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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

The custom D&D setting I made at 21 (I didn't even play D&D until I was 18) was designed to Absolutely Not Be The Forgotten Realms, and in that I was more ambitious than either WotC or Paizo.

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

What, like, I would exchange Homebrew.doc files with another goon, and we'd F&F each other's work?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Barudak posted:

Thundarr the Barbarian is on that list. I mean, yes, it has future wizards with no morality, sword guys who sword good, and strange yet pointless new species but Thundarr is so absolutely nothing like Pathfinger that Im having a hard tim understanding a single design element that could inspired by it much less how youd even run an episode as an adventure.

Barudak posted:

Bravestar is the show you wanted, you idiots. The main character is a druid, his sidekick is a shotgun toting robo horse and his best friend is an irish person with the magic ability to not burn to cinders in their desert setting.
The thing is, D20/3e/Pathfinder is first and foremost for people who approach fictional worlds as a virtual reality, and want game rules to be a physics engine that measures its precise physical characteristics. So if you can play a D&D style barbarian but with a lightsaber, or a wizard that is also a mutant and/or a cyborg, there you go, just like Thundarr!

Theme, style, and genre only matter insofar as they can be quantified and throw in to the mix.Thus you get a setting that is a big sack of stuff that doesn't actually blend together, like what Marx said about the French peasantry, except elves with lightsabers.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Lynx Winters posted:

I am laughing really hard at Dune being on the inspiration list because where, Paizo, where the gently caress did you ding-dongs cram Dune in there? I can almost guarantee it's because their space monster manual is gonna have a sandworm in it, and that's it.
Starfinger has force fields and knives in the equipment list, right? And there are some drugs? At least one of the monsters must be a big worm thing, right? There you go, Dune.

Funny enough, this is pretty much the logic that was used in throwing random stuff into D&D. Throw a coeurl in there and call it a displacer beast, sure.

Hostile V posted:

Dresden Codak because that's actually accurate inspiration what with both being sprawlingly messy works that are incapable of containing a whole product within itself, inability to see their own bad ideas in anything less than a congratulatory back-patting light, a small devoted following of turbonerds and the same kind of author-fetish focus towards being the One True Heir to the Holy Rolling Empire that DC has towards a science lady losing her limbs and becoming a hot cyborg waifu.
Remember that thing I said about how to milquetoast middle-class people with no real beliefs, "Singularity" just means that in the future technology will make everything awesome? Dresden Codak is kind of the exhibit A.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Night10194 posted:

Ah, good old nerd rapture. Religion for people who feel a desperate need for religion but think they are too smart for religion.
Imagine thinking "smart solutions" will fix climate change, but lying awake at night fretting about Roko's Basilisk.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Dareon posted:


I am Sikh of all these jokes about my turban!

Aethera's art is generally good but wow, the boobplate really stands out here. So to speak.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Freaking Crumbum posted:

you should check out the stat blocks the gods / great old ones in the d20 CoC conversion for D&D 3.0 because you'd hate it. azathoth has absurd powers that would never ever be relevant to a CoC adventure, like it can blast anyone within 100 miles with a laser that does 1000 damage with no save. why even bother to type all that out? well, because it was the d20 conversion, the idea was that an epic level D&D party might want to try taking Azathoth down, so you'd need to know what kind of attacks it had :downs:
Was CoC D20 all that bad on the whole, though? It had good art, and it seemed like it was about as good as a straight D20 conversion was going to get.

I remember someone at WotC made a point of how they ran a playtest of a bunch of D&D characters against Cthulhu, like one of those legendary mega-raids against an unkillable boss in a MMO, and it took like 20 epic level characters just to successfully banish him.

quote:

I always got, from the stories and adventures I had read, that TKIY drives you crazy because it allows you to spontaneously wander into Carcosa and losing your ability to predict even basic causal relationships ends up breaking your brain (ex: the door between my bedroom and my bathroom is a predictable object that only creates an opening between those two discrete spatial points). if, every time I opened the door between my bedroom and my bathroom, there was a increasingly non-zero chance that the door was going to dump me into the middle of nightmare hell town and possibly not allow me back to Earth, I'd probably lose my mind in short order too.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

like TKIY removes your brain's ability to perceive basic spatial distances and you develop extreme terror any time you have to open or close a door because you genuinely don't know if the door will lead to nightmare hell town or back to the room you just left.
In Chambers' stories, the play has no apparent supernatural power but fractures your sanity, "merely" by being so well-written that you can't stop envisioning its imagery. It's noted as neither offending nor advocating any specific ideology, yet being condemned by everyone from clergymen to anarchists.

But in the context of the 1890s, "Yellow" was associated with the degeneracy and hedonism of the Decadent movement and the Demi-Monde (e.g. The Yellow Book). It's still relevant to a 1920s CoC setting, but that specific context is outmoded today. It was also associated with the syphilis epidemic that, among other things, gave the lie to Victorian morality.


