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.

Midnight: The Men of Mjarn - Characters

In such an oppressive world, something has to set you apart from the masses or you would never even consider going up against the Shadow and his forces. In Midnight, that “something” is a Heroic Path, a piece of your lineage that links you to something powerful or magical. You can be Giantblooded or Charismatic, Quickened or Dragonblooded.

The characters that the players created for the Men of Mjarn campaign sagas are these:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The World of Midnight

The best way to describe the Midnight Setting is to say “imagine a world in which Sauron won.”

Izrador, The Shadow, the god of evil, was cast out of the heavens by the other gods and fell to the planet Aryth’s continent of Eredane. As he fell, he cast a veil between the mortal realm and that of the heavens such that the gods who betrayed him cannot pierce it. There he began to wage war on the good races of the land:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ravenous: The Coyote

The Coyote
Spring, 1991

Kali, Masaru, and Chester drove their beat up Gremlin to the outskirts of Escondido, California. They had talked about this for months now--the shared desire to strike out at the monsters that dominated their world, to gain revenge on those who had destroyed them, to force the world to make some sort of sense. What had once been fantasy was about to become reality. And now that it was here, that it was happening, all their big talk and assured confidence faded away. 

They had come all this way to kill a man none of them had ever met.

It was Masaru who gave them the information. Half-remembered from years ago, when he was still breathing. His fellow hunters had talked about a probably vampire in this small town, someone involved with human trafficking. Rumor had it that he imported a girls from Mexico and others countries further south, then sold them off down the line. But not all of them were sold. Some went "missing." His hunter crew had been pretty certain that he was keeping these for his "private stock." They had intended to follow up on it, after they had finished up the raid on that one nest. But, that last raid had ended in the death of the entire crew, many at Masaru's blood-frenzied hands. 

It was time to make things right.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ravenous House Rules: Out of Clan Disciplines

The final significant House Rule I'll be implementing for Ravenous is how Out of Clan Disciplines are handled.

In Vampire, each Clan of vampires has three "Clan Disciplines"--for example, Brujah have Potence, Celerity, and Presence. There's naturally a desire for players (and, often, characters) to learn more than just their inherent abilities.  Over time, I've become less forgiving of easy access to Out of Clan Disciplines. This is for three interrelated reasons. First, characters rapidly become very similar, taking away from the distinctiveness of each Clan. If everyone has Potence AND Celerity AND Fortitude, then what really makes any of them different? Secondly, most systems/guidelines place a different cost in terms of effort and risk in learning different Disciplines. "Physical" ones are pretty easy, "Common" ones (Dominate, Obfuscate, Presence, etc.) are about average, with only the "Unique" ones requiring special access or significant training. Which of course means it's easier for a Tzimisce to learn a Brujah's Disciplines then the opposite. Which encourages players to play Tzimisce and Gangrel over Brujah and Toreadors. And since everyone can easily learn Potence and Celerity, it reduces the Brujah from the masters of battle whom all should fear, to weaklings who don't have anything to offer anyone else. Thirdly, all this spending of XP on Out of Clan Disciplines means that it's rare to see players really attain the higher levels of any Discipline, and those are just neat.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ravenous House Rules: Experience

Whenever I think I about "experience points," they always strike me as being odd things.  Thanks to video games, they're pretty well baked into the popular concept of Role-Playing Games, even though they're not really required for them. I mean, you have games like Amber or original Traveler that have no Experience. Or games like Fate (where players can adjust skills between sessions) or Call of Cthulhu (where skills are improved as a result of checks and rolls), both of which all for character progression or change without the need for "experience points" per se.

But, when it comes to player direct games, XP can be an incredible tool. It allows the players to know what the goals are, to work independently toward those goals, and to make key story decisions on their own term, without requiring the Game Master to define and pace the story. The classic example, of course, is Dungeons & Dragons. In the original game, players gained XP for each Gold Piece they retrieved from the dungeon. And, in fact, they could easily gain far more Experience from treasure than they could ever hope to attain through killing monsters. Because of this, the emphasis was often placed on minimizing combat, and figure out clever ways to get the treasure without bloodshed. And if bloodshed was inevitable, the players would fight as cunningly and as brutally as they could imagine.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ravenous House Rules: Downtime

As part of my new Ravenous game, I'm implementing a few House Rules. Some are ideas I've been mulling over for Vampire for a while (the Downtime system) while others are more custom for this particular Chronicle (Experience and Out of Clan Disciplines). 

The first is the Downtime rules. Two things have always bothered me a bit with Vampire. The first is the tendency of the game to fall into a "night by night" kind of situation, where each session flows into the next and adventure piles on adventure and after a year of unlife, the characters have the stats of Elders and the whole city is a smoking ruin behind them. The second (related) is the speed in which characters develop--they start off barely able to load a gun (Firearms 1) and after a few months of play, they're the greatest shooters in the world (Firearms 5). 

