Archive for the ‘world of darkness’ Category

Abilities in M20: Brawl Additions!

September 26, 2015

Okay, so anybody that read my previous M20 related post knows that my initial reaction to the division between Brawl and Martial Arts in M20 was extremely negative. During a discussion with Satyros Phil Brucato, the game’s developer, in the M20 Facebook group, this fact came up, and I’ll shortly get to why that fact is relevant to this post. I have great respect for his wide ranging talents, his creativity and his hard-charging work ethic, even if I don’t always agree with his output. To be honest, how could anybody ever really always agree with another creator’s or artist’s or writer’s output if they’re actually thinking for themselves? It’s just not going to happen. So long as folks can be polite about those creative differences, cool.

Anyhow, Satyros argued that I was giving this particular creative decision short shrift and that I ought to take a closer look at how he integrated a meaningful distinction between the two more fully into the combat system and also built it into the Focus rules. He pointed out that this distinction was not exactly new to the Storyteller System, having appeared previously in Kindred of the East and World of Darkness: Combat back during the 2nd edition era. To that last I maintain that I disliked the division back then too and don’t care for either of those prior books. I took those rules’ having been left out of the Revised editions of Vampire, Mage and Werewolf as a sign that White wolf had moved on from the concept also at least insofar as the Storyteller system was concerned. He suggested that I step back, blank my slate and ignore the negative associations I have with the prior sources and look over the combat and focus systems on their own merits with an open mind. This I have done over the course of the past month or more, mulling over the implications of the division within the rules themselves, on play and how I feel about said implications. A more serious and thoughtful dive into the book did change my views on a number of things from my first impressions (the value of Esoterica, for example), but I hardly found all points persuasive. (more…)

M20 and a Syndicate Character Concept

June 10, 2015

Backers of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Mage: the Ascension have got their hands on the prerelease version of the PDF, and though I’m sure there’ll be updates, what backers (like myself) have is largely what the final game is going to look like. My own impression is, of course, mixed, as the reception of anything related to Mage inevitably will be given the nature of the game and its interminable edition wars, paradigm-related flamewars etc.

Overall, it’s well constructed with an eye towards giving fans of all three prior editions something to smile about, and it also embarks on the challenging task of updating the setting and Awakened society without stifling creativity, making the Spheres, Paradigm and Consensual Reality more accessible to players as well, with laudable aplomb and skill.

While I could do without it being “Mage: now with 500% more kung fu!” that last part’s easy enough to fix by dropping that superfluous Skill along with a couple of other similarly unnecessary additions and possibly tweaking how players can get access to those pages upon pages of martial arts-related special maneuvers. The addition of Martial Arts as a separate Ability from Brawl feels reminiscent of Kindred of the East, The Book of Combat and Exalted. Man, I feel dirty from having had to reference any of those three in my blog, let alone all three in one post. However, that particular (minor but noisy) gripe isn’t what got me writing tonight.

No, what got me writing tonight is a character concept that leapt all but full fledged into my brain while I was making catfish tacos with mango salsa for dinner tonight (they were awesome, incidentally). One of the great things about the rise of Onyx Path is that they finally made the (beautifully nuanced) Revised-era Technocracy convention books that White Wolf left hanging after the excellent Iteration X Convention book. Probably my favorite from that line was, of all things, The Syndicate (though I disagreed with cutting off the SPD, but hey… I just might be biased) for its very interesting exploration of an easily demonized and oft-caricatured Convention.

Anyhow, as I was cooking, I was thinking on the Syndicate and on the Management and Human Resources sidebar from M20 and extrapolating on that. I was also thinking of sympathetic Syndicate mages, and then a character concept occurred to me. Here’s a  breakdown of the concept below:


Healthcare Provider

You always felt the calling to be a healer. To nurture the growing, heal the hurting and comfort those whose loved ones are beyond help. Therefore, like many young people, you dreamed of becoming a doctor. Life has a funny way of kicking people right in the dreams sometimes. You had good grades in high school that gave you high hopes. Though you were a fine student, your real aptitudes were always people and groups and the “soft subjects” like debate and speech rather than biology or chemistry: you were the treasurer and student council rep for the Rotaract Club, and were a natural leader.

Still, you were determined to be a healer. Between your grades, extracurriculars, charm and skillfully leveraged family connections you entered a prestigious med school. That’s where your dreams started to crumble: while smart and competent, you just weren’t cut out to excel as a physician. Surrounded with driven, genuinely gifted med students, you rapidly fell into (and then below) the middle of the pack. Then you had to face the heartbreaking truth and find something else to do with your life. (more…)

So The Votes Are In…

July 25, 2014

Okay, so the collective wisdom of the backing Wyrm fans has spoken. My vote didn’t win, not that I expected it to. Based on the campaigns (rather than necessarily the characters themselves), the results here were two out of three predictable, at least insofar as, for what it’s worth, I saw two of them coming a mile off. One of those predictable results, Ian Robertson the Money Magus, is a very interesting addition to the cWoD canon.