Ramon Casas, Young Decadent


Ramon Casas, Syphilis

As with werewolves and vampires and a lot of other horror stories, modern interpretations of the KiY mythos tend to drift away from "profane lust that threatens bourgeois propriety" and "fear of the Other" toward the concept of order dissolving into chaos. In Trail of Cthulhu, Hastur is potentially the embodiment of entropy and/or a memetic virus that destroys reason. True Detective actually struck a balance where the Yellow King represents liminal spaces where evil is perpetuated and then covered up, and the nihilism of mindless repetition. ("Time is a flat circle," and the protagonists repeating the same patterns as their lives collapse.)

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 18:58 on Oct 24, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Barudak posted:

+1 to hit in a rare conditional state is just pathetic.
d20design.txt

So my current pet theory is that CoC D20 came out at a time when "Reducing demand for other systems to zero!" :smaug: was actually part of D20's marketing, and CoC D20 freaked them out because it fostered the notion that that might actually be true. My memory of the conversation on RPGnet was that a lot of the criticism was of a "How dare they!" nature, and when people wrote about playing CoC D20 and having fun with it, that was taken as a deliberate troll.

It's regrettable that half the conversation about Trail of Cthulhu is how dare Kenneth Hite say that CoC is broken and he had to write ToC to fix it because he secretly hates CoC which like all games designed in 1980 is pure and beautiful and perfect.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Alien Rope Burn posted:

That's real weird given that he's unequivocally called BRP Call of Cthulhu the perfect system, which is certainly an opinion one can have.
I know! He even went to bat for stuff like having a separate Head Butt skill! But these complaints aren't moored by reality, it's all bleh bleh George Lucas raped my childhood and whatnot.

gradenko_2000 posted:

Would the socioeconomic alienation described in the works of Marx count as existentialist horror?

I'm only half-kidding. It's certainly not fictional that a proletarian existence stresses people the gently caress out.
Most horror fiction is actually about anxiety under late capitalism, it's just, most of the authors don't seem to be aware of this :anarchists:

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Feinne posted:

Yeah it should be noted that only in one of the stories in The King in Yellow does someone actually end up in Carcosa, and even then they might just have gone crazy and are unable to tell the difference between here and there anymore.

Any enthusiasts of the genre who haven't gotten a chance to read any Chambers should definitely at least read The Repairer of Reputations from TKIY.
One of the things that makes the KiY mthos so baroque and open to interpretation is that the original book isn't even fully committed to its theme; most are not even weird fiction, and a couple are the kind of sentimentalist stories about bohemian students that were Chambers' signature gimmick. It's very odd to read a short story collection that starts with a tale of delusional psychosis and ends with a couple of art school students in Paris declaring their undying love.

Nessus posted:

bourgeoise... DECADENCE??
Ah, but you repeat yourself.

RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

Robin Laws created GUMSHOE, Ken Hite just shoehorned CoC into it.

I think it was more of a situation of him making a Cthulhu game using an investigative system his friend and coworker made and less CoC is broken and has to be replaced. The last part just sounds like people tinging their views with edition/system wars they're a part of.
Indeed, if I understand Ken & Robin on their podcast, Robin came up with the system first and Ken decided that the CoC subgenre would be a good fit. The forum outrage I've seen from time to time is entirely people's knee-jerk reactions.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 00:35 on Oct 25, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Zebulon? Like, that Zebulon's Guide supplement changes the whole game significantly?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I'm guessing that CoC D20 was designed to be really grim and punishing to head off "They turned CoC into D&D!" criticism.

gradenko_2000 posted:

You have a similar thing happening in Iron Heroes where the monster conversion notes are about :

* separating AC into Defense and Damage Reduction
* telling the DM to probably not use petrification effects and the likes because the players won't have any magic with which to remove those
* ... and that's it

You're supposed to be able to use any of the standard d20 system monsters, except without any of the standard d20 system magic items, players are going to be hit way too often, will fail too many saves, and won't be able to hit as often.

The smallest concession that they make is that a full-BAB IH class goes up to +25 BAB by level 20, to simulate getting the +5 to-hit from a weapon, but that means you're still missing the +5 damage, the AC from magic armor, the AC from a Ring of Protection, the AC from an Amulet of Natural Armor, the saving throw bonus from a Cloak of Resistance, and the +6 or so to stats from things like a Belt of Giant Strength or a Crown of Intellect.

All in a setting where you're not supposed to have these things because it's a gritty, low-magic setting.
At this point I will repeat, for the thousandth time, that the entire point of D20's existence was that you only have to learn one system and you can freely convert things from one game to another.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Freaking Crumbum posted:

I think if you stripped the d20 SRD down to just ability scores, a conceptual skill list, and the d20 resolution mechanic, you could have a generic enough system that might not pollute every other attempted game with D&D-ness, but as soon as you also include things like BAB and Saves and Feats and Caster levels in every d20 game, regardless of genre, you're too deep in the D&D pool to ever create anything other than "D&D but with X".
You certainly can, and pro-D20 people were fond of pointing that out. "D20 is just d20 +modifier vs. a target number, how can you be against that as a concept???"

