Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ten reasons the old World of Darkness sucked.

I have been playing in White Wolf's World of Darkness for almost 20 years, I was amazed at the complex mythology and Gothic-horror aesthetics, we played Saturday after Saturday and spent hours upon hours debating the finer minutiae of the philosophical implications.

It was until the release of the New World of Darkness and the added perspective of the passing of the years that now, in hindsight, I can finally see the not-so-finer points for what they are. Utter crap.

10) The Daughters of Cacophony and other useless and idiotic bloodlines.

DeviantArt, what would I do without you?
Back in the Vampire Player's Guide, three bloodlines were provided as an example of how Storytellers were encouraged to create their own to add mystery and give a flavor of exoticism, the Salubri, meant to add a previously unexplained hole in the mythology, the Samedi, meant to explore vampires around a putrefaction motif and The aforementioned Daughters of Cacophony, built around their discipline, Melpominee, based on voice powers.

Back from the beginning they were meant to be just examples, as lots of emphasis was placed on the mystery aspect of the game, Montreal by Night introduced Hengyeyokai and Gaki as examples of mysterious creatures from distant lands but no backstory was given, so players would always be on their guard, as the night was a scary and unknown place.

As years passed and more and more supplements were published, that mystery diluted in an ocean of information. All of the sudden troupes and storytellers had more info to sink their metaphorical teeth in, supplements as the much vilified Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand gave us the Nagaraja (flesh eating vampires with necromantic powers) and the True Brujah (a former clan of emotionless masters of time, whose backstory retconned the fact that The Brujah were a legitimate clan of Caine). Said bloodlines had that "Monster of the Week" flavor, that usually meant that when a new supplement was published a player or a storyteller would feel the utter necessity to use the information contained therein, that usually provided an unrevealed clue, but more often, show that there was nothing planned and authors usually did not check with each other on the metaplot.

The Daughters of Cacophony and the rest of the bloodlines lack exactly what the original seven clans had, a foot in Vampire myth. You could exemplify the original seven with movies (Brujah with The Lost Boys, Ventrue and Toreador with Interview with a Vampire...) Bloodlines just didn't feel like vampires at all, just creatures with a cool power.

9) The Malkavian were just an excuse for players to act retarded.
Who's the Malkavian in the picture? The guy being tortured or the girl with the bloody brush and impractical pose?

The concept of the Malkavian clan is pretty awesome, vampires who are insane, not Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted crazy, but homicidal maniac axe-wielding crazy, monsters with a very elaborate and incomprehensible method in their madness, truly the predator that would kill you just because the voice in her head happened to speak when you were on your way to the Succubus' Club. In theory they make for great assets in their game, if the Storyteller played one you would never know how to react, that level of uncertainty and danger added a great unpredictable atmosphere to the game.

Sadly, there was simply no guide for players on how to act upon this madness, and they relied on Hollywood stereotypes that quickly deformed into just plain shenanigans and pranks all around.

Instead of helping, the supplements made it worse, the introduction of the Discipline Dementation in the First Edition Player's Guide to the Sabbat made not only possible for the Malkavian player to act all crazy, but turn others crazy as well. the 3rd Edition Corebook made Dementation the defacto clan discipline, nonetheless, and Clanbook: Malkavian, sometimes illustrated with crayons and full of non-sequitur humor made this madness the OFFICIAL way of playing a Malkavian.

A mediocre Malkavian player usually mean that the carefully planned atmosphere would just go away at that player's whim, nothing would stop her from applying her Dementation powers to every Non-Player Character, ruining the storyteller's plans.

8) Kindred of the East is simply impossible to play.
We are Chinese even if you don't please.
Every game had special energy to use and a negative trait, while Vampire had generation, blood pool and Humanity,  Kindred of the East had Yin Chi, Yang Chi, Hun, P'o and Demon Chi, you were supposed to act out when you had more Yin Chi by being detached and cold and when you had more Yang Chi by being emotional and angry, and the P'o aspect was something like the beast but with a voice that plotted against you, the Hun was the higher soul, and somehow, in addition to interacting with others, you had to act out this inner struggle.

