Friday, September 27, 2013

Unique V:tM character sheet

Mr. Gone generously created a custom Vampire: the Masquerade character sheet for me.  I needed a sheet with blood potency instead of generation, limited to 5 dots in attributes, abilities, disciplines, backgrounds, etc.  And I also wanted to mess around with the health levels.  Even though I grew up with the standard Bruised, Hurt, and so forth... I always wondered what it would be like to have one or two additional health levels included.  Well, I came up with Impaired between Wounded and Mauled.

Without further ado, here it is...

Mr. Gone's chronicle VS character sheet

Let me and Mr. Gone know what you think of this custom character sheet for V:tM, and if you use it, then definitely tell us!  Here's his website:


Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Empire Strikes Back Session

Just wondering "aloud" about something... Empire Strikes Back [ESB] sessions.  I'm talking about those nights at the game table where things go really bad for the characters.  Like, a lot of terrible things in a row.  Also not unlike The Long Good Friday (thank Dread Cthulhu they haven't remade that film yet) or that point in Game of Thrones where pretty much everyone gets their throat slit open (I think it's called The Red Wedding).

An ESB session is about the antagonists.  Their plans, their struggle, their story.  How they got the upper hand - if only for a short while.  Things can't always go easy for the PCs.  Sometimes, they just have to pay... dearly.

The players should be thrilled, engaged, and possibly stressed about what's going on with their characters during one of these soul-searching nights of pain, loss, and confusion.  Yes, things are dark, but the actual game play is not awful - everyone should still be having fun.  On the other hand, there might be some residual depression and darkness carried over from the characters to the players.  Depends on the people, system, and expectations.  Call of Cthulhu?  Yeah, PCs should expect it.  D&D?  PCs should expect to almost die every few sessions or so.  Vampire: the Masquerade?  Well, it is a storytelling game of personal horror.

After all, we identify with characters in tv shows, movies, books, etc.  And we also like to see them in tough scrapes, tight spots, and squirming on the hook a bit.  Shouldn't players relish the idea of their favorite characters being thrown into the meat-grinder?  Does the personal nature of player characters make the peril too personal sometimes?

More questions!  Do GMs plan for ESB sessions?  Do they prepare for it?  Do they even know its coming before it hits?  Are there unconscious ESB sessions where GMs don't even realize they're shitting all over the PCs?  How far can a GM go?  How much is too much?  Is foreshadowing warranted?  After the ESB session, do the PCs deserve a light at the end of the tunnel?  In what form: more experience, miscellaneous bonus, acquiring a magic item, old spooky house, or a dangerous secret?  Now that those questions have been asked, a few more things...

As long as it's a temporary state, I think it's fine for GMs to run an ESB session every now and again.  Of course, the fallout from such a night of gaming has repercussions throughout the rest of the campaign.  For instance, if an NPC ally dies, then he's still dead next session.  The paranoia a GM stirs in his players, via endangering their characters, will probably continue for several sessions - even after the present danger has subsided... because, yeah, there could be a new danger right around the corner!

Assuming it is only temporary, should the PCs know it's temporary or should they be led to believe that this nightmare might go on and on and on...?  Do GMs sometimes experience player backlash for the bleakness or is it generally well received (or at least understood)?

I'd be glad to hear from my fellow gamers on this front.  Feel free to elaborate with stories from your own table.  Let's hear the horror stories and epic wins of actual play!


Monday, September 23, 2013

"I've never seen a miracle"

Ah, Dexter... I'm shaking my head right now because last night was the eight-years coming final episode of Dexter.  For those who don't know, the titular Dexter Morgan is a highly functioning serial killer who hunts and kills other killers and people who "deserve it" based upon a code taught to him by his father.  Basically, the finale sucked.  Even more than that, it felt like a betrayal.

For the moment, let's put that aside, shall we?  Beloved TV series either have an ending or they don't.  Most of the shows that don't have any real closure ended before the writers had a chance to conclude the story and tie up loose ends.  Shows that know they're ending ahead of time have the opportunity to finish things... the right way.

