Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer makes for Bad Gaming

Like many gamers – heck, most geeks – I’m a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff show Angel. I was a fan of the movie, and after a season or so I finally checked out the show and was hooked. Granted, it’s not always the greatest thing since sliced bread – I’m beginning to get that uneasy feeling I got about the X-Files a few years back, where it seemed like they’d covered everything and there was nothing left to do but fiddle with the metaplot – but it has a lot of good moments.



Nevertheless, although I’ll do a future column on adapting the Slayer herself to various game systems, and explain why that column doesn’t contradict this one, the show would make for a horrible campaign. Examining why is a good exercise in the art of gamemastering.

On Buffy: Willow finds a neat orb and uses it to give Angel his soul back so he’ll be all broody and charming again instead of broody and evil.

In your game: Player characters spend the next two sessions tracking down as many of the orbs as they can find so they can make a whole bunch of cursed-with-a-soul vampires. The next time a PC dies, the player petitions you to let his new character be an evil dark vampire lord who’s been given a soul so he can fight on the side of truth and justice.

On Buffy: When Buffy “dies” briefly, before being resuscitated, a new Slayer is called by The Great Slayer Creation Trigger In The Sky: Kendra. When Kendra dies and Faith is called, it’s clear that this isn’t a temporary situation.

In your game: Ever see Flatliners? The PCs tackle Buffy, drag her off to a cooperating doctor, and kill her, bring her back, kill her, bring her back, all the livelong day, until they have an army of Slayers to hunt down the remaining vampires, freeing them up to loot all those funky vampire lairs.

On Buffy: Vampires keep running over to Buffy and trying to hit her, at which point she slams a wooden stake through their heart and they poof into dust.

In your game: What’re you, nuts? Vampires carry automatic weapons so they don’t have to get too close to the Stakemaster – and they wear bulletproof vests. Three of them. Each.

On Buffy: Angel’s a good guy because he has a soul, but Spike, Drusilla, and other vamps are still capable of emotions like love; the Judge calls them “tainted by humanity.”