The supplements didn't help at all, the corebook made the Dharmas (the "clans", but more like paths of enlightenment) look like some pseudoeastern new-agey spirituality bullcrap, while some art made it look like a John Woo action movie while other made it look like anime. The fact that Eastern Culture is virtually unknown and misunderstood by all but enthusiasts and scholars made that players were acting insultingly inaccurate Asian people. The Supplement Blood and Silk, (Kindred of the East Dark Ages) while delightful to read, was a challenge to play unless you happened to be knowledgeable in the subject or a historian.

7)Weaknesses that weren't.
Bad Photoshop is not a weakness, but it should be.

Lasombra don't reflect in mirrors and don't appear in surveillance equipment and can't be photographed. No, that's not a superpower, that was supposed to be their weakness. Weaknesses were supposed to add a frailty to the character, something that reminded the character of the curse of Caine. In real gameplay, they were either underplayed, ignored o used as an excuse to annoy a particular player. Tremere really didn't have any weakness, just be careful when they were around their elders and they lived in Vienna, Brujah were quick to frenzy but that never really bothered anyone, Giovanni dealt double damage with their bites but as utter inhuman monsters they couldn't care less.

Usually this meant that the newbie who chose a Ventrue would be in the receiving end of the stick, as the prey exclusion weakness is one of the few that really impair the character.

6) Both Vampire: The Masquerade and Demon: The Fallen implied that Christianity is true and all other religious worldviews wrong.

Even though Leviathan is a sea creature. #fail
As Mage: The Ascension is a postmodernist wet dream where all paradigms and origin myths happened, the opposite is true for Vampire: The Masquerade, the first game had a Gothic romance quality to it, vampires are cursed by God and are the progeny of Caine, who slew his brother out of love, not jealousy, and since then he has been damned to drink blood and eat ashes. That makes for great stories with a unique feel, a post-Byronian antiheroica.

However, when the following gamelines appeared and tried to cram everything in a shared universe this idea appeared more and more ludicrous, how does the biblical story of Caine match with the Wyld-Weaver-Wyrm cosmology? With the the postmodern porn of Mage: The Ascension?
The mystery aspect of Vampire is somehow diluted when there are ancient vampires crawling around, talking about elders who lived in the City of Nod and who personally met the Children of Caine, everything is worse when Caine himself appears in the Gehenna supplement, and every story addresses that story as true.

Only two supplements, Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom and Clanbook: Followers of Set Revised, offers an alternative creation myth, but it's quickly dismissed as an alternative interpretation of the same. Part of the appeal of Demon: The Fallen is that the player characters were actually there when everything was created by the God of Abraham. If we have beings who have actual evidence of the seven days of creation and who can corroborate all the stories in the Bible, why are there non-Abrahmic religions? The in-universe explanations are naïve and shortsighted at best, even worse, there shouldn't be non-Christian vampires.

This faux-pas were one of the first things that Vampire:The Requiem set right, no generations tracing back to Caine and there are different sects with wildly different creation myths who do not see eye-to-eye, restoring a sense of mystery to the atmosphere. The Masquerade is Christian, the Requiem is Agnostic.




5) Coming to think of it, The Technocracy was right all the time in Mage: The Ascension
Now with 20% more straps

Mage: The Ascension has the best magic system ever. Period. No bulky spellbooks, no components for rituals, basically, you had your particular flavor of magic, your preferred focus, your paradigm. The cosmology was really interesting and it predated The Matrix for many years, basically, you shaped reality and reality had a tendency to dislike being shaped, hence the backlash called Paradox.

The traditions each had a very distinct flavor and any player could easily get the feel of how tradition specific paradigms worked, not only spell based magic and conjuring from the Order or Hermes or martial arts and eastern mysticism from the Akashic Brotherhood, but mad science fiction contraptions from the Sons of Aether and virtual reality and cyberspace from the Virtual Adepts, magic was an easy comcept to grasp and a wonderland to explore and master.

Enter the designated villains, the Technocracy; who had a static and cold vision on how Reality should be shaped, no room for the old magic and conjuring. Basically, they wanted to exterminate all fantasy and superstition from the world.

