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Author Topic: Hacking the Storyteller System  (Read 14048 times)

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #105 on: January 22, 2021, 12:38:03 PM »
I haven't forgotten about this.

So back in 2015 I tentatively explored the idea of using Feed's format for werewolves in a fair amount of detail:

Quote from: Brand55;846625
I definitely agree with this. I've never liked how WW seemed to be stuck on the idea that werewolves and spirits had to be joined at the hip. Werewolves as ecowarriors/spirit cops just never fully clicked with me.

Quote from: Orphan81;846626
It's one of the best explanations for giving Werewolves extra powers. Vampires throughout popular media and folklore have all kinds of different abilities from Mind Control, to Super Strength and Flight, to Animal Control..

Werewolves well....They turn into either giant killer wolves or normal wolves.

But a game where you just shift into a different form, probably isn't going to be fun. Even Dungeons and Dragons has their Fighter types get all kinds of options..

So you have to find a way to give some cool powers to your Werewolves, and well...the wolf, nature, spirit connection is kind of logical for that avenue..

Unless you go with the idea Werewolves are in fact related to Demons and instead give them options for Infernal style magic and abilities.

Quote from: Snowman0147;846634
In the Perception Effect I took a lot of influence from Bloodborne which took a lot of influence from Cthulhu Mythologies.

Some thing having to do with the blood in werewolves.  Think werewolf physical abilities, regeneration capabilities, transforming powers, and stranger things.  Just look at promenthean powers for a example.

Quote from: Brand55;846637
One of the werewolves in the last game I ran could summon floods. That's not something any non-WoD player would think sounds like a typical werewolf ability. Even just extending their theme to nature (which is fitting) and the wolf's role as predator, there are a whole host of powers that werewolves can draw on. Shapeshifting, enhanced physical traits, different senses, hunting and tracking powers, regeneration, animal control and communication, speed, leaping, stealth, pack coordination, fear. Honestly, it wouldn't have been hard at all to add on a sort of magic on top of that to enhance them more. You could go with Native American lore or Norse berserkers or something like that, but in my opinion giving werewolves some sort of lunar magic would be more thematic. Instead we got spirit fetishes.

The problem is vampires were already given most of the powers werewolves traditionally have, even the ones vampires usually don't have in other media. And of course mages trump everybody. So it leaves werewolves needing truly bizarre powers that don't really fit the archetype just so they have something to do. That's not an inherent problem with werewolves, it's a problem with the way the game was designed and balanced.

It also probably didn't help that werewolves were ultimately completely reliant on spirits for all of their powers. Not only were spirits needed for fetishes, but werewolves weren't even able to learn Gifts on their own. That part was especially irritating to me when I first read it.

Yeah, I really have to agree that werewolf are shafted compared to vampires in the popularity department. The only solution I can think of would be to create a game similar to Feed except focused around werewolves.

Feed gives two commandments that inform how its themes and rules work: "Vampires Feed" (not necessarily blood, but must feed on something) and "The Vampiric Nature Opposes Some Other Nature" (not necessarily humanity, but still non-vampiric values). Those are the only constants, as otherwise how vampires work is devised by the players or GM.

You'll need such commandments for a werewolf game, whatever their other facets are. Oddly enough, these would be very similar to those above. I would articulate it as: "Lycanthropes Change" (that is, they must transform and run and hunt and otherwise indulge their animal side) and "The Lycanthropic Nature Opposes Some Other Nature." That second one is important. Whether it is man versus beast, flesh versus spirit, civilization versus savagery, or whatever, werewolves are fundamentally torn between two different natures.

I'm going to give lycanthropes the freedom of having strains like vampires do. Developing a strain also translates fairly similarly: you define the rules by which lycanthropy functions in the story. You can even have multiple different strains in the same story a la Dresden Files.

I'll start with some examples of the the basic elements (these are compared in terms of Strong, Neutral and Weak depending on whether you want lycanthropy to be more or less of a curse):

Aging: This may seem like a strange question to ask, but do (these) werewolves age? Whether due to regeneration or something else, certain fiction portrays werewolves as capable of living for centuries or even forever barring violent death.
   Mortal (Neutral): Werewolves age and die like humans do, though signs of aging may manifest differently for them.
Immortal (Strong): Barring violent death, werewolves never die of old age or become decrepit in any way.

