Monday, June 29, 2009

First steps with new World of Darkness

I have been quite skeptic towards new World of Darkness games line. What I have read in internet some people adore nWoD over old one, some people despise it. I have to admit, that I had some serious prejudice for it.

Book itself is quite dull. Nothing spectacular for the book what started new World of Darkness line. Artwork is ok at it's best, and quite awful at it's worst. Most of the pictures are quite mediocre. Also there is quite much different shortstories what makes book also thicker, but also gives a bit of insight of the game. How it is intended to play. Most of the stories are ok even if none of them is a masterpiece. In whole book only one story I couldn't read through. It was just too boring for me.

Rules are quite simple. They have the same feeling as oWoD, but still they are different. For some reason I get the expression of a bit more gamistic, D&D like rules set what is strange, as basically rules are a bit easier for example reduced amount of dicepools needed. This feels more like a game. It might be that new WoD is desidned again, and flaws of previous versions have tried to crop out. As oWoD was Storytelling mostly, the new one has had attention more on rules also. I like the concept of the rules. Easy to learn, easy to use. Quite same as old but still brand new.

I started to Storytell World of Darkness Mortals game, with ordinary player character who witnesses supernatural events. It is quite fun, as for ordinary human this personal horror is more easy to provide than horror himself, ie. vampire character. There is something vulnerable in humans (duh) what makes game more mystery- and horror like. Also I can freely use as much stereotypes about supernatural beings in WoD fiction. I can forget all sects, clans, tribes, undead social districts et cetera because they aren't relevant for people. Humans only see the fanged monster lurking in the shadows, they don't see if he is council of city or something else. I like this. And it is so easy to make story go. For vampires (what I had Storytelled past 7 years) it started to get dull. Ok, you are vampire, today what magnificent things you will witness than human, who sees strange patterns in milk when pouring it to glass. Also, if human sees two red eyes in forest, he is terrified for the unknown as vampire would go "Fuck! Werewolf! Let the prince know!" If you get my point.

My style of gaming doesn't inolve that much dice rolling (what I'd like to have more, but the story takes all the attention). There has been few skill checks this far, and for my experience, nWoD runs quite smooth. It has that old WoD feeling, yet it seems to be new. Earlier in this post I Pointed out how for some reason nWoD feels a bit more like "game" as D&D but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

My experience this far of new World of Darkness basic rule set is awe. It is cool, seems fresh (some time last time I took a totally new game for me and ran it), works fine. For horror/supernatural game with humans I like this. If I compare nWoD to other horror games with humans, I think this is most earthly to come by. Characters aren't intelligent investigators searching for ancient mysteries and stumbling on huge monster with tentacles stuck on jaw, they don't have magical powers to be avatars, they don't see through illusion what monsters lurk behind the lie we call reality... In WoD mortals are postmen, worn out cops, office clergs - and in my game - girl working in horse ranch.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The drive of campaing is missing

For some reason, current Vampire: the Masquerade campaign in Iceland is not running as smoothly, as it could. Start was pretty ok, but then it started to freeze a bit. There is too much boring things happening, and the plot seems for me to be kind of... too dull. The game is not advancing basically nowhere for some reason.

I don't know, is it because there is 2,5 (one shorter) campaigns before this with same character and maybe it just feels, that this character has experienced that much, there is not enough "new" or fresh ideas to go with. Maybe I just took a bit too big bit without properly preparing the game. You know, character is the leader of Iceland's underworld... what can she do next? I mean that as she is in such a big position, there is not those common "prince says" missions to do. And when character has that big status, it would be dull if she just did those common run-and-deliver-and-kill-intruders quests as they are ment for neonates. There is not much political aspect either available, as she is only vampire there, except of her most trusted followers ever.

So the campaign is withering because of it's own impossibility, lack of preparations and too high status character. So there is two ways to carry on. Bury the campaign and remember Angelmoon as a cool character or try to continue it with force.

There has been also some things going on without much of logic.

Here is in nutshell some things what has happened this far in campaing:

