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Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"



That Old Tree posted:

I certainly won't deny that Dune can be pretty obtuse, and that shields rely a little too much on an almost total lack of terrorists existing (though that's a little bit the point), but I don't think it's a really standout example of dumb world-building. It's especially eyebrow-raising to act like Metal Gear has a leg up on it because of the in-universe bullshit that justifies a cyberninja, but if you take a step back it's still all hanging on the most ridiculous premise about nuke-spitting mecha anyway that's only compelling (?) because Kojima is a master of Infowars: the Soap Opera.

The compelling part of the titular mechs isn't that they're awe-inspiring superweapons, it's that they're a blatant, bullshit workaround to a set of arms-limitation treaties that have yet to be signed, and now a handful of random idiot terrorists with daddy issues are threatening to turn a giant military boondoggle into a global diplomatic incident. I think we're harder on Dune because it tries so hard to be convincing and serious in explaining why the setting is the way it is and CAN'T BE ANY OTHER WAY, STOP TRYING TO WORK AROUND IT instead of just admitting that the author liked swordfights and space operas so he wrote a space opera with swordfights.

I dunno maybe it's a sci-fi/fantasy thing where the harder an author tries to explain the setting's physics and how they validate the worldbuilding the more likely I am to roll my eyes at it (and in fairness to Kojima, when he did this it was because he was TRYING to kill the franchise so they'd let him work on other stuff).

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Let's not forget Metal Gear Rising wasn't written a half-century ago and has that much more technological knowhow, yet it also has stuff like Monsoon or Armstrong who are essentially magical for all the handwaving they do about science. I never particularly glommed on Dune but it's not like they're genre peers in any sense.

ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




I mean, 'Dune? Pfft, have you tried Metal Gear Rising Reveangance?' isn't the dumbest thing I've ever seen but it's not for a lack of trying.

Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Let's not forget Metal Gear Rising wasn't written a half-century ago and has that much more technological knowhow, yet it also has stuff like Monsoon or Armstrong who are essentially magical for all the handwaving they do about science. I never particularly glommed on Dune but it's not like they're genre peers in any sense.

I wasn't implying they were, or that the Metal Gear franchise was anywhere near Dune in terms of cultural impact or relevance. Just that Frank Herbert REALLY had a bug up his butt about certain avenues of technology, and it shows.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


I love MGS, but Dune's way better and more relevant. Step back from the tech and you have a story about a powerful Empire invading a desert for the thing that fuels their ships, and getting repelled by the natives, who use explicitly Muslim terminology (my edition had a glossary for words like 'Mahdi'). And there's long chapters devoted to ecology and global warming-in a book written in the 60s!

I do like the book where it's just Paul slowly mutating into a Sandworm though.

Also I swear that Hunter Seeker scene was ripped off for one of the Star Wars prequels (not that it was the first time they ripped off Dune).

Plus, Sandworms gave us Tremors.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Count Chocula posted:

I love MGS, but Dune's way better and more relevant. Step back from the tech and you have a story about a powerful Empire invading a desert for the thing that fuels their ships, and getting repelled by the natives, who use explicitly Muslim terminology (my edition had a glossary for words like 'Mahdi'). And there's long chapters devoted to ecology and global warming-in a book written in the 60s!

I do like the book where it's just Paul slowly mutating into a Sandworm though.

Also I swear that Hunter Seeker scene was ripped off for one of the Star Wars prequels (not that it was the first time they ripped off Dune).

Plus, Sandworms gave us Tremors.

The Fremen are Muslim. Zensunni.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Does any book have stats for the Jews in Space from the later books?
Can this game handle long time scales? Like charting the rise and fall of Houses?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Thesaurasaurus posted:

Yeah, it really seems like Herbert had a Thing about certain technologies, particularly guns and computers, and bent over backwards to explain they weren't in use in Dune.
The point of Holtzman shields is that it's one of many justifications for a courtly, intrigue-ridden culture where dueling, assassination, and individual skill at arms are still significant factors. The point of avoiding computers is to explore the theme of human evolution and conditioning, something that appears a great deal in his non-Dune works.

Young Freud posted:

And the thing is everyone knows about this. Really, the secret to fighting anyone in the Dune universe would be to use time-delayed lasguns or drones.
Drones? Thou shalt not disfigure the soul.

quote:

Also, shields were worthless on Arrakis except in places on foundations of rock like Arrakeen because they would attract sandworms. Sandworm don't care about your personal shield generator, either the slow process of digestion will get through the shield, you suffocate, or your shield will eventually fail.
Yeah, another thing going on in the books, especially the first, is that this highly advanced civilization is used to fighting a certain way, but their rear end is grass when fighting in circumstances that don't play to their strengths. Also, they never even considered the possibility that these "savages" could be better than their elite troops. It's got Vietnam written all over it, among other things.

That Old Tree posted:

I certainly won't deny that Dune can be pretty obtuse, and that shields rely a little too much on an almost total lack of terrorists existing (though that's a little bit the point), but I don't think it's a really standout example of dumb world-building.
This is easy to miss because my updates come out at long intervals, but: the other reason not to just arm a terrorist with a lasgun and set them against an enemy House is that a lasgun-induced nuclear explosion is treated the same as using nuclear weapons, the gravest crime in the Imperium. Are you willing to risk your home planet being destroyed, with you on it?

(Also, I can't remember my source on this, but I believe that shooting a House shield with a man-portable lasgun is much more likely to just vaporize you and do nothing to the shield.)

Thesaurasaurus posted:

I think we're harder on Dune because it tries so hard to be convincing and serious in explaining why the setting is the way it is and CAN'T BE ANY OTHER WAY, STOP TRYING TO WORK AROUND IT instead of just admitting that the author liked swordfights and space operas so he wrote a space opera with swordfights.
Well yes, but especially by the standards of the 1960s, it's good that there's an explanation at all. I think that Herbert was deliberately playing on sword-and-planet pulp stories where people are wielding rayguns and swords with no justification for why the sword is actually necessary. And few want to read a story where the hero bravely tells his computer to prosecute a war for him while he plays the baliset.

Nuns with Guns
Jul 23, 2010

....?


Count Chocula posted:

Does any book have stats for the Jews in Space from the later books?
Can this game handle long time scales? Like charting the rise and fall of Houses?

No, count choucula, you can't re-spec your vampire to a genealogical spacelord, we talked about this

chiasaur11
Oct 22, 2012





wiegieman posted:

I think it's clear that Platinum and whoever they hired to do the localization are had and shoulders above anything Kojima's guys can do.

8-4. In addition to the aforementioned work on Nier, they did Fire Emblem Awakening.

Comparing and contrasting their work on that with Fire Emblem Fates is just another small way to show how good they are at their jobs.

The Sin of Onan
Oct 11, 2012

And below,
watched by eyes of steel
we dreamt


Green Intern posted:

Sounds like a great way for a group of mages to get killed and possessed by the strix.

Do it the other way round. Make a Legacy of Liches who get their immortality by hunting down shadow-birds, trapping them with light or fire, and then huffing them like petrol fumes. There's a hosed-up antagonist for your cabal.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



The Sin of Onan posted:

Do it the other way round. Make a Legacy of Liches who get their immortality by hunting down shadow-birds, trapping them with light or fire, and then huffing them like petrol fumes. There's a hosed-up antagonist for your cabal.

If I walked in on a lich's sanctum and saw them sucking down an entire shadow owl, I'd probably just turn around and leave quietly.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


The Sin of Onan posted:

Do it the other way round. Make a Legacy of Liches who get their immortality by hunting down shadow-birds, trapping them with light or fire, and then huffing them like petrol fumes. There's a hosed-up antagonist for your cabal.

