Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Solo Gaming Appreciation Month

I've recently learned that November is "Solo Gaming Appreciation Month" (SGAM)--a time when a number of us Solo gamers work together to share stories that are linked in someway. 2017 is a bit of a special year, as we all come together to commemorate and celebrate the life of +Zach Best, who was not only a wonderful member of our community, but an outstanding creator as well. His work through Conjecture Games has been a major factor in many of our journey's.

While many Solo gamers will be aiming to create new games or tools to use, I will be focused on something a bit more humble, an Actual Play. I was already working on one, but I want to put that on hiatus and focus on the works that Zach had created.

The first is CRGE, the Conjectural Roleplaying GM Emulator.  This is Zach's take on the GM Oracle, and a bit of story framework. It is incredibly well regarded within the scene, considered by many to be superior to my beloved Mythic. I picked it up due to the comments of many, and, while I have owned this for a while now,  I have not actually attempted to play a game with it. An oversight I intend to correct with this play through.

The second is UNE, the Universal NPC Emulator. Unlike CRGE, I have had the pleasure of using UNE extensively. It's probably the simplest tool I've found for creating interesting and nuanced NPCs. Heck, it's so incredible that I've even used it create Player Characters, something I intend to do again with this play through. Whether you are engaged in Solo gaming or not, the UNE should be in every GM's toolkit. It's just that damn good.

Finally, there is BOLD, Universal PC Stories and Deeds Generator. Another of Zach's works that I have admired, but never really had a chance to engage with. Where as CRGE is a tool to play the game, and UNE is one to add depth to the game, BOLD is intended as a downtime resource. What happened to your character before play began? What happened to them when they off on their own that one night? Or, why was the character not present at the last session? BOLD is a wonderful tool to create wonderful anecdotes and clever stories

All of the above are "pay what you want" and I strongly recommend any gamer checking them out. In addition, the Zach's Book collection of material is available to continue providing support for his family.

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 3

Still in Halderton, trying to understand what caused the rumors of a resistance, Deirik and Ygvard learn of a young woman named Tianna who may have some of the information they seek. They make their way out to Tianna's family farmstead and end up dealing with Tianna's overly protective mother who all but forces them to leave her land. However, Tianna is intrigued and meets the two at a fence further out in their fields. She, being 18 years old, is impetuous and has like-minded friends, so she explains that when the orcs were hurting her mother some weeks ago, Tianna decided enough was enough. Knowing that she couldn't attack just the one orc, she gathered a large group of the young adults of Halderton and ambushed all the orcs in town.

Deirik and Ygvard realize that this is no resistance, only kids who thought they were doing the right thing and have only made matters worse. This explains the aggressive anti-rebellion attitude of Seamus, the town elder; he doesn't want the kids of the town to pay the price. However, the Men of Mjarn have their orders, they must defeat Voldash's forces and embarrass him whether the town wants them to or not.

A Lonely Hope--Scene 5

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 5

Hanson had run into another deadend trying to get help from Samuel, and has left the park frustrated and annoyed. Rolling for the next scene, I got the following prompt:

Be waylaid by a hostile Actor with a Clue. Face a Fight instead of a check.

Normally, I would use various tools to randomly determine this Actor, but this time I don’t. Almost immediately, an image came to my head of a big, tough guy, covered in burning tattoos, consumed by an unquenchable fire.  I decide his combat prowess is typical for the Story (Physical Threat 2, or 7), and that he is going to try and ambush Hanson. But, to keep things interesting, I decide that his tattoos mean that his attacks are going to be aggravated. Which means that Hanson both will not be able to soak the damage for this combat, but also that they will be particularly hard to heal. It also means that she could face final death in this fight.

Is he able to ambush her?

Rather than relying on an opposed system, I set the difficulty for Hanson to detect the ambush to 8, based on the Story’s Mental Threat.  She’ll need to roll Perception + Streetwise to figure it out.

Perception+Streetwise [4] 5,10,7,3 and she gets 1 success. Just enough to not be defenseless.

Hanson walked along the sidewalk on the edge of the park, trying to figure out where she could go next. What could possibly be going on that would bother Samuel so? And if they could scare him, why were they going through cutouts to actually call the police? Why involve the police at all?

She stopped. Something was wrong. This street, at this time of night, should have been busier. At least a few cars and cabs should be driving by. Junkies should be making their way to and from the park for their latest score. Music should be blaring from somewhere. But instead it was quiet, and empty. She heard something behind her, a loose bit of gravel being knocked along the sidewalk and turned just in time to see a blur of muscles and burning tattoos come rushing at her.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Lonely Hope -- Scene 4

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 4
At the end of the last Scene, Hanson was dumped into the sewers, after being beaten to near death by Cora. She fed as best she could from the rats that crawled around her, barely sustaining herself. At dusk, she crawled out and fed as best she could. Each victim gave her more strength and helped her to heal. Finally, she made her way back to her apartment, grabbed a quick shower and a change of clothes. Gina was of course worried for her, and Gypsy has left multiple messages. Hanson placated Gina, and ignored the phone calls. She grabs a good-sized satchel to complete her ensemble, and disconnects the sawed-off shotgun she keeps under desk and stashes it in the purse. She’s not sure when, or if, she’ll run into Cora again, but she’s going to be ready.

As Hanson took a “Rest” for the last Scene, allowing her to heal all her wounds, and replenish her Blood Pool and all spent Willpower points. The still-unknown Opponent, however, gained a Victory Point. They currently have 2, while Hanson has only 1. She needs more information, and her goal for the next scene is:
Trick an Actor into revealing a Clue. Roll a die; on an odd result, you face a Fight whether or not you succeed on the check.
For the Actor, I relied on a “Human Oracle” through the LoneWolf Group and got the following:
A Malkavian who is totally disconnected with reality, but is immensely potent in Auspex, although it's largely uncontrolled. He acts out a mishmash of all of the constant input he receives from thousands of minds he uncontrollably reads.
She needs to convince the mad man to help. This is going to be tricky. The Social Threat for this Story is 5, which means a base difficulty of 10(!) for Social rolls. Oh, I also didn’t know WHERE she would be meeting this scene, so I rolled on Covetous Poet’s Horror Location chart and got Memorial.