  • Angelmoon built a new nightclub for herself to attract "weird" humans who can be used as retainers and possibly new kindred if it comes to that point. How to get party good? Drinks mixed with a small amount of Angeline's blood to make those clubbers fancy the club and it's mysterious owner more.
  • Trying to build contacts. There is currently two. Motorcycle gang leader called Spike who looks like whale drifted to shore. Fat-ass bad-ass. Was quite easily to obtain with simple trade. Angelmoon's trusted vale Ex-Humane got Spike stuff, so Spike helps them. Other is dirty cop who uses steroids. Supply him with steroids to get some small favours in trade.
  • Methuselah incident, what I blogged earlier. Sabbat got rid of that Methuselah and Angelmoon's previously known Sabbat member Asmadeus (who actually originally kidnapped her from USA to Iceland) rewarded her with artifact of Ankh from Methuselah's lair. There is a small bug there. Sabbat in "real WoD" would have got rid of Angelmoon and her crew also, but that didn't happen, as Angelmoon and Asmadeus has somekind of silent agreement together.
  • That artifact of Methuselah's Ankh got attention of human from society to prevent humankind to find out those mystical things, that could shake whole mortal world with their excistense. Why there was ancient Egyptian Ankh in Iceland in this case. Angelmoon got a agreement with this human. Human knew that Angelmoon is not human being, but wasn't quite sure what she is. But as that secret sociaty knows there is supernatural things happening in world, he wasn't that curious. Angeline got to keep her Ankh (Toreador she is) but that society's advocate told her, that his society is watching her.
  • And there is Alec. Evil baddest of the bad Nosferatu (also posted about him earlier) who tease Angelmoon and her friends from now and then with his torturous plans. That Nosferatu Alec even did invade Angelmoon's and her coteries private area and Angelmoon's coterie fought that impossible fight back. The point was for Alec to show which of Angelmoon's members are useful and loyal towards her. One did not pass as he did not move his finger to fight.
  • While getting those steroids Ex-Humane and Creep (Angelmoon's Nosferatu in coterie) got hold of 100 kg (what!) of cocaine what they distribute as a payment for certain favours. Who doesn't like white powder eh? Especially when you are forced to sip it. Now there at their backyard is construction site for bunker in power of cocaine. Sweet and stupid. But it is World of Darkness.
  • Summer is long and full of light. There was that situation, that they had to find sanctuarium from sun to be in a whole month in safe. Safe from both humankind and sun in case they fall in torpor. So they did go to old mining site what was rumored to haunt (that was a lair of Tzimisce, what Angelmoon did destroy at previous campaing).
Rest of the game has been quite dull blah-blah. Random things happening and lots, lots of yapping between characters without much of a point. No, I like long irrevelant conversations between characters but still, the drive of this campaing is missing. If I was asked about this campaing "why" the answer would be, "dunno".

So, I am planning to give this campaing a small pause and start playing (and also testing) nWoD vampire. I have some pretty neat ideas for Mexico already. Best part is, that Vampire: the Masquerade has a special place in my heart, it will always be awesome so I can use Vampires in Requiem, but I'll do it a bit differently. Apparently Requiem is different than Masquerade, and it is cool that I can use it for totally different vampire adventures.

Currently I am reading World of Darkness core book and after that Vampire: the Requiem and Shadows of Mexico before kickin' new game in. There is lots of reading though. Three books which two of them are quite heavy. And learning new setting and system is always a struggle. While Masquerade has it's own gravity what makes it to float, I have to carry Requiem as a new game on my own arms. That can be fun learning and using new, but also can make game run a bit slow. Still, waiting for to get to try that one out.

Besides, as a Masquerade fan it is enlightened to know about Requiem as well.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Methuselah in Iceland

Well, I have this Vampire: the Masquerade campaign going on, and I decided to add something "dangerous" to game. Some real threat. Decided, what would be better than a hint character gets, that Methuselah is hidden in the land of Ice!

Ok, Methuselah are really powerful vampires of 4th or 5th generation. Vampires, what Sabbat constantly hunts down to prevent Gehenna, where Methuselah rise from their hidden graves to destroy all vampires! Sounds nice doesn't it?

So, there is rumored to be one Methuselah hidden in Iceland. Player character had a hint of its existence and now is her "job" to find the location of this devourer.

How character is able to find this Methuselah then? I and player gave it a thought and decided, that character might want to try to find and examine some old Icelandic and nordic mythology to find hint of some powerful being what has been "real" to the people of thousands of years back, but on modern ages forgotten. Player announced, that her character tries to Google something what could suit well. I thought, "okay, your character Angelmoon Googles for information, so should you." I asked player to go to Google and show me, what his character finds out.

This addes a bit flavour and exitement to play, as player didn't throw Intelligence+Computer/Investigation difficulty 8 4 successes but actually himself started to find that information as her character was doing. That added something new to our game to actually do something rather than count on dices to determine success.

And there was another great feature in that. For me as Storyteller I wasn't decided in advance, what part of mythology or what ancient being was this supposed Methuselah but player did it for me. She showed the internet page what her character "found out" and I decided, that that was the actual hint. That way player had her share in developing story.

This is the web page my player showed for me:

Ok, I know that sounds a bit more like Werewolf than vampire, but there is that clan Gangrel what can also go into that profile, especially ancient one what is most definately inhuman. The most awesome and fascinating thing behind that link is texts last chapter:

Being very pleased with themselves, the gods carried Fenrir off and chained him to a rock (called Gioll) a mile down into the earth. They put a sword between his jaws to prevent him from biting. On the day of Ragnarok, Fenrir will break his chains and join the giants in their battle against the gods. He will seek out Odin and devour him. Vidar, Odin's son, will avenge his father by killing the wolf.

