Ashes of the Fallen
THIS VSS IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING UPDATED
Current VST: Justin Bentley (elected January 2012, began tenure April 2012)
*MI-015-D Werewolf the Forsaken VSS: Ashes of the fallen*
Central Michigan University Moore Hall
Game on: 5 pm at the latest (First Saturdays)
All times and locations are subject to change.
VST: Justin Bentley
Werewolf: The Forsaken - A game of savage fury. Werewolves are by their very nature unstable, bloodthirsty killing machines, even the meekest of which possess the ability to tear a man limb from limb given the proper… motivation. To that end this WILL be a violent game, but for such creatures violence in and of itself is not a source of personal horror or struggle. The struggle will be to resist the urge to give in to the violence, which in the moment will often be the easy answer, but in the end the tide of blood you create will wash away everything you hope to create, and to drown all those you love. The real horror is that the strength you need to win the battle might just lose you the war. That is what it means to be Forsaken.
This is the rock and the hard place folks. Being forsaken means being hated and/or feared by almost everything else in the World of Darkness. You have taken on the sacred duty of your ancestors: to maintain the balance of the flesh world and the spirit world, in a world that is anything but balanced, and indeed will actively resist your efforts to do so. So what does that make you? The “good guy”? no one seems to think so, your job usually involves ruining the lives of people and spirits for reasons that are far beyond their comprehension. The pure? They hate what you are because right or wrong to them you represent the downfall of a world where their kind ruled with impunity. To them you are not the good guy preserving the balance in this broken world, you are the tools of an insane bitch, getting in the way of restoring the birthright of werewolf kind: dominion over the flesh and sprit. So here is the theme: despised and surrounded. You are on the reservation, enemies on all sides, and the only people you can trust are the other forsaken, and they are a ragtag band of unstable misfits at best. The old wolves are long since gone. You are the young Turks, taking on a world that hates you, and you hope you are doing it for the right reasons. Together you must fix this broken world.
Being Forsaken in the wake of the brethren war means existing in a world where many of your friends and family died in a bloody, brutal, and protracted conflict, with an enemy that you must now pretend to tolerate out of the necessity of preserving a treaty you may or may not agree with, and also so as to avoid spilling more blood to the advantage of the lords of the wounds, who played you all for fools. The mood is somber, the mood is tense, the mood is desperate. However, there is a new generation of forsaken ready to take up the standard for your cause, and they are getting organized. Packs, protectorates, councils, and coalitions are talking, moving, making plans. In the twelve years since the brethren war you have been planning, and now is the time to strike out again, to begin to take back some of what has been lost. There is also hope and excitement in the air.
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and surrounding areas. Specifically, Forsaken will be based out of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Reservation (relocated slightly to account for changes to the area in the World of Darkness, encompassing a corridor containing the North side of Mt. Pleasant to the South Side of Clare). However, gameplay will utilize the extent of the domain. The reservation has been under the control of the Forsaken as long as anyone can remember, and the tribal members count many of the wolf blooded families of the Forsaken among them. The politics and industry of the area are heavily influenced by the packs of the area that have over the years steered the growth of the area to their advantage. The reservation saved the Forsaken from destruction during the brethren war, and they have fiercely defended it from outside influence. It alone was spared the majority of the devastation of the past decades, anywhere beyond its borders may not be so blessedly free of the lingering evidence of the brutal shadow war.
No major travel restrictions are in effect, except as noted below.
PCs must gain VST approval to be simultaneously present both in the
jurisdiction of the storytelling staff and outside of it. Characters that
come into the game with effects cast on them by other characters will be
required to provide the name of the casting character, the name and contact
information for the player of the casting character and the name and contact
information of the ST who supervised the casting; this information should be
provided at check-in. All such effects must also be approved by the VST
before the characters upon whom such effects are cast may enter play.
*SUPPLEMENTARY STYLE INFORMATION*
Brand new player characters begin the game with a full Essence pool
excepting the cost for pre-game effects. Essence pools for subsequent days
will depend entirely on actions taken during the game or during downtime.
Acquiring more Essence is possible during the game, but must be supervised
and approved by a VST. Custom Powers, Lodges or items may only be used if
accompanied by a copy of the printed approval page from the database
detailing the exact approved mechanics of the item in question.
*ITEMS FOR ADVANCE VST APPROVAL:*
PCs should pre-check in the following items with the VST by email prior to
midnight on the day of the event if they wish to have access to them during
game. Restrictions on these items may be set by the VST. If a PC should
acquire one of these things before game begins, it is acceptable to email
the ST as soon as this occurs and get a late permission.
