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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.

Joe Slowboat posted:

Huh, I thought he was like... a weird Burkean conservative,
I don't know much about Exalted, but that's compatible with libertarianism. Lots of them claim the "classical liberal" label to sound smart.

quote:

(Nexus is known for having a lot of murders and brutal poverty, due to wealth purchasing the law outright).
Nor is this; for the hardcore libertarian, all defects in capitalism are attributable to "crony capitalism." Can't have a corrupt state if there's no state! :pseudo:

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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.

No Feng Shui party is complete without a guy whose only superpowers are a handgun and a neckline that goes down to his navel.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I've never played Feng Shui or followed it very closely, but I played the Shadowfist CCG back in the day and the Buro/Jammer conflict was really cool. As was the Buro sending agents back in time to capture demons.

At first glance, it seemed like the part of the setting that lacked clear roots in a specific subgenre of action film, but 80s dystopian films were already an exercise in mashing up a handful of seminal films (The Warriors, Mad Max 2, and Escape from New York were the Holy Trinity) and picking up influences from any science fiction film that was a hit, so Aliens, Predator, and Terminator ripoffs were also common. It makes a lot of sense in retrospect.

That said, a lot of Feng Shui's DNA comes from the American low-budget action films that started cropping up as the Italian exploitation film industry was dying, from companies like PM Entertainment.

Feng Shui 2 seems like an excellent game, and I like Mad Max style post-apocalypse several times more than the next guy, but its post-Buro future epoch seems like it doesn't have a lot going on. A related thing I find surprising is that, since the first edition came out in 1996, the second edition doesn't go out of its way to acknowledge the "action horror" fad and the zombie revival.

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:

Let's look at another infamous Archetype: The Big Bruiser. This is for people who want to play the huge person who gets punched a bunch in the stomach as their acrobatic little enemy tries to do cool kung-fu moves on them and just yawns, then smashes the little guy. They're also infamously one of the worst Archetypes in the game, because the way the dice system works out, that scene basically never goes like that.
90sdesign.txt

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:

I would like to meet the conspiracy theorist who figured out that it's actually a cabal of mystically enlightened animal people running the world and oppressing humanity's magical potential, if only from a safe distance.
The Ascended are dead chi, which lives, vampire like, only by sucking living chi, and lives the more, the more living chi it sucks.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:05 on Jun 11, 2019

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:

Later on, he did destroy all the chi! And he basically did kill the world. The reason 2e's future juncture is Mad Max style instead of bio-horror cyberpunk is because Pote managed to build and use a bomb that blew up all the chi, and it killed something like 99% of life on the spot.
Buro propaganda. It was only 97%.

Night10194 posted:

Yeah, that was actually one of the reasons I didn't like the change to 2069;
Nice.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

hyphz posted:

What does the 2e change? It means they've just proven that unless you want the apocalypse, that won't work either, so if they manage to undo the Chi Bomb it's just.. back to business as usual for everyone else and the Jammers no longer have any goal. That's not really such a happy ending.
It's a particularly bad idea when you consider that action movies--especially dystopian ones--often end with a singular heroic act that improbably brings down The System.

Tank Girl blows up the generator, Nada blows up the satellite dish, Arnold shows the Running Man audience the real footage, Arnold destroys Cyberdyne and heroically commits suicide, Matt Damon hacks Elysium and heroically commits suicide...I could go on.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Monte Cook isn't bereft of ideas, but he has no ability to translate them into mechanics. It begins and ends with pluses and minuses.

This reminds me of Monte Cook Presents Mike Mearls' Iron Heroes. It was lauded in its day for making Fighters interesting, but almost all the abilities of its dozen Fighter classes boiled down to bonuses, reducing penalties, and building up tokens to spend for bonuses.

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:

Being gonzo or weird without just being aimless and hollow takes a lot of effort.

Relevant Tangent posted:

See also Numenara.

"Trying to Be Jack Vance" is itself a classic D&D dungeon littered with the dusty skeletons of those who tried and failed

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Have any roleplaying games ever done Drunken Boxing without making it tedious and stupid?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I could only phonepost over the weekend and I have all these Thoughts about Feng Shui.

Night10194 posted:

The Ascended are the one faction in Feng Shui I've never felt any urge to play as/run a game for. I'm okay with them as a setting element, though Conspiracy Theory Guys are...problematic. They work better if you shift them more to just being the ultra-rich in general, the ones crushing the world under the treads of unfettered capitalism as they congratulate themselves for being 'the End of History'.
I know it's supposed to be Problematic that the Ascended are the big conspiracy that controls modern society, but really, the Ascended are a much better metaphor for Capital than they are an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Because they control all the money chi, everything goes well for them and the rules don't apply to them. Their goal is to keep the oligopoly running smoothly so that no serious competition emerges from within or without. They're staring apocalypse in the face and they know it, but because everything's going great for them, they can't fathom how to deal with it.

In classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, the Jews are a people who live among us but are apart from us. They control global capitalism, but they also control the leftist resistance to capitalism as their popular front, and they're deliberately steering us toward apocalypse. The fundamental contradiction is that if they already control everything, why would they want to upset the applecart? (There's an old saying that anti-Semitism is socialism for morons.) This doesn't apply to the Ascended!

I'm willing to go to bat for 90s games with "the Establishment is secretly controlled by inhumans" as a core conceit. Before WWII, American conspiracism was heavily anti-Semitic. Later, it had to veil itself, and "aliens" became a common find-replace for "Jews." By the 90s, this had happened enough that there were UFO and NWO conspiracy theorists who weren't anti-Semitic and were clueless about the anti-Semitic origins of what they were reading. (The white supremacist militia movement was certainly on the rise in the 90s and I don't want to downplay that. As far as I know, White Wolf didn't hire any such people.) A good example is Bill Cooper, author of the influential Behold A Pale Horse. It reprints sections of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion with the caveat that you should replace "Jews" with "Illuminati." Cooper was right-wing and anti-socialist, but denounced anti-Semitism.

Anyway. The Ascended certainly not a protagonist faction; like the Architects, their rebellious/betrayed minions are a recruiting pool for the Dragons. (100 Bullets and John Wick would strike me as inspirations for the Pledged if they weren't published after the 1st edition.) The possibility of an Ascended villain turning into a crab or a chicken after you defeat him seems like it must be intentional comedy. Like a joke bonus ending in a Silent Hill game.

Transformed Animals don't strike me as a particularly interesting archetype to play in Feng Shui 2. They have magical animal kung fu, but so do the martial artists.

As much as the Ascended are scared of the impending hellworld of the Architects, it strikes me as the End of History they've created playing itself out exactly as it logically should. I find the Buro less problematic than the Ascended. Yes, you can assess the Buro as the neo-Soviet dystopia of Limbaugh and Beck's fantasies--but leftists also compare late-capitalist dystopia to the declining Soviet Union.

Night10194 posted:

Quan Lo is a fascist, isn't he? Ethnic/racial superiority, an imagined and elaborate golden age that must be returned to by violence and purging, a world of total hierarchy, and an obsession with corrupting influences that ruin the purity and superiority of those who rightfully should guide the entire world.
Quan Lo is a millenarian. Apocalyptic movements are historically common among anticolonialists, and anticolonial movements are often culturally conservative. It's easy to see the appeal of the idea that righteousness will sweep away the evil oppressors and usher in a golden age.