Of course, by the time you hack the D20 system to actually suit your game, it's now effectively a new system that is not compatible with any other game.

D20 was implied to be replacing a lot of house systems that existed in the late 90s, many seemingly created with little forethought and no playtesting just for the sake of having one. The irony is that many of these systems were about as compatible with each other as D&D was with M&M, Spycraft, Everquest, and so on. They were mostly Attribute & Skill based systems that measured things on a 1-5 or 1-6 scale, so you could port stuff over even if the underlying die mechanic in each game was different! The result might not be balanced at all, but neither is porting D&D monsters into M&M.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Freaking Crumbum posted:

that this implies that all D&D systems, both pre and post d20 SRD, were objectively good collections of rules that had been rigorously play tested across a variety of genres, and not just a hodgepodge of poo poo Gary came up with on-the-spot in Lake Geneva which then got carried forward in unquestioning perpetuity, is some delicious ironing.
Certainly they weren't. But if you gave me godlike powers, and then put a god-killing gun to my head, and said "You have to travel back to the year 2000 and pick a roleplaying game, and that game's rules will be made into a universal system that dominates the industry for about 8 years," there are better games to pick than AD&D 2e.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Yeah, there is some cargo-cultishness in just using a particular B/X or AD&D rule for some totally different thing in a different genre. For example, I think Hideouts & Hoodlums uses the Turn Undead table as a model for Golden Age supermen doing anything with super-strength.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

My favourite D20 mechanic is still Talislanta's, where the difficulty is relative to each contestant's stat, and there is a simple scale of Poor Result > Outstanding Result that you don't even need to consult a table for.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

DigitalRaven posted:

Not power from praise, but the souls of the dead - when humans die, their overall moral weighting (:can:) pushes their soul towards "Heaven" or "Hell". Whichever side gets your soul, it's broken downed used as ammunition for extraordinary weapons in an endless war.

Nessus posted:

Extraordinary weapons? Piffle. No sir, if we're going to make this metaphor work, it needs to be cheap, low-grade ammunition, ideally with some overtones of being banned by Space Geneva Convention, just so we feel extra bad about ourselves.
Did Ellis develop the concept further beyond, IIRC, one issue of Stormwatch and one issue of Planetary? Because my understanding was that the "heaven and hell" were just two electromagnetic poles pulling against each other that eat human intrinsic fields ("souls") like giant bug zappers. Nothing about weapons or war or anything.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

The idea that the universe is basically an operating system and that there are flaws in the code is a very rich one, I think, even if you set aside the obvious similarity to The Matrix. (There are about a thousand ham-handed and cheesy pitfalls to avoid when writing such a setting, though.)

While it's not explicitly stated, I see the universes of Kult and many of the suggestions for world-building in Trail of Cthulhu as being based on this premise.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Manastorm: World of Shin'ar

phbbbbbbbbt hahahahaha

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

The Inscrutable Oriental Nebula: Prefectures of Xia'Nana

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I wonder if East Asia has some shorthand they use to signal that a fantasy setting is vaguely premodern European. ButtzGualt: Realms of Gold and Wool.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

It’s five days until Halloween. I’ve got a bottle of pinot noir and the complete discography of Clan of Xymox. Let’s do this.

quote:

Hold on to your asses, rear end-holders.

--Heinrich Heine, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted




When I was a 7th grade band geek, my friend Jonathan told me about a new game his big brother was playing. “You play vampires,” he said, and that was all I needed to hear. My mother had cravings for Count Chocula when she was pregnant with me; I’ve been consuming vampire anything since I was a fetus.

“What kind of game? Like a board game?” I whispered as I drained the spit from my French horn. Soon, I had managed to learn about roleplaying games without D&D even being mentioned. I don’t remember exactly how or how much I pleaded with my parents, but Vampire: the Masquerade was not under the tree that Christmas. Instead, after I’d unwrapped my other presents, my parents asked me to get the paper off the front stoop. There it was, wrapped in brown paper.

Mom and Dad have regretted it ever since.


Why This Matters

It would be a waste of energy to try to full explain Vampire’s importance to the industry. If you’re interested, I refer you to Shannon Appelcline’s Designers & Dragons Vol. 3: The 90s. Spoiler: There’s a reason that the cover features an ankh logo.

Even if you don’t care for Vampire or the many games it inspired, White Wolf changed the industry. They made room for a whole new kind of game and experimented with new publishing models. Companies such as Atlas, Eden, Dream Pod 9, Last Unicorn, and others published games that were far afield from the World of Darkness, certainly not imitators--but I can’t see them publishing the games that they did, the way that they did, without White Wolf setting a standard.

That said, Vampire: the Masquerade inspired at least a few games that were nakedly aping its style. I don’t think any other roleplaying game besides Dungeons & Dragons has ever inspired so many companies to mimic it so closely and so shamelessly. When you crack open a World of Darkness ripoff, you can immediately recognize it by the block quotes from such scattered sources as Percy Bysshe Shelley and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Ron Edwards once lamented in his essay “More Fantasy Heartbreakers” that it was dispiriting to see RPG writing turn into a contest “to see who could present a game with prose that imitates Vampire the closest.”