In that text, those other "gods" are vampires. As usually Methuselah are described to be hidden under the earth, that part also makes sense. "Sword between his jaws" can be also understood as "staked to torpor". Ragnarok will ofcourse be Ghenenna, vampiric armageddon where Methuselah rise from their hidden graves to feed on their offspring to the destruction of vampire race.
Odin and Vidar part of that mythology are still open for me, what they will represent in World of Darkness and vampire lore.

Still, I am quite excited of this "founding" how well random website can suit to story, or generally real old mythology of gods.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Horror in Vampire

I have always thought Vampire: the Masquerade as a horror game, but obviously the horror is different than in Mythos as actually players are "the" horrors themselves.

What is this "horror" then. Well, game states it as a roleplaying game of personal horror, what means, that as players themselves are vampires, they aren't supposed to be fighting great 'ol ones or such matters. They are monsters themselves.

There comes the twist of personal horror. As you are vampire, you are doomed. You cannot see or enjoy daylight anymore. Day by day, decade by decade your life around you withers and crumbles until it dies away in history. There is always more powerful being than you who might use you to his own agendas or kill you if you're face isn't good enough for him.

Those upper are obvious "themes" on vampire, but still, that personal horror is quite hard thing to handle.

Personal horror can easily turn to be angst making those Camarilla vampires bitch about how dark and meaningless their life is when they struggle to maintain their humanity. But what if you are monster long lost human morality and are in Sabbat? What is your personal horror then? Fear of Gehenna? You are ferosious beast and battle is your glory so you ain't scaring those Cammy in the other side of the field, your pack-mates can do you even worse. Do you scare your own sect if you aren't loyal? Do you know anything about being scared or any feelings anyways? You are beast what follows some creepy path anyways.

Personal horror is really hard thing to take in your World of Darkness campaigns, but it makes game a bit deeper. Something more than just kickin' enemies butts with neat superpowers. Personal horror in other hand taken too far just makes game angsting of vampires own misery.

This is a hard thing to get in games. Personal horror. It must be player's own agenda to find it for his character, not Storytellers. Of course ST is the one who makes the game and setting happen, but player is the soul for the character.

Paint your nails black, turn off lights and lit up candles. It is time for a story of blood, passion, loss, frenzy...

Designing game system

I like rpg's obviously, and like them more than just playing. My dream is to make my own gaming system. You know, like crafting something for own fun and hobby. I have had several tries to do something, but they all didn't work out. But now, I had this great idea of rpg-system what I want to do relly! I made it basically quite easy to develop and also flexible. Let me explain more.

For first, there is this basic and core of the game. Generic system, like GURPS for example (or D20/True20 in the way). For first I write the most basic of the basic rules for that game and then can add (what I call) templates to it when feel inspired or get ideas (not to mention time ofcourse).

For example, I got this basic rules for my game, but can make templates like Advanced fighting, mentality rules, magic rules etc. etc. aswell as settings, monsters, item lists... what ever I please! My main idea is flexible core-system, what you can develope, build and make expansions as much as you please.

I want also character creation to be flexible. There will be two options, dices or divide. You can randomly throw dices for stats and skills, or assign them as you please. Or mix the two methods (dices for stats but assign for skills or vice versa).

As I have lately played only game systems what need only one type of die (Prador D6, WoD D10, True20 D20 etc.) I wanted to add a bit of oldschool and gaming aspect and decided to use all dices between D4 to D20. What can be more fun than throw dices when rolePLAYING? Still, I want to keep things simple and fast, dices just give that nice extra flavour to game (still I think as rules are flexible for add-ons you can make it more complicated, if wanted).

I have this far sketched following:
  • Attributes (total 7 of them)
  • Skills system
  • Basic idea of game mechanics
  • Basic idea of character creation
  • Really really starting to figure out health system, but getting there
  • Basic idea of combat and damage
  • Idea of resolving tasks using skills and attributes
Generally, the frames for game are sketched already, now just need to start to write it out, get some testing for it first personally and after it share it with trusted people to try out also.

I hope this thing works out, because this system gives me flexibility and time, as I am not trying to make any 400-pages manual with setting and all, but making this one project from pieces, templates and add-ons.

I am quite excited about this!

And I also got name for it! Just don't share it yet.

Postman brought GURPS Cabal

Happened to buy Star Wars SAGA and Unknown Armies from one roleplaying game forum user and got GURPS: Monsters also free of charge (but as it was very nice act to give free stuff, I decided to pay him a bit extra what we originally agreed). In GURPS: Monsters there was advertisement of GURPS: Cabal what catched my eye.

