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View Full Version : [VtM] Good ways for providing the essential World Of Darkness experience?



KillianHawkeye
2010-06-16, 06:07 PM
Okay, I'm starting up my very first Vampire chronicle this weekend. It's VtM 2nd Edition (the books've been sitting on my shelf for almost 15 years now).

Anyway, I need people's opinions! What are some good things to include (be it NPCs, events, story elements, etc.) that provide the essential World Of Darkness experience. I get that it's supposed to be darker and grittier than the real world, but since I'm still new at this I need examples! What has been especially cool or worked really well for you? What really showcases the feeling that WoD is supposed to convey? How do I play up the horror in everyday ocurrences?

Secondly, I could use some ideas for plot hooks or non-player instigated events/adventures. I'm going to start the players out just before they're presented to the Prince. They'll get to meet some NPCs, but I'm not really sure what to do next. I've never run a sandbox-style game before and my players may not be used to it. So what should I do if they don't take the initiative and start scheming and plotting amongst themselves?


Many thanks!

Caliphbubba
2010-06-16, 07:09 PM
Are you planning on running a Prelude with each character before the chronicle begins? There are often times a lot of good seed ideas that come from them.

In my experience a good oWoD game requires pro-active players. I usually craft NPCs that have goals just like a player would, and populate the world with them and let things develop organically.

another good first step is to figure out what you want the general theme of the chronicle to be. is it:

Beast vs Humanity?
Camarilla vs Sabat?
Elders vs Neonates?
Primogen vs Prince?
ect

an internal or external struggle?

There are lots of themes you can run with.

I try to define power blocks as well. Like... are there Anarchs in the city? are there other Supernaturals? are there Hunters?

Edit: A good "everyday horror" scene can be achieved by the players having to deal with their mortal friends/family depending on how old the characters are. Witnessing an Elder casually murdering someone can do the trick too.

A possible plot hook that could go lots of ways is the death or disapearance of a sire. Especially so if you have characters that are part of the same brood.

Another would be the local Harpy tearing into the neonates about their lack of social awareness at Elysium.

Or having a mutual mentor for the characters call them in to repay a boon to an old rival...

NekoJoker
2010-06-16, 07:13 PM
I Can't believe no one's answered this yet!

---EDIT Caliphbubba NINJA'D ME GOOD ---

Well cheers, I am starting out my own chronicle myself.

What I plan to do is to have them start as Real neonates as is they where actually embraced the night before and plan to have them struggle with the beast within.

Most of the books I own are 3rd edition, but i do not think they are really too different (with the exception of a few disciplines and clan weaknesses)... I think what you want to do is put horror in the little things try to have the players with as little knowledge about Kindred society as possible, that way they are kept off-balance and a chance to screw-up may come around (hopefuly it won't get anyone killed) when this happens have some handy-dandy NPC there to help them out just a little bit and show them the ropes in Unlife.

After this introduction you can visit the prince, try making him/her as impressive as possible and strike a bit of fear and maybe resentment in the players;

Sometimes you will just have to be a bit cruel, on the very first night try to have at least one of the characters feed from an innocent of some sort, that will shock the character a bit and have the player realize that they are predators of the night... but have to fight the beast down and remain as sane and human as possible

About power... well, there's planty to be said politics asre tough and difficult to carry out if the group is not used to it... if you chose to go that way have in mind that WoD is not a nice and fair world, you -as a cainite- will have to lick a few shoes before anyone takes you seriously and even then you will have to struggle some more.

There are many sourcebooks available on the net and ready to download and some others too on your local game shop.

have fun and tell me how this turns out

Soras Teva Gee
2010-06-16, 07:23 PM
Run this minor adventure:

Characters are presented to the Prince who in exchange for letting them into their domain gives them a request. Which of course the characters accept. A simple mission to rescue a favored someone of the prince held by a rival faction. The characters do this and bring the favorite before the prince.

The prince kills the favorite for a previous sin and only wanted the rescue so as to have the pleasure of doing it personally.