!!!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition

Dread Powers are the things that individual strix develop but which aren't universally shared. They gain them as they rise in Shadow Potency, and lose them when they drop down. They come in several types. First are the Doom Powers which augment the strix's ability to sense disaster and, to some degree, shape it.

See the Cracks: The strix is able to sense the Vice, Integrity and related Conditions of humans, or the Humanity, related conditions and banes of vampires.
Ambition's Source: The strix is able to sense the target's Aspirations.
Tip of the Tounge (prereq: SP 2): The strix gains a bonus to Manipulation-based rolls against a victim for a scene by anticipating what they are going to say and think.
Web of Destiny (prereq: SP 3): The strix can bend probability, either giving itself 8-again for a while or giving a victim a penalty to all rolls for a while.
The Beast's Rebuke (prereq: SP 4): The strix can strike a vampire with hallucinations that tempt them to indulge their Beast for several nights, causing penalties to intarct with mortals or resist frenzy. Further, while suffering from these visions, the vampire gains no benefit from Touchstones.
False Fiend (prereq: SP 4): The strix may curse someone it touches with the appearance of being possessed by a strix - waxy and corpselike skin, eyes that glint yellow, apparent (but not actual) immunity to sunlight and fire for vampires, and so on. This lasts for several nights.
Vice Manipulation (prereq: SP 5): The strix may alter the victim's Vice (or equvalent trait) to one of its choice for a month.

Host Powers are those which alter a strix's Embodiments or abilities within them. Most of these powers are permanent alterations rather than active abilities.

Breath Eater (prereq: SP 2): The strix may feed by breath-stealing even while embodied in a host.
Hollow Bones (prereq: SP 3): A possessed host of the strix has tripled jumping distance and reduced falling damage, plus the ability to spend Vitae to ensure landing safely on all fours.
Sheep's Clothing (prereq: SP 3): As long as the strix possesses Vitae above a certain level, the host shows no signs of physical degradation, though they are still occurring beneath the illusion.
Preservation (prereq: SP 5): Corpses the strix possesses do not decay. Living hosts continue to age but do not die of old age. Instead, they are warped to become more strix-like, growing claws and fangs and eventually resembling a walking corpse with a permanent snarl. If the possession lasts longer than a year, the body become so warped that when the strix leaves, the host dies.
Contagious Genesis (prereq: SP 6): The strix may create a new strix within a v ampiric host, holding it dormant in the host's blood and draining the host's Blood Potency instead of the Strix's Shadow Potency. If the embodied strix then feeds that blood to something the child-strix can possess, the child awakens and immediately possesses the victim. Otherwise, it awakens and is ejected from the shared host after several nights.
Talons of Fury (prereq: SP 7): The strix's talons and beak deal aggravated damage while materialized.

Shadow Powers grant the strix control and communion with the darkness that it lives within.

Sudden Surprise: The strx gains a large bonus to ambushing others.
Screech (prereq: SP 2): The strix can make a horrible screech that stuns its victim.
Smoke and Mirrors (prereq: SP 3): The strix may manipulate shadows and smoke to create illusory distractions. It is easiest for the strix to create shadow copies of itself or its hosts, and more difficult to make more abstract shapes. Taken a second time at SP 7, the strix can even make its illusions physical to an extent, allowing them to harm others (and be physically damaged or destroyed).
Labyrinth (prereq: SP 5): The strix takes control of a building, sealing all exits and making them vanish, except for a single access point of its choice, which need only be large enough for the strix to get out of in shadow form, but can be larger if it wants.

Vitae Powers give the strix altered or increased ability to consume and use Vitae.

Indomitable: The strix is immune to Majesty, Nightmare, Obfuscate, Dominate or any other mind-affected discipline, and when targeted by one has a chance to reflect the power back on its user, penalizing their mental and social rolls for the rest of the night.
Kindred Disciplines: The strix gains (Shadow Potency) dots spread among any Disciplines it has ever encountered, and may give up dots to gain Devotions instead. It cannot use this power to gain Theban Sorcery, but can learn Cruac and Cruac rituals. However, this still requires blood for all but the first point of Vitae, so it can only be used in a vampire host or by sacrificing vampire captives. This power can be taken multiple times.
Command the Lost (prereq: SP 4): The strix must target someone whose will is broken, by the strix or others. This includes any third stage blood bond, having no Willpower points, or having any of the Broken, Fugue, Intoxicated, Enervated or Soulless conditions. For the rest of the night, the victim must obey any instructions the strix gives, even fatal ones, and may not spend Willpower to resist any of the strix's abilities.
Shadow Infection (prereq: SP 8): The strix can put forth an enervating aura. All living beings near the strix get a penalty to all rolls and take 1L, giving the Strix 1 Vitae each. Vampires and ghouls in the area cannot spend Vitae. All of these effects last for one scene.
Soul Bite (prereq: SP 7): The strix can now attack the soul. The victim must be a conscious, living human with no supernatural powers. The strix removes the victim's soul, causing the Soulless condition. This cannot be diablkerized, but does continue to produce Vitae. The strix can shove the soul into an object, making it a phylactery that produces Vitae the strix can absorb by touch. However, anything not absorbed is lost - the phylactery can never hold more than 1 Vitae. Occasional variant powers exist that allow the strix to do things to the victim by doing things to the phylactery.

Next time: Sample striges

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


How many licks does it take to get to the Vitae center of a vampire?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition

In which we examine one of the banes of the line, namely that the pre-written adventures are almost all terrible

The sample adventure is an important part of an RPG book, I think, because many first time GMs for a system will use that as their first example of the system in motion. I admit I had been misremembering which was the sample adventure and which was the first part of the 3 book 'official' campaign it leads into; the 'official' campaign adventure is quite a bit more chock-full of some of the worst trends I've seen in published adventures for the system than the actual core book intro adventure. The intro is, aside from a few tendencies I'll discuss as we go, mostly pretty reasonable.

The introduction begins in a small town called Untergard in the province of Middenland, one of the places hardest hit by the Storm of Chaos. Untergard's bridge turned out to be a critical choke point for stopping a flanking maneuver by Beastmen, the eternal forest-dwelling murderous goatmen who so often serve as early mooks and expendable agents for Chaos. The process of fighting over the town bridge saw the eastern half of the walled settlement completely overrun by monsters and sacked, but Imperial forces and their dwarven allies beat back the enemy and forced the frustrated warherds to turn back. Now the town is trying to get back onto its feet, rebuild itself, and resettle the seventy five or so survivors of its original population. The adventure suggests PCs be travelers seeking shelter in a walled settlement, Imperial soldiers left behind as a token garrison after the regiments moved on, Untergard militia or citizens, etc depending on their careers and composition.

The adventure next introduces the named characters for the adventure. There's the fifty-something watch captain, Gerhard Schiller, whose job it is to keep the PCs a little on task and occasionally provide backup with his watchmen if the PCs are struggling with a combat (characters like him are common in early career WHFRP adventures, and I actually approve of this; there's no guarantee a party will consist of a troop of accomplished murderers and early on dice can turn against the PCs fairly hard, and having someone reasonable to ask for a bit of extra muscle in an emergency is a useful thing without taking the PCs out of the running). There's Granny Moescher, the local wisewoman, who is secretly a decent amber (beast) wizard (and completely unlicensed and self-taught, making her a potential serious danger). She's a no-nonsense respected older citizen there to convince the PCs to have compassion for refugees and innocents in danger, but she's also the driver of the climax of the adventure. There's Hans Baumer, a local woodsman whose only real role in the plot is to tell the PCs and Schiller that there's a renewed warherd coming and the town will need to be evacuated. And then there's Father Dietrich, an older priest of Sigmar whose job is mostly to be a decent guy, offer occasional advice to the PCs, and then die in a cutscene and pass off a MacGuffin that will set off a pretty dumb subplot in the official campaign.