Which is absurd...each dot represents an exponential increase in ability. Science of 1 is a High School student--and a particularly nerdy one at that. Science Club, Science Fair, AP classes, etc. Science 2 is someone with a BS in Physics, someone who has spent years studying the subject. 3? That's a Masters Degree. 4? Doctorate, and a recognized expert in the field (NOTE: Someone who went to some fourth-tier school or barely understood what was going on (but Daddy's money talks louder than grades) might have a lower actual Ability, regardless of Degree) And 5? Man, that's "has defining Theories named after you"/Nobel Prize Contender level. 

Obviously, Vampire is a game, and as such is designed to reflect more "movie reality" than "real reality"--a Physicist with Science 4 can still dissect a corpse and whip up a batch of meth if needed. But, still.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


I've started up a new Vampire: The Masquerade chronicle. I decided to do something a bit different, at least for me, and to run it as a Sabbat game, as well as running for the first time via Roll20. I've run a few games over Roll20 before, and played quite a bit more, but never a full Vampire one.

It has been quite a while since I last ran Sabbat. Generally, I'm not a huge fan of this group--it's an odd combination of both too complicated (juggling different Paths) and too simplistic. The Pack focus leaves the players emotionally and socially isolated from the wider world, which limits the kinds of stories I can tell, and the hyper-violence rapidly gets boring for me. I had thought I had found a way to square this circle, but expanding the Pack beyond the immediate circle of players, and really focusing on its role in the wider world. I had though of a chronicle similar to the TV series Sons of Anarchy, where the Pack is the main character, and conflicts within the Pack are the source of most of the drama. One could easily see this as any great family (or "Family") drama or soap opera, where one may disagree with or even hate fellow Pack members, but one is inherently attached to these people. As such, betrayals and lies could be even more painful, as they come from within.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Vampire Primer

Vampire is a role-playing game in which the players take on the role of vampires in the modern world (Masquerade) or the medieval one (Dark Ages).  Various supernatural entities exist, and their struggles take place in the shadows. Vampires, in particular, take care to not be noticed by humans, as they are vulnerable during the day. In the Dark Ages, this is a crude and brutal “Silence.” In the modern days, this requires a more delicate and subtle “Masquerade.”

There are six main versions of Vampire. Four for Masquerade (1st, 2nd, Revised, and 20th Anniversary) and three for Dark Ages (Vampire:Dark Ages, Dark Ages: Vampire, and Dark Ages 20th Anniversary), with an official 5th on its way. There’s not a huge difference between the editions (though I talk about some of them here), and I tend to mix them all together. All in all, any such differences are slight, and more a matter of preference.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Clash of Wills

Clash of Wills is the first part of my attempt to play through the Great World of Darkness Chronicle. The story is told is four sections:


Part One, in which the characters arrive in the County of Galtre

Part Two, in which the characters make decisions, both good and ill

Part Three, in which the final struggle is resolved

Clash of Wills Part Three

This is third and final part of my Solo play through of the Vampire module Clash of Wills.  The Introduction and Characters can be found here. Here are parts one and two.

Scene 8 Night.
The characters awaken, each alone and in darkness. Godfrey casually walks downstairs at the inn, wondering if any others have been around. The innkeeper tearfully tells him the news of what has been happening, and how the entire town is in mourning. Godfrey attempts to convey shock and horror at the events (Manipulation + Acting, Difficulty 6 since he is honestly shocked about the Assessors) and with 4 successes the innkeeper suspects nothing of the noble stranger. Does he wait for the other characters? 50/50: 31—Yes. He’s not sure where the others are, but he knows Johann likes to sleep on his own.

Clash of Wills Part Two

This is second part of my Solo play through of the Vampire module Clash of Wills.  The Introduction and Characters can be found here.  Part one is here.

Scene 5. Sleep
Dawn is coming soon, and the vampires must seek shelter from the sun harmful light. Where do they seek shelter? 1) Rooms in the Keep, 2) In the catacombs beneath, 3) in the inn, 4) at Jills, 5) burying themselves in the ground.  3. The travel to the inn at Redford, the Maiden of the Mist, and take their rooms. Samuel is to remain awake and let Johann know where they are.
Johann has been gone for a while, and I’m not sure if anything has happened while he was away. Has anything happened with Johann? Chaos Roll 5—yes.

Clash of Wills Part One

This is first part of my Solo play through of the Vampire module Clash of Wills.  The Introduction and Characters can be found here.  

Godfrey, Johann, and Samuel are summoned by Nicolas, the true servant of his Dark Majesty Joseph, to secure the inheritance of the County of Galtre to Richard I the King. Godfrey eagerly and proudly accepts the charge, and the other two have no say in the matter whatsoever.  Nicolas gives them a complete will for the Earl to sign and a Letter of Introduction, signed by a powerful mortal Duke who is known to be a confident of the King. In addition, the receive fine horses, armor, and weapons, and permission to feed freely and fully before their journey begins.