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 2

Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf all grab some well-deserved rest in the safety of the ogre's large tent. When they awake, they recall they're on a relatively short timeline. Voldash and his army should be arriving at Halderton in less than two months, and they still need to get there, connect with the rebellion, and empower them to win the impending fight!

The Men of Mjarn take some time to discuss Krogan's orders to them. He told them that he wanted to recruit these hobgoblins to *his* forces, not that they were to be used against Voldash. Do they take even more time and take the hobgoblins to him now? Or do they press forward with the hobgoblins to Halderton? After much consideration, they choose the latter plan and give the command for the hobgoblins to pack camp and prepare to march.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MoMj: The Corruption Saga - Session 1

Deirik, Eirik, Ygvard, and Boldulf all have a meeting with Lord Krogan, for whom they’ve been working for a short time. He informs them of their first “big” assignment. They are to go to the town of Halderton, to the East, where there are rumors of an active resistance underway. This town is in the territory of another legate, Lord Voldash, who shares a border with Krogan. The latest word is that Voldash is headed to Highwall, the Shadow Capital, to requisition more troops to stomp this rebellion and best estimates put him returning in approximately 2 months. Krogan wants the Men of Mjarn to ensure the rebellion wins and Voldash is embarrassed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Lonely Hope -- Scenes 2 & 3

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Scene 2
Hanson stopped in front of the Quick Stop Shop Convenience store. It was a rundown store located in a half-empty shopping strip on the edge of town. The place seemed dead—based on the signs in the window, it looked like most of their clients came for the calling cards, lotto tickets, and rolling papers. But a few shops down, past the closed shoe store and Chinese restaurant, was the only sign of life, a dive bar. It didn’t even have a name, just a neon green shamrock in the window. Clearly, they didn’t care to advertise.

That’s where he got hired, she thought. A guy out for a drink, looking for anything. Gets paid, grabs some smokes, and heads out to the “quick and easy” job.

She parked her grey Camry in the parking lot towards the back, making sure it was a decent distance from any other cars and angled to get out quickly. As she stepped out, she noticed her side. The bullet hole had healed, but her shirt was still torn and was stained with blood. Most of it hers, but not all of it. She grabbed her leather jacket out of the back seat and put it on, zipping it up to cover both the marks of her fight with Jake and her weapons, then headed in.

Following her lead (from Scene 1), Hanson is prepared form some sort of fight. As such, she has spent 2 of her Blood Points to heal, bringing her down to 6 currently. In order to further ready herself,  she also goes ahead and spends 3 more Blood Points to increase each of her Physical Attributes (Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina) by 1 each.

As soon as she entered, most of the eyes turned to her. They weren’t taking in her beauty. Though she had been dead for two years now, Hanson still carried herself like a cop, and it was clear that the regulars knew a cop’s walk, and they were seeing it now.  She calmly walked through the smoke and the crowd to the bar, where space was quickly made for her. The bartender approached, slowly. He was busy and in no mood to answer questions. But he also wanted the cop out of here as quickly as possible.

“What’ch’a need?” He asked, glumly.
“Lookin’ for a friend of mine. Jake Cawley. You know him? Told me I could meet him and some of his friends here.”
“Sorry, don’t know anyone named that. Sure you got the right place?”
Hanson leaned in, pulling the stack of bills out and placing them, one twenty at a time, on the bar. “Yeah, pretty sure this is the place. You sure you haven’t seen him tonight?”
She glanced up, expecting to see him eyeballing the cash, wrestling with indecision. But instead he gaze was pointed at her. No, behind her. She was about to glance around when she heard the voice say, “You sure you’re looking for Cawley?”

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Lonely Hope Scene 1

Scarlet Vampire

A Lonely Hope

Following the events of the Prologue, Hanson is attempting to shadow the stranger. To accomplish this, I use the mechanics from Vampire.

Shadowing someone requires two separate rolls. The first is to Track the target, and the second is to remain Unseen. Tracking involves a Perception+Investigation (Hanson has 6 dice for this roll) against a difficulty of 5 (the streets are practically empty around here). Remaining unseen is a Dexterity+Stealth (also 6 dice) against a difficulty of 8. The same empty streets make remaining unnoticed very difficult.
Shadowing: Rolling 6 dice, Hanson gets 6,2,4,1,5,7, she gets three successes against a difficulty of 5. But, the 1 costs her a success, leaving her with just two. Still more than enough to keep the target in site.
Unseen: Rolling 6 dice, Hanson gets 1,10,1,7,1,3. She gets one success against a difficulty of 8. But, the three 1’s means that she not only fails this roll, but actually botches.

Normally, it would be up to the Storyteller (or GM Emulator) for what happens next, but the Scarlet Rules clearly state that on a failure, she must face a fight.

A Lonely Hope -- Prologue

Scarlet Vampire
A Lonely Hope

With all the prep work out of the way (here), I'm ready to start playing. I've gone ahead and created a brief chart to keep track of all the various narrative elements for the game, and I'll be updating it after each scene. And with that, we're ready to start. 

Victory Points
Investigation & Action Scene Count

Scene Number


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.

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.

New Year, New Character Day 22: Pendragon

  New Year, New Character   Day 22    Pendragon  Pendragon is a game where players take on the roles of knights in Arthurian Britain. That&#...