The adventure begins with things looking pretty good for the village. The Beastmen were driven back during the war, and not only that, but news has arrived that Middenheim was held and the war is (mostly) over, barring cleaning up chaos remnants and raiders. Not only that, but the Graf of Middenheim, the ridiculously named Boris Toddbringer (get used to hilarious German names like Boris Death-bringer, it's a Warhams tradition), has sent supplies to help in feeding the villagers and rebuilding now that the worst is over. The game has a big table for rolling Gossip to find out all kinds of rumors from the villagers while waiting for the announcement of this news in the town square, but very few of them have any bearing on the adventure and it feels like a waste of time. Especially as all the ones that sound like adventure seeds (like the rumor of a mercenary company pay chest lost out in the woods) are noted as being false. Kind of a dick move to tell players a bunch of possible sidequests/adventure seeds early on (that they only get for succeeding a skill test) and then if they pursue them say 'oh those weren't real'.

As the local captain is announcing the good news (including the news that Middenheim has held and the Empire is victorious), there's a gunshot from an unseen sniper. It misses the captain, but smashes a bottle of wine from the count's supplies, panicking the crowd. As people search for the source of the gunshot, a troop of mutated former citizens from the east side of town cross the bridge; the PCs will be the only people close enough to react in time and defend the crowd. Four mostly-unarmed mutants with no armor and relatively poor stats make for a decent intro combat; even a PC who has only an average WS and a hand weapon should be able to handle one, and everyone starts with one of those. If the PCs are having trouble, the adventure allots a few Watchmen to the fight after a few rounds, with the explanation that the PCs at least held them back from attacking the villagers and gave the guards time to organize and come to their aid. After the attack, no-one ever finds the shooter with the handgun who started the whole mess (it was a fifth mutant taking a shot from a grassy knoll across the bridge), but the guards from the village gate report a raiding party of Beastmen tried to use the diversion to climb the walls. They were stopped, partly thanks to the PCs holding off the diversion, but this is followed by Hans Baumer returning to report that the next village over has been sacked and a 200 monster Warherd is heading for Untergard. A few dozen able-bodied militia will not be able to hold the town, even with the PCs' help, and so the decision is eventually made to seek shelter in Middenheim, six days' journey away. Also important to the adventure: The Graf Strenhauser of the neighboring village of Grimminhagen survived the sack by hiding in his castle with his personal troops, and the people of Untergard have no love for the man; their village was founded by serfs who escaped from his grandfather's harsh taxation and poor rule, and to them, the man surviving by neglecting his duties is hardly unexpected. The PCs are asked to help the column of refugees; the game says that if they refuse and strike out on their own, they should have a perilous journey of their own just to remind them what they left a bunch of defenseless refugees to struggle through alone, but providing a whole second adventure for PCs who don't want to have the one written here is a bit beyond their pagecount.

If the PCs decide to have the adventure they're on, the book suggests letting them take whatever positions their abilities allow within the caravan (Students and others with Heal helping anyone with injuries or ailments, outdoorsmen helping scout, soldiers helping the beleaguered Watch, etc) but little of what they do will have much practical effect. The party's route will take them past the neighboring town of Grimminhagen, recently sacked by the forces of Chaos, as they head north to Middenheim; the people of Untergard still don't care for Grimminhagen after the history between their two towns and resolve not to bother warning any survivors or wasting time stopping there. The PCs are free to be a bit less dickish and make their way into town, if they wish. There isn't much they can do, as the people of Grimminhagen refuse to evacuate and the locals from Untergard wouldn't accept them in the convoy, but they can at least warn the survivors about the incoming Warherd; maybe they'll have some time to prepare or a few will escape.

The second day of the six day march is designed to warn the players there's something wrong with Granny Moescher, and also to give them a chance to do something diplomatic. Granny has wandered off seeking healing herbs, and her being missing is a cause of great consternation to the caravan; she's responsible for the care of several war orphans and she's one of the best doctors the people have access to. With the guards needed to watch the camp, the PCs are sent out to find her. When they do, they find she's stumbled into a patrol of wood elves wandering the Drakwald forest, and that for some reason they believe she's a witch in league with the dark powers. This is where we begin to get at some of the problems with the adventure: The adventure gives the PCs a chance to make a Charm test at +20% to convince the elves Granny is no threat; there is no information on what happens if they fail. Secondly, they get a second chance to do it with a Trade (Herbalist) test at +10% to explain the herbs really are just healing herbs (a skill PCs are kind of unlikely to have, by the way) while they also get an Academic Lore (Magic) test (if they have an apprentice wizard or something) to identify the same herbs are often used in ritual magic. There's no provision for what happens if the players make the Magic test and say 'Hey, the elves might be right. Maybe she IS a witch.' (Especially as, c'mon, you can tell: The elves are totally right). Rolling dice without an idea of what the consequences are if you fail, getting information with the explicit note that the players probably don't want to act on it (it says they should keep a success on the Magic test secret and nothing further)...these don't seem like components of a well-constructed encounter. Further, there's a sure-fire way to resolve the entire situation and that's to just tell the elves about the Warherd to the south; if the PCs do they decide they have much more important matters and run off immediately to scout that. The whole encounter strikes me as trying to give a diplomacy character something to roll for, but constructed so that even if they fail there's an easy out by just talking through the situation, rendering it kind of pointless. Also, let's face it: Put an old woman who has been around as long as anyone can remember, who refuses to come into town and live there, who goes off on her own to do odd things at night, and who is gathering ritual magic herbs (if they players figure that out) in front of a party and then have a bunch of elves accuse her of witchcraft and you should probably at least account for the possibility the players might be paranoid enough to believe them.

Next: Some cutscenes. Then some gameplay. I'm going into this level of detail on this adventure because, as I said, this is going to be a lot of players' first exposures to how to build an adventure for this system, and I can't say it's an especially good one. Not as bad as I remembered, but still.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 13:44 on Aug 4, 2017

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Doresh posted:

How many licks does it take to get to the Vitae center of a vampire?

One, Twohohooo, Three, (crunch) Diablathree.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

One, Twohohooo, Three, (crunch) Diablathree.

Hoot hoot sirediablerizer.

(Never let me GM any Vampire session that has even the faintest chance of strix encounters.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Also a quick note: If starting players who have yet to gain any EXP are rolling a test in Warhams, a +20% means they'll be going at generally 40-60% odds. Something to keep in mind whenever reading test difficulties in adventures.

In general one of the biggest problems is there's too much rolling when the stakes aren't actually hugely consequential. When you have a system where your odds start fairly low like this or basic roleplaying system from CoC, you want to only call for skill rolls when there's something pretty serious at stake. A good example is the clue about the herbs; that's a good use of a roll because knowing it could really open up alternate courses of action if you have the skill (even if the adventure doesn't account for it). Rolling +30% Gossip tests to get fake plot hooks? That's a waste of everyone's time.

