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!