There are lots of endings that are pretty good or fine.  They're passable without drawing too much attention to themselves.  A few are extraordinary, ending with a real high note.  Then there are those endings which do a complete disservice to what came before.  Finales that seem more like an injustice than a conclusion.  How many people loved the ending of Seinfeld or Lost?  Well, I'd be surprised to find out that the majority thought Dexter ended satisfactorily.

I'm not going into peripheral disappointments like the mistreatment or lack of treatment regarding Joey, Batista, Masuka, Matthews, Harrison's nanny, that black woman who made Sargent instead of Joey, and everyone else Dexter either worked with or knew and hadn't killed yet.  Why did the writers bother to built those characters up and introduce subplots only to have them stand around, helplessly witnessing the show's demise?

Even though I didn't want to, I was able to buy the fact that Hannah escaped and came back to Miami to seek Dexter's help (and possibly renew their romance).  That Dexter fell in love with Hannah.  That Deborah let Hannah stay at her place.  I was even able to buy the fact that Hannah "hid" in plain sight and refused to wear a disguise - even sunglasses!  And what about Zach's sudden murder - WTF?  Though I knew better, I suspended my disbelief enough to accept that Dexter's darkness was virtually gone.  No longer in need of blood and body parts, Dexter was cured...?  But letting his last victim go?  Even when Oliver knew all about Dexter and that he was a serial killer... seriously?!?

Everything that came after that was met with a resounding, "Bullshit.  That would never happen."  Deborah Morgan in a coma with severe brain damage... a vegetable?  No.  Killing Oliver in "self-defense"?  No.  Creative, yes... but, ultimately, no.  Stealing his sister's dead body to bury her at sea?  No.  Sailing into the storm?  No.  Making a new life for himself as a fucking lumberjack while the love of his life and son are living in Argentina?  FUCK NO!!!

Not only does it make precious little sense, it goes against everything we know about the character.  Dexter has evolved over eight years, but he hasn't suddenly become a totally different person.  And why throw Deb under the bus?  Didn't she redeem herself?  She didn't even die "saving a bus full of nuns".  She wounded the season's principal antagonist and then died in a hospital bed an episode later.  The finale was not only a downer of biblical proportions but not at all realistic based upon the parameters the series set.

Like Lost, Dexter ended one season too late.  Either that, or the last few episodes were such a bizarre and uneven disappointment that any new fan of the show should do himself a favor and tune out before the very end.  I've seen miracles - positive ones - but what I witnessed last night was the opposite of that.  It was a negative miracle, an anti-miracle... a black hole; the kind that makes everything suck.  Even seasons 1 - 7 will inevitably be tinged with wrongness because of this.

Now that it's done and the smoke has mostly cleared.  I'd like to know if anyone objected to this travesty before it all went down.  What did the actors think?  Did any of the writers protest?  Producers?  Executive producers?  Did those who objected get overruled?  By whom?  How could something like this have happened?  Is it possible to get a "do over"?


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vord's Familiar ~ an introduction to Clear Meadows

Back to swords and sorcery!

For those of you who don't know, Liberation of the Demon Slayer is an old school fantasy adventure I'm self-publishing.  PDF and print versions should be available shortly.  Tentatively, I'll say the release date is 9/23/13.  So, in anticipation of that, I'm offering a brief micro-adventure which can be used as an intro to the LotDS adventure.

This collection of scenes revolves around a Stygian Imp, also known as a Night Imp because they're dark as night, as well as, being nocturnal.  This particular Stygian Imp, Mobo, is the familiar to a powerful Demon named Vord who lives far below the surface.  A fortnight ago, Vord became enraged about some conflict within "his" dungeon, and threw Mobo across the room.  Feeling hurt and dejected, Mobo escaped up to the surface.  Now, the Imp is causing trouble in the town of Clear Meadows.

