New York by Night, the successor to the long-running Vampire: The Masquerade actual play LA by Night, premieres Friday night on Twitch. The show headlines a slate of new streaming content from Paradox Interactive set to debut in 2022. Even if you’ve never played a game of Vampire in your life, you might want to tune in live or catch the video on demand when it goes live. The show features some familiar faces and promises to be a leap forward for non-Dungeons & Dragons actual play.
Following the rocky launch of Vampire’s 5th edition in 2018, Paradox has managed to pull the tabletop franchise out of a dive. The strategy started by cleaning house at White Wolf (which it acquired from CCP Games in 2015) and providing more oversight for the development team. It continued with a series of strong book releases — and the wildly popular livestream, LA by Night, which ran for 63 episodes starting in 2018. Thanks to its loyal fan base, the show survived Geek & Sundry’s decline and inspired multiple By Night streams. This is thanks in no small part to the masterful work of storyteller and series creator Jason Carl, Paradox’s brand marketing manager for World of Darkness. His subtle and effortlessly cool style was the ideal foil for big, theatrical performances by leads B. Dave Walters (Black Dice Society, Invitation to Party), Erika Ishii (Apex Legends, Dimension 20), Xander Jeanneret (Invitation to Party), Cynthia Marie (Outbreak: Undead), and Josephine McAdam (Battle for Beyond). While many of the biggest actual plays rely on a vibe that feels like a beer with good friends, the Vampire chronicles are far more theatrical — these players don’t break, and you’ll want to pour yourself a glass of wine for this show.
Like many stories told in the fiction of Vampire, Carl’s work plays heavily on that universe’s two most powerful factions, the Anarchs and the Camarilla. Los Angeles was an Anarch stronghold, with its glamorous, independent-minded vampires working to remain outside the control of the centuries-old Camarilla. While set in the same modern-day world as LA by Night, New York by Night will introduce a city playing by much older rules. The Camarilla has always run the Big Apple, and those that oppose them do so with far greater risk. The World of Darkness is always an adult, bloody setting, but expect more struggle for survival compared to the glamour of Hollywood and the Valley.
According to a news release, New York by Night will have at least three seasons this year, telling the stories of New York City’s vampire factions from the perspectives of both the ruling Camarilla and the Anarchs who reject their authority. Season 1 will focus on a group of Anarchs, season 2 the Camarilla, and in season 3 the two parallel storylines will collide. It’s an ambitious experiment in narrative structure rarely seen in studio actual play shows, but it tracks with the company’s past efforts. Carl and the players have always been innovators, working toward high production values, costuming, and even creating prerecorded interstitial scenes.
Season 1’s cast includes returning player and actor Alexander Ward alongside Aabria Iyengar (Exandria Unlimited, The Adventure Zone), voice actor Mayanna Berrin (Fire Emblem Heroes), and cinematographer Joey Rassool (The Guild). The first season will feature characters who are building up or holding on to power in New York as they explore their relationships with more independent vampires.
Iyengar, whose actual play credits span nearly the entire industry, makes her By Night debut as Ventrue Margot “Fuego” Walker, a community leader focused on protecting her neighborhood from threats both mundane and undead. Ward trades the external monstrousness of his shadowy LA by Night Nosferatu Jasper for subtler horrors with new character Isaac Brooke, a Tzimisce gangster building a criminal network for reasons of his own. Rassool’s Reyes Malcolm is a bestial Gangrel trying to recover his old life while rubbing everyone the wrong way. Berrin’s artistic tagger Serif is a Ravnos, a clan oft-revised in Vampire lore, but always imagined as wandering thrill-seekers with a flexible relationship to rules. In Reyes and Serif, LA by Night fans may see echoes of Annabelle (Erika Ishii), who served as the perspectival character for the previous series.
LA by Night was notable for its sprawling cast of characters, including Critical Role’s Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Ray, and Matthew Mercer as well as Dimension 20’s Brennan Lee Mulligan. There were also breakout fan favorites like Noura Ibrahim, Shayne Eastin, Alex Frew, and Luis Carazo. Expect New York by Night to continue this tradition of “special Vampire guests” who enrich and extend its world. It’s also likely that some of those guests will embody characters from the visual novel video games Coteries of New York and Shadows of New York, as New York by Night is set in the months between the events of the two games.
As in LA by Night, expect the city of New York itself to take a starring role. Jason Carl has a deft hand for scene-setting, creating lyric love letters to real-world locations both famous and obscure. Fans of Brennan Lee Mulligan’s supernatural New York in Dimension 20’s Unsleeping City are likely to enjoy Carl’s take on the five boroughs.
New York by Night isn’t the only new program from Paradox Interactive. Club Auspex will air directly after New York by Night and feature story analysis and cast interviews. The cast will also host Vampire Vogue, a fashion and cosplay talk show. World of Darkness News will serve as a weekly venue for announcements and discussion of the latest events, games, and products. Call-in radio streamcast drama Bet of Night and a new liveplay Hunter’s Garage will further reach into the lore of the larger World of Darkness. Hunter’s Garage is also the storytelling debut for World of Darkness community developer Martyna “Outstar” Zych.
New York by Night premieres Friday night on the World of Darkness Twitch channel at 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT). A video on demand version will be available on YouTube starting Saturday.