Worlds of Darkness 6: day and night

The hard parts
There is an ongoing discussion thread in the Planet Vampire forum about how the designers of the World of Darkness MMO would deal with the "hard parts" of the setting. What elements of the pen-and-paper Vampire: The Requiem roleplaying game would be difficult to adapt into an MMO format?

Daylight makes vampires fun
The day and night cycle features in the list. The question boils down to: should the MMO include a day and night cycle with, well, both night and day, and should vampire characters be penalized during daytime at the risk of detracting from the fun of playing them?

Horror literature and tradition list sunlight as the supreme bane of vampirekind. Firstly, basking in sunlight is, for vampires, akin to taking a plunge into a pool of acid. Not something you want to try out, but these anathema creatures don't get that much of a choice in all those movies. Secondly, they feel compelled to sleep in lightproof refuges during daytime. These characteristics are part of the very definition of vampires. They serve a purpose in regard to the theme (symbols), to the story (find the coffin before the sun sets, get rescued by sunlight) and why not to the game (dynamic tension).

MMOs are open 23/7
Should this weakness significantly affect the way players can play their characters? Some argue that the "rule of fun" should prevail. The rule of fun dictates that, in a game, realism must take a back step to entertainment value. In Counter-Strike for example, a game which aims to recreate somewhat realistic ballistics, wounded characters are not incapacitated in any fashion. In Eve Online, a ship with 1% structure left is still as efficient as the one fresh out of the assembly array. In the same spirit, in World of Darkness, the rule of fun could dictate that vampire characters should not be exposed half of the day to something that would penalize and impair them in a significant way.
Some kind of compromise can always be made. The vampires of the Kindred TV series are distinctly different from the vampires of Vampire: The Masquerade. If a vampire is playable at all time, it could be for one of the reasons below or any other:

a) there is only night ("Icelandic winter")
A little suspension of disbelief goes a long way to enhance fun. If World of Darkness is exclusively about vampires, the answer would be a no-brainer: night-time all over the place. Apart from, for example, a one hour daily maintenance period, labelled as "daytime", night would reign and ensure vampire characters are not hindered.
Even if mages or werewolves are part of the plans for the MMO, they have no fear of darkness. Eternal night would be quite thematic for a game set in a World of Darkness.

b) sunlight does not affect vampires ("it never did")
What if creatures such as prometheans (though a minor component of the World of Darkness) ever become part of the playable cast? How to reconcile the Divine Fire and eternal night? The weakness to sunlight would be dismissed as another of these myths surrounding the vampire condition, like White Wolf already chose to do with garlic allergy and cannot-enter-into-your-place-uninvited in their pen-and-paper games.

c) vampires have "alts" for daytime
Vampires could use mental powers to direct the actions of an "alt" (alternate character) during daytime, when their undead bodies rest in some basement. Ghouls, mortals bound by the mystical power of a vampire's blood, make good choices. Vampire-possessed ghouls would be slightly more powerful than vanilla humans, but not as formidable as vampires.
While interesting on paper, this solution would deprive some players of the possibility to directly play vampires due to conflicting schedules, a most frustrating proposition. Also, playstyles are playstyles, and some players will just scoff at the idea of playing a ghoul.

d) daytime repels vampires to ghettos
The night belongs to vampires. If there is only night, vampires lose a part of what makes them special. What if vampires can shrug off the need to sleep and survive in daylight, but their monstrous nature becomes apparent to all (burnt skin, shrivelled flesh), forcing them to hide in the darkest of alleys to avoid breaches of the Masquerade (enforced the CONCORD way)? The mortal world would become forbidden to them half of the day, but they would still be able to find poor sustenance in the worst and most secluded slums of the city, and to congregate in subterranean places.

Vampires: capes or no capes?
Compromising to abide by the rule of fun might be necessary, but hopefully game designers will make sure the vampire theme retains the symbolic components which resonate in our reptilian brains. Vampires in the shop mall at noon? No, thanks! Getting rid of the sun vulnerability altogether would lessen the intensity of the Requiem, the vampire's journey into the endless night. For the same reason I think that "taming" werewolves would destroy part of what makes a werewolf an interesting monster: a creature with urges it cannot fully repress. Each supernatural creature has characteristics that define its very nature. Making the vampires into blood-sucking super-villains, or werewolves into shapeshifting shamans, does not add to their appeal, on the contrary.

So, even if perma-night were to become the rule in World of Darkness, I hope the threat of the sun would still be used as a reminder that the vampire's continuing existence is stolen and that the very universe frowns upon it. I hope our mortal characters will be able to search for the resting places of vampires. I hope there will be times our vampire characters will run in the streets, desperate because their refuge has been located and they need another resting place within five minutes. I hope our mage characters will be able to carry attacks on the resting places of vampires at noon, provided they managed to locate them -even if it means that the attack is not played out but carried during server maintenance, leaving the vampire to deal with the consequences when he logs back to the game. Sunlight should be embraced as a tool for exciting adventures. I am sure it could be as fun for vampire players to avoid the sun as for hunters to hurry before the sun sets down.

You would not want to miss a good ominous sunset, would you? You know monsters are going to crawl out of their basements, and you are frightened because you are running out of time. But, if the sun never goes up, then the sun never sets. And that would be a shame.

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