-Anything requiring a Top or Master approval
-Any custom Fetishes or Lodges
-All custom Rites
-Level 5 or higher Fetishes
*MASS DESTRUCTION EFFECTS*
Okay, do I really have to say it? By default, my response to any request to blow something up, burn something down, or otherwise do something that has the distinct possibility of causing federal authorities to show up, will be a resounding “no”. If you feel you need to do something of this sort for some reason, you will get ONE chance to explain to me why you think this is a good idea, and will add to the story rather than simply being a humongous headache for me so you can have the joy of imaginary terrorism. People who are not teenage boys don’t blow shit up unless they have a very good reason, so you need to give me the rational character motivation. If I don’t think you have a good reason for it, it isn’t going to happen and there will not be an argument about it. Also, if it involves anything not in my jurisdiction (cross venue or it affects something that is otherwise under DST or higher authority) and you insist on doing it without prior approval, anyone who decides to participate in that activity will be frozen until we get the input of whichever storytellers are involved. If you must blow something up etc, please work it out with us ahead of time and everyone will be much happier, thank you.
I also reserve the right to restrict other IC disruptive behavior, including starting mass combat at inappropriate times that ties up a significant portion of our game.
Do not let all this deter you if you actually do have a fun, game enhancing reason to do any of these things. This is here as a disclaimer so that I can control behavior that actually does detract from the game, not to restrict your activities if they are well thought out and responsible.
*ON-SITE vs. OFF-SITE*
Players who are on the physical location of the game site yet off-site in
terms of play represent a breakdown in the continuity of the game and will
be limited as much as possible. All hard RP occurring off-site will need to
have a staff ST present and be approved by the VST to be sanctioned as part
of the Camarilla chronicle. Off-site locations must be approved with the VST
before role-playing begins at that location.
As werewolves do not as a rule lose essence unless they spend it, essence totals will carry over from game to game. Players will log their essence totals in and out each game.
As there will be one game per month, it will be assumed that each PC sees their auspice moon six times (five auspices, thirty days). Thus each PC regains six essence a month without doing anything else. Additionally, PCs may engage in one instance of spirit predation for free as part of their downtime routine (as per the spirit predation rules). Any other fun things you do (like eating flesh) will likewise also replenish essence in downtime. Assuming you do not spend this essence in downtime you can add it to your total the next time you log your essence in.
Now, as far as loci go, as per the rules they generate 3 essence per day, per dot. If you pack controls a locus you may use that essence any way you want (to store in touchstones or cups of life, given to totem, etc), or let it accumulate (loci can store 10 essence per dot as well). The amount of essence available at a locus will be tracked by me, each pack can designate what they would like to be done with excess essence if the situation arises. One note, loci do not normally go above a single dot locus without being cultivated by something, thus if your pack wants a locus at multiple dots you must either use excess essence as per the rules for increasing the strength of a locus, or claim a locus from something that has already cultivated it.
As you can see, the intent here is to turn essence into a strategic resource, that you should consider carefully how you use because there is far more motivation not to blow all your essence every game because if you do not there is more for downtime, fetishes, your totem, and growing your locus.
Okay, I hate the category rating method of defining a venue. That said, I’m going to add some comments to make these ratings meaningful:
Intrigue (Politics and Negotiation): 4
This will be a slight shift in the way Forsaken plays. Not only is there a lot to be done in the pack, the protectorate, the council, and the coalition to manage the political aspects of Forsaken society, but it is also important to at least appear to be working to honor the pact of split arrow with the pure, which means no outright killing and attempting to resolve disputes without going to war. This replaces some of the physical antagonism with diplomatic wheeling and dealing.
Manners (Social Etiquette and Peer Pressure): 3
Werewolves are expected to respect other werewolves to a point, as per the oath, but at the same time there is also an expectation that rudeness and bickering are just part of werewolf nature. The pack structure means there is a constant testing of those in charge to see what they will put up with, or if they are showing weakness. Thus etiquette is a rather strange concept for forsaken, as scruffing someone is a normal social behavior.
Action (Combat and Challenges): 5
This is a high action game. There is always going to be something to do or somewhere to go. To this end we are going to try for a more cinematic method of resolving scenes while still allowing for a fair amount of combat and challenges. The action will feel fast and furious, and won’t take all night.
Mystery (Enigmas and Investigation): 5
I expect characters to proactively go looking for trouble, that is what the Forsaken do. If you wait for trouble to come find you, it will probably not turn out well for you and it is likely we will be having a lot less fun as well. I do not expect people to possess specific skills or do things in a special way in order to interact with the story, only to be vigilant and curious. Beyond that, how things actually turn out will depend on how you use the faculties you have.
Drama (Ceremony and Characterization): 4
I like to see emotions run high, and I will certainly work to provide situations for players to play their characters to the hilt, but ultimately that is not totally within my control. This venue is very action and story driven as well however, so a lot of this might also get played out via combat as well.
Darkness (Probability of Character Death/Corruption): 5
I am not afraid to hurt you. This is the World of Darkness and bad decisions or terrible luck will often result in your death. Horrible things stalk around the shadow, the pure are ruthless, and bale hounds want nothing more than to corrupt you. I will not vindictively try to kill you, but I won’t pull punches either. The antagonists definitely do want to kill you and will be well prepared and unafraid to fight intelligently and even to fight dirty. You have been warned.
Pace (Speed that Stories Emerge): Variable
I want you to have a little more on your plate that you are aware of at any given time than you can handle. The more stuff you deal with, the faster you can move on to the next thing. There is always another problem right around the corner for the Forsaken.
