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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.

Robindaybird posted:

and lot of the company's nosedive is due to the Lorraine Williams being a non-gamer who didn't understand that playtesting is important (She saw it as goofing off on the clock), kept trying to unsuccessfully use TSR to increase the profitability of her Buck Rogers ownership, and kept pushing out way products than the company could reasonably sell.
The playtesting thing has been debunked, and by people who had nothing nice to say about Williams, at that. AFAIK it can be traced to an old GameSpy article, which offers some frankly specious analysis of TSR's problems.

Lorraine Williams probably made a lot of mistakes, but bear in mind that neither Gygax and Arneson nor the leading developers at TSR were paragons of cutting-edge design paired with shrewd business sense. The D&D developers didn't need any prodding from Williams, nor the Blumes, to sideline Basic in favour of AD&D, despite Basic being consistently successful and the '83 Mentzer-edited "Red Box" being their best-selling product of all time!

There's this view of TSR as a geek ashram where books were lovingly crafted by gamers, for gamers. If you read interviews with some of the developers you'll notice a surprising degree of sour grapes and snobbishness of the kind that you might only expect to see from fans. Williams is the target of a great deal of geek paranoia about being looked down upon by non-gamers and so on.

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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.

Kavak posted:

It's the businessman/craftsman divide, filtered through lenses of nostalgia, hero-worship, sexism, etc.
Generally speaking, anything anyone doesn't like about 90s TSR gets laid at Lorraine Williams' feet--whether it's dumb stuff like just hating AD&D2e and all its campaign settings for being too story-focused, or totally reasonable complaints like their lovely Internet policy and habit of churning out sourcebooks full of reprinted material.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

while I agree that's an awesome premise, one thing Ravenloft didn't need was even greater lack of thematic focus in the setting.

Ravenloft worked best when it was focused on one domain full of gothic horror, with a thinly veiled Count Dracula knock-off.

when it became a melting pot setting where loving Dragonlance and Dark Sun and Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk and Hollow World and also random children's fairy tales and also inaccurate analogues for Earth's real historical figures all kind of wound up dumped in Ravenloft for vague misdeeds, the whole setting stopped working.
I never played Ravenloft, but it sure looks that way to me. Ravenloft never needed to be more than a background for a Hammer Horror style of D&D. The setting only needed to be fleshed out to a degree that expanded on that premise--like a not-Egypt so that you can have mummy's tombs. It sure as poo poo doesn't need a spooky not-Japan.

WFRP is in many ways the setting Ravenloft should be, but I want to saw the huge ornamental wargame details off of everything.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:21 on Nov 3, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Comrade Gorbash posted:

The Buck Rogers stuff apparently sold pretty well, the issue there is that TSR (owned by Williams) paid royalties to the rights holder (Williams). That sort of double dipping is pretty sketchy.

However, it's worth noting she did in fact get money flowing back into TSR despite it being severely in debt, and kept it profitable right up until the mid-90s. By all accounts the business side of TSR was run reasonably well, despite the iffy royalties stuff, and the disconnect between the business side and product side is a common one. A lot of the loudest bitching comes from ex-TSR designers who failed to catch on with WotC and other companies after TSR went down, and generally for good reason when you look at the specific names.

The simple fact is, most of the designers who like to blame the stagnation of the product line on Williams being a non-gamer haven't exactly set the industry on fire with innovation since. A number of them are only now popping back up because they can make money on the same old stuff thanks to the OSR thing. It's an easy sell in gamer circles to say "oh no, I had all these great ideas but that lady held me back because she looked down on games."

Williams does bear a lot of responsibility for the screw up that finally brought TSR down - she misread the market when GW and WotC started making unheard of profits and tossed out a bunch of ill conceived product that didn't sell. That's hardly a unique mistake , and in a lot of ways TSR was more the first victim of the CCG bubble than anything else. But she very much created a situation that turned an understandable screw up into an existential crisis for TSR.
If TSR had had a manager that was deeply engaged with the products, things definitely would've been a lot different, and not entirely in ways that would've made the developers happy. Design would have been more normalized across the range of AD&D products. It's possible that some popular campaign settings and other book lines would never have been published, or that the writers would have been given a freer hand. I like to think that Zeb Cook would've been allowed to include the genuine innovations that he wanted to put in 2e that didn't show up until 3e.

(I remember reading, in 30 Years of Adventure, one of the writers of the historical book series saying "These didn't sell well at all, but we sure had fun doing them!" So it's possible that different management would've knifed Dark Sun in the crib, but it's also possible that they would've favoured Dark Sun over stuff like supplements which few people remember fondly today. I don't know.)

IIRC one of the nails in TSR's coffin was a shift in the chain bookstore market, and the chains' policies, that had bookstores returning a huge amount of unsold stock for a refund.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Evil Mastermind posted:

Do not GIS "Nechronica".

Just...don't.
too late

I don't know what this is, but it definitely is not creepy at all.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Unless the author updated it, I believe Zweihander is actually a 1e heartbreaker.

wiegieman posted:

I'll have you know that charcoal burning was important profession involving skilled labor and extensive woodland management techniques.
Just don't fall off your stool.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uyYakrPXRU#t=210s

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 00:41 on Nov 9, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

There have been at least a couple stories with Batman where he was basically unable to buy into the lie and accept happiness. Batman TAS did an episode, and Grant Morrison wrote a storyline with that premise in his JLA run. Of course, Grant idolizes Batman.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Idunno if this is represented mechanically, but a difference between managers and valets is that heel managers can receive violent comeuppance so that the wrestler they're managing is "defeated" without looking weak. Female valets don't get beaten up unless the promotion is being really gross.

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:


You shouldn't have taken my beer away, sun.
Zap Actionsdower?!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

wiegieman posted:

The Bandersnatchi are definitely sentient by design. Their creators, the Tnuctipin (say that 5 times fast) were working on a long term plan to kill all the Slavers, and a psi-immune general predator was part of that. Fun fact about the Tnuctipin: their word for "alien" meant "food that talks", and they're the smartest species ever to exist. It's probably for the best that they're gone.
Ringworld is really weird.

