Friday, February 25, 2011

5 plots for Vampire: the Masquerade

Do you have trouble inventing plot for your game? This is a new blog label for various games. Label is 5 Plots for... I will give 5 basic plots to work on. In this blog content for Vampire: the Masquerade.

These plots are not full storylines, but ideas to work on or get kick start for your session, adventure or even campaign.

So, here are first five plot ideas for Vampire: the Masquerade. Some of these I have used in my own games, some are ideas I haven't used yet. I will leave open questions how the plot developes for Storyteller/Gamemaster to decide and work on.

1. Wrong Prince

Players' coterie gets anonymous letter or email from unknown source. The message tells, that the Prince of the city is not who he claims to be. The Prince is a sham. The source warns that if the information about false Prince is leaked, the coterie will be in big trouble. They might not be taken seriously or what worse, the false Prince could hunt them down.

What is the real identity of this false Prince? Has he taken the place of the real Prince and is just a poseur. Is he enemy of the city's sect or just power hungry strong individual? What does the false Prince want from the city?

Does false Prince want to destroy the city from inside? Does he just want power and took real Prince's place with the status earned by the real Prince earlier?

How can coterie unveil the false Prince without a question? Will false Prince find out that coterie knows his secret and what will he do to stop the coterie? Who is this mysterious informer?

2. Dead Caitiff Meat

Caitiff's are usually left alone in Camarilla and not appreciated, but even the city's councel wakes up when there are several reports of dead Caitiff. Someone is systematically killing them and in a small period of time bodycount is at it's peak.

Characters' coterie might see their time to shine in this problem, or one of their clan's primogen might give the mission for them. Caitiff are not a big deal, after all. Still someone anonymous killing kindred, thin blood or not, is not to be taken lightly.

But it is not just that simple. Coterie finds out the true power behind Caitiff massacre. Old and powerful vampire of respected generation has come into the town. He is too old and powerful to satisfy his hunger from the human and must nourish his body with vampire blood. Caitiff are easy target in Camarilla area. They are not respected and weak.

What does Coterie do when they find out who is behind the Caitiff massacre? They cannot stop him because of his power. They can be even threatened to let the powerful vampire feed for his time before he leaves to the next city. What if coterie tells about this carnivorous and cannibal vampire to higher authorities, will they be in danger? This powerful vampire could even tempt Coterie to join him for true power, as you cannot lower your generation without feeding on who are above you.

Will characters become his followers seeking for power? Will they tell about the visitor to authorities? Will they even protect him in fear of being onslauhted? What will Camarilla authorities think about this being?

3. Lost Master

Ghoul comes to ask help from Coterie. His master is lost. Been lost for few nights without a trace. Ghoul starts to be really worried and doesn't know anyone else to ask help for. The lost vampire should not be of high status, as his disappearance would be more noted in higher authorities.

What happened to the master? It's Coteries job to find out. The master might be their friend or ally from previous sessions to give some extra motive for Ghoul's trouble.

There are several possibilities and follow-ups for this scenario, depening on how deep ST will make the starting plot. Here are few possibilities:

1. Rival vampire has taken Ghoul's master as his prison. He want's his area, and is blackmailing it from trapped vampire. His area of control will be exchange for his freedom.
2. There are hunter's in town and Ghoul's master is:
A) Captured and kept in mobile laboratory for experiments about vampires. He must be freed and hunters and their experiment data wiped out to protect Masquerade.
B) Hunters have killed the master. Now what to do with the hunters and with the Ghoul who has withdrawal symptoms of blood.

4. Sabbat Shock Troop

They like to play with shovelheads. From time to time Sabbat sends shock troop to cause mayhem and trouble for Camarilla city. Now is the night for it. While hanging out minding their own business Coterie gets attacked by Sabbat shock troop. How do Coterie find out it was Sabbat troops attacked them? Was it just an random attack or beginning of a bigger attack?

5. Thou Shall Be Free

If characters are all fledlings, they might get a task to prove themselves worthy to be neonates freed from sire's control. Easy trick to give simple quest or series of quests. Depending on character's clan, initiation rite might include physical, social or mental tasks. This is quite cheap way to give characters something to do. Another way might be for Coterie to prove their worthiness for Prince.