Also, if your system generally has 30-50% odds for 'hard' tests early on, the system will be in dire need of fail forward mechanics. There are no fail forward mechanics in any published adventure I've read. Later published adventures will be full of "Roll Perception at -10 to find plot." with no recourse but to keep rolling until you succeed if you don't, rendering it meaningless. This is a flaw in the system that can be addressed by better adventure design, at least; for my personal games, if, say I'm having the PC research odd rumors about the Nuln opera house to look into a hunch there's an old tomb under the place, I'd make a failure on the academics roll provide the bare minimum information necessary to get into the plot, with more successes unlocking shortcuts or easier, safer ways to go about the adventure.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:59 on Dec 28, 2016

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Doresh posted:

Hoot hoot sirediablerizer.

(Never let me GM any Vampire session that has even the faintest chance of strix encounters.)

Give a Hoot, Don't Reconstitute(a child out of your own death shadow flesh)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition

We told you this story so you could lead into our longer form published campaign

Alright, so I'd forgotten how close we are to done with this adventure; I thought a little more happened. Instead, the next event has the PCs coming upon a ruined caravan and a terrible slaughter up ahead as they scout for the refugees. They must immediately test WP or gain 1 Insanity point from seeing the mangled bodies and broken wagons, and on searching the area the find the people of the caravan were apparently wealthy merchants and a few guards, murdered by black-fletched arrows. A successful Search test nets the PCs a left-behind shield and a couple crossbow bolts, but nothing else. A successful Common Lore (The Empire)-10 nets them the information that this was goblin work. While they're doing all this, Granny sees an old, faded sign saying this crossroads is near the town of Fahndorf, and reflects that her family died in that town, killed by the Graf Strenhauser's men for trying to avoid his taxes. Given that incident is what led to the people of Fahndorf leaving and founding Untergard 100 years ago...this is intended to be the moment the PCs put two and two together and realize something is seriously wrong with Granny (hey look the elves were right). Before they can do anything with this information (assuming they figure it out), there's a thump from the ambush site and Father Dietrich vanishes from view. When the PCs (probably) rush to his side, they find he stumbled on a goblin pit trap while blessing the corpses and he's currently impaled on sharpened stakes and mortally wounded. He presses a small painting into their hands and begs them to make sure it gets to High Capitular Werner Stolze in Middenheim, saying it's an important holy relic. This exists entirely to be a macguffin for the next published adventure and has nothing to do with this one's plot. The book then suggests making the players nervous about possible future goblin attack, but that no goblin attack is coming and you should 'make them make Perception rolls just to scare then'

I want to find every adventure author who has ever made that suggestion and rub their noses in it. This is bullshit of the highest order: I've just talked about (and the GAME ITSELF TALKED ABOUT, back in the GMing chapter) how rolls should only be for consequential situations, and here it's pulling the old, stupid GMing trick of fake perception tests. No no no! It also suggests making sure the PCs make arrangements against goblins that aren't coming, etc. This is not a replacement for actual gameplay or tension!

When the caravan next stops, a couple days out from Middenheim, the game notes the PCs might be 'suspicious' of Granny by this point and expects they'll be watching her. If they do, they make a Perception -10 test to see if they notice a raven leaving her tent shortly before she's noted as missing. If they don't, some of the orphans notice she's missing and panic, crying for Granny, and can report the raven and oh goddamnit look another test that doesn't actually matter. The orphans also report she was crying after coming near Fahndorf and talking about 'what's power if you don't use it', and the PCs will find she left a note in her wagon. The note is a message from Granny apologizing to the Captain for leaving the children, but saying she goes to settle her debt with the Sternhauser family and that she is willing to pay the price for it. Granny has decided that now is the time to use a forbidden spell she happened to have to summon a 'spirit of vengeance' (Chaos Demon) and send it after the cowardly Graf of Grimminhagen. The book has all sorts of ways to cajole the PCs to head to the ruins of Fahndorf and confront her, and hilariously notes one of the reasons they might be unwilling is because they fear a goblin attack on the caravan due to all those fake perception tests earlier. If the PCs refuse to investigate, they miss the conclusion of the adventure and lose some EXP at the end. If they go, they get to actually do something for once.

The PCs arrive to see the crazy witch has built a massive bonfire on the outskirts of the old town, and that she's protected by dark wolves controlled by her beast magic. They have 3 rounds to stop her before she finishes her work and summons a demon, and there's one wolf per PC if they try to just fight through. They can try to distract or reason with her enough to make her pause and fail the ritual, try to douse the fire, or kill her. There is an insistence that any diplomatic solution not 'involve dice' but rather what the diplomat decides to say, because we haven't had enough bad old-school design in this adventure already. Other than that, this part of the encounter is actually pretty decent: There are some good, broad solutions available, a clear threat, and some clear stakes that some awful stuff is going to happen if they don't stop Granny. The annoying part is if the spell succeeds, things turn to a cutscene instantly as the fiery, winged demon appears and then immediately flies off to destroy the Sternhauser castle and kill everyone inside, despite being a Lesser Demon. A starting party, for reference, can pretty easily kill a lesser demon in open combat. I'd have preferred the option for a dangerous but doable early boss fight if the heroes fail to stop the rite but wish to intervene bravely. Whatever happens, either the ritual faltering will kill Granny or the players will; all that matters is if an offscreen NPC and his family get murdered by a minor demon summoned by a crazy old witch.

After that, we're back to cutscene as they reach the damaged city of Middenheim safely, with the rest of the refugees in tow. That's it. That's the ending. If they succeeded, they get 175 EXP for the first adventure, and if they failed, 125. So to sum up: The players have one very easy intro fight early, do a bunch of stuff that doesn't affect anything, watch a couple NPCs do things, and then have one actual confrontation that doesn't affect anything they really care about. This adventure is really not a good introduction to one of my favorite RPG settings. It's full of rolls for the sake of rolls, and there's never actually any peril that afflicts the convoy despite that being the premise of the adventure; it's all about some old grudge by an ancient witch that has nothing to do with the PCs.

Next Time: North, West, or East? We start on the sourcebooks, once I decide on Realm of the Ice Queen (Kislev), Knights of the Grail (Bretonnia), or Night's Dark Masters (Vampires, Sylvania!) next!

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 13:48 on Aug 4, 2017

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Night10194 posted:

Next Time: North, West, or East? We start on the sourcebooks, once I decide on Realm of the Ice Queen (Kislev), Knights of the Grail (Bretonnia), or Night's Dark Masters (Vampires, Sylvania!) next!

Vampires. Let's show those World-of-Darkness guys how things are run in the Old World.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




Yes , vampire counts.

Zomborgon
Feb 19, 2014

I don't even want to see what happens if you gain CHIM outside of a pre-coded system.



Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Yes , vampire counts.


Indeed they do.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition

The strix are a very diverse crowd. One of the more 'normal' strix is known as Anna Red. She's more rumor than fact, but is a very widespread rumor. All sorts of stuff is blamed on Anna Red. A Nosferatu vanishes in Portland. A ghoul family is massacred in Georgia. All sorts of stuff gets blamed on her. A lot of vampires don't think Anna Red exists as more than an urban legend and convenient name for fear. The truth? She's around. She's a cunning sort, and sees her work almost as art. She likes a refined sort of fear. She starts off by killing some random person that won't be missed, then again, and so on. Eventually the cops realize a serial killer is out there - though sometimes she has to start leaving clues to get them on that track. The media begins to get involved, but because of who Anna targets, the community rarely rallies. She leaves just enough clues to get vampires to believe it's another vampire doing the killing. She evades the cops for a while and the vampires begin to grow concerned and start covering things up. That's when she moves on to committing hate crimes on minority groups, in order to get people angry and suspecting coverups. Once that happens, she will pick a random, completely average family and breakinto their home. Ideally, this sparks a panic and a few copycats. That's when she finally goes after a respectable, wealthy person, ideally a vampire or servant of one, and kills them in public but without being spotted, always in a clearly supernatural manner and always leaving the victim drained of blood. Then she has fun keeping the panic going for a while before getting bored and wandering away for a few years to hunt travelers.