This bit sounds like a Star Control RPG. Juffo-Wup fills in my dice pools and I am turgid.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Nessus posted:

Given that Ringworld and Known Space was written in the late 60s/70s, it totally, one hundred percent inspired Star Control. Most of the weirdness here is because Niven used most of these settings for individual stories (Plateau was "A Gift from Earth," etc.) and so it was kind of this cumulative setting. Ringworld is sort of the last entry in the setting's timeline.
Ah, like how Vance has some very different works all set in the Gaean Reach.

Imagine how a RPG about Stephen King's shared universe would read. "So there's vampires and demon crab spiders and bug-bird men and and..."

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Has anyone mentioned that thanks to the Animated Series loophole, the Kzin are in ADB's Star Fleet Battles universe?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Silly cat!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I still don't know a lot about Niven's work and am just sort of passively absorbing it by means of the Ringworld review. I had always been under the impression that while Ringworld takes place in Niven's Known Space, it's a sword-and-planet series happening in some little corner somewhere, like Vance's Planet of Adventure series.

Anyhoo, Ringworld sounds like what I was talking about when I said I'd like to see more games that really deal in truly post-scarcity, post-human science fiction like Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time, Banks' Culture, Jodorowsky's The Metabarons, and Zelazny's Lord of Light.

Unfortunately, Ringworld uses a very 80s bean-countish system, whereas I think the only way to do such games is with a very abstract, if not necessarily light system. Like, in a game where one guy can extrude an array of nanowhips controlled by a sentient tactical computer that will tear you into hamburger, and another guy can manipulate local time and space to tear you into hamburger, and another guy can instantly evolve into a new species with a thousand appendages designed to rip you into hamburger and then re-evolve into hir formal state, the last loving thing you want to do is model a bunch of combat stats for all of those things in D20 or BRP or Hero. You just want to have a Combat rating and be done with it.

There aren't a lot of games that do this that I can think of, outside Sufficiently Advanced and the PbtA game Farflung. The latter seems to carry a stigma of being unabashedly sexual.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Clearly this Ringworld you speak of is actually just a portion of the Known World, or as the sages call it: Mystara.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Nessus posted:

Penn Jilette wrote a story where humanity tried to justify its unique existence to aliens on these grounds and eventually it came down to (depending on how you look at it) "sleight of hand magic tricks" or "deep investment in complicated forms of inconsequential deceit" as humanity's unique justification for existence.
God, why do irritating libertarians have to be so good at science fiction?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Bieeardo posted:

I was expecting a whole lot more sex from Farflung, when I read it for a review that just couldn't be bothered coalescing. The promo art, the author's background, that whole 'after dark RP' schtick... and I think I found maybe two or three overt references to sex and sexuality. It felt more like original series Doctor Who through the lens of a chaste Phil Foglio than an excursion into XXXenophilia.
That reminds me of that OSR game that was co-written by some creepy chud and Satine Phoenix, Something Sex of the Space Princess or whatever. It had a handful of oddly frank bits of sexuality, and the rest was an almost entirely forgettable OSR space game. The only interesting bit was the Build Your Own Species part of character creation.

Nessus posted:

Probably an accidental conflation of cultural traits, which make it so that irritating libertarians are more likely to know people who can make it so their sci fi can get published.
Oh wait, I know why: the CIA honest-to-God funded university writing programs in Middle America, manipulating American science fiction toward an obsession with rugged individualism.

It's like a story Frank Herbert, a frustratingly libertarian science fiction writer, would write.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I know the "Nazis escaped to Antarctica and then to the Moon/Mars/Hollow Earth" is a very old thing, but when did it start?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Really? I've explained the bizarre particulars of right-wing ideology to people at work, but maybe that's not normal outside Charlottesville?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Frankly, I have a much easier understanding how and why Kayfabe does what it does than I did with https://www. WWW uses stat names that don't always correspond to what you're doing.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Modeling all the physical differences between character types using Eclipse Phase's system is enervating, whether you're talking about using it to play Animorphs or just using it to play Eclipse Phase.

At the other end of the spectrum: I recently reread the F&F of dead inside, and that's a good example of a setting with a system that is too light for what it wants to do. Everything revolves around Qualities, which function as your skills, damage track, and sometimes experience points, and Soul Points, which function as your magic fuel, action points, experience points, and sometimes hit points.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Y'all hear about the Theranos dragon? It could cast every divination spell at the same time until it vanished into the Negative Energy Plane.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

That's Napoleon Bonaparte.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

From 2060 to 2069, only the ghost of the old Matrix circulated--from Dodger, the decker in Power Gloves, who disguised himself as old Laverty, down to the shadowrunner who hides his trivial and repulsive features behind the iron death mask of Hatchetman.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

kommy5 posted:

I totally want to run a game about dragons coming up with crazy schemes to artificially inflate the worth of their hoards. Dragons of the South Sea Company. Entire kingdoms would be ruined and plundered through stock manipulations and debt derivatives. And only brave adventurers putting together investigative committees could hope to stop them and would struggle mightily to slap the dragons on the wrist.

Jean-Leon Gerome--master academic painter and the guy who did that gladiator painting everyone knows--did a painting called The Tulip Folly, a depiction of soldiers ordered to trample tulip gardens to prevent tulip inflation.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Mors Rattus posted:

The weirdest part to me is Stinking Vapors guy is living in a cube of gas.

It has corners.
If he can't get the curse lifted and it becomes too much to bear, he could just summon a hound of Tindalos.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Mors Rattus posted:

Okay so, all hominids descend from this alien race called the Pak. The Pak have three life stages; the third is 'Protector.' Protectors are extremely intelligent, sterile, have no genitals, and are instinctually compelled to protect their bloodline over all else. If they have no bloodline, they can generalize this urge to their species or, in some cases, anything that resembles it.

The transition from Pak Breeder to Pak Protector is caused by eating yams infected with a particular symbiotic virus, known as Tree of Life, which requires certain chemicals in the soil, most notably thallium. Earth was lacking in thallium, so the Breeders evolved into humans and all the Protectors died out.

However, any Pak-derived species can become a Protector if exposed to Tree-of-Life virus before the age that, in women, causes menopause. (Indeed, arthritis and other age-related issues are actually derived from a failed attempt by the body to trigger the transformation itself.) A Protector derived from a human or other sentient species is going to be much, much smarter than an original Pak Protector, because the Pak breeder stage started from a lower level.