Then again, why is that a bad thing? The message in the first two editions of Mage seemed to embrace superstition and magical thinking as more valid than science and critical thinking, the basic premise, that reality depends on observation and is formed by a consensus, is postmodernist bullcrap, how can two persons which worldviews are radically different be able to work together? Later editions entered conflict between traditions, but that only exacerbates the problem. It takes a lot of cognitive dissonance to work with someone who heals through the now debunked model of humor imbalance while you believe that sickness is caused by the sins of the flesh, at least the Technocratic Union had a unified and non conflicting worldview.

The Technocracy had the cyborgs (Iteration X), the bionic implants, the clones (Progenitors), the holograms and the mind enhancing drugs (NWO) finance and money (The Syndicate), but most important of all, the spaceships!!! (Void Engineers), why did the alleged villains have all the cool stuff while the traditions had herbs and dancing?

Later supplements appointed the Technocracy as the ones who defended reality against the Nephandi (Devil worshipping mages) and Marauders (chaotic deranged mages) and little by little they began portraying them in a positive light, culminating in Technocracy: A Player's Guide, and in Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade, the Fathers of the Technocratic Union; The Order of Reason, was portrayed not only positively, but as heroic in their own right.



4) This Guy
Guess my decade!!!


"Crossover" characters are the wet cream of power players, the ones who play not to tell a story, but to win points like in a  videogame. The same old story, in D&D you could go into the forest to slay squirrels and get experience points in order to level up and get more spells.

It was the supplement Under a Blood Red Moon for Werewolf: The Apocalypse that introduced the concept of Abominations; vampire werewolves. In such supplement they were meant to instill a sense of dread and tragedy, they are even described as forever alone.



The same supplement discourages players from creating one, albeit powerful they have the worst of both worlds. they cannot regenerate (this is the first thing that power players choose to ignore), can't regain gnosis, are attacked on sight by spirits, cannot learn new gifts and are hopelessly blood bound to sadistic and deranged masters.

Enter The Chaos Factor , a supplement for Mage: The Ascension with an epic scope. a crossover blockbuster that introduced a new and powerful villain that would prove to be a challenge to all the published games, a villain that would join vampires, mages and werewolves together, Samuel Haight, a very powerful ghoul with vampire powers, werewolf powers and access to both sorcery and true magic. Not only did he have none of the disadvantages of abominations, but none of the weaknesses. The real issue was that all the themes and moods of the original games were subverted for a shoot 'em up scenario, no introspection, no personal horror, just search and destroy.

This was said about him in the White Wolf forums;

In short, he is the written representation of almost everything wrong with
the bad gamers out there that make the hobby so painful for us on
occasion. He is one man, who wanted every 'kwel powerz' he could get,
for no other reason than his misanthropic desire for revenge against a
society for no other reason than they were not the society he wanted.
---Operations

The attempt to create a memorable villain resulted in a failed experiment, crossovers rob the charm of the individual lines rather than enrich them and scenarios such as this, while tangentially appropriate for Werewolf: The Apocalypse seemed strange and forced in the other lines.

You simply cannot have a game for mature players that indulges in teenage angst-ridden Liefieldian fantasies.

3) Werewolf: The Apocalypse is basically a caricature of both environmentalists and religious fundamentalists.
Level 2 Ragabash gift: Floating glasses

Werewolf: The Apocalypse was a very unfortunate follow-up to Vampire:The Masquerade, while the whole personal horror embodied by the phrase Monsters we are, lest monsters we become made possible for tales of shades of grey morality and question what being human is, W:tA lived in a comic-book moral-absolutist Manichean if you are not with me you are against me world, there were card-carrying bad guys, an invisible force of corruption that tainted the world of man; the Wyrm, who not only had deformed monstruous lackeys like the Fomori and the fallen tribe The Black Spiral Dancers, but also human agents from Pentex International, a multinational corporation built upon the worst assumptions of environmentalists.

Players were champions of Mother Earth; Gaia, the wet dream of Greenpeace, PETA and extreme environmentalist ecoterrorist groups, who were severely overpowered compared to other denizens of the World of Darkness. The values upheld by players were of communion with creatures of the Wyld, animal totems and an amalgam of several native spiritual  myths.

To play Werewolf is basically to play someone who sees corruption in the world of man and protects Mother Earth, who fights the metaphorical tooth and claw to get rid of such evil, that is what it has in common with fundamentalists, they would love to go around the world simply destroying corruption in order to lead into salvation. Religious zealots see the Devil everywhere just as werewolves see the Wyrm everywhere (The supplement Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth would even divide The Black Spiral, the incarnation of the Wyrm, into nine circles just like the Dantean Hell).


2) Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand


The Tzimisce discipline of Vicissitude, basically flesh-crafting, is a mutant dimensional virus from outer space that transforms vampires into Gigerean monstrosities.

No, really.

Conspiracy theories make for very fun fictional worlds and engaging games, the puppeteer in the shadows, the power behind the power, that is the true spirit of the masquerade, intrigue, backstabbing, carpe noctem, Anne Ricean romance.

But this book quickly spirals into aluminum foil, Lady Gaga Illuminati, reptilians from Jupiter, antifluoridation madness within the first pages. This is all about the Black Hand, no, not the internal affair secret police of the Sabbat, but the Talma'hera, a super secret stake-my-heart-and-hope-to-die society who secretly controls those who believe that secretly control the world.



Where to begin? They are ancient, they live in a castle only accessible trough dimensional travel, they have members within every vampiric society, they fight alien monsters... Suddenly this doesn't feel like Vampire at all. and the new bloodlines, the "True" Brujah, yes, because the Brujah we came to love from the originals are now impostors, surprise! and they have this ultra l33t power, actually, they have the sphere of Time, yes, they have true magic and do not suffer paradox backlash, why, their lvl. 3 discipline allows them to accelerate and slow time, yes, they can move a superspeed and make others as slow as drying paint. The Old Clan Tzimisce are bland and boring and the Nagaraja are nothing special, they can see ghosts and their weakness is that they must eat raw meat. Meh.

And how can I forget, the book includes systems to make an elder vampire with 10 discipline powers instead of the usual 3. This book is plot cancer, if you introduce the ideas put inside your chronicle will quickly degenerate into some über-powered dark fantasy and there is no chance it can go back ever again.

1) Mummy, the Resurrection.



Little known fact: The second supernatural creature to be playable in the Classic World of Darkness wasn't Werewolf, it was Mummy.
If you enter the mindset of the original Gothic Anne-Rice inspired atmosphere werewolves feel unnatural and crude compared to the sheer elegance of ancient creatures of the night. Anne Rice already touched the Egyptian myths in Queen of the Damned, why not go back to her for additional inspiration?

The Mummy in the Anne Rice novel is an immortal who is also bound by powerful passions, who has seen empires rise and fall. It is also damned, not in the same way as a vampire, but in its own unique way.

However, there was only one Mummy novel, and as well, there have only been four Mummy sourcebooks, Mummy; First Edition, World of Darkness: Mummy Second Edition, Mummy: The Resurrection (3rd Ed.) and Mummy: The Resurrection Player's Guide. The first three are attempts to make it work. The third edition gained new life because of the 1999 Universal movie, but there the Mummy was the antagonist and it had more in common with H. Rider Haggard's adventure novels than with Anne Rice.

The real problem was that, mechanicallu, it was just too cumbersome, Second edition introduces three new virtues: Memory, Integrity and Joy and three new traits, Sekhem, the "magic reservoir" trait, Ba the "vitality" and Ka, the "not really sure but it has to do with Egyptian cosmovision"trait. Just as Kindred of the East, Mummy demands knowledge on how the Ancient Egyptians conceived death and the soul, traits were either too vague and difficult to track.

The Mummy The Resurrection Player's Guide introduced, at long last, the Incan and Chinese mummies, however, the difference between Intimallki and Pachamallki wasn't as clear, the Wu Fen and Xian Lung  are bland and uninteresting. A mistake pretty prevalent in supplements that try to detail an exotic culture is paint an oversimplified picture that fails to grasp the complexities and relies too heavily in pop culture stereotypes. However there had been supplements that do it marvelously; Veil of Night, for Vampire: The Dark Ages, gives a detailed and complex view of the Kindred of the Medieval Islamic World, while preserving an air of exoticism and mystery and escaping from half chewed Arabian Nights references.

Mummy has a fatal flaw, it's simply not sexy enough, while the rest of the lines provide great opportunity for drama and action Mummies are simply not damaged enough, the don't suffer enough, they can't be emo the same way as vampires or demons, the theme of immortality is better explored in Vampire: The Masquerade, ancient mysteries are explored endlessly in Mage: The Ascension. At the end of the day mummies are neither Byronic nor Wagnerian.

