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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.

There is zero chance they would admit that a lot of people couldn't find anyone to play anything but D&D, so they remained a part of the fandom by buying the books just to read the lore. Not that there's anything wrong with that, per se.

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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.



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: Chronicle
Chapter 7, Part 1: Clans


Chapter Seven, Part 2: Traits

Following the clans, the Traits chapter details everything else you write down on your character sheet. This includes not only your stats, skills, and super powers, but unique narrative traits like Virtues and Humanity.

Much of Vampire’s reputation is built on its narrative mechanics. It wasn’t the first game to do so, but it introduced them to a conventional game structure in a way that players found accessible and intuitive. Humanity was the big one, but there are others. The first I’ll deal with is Personality.

quote:

The clearest indication of character is what people find laughable.

--Morrissey, “Cult of Personality”

It appears that Rein-Hagen, like way too many game designers, was into Jung and Campbell. Every Vampire character has two Personality Archetypes, noted as “Nature” and “Demeanor” on your character sheet. The former is the true self, while the latter is what you present to others.

The text regards these Archetypes as important and versatile tools for realizing your character as a complex, multilayered individual. Mechanically, your Nature allows you to earn back spent Willpower points by doing things that satisfy your central motivations. A very forward-thinking aspect of this mechanic is that it’s player-driven: they ask for the points when they think it’s appropriate, and the Storyteller judges whether it’s meaningful enough to be worth it. Demeanor has no mechanical impact.

Nature and Demeanor are the ignored middle children of Storyteller’s narrative mechanics. They’re always there, and White Wolf fans will recognize them immediately. But except in specific cases, they don’t interact with the Humanity rules or other narrative mechanics that are more central to the game. And you know, that’s okay. You can invoke these rules often, or set them aside entirely, without it having a huge effect.

Architect: You care less about the here and now than about leaving a meaningful legacy. Regain Willpower when you create something of lasting value.
Bon Vivant: Bite, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die! Regain Willpower when you can really cut loose and have a good time.
Bravo: You live to bully other people. Regain Willpower when you coerce someone into letting you have your way.
Caregiver: You need to be needed. Regain Willpower when you protect or nurture someone else.
Child: You never really grew up, and want others to take care of you. Regain Willpower when someone helps you for no apparent gain.
Conformist: You fear chaos, and instinctively throw your lot in with whatever leader or movement seems like the surest bet. Regain Willpower when your cause succeeds thanks to you.
Conniver: Why work when you can get something for nothing? Regain Willpower when you get what you need through deception.
Curmudgeon: Everyone is foolish, except you! Regain Willpower when you see someone fail, just like you said they would.
Deviant: Your beliefs and desires are radically different from most people’s, and you’re not sorry. Regain Willpower when you flout the status quo and get away with it.
Director: You fear chaos, and you deal with it by taking charge. Regain Willpower when you act as leader and accomplish something.
Fanatic: You believe in a cause so powerfully that it consumes your life. Regain Willpower when you further it in some way.
Gallant: At heart, you’re a performer who lives to impress other people. Regain Willpower when you dazzle someone with your charms.
Jester: But you see, doctor...I am Pagliacci! Regain Willpower when you lift your spirits and those of others through humour.
Judge: You’re a born diplomat who believes all differences can be resolved by getting people to see reason. Regain Willpower when you sort truth from lies, or intervene to settle a dispute.
Loner: For whatever reason, you’re happier when alone. Regain Willpower when you accomplish something by yourself that still aids the coterie.
Martyr: You feel a drive to suffer for your beliefs, whether that comes from genuine compassion or a personality disorder. Regain Willpower when you sacrifice yourself for your beliefs or for someone else.
Rebel: You are independent and free-thinking to a fault. Regain Willpower when your rebellion against the status quo turns out to be correct.
Survivor: You’ve been through some poo poo that would break other people, and it defines you. Regain Willpower when you get through a difficult circumstance thanks to your own grit.
Traditionalist: You know what works and what doesn’t, and nothing will change your mind. Regain Willpower when you protect the status quo from change.
Visionary: You have a dream, even if the path to realizing it isn’t obvious or pragmatic. Regain Willpower when you convince others to follow your vision.

Do you see the same problems with this that I do? Some of these seem more gameable than others. There aren’t clear guidelines on how meaningful an action should be to earn a point back. The Chronicles of Darkness really cleaned up these rules by incorporating them into the Morality system with Virtues, Vices, and Breaking Points, and the guideline that fulfilling a motivation should involve a substantial cost, risk, or moral decision.


Psst...hey, kid...you ever LARP?

quote:

Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. So be careful what you get good at.

--Herman Melville, Young Goodman Brown

Now we get to the basic Attributes and Abilities. (Although the first games I owned were White Wolf books, I keep wanting to call Abilities “skills.”) There are nine basic Attributes in Vampire, and in essence, they are D&D’s classic ability scores but with INT/WIS/CHA split up into twice as many stats, with some overlap.

Attributes and Abilities are listed in detail. They provide not only an overview of what they do, but a little scale describing what it means to have Perception 3 or Computer 2. These are often snarky, like “Wits 1: You send money to televangelists” or “Computer 5: Why aren’t you playing Cyberpunk 2020?” Abilities also come with a short list of characters expected to have this skill, which is neat.

Attributes and Abilities aren’t well-balanced. Because of how the Storyteller system works, that requires some reading between the lines. Remember that in this system, the same Attribute+Ability pairing isn’t rolled every time. But some pairings are more intuitive than others, and in some situations (namely Disciplines and combat) the specific Attribute+Ability roll is prescribed. In theory, every Attribute is equally valuable, but in practice that’s not the case. In a later chapter, on adjudicating common scenarios like chase scenes, research, et cetera, some Attributes and Abilities come up more often than others.

Strength really gets the shaft. It’s not used for any to-hit rolls in combat, nor any Disciplines. It’s your base damage pool in melee combat, and it’s used for Feats of Strength (kicking down doors, etc.)
Dexterity is the best stat, period. All to-hit and dodge rolls are based on Dexterity, and it’s assumed you’ll use it with any Ability where coordination is important: Athletics, Drive, Repair, and Stealth are usually paired with it.
Stamina is less dumpable than Strength, but not much. It can be paired with Abilities, especially on Extended Actions where toughing it out matters most--if your Storyteller remembers that advice. Its most important role is “soaking” damage in combat. But in this system, offense scales faster and better than defense, and you’re better off dodging.

(There are several versions of the Storyteller system, but they all have a rep for invalidating “big bruiser” as a concept. It started with Vampire.)

Charisma is not as broad as it is in D&D. It covers being charming, likable, and trustworthy. In practice, it’s often used when you’re influencing a group of people.
Manipulation, on the other hand, is more often used to deceive, intimidate, or persuade someone into doing something specific.
Appearance is the Comeliness stat. Granted, it also measures the expressiveness of your speech and movement. In most White Wolf games, Appearance got a rap for being kinda useless. In Vampire, it has the specific use of being the go-to for seduction rolls.

Perception encompasses situational awareness, intuition, and an eye for detail. It’s used in investigation and is helpful for spotting ambushes.
Intelligence does what it says on the tin, and is naturally used with many Skill and Knowledge abilities, especially in research actions.
Wits is both your ability to think quickly and to resist deception. Most importantly, it determines initiative--at least Dexterity doesn’t get everything.


You will never grow old, and you will never die. Your fashion choices, on the other hand…


Abilities are divided into three categories: Talents, Skills, and Knowledges. Besides prioritizing them at character creation, there is a difference between them: if you don’t have any dots in the relevant Ability, there may be a penalty. I can’t see any reason for this but an unnecessary sop to realism. Talents do seem like the most oft-used Abilities and Knowledges the least; perhaps there was an incentive built in there.

Talents are things that anyone can do, or at least attempt to do. There’s no penalty for untrained Talent rolls.

Acting: In addition to performing, you can use this to fool people by feigning emotions.
Alertness: The Perception-check skill. Wits+Alertness is the initiative pool in this game.
Athletics: You know what this does.
Brawl: Unarmed combat of all kinds, including fangs and claws.
Dodge: Dodging in both melee and ranged combat.
Empathy: Discerning others’ emotions and motives. This is often uses as a “social offense” skill, and with the Auspex Discipline.
Intimidation: It does what it says. Unlike a lot of games, Vampire understands that intimidation doesn’t just mean threatening to beat people up.
Leadership: You can win over a group of people to a course of action.
Streetwise: Fitting in, making connections, and getting information among the lowest classes of society. Very useful, considering how many Kindred hunt prey.
Subterfuge: You can conceal your own motivates and suss out those of others. This is both a social offense and social defense skill.