Clash of Wills Introduction

A World Lit Only by Fire
Great World of Darkness Chronicle
Clash of Wills
(Written by Steve Miller, developed by Justin Achilli, and illustrated by Leif Jones, with cover art by Dan Brereton.)

For the first story in "The Great World of Darkness Chronicle" I will be playing Clash of Wills. Spoilers, naturally, follow. The story in question involves a group of British vampires dispatched by Mithras, the Prince of London to the small County of Galtre. It's monstrous and aged Earl is dying, and planning to will his lands to the church. As the British church is controlled by Mithras' rivals, he desires the lands to pass to the Crown. The players have been dispatched to see that Mithras' will is enacted.

First of all, I will be making a few changes to the established setting.  I want to incorporate as much of my ideas on how to redo the Long Night as possible given the module-focused nature of this campaign. To summarize quickly, the Dark Ages are a time of confinement, isolation, and ignorance. Even the story of Caine and his relationship to vampires is little known in most of the continent. Instead, various Elders rules their progeny with an iron fist. Even the term "Prince" is an anachronism for this time period. And much of the power of the Elders comes from fantastic and self-aggrandizing myths they tell about themselves, and to which the childer have no reason to even question.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Initial Thoughts and Plans -- Great World of Darkness Chronicle

"A plan is just a list of things that don't happen."
Parker The Way of the Gun

Before I begin this mammoth undertaking, I want to spend a few moments collecting my thoughts and figuring out exactly how I intend to do the "Great World of Darkness Chronicle." It's easy to get lost with something like this, and having some rough guidelines will hopefully help keep things clear for everyone. Obviously, these are just my current thoughts, and they will naturally evolve as I get a better grasp of what it is that I hope to accomplish with the Chronicle. If I start straying too far from this, I'll stop to make clear what I'm changing and why. So, in no particular order, here's where I'm currently at.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Great World of Darkness Chronicle: Adventures and Stories

When I first though of doing "The Great World of Darkness Chronicle." my intention was to run a solo game of various groups through all, or at least most, of the pre-published stories for Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage. Knowing that most of these are, eh, let's just say "thoroughly plotted", my thought was to heavily intersperse these tales with my own custom and randomly generated stories. Well, I've spend the past day or so trying to come up with a complete list of the adventures. So far, this is what I have.

I spent far too much time trying to get blogger to post these images at the same size.

Now, looking at this, a couple of thoughts pop into my head.

First, I'm clearly missing a few adventures. Possibly quite a few. My main source was the fan-based White Wolf Wiki and I know for a fact they were missing some. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything close to a better source. Even drivethrurpg didn't come close to the Wiki as far as showing what adventures were in which book. If you see any glaring holes, please let me know.

Secondly, this is a LOT of material. Like, far more than I think I really appreciated when I first began exploring this idea. My initial thought of a "best case scenario" for the time line of this project assumed roughly a week or so per adventure, and even at that ludicrous pace, it would take me roughly a year and half. And there is no way I'd be able to maintain that pace. This is going to be a multi-year project. 

And you know what? I still want to try it. Sure, it may take a laughably long time to complete, but the focus is on having fun, not maintaining any sort of specific pace. There will be weeks and months where I let it lie fallow as I explore other ideas or just take a breather for a bit. Then, hopefully, there will be a fresh rush as I head back into it. It's going to be interesting, at least.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Great World of Darkness Chronicle

After the relative success of my solo Let's Play Alien Hunger (success, in this case, being defined by the fun I had while playing/writing it, not on any other metric), I want to try something similar, but far more expansive. I want to solo "The Great World of Darkness Chronicle."

Essentially, I want to go through all, or at least most, of the published adventures, starting from the earliest and leading up to the Gehenna books. Of course, "Great World of Darkness Chronicle" is a bit of a misnomer--I'm really just interested in doing the Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage games. Even that will be a tremendous undertaking, particularly since family, work, other "standard games" (running one and playing in another as of this writing), and the annoying thing we call "real life" will take up a huge amount of my time. Best case scenario, it will take me a year or so to get through everything. If I'm being honest, probably quite a bit more.

Particularly since I'll most likely step outside the published adventures from time to time, to do more personal stories, deal with the fall out of things that happened, and just stretch a bit of creative muscle.

But still, I think It will be fun, if a bit sporadic. I certainly won't try to maintain any sort of posting regularity. Besides the sheer size of the thing, there are a couple of issues that I'm facing with this idea.

First, I don't know all of the adventures, particularly for Werewolf and Mage. I have a decent number of the earliest ones (Rite of Passage, Valkenburg Foundation, Loom of Fate), but my library is embarrassing lite for these games.  Anyone know if there's a list out there?