Appearance: How well can werewolves pass for human when they are not transformed?
   Undetectable (Strong): Provided they don't do anything obviously supernatural, werewolves can easily pass for human. While they aren't given away by physical appearance, it may be possible for medical examination to reveal irregularities.
Conspicuous (Neutral): While werewolves don't look inhuman, they do look a bit odd. Typical marks include hair in unusual places like the palms or tops of the feet, fingers of equal length, unusual eye color, disturbing to animals, etc. They tend to stick in the memory and those familiar with the strain can readily recognize members.
Monstrous (Weak): Monstrous werewolves are obviously deformed. They can't pass for human even with extensive makeup and bad lighting. Depending on particulars, they may be able to pass this off as birth defects, extreme body modification, or (in the worst cases) pretend to be exotic or deformed animals.
Degenerative (Weak): Werewolves start as Undetectable, but gradually and irreversibly transition through Conspicuous and into Monstrous over a period of time. This is linked to a modified Change Element where the werewolf does not switch between human and wolf forms. Instead, they gradually and irreversibly changed from human to wolf form.

Change: How do werewolves transform? What does it look like and how long does it take? How are their clothes affected?
   Bursting Transformation (Neutral): The change is quick but gruesome, involving the new form exploding out of the old in a shower of blood, gore, shreds of skin and fatty tissue.
Mystic Transformation (Strong): The werewolf quickly shimmers and fades into their new form, and any clothing they were wearing melds with them until they return to their human form.
Stretching Transformation (Weak): The change is long and incredibly painful, involving the werewolf's body stretching and warping into the new form.

Control: How much control does the character's human side have over the wolf side while transformed?
   Amnesiac (Weak): The werewolf has no control over themselves while transformed and has no memory of what happened while transformed. Likewise, while transformed they have little or no memory of their human side and act like the wolf they emulate.
Rage (Neutral): While transformed, the werewolf's mind remains their own, but their faculties are impaired by powerful animal urges.
Full Control (Strong): The werewolf retains their faculties and full control of themselves in any form.
Conscience (Neutral): The werewolf is otherwise an amnesiac after transformation, but their wolf side retains their conscience. While transformed, they will not do anything they would not do as a human.

Transmission: How do werewolves transmit their condition to others? How much control over the spread do they have?
   Airborne Transmission (Weak): These werewolves have a flat chance to infect anyone in their vicinity. Alternatively, the infection is spread through sharing food, drinking water from a werewolf's paw print, or similar. In any case, there is a random chance of infection and the werewolf has no control over this.
Infectious Bite (Neutral): Werewolves may infect others through their teeth or claws, sometimes even in human form. The strain only ever has partial control over this: the strain may be able to avoid accidental infection but can't infect at will or, conversely, infect at will but can't avoid the chance of accidental infection.
Sorcery (Strong): Werewolves are created only through deliberate rituals or curses.
Procreation (Strong): Werewolves reproduce only through sexual reproduction. Lycanthropy in their descendants may be present from birth or remain latent.

Trigger: What causes the werewolf to transform?
   Temporal Trigger (Neutral): The werewolf only transforms at certain times, like from dusk to dawn, on the nights before, during and after a full moon, etc.
Emotional Trigger (Weak): The transformation is triggered by strong emotions, such as anger, fear, or sexual arousal.
At Will (Strong): The transformation is under the full control of the werewolf and requires conscious and deliberated intent to induce.

That's all I can think of at the moment and it's getting late. Hope you find this useful. I welcome any advice or contribution.

It definitely needs refinement, especially since at that point I hadn't conceived of the lupine vs human trait balance, but I think it's a decent enough start.

Snowman0147

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #106 on: January 22, 2021, 10:26:31 PM »
Fun idea is if the werewolf leans to monster side transformation becomes smoother, but you show signs in human form.  Likewise the more human the more you blend, but the more painful transformation is.  The less balanced you are the more you lack control of yourself.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #107 on: January 25, 2021, 06:01:15 PM »
Fun idea is if the werewolf leans to monster side transformation becomes smoother, but you show signs in human form.  Likewise the more human the more you blend, but the more painful transformation is.  The less balanced you are the more you lack control of yourself.
While I haven’t settled on details (and these would probably vary by setting), this is more or less how I imagined the balancing mechanics would work.

At one extreme you have characters like Elena Michaels or Lawrence Talbot who spend most of their time as human and only change once a month, while on the other end of the spectrum you have Ginger Fitzgerald’s or Will Randall’s final form. Characters like Daniel Osbourne or Josh Levison would be examples of werewolves waffling between (e.g. both start out only transforming involuntary under the moon, then their wolf later learns how to transform outside the full moon to disastrous results).

I forgot to mention it before, but the same logic could also to be used to represent a wolf who gains a human form. This is a rare concept in werewolf fiction but it show up from time to time. Animals assuming human form is far more common in East Asian folklore and fantasy, and I suppose the same rules could be used to emulate that.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #108 on: February 01, 2021, 02:51:04 PM »
I had this vague idea to adapt Feed's mechanics to handle "prometheans" (WW's jargon for any artificial human thing). It would essentially be a reverse of Feed's loss of humanity and spiral into vampirism: prometheans would start out with little to no human traits and gain human traits over time, replacing promethean traits on a 1:1 basis. They would literally become more human and less promethean over time (i.e. replace their superpowers and related traits with human connections and psychology), until they finally become a real boy.


BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #109 on: February 25, 2021, 03:38:37 PM »
After following a lead recently, I heard something really interesting and pertinent to this topic.

Chip Dobbs, the owner of the copyright to The Everlasting RPG, was a police officer who apparently died in the line of duty a few years ago. My condolences to his family.

So that's pretty much the final nail in the coffin for The Everlasting RPG.

Would anyone be interested in seeing a spiritual successor? The game drew on a lot of public domain resources, so it would hypothetically be possible to create a very similar game without running afoul of copyright law.

Chris24601

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #110 on: March 20, 2021, 03:23:10 PM »
So, I had a recent discussion about how and why the VtM IP would never have any value for a film or television project. The gist of my argument was that outside of the specific Caine-origin, Antediluvians, Gehenna (which are way bigger in scope/fx budget than most would want to deal with) there’s just nothing in VtM that hasn’t already been borrowed piecemeal and added to the general body of vampire lore.

Anyway, I bring that up because as an example of how worthless the IP is vs. just letting your writing team come up with their own beast, I demonstrated how you could get pretty much the exact same “street level” setup (clans with different abilities, sects, etc.) as VtM with all of a couple minutes effort.

And since I know you’d prefer something divorced from VtM lore, I figured I’d share what I came up with.

My source of inspiration is actually from the novel “Dracula” where it is outright stated that the source of Dracula’s powers are due to his instruction in the black arts by the Devil.

So here’s the gist of it, each lineage of vampire is a bloodthirsty tyrant from history (Vlad Tepes, Rasputin, Caligula, etc.) who made a deal with the Devil for supernatural power and immortality. The thirst for blood and specific strengths and weaknesses that distinguish each lineage are the result of the specific pact made by the line’s progenitor. These are akin to VtM’s Antediluvians; beings of great power and the founders of their lines who, unlike their descendants, chose their damnation. Others can be infected by the vampire unwillingly, but can be restored by completely rejecting their sins.

Which is the next part of the lore, each of a vampire’s strengths and weaknesses are defined by the seven deadly sins (ex. Wrath has vampiric abilities related to physical prowess and the weakness of a terrible temper, Lust has abilities related to mesmerizing and seducing victims and a weakness of obsession with beautiful mortals, etc.).

In terms of game mechanics, the Sins would be akin to VtMs Disciplines. The stronger their allegiance to a given sin, the greater their ability with its powers and the stronger the weakness becomes). The more that sin is rejected, the weaker the power, but also the lesser the weakness... and if you can reject all of them completely you can even become mortal again.

Which is harder than it sounds. Each progenitor has their own preferred set of sins and chose to turn others most susceptible to those sins, and they are similarly drawn to turn others drawn to those sins. Thus, each lineage tends to have certain traits in common; enough so that one can be identified as belonging to the lineage of House Dracul or Filia Caligula by their particular strengths and weaknesses.

This then is the struggle of the PCs; to embrace, reject or find some semblance of balance with their Hellborn powers and desires even as they struggle with their fellow immortals for power and food and evade the mortal hunters who would destroy them.

As part of this world, I’d define witchcraft/sorcery and lycanthropy as linked to two particular sins since, in general myths, the lines between vampire, witch and werewolf are thin to nonexistent. Similarly, pacts with the Devil imply the existence of evil spirits/demons and, as an easy step, ghosts.

The counter source of power would be rare mortals who embody the Virtues. These are the most dangerous of the vampire hunters.

So there’s your basic setup; vampires, werewolves, witches/sorcerers, ghosts, demons and miracle workers... ancient and powerful progenitors of differing lineages who pursue their agendas in the shadows of the modern* world. A “World of Darkness” without referencing the White Wolf version at all.

* or if you want a little of that Technocrat flavor, set it in the near future with megacorps and advanced military-industrial tech as part of the setting, but instead of being “magic” it’s just so expensive/experimental that only select individuals have access to it and those with access to it aren’t interested in “defining reality” except in the sense of “if we can figure out the science behind immortality we can make a fortune” and “we need to kill these monsters because they pose a threat to our bottom line.”

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #111 on: March 21, 2021, 03:37:35 PM »
So, I had a recent discussion about how and why the VtM IP would never have any value for a film or television project. The gist of my argument was that outside of the specific Caine-origin, Antediluvians, Gehenna (which are way bigger in scope/fx budget than most would want to deal with) there’s just nothing in VtM that hasn’t already been borrowed piecemeal and added to the general body of vampire lore.

Anyway, I bring that up because as an example of how worthless the IP is vs. just letting your writing team come up with their own beast, I demonstrated how you could get pretty much the exact same “street level” setup (clans with different abilities, sects, etc.) as VtM with all of a couple minutes effort.