Skills are crafts learned through training. Untrained Skill rolls are at +1 Difficulty.

Animal Ken: You can understand, work with, and train animals. Honestly not all that useful unless you have Animalism, or you’re planning to train a pack of ghoul hounds.
Drive: You can drive common land vehicles. If you want to be a pilot or sailor, you’ll need to buy a special skill.
Etiquette: You know how to conduct yourself, get along, make a good impression, and commit a faux pas. It’s used for diplomacy and, contextually, can be used for other forms of persuasion like negotiation and seduction.
Firearms: Covers all man-portable guns.
Melee: Covers all hand-to-hand weapons.
Music: You can play, compose, and improvise music.
Repair: You can fix pretty much any kind of mechanical device or construction material.
Security: Locks, security systems, and general techniques of breaking-and-entering.
Stealth: It’s the Stealth skill.
Survival: You can navigate and survive in the wilderness.

Knowledges...you know. Untrained Knowledge rolls are impossible unless the Storyteller decides it’s reasonable.

Bureaucracy: You can run and navigate an organization and its red tape. This overlaps with Politics too much, and the text is really vague about what you can do with it.
Computer: Includes operating, programming, and hacking. As you know, this game was published when knowledge of computer systems was a magical ability to conjure information.
Finance: You understand the workings of money, wealth management, and appraising the value of everything from stock portfolios to wine and art.
Investigation: This covers both conducting a search of an area and doing research.
Law: You understand the law and legal system, and may be a practicing lawyer.
Linguistics: Each dot gives you another language, and you can roll it to decipher languages. (This gets kind of funny since there are many real people who know lots of languages. The only one who is definitely an inhuman bloodsucker is Pete Buttigieg.)
Medicine: Covers everything from first aid to surgery.
Occult: You’re familiar with the broad range of mythology and belief systems generally labeled “occult.” At high levels, this does include true knowledge of the supernatural--but only concerning vampires.
Politics: You’re well-informed about political issues and understand the machinations of politics.
Science: You have a broad knowledge of all the physical sciences not covered by another Ability.

As an aside, as the WoD product lines got more developed, I noticed players pulling poo poo like “My character has Occult 5, so they know all the things I know because I read the sourcebooks.” Assholes.

Specialties is another curious little rule. On the surface, it’s simple: If you have an Attribute or Ability at 4 or 5, you can choose a Specialty, and each Trait writeup comes with examples. When your specialty applies, you can reroll 10s. The problem is that while a lot of Specialties make sense, like Melee 4 (Swords) or Appearance 5 (Sexy), many of them are so broad that it’s hard to see when they wouldn’t apply, and the textual examples encourage this. Attributes in particular have this problem, where the Specialty is often just a synonym. A good example is Brawl 5 (Martial Arts) or Intelligence 5 (Brilliant).



Bitin’ necks and cashin’ checks.


Backgrounds are another set of traits which are commonplace in game design today, but were rare when Vampire came out. They’re advantages which are mostly social, extrinsic, and can’t be measured with a skill system. Looking back, I think Feng Shui improved on Vampire’s rules by assuming that having a skill means having the connections and influence that naturally go along with being good at something. Nonetheless, Backgrounds have stuck around.

The problem with Backgrounds is that some give measurable benefits while others are much more vague about exactly what resources they provide and how they can be used.

Allies: You have mortal friends--close enough friends that they’ll put themselves on the line for you, and expect you to do the same. At 1 dot, you have one Ally “of moderate influence and power.” Five dots gives you five Allies including one who is “extremely influential.” See what I mean?

Contacts: You have an information network of people who, while they won’t come to your aid like Allies, provide you with vital intelligence. Each dot gives you a “Major Contact” in some area of expertise and assumes you have a web of minor Contacts you can get in touch with locally.
Fame: You’re a celebrity. You can use your Fame rating in some social situations, and it subtracts from the Difficulty to find victims in appropriate situations. Fame has its drawbacks, in that you can be recognized, but it also makes it harder for your enemies to get at you without exposing themselves. One dot means you’re a celebrity in some local subculture, while Fame 5 makes you a national celebrity.
Generation: You’re going to wheedle the Storyteller into letting you buy as much of this as possible. Each dot lowers your Generation by one, so Generation 5 means you’re 8th Generation. We will get into why that’s awesome a little later.
Herd: You’ve cultivated a group of mortals that you can safely feed from without worrying about breaking the Masquerade. Your Herd can perform minor favours from you, but they’re not nearly as useful or controllable as Allies, Contacts, etc. One dot gives you 3 people, while Herd 5 gives you 60 people. At low levels, you might have beguiled a circle of mortal lovers, whereas a larger group may mean you’ve founded an honest-to-God cult.
Influence: You can pull strings in mortal politics to get someone’s ear, get out of trouble, and so on. One dot means you have some pull in local politics, while Influence 5 puts you on par with a major Party donor or member of Congress. As if being a vampire wasn’t enough.
Mentor: An older vampire teaches and looks out for you. A one-dot Mentor is an ordinary ancilla; a five-dot Mentor is a Justicar.
Resources: Cold hard cash, baby. You have some way of providing yourself with a regular income, and without any dots in Resources, you’re assumed to be dead broke and probably making your haven in a squat or sewer. One dot in Resources makes you an average poor person, while Resources 5 makes you a multimillionaire with all the lifestyle accoutrements that go with it.
Retainers: You have Renfields that do your bidding, one per dot. Retainers are usually ghouls or mortals you’ve brainwashed with repeated use of your Disciplines. Retainers don’t ask much of you in return, but by the same token they’re not as influential or independent as Allies.
Status: You’ve made something of yourself in Kindred society. One dot makes you a recognized neonate, while Status 5 is the purview of the Prince.


Every. Single. Woman I’ve ever dated is in this book somewhere, and it freaks me out.

quote:

The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Hellbound Heart

I’ll save Disciplines and other narrative mechanics for a following update, and leave you with the rules for Generation.

Kindred society is a corrupt, oppressive gerontocracy. The elders are not only more experienced than you, with more time to shore up power and influence, their vampire blood is more potent than yours. Each new Generation of Kindred has weaker vitae than the last. The only way to lower your Generation is through diablerie, and that’s a capital offense. Generation doesn’t hinge on age, either--if some dusty Methuselah decides he needs a potent pawn, he can create a 6th Generation childe whenever he feels like it. (For that matter, he can create a dozen.)



Mechanically, a lower Generation means that you can store more Blood Points, and that you can spend more per turn. The lowest-Generation Kindred can even raise their Traits to superhuman levels with experience points. So Generation is far from an end-all be-all measure of power level, and elders are far from unassailable. But it’s a huge advantage, and it was a terrible idea to make Generation something you can buy at character creation.


Next time on Kindred the Embraced: Disciplines! Oh, the Humanity!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

PurpleXVI posted:

"Okay, first order of business, all this old-school gambling sucks. From now on, it's replaced with competitive Magic: the Gathering. Souls are no longer casino chips, instead they will be crafted into rare MtG cards."
When a Dead Inside is drained of all their Soul Points in the Spirit World, they become a Qlippoth, and all their Soul Points are now Rare Pepes.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

PurpleXVI posted:

Bitten by a radioactive sheet of drywall, Wallmaster was gifted with all the powers of a wall. Being much larger in two dimensions than the third, separating two areas from each other, occasionally containing a door or window, and being immobile.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUJzj4DXHYE

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Libertad! posted:

And I have to ask, is this game meant to be played like a tabletop Postal 2? Or the World of Darkness' murderhobo equivalent?
Well, it's not entirely unrelated. Hot take: what if the victims of school shootings had it coming? Like what if they did something really mean to the shooters, like try to stop them from killing people?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I really admire Mummy for its premise, which breaks away from the typical "You were a more or less normal person, then you transformed into a monster." Mummies are truly ancient with the perspective and themes that implies.