Second, I don't even own all the ones I DO know about. Thanks to One Book Shelf and PDFs, this is fairly easily solved, but even still it's going to cost me a bit getting everything I want to run all of these. This is where the time issue helps, though

Yeah, I know.
Third, I'm not sure what to do about the big, historical epics--the Transylvania and Giovanni Chronicles (and, to a lesser extent, the Ventrue Chronicles). Do I run the Chronicle chronologically, starting with Transylvania and moving forward century by century until the 1990's and the explosion of the other games?  Do I run them in the order they were published? So, start with Ashes to Ashes, but do a time jump back to the Dark Ages when the time comes? Just ignore them completely?

The advantage of going chronologically is that it allows for the grand sweep of history I'm looking for. Prophecies made in earlier stories for one group of characters might come true for a different group centuries later. Also, the characters can have more freedom of action, allowing them to shape the future World when we get there. Finally, these Elders can exist as sires, patrons, or foes of the younger characters in the modern nights.

The downside is, well, that means a LOT of Vampire and history in the beginning of the Chronicle. Now, I love Vampire, but I want to be able to branch out to the other games as well. My original plan was to do a bunch of Camarilla/Anarch stories in and around Chicago, then a few Sabbat and Werewolf stories leading up to Under a Blood Red Moon, then split up for their own stories, including cross overs (such as the Samuel Haight adventures), until we come to the End Times.

Obviously, there will be multiple parties of characters involved--Camarilla Vampires, Sabbat Vampires, Mages, and Werewolves. Heck, I can even see using this to further the stories of Damon, Trent, and Maya, since they're the most likely to be wandering around city by city.

So, what do you guys think? Is this just an insane idea? Should I include the historical games? Chronologically or in order of publishing? Any idea on where to get a complete list of all the adventures for the game lines? Skip the apocalyptic scenarios and prep to move into the "5th Ed" world? Something blindly obvious that I'm missing?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sabbat Pack Creation: Traits and Options

In the previous post I talked about the basic rules for the creation of the Sabbat Pack. In this post, I want to look at the individual components that make up the Pack, and the various options available for them. Following the previous ideas, you choose which general kind of Pack you want to be part of, then pick and choose from the Trait. Each has a "default" value for each Trait, based on the type of Pack. There are then various PRO's and CON's that can be choosen to further customize each Trait, hopefully making each Pack unique and distinctive.

Territory: Generally, in the least desirable areas for Cainites to live, such the suburbs, residential communities, small outlying town, etc. Base Hunting difficulty is 8 (6 for members)
          PRO: Your territory is in a far more central and prestigious location, such as Downtown or a tourist-friendly area known for its vice. Base difficulty of 6 (4 for members)
          CON: You have no claimed territory, and live on the fringes of Sabbat society. Or, your territory, such as it is, is surrounded and threatened by Lupines, the Camarilla, or others. Hunting difficulty is 10 (8 for members).
Size: On average, 5-7 members, none more powerful than a typical neonate..
PRO: You’re pack is unusually large for its age (8-10 members), or one of its members is particularly powerful (ancilla).
CON: 3 Members

Defenses: You have only the most basic methods of protecting your territory, with only a small number of mortals bribed or conditioned to keep an eye out for anything unusual happening. You often need to rely on pack members actively patrolling your territory to keep things safe.
          PRO:  You have extensive contacts among one class of mortals (police, gang members, neighbors, etc), who will alert you to not only strangers in the area, but any unusual legal events.
          CON: You are on your own to defend your territory.
Communal Haven: Your temple is a simple structure, often nothing more than the basement in a house or office building.  It has only one or two rooms, and everyone needs to share space. Through means fair or foul, you “own” it, helping to keep curious mortals away.
          PRO: You’re Haven is far larger than normal, providing space for rituals and meetings, private havens for pack members, a small armory or cell to keep prey or prisoners, etc.
          CON: It’s barely fit to be called a Haven. It’s an abandoned or empty building, and strange comings and goings attract attention. There’s no power or water, and little in the way of space or protection.
Internal Politics: Your pack is united, with everyone following either one particular Path of Enlightenment or Humanity.
          PRO: The entire pack follows either a single Path or Humanity.
          CON: Many go their own way, following two or three Paths.

Retainers: Typical Vespers lack the age and authority to have ghouls, and as such you must make do with the handful of mortals you’ve successfully bribed or dominated into doing your work.
          PRO: Either through a service in the past or the prestige of a particular pack member, the Archbishop has granted the pack permission to create a small number of ghouls, generally around 3 or so. Or, you have gained direct influence over a group of mortals (say, a gang), with whom you can direct with relative impunity.
          CON: The characters are on their own, with no one to defend them during the day or carry out their desires.
Knowledge: You have only the most basic access to modern information and little in the way of ancient lore. Your libraries and other resources limit you to 2 in Abilities, and a measly 1 in any of the Lore or Occult skills.
          PRO:  You have access and some influence with a decent University, giving you up to a 4 in Abilities. Or, you have managed to accumulate a decent library, allowing up to a 3 in the Lore and Occult skills.
          CON: Due to location and lack or resources, you have nothing but your own knowledge to guide you, and what can be begged from allies.