Feng Shui posted:


Greg Stolze accidentally killed an old lady with his car, and now he's cursed to never, ever work on a book with good art.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Yeah, conservatives hate the End of History because they're tribalists and want their tribe to win. Leftists hate it because we don't want unity to come in the form of being powerless consumers. The Architects don't believe in anything beyond technocratic management, while the Ascended don't believe in anything, period!

The main thing I would change about the Buro is Curtis Boatman. I would change his last name to literally anything but "Boatman." Apologies to anyone named Boatman; it's not an inherently silly name, but it would be if you were the Amon Goth of the dystopian cyberdemonfuture.

jakodee posted:

Honestly they have extremely nice mouth-feel. I’m going to name a character ”Zir” or something in a game.
Why isn't anyone talking about the mouthfeel

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

C°ntinuum is such an amazing bait and switch. A game all about time travel, with a unique theory of time travel that's neither wholly deterministic nor chaotic, that promises a method for keeping track of your time shifts.

And then it turns out that you keep track of it in the shittiest way imaginable: a meticulous journal of every single thing your PC does. And the GM has infinite power to dump more bookkeeping on you by having your future self show up.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I admit I haven't closely followed the Coalition/Tolkeen war, but my understanding is that the wizards had everything they needed to teleport into Coalition headquarters and level it, and the books never really explain why that didn't happen. Plus the whole thing where the Coalition has more military hardware than the modern United States.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I was gonna point out that Maximum Mike must have meant anti materiel rifle and that the Interceptor is Max Rockatansky's car, but it all seems so petty now

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 understand Degenesis. It feels like a bundle of premises for low-budget post apoc movies, corny racist stereotypes, and honestly pretty good industrial metal album covers, in search of an actual setting.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Midjack posted:

The Cultures part became incomprehensible about halfway through though the Cults have been easier for me to follow. I still would never play in this terrible world full of awful societies and horrible people.
Since the rules and player options haven't been dealt with yet, I can't even suss out which factions are playable and which are not and how a party of PCs is supposed to get together and do things.

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:

I find the issues often crop up when something doesn't examine that part of itself, or is ashamed of it and tries to layer sexual menace and muck all over it to make it 'mature'.
You rang?




Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

Preface
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Setting
Interlude: A History of Face Grabbing
Chapter 3: Storytelling
Chapter 4: Rules
Chapter 5: Character



quote:

Acts of injustice done
Between the setting and the rising sun
In history lie like bones, each one.

--Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Porphyria’s Lover”

Chapter Six: Chronicle

This chapter is about crafting the campaign and fitting the player characters into it. Oh, I’m sorry, it’s about crafting a chronicle for your troupe. The advice given here is a mixed bag. Some of it is innovative, some is woefully of its time, some is just strange. But you can’t say that Vampire suffers from the “But what do I do with it?” problem that often befalls unique games. This chapter provides many seeds for campaign themes, roles for the player characters, individual storylines, and conflicts to set them up.

Vampire was written before it became common practice to use the first meeting as a “jam session” where the players create characters together and the GM solicits player input to build the setting. The GM is advised to ask the players about their characters and incorporate that into the chronicle design, but also discusses chronicle design as if you are doing this while the players create their characters, so the procedure is a bit murky.


Hm. Well, there really ought to be a handrail here.


Elements of a Chronicle

The foundational element of a chronicle is its Motif...and Vampire’s understanding of that word is very broad and very weird. In narrative art, “motif” usually describes specific, recurring symbols. The appearance of smiley faces and clocks in Watchmen, the phrase “Valar morghulis” in Game of Thrones, and many of John Williams’ leitmotifs are famous examples.

Vampire does give some appropriate examples, like an outdoor statue or a rambling bum who gives cryptic insights. But it understands motif to mean “anything that recurs in a story,” so most things the Storyteller does are part of the motif. The overarching theme of the campaign? Motif. Your conversational style with the players? Motif. House rules? Motif. Everything you do to establish theme, mood, and atmosphere is part of one big Motif.

The book has already gone over these topics separately and together, so I don’t know why it’s so confused here. Maybe this is what happens when you split the “how to GM” stuff into separate, disconnected chapters.

After motif comes Setting. I think this is one of the game’s greatest but least acclaimed virtues. Its “Gothic-Punk” aesthetic requires that it be set in a city, it is perfectly clear why Kindred need to live in cities, and it wants you to create an urban setting that, to invoke a hoary cliche, is a character in itself. That said, little space is devoted to discussing how to bring a city to life. You’re advised to purchase travel guides and contact the Chamber of Commerce, along with some vague advice about adding historical and geographical detail as you go.

More important and complex than the mundane geography and politics of the city is the Kindred power structure. You must answer questions such as how many factions are involved and their standing with one another, who are the most important Kindred, and whether the Prince is a dictator or a puppet or something in between.

The player Characters are a vital element in themselves. You should ask the players how their characters know each other and make sure that they have a reason to stick together beyond being allies of convenience. You can use the “Prelude” method we discussed earlier to fit the PCs into the campaign setting. It acknowledges that while Kindred society is rife with intrigue, a campaign that’s nothing but the PCs backstabbing each other won’t be about anything or go anywhere...unless that’s what everybody wants! There is some solid advice here about catering to the players’ instincts instead of trying to herd cats; if they’re “incorrigible anarchists” then poo poo, let them play anarchs!

But this is quickly followed by advice to use “a system of rewards and punishments,” i.e. experience points and the Humanity rules, to tame uncooperative players. No! Bad game! Bad!

While this is a game of moral dilemmas and “personal horror,” you still need Antagonists to fight. They suggest having a big, chronicle-defining archenemy who is diabolically evil. This could be the Prince, an ancient Methuselah secretly controlling the city, or something more mundane. You should nurse the players’ hatred by having the villain thwart their endeavors. They suggest making the villain very powerful--not to slap the coterie around, but so that the coterie has to play it smart, do the legwork, and erode the villain’s power base.

Another way you can play it is to have a group of enemies who are more on the coterie’s level, so that personal rivalries can emerge. One suggestion is a Sabbat pack whose members are a dark mirror to the PCs. Sounds like a really fun idea for a one-off, since in the corebook, the Sabbat are just characterized as crazed Satanic spree killers.

The last element is an overall Scheme for where you want to chronicle to go. Vampire has a reputation for being very railroady, to the point of inspiring other games to follow suit. But it says up front that your chronicle will probably be very different from the initial concept, and if it isn’t, you’re being too controlling. So the scheme is just a rough outline, a tool to help you manage the pacing and maintain the atmosphere, so that the chronicle has a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. It’s particularly important to stage a grand finale when you’re ready to wrap it up.

This section also touches on the possibility of setting chronicles in the distant past, versus setting it in the modern day. While a historical chronicle can allow for months, years, even decades of downtime between sessions, a modern chronicle will be much more day-to-day and week-to-week...because Gehenna is approaching! I’ll go into more detail on Gehenna later. I’ve long thought that Vampire contains a handful of big themes, and no single chronicle has room for all of them. Gehenna and its theme of impending millennial doom--and all the related metaplot--is one of those Big Themes that some groups will make their game all about, and others will completely disregard.

Anyway, Caine did 9/11.


Grandma was a punk rocker

Chronicle Archetypes

Like I said, Vampire isn’t lacking in the “what do I do with this game” department. They provide a list of over a dozen models for a chronicle to follow.

Gang: You’re a vampire street gang. Your turf is your hunting ground, which you protect from mortal gangs and poaching Kindred. You’re anarchs openly defying the Prince, but you have to respect the Traditions at least enough to keep the Justicars from coming down on you. Interesting possibilities include being affiliated with mortal gangs that the players get to characterize and lead, or being elder-sponsored “counterterrorists.” gently caress the police.

