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    Default A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    Lately one of my IRL gaming groups has begun to tire of traditional fantasy settings and D&D-based systems, beginning to branch out into the Dresden Files (Fate) and an interest shown in Chronicles of Darkness and...a German system that's name escapes me (Degenesis maybe...?). Thing is, while a lot of people are interested in trying out Chronicles of Darkness not so many want to run it and I wouldn't mind giving it a go myself since the system seems easy enough.

    The variants I was looking at using were Mummy: The Curse, Princess: the Hopeful, or maybe Mage (since the player who owns all the books wants to play a Mage real bad).

    So...this is a general help thread for an almost complete beginner to the Chronicles of Darkness system either playing it or running it. What are the absolute essential bits of rules and lore to keep in mind? Of the three listed, are there any recommendations for which is the most fun or simplest?

    If anyone has played Mummy (the one I'm leaning towards) does any one have tips or tricks for running the system or getting a party together for it?
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    Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll's Avatar

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    First of all, the simplest rule-set is the mortal ruleset, perhaps with optional minor mental/psychic powers to spice things up. Assuming you and your friends aren't interested in that kind of low- or no-powered play. If you do want to go into playing a different Splat (what the different lines are known as), I would avoid Princess, as its a fan-built game without the benefits of actual publishing or game-writing experience.

    So, basic things to know:
    There are two editions. First Editions are Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Promethean, Changeling, Hunter, Geist, and Mummy. Second Editions are Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Promethean, Demon, and Beast. In my opinion, the second editions are far superior to their matching first-edition counterparts, both in fluff and in crunch. Princess, afaik, is based on First Edition rules. Mummy is the last first-edition game, and in some ways breaks from certain first-edition rules. Mage you can choose either first or second edition. I would heartily recommend Second.

    Lines do not necessarily overlap. It is not assumed that everything in every book is true. Later books have purposefully contradictory statements even within a book, with the expectation that players will chase a mystery, and the Storyteller will craft a story out of the contradictions. So a Mage game will have all magic coming from realms of pure truth, kept from humanity by ascended humans, a Mummy game will have magic come from the Gods, and all magic has its roots in an ancient lost civilization.

    Mummy things to know: There is a certain part of the rulebook not meant for player eyes. It contains background information on Irem, the origin of the mummies, that the characters are not meant to know. The largest challenge to running this is that characters begin with the ability to cause literal meteors to fall from the sky, and rewrite time, from the very first scene, and actually LOSE power over time. They also don't know who they are, though, so there's an expectation that a certain level of backstory is in the STs hands.

    Mage things to know: Magic is free-form. This makes it very hard to adjudicate, and plan for. A mage can, with preparation, do almost anything. If you as the ST are running multiple mages at once, you have to be damn quick on your feet.
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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    Princess, afaik, is based on First Edition rules.
    It's had its second edition practically since GMC first came out, actually.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrylius View Post
    That's how wizards beta test their new animals. If it survives Australia, it's a go. Which in hindsight explains a LOT about Australia.

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    Ah, I am mistaken. I really can't speak of Princess at all then.

    I had a few more points on Mage and Mummy, but I can't quite remember them.

    I guess I can talk a bit more about general 1st vs 2nd edition differences.

    1st edition, especially the early games (the Big Three, Vampire Werewolf Mage), suffered from post-Old-World-of-Darkness syndrome. A lot of the content was a mix of "This is so totally different from the old games" and "Hey this thing has the same name as something from the old games!" It also shifted very dramatically from its very first books. The first books still made similar assumptions as to the state of the world as oWoD did; it's a darker more gothic version of our world, where skyscrapers have gargoyles and such-like. Later books don't mention anything like that. Additionally, your basic Alignment system links mental illness with morality. All the various Alignment systems of the games (Morality for mortals, Wisdom for Mages) punish you for evil acts by having you risk getting a mental illness. They tried to excuse this by referencing Victorian-era understandings of mental illness, but that's no excuse. Mummy breaks out of this a little bit by replacing an alignment meter with a more interesting Memory meter, which starts out at 1 and works its way up as the Mummy remembers who they were. All the other tracks start at 7.


    2nd edition is more modern in many ways. They broke the rule with Mummy earlier that all the "Alignment" tracks have to work the same. Additionally, mental illnesses are no longer a punishment for evil acts. They decided to throw that completely out the window. Mortals have "Integrity", which tracks not evil acts, but scarring experiences. Demons have "Cover", which tracks how well they are fitting in with society to hide from the Angels that track them. Vampires have "Humanity", which tracks how much you "feel" like you are connected with humanity. Werewolves (half-human half-spirit) have Harmony, which they actually want to avoid either extreme on, as it tracks whether they are more akin to humanity or more akin to spirits. Mages have Wisdom, which tracks how flagrant and careless they are with their magic. Prometheans have Pilgrimage, which tracks their progress in becoming truly human. Beasts have Satiety, which tracks how "full" they are from their hunting.


