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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Had a blood-trash Brujah who took down a Garou, once. Player's Guide Knife-fighting rules, some potency, that one dot of celerity, and a silver dagger that a friendly Thaumaturge summoned and handed me... while the more powerful people tried to go face-to-face.

    A few turns of several attacks of unsoakable damage, backed by automatic successes from Potence, took it down.
    Ah, Player's Guide rules. I didn't use anything like that, but my viking Brujah could've taken any NPC werewolf mano-a-mano. Thing is, "Fenrir's mangy spawn", as he used to call them, run in packs, and I could never verify whether they use NPC werewolf rules, or the busted PC werewolf rules with Gifts and such.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by fishyfishyfishy View Post
    That said, I agree that VtR2e is generally better at this but that's only because it is necessary for the game to be functional. It doesn't have a meta plot to fall back on.
    The lack of the metaplot is the opposite of a problem, but it does put a bit more work onto the ST in terms of creating their own setting.
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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    The lack of a meta plot is a strength or a weakness depending on who you ask. I don't think either opinion is more right than the other.

    I only bring it up because it is one of the key differences between the two settings that was relevant in the talk about world building advice. If you have a pre constructed setting you don't need as much in that regard.
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  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Long before I ever considered learning anything about Vampire, I thought it was really cool that it seemed to have (back then) the premise of letting you play in a place near your home. Since most people don't live in New York, Chicago, LA, or London, making your own cities for your own campaign was a big part of the pitches that I was hearing for the game 20 years ago.
    But even know, the more I read about the whole metaplot business now, the less I like it. When I started reading the rulebooks, they introduced me to a couple of cool concepts. Like "the only vampires you meet are those who want to meet" and that all vampires are prisoners inside the cities they can't leave because there's nowhere else for them to go. The idea of the Masquerade is that ideally no humans should know that vampires exist, and I thought desperately dealing with every single breach as quickly and ruthlessly as possible would be a central part of the game.
    However the metaplot makes it sound like the global vampire conspiracy is pulling the strings around the world, and they are in an open shadow war with goverment agencies that use heavy military hardware against them. It all feels about as secretive as global organized crime. All that just feels very disappointing to me. It sounds like nothing of the isolation of living confined to the shadows that attracted me in the first place.
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Long before I ever considered learning anything about Vampire, I thought it was really cool that it seemed to have (back then) the premise of letting you play in a place near your home. Since most people don't live in New York, Chicago, LA, or London, making your own cities for your own campaign was a big part of the pitches that I was hearing for the game 20 years ago.
    But even know, the more I read about the whole metaplot business now, the less I like it. When I started reading the rulebooks, they introduced me to a couple of cool concepts. Like "the only vampires you meet are those who want to meet" and that all vampires are prisoners inside the cities they can't leave because there's nowhere else for them to go. The idea of the Masquerade is that ideally no humans should know that vampires exist, and I thought desperately dealing with every single breach as quickly and ruthlessly as possible would be a central part of the game.
    However the metaplot makes it sound like the global vampire conspiracy is pulling the strings around the world, and they are in an open shadow war with goverment agencies that use heavy military hardware against them. It all feels about as secretive as global organized crime. All that just feels very disappointing to me. It sounds like nothing of the isolation of living confined to the shadows that attracted me in the first place.
    I really do see your point here.
    in fact you are seeing some my issues with the lore and also scale...if the vampires are so powerful the only thing that is really threatening is when lots of people with blades and guns get together or another of their kind...where as if a human can be a threat the vampire is much more pushed into the shadow realm.

    I'd recommend you take a look at Vampire the Requiem then. It is "nerfed" in a lot of ways but that is also the point. I like 1e more personally in part because 2e (Blood and Smoke) couldn't really pick between continuing the ideas of 1e's direction or blending VtM back in (power scale esp in combat, more defined clan histories etc) because it had been really popular. But that blend may also appeal to you.

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I'd recommend you take a look at Vampire the Requiem then. It is "nerfed" in a lot of ways but that is also the point. I like 1e more personally in part because 2e (Blood and Smoke) couldn't really pick between continuing the ideas of 1e's direction or blending VtM back in (power scale esp in combat, more defined clan histories etc) because it had been really popular. But that blend may also appeal to you.
    ...Requiem 2E doesn't have defined clan histories. In fact, every clan writeup has several possible origins for them, which may or may not have any truth to them in any given game.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    However the metaplot makes it sound like the global vampire conspiracy is pulling the strings around the world, and they are in an open shadow war with goverment agencies that use heavy military hardware against them. It all feels about as secretive as global organized crime. All that just feels very disappointing to me. It sounds like nothing of the isolation of living confined to the shadows that attracted me in the first place.
    The oWoD metaplot and setting generally are a mess, in part because they glom together multiple games that don't use compatible rules, operate at different power levels, and were written by writers who didn't talk to each other. It's also weirdly backwards because out of the three principle games (Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage), Vampire was the most popular and significant by a huge margin, but Vampires were the weakest splat by an equally huge margin. The Mages are so much more powerful that's it's not even funny. This created a tail wagging the dog problem for the setting as a whole.