-Fetishes: if you have it, you need the writeup with the approval number. There will be standard fetish writeups available for many fetishes, you should still have them printed out and with you, even for book fetishes so we don’t have to go digging though books or looking stuff up on the database.
-No Custom item (Rite, Fetish, etc.) that affects a target without allowing
a resistance draw will be allowed at this Forsaken Venue. If the effect is part of an attack, defense/armor is considered a resistance even if that resistance is zero.
-Politics: A protectorate and regional council will exist in the area for PCs to belong to, although player actions will shape the ongoing nature of these bodies as the chronicle progresses.
-Glades, shoals, barrens, and other similar places of power: Creating or destroying these places is a rather legendary feat. Do not expect doing so to be a quick or easy task, if it is determined to be possible at all. These scenarios will be handled on a case by case basis, at ST discretion
-The Pure roam the boundaries outside the areas claimed by the Forsaken. This means areas of the domain outside of the reservation as well as dark places on the map may be swarming with them, and you won’t know for sure without going to find out. It is known that the Pure also lost a large contingent of their elder members in the brethren war in Michigan as well, but at this point the state of their control is largely unknown.
-Totems must have full write-ups, which will be kept with the VST, and all totem benefits will be noted on each packmember’s sheet. It is the player’s responsibility to keep track of how many dots they have in their totem and to designate to the storyteller what benefits if any they want for those points. If no designation is made the storyteller will either provide the essence benefit, or put those points into increasing totem attributes.
Proposed Mechanics (if applicable)
MI-015-D Universal VSS
This VSS contains rules applicable to all Venues in MI-015-D Mt Pleasant by Night
Domain Storyteller DST.MI.015.D@gmail.com
Domain Coordinator DC.MI.015.D@gmail.com
Andrea Boog, Gillian Twining, Jayson Turner, Jim Lai, Joe Auerbach, Jon Herrmann, Joshua Rebmann, Joshua Tourangeau, Kelly Pohl, Kevin Millard, Lawrence Egbert, Luke Hill, Matthew Cooper, Nicko Demeter, Randy Ochs, Ree Soesbee, Todd Nagle and Wade Jones.
"Minds Eye Society Storytellers, by taking on the office, agree to do their best to advance the cause of the entertainment of the players throughout Minds Eye Society. All Storytellers are accepting the responsibility to help build a living history, player-centered plotlines, sound policy and meaningful, documented non-player characters. Storytellers promise, by taking on the job, to help run enjoyable scenes, help players develop interesting characters, and report on their games for the education of others. Storytellers are giving their word to the players that while in office they will make decisions ethically and promote fair play, as well as mentor and educate their assistants and players. All Storytellers represent their players to senior Storytellers, and senior Storytellers to their players. Being a Storyteller is a promise to promote the continuity of the chronicle, coordinate with fellow Storytellers for the good of the club, and always strive to focus on this club as a group of friends who share the game as a common ground for fun."
This VSS is applicable to all sanctioned games, either ST-moderated or in non-challenge role-play, being run in MI-015-D. Specific game times and locations vary; consult the schedule for specific information or visit our website http://www.mpbynight.org/
Each venue will focus on the greater challenges facing the World of Darkness, the powers beyond, the forces of nature, and the gods- or demons- within oneself. Supernatural, and those humans with the will to stand tall in the World of Darkness, are taking on a world that is inclined to harm them- sometimes directly, but sometimes by giving them what they really want in a way that they never expected or desired. What happens when your dreams turn into nightmares? What happens when your dreams are someone else's nightmares- and they want to wake, and you want to dream on? What happens when beings of such power face each other, in arenas ranging from ballrooms to boardrooms to bedrooms?
It will be possible to never get involved directly in any plot-kit, but still be affected by player driven action as a result of the ongoing plot-kits and player originated plans. This could be without attending a single scheduled event, and without realizing that your character is acting as a result of pressures in play as a result of these elements. Story is inter-woven everywhere.
MI-015-D uses the Minds Eye Society rules supplement, the appropriate supplements for each individual venue, the primary White Wolf MET and World of Darkness books contained therein, and the most current version of the US rules addenda published at the time of the event.
Make sure at character check-in to bring all character records required per Camarilla rules. Current rules can be found in the Global and U.S. Rules Addenda, as well as any special approvals granted or requirements levied by the individual Venue Storyteller for each venue.
For on-site IC check-in, please be certain to bring at least two printed copies (neatly handwritten ink is acceptable, but pencil is not) of all character sheets and item cards. All items should include, at a minimum:
* Your name
* Your Camarilla Number
* Your Region
* Primary Storyteller's name, their contact information, and Camarilla number.
Character sheets must have a complete XP log as well. Every single approval MID or higher must have an approval number listed either in the XP log or on the character sheet. Do not add approvals that are pending onto your character sheet. Only approved items should be listed on your character sheet or XP log.