The Ringworld is inhabited almost entirely by Pak-derived hominid species, adapted to fill tons of ecological niches. During the Ringworld stories, several Ringworld characters become Protectors, most notably a few Ghouls, a species of hominid that feed exclusively on rotting flesh and which serve as a kind of garbage disposal for the other Ringworld species, as well as a communications network, as they are exceptionally widespread, and a few Vampires, a species of hominid who entrap others with sex hormones and eat them, but are nonsentient.

The Ringworld Protectors that succeed best tend to be Vampires or Ghouls because they rely on the existence of other hominid species to thrive, and so focus on protecting the entirety of the Ringworld. The Vampires are more dangerous tho because they see other hominids as prey, while the Ghouls tend to see them as potential allies, because they usually just get given corpses.
Everyone on Ringworld is a Pokemon.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Ringworld also feels kinda like Talislanta meets Tekumel, if there was actually a lot of focus on the spacefaring society that resulted in Tekumel's existence.

Someone did an OSRish RPG called Humanspace Empires based on spinning out the scant details of Tekumel's premise into a full-on space opera setting.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Y'know, I think I avoided reading Ringworld because I flipped through one of the books, and almost immediately found a gross rape scene. And now that I think about it, that might have been a World of Tiers novel. :doh:

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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



Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

quote:

God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.

--Digital Underground, “She’s Lost Control”

Chapter 1: Introduction

Following “To Mina With Love,” Vampire has a brief introductory chapter which provides an intro to roleplaying, lays out its themes and creative goals, and raises some particulars of the setting. It’s not exactly succinct, and jumps between these three agendas repeatedly. Yet it makes the authors’ goals very clear. First, they very much wanted to capture an audience that was new to roleplaying. Second, playing Vampire: The Masquerade is not like playing other roleplaying games. Vampire is serious business. And don’t you forget it, or the cost may be your very soul!

gently caress, now I’m doing it.

It’s difficult to convey Vampire’s self-seriousness without lengthy quotations, but I’ll try. It promises “stories of madness and lust...from the darkest recesses of our unconscious minds.” The myth of the vampire is the perfect embodiment of our antisocial yet relatable impulses. The promise of perverse thrills is couched in warnings that playing Vampire requires facing your inner demons. “Madness as well as wisdom rewards those who dare to gaze into eternity.”

Looking back, it’s easy to see why most people seemed to play Vampire as a game of political intrigue or, failing that, edgy superheroes. Vampire folklore is employed to tell many stories about the dark side of human nature, but fears of alienation, exploitation, rape, disease, and death are at the forefront. Diving into the “darkest recesses” of these themes is a lot to ask, especially from an audience new to roleplaying. I think there’s a strong argument that the elements of Vampire that differentiated it from the works of Rice, Hambly, et al. were the key to its success.

Storytelling and Myth

Vampire posits that before mass media existed, people were active participants in storytelling. Modern humans are passive receivers, unconsciously absorbing narratives through our television screens. Our worldview is being manipulated by an oligarchy of artists and their patrons, usually to our detriment. Roleplaying is not merely a hobby, but a way to become an active participant in the stories that inform your perspective. Vampire may be the first game to posit roleplaying as a method for personal growth; I can’t think of an earlier one.

Vampire also makes it clear that in order to get the most out of it, you must be on board with its creative agenda: romance and tragedy. Despite its punk aesthetic, Vampire’s moral universe is one where good and evil exist in stark contrast, and the characters are cursed to do evil in order to survive. This makes the PCs tragic heroes, like in the works of Aeschylus or Shakespeare; the curse of vampirism takes the place of the prophecies and exigencies that doom such heroes in spite of their best efforts. (I’d say Kindred are more like Romantic heroes, e.g. Faust and Heathcliff, but I’m dutifully summarizing the text for you.)

For this reason, the prospect of winning and losing is much different from that in other roleplaying games. “Winning” requires a victory over the self, or finding a way to serve a greater good. It’s possible that the only victory for your character is a noble death.


No, don’t pop it!


Roleplaying

This chapter provides an introduction to the roleplaying hobby that, by today’s standards, verges on patronizing. It explains that there is no board or minis, and invokes Cops’n’Robbers and Cowboys and Indians to explain roleplaying. Readers are advised to procure 10-sided dice, pencils and scratch paper, and a table to put them on.

However, as Vampire explains the role of the players and the GM, it presents more of its creative agenda. The GM is called the Storyteller, and is responsible for entertaining the players and balancing the “skeleton of the story” against their ability to improvise. Players have near-total control over what their characters say and do, but the Storyteller runs the world, and everyone is encouraged to put story above any PC’s motivations. Vampire is ultimately a very GM-driven game.

On the player side, Vampire doesn’t go in for the fallacy of total “immersion.” Players are encouraged to think both as an actor and a player. Act out your character’s responses and motivations, yes--but as a player, drive the narrative towards accomplishing their goals and resolving their story.

Vampire goes on to justify its stance with a rather audacious theory of self. It argues that what we call the self is an ad hoc performance, constantly changing from one situation to the next and drawing from many different sources. For that reason, you can never totally immerse yourself in a character, and characters are storytelling tools which can never be as fully-realized as human beings. Using Frankenstein’s monster as an analogy, Vampire argues that quantifying a character as a set of stats, and even giving them many fictional details, is far easier than giving them “the breath of life,” some essential and relatable aspect of yourself.

One last, peculiar note on roleplaying in Vampire concerns live-action roleplaying. The game was designed to combine LARP and tabletop, with LARP taking over for “downtime” or scenes that are anticipated to be heavy on drama but light on rules. I’ve never known a group that did that. The closest I can think of is a LARP group doing “interactive downtime” when playing in public, with the expectation that people would roleplay but avoid doing things (like combat) that demand a Storyteller’s attention. Some butthole always fucks it up.


Deal with it


Becoming a Vampire

In and amongst all this Jungian frou-frou are some notes on the game’s premise beyond “You’re a vampire, deal with it.” Becoming a vampire is an agonizing, traumatic experience. A new vampire awakens from death with a ravenous hunger for blood. They spend months or years under their sire’s tutelage, learning to cope with their vampiric nature.

Your sire’s lineage determines your special powers and your familial relations among Kindred. But elder vampires see you, first and foremost, as a cohort of young vampires who have just been released by their sires and “come out” into Kindred society. It’s assumed that the PCs will form a brood (or coterie). This doesn’t make you best friends, but you look out for each other and your mutual interests.

