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Anatomy of Failed Design: Vampire
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Last Witchhunter was not a great movie, Return of Xander Cage was more internally consistent
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
(Cue snarky comment about you having botched your Reading Comprehension roll.)


I didn't botch shit, jack ass. You framed your musings as an "It's baffling that they never..." statement and I gave a reason as to why they would never. My point with the "make up your mind bit" was that it's it's not really fair to talk about White Wolf as if they've been fucking things up continuously for over 25 years given that it's been nearly a decade since "they" were really anything more than some fan boy's vanity label.
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dogbert wrote:
vampire's target demo


You mean the now 40 something year-old veteran WW fans? Because that's who they seem to be aiming for. Got to capitalize on that sweet, sweet nostalgia.

Quote:
...and sadly, the people in charge seems so clueless as to the reasons people actually cared for the game that they might do just that.


Out of curiosity, why did people actually care about Vampire?

OgreBattle wrote:
The Last Witchhunter was not a great movie

I never said it was, but I haven't watched it either, so I'll take your word for it.

Whipstitch wrote:
it's not really fair to talk about White Wolf as if they've been fucking things up continuously for over 25 years given that it's been nearly a decade since "they" were really anything more than some fan boy's vanity label.


Ah, well that explains it then. Also, chillout, I forgot to add my Tongue emoticon to my line about you having botched your reading comprehension roll (which is a great joke IMO). Big Grin


Last edited by ArmorClassZero on Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mlangsdorf
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dogbert wrote:
For all the concept's failings, however, it's too late to try to change the concept of clans. Not only V5 is a direct sequel, also vampire's target demo treats clans as something beyond "class" or "powers"... to them, clans have a unique sense of identity, like your football team or WoW faction.


That's really unfortunate, because the original concept of the Clans has been pretty detrimental to the design of Vampire.

Clans should have been at most either a shorthand for your power set or a shorthand for your appearance. Making them the basic political unit of the game was stupid and made it hard for PC groups to mesh together. The political unit should have been the coterie, which would have been explicitly cross-clan, and different coteries could be in patron-client relations with each other.

In the coterie model, the Prince and the Primogen of a city would be 2-3 different coteries jostling for power. Their various enforcers would be client coteries, who would have client coteries of their own, working down the hierarchy to the PCs in their coterie. You'd also make it explicit that coteries could have multiple clients and patrons, at various levels of support, and a lot of the politics of the game would be about subverting your rivals' client coteries and consolidating the control of your clients (and eventually overthrowing/supplanting your patron coterie).

I like the idea of a 3 keyword description. I'd probably go with aesthetics, powerset, role. So Punk Brujah Negotiator, or Aristocrat Nosferatu Investigator, or Utilitarian Ventrue Muscle. Obviously the terms for aesthetics need some work, but you get the idea.

Having keywords for politics, beliefs, and goals would also be useful, but I think looks, powers, and abilities are the things you immediately want to convey to other players. Knowing that your PC is in the Camarilla and strongly believes in enforcing the Masquerade (or whatever) can come later.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

As long as your stating powers are limited by your Clan, there are going to be Clan specific archetypes.

Having a Ventrue be anything but a social character is wasteful, because he gets two of the best social powersets and one of the worst combat powersets.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
Out of curiosity, why did people actually care about Vampire?


There was a period in the mid to late nineties when Vampire was the most popular roleplaying game. Some of the reasons are a bit lightning in a bottleish. TSR was in the process of being mismanaged to death and the RPG trope namer Dungeons & Dragons was in a position it could actually lose to an upstart. White Wolf (and its predecessor Lion Rampant) were early adopters of electronic layout techniques which meant their books had way higher production values than the mimeographed fanzines produced by their competition. They happened to be in the scene with some up-and-coming artists such that they could actually afford artwork that would be several orders of magnitude out of the range of an upstart RPG company once those exact artists became well known. And of course, it came out at the right time for a game with bad dicepool mechanics because the standard "roll over" games like AD&D were stuck with some really bad mechanics and there wasn't an internet so a lot of people thought the mechanics of AD&D were bad because the lacked the depth of output potential of dicepools or that bad mechanics were nothing to be ashamed of because that's all there was.

