Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Session "0" for Scarlet Vampire

The tools are all in place. Now it is time to begin the game.

Base Game: Vampire: The Masquerade (1st Edition) 
Not familiar with Vampire? Check out the Primer
Story Structure: Scarlet Vampire
Oracle: Mythic
Other Tools: Universal NPC Emulator, Covetous Poet's Adventure Creator, and Everyone, Everywhere

Story Setup
Theme: 3 Conspiracy. Powerful forces are aligning together for nefarious ends. Well, more nefarious than is typical for vampires.

Threat: Physical 2, Social 5, Mental 3.

Narrative Summary:
A Target aspires to advance their business or status but an Antagonist opposes them Draw the Target and choose how they are trying to advance themselves. Either draw the Antagonist immediately or spend an Investigation scene discovering who is causing the obstacles. Scenes revolve either around trying to help the Target’s goal or trying to prevent Antagonist sabotage.
With Vampire, this could mean a number of things. From a neonate Toreador hoping to impress the clan with a new masterpiece, to an up-and-coming Ventrue looking to make their mark. Or it could be a more established vampire, looking to expand their turf or gain an edge on the rival. Really, any number of things, but the fact that there is a "conspiracy" involved tells me that it is something more than run of the mill Kindred politicking.

The setting is relatively blank, and so I have no idea who could possibly be involved. I decide to focus initially on the Target--who is it that is attempting to advance their status, how do they wish to advance, and what could possibly be thwarting them.

I pull out a copy of U.N.E. and decide to roll for the Target, getting the following:
Lively reverend who is much weaker than you and whose motivation is to advise happiness, refine love, and create justice; who speaks of friendly reports and is focused on your antagonist.
This...this is not something I expected. My first thoughts were of schemers and manipulators, not someone who is focused on happiness, love, and justice. Let alone one who is weaker than Hanson. And my initial response was to discount the rolls and start again. But the more I think about it, the more I rather like it. What if the Target was seeking to "advance their status" wasn't some wanna be bad ass, but instead someone seeking to bring the "Light" to vampires? Someone hoping to make their future better. Someone, perhaps, offering a vision of Golconda and the promise of peace for all of Caines children? Such a prophet would be a seen as a threat to certain powerful vampires, though direct action may be unwise.

So, let's find out more about this "Lively Reverend." I already have a basic setup concept in place for the character. Keeping this in mind, I then run quickly through the Random Vampire setup (see an example for how it works here).

This is what I ended up with.  Spending her freebies on Virtues, Willpower, and Humanity.

The remaining issue is her derangement. All Malkavians have one. In 1st Ed Vampire, you can actually gain and lose them pretty easily, but for the Malkavians they have one that is permanent. I roll on the charts in the base book and get the following for Dona.

Moralistic: You believe yourself to be highly moral and virtuous, and insist upon the highest standards of morality. Yet you still have problems with the weakness of your own heart. You are arrogant and demanding that others correct their deficiencies, but tend to ignore your own weaknesses.
Sounds like she is exactly who she appears to be--a decent and good person who is seeking to make the world a little less dark, and help find those who have been lost.

The second step in the setup is "Why is Hanson involved in this plot?"

I had planned on rolling on various questions for Mythic and the like, but I realized I would be fighting against my own initial instinct. So, Hanson is involved for two reasons--the first is her job. She's involved to keep an eye on things and make sure nothing gets out of hand. The second, she finds herself being drawn to Dona's message, despite her best efforts.

The Elders of the City are concerned about this new Kindred, this wandering holy woman. They're leery of anyone carrying on about "redemption," as such thoughts can often turn to rebellion and chaos. But they're also worried about her, specifically. She seems to be legitimate--naive, perhaps, but not a scammer or a liar.  But why is she here, in this city? What is she after? Who encouraged her to be here? Who profits from her presence and what might it bring about? If she's on the level, then who is pulling her strings? And in the mean time, their concern grows, as more vampire begin to join her congregation.

So, Hanson has been keeping an eye on Dona, who she meets with, what she's up to, that sort of thing. In the brief time they've known each other, Hanson has started to feel some cracks in her normal icy exterior. She had resigned herself to her fate as a monster, but now a faint hope is starting to break through.