Mobo can become invisible 3 times / night; he's devious, crafty, and mischievous.  There are several places in Clear Meadows where he's been and continues to cause trouble.  Some of these places might be where starting zero-level PCs work or spend time.  Giving them a specific role in Clear Meadows should give PCs a feeling of belonging, so they'll help the town during the tough times ahead.  The GM might want to run this mini-scenario right after the hour or two (depending on what system you're using) of character creation.

The object of this micro-adventure is to discover why things are going wrong in the town by finding and confronting Vord's familiar.  Initially, the townsfolk suspect an apprentice, patron, or employee who has a bone to pick.  A PC or two might find themselves accused - giving them even more reason to unmask the real culprit.  The piece ends with a particularly horrifying nightmare which foreshadows LotDS's multi-level dungeon.


1 - 4  ...The Rampant Lion is the largest and most frequented tavern in Clear Meadows.  Mobo likes removing chairs (while invisible) just before patrons sit down, urinating in the wine, and using a home-made slingshot to break full, foamy mugs of mead.

5 - 6  ...A nameless, three-man thieves' guild that occasionally takes on a street urchin or two.  It's led by Staffol, a one-eyed thief of advanced years who wears an eye patch.  Mobo has painted an exaggeratedly silly eye over Staffol's eye patch.

7 -8  ...The Pungent Pearl is a seafood shack on the edge of town.  Mobo occasionally refreshes himself with messy night feedings of shrimp and other undersea crustaceans.  He also likes to pour ice all over the floor.

9 - 11  ...Valstead the enigmatic wizard usually has a half dozen apprentices assisting him in his leaning, moss-covered citadel.  Mobo might imbibe a polymorph into dragon potion when PCs are around.  Just last night, he cut all the stars out of Valstead's periwinkle wizard robes.

12 - 14  ...The town guard.  Mobo likes breaking spears in half, dulling blades, and greasing the stone steps leading up to the guard tower.

15 - 17  ...Lord Barok owns most of the fields in Clear Meadows.  Of course, he needs a lot of farmers to till the soil and work the land.  The Imp has dismantled the plow and continues to feed sleeping pills to the horses.  His next jape will be spreading manure all over the barn cat named Sassie.

18 - 20  ...The clerics of Clear Meadows serve the town as best they can.  Mobo can't resist adding a gelatin thickener to the holy water and discoloring the crotch area of a priest's white frock.

Eventually, the PCs will see a short, frail, night-black Demon prancing around the town, committing shenanigans, and generally being a nuisance.  Capturing Mobo will prove difficult, as he is slippery and has invisibility at his disposal.  When apprehended, the Imp tells the PCs that his name is Mobo, he's the familiar of a powerful Demon named Vord who lives somewhere beneath the town, and, yes, he's been causing all the mischief.  The Stygian Imp doesn't know much at all about the Nether Realms, nor anything in particular about dungeoneering.

Before concluding the session, the GM tells the PCs about a dream they each have...

"You're walking through town until you come to a doorway.  Going through it, you suddenly find yourself in the forest at night.  Up ahead is a bonfire.  Drawn to it, you walk up to the edge of a camp where cackling winged serpents fly above sinister robed humanoids.  The robed humanoids hold meat cleavers above their heads, bringing them down, cutting into several torsos, legs, arms, and various gore-drenched body parts strewn before them.  The spectacle sickens you.  Before you can turn away from the grisly scene, the dark red visage of a Demon Lord appears in the midnight sky.  He has a smug expression upon his face, arrogantly gesturing at something behind you.  Still unable to move, you feel the sensation of worms - hundreds of them - crawling upon your legs and working their way up.  The Demon disappears as it utters the following disembodied words, "M'zathrinah Vordes'torvik ak qxon fsirie e'visht." 

Well, that's it.  Thanks for reading.  Can't wait for you guys to experience Liberation of the Demon Slayer.  Soon...


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Unfocused is the Focus!

If you're an RPG geek, that's one thing (and a pretty great thing, too!), but there are also hardcore RPG nerds.  Unfortunately, I fall into that category as well.  An RPG nerd doesn't just like playing roleplaying games, rolling dice, and pretending to brandish his sorcery and sword.  No, he wants to look inside RPGs to see how they work, what makes them tick.  The nerd explores all the tiny molecules of RPG design which casual gamers and regular gaming geeks probably find boring, tedious, or just a waste of time.

