking, betrayals and secret societies.
The game can be thought of as theatre sports (plastic fangs optional), where a plot line is roughly devised by the storyteller (Stimson), and all participants then improvise dialogue. If the plot gets hung up, Stimson will step in with a diversion.
He often goes to real-life newspaper articles for inspiration: for instance, one about a search for lost hikers might prompt an accusation in the game that a vampire has been less than careful in hunting human prey. Moral questions will be raised, said Stimson, and each participant must decide where his or her vampire character ranks on the humanity scale — from almost human to Nosferatu-like venal.
“This is played world-wide, so you can take your character and play in L.A.,” or Italy, Brazil or Russia, said Stimson.
The obvious question is why vampires? Stimson said you can’t link this to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.
The vampire game has been around for at least 30 years, he said, attracting a fairly even number of males and females of all ages. There’s even an international rule book that groups can opt to follow — or not.
It appeals because mysterious, immortal, romantic and conflicted characters living in a magical world make for more interesting escapism, for example, than pretending to be welders, he said, with a chuckle.
And, unlike computer games, role-playing allows introverted people a chance to come out of their shells and mix with others, since the group usually goes for coffee after a game night. “If you always wished you could be more outgoing, you can create a character who’s outgoing. You can take risks, not for yourself, but for your character.”
His group started attracting some interest at an information session Saturday at the Oriole Park Community Hall. For more information please visit www.reddeerbynight.ca, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.