I am not sure why I got interested of that book, but started to google it around and for example found review from and got more fascinated of this product.

One sentence got my eye the most:
The Cabal is the conspiracy, trade union, and mutual-assistance society that lets all these creatures survive in a world of hostile humans. If a demon needs a lawyer to keep the exorcists off his back . . . or if a little old vampire lady needs a bit of daylight muscle . . . who are they gonna call? The mortal-busters . . . the Cabal.

I thought, that this book could suit very well for World of Darkness games and went through few rpg dealers, founding it for very reasonable price at Boostep. Ordered monday night, got it wednesday. Quite fast action there!

I haven't read yet the book, but browsed it quickly through to get first impression of the book.

For first, book looks neat, cover art is cool enough and well painted. A bit thin it is though, the book i mean. Reading the back cover of book doesn't show any hint of that cursived sentence I introduced earlier. From reviews I had impression, that Cabal is secret society of humans to help supernatural beings, but in this books back cover I find out, that Cabal is secret society of supernatural beings. First I was "what the heck", but cannot be sure before I read the sourcebook through. Still, sounds fishy and nothing like I thought.

Content seems to be ok. Easy enough to read. Artwork is most of the time ok, but biggest pictures between chapters look horrible, just like 80's/90's rpg books. Just horrible! There seems to be more text than actual game mechanics what is actually good as (if] I am going to use it on other game system than GURPS.

Basically it looks and feels ok, but cannot be sure before I read it through.

One funny thing got on my mind when flapping that book around. As everyone know, rpg culture has struggled in 90's for it's bad reputation and inaccurate accusations of Satan worshipping and other charming bullshit. But now there next to me lays book full of occultism, cabbalism, black magic, supernatural beings, secret societies and stuff... yet again.

"Welcome Cabal, you like my oWoD and nWoD collections. I'd like to introduce you for my friends All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Call of Cthulhu, Unknown Armies, Kult..."

Not related to this topic, but side note. If I don't like pointy-eared elves and chunky dwarves helping clueless hairy-feet to take some ring to lava, is it my problem? And majority yells "YES" and throws me with rotten tomatoes!

Vampire campaign

After a small break (half a year even) I kicked in a new Vampire: the Masquerade campaing few months ago where it last time ended.

Last campaing ended when chronicle's main character Angeline "Angelmoon" Callisto, a Toreador, was kidnapped from her town in USA and got dragged (shipped actually) to Iceland where she in the end destroyed his kidnappers (who were minions of Sabbat. Not worth of anything suppose, as one Torador whooped their butt). Iceland was divided in half of realm with another kindred, in post-text of campaing what player had free hands to write campaing out that other vampire was also destroyed and Angeline left alone.

This new campaing started from where last ended.

For first games main idea was loneliness and angst, but it started to feel a bit too much of anemic so as a Storyteller I "arranged" few Angeline's ex-coterie people from Night Speed Children to get into Iceland and join her in the isolated island. The whole coterie is not present there, as I "dropped" out the most annoying and useless membes of it and brought only important and interesting to join new campaing. Others of the coterie can lay where ever they are. Angelmoon the character, me as Storyteller or player cannot care more.

In the other hand, one of the most powerful and vicious npc in Camarilla Angelmoon (and quite few other) know has joined Iceland. Nosferatu primogen of Angelmoon's ex-city. Alec D'arc, the Nosferatu, never suited to Camarilla rules, but Sabbat is too strict to him. He is vicious and spreads his enjoyment of destruction, torture, terror and domination where ever he walks. But still player likes a lot of that npc and it is also my favourite. Even if it is bad news for characters that Alec is around, for players it is fun.

The drive of the game changed from angst to building Iceland's territory and realm and taking advantage of different "hotspots" in Iceland, to make it as good as possible for vampire-society and Angelmoon's coterie to live. Player himself is not that interested in this kind of political gaming so there is few obstacles. Usually "what I am supposed to do now" situations where player is unsure what his character should do next. Luckily there is his coterie of loyal npc's through which Storyteller (I) can carefully help player so she don't get stuck on anything and game goes on.

Basically this is normal Vampire set for us as it has always been. A little bit of action, lots of bullshit talking (between characters), a pinch of romance, a taste of violence and brimful of angst.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First entry

Today I started blog here. For my hobby of rpg's I have tried several different options to publish my stuff on internet and in time all of them have faded up. Usually maintaining websites is too heavy even if I have used templates to do that.

I have noticed, that several roleplaying gamers use blogs to publish their personal thoughts, to share information and introduce happenings. That was the basis of the idea for me to try out blogging.

Let's see what all I can do with that than just "diary-type thoughts to save". Would be cool ofcourse, if I could update for example my campaings here!

Must train and see how to use this in future.

Oh and might be worth to mention that my english is not perfect. I am foreigner ;)