    This is most obvious in the case of the Time of Judgment. The core Gehenna scenario just quietly kills all the Vampires off. The core Mage scenario End of Evangelion's the planet. The latter obviously makes the events of the former totally irrelevant.
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  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    [QUOTE=Mechalich;24861125

    This is most obvious in the case of the Time of Judgment. The core Gehenna scenario just quietly kills all the Vampires off. The core Mage scenario End of Evangelion's the planet. The latter obviously makes the events of the former totally irrelevant.[/QUOTE]

    Yeah but none of them is canon so that's hardly relevant

    Also I'd say, having played all three games, Werewolves were the weakest. Though, yeah, Mages definitely the most powerful
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    I can't recall the fist time I ran vampire; I ran Werewolf the Apocalypse at a Convention in about 1993, and got into Vampire/Mage a while later. Since then I've had the psychotropic experience of playing many, many editions of darkness. Darkness Ages, Medieval Darkness, Darkness Comics Adapted to a World of Darkness; Rifts-esque Clive Barker inspired Nightbane Darkness, Chronicles, Tabloids, Angels, Fallen, Fallen Angels, Demons, Metal Demons, Cyborg Demons, Cyberdemons, Mr. Smith Demons... did I mention there were always, ALWAYS vampires in these games?

    So here's some stuff I learned:

    Mood is Free.

    You don't need a rules set to set up a solid roleplaying experience if your focus is on Keifer Sutherland's leather jacket and how it compliments his Billy Idol Hair style while wearing contact lenses and custom porcelain fangs (I had some of those too). Lost Boys Sisters of Mercy Mood is entirely possible. You can dim the lights, pull up your mp3 playlist of Type O Negative, Invictus, or whatever goth stream band suits your fancy. You can go Vampire Hunter D and have it take place 7000 years after an apocalypse and have people riding cyber horses to giant vampire castles. Honestly, setting and genre are free.

    Everybody knows what a vampire is.

    Except, this is where rules sets really do matter.

    Once you get over the idea of setting up your setting,

    you run into the powers/stats and conflict resolution section. Stuff your Black Black Black No. 1 hair dye won't fix.

    Take Celerity for example. Or "Vampire super speed". Super speed is CRITICAL to some vampire settings, like Ann Rice's movies staring famous dead musicians or members of Scientology... it's also essential in teen pop sparkly vampire shows from Seattle. But its practically a joke in some combat systems,

    especially those which basically eliminate multiple actions, like V5 or Chronicles of Darkness (CoD).

    Multiple actions in a 1v1 don't mean much, but become more useful when outnumbered.

    Plot wise, being outnumbered is a common sign of strength. But mechanically, it can change how the players cultivate their characters. A political character could dump everything into the charm/dominate or presence/attractiveness mechanism, or jump through status/boon gateways and backgrounds to beef up their contacts/allies or goons.

    What this ultimately leads to is someone spending 3-5 dots to replicate multiple actions in combat. "my 5 goons shoot you. Rock Paper Scissors." Unlike D&D, or even Shadowrun or Rifts or Cyberpunk, GURPS, etc., the Goon Squad Player Kill is entirely a thing in Incarnations of World/Chronicles/LARP of Darkness.

    Seeing people pop Presence 5 or having a bunch of ghouls, or simply being so high status that a pile of other players glom around them like orbitter memes - this is fact. This isn't even rare. So when you start to size up which system you want to use, try to remember that "game balance" is two people spending similar points to get rough parity, and lacking parity, diversity. Bluntly, if people get +5 attacks per round with their presence/blood bond background, don't freak out if a player wants +5 attacks per round with celerity.


    As to other disciplines, like Temporis, Flesh Warping Vicissitudes, Thaumaturgy, etc. You are going to run into World of Darkness' second major flaw:

    Lore Conflict with Expectations of Stereotypes.