In the end, your unlife is ruled by the fact that you need to drink blood to survive. Getting this far doesn’t mean you’re at peace with it--you’ve just got what it takes to survive this long without getting caught or going totally insane. Some vampires strive for Golconda, a spiritual enlightenment that allows you to either become mortal again, or transcend the influence of the Beast.

The Hunger is never fully sated, and the Beast always strains against its cage. There's more of this stuff about how being a vampire is sad. It’s really, really sad, you guys.

So sad.


Next time, on Kindred: The Embraced: The setting chapter. It's J-J-J-JARGON TIME!

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 21:04 on Nov 16, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Angrymog posted:

Years ago, playing Vampire, the party had a sudden burst of brilliance and managed to figure out the plot before finding all the clues. Cue the GM going, "You weren't supposed to go to the club until Thursday!"
In the real world, you have to wait until Thursday because any goth club only runs one night a week.

In the World of Darkness, there are goth clubs running every night of the week in palatial real estate.

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'm still waiting for a humanoid race that has a plant reproductive organs replacing the male-female reproductive organs. Like has flower for a crotch,
Dude, Wraeththu is one of the Friends in FATAL & Friends.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I want to play a Pkunk on Ringworld. Or in any game, really.

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:

I believe Paizo has a strict editorial rule of undead = evil, even though you can see the creators straining against that notion by trying to make Eox morally grey. But it doesn't really work so well when almost all the undead seek a diet of human misery, and can only be kept from such by mind control.
I'm amazed that they have that much restraint, as D&D has a long history of weird justifications for Undead-But-Good, like the Deathless.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I thought that the lack of interfertility is the reason that sex on Ringworld is both totally casual and a means of sealing a deal.

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:

In Myriad Song, the spider people have non-sentient males who are actually just the size of a large dog (they aren't even humanoid) and kept as cherished pets. I can't help but wonder if that was something of a response to the old 'their females aren't sentient' stuff.
I remember leafing through a sci-fi novel in school, and I've wondered what the title was ever since. Humans met a species whose males ("implanters") are the final, non-sentient stage in their lifecycle. Reproduction was implied to be, well, like being raped by an animal. When they found out about human reproduction, they were disgusted and hoped this other faction of aliens called the Nihilists wipes us all out.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Mors Rattus posted:

So you're saying that the evil wizard is dancing naked on a mailbox.
He never sleeps, and he will never die.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

There is a scene in a Dying Earth story where these godlike wizards explore an ancient city, discover sealed jars of booze and, after getting quite drunk, realize that it was probably embalming fluid.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Comrade Gorbash posted:

Dying Earth wizards are essentially goons.
There's another story where they literally get laid with holographic "recordings" of long-dead women, so this checks out.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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



Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

quote:

On days like this
In times like these
I feel an animal deep inside
Heel to haunch on bended knees

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “The Raven”


First Carl McCoy, now Groovie Mann. By the end of this book, everyone in every band will be a vampire.

Chapter Two: Setting

Before getting into the particulars of its setting, Vampire discusses its mood and atmosphere. It defines it in brief as Gothic-Punk. “It is a world of darkness. All in all, the world is more corrupt, more decadent and less humane than any suburbanite would like to believe.” Hey, this sounds like the start of a brand!

Vampire says explicitly that its Gothic-Punk setting is a dystopian vision of its own time, not a meticulously researched alternate history. The same faces are on Mt. Rushmore, the same shows are on TV, but all the symptoms of civilizational decline are exacerbated. Institutions are as corrupt as they are monolithic, existing only to perpetuate themselves. Inner cities are stricken with poverty and ruled by gang violence and organized crime. The Church is strong only because people turn to superstition in their lives of quiet desperation. Culture is bankrupt; all art leans toward escapism. Even fashion and architecture are more dark and Gothic than in the real world.

The dystopia of Vampire is very much of the zeitgeist of the 1990s. It rages against what would come to be called the “end of history” after an essay (later a book) by Francis Fukuyama. It was the idea that the current political status quo was the ultimate form of government, and the future would just be a process of perfecting and managing it. You can criticize capitalism, consumerism, and the many injustices of the world all you want, but there are no better alternatives. (The second edition of Vampire was published just months after the Soviet Union finally dissolved.)

It’s a status quo predicted in works like They Live and Watchmen, and treated more literally in films such as The Matrix and Children of Men. And the 90s gave us a lot of art in which transgression and antisocial violence attained a sort-of folk-heroic status--for example, any movie with Quentin Tarantino or Gregg Araki’s name attached to it. Those artists moved on to other things, and so did Vampire in its later iterations.

Quite a tangent, I know, but my point is that Vampire’s setting is an expressionistic one. The unstated theme is a society decaying while, paradoxically, being locked in a kind of stasis. It’s not incoherent for depicting a society so decrepit that the United States ought to have collapsed into a Third World hellhole already--that it does not do so is the point.

Ecology of the Vampire

Vampires are not a natural species, but they have a place in the food chain like any other predator. The mortal population can only support so many vampires, and when the Kindred population grows too high, starvation and outbreaks of violence drive it back down. This is not the best way to regulate the population, of course, because it threatens the Masquerade.

Vampires are creatures of the city. It’s where all the food is, of course, but that’s not the only reason. First, vampires don’t travel well. I’ve heard some horror stories from people who missed their flight, but none of them involved spontaneous human combustion. Second, rural areas are dominated by Lupines--werewolves--who hate vampires with a passion. But the most important reason is that nearly all Kindred crave security and some semblance of a normal life. It’s not easy to stake out a safe haven and a cover identity that allows access to mortal blood. Kindred, even old and powerful ones, are loath to operate outside their tiny sphere of influence. This is why the Camarilla doesn’t wield much central authority, despite being backed by the most powerful Kindred around.

Centuries ago, every Kindred was lord of their own city, with only their progeny to keep them company. But as the mortal population has expanded and learned to coexist in vast metropoli, so too have vampires. As a general rule, a city can support 1 vampire for every 100,000 mortals. For example, the metropolitan area of a metropolis like Chicago, with 13 million, will support 130 vampires. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t climb higher. The efforts of the Prince and the city’s elders to restrict the population of young vampires is a major component of the endless cycle of intrigue and violence that Kindred call Jyhad.

