Between heartbreakers & rip-offs

Courtesy of Dark Phoenix Publishing. Y’know, just so they do not sue us for plagiarising…

Be honest, dear readers: who of you who has played a tabletop RPG for long enough has not dreamed of writing his own product? Have you not longed for creating a game that has everything you want, that does everything far better than the game you are playing now? If you should have ever followed your desires, you have probably written something called a heartbreaker, a game that surely is not perfect, but it looked perfect for you at the time.

There is nothing wrong with writing and playing heartbreakers. What is wrong, however, is to write and publish a heartbreaker, without actually indicating its inspiration and denying the source on multiple occasions. The game I am talking about is Vampire: Undeath, a title by Dark Phoenix Publishing. While it seems to be “just another vampire game”, Vampire: Undeath is such a blatant rip-off of White Wolf’s Vampire games (both Masquerade and Requiem), and as two reviewers of RPG.net claim, the publisher denies to have drawn any inspiration from the mother of all goth roleplaying.

Of course, it is hard to write a game about cursed bloodsuckers without crossing into White Wolf territory. For more than twenty years, they have milked the vampire mythos for all it is worth, and is hard to be original anymore. That is not the issue though. The issue is Dark Phoenix’ claim of originality, which shows nothing but arrogance. The line between writing a heartbreaker and publishing a rip-off is really thin, and as it stands now, Dark Phoenix Publishing has crossed it.

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