Except Mummy: the Resurrection, gently caress that poo poo

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

In the process of reviewing Vampire, I've dipped my toes in the forum discussions about how they've reworked Disciplines over the editions. I wish I hadn't. I'm bewildered at all the people complaining that Celerity isn't powerful enough. And I shouldn't be, because I lived through the same poo poo over Wired Reflexes in Shadowrun when I was a teenager.
Greek Africa? Like, the Palmyrene Empire? :smaug:

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 13:16 on Jul 19, 2019

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)

Preface
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Setting
Interlude: A History of Face Grabbing
Chapter 3: Storytelling
Chapter 4: Rules
Chapter 5: Character
Chapter 6: Chronicle
Chapter 7, Part 1: Clans
Chapter 7, Part 2: Traits

Chapter Seven, Part 3: Bondage & Discipline

quote:

If I realised the power of magic to worry and terrify people before, then I certainly would have used it before.

--Gregor Strasser, The Bell Jar

At long last, we arrive at the central theme of this game: Kewl Vampyre Powarz!

All Kindred have certain powers and weaknesses in common, but Disciplines are a bucket for all the powers commonly attributed to some, but not all vampires: mesmerism, shapeshifting, making cows give sour milk, that sort of thing. They’re a big part of what makes the game accessible, because they’re the reason your Clan serves as a sort of character class. (There’s a reason Disciplines were split off into their own chapter in later editions.)

Most Disciplines are a set of discrete powers organized under a theme. One of my longstanding pet peeves about Disciplines was that many don’t feel like a natural progression from one power to the other. It doesn’t bother me so much, though there’s little narrative explanation for how you study and learn new powers. While you can learn non-Clan Disciplines, the designers were kinda vague on whether you need a teacher to do that, especially for the carefully guarded ones like Thaumaturgy.

Disciplines aren’t terribly well-balanced. There are few powers that strike me as near-useless or totally dependent on the kindness of the Storyteller, but some are clearly better than others. Some Disciplines require a different Attribute+Ability roll for each power, while others use mostly the same dice pool or don’t require rolling at all. Some require spending Blood or Willpower points. The corebook doesn’t list powers for Disciplines above five dots--you had to make them up or wait for the supplements.



Somehow, this is the only good illustration in the chapter about vampire powers. But it’s enough.


:dogcited: Animalism allows you to telepathically communicate with and control animals. (Without this Discipline, animals tend to be frightened or angered by vampires.) You can also manipulate “the Beast” inherent to animals, humans, and even Kindred. This boils down to their instincts for fight, flight, and appetite.

The Storyteller is encouraged to characterize individual animals as much as makes sense--most of these powers require you to convince the animal to do what you want it to do, and roleplay talking to it in a way it can understand. (For example, dogs are smarter than mice, but neither understands what a telephone is.) Later books would expand on common tactics that Gangrel and Nosferatu employ using animals, though I never played with anyone who made an animal much of an NPC in its own right.

· Sweet Whispers: By making eye contact, you can telepathically communicate with an animal and convince it to perform complex commands. This can even work over days or weeks, creating useful lookouts and guards. Roll Manipulation+Animal Ken.

·· The Beckoning lets you can summon any animals of a particular species that are in the area, by calling to them in silly animal sounds. Your successes determine how many show up. Summoned animals aren’t under your command, but are presumed to be friendly. This power can depend a lot on the sympathy of the Storyteller, though you shouldn’t have much trouble summoning rats, cats, and dogs in a city. Roll Charisma+Survival.

··· Song of Serenity can soothe the Beast in a mortal or animal, making them passive and helpless. This is a great way for Kindred to feed, since the victim doesn’t understand that they were manipulated, and tend to blot the memory out entirely. Roll Manipulation+Empathy in an Extended Action.

···· Sharing of Spirits means you can possess an animal. The number of successes determines what Disciplines you can use while running around in animal form. Roll Charisma+Animal Ken.

····· Drawing Out the Beast: When you feel frenzy coming on, you can transfer your Beast into someone else, making them frenzy instead. This works on animals, mortals, and Kindred, and is fun at parties. If you leave the scene before your victim’s frenzy ends, congratulations: you’ve just created a side-story where you need to get your Beast back. (Ridding yourself of your Beast is not a good thing: you gradually lose your interest in everything, including “drinking blood” and “going inside before sunrise.”) Roll Manipulation+Animal Ken to completely gently caress up whatever the Storyteller was planning.





:spidey: Auspex is the Discipline of super-senses and ESP. It makes you hard to ambush, and also makes you very good at knowing what bad poo poo other Kindred are up to. While Malkavians have a reputation for that, they never really took any cues from this in characterizing the Toreador.

· Heightened Senses makes all your five senses supernaturally sharp, doubling the range of your sight and hearing, letting you do normally impossible stuff like tracking people by scent, and giving you an innate danger sense. The downside is that overpowering stimuli can overload your senses. The Storyteller rolls your Auspex when your danger sense comes into play; otherwise, all of this is narrative.

·· Aura Perception: Probably one of the best-known of all Disciplines, this power lets you see people’s auras. Different colours indicate different emotions. It also allows you to see if someone is a vampire, a mage...or someone who’s committed diablerie. Roll Perception+Empathy; your successes indicate how many colours and patterns you can see in someone’s aura.

··· Spirit’s Touch is what they call psychometry. You can handle an object and get impressions of the last person who held it. Roll Perception + Empathy; each success gives you one piece of information about the person or what they were doing.

···· Telepathy lets you read someone’s surface thoughts without them knowing it. You can learn pretty much anything about someone if you keep using this power over time. Roll Intelligence+Subterfuge; more successes gives you more information, and this is very much up to the Storyteller. They’re encouraged to give you information in the form of emotions and a stream-of-consciousness narrative. Using this power on a vampire costs 1 Willpower.

····· Psychic Projection allows you to astrally project. Powers like this crack me up: the game is saying that yeah, there’s this whole other plane of reality, and you access it using this one specific power, and what happens when you use it is completely up to the GM, because it’s literally uncharted territory. (Immortal had half a dozen of these.) Roll Perception+Occult and spend 1 Willpower, and you can float around in astral form with a silver cord connecting you to your sleeping body.

The roll is to make sure you can actually find your destination, and you need to roll again when changing course. Nonetheless, this is a really potent ability. You can travel at up to 500mph as an invisible and untouchable ghost, and can briefly manifest a ghostly form if you need to deliver a message. It’s really to your advantage if the Storyteller assumes the astral plane is a flat endless plane of nothing, since it’s possible to encounter mages or werewolves and have astral brawls, using mental instead of physical Attributes.


:flashfap: Celerity is the best Discipline. It’s why you have to go to the Toreador’s lovely gallery opening, and listen patiently to the Brujah rant about the military-industrial complex or the Jewish-Bolshevist conspiracy. Each dot of Celerity gives you an extra action per turn, without any penalties or splitting your dice pool or anything. The only downside of Celerity is that it costs 1 Blood Point per turn. You will likely have no problem getting that back from whatever is left of your victims. Celerity doesn’t boost initiative, but it’s insanely broken as it is. (Celerity was changed with each edition, but it wasn’t until Requiem that somebody realized breaking the action economy is always going to break the game.)


:catstare: Dominate is the power of straight-up mind control. The effects are potent, but it has drawbacks. It requires eye contact, so its use is obvious and it can only affect one person at a time. It also can’t be used on Kindred with a lower Generation. From a rules point of view, it has the common problem of requiring too many different pools.

· Command the Wearied Mind lets you issue a one-word command to a target, which they will obey instantly: flee, jump, cough, fall, etc. They’ll hesitate if the command doesn’t make sense. Roll Manipulation+Intimidate.

·· Mesmerize hypnotizes a victim and allows you to implant complex instructions, which can be carried out immediately or at any time in the future. Roll Manipulation+Leadership. It takes more successes to get someone to do something that seems strange to them, or to do something dangerous or contrary to their Nature.

··· The Forgetful Mind messes with your victim’s memories. Roll Wits+Subterfuge. This is commonly used to get away with feeding, but with enough successes, you have free rein to gently caress around with their long-term memories.

···· Conditioning is how powerful Kindred create loyal Renfields. Roll Charisma+Leadership in an Extended Action over weeks or months. This makes the victim more vulnerable to your Dominate attempts and resistant those of other vampires. Conditioned subjects carry out orders with little imagination or free will.

····· Possession does exactly what it sounds like. Roll Charisma+Intimidation in an Opposed Roll with your victim, which requires you to strip away all their Willpower with your successes.