Vampire Society

quote:

Immortality is the best recollection one leaves.

--Percy Bysshe Shelley, Highlander II: The Quickening

The most important factors in establishing social class among Kindred is Generation and age. Sure, the elders take note of talent and accomplishment, but the greatest accomplishment is surviving for centuries.

(Your “Generation” is how far removed you are from Caine, assuming the old bastard ever really existed. Caine is the 1st Generation, cursed by God Himself, his childer were the 2nd Generation, and so on. In game-mechanical terms, your Generation determines stuff like your maximum level in supernatural powers and other stuff, and you can’t increase Generation with experience points. It’s a major component of a character’s power level, and PCs start at the bottom--the 13th Generation.)

Thanks to Jyhad and the pull of the Beast, there’s an attrition rate even among the elders. But for the most part, the elders in charge stay in charge. Imagine how stupid and awful your city government would be if that corrupt old bastard everyone hates just never, ever died. And if you piss him off enough, he can throw a car at you.

A childe (plural childer) is a vampire that is still being trained by their sire. Childer are not considered adults in Kindred society, and their sire is held accountable for their gently caress-ups. (You might call someone a childe if they make a stupid rookie mistake.) People who just can’t hack it as vampires are put down by their sires before they get past this point.

A neonate is a Kindred who has recently had their coming-out, which includes being presented to the prince of the city. (That often includes some catechism, bar mitzvah type poo poo where you have to recite the Kindred laws and your ancient Dracula lineage, and do some medieval vassalage ritual.) If a neonate survives a few decades without majorly loving up, they’ll become an ancilla. Neonates are typically 11th-13th Generation Kindred.

Ancilla (plural ancillae) is the rank between neonate and elder. These Kindred are typically 100-200 years old, have carved out a niche for themselves, and are building their power and influence. They are usually 9th-11th Generation Kindred.

Elders, at 200-1000 years old, are the old and powerful vampires who are the movers and shakers in any given city. They are consumed with Kindred politics, making them visible faces of the establishment. Kindred considered elders are generally 6th-8th Generation.

Methuselahs are truly ancient Kindred, of the 4th and 5th Generations. At that age, Kindred undergo a change that makes them even more paranoid and consumed with ennui. They withdraw from Kindred society, manipulating their pawns from afar. These ancient conspirators are the engines of Jyhad.

Antediluvians are the stuff of myth and legend. The name is literal--we’re talking about Caine, his childer and grandchilder, who were lost to history after the fall of the Second City. These are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Generations. They are as frightening to the Methuselahs as the Methuselahs are to the rest of the Kindred, and the mere rumour of their involvement is enough to instigate chaos. No one really knows how many of them have survived, what their motives are, or what powers they possess. Many believe in a coming apocalypse, called Gehenna, when the Antediluvians will awaken and destroy their childer as they war with each other, laying waste to the earth. It’s also possible that some have reached Golconda and are trying to guide Kindred toward a higher state. In any case, if these ancient vampires are still involved in Jyhad, they do so at an even further remove than the Methuselahs, and all Jyhad is ultimately down to the chess moves of the Antediluvians.

Two other distinctions worth mentioning are the Caitiff and the anarchs. Caitiff are vampires with no Clan--perhaps their sire abandoned them or died before they could be properly trained and introduced to other Kindred. Elders regard them as the scum of the earth, and the typical Caitiff is a bottom-feeding vagabond. Anarchs are young Kindred who reject the rule of princes and elders as much as they can get away with. As far as some elders are concerned, all young Kindred might as well be anarchs. If Caitiff are the homeless of the Kindred, anarchs are the anarchist punk squatters.


Lemmy. Also a vampire.

Traditions

The book has a long section covering what it means to be a Prince, followed by one on the Traditions that constitute the oldest laws of the Kindred. I’m covering the latter first.

The Six Traditions are supposed to have existed for as long as vampires have had any kind of society. Some claim they were handed down by Caine, but it’s more likely that they were established after the war that destroyed the 3rd Generation and the Second City, to prevent such a thing from happening again. Furthermore, the common wording and interpretation of the traditions is a few centuries old. In the modern nights, the meaning of each Tradition is whatever your city’s prince can and will enforce.

I. The Masquerade: Thou shall not reveal thy true nature to those not of the Blood.

The first rule of Vampire Club is that you do not talk about Vampire Club. This is the ultimate law of the Kindred. Even anarchs obey it as a matter of common sense. The vampire who breaks the Masquerade endangers all Kindred and is not Kindred at all.

II. The Domain: Thy domain is thine own concern. All others owe thee respect while in it.

This is the most iffy Tradition, because it’s a throwback to the age when each Kindred ruled over a city with only their childer to keep them company. In modern times, the prince is considered to hold domain over all the city. Kindred constantly war over turf, and anarchs think the prince grants turf to their favourites--but it’s more like they’ll recognize the niche you’ve carved out for yourself and your right not to be hosed with. (Most especially, the right not to have your haven burned down while you sleep.)

Like so much else in the Camarilla, possession is nine-tenths of the law. Kindred basically operate like organized crime, so you’ll see things like anarch gangs claiming a feeding ground but giving elders wide berth when they roll through. Like any feudal lord or mob boss, the prince has to have a light touch and tolerate some internecine conflict in order to protect their own position.

III. The Progeny: Thou shall only sire another with the permission of thine elder.

“Thine elder” refers to your sire or your prince or both. Control over the creation of new Kindred is one of the prince’s most vital powers. Any given prince will likely create childer to expand their power base, and try to prevent Caitiff and anarchs running around their city. “Illegal” childer are likely to be put to death along with their sire. Anarchs say “gently caress you” to this Tradition as a matter of course.

IV. The Accounting: Until thy Progeny shall be Released, thou shall command them in all things. Their sins are thine to endure.

Thee thou thy whatever, this is perhaps the simplest tradition. Childer have no rights, and no responsibilities either. Until you release them, their fuckups are your fuckups.

V. Hospitality: When thou comest to a foreign city, thou shall present thyself to the one who ruleth there. Without the word of acceptance, thou art nothing.