And since I know you’d prefer something divorced from VtM lore, I figured I’d share what I came up with.

My source of inspiration is actually from the novel “Dracula” where it is outright stated that the source of Dracula’s powers are due to his instruction in the black arts by the Devil.

So here’s the gist of it, each lineage of vampire is a bloodthirsty tyrant from history (Vlad Tepes, Rasputin, Caligula, etc.) who made a deal with the Devil for supernatural power and immortality. The thirst for blood and specific strengths and weaknesses that distinguish each lineage are the result of the specific pact made by the line’s progenitor. These are akin to VtM’s Antediluvians; beings of great power and the founders of their lines who, unlike their descendants, chose their damnation. Others can be infected by the vampire unwillingly, but can be restored by completely rejecting their sins.

Not only that, but VtM took its key ideas from Anne Rice to begin with. Akasha being the progenitor of vampires and retaining an existential tie to them, vampires being able to share their blood to share their powers, etc... it all came from Anne Rice.

The idea of ancient historical figures who committed great atrocities becoming vampire progenitors by curse or pact with Hell is also a recurring trope. You see it in The Everlasting, Hellsing, Requiem Chevalier Vampire, it’s even implied in Paul Feval’s Vampire City novel from the 1860s.

The idea of many bloodlines with different capabilities was mentioned by Captain Kronos in the 70s. It’s been used by Legacy of Kain, Warhammer Fantasy, Black Blood Brothers, American Vampire comics... The Trinity Blood franchise had dryads, mermaids, werewolves, and ifrits as different kinds of vampires.

Nightlife, Night Watch, Lost Girl, Dresden Files... the same tropes are used across the urban fantasy genre.

You’re right. There’s nothing original about the WW IPs.

I’m surprised no other urban fantasy RPGs have come out to take over the market from a flagging Paradox subsidiary. The most popular are always Fantasy, Scifi or Superhero. Maybe the 90s was just a different time. I don’t know.

Chris24601

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #112 on: March 22, 2021, 01:16:42 AM »
I’m surprised no other urban fantasy RPGs have come out to take over the market from a flagging Paradox subsidiary. The most popular are always Fantasy, Scifi or Superhero. Maybe the 90s was just a different time. I don’t know.
It was a different time.

In the early 90's the West was still riding high off the Reagan years, the fall of the Soviet Union and military success in the First Iraq War. Bill Clinton was elected promising to govern from the center left with the House and Senate flipping Republican in 1994 so it felt like there was a safe balance in government. In short, it felt like times were good and the future generally looked bright so it was safe to look to darker and more dystopian faire in our entertainment; especially by the youth of the day who had so little real stress they had to invent issues to be traumatized by.

In short, the 90's was the perfect time to rebel by embracing the gothic punk ethos of VtM because despite the dark themes, times felt safe enough to embrace the fake danger of pretending to be a vampire.

Not so today... the nation is divided, the economy in many places gutted, COVID, etc. combine to create a very uncertain world where people don't need to turn to fiction to get their share of angst... instead they're looking for an escape; a hope spot in an otherwise bleak period. These are the times that people turn to entertainment that offers up escapism and fantasy with heroes fighting for a better world.

Its no accident that, beyond just good production values, the Lord of the Rings exploded in 2001, just months after 9/11. People were looking for an escape from the bleakness of the most terrible attack on our homeland we'd ever experienced and here was a tale about goodness, courage and honor in the face of adversity.

Basically, the present day is a horrible environment to be selling cynical dystopian themed faire about monsters exploiting hapless mortals... too many identify with the hapless mortals and no longer sympathize with the monsters' "trauma" that justifies their parasitic existence.

The zeitgeist of the age is big damned heroes like D&D has always tried to cater to... and in terms of urban fantasy its the common man hunter rising up to destroy the monsters who prey on us... and not in the grim and gritty anyone can die themes of WoD titles like Hunters Hunted; Big damn hunters like Sam and Dean Winchester, Buffy (or the CW's present equivalent, Hope Mikaelson on Legacies, a spin-off leaning hard on heroic tropes and characters who do the right thing even when it sucks for them compared to the villain protagonist approach of the earlier entries in that franchise... because the writers understand times have changed).

Basically, we're not in an age when non-woke audiences want to root for monstrous monsters. The genre Paradox is pursuing is dying because there's more than enough nihilism in the real world. People don't want mechanics that make you a monster. If you want to unseat them you need to forget making vampires who fight a losing battle to hold onto their humanity and give us Angel, Alucard from Castlevania or the generally heroic vampires, werewolves and witches of the Salvitore School who protect humanity from monsters.

In short, the zeitgeist of the day isn't "Vampire"... its "Vampire Hunter" where the vampires and others that go bump in the night embody rich, powerful and corrupt who casually inflict suffering on the populace for their own gain and the Hunters efforts are not in vain and doomed to accomplish nothing in the long run.