Mark Hall
2010-06-16, 07:35 PM
I think one of the core World of Darkness experience things should be "there is always someone more powerful than you." Mortals should be pretty easy for combat vampires, and nothing more than annoyances to werewolves... but that mortal with a surprise round and a shotgun should give everyone pause, and there should be at least the THREAT of someone capable of destroying the party.

Take a look at disciplines and decide what you're going to allow. Presence is stupid powerful, because there's no way to resist it reliably.

KillianHawkeye
2010-06-17, 06:42 AM
Are you planning on running a Prelude with each character before the chronicle begins? There are often times a lot of good seed ideas that come from them.

Sadly, no. I don't really have a chance to get my players one-on-one. Plus, we are going to do character creation as a group since this is our first time playing Vampire, and I'll be filling them in on details of the setting and how the game mechanics work as we go. Also, due to our group dynamics, I felt like it would be best to get everyone together, which doesn't logically happen until the training with their sire is completed. Thus, kinda fast forwarding through that bit and starting off with the presentation to the prince.


another good first step is to figure out what you want the general theme of the chronicle to be. is it:

Beast vs Humanity?
Camarilla vs Sabat?
Elders vs Neonates?
Primogen vs Prince?
ect

Hmm... hadn't put a whole lot of thought into a specific theme. I just had some ideas for future plot hooks. I'd like to start off by exploring the nature of vampirism i.e. the conflict between what the characters want and what the Beast needs and it's inherent effect on one's humanity. As the chronicle goes on, I just figured I'd tailor the nature of the conflicts according to what the players do, who they help, who they piss off, etc. Probably won't be much of the Sabbat, but hopefully I can throw in a werewolf or something eventually. How strong do vamps need to get before they can take on a wolf, anyway?


Run this minor adventure:

Characters are presented to the Prince who in exchange for letting them into their domain gives them a request. Which of course the characters accept. A simple mission to rescue a favored someone of the prince held by a rival faction. The characters do this and bring the favorite before the prince.

The prince kills the favorite for a previous sin and only wanted the rescue so as to have the pleasure of doing it personally.

Nice. I'll put something like this on standby in case the players don't show any initiative.


I think one of the core World of Darkness experience things should be "there is always someone more powerful than you." Mortals should be pretty easy for combat vampires, and nothing more than annoyances to werewolves... but that mortal with a surprise round and a shotgun should give everyone pause, and there should be at least the THREAT of someone capable of destroying the party.

Yeah, I've definitely been trying to impress upon my players that combat won't be as easy as D&D, and should be something to be avoided. Only time will tell how successful I've been.


Take a look at disciplines and decide what you're going to allow. Presence is stupid powerful, because there's no way to resist it reliably.

I hadn't really thought of excluding anything, although Thaumaturgy seems like it might be a little too complex for newbies. I'm pretty much allowing anything from the core book. I don't mind the PCs being powerful, nor do I feel like this is a game where the characters have to be "balanced." At least, as long as everyone remembers to roleplay.

Shezagorath
2010-06-17, 09:27 AM
If it's horror that you want to provide and you're all new to the scene then let your players hear about things even more terrifying than vampires *gasp* The prince sends to to investigate some strange murders as thier test of adulthood (because they're expendable really) and at the end of the trail is a Lupine . . . something truly inhuman, something that calls to thier own beast within ;)

Early games are easy to spark terror. It's when your characters survive for a while that the bad guys have to get super tough and horrifying. Here you can start small and simple. It needs to be a murder mystery though with well defined plot twist points from detailed NPC's who help or hinder. For atmosphere think Jack the Ripper and remember that as the other Canintes don't see your players as real vampires yet they should be made to feel lonely, forgotten and isolated in a world that keeps getting stranger and stranger.

JeenLeen
2010-06-17, 10:15 AM
Try to get a feel of what the players enjoy and shape the general theme around that.

If you want other supernaturals, any obvious vampiric activity would probably draw the eye of the Technocracy (the technomagic mages who fight the Traditions and essentially are trying to wipe out anything not in the Technocracy's view of reality, which includes vampires).

Having some Men in Black after them should be interesting. Also, as Clan Tremere is at war with the Order of Hermes, so that could also have some interesting implications if your location features both.