:geno: Fortitude grants you supernatural toughness. Each dot of Fortitude gives you an extra die to Soak damage. Fortitude is also the only thing that allows you to Soak “aggravated” damage from fire and sunlight. (And some rare magical attacks, which got a lot less rare as they published more books.) In my opinion, Fortitude kinda sucks.

First, offense scales more and faster than defense in this system, and it has a fixed number of hit points with death-spiral wound penalties. So right out of the gate, we’re not talking about something that lets you hold out for several more rounds of combat. Second, the benefits of the other “physical” Disciplines, Celerity and Potence, give you something much better than an extra die per dot.

Finally, as you’ll see when I get into the rules for such things, Fortitude doesn’t make a huge difference if you’re caught in a raging fire or direct sunlight. It can only really save your bacon in classic Hammer Dracula scenarios where you’re struck by one ray of sunlight coming through a window, or like that scene in Near Dark where you have a waiting getaway car.


:ninja: Obfuscate is the stealth Discipline, allowing you to avoid detection through illusions. Its powers are conditional and interesting.

· Cloak of Shadows allows you to become invisible as long as two conditions are met: you must remain motionless, and you need some kind of cover, like a shadow or doorframe. You can even do the Looney Tunes bit where you hide behind an impossibly narrow tree. You don’t have to roll anything, and can only be detected by Kindred with Auspex higher than your Obfuscate. One more reason for the Nosferatu and Toreador to hate each other.

·· Unseen Presence lets you do that Matrix thing where you walk around nonchalantly but no one seems to notice you. You’re only revealed if you make a commotion, or to someone specifically looking for you. Roll Wits+Stealth, and the Storyteller interprets how effectively you remain hidden.

··· Mask of a Thousand Faces is a fun power that lets you appear to be someone else. Roll Manipulation+Acting. The more successes you get, the more people will remember you as a specific, distinct individual with a completely different look and set of mannerisms. This is particularly useful if you look like a mutant from a post-apocalyptic movie.

···· Vanish from Mind’s Eye allows you to disappear into thin air, even with a group of people looking right at you. Roll Charisma+Stealth. More successes means that weak-willed mortals are prone to forget that they ever saw you.

····· Cloak the Gathering lets you use any of your other Obfuscate powers on other people. You can affect one ally per point of Stealth. A single roll affects everyone equally. Obfuscate, it’s good!


:black101: Potence gives you supernatural strength. It’s the other reason you have to put up with the Brujah, and why you shouldn’t make jokes about the Nosferatu when you think they’re not listening. Each point gives you an automatic success on all Strength rolls. This includes damage, so Potence makes you a wrecking ball in melee combat. (Now you know why I think Fortitude sucks.)


:cool: Presence makes you supernaturally attractive and impressive to people. It dazzles and seduces people, the velvet glove to Dominate’s iron fist. In practical terms, Presence is good for influencing whole crowds of people, or for manipulating a mortal without them realizing it--because it works by influencing emotions, mortals aren’t likely to realize they’ve been bewitched.

· Awe lets you work the room, making yourself incredibly cool and attractive to a group of people. Roll Charisma+Acting, with successes determining both how you influence people and how many people you can effect. You can’t make people endanger themselves, but with 5 successes, convincing an auditorium full of people to do whatever you want isn’t out of the quuestion.

·· Dread Gaze is, seriously, the “game face” from Buffy. You bare your fangs and snarl at your victim, and roll Charisma+Intimidation. Successes gives them a penalty to do anything but cower in fear or flee in terror. I feel like any self-respecting vampire should be able to do this, and the description implies that it only works on mortals.

··· Entrancement makes you so magnetic to a single person that they want nothing but to hang around you and serve you. Unlike Dominated thralls, they are otherwise free-willed individuals, making more useful but less biddable. Roll Appearance+Empathy to make your victim want to serve you anywhere from an hour to a year, depending on successes. Unlike targets of Awe, they’re not likely to think much of you after spending time as your lackey.

···· Summoning allows you to telepathically order someone to come to you, as long as you’ve met them before. You can Summon someone on another continent, and they home in on your location with a flawless sense of direction, even if you keep traveling yourself. Roll Charisma+Subterfuge, with successes determining how quickly and efficiently they travel.

····· Majesty causes everyone around you to regard you with godlike reverence. They have to make a Courage roll to act with anything other than pathetic servility, with your Charisma+Intimidation as the Difficulty. Even Kindred have to spend a Willpower to overcome Majesty.


:drac: Protean is the power to shapeshift. Of all the Disciplines, it sticks out the most as a collection of random powers, and not only that, but a mixture of combat and utility powers. Protean often costs a Blood point, but never requires any rolls!

· Gleam of Red Eyes makes your eyes glow red, allowing you to see perfectly even in absolute darkness. Yawn.

·· Wolf Claws, now that’s the stuff! You can grow inch-long talons that do +2 aggravated damage in hand-to-hand combat. Aggravated damage powers became much more common as the product lines went on, but at this point, pretty much the only other things that do agg are fire and sunlight. Gangrel are typically seen as one of the “fighter class” clans for this power alone.

··· Earth Meld is an incredibly useful power. It allows you to melt into the earth, making you invulnerable--yes, you can sleep the day away in the middle of a city park. The only drawbacks are that it costs a Blood point, and you have to be on actual, natural earth. I feel that Disciplines should not just be a bag of dice tricks, but unique powers that really distinguish the way that you are a vampire. Earth Meld is a prime example.

···· Shadow of the Beast allows you to transform into a bat or a wolf. (Yes, you get both.) It costs a Blood point and takes three turns. Being a bat obviously allows you to fly, but other than that, there are no specific rules for the effects of being in animal form.

····· Mist Form does exactly what it says. You can float around at walking speed and slip through the tiniest openings. It’s impossible for most things besides fire and sunlight to hurt you, and it takes hurricane-force winds to blow you around against your will. It has the same costs as wolf and bat form.


:kimchi: Thaumaturgy comes last, which is good, because it’s loving complicated. It’s the power to manipulate vampiric blood itself, and is a big reason other Kindred think the Tremere are creeps. While I don’t think the Thaumaturgy powers are super great, Thaumaturgy also includes whole additional powersets that other Kindred don’t get! In addition to its basic powers, Thaumaturgy includes three “Paths” that can be bought separately, and a set of “Rituals” that can be performed by anyone with a high enough Thaumaturgy rating, without spending more experience points. So the Tremere are a clan with a bullshit weakness, and a whole spellbook of extra powers that they get to buy as in-clan Disciplines. loving wizards.

· A Taste for Blood lets you analyze mortal and Kindred blood. You can tell how much blood is left in a mortal, or determine a vampire’s Generation, and other minor things. Roll Perception+Occult.

·· Blood Rage forces another Kindred to spend Blood points the way you want them to. This includes the things all Kindred can spend Blood on, like increasing their Physical Attributes or temporarily appearing more human. You have to touch your victim, so roll Dexterity+Subterfuge with each success forcing them to spend 1 Blood. Try this on a Brujah.

··· Blood of Potency can temporarily make your blood more potent, as if you were of a lower Generation! Roll Manipulation+Survival, and spend your successes to decrease your Generation by 1 or extend the effect for another hour.

···· Theft of Vitae allows you to magically drain other people’s Blood, transferring it into yourself. This works on mortals or Kindred, as long as they’re within 50 feet and you have a clear line of sight. Roll Intelligence+Medicine, each success drains 1 Blood point. The target will know who’s attacking them.

····· Blood Cauldron boils your victim’s blood inside their body. Choose how many Blood points you want to boil, and roll Willpower against Difficulty Blood+4. Each success inflicts 1 damage and destroys 1 Blood point. This is death for mortals, and sucks for Kindred too.

But wait! There’s more!

:witch: Rituals are rated 1 to 5, and anyone with an equivalent Thaumaturgy rating can perform the spell--as long as they know it. Thaumaturgists get 1 ritual at character creation, while the rest must be learned--not with experience points, but by actually finding a tutor or spellbook. In addition to spending Blood points, Rituals often require material components like bones, feathers, herbs, eye of newt, and so on. loving wizards!

They only give a few Level 1 Rituals in the corebook. Bet you can’t wait to buy supplements!

Defense of the Sacred Haven allows you to block sunlight from coming in through windows, by spending a Blood point to smear drops of blood on each window.

Wake with Morning's Freshness allows you to wake up, fully alert, if someone disturbs your haven.