White Wolf has announced a New World of Darkness version of Mummy to be released in August 2012, let's see if the fourth iteration is the one to hit gold.

Coming soon: The 10 Best oWoD supplements.


9 comments:

  1. Yeah, I disagree.

    A quick glance at your text makes me see that you're really talking about 10 reasons _your_ oWOD chronicles sucked.

    10: Not every bloodline was a good idea. At least, not as PCs. Some bloodlines were just added as colorful NPCs (Kiasyd, anyone?), villains (Baali) or mooks (Blood Brothers, Gargoyles). Even their own write-ups admitted that fact (if you still own the books, you can see it for yourself). Nobody is defending utter nonsense like, say, the Gangrel Aquarii. However, that's a far cry from saying that ALL the bloodlines were "stupid", "useless" or that they didn't "feel" as real vampires. It's hard to imagine a more Ann Rice vampire than a Daughter of Cacophony. And there's a ton of folkloric vampires or vampire-like creatures that don't fit the Brahm Stocker archetype. True, some of those could easily be Gangrels or Nosferatu or what-have-you, but weren't you talking about liking mysterious strangers that hinted at the existence of a larger, undiscovered World of Darkness? In any case, bloodlines were supposed to be _rare_ There was supposed to be only 7 Salubris at any given moment. You could only find Gargoyles in the largest of Tremere chantries ("free" Gargoyles were just a small handful of exceptions to that rule). There was but a few surviving Harbingers of Skulls left. If you had more than a couple of bloodline characters in your chronicle, you were misusing them

    9: This isn't you complaining about the Malkavian clan, this is you complaining about your players. Disruptive players will take a dump on your gaming session no matter what their choice of vampire clan is. And blaming the clanbook's _art_ for the failure of your chronicles is beneath a man of your age.

    8: That game is quite playable. I have fond memories of KotE. You were just addressing the issue backwards. First you create the character's personality, _then_ you back up that personality with game mechanics. If you envision your character as a hot-headed but likable Thrashing Dragon, crank up his Yang trait, and make sure he feeds on yang chi. Increase his Hun if you want to play a guy that knows when is wise to stop self-indulging, and keep his P'o trait low to keep him manageable. Suddenly, _you_ are the one who decides who your character is, not the numbers. Yeah, the GM can throw you a curve ball now and then "All the addicts in the crack house are equally languid and sluggish. If you wanna feed, you'll have to feast on cold yin chi", but even so, a well-made character shouldn't have problems.

    7: You're forgetting that Lasombras were extra vulnerable to sunlight (1 extra level of aggravated damage per turn of contact), and their inability to appear in mirrors, photographs or video was a liability when they didn't want humans or Camarilla vampires to know who they were. And good luck trying to tell others that you weren't a Sabbat spy, whether you were a Lasombra Antitribu or an Anarch... or a Sabbat spy. Now, dismissing clan Tremere's weakness means bad GMing, plain and simple. Back when I played V:TM, nobody wanted to play a Tremere because nobody wanted to be some NPC's errand boy on a short leash. The same could be said for the Giovanni clan curse (which wasn't much of an edge in combat, since it only applied when biting mortals) A good GM should be able to make this curse a very serious one (feeding often meant killing and disposing of bodies; there was definitely no "feeding while making out" routine for the Giovanni) And, again, it's the gaming group who enables bad players, not the books (and certainly not clan Brujah).

    (to be continued)

    ReplyDelete
  2. (continues)

    6: One thing many players never got is that White Wolf never required you to buy every single game in the oWOD. They assumed you were going to pick up a couple of games from their catalog (typically, one or two of the Big Three, and maybe one from the "lesser" lines, or from the Trinity universe). That way of thinking lead them to design games that were self-contained universes that shared a common stage. However, said stage was interpreted in each game's terms. Thematically, it made sense. Werewolves, for instance, are pagan creatures. They're metaphoric representations of mankind's base urges and reminders of primal totemism, of people who simulated to be animals by donning their pelts. Classic movie werewolves were products of a gypsy curse. Christianity _shouldn't_ have prominence in a story about pagan creatures in which humanity isn't more important than any other species in the planet. Mage's whole deal is that everything is possible, so Christianity is both right and wrong there, depending on who you're asking. You could make a similar case for Changeling: TD (the fae are pagan beings, too, much older than even early Christianism, so there's little space for JC there).