As for an initial plot, the idea mentioned above of saving someone favored by the Prince (probably not from an actual rival, but maybe he's in jail or something, if you are newly-made neonates) just to have him killed by the Prince sounds a good introduction.

KillianHawkeye
2010-06-17, 06:26 PM
@Shezagorath: I'm already planning on including garou as antagonists eventually, but not right from the start. There's no way fresh PCs can even handle ONE without somebody probably getting killed. Plus, the longer I can go with the threat of werewolves just out of sight, the scarier it will be when they finally meet one in combat.

@LeenJeen: Unfortunately, I know almost nothing about mages. I might be able to BS one, but I've already put a severe limit to the Tremere presence in the city because I haven't had time to really figure out Thaumaturgy. (Plus, the Prince is a Nosferatu, and he thinks the Tremere are all trying to overthrow him.)

MIBs are an idea that could work, but again, it's something that probably needs to be built up to. Start with local police detectives, PIs, then maybe move up to state troopers before bringing in the X-Files crew. But yes, I've considered them. As I've said before, the kind of antagonists I'll end up using will depend as much on what the players do as it does on what I can have available.


As for an initial plot, the idea mentioned above of saving someone favored by the Prince (probably not from an actual rival, but maybe he's in jail or something, if you are newly-made neonates) just to have him killed by the Prince sounds a good introduction.

Yeah, I'm thinking of a blood bound vampire that's so uselessly inept that he's been captured by mere mortals (who don't even know what he really is).


So, anyone got any more ideas for NPCs, events, or situations? Tips for a first time Storyteller?

Shezagorath
2010-06-21, 07:32 AM
Yeah you've got a point that a Lupine might be a bit tough but remember that you can change the rules as you want, it's easy for you to make him just strong enough to be a challange for the whole group VS him but the problem there would be his claws and teeth so you're right.

When I started my most recent group off I knew they needed something on par with thier low power. What I've done often in the past was start off with Witch Hunters but I was bored of that so they ended up going after a Mexican drug cartell of which about 20% of the gang were ghouls. They had to set sail from Florida to reach Mexico and the passanger ship allowed for some interesting situations.

Project_Mayhem
2010-06-21, 07:44 AM
Mortals should be pretty easy for combat vampires, and nothing more than annoyances to werewolves... but that mortal with a surprise round and a shotgun should give everyone pause

See that was the coolest thing about my Gangrel character - with 5 Fortitude and 5 stamina, small arms physically couldn't hurt him. If I recall, when blood buffed, guns would have to do 23 damage to even cause one damage level. Mind you, this was an anchilla campaign, so guns were the least of my problems

JeenLeen
2010-06-21, 08:09 AM
@LeenJeen: Unfortunately, I know almost nothing about mages. I might be able to BS one, but I've already put a severe limit to the Tremere presence in the city because I haven't had time to really figure out Thaumaturgy. (Plus, the Prince is a Nosferatu, and he thinks the Tremere are all trying to overthrow him.)

MIBs are an idea that could work, but again, it's something that probably needs to be built up to. Start with local police detectives, PIs, then maybe move up to state troopers before bringing in the X-Files crew. But yes, I've considered them. As I've said before, the kind of antagonists I'll end up using will depend as much on what the players do as it does on what I can have available.



Just FYI: MiBs are a subgroup of the Technocracy mages. The Technocracy pretty much controls the modern world--governments, economics, etc--at least where vampires or other supernatural groups don't. Major government powers (including probably the President of the US, knowingly or unknowingly), FBI, local police, etc. are at their command since many high-ranking officials of such organizations are members or acolytes of the Technocracy.

There's also a group called Arcanum, of (as far as I know) mortals, who try to research supernaturals, including at times by capturing them.

I could see Arcanum or mundane servants of the Technocracy as MiBs investigating the scene. The threat of a full-on investigation could be an additional reason for the players to maintain the Masquerade: humans knowing about obviously supernatural events often leads to the Technocracy finding out, and they try to wipe out other supernaturals.

If you've read any of the Hunter books (Hunter: The Vigil being the core book, I believe), that's a good possibility. I don't know how their powers compare to vampires, though, since I haven't read the book.


