Christopher Bond is the current Venue Storyteller in what was the Australian Camarilla and is now called Beyond the Sunset. This means that he runs a Live Action Roleplaying Game set in a global world where his players can scheme with those in Sydney, America, and many other countries. It's a unique experience and one that comes with a large number of demands, particularly since his player base could range from 10 to 28 on any given night and total strangers can sign up as players to his game.
Shannon: So tell us a little bit about your roleplaying background?
Chris: Well, I started when I was about 7 or 8. I got exposed to Baldur’s Gate over at my cousin’s house. He played it and after enjoying Age of Empires I wanted to have a go. I began my journey when my uncle bought me Baldur’s Gate 2. It took me by surprise how much I enjoyed it. The narrative was intense, the themes were dark and the protagonist was wonderful to control. During my final years of high school I began playing Dark Hersey. Aside from that, I explored the Black Isle PC games and other types of role playing games.
Shannon: You were a player in the Camarilla for a fair while, then you became a LARP Storyteller in Vampire: the Requiem. What inspired you to make the jump?
Chris: My characters had just died and the current ST was looking at becoming the National Storyteller. I figured I’d fill the void. I also felt that my characters had run their course. The story, for them at least, had ended. Whilst both had been tragically struck short, they’d gone down like I wanted them too. Rank with his ‘my horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse’ sort of deal and Aidan were killed in a way very fitting to how I played him. One in which there weren’t any punches pulled. I respect the player for finishing Aidan the way he did. It was cowardly and with only the interests of self-preservation in mind, just like kindred would really act. My respect for that player has only grown since taking the position of ST.
Shannon: What's the best part of storytelling a LARP?
Chris: Encouraging people to portray their story. Often when DMing a D&D game or similar it’s your own story which is the important one. STing is different; you watch others and create conflict for their story. It’s really exciting watching a character turn full circle and grow into something that they once hated. It particularly is excellent watching characters that - for lack of a better word - go from ‘evil’ to ‘good’ or at the very least, selfless.
Shannon: And the worst?
Chris: There are a few. It’s often a thankless job. If you do it to get your ego massaged then go ahead, but those massages are few and far between. The players' complaints can become a problem but you learn to deal with it. With players metagaming, well, you try to fix it but you can only lead a horse to water, you can’t stop it stealing water from your backpack. The writing - there’s SO MUCH TO WRITE! But all those pale compared to the enjoyment you get from running the game.
Shannon: What do you wish someone had told you about running a Vampire: the Requiem LARP, before you made the jump?
Chris: That players are … players. They each have a view of how the game should work and often, whether right or wrong (if such things exist when discussing a game) their view is different to yours. They can often over react and this brings larger problems to the foreground. Sometimes they act like children. But just like a father, I still love them. Even when they do things they shouldn’t or complain when we have to take them shopping.
Shannon: If you could change one thing about the game you're currently running, what would it be?
Chris: I’d love more players. I know. I just spent about half a page being grumpy about players but I love them for all their flaws. I love sharing this great experience and whilst I know everyone can’t get along, I’d love them to. I just crave watching new players get hooked, I love them entering into the political arena, finding the dark secrets of their covenants and clans. The shock at the feudal system and the need for respect in this world. The older player bringing characters with shock and awe style tactics, the memorizing of the Invictus protocols, the Lancea quotes, the Dragon logic, the Carthian idealism and the Crone worship. I love all of it and I want to share that rich world with as many people as I can.
Shannon: Well, thanks Chris. I think you've given us a bit of insight into the LARP world and that last paragraph really sums up the iconic Requiem experience for anyone who's curious, so we'll leave it there.
Next week, I'll start interviewing some players.