    Anyway, you seem to have a lot of misconceptions. Frankly, it's like you hadn't read the books yourself and instead you relied on someone else's synopsis. Gehenna (the game sourcebook, not the novel) doesn't have an ending... it has four, and none of those is "the real one" (Caine doesn't even appear in all of them). And Caine's 3 appearances in Gehenna means absolutely _nothing_ in Apocalypse's 4 endings or in Ascension's 5 endings (nor does it matter in Time of Judgement).

    5: As I stated earlier, Mage was about everything being possible. The Technocracy were villains because they tried to change that. True, A Guide to the Technocracy made them much more sympathetic, but they were still misguided. Heck, their low-level echelons _had_ to be lied to about the malleable nature of reality until they were properly indoctrinated: "Nonsense, agent. There's no such thing as a 'spirit'. This is clearly an extradimensional intelligence that can manipulate an unknown kind of forcefield"

    4: Haight. Now that's a hit below the belt. However, you must realize that there wasn't just one oWOD. It saw three incarnations that were made by three different writing teams. Haight, and stuff like him (the Midnight Circus, for instance), couldn't possibly exist outside of a certain era. People who liked Haight's era are the ones that screamed and howled in outrage when the revised era bulldozed over -most of- their favorite stuff. How can you say Samuel Haight is a reason for disliking _everything_ about the whole oWOD?

    (to be continue)

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  3. (continues)

    3: Let's get something straight right off the bat: Playing a game isn't going to save the environment. Playing a game (printed on dead trees) that requires pencils and paper sheets (also made out of dead trees) and that relies on plastic dice (produced by the totally non eco-friendly plastic industry) it's actually being part of the problem.

    Having said that, I can't say there's anything "unfortunate" about Werewolf: TA.

    Each game line in the oWOD had some sort of moral lesson to teach us: Vampire showed us that it's our actions what defined us as humans or monsters. Mage told us that our reality is what we make of it, and so on. Werewolf showed us that the Earth is dying and it asked us "When will you Rage?" "When are you going to get off your flabby butt and do something about it"? Is that unfortunate? Why?

    And, again, it really sounds like you didn't actually read the books. You can certainly have shades of gray in Werewolf. Any WOD title you'll name can be about intrigue and moral ambiguity, and that same game can also be a mere escapist power fantasy about curb stomping "bad guys". In Werewolf, homids were forced to leave all human contact behind, especially during full moons, because they became too dangerous for innocent strangers. And yet, they were expected to breed (Black Furies were particularly devoted to motherhood). Werewolves were not permitted to mate with each other, so their drama was an integral part of the game. And any GM worth his salt could turn a skirmish with lumberjacks, cops or security guards into a dramatic situation, simply by refusing to portray them as expendable mooks. Even fomori and Black Spiral Dancers could be more than just walking gazpacho ingredients. A formor that isn't completely possessed by the Bane that gives him the power of vomiting hot radioactive sewage (or one that used to be the daughter of one of the player characters) is bound to start a debate among the PCs "I don't care about the Litany. No one is going to lay a hand on my kid!"

    Yes, W: TA was a game about huge musclebound killing machines that fought the depredations of an evil conglomerate and the otherworldly horror that said conglomerate served. It was also a game about fighting a war you could not hope to win, but that you could also not afford to ignore. It was a game about a dying breed of monsters that were supposed to fight for a world that had no place for them. It all depended on the troupe that played it.

    And by the way, if you know a way to portray Shell, BP, United Fruit Company, Nestlé, Nike, Monsanto et al on a positive light, please let me know.

    (to be concluded)

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  4. (concludes)

    2: Yeah, that's probably the worst supplement of the oWOD. I did liked it's notion of uncertainty, though. No the way the developed that notion, mind you, only the concept. What we think we knew about the Antediluvians and the Jihad _could_ be wrong. After all, vampires _were_ master liars and deceivers. I'm also not entirely against the idea of kewl powerz being more than they seem. In Gehenna, some Antediluvians transcended their immortal coils and became the embodiment of their respective clans's Discipline/path of enlightenment (Malkav became a being of pure madness that invaded minds, Lasombra became one with the Abyss and thus, he became darkness/Obtenebration itself, Tzimisce became a self-aware cancer that infected and twisted living beings, and so on) How's that for horror? So, as you can see, even a turd like DsotBH could have a grain of useful ideas. Still, I'm _very_ happy I didn't wasted a red cent on it.