And that gives me a title for the story--A Lonely Hope

And with that, we're ready to start the actual game!

The Corruption Saga: Prologue

At the end of the Trader (Traitor) Saga, Deirik and Eirik had met their end at the hands of a pack of goblin worg-riders. However, after some time had passed, both the players (and the GM, honestly) expressed desire to play that game again along with a couple other friends who were interested in joining the adventure. So… we decided to apply the concept of a Fate Worse Than Death.

So, rather than die, Deirik and Eirik faced a turn of events so dreadful that they may have been better off staying dead:

Deirik and Eirik were, instead, captured by the goblin worg-riders and taken to the nearby city of Steel Hill. This city is the forge of the Shadow, where most of the vardatches (orcish swords) and plate are made to arm and armor Izrador’s legions. To supply this never-ending effort, massive slave camps are sent into the iron mines of the nearby mountains. Deirik and Eirik were enslaved and put to work for the next 4 years.

During this time in the camp, Deirik and Eirik met up with their kin, Ygvard and Boldulf. Both of whom explained that Torvald the Younger had swept through their homelands with a Shadow army and killed many of their relatives, and enslaved others. If any of them ever make it home, it won’t be the same.

Their moment arose when the snow elves attacked the slavers of Steel Hill to free one of their own, which provided the opportunity the four Men of Mjarn needed to make their own escape and trek South along the Be’neeya river, desparately trying to get home to the family they’d worked so hard, and sacrificed so much, to keep safe ever since they took over for their father.

When they arrived at the Cave of Mjarn, Ygvard and Boldulf waited outside out of respect while Deirik and Eirik went in. There they found the scorched skeletons of their immediate family, all burnt beyond recognition. Deirik and Eirik slowly took in the macabre scene until they heard something further back in the caves. Perhaps someone made it through?! The noise was in the direction of their beloved grandmother’s chamber.

They race back there to discover the body of their grandmother tied to her chair. Torvald the Younger, whom they now call Torvald the Betrayer, had tied their Grandma Rhiann to her chair and allowed her to not only die, but return as Fell. Her undead body was thrashing and flailing to get and eat the living flesh she now had before her.

This scene would burn into the memories of both Deirik and Eirik, as they then had to destroy her body themselves to release whatever was left of her in there.

They then returned to Ygvard and Boldulf outside the cave and decided the two of them, at least, needed to take on new names as they are not only fugitives of Steel Hill, but hated by the Legate who is now in power in their homeland: Torvald the Betrayer. Deirik adopted the name “Heming,” and Eirik became “Stigr.” All four then went to the only person they know is not only still alive, but still has the power and capacity to take them in. Their old “friend” and Legate of Alucard, Lord Krogan.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Fate Worse Than Death

You've spent the past few months prepping for an exciting new game. You've purchased various supplements and adventures. You've carefully crafted NPC's and settings, and have done your best to make an exciting and engaging game. What do you do when everything falls apart? When the dice turn against the players? Or one simple plan turns out to be a disaster? When the entire party faces extinction at the hands of a "Total Party Kill?"

Monday, October 16, 2017

Creating a Random Vampire

Now that we have the basics for creating a random vampire in place, let's see what we can come up with.

Oh, quick note, I did some light touch ups on the random vampire post--cleaned up the tables, and added an "age of death" option.

Step 1 Background
Gender 8 Female
Age of Death 6 Early to Mid Thirties
Cultural Background 8 Natural Born American
Ethnic Background 1 Caucasian/White

Step 2 Concept
Nature 21 Traditionalist
Demeanor 7 Conformist
Concept 6 Investigator
Clan 1 Brujah

Midnight: The Men of Mjarn - Trader (Traitor) Saga

The Trader (Traitor) Saga

The game begins with Deirik and Eirik’s family’s trading stop in the city of White Cliff. They have already dropped off the goods they are giving and are headed to the location where the goods they are receiving are hidden.