When I mentioned that I wanted to review Vampire, someone suggested I start with the first edition. I probably should, but...the first edition wasn’t the one on my doorstep on Christmas morning.

Preface: The Damned

Before we even get past the author credits page, Mark Rein$Hagen lays some heavy poo poo on us:


Also, a shout-out to my dogg Bulgakov, holla at your boy


A warning that you’re messing with Dark Sided Stuff, and a dedication to Vaclav Havel. Clearly this game is a little more serious in tone than its antecedent Nightlife.

The text itself begins with an essay titled Monsters, Monsters, Everwhere… The gist of it is that societies have always imagined supernatural Fiends, and in every age, these monsters reflect social anxieties. The evolution from trolls, demons, and witches to creatures like Godzilla reflect our changing concerns and values. Of course, modern people are aware that Godzilla isn’t real. But our rationalist conception of the universe allows us, even forces us, to come back around and examine our monsters as aspects of the human condition. Vampire’s tagline is “By becoming a monster, one learns what it is to be human.”


Vlad Tepes is Alive and Well and Playing Bass for Fields of the Nephilim


The next section--printed in Gothic font on a grey background--is a letter “To W.H. from your most devoted servant...V.T.” I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining what is implied here. The letter purports to apologize and explain for some unnamed incidents. The author, an admitted vampire, separates fact from fiction with regards to their nature and their powers and weaknesses.

Since much “serious” papal literature on vampires concerns identifying and destroying them, our pal V.T. starts with that. Sunlight burns a vampire like a raging fire. Vampires sleep during the day, and are very difficult to rouse. Even when they do, they are very sluggish.

Speaking of fire, they’re especially vulnerable to it. Decapitation is also lethal. Staking a vampire through the heart will only paralyze them until the stake is removed. They can be harmed by other weapons, but heal quickly. (He mentions being stabbed by W.T.’s “American friend.”)

Religious symbols are powerless against vampires, much less crossed candlesticks and the like. Except for very rare individuals with powerful religious faith, who can channel this faith through religious symbols to repel a vampire.

Garlic and wolfsbane? Mirrors and running water? Crossing thresholds? All meaningless. Vampires can go where they want, and they can’t drown because they can’t breathe.

Vampiric powers are many and varied, and many of the legends are true. Sharp senses, super strength, and hypnotism are all very real. So is shapeshifting, though this is a rare ability.

Vampires are created through a process called the Embrace. A vampire drains a victim of their blood, nearly to death, then feeds the mortal some of the vampire’s own blood. The mortal awakens as a vampire. The process is indescribably painful--V.T. compares it to “the sting of vinegar on a cut finger,” the pangs of starvation, and sleep deprivation, magnified a thousandfold and suffused through every tissue of your body. A newly created vampire can think of nothing but their hunger for blood.

So, the anatomy of a vampire. First, they’re clinically dead. They don’t have a heartbeat and they don’t bleed; their blood doesn’t flow unless they force it to. (No one knows why impaling the heart paralyzes them, since the heart seems to be useless.) In fact, they have no other body fluids--if they cry, they cry blood.

They don’t eat, or breathe, except to speak.Their digestive system withers and they become more pale and lean than in life. Their hair, nails, and so on are nightly restored to the state they were in at the time of death. (So if you’re thinking about becoming a vampire, you might want to get a haircut and a bikini wax.) Sex is possible, but vampires have no real sex drive.

The canines become long and retractable. Vampires like to feed from the carotid artery, and when they’re done, licking the wound will heal it. Human blood is the fuel that powers a vampire. They consume it to wake each night and to heal wounds, and if they don’t feed, they go mad and eventually give in to a bestial, murderous frenzy.

The Hunger for blood is a vampire’s constant companion and endless torment. It’s never fully sated, and it combines all a human’s base drives into one. Vampires don’t want food, or water, or sex, or drugs--they want blood, and the taste of blood is pleasurable beyond human imagination. All vampires are addicts like you can’t believe.

Part and parcel with the Hunger are two concepts that vampires call the Beast and the Riddle. The Beast is a vampire’s animalistic urge to seek blood and a safe place to sleep, and destroy anything that gets in its way. Kill, eat, sleep, repeat: that’s the Beast. The Riddle is “A beast I am lest a beast I become.” If you resist the Hunger for too long, you’ll snap and go on a rampage. If you do nothing but feed and sleep, you’ll lose not only your sanity, but your sentience. Some vampires seek a sort of spiritual transformation called Golconda, which supposedly allows them to control the Beast.