But that was just why there was an opening for Vampire. They weren't first to market (Shadowrun beat them to market as a dicepool RPG and Nightlife beat them to market as a horror RPG where you play the monsters). They did historically come out on top for a while, and people have been discussing how that happened ever since. Here's my theories:

  • Vampire appealed to girls. Yes, you could play a Vampire in Nightlife, but it was a Clive Barker homo-erotic teenage boy movie vampire. Masquerade was the first major game that explicitly reached out to female fans. For fuck's sake, it is primarily based on Interview With The Vampire, which is itself a book by and for women. It isn't just that 50% of the population are women, there's also a significant quantity of boys who want to do social activities where they can meet girls. Masquerade offered that in a way that GURPS or D&D did not.

  • The buy-in for the setting was very low. Make no mistake: the reason that Masquerade takes place in "basically here, basically now" is authorial laziness. The Dotmeister wasn't up to the world building exploits of Tolkien, Gygax, or Barker. But that equally meant that the world as presented did not require a prospective player to do a lot of reading before they knew what was going on. Chicago is Chicago, you're a vampire, that's it. You don't have to tell people where Sartar or Flanaess is or what it means that people come from those places, they already know everything they need to know about New Orleans or Los Angeles.

  • You could LARP it. This was a huge fucking deal. You didn't need a suit of chainmail and you only had to wear a wizard hat if you wanted to wear a wizard hat. The fact that characters in Vampire basically looked like regular people meant that you could do the game live action, and that was what a surprisingly large number of people wanted to do. Not the least because it let you combine the game with other forms of social activity like getting drunk or having sex. The main LARP in my home town (population 60k) had over a hundred people in it.

  • Vampires were the next big thing. It's hard to get the cultural zeitgeist thing looking back from today, but Vampires were big. Goth culture was going mainstream - the first Hot Topic store opened in 1989. It's not just that Vampires were big in the media, they were also a key signifier of a growing youth culture movement. Super Heroes are as popular today as Vampires were then, but you don't have people filling up clubs dressed as Spider-Man trying to get laid. You don't have a genre of music inspired by Batman.


Urban Fantasy is, I suspect, just fundamentally a better genre for RPGs than more traditional fantasy or science fiction is. At least, from a marketability stand point. I rather like the fact that in an RPG my mind has unlimited special effects and I can tell stories in a world as alien as I want. But from the standpoint of reaching out to new players, the advantage of ease of entry is really big. Of the top ten movies of 2017, two of them aren't super hero or urban fantasy vehicles set in a low fantasy Earth. Those two are Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Star wars 8. All the others are some variant of the "regular Earth but some people have super powers" model that defines Beauty and the Beast as well as it does Fate of the Furious.

-Frank
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's hard to overstate how much lower the psychic cost of entry was for Vampire than other settings. The system wasn't great but character creation was pretty fast by the standards of the day. The setting stuff that's different from our world is all supposedly secret so if you play a character that was embraced yesterday you don't really need to know a god damn thing. And yet you're also simultaneously more knowledgeable about how things work than you are in virtually any other setting because the adventure starts in a seedy club in Atlanta. So, yeah, Vampire's setting became hideously bloated over time and sometimes on the Den we even complain about it. That was a problem for old veterans and not new players, however, since it wasn't really noticeable until you pored through several books or peeled back many layers of the incredibly idiotic onion that was the Black Hand.
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So the next question is, what's the biggest obstacle(s) to nuWW and Vampire 5E being successful? How do they regain popularity?

IMO, they need to just focus on Vampire and have the 1WoD be about vampires and only vampires. Why? Because everyone and their mother are writing books and TV shows about little Suzy discovering a magical world of vampires, werewolves, and faeries and wizards hiding right under their nose in the modern day suburbia, which is fine... I guess... but taken to its logical conclusion you get secret dragons and manticores and harpies and...