Then you have the Baron. Since 1853, it's been riding around in a Mekhet by the name of Boron Ornskold, who was less than a decade dead when he ran into the owl. It diablerized Ornskold's sire, the Countess Oxenstierna, and then took off for America, for safety. Since then, Ornskold has been torpid in his own body and the strix has done a very good job pretending to be him. He's sired three childer, none of which have spoken to the actual Mekhet. All are in some way marked by strix weirdness, but only one suspects anything is up. The Baron enjoys his life as a eccentric vampire in an expensive manor house, maintaining his charade of vampirism with care. He sees himself as a hunter of other vampires, but the joy is in the hunt, not the catch, and his grounds are his manor. He only ever picks those vampires that will not be missed - mostly itinerant Gangrel or outcast Nosferatu, though he will occasionally spice it up with more potent prey. His first method, the one he favors, is to get his prey to come to him. He does, after all, have a carefully grown reputation for listening to and hjelping the oviceless. Many come to him for aid. Three out of four are allowed to leave. The other method is kidnapping, and he only uses it when very hungry. Regardless of how he gets his prey, however, it all ends the same: the victim awakens in the mansion to find all the exits have vanished. The Baron appears and tells them that if they can escape the place intact, they may go free. Very few ever manage it.

The Black Cat is a strix that prefers to hide within animals. They coexist with humans, so it has plenty of prey. Once it has a dead animal to live in, it starts looking for vampires, studies them to learn about them and then begins to plan. The Black Cat has a goal: it wants to tear down the kingdom of glass that vampires have made for themselves, to show them the truth: they're monsters, cannibals that prey on their former families, bringing pain and misery wherever they go. They're just pretending to be refined, having forgotten the laws of the jungle. The B lack Cat hates vampires because of this, because they have forgotten that it is force that proves their worth. It almost respects those vampires that set themselves up as kings and queens of blood, but the days of these old tyrants are gone. The Black Cat hates the modern world for its bringing of weakness to the Beast, and it wants to bring things back to the hunter's paradise, one vampire at a time. It will only ever use animal hosts, and will do anything it can to provoke the Beasts of the vampires it stalks. It will occasionally possess draugr, whom it likes for having returned to their primal selves. When it speaks, which is rare, it says that vampires were made to be the world's greatest predator - untiring, unaging, immune to disease and poison, hunting by night. They were meant to rule the night, but now they hide and humans rule the world. The Black Cat wants to remind them that they aren't a 'who' - they're a 'what.'

Granny is one of the rare strix that tries to both be hidden and notorious. She presents herself as a benevolent old creature while leaving a deliberate trail of clues that point to her true nature. She prefers to wear the bodies of kindly-looking old women, often making deals with them to get their cooperation. She is a strange and quiet creature that trades advice for trinkets and small favors. Her advice is well sought, but she's never easy to find. She is always helpful and insightful, however. Most who know of her believe her to be some kind of witch or perhaps a knowledge spirit. Her price is always low, but her advice and her cost are always chosen to benefit her. She gives advice that nudges people to what she wants, and her price is never as harmless as it first seems. Granny is excellent at seeing the web of influence and connection around her and loves finding just the right thread to pull to cause disaster. It can never be easily traced to her, but she loves putting out clues that she knows her mental inferiors will never find. Sometimes, she is wrong. She doesn't especially favor any specific kind of disaster, save that she likes targeting the wealthy and powerful. She sees herself as a master of manipulation and is proud of it. The effect is less important to her than the act - she'll as happily cause plane crashes as ruin happy marriages. The problem is that since the consequences rarely hit those who come to her for aid and her advice is so good, many would still seek her out if they knew what was going on and even what she was. Granny is not entirely indirect, however. She becomes extremely enraged when her plans are foiled, and she is nowhere near as old or fragile as her favored bodies look. When angered, she sprouts owl talons and attacks, then generally finds a way to make the death cause more chaos and keep her hidden. However, she finds simple murder to be unspeakably unartistic most of the time.

Hantu the Sorcerer is first mentioned in legends from Indonesia. Unlike most strix, it never possesses vampires and only rarely possesses corpses. Instead, it sticks to its natural form, though it does raise zombies as servants at times. Hantu despises the Kindred for reasons now lost even to it. It prefers not to speak anyway, keeping its mystery to enhance the fear its victims feel. Some believe it once made a clan, but they betrayed or failed it. These theories claim Hantu was the Mekhet progenitor, and certainly it seems to hate the Mekhet more than other clans. The problem is that it is a master of dark magic, having learned its skills over centuries. It is more skilled in blood sorcery than any mortal or vampire, and legend holds it even can command souls. Some say that vampires themselves are unsafe from its soul hunger - it diablerizes them and uses their souls to fuel its powers. Whether true or not, it certainly does prefer to keep some victims, often Mekhet, 'alive' and incapacitated. No one knows why. Hantu is rarley seen in urban areas, and always at times of great disaster for vampires. Once, this meant vampire hunting crusades, inexplicble thinning of the Blood or plagues that killed most of a domain's mortals. In the modern era, vampires blame Hantu for bridge collapses, tornados and ice storms. Hantu is one of the most feared of the strix, especially by elder vampires.

The Lady of Shivs is a strix that works to vent her rage against the elder vampires. Three incidents are known to be her fault. One of them ended with every vampire in one city gone without trace. Her MO is subtle - she recruits the weak and the bottom of vampiric society, uniting them under banner of revolution. She works her way up by charisma and perceptiveness, personalizing her pitch to her audience. She brings the hope of change to young vampires, and when her nature is finally discovered, she has built an army of fanatics. Tensions rise around her, and even the most skilled politicians find their options limited to violence. The best way to handle her is to find her early, before she has a chance to build up her forces. That's not easy, though, and she's just one strix. Often the paranoia of her is just as bad.

The Lord of Irons likes cops. Mostly corrupt and brutal ones. It enjoys being them. It doesn't wreck societies - it's just a parasite, enjoying the failings of law and order. It doesn't scheme - it's up close and personal. It just does this because it's fun, because it's thrilling. It messes with its victims, and sometimes it loses. Then it just finds a new host and moves on. Sometimes, it's simple - beat someone up badly, discredit them, whatever. Sometimes it's subtle - take bribes, allow crime to happen, tamper with evidence. It's never very long-term. The Lord of Irons is a creature of instant gratification, with no true goal. It just likes ruining lives. It's spiteful, vindictive - and because it doesn't care about sticking around, it doesn't hold back. It usually takes over a crooked cop, since that's easier for it to do unnoticed, especially in underfunded departments where crime is already high. It prefers poor targets. It is persistent - if caught or killed, it tries again with a new cop, usually going for revenge on whoever spoiled its fun. Usually, it's caught and driven off after a month or two, but that's plenty of time. Some who notice its trail of rotted corpses suspect a curse or angry spirit. His victims really don't have many options except getting friends to help protect them, unfortunately, given how determined the strix is to cause problems and how little it cares about its hosts.