Deirik and Eirik, and the rest of their father’s crew go to the barn with their goods to retrieve, only to find the crates and barrels are empty and they’re being approached by an orcish force. During the ensuing battle, several of the men die, including their father, Yakob. While their Uncle, Torvald the Elder, offers to take the lead, Deirik is the rightful leader according to the rules of succession and takes on the mantle of captain. With no goods to retrieve, and no knowledge of the people Yakob worked with or deals in place, the brothers take it one step at a time and go to the city of White Cliff to talk to their cousin, Torvald the Younger, whom they find was abducted by Legate Voldash too long ago for them to follow. Rhald, aka “Rowdy” and his wife, Sorna, their trade points of contact in White Cliff, reach out to tell them what they know of Torvald, but can’t help them there. Rowdy can help them get more boro meat and skins, to keep the trade route going, by telling them about some nearby Shadow controlled farms from whom they can steal. The brothers successfully take out the orcish guards, steal some boros, and return home with the goods and news of what happened.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Random Vampire

Random character creation is pretty antithetical to Vampire, in all honesty. The game values deep and nuanced characters far more than disposable volume, and as such each character, both PC's and NPC's, are meant to be built with care and consideration. Also, the mechanical aspect of character creation is so damn quick that, once a character is conceived, it takes only a few minutes for even a new player to fill out the sheet.

Given that, why would I bother with random creation at all? Well, for a few reasons actually. The first is the search for inspiration. Sometimes you want to make a character and don't yet know who this character will be. In the past, I've used some different tools to help me figure out who the character is, using tools like Central Casting, the "random Preludes" of the Masquerade Players Kit, and the Universal NPC Emulator. All have their virtues, but I wanted to try something different--instead of coming up with a character and their background first, and then worrying about the mechanics, I wanted to focus on the mechanics first, and see what they tell me about the character. Secondly, with the start of my new Ravenous game, I feel the need to come up with a host of different characters for the PC's to interact with and oppose on a regular basis, though they may only feature in a session or two. As such, having a tool to make unique NPC's is certainly helpful.

Finally, I find rolling on random tables and seeing if I can make sense of the results freaking fun.

Scarlet Vampire

Inspired by some recent games I've been playing, I'm going to start up a new Actual Play for Vampire: The Masquerade. As I've already posted a few of these, I want to do something slightly different for this play-through. Well, two things. The first, is a something I like to call "Scarlet Vampire," which I detail below. The second is a "random vampire generator," which will require its own post (here).

Scarlet Vampire, is, essentially a variation on the Solo Urban Adventures rules from +Kevin Crawford's excellent OSR game Scarlet Heroes. If you don't have this already, get it. It's a fantastic game on its own, and a wonderful resource for anyone interested in either Solo or OSR style gaming. Pretty much everything Crawford puts out is top notch, and he's one of the best indie developers working right now.

What I really enjoy about the rules he created is their ability to allow for failure. Failure is an underappreciated element of gaming. Unlike other storytelling mediums, RPG's can accommodate failure and keep the story going. While a book or movie or play might give the illusion of failure, or at least the risk of it, the actual results remain firmly tied to the storytellers whims. The hero will save the hostage or not based on the "needs" of the story, while an RPG can make that risk real. And without the chance of failure, the game becomes, to me, somewhat hollow. Reward is only meaningful if the risk was meaningful, after all.

So, how does this system work, exactly? Well, I don't want to reprint the entirety of Crawford's work. The current rules I'm using are only a slight variation, after all, and can generously be described as an "Alpha" version. As such, I encourage you to pick up Scarlet Heroes if you have any interest. But, I will be providing a brief overview.

There are two key parts of this system for Solo games. The first, is that there is an Opponent character. Like the PC, the Opponent is trying to accomplish something. Something the PC would rather they didn't. As such, the two are in competition--the Opponent seeks to fullfil their desires, while the PC seeks to thrwat them. This competition is rated by Victory Points. Each is seeking to gain 10 Victory Points first. If the Opponent does, then their plan succeeds, despite the PC's best efforts. If the PC does, then they are given an opportunity to confront and hopefully defeat the Opponent.

Session "0" for Scarlet Vampire

The tools are all in place. Now it is time to begin the game. Base Game: Vampire: The Masquerade (1st Edition)  Not familiar with Vampire...