Members of Camarilla may be required to strike items from their character sheets, alter supernatural powers or effects, or otherwise work with the Storytellers to make sure their characters are in compliance with these rules.
Each venue may have its own clarifications and additional rules, as allowed by its individual VSS for MI-015-D.
Each game will have venue-specific restrictions for things requiring prior approval or that are not allowed in that game. See the VSS for each game for more specific information. Regardless, there are some things that require prior approval and/or are not allowed for all games at MI-015-D. Approvals for these items will be accepted via e-mail no later than 48 hours prior to the event. A confirmation e-mail from the Venue Storyteller will be returned with the acceptance. Players will be responsible for producing this approval at character check in at MI-015-D.
As per the Camarilla Addendum, with the following addenda: Storytellers may retire any character from their VSS with MID approval. This should only be done in situations where the player has made no attempt to contact the Storyteller to ensure continued interest in the character. It is the players responsibility to ensure that periods of inactivity are approved by the Storyteller. If documentation does not occur, the character can be removed from the VSS after 2 months of inactivity with MID approval. The Storyteller is empowered to explain the characters retirement in whatever way best suits the story from the Storytellers perspective. This includes the death of the character or the character being transformed into a NPC.
The items that require prior approval by the appropriate VST are as follows:
* Top- or Master-level approvals: Any character type, item, supernatural power, etc., requiring Top- or Master-level approval must be sent in prior to arrival at MI-015-D to the individual venue leads, no later than 48 hours prior to game. Players must include on the character sheets presented at MI-015-D a typed description of that power, ability or item, and its game mechanics, otherwise it will not be available for use at MI-015-D. See the specific game VSS for contact information.
* High Approval Bloodlines, Disciplines, and Devotions must be cleared through the Venue Storyteller through notification, either on-site or via email prior to the event. The Venue Storyteller may be very busy; we highly recommend email clearance prior to the event. Trying to obtain Venue Storyteller approval on-site may mean delays of several hours, so if you wish to enter play in a timely manner, pre-approval is strongly advised.
* Weaponry other than what is allowed by the approved World of Darkness books requires prior approval by the Venue Storyteller. Special note: Any weapon or effect, from any source, that can deliver damage to more than one target, such as automatic weapons and explosives, will be Venue Storyteller approval for all venues. This applies to any device or effect which may cause the mass flight of characters or that will tie up large areas of game play space within a combat. Information on how these items were obtained should be included, as well as reference numbers if it is in the Camarilla approvals database.
* Magical Items, to include holy or unholy items with mechanical effects require Venue Storyteller approval.
* Gadgetry: Things that belong in a James Bond movie will generally not be allowed. If the effect is a material or item intended to duplicate existing abilities in game (such as miniature hand-held cameras to spot those using Obfuscate, etc.), they will also generally not be allowed. Some venues have character types (Iron Masters, Forge Masters, etc.) that may use such devices. Consult the Venue Storyteller to see if the items you have are considered exceptions to this rule. Otherwise, non-standard "gadgets" are generally disallowed.
* Cross-venue characters require the approval of the Venue Storyteller for both the home venue and the intended venue to be visited, as well as the Domain Storyteller. Such cross-venue should be cleared prior to the event, not later than 48 hours. It is extremely unlikely that cross-venue authorization will be granted on-site.
* NPCs not affiliated with authorized MI-015-D Plot-kits require Venue Storyteller approval. Storytellers may petition to incorporate their plotlines and/or NPCs into the MI-015-D plots; approval of both the Venue Storyteller and the Domain Storyteller is required to do so; however, we want to encourage integration of outside plots into MI-015-D events, and will try to work with you to get your plot involved in MI-015-D.
* Prepared actions: Player characters will be able to enter each game session with a number of preparations no higher than their unmodified Resolve. Examples of prepared actions include potions (created by Spoiling, alchemy, or other means), prepared spells or rituals, etc. Every 5 points of stored "expendable" trait (see below) brought into play constitutes one prepared action. This includes Vitae Reliquaries, preserved blood, Tass, etc. Pre-cast spells in Awakening may not total more than the character's unmodified Stamina, and may not exceed (Resolve x Gnosis) in total Potency. Players must have an Item Card for prepared actions. Item Cards must have the relevant Player, Character and Storyteller information, including an Event Date and Domain Code (MI-015-D).
* "Expendable" traits: PC's may enter game at less than their full capacity of their applicable "expendable" trait (Vitae in Requiem, Mana in Mage, Essence in Forsaken, Glamour in Lost). The same may apply too other traits, such as Willpower. Please consult the Venue VSS for more information.
* Player characters enter the event with full Willpower. Expenditures and recovery must be handled by a Narrator or Storyteller. For more information on spending and regaining Willpower, see Minds Eye Theatre page 109-110.
* In character "off-site" locations for use in play must be approved by the Domain Storyteller, and may be subject to travel risks and out-of-game time requirements for travel.
In all cases, anything requiring prior approval must be accompanied by a full character sheet, experience point log, and a separate list of all high- and top-level approvals on the character.