Wanderers: Hey, Near Dark is one of the best vampire films ever! Unlike most Kindred, you are nomads, roaming the earth in search of blood and a safe place to sleep. This makes for a picaresque chronicle where the PCs are concerned with the basics of survival, rolling into a new town only to be forced out in order to stay one step ahead of trouble. Wherever they go, established Kindred will resent their presence, and they’ll have to tangle with Lupines sooner or later. (The 2nd edition was published in the same year as Werewolf, so all we know about werewolves is “they control rural areas and they hate vampires.”)

Rock Band: Vampire is excitement! Vampire is adventure! Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame! Yeah, so maybe your whole band was Embraced by the same vampire, or you got together later. You have to decide who plays what instrument according to stereotype. And if you’re successful, you have to figure out how to go on tour when the only safe way to travel is in a shipping container.

Refugees: You came to this city fleeing something bad. You’re probably not supposed to be here and the established Kindred probably regard you as trash.

Historical: This is where the seeds of the Dark Ages line were planted! While you can play in any era, the obvious choice is medieval Europe, since Kindred society still follows a model of feudal vassalage today. You’ll probably be playing members of the nobility, but that just means that you’re caught between servitude to monstrous elders and fearful, restive peasants.

Primogen: You are the primary (perhaps only) Kindred of a medium-sized city. This chronicle emphasizes power and responsibility instead of being a pariah surviving on the margins. The Storyteller has to contrive crises for the PCs to deal with, which will typically involve external threats from factions of Kindred looking for a new city to make their own.

Prince’s Brood: The coterie are all the childer of the Prince, who may be a noble who sees them as heirs or a monster who sired them to be disposable pawns. This chronicle calls for giving the PCs more points, but they also have the thankless job of doing the elders’ dirty work while controlling the discontent anarchs.

Mortal Politics: Control of local government institutions is a huge asset for Kindred. The PCs will be involved in mortal political campaigns, leveraging their Backgrounds to handle the aboveboard stuff and using their vampire powers to commit all sorts of ratfucking.

High Society: The coterie is part of high society and concerned with its scandals and intrigues. This overlaps with some other archetypes so much that it seems like a weak premise on its own.

Archons: The coterie are the minions of a Justicar, one of the high officials that keep the Camarilla intact. You are powerful and feared, traveling from city to city cleaning up messes to maintain the status quo. It’s suggested that you use the premise to introduce moral dilemmas and minor crises that hint at big-picture conflicts.

Fanatics: The coterie is part of a violent extremist group, like IRA partisans, Muslim fundamentalists, or eco-terrorists. LOL no one would ever actually do this. (I don’t know why people in the 90s though “eco-terrorists” is something that really exists.) Bits like this are where you start to see the emergence of obsessively edgy character options that no one actually played--at least, not with the same group more than once.

Cult: The coterie has started a cult so they can have minions and easy access to blood. The game is up front about the fact that this is an Evil Campaign even by its own standards, and the coterie are abusing and cheating these people. The Humanity rules should be central to this chronicle.

Patrons: The coterie are the patrons of some mortal organization like a business, a charity, or even a sports team (The Bad News Brujah!). You’re do-gooders, and you have to balance that with being a bloodsucking freak. The more you succeed, the more is expected of you.

Other World: If you want to set your game in a cyberpunk future or a Tolkienesque fantasy, they’re not going to come to your house and stop you.


Peas! I love ‘em!


Creating a Story

The section on creating storylines and individual sessions shows a more nuanced understanding of storytelling elements, instead of mashing a slew of concepts together as “motif.” Again, belying the game’s reputation for being railroady, it advises you to give the players a pressing problem, then get out of the way and let them deal with it. It also advises you to find inspiration in newspaper headlines, because “vampires are behind many major disruptions in the world, so the repercussions of their conflicts are sure to end up in the news.” How much influence Kindred have over world-historical events is something White Wolf would go back and forth on through the history of the product line.

Every story needs a theme, which Vampire understands to mean a moral or philosophical question that is posed but not answered. Given examples are grouped into categories like Love, Hate, Chaos, Morality, and Society, and are big-picture dilemmas like “How is love both a weakness and a strength,” and “Are there any ultimate moral truths?”

Conflict is the basis of any story. While Vampire deals with a lot of internal moral and psychological conflict, that’s difficult to deal with in a group setting, and most of the given examples are conflicts with enemies who want to kill you or aggrandize themselves at your expense. It does note that Kindred are political animals and their conflicts don’t always have to come to violence. There’s a list of sample conflicts, which overlap a great deal.

Kindred vs. Lupines, Kindred vs. Hunters, and Camarilla vs. Sabbat are about fighting off an irreconcilable enemy that wants you dead. As I’ve said, Lupines and the Sabbat haven’t yet been detailed beyond “they’re bloodthirsty and they hate you.”

Humanity vs. Beast, Sanity vs. Madness, and Survival vs. Justice are about those mostly internal struggles. These are clear concepts, but how to realize them in a session is an open question.

Kindred vs. Kindred, Clan vs. Clan, and Kindred vs. Prince concern intrigue within Kindred society. Factions fight each other for influence over mortal affairs and control of hunting grounds. The Prince’s dominion in these matters is not always a sure thing.

Anarchs vs. Elders and Elder vs. Elder bring in that punk element of generational conflict. Kindred politics are worse than mortal politics in every way. The interests of the old and young can’t be reconciled, the elders mostly reproduce to use their children as pawns, the old want to hang onto power forever, and they have all the advantages except numbers.

Kindred vs. Society and Kindred vs. Victims concern the Masquerade. The PCs might find themselves hunting mortals who fight back, and threats to the Masquerade can’t be easily solved with skulduggery and magic powers.

Kindred vs. Unknown and Kindred vs. Magi are both “make poo poo up” categories. I only bring it up to point out that the book mentions mages, but tells us even less about them than about werewolves.

The advice on plot concerns principles for sketching an outline and then handling the pacing of the session. You must begin sessions by setting the scene for the PCs, followed by a hook that grabs their attention and lets them know what’s at stake. There should be a steady buildup of tension approaching a climax, and part of that is making sure that dead-ends and red herrings are dispensed with quickly. They also advice cliffhangers and plot twists to provide excitement and momentary resolution, especially when the story can’t be completed in one session. One bit I particularly liked concerned the denouement after the story reaches its climax--this is a good opportunity for downtime scenes where the PCs can interact with each other without anything at stake, and for the Storyteller to distribute rewards.

The section on creating drama doesn’t give much detail or any examples, but repetitively emphasizes how very important it is to create drama. Granted, this is because there’s a whole chapter on creating drama in the moment, and how to use the game mechanics to do that, much later in the book. There is one particularly good bit of advice, which is to never have a combat where the characters involved are just pulling weapons and blasting each other. It should be like a good set-piece action scene in a movie, where combat is alternated with a chase, or the combat is set in a location that creates a deadly game of cat-and-mouse instead of a straight-up fight.

The following section is on establishing mood and atmosphere to get the players into their characters’ heads and evoke real emotion. It enumerates all the tools the Storyteller has to convey atmosphere, including your voice and mannerisms and the degree of attention paid to different aspects of the scenery itself. For example, building a “dank” mood in an urban environment requires playing up the literal filth and ugliness of the surroundings.


Shut up, you guys. My mom says my soul patch is cool.

