Joining the many World of Darkness video games coming out over the next year is an indie narrative-focused RPG by Big Bad Wolf games. Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is the studio’s second major release, following The Council in 2018.
The game is expected for release in 2021.
Swansong’s story centres around the Boston Camarilla and its newly crowned Prince Hazel Iverson – also known as The Swan. The game takes place around the unification of Boston and Hartford kindred under her leadership. The gameplay trailer (below) provides narration by Prince Iverson inviting other kindred and, indirectly, the player, to the unification party.
Three Stories to Tell
Swansong provides the players with a selection of three different kindred to play as. Players can follow the story as Galeb, Emem, or Leysha – all of whom are over a century old. Their clans are Ventrue, Toreador, and Malkavian, respectively. Each clan gives their respective characters differing backgrounds, disciplines, and curses. Furthermore, rules from Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition encourage players to use disciplines wisely and feed carefully around humans.
The game’s trailer has subtle references to each character’s clan, which keen-eyed viewers may notice.
Ventrue seek power, desiring to be the ones who pulls the strings; they have the power to dominate the weak-willed or to seize their attention and admiration. Other disciplines allow them to protect themselves from harm and protect their status from those who would challenge them. The cost of being a Ventrue is having a limited feeding preference. The refined taste in blood prevents nourishment from inadequate sources – instead causing nausea. Playing as Galeb would mean maintaining any possible advantage over others and refusing to settle for less.
Toreadors have their own desires – in their case, an obsession with beauty. What constitutes as beauty differs between Toreadors; however, those embraced into the clan are usually accomplished artists of some form. Their inherent fascination with such art acts as a weakness, with a risk of being that they become immobilised by the presence of something beautiful. In return, Toreadors have access to disciplines that allow them to captivate others, move at incredible speed, or enhance their senses. The beauty and grace of Emem may help to charm out secrets by creating a hypnotic sense of trust in others.
Finally, Malkavians are cursed with some form of madness – though alongside this madness is an ability to see things with supernatural clarity. There is no cure for this madness – only a means of temporary suppression. With their disciplines, not only can they enhance their own senses, but they can manipulate those of others, causing terror or confusion. Leysha, whilst of a somewhat fractured mind, will be able to see what the others can not.
Plots and Intrigue
Outstar Walker, Brand Community Developer for World of Darkness, interviewed developers of Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong. They discuss concepts and gameplay for Swansong, including similarities with The Council and Bloodlines 2 from Paradox Interactive.
They also touch upon the background lore from both older versions of the tabletop RPG and how they plan to link it to 5th Edition. For instance, Boston has mostly been a stronghold for the Camarilla, whilst Hartford has been a stronghold for the Tremere clan.
You can find the full interview below:
Vampire: The Masquerade was originally a source of inspiration for The Council, particularly the dark and political themes. Big Bad Wolf Games intends to use the same style of gameplay in Swansong but with a much larger world, with many more people, to explore.
In Swansong, the player must solve a mystery interlaced with politics – in this case uncovering plots and resolving power struggles to protect their sect and uphold the Masquerade. The story follows a more linear direction; however, there will be plenty of choices to make, each with their own consequences.
Many choices in the game will result in some negative outcome, making them unpredictable examples of grey morality. In The Council, there are plenty of decisions that have major consequences either way; sometimes dialogue options behind locks are worse than those that aren’t.