Vampires are functionally immortal, so once they ensure that they’re safe and fed, their biggest problem is simply keeping their minds occupied and not giving in to despair. Here they’re presented with further paradoxes. It’s hard to fit into mortal society, and even harder to watch your friends and family die off. But living like a hermit will make you starve or go mad. Imagine the trauma experienced by war veterans, now imagine living with that as it builds up over centuries. You can choose to become detached from humanity, but that too is a road through madness to the clutches of the Beast. As they age, vampires gain knowledge and power, but often their grip on humanity slips. Elders occupy themselves with cutthroat political games.

So where do vampires come from? No one knows. Most vampire lore comes from an ancient text called the Book of Nod. There is no complete edition, only conflicting fragments--but they all claim that vampires are descended from the Biblical Caine. The curse and mark of Caine was vampirism, and he established a city where he and his creations ruled over mortals. Caine created three vampires, called the Second Generation, who in turn created an unknown number of Third Generation vampires, after which Caine forbade any further Embraces. When a great flood came, Caine took it as a sign from God, and abandoned his children. The Third Generation rose up and slew the Second, and later the Fourth Generation against the Third, and 2,000 years later, their mortal slaves revolted against them. The city fell, and vampires insinuated themselves into the civilizations of ancient Greece and Mesopotamia. The rest is history.

There are legends that Caine still wanders the earth, and apocalyptic myths that the sleeping survivors of the Third Generation will someday awake and destroy their children, and the world along with them.

Vampires society is organized under a principle called the Masquerade. Throughout human history up through the Middle Ages, many vampires flaunted their power as an open secret. But the Inquisition of 1435 brought a newfound power and organization to the war against heresy. Most of the victims were innocent Christians and Jews, of course, but many vampires and genuine diabolists were killed, until vampires were in danger of extinction. A group of survivors formed a society called the Camarilla. Their first and foremost law is the Masquerade: vampires must present themselves as mortals, hiding their nature and their powers. Their polite term for one another is Kindred. Their second aim was to influence society so that no one even believes in vampires--thus, vampires helped foster philosophy from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. That doesn’t mean Kindred secretly rule the world and engineer all human beliefs. Marx was human, and Kindred had nothing to do with the rise of fascism.

(Historical note: Vampire plays fast and loose with history, basically going along with the narrative of Genesis, the concept of the Dark Ages, the “Burning Times” myth, and being extremely Western-centric. I assume the Inquisition of 1435 is based on the [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Florence]Council of Basel[url].)

The key to understanding the Camarilla is that it’s more like a mafia syndicate than a real government. It’s made up of several Clans, and the polite and every city of significant size is ruled by a Prince (male or female). Princedom belongs to whoever can hold onto it, and it’s up to the Prince to interpret and enforce the Camarilla’s laws. So in practice, cities can vary widely from tyrannical dictatorships to anarchic collectives with a presiding figurehead.

Every city makes its own rules and resents intrusion by outsiders. The Camarilla has a powerful Council of Elders, but in practice, it’s extremely difficult to travel the world telling Princes how to run their cities. The Camarilla’s laws are called “Traditions” for a reason. There is a rival sect, called the Sabbat, that disregards the Masquerade and humanity itself. They control much of the Northeastern U.S. and basically act like slasher movie villains.

The Prince enforces the Masquerade, keeps track of Kindred living in the city, and controls the creation of new Kindred, among other Traditions I’ll enumerate later. Although the Masquerade is almost universally regarded as common sense, many young Kindred, called anarchs, resent the other Traditions and flout them as much as they can get away with.

Now is a good time to talk about what happens when someone drinks vampire blood. First, Kindred often create Ghouls by feeding vampire blood to mortals. Ghouls remain mortal, but they don’t age as long as they have vampire blood in their system. They can also develop vampiric powers. These run out quickly if they lose their steady diet of vampire blood. Ghouls are in the cellar of Kindred society, kept in the dark and fed on poo poo. Some believe that they are vampires, and many go insane. (Yes, you can have your own Renfield.)

Second, the only way to “lower” your Generation is to drain an elder vampire to death in a process called diablerie, consuming their soul to increase the potency of your own blood. But simply drinking another vampire’s blood doesn’t give you power over them--quite the opposite! If you drink a vampire’s blood three times, you become “blood bound” to them, unable to disobey them. Elders often use this to control their children, and ghouls are Blood Bound as a matter of course. What’s more, it’s said that very old elders have such potent blood that feeding from mortals no longer sustains them, so they must feed on younger Kindred.

This is a major drive of conflict and paranoia in Camarilla society. Young Kindred fear slavery and predation, and elders fear being overthrown and annihilated.

Vlad ends his letter with further apologies. He says that he’s glad that his plans failed, and has followed the fortunes of Mina’s family with interest, leaving contact information. But he admits that he’s written the letter in part because he’s weary of eternal life, and knows it’s likely that sending the letter is signing his own death warrant.



Aw yeah, that's the stuff.


Next time, on Kindred: The Embraced: An introduction that explains “What be a roleplaying???” and gets into the themes of the game.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:51 on Oct 27, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Leraika posted:

Rosicrucians versus the Golden Dawn is kind of a weird kind of division to make, but you do you, Dark*Matter.