When you travel to a new city, you’re obligated to present yourself to the prince. Some princes make a big ritual out of it, while others are fine with a phone call. A lot of Kindred despise this Tradition out of principle. The anarchs hate the whole idea, while elders find it humiliating. That’s ironic, because enforcement is typically mild. Even those who never present themselves and get caught are typically just hauled in front of the prince, roughed up, and tossed out on the street. Princes value this Tradition because it gives them the right to know who’s in their city, and question them about who they are and what shenanigans they’re up to.

VI. Destruction: The right of destruction belongeth only to thine Elder. Only the Eldest among thee shall call the Blood Hunt.

There it is, the answer to the question “What if I break these rules?” The only punishment enshrined in the Traditions is also the most extreme. The Blood Hunt combines a death sentence with the ancient punishment of outlawry: you are no longer Kindred, and it’s open season on you. It’s similar to being declared an “enemy of the people” in ancient Rome: all Kindred are obliged to join the Hunt, and aiding you is treason. It’s not some weird ritual where vampires dress up like fox hunters and sicc hounds on a renegade Kindred. It’s a coordinated effort to track them down, find them, and kill them, with mortals being none the wiser.

As with the other Traditions, princes interpret the “Elder” as themselves, and a prince who can’t enforce his monopoly on the right of Destruction is not going to be prince much longer. The prince must invoke this Tradition to carry out a death sentence, and doing so for capricious reasons likely results in a half-hearted Hunt and humiliation for the prince.


You knew Mister Rogers was a Marine sniper, but did you know that he was...a vampire?

Seriously, I’m 90% sure they cast the star of Kindred: The Embraced from this picture.



Princedom

The title of prince is a throwback to the era of feudal baronies and city-states, but the modern age is the age of the princes. Simply put, the prince is the vampire who maintains political control over a given metropolitan area. The Camarilla, which purports to govern all Kindred, began formally recognizing princes in the mid-18th century.

As I’ve said, the Camarilla wields little central authority over everyday affairs. I mean, if poo poo gets really hosed up, the Camarilla has higher-ups that are more powerful than any prince. But they really don’t want to uproot themselves and come clean up your shithole city. As a result, there’s no barrier between de facto power and “legitimacy.” If you’re the one in charge, the Camarilla recognizes your right to rule.

Another consequence of decentralization is that rulership varies widely from city to city. Some princes assume fancy titles and hold court with elaborate rituals, while others are content to abide as the guy you don’t gently caress with. Some cities don’t have princes at all, and are ruled by a council or informal agreement.

Anyone can claim princedom, and anyone can challenge the prince--this is another component of Jyhad. The struggle takes the form of gang warfare, as each side marshals its soldiers and musters all its influence over mortal institutions (press, police, politics, etc.) to destroy the other. The aftermath of such a war is often a power vacuum. Perhaps this gives the impression that princedom is an endless game of king-of-the-hill, but not so. A good prince uses his privileges to build power and prevent rebellion. The elders will support him, if only to prevent chaos.

The Prince can interpret the Traditions however they like, and make up whatever other laws they like--if they can’t enforce them, it’s their problem, and a prince who can’t back up their claims is swiftly replaced. A prince is often the eldest and most powerful Kindred in the city, but not necessarily. Other elders are often disdainful of the prince--either they want the job themselves, or they think anybody who does is still immature. But elders generally support the prince’s mundane efforts to keep order, preventing anarchs from roaming the streets, creating too many childer and threatening the Masquerade. Elders are often members of the primogen, a council of advisors that is tradition in many cities.

Another strong tradition is that of Elysium. Princes can declare an area elysium, meaning that it is neutral ground where no violence is permitted. That rule also applies to any damage to the premises, as elysium is usually a place of high culture like a museum or art gallery.


Sects and Violence

quote:

A person who cannot live in society, or does not need to because he is self-sufficient, is either a beast or a god.

--Alan Moore, The Picture of Dorian Gray


Over half of all vampires claim membership in one of the major sects; some are only loyal to their Clan. (Now this is interesting. I believe the mysterious other half is meant to be anarchs, Caitiff, and obscure Clans which may be profitably detailed in a future sourcebook. As time went on, those vampires were understood to be the Kindred of the East and the Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom, who aren’t quite Kindred at all, as well as miscellaneous bloodlines like the Daughters of Cacophony.)

The Camarilla was founded in the 14th century in response to a newly reorganized Inquisition, and is the largest sect of vampires worldwide. Seven of the thirteen major Clans took part in its founding, and are considered to be of the Camarilla. (These are, incidentally, the Clans that you can play.) The Camarilla recognizes the Traditions, but not the Antediluvians--the semi-official stance is that they never existed, or if they did, they’re all dead. They don’t offer any alternative explanation as to where the gently caress vampires come from, though.

The Camarilla considers itself the governing body of all Kindred, and the official view is that all vampires are members of the Camarilla, whether they want to be or not. This theory is, well, just a theory. Princes and elders don’t want oversight, Methuselahs are practically invisible, and the Sabbat dominates entire regions of developed nations.

I’ve repeated that Kindred politics are intensely local, but the Camarilla does have some overarching power. The core of Camarilla leadership is the Inner Circle and its Justicars. The Inner Circle meets in Vienna every 13 years, as it has for five centuries. Each Clan sends one voting member. The main purpose of the Inner Circle is to appoint Justicars, one from each Clan. The political campaigns are long and bloody, as Justicars are invested with broad powers.

Justicars are the highest officers of the Camarilla, and the way the Camarilla can actually impose its will. First, Justicars are empowered to call a Conclave, a mass gathering of Kindred to deal with very important matters. Any Kindred is welcome to attend, and has the right to vote and to give testimony. Among other things, Conclaves allow Kindred to air grievances against princes, and princes to invite aid to crush dissent. The Camarilla has always claimed the right to intervene in local affairs and to depose princes, and Conclaves are where that can happen. Conclaves are called in times of emergency, or just every few years to deal with big-picture concerns. The Justicar of Clan Gangrel holds one in New Orleans every 3 years.

Justicars are also empowered to judge any Kindred who violates the Traditions, prescribing whatever punishment they deem necessary. When a Conclave reaches a decision, it’s the presiding Justicar who carries it out. Each Justicar has a crew of skilled Agents called Archons, who are willingly Blood Bound to the Justicar.

