Sep 19

2022

Author Interview: Jeffrey Dean, Vampire: The Masquerade—Parliament of Knives — What Stares Back

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Coming Thursday, a new expansion to Vampire: The Masquerade—Parliament of Knives! What Stares Back allows you to play as a vampire of the insightful clan Malkavian or the manipulative clan Lasombra! New powers, new secrets, and new romance options await within. I sat down with author Jeffrey Dean to hear more about What Stares Back. You can get this in-app purchase on all platforms this Thursday, September 22nd. 

For readers who are fairly new to the World of Darkness and might not know about all the spicy and exciting details about Malkavians and Lasombra, what does this new clan expansion hold in store for them?

Well, things are about to get darker–sometimes quite literally!
Lasombra are masters of the shadow powers of Oblivion. If you like the idea of summoning shadow arms to constrict your enemies, terrifying your foes with a glance, or spying by extending your senses out into the gloom, the Lasombra are the clan for you! Up until recently, they were members of the vicious cult of vampires known as the Sabbat, but now they’re slowly integrating into the modern sect of the Camarilla ‘Kindred.’ The main character and their sire have been living among the Camarilla for decades now, masquerading as members of the Ventrue clan, but the time is fast approaching when the proud clan Lasombra can rule openly, proving once and for all that power belongs in the hands of vampires with the savvy to survive and win at all costs.

Malkavians are always a challenging clan to write and I wanted to pay homage to the Clan of the Moon in a way that was exciting without going completely off the rails. Every vampire embraced into clan Malkavian has a unique way of looking at the world that can manifest as conduits to chaotic insights. Their strange behavior and eccentricities have other clans calling them “Lunatics,” but the truth is that most detractors are intimidated by the unpredictable power that Malkavians represent.

In Parliament of Knives, the Malkavian main character’s fractured perception presents itself in the form of a traveler who follows your every footstep, invisible to everyone but you! This ‘imaginary friend’ provides insights and commentary throughout the story, but something far more sinister is at work than what the reader might expect. The Primogen, Ophelia, wants in on your secrets, and you’ll soon find out that a Malkavian main character’s background is significantly different from members of other clans in the game.

As you were writing, was it fun to review your own work, looking at
different moments of Parliament of Knives with an eye to clan
experiences?

I’m not gonna lie, it was hard work! I combed through every word of
what’s already a massive tome of a game and added thousands of lines
of additional content. I couldn’t just make these new clans ‘palette
swaps’ like you’d expect in a lot of video games–they each had to
have their own unique flavor, dialogue, and scenes. The Malkavian
parts were particularly challenging, because I essentially had to add a new character that appears in almost every scene, all while being careful not to break the flow of the original narrative. Try doing that to a game already the length of six novels!

My favorite parts were when I got to flesh out certain characters who never got their proper time to shine in the base game. Trevor Haidt, the Tremere envoy was particularly fun to write, as was the new romance with Lucca that readers have been asking for!

Of our growing list of World of Darkness games, Parliament is
especially exciting to see an expansion on because the politics lend
themselves especially well to the lens of different clans. Do you have a favorite clan?

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Brujah, the often brutish but
misunderstood clan of hardcore rebels and philosopher kings. Robert Ward from the base game is one of my favorite characters and I channeled a lot of love into him!

After them my favorite is definitely the Lasombra. I knew I had to
find a way to fit the Night Clan into the story, and I think I found a sweet spot after a lot of care and consideration. This was a lot
easier said than done, especially when adding Lucca as a romanceable
character since she’s canonically of the same clan as the main
character, but also has a massive hatred for Lasombra that I had no
intent to retcon. What I ended up creating is a tale of secrets,
mind-control, and mayhem! I’ve been very happy with how the Lasombra
fit into the world of Parliament of Knives and can’t wait to hear how readers respond.

What else are you working on these days?

Werewolves 3: Evolution’s End will finally have my full, undivided attention once this expansion is released. Don’t worry, werewolf fans! I’m not going to leave you out in the cold! Bly, Jolon, Dena, Tiva, and all my other favorite fluff-balls will be back! (Even Williams, curse his hide!)

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