Communicate with Kindred Sire allows you to communicate telepathically with your sire or anyone Blood Bound to you.

Deflection of Wooden Doom makes you immune to staking for a night. Any wooden stake that touches you will harmlessly crumble into dust.

Devil’s Touch curses a mortal for a night, so that everyone they meet will be instinctively hostile to them. It requires planting a “bad penny” on the target.


:lsd: Paths are separate Thaumaturgy powers. You buy up the dots like Disciplines, and they’re actually even cheaper than an in-clan Discipline, because each Path is a single power. (Paths initially confused the poo poo out of me, because there’s a major typo in the tables for them: instead of dots, it lists number of successes. So it looks like you’re supposed to buy dots in a power where that doesn’t affect the roll at all.)

The Lure of Flames lets you summon and control fire. Yes, fire! One of the most dangerous loving things to vampires, and you just get to throw it around! With 1 dot you create a candle flame, with 5 dots you can create a huge inferno.

Movement of the Mind gives you telekinesis, ranging from a pound to a half a ton. You can use this to fly.

Weather Control does exactly that. The rating determines the phenomena you can create, ranging from creating fog to dropping a loving lightning bolt on anyone you don’t like. The Difficulty is determined by ambient weather conditions (so it’s really hard to pull lightning down from a clear sky).


Next time on Kindred the Embraced: I was going to get into Virtues, Humanity, Willpower, and some other miscellaneous Traits in this update, but this is long enough.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 19:59 on Jul 19, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I like the proposed fix for Dread Gaze. It would be even better if it's purely mental, so you could humiliate a rival by sending them screaming from a boardroom with everyone else none the wiser.

I've avoided Vampire V5 like the plague, but I skimmed their Discipline rules and...their Celerity seems like the best version in Masquerade?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Ventrue used to have Animalism instead of Presence. They changed it in Revised. They still have Animalism in Requiem, though.

VtM would eventually publish all 13 clans, close to 20 Bloodlines, and almost 30 Disciplines including several versions of Thaumaturgy and Necromancy, another macro-Discipline.

That doesn't include the Kindred of the East, who are not actually Kindred, or the Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom, who are somehow different and weird because they're in Africa. You know, that place where human and Kindred civilization began.

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:

"What if One Unique Thing, only it didn't matter and nobody cared?"
Not only that, he managed to come up with an even worse list of random dumb poo poo than the gross-out equipment in Shadow of the Demon Lord.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Note: this does not give any bonuses to Profession (Cooking) rolls.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Colours don't always transfer to the shade of grey you'd expect when you film in black and white. For example, a food company got into trouble (with regard to truth-in-advertising laws) for using a bowl of blueberry yoghurt to film a soup commercial. The actual soup looked too dark and dingy on black-and-white television.

The Addams Family set is a popular example:

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 16:57 on Jul 22, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

MTV's Dare You Enter My Magical Realm?

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)

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
Chapter 7, Part 1: Clans
Chapter 7, Part 2: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 3: Disciplines

Chapter 8: Dramatic Systems

After the Disciplines, Chapter 7 ends by giving you some of the rules for Humanity, Willpower, Blood Pool, and Health, which it immediately expands on in the following chapter. So I’m going to slide right into Chapter 8, which is all about the “Dramatic Systems” which transcend simple Attribute+Ability rules, and include the narrative mechanics Vampire introduced.

quote:

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.

--Victor Hugo, The Brothers Karamazov

Virtues are the first set of special traits you have to worry about. They determine those weird narrative traits that run on a 1-10 scale, and they’re rolled to prevent the bad poo poo that mostly only happens to vampires.

Conscience is rolled to prevent losing Humanity when you do something evil. It’s not just the capacity to feel guilt, but a stable sense of self and self-awareness.

Self-Control is rolled to prevent frenzy. It’s self-explanatory, no?

Courage is rolled to prevent Rotschreck, the instinctive fear of fire, sunlight, and holy powers. It’s the ability to steel yourself and persevere against threats and opposition.

Your starting Humanity is your Conscience+Self Control. Your starting Willpower is equal to your Courage. Because you get 7 starting points to add to virtues, you’ll probably have a Humanity of 6-7 and a Willpower of 3-4.


Welcome to Castle Sheen! Enter freely and of your own will.


Speaking of Willpower, it’s one of three Traits rated on a 1-10 scale. It’s useful and versatile, and a common dump for leftover Freebie Points at character creation. I like Willpower because it’s player-driven.

You almost never roll Willpower; it’s a pool of “awesome points.” First, you can spend a Willpower for an automatic success on a roll. That’s great. The other common use for Willpower is to resist being compelled to do something. You can spend it to resist powers like Dominate and Presence, to hold frenzy at bay, or to resist a compulsion caused by a Derangement. In a sense, Willpower is the counter to a common problem with the other narrative Traits, which is that they’re imposed on you by the Storyteller.


We’re the Kindred in America (Woah)

quote:

The death of one man: that is a catastrophe. One hundred thousand deaths: that is a statistic!

--Sisters of Mercy, “Pagan Lovesong”

What can I say about the Humanity rules that hasn’t already been said? They’re the most hotly debated topic among the fanbase. Vampire certainly wasn’t the first game to introduce morality mechanics, but it was the most influential. Without Vampire, you probably don’t have a bunch of 90s games with traits that track a mixture of sanity, morality, and supernatural corruption. However, Shannon Appelcline correctly observed that despite being hailed as the central theme of the game, Humanity was never the draw for people to play it. The draws are the Clans and Disciplines.

In the final analysis, I see Humanity as a rules module that should have been done in a totally different way, or not at all. (And before I criticize it, I should at least give you the really short version of how Humanity works: When you do evil poo poo, you have to roll Conscience to avoid losing Humanity.)

The first big problem with Humanity is that it isn’t vital to the game’s design. It’s a narrative module attached to a conventional ruleset. There are consequences for losing Humanity, so it “plugs into” that ruleset at several points, and later developers would find more ways for it to do so. But that’s still just a module creeping over its system, like ivy up the side of a Gothic castle. The designers talk up Humanity as a player character’s most important Trait, but that’s really only true in the sense that there are consequences for losing it, and if you lose it all, you essentially die. That’s also true of Health Levels, and they aren’t your most important Trait.

To compare Vampire to some later games that learned from its mistakes: if you take Love out of My Life With Master, or Strings out of Monsterhearts, you have a system that is no longer playable. If you strip Humanity out of Vampire, you have...a game that a lot of Vampire fans would dearly like to play, though they’re made to feel a little guilty about it.

Even some games with a more conventional structure do a better job of integrating their narrative mechanics. (Nightlife, with its cheeky punk aesthetic that is far less self-serious than Vampire, integrates its Humanity rules into the magic system. Granted, the result is too much bean-counting.)

The second problem with Humanity is that the players do not actively engage with it. It’s a set of rules where if you break them, the referee blows the whistle and gives you a penalty. Being a humane or inhumane vampire is not a choice, like being Jedi or Sith in a Star Wars game. There are penalties for having low Humanity, and the only benefit is expedience, if that. Most of the games that imitated Vampire’s morality mechanics also imitated its mistakes--especially the part where narrative mechanics are just a stick for the GM to beat you with when you’re not roleplaying “properly.”

Anyway, here’s how it works.

Humanity is rated 1-10. The average human, and the average starting vampire, has a Humanity of 7. Losing Humanity works off of what they call the “Hierarchy of Sin.” If you commit some harmful act that is at or below your current rank on the hierarchy, you have to roll your Conscience to avoid Degeneration, which results in losing both a point of Conscience and a point of Humanity. (As you sink into depravity, casually hurting other people no longer bothers you.)




As you can see, the Hierarchy is sketchy and wide open to interpretation, and raises a lot of vague moral questions. What’s a “sin” and a “wrongdoing?” How serious does some crime have to be to count as “theft” or “wanton destruction?” The rules admit right out that they rely on the Storyteller’s interpretation and their own sense of ethics, and tell the player not to argue. The advice given to the Storyteller on this point is typical wishy-washy bullshit: don’t be too strict but don’t be too lenient, and try to warn the players before you punish their characters with a Degeneration roll.

Oh, and those consequences I mentioned? First, if you lose all your Humanity, you lose your mind. You become a wild animal that is going to be swiftly put down by a Blood Hunt. There’s no coming back from inhumanity.