Final Words

Some of these are simple ways to get something to do for player group (like 5th) but some might even be used for basic plot for entire chronicle. Feel free to use and experiment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tossing it Out: April A-Z blogging challenge

Check it out!

One blog entry for every day of April (except for sundays) from letters A to Z every day it's own letter in order.

Fascinating, and I joined it. Might be really interesting what inspiration just one letter can give for blogging. Looking forward for it!

Special thanks for RPG Blogger, where I found this entry what was a portal to find this challenge:
So thanks The Other Side blog!

Bubba Ho-Tep, senior citizens versus ancient evil

About the movie itself and how to make roleplaying scenario out of it.

Retirement Home And The Mummy

This section might include minor spoilers!

Bruce Campbell is Elvis Presley, or so he claims. He lives in retirement house not in that good shape anymore. One of his fellow residents who claims to be JFK in black body thanks to goverment's plan, claims, that there is a great evil sucking old peoples souls to feed itself. An ancient Mummy!

So Elvis Presley and black JFK decide to fight this ancient evil.

Sounds weird, doesn't it? Yes it does. The movie was not that rediculous as it sounds, and definately in my opinion was not best Bruce Campbell movie out there, but it was rather entertaining otherwise. Best part in the movie is that you can actually make it a roleplaying game scenario for one or few sessions.

For the movie itself, I'd give 3 out of 5 stars. Entertaining yes, but nothing spectacular for viewing it again.

What Game To Use?

In this case I think it's mostly gamemaster's own opinion what rules he wants to use. But I have few suggestions based on my own collection I could use. I think, that more rules light game is better suitable than crunchy one.

World of Darkness Core: Storytelling rules are simple and quite versatile and they cover supernatural aspect pretty well.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten: Also pretty light rules to use, versatile character creation and you can quite easily create your Mummy horror with zombie creation rules.

Call of Cthulhu: Again, really simple and fast rules including insanity rules. You might want to ignore those though, as elder main characters might be senile and a bit crazy. And what fun is it to fight against evil Mummy if you go catatonic right after seeing it? CoC also is focused more on investigation than gunslinging what is a merit.

Those are only three first games came up on my mind out of my own games shelf, but basically you can use what ever rules you feel most suitable for the idea.

Character Creation

Characters are old and a bit crazy. You might want to reduce physical attributes to make characters have to rely more on mental problem resolution than just physical. Destroying Mummy should be more a puzzle than muscle.
Making characters individual and more outstanding from the crowd, feel free to allow players make their background as weird as possible! Elvis Presley who got tired of fame and replaced himself with Elvis impersonator for early retire. When this impersonator died, "Elvis" was dead. But real Elvis is still alive. JFK was not murdered, but his skin color was changed.

Use your imagination. I suggest that players choose some character from near history (around 60's to 70's) who might be dead, but for some reason is not really died as he's now in retirement home and concired as just a silly old fool.

Is character really Elvis, JFK or John Lennon or is he just crazy old fool? Does it matter? No.


You can use movie's plot about the mummy. Museum artifact what was dropped into a river during transportation incident and ancient seal broke open and let mummy free. Mummy needs souls to feed and chose old people. As soul sucking does kill the victim, old people are good victims as they are close to the age of dying more or less naturally. Oh, and mummy sucks souls out of butt. Don't ask.

Mummy should be powerful and not to be killed with straightforward power but some other trick. In the movie, the trick was fire. You might use it but if it does sound a bit too easy, make some other way to destroy it. But remember, in old a bit crazy people's retirement house obtaining source for big fire can be hard.

Obstacles of Old Mummy-Slayers

One problem is mobility. Character's aren't in the shape they were as young. They get exhausted, might have problems with mobility (stiff back, bad hip, weak legs, wheelchair), problems with health (heart problems, need for oxygen tank, second precis medication) and of course staff what won't necessarily like that old people wander outside or steal mummy-destroying items in night.

Another problem is that they are on their own. If they told to the staff that there's an evil mummy in lake what sucks old people's sould from their butt no one would believe them.