    Splat books (V20 is a compilation of many) help solve the "what about THIS kind of vampire?" setting, but you will run into the "i thought all vampires were super strong, tough, and don't have reflections? Why can't i turn into a bat/wolf/shadow like Dracula? Who the ^#@& is Caine? Where's Vlad? Silver doesn't Do Agg? Why can't I do what they did in Salem's Lot?"

    Granted, when I started Vampire, we didn't have to worry about sparkly vampires, but that setting is otherwise weirdly closer to Vamp than you think. Like that over powered european political organization. Vampire secret societies keeping people's super powers and lore reveal in check.

    But its up to you to pick which lore you like. Chronicles of Darkness is totally different Lore from V20/V5. V5 lore probably can't be easily supported by its nerfed disciplines. 3d6 mooks with grenades would likely make short work of a vampire kingdom. (Blade Genre?).

    What lore you pick will probably decide what game system you have. Me personally, I'd pick my "type of vampire" first, then pick the game system that can support it second. Nothing sucks worse than coming into a game with preconceived notions about what you are going to be allowed to do with your Vampire, from your latest movie or graphic novel, (vampire knight anime? underworld franchise? so many vampires, so little time..) only to find out there's some moldy bible villain as your grandpa and you have to join the Vampire Art club to get ninja speed.

  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Any complains that I have are not as a game critic, but really purely as a fiction critic. Mechanics have not really come into any of my considerations yet. (Still working on learning those.) And while system certainly matters, it always comes down to what you do with mechanics as a GM.

    It just always galls me when I see a really good fiction pitch and the storyline then going completely off the rails, dropping out all the interesting original ideas in favor of hyper-analyzing something that was originally just meant as a throwaway line or a one-off enemy. The work that comes out at the end can really have its own merits, but it's always sad to see a cool original concept getting abandoned.
    Like Star Trek Voyager, which abandoned it's entire premise after the first episode and never looked back. Or Star Trek Deep Space Nine, that sneakily switched from Peacekeeping/Reconstruction to Mass Warfare halfway through it's run. Or Star Trek Enterprise which forgot it's premise three episodes into the show. (Damn Stark Trek!)

    While I was looking around the internet for ideas and advice, I noticed that there really seems to be a huge amount of love for V5. I was looking more specifically what exactly is different, and I'm somewhat under the impression that a big part of it is making rules and mechanics for many things that previously where done freeform.
    I assume it's nothing like the crunchification from AD&D 2nd edition to D&D 3rd edition, but is that generally a somewhat correct perception?
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  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    While I was looking around the internet for ideas and advice, I noticed that there really seems to be a huge amount of love for V5. I was looking more specifically what exactly is different, and I'm somewhat under the impression that a big part of it is making rules and mechanics for many things that previously where done freeform.
    I assume it's nothing like the crunchification from AD&D 2nd edition to D&D 3rd edition, but is that generally a somewhat correct perception?
    No, not really. The mechanics are just somewhat different in places, but they don't cover anything that wasn't covered before. People who like V5 just say that the new rules make them feel more like playing a vampire. Personally, I find several decisions regrettable (how blood is done now, compulsions, some of the discipline and clan changes, bloody successes and failures), but some look nice (Humanity, other discipline and clan changes).
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  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    While I was looking around the internet for ideas and advice, I noticed that there really seems to be a huge amount of love for V5. I was looking more specifically what exactly is different, and I'm somewhat under the impression that a big part of it is making rules and mechanics for many things that previously where done freeform.
    V5 was released in 2018, making it the first true new release for the VtM setting in 2004 (V20 is a compilation/reprint of VtM material with many of the core book pages copied word for word from VtM material). V5 ended up riding a big hype train as the first new version of Vampire in a long time, under control of a new company. So there's a lot of support on the internet simply because there's a lot more internet than there was in 2004.

    At the very least simply updating the game from a 1998 baseline (when Revised was released) to 2018 is very significant because an awful lot happened in the intervening 20 years of great significance to the Masquerade. Cellphones and Google and Social Media and Amazon and numerous other technological innovations have a great deal of impact on vampire life and the masquerade. The addition of another 1.5 billion people to the planet is also not without significance.

    Of course V5 still preserves many of VtM's most basic lore problems. The whole idea of Caine as the first Vampire is problematic...for a bunch of reasons that forum rules forbid discussing in any detail. The origin points and geographic distribution of the clans are equally problematic. The whole Kindred of the East issue remains present and has only become more and more difficult to accept over time (I cannot suggest strongly enough that if you actually run Vampire it should just be dropped and you should simply have Kindred in Asia like everywhere else).

