This is Heather Poe. She’s a young woman, living in Los Angeles and attending college there, though it isn’t her hometown. She’s kind, happy, eager to please and a little bit geeky. She’s also one of the best features of one of my favourite games, Troika’s Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
You find Heather in the hospital, where she’s been rushed into the emergency room for some strange neck wound. As a newly turned vampire yourself, you know that there’s more to this story than meets the eye, but your heightened senses also tell you that she’ll survive her undead encounter if she just gets some fresh haemoglobin. Unfortunately, there isn’t a doctor to hand and the hospital is criminally understaffed.[break]
Earlier, a friend of yours told you that vampire blood has certain special characteristics when drunk by humans – mainly as a healing elixir. You pause, then slit your wrist to save her young life before disappearing back into the night. You have errands to run, after all. Little do you know that this isn’t the last time you’ll be seeing Heather.
She shows up a few nights later, grabbing you on the street and desperate to thank you. She’s babbling and doe-eyed and she knows far too much about you and your kind – you’ll suffer reprisals if you don’t take this matter in hand, but now is not the time. You send her back to your haven – that grotty motel in Santa Monica – and tell her to wait for you.
You have a choice now. Your blood is mixing with Heather’s and creating a potent, mind-altering brew. The more time she spends with you, the more she falls under your thrall, whether you want her to or not. You know you should send her away, break the bond and tell her to forget all this silliness about vampires. You know you should, but a lot of reasons run through you mind for why you shouldn’t – a lot of excuses.
You’re little more than a servant for others at the moment, so the idea of cultivating your own slave does have a certain appeal. Letting her go may bring the wrath of your superiors if she exposes you. You wonder about the direction you could steer Heather, making her serve you in a way that seems repugnant in the daylight hours.
That’s what's great about being a vampire; not casting a reflection. You can avoid a lot of guilt and shame when you don’t have to meet your own gaze.
Over the next few days or weeks, Heather changes. Sometimes you're the one pushing, telling her how to dress or to surrender her life savings. At other times, it’s the blood that changes her. She was eager to please at the beginning, but now her devotion is fanatical. One day you find she’s bought you home some food - still alive and locked in the bathroom. The longer the ‘relationship’ lasts, the more you get the idea that it isn’t going to end well, but the harder it becomes to end it.
Heather’s fate ultimately lies in your hands. She’s a nice, likeable person and you want to do well by her. At the same time, though, the rest of LA is working to reshape you. You may have been just an average guy a few weeks ago, but now you’re a vampire
; suffering and cruelty is your stock and trade.
As you acclimatise to this new existence, you start to adapt. You already don’t have to look at yourself in the mirror, but now you’re learning to hide the rest of yourself behind your new definition of what you are. You are a demon. Once you accept that, it becomes very easy to do very nasty things to a very nice person.
Then, when the game ends, you realise what’s happened and you learn something about yourself. That’s why Vampire: Bloodlines is one of my favourite games.