Character Death, I don't Think So

In my opinion this is just one-shot campaign (well, it might last few sessions but there is not necessarily any further continueity) so I advice GM to keep characters alive. It's not fun to die during small adventure with clear focus, is it? So, keep character's alive but don't tell it to players. If players know that they won't die, it is not as exciting to play. You might give some "Hero Points" what can keep them out of really dangerous situations.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Download: Vampire: the Masquerade NPC Combat Sheet

To help my own V:tM game's combat phases, I created this tablet. There are also few house rules included I use.

So, here you are, in Excel (xls) format.

Click to download from MediaFire!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Example how I stat uniportant NPC opponents in V:tM

So, basically I start filling basic information. In this battle there are four NPC thugs. I take Excel (as I use computer as game aid) and make rows of Thug 1, Thug 2 and so on.

Basic information I need are attack pool for melee, (attack pool for ranged weapons if needed), stamina soak, dodge and wounds. As these are unimportant opponents, I use fixed wound steps of -1, -3, -5 and incapacitated.

Sometimes I use D10 to determine dicepools for enemies. In this case, I roll D10 for every thug's melee attack, stamina (for stamina D5) and dodge.

At this point it looks like this:

That's the information I need right now. If needed, I can add more. If more important NPC's, I could make more stats but that's good enough for lesser encounters. I did use D10 to determine melee attacks and dodge and D5 to determine stamina in this case.
When wounded (these are human) I simply put a cross or crosses (X) on row of damaged thug.

In row A I also wrote down the weapon thug uses for a reminder.

Next step is weapons and damage. I use simple rule of thumb here. Damage bonus from strength is ½ of melee bonus rounded down. But in damage row I put total damage (Str bonus + Weapon damage) to nullify extra calculation during combat. Some of weapon damages are fixed, as in V:tM core book there are not that many melee weapons present.
It looks like this:

And we are ready to go with this information... at least for now. If some of these NPC thugs does some manouvers or something not covered yet, I just simply decide (or roll) dicepool for that and add it to remember later. Simple and easy and fast.

You can easily make ready template for this to your PC if you use it when you ST or make printable combat templates.

EDIT: Oops, I forgot initiative!!! Roll D10 for base Initiative representing Dexterity + Wits!!!

Before nWoD I made houserules almost nWoD

Before you could find nWoD in stores, I did a rules hack to old World of Darkness. So basically before new World of Darkness rules were available, I did a rules hack/house rule similar to it.

Basically I thought, that for storytelling game fighting should be a bit faster. I mean, there are almost always three dicepool rolls involved:

1. Roll attribute + skill dicepool to determine did you hit or miss
2. Roll damage, what is weapon damage + successes from previous roll after first
3. Opponent rolls stamina as soak
4. Decrease successes of stamina roll to determine damage dealt

There are three rolls to determine did attack inflict wounds. I thought, it might be done easier.

First I thought, what if you decrease opponents stamina from your attack dice pool and the successes are damage. I found out when testing this, that damage was dealt more than previously. Problem was a target number of 6. So I tested with higher target numbers 7, 8 and 9 and found that with target number of 8 you got similar results as several rolls.

So, now I had one roll to determine did character hit, and how much damage was dealt.


I also like exploding dice (get highest number from a die, roll again) but was not satisfied on how it was dealt in oWoD. If you had specialization in skill, you could roll 10's again when tried a task with that specialization.
So I modded it this way:
Everytime you score a 10, roll again for possible bonus successes.
Specialization in skill means that you get +1 to dice pool if you try a task involving that specialization.


Those rules I houseruled waaaay before year 2004. But actually I never used first simplier combat rules because I felt that it was too much hack for the rules. Now was thinking, that maybe I should after all.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quick naming random NPC's

Sometimes it could feel like it's hard to come up with a name for NPC, but it is just really easy. Trick all Game Masters should know, or know already. What to do when you need quickly to name a NPC?

For modern or more realistic games easiest way is to take nearest rpg rulebook or sourcebook, look at the list of writers, pick random first name, random surname and combine.
Your rpg book is actually modern name generator allways available!

For fantasy settings or for stranger names look around. Read what you read, combine or alter text. And you got a name.