    In terms of general inspiration, here's what I'd take from the legacy of VtM:
    1. The Masquerade. The idea that Vampires decided, at some point that humans grew too numerous and technologically adept to simply control outright and prey upon openly and that Vampire civilization had to go underground is probably the most important thing to come out. Vampires self-policing against these breaches and surviving via secrecy in the modern world is essential and pretty much every form of modern vampire fiction and most generalized urban fantasy adopts some form of masquerade as a matter of course now.

    2. Clan/Bloodline structure. The idea that there are different subgroups of vampires with slightly different powers that are passed down by lineage is a solid one. People want to play different kinds of vampires and the bloodline system is a way for that to work and the existence of clans produces natural factions for a political game. At the same type, VtR does this better since it has it that anyone can found a bloodline and you don't have clans linked back ancient antiquity.

    3. The Domain concept. Though it's never been implemented particularly well (do Princes collect a blood tithe? How does one city negotiate with another regarding boundaries? Etc.) the idea of vampire society structured around nominally independent metro areas each with their own political structure is solid. 'City X' is a functional unit for a setting that is extremely useful for players (and for the audience, many urban fantasy series are set in a single city for precisely this reason) to identify with and also useful for GM because it limits the area of setup for building a campaign. The idea also fits in well with traditional tropes conflating vampires with the nobility - notably Dracula as the ruler of Wallachia.

    4. The politics of immortality. Vampires idea of politics grew out of the gothic/punk scene it originated in, which means that it's political structures aren't very well structures (the film What we do in the Shadows skewered this extremely effectively), but the central idea that vampires spend their unlives competing amongst their peers for prestige and power is a good one. It was just that the game never really gave a good justification for why that prestige and power was something all characters should want. In most small-scale human hierarchies being in-charge means more work and more frustration and a lot of people avoid it - for example, college professors are notorious for trying to avoid the position of department head - when there are not concrete benefits attached. In the business world people ascend the promotion ladder primarily for monetary reasons, but Vampire as a game never quite managed to come up with the vampiric equivalent.
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  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    I think the whole concept of the Anarchs revolves around the issue of power hierarchy among vampires.
    In the Camarilla, the older vampires are telling the younger vampires what to do. Theh make all the real decisions, and when younger vampires don't obey, their elders can easily destroy them with no repercussions. And as stated in many places, vampires don't climb up the hierarchy with time. The elders stick around seemingly forever. After thousands if years, it's still the 6th and 7th generations that are in charge. And when they eventually disappear from public, it will be the 8th and 9th generations that will have all the power for many centuries to come. The odds for 12th and 13th generation vampires to ever be elders is extremely slim and way beyond any time scale they can imagine. The whole idea of the Anarchs is that they are done waiting and refuse to play by the rules that always favor the elders anymore.
    The only way for young vampires to have power over others is to make new lower ranking vampires themselves. But the people who regulate this privilege are again elders, who only give permision when it benefits themselves in some way.
    Vampire politics, as PCs are concerned, are about getting out of being a slave by becoming a master. Power does not come to those who wait. Iit only comes to those who make themselves indispensible to the people at the top, who have powerful allies, and can collect big favors. Or who might one way have a strong enough position to get away with killing elders.

    And the elders know this. Their position remains secure only for as long as those vampires below them fear to rise up against them. They need to maintain crowds of younger vampires whose own fortunes depend on the continued authority of the elder. These loyal pawns need to be strong enough to be real protection, but must not become so strong that they don't need the elder anymore.

    You could go with the idea that until the industrial revolution, this system was relatively stable for the Camarila. But since then cities have been growing massivey and transporation gotten much faster, causing the hierarchy of power to be in a constant state of change. Trying to maintain your position while new players come and go all the time is the heart of vampire politics.
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  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I think the whole concept of the Anarchs revolves around the issue of power hierarchy among vampires.
    In the Camarilla, the older vampires are telling the younger vampires what to do. Theh make all the real decisions, and when younger vampires don't obey, their elders can easily destroy them with no repercussions. And as stated in many places, vampires don't climb up the hierarchy with time.
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Well in terms of "why vampires play the political game"
    There are always the autukaris and in Inconnu...and they basically don't but IME are mostly ignored by most ST's...which is unfortunate, I think.