The result that surprised me was The Unrevealed. So this guy never revealed who his nominee was, and he never really campaigned other than a really generic last-minute post halfway through the voting period, after the bulk of the votes had already been cast, but he got the #3 spot. I’m not quite sure what this means, but my best guess is that folks voted for The Unrevealed mostly as a “meh. None of the above” reaction as much as anything else. Most of the nominees weren’t especially exciting, so I can completely understand that particular reaction. It may have been some other motivator that drove this success, but I’m not sure what.

I totally saw the #1 coming, but the main thing I take away from this candidate’s success is that I’m apparently completely out of touch with the criteria by which the plurality of voters made their selection for a candidate. All I cared about was, to quote my prior post, “their merits as a possible board member to be added to the World of Darkness’ canon”. Clearly the voters and I had very different interpretations of said merits, because had I ranked my personal preferences in order from most to least desirable, this candidate would have been in the next-to-last slot. I’m okay with having a difference of opinions with other gamers however, since differing opinions over minutiae can be described as the very soul of fandom.  I’m not going to shout “WrongBadFun!!1!” or whatever, but it’s also safe to say that candidate #1 is quite safe from existing or appearing in any game over which I am the Storyteller.

On the Pentex Board Nominees

July 16, 2014

Okay, most of you that would actually read my blog are already aware of the W20 Book of the Wyrm Kickstarter. One very interesting aspect of this kickstarter is the election to place three new members on the Pentex board of directors. There are some really interesting nominees, and some… whose existence I will cheerfully replace with preexisting canonical board members or new ones of my own devising should they win. I’ll break down my take on each nominee here, strictly based on their merits as a possible board member to be added to the World of Darkness’ canon, which the most important thing we’re doing with regards to these guys and what I’ve seen of their campaign thus far. None of this is a value judgment on the creator of said character, just what I think of having them appear in a Werewolf: the Apocalypse supplement as members of the Pentex Board. (more…)

Jumping Genres!

July 4, 2014

My last post was written mostly with humorous intent, but also was intended to get some thoughts churning. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, I wouldn’t derail an existing and relatively serious,steady game so wildly as to put something like the Deck of Many Genres into play. That would be a rather gross abuse of the social contract between GM and players, really.

I would, however, shift genres in a game as long as that made sense within the context of the game… and I would also run a game where the very premise revolves around shifting genres/layers of reality/alternate dimensions where the players move from one genre to the next and possibly back again. It might work best with a certain pre-determined number of predesigned genre/setting/layers where the players will run genre-shifted iterations of the same character/soul/self. I think that could be really, really fun.

Originally I was going to go back to the last post and edit it to that effect, but then after my friend Terry made a comment on his repost that was very much in line with my thinking, I decided this might be better suited if I post it by itself. I’ll share a few specific examples of times I’ve experimented with the genre-shifting concept already in games and found it a satisfying pursuit, point out a few narrative media where this technique or a variant has been used to good effect. I’ve never run a campaign where shifting realities and genres was a major part of the premise, though I have done individual adventures in a couple different systems that explored the concept either seriously or otherwise.

A Few Old NBish Bits

June 18, 2014

As a follow up to my last post, I thought that I would share a few old screenshots that I still had lying around somewhere from back in my old NB days or just following its demise. Most of the bits I’ll post here, I held on to for humor value, though a few I kept for more sentimental reasons. NB was a weird and wild place, and I enjoyed it… most of the time. Most but not all of the below are bits of out-of-character conversation. Due to the format of this blog, quite a few of these images are displayed at a smallish size. You should be able to right click on them and view their full size versions, however. None of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Below, the ever-awesome ST Keith shared with me something that a player (who was running a Demon: the Fallen character) had asked him via private message…


Apparently, Georgia’s got some, ah, interesting rules regarding their driver’s licenses:


Sometimes, a player would post in the wrong window, with embarrassing results:

Image (more…)

New Bremen, Closed For 10 Years?

June 17, 2014

Today is the 10th anniversary of the closure of the venerable New Bremen Moderated Chat, which for what few whippersnappers out there may actually stumble over this, was a Java-based chat environment that was a cousin to the venerable MUDs, something like a text-based MMO for roleplaying in White Wolf’s World of Darkness (now known as the cWoD, and revived a couple of years back thanks to Onyx Path). I played there from their opening on April 22, 2000, bringing the original iteration of Linda Lee in there from the get go, and I had the pleasure and honor to be the head of its Werewolf team that ran the final scene that closed the doors on its final day. A June 17th, 2004 closure was planned, but the final scene rolled over past midnight Pacific time and into the following day before we finally wrapped and pulled the plug, so I stick with the 18th and do the same with this post, on general principle.