For example, I had to come up with a name for Prince's sheriff in Vampire: the Masquerade. I swept the room with my eyes and somewhere picked word "Adrian". Ok, that's good name. And surname? I had bag of snacks manufactured by "Crusti Crocks" and I liked the word "crusti". So, I got NPC sheriff Adrian Crusti. Simple.

Sometimes just mix few letter. I have Colin Forbes book next to me, NPC might be Folin Corbes in fantasy setting. Or I might mix and match letters more.
Colin Fobes. Bes.. lin. Beslin sounds good. Forcol? Nope. I taste sound Forcol in my mouth. Forcol, forcal, forcel, farcel, forceal... until I find name I like. So NPC could be Beslin Farcel.

I also see a magazine, and in the cover reads Tennis & Golf. Okay. Dennis Flog? Tennee golf... golf... lol... folf... folg... folf... Dennis Folf.

It of course is easier to find name for NPC when you know what he looks like. For Dwarven warrior Beslin Farcel wouldn't work that well. But what about, Colin Forbes... Folin Corbes yes, Folin Gorbe? Suits me.

Sometimes you can just change first letters from words. I have this Battery Energy drink can next to me, and it says "Limited Edition". Eimited Ledition? Sounds duffy, but let's continue tasting it for this elven archer. Elied? Yep. Elied sounds elvish enough. Elied Ledition? Elied Liedi?

If you want really goofy and tolkien-realistic names, just add ´'s and ^'s and what ever to name. Elied Liedi is not elven enough, but how about now, Elïed Liédi?

If you need weird demon, orc or other name, just say something twisting your mouth. "Broawgg?" Okay, I wrote it down what I sounded like. Broawg da ork boss. Broawg the badger demon? Suits me.

[V:tM] Nosferatu hideout

Sacrifices and occult activity? Or just a cover up to keep unwanted visitors away?

This is main passage to New Jersey's biggest Nosferatu lair. All the rumors about evil activity are actually just cover up stories and urban legends started by Nosferatu to keep unwanted mortal visitors away.

Some of the stories are true though.

Eerie feeling is caused by foul clan Nosferatu presence. Some people can sense the presence, some cannot.

The voices and screams are also true at some cases. Might be victims drained from blood, or distant yells from specimen human, ghoul and vampire species. Also if you travel too long these sewers and you confront a Nosferatu who is not capable or willing to just erase your memories, you might be made a warning example to other mortals not to enter.

Devil worshipping and sacrifices might be true or not. There might be some dark ancient Nosferatu rites going on even other kindreds in New Jersey aren't aware of. But if there were those, how could mortals know or even have a slightest hint about them. Most likely just rumors to scare mortals, but there might be a hint of truth in it.

Many layers, hidden passages and other make perfect sense in Nosferatu lair. It is not a secret that Nosferatu know the underground better than anyone else.

Some mortals do enter the passage curiously or thrill-seeking and most of them don't see anything before they are too scared or intimitated to back off. Some of them are purpously scared off. Some of them are taken in, feed on, or even killed.

If kindred enters the lair, he is well warned. If kindred does not take those warnings seriously, god mercy on his lost soul.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

GM Tip: How to quickly give personality to NPC?

So, you have NPC what characters meet. NPC might be blacksmith, city guard, beggar, or anything. How to give some edge to that character quickly?

First, check your surroundings. Two items you first see. I see scissors and pen. Now translate what you see to characteristics. Scissors are sharp, so NPC is witty. Pen indicates he is also learned. OR scissors as sharp might also mean that he is violent and pen that he is in high status.

So, now that blacksmith is witty and learned.
Or city guard is violent and in high status. Possibly guard captain.

Small trick what needs a bit of imagination, but you'll get quickly seeds to determine some personality.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RPG's and Satan

I cannot believe, that this kind of thing still excists. The facts are allways incorrect and all the reasoning pulled out of randomly.

I remember, when I started to play when I was just a kid (11 years old) some of the people around me did think I was invovled in satanism and/or Satan worshipping.

You might want to check this site out, but don't let your blood pressure go too high.

And remember (according to that site) what is the real purpose for RPG Cons:
"Now, games give explicit instruction in the rituals and methods of the occult. Indeed, gaming tournaments are prime times for occultists to find 'recruits' with exceptional ability"