So what is the largest sect besides the Camarilla? The Sabbat. Also known as the Black Hand, the Sabbat is said to have begun as a medieval death cult. The Sabbat rules some of the biggest cities in North America--including NYC, Philly, Toronto, and Montreal--yet almost nothing about them is known for sure.

The Sabbat creates new members by torturing mortals to death, feeding them the blood of many vampires, and then burying them alive. Only those who claw their way to the surface are strong and crazy enough to be part of the Sabbat. Its members are organized in “packs” that fight and feed together. Its two preeminent Clans are called the Lasombra and the Tzimisce.

The Sabbat rejects all the trappings of mortal society, and holds Kindred who try to hold on to their humanity in utter contempt. They revel in being monsters, and consider mortals nothing more than livestock. They worship death, holding rites at cemeteries and tombs. They are known for destroying their enemies with fire, and for practicing diablerie with abandon, even upon their own elders when they become too weak.

The unspoken weirdness here is that the Sabbat controls some of the biggest and most important cities in the US and Canada, is always at war with the Camarilla, and doesn’t give a gently caress about humans--but we know almost nothing about them and they haven’t brought the Masquerade crashing down. It’s hard to predict how the tabletop business will go in this year of our Lord 1992, but I’m sure this state of affairs will be modified when White Wolf is ready to publish a sourcebook.

Finally, the Inconnu is a small and mysterious sect of ancient vampires who claim not to be a sect at all. They remove themselves from Kindred politics, and are able to live outside the cities by virtue of their extreme age and power. Sometimes they appear at Conclaves, but their only apparent commitment as a sect is to avoid Jyhad at all costs. They’re so removed from the world that they often sleep for years. Many seek Golconda, that mythical spiritual state that allows a vampire to transcend the evil inherent in their condition.

Of course, the existence of a brotherhood of extremely old and powerful vampires, who all claim to have turned away from material things, engenders exactly as much paranoia and speculation as you’d expect.


Clans

quote:

All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

--Anne Rice, The Sorrows of Young Werther

Vampires are naturally solitary and selfish, but blood ties are very important to them. Most young vampires have more in common with each other than with their sires and grandsires, but lineages stretching back thousands of years is still a vital part of Kindred culture. Most vampires can trace their lineage back to an antediluvian of the 3rd Generation. There was a time when every vampire could recite their lineage going back to Caine, but neonates don’t give a poo poo. This has the elders grumbling about kids these centuries.

Each Clan has unique vampiric powers and a unique curse, and conforms to a general archetype. But all that will be fully covered in the character creation chapter; this brief section is more about each Clan’s mythic origins.

The Brujah were once known as lovers and guardians of knowledge; their founder supposedly invented the written word. But they killed their sire in the name of freedom, and ever since they’ve been rebels and radicals on the fringe of Kindred society. The Brujah are the only clan that supports the anarchs as an institution.

The Gangrel are wanderers who pride themselves on avoiding politics and other entanglements. Their founder is also the ancestor of the Gypsies--like that’s a thing--and the Gangrel are supposed to have some kind of bond with them. Okay.

The Malkavians’ origin is a mystery, featuring many contradictory legend. The most common is that Caine cursed their founder with insanity, which was passed on to all his childer. The Malkavians have always been on the outside looking in, with their founder’s secret manipulations supposedly keeping them alive.

Legend says the Nosferatu were founded by a man with a beautiful face but an evil soul, so Caine cursed him with the face of a monster. All Nosferatu are horribly ugly. Their founder was a violent monster, but Nosferatu tend to be sober and secretive.

The Toreador are a Clan of artists and aristocrats. Their founder was a leader of the rebellion against the Second Generation, but allowed his own childer to nurture their civilized instincts. Toreador are strong supporters of Elysium and of tradition in general.

The Tremere are, frankly, the product of a colossal mistake. A vampire Embraced a family of sorcerers, who quickly synthesized their magick with their new vampiric powers and took control of their Clan. They’re even said to have destroyed their Clan’s original founder. The Tremere are especially secretive and close-knit, and widely distrusted because of it.

The Ventrue believe that their founder was slain by one of the Brujah. Rather than nurse a grudge, they took advantage of their freedom from manipulation to become the leaders of the Camarilla. More princes come from the Ventrue than from any other Clan.

Mortals and Other Bumps in the Night

The biggest threat to a vampire is usually another vampire, but they share the world with a lot of other freaks--werewolves, sorcerers, Boo Berries, spies, tenured professors, televangelists, Moonies, the works.

Powerful Kindred typically manipulate local governments, but it’s hard to say how much federal governments know about vampires. In the United States, the people most likely to be on to something are in the FBI and NSA. The remnants of the FBI’s investigations into Communist super-science are now called Special Affairs. They have active case files open on mysterious phenomena, but not much pull within the FBI. The NSA sifts a lot of data, and flags interesting or “anomalous” reports--but for all anyone knows, anything that could potentially bring own the Masquerade just gets lost in the churn. No vampire has been able to infiltrate the NSA to find out. The Center for Disease Control is the closest to outright investigating vampires--they’re concerned about the transmission of AIDS and other blood-borne diseases with no apparent vector, and have launched a large investigation into the matter.

It’s common knowledge that the Roman Catholic Church proved the existence of vampires, and formed the Inquisition that spurred the founding of the Camarilla. Today, that Inquisition survives in the form of the Society of Leopold. The Society is not part of the Church, but is mostly Catholic and includes many priests. They don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of vampires, nor are they any kind of armed-to-the-teeth vampire hunting militia. Mostly they study old records in an attempt to piece together the truth. But they have learned that individuals with strong, genuine faith can use it to repel vampires.

When they do capture a vampire, they hold elaborate trials before executing their prisoners. A Jesuit splinter group has become more aggressive in hunting down vampires. Meanwhile, official Camarilla policy is to leave them alone and avoid them. Many elders remember that first Inquisition and are still afraid, while some anarchs enjoy baiting them.

The Arcanum grew out of the “War of the Roses” among Parisian occultists in the late 1880s. (Vampire is quite accurate here: the people involved called it a “magical war” but to everyone else it was a very entertaining, very embarrassing scandal among prominent Rosicrucians that was played up in the newspapers.) The most serious and scholarly members of various splinter groups left in disgust and formed the Arcanum.