Herd: You have not yet been granted permission to accumulate a Herd, and even if you had, you haven’t even started the process of acquiring such a resource.
          PRO:  While not authorized, you have drawn a small band of desperate mortals to you, providing the pack with an effective Herd of 2.

Equipment: Basic clothing, a few vehicles, and common consumer gear, so long as it’s relatively cheap. Your arsenal, such as it is, contains of knives and machetes, light pistols and revolvers, and maybe a shotgun.
          PRO: Either through purchase, gifts, or clever theft, you’ve accumulated a decent amount of gear for your members. New and decent clothing, well maintained vehicles enough for the entire pack, and weapons that include automatic weapons and some explosives.
          CON: The clothes on your back, a beat up van or car the whole pack can pile into, and a few knives is all you can muster.

Resources: Money is scarce, and often comes from stealing from the mortals the pack members feed on. Effectively similar to a Resources of 1.
          PRO:  Either through bolder crimes by members, or influence over local gangs or businesses (often in the form of “protection”), the pack has an effective Resource of 2.
          CON: Perhaps their territory is truly destitute, or the Pack just can’t seem to care about mortal money. Effective Resources start at 0.

Contacts: A few people plugged into the wider world occasionally talk to members. The Pack starts off with effectively a 2 in Contacts.
          PRO: With an unusual focus on mortals, or just lucky members, the Pack has a wide net of friends. Effectively a 4 in Contacts.
          CON: Who are you? There is no one in a position to feed the Pack information.
Status: While young, any Pack treated as a Vespers will at least be made up of True Sabbat. Typical members effectively have a Sabbat Status of 1, while leaders (Ductus or Priest) will have Sabbat Status of 2.
          PRO:  You’ve already accomplished something remarkable, or your scions of a well-respected pack. Normal members have a Status of 2 with leaders at 3.  One of them will likely serve the city as a Bishop or a Templar.
          CON: You’re True Sabbat, but barely. You are despised and ignore by your brethren, with typical members having a Status of 0, and the leaders only grudgingly acknowledged with a 1.

Relationships: You have few allies, but fewer enemies. You have a friendly relationship with a Compline Pack, but are rivals with a fellow Vespers, or a group of comparable power.
          PRO: You are well liked and well respected in the city, able to count at least one Compline pack and two Vesper packs as your friends. Few would seek to antagonize you unnecessarily.
          CON: You stand alone, with none to call for aid. Of course, that only makes you a target, giving you either two Vesper packs as rivals, or a Compline.

Obligations: You need to secure your territory, not only in your name, but in the name of the Sabbat as a whole. In addition, your pack is often called upon for the drudge work of security for meetings or to gather vessels for celebrations.
          PRO:  Perhaps you’ve managed to impress the Archbishop, but the drudgery of “ghoul” work is beneath you. Instead you focus on maintaining the Silence for the whole city, or something similarly significant.
          CON: Your low status forces you to be the errand boys throughout the city, and few care if this leaves your territory open to attack from others.

Territory: Often control the most dynamic and best areas of the city. Standard hunting difficulty of 6 (4 for members).
          PRO:  Your territory is not only the best in the city, but a famous one drawing mortals from around the world. Base difficulty of 4 (2 for members)
          CON: Time has passed the Pack by, or their hopes never materialized. Their territory is similar to a Vespers. Hunting difficulty of 8 (6 for members)

Size: Typically have about 10-15 members, at least half of whom are equivalent to an ancilla.
PRO: about 20-30 members.
CON: maybe something bad has gone down recently, but the Pack only has 5-7 members left.

Defenses: Extensive ties through blood binding, bribes, and other influence keeps them well informed of not only unusual visitors of any type, but also anything else unusual happening.
          PRO: Not only will your extensive networks keep the Pack informed, but they will act immediately to counter or drive off any perceived threat. Ex: the local police will arrest the hunter in the area of their own volition.
          CON: Similar to a Vespers.
Communal Haven: Large and well appointed. Each member has their own private room, with additional guest rooms for high ranking and respected visitors. In addition, there are special areas for rituals, meetings, “pens” for vessels and secure prisons for vampires. And of course, the extensive and well-fortified armory.

Internal Politics: As the Pack increases in size and age, rifts start to form, with at least three different Paths being followed. Though, such conflicts tend to be kept in check for the greater good.
          PRO: The pack as a whole still follows the same Path (or Humanity), keeping the group unified.
          CON: Factionalization has taken root, with leaders constantly battling for the “right” way to handle crisis.