Marty Baxton, Bax if you're a friend, seems to be an easygoing Carthian neonate. He's awkward but friendly enough and seems lacking in guile. He has little ambition and is quick to make friends and help others for little payment. He knows he's being used but doesn't care as long as it's friendly. And...well, Marty is a strix. He's not really malicious. He just likes pretending to be a vampire. He has no apparent goal, and the only real odd thing about him is that he doesn't frenzy or even get angry - though sometimes he'll feign anger, though the clever will notice that it's not very sincere. This is because the strix inside doesn't really get emotion. It finds pleasure easiest to understand and is trying to leanr anger, but finds it difficult to feel. It wants to avoid making waves and is eager to please. Most take it for a fool and are happy to use and discard Marty, unaware that as they do, the strix is learning more and more about them and how they think. Smetimes, Marty will give away the secrets he learns, because his payment is learning to hide among and master the emotions of those around him. His ultimate foal is unclear, perhaps even to himself. For now, he just studies, makes allies and gathers secrets. Perhaps one day he'll go for a power play or spread mass chaos among his community, then vanish to do the same thing again somewhere new.

Mother is a strix that has lost her way. She once had a purpose. She had wrath that sustained her, a line of vampires that she once tormented. They're gone now. There's no joy for Mother in tormenting the children of another. She wants something new, exciting. Specifically, Mother wants to make a new clan of vampires so she can spend her time joyfully tormenting them and venting her rage upon them. Owl imagery is common in the legends of the Daeva and other clans, and it is believed that the Julii were somehow created by the Strix. Mother has no idea how, though. So far, all she can make are flawed creations, though she believes practice will improve her abilities. She lets her monsters run free, invariably to be destroyed by the sun, mortals or vampires. Thankfully, the stories of half-owl mutants are tabloid fodder, but vampires are afraid. These creatures are vampiric in that they drink blood, are undead and burn in sunlight, but all are monstrously deformed, with beaks or owl eyes or ugly feathery growths or mouths full of beak-like fangs. None can pass for human and none have any more intellect than a draugr. Mother doesn't mind. She may be decades away from her goal at best, but she's immortal. Few suspect a strix is behind these creatures, but all of them are a threat to the Masquerade and an affront to the pride of the Kindred. If Mother succeeds, a new clan will be born, and the Kindred do not like the new and unknown. Or perhaps Mother will end up tearing down the Masquerade. Either way, her creations need to be destroyed - and so does she.

Next time: More strix

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Marty seems pretty at odds with the presentation of the Strix so far. All of the rest of them are some sort of fetishists who get off on being cackling villains and don't really seem to have any goals or desires beyond getting a boner from vampire misery.

But then you've got this guy who's just chilling and hanging out, possibly even without some horrible long-term plan, because he seems to be too retarded to "get" long-term planning and being creatively evil at the moment. "'sup guys isn't it cool I'm a vampire lol. gonna gitchoor blood lol. so you guys wanna play cards or maybe teach me what being angry is all about"

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Requiem feels like it can't decide whether it wants to be a game about vampire politics or strix paranoia or something else entirely.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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It would probably help to understand that the original pitch was 'we're going to do some rules revisions but this book is actually about running a campaign based on the strix' back when the 2e books were having to be slipped under CCCP's radar because they wouldn't approve a second edition.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


PurpleXVI posted:

Marty seems pretty at odds with the presentation of the Strix so far. All of the rest of them are some sort of fetishists who get off on being cackling villains and don't really seem to have any goals or desires beyond getting a boner from vampire misery.

But then you've got this guy who's just chilling and hanging out, possibly even without some horrible long-term plan, because he seems to be too retarded to "get" long-term planning and being creatively evil at the moment. "'sup guys isn't it cool I'm a vampire lol. gonna gitchoor blood lol. so you guys wanna play cards or maybe teach me what being angry is all about"

Every splat has its black sheep. Marty is just a vampire otaku. Or maybe even a kindraboo.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





As far as I can tell, having read Werewolf 2E and comparing it to Requiem 2E, second edition really enjoys introducing a new Out of Context threat - for the wolves it's the Idigam, unspirits of ancient power and protean form, that break all sorts of rules of spirit - and having that as sort of a back end to a general setting book. So you have the Vampire Politics core of Vampire, along with the Strix, who are the Big Weird Thing vampires can be made to deal with. I feel like the 2E ideal is probably to run a vampire politics game for a while then drop in some Strix.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition

Mr. Scratch likes to break Princes. Not that they often need the help - many vampires go mad fine on their own. Mr. Scratch just helps it along. When a vampire wants power at any cost, Mr. Scratch is happy to help make them prince, or keep them there. But there's a price. Generally, the price is that he takes over your body and then uses your political power to gently caress with people. Sometimes, he prefers a long game, running the chaos out as far as he can. Sometimes he is simple and brutal. Every so often he's just petty, doing things like banning the use of red clothes or other stupid edicts just to annoy people. The one thing he always has is a goal of undermining vampiric faith in their own societies. Beyond that, he's just bored. He wants to be entertained, and his entertainment is cruel and ridiculous. Sometimes, he burns a domain to ruin. Others, he's just goofy and harmless until some decade-later event brings it all down. His sense of humor is inhuman and usually fatal. If confronted, he often just leaves his host to take the fall and skips town. Mr. Scratch can be charming, charismatic or brutal as needed, and is very good at hiding what he is. He truly enjoys gaining the trust of an entire domain, then betraying them all and loving off. If he beleves that someone has figured out his next action, he will always do the opposite - a trait that can be used to trap him.

Ms. Gem has a simple set of behaviors. Live hard, die young, find a new toy. She enjoys stealing the bodies of the young and thriving, then wringing them of all they have to offer. Drugs of all kinds, parties, extreme sports, sex, street fights, riots - anything exciting, fun or adrenaline-fueled. She'll do it over and over, until she destroys her host, then she'll move on to do it again. She prefers young, attractive and fit hosts, usually middle class and under 25, but she'll make exceptions for others that catch her eye. She takes them and rides them to destruction. She's not sadistic about it, just utterly indifferent and amoral. She doesn't care about those she hurts, she just wants to have fun. The fact that she ends up destroying lives and reputations is just how things are. She's selfish and sees the world purely in terms of obstacles to overcome or avoid and opportunities to seek out and savor. Ms. Gem also enjoys bodies that experience chronic and painful conditions, abusing them as much as she can to experience and savor the pain. When she gets a vampire, which isn't often, she is very happy - they're so resilient and can suffer and feel pleasure in so many ways. If she could, she'd love to try other supernaturals, too, but has never had the chance and is too impatient to plan out such a thing. She's been around since ancient Rome and knows quite a lot about their ancient mystery cults, but she doesn't care much about the knowledge. It's boring and valueless to her, and she'd happily trade it for some new fun.

Old Man Marshe likes to eat vampires. He is neither subtle nor suave. Indeed, he rarely even speaks. He just stalks and kills, and he's very good at it. He always goes after those who hunt vagrants, especially vampires, though a human is just as much fun for him to devour. And that's literal - he eats everything. Blood, flesh, bone and even clothes. All that ends up left are specks of blood and bone in his beard - because unlike most strix, his host always has the same appearance. He's an old, bald man with a long and scraggly beard full of gross bits. His eyes are always yellow and glossy, and his skin is covered in dark splotches. He does not appear to decay and he has never had another body. It is unclear if the strix preserves the body or if it transforms all of its hosts into that shape. His clothing is filthy and he stinks of urine, blood and booze. He lurches, but it is deceptively fast, even able to catch up with Celerity. Only a few have ever survived his attacks, and he is exceptionally strong, able to crush bone with his bare hands. He enjoys prolonging the suffering of his victims, killing from the feet up. He mutters strange things as he eats, usually unintelligible. He is rarely seen in the same place twice and he has never been caught by any vampires hunting him. Occasionally, a lucky and skilled vampire will escape him or defeat him, but even the greatest wounds have never slowed him down. When seen next, the wounds are always gone. Some vampires believe he heals his host by devouring others.