On-Site vs. Off-Site
Players who are on the physical location of the game site yet "off-site" in terms of play represent a breakdown in the continuity of the game and will be limited as much as possible. Those events that have been designated as off-site will be clearly marked on the schedule or by Storyteller Announcement. In some cases participating in these events may limit your ability to participate in the regular venue, as well as be subject to travel risks and/or additional time requirements.
Though proxy play is permitted by the Camarilla rules supplements, proxy characters are not allowed for MI-015-D without Domain Storyteller approval due to the difficulty in finding players and Storytellers to run them. This approval must be secured not later than 48 hours prior to event. On-site approvals will be extremely unlikely.
Request of proxy play should include at a minimum:
- Character sheet and Experience log
- Characters reasons and motivations to be here
- Characters personality and attitude
- Characters actions in possible situations
- Characters travel arrangements to and from the area
- Characters security measures
Travel in the World of Darkness is not without risks, but the risks are specific to each individual game and the travel methods used. Consult the VSS for each game for more specific information.
The standard experience award in MI-015-D will be 2-5 XP per session, in accordance with the Camarilla and U.S. national addenda. Earned XP may be divided between characters if more than one character is played during a session, but the total remains the same (ex: if 4 XP are earned, they may be split between two characters 2/2, 3/1, etc, but each character does not receive the full 4 XP). Determination of an over-the-cap XP award will be made following the game, with the recommendation of the Venue Storyteller to the Domain Storyteller based on the quality of role-play. Experience for a good death may be awarded by players' home Storytellers in accordance with the Camarilla supplements, or by the Venue Storyteller or Domain Storyteller for character deaths occurring during play in MI-015-D. Players who seek Good Death awards must contact the Venue Storyteller, who will recommend Good Death awards to the home Storyteller. Good Death XP will not be awarded on-site.
Narrator and Venue Storyteller Empowerment in Mass Combat Scenes
Mass combat, because of its easy opportunity to escalate into sessions of challenges that tie up characters for long periods of time, will be carefully monitored. Any Storyteller may pull a combat out of the main gaming area and into one of any number of side rooms, including the designated Controlled Challenge Room ("CCR"). The chief Storyteller on-scene or designated Combat ST is empowered to determine when and how other characters are allowed to enter such combats. If any players argue or otherwise disrupt the flow of combat rounds with unnecessary discussion, the designated Combat ST has the power to declare the player's character knocked out of the combat, and the Domain Storyteller or Venue Storyteller has the option to declare that the player's character has been killed during the combat, without reference to test, challenge or other game mechanics. The Domain Storyteller or Venue Storyteller also has the right to script events in combat scenes to ensure that the events do not negatively impact the larger setting. Attendance at MI-015-D equates to express agreement to these rules, including acceptance that scripted scenes may be considered 'mediated' (i.e., acceptance of this VSS constitutes acceptance of the mediation, with details being stated in the scripting of the scene), and therefore are not required to strictly follow the letter of the rules so long as they uphold the spirit of the rules in a fair and equitable way with enjoyment and story for the Chronicle as a whole as the primary concerns. Appeals to the scripting of a scene, or any other ruling made in any combat situation, may be made as per the Camarilla Membership Handbook, but must be filed, in full, no more than 30 days following the incident appealed to be considered valid.
The following document titled And Action! was created by Jim Lai specifically for the Forsaken Venue; however, within the boundaries of MI-015-D, all Storytellers are permitted to use Jims document during mass combat scenes:
Faster Action Sequences in Minds Eye Theater
Created by Jim Lai (us2002021214, GL ARST Forsaken)
For some context, one of the concerns that we have been seeing in Forsaken is that violence, which is an important part of the game, takes forever to adjudicate.
1. Mooks (the Stormtrooper Rule)
Let's face it, in any story involving combat, there are antagonists and mooks. Antagonists are important characters with motivations and history. They are important parts of the setting who have recurring roles. In the Matrix, the Agents are Antagonists. The soldiers and guards in the lobby shoot out scene are Mooks.
Mooks aren't as tough as antagonists. Maybe they have a lower pain threshold, or they're just not as motivated. But generally, one good shot and they go down. They may not be dead, but they're effectively out of the fight.
Using Mooks is a great way to speed up combat and make it come across as faster and more furious. They all go at the same time, they come in, do their thing, and usually go down like a good faceless horde.
This is how I use Mooks in my games.
As a VST, I have every right to do this because it's simply a form of guided mediation that I offer to my players. We make occasional tests to help determine what the result of a mediated encounter. It's just something that you and your players need to agree on ahead of time. This is the first time I have written this stuff down. Until now it's pretty much existed solely in my head. When I use this I just ask my players "do you mind if we mediate the action?" and this is how I do it. Maybe I'll put this into my VSS as "this is a form of combat mediation that I use to speed up fight sequences and to encourage descriptive RP."
1. Mooks have two status levels: up and down. They don't suffer from wound penalties (drama is wasted on them). If a player succeeds in taking a Mook down, then they should explain what they did. "I claw him" is boring and it takes away from the ability to visualize the scene. "I grab his arm as he stabs at me and rip out his ribcage" lets everyone know exactly what's happening when werewolves fight. If the player doesn't do it, then I feel free to make up what happens for story purposes.