I think it would be novel at this point to have your dark urban fantasy setting not have a Monster Manual's worth of creatures. Hell, even nuWW recognizes that their model of making an RPG for different fantasy creatures is a bit silly since they joked about making Mermaid: The Drowning.

Also, there's the lowered psychic barrier of entry for new fans, as the suspension of disbelief is much less when you say, "all the myths and legends about ghosts, witches, werewolves, and demons and angels, all that was inspired by these creatures we call vampires." Granted, nuWW most likely won't do that, but the idea of 1WoD makes much more sense IMO if the vampire myth is all encompassing.

Also, the nuWW folks mentioned a "third model" implying a 3rd Vampire product as a cousin or childe to VTM and VTR.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

One problem:



Keeping things manageable is a noble goal but you can't get there with just shoveling everything into one genus as if that really explains anything. If you tell people that the game has "just vampires" but then have to explain that the guys who turn into wolfmen aren't actually werewolves but are in fact vampires who have been mistaken for werewolves then the amount of time and energy you're saving is actually pretty minimal. What you call things is much less of a big deal than whether those things have the means and motivation to plausibly take part in the Masquerade. Basically, dragons weren't as dumb addition to the WoD because nobody likes or wants to see dragons. They were a dumb addition because it's really hard to imagine one going to Safeway without anybody noticing.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If you're having vampires who are exactly like werewolves in your game, the way to lower the psychic barrier to entry is to stop doing that and instead just have werewolves, because people already know what those are but don't know what a Gangrel is (unless they are already familiar with Vampire, but barriers to entry only matter to people who haven't already entered).
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That only applies if you want to support mixed splat groups. Which, y'know, maybe you do even though oWoD cosmology makes tha ta non-starter, but otherwise the Gangrel are worth the added conceptual space for being "close enough" to the thing you are most likely to want to play in a vampire game that isn't actually a vampire.#

Still the best approach is probably "all the other stuff is crap but vampires are fine", I just think werewolves are a special case.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There's a lot of ways to approach the issue, really. I don't even think ACZ's suggested approach is egregiously bad or anything. My post was just a round about way of emphasizing that what you call things is way secondary to what they actually do and how they impact the world. After all, oWoD didn't even manage to make it all the way to non-vampire opposition before shitting the bed--the Sabbat alone hurt many people's brains because as written they didn't really care about the Masquerade. Tons of tables mind caulked them into being secretive pretty much immediately.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm guessing that 95% of the people that played Gangrel would have been happy with an actual werewolf. That is, if the lines were compatible.

So having supernaturals that are on the same playing field would be good.
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My thinking was that people would accept Gangrel as being werewolves the same way that people accept the Jedi as being space wizards. You look at them, see what they do, how they behave, and *know* they are space wizards, but all the in-universe characters call them Jedi (or Sith or whatever), including the space wizards themselves, and you roll with it.

deaddmwalking wrote:

I'm guessing that 95% of the people that played Gangrel would have been happy with an actual werewolf.


The real question is: would 95% of Werewolf players be cool with playing a Gangrel in Vampire if it was understood the two were basically synonymous?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
The real question is: would 95% of Werewolf players be cool with playing a Gangrel in Vampire if it was understood the two were basically synonymous?

Of all monsters you could try to combine, vampires and werewolves seem like a really bad choice. There's a lot of stablished pop culture about how these two are very different monsters.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

nockermensch wrote:
ArmorClassZero wrote:
The real question is: would 95% of Werewolf players be cool with playing a Gangrel in Vampire if it was understood the two were basically synonymous?

Of all monsters you could try to combine, vampires and werewolves seem like a really bad choice. There's a lot of stablished pop culture about how these two are very different monsters.