Oh boy, I really want to know what Kenneth HIte would make of this.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Night10194 posted:

Contemporary historians (as in, actual historians) do not generally use the term Dark Ages anymore.
Vampire also had this rather regressive view of world history wherein everything from Late Antiquity was "The Dark Ages" until the Renaissance happened everywhere at once, and nothing outside "Western civ" is really thought about. But they ended up kinda making that part of their brand, until the NWoD devs came right out and said that the WoD is a cinematic version of reality wherein Rome was one long sword-and-sandal film.

wdarkk posted:

There's a surprising amount of good ideas buried in that wall of crap. I feel like the Millennium Religions would be a lot more interesting if there weren't defined sides and five or six of the least-dumb ones had a "marketplace of ideas" type thing going down, or just tried to compete in a variety of not-necessarily-violent ways.
A real sticking point for me, with WoD and various WoD-alikes, is that they're rarely written with the understanding that the organizations they're talking about are very small.

hyphz posted:

I have once had someone tell me about their design for a board game where they said "there's zombies and humans and the zombies try to bite the humans and the humans try to cure the zombies and when everyone is zombies the zombies win, and when everyone is humans the humans win!"
This is Urban Dead, and Urban Dead blows.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

FMguru posted:

I always thought it was pretty clear that the Dark Ages in Vampire:Dark Ages was the exaggerated pop historical version of the Dark Ages turned up to 11, with complete ignorance and superstition and illiteracy and 90% infant mortality and constant witch burnings and degenerate priests and inbred nobles and The Inquisition and plague and so on and so forth - which made it an easy place to set and run adventures.
I didn't play or even collect the Dark Ages books, so I don't know how well they handled it as a line. But in the corebook, the Camarilla formed in response to a reinvigorated Inquisition and became the dominant sect of vampires. Presumably there are Kindred around the world, and presumably the Kindred of Ming Dynasty China were invested in what was going on in Valois France.

The general lack of attention paid to non-Western cultures doesn't stand out as much as it might, because the Vampire corebook doesn't do a "[Secret Monsters] Round the World" section like later games and supplements would do. The Revised corebook actually does have a "History of the Kindred" section that's entirely Western (after we get past mythical Bronze Age origins of course). But by that time, they had figured out that East Asia is dominated by the Kuei-Jin and Africa by the Laibon, so it doesn't prompt you to ask "What do vampires in, like, Thailand make of this thoroughly Abrahamic mythos?"

Night10194 posted:

Given the general elite population bias among vampires in the oWoD (since they are the secret masters of the world and all that) and their incredible longevity, I'd have instead leaned into their history being their own massive misrepresentation/mis-remembering of events.
You could always explain any inconsistency in what an elder tells you as "Elders are mostly selfish madmen." In V:tR they made this official; all elders have spent decades in torpor, and torpor is one long fever dream that fucks with your memory.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:21 on Oct 30, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Ratoslov posted:

Obviously, every vampire in your local Ordo Dracul chapter holds hundreds of titles and performs all of their duties themselves, which are fairly light duties when your entire organization can fit in a full-sized van with room for luggage.
The Ordo Dracul is totally one of those fraternal orders in a small town where a plumber, a car salesman, and a retired dentist refer to each other as Knights of the Silver Chalice and Defenders of Christendom and whatever. But they're also vampires with cool super powers.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Simian_Prime posted:

*turf war starts when the Lancea Et Sanctum schedules it’s Pancake Brunch for the same time*
Woah, no. That's the Delta Knights' territory and you don't want to mess with those guys.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

You've had the cronut, now try the blonut!

Memo: work on name

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Valatar posted:

One of the weird things about nWoD vampires is a section I remember that basically said, "Oh, and vampires don't have souls, so they can't experience new emotions. They think they are, but are actually just remembering emotions from times when they were alive." Well, that and the, "If your vampire sees another vampire they'll flip their poo poo out like sticking two strange cats in a bag together." rule.

For the former it struck me like they were just trying to be edgy about it but provided a real issue with actually managing to roleplay a creature where you have to think up what past event occurred that its every emotional stimuli calls back to. So, Reginald is quite upset, but is he upset like when Snookums died and his parents told him she ran away but she hadn't run away she died, or is he upset like when Mandy turned him down for prom? Because it must be a memory of a previous emotion.

For the latter, it really kills the whole sleek mover and shaker predator of the night thing when your savvy power broker shows up to meet another vampire, then shrieks, throws a couch through a window, and runs away because you hosed up the roll not to freak out. I could see calling for that sort of roll when unexpectedly finding a strange vampire right in your face, but as I recall the rules required the roll for encountering any vampire regardless of circumstances, with penalties for unfavorable scenarios.

Both of those put a burden on the game without any particularly worthwhile payoff. I like nWoD Vampire in general, though I'm nostalgic for the original clans, but here and there it dropped the ball.
For the former, I agree completely. Both versions of Vampire lay out very well how eternal life is hardly a blessing. There are enough factors encouraging vampires to degenerate into jaded predators without enforcing it with vague metaphysics that are nearly impossible to actually roleplay.