2. Mooks don't have complete character sheets. They have three test pools: a primary test pool that takes care of their primary role (for example, a human thug might have a primary test pool Combat: 9), a secondary test pool that covers things that help them accomplish their primary role (for example, the same thug might have a secondary test pool for stuff like Climb/Jump/Run/Drive: 7), and a tertiary test pool that covers everything else (for example, Everything Else: 5). They have a single Resistance value that covers everything from Defense to Resolve + Composure to anything else (face it, it doesn't matter if you knock a Mook out or scare him away, he's out of the picture either way).
3. Mooks don't make tests. If a Mook is supposed to resist a pull (i.e. both people test and compare successes), just subtract his Resistance value from the player's pool. If the player makes a success, then the Mook loses. If not, the player inflicted a flesh wound or the Mook managed to break eye contact before the mind control could take effect or whatever. When Mooks attack, they just add six (an average pull) to their relevant test pool. If they succeed, apply successes as normal. If not, then they just suck that round. If a Mook fails to affect a player, the player should explain why. Note that Mooks can still help each other so a bunch of Mooks in large groups teaming up can still threaten even powerful characters.
4. Players can take out Mooks in groups. If a player wants to devote a series of actions to dealing with a group of Mooks, then he can declare that series that he could conceivably perform in six seconds and make a single pull. Storytellers should err on the side of the player and chalk any discrepancies up to bullet time. The main thing to look out for its that the player should not use a series to maneuver himself to a spot he couldnt otherwise reach in a round. If he succeeds, then accomplishes all of his actions in one round. For example, if a character is going to square off with five Mooks and decides to hit Mook One with a flying kick that knocks him into Mook Two, then uses Mook Two as a human shield to take a bullet from Mook Three, then vault over Mook Two's falling body to tackle Mook Three, using the fall to duck shots from Mooks Four and Five, who then shoot each other. If he makes a pull at -5, he succeeds! Fighting more Mooks at once imposes a penalty to the player's pull, but coming up with cool narration that helps move the story along adds a bonus.
2. Single Camera Roleplaying (The Cinematics Rule)
For some context, one of the concerns that we have been seeing in Forsaken is that violence, which is an important part of the game, takes forever to adjudicate.
In a previous post, I described how I use Mooks in my game to help characters wade through faceless hordes much faster using mediation guided by limited use of tests. Now I'm going to address something that I've heard described to me as "Single Camera" roleplaying. Again, the Camarilla does make allowance for ideas like this through its mediation rule. As long as the players and I agree that this is something we are going to use, then the Camarilla allows us to do so as a form of structured mediation.
The premise is that a roleplaying game is governed by rules of timing and story flow similar to those that govern a movie. We all know when the pacing of a movie is good or bad. Likewise, we all know when the pacing of a roleplaying game is good or bad. The underlying assumption I'm making here is that a storyteller has one "camera" to use when putting together what his scene is going to look like. Therefore, he has to prioritize events and use his narrative skills to control the pacing of the story. Players want to breeze through the unimportant parts of a scene to get to the dramatic ones.
Let's take a fairly typical narrative sequence from a movie and break it down into component parts. In The Matrix: Reloaded, Trinity breaks into a power plant with the help of a motorcycle and her mad kung fu skills, fights her way to the control room, and then proceeds to hack the system, thus enabling Neo and Morpheus to get to their goal. The sequence has three basic parts: (1) the entrance; (2) making her way to the computers; and (3) the hack. Of these, the hack is the most important to the story because it has the greatest impact on the outcome. The entrance is of secondary importance because it's how Trinity gets to where she needs to be and because it has some effect on character development in the future. The fight to get to the computers is of tertiary importance because it's just window dressing.
If we played the scene out with standard rules, it would take forever. Every guard would be a full-blown sequence and we would be pulling cards all night. We don't want that. So as a storyteller, you use your mediation power to get players to agree to change from a task-resolution paradigm to a goal-resolution one. Here's the difference:
Task Resolution: OK, I want to jump the bike, flip off it midair, and land it on the guard shack. That's a Dex plus drive to make the jump, a Dex plus athletics to make the flip, another Dex plus athletics to stick the landing the next round, and a Dex plus drive to make the bike land on the shack. Then I spend a round standing up, a round pulling the helmet, and then I fight the two guards.
Goal Resolution: OK, my goal is to jump the bike, flip off it midair, and land it on the guard shack. Landing it on the shack is gravy and it's part of my attack plan, so clearly the most important part is making the jump and landing safely. So the pull is going to be Dex plus athletics. This is a hard maneuver so let's impose a -1 penalty for the flip, a -1 for making the landing, and a -1 for hitting the shack. Then I want to take out the guards. They're two mooks, so I'm going to use my helmet as a club and do some cool spin moves to confuse them. Let's call that a single Strength plus weaponry pull with a -1 for fighting a mob.