There's also a lot about them being similar, though, vampires having affinity with wolves, turning into a wolf, or a wolf-human hybrid. Nothing about the moon, though.
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ArmorClassZero
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

@nockermensch: Right, but as we established, pretty much all the old legends of vampires and werewolves are entwined / overlapped. That pop culture has moved away from this is due the the Gygaxificiation as you and Frank discussed earlier.

@Thaluikhain: The moon is one of the archetypal symbols of the night and darkness, and was associated with all manner of evil spirits and witches and monsters, etc.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Whipstitch wrote:
One problem:



Keeping things manageable is a noble goal but you can't get there with just shoveling everything into one genus as if that really explains anything. If you tell people that the game has "just vampires" but then have to explain that the guys who turn into wolfmen aren't actually werewolves but are in fact vampires who have been mistaken for werewolves then the amount of time and energy you're saving is actually pretty minimal. What you call things is much less of a big deal than whether those things have the means and motivation to plausibly take part in the Masquerade. Basically, dragons weren't as dumb addition to the WoD because nobody likes or wants to see dragons. They were a dumb addition because it's really hard to imagine one going to Safeway without anybody noticing.


There's a lot of folk+lore around shapeshifting dragons, and plenty of fantasy novel source material. I could trivially write up a masquarade where dragons went to safeway.

Actually, I did write up a masquerade where dragons went to Safeway, when Beast came out, because Beast was so stupid and offensive. It took me less than five minutes to get the basic concept down.

"Dragons are shapeshifters that spend most of their time in human form because it makes living in human cities much easier and human cities are where all the money is."

I could have even banged out five to twelve different thematically distinct Clans of dragons if I actually cared to. It's not remotely difficult. There's more than enough folklore to draw from.

Now, when you start hairspliting about having Dragareans instead of dragons, that's a pretty big problem but for a completely different reason.



This is, in fact, a problem that Vampire fell into when naming stuff.

ArmorClassZero wrote:
My thinking was that people would accept Gangrel as being werewolves the same way that people accept the Jedi as being space wizards. You look at them, see what they do, how they behave, and *know* they are space wizards, but all the in-universe characters call them Jedi (or Sith or whatever), including the space wizards themselves, and you roll with it.


Jedi aren't space wizards. They're space samurai. That's an important distinction. The role that the Jedi serve in the plot is the role that samurai serve in samurai movies. The fact that the samurai have magic powers doesn't actually change that, because Star Wars is just a setting where space samurai have space magic.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Is there any jedi in the movies that commits sudoku to wash his honor? Then I am calling bullshit in the space samurai anology.

Also even samurai used armor. And star wars has plenty of space armors. Yet jedi go to battle in robes to do not disrupt their delicate concentration.
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Actually, our blood banking system is set up exactly the way you'd want it to be if you were a secret vampire conspiracy.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
Is there any jedi in the movies that commits sudoku to wash his honor? Then I am calling bullshit in the space samurai anology.

Also even samurai used armor. And star wars has plenty of space armors. Yet jedi go to battle in robes to do not disrupt their delicate concentration.


They seem to fight with laser swords more often than space magic, so I could see them being more samurai than wizard. Personally, I lean towards them being more space martial arts monks than either, though, but that's just me.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:
Jedi aren't space wizards. They're space youxia. That's an important distinction. The role that the Jedi serve in the plot is the role that youxia serve in wuxia movies.

I fixed those strange mispellings for you.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Star Wars was heavily inspired by The Hidden Fortress, to the point that Toshiro Mifune was Lucas's first pick for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Obi-Wan Kenobi basically is Rokurota Makabe in space.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

nockermensch wrote:
hyzmarca wrote:
Jedi aren't space wizards. They're space youxia. That's an important distinction. The role that the Jedi serve in the plot is the role that youxia serve in wuxia movies.

I fixed those strange mispellings for you.


Fam, the Jedi are named after jidai-geki.

maglag wrote:
Is there any jedi in the movies that commits sudoku to wash his honor? Then I am calling bullshit in the space samurai anology.

Also even samurai used armor. And star wars has plenty of space armors. Yet jedi go to battle in robes to do not disrupt their delicate concentration.