Retainers: A dozen or so ghouls work directly for the Pack, only a few of which have been so misshapen by torture and vicissitude that they can’t show their faces among mortals. In addition, the Pack has direct influence over a street gang or the like to carry out their whims as desired.
          PRO: The Retainers are unusually well trained and disciplined, perhaps being former military or police. Or, they have an unusually large number of Retainers.

          CON: Only a few ghouls work for the Pack, and the mortals (if any) who follow them are weak and scattered.

Knowledge: Often has direct connections with and influence over a University, or the like, allowing Abilities up to 4. In addition, they have spent significant time learning of the world, with Lore and Occult up to 3.
          PRO:  As above, but something is extraordinary. Perhaps they have a top University, allowing many Abilities up to 5. Or, they have access to amazing trainers, allowing combat skills up to 5. Or, they have managed to accumulate one the finest occult libraries in the World—Lore and Occult up to 4.
          CON: Similar to a Vespers.

Herd:  Either through luck or hard work, they have created an ideal world for Cainites. They effectively have a 3 in Herd for its members.
          PRO: A veritable paradise. Effective Herd of 5.
          CON: Maybe it’s a lack of interest, or a string of unfortunate events. They have no Herd.

Equipment: Often the best equipped of all the Packs. New, expensive and fashionable clothing, top end electronics and other goods. Assault weapons, sub-machine guns, explosives, well crafted swords—they are well equipped to commit carnage.
          PRO: In addition to the above, they have been able to get even more exotic weapons. Missile launchers, silver swords and bullets, or rare mystical blades that inflict aggravated damage to supernaturals.
          CON: Only the most basic and commercially available gear is available to members.

Resources: Through crime, legal investments, or other means, the Pack is well off. Generally the equivalent of Resources 4.
          PRO: The are among the wealthiest Cainites in the Sabbat with an effective Resources of 5, if not higher.
          CON: Times are tough all around. Resource equivalent is merely a 2.

Contacts: They know, or are known by, almost everyone who is worth knowing. Effective Contacts of 5.
          PRO: Not only do they have contacts, but unusual for the Sabbat, they’ve built connections with powerful mortals, giving them an effective Ally rating of 5.
          CON: They know a few, but not many. Contacts of 2.

Status: As the one of, if not THE, most important Packs in a given area, their word carries weight. Typical members have a status of 2, and the leaders a status of 3. Members often serve as Bishops or Templars.
          PRO: Unusually well regarded. Typical status is a 3, with leaders having a 4. Disregarding tradition, the Archbishop of the area is a member, at the very least.
          CON: Perhaps something has embarrassed the Pack lately, but they are less regarded than they should. Typical members have a Status of 1, with the leaders having a 2.

Relationships: As they gain in power and prestige, more rivals appear to challenge the Pack. They are rivals with another Compline or Nocturn Pack, and another Compline or two Vespers. Your allies are either another Compline and a Nocturn, and at least two Vespers look to you for guidance.
          PRO: Either through destruction or charm, they’ve limited their foes. Rivals are only another Compline or two Vespers.
          CON: Maybe they’ve made too many mistakes, or everyone thinks the Pack is coming after them. Either way, they have twice the normal amount of rivals and foes.

Obligations: While free from routine drudgery, much is expected of the pack. Perhaps they need to maintain city wide security, arrange financial support the Sect, or provide the City’s Communal Haven. In addition, they are expected to lead and host a number of rituals, and provide aid and sustenance to others in need. Members are often called away for special operations and missions.
          PRO: They’ve managed to pass off their obligations on others, or successfully “automate” the obligations (such as a providing a “charitable trust fund” for the city leaders to draw on as needed). Reduce their obligations.
          CON: Maybe it’s jealousy, or over-confidence, but the Pack has taken on almost more than they can handle. Perhaps they provide the city’s Communal Haven AND security for the entire City, or something similar. Pack members spend significant amount of their time “working.”

Territory: They once claimed the most desirable, but time passes for us all. Their areas have either been gentrified past the point of usefulness, or decayed too far. Base difficulty of 8 (Pack members at 6)
PRO: Time is a flat circle, and what old is new again. Or, you’ve recently expanded your turf. Base difficulty of 6 (Pack members at 4)
CON: Things are getting bad, fast. Base difficulty of 10 (Pack members at 8)

Defenses: As their territory declines, so does their means of defending it. They have only a select number of mortals, often the few remnants of once powerful crime families, to aid in the defense of their territory.
PRO: You have retained enough ties to one class or mortals to keep you as well informed as possible, though they no longer have the clout to do anything about it.
CON: You are on your own.

