Fans will get a deeper dive into World of Darkness with the debut of New York by Night's second season. This week, World of Darkness will debut the second season of New York by Night, a Vampire: The Masquerade actual play series focused on two coteries of vampires living in New York City. While the first season focused on a group of vampires rebelling against the status quo, the second season focuses on the group of vampires trying to maintain the "Masquerade" – the status quo of vampires living in secret amongst mortals. The new season of New York by Night will feature Noura Ibrahim, Michelle Nguyen Bradley, Cynthia Marie, and Xander Jeanneret as members of the Camarilla Court. With Jason Carl as the Storyteller, the four players are on a collision course with the rival coterie, although they might not know it at the outset of the season.
Actual play shows are a popular form of web entertainment, although they are dominated by Dungeons & Dragons shows. But while Dungeons & Dragons is focused mostly on external conflict between an adventuring party and enemy creatures, much of the drama in a Vampire: The Masquerade series is focused on the coterie dynamics. "Honestly, it's probably an even split," said cast member Michelle Nguyen Bradley during an web interview when asked about the balance between internal and external conflict. "But it might lean towards the dramatic. In the structure of the game, your coterie is a group of cool kindred friends that maybe aren't friends. And your interactions with them are defined by the bigger circle of whatever group you're part of... But within those groupings, you have so much struggle for power because these little Kindred live forever and that makes things very hard for them when they want to move up in the world because no one's dying to make room for the new people. In our season, it's 75% internal conflicts and character to character personality conflicts and maybe 25% action."
Bradley noted that she hadn't played Vampire: The Masquerade before 2020, but she hadn't found it too difficult to dive into the deep lore that fuels the core of the game. "I love the system," Bradley said. "I thought it was really so different than anything else I had played. Playing a dramatic RPG that is steeped in you losing your humanity as opposed to a game that's like an adventure where you fight a monster and you're going to save people. Vampire: The Masquerade is about trying to save yourself if you want to, and it's so different. It really scratches that dramatic itch in the back of my brain as an actor, that's like, 'Yes, we are going to be really in our feelings all the time, constantly having an existential crisis, but it's acting, so it's not real.'"
New York by Night also benefits from being set within one of the largest cities of the world, a place filled with recognizable sites and its own personality. But the geography of the city itself also comes into play. ""Usually, these settings are called [City Name] by Night because controlling territory is so important in the game," Bradley said. "Wherever you eat, that's already controlled by somebody. If you find a nice little spot to feed, someone owns that territory and you have to figure out who that is." In New York by Night, the Camarilla control Manhattan, while the Camarilla control the Bronx. When characters sneak into another faction's territory, it creates problems.
Even beyond that, New York adds a special flavor to the series. "The fifth character on the show is New York," Bradley said. "Anything about where an important building or landmark is becomes part of the story." Not only do these landmarks provide important context to traveling and territorial control, the mythology actually weaves its way into the city itself. Bradley mentioned one abandoned island in New York City that became the home of a coterie of vampires, because of course an old, creepy abandoned building would be home to a group of vampires. "It's fun to take these historical places in these cities and make them part of your lore," Bradley said.
When asked for a final pitch to watch New York by Night, Bradley noted that the series had it all. "Do you want to see some hot vampires?" Bradley said with a laugh. "Get into trouble with their sires and the Anarchs? And then do you want to see people cry on camera a lot because some really crazy stuff that happens? Then this is the show for you. Vampire: The Masquerade. We're vampires, we're real sad about it sometimes."
You can check out New York by Night on World of Darkness's Twitch channel. The series premieres tonight at 7 PM PT at https://twitch.tv/worldofdarkness.