And perhaps this is peculiar to my experience, but when I played in cross-splat nWoD games, the players who really didn't get it and just wanted hack'n'slash were emboldened by the idea that vampires aren't really people.

For the latter, it's meant to enforce how vampires are territorial predators. But again, it's not really necessary.

megane posted:

I think Undying does it better. When two vampires meet (whether they know each other or not) their immediate instinct is to figure out which of them is higher on the pecking order. So instead of going nuts and running away, instead you just realize instinctively that this guy is bigger, faster, and cooler than you, and could probably feed you your own shoes if he wanted to, which he very well might. Now, what do you say to him?
I've only skimmed it, but Undying seems to do everything right with this conceit that V:tR does wrong.

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Does anyone actually enjoy that oWOD whiney goth style (and is not a horribly broken person IRL)?
IME the biggest fans of oWoD over nWoD absolutely don't like that style, they like that oWoD has more of the aesthetics of a comic book universe: a higher power level for the PCs and a much more complex continuity. That's not a knock; I like Blade 2 as much as the next guy. Actually a lot more than the average next guy.

On occasion I've read people say that V:tM was about personal horror and that V:tR fucks that up, but this is like when you read somebody saying that in 4e, every class is exactly the same. You can immediately tell that they've never even read the book.

Joe Slowboat posted:

I quite like the idea that vampire emotion is basically deadened and delusional, because A. Only players really dedicated to playing weird inhuman characters will actually do that at all, and B. It very strongly supports the thematic content of the game.
No, it actually works against the themes of the game. It encourages you to just take for granted that vampires are jaded, selfish, unfeeling predators because it's intrinsic to their nature, rather than actually building your campaign around the things that make vampires jaded, selfish, and unfeeling. It incorporates the theme into the premise in such a way that it may actually discourage you from engaging with that theme.

If anything, it encourages you to run the kind of campaign some folks ran late in V:tM's life cycle--where it's taken for granted that you're all world-weary antiheroes, and you're supposed to roleplay that, but the meat of your campaign is a gothy version of Planetary where you're trying to, for example, find where Cappadocius is buried. Engaging with the metaplot instead of the themes.

Like imagine if The Godfather and Peaky Blinders were supernatural stories where Michael Corleone and Thomas Shelby do crime stuff because combat trauma made them literally lose their soul. It would serve no purpose whatsoever but to make the protagonist far less interesting. (Literally losing your soul as a metaphor for depression works in Dead Inside for reasons that don't translate well to Vampire.)

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Max Schreck: Dracula hasn't had servants in 400 years and then a man comes to his ancestral home, and he must convince him that he... that he is like the man. He has to feed him, when he himself hasn't eaten food in centuries. Can he even remember how to buy bread? How to select cheese and wine? And then he remembers the rest of it. How to prepare a meal, how to make a bed. He remembers his first glory, his armies, his retainers, and what he is reduced to. The loneliest part of the book comes... when the man accidentally sees Dracula setting his table.
For a chaser: Harker never literally sees Dracula setting a table.

"Setting his table" refers to Dracula's embarrassment at having only a small child to feed his women.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:19 on Oct 31, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Mr.Misfit posted:

I still don´t get it. Can you be more explicit?
By the time Harker arrives at Castle Dracula, everything has been laid out for him. (Except the things Dracula forgot, like some toiletries.) I can only assume that Schreck's reference to a "sad" scene of Dracula "setting his table" is when the three "sisters" are about to feed on him before Dracula stops him. The sisters insult and laugh at Dracula, and demand food, and he gives them a bag containing a child.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Aw, drat it!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I always assumed Metis were an explanation for why werewolves don't just breed a werewolf army, or why the world isn't ruled by a werewolf army already. The Evil Ghost Wolf Baby things...I don't know.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Your writing style is good, but TLE is such a mess that it's hard to come to grips with. I mean, setting aside the cosmology, I cannot visualize what a typical scene in Eden looks like. Based on the art, I'm imagining some Second Life/Worlds.com mess where a red, horned, pointy-tailed devil is standing next to a giant talking paperclip, and over here is a gun-toting furry and a Gundam.

I've begun to think that, alongside time travel, having some kind of parallel world (overworld/underworld/astral/Umbra/whatever) is a quick route to having your setting become a big gunky kitchen sink if you don't manage it very, very carefully. Particularly for the Dark Modern Urban Fantasy genre that the WoD inspired. It's impossible to ground your setting in the grubby realities of a modern city if the PCs can spend all of their time flying their rocketship past the griffon ranch on their way to fight some aliens.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Young Freud posted:



I've always love pointing this out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDNXyrZgzeg

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Tuxedo Catfish posted:

One of the nWoD splatbooks has a sample plot about an evil tree that makes squirrels run in circles. This is how it signifies the influence of the Abyss, which is nominally a nether dimension made of horrific false histories trying to become true presided over by parasitic godlings.
The non-iconic monsters can be hit or miss, but I really loved the old lady experiencing life through the undead bodies of people mauled to death by her cat familiars.