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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    The question is, what would you do with them? Vampires who don't want to get involved and hide from other vampires don't really have much to do in campaigns.
    Particularly with the Inconnu I really don't know what their purpose is supposed to be. Only thing I can think of is a mysterious old men appearing from a bush telling the players where they need to go to find the next clue if they can't find it themselves.
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    The question is, what would you do with them? Vampires who don't want to get involved and hide from other vampires don't really have much to do in campaigns.
    Particularly with the Inconnu I really don't know what their purpose is supposed to be. Only thing I can think of is a mysterious old men appearing from a bush telling the players where they need to go to find the next clue if they can't find it themselves.
    The Inconnu are, I'd say, quest givers. There the guys who have missions of stupendous danger with rewards that the Prince of your city couldn't give you. The tricky thing is figuring out are they approaching you because you have a great reputation for getting things done or you the suckers they recruit to get killed to disguise what they're really up to
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    One of the issues with politics in VtM is that the system lacks what I'll call a 'currency of conspiracy.' For a very literal example of what this is, see the golden coins of John Wick. Specifically, there needs to be some medium through which power can flow and exchanges can be recognized. Vampires doesn't have this. Worse, because of the necessity of the masquerade, the natural currency available - ordinary human money - is broadly severed from vampire operations. The Prince can't offer you a million bucks to do something, nor can he offer you a criminal or political post from which you could freely get your kleptocracy on and extract millions (you are of course perfectly free to just go and do this yourself, which further limits the leverage the elders possess).

    Additionally, because the vampire conspiracy lacks any sort of ideological goal and is committed to nothing more than survival, there's no real reason for any character not interested purely in power for its own sake to try and ascend the political ladder of the conspiracy. WtA and MtA both have conspiracies with rather strong ideological goals (it's basically 'save the planet' in both cases, albeit for distinctly different values of 'save') and so reaching for the top means a PC gains the power to direct resources towards their preferred measures of pursuing those goals. Becoming Prince, regrettably, simply means you get to shuffle the deck chairs in terms of which vampires occupy positions of favor, but you can't actually direct your lessers to do anything, because there's no direction to go. The exceptions, in what will become something of a trend in this post, are the clans with access to blood magic, because they have magical goals they can pursue.

    Yes the Prince and the Elders have the right to beat you down if you screw up, but that's just a stick, the systems is decidedly deficient in carrots. All they can really give you is the right to make new vampires. That's certainly very important, but it's not an everyday thing both because the Masquerade imposes a ceiling on vampiric population growth and simply because most characters aren't interested in producing potential equals and threats willy-nilly (if you want slaves, that's what ghouls are for). It also matches poorly with campaign timescales. The average PC might be interested in embracing one person over the course of an entire campaign.

    Vampire really needs some medium through which the favor-trading can flow. Interestingly, the other big oWoD both have such things. Werewolf has Renown - in which your acknowledged social standing translates directly into your ability to acquire additional supernatural power. Mage has Tass, which is basically magic boost juice you can pass around. Vampire just doesn't really have anything like that. The exception is those clans with access to blood magic, in which case blood magic knowledge or mystical creations becomes a form of exchange. Giovanni, for example, can trade ghosts.

    Thematically the medium for vampires ought to be blood. Certainly that works for blood magic using clans - because blood magic requires burning blood pool as fuel - but for everyone else having a giant surplus of blood simply means you need to put a bunch of refrigerators in your basement. Sure you can make more ghouls, but there's logistical and masquerade related barriers to having too many of them. Gorging on massive amounts of blood, meanwhile, might feel really awesome, but it doesn't bring any sort of concrete benefits, since blood binging doesn't provide any sort of power boost. Also, because of the various non-predatory means to acquire blood, especially animal blood (ex. ghouling a hog farmer and turning the hog shed into a blood bank) the blood supply is not especially constrained.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    One of the issues with politics in VtM is that the system lacks what I'll call a 'currency of conspiracy.' For a very literal example of what this is, see the golden coins of John Wick. Specifically, there needs to be some medium through which power can flow and exchanges can be recognized. Vampires doesn't have this. .
    Well they do, it's called 'Prestation' AKA good, old fashioned favours.
    You do something for me and I owe you one.