In the Mage book, it gives advice on how to adjust other supernaturals' powers to the mage Spheres. I imagine you could do similarly. If you don't have the time or resources to figure out the other supernatural systems, you can emulate them through giving them Disciplines. For example, I could see a Technocracy MiB having something like Presence or Dominate to emulate the Mind Sphere, probably some physical things like Obeah, Fortitude, or Potence to simulate Life, and Celerity could emulate Time. Thaumaturgy probably is the best Sphere for the random stuff mages can do (create something out of nothing, increase the power of existent forces, step into the umbral or talk to spirits), but if you are avoiding that you don't need to give it to your NPCs. Instead of blood points to power their magic, they instead get Paradox anytime they do something obviously supernatural; too much Paradox (usually 5+, which they can usually get after 2 or 3 obvious acts) and it Backlashes, giving some flaw or possibly aggravated damage that seems fitting for what violation against reality caused the Backlash. (Thus most mages, and especially Technocrats, try to do things coincidentally: a gun or supertech explosive that boosts damage by a couple points, or they just 'happen' to have a spare pistol in jacket pocket.)

I know one of the suspenseful aspects of my Mage game is that the DM does not tell the players (including me) about the other supernaturals more than our characters would know. So it's very often we see another creature doing something that is impossible for a mage or could get a mage killed easily. That is a frightening sight, and it adds to the game. If you can, I recommend you utilize this.

Shezagorath
2010-06-21, 08:35 AM
My apologies for going off topic for a moment but it's clear that the amount of VtM players here is very limited. Most people have of course moved on to more "modern" systems but my group and I aren't really interested in any of the other games.

Does anyone know of a VtM only (or at least more VtM focused) forum somewhere?

On a side note, I just learned something about the Technocracy so yeay! :smallbiggrin:

The Tygre
2010-06-21, 12:13 PM
It is now the 1990s, where you are allowed to unironically remember that far off time known as the 80s.

Quincunx
2010-06-21, 12:26 PM
It is now the 1990s, where you are allowed to unironically remember that far off time known as the 80s.

*snorfle* So true. Remember, Anne Rice is the authority on vampire behavior, people will write the spelling "vampyre" in all seriousness, and mere humanity has no meta-plot.

Petrankov
2010-06-21, 12:33 PM
@ Shezagorath. Yes the white-wolf website still has a forum dedicated to oWoD and it is still quite active.

As far as the original post goes I would veer away from other supernaturals for the start of a game. The focus for neonates should be learning to maneuver through Vampire politics (having them be used and abused by Anacillae should be the focus of one or two chronicles). This allows them to learn more about the clans and the citizens of the city. Of course the plots of the Anacillae should create problems for them with other members of the city.

I would say that even their interaction with Elders should be limited at best. This way once they do start moving up the social ladder there is a sense of advancement and wonder that these powerful creatures even acknowledge them. :smallwink:

Early chronicles can also focus on hunting (this should be a difficult task - as a player and ST I have run and witnessed all kinds of crazy situations involving feeding), dealing with their sire (whether released or not released) and whether to interact or not interact with family members who are still living (breach of the masquerade type issues).

With young Vampires I like to have mortals be the focus of stories. Whether they are mortals so depraved they make Kindred look human, or (soon to be tragic) love interests or targets to be manipulated. Influence comes from interaction WITH mortal society not by turning away from it. This is one of the tensions that could be focused on within the game.

Once they get a better feel for the game and these types of chronicles lose their luster, then move on to Sabbat/Independent Clans/Bloodline interactions and interactions with other Supernaturals. The nice thing about the game is that it supports politicking as well as combat situations depending on your groups style.

One thing I allow my players to do is have spotlight during each game (anywhere from 10-25 minutes each per game).Forcing the group to stay together like a D&D style adventuring band reduces the intrigue in the game.

Worira
2010-06-21, 12:35 PM
Vampyre is an entirely legitimate word. It refers to a pile of burning vampires.

9mm
2010-06-21, 12:58 PM
the essential world of darkness game? I'd say Innocents (your 5-year-olds!) but I'm weird; but the letter to santa in the book is a must read.