Inescapable Duck posted:

I've seen weirder things in nature. Cordyceps fungus anyone? Or that parasite that mind-controls slugs.
There's a cool bit in Resident Evil 4 where you find a journal about real parasites that control the hosts behaviour in very specific ways.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Barudak posted:

I do not to this day understand how David Cage parlayed "Wrote the music for Time Cop for the SNES" into a lead development gig but he did and Omikron is the first step on his journey of somehow falling upward.

Kavak posted:

I will never understand how he got another game after Omikron, but Indigo Prophecy was a unique experience and really against the video game grain in 2004 (plus things only fell apart at about the halfway point), so I can see how that took off, and then Heavy Rain had actual quality parts and none of his supernatural nonsense tropes. Ironically, he even took out a "psychic link" plot thread and created a gaping hole in the story.

Then Beyond: Two Souls happened, and honest to God I think working with Cage might've been part of what drove Ellen Page into coming out. He created an -album full of her baby pictures- when researching her for the part, which she did not learn of until after the contract was signed.
https://twitter.com/britishgaming/status/925648806653382656

(thx ettin)

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

My best pal: "When people say things like 'Oh, I'm not racist, I hate everyone,' I don't believe that. Like, you love your wife or whoever, right? So you really are racist. But Lars Von Trier, eh, I think he really does just hate everyone."

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

I'd totally play a system where everyone is pretentious yet bumbling, The pink panther-men?
The Dying Earth RPG assumes by default that every character is greedy, gluttonous, lustful, vain, and a pedant, and part of character creation is paying points not to be those things.

Warthur posted:

Well, TSR-era D&D largely ossified in the 1970s and 1980s, when the territory system was still in effect and slower workrates tended to be the norm; spending entire minutes in a headlock or whatever sounds about right.
Idunno man, even in the mid-70s the exciting guys were ones who weren't doing those long slow matches anymore; guys like Race were changing their style. But then, the guys writing the games would've fondly remembered Dory Funk Jr. if they were fans at all...

Robindaybird posted:

and Lars probably doesn't have a loving shrine including photos of the person as an eight-year old. I'm surprised Ellen Page didn't mace the gently caress out of him the moment he showed her his Ellen Page Shrine.
This is a classic horror movie scene. And in real life, it's why RAD training exists.

Night10194 posted:

The most baffling part of 90s urban fantasy games is the batshit insane dice mechanics. You'd think if you wanted to get 'roll playing' out of the way and let people bask in ambience you'd just use a simple percentile or d20 or whatever so you could resolve mechanics faster.

I mean, gently caress, All Flesh Must Be Eaten totally rules and its a very simple d10 based system.

FMguru posted:

I call 'em Stupid Dice Tricks and they're a mainstay of 1990s design. I'm convinced they're equal parts 1) cargo-culting Storyteller/Vampire (which was itself a bad copy of the wonky Shadowrun 1E dice engine) and 2) an attempt to obfuscate how broken the system is while also appearing "simple". Roll and Keep, moving target numbers, different kinds of success, and (my favorite) mixing different types of dice (Alternity was really good for that).

megane posted:

I imagine there's a sizeable helping of not really understanding how probability works thrown in there, too. A lot of them seem to think that having convoluted dice rules will somehow make the results more unpredictable or more dramatic or more "natural" in some way, when in fact from a mathematical standpoint it's usually exactly the opposite.

potatocubed posted:

I wonder if at least part of the issue is that simple d20 rolls were the hallmark of D&D (for a given value of simple) and simple percentile rolls were Runequest/BRP/CoC. If you wanted to establish that your game was Not Like That then you needed a new, fancy dice mechanic.
All of these, yes.

Vampire's rules aren't great but they were part of their success. A Vampire character sheet looks a lot simpler and more intuitive than an AD&D2e character sheet, or a Call of Cthulhu sheet, for that matter.

My theory is that it just became a trend to have a superficially simple and intuitive house system, and that most of the companies that did it were, indeed, cargo-culting Storyteller. The only rule was that the characters' traits had to be simply measured on a 1-5 or 1-6 scale. These systems all appear to have been published with little playtesting and regard for the results they produced in actual play.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Is this one of those AD&D things where elves are just better than everyone else in every way, so their loving pet cat has to be a magic pet cat?

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Ratoslov posted:

Nah, dogs are a weird human thing. Halflings love'm both because there's nothing cozier than having a dog at your feet at your hearth, and because there's nothing cozier than having dog cavalry protecting your village. Dwarves dislike them because they remind them of the Orcs and their damnable wargs. Elves would never admit it, but they fear them because they answer their master's wishes as if they can read their master's thoughts- if humans can emulate Elven Cats, what other secrets could they steal from Elfkind?

Humans automatically gain Canine Empathy at character creation. Half-Elves and Halflings may purchase this feat at level 4.

Jeez, another feat tax I have to pay to be the Elven Dogfucker.

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