On January 27, 2002 I became an assistant ST there, working with the inimitable Joy Nelson and covering Kinfolk and the Media in New Bremen’s Mortals team, then in May-June of that year I was promoted to full ST, kept Kinfolk as part of my portfolio and was moved over to the Werewolf team assigned to cover the SF, GoF and ShL tribes. By August I had been reassigned to open the door to the antagonists area of WtA (I kept Kinfolk for a while too, and coordinated the Broken Caves sept’s sub-team for a while. In September 2003, I picked up the mantle of head Werewolf ST and remained in that capacity for the duration. Looking back, I can see a great many things that I could have done better of course, but that is of course the nature of hindsight. For example, character creation was too restrictive by the end as an intended remedy to their wild and wooly early days’ utter havoc, and the way that Lore abilities worked was a bit much, and I’d like to have made PCs rather than plot more of a driver to the Malfean Quest storyline; though I did try to strike a balance there, I do think my approach was a bit off that center. Still, it was fun doing it and the players that participated in the quest as well as the last stand of the Mended Past sept did tell me that they enjoyed the experience, which I suppose is the final measure of my team’s efforts. That was also my departure from STing in a moderated chat environment, a decision that I do not regret. Still, fond and often bemusing or aggravating memories abound.

ImageYes, I still have that old GIF that served as the logo for my old and long-lost Geocities New Bremen ST page. That’s because I still am the Wyrm. And yes, of course I backed the BotW20 kickstarter. So should you, but only if you like cool things. You do like cool things, don’t you?

In honor of the closure of New Bremen, I will post a few items from the end, and over the next few days I’ll post some screenshots of particularly memorable or humorous moments from (or talking about) NB that either I or others felt the need to save, some old NB-related artwork and so on. (more…)

Dreams, Memories and Tomorrows

May 24, 2012

(This story bit overlaps with Falling Awake and The Morning Breaks but mostly takes place after both)

It was about 2 or 3 in the morning when Ro finally rubbed her tired eyes and stretched. She could easily refresh herself and go for quite a while without sleeping, but sleeping allowed one to dream and process. Besides, Joseph was only marginally awake and she’d done all she could for this leg of Linda’s journey.

“Okay… I’m going to get a few hours of shut-eye. You do the same, huh?” Her blue eyes rested on the garou male a long moment, expression soft and a little wistful. They’d talked on and off since bringing Linda back to the house. Some surprises and ‘aha!’ moments on both sides led both of them to a greater understanding, she hoped. “Hold her tight and I’ll be back when she wakes, or a little after.”

“I’ll do that,” he said softly and flashed her a charming, white-toothed smile. Joseph was undeniably handsome, but he was also a man that knew how to listen and was good at drawing people out to talk about themselves. Also, he remembered the details later and could retell them to sound more exciting and meaningful than they had to the original teller. “Sleep well, Ro. She’ll be safe with me.” (more…)

The Morning Breaks

May 19, 2012

(The below is a direct follow up to Falling Awake)

Amrita had rolled into lotus after her last pose of the morning, body sweating pleasantly from one of her more strenuous routines. Her connection to Gaia was still strong this morning, and she let her awareness expand in the meditative state, flowing into “all that is” with each exhalation. It was a kind of pleasure that was difficult to explain to anyone who’d never felt something similar, that letting go of the ego-self in favor of the ultimate release into everything at once. But those who’d been there knew it too, and sometimes that had to be enough.

She was deeply aware of the shifts of consciousness in the house. One such shift rang like a bell in her own consciousness, just as the sun peaked above the eastern horizon.

Linda had awakened. (more…)

Garou Astrology

May 19, 2012

The Garou Lunar Calendar

This text is a slightly modified version of this page’s information, which does directly follow the text of Rage Across The Heavens and the Player’s Guide to Garou, just adding a little bit more detail on certain items.

Unsurprisingly, the animistic culture of the Garou measures the passage of time differently than humanity at large. This article will give you, the player, a basic idea of how it works and how it can affect your character. This information is taken from Rage Across the Heavens, and is thus ‘canon’ material. While there are no direct game effects, you can use this to flesh out your Garou’s history by giving him or her a more direct connection to the stars. One thing to remember is that unlike Humanity, Garou have concrete evidence of the influence of celestial bodies on their lives and personality: Luna demonstrably governs their connection to their Rage, which burns hottest when the moon is full and wanes with the moon’s descent into darkness. Hence it makes sense that they will lend credence to the idea that other celestial bodies have a measure of influence over their lives as well. (more…)