The above link talks about the 1st edition of Vampire: the Masquerade.  Here’s the crux of the argument (or first major argument worth discussing).  The game doesn't define exactly how it should be played.  Instead, it offers many different possibilities... some of them are interconnected, others quite exclusive.  That's another defining aspect of old school.  Early D&D gave DMs and players the raw tools; barest essentials.  A road map.  The vague promise of adventure... clashing steel, hurtling balls of fire, and scantily clad Elven maids.  

How to play the game is never explicitly defined.  Yes, there are examples of play included in several rulebooks, but a couple pages of "actual play" doesn't cover a fraction of the infinite possibilities.  The multitude of paths to choose from is hinted at, but never whittled down to just one.  That's the beauty of old school RPGs.  They let you wander… to triumph, flounder, or discover your own kind of weirdness.

Of course, this creates an entirely new foundation of what old school RPGs are and how to judge if a specific RPG is worthy of being part of the old school renaissance.  A term I believe should be broadened if it does not include 1st edition Vampire: the Masquerade.  Three characteristics defined an RPG’s qualifications: non-standardization, subjective nostalgia, and date of publication.  Now, there's a fourth characteristic:  multi-focused.

With multi-focused RPGs, the game play isn’t necessarily about any one thing in particular.  It begins with a few staples, and then everything to follow is a free-form narrative created by the GM and heavily influenced by the players.

Some might say that such old school rule descriptions are "bad" or "confusing" simply because they don't spell out every little detail of how the game should be played.  I don't agree.  Ambiguous rules are not a bug - they're a feature.  But then, I like doing my own thing.  As a life-long DM, Storyteller, GM, etc., I need enough creative rope to work with.  Occasionally, I'll hang myself by accident.  Them's the breaks.  Without the chance of failure (no matter how small) there's no excitement or drama.  Player characters require it, so why not Game Masters?  Risk makes the story worth telling in the first place.

In the olden days, Dungeons & Dragons was about going into dungeons, however loosely defined, killing monsters, and looting their treasure.  Similarly, Vampire: the Masquerade is about playing a vampire who lives by night, drinks the blood of humans, and tries not to be discovered by humanity.  And yet, within either of those parameters there is a lot of play.  No two D&D or V:tM campaigns/chronicles are alike even though all of them are roughly similar.  Can the same be said of Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, Rifts, or later editions of D&D and V:tM?

On the other hand, isn’t every RPG capable of fluid, story-based “sand box” type play?  Yes, I think so.  However, modern games seem to favor a singular focus, one particular style of play over others.  Certain games force players and GMs into a style or way of gaming because the rule book outright states "that's the way you play this game".  Later editions of V:tM spent more time telling people how they “should” play the game, what a chronicle is supposed to look like.  Although, revised Vampire rule books still recognized all the chronicle variations that could exist for Storytellers and players alike.

So, if you're as big an RPG nerd as I am, you might get a kick out of skimming the posts on that link (some of them, at least).  You might ponder the notion of gaming focus... what's too vague, what's too concrete, and if an unfocused RPG can be the focal point?  Vampire: the Masquerade became an undeniable RPG phenomenon in the 90's, and is still discussed today.  In my opinion, it's worth trying to understand why. 

If you have an opinion, then please feel free to share it by commenting below.  I won't necessarily agree with what you say, but I'll be glad you said it.


Friday, September 13, 2013

NPC Portraits

Now, these are for the Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle I'm running; notable characters, sires, progeny, antagonists, and Kindred of interest around the greater Janesville area.  If you're not one of my players, these photos won't be as useful; however, they might still work for you or your RPG.

Johnathan Marsh ~ malkavian

Vanessa ~ caitiff

Mark Sensa ~ gangrel

Kamilla ~ ???

James Swanson aka "Creepazoid" ~ caitiff

Harold's character before he was embraced.