Under the task resolution paradigm, you make a ton of tests, especially when you get to the fight sequence. Under a goal resolution paradigm, the focus is on the outcome of the scene, not the individual steps it takes to get there. So you accomplish the whole thing in two pulls.
The goal resolution paradigm relies on the storyteller's ability to change the amount of time that a particular test represents. When something is important, you can compress time so each test represents a much smaller action where the individual parts of it are dramatically important. When something is less important, you expand time so that the player achieves a subsidiary goal faster and moves on to the meaty stuff.
For example, when you are dealing with mooks, the important thing isn't each individual blow, but the end result of the fight. Going back to the Matrix, look how little time Neo and Trinity spend with each soldier in the lobby shootout. On the other hand, when you are dealing with important characters, each individual punch and kick becomes extremely important because you are dealing with a much more powerful opponent. Look how much time the camera spends on Neo's subway fight with Agent Smith. Every single shot is critical because it is part of the character development and the story progression. This comparison demonstrates how storytellers can make use of both task resolution and goal resolution in the same session in order to take control over the flow of the story.
The World of Darkness is not a happy place. From time to time, the Storytellers in a venue may use adult themes, vivid descriptions, and contentious social issues to bring the World of Darkness to life. For those familiar with the White Wolf tabletop material, some plot elements or themes could be considered "Black Dog" material. Such themes and issues may include racism, sexism, bigotry, prejudice, sexual assault, and extreme violence. If, at any time, a player feels uncomfortable with a scene, the player should immediately inform the Storyteller running the scene. The Storyteller will either tone down scene so that the player is once again comfortable participating in it, or will excuse the player from the scene and hand the PC to a Narrator or other designated representative to finish out the scene without breaking continuity. These disturbing elements will not be used lightly, and players that leave due to comfort issues will be treated with compassion and courtesy. Storytellers will take reasonable steps to ensure that players who must leave a scene for this reason are not put at a disadvantage by their departure.
Influence (Allies, Contacts, Retainers, Status)
Influence requires one success to accomplish a goal that is of equal or lesser level on the following reference charts. Attempting higher level actions requires additional successes.
Influence (Challenges and Pre-set Difficulties)
The levels above are samples of what can be done with an equal number of successes within this domain. However, the level of Influence your character has also has an effect upon what you are planning to do with your Influence. Storytellers are empowered to deny any use of Influence that directly interferes with the greater story. The rank of the Influence provides the starting point for which the character with the Influence begins challenges with the Storyteller. Hence, a character with Status 1 requires five successes to achieve a rank 5 effect, four successes to achieve a rank 4 effect, etc. A character with Status 3 requires only one success to achieve a rank 1-3 effect, two successes to achieve a rank 4 effect and three successes to achieve an effect of rank 5.
1) Know layout and policies of local schools; obtain records up to high school level
2) Have minor access to facilities; fake high school records; obtain college records
3) Call in faculty favors; cancel a class; fix grades; discredit a student
4) Organize student protests and rallies; discredit a faculty member
5) Falsify and undergraduate degree
1) Trace utility bills; minor lobbying;
Identify real platforms of politicians and their parties; be in the know
2) Fake birth certificate or Drivers license; disconnect single small residences utilities;
Close small road or park; meet small time politicians;
Garner inside information on laws and the like
3) Fake death certificate, passport, or green card; close a public school for a day;
Shut down a minor business for a day on a violation; sway or alter political projects
4) Initiating a phone tap; fake land deeds; initiate a department wide investigation;
Enact minor legislation; dash careers of minor politicians
5) Start, stop, or alter a city-wide program or policy; reroute major modes of travel
Shut down a big business on violation; rezone areas;
Obliterate records of a person on a city or county level
1) Learn about major transactions and financial events;
Learn about general economic trends;
Learn real motivations for many financial actions of others;
Learn about industrial projects and movements
2) Trace an unsecured small amount; raise capital to purchase a small business;
Have minor projects performed; arrange small accidents or sabotage
3) Purchase a large business; organize minor strikes;
Appropriate machinery for a short time
4) Manipulate local banking; ruin a small business; close down a small plant;
Revitalize a small plant
5) Manipulation of an aspect of city-wide banking; ruin a large business;
Purchase a major company; manipulate large local industry
1) Open an ear for the word on the street;
Identify most gangs and know their turf and habits; locate minor contraband
2) Keep a contact or two in most aspects of street life; access small time contraband;
Obtain pistols and stolen cars; hire muscle to ruff someone up, fence stolen loot;
3) Get insight into other areas of influence;
Arrange some service from street people and gangs;
Obtain uncommon melee weapons; obtain rifle, shotgun, or smg; arrange a minor hit;
4) Mobilize groups of homeless; have a word in almost all aspects of gang operations;
Make white collar crime connections
5) Control a single medium sized gang; arrange impressive protests by street people;
Arrange gangland assassinations; hire a demolition man or firebug;
Supply local drug needs, smuggle with impunity
1) Access a persons health records; fake vaccination records and the like;
Use public functions of health centers at your leisure;
Get a single blood trait of mortal blood
2) Access some medical research records; have minor lab work done;
Get a copy of a coroners report; instigate minor quarantines