    The Prince can't offer you a million bucks to do something,
    Why can't he do this ? Presuming you want money

    Yes the Prince and the Elders have the right to beat you down if you screw up, but that's just a stick, the systems is decidedly deficient in carrots. All they can really give you is the right to make new vampires.
    Or create ghouls. Or gift you the right to hunt in certain area's that might have been off limits to you before. Or even give you exclusive rights to hunt in an area. Or appoint you to a position in the city. Or just money or Prestation. Or if they owe you BIG the right to commit Diablerie on the next lower Gen. idiot who gets himself blood hunted. Or y'know anything you're character would value you can think of. I had a Toreador obsessed with Fencing who was rewarded for taking a dangerous mission with a original 16th Century fencing manual (both nice for my character and OOC training with it allowed my character to buy up his Melee to 5)
    Last edited by comicshorse; 2020-12-28 at 06:34 PM.
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    The question of "why politics & prestige?" was answered several times in its core & splatbooks fiction, with varying differences due to species (kindred or kuei-jin), sect, clan, faith, philosophy, and so on:

    survival.

    It's how you pass the time. It's how you stave off the beast AND torpor. It's how you follow your path. It's how you further reward loyalty out of finite resources. It's how you avenge slights without brinksmanship escalation.

    It's how you derive purpose after a bargain you didn't fully understand: indefinite longevity.

    The Virtues & Humanity/Paths are often poorly understood aspects of the system. It was the horror. It is watching your slow dive to final death, trying to juggle from them meaning out of immortality's smothering stasis. And smothered you are, where either needs wear away what you hold dear beyond survival, or time wears away sympathetic interest to an ever-changing world. "Monster I am lest monster I become," and "Survival is a b****." and all that jazz.

    These long topics bring back WoD flame war happy memories... It so passes the time.
    Last edited by opaopajr; 2020-12-28 at 06:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    On autukaris in games.
    What can you do with them? tons. Basically this is a vampire who basically wants to do their own thing and ignore the larger political goings on. This doesn't mean they don't have goals, interests, knowledge All of these can be used in conflicts, allies, slaking horse threats, red herrings etc. That kooky Malk who lives under the overpass it seem may well have knowledge you need, may be territorial (about a space, the homeless, their mortal family), can be a buffer between other groups, be a masquerade threat, . . . an none of the political tool set you have set up are worth a damn because they don't value what you do...and in so doing they provide a strong point of contrast in order for the players to flesh out, decide, and show what they do value.
    They can also just develop their own resources because they are not using the general setup the rest of the city is working with and those can be on interest to the players for various reasons. Also they can be any number of display cases of other ways of being a vampire. They are where ST's can get really creative and go wild...and then allow the consequences of that to go wild in order to drive new story opportunities. And if you get a coterie of them they may well be effectively your own mini covenant for that particular city. And for those who hide from other vampires? well they still have effects...and the players may well have to deal with those effects for good or ill...and for a group of players who generally like to be highly direct and deal with the troublemaker having a troublemaker who they can not FIND is both a change of pace and forces them to pull on new ideas and resources that the ST wants for other plot related reasons.

    as for the Inconnu they can be more than just quest-givers. They can also be testers, deus-ex-machina, the shadowy hand behind the Fecal-tornado of problems they have been dealing with, a counter example of what it means to be an elder in order to make the other elders the players deal with more obviously monstrous by contrast, warning/omen givers, the shadowy presence in the dark that feeds the players paranoia, the red herring BBEG, the guy at the bar who asks questions about their history status of their soul etc that highlights the choices their character can make. Just as a few things off the top of my head.

    As for vampires not climbing the hierarchy over time "Have you heard the good news about the coming of the Sword of Caine? Esbasts are on Tuesdays and refreshments will be provided to new visitors who wish to hear the good words of the Book of Nod"

    While in the Cam. the currency of conspiracy is in theory prestation very few ST's pay it much attention because it not developed as a rule system...hell the Harpies power is in theory they act as keepers of this system knowing who knows what to whom...as for trading favor in blood...well you can but it is weird market...Ventrue passing favored vessels, herds/blood dolls in general, tasting clubs in general, supernatural blood, etc....no I have never kept caitiff chained up with bad blood being forced in and weak vitae being drawn out in order to trade for other favors...nor did he have enough on hand to survive gehenna..okay that is exactly what he did with it - plans for giving it to the ventrue members of a conclave were axed.

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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    While in the Cam. the currency of conspiracy is in theory prestation very few ST's pay it much attention .
    Other people's experiences may differ but I have never played in a game where Prestation wasn't a vital part of Kindred society.
    Last edited by comicshorse; 2020-12-28 at 07:44 PM.
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    Oh it is almost always there...but it rarely seems to actually have any detail, it tends (IME) to be very handwavy or glossed over. . . As opposed to the more concrete idea of werewolf reputation etc. It kinda gets treated like V's familiar *poof*ing in only when the plot requires it and then promptly disappearing again.