Starker ~ ventrue and Prince of Janesville

Venom ~ gangrel

Benedict Rasahn ~ Tremere


p.s.  None of these images are mine and I have no rights regarding them, just found them with a google search and thought they looked appropriate.  If there's a problem, just let me know and I'll swamp certain images for others.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Origin session for V:tM

This was a fun one, but also a little scary with just a hint of annoying.

The first session of my old school Vampire: the Masquerade weekly home game explored the origins of these Kindred.  Each player character started out as mortal, living their everyday lives before the embrace.  Since there was six players, there were six individual storylines; however, a few intersected with each other.  More intersection would have been nice, though not necessarily realistic.

As you can imagine, players had relatively little "screen time" for their respective characters.  So, there was a lot of watching.  Hopefully, I made each individual origin scene interesting enough to sit through.  In that way, the session felt like a 2 hour pilot of a TV show.  The pilot has many jobs: introducing characters, showcasing the environment, meeting important NPCs, creating drama and tension, setting the scene for what's to come - the chronicle before us.  The pilot has to do it all.  As soon as one storyline gets going, it's replaced by another, and then another.  By the story's end, most (if not all) the main characters are in the same place at the same time, connected; ideally, working on a common goal.

As individual stories played out, each player character bumped into his or her soon-to-be sire.  A gun shot wound victim drove himself to an aged veterinarian.  I didn't actually came up with this, by the way.  The two players sitting next to each other both wanted to be nosferatu.  They concocted the setup and basically handed it over to me.  Oookkkkaaaayyyyyyy...

For a couple seconds, I had no idea where to go with this one.  Then, I had an inkling of an idea, and just told the best story I could.  Shot-up guy is bleeding all over the place, the vet (played admirably as if his characters had spent many hours in a chair having old age makeup applied) taking care of him.  Then, a man in a hat and coat, face burned and scarred with a straight-razor slash going along his neck and up his right cheek.  He came in with a little cat that was having health problems.  I had to think of something - why else would a vampire walk into a veterinarian's office?  The nosferatu, Drake, sees the dying man on the vet's table.  He finishes him off, and then offers some of his blood.  It just so happens that the vet witnesses this and instead of killing him, Drake embraces him as well.

Two birds, one stone.

The next player was a student at UW Whitewater.  BTW, this chronicle is taking place in the greater Janesville area.  He talked to his guidance counselor, a ghoul for a sadistic, psychopathic vampire, who routinely funnels aimless students into his master's hands.  The student goes over to Mark's house to set up his personal curriculum, etc.  Mark probes him with all kinds of invasive questions, leaves to go make a phone call in the kitchen, allowing the student to check out the basement (door ajar with light visible past the stairs).  Turns out, Mark has a sound-proof, human sized, glass cylinder in the basement of his old Victorian house.  There's a 21 year old blonde co-ed who trapped in there.  She pleads for him to help her escape.

Strangely, he tells her that he'll help, but doesn't.  Instead, he cozies up to Mark, even though some tough biker dude in a leather jacket tells him that Mark is bad news and he intends on killing him soon.  Instead of the biker embracing the student, Mark does once Jon's character tells Mark that he knows about the girl downstairs.

An interesting twist.  I didn't plan on Mark being the gangrel, that was supposed to be the biker Venom.  But Jon really wanted a gangrel character, so I altered Mark's clan to fit the player's concept.

A petty thief living her life on the streets.  She sleeps under a bridge.  She picks the wrong guys pocket - a tall, sinister man in a long black trench coat, receding black hair and pock-marked face.  Going through his wallet, she notices his license.  It looks like he was born in 1920.  She meets a fellow homeless person named Johnathan, though there's something noble about him.  Then, she's attacked by the guy whose wallet she stole.  He tells her she's going to suffer.  She's prepared to die.  Johnathan knocks them both over, tells "creepazoid" (that's what she started calling him) to get the fuck out of here and leave her alone.

Johnathan decides to make her a vampire since her days are numbered out on the street.