Finally, we’re given a list of Story Archetypes that can apply to a single session or an ongoing storyline. They’re divided into three categories: “Mean Streets” is self-explanatory, “Illuminatus” concerns conspiratorial plots, and “Bourbon Street” emphasizes that ol’ time personal horror. I’ve been to Bourbon Street on Halloween, and I was horrified by all the puke. Anyway, these archetypes aren’t premises for a story, but loose bundles of setting, mood, and theme.

Urban Nightmare: Kindred are by nature part of the city’s dark underbelly, characterized by urban decay and poverty. Can the coterie do anything to make this world better, or are they just another disease?

Adventure: Sometimes you just want the exhilaration of combat. The Storyteller is encouraged to give it to them, but not without risks and consequences. (In this entry and the one above, Vampire emphasizes that its Gothic-Punk setting is not so lawless that you can just go around biting people in the street and killing any cops who intervene. There are more of them than there are of you.)

Wilderness Trek: Anything outside the city is “wilderness” to vampires, and rural areas are populated with werewolves, spirits (!), and faeries (!!) who have their own territorial claims. If you give the coterie a compelling reason to leave the city, they’re in a desperate situation.

Diablerie: The only way to lower your Generation is by drinking an elder to death, which is a big part of why elders are such Machiavellian bastards. Plotting the death and diablerie of elders can become a whole campaign and prompt moral questions about who is the real monster and all that jazz.

Jyhad: To the extent that Kindred society goes beyond squabbling over a feeding ground or political asset, it’s truly ancient vampires using their lessers as pawns. If you want to do complicated spy games where agents carry out missions for reasons they don’t understand, and the coterie’s nemesis turns out to have been the one pulling their strings all along, this one’s for you.

Vendetta: Something really bad happens to the players, and they want revenge on the bastard responsible. The only hard part is wounding the coterie without leaving the players feeling like they just got hosed over with no recourse. Make the villain really nasty, then let the players loose, and they’ll do all the work.

Masquerade: A story based on preserving the Masquerade is a good way to get the players to understand that fangs and a few points of Disciplines doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. Handling a coverup is a job that can’t be accomplished with more violence and magic powers.

Escape: Eventually, the coterie might just have to go on the run from the Prince, the Sabbat, or just the police.

Mission: The easiest way to set up any kind of story you want to do is by having the Prince or some other powerful figure give them a job to do. In my personal experience this is overused, and Vampire anticipated that--it’s better if the coterie has the prospect of a reward, or is doing the mission as a favour or on their own initiative, rather than because a Ventrue Prince waved his Dominate powers around.

Tragedy: Kindred existence is inherently tragic if you give a poo poo about being a decent person. This doesn’t work if the Storyteller is just loving over the PCs; instead, it’s about having to constantly choose the lesser of two evils because a vampire’s nature is inherently against them.

The Becoming: You can start the story before the PCs are even Embraced and walk them through the process of becoming vampires, learning to live with it, and eventually breaking their bonds with their sires.

Romance: What’s a vampire roleplaying game if it doesn’t acknowledge romance? Vampires as we know them were born from Romantic literature, after all. Kindred trying to maintain romances with mortal lovers and loved ones are in an inherently tragic situation, and the same principles apply. By the same token, vampires who fall in love with one another are star-crossed: Kindred are solitary predators, and a romance maintained by becoming Blood Bound is necessarily a reckless, desperate love.

Redemption/The Quest: Some vampires don’t give a gently caress about fighting for the right to seduce people in a particular nightclub. They want to become human again, or stay as human as possible. They may actually assist mortals against particularly nasty vampires, help other Kindred come to terms with what they’ve become, or even seek Golconda, the legend that a vampire can become human again or at least transcend vampirism.

Normal Life: The coterie are trying to maintain their normal lives. Pretty hard when sunlight burns you up like flash paper. The point here is to draw a sharp contrast between their “normal” life and the necessity of existence as a vampire.

This update was brought to you by absinthe. Absinthe! When you want to experiment with new cocktails but not remember any of the recipes the next day...absinthe!

Next time on Kindred the Embraced: Clans! Disciplines! All the fun stuff, finally, all at once!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Angry Salami posted:

I like (and am somewhat surprised) that they were down with PCs being the movers and shakers as an option, rather than just insisting they always be the lackeys of super-powerful Princes and NPCs.
I think FMguru has it right: a lot of the emphasis on powerful NPCs, metaplot that made modules into railroads, and international conspiracies was a product of the "supplement treadmill" economic model as time went on. Besides player options and power creep, it's easier to move sourcebooks about those things than "toolkit" books that enable player-driven intrigue, like Elysium and Damnation City.

And since I'm going through old Vampire sourcebooks,




Piss on your grave, White Wolf.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

It makes sense for an elder to Embrace a skinhead purely to use him as a pawn...but that's Ventrue poo poo. And the description of the PC makes it clear he'd be more trouble than he's worth, compared to Embracing a cop or a common criminal for the same purposes.

It's alarming that this sample PC is called a "stereotypical Brujah" and the corebook...well, I'll get to that in the next update. What the gently caress were they thinking, treating "Neo-Nazi" as not only an acceptable character concept, but an ordinary one?!

Sadly, and I'm loathe to say this, the Skinhead isn't even the worst sample PC concept from the clanbooks. That award goes to the Pedophile Boarding School Headmaster from the Setites book.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Didn't buy Clanbook: Tzimisce? Then you can't play the dogfucker.

Oh, unless you bought Ghouls: Fatal Addiction. That also has a dogfucker.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I've heard stories about groups where people cleaved very closely to Clan stereotypes, so every Brujah had to be a punk and every Toreador had to be a poncy artist and so on. This is ironic because the books themselves, in my opinion, went too far in the other direction. For example, you started seeing multiple Ventrue characters who are thugs with no ambition to hold a position of authority, who were Embraced to do the Clan's dirty work.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Hyphz, you're really doing yeoman's work here. I've found that my major stumbling block in F&Fing is covering chapters about GMing. I just find it inherently harder and less fun than assessing character options and rules.

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:

I think the general tone of Hunter and what it's sometimes trying to do is particularly interesting, too. It's a shame about literally everything about the rules, but Storyteller is honestly also intriguing to me because of its complete inability to be actually rules light or narrative combined with its active hostility to any idea of balance or design.
I think my biggest problem with Hunter is simply that the power level in the oWoD just invalidates mortal monster-hunters. It's hard to justify a human who can go toe-to-toe with a Garou but is somehow not a Supernatural* themselves.

I recall forum posters pointing out that you're not supposed to overthrow the Camarilla or destroy Pentex or whatever, you're in a desperate struggle to take out one mid-level vampire, et cetera et cetera. But the art belies that (Hunter was notorious for depicting Hunters pulling off stuff that the PCs will probably never manage), and so does the overarching metaplot of the WoD, where there are demigods hidden all over the place and they're all about to kick off Armageddon.


*How come neither White Wolf nor the fandom ever came up with a better word for this?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

megane posted:

I feel like a lot of WW stuff follows the same sort of pattern. They come up with a passable and straightforward idea, but then I guess they struggle to fill out however many pages of copy about it, since they kinda conveyed the whole idea in two sentences. "Defenders are protectors, who choose a place or group of people and keep them safe. Sometimes this makes them too cautious when aggression is called for."

So in comes the questionable filler stuff -- the stereotype lists, the in-character pontificating, the whiny equivocations about whether drowning babies is really bad, the "twists" and unnecessary examples that weaken and confuse the concept. If they'd just know when to shut up about things it'd be so much more palatable.
Have I got a chocolate bar for you!






Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)

Preface
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Setting
Interlude: A History of Face Grabbing
Chapter 3: Storytelling
Chapter 4: Rules
Chapter 5: Character
Chapter 6: Traits


quote:

What? Y'all thought y'all wasn't gonna see me?
I'm the Osiris of this poo poo
Wu-Tang is here forever, motherfuckers

--Friedrich Nietzsche, Exquisite Corpse

Chapter Seven, Part 1: Clans

All the details of the players’ stuff is crammed into one massive chapter that includes Clans, Disciplines, basic Attributes and Abilities, Backgrounds, how Blood is spent, and a few other things.

I’ll start with the clans, of which there are seven. We’re told that these are not the only Kindred clans in existence, but the ones that make up the Camarilla. Each clan gets a writeup which includes sections on their typical background and character concept, how they’re organized, what kind of havens they favour, what they typically look like, and their stereotypical views on the other clans. It also lists their clan Disciplines and a unique supernatural Weakness for each clan.

This formed a pattern that would be repeated in almost every single game White Wolf has ever published, where instead of races and classes, PCs were divided into type based on genealogy or political faction. Sometimes this was shoehorned into games where it didn’t make much sense, namely Hunter: the Reckoning and Mummy: the Resurrection, both published in the waning days of the original World of Darkness. (As Jef of System Mastery pointed out, the Stereotypes sections had a particular tendency to be lists of pompous, snarky insults directed at every other PC faction. Despite Kindred being bitchy and treacherous as a rule, there’s a fair bit of “Yeah, they’re cool” in original Vampire.)

These clans/tribes/guilds/etc. came to be known as “splats” and are still widely imitated in the tabletop business today. The term arose because White Wolf published sourcebooks called Clanbooks, Tribebooks, etc. and the Usenet community collectively referred to them as *books. Some computer nerds pronounce the * as “splat,” hence splatbooks, hence splats.




Also, all the clan illustrations were done by Joshua Gabriel Timbrook, who did a ton of, dare I say it, iconic work for Vampire and other White Wolf games in the form of stark black-and-white character sketches. I have no idea whatever happened to him.

quote:

It's a dog day afternoon
The Clan go bang, and the bang go boom
How you love it, how you like it, and how you get it
Do that drat thing and quit bullshittin’ with it

Clan of Xymox, “Luke Havergal”



1. Brujah are rebels.
2. Brujah are angry ALL the time.
3. The purpose of the Brujah is to flip out and kill people.


First up, the Brujah! The only thing uniting this clan is that they are all rebels of some kind, never happy with any status quo, and really pissed off about it. Many are political radicals, but their ideologies run the gamut from anarchist to fascist and everything in between, as long as it’s anti-establishment. Others are gangbangers and squatter punks with no firm convictions beyond “gently caress authority.” This includes Kindred authority, and the Brujah support the anarchs as an institution.

Regardless of their convictions, Brujah tend to be loud, aggressive, and dressed in outrageous street fashion. They have a well-deserved reputation for being touchy and vengeful, and other Kindred give them a wide berth. They’re disorganized, but tend to band together against common enemies, and any Brujah can issue a clarion call for solidarity if they’re willing to stake their reputation on it. They’re prone to Embrace on a whim and abandon their progeny to sink or swim, and they often make their homes in squats or even by way of home invasion.

The Brujah put the Punk in Gothic-Punk--it’s like the writers were really, really excited about that time Anthrax performed with Public Enemy, and they mashed up gangsta rap and anarchist with fringe politics to create a vague aesthetic. Even their clan logo is an inverted circle-A. They’re not subtle.

The Brujah have become my favourite clan, and I’m not even sure why. Later supplements and editions would expand on their history as a clan of philosopher-kings whose mistakes doomed them to devolve into a rabble of bitter malcontents, and open up their conceptual space to include nerds trying to weld that rabble into a force for good, or at least something better than the Camarilla’s ossified feudal politics. As a goth nerd who hung out with punks, I suppose that appealed to me.

But there’s also a passage in this book that I’m obliged to call out: Brujah may “dress and assume the attitudes of street hoods, neo-Nazis, or even Deadheads.” So hippie burnouts are more outré than loving Nazis? Why, because Doc Martens are on brand? What the gently caress, White Wolf? I will say that in years of playing Vampire, including a couple LARP events, I never met anyone who leaned into this and played a fash skinhead.

Disciplines: Celerity, Potence, Presence. They’re super-fast, super-strong, and look good while they rip people apart. Brujah are the best straight-up combat monsters.

Weakness: Brujah take +2 Difficulty to resist Frenzy, and can’t spend Willpower to prevent it. They get really mad when this lack of self-control is pointed out.

Stereotypes: The Brujah respect the Gangrel and Nosferatu for being tough survivors, and keep the Malkavians at arm’s length. They loathe the Toreador, Tremere, and Ventrue for reasons which will soon become obvious.



mrhands


The Gangrel are a bloodline of loners and survivors who hardly consider themselves a clan at all, with little in the way of internal politics or recognized leaders. It’s not that they hate cities or other Kindred, they just don’t need them, and they self-select for independence and self-sufficiency. Gangrel choose their childer very carefully, but when they Embrace, they usually leave their progeny on their own for awhile before revealing themselves.

I’m not getting into the Disciplines just yet, but spoilers: Gangrel have a power that lets them meld into the ground. This allows them to make their haven anywhere, and even travel between cities with relative ease. It’s rumoured that they’re even on good enough terms with the Lupines to not have to worry about them.

One weird and cringeworthy aspect of the Gangrel is that they have close ties to the “Gypsies” with legends saying that they are descended from Gangrel himself, and under his protection. I have no idea why the writers were fascinated with Roma stereotypes. It’s one of several strange examples where White Wolf employed 19th-century Gothic literary tropes without considering how they fit into the contemporary world.

Disciplines: Animalism, Fortitude, Protean. The first two are honestly pretty mediocre, but Protean is one of those Disciplines that belongs to a particular clan and can’t be learned by just anybody.

Weakness: Every single time a Gangrel frenzies, they permanently gain some animalistic feature--pointed ears, catlike eyes, a tail, etc. Every five animal features permanently reduces a Social Attribute by 1. This is generally considered one of the shittiest clan weaknesses, and was often house-ruled until later editions changed it to make it less punitive.

Stereotypes: The Gangrel are pretty chill about the other clans. They like the Nosferatu and are ambivalent about the Brujah and Malkavians. They despise the Toreador and the Tremere, and shrug their shoulders at Ventrue politicking.



Yeah, that's right, I said playing a Malkavian in Bloodlines is overrated. Deal with it.


The Malkavians are so crazy, you guys! Like, you never know what they’re gonna do next!! You laugh at them because they’re different, they laugh at you because you’re all the same!!! They’re like Deadpool and the Joker, and they live in a society!!!! EPIC BACON CUPCAKE WIN GOOD SIR!!!!!

Yeah, so the Malkavians’ thing is that they’re all insane. They go back and forth on whether this should be played for pathos with a serious treatment of mental illness, or...that. Besides being mentally ill, their sole unifying trait is that they love “pranks.” The Malkavians give a license to That Player who has to be wacky because “that’s what my character would do.”