Pastor Samuel is a strix that saw early potential in religion. He's been many names for many years, but for the last 20, he's been the Pastor. He started a small church in a poor area, taking in the lost and disenfranchised by his charisma. From the outside, his church appears old and rundown, but inside it is warm and welcoming, though the iconography is surprisingly bloody. Pastor Samuel favors hellfire, damnation and demons in his sermons, and he actively encourages his flock to help him banish them. Violent criminals, suspected witches, vampires - especially vampires. He directs his loyal church to hunt them, helped by the information he gives them. They bring these creatures to the church, where they are burned in secret. Despite his age, 'Pastor Samuel' looks no different than he did thirty years ago. No one questions it, though. The strix has found a way to slow the corpse's decay, allowing it to hide the rot, but its people wouldn't care anyway. Samuel is their leader, period. They are a blind cult that believe in him utterly. He maintains himself on their freely offered blood and donations of money, which he has used to create a horrific dungeon under the church, in which his prey are 'cleansed' by blood and fire while the congregation prays. The church never meets except at night, and Samuel personally welcomes every new member. Once he's accepted them, they never feel again the need to belong or any uncertainty. They know their place in God's plan, and Samuel is happy to tell them what it is. He's also happy to burn vampires, because hey, if they want to call themselved Damned...

The Photographer is...different. It is obsessed with photographs. It will take any host that owns the equipment it wants - correct lenses and cameras, never digital. It is an artist, consumed with the need to take the perfect picture, captured in the perfect moment. Sure, you could work with software and airbrushes, but to the Photographer, that makes it painting. It wants pure, perfect photography. To do that, it needs the perfect object, which doesn't exist. So, instead, it creates it. The Photographer's camera does not capture reality as it stands, but as it could be if it were perfect. The act of taking the picture turns its subject into the perfect version of itself, making it and the picture flawless. All it costs is your soul. And hey, that doesn't show up on camera, right? The Photographer is a myth that passes between people who care about apperances - sometimes a catuionary tale, sometimes not. Youth and beauty are very tempting, after all. And it's real, the offer is genuine...and hey, maybe the people who take the deal end up robotic, distant, easily commanded...but that's just a job hazard for show business, right? The act of being photographed by the strix, however, is addicted - and those who keep coming back eventually go into a coma and die. And...well, it's not perfect. All the flaws the camera removed, everything stolen - that all ends up in the photo negatives. Develop the picture, it shows perfection, but the negative shows a run-down, broken world of flaws and failures...a vibrant, lively one, of course. (The Photographer's art uses a unique version of Soul Bite. It must be done to a target that consents to be photographed, and it only takes a part of the soul each time, but it can't be resisted and it also gives Striking Looks 2 and a persistent Addicted condition.)

The Ringmaster dates back to ancient Rome. It became fascinated by gladitorial combat. Bloodsport has fascinated vampires for a long time, as well, and the Ringmaster has decided to fill that need. Some of its shows are open to anyone that pays, some to only an exclusive few. It does not offer up mere violence, though. Its fights are special - supernatural. Vampire on vampire, vampire on hunters, vampire on werewolf, whatever he can arrange. The Ringmaster doesn't especially care where his marks come from. What he wants is to see the blood. He feeds on it, literally - every match drains the spilled blood into a tank the strix then bathes in. His matches are always to the death - you never get more than one loss. But even more than the blood, the Ringmaster loves the humiliation. He hates vampires, and he loves to see them debased, exposed for the pitiful worms they are before a roaring crowd. He revels in the loss of Humaniuty as the warriors fight and kill for no reason. He makes them into animals, and the equally animal viewers pay him for the privilege. Not all of his fighters are willing. He pays well, but some need convincing. That's why he uses a Ventrue host athat is a master of Dominate, and on top of that he's also learned some Majesty and is just charismatic on his own. And, of course, if need be he's not above kidnapping. His big weakness is that the Ringmaster is complacent. He's got a good thing going, he's spent time on it, and he will fight tooth and nail to keep it. He could start over, but his pride won't let him. His big strength? Almost everyone involved is willing. Sure, there's plenty that aren't, but most are. The crowd loves him, too. The Lancea et Sanctum thinks he's a valuable member. He's connected, and he'll use that to the fullest.

The Strix Hunter is weird even by strix standards. The strix aren't a monolith, of course. Each is its own mystery. To vampires, it seems the strix were made to harry them, but they also fight each other for reasons few outsiders could ever grasp. Their goals are sometimes at odds, and of course, they are hungry. They hunger for blood, yes, for Vitae...but they also hunger for each other. Vampires rarely have the chance to study this, but they know that sometimes, the strix are fierce with each other. You can't trust the enemy of your enemy, though. Even the most benign are monstrous predators with alien motives. The Strix Hunter, though, exclusively hunts other strix. It rarely explains why. Instead, it just tends to possess a vampire in a strix-heavy area and use the body to hunt down its prey. Once it corners them, it devours them. At that point it leaves its host, confused and having lost Humanity for no clear reason. It's clear the Strix Hunter gains something from it. No one is sure what. Some think that it uses vampires to do the devouring because diablerie is as much a sin for strix as for vampires. Others believe the Hunter just likes the rush and uses a body because that heightens the pleasure. Some wonder if the Strix Hunter, like vampiric elders, can no longer make do with mortal blood - or even vampiric blood.

Teach is a monster among monsters. It knows that preying on children is something only the worst creatures do...so it's decided that'll be its MO. It does not favor one gender or the other for hosts, but because of modern demographics, it often ends up in a female body. That's because Teach exclusively targets popular and beloved grade school teachers. Once it finds one, it takes over, feigning illness to avoid daylight when it can and having the kids come to it for well-wishing and questions. It brainwashes them into its own tiny cult. Teach has developed the power to brainwash children - and only children. The power doesn't work on adults for some reason. Teach will occasionally kill children, for food or fun, but the other kids do anything htey can to cover it up, even at the cost of their own lives. That's part of why Teach does it - it's an easy life to maintain, at the center of the web. When discovery looms, iut just kills all its slaves in a ritual murder-suicide, lets the news media do the rest and goes on its merry way, having ruined the life and reputation of an innocent teacher. This makes fighting it difficult - wait too long and it'll eat the kids, but tip your hand and they all die. Its weakness is the paper trial it's left. It does the routine every 10 years or so, starting 30 years ago. On the second one of these, someone almost found out its nature and it didn't cover up well enough. The clues are there for anyone to find, if they're willing to deal with vampires. Teach does have a goal - the killings are not random, though many are just for food. There is a method. It's working at a sorcerous pattern, though it's instinctive rather than conscious. Teach only knows the pattern exists, not what it does, and if that pattern can be broken, it will be too stunned even to harm its children.

