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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Interview with a Vampire – Stareyes Galaxy Reporting from The Castle of Eternal Solstice

The Vampire and Lycan role play platform Bloodlines © has generated a thirst as well as rage among residents since its inception in 2008. The allure to become a vampire clan member and to advance in the ranks of the game system has led to thirst of many vampires to feed on unsuspecting newbies, and consequently, generated rage in well-informed residents against their sometimes unscrupulous hunting practices. Among other deprecating things, Bloodlines has also been called an outright Ponzi scheme, which has added to the resentment toward Bloodlines among avatars at large. What is the reality today in the vampire circles? Stareyes Galaxy had the privilege to visit a castle and interview a Clan Queen.

The Castle of Eternal Solstice is located adjacent to a fashion mall, and once shopping there, I first was approached by Pria in an instant message inviting me over. In that meeting over a month ago, Pria described her clan to be more like a family, with lots of common activities. This did not sound much like anything one would associate with Transylvanian scenes and bloodthirsty wights. I returned with a mission to interview Pria to probe the inner workings of Bloodlines and the clans.
At first sight, the castle of Clan Eternal Solstice is an imposing sight, with many classic Gothic elements – fluttering bats circling lofty, looming towers, and a beautiful garden path leading to double doors that open to a great hall. The decorations inside evoke the feeling that you will not find a nursery anywhere inside.
The Queen of the Eternal Solstice Clan, Priamos Plutonian, or Pria as her friends call her, was waiting for me lounging on a red velvet chaise longue.

SLE: How did you become a vampire, to begin with?

Pria: I was exploring one day and met my husband who happened to be a vampire. I investigated their ways and eventually joined.

SLE: So, you were bitten?

Pria:  No. After I decided to join I allowed myself to be bitten.

SLE: Can you become a vampire without ever being bitten?

Pria: No.

We then discussed the clan system in Bloodlines. Pria explained that each clan has its own rules usually set up by their council. Her husband and the clan king is Dale Magnus. Individual vampires generally move up by their “soul count”. As she described it, the clans are self-organizing in the sense that Bloodlines does not control how individual clans operate. Eternal Solstice is a “horde” with both vampires and lycans. Bloodlines© has a clan ranking system, but for Pria this does not create any concern, with regard to “moving up” in the ranks.  Clans are ranked based on soul count, blood wealth, and charisma that combine into role-play style “stats”.

Pria: Clan ranking is not important to me. Being a family and helping one another is. Many clans rank their minions by soul count, we do not.

SLE: What does your Clan mean to you?

Pria: My clan means everything to me - we are a family. It goes beyond SL, we make friendships too.

SLE: And meet in RL?

Pria: Some do. [In SL,] typically vampires go on a hunt and personally I tend to befriend people and let them know that I am a vampire and see if they are interested. But even if they aren’t, I will help them. I like helping people and meeting new people.

SLE: Do people in your Clan bond, as family members do?

Pria: As a family, yes. But if you’re referring to a blood bond, you can do that only with one person. But yes, bonding as a family is essential.

The Eternal Solstice Clan currently has 132 members in the family. Pria explained that some clans do not operate in their manner but rather aim to advance in the clan ranking, gathering a lot of members. This way, the family aspect becomes secondary.

SLE: When you become a vampire, as I understand you get a life stat that goes down unless you get fresh blood. How do people having trouble staying fed get help? What resources are there available for Vampires?

Pria: Their liege should help them, or grand liege, they owe nothing. Your liege is there to take care of you. You can also buy blood from stores.

SLE: Can you actually perish?

Pria: You can be destroyed, yes.

SLE: Is there anything else the readers of SLE should know about being a vampire?

Pria: That you will meet people that we vampires call random biters, and if you are young, be careful what you accept. You can be bitten if you don’t watch. We true vampires don’t like random biters - they give us a bad name.

SLE: When we met before you gave me the Garlic Necklace. Can you tell our readers about it?

Pria: Well, if I speak with someone and find they don’t want to become a vampire I will share a garlic necklace with them so that they cannot be bitten at random.

We discussed the criticism toward Bloodlines as a pyramid scheme. Pria said she could see where the accusations would come from, but she is not concerned, as this doesn’t apply to her clan. “My clan does not take everyone in just to build a great deal of numbers, only if they seem nice. The king and I spend a lot of Linden maintaining our lines. We force no one to donate.”

SLE: How do your new clan members get embraced to the fold? Do they have to "win" their claim?
Pria: No, if they want to join they go through a learning process so we are sure they know what they are getting into. Once they feel ready we will test them to be sure. Then there will be a turn service - there is a special service once they are ready and have decided it’s for them.

SLE: Sounds very responsible. How do you deal with disputes within the Clan?

Pria: We bring all parties involved together and try to work it out as best we can, just like any family would.

Finally, Pria gave some very sound advice for someone wishing to become a vampire in Second Life ©.
“Select your liege well, and make sure they have time to train you right. Do not allow anyone to turn you right away, learn first then decide if it’s for you. If you are a young avatar, please be careful what you accept. That’s how most people get bitten, by random biters. And if you wish to have a garlic necklace or to learn more, stop by. I’ll give you one and show you how to put it on. I’m happy to help anyone!”

I left Pria to look over her horde. Initially, I had been thinking that every vessel of blood in Second Life should come with a warning label, such as “Enjoy responsibly”. This seemed to be the case with Eternal Solstice already. Exiting the great doors into the evening air, watching the fluttering bats by the towers, I now thought about the life of a vampire, and how it doesn’t really differ all that much from what we human avatars aspire to achieve in our Second Lives anyway, and how the vampire thirst for blood is very similar to how we journalists are looking to get a regular fix of seeing our stories in print.

Eternal Solstice Castle

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