Second, Your Humanity is your maximum dice pool for any of the following: Rolls involving Empathy, rolls to resist frenzy, and any roll you make during the day. There are a few other edge cases where Humanity comes into play, like how long you spend in torpor. I’ll explain that later.



WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU FORGOT THE CHICKEN NUGGETS

quote:

She's hungry as the hunter and she's shooting for the thrill
She's hungry as the hunter, she shoots to kill

--Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Ain’t Got Time to Bleed”

Frenzy is less complicated than Humanity, and a hell of a lot funnier. All that talk about the Beast inside you isn’t just poetical whining. Vampires have the instincts of an apex predator, and they can overwhelm you. Like Humanity, it’s up to the Storyteller to decide when they think you’ve been provoked to the point of risking frenzy. But the ordinary triggers are hunger and feeling threatened or humiliated. The frenzy rules are a recipe for “intrigue” scenes to turn into cinematic standoffs where adults act like children.



Resisting frenzy is a Self-Control roll, in an Extended Action. If you get to five successes, the urge to frenzy is overcome. If you fail at any point, you enter frenzy, and if you botch, you pick up a Derangement too. You can spend a Willpower point to take control for a turn.

So what happens when you’re in frenzy? Basically, you have to act to satisfy whatever urge drove you into it, and it only lets up when the tension ratchets down. Feed until you’re full, fight until your enemy stops moving, rant and rave until you’re exhausted. There are some benefits to frenzy: you ignore some wound penalties and mind-affecting powers.

Rotschreck (“red fright”) is the flight instinct to frenzy’s fight instinct. It’s the all-consuming fear of the vampire’s bane: fire and sunlight.



Despite the fancy name, Rotschreck is dirt simple. When you encounter fire or sunlight, make a Courage roll. Failure induces a state similar to frenzy, but all you want to do is flee. The Difficulty is based on the intensity of the fire or sunlight. As with Degeneration, a botch creates a Derangement.

quote:

Darkness for him is another way of seeing the day. Which means that in looking at the night and the nothingness of the night, he does not see at all.

--Thomas Disch, We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Part and parcel with the Humanity and Frenzy rules are Derangements. You get one if you botch a Conscience or Self-Control roll, and Malkavians have them as a matter of course. Picking up a Derangement is pretty much like getting insanities in Call of Cthulhu. Many people have observed that the rules for Derangements in Storyteller make a troubling connection between moral degeneration and mental health. My point of view is that the designers combine a Gothic, premodern concept of “madness” with modern concepts of mental illness, which is seriously problematic. I mean, they’re even called “Derangements.” Somebody should have read Foucault.

To be fair, the rules note that Derangements are meant to be an influencing, not all-consuming force, and they should neither be completely ignored nor a cue to play your character as a one-note caricature. The odd thing is that the writers don’t seem to see Derangements as a punishment at all--they’re more worried about a player enjoying the spotlight and hamming it up so much that it’s disruptive.

There are ten sample Derangements.

Multiple Personalities: You have multiple identities that you switch between. Mechanically, your Nature changes on a regular basis.

Fantasy: You live in a world of delusion where you are the unrecognized protagonist. You fulfill your dreams of being heroic by accomplishing strange goals that only overlap with reality.

Regression: You retreat into a childlike state, rejecting adult responsibilities. Your Nature and Demeanor effectively change to Child.

Perfection: You become an obsessive perfectionist. When things inevitably go wrong despite your best efforts, it triggers a frenzy roll.

Overcompensation: You cover your weaknesses of character by overplaying your strengths, to the point of being obnoxiously self-righteous and foolhardy.

Obsession: You become completely preoccupied with some interest or ambition.

Paranoia: You believe you’re being persecuted. You can’t trust anyone, and go to absurd lengths to protect yourself.

Amnesia: You block out major parts of your long-term memory to avoid dealing with them. This may cause you to “forget” Abilities when you need them.

Manic-depression: You vacillate between deep depressions where nothing can rouse you and energetic fits where you push yourself too hard. This results in either being unable to spend or recover Willpower, or burning through Willpower and Blood at a dangerous rate.

Delusions of Grandeur: Pretty much what it says.



Which one made him buy that sweater?


Next time on Kindred the Embraced: Blood and fire, baby. Blood and fire.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

There are so many issues with Paths that I didn't want to even touch it until I actually review the relevant book.

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:

sisters of mercy were never general secretary of the ussr
Mother Russia came down!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

theironjef posted:

Here's the dip recipe I use when I host friends for a night of gaming, because I am not a fan of putting out big bland bowls of cream.
What's your pork tenderloin recipe

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Directions for packaged country ham often say to fry it in cola. I prefer to just mix brown sugar and water, but the result is more or less the same. My wife insists that carnitas must always be slow-cooked in Mexican beer and lime juice.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Hungry? How about thirsty?




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
Chapter 7, Part 1: Clans
Chapter 7, Part 2: Traits
Chapter 7, Part 3: Disciplines
Chapter 8, Part 1: Dramatic Systems


Chapter 8, Part 2: Dramatic Systems

It’s finally time to cover the mechanics that rule the nature of the vampire itself--drinking blood and the things that can still kill you.

quote:

it is a cheering thought to think
that god is on the side of the best digestion

--James Joyce, “Love Like Blood”
Blood Pool is the mechanic for measuring how well-fed you are. A 13th Generation Kindred can hold 10 Blood Points, while lower-Generation Kindred can hold more. (Note that after vampires drink blood, it becomes a mystical ichor called “vitae,” so elder vampires aren’t bloated blood bags.)

You get Blood Points by biting people and drinking their blood, obviously. You can drain up to 3 points per turn, but since feeding is the only physical pleasure Kindred really enjoy, they prefer to drink as slowly as they can get away with. An adult human has 10 Blood Points worth of blood. Draining 5 points is life-threatening, and 7 points ensures they’ll die without treatment. (In reality, losing 40% of your blood is more than enough to kill you if you don’t get a transfusion very quickly.) Since mortals don’t actually have a Blood Pool, assume each point drained deals a level of damage.

Once a vampire bites their victim and drains a single Blood Point, the victim stops resisting, lost in a trance as they experience the same pleasure as the vampire. It’s better than sex, heroin, and a new Pink Turns Blue album combined. Kindred can fight back, but only mortals with Willpower 9-10 have the wherewithal to do so. Kindred can heal a bite wound on their victim by licking it, making it easier to feed without killing or leaving telltale signs of vampire attack.


Be a psychopathic murderer or solve the rat and pigeon problem, it’s up to you


It is possible to feed from animals, but the blood is far less nourishing even when there’s more of it. Preserved blood is also much less potent. Even if you wanted to keep a farm instead of feeding on humans, that’s not really practical. Still, some Nosferatu get by on stray animals.

So how do you lose Blood? First, every vampire spends a Blood Point just to wake up every night. That means you need 37 people worth of blood every year, before you even consider the other stuff you can spend Blood on. If you’re out of Blood, you start losing a Health level every night, in addition to being starving hungry and looking like a zombie.

Second, vampires don’t heal wounds naturally. Each level of damage healed costs a Blood Point. Aggravated damage can only be healed at the rate of 1 point per day, and costs 5 Blood Points per Health Level. Have fun finding prey when you look like a starved burn victim.

Third, you can spend a Blood Point to increase one of your Physical Attributes for the rest of the scene. Now you see why that “max Blood Point spend per turn” column on the Generation chart is a big advantage in combat.

Some Disciplines require you to spend Blood. Your current Blood Pool is also the limit for any Self-Control rolls, which is why hungry vampires are prone to going into frenzy and attacking victims at random. You can cut yourself and share blood with a hungry Kindred--but that has its own risks.




That risk is called the Blood Bond. When you drink a vampire’s blood, it gives them a psychological hold over you. This applies to mortals and Kindred alike. When you drink from them on three separate occasions, you’re Blood Bound. The victim of a Blood Bond is called a Thrall, while their master is called a Regnant. Methuselahs play their games of Jyhad by secretly enthralling younger Kindred to act as their agents. This is yet another reason Kindred politics are so paranoid.

Being Blood Bound is like being in love, in a relationship where the other person has all the power. You probably know that you’re Bound, and might hate what it makes you do, but you’re powerless to do anything about it. A Blood Bond makes it difficult to even think about refusing or acting against your Regnant, much less harm them. You’re obsessed with your Regnant and they are the central figure in your life. A Thrall will perform almost any favour asked of them by their Regnant, though they will balk at extreme risks.