Size: A typical Nocturn Pack has roughly 20-30 members, but many of them are called away on special assignments. At least a quarter of the members are effective Elders.
PRO: One of the largest Packs in the Sabbat, they have more members than most cities have vampires. 60-80 members
CON: 10-15 members still remain.

Communal Haven: Once glorious, time and lack of focus has allowed decay and rot to sink in. The underworld labyrinth you call home  is shrinking in on itself, and other things have taken up resident in the unused portions. While still large, it contains only the most basic comforts.
PRO: One of the largest and most glamourous havens on the continent, and perhaps the world.
CON: Something has forced you to move, and you’re communal haven is barely able to fit all of your members, let alone provide them with the comfort and security they need.

Internal Politics: Factionalization has taken root, and the leaders battle for the right way to proceed. Multiple Paths further divide the Pack.
PRO: Somehow the Pack has remained united. Maybe it’s due to a near fanatic following of one particular Path, or a charismatic Ductus has managed to tamp down on the factions.
CON: The Pack is on the edge, with only civil war or division being the answer.

Retainers: Large numbers of Vicissituded Ghouls--formerly human, animal, and plenty of others even their creators have forgotten the origin of--are ready to defend and fight for the Pack. There are others, so blood dependent and heavily Dominated as to be fanatically loyal, though no longer possessing anything resembling sanity.
PRO: A handful of select servants remain enough of their mortal selves to operate for the Pack during the day, and coordinate the actions of the monstrous army at the Packs command.
CON: Even their ghouls have turned against this Pack, and only a handful of desperate, insane monsters remain. And their true loyalty can only be guessed at.

Knowledge: Have little connection with mortal institutions (similar to Vespers), but have experienced much of the World--One Lore up to 5, the rest up to 4.
PRO:  Either their library has been built up over the centuries, or their old ties still exist. Similar to Compline.
CON: The library has been lost, or forgotten. Similar to Vespers.

Herd: Entire mortal institutions or families have served the Pack for as long as they can remember. Herd of 5.
CON: They’re old servants are falling away, Herd of 2.

Equipment: They have war ready material, but for the wrong war. Old weapons, some of which still work. Cars and other gear are at least 20 years old, and barely function.  They do have plenty of special weapons (silver bullets), though.
PRO: They have kept up with the times (similar to Compline).
CON: Such mundane things as cars and weapons no longer concern them. Similar to Vespers.

Resources: While their active endeavors have fallen by the wayside, the power of compounded interest keeps their wallets full. If only anyone understood what credit cards were. Assume every member has an effective resource of 3.
PRO:  Similar to Comline
CON: Similar to Vespers

Contacts: Most of the mortals (and their children) the Pack relied on have long since retired, been killed, or are in Prison. They have only a Contacts of 2, but those who have survived have prospered, and owe the Pack. Allies 5.
PRO: They’ve been able to keep abreast to the changing world, Contacts 5.
CON: No Allies to speak of, they have only a Contacts of 2.

Status: The are among the most well respected and feared Packs in all of the Sabbat. Members serve as Archbishops and Cardinals. Typical member has a 4, leaders have a 5. Though
PRO: Your Pack, for lack of a better word, “rules” the Sabbat. You count the Regent as a member. A “typical” member has at least a 5, possibly even a 6. Leaders even higher.
CON: Similar to a Compline.
Relationships: Many are desperate for an an association with such an illustrious Pack. Many more seek vengeance for past sins. At least one other Nocturn Pack and two Complines (plus assorted Vepsers) are enemies, while they have two Complines they can call friends.
PRO:  Even more seek your aid, and you have a handful of Vespers and an additional Compline as allies.
CON: You’re enemies gather, and you friends have proven false. Doubt the number of rivals, but only a single Compline and a Vesper or two dare stand with you.

Obligations: The Pack is expected to lead the Sabbat, and all the work that entails. Influencing mortals on a national scale, leading the charge against rival Sects and other enemies.  The vast majority of their time is spent tending to Sect business.
PRO: You’ve been able to work the system enough that dealing with other Pack’s messes takes up relatively little of your time.
CON: Perhaps your area is under constant assault, or the delicate balance between the packs is tipping. In either case, you are consumed with the needs of the Sect over your own.


Territory: Often in the ruined remains of ancient towns, or among the few wild and untamed places still left in the modern world. Mortals and other supernaturals give the area a wide berth. Base Hunting difficulty is 8 (6 for members)
          PRO: Your presence keeps other predators away, but you refrain from indulging in mortals affairs. As such, your area is surprisingly booming. Hunting Difficulty of 6 (4 for members)--though only a fool would hunt without your permission.
          CON: Your very presence has driven prey far from you--Hunting Difficulty of 10. Even for members.