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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    The idea of prestation is fairly strong in the fluff, but there's absolutely no in-game system for how it should work, which means that in order for players to engage in it they have to trust the GM to not play favorites or screw them over unfairly and they're vulnerable to abuse by players who are simply better at fast-talking mother-may-I approaches than others (a problem that is endemic to TTRPG gameplay as a whole). This is a problem for many games, but it's particularly tricky in Vampire where the default assumption is that no one is acting in good faith and everyone hates everyone else. Which means Prestation is valid only insofar as another character can't get away with screwing you over, which in many cases means it has no value at all. This is highly appropriate for a criminal conspiracy, but it can be extremely unfun because it essentially means the game, much like life within an actual criminal conspiracy, is inherently unfair and it's extremely vulnerable to abuse because the GM has basically infinite capacity to bend said unfairness according to their whims.

    An actual mechanic to govern favor trading would make a big difference in the viability of prestation in gameplay. Even one that's not especially good would probably be better, for great many groups, than not having one at all. Eclipse Phase has a favor-based mechanical system for it's 'Rep economies' and I suggest that porting a system of that nature over to a Vampire game would be very beneficial.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by comicshorse View Post
    Other people's experiences may differ but I have never played in a game where Prestation wasn't a vital part of Kindred society.
    Agreed. It's a major and vital part of the game, and ignoring it is a foreign concept.
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    As the kind of player who looks for ways to use the prestation system to gain an advantage in play I have generally found very few ST's have much of idea of the system beyond the plot hammer aspects that come up as plot drivers/quest giving.

    Like trying to do research on who owes what to whom, how trustworthy are various characters etc. most debts are to be paid of in the same story if not same chapter...they rarely hang. The harpies are rarely able to be called on to check the abuse of the system...when logically they gain most of their power from mostly playing because if the prestation system starts to be distrusted they loose all of their power as the watchers and recorders of it. Or when I start looking to do favors to build up prestation to use later...I get a blank look.

    This is what I mean by handwavy...Its there, mostly in the background and often alluded to but when engaged with is like a mirage unless the ST is quick on their feet and has a good idea of the politics of the city...which does happen but is rare. The ST has to make up what is going on from the fluff...which if they are good enough really works (and doing this for VtM I think has made me a better GM in general for all games) but mostly doesn't. And I can't even say I consider it huge deal...It's a handywavy aspect I can live with but shows a place where the very cool fluff is hard for an ST to support in play.

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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    The idea of prestation is fairly strong in the fluff, but there's absolutely no in-game system for how it should work, which means that in order for players to engage in it they have to trust the GM to not play favorites or screw them over unfairly.
    Well yes but if you have have a GM who does that then no great rules or fluff is going to save the game. You're just screwed

    and they're vulnerable to abuse by players who are simply better at fast-talking mother-may-I approaches than others
    If you think its bad in Vampire you should try early Mage. Where you're ability to bull**** the GM literally establishes what power level you are operating on

    Posted by Skartq
    Oh it is almost always there...but it rarely seems to actually have any detail, it tends (IME) to be very handwavy or glossed over. . . As opposed to the more concrete idea of werewolf reputation etc. It kinda gets treated like V's familiar *poof*ing in only when the plot requires it and then promptly disappearing again
    .

    Again that is most definitely not my experience
    Last edited by comicshorse; 2020-12-29 at 06:04 AM.
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    No mechanics can force a GM to do anything. GMs can always do anything they want. If the dice say something that GMs don't like, they can make it happen as the mechanics say, but then handwave away any consequence right after that. Or just decide that they don't use the mechanic in their game. Or say the dice came up different than they did.

    There are plenty of games that do such things these days, but I think if the players don't trust the GM, the campaign is already past salvaging. The assumption that the GM is working with the players to provide them an enjoyable game is the very foundation of all RPGs. A GM that need to be reined in is a lost cause, and mechanics don't help at all.

    How to use favors and the intended structures for vampire politics is not sufficiently explained. RPGs certainly need to teach how the game is meant to be run. Which almost none of them do. Which is what I've been crusading for for years.
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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Gamelines struggle with putting out published linear Adventures that don't manacle parties to someone's precious authorial vision, let alone give good advice on different campaign-styles best practices. I don't hold new GMs too much to a higher standard starting out. This ttrpg thing is still a very new game concept (arguably 1960s to 1970s in its recognizable Ur-form), so there is a lot of art and received best practices involved in its production.

    As for this topic I don't want to scare away the OP or any others who are curious.