3) Corrupt results of tests or inspections; alter medical records
4) Need a cadaver, you got one; completely rewrite medical records;
Have minor medical research performed on a subject; institute large scale quarantines;
Shut down businesses for health code violations
5) Commission special research projects; have people institutionalized or released
1) Learn what is trendy; obtain hard to get tickets for shows;
Learn about concerts, shows, or plays well before they are made public
2) Track most celebrities and luminaries; be a local voice in the entertainment field;
Travel locally quickly and freely
3) Crush promising careers; hobnob well above your station
Arrange passage that is safe and concealed from mundane threats
4) Minor celebrity status; avoid most supernatural threats while traveling
5) Making a brief appearance on a local talk show;
Ruin a new club, gallery, festival or other posh gathering
1) Learn about breaking stories early; submit small articles
2) Suppress small articles or reports; get hold of investigative reporting information
3) Initiate news investigations and reports; ground minor local stories and projects;
Submit large articles
4) Ground major local stories and projects;
Kill minor local stories and articles completely
5) Broadcast fake stories locally; kill major local articles and reports completely
1) Contact and make use of common occult groups and their practices;
Know some of the move visible occult figures
2) Know and contact some of the more obscure occult figures;
Access resources for most rituals/rites/powers
3) Know general vicinity of certain supernatural beings and possibly ways to contact;
Access vital or rate material components; access occult tomes and writings;
Research a common ritual/rite/power
4) Research a more advanced ritual/rite/power
5) Research advanced/rare ritual/rite/power
1) Learn police procedures; hear police information and rumors;
Avoid traffic tickets; get free representation for minor cases
2) Have license plates checked; Avoid minor violations; get inside information
Avoid bail for some charges; have minor charges dropped
3) Get copies of an investigation report; have police hassle, detain or harass someone;
Find internal police secrets; get representation in most court cases
4) Access confiscated weapons or contraband; have some serious charges dropped;
Start and investigation; issue subpoenas; have most legal charges dropped;
Cancel or arrange parole
5) Institute major investigations; arrange sting operations; have officers fired;
Close down all but the most serious investigations;
Have deportation proceedings carried out against someone
1) Identify most secular members of a given faith in the local area;
Pass as a member of a particular faith; peruse general church records
2) Identify higher religious members; track regular church members;
Suspend lay members
3) Open or close a single church; find the average church associated hunter;
Access private information and archives of the church
4) Discredit or suspend high level church members;
Manipulate regional branches of the church;
5) Organize major protests; access major church lore and knowledge
The levels of influence under each area are not the be all, end all for what can be done under a given area. They are just meant as guidelines to give you an idea of what can be done under each area for a given level. Ultimately it is up to the residing ST to determine what you can and cant do at each level under each area and whether there will have to be a draw to do or get the information you want.
Allies indicate a group of people in one of the areas above that you can call on to do you favors. In some cases they may requires something from you in return depending on what you are asking of them. If they are used too often or are put into danger one too many times they may stop giving you any aid. In some circumstances a Manipulation + Persuasion + Allies draw may be required when asking for aid. If you are calling on help, for example asking for some police to show up, you will need to make a Manipulation + Persuasion + Allies to determine how many answer the call (One per success). These actions can also be done in game and downtime is done the same as with status except it is not your character specifically doing the actions but you asking a group of people in the area of influence you wish to use to do it for you.
Contacts indicate a group of people you can contact to get information from one of the areas above. Contacts can only provide you with information on something, they wont get directly involved. To gain information from a contact need to make a successful Manipulation + either Persuasion or Socialize depending on the situation. Penalties may arise depending on the difficultness of the information wanted, i.e. confidential. These actions can be done in game or during downtime and downtime is done just like with Status and Allies except you can only gain information from them, they wont do any other type of action.
Retainer indicates someone that you have that you can call on to help you out. This could be by having been friends, blackmail, close work associate, etc. This person will generally help you out in many circumstances as long as it doesnt offend him or her in some way. In some cases the retainer may be in a position to do something along the lines of and ally or contact but depending on the retainer the information may be skewed in some way based on their point of view. Retainers dont have character sheets per say, their stats are determined by the storyteller depending on the number of dots you have in him/her and what type of retainer you were looking for.
Status indicates the level of your standing in one Specific Area (as detailed above). It allows you to directly affect things from that area of influence without really having to make any challenges except in extreme situations. If you choose to have an underling from the area you have influence in (the underling is the one with the status) do something, a check of Manipulation + Intimidation, Persuasion, or Socialize may be required, depending on the situation. These actions can be done in game or as a downtime action. Each area of status (or underling with status) necessitates an appropriate action. You may only use one status per action, though you may split the amount of the status used. Example: You have Status: Religion 4 and Police 3. In one downtime action you could enact one level 4 action or two level 2 actions, or one level 1 and one level 3, etc. To then use your other area of status would take another downtime action.
Proposed Mechanics (if applicable)