I’m sparing you all a lengthy tirade about how this is insensitive, disruptive, and frankly low-effort, because I know when I’m preaching to the choir. Some good ideas and interesting NPCs have come from the Malkavians over the years, but nothing that couldn’t be done without specifically creating Clan Monkeycheese. The term “fishmalk” evolved to describe the stereotypical loony Malkavian, supposedly after an illustration of a Malkavian kissing a dead fish.

The writeup of Malkavians’ typical appearance, haven, etc. is tedious because it’s rife with that “Many of them are X, but some are the opposite of X!” cliche that often afflicts this sort of thing.

Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate. They get the stuff that lets them creep around and get into your head.

Weakness: We haven’t discussed this yet, but Vampire makes mental illness something you write down on your character sheet. They’re called Derangements, and every Malkavian has at least one, which can never be healed.

Stereotypes: I’ll spare you. It’s several variations on “Ho ho, if only they saw the horrifying Truth!”



Don’t kinkshame.

Here’s another clan who are defined by their weakness: the Nosferatu are ugly as sin. The Embrace transforms them into monsters with twisted proportions, pustulant skin, bestial features, and disgusting odors. The obvious inspiration is Count Orlok, but Nosferatu come in all shapes and sizes so long as they’re revolting. The art in the supplements explored just how unsettling they can be.

Nosferatu have it rough, and they aren’t even compensated with, say, a great unique Discipline. If you play a Nosferatu, it’s because you really want to play a monster hiding in the shadows. They make their havens in abandoned buildings and sewer systems, and pass unnoticed among the homeless population. They have a reputation for being cranky and lewd, and don’t try to hide what they are.

Under this gruff and gross exterior, Nosferatu are remarkably sane. They know their Embrace is a curse, so they choose people who are lost and hopeless, with the hope that the Embrace can serve as a last chance at redemption where all others have failed. While they usually live alone, they have a very strong mutual support network. Combined with their Disciplines, this makes them the unparalleled information brokers among Kindred. Nosferatu may not have a good side, but you don’t want to be on their bad side.

In my opinion, Nosferatu is one of the best-developed and most interesting clans over Vampire’s lifetime. Their figurative and literal mastery of the underground, the dirt, of everything that falls through the cracks...there’s a lot of opportunity there. And their history and overall concept didn’t get too muddled by metaplot and new character options.

Disciplines: Animalism, Obfuscate, Potence. They can appear out of nowhere and hit you like a truck, then summon a pack of rats to finish off what’s left.

Weakness: Nosferatu have an Appearance of 0 and automatically fail Appearance rolls. They’re obviously inhuman--at best, they could pass for an impoverished burn victim.

Stereotypes: They’re cool with the Brujah and the Gangrel, and distrust the Malkavians, Tremere, and Ventrue. They despise the Toreador and are despised in turn.



Vampire was way ahead on the whole Soundcloud Rap thing.


The Toreador are lovers of beauty. They hold fast to the belief that undeath is not just a curse, but something to be enjoyed--including pleasures that are beyond the reach of human senses. They cultivate exquisite and expensive tastes, and indulge them to a degree that earns them a reputation for degenerate hedonism. That said, the Toreador are artists, and believe in a higher purpose than pleasure. They seem themselves as conservationists, Embracing the world's finest artists to preserve their talent. The Toreador include some of the greatest artists in history...as well as being the "Lestat" option for those of you who are so inclined.

Toreador are refined and cosmopolitan; even those who were starving artists in their mortal lives acquire these tastes after death, while continuing their artistic pursuits. They are the only clan who keep up with mortal fashions in art, clothing, et cetera, even to the point of being avant garde. Toreador are highly social and meet frequently, but these are typically social events. As a faction, they are too self-involved to be an effective coalition.

So...I don’t like the Toreador. To explain why, here’s another bit of White Wolf fandom: the Chupp Test. It was named after Sam Chupp, a White Wolf employee whose job included engaging the fandom and fielding questions like “Why would anyone want to play a Nosferatu?” The Chupp Test says that the worthiness of any PC faction is measured in how much the writing interests you in playing them. This also applies to sourcebooks about them: If you think Malkavians are stupid, does Clanbook: Malkavian change your mind?

I actually like the Toreador as they're presented in the core rulebook, but the way they were written over time made them less interesting. Supplements actually pulled a 180 on Toreador being preservers of beauty and introduced the idea that unlife gives you time to master your technique, but kills your creative spark. (The exception is a raft of templates whose concept was some variation on “outsider artist”: graffitist, martial artist, metal musician, etc.)

One of the most common Stereotypes directed at Toreador is “Do these spoiled brats contribute anything?” The writing on the Toreador doesn’t even offer any retort! Well, besides “Yes, we’re rich and influential because we’re beautiful and charming. gently caress off, peasant.” You’d think they would emphasize how the Toreador exercise “soft power” to protect the Masquerade in ways that can’t be accomplished with money, violence, and skulduggery, but no. Perhaps I’m wrong and rereading the books will force me to eat crow, but it seemed that they liked the idea of Toreador as a clan of bitchy queens.

Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Presence. It's a pretty good haul, because it includes Celerity.

Weakness: The Toreador are prone to becoming entranced by beautiful things: beautiful people, works of art, neon signs, and if they're not careful, even sunrises. The Storyteller decides when this kicks in, and it takes a Willpower roll to break free. This is one of those "So does the Storyteller have the guts to be a dick to you at random?" weaknesses that I'm not fond of.

Stereotypes: They hate the Nosferatu, consider Brujah and Gangrel beneath them, pity the Malkavians, and regard the Tremere and Ventrue as fellow patrons of high society.



Trust me, fans spent years trying to figure out why they used this picture of Wednesday Addams.


Most clans don’t consider themselves a family. The Gangrel don’t think of themselves as a clan, the Nosferatu regard their bloodline as a curse, and Malkavians often deny that they’re Malkavians at all. But the Tremere aren’t just a family, they’re a conspiracy.

The Tremere began as a mystical sect in medieval Transylvania. They claim that they have no Antediluvian founder, and unlocked the secrets of vampiric immortality through magick. Whatever the truth, their unique Discipline of Thaumaturgy gives them power over vitae itself. They only Embrace ambitious and educated mortals, and groom them for years to be loyal agents of the clan. Tremere are expected to obey their elders without question and always advance the clan’s interests, especially if it means using their own coterie. (What are those interests, by the way? Well, acquiring more power and influence, for sure, but nothing beyond that is explained. Trust your elders and don’t ask questions.)

Tremere don’t do anything to disclaim their image as devious sorcerers, either--they like dressing in formal black outfits accentuated with arcane sigils and talismans. They operate “chantries” in every city where they have a significant presence, a headquarters where Tremere can go for aid and often haven with their fellow clan members. Tremere are the Olive Garden of vampires.

Like I’ve said, I don’t want to get into much detail about the Disciplines yet. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss how Tremere got a reputation for being, well, kind of bullshit.

First of all, Tremere are a PC faction who are openly serving a dual agenda, and really arrogant about it. That’s bound to ruffle some feathers. Second, their clan weakness is kinda bullshit. This is before White Wolf invented Merits and Flaws, but the Tremere weakness is an example of a narrative disadvantage that only comes up if the Storyteller wants to make you the star of the story and give you more opportunities to earn XP.

Last and most important is Thaumaturgy. It’s supposed to be a really scary Discipline that lets you gently caress with other Kindred’s blood, but Thaumaturgy 5 is a lot less scary than Celerity 5. However. Thaumaturgy also has Rituals and Paths--bonus powers you can buy with XP that no other Discipline has. Every sourcebook was another opportunity to publish more Rituals and Paths, and even entirely alternate forms of Thaumaturgy, most of which the Tremere get to buy at Clan Discipline rates. This effectively makes the Tremere a wizard class with access to a literal book full of powers no one else gets. Enough to fill a few books, in fact. Some of them are very ill-considered and poorly-balanced. Very.

Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Thaumaturgy. No straight-up combat monster stuff, but they get all the spooky wizard poo poo.

Weakness: All Tremere are taken before the Tremere Council and forced to drink their blood, so every Tremere is already one step toward being a Blood Bound minion of the clan elders.

Stereotypes: Brujah, Nosferatu, and Malkavians are riff-raff. Gangrel are okay. Toreador and Ventrue are rivals, and inferior rivals at that. (The Tremere are the most guilty of Snarky Bullshit.)



drat, Uncle Fester looking svelte these days


The Ventrue are noble, sophisticated, and above all, powerful. They Embrace those who are wealthy and influential, and they intend to stay that way...forever. The stereotypical Prince is a Ventrue with an investment portfolio and a cold dead hand gripping city politics.

Ventrue are invested norms and institutions, both mortal and Kindred. They claim they founded the Camarilla, and are the most active in preserving it. They have long traditions of hospitality toward one another and noblesse oblige toward the other clans. God drat it, am I the only one here who gives a poo poo about the rules?

Ventrue aren’t just about the crude exercise of wealth and power. It’s important to them that they be well-mannered, cultured, and have impeccable taste. But they don’t keep up with fleeting mortal fashions the way the Toreador do. They tend to be set in their ways, which extends to dressing in exquisitely tasteful clothing from whatever century they died in. Are you going to throw shade at them for it? It’s good to be the king.

Disciplines: Dominate, Fortitude, Presence. Fortitude is lame, but the rest is all about control.

Weakness: Ventrue have rarefied tastes. You have to pick some kind of restriction on who you feed from: only beautiful women, only Swedes, only green-eyed male virgin electricians, and so on. It’s really up to you how hard you want to make your unlife here.

Stereotypes: The Ventrue’s genteel sense of superiority means they don’t hate anyone but the Brujah. Gangrel are fine, Nosferatu not so bad, and they regard Malkavians with the same suspicion as everyone else. The “upper-class” clans are good, but not as good as Ventrue. Naturally.



Doesn’t Ol’ Gil get a lick?

Last, and definitely least, are the Caitiff, the clanless vampires. Some young vampires just don’t have a clan...since clans are bloodlines, I don’t get how that works and they don’t really explain it. I suppose if your sire immediately abandons you, and you never find other members of your clan to school you, its supernatural advantages and disadvantages don’t take. Caitiff are generally assumed to be hopeless outcasts who will fall in with the anarchs, if anyone will have them at all.

Much later, the concept of the Caitiff was more-or-less supplanted when they introduced “Thin-Bloods.” Long story short, it turns out 13th Generation vampires can Embrace, but the results are lovely half-vampires.

The Caitiff were the first example of White Wolf games having a “non-splat splat.” For more information on what I think of this, check out my review of Tradition Book: Hollow Ones.

Disciplines: None. Caitiff can put their starting points in whatever they want, and pay for all Disciplines at a rate in-between clan and non-clan. Over time, this is generally an advantage.

Weakness: Also none. I suppose this is compensated by being treated like poo poo. This is another thing where the text is unclear, so expect your Storyteller to give you grief if you want to be of a lower Generation, or have Status, or take unique Disciplines like Protean or Thaumaturgy. Caitiff are supposed to be the cast-off dregs of Kindred society.

Stereotypes: None. Caitiff don't get a writeup. But attitudes toward the Caitiff range from pity to "exterminate on sight."

Next time on Kindred the Embraced: Attributes and Abilities, and a little thing called...Personality!

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 01:46 on Jul 24, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Joe Slowboat posted:

Personally I really like the idea that Toreadors are fundamentally uncreative, that biting a fantastic new artist young actually freezes their development as an artist. But then I'm coming from Chronicles games where vampires are pretty much guaranteed to be a net negative in the world; player characters who buy into the idea that actually vampires are preserving artistic genius forever would have a really interesting hook there, and the clan would have a deep well of bitterness hidden by the glitz. But also you'd need some way to actually make that hook gameable, which I imagine Masquerade wasn't hugely prepared to do.
Honestly, I'm not a fan of that bit of Requiem. Unlife already makes it virtually impossible to be a good person, without them flat out saying "Your soul is dead, your mind is frozen in time along with your body when you die, you can never grow or experience everything real." Like, first, how do you play that and do you really want to play a campaign where it's The Sopranos, but Everyone is Tony.

Second, it just felt like they only said it to hammer home that they don't want you to play Superheroes With Fangs like you did in late-era original World of Darkness. I get it, White Wolf, I promise to be good, I will not play a guy who carries a sword around in his coat.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

It really rubbed me the wrong way when Hunter not only had splats, but splats with Capitalized Names that were actually used in the setting, when that makes no sense.

Mummies were the first "fatsplat" publication, a type of monster PC that wasn't important enough to be a product line on their own. They didn't have real splats. When they gave them a product line, they fundamentally changed what a Mummy was to make them more samey, and gave them splats.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

juggalo baby coffin posted:

i have to say i truly, truly hate how the white wolf books are laid out and the in-character fiction. I've been looking through a bunch of the books trying to look for the cool stuff, but its so hard to find out what gameplay stuff is even in half the books, the rules are all lost in a sea of garbage fanfiction level vampire stuff. There is at least a bunch of cool stuff, like you can be a soul stealing lich or a vampire who eats other vampires, or a jiang-shi who is just a cool chinese vampire who doesnt need to deal with half the whiny poo poo western vampires do.

then theres like the slashers you can play as? and the hunters who get monster bits grafted onto them. That stuff's cool. But you have to sift through 10 pages of fiction to even get to the contents table, which is inevitably in some kind of dumb font you can't read.
I was going to say, now that I'm thinking about covering more sourcebooks, I'm going to have to skim a lot of them because of this. I don't know when White Wolf reached a tipping point where like 50% of any given sourcebook was in-character fiction, but it was uniformly terrible and you're not kidding about the illegible handwritten fonts.

The Vampire corebook, by the way, doesn't do this. Only the Prologue was written in-character.

One thing that was neat about 1st edition was that it had a running series of comic panels showing the unlife of a character from ancient Babylon to the modern day.


You're like five thousand years old, of course you love slavery.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

unseenlibrarian posted:

The Bill Paxton/Matthew McConaughey vehicle Frailty seems like the most "Hunter the Reckoning as the fiction is written" movie despite coming out after the game and thus not being in the inspirations list.
There was a thread on RPGnet that I still remember because I have Online Brain Poisoning, when word first got out that White Wolf was doing a new Hunter. The OP was ostensibly asking people what they wanted from a new Hunter, but he thought it should be Frailty: the Roleplaying Game, and basically tried to make the thread a workshop to write him a Frailty game while he constantly demanded more detail and pissed on everything he didn't like.

White Wolf "No Fun Allowed" scolds are some of the worst gamers.

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:

One of the funny things about Expose is, considering how completely infested the oWoD is? Imagine just how many supernaturals 'all supernaturals in 1 square mile' reveals in a city.
oWoD fans have attempted to tally the total monster population, and even if you add every type together using the most generous assumptions, it's still never more than a small fraction of one percent. If I remember right.