The Thief of Masques has a really special hate on for vampires. Or, more specifically, for the Masquerade. It believes that vampires have become weak, letting themselves be ruled by fear of humans and the Beast. It wants to return them to their roots by fire. If the Masquerade falls, vampires either adapt or die. If they can't, they don't deserve to exist anyway. This makes the Thief one of the most dangerous strix. It knows why the Masquerade is there and how to break it. It likes flagrant displays of power and high profile violence. It's an excellent mimic, able to take on nearly any form, even those of its former victims. It often uses Disciplines so that it can gently caress with the Masquerade even without a vampiric host. When it does take a host, it abuses its ability to walk in sunlight to overpower other vampires and stage high-profile crimes, particularly those that involve more violence to itself than any human could handle. It obviously draws the hatred of any vampires it meets, and sometimes other supernatural beings. It's hard to catch because it will flee if found without a host unless a fight would damage the Masquerade. It will happily possess anyone it needs and is very good at hiding when it has to. It will also happily bring hunters down on vampires, but only if it can ensure the information will somehow be spread. It thought the internet would be a great way to shatter the Masquerade, but it turns out that easily faked videos and Internet jadedness have been super disappointing to it. Still, it never stops trying.

Last on our list is Varney the Vampire. Strix occasionally do go mad. Vampires theorize that when not in a host, their minds often warp, much as some vampires can in torpor. This is why they make so many conflicting claims. Of course, they may just be lying. Varney - Francis Varney, these days - has lost most of the truth in all its lies. It haunts a family, the Bannerworths, who have long believed themselves cursed. Those who succeed in life invariably find their fortunes destroyed and often come to a violent end. Even marriage and relocation doesn't help. Ten generations ago, the strix - who has forgotten any name it had - possessed the Bannerworth patriarch, Matthias, initially just to torment people for its own amusment. It soon found it liked the body too much to give up. It remains in it for years, then decades, until the family could no longer ignore its lack of aging. By then it was far too late. Varney had become obsessed with the family, and it's driven him to follow future generations, scheming to ruin them. He's been great-grandfathers, great-uncles, inheritors, forgotten cousins...eventually, he took his current name, Francis Varney, and now terrorizes the descendants of the Bannerworths in many ways. Related families have also fallen into the web, like the Croftons. His memories are hazy and dreamlike, and both host and owl have had their memories mix together to make things even weirder. Now, all Varney knows is that the family is his, and he wants to torment them. This comes from his cruelty and his hatred of humans. Unfortunately, he focuses his efforts solely on the Bannerworths and Croftons and anyone that marries in. He preys on them in ways that make the agony prolonged, plotting to ruin their business, drive their leaders mad, send them visions of death and decay and monsters. If he can make them ruin themselves in pursuit of selfishness, that's even better. If not, grief's just as good. When he's done, Varney discards that relative and moves on to find more.

Next time: The world of vampires.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Mors Rattus posted:

It would probably help to understand that the original pitch was 'we're going to do some rules revisions but this book is actually about running a campaign based on the strix' back when the 2e books were having to be slipped under CCCP's radar because they wouldn't approve a second edition.

loving commies!

Joe Slowboat posted:

As far as I can tell, having read Werewolf 2E and comparing it to Requiem 2E, second edition really enjoys introducing a new Out of Context threat - for the wolves it's the Idigam, unspirits of ancient power and protean form, that break all sorts of rules of spirit - and having that as sort of a back end to a general setting book. So you have the Vampire Politics core of Vampire, along with the Strix, who are the Big Weird Thing vampires can be made to deal with. I feel like the 2E ideal is probably to run a vampire politics game for a while then drop in some Strix.

This is basically it. Vampire does well with an inhuman antagonist thrown in the complicate things and Werewolf is defined by its antagonists* so more is always welcome, but they're doing it to Promethean and Changeling as well and the results haven't been as good.

*The idigam were also part of 1st edition from the beginning, but got dropped until the very end because they were too Apocalypse I guess.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

The Strix and Idigam really, really feel like something that Beast budded off of. Ancient, inscrutable, angry and dedicated to loving with specific varieties of monster.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



or the beast becomes Strix - embrace the beast too much, diablerie too much, get strong enough - then ??? shadow owl

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Count Chocula posted:

Does any book have stats for the Jews in Space from the later books?
This is the only book. There are multiple points where they're all "For expanded rules on this, keep a look out for our upcoming supplement!" None of those books were ever released, although they produced cover images. No Space Jews.

quote:

Can this game handle long time scales? Like charting the rise and fall of Houses?
That's an odd question, since any conventional RPG is going to focus on an adventuring party over the course of those characters' lives. You could certainly do a generational game. The default mode is playing the leadership of a House Minor, and there are House Stats for charting the fortunes of your House. But they aren't as well developed as, say, the Company rules in Reign, and rules for transforming your House Minor into a Great House are not in the book.

wiegieman posted:

Requiem feels like it can't decide whether it wants to be a game about vampire politics or strix paranoia or something else entirely.
I'm super behind on reading this thread, but I'm surprised. Really, the thing people hated most about V:tR 1st edition was that Vampire had finally decided what kind of game it was going to be.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Robindaybird posted:

or the beast becomes Strix - embrace the beast too much, diablerie too much, get strong enough - then ??? shadow owl

Wrong, but better, Beast.
...there's, what, four different Beasts in the Chronicles? In Vampire, in Changeling, the Supernal animals of the Primal Wild in Mage, and now the gameline. Am I missing any?

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Robindaybird posted:

or the beast becomes Strix - embrace the beast too much, diablerie too much, get strong enough - then ??? shadow owl

Madoka Dracula.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Doresh posted:

Madoka Dracula.

being kinedread is suffering

Dave Brookshaw
Jun 27, 2012

No Regrets


Joe Slowboat posted:

As far as I can tell, having read Werewolf 2E and comparing it to Requiem 2E, second edition really enjoys introducing a new Out of Context threat - for the wolves it's the Idigam, unspirits of ancient power and protean form, that break all sorts of rules of spirit - and having that as sort of a back end to a general setting book. So you have the Vampire Politics core of Vampire, along with the Strix, who are the Big Weird Thing vampires can be made to deal with. I feel like the 2E ideal is probably to run a vampire politics game for a while then drop in some Strix.

The Idigam weren't new. The Strix weren't, either, but were introduced in 1e sourcebooks. Idigam as we-don't-call-it-metaplot villains were in Forsaken right from the start, as one is heavily featured in the 1e Rocky Mountains setting.

Also - what's the out of context monster for Promethean or Mage? And how are Huntsmen in Changeling - fae creations, the terminators to Fetches' dopplegangers - "out of context?"

We've been trying to answer the question of what you do in these games with status quo changers, story catalysts. The Strix aren't really out of context for vampires - they're unusual and don't always behave as Kindred expect vampires to behave, but they're still monsters who feed from Vitae, and they're Kindred. Clearly related in some way. What they do is disrupt the carefully built veneer of society vampires cling to to pretend that they're still human, try to drag vampires down in the Humanity stakes (pun intended) and act as the devils on the Kindred's shoulders.

Idigam are the biggest threat the Hisil has to offer, that warp the ecological balance of Shadow by their presence. Firestorms give Prometheans a kick up the backside when they stall on their Pilgramage. Mage reemphasised the fact that mages all have a "detect plot" meter constantly running in their head that won't shut up. The Huntsmen come after Changelings just when they start to feel safe. Etc.

But yes, the ideal is to run a game about how the characters cope with Humanity and the needs of vampiric existence, with kindred politics as support for that, and the Strix as sharp relief and mirror images.

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Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


I think "out of context" was meant in the sense of "out of the context of your day-to-day life." Having a clear end goal would help out a lot of campaigns- not everybody likes the political intrigue of a drawn-out Vampire game or the endless fight for turf that can develop in Werewolf. Putting an example end goal right in the core book is also helpful, since from what I remember of oWoD each core book pretty much only explained (in great detail) the supernatural society of its protagonists, leaving the nooks and crannies of the setting that might shake up a stagnant campaign in splat books and metaplot supplements.

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