Until you abandon the core premise that the goal should be playing a monstrous monster vs. one trying to redeem themselves (and with hope of actually doing so... which is where Hunter the Reckoning fell down as its power was tied to increasing insanity before dying in a blaze of glory that won't make a long term difference) you'll never unseat Paradox/White Wolf because they're so much better established in the niche of "its okay to be a monster."

At least that's my take on why no one's been able to unseat them. Its fundamentally because no one's really tried to produce the right weapon to do it.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #113 on: March 22, 2021, 11:56:05 AM »
I’m surprised no other urban fantasy RPGs have come out to take over the market from a flagging Paradox subsidiary. The most popular are always Fantasy, Scifi or Superhero. Maybe the 90s was just a different time. I don’t know.
It was a different time.

In the early 90's the West was still riding high off the Reagan years, the fall of the Soviet Union and military success in the First Iraq War. Bill Clinton was elected promising to govern from the center left with the House and Senate flipping Republican in 1994 so it felt like there was a safe balance in government. In short, it felt like times were good and the future generally looked bright so it was safe to look to darker and more dystopian faire in our entertainment; especially by the youth of the day who had so little real stress they had to invent issues to be traumatized by.

In short, the 90's was the perfect time to rebel by embracing the gothic punk ethos of VtM because despite the dark themes, times felt safe enough to embrace the fake danger of pretending to be a vampire.

Not so today... the nation is divided, the economy in many places gutted, COVID, etc. combine to create a very uncertain world where people don't need to turn to fiction to get their share of angst... instead they're looking for an escape; a hope spot in an otherwise bleak period. These are the times that people turn to entertainment that offers up escapism and fantasy with heroes fighting for a better world.

Its no accident that, beyond just good production values, the Lord of the Rings exploded in 2001, just months after 9/11. People were looking for an escape from the bleakness of the most terrible attack on our homeland we'd ever experienced and here was a tale about goodness, courage and honor in the face of adversity.

Basically, the present day is a horrible environment to be selling cynical dystopian themed faire about monsters exploiting hapless mortals... too many identify with the hapless mortals and no longer sympathize with the monsters' "trauma" that justifies their parasitic existence.

The zeitgeist of the age is big damned heroes like D&D has always tried to cater to... and in terms of urban fantasy its the common man hunter rising up to destroy the monsters who prey on us... and not in the grim and gritty anyone can die themes of WoD titles like Hunters Hunted; Big damn hunters like Sam and Dean Winchester, Buffy (or the CW's present equivalent, Hope Mikaelson on Legacies, a spin-off leaning hard on heroic tropes and characters who do the right thing even when it sucks for them compared to the villain protagonist approach of the earlier entries in that franchise... because the writers understand times have changed).

Basically, we're not in an age when non-woke audiences want to root for monstrous monsters. The genre Paradox is pursuing is dying because there's more than enough nihilism in the real world. People don't want mechanics that make you a monster. If you want to unseat them you need to forget making vampires who fight a losing battle to hold onto their humanity and give us Angel, Alucard from Castlevania or the generally heroic vampires, werewolves and witches of the Salvitore School who protect humanity from monsters.

In short, the zeitgeist of the day isn't "Vampire"... its "Vampire Hunter" where the vampires and others that go bump in the night embody rich, powerful and corrupt who casually inflict suffering on the populace for their own gain and the Hunters efforts are not in vain and doomed to accomplish nothing in the long run.

Until you abandon the core premise that the goal should be playing a monstrous monster vs. one trying to redeem themselves (and with hope of actually doing so... which is where Hunter the Reckoning fell down as its power was tied to increasing insanity before dying in a blaze of glory that won't make a long term difference) you'll never unseat Paradox/White Wolf because they're so much better established in the niche of "its okay to be a monster."

At least that's my take on why no one's been able to unseat them. Its fundamentally because no one's really tried to produce the right weapon to do it.

That's enlightening.

So for the current zeitgeist (or whatever), the opportune premise is dark superheroes. I can work with that just fine.

So to settingcraft: The idea here is that most vampires are soulless monsters a la Buffy and similar. A minority of vampires retain their human souls and thus their capacity for compassion and guilt. I'll call them dhampirs for lack of a better term. Dhampirs can come into existence in several ways: e.g. perhaps one of their parents was a vampire a la Vampire Hunter D, their mother was infected while pregnant a la Blade, they received medical attention before they suffered brain damage due to blood loss a la Sonja Blue, they received only a partial transfusion of vampire ichor a la Darren Shawn, etc. Because they are hybrids of vampire and human, they don't experience the banes of vampirism as acutely. They can walk in sunlight, eat tofu, etc. But they still have the vampire demon inside themselves, tempting them to indulge their darker natures and use their "dark gifts". Their dark gifts make them better suited for the vampire hunter profession than mere mortals, and their alienation from society at the hands of vampires gives them a reason to hunt the monsters.