The Arcanum is a group of serious and well-funded scholars researching the supernatural. The Camarilla is unsure how much they know about vampires, as they’re much more interested in more spiritual and intangible phenomena like miracles and hauntings than in vampires and werewolves and the Loch Ness monster. Even so, the Arcanum is under the same order as the Inquisition: monitor them but never ever let them take notice of you.

So what about actual mages? Powerful sorcerers not to be trifled with, most of whom follow the ancient Order of Hermes. They aren’t particular enemies of Kindred, but they despise the Tremere as traitors. (I suspect that if White Wolf was already thinking about launching Mage, the concept hewed closely to Ars Magica at this point.)

Lupines, or werewolves, are “the mortal enemies of vampires...since the dawn of time.” Why? No explanation. Lupines live in close-knit tribes, and hunt down and kill any vampires trespassing on their territory. Only the Gangrel have contact with them, and even then, they usually hide their true nature. By the by, the World of Darkness seems to be a setting where every place that isn’t a big city is savage wilderness. Or at least, a Stephen King type ominous small town, where ominously creepy old men sit on ominously creaking rocking chairs outside dilapidated country stores, saying “Ah, can’t get there from here” and ominously advising you to be inside before dark. But hey, White Wolf was based in Georgia.

Ghouls are a sort of gentleman’s exception to the Masquerade. (For that reason, you ought to get a by-your-leave from the Prince.) Many Kindred create ghouls to do their grunt work and guard them while they sleep. Ghouls are Blood Bound as a matter of course. Once they surpass their natural lifespan, they need vampire blood in their system constantly lest they age to death in a matter of hours or days.


Hey baby, wanna help me eat all the humans?


Fangin’ and Slangin’ with the Type A List Brother

Now we come to White Wolf’s most famous innovation: slang.

Vampire features a “Lexicon” of three lists: terms that most Kindred use, terms that are only used by dusty old Grandpa Munsters and their bootlickers, and vulgar terms that are only used by anarchs and other scum. Vampire is notorious for inspiring a lot of other games to characterize their setting with lots of Capitalized Jargon Words; when you find a game that has multiple Jargon Words for the same drat thing, this is why. A lot of these terms concern when, where, and how vampires feed on humans.

I’ll be damned if I make the mistake I did with Everlasting and Immortal and detail every goddamn thing, but I will go through some highlights. There are a lot of terms here that I’ve already covered, like “anarch” and “childe.”

Alleycat (vulgar): A vampire who feeds on street people, and is usually one himself. The archaic version is footpad. When more respectable vampires do this, it’s called slumming.
Banker, Banking (vulgar): Kindred who rob blood banks.
Barrens: Parts of a city that are devoid of life, and thus of good eating--abandoned warehouses and suchlike.
The Beast: A vampire’s animalistic drive to feed, sleep, flee fire and sunlight, and forget everything else.
Blister (vulgar): A vampire that picks up a disease from feeding, and passes it on to future victims.
Butterfly (vulgar): A vampire who mingles among high society. The archaic form is Whig.
Cainite (archaic): Vampires. Even “Kindred” is too vulgar for some elders.
Cauchemar (archaic): A vampire who only feeds on sleeping victims, leaving them mostly unharmed. The vulgar version is Sandman.
The Damned (vulgar): Vampires.
Farmer, Vegetary (vulgar): A Kindred who feeds on animals.
Haven: The place where you sleep during the day. Vampires have a very “a man’s home is his castle” view of their havens.
The Hunger: The all-consuming urge to feed.
Jyhad: Any kind of war or political struggle between vampires, but especially that involving the ancients using the rest of us as pawns in their inscrutable master plans.
Kine: Mortals.
Kiss: A prissy term for biting people and drinking their blood.
The Life: An even prissier term for said blood. The archaic version is Vitae.
Lush: A vampire who feeds on intoxicated people. This is the only way vampires can get high, by the way.
Osiris (archaic): A vampire who creates a mortal cult to feed upon. This practice is now rare.
Praxis (archaic): The right of princes to rule.
The Rack (vulgar): The red-light district of nightclubs, brothels, and so on, considered prime hunting ground. The archaic form is Papillon.
Rake (vulgar): Those who hunt in The Rack are Rakes. The archaic form is Gentry.
Regnant (archaic): One who holds a Blood Bond over another. The bonded person is called a Thrall.
Retainers (archaic): Mortals, usually ghouls, who serve vampires. Many are so thoroughly controlled that they have no free will.
Rogue: A vampire who hunts other vampires to commit diablerie. The vulgar form is Headhunter.
Siren: A vampire who seduces mortals and feeds on them while they sleep, without taking too much blood. The vulgar version is Casanova or Tease.
Vessel: A human, coldly considered purely as a source of blood. The vulgar version is Donor.

So yes, Vampire has a lot of Capitalized Jargon, including some Latinish archaicisms, but its slang mostly sounds like plausible slang. And that lexicon rounds out the setting chapter.


Next time on Kindred the Embraced: A brief chapter on GMing. Yes, Vampire does this before rules and character creation.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 14:14 on Nov 30, 2017

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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.

Building on something I said earlier, the PbtA game World Wide Wrestling seems more roleplaying-focused, but I get confused a lot about what stats and moves correspond to what actions "in the fiction." Kayfabe seems tricky to actually roleplay, but I understand how the mechanical models correspond to wrestling.

Kayfabe seems like it maybe needs an enforced throughline from the guy you play on the booking committee and the wrestler you play. In the case of Hulk Hogan, that makes perfect sense in the context of WCW and the nWo, him keeping himself on top and holding everybody who wasn't his personal friend down, both in and out of kayfabe. But it doesn't need to be an actual stable.

I could see a fun game where one guy plays, say, the Nostalgia Talent--so you're playing Hogan, you're playing the booker who thinks only wrestlers like Hogan can draw, and you're playing one of Hogan's old buddies on the midcard. Another guy is playing the Scrappy Indie Talent, so you're playing Daniel Bryan, someone on the booking committee who wants to push talented new blood, and another indie guy on the midcard who's floundering because they don't know how to use him. Each "level" might have a token everyone's fighting over, whether that's a midcard belt, the championship belt, or creative control. That also opens the gate for some interesting character ads & disads...like, Triple H pushes indie talent but he's also notoriously self-aggrandizing and keeps pushing himself into the championship scene as a singles wrestler. Kevin Nash was poison to a bunch of people's careers, and so on.

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