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've been flipping through my copy of Kindred of the East out of morbid curiosity and it actually does have a population figure, saying the ratio of mortals to kuei-jin is the same as Western vampos: 100,000 to 1.
I believe over time the number got closer to 1 per 50,000 which was probably due in large part to the Sabbat controlling several world cities. BUT, they weren't clear if that was the total population, so the density would be much higher in urban areas, or if that WAS the urban population density.

This touches on another oddity: NYC is Sabbat dominated, because crime in NYC was at its peak around the time Vampire 2e was published.

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:

Is that really stupid, though, when they exist in a setting where only characters with a connection to the supernatural are permitted any measure of agency or ability to matter to the story, while all mortal affairs are effortlessly dominated or brushed aside?
How much influence monsters have over the mortal world is something White Wolf would really vacillate on over time.

I remember Darren MacLennan's personal homepage had a big list of RPG cliches. One of them was that in modern fantasy games, no matter how many historical figures were secretly monsters, Hitler and the Holocaust were a designated no-fly zone where that's concerned.

...But then White Wolf made Heinrich Himmler a vampire, as if that's not just as bad. And he's still alive! Like half the vampires on Earth should want him dusted.

One of the main reasons I felt Mage should not be part of the WoD is that it's hard to square the Technocracy's virtual world domination with what's going on in any other game line. Pentex and Kindred interests don't have to conflict, and Vampire's more-or-less Abrahamic cosmology can sit uneasily aside Werewolf's, but the NWO/Syndicate seem to pretty much run mortal politics and finance, which doesn't work.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Why wasn't Earthdawn more successful over time?

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:

E: Also, as to Himmler, I'm starting to notice a real pattern of 90s era WW stuff being sorta...nazi-curious is the word I'd use? "Hey, what if like, one of your darker allies was actually a neo-nazi or white supremacist militiaman." has popped up in what, Vampire, Hunter, and Werewolf? And didn't Mage have guys who were like whacky phrenologists?
First, hearkening back to the example from the Brujah clanbook: it was written by Steve Crow, who has plenty of writing credits with White Wolf but only two or three as primary author, and edited by Alara Rogers, who I think only worked on a handful of books. I mean, it's not as if a revised Brujah clanbook was written by lead developer Justin Achilli, and included both a "Lost Cause advocate" PC and a "Racist Sheriff" PC whose writeup used the n-word.

Whoops.

I'm making White Wolf sound particularly sympathetic to the far-right by highlighting those examples. There are also radical left-wing examples, such as an ACT UP vigilante in the Nosferatu clanbook and even a Brigate Rosse style terrorist in the Lasombra clanbook. The developers were also well aware of the importance of labor history to Chicago, Vampire's signature city: one of the Ventrue NPCs is Tommy Hinds (a character from Sinclair's The Jungle), who was forcibly Embraced to enervate the labor movement and end the Pullman Strike.

Once again, I think this is all down to the End of History ideology and its omnipresence in 90s pop culture. The Cold War is over and neoliberal capitalism won. The future is just going to be this global system ironing out the details, and all your political choices are basically just self-expression. That guy on the corner screaming "Kill Whitey" and that other guy screaming "Blood and Soil" are mostly harmless eccentrics. Because they have no power, and the absolute worst case scenario is that they'll commit an isolated act of violence that won't change anything in the long run. No, the biggest threat from the right-wing is that they might censor your favourite albums.

So you had this environment where publishers presented fringe politics, controversial artists, career criminals, serial killers, and various forms of social deviancy, side by side and in a neutral tone, to be "edgy."

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:

Also, in CoC, a lot of the existential horror is far off. Look at the excellent Horror on the Orient Express writeup here: The heroes really do stop the main villain and his plans. And you get snapshots of other times and places where other people struggled to 'temporarily' defeat the same evils. It builds into a theme that you're part of a long chain of people who bet their human frailty against incomprehensible horror to keep things going, and that there will be someone else to find your journal and read your story and pick up after it takes you down, too.
I think one of the main reasons Vigil succeeds where Reckoning failed is the way Hunters' special powers are framed. Hunters were not all created by the same source or phenomenon. They were not suddenly created by a divine power. Without monsters to fight, Hunters go back to being civilians.

Their powers are also something external to them. They don't have a Power Stat (nor their own kind of Morality). Valkyrie uses superweapons, the Ascending use superdrugs, the Aegis uses magic artifacts. Even Cheiron's implants are, well, just dangerous experimental implants, and the Lucifuge and Malleus are invoking powers that come from somewhere else.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

thatbastardken posted:

The Union uses...community?
Right now, they're just a mutual aid network. If they ascended to the level of a Conspiracy, they'd have the most powerful Endowment of all: the immortal science of dialectical materialism!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Edit: A-ha, I was right!

Feats don't have to run into that problem, but they inevitably did, because literally dozens of fly-by-night companies were cranking out infinite sourcebooks in a finite design space. So most of the feats were incredibly samey, or bullshit that "allowed" you to do stuff you should be able to do with skill checks.

Night10194 posted:

The issue for Vigil for me is that I'm not nearly as interested in shotgunning nWoD vamps as oWoD ones, because the nWoD ones just feel like a pack of sad little parasite mobsters.
Not to keep beating the same drum, but yeah...in the CoD, you'd demonstrably be doing more good for the world if you used your skills and powers to take out the Sackler family. Whereas the background of V:tM has ancient monsters that will wipe out the human race even faster than climate change.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:22 on Jul 10, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

SirPhoebos posted:

So how does nWoD compare to oWoD mechanically?
Much better, on the whole. Difficulty is static, and dice pools are smaller in general. The botch rules are not nonsense that messes up the whole dice mechanic. There are clearer guidelines to getting bonuses from equipment and situational advantages.

Combat is much simpler because you do not roll to hit, roll to dodge, roll for damage, roll for soak. Your to-hit and damage are rolled into one, and the target's defense/armor subtracts from your roll. This is the biggest strike against nWoD combat: the system is inarguably better, but the simplicity does make it feel like you're just slinging dice at someone until they drop.

The worst thing about nWoD/CoD mechanically is that they still apparently don't playtest stuff, especially combat stuff, so there are still crap options. However, one major improvement is that there are very few things that give you multiple actions, and they're mostly "you can attack multiple targets once each."

Kaza42 posted:

D&D 3.X was particularly infamous for this. If you print a feat that says "If you attack while dropping on an enemy, get +2 to hit and +1d6 damage per ten feet you fell", then anyone WITHOUT that feat can't get a bonus for doing a drop attack.
The example that always sticks in my mind is a feat from XCrawl: It's a social feat that lets you dodge a difficult interview question by just changing the subject. You know, something you should be able to do by roleplaying and rolling Bluff.

(I like that they have feats specifically for doing a promo interview with "Mean" Gene Otyugh, but they had no actual ideas for what to do with that.)

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:55 on Jul 10, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Stop me if I've told you this one before: I recently watched the documentary about Vampire, and I was flabbergasted when they got to the part about Requiem and the reaction to it. They not only talked about it like it was a total commercial failure, they said that people didn't like Requiem because it was so rules-focused.

Even people who hate Requiem know that that's bullshit. Hell, the biggest complaint I heard about the system was that it was simpler and obviously better-balanced, but that they missed being able to play superpowered characters in a fiddly system with lots of moving parts.

I don't know why the interviewees couldn't just admit that people reacted negatively when they chucked a decade-plus of accumulated lore into the dustbin of history.

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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.

I did get the impression that the whole thing was largely the work of a LARP scene that was, among other things, bitter about being cast aside.

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