    I will say the Coterie is a blessing to new GMs. The mission-based structure with freeform political sandbox between missions helps ground an otherwise 'frighteniningly' loose structure. People innately get playground "reindeer games" and its unpleasant complications thereafter. Adding a similar-aged cadre to survive the politics of cliques helps make the experience palatable -- barring circular firing squad PvP pathology.

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    Default Re: Question About Starting Vampire: The Masquerade

    Quote Originally Posted by comicshorse View Post
    If you think its bad in Vampire you should try early Mage. Where you're ability to bull**** the GM literally establishes what power level you are operating on

    Posted by Skartq
    .

    Again that is most definitely not my experience
    That's fair. I've had a wide variety of experience with it. From great to totally ignored. Good ST's have done wonders with the idea but they had to do the work to set up things themselves...bad ST's were always going to have problems with it and ignore/use it as a bad quest hammer only...but it is the muddy middle that I really take umbrage with and why I think it is a setting issue...people who are normally pretty good GM's in other setting had issues with this.
    I think for a couple of reasons. Firstly most TTRPG tend to not be a socially focused or politically focused as VtM fluff claims to be...and so there is more familiarity with "combat rules", "stealth and movement" rules etc than social standing and bonds etc between PC's and NPC's etc. So there is just not that mental to-do list that helps keep that function running well.
    Also it has tended to be a problem for ST's who get more wrapped up in the lore at scale than the city they are playing in. Correlations isn't perfect but was a trend I noticed. And I get it-it is hard to run the very personal politics and very large scale shadow conflict at the same time.
    This is one of those things I think led to my earlier comments of things like the systems sensitivity to ST skill, ST work involvement (both in prep time and wide knowledge), weird mismatch of support to expectations, that the overall meta-lore tends to get in the way of the table play and story construction if not carefully watched.

    Honestly my single most useful suggestion is put in a "boons payable" and "boons receivable" in whatever little NPC writeup the ST does for their dramatis personae for a setting/story etc. The fact it is isn't on the character sheet I think puts it in an out-of-sight-out-of-mind situation.

    Spoiler: more semi-ignore things
    Show

    Somewhat in the same vein the Status merit is often similarly ignored. Not on purpose IME but often is none the less. Heck I'm pretty sure even the examples of use in the book forget to use it even if the parties involved should have the status merit due to their listed titles. So I get how that happens...but it can really shift things odds wise quite a lot and when used does tend to get players to act much more .... "proper"...to high ranking individuals. (sure they back stab them later but that's in perfect keeping with the setting or their make efforts to set themselves up with a ton of advantages ahead of time to level to playing field which again it wonderfully appropriate)...Do I think it a huge deal? nope. But it something I recommend new ST's keep an eye on as it is easy to drop it in the hurly burly of the table and it can be useful tool in building the setting verisimilitude.

    Similarly glossed over? also how freakish elder Gangrel would be. Make any Nossie seem like a toreador. I mean think about it....even if a vampire frenzied once ever three years on average a 300 year old vampire would have 100 animal traits. And a 300 year old elder isn't exactly unknown in many cities in the WoD-almost to be expected in many people's games. Even ignoring the fact means basically all their social traits are gone just what would they LOOK like? maybe the very weirdest Fiends would be weirder but I'd guess on average the Gangrel would have them beat...there just wouldn't be enough human left to recognize. How they play politics? eh? they basically turn into an individualized horror monster in the woods. ManBearPig, mothman, etc....just without obfuscate (assuming country Gangrel) and big claws....Now do I think most people's choice to keep most elder Gangrel still semi-human to be one that helps the stories and probably the fun of the game? Yup...but it is one of those changes that seem to pop up again and again without it really being a thought out houserule or the like. Also such massive and obvious degeneration would have a major effect on clan structure and mentality...would probably THE defining pillar of mentality as they got older...I mean they get far worse than Nosferatu at being social over time and that is pretty core to the Nossies.

    Now it isn't just a WoD thing...the application of feudalism to many D&D worlds is not very complete or logical either and just as often ignored except in a window dressing way.


    and as for Early Mage....or even late mage... Yeah that was just so bad I couldn't play. Breaking the world by lawyering physics and thus second/third order consequences could be somewhat entertaining though.

    I Kinda want to say STing WoD vs some other systems is kinda like driving a 1990's Porsche vs 1990's Toyota Camry. If you have the skills and put the effort into it the Porsche will give you amazing results but if you are not used to driving a manual gearbox with a heavy, stiff clutch you'll spend so much time crawling or stalled that the Camry will be faster.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2020-12-29 at 05:21 PM.

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