    1: Listen, I'm not some sort of privileged individual. I have average intelligence. That's why I resist to believe that a game I had no problem playing was so "cumbersome", "vague" and "difficult" for you. After all, Mummy didn't required you to be a major Egyptologist in order to play; all the preparation needed was to actually read the corebook. For instance, reading Mummy: TR would have allowed you to know that the Capacocha and the Wu T' ian were already introduced in there, albeit as lesser mummies. The Player's Guide did fleshed them out more, and permitted them to be considered "real" mummies with exotic traits and idiosyncrasies, but the were a part of Mummy: TR since it's revision.

    As for Mummy's appeal, I think there's a difference between Mummy the sourcebook and Mummy the game. As a sourcebook, WOD: Mummy certainly wasn't more appealing than, say, Demon Hunter X, or Ghouls, FA. Mummy: TR was another thing entirely. One would think that you, of all people, should have appreciated the refreshing change from the usual cooky Malkavians and game-busting Abominations you resented so much. I, for one, was instantly attracted to a game about playing _heroes_ in the WOD.

    Not fanatical vampire hunters that payed evil unto evil. Not magic workers that helped people when it suited them. Not inhuman fae that had their own lives in make-believe worlds and only walked among humans to feed off their imagination. Not traumatized survivors from a George Romero zombie apocalypse that could be as dangerous as the monsters they hunted.

    Heroes. A game about sad screw-ups that died and got a second chance for making things right.

    That's something none of the other oWOD lines had.

    As for a nWOD version of Mummy, it would seem redundant. They already have Promethean, WOD: Immortals and Geist

    Well, that all.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Baltazar;

    First of all thank you very fondly for taking the time for such a detailed and passionate response, it was a real pleasure to read.

    Now I must address your concerns, the text was a way for me to summarize and examine all the things that potentially could go wrong in a chronicle in order to find a way to avoid them, every serious roleplayer I know has a real fondness of a fellow Malkav who created such a memorable character with such depth and charisma that stood out of the rest.

    I really liked what you said about KoE, working your way backwards, I propose an exercise, thing about a Kueijin based on Monkey D. Luffy, sometimes airheaded, quite infantile, but with a great capacity to focus his strength, determination and undying loyalty for his friends, how would you detail it?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I actually had to Google Monkey D. Luffy to know who were you talking about. How sad am I?

    Now, first things first. It's very hard to transform a young rubbery pirate hero from an upbeat shounen manga into an undead bloodsucker living in a gritty World of Darkness (something is bound to be lost in translation). Having said that...

    Choosing a Dharma is step one. Based on your description, I can surmise that you don't want a Resplendent Crane (too cold and merciless), a Devil Tiger (too monstrous) nor a Song of the Shadow (too somber and alien). A Thousand Whispers is also out of the question, given their fondness for killing the mortals they became attached with during their tenure as the identity they're about to "kill off". That leaves us with the Thrashing Dragons, which might do the trick, given their lust for life and adventure, but the handbook describes them as "messy and vulgar", always indulging in "wild feasts and orgies". That isn't in line with the "air headed, infantile and loyal" character you proposed.

    The closest Dharma I can think of it's one the heretical Dharmas from the Storyteller Companion: The Flame of the Rising Phoenix. They treasure life, humanity and joy, and they seek to control their inner demon, so they'll do better than the Dragons.

    Next step is easy. Nature: Bravo. Demeanor: Child. P'o: The Fool.

    Next, we want a guy as alive as possible, so we'll beef his Yang trait to 4. We'll leave his Yin trait at 2. It would be ideal to leave Monkey's Yin at 1, but we'll spend one more point in order to avoid the mandatory Derangement for permanent Chi imbalance. Besides, Yin is used when you roll against fire soul (frenzy), so an extra die can't hurt. Monkey is still Yang attuned, so he will still look alive, he will eat food and even withstand a few minutes of sunlight if he really needs to.