A similar idea can be applied to other flavors of monsters. Most werewolves deteriorate into either wild animals or psychotic anarcho-primitivists that want to plunge civilization back into the dark ages. Most witches and warlocks (and mad scientists and what have you) become addicted to the power offered by magic and throw aside their morals in pursuit of turning reality and the people who inhabit it into their playthings. Most fairies are mysterious alien beings that would think it perfectly normal to give you asylum... as one of their hunting hounds. Most ghosts aren't lucid enough to be PCs (and ghost hunters are charlatans or otherwise unhelpful), but the basic ghost powerset of being invisible and invulnerable is perfect for fighting crime. Demons by definition are destructive monsters who at best can be directed towards their rivals (e.g. invoking Pazuzu to protect you from miscarriage by Lamashtu), whereas Angels are personified virtue.

What do you think?

Chris24601

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #114 on: March 22, 2021, 04:47:56 PM »
That's enlightening.

So for the current zeitgeist (or whatever), the opportune premise is dark superheroes. I can work with that just fine.
Dark Superheroes is definitely a way to take it; Blade, Morbius, some of the darker takes on Doctor Strange, movie Venom (i.e. most are possessed by the alien symbiotes, but Eddie retains his identity and works out a partnership with his symbiote to fight the other symbiotes) and, from a more "mundanes who fight monsters" you've got Batman, Punisher, etc.

Heck, in the current age, even our giant monsters are portrayed heroically... see Godzilla and King Kong in the current "Monsterverse" films; hugely destructive, but basically on the side of mankind against even more destructive creatures.

Indeed, your alternatives there are definitely a more solid foundation.

Another prospect to consider too is idea of a sort of "monster evolution." Like, the common and more human vampires are an offshoot of a more savage primal vampire species that was perhaps locked away until recently. Modern common vampires have adapted with the times; they mostly get their blood from butcher shops, direct sunlight stings, but heavy clothes and working indoors are typically enough. The primal vampires though are just outright monsters that may have even never been human to begin with (i.e. vampires as alien/supernatural infection with primal vampires as the original host species).

Another thing to consider too is just how unified you want everything; for example, in the TVD universe just about every supernatural comes from twisting magic in some way, with their particularly weaknesses resulting from nature requiring loopholes in all magic lest the balance fall too far out of whack. So vampires are vulnerable to sunlight because the original spell that created them tied their immortality to the sun and the hunger for blood is because blood is life and while you can live forever as a vampire, without infusions of the animating forces of life you "desiccate"... basically VtM torpor... until you again feed blood (generally requiring someone to do it for you since you're basically inert). Similarly, the werewolves were the result of a curse on their bloodlines linked to the power of the moon.

The desire to have some sort of connective tissue between the various supernaturals is why I leaned hard into Vampires, Werewolves and Witches (as distinct from general spellcasters) all receiving their powers from ancient deals with the Devil, with demonic spirits and lost souls/ghosts/fae (if you go by the oldest sources the fairies were basically a particular category of long dead ghosts) as natural extensions and angels/divine gifts/theurgy as a logical heroic counterpoints.

I could also see adding Dhampirs of the half-mortal variety to the mix under the general principle of "God turns the schemes of Devil to His ends" in that the children of vampires are granted special gifts to hunt them.

By the same token you could have "Merlins" (by lore a half-demon whose mother baptized him as an infant so that he would not become the Antichrist) as essentially "redeemed witches."

Something along the lines of "The Knights of Saint Christopher" from the Netflix series "The Order" might be a way to have a more heroic werewolf... basically mortals who take up a portion of the werewolf curse by wearing the skins of slain werewolves (maybe the heroic variety would then be called "skin-changers" vs. the monstrous "werewolves").

Throw in "wonderworkers" as those who wield outright divine gifts against evil and "survivors" as mere mortals who hunt the monsters anyway and you'd have 5-ish categories to build around "Dhampirs, Merlins, Skinchangers, Wonderworkers and Survivors."

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #115 on: March 23, 2021, 01:13:29 PM »
That's enlightening.

So for the current zeitgeist (or whatever), the opportune premise is dark superheroes. I can work with that just fine.
Dark Superheroes is definitely a way to take it; Blade, Morbius, some of the darker takes on Doctor Strange, movie Venom (i.e. most are possessed by the alien symbiotes, but Eddie retains his identity and works out a partnership with his symbiote to fight the other symbiotes) and, from a more "mundanes who fight monsters" you've got Batman, Punisher, etc.

Heck, in the current age, even our giant monsters are portrayed heroically... see Godzilla and King Kong in the current "Monsterverse" films; hugely destructive, but basically on the side of mankind against even more destructive creatures.