The Tygre
2010-06-21, 01:21 PM
the essential world of darkness game? I'd say Innocents (your 5-year-olds!) but I'm weird; but the letter to santa in the book is a must read.

Innocents is nWoD. We're talking about the old one.

Shezagorath
2010-06-21, 01:40 PM
{Scrubbed}

GreyMantle
2010-06-21, 03:04 PM
If you want to try to get more of a "feel" for the game world and/or ideas to steal, good sources are things like the Hellboy comics and movies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or even Scooby Doo. Hellboy is actually an excellent example because it involves a team or supernatural badarschen that each have their own recgnizable schtick doing cool stuff.

Shezagorath
2010-06-21, 04:36 PM
Scooby Doo? Good lord mate lol

GreyMantle
2010-06-21, 06:42 PM
Scooby Doo is excellent source material for a WoD game, especially one where the PCs are normals.

Think about it: You have a team of investigators, each with their own strengths and personality quirks (Thelma knows stuff, Shaggy has the "stumble upon the plot" ability," etc), they have a recognizable vehicle, and each week they're confronted with yet another evil foozle with a clever plot for taking over wherever they are.

Sure, the tone is a bit lighter than WoD is supposed to be, but hey, WoD can be so oppressively dark that it ends up being funny.

tl;dr: Scooby Doo is good source material for WoD. Srsly.

EDIT: You could add an additional wrinkle into the formula if, say, sometimes there actually is a supernatural creature causing all the tomfoolery. Then the coterie would be left with the question of, "what do we do?" Said shenanigan-er could honestly be endangering the Masquerade with his actions, but he might have a legitimate concern that might need to be addressed, especially if he's too powerful for the "stabination in the face" solution.

You could seriously run an entire campaign like this: The PCs are a group of supernatural creatures who have been employed by their Prince or whatever to investigate disturbances that all Scooby Doo-esque. Sometimes the culprit is just Old Man Barnesly dressed up as a werewolf, and sometimes there' an actual werewolf running loose. The PCs would have decide how best to resolve any situation. It might be easiest to just scare or stab a mortal creature, but sometimes not...

So basically, it'd be the X-Files, only better.

KillianHawkeye
2010-06-22, 01:16 PM
The focus for neonates should be learning to maneuver through Vampire politics (having them be used and abused by Anacillae should be the focus of one or two chronicles). This allows them to learn more about the clans and the citizens of the city. Of course the plots of the Anacillae should create problems for them with other members of the city.

I would say that even their interaction with Elders should be limited at best. This way once they do start moving up the social ladder there is a sense of advancement and wonder that these powerful creatures even acknowledge them. :smallwink:

Early chronicles can also focus on hunting (this should be a difficult task - as a player and ST I have run and witnessed all kinds of crazy situations involving feeding), dealing with their sire (whether released or not released) and whether to interact or not interact with family members who are still living (breach of the masquerade type issues).

With young Vampires I like to have mortals be the focus of stories. Whether they are mortals so depraved they make Kindred look human, or (soon to be tragic) love interests or targets to be manipulated. Influence comes from interaction WITH mortal society not by turning away from it. This is one of the tensions that could be focused on within the game.

Once they get a better feel for the game and these types of chronicles lose their luster, then move on to Sabbat/Independent Clans/Bloodline interactions and interactions with other Supernaturals. The nice thing about the game is that it supports politicking as well as combat situations depending on your groups style.

One thing I allow my players to do is have spotlight during each game (anywhere from 10-25 minutes each per game).Forcing the group to stay together like a D&D style adventuring band reduces the intrigue in the game.

That's pretty much exactly how I feel. Start off small: mortals and other vampires. Where do the PCs fit in now? What place will they make for themselves in their new lives? Keep hinting that there's more than just vampires lurking about, that eventually the PCs will have to confront, but take your time. Let the players push the boundaries themselves.

Besides, I want the players to be afraid of werewolves. I want the first time they meet one, they should probably run away because it can kill them, unless they have a really great (and somewhat ridiculous) plan for taking it out.


@JeenLeen: Thanks for the infoslap. Could be useful eventually.