God you're stupid. I swear you haven't said one intelligent thing in the 1142 posts you've made on this board.

The kensai/sword saint does not wear armor because it interferes with the fluidity of their movements. The most famous folk iterations of wandering samurai go without armor. There is a heavy religious/ascetic element to the sword with the Jedi, because Buddhist thought influenced samurai life, as shown by the Book of Five Rings
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

ArmorClassZero wrote:
So this is just what I came up with after 15 minutes of thinking:

The Leader: The well-rounded character; like a jack-of-all-trades but better, with emphasis on charisma and Leadership skills.

The Brains: The character with the focus on Mental stats and high scores in the Knowledges department.

The Actor: AKA 'The Face'. The PC with high Diplomacy, Intimidation, Subterfuge, Seduction, etc. The one who talks to NPCs obviously.

The Doctor: As in PhD. The Lawyer, Historian, Surgeon, Chemist, etc. Has primarily non-social, non-combat skills. A utility 'mage'.

The Fence: The burglar, thief, under-world connections PC. Prob has decent FireArms, Larceny, StreetWise, and Stealth rating.

The Muscle: Your standard fighter, he's got likely got high Brawl, Melee, FireArms, Strength, and Stamina scores.

The Hacker: Whether its computers, machinery, or just MacGyver'ing his way out of a situation with arts and crafts, this is that guy.

The Ace: The one with the super min-maxed stat(s). He's god-like at one very specific thing, and prob amazing at one other specific thing.

The Eyes: The PC with high Alertness, Perception, Investigation, Wits, Empathy, etc. The guy who gets info from environment clues for the party.

The Runner: The character with excellent Dodge, Athletics, & Stealth ratings. Give him some Survival and FireArms and he'll be good.


One of the important things about present day cooperative storytelling games is that the technology level of the present day is actually quite heterogeneous, and the technology level of fiction set in the present day is more heterogeneous still. You got super computers and high tech installations and you got anachronistic communes where people eschew buttons for being too new fangled. And you got everything in between. And importantly: in fiction you have exaggerations of both of those things. So you could have a fictional adventure where the villains have super technology of various qualities and you could have a fictional adventure where the villains are a lost kingdom of bronze age Sumerians. Those aren't exaggerations at all, and we could in fact list various James Bond films and monster horror films where that is literally and exactly the case.

So while one of the things we'd want to support is "Ocean's Eleven With Vampires" and as such you're going to pretty much flatly reject any set of character archetypes that doesn't support ensemble heists - you're still confronted with the fact that the target of the heist can be a high-tech or low-tech scenario. You can be stealing bit coins or ancient rocks.




The secret vampire cryogenics lab and the secret coven of sword using vampire vikings are in the same movie series and both are from the future sequels.

So you're going to be doing a Game Design Flowsheet, but you're also going to have the constraint that for your standard heist or bug hunt or whatever that the villain's pad can be:

  • A high tech installation with lasers and computers.
  • A dilapidated castle with no electricity.
  • A crowded casino full of normal human taxpayers.
  • A cabin in the woods.


Which means that archetypes that can't function in public or need random people around to get things done are non-functional. It means that archetypes that can't do things in a modern context or need technology to interact with are likewise non-functional.

So your archetypes are necessarily high-level, with vague terms like "Warrior" that might plausibly fight with a sword, a machine gun, or claws. And that means in turn that you aren't going to need as many archetypes as Dungeons and Dragons needs character classes. A Paladin and a Ranger can be the same general archetypes.

-Frank
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:
Stuff




I was talking about what WoD dragons were capable of, dude, and they were goofy Mage bygones that were specifically shouted out as being incompatible with the Consensus and thus their existence in the setting was basically contingent on not actually doing anything. That another hypothetical approach you've written yourself from the ground up could meet the necessary parameters for proper inclusion if anything just reinforces my overarching point that what something is called is way, way, way less important than how you mesh them into the setting.
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