Then, an ex-military dude wanders the college campus looking for direction.  He meets a guy, the ghoul of Starker - Prince of Janesville (a dubious honor).  This guy tells military man that his services would be valuable to his boss, Starker.  Military man goes to meet Starker, they hit it off and the Prince embraces his new bodyguard.

Finally, a female student at UW-Whitewater, who occasionally does sexy cam work and has a rich, well-known family, gets picked out of a house party crowd by that creepazoid vamp.  Ousted from the bridge, he's looking for some brutal fun.  The co-ed follows him to an upstairs bedroom where he embraces her and then just leaves like a collegiate one-night stand.  She wanted to play a caitiff, and it seemed appropriate.

Unaware that she's a vampire now, the co-ed inadvertently frenzies, killing her roommate.  Starker has many connections, contacts, and ties to the police force in Janesville.  He hears about the killing and sends military dude (yeah, I know.  It's terrible that I don't know the player characters' names yet). to collect her.

Finally, every sire is required to present his new progeny to the Prince.  They do.  Yay, everyone is at the same place at the same time.  Session's almost over, but there's still time for Starker to send everyone out to get creepazoid.  He's not to be killed, though.  Just brought to the Prince for questioning.

It takes a little while, but they track creepazoid down and eventually detain him.  He's brought in so Starker can interrogate him alone.

Experience is doled out and that's where things ended.  As you can see, this is a really long fucking post.  It's no wonder that one of the players texted me the next morning complaining about the lack of playing time during the other character' origins.  Understandable, but with relatively little time to prepare I did the best I could.  Keep in mind that creepazoid will be a recurring antagonist.  So, it was important to give him plenty of "screen time".  Perhaps the origin session was biting off more than I could chew.  It certainly seemed ambitious.  At least, everyone's told me they're excited for session #2.

In any case, we're all set up for the next game.  Unfortunately the players of military man and female student aren't going to be at a convention.  Hopefully, my wife will decide to sit down and play Vampire with us.


p.s.  I had the film Beyond the Black Rainbow playing on the TV about 15' away from the gaming table.  There's hardly any dialog, just colorful visuals and some of the best 80's inspired movie soundtrack around.  I looked, and there's no CD I can buy.  Players said it added to the game, though there were a couple moments where it became distracting.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

V:tM Warm-up Part 2: the Bloodbath

Even though something unexpectedly came up for half the group last night, part 2 was pretty awesome.  The Gary/Chicago rivalry escalated when Modius and his nosferatu adviser selected a target - Lodin's right hand vampire, an enforcer with organized crime connections named Lucien.

Before seeking him out in Chicago, Blago was set upon by a mysterious woman.  She was a Kindred from Chicago, sent to recruit the European gangrel away from Modius to serve the Prince of Chicago.  She used her presence to make him come to her.  He tried to resist but felt overpowered.  Blago spent a willpower point to stay where he was, standing his ground and forcing her to come to him.  At the time, I was unsure what kind of resistance roll was required to not be in awe of her, compelled to walk towards her...

The female went up to Blago's haven, discovered he wouldn't betray Modius, wouldn't share blood with her, and then suddenly he went berserk with wolf claws thanks to his protean discipline.  Face and neck torn open, she immediately fled, using her celerity to get the fuck out of there - 3 successes of aggravated damage!  That's not going to heal right away.

This and later brawls reminded me how brutal and unforgiving combat is in V:tM.  Holy shit!  Whoever strikes first has a huge advantage.  Whoever attacks with a group has a huge advantage - especially with supernatural speed.  Whoever created their character to be a tank with plenty of strength and brawl has a huge advantage.  Whoever uses their 2 dots in protean to transform their hands into razors of goddamn fury becomes an unbelievable killing machine!

I kind of forgot how dodge worked, so I ruled that someone could try to dodge a blow but then that would take up their next attack.  Since the attack order was you go, I go, you go, I go, etc. it didn't make too much sense to dodge a blow because then you can't deal any damage next round and have 3 or 4 more attacks coming your way.  I'll have to re-think that.  Maybe dodge should be allowed (except in the case of firearms) but then your next attack (dice pool) only takes a penalty of one die per attack being dodged?