Indeed, your alternatives there are definitely a more solid foundation.

Another prospect to consider too is idea of a sort of "monster evolution." Like, the common and more human vampires are an offshoot of a more savage primal vampire species that was perhaps locked away until recently. Modern common vampires have adapted with the times; they mostly get their blood from butcher shops, direct sunlight stings, but heavy clothes and working indoors are typically enough. The primal vampires though are just outright monsters that may have even never been human to begin with (i.e. vampires as alien/supernatural infection with primal vampires as the original host species).

Another thing to consider too is just how unified you want everything; for example, in the TVD universe just about every supernatural comes from twisting magic in some way, with their particularly weaknesses resulting from nature requiring loopholes in all magic lest the balance fall too far out of whack. So vampires are vulnerable to sunlight because the original spell that created them tied their immortality to the sun and the hunger for blood is because blood is life and while you can live forever as a vampire, without infusions of the animating forces of life you "desiccate"... basically VtM torpor... until you again feed blood (generally requiring someone to do it for you since you're basically inert). Similarly, the werewolves were the result of a curse on their bloodlines linked to the power of the moon.

The desire to have some sort of connective tissue between the various supernaturals is why I leaned hard into Vampires, Werewolves and Witches (as distinct from general spellcasters) all receiving their powers from ancient deals with the Devil, with demonic spirits and lost souls/ghosts/fae (if you go by the oldest sources the fairies were basically a particular category of long dead ghosts) as natural extensions and angels/divine gifts/theurgy as a logical heroic counterpoints.

I could also see adding Dhampirs of the half-mortal variety to the mix under the general principle of "God turns the schemes of Devil to His ends" in that the children of vampires are granted special gifts to hunt them.

By the same token you could have "Merlins" (by lore a half-demon whose mother baptized him as an infant so that he would not become the Antichrist) as essentially "redeemed witches."

Something along the lines of "The Knights of Saint Christopher" from the Netflix series "The Order" might be a way to have a more heroic werewolf... basically mortals who take up a portion of the werewolf curse by wearing the skins of slain werewolves (maybe the heroic variety would then be called "skin-changers" vs. the monstrous "werewolves").

Throw in "wonderworkers" as those who wield outright divine gifts against evil and "survivors" as mere mortals who hunt the monsters anyway and you'd have 5-ish categories to build around "Dhampirs, Merlins, Skinchangers, Wonderworkers and Survivors."

I’d probably use more folkloric terms like krsnik and benandanti. Maybe witcher.

Chris24601

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #116 on: March 23, 2021, 06:11:19 PM »
I’d probably use more folkloric terms like krsnik and benandanti. Maybe witcher.
Whatever works for you; I'm more throwing the concepts out instead of hard and fast names.

That said, I'd never heard of either of those first two terms before and there is something to be said for avoiding what is effectively jargon for jargon's sake.

Dhampir as half-vampire is common enough in various vampire stories to be in popular culture, but unless you're setting your game in a world where the folklore is prevalent, then I'd use terms more likely to be employed by modern humans just introduced to the supernatural world.

To quote Alaric from Legacies on introducing newcomers to the supernatural... "I used to have a speech prepared, carefully unpeeling the layers of mystical history, but it turns out most people have read Harry Potter and are actually cool with me skipping the tee up."

Maybe the Merlin types (i.e. baptized witches) are simply called "Sorcerers" instead of "Witch/Warlock" instead of "Merlins" (a term I used more for clarity of concept than final name), but I'd highly recommend something like "skinchanger" over something like "krsnik" that looks like its missing few vowels in the vernacular (I had the same general hatred of "Tzmisce" in VtM... no one knows quite how to pronounce it... at least Voivode, while strange has its vowels in the right place for pronunciation by English speakers).

But you're the one making your game, not me, so its just a suggestion on my part.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #117 on: March 23, 2021, 09:58:00 PM »
I’d probably use more folkloric terms like krsnik and benandanti. Maybe witcher.
Whatever works for you; I'm more throwing the concepts out instead of hard and fast names.

That said, I'd never heard of either of those first two terms before and there is something to be said for avoiding what is effectively jargon for jargon's sake.

Dhampir as half-vampire is common enough in various vampire stories to be in popular culture, but unless you're setting your game in a world where the folklore is prevalent, then I'd use terms more likely to be employed by modern humans just introduced to the supernatural world.

To quote Alaric from Legacies on introducing newcomers to the supernatural... "I used to have a speech prepared, carefully unpeeling the layers of mystical history, but it turns out most people have read Harry Potter and are actually cool with me skipping the tee up."