    Next, we'll leave his P'o score at 3 (the required minimum). We'll spend most of our freebies (a whopping total of 12 points) rising his Hun score to 5, and we'll spend one freebie point more to raise his Willpower to 6 (starting Willpower equals starting Hun score, and the sixth dot costs 1 freebie). The remaining point could be spent in any number of ways. Let's rise his Willpower to 7, because you did specified Monkey was determined.

    His Abilities, Attributes and such are not of great importance. You described him as "strong", so his Physical Attributes will be his primary ones. If he's to resemble One Piece's Monkey, he'll probably need to know how to fight (Dodge, Martial Arts and Melee), and maybe a few dots in Athletics and Empathy

    KotE's Disciplines are ill-suited to simulate Monkey's special abilities, but I'll vouch for taking a dot in Black Wind, mainly because it's required to start the game with at least a dot in a Demon Art (and Demon Shintai is clearly unsuited to our purposes). Then, we'll put a dot in Flesh Shintai. We have a character with a power that allows him to move fast and a power that allows him to stretch his limbs (albeit in a gruesome manner). Lastly, Monkey will have a dot in Iron Mountain, a Discipline from the Storyteller's Companion that allows him to soak damage at a decreased difficulty (-1 for the first dot)

    If we must have some extra points for Backgrounds or Abilities, we could pick up a Flaw related to the source character.

    And I think we're ready to play

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  7. Impressive! My first instinct was Flesh Shintai as well! However you have pointed to one of the opportunity areas of the system, in order to create the character you have in mind you have to lawyer up the rules, as you pointed out you had to use rules from the Companion.

    A vital point to have in mind when starting the chronicle is the "feel" of the world, you, as a storyteller, may have the atmosphere and mood of Takashii Miike's films such as Full Metal Yakuza and actually have to bargain with a player, such as me, to reconcile the "manga" mindset I may bring, as I was reading your excellent breakdown it became clear that Luffy was only a starting point, this character would be exciting in the "Killing Streets" campaign, in a more down-to-earth world it may even be a deconstruction of the character, or played straight in the "1000 Hells" as the feel is more epic and designed to face seemingly insurmountable tasks.

    Let me tell you about this weekend's game of Werewolf the Forsaken, My friend and I are playing a solo campaign (as our other friends have had problems to meet with us) His character became, unwittingly, a fool, the player has some sort of non-linear thinking and that has brought lots of problems for the character, we wasted hours and hours on details that weren't important, however it served as a nice buildup, when it hit the fan and the conflict became personal, the aloofness disappeared and we resolved the session in a nice cliffhanger.

    That's my eternal complaint, the rules should help you set the mood and enable you to get to that point where everyone is more worried about the conflict, when rules enable the goofy players to mess up the mood, well... you get the point.

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  8. The Lasombra weakness isn't a weakness?

    Lasombra cannot walk through any modern city, ever, without inciting the entire human population of the world into a crusade that will make the darkest days of the Inquisition look like Disneyland. reflections are everywhere, windows, mirrors, reflective car windows, wingmirrors... cellphone cameras are everywhere.

    that's a pretty big weakness. it's also one of the neatest parts of the metaplot; the reason it exists is because Lasombra was vain, so Caine cursed him to never again see his image. the reason it renders them invisible to cameras is because you can't circumvent the Curse of Caine with a fifteen buck instant camera.

    it's also worth noting that the Malkavians you describe are exactly the way both the core book and the supplements explicitly tell you not to play Malkavians and not to allow Malkavians to be played. i've never had those problems with them.

    as for christianity being true; Caine is not the only lie contained in the Masquerade supplements. I can't speak for Demon, though since it's based on christian myth I imagine it is, you know, Christian ("i was playing a game of Nocturne but i don't understand why they wrote it so that christianity was true, herp derp"), but i've run plenty of Masquerade games in which Christianity isn't true.

    hell, several of the more authoritative supplements about the Caine myth strongly suggest or in one case explicitly claim that "god", the creatrix, and "yahweh", the being who cursed Caine, are not the same. considering your apparent knowledge, it's a bit silly that you never noticed that.

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  9. wow I hope I didnt type all that for nothing *kicks various verification windows*

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