    They also changed how the personality traits work. In first edition, everyone had a Vice, which was easy to fulfill and gave you a small amount of Willpower (basically floating dice), and Virtue, which was hard to fulfill but gave you a large amount of Willpower. These virtues and vices were chosen out of the classic list of 7 each, with an optional rule to allow free-form virtues and vices. In 2nd edition, they changed this to fit each splat.
    Mortals, Mages, and Demons still have Virtue and Vice, but these are all free-form now, not limited to the classic 7+7. Mummy is actually highly tied to the 7+7 grid, as each Mummy follows a specific Judge with a specific crime they punish, and their powers are highly tied with these Virtues and Vices. So you can have a Mortal with the Vice of Ambitious, and the Virtue of Competitive, yet also a Mage with the Vice of Compettive and the Virtue of Ambitious. It depends on whether the character uses their ambition or compettiveness as a quick relieving fall-back (vice), or as a driving postiive principle (virtue).
    Vampires have Mask and Dirge, which are archetypes like "Rebel", "Follower", or "Scholar". The Mask is the outward role that the vampire takes to survive. The Dirge is their inner role that they show in private and to their confidantes. A Vampire might have Cult Leader as their Mask, surviving by leading a small dedicated group, but in private they have Penitent as their Dirge, whipping away their perceived sins. Vampires also have Touchstones, people or objects that remind them of what they were like when they were alive. For younger vampires these are usually people, for older ones they are mementos.
    Werewolves have Blood and Bone, as well as Spirit and Flesh Touchstones. I don't know much about them, haven't read it yet.
    Prometheans have Elpis and Torment. Elpis' are principles like "Courage" or "Fear", where merely seeing a mortal connect with that principle refreshes their willpower a little, but experiencing it yourself a lot. Torment is a flaw like "Dejected" or "Paranoid". I don't know how they work.
    Lastly, Beasts have a Life and a Legend, where the Life is how the Beast connects with others ("Parental", "Shy", "Selfless"), while the Legend is the overwhelming internal personality of the Beast's true bestial self ("Judgemental", "Seductive", "Relentless").

    Lastly, Second Edition borrows the ideas of "conditions" from... I think it was Fate, actually? Where any miscellaneous effects are written as cards, and getting rid of the effect in a certain way gets you experience points. This system handles everything from getting sand thrown in your eyes during a fight (the Blinded Tilt), to having a crippling permanent injury (The Arm Wrack Permanent Condition), to being enchanted or even blackmailed (The Charmed Condition or similar things).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    What. Is. This. Madness.

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    A ton of useful information.
    This is a lot to take in but if you think of anything else, please mention it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sith_Happens View Post
    It's had its second edition practically since GMC first came out, actually.
    I found the first one I think, where can I find the second?
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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    What kinda thing is most useful to you? What books do you have access too? Would you prefer I talk about rules or background info?

    I thought of another thing: the "buy-in" of the game is very different from fantasy. In fantasy, the players seek to enrich their characters and be tactically optimal, while the DM seeks to challenge them. In CoD, the players and the ST together try to craft an engaging story with flawed characters. The players are expected to play sub-optimal characters in sub-optimal ways. In 2nd edition, one of the major sources of experiences is the players deciding to transform their failed rolls into critical failures, telling the ST "give me an interesting and harmful consequence of failure here" in return for experience. Your players should accept that they are not deciding what is best for their character, but what is most interesting for the story they want to tell for their character.

    This also plays into the Aspiration system of experience, where the player lists 3 "goals" of things they want to see for their character. This can be long-term or short-term, an in-character motivation ("become mayor"), a mechanical motivation ("gain a new skill point in Firearms"), or even something negative the CHARACTER would actively try to avoid, but the PLAYER thinks would make a good story ("lose someone dear to me"). This kind of player-character separation is totally alien to the D&D mindset, and may take a while to build.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    What. Is. This. Madness.

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    What kinda thing is most useful to you? What books do you have access too? Would you prefer I talk about rules or background info?
    Anything, honestly, that would be helpful to a beginner Storyteller. Tips, tricks, advice, rules knowledge, important lore, I'll read it all!
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    "These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex world of jet-powered apes and time travel."

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    For me, a big tip is to not get lost in the convoluted lore. Just skim the surface. Make a bit of your own lore, for me, the God Machine exists to perpetuate the Lie, & that's why it does its weird things. In my opinion, Old world of darkness has better flavor than Chronicles, but Chronicles has a better system (Stryx are an awesome addition though) Also Chronicles comes of a bit too "tumblr/deviantart" for me in places. I prefer the 80's goth punk vibe, than ham handed SJW writing.

    I recommend Mage if you are experienced, & id recommend mortal if not. Also with Chronicle don't be afraid to mix & match splats if the party is okay with some being more powerful it was made with a touch of mixing in mind. Be prepared to have stats for every little monster/npc Chronicle is good with give you fast & simple rules, but if they are an important character you'll need to be more in depth
    Last edited by Anderlith; 2016-12-10 at 11:55 PM.

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Callos_DeTerran View Post
    I found the first one I think, where can I find the second?
    Here. In case you haven't discovered this already, note that there are two distinct versions of the game ("Dream" and "Vocation") due to a creative split between the main authors a while back. I'm much more partial to the Vocation version myself.
    Revan avatar by kaptainkrutch.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrylius View Post
    That's how wizards beta test their new animals. If it survives Australia, it's a go. Which in hindsight explains a LOT about Australia.

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sith_Happens View Post
    Here. In case you haven't discovered this already, note that there are two distinct versions of the game ("Dream" and "Vocation") due to a creative split between the main authors a while back. I'm much more partial to the Vocation version myself.
    So Vocation and Dream are the right ones then, alright. Cause I found those and couldn't figure out if they were both the most recent or just one of them.
    Warriors & Wuxia: A community world-building project focused on low-magic wuxia/kung-fu action using ToB.

    "These 'no-nonsense' solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex world of jet-powered apes and time travel."

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    Default Re: A Beginner's Guide to Chronicles of Darkness.

    I'm unsure if this is the best thread to ask. Does anyone know of a homebrew version of Anne Rice's Mummies for Chronicles of Darkness? They seem much more appealing (to me at least) than the official Mummies of the game. I've found the Highlander: Immortal homebrew content posted and updated online and could possibly leverage that, but why reinvent the wheel if it already exists!?
    Thanks for any help!

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