I also think it might be better to roll for initiative each round.  More surprises!  If this were D&D and each combat was expected to go 10 - 15 rounds, then that would probably be way too much rolling, but for a 3 or 4 round combat (on average), I think it'll be fine.

Soaking damage was another challenge.  Few of the opposing Kindred had fortitude, and the ones who did only had a dot or two.   So, I ruled that only fortitude alone could attempt at soaking aggravated damage, except for the very last vamp to die by the PCs' hands at the end of the night,.  I gave that dude a fighting chance, allowing him his full stamina plus fortitude dice pool to try and absorb the staggering 8 successes of wolf-claw evisceration.  I rolled well, allowing him to deal out some punishment the following turn instead of simply going down in the first six seconds of combat.  His second attempt at soaking wasn't as fruitful: 1 success out of 6 dice.  Yep, still dead - or near enough.

Instead of going either/or, just fortitude or stamina + (fortitude) for everyone, maybe I can allow just those Kindred with fortitude to roll stamina + fortitude, but those without the discipline can't attempt to soak the damage at all.  That might be a fair compromise.

I think every vampire defeated was diablerized.  Hahaha!  As soon as I mentioned drinking a fallen vamp's vitae until reaching his soul and then being able to suck that down, too... everyone wanted to try it.  Since I as using blood potency instead of generation, I allowed the soul-sucker to attain blood potency 2, instead of the 1 they started with.  Before the first session, I briefly touched on the different levels.  The greater a vampire's blood potency, the more blood he can use each turn and the less he can sustain himself on animal blood (and human blood if he reached blood potency of 5), etc.  That's why Kindred need to go into torpor after a century of stalking the night.

Another difference between the last session and this one was disciplines.  In the first, I allowed PCs to add auspex, dominate, presence, etc. to their dice pools instead of the raw attribute + ability.  So, there was less dice rolled this time and less successes, but everything seemed to go smoothly.

Back to the plot: there was a cargo shipment coming in on the docks of Gary after slaying Lucien and the scarred Evelyn.  It contained a really old dark wooden box bound in iron with Scandinavian runes on the side.  Unsurprisingly, the box contained an elder.  Modius wanted to blood-bind the elder to himself.  This, of course, is a process.  He couldn't do it in just one night.  Before his second attempt, more of Lodin's goons showed up.  These were supposed to be heavy hitters.

I finally made a decent roll for once, wounding or mauling Blago and injuring another - he had a lot of celerity.  But, in the end, the fanged NPC was toast.  The whole game was a bloody mess (in a good way).

Will have to glance at the 2nd and 3rd edition rules to see what improvements they might have made.  I vaguely remember those systems working different than 1st edition combat, but it's all pretty hazy.  For non-combat, however, I think V:tM is hard to beat.  The attribute + ability thing works really well.

The weekly home game starts tonight.  I intend on a slower pace with less emphasis on combat.  For a one-off or even two part chronicle, I think it would have been really difficult to avoid physical altercations - especially when half the troupe are noobs.  Maybe not, I'm not really sure.  At least with this new chronicle, I hope the aggravated damage doesn't go flying too quickly.

If you have any thoughts on rules, systems, mechanics, or Storytelling technique, then please feel free to comment below.  I appreciate your feedback!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Original Vampire: the Masquerade Character Sheet

I scoured the internet on multiple occasions, but could not find a 1st edition V:tM character sheet.  Well, I photocopied it from the back of the book (I hate doing that), and present it below.  I also made one small change.  Instead of Generation, I put in Blood Potency.

For those who want to use it... enjoy!


p.s.  If you want me to email you the image, just send write me a note.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Old School vs. New School (the video)

Make your voice heard, but you should also be able to back it up.


p.s.  If the OSR has taught me anything, it's this: going back to first edition anything, back to one's roleplaying roots is never a bad thing.  Preferring a rules-set or play style popular 20 or 30 years ago is not a downgrade but a recognition of evolutionary successes from the past.