Maybe the Merlin types (i.e. baptized witches) are simply called "Sorcerers" instead of "Witch/Warlock" instead of "Merlins" (a term I used more for clarity of concept than final name), but I'd highly recommend something like "skinchanger" over something like "krsnik" that looks like its missing few vowels in the vernacular (I had the same general hatred of "Tzmisce" in VtM... no one knows quite how to pronounce it... at least Voivode, while strange has its vowels in the right place for pronunciation by English speakers).

But you're the one making your game, not me, so its just a suggestion on my part.

The WW terminology never felt believable or organic. Nightlife's slang like "rinse and floss," "renfield," "crowley," etc was noticeably better (though it did have its own flaws elsewhere, like weird spellings and the author's in-group's obscure slang like "butt it").

There's a general shortage of words here. It's going to be difficult to invent names for good witches versus bad witches (or whatever) without sounding arbitrary. For example, the "good witch" versus "evil warlock" distinction from Charmed is arbitrary and has no basis in etymology or how these words are used in practice. I personally prefer to use terms with an actual folkloric basis rather than make shit up and arbitrary assign random dictionary words like Mark Rein-Hagen did.

Kresnik, Benandanti, Taltos, "Hounds of God" (dieva suns in the original Latvian) and various flavors of "dragon man" or "serpent hero" are European folklore characters, people with magical powers who used them to fight the monsters. The names are of just as much obscure provenance as dhampir, and according to Google several are well into the hundreds of thousands of results (probably caused by people mindlessly copying their entries on Wikipedia).

Of course, I could just use plain English words like "white witch" and "reformed werewolf" instead of benandanti and kresnik.

Chris24601

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #118 on: March 24, 2021, 12:36:32 PM »
As far as names go; a lot depends on your setting. If you’re setting it in a sort of “Dark Medieval” world akin to the Castlevania Netflix series then folkloric names make sense. If you’re setting it in the modern world then modern vernacular will feel more authentic, though to avoid feeling dated I’d not rely too much on slang.

As I said, Dhampir is common vernacular these days (if D&D uses a term its reached the level of pop culture commonality). Someone who finds out that Daddy’s a vampire could reasonably name themselves as a Dhampir without even doing research because of how common the term is in pop culture vampire lore.

Similarly, the best term for a witch who’s been freed from the snares of the Devil but retains their power as Merlin did in common vernacular is probably just “White Witch/Warlock.”

Though technically speaking Merlin wasn’t a warlock, he was a Cambion or even The Antichrist. This brings to mind the TV Tropes term “Anti-Antichrist” as a being intended to be the Antichrist, but instead fights for good. I hesitate to suggest it, but perusing examples from that page might suggest some possible names as well.

* * * *

Another random thought about my “all the monster progenitors made deals with the Devil” angle... if you wanted to tweak WW’s nose a bit; you could include Cain as one of them, but with the twist that he’s just one of many progenitors and no stronger than Dracula (and probably weaker, what’s one murder in the heat of the moment compared to the systematic slaughter inflicted by Vlad Tepes?).

This could also be used to highlight that the strength of a given monster isn’t its age, but the degree it embraces the powers of Hell.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #119 on: March 24, 2021, 09:21:46 PM »
As far as names go; a lot depends on your setting. If you’re setting it in a sort of “Dark Medieval” world akin to the Castlevania Netflix series then folkloric names make sense. If you’re setting it in the modern world then modern vernacular will feel more authentic, though to avoid feeling dated I’d not rely too much on slang.

As I said, Dhampir is common vernacular these days (if D&D uses a term its reached the level of pop culture commonality). Someone who finds out that Daddy’s a vampire could reasonably name themselves as a Dhampir without even doing research because of how common the term is in pop culture vampire lore.

Similarly, the best term for a witch who’s been freed from the snares of the Devil but retains their power as Merlin did in common vernacular is probably just “White Witch/Warlock.”
Yeah, obscure European terms are probably not a good way to endear myself to readers.

Though technically speaking Merlin wasn’t a warlock, he was a Cambion or even The Antichrist. This brings to mind the TV Tropes term “Anti-Antichrist” as a being intended to be the Antichrist, but instead fights for good. I hesitate to suggest it, but perusing examples from that page might suggest some possible names as well.
Much like I did with dhampirs, I'd stuff "how do you get your powers?" under a general "white witch/wizard/warlock" umbrella.

Another random thought about my “all the monster progenitors made deals with the Devil” angle... if you wanted to tweak WW’s nose a bit; you could include Cain as one of them, but with the twist that he’s just one of many progenitors and no stronger than Dracula (and probably weaker, what’s one murder in the heat of the moment compared to the systematic slaughter inflicted by Vlad Tepes?).

This could also be used to highlight that the strength of a given monster isn’t its age, but the degree it embraces the powers of Hell.
Requiem Chevalier Vampire does something like that. Your body count increases your rank in Hell. So warlords like Vlad Tepes and Adolf Hitler became vampires in Hell, with vampires being the top rank of demons.