Mechanically, being Blood Bound makes it easier for your Regnant to Dominate you. Much more importantly, even disobedient thoughts cost you Willpower. The only way to break a bond is by spending a huge amount of Willpower over a long period of time, while avoiding your Regnant so that they can’t force you to renew the Bond by drinking more of their blood.

The only advantage of being Blood Bound is that you can only be Bound to one person, so an existing Bond protects you from another. Two Kindred can even become Blood Bound to each other, believing it’s the only way the undead can experience true love. Such romances are frowned upon, to say the least--they’re desperate and obsessive and end badly.




The other side of the Blood Bond is Diablerie, which is draining another Kindred to death to make yourself stronger. If you drain all of another vampire’s Blood, and keep drinking, you can devour their very soul. If they are of an earlier Generation than you, it lowers your Generation by one.

Mechanically, you have to drain all of their Blood, keep drinking until all their Health Levels are gone, and make a Strength roll to basically suck their soul out. Committing diablerie always provokes a Humanity check. There’s no real benefit to committing diablerie on Kindred of equal or greater Generation, and remember that Auspex and Thaumaturgy can detect vampires who have committed diablerie.

While they don’t give hard and fast rules, “some say” that diablerizing a much older vampire means that multiple Kindred can enjoy the benefits of diablerie at once. You can also preserve elder blood, for a quick pick-me-up and possibly to temporarily gain the benefits of their Disciplines.

It’s obvious that you can build a whole chronicle around hunting elders. Diablerie is what the elders fear most, and thus the greatest crime Kindred can commit. (Note that holding a network of Kindred minions in Thrall is not forbidden anywhere in the Traditions.) Thus, diablerie is extremely cool and good. gently caress you, Vampire Dad.




Speaking of things you can build an entire chronicle around, some Kindred seek Golconda. Golconda is a spiritual journey that ends with a vampire transcending their inhuman nature. It’s a mystical state in which a vampire has truly accepted and learned to live with their Beast instead of constantly fighting against it.

Golconda is a legend to most vampires, and some regard it as a childish fairy tale. But it definitely exists, and some few Kindred who have achieved Golconda travel from city to city, preaching the Good News about Not Eating People. The Inconnu, that secretive sect of elders who renounce politics and the Jyhad, is said to be made up of Kindred who seek or have attained Golconda.

There’s no mechanical process for achieving Golconda. It’s meant to be a Hero’s Journey that starts with seeking out legends and secrets, develops by showing remorse for past misdeeds and developing compassion, and culminates in a mystical dream-quest. It requires finding a mentor, and making restitution for past wrongs, so it’s like the most goth 12-step program ever.

Once achieved, there are mechanical benefits for Golconda: you only burn one Blood Point per week, and you never suffer frenzy or Rotschreck. To maintain Golconda, your Humanity must stay at 7 or higher, and your Conscience at 4 or higher.

An alternative to Golconda is Rebirth--becoming human again. As with so many things, “it is said” that the penultimate stage of seeking Golconda gives you the option of becoming human again. Other suggested ways of achieving Rebirth are a complicated set of rituals, or killing your sire, grandsire, and grand-grandsire. There are no real rules covering this; it’s also meant to be a campaign seed. Another suggestion is that a vampire who dies in an incredibly heroic way might experience death as a mortal, not as a Kindred.

So what do I think of Golconda? In the main, I don’t. It’s essentially a chronicle option unto itself, and an interesting one to be sure, but it didn’t get much attention from the developers as time went on. I don’t think they intend you to keep playing PCs who have achieved Golconda, and if they did, it would just be another character option. It was never written out of the game, but became a curiosity that formed a small part of the metaplot. From a cynical point of view, there’s little reason to expand on something that’s incongruous with the campaign modules and metaplots you’re publishing. From a creative point of view, the Golconda concept probably wouldn’t benefit from more elaborate rules.




quote:

No two bloodsuckers go out the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly. Some explode, some implode. But all will try and take you with them.

Othello, As I Lay Dying

The last and least esoteric statistic to cover is Health, the hit points of this game. Health always seemed a little wonky to me because while everything else in Vampire runs on a 1-5 or 1-10 scale, you have 7 Health levels.



You lose Health Levels when you’re injured, and those wound penalties apply to all your dice pools. Mortals take days, weeks, or months to heal, and if they take more than 7 Health Levels of damage, they’re dead. Vampires aren’t innately more resistant to damage, but they are harder to kill.

When a vampire loses all their Health Levels, all they can do is lie there and spend Blood Points to heal themselves. If you’re Incapacitated and out of Blood, you enter torpor, a state of suspended animation. The length of torpor depends on your Humanity, ranging from days to centuries. You can be awakened if someone’s nice enough to feed you.



So how can you meet Final Death? If you’re out of Blood and Health Levels and you take any aggravated damage, as from fire or sunlight, you’re dead. Otherwise, it’s up to the Storyteller’s common sense--vampires can be killed by decapitation or anything that totally pulverizes a body, like explosions or deep sea pressure. Funny enough, they don’t prescribe what happens to a vampire’s remains. Fire and sunlight will burn you to ash, of course, but other things? Up to you. My favourite popular interpretation is “you become as if you were never Embraced,” so neonates leave rotten corpses and Methuselahs leave only dust.

Brief notes on sources of damage outside of combat:

Fire bad! It does aggravated damage (so only your Fortitude rating can soak it) and it can hurt you turn after turn. Fire is not only able to kill vampires, it hurts them worse than mortals.



Sunlight is even worse. I mean, it’s everywhere. Same problem as fire. You can see now why I don’t think having Fortitude is all that great.



Stakes are another particular problem for vampires. Taking a stake to the heart sends you into torpor until the stake is removed. It doesn’t say whether it has to be a wooden stake, nor that you can’t do the same thing with a Bowie knife.

UV lamps and extreme heat (like 200F and up) can hurt you like sunlight or fire, but with less damage, and usually not aggravated.

Falling does one Health Level per 10 feet, to a maximum of 10.

Freezing cold is dangerous to vampires because they have no body heat. At the Storyteller’s discretion, make Stamina+Fortitude rolls with increasing Difficulty for each roll. Burning Blood will temporarily counter the effects.

Vampires can’t die from human diseases, but they can catch them, lose Health Levels from them, and transmit them to mortal victims. This doesn’t really make sense to me when your Blood becomes mystical vitae, but I suppose there are themes of plague and the Other that couldn’t be done otherwise.


Ring of +5 Thaumaturgy, Ring of +5 Protean, Ring of Fire Immunity, Ring of Sunlight Immunity, Studded Hat of Bat-making GBS threads,

So if you can survive being impaled, thrown off a roof, burned, and other Kindred trying to drink your blood or feed you their blood or whatever, let’s talk about the real reason you’re playing this game: Experience Points.

Vampires find it hard to truly mature, but they have plenty of time to accumulate knowledge and skill. Besides the point costs, the most important thing to know about XP is that the Storyteller is supposed to gatekeep it. They have to agree that you’ve have downtime to learn an Ability, or actually done something to reflect a personal change that justifies increasing your Virtues, etc. I think that is fair for the narrative Traits, or players would just treat losing Humanity as an XP tax. (After character creation, increasing Virtues doesn’t also increase their derived Traits.)

Disciplines are a particular sticking point. To advance in a Discipline you don’t already know, you should seek out a tutor, or perhaps find a mystical amulet that awakens new powers--if the Storyteller feels like dealing with it. Granted, it’s lame if you can just decide to learn Thaumaturgy because you had a few extra points to spend.

(As an aside, there are multiple hints in the corebook about the possibility of magical items, and potions in the form of vials of elder vitae. While a handful of such items were introduced in an early sourcebook, this mostly fell by the wayside as the line went on. Other WoD games are full of such items, but I suppose they decided it wasn’t in the spirit of Vampire. As it is, it feels like a sop to D&D cliches that the game grew out of.)



So what do these costs mean in terms of how many XP you get per session? First, everybody gets 1 XP just for playing. Goddamn snowflake millennials and their participation trophies. There are several categories of XP award that the Storyteller can hand out if they think the player earned it.

Learning Curve: Your character learned something meaningful from their experiences.

Acting: You roleplayed well.