Size: While once vast, the Pack has shrunk due to members leaving to form their own Packs, or attrition. 20-25 members, at least a quarter of whom are effectively Methuselehs.
PRO: Over the years, the Pack has retained the loyalty of many. Or, they just breed like rabbits. 50-60 members.
CON: There are the Eldests, and there are the few neonates left behind to care for them. The rest have fled. 10 or so members.

Defenses: Only a few know the truth, and those that due are appropriately fearful. It is difficult for any outsider to enter your territory without being noticed.
          PRO:  Entire generations of mortals have been bred to serve you. Even the beasts of the land obey you without question, and no one dares to make a move without you knowing about it.
          CON: Your isolation and paranoia has left you cut off from even the surrounding land. You rely on the, admittedly awe-inducing, powers of the Pack for your security.
Communal Haven: A massive, rambling structure. Multiple levels exist above ground, and even more are burrowed beneath. Few can remember where all the passages lead, and it has been centuries since anyone went down to where the darkness whispers.
          PRO:  Maybe it was a fire, or a tremendous earthquake, but your Haven has been forced to a more manageable size for the pack. While still impressive, it is far smaller than before, and there is less danger of others making their way down there.
          CON: Not only is the place huge, but it might just be vast beyond comprehension. There are exits and entrances that lead to places they shouldn’t, or can’t. Or, the entire place is on the verge of collapse.
Internal Politics:  Utterly divided.  The senior members, those that aren’t lost in torpor, don’t even follow Paths as the young generation understand them. Few bother speaking to each other except in the most dire of cases. They are more concerned with internal gamesmanship than the fate of Sects, or even the world.
          PRO: The Eldests have a plan, a plan to change the world. A plan that even the other members barely know about, but they make sure everyone follows.
          CON:  The Pack barely functions as one, as different coteries go their own way, barely bothering to even acknowledge each there. None can rely on each other as allies, let alone as pack mates.

Retainers: Only a few ancient servitors still remain, as well as unimaginable things lurking in the darkness below.
          PRO: An entire ghoul family serves the Pack, being their face in the world. While the family is more focused on its own matters, they will obey their “masters” such as they need.
          CON: Thanks to their monstrous appearance and utter madness, none that that can show their faces.
Knowledge: They have practically no ties to mortal institutions, and their decaying libraries can not only provide up to 2 in most knowledges, but their knowledge of the occult is unparalleled. 6+ for all Lore skills, though finding the right manuscript is a different matter...
          PRO:  The books and tomes haven’t yet completely rotted away, allowing up to 3.
          CON:  There was a Book of Nod here, once, but it was long since used as kindling. Lore is limited to 3.

Herd: Where once trains of mortals came when beckoned, now none remember their ancient obligations.
          PRO:  Perhaps it’s a loyal ghoul family willing to kidnap in the name of the Pack. Or perhaps a debased cult still clings to some semblance of life. In any case, the Pack has a herd of 2.

Equipment: Decayed garments and rusted, blood stained blades are all the Pack has, and even these are rarely bothered with.
          PRO: Among the piles of rot, one can find a few working firearms. Even more useful, are rare and forgotten weapons of the ancient days--silver and cold iron swords can be found, as well as other, stranger tools.
          CON: The clothes you were buried in.

Resources: Money is something the Pack has long ceased to worry about, and the mortal companies they once invested in have long since dissolved. Still, there are some ancient coins, gold bars, and other antiques that younger members can sell to generate an effectively Resources of 2.
          PRO:  Vast collections of art and jewelry still remain, and can be sold piecemeal to give a Resources of 4.
          CON: Money and finery are a forgotten concept. Effective Resources of 0.

Contacts: The pack keeps to itself, with no one to turn to for information on the constantly changing mortal world.
          PRO: A small network of obligations has been passed down, father to son, over the years. A few still remember their old obligations--Contacts of 2.

Status:  They are the most ancient and feared groups of Vampires in the world. The Camarilla Inner Circle is rightfully afraid of their power, and even the so-called “Regent” of the Sabbat listens carefully  when they speak. Even the youngest  members have a Status of 5, with elders and leaders having at least a 7.
          CON: The Sabbat isn’t sure if you’re real members or not, and are leery of anything the Pack says or does. Still, none can deny your power--Status of 3 for normal members, 5 for Leaders.

Relationships: Few enemies remain to challenge your Pack, though those that do are terrifying. Have at least one other Orthos group as an enemy, along with a smattering of weaker groups. You have a few Vespers packs in proper fear, whom you can call on if needed.
          PRO: Perhaps you’ve split off numerous times, but there are many who will answer the call of the “mother Pack”--you have at least 2 Complines you can rely on.
          CON: You stand alone, with significantly more enemies ready to pounce if you ever show weakness.

Obligations: The Orthos Pack does as it pleases, without concern for the feelings of others.
          CON: Despite your great age, you still involve yourself in Sect affairs, and spend a significant amount of time trying to teach the young ones the proper use of power.

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...