Roleplaying: You roleplayed your Nature and Demeanor really well. I do not know why they’re hung up on this. I suppose they’re really into the idea of the Hero’s Journey, to the point that exemplifying archetypes is seen as something important in its own right.

Heroism: Kindred are selfish pricks, and actually putting yourself at risk for others deserves a reward.

Success: The coterie furthered their goals.

Danger: You survived dangerous situations.

Wisdom: The coterie succeeded because of your foresight or cleverness.

I’m not a fan of GMs handing out what might be wildly varying XP awards based on how much you like so-and-so’s character. I prefer it either be equal, or a baseline with a couple extra points awarded by vote.


Next time on Kindred the Embraced: “Drama,” which in this game means dice rolling and combat.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Oberndorf's not joking, by the way. They came up with 5-10 dot powers in one supplement, but later decided that the 10 dot power for every Discipline is "Plot Device."

Anyway.

In Gehenna, the sevenfold curse is an optional thing, assuming Caine actually shows up, and assuming someone actually tries to fight him. One of the weirdest things about Gehenna is that you have multiple possibilities for Antediluvian battle royales that the PCs can't really participate in. And there are no stats given for any of these characters, certainly not Caine. Have fun watching a bunch of demigods punch each other out while the Storyteller contrives some reason for you to make a difference in all this.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 18:23 on Jul 26, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

That Old Tree posted:

There's some value in "god-NPCs fighting as a back drop to PC action", even when there's no chance the PCs will affect the "important" stuff.
But in this case it's not a backdrop to what you're doing, it's the scene. Often the only thing you can do in these scenarios is run a very important errand for some ancient vampire, then stand around watching the important characters do stuff.

I do think a lot of people have a hard time grasping the idea of playing a campaign set during a time of great tumult where your PCs are not at the center of that conflict. But in this case, the apocalyptic war is playing out in the form of Demigod Bumfights in an alley somewhere. WoD games don't lend themselves to playing out a small corner of a global conflict in the same way as WFRP or Godlike.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 19:21 on Jul 26, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Snorb posted:

I thought the official stat block for him read, in full, "Caine: You lose."?
I'm 95% sure that was a fan joke.

There were bits in Gehenna and other sourcebooks to that effect, though.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Bieeanshee posted:

Cool, judging from that sheet it's still terminally overcomplex. Saves me time.
I want to like Eclipse Phase, but yeah.

It's like, what if Fragged Empire was an enormous pain in the rear end

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

LatwPIAT posted:

If you take the imperfect metaphor of your body as your car, what you're proposing is equivalent of riding around in a tank. You can do it, but most people don't because they can't afford to, because they're kind of weird to drive, and because driving around in a 60-ton vehicle armed with a cannon and several machine guns with tracks that can crush smaller cars makes people somewhat wary around them.
This is the best way to discourage it that I can think of. "Nobody likes you because you're the kind of person who open-carries their AR-15 at the grocery store."

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

LatwPIAT posted:

Unreliable narration is an extremely difficult technique to use to begin with, and not good for a reference work for an RPG setting. If you can't tell what the truth is, you have to make it up yourself, and then what's the point of having the book?
The person who wrote GURPS Book of the New Sun had a hard row to hoe, that's for sure.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Kemper Boyd posted:

The one book that got good mileage out of using that was the Old World Bestiary for Warhamsters Fantasy RPG.
My favourite example of unreliable narration is Jumpers, where even the rules chapters are treated like an attempt to model something real. With margin notes by real Jumpers either praising the rules or pissing on them from a great height.

Apropos of the EP 2.0 discussion, I think the rules were much too fiddly for what they were trying to do, even though they were trying not to be. Quarex playtested it, and mentioned that his experience playing it at a con was much more accessible than the rulebook comes across.



Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

It's a lot like the basic premise of Sliders. But jumping between parallel universes is something that happens to you at random, and you can travel through time as well as space.

PurpleXVI posted:

They really could not resist wasting our loving time, though. So. Basically every morph has some pre-fitted modifications. Like a Cortical Stack, basically your brain backup. Which every morph bar one has. And which is listed on every morph bar that one. Rather than just giving that one Morph a "HAS NO STACK"-disadvantage. That one morph is the Flat, btw.
This really sums up my problems with EP2.0 as a game, and why it's just not for me. I don't need to play any more games that make you keep track of things that are purely detail for its own sake, or concessions to realism. It reminds me of Shadowrun 3e making you keep track of ports for your cyberware.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:09 on Jul 31, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Eh, I thought it was a good explanation for why the Inscrutable Lovecraftian Deity AI does what it does.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

AFAIK, Mutants & Masterminds did the best job of making a Superhero Silk Purse out of the D20 Sow's Ear. Unless D20 Aberrant was designed by a completely different team, I wouldn't expect WW to replicate their success.

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:

This Mal dude sounds like he combines the worst features of Magneto, Apocalypse and Dr. Manhattan. What the hell is his power, anyway, or is it "Ill Defined Do Whatever I Want Beam"
You know how Magneto's power is to do literally anything he wants, as long as he says "magnetism" at some point? Like that, but "quantum."

He controls energy, and time, and other people's superpowers, and is immune to everything. And he has every Mega-Attribute, so he's already outmaneuvered you anyway.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Aberrant has me itching to go ahead and review Wild Talents: Progenitor. Like Godlike, a huge chunk of the book is a years-long metaplot...and the entire point is for you to drop your PCs into a given year and let them completely gently caress it up.

LatwPIAT posted:

"Rich people will be outrageously genderqueer because that's the current fad" is kinda... Hmm, what's the word I'm looking for...

Reactionary?
Goddamn transgender super parrots and their bourgeois decadence, I tell you what!

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:07 on Aug 2, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Seatox posted:

Yeah. Cyberpunk's definitely tainted with the existential despair of the 80s and 90s. "Don't get mad at the system, it won't change anything, this is how it will always be now. This is just a phase you young punks are going through. You'll be a salary man like me soon enough."
Cyberpunk 3.0 had some elements that were more hopeful--in a naive Burning Man meets Silicon Valley kind of way, IMO. But 3.0 was memory-holed.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Tales from the Edition Wars: One of the most frustrating things about arguing for or against D20 was that anything you don't like about D20, except for the D20 die mechanic, was technically optional. Don't like levels? No problem, D20 doesn't have to have levels! Don't like classes? D20 doesn't have to have those, either! Skills? Saves? Hit points? AC? Ditto! D20 is the perfect system because it's some kind of Zen Void of game design!

Of course, in practice almost every D20 game used classes and levels and most of that other stuff, even if it didn't need them. This was the paradox of D20: every good D20 game discarded the conceit of compatibility and only having to learn one system. Which was the only reason for D20 to exist.

It's hard not to see Aberrant D20, as a ruleset, as just an inferior version of Mutants & Masterminds.

Zereth posted:

Wait, so the average population density of the game world is about 2.5 square miles per person? That seems awfully low. Like I think medieval London had over a million people in it, ten times the population of the entire gameworld here.
I don't think London reached a million people until the early 19th century. Nonetheless, those are absurdly low population figures. Even in 1066 England would have had like 20-30 people per square mile.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 16:41 on Aug 2, 2019

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 all very strange. I'd expect most people to drastically overestimate how many people a preindustrial agrarian society can support. I mean, most "medieval" D&D settings depict what looks like a very sanitized 15th-16th century Europe.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

That looks reasonable to me. My understanding is that Glorantha isn't exactly Bronze or Iron Age, or even comparable to Earth at all, what with all the shenanigans and goings-on. But yeah, that's comparable to 1000-0 BCE.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

No medieval setting is tryharder than Harn. There's like a whole supplement if you just want to model the cabbage output of a manor without ever running a campaign.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Man, it's like I'm the fuckin' reeve around here

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Some of y'all are confusing leftism on the ground with Left Twitter. There's no pressing necessity for EP to feature Tapatio authoritarian socialism because such movements are thin on the ground.

Also, I don't get all the fearmongering over anarchist communes. Communes exist, they have social problems, but there's no reason to rush to the conclusion that the cyber-kibbutz will be a hellworld of ostracism and witch burning.

If you want real examples of places where the workers are left to organize production communally, but society is still horribly unfair, the first place to look is agriculture under feudalism.

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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.

Specifically, the late Republic (let alone the Empire) was a complete no go without Egyptian grain. The Social Wars, and the professionaization/proletarianisation of the military meant that Roman plantations focused on cash crops like olives and grapes instead of staple crops.

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