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Author Topic: Hacking the Storyteller System  (Read 7602 times)

BoxCrayonTales

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Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #90 on: July 14, 2020, 05:34:50 PM »
Quote from: Chris24601;1139727
You certainly HAVE seen settings built around it... its called the Old World of Darkness. That's basically the setup for all their splats.

The Traditions were based off real magical practices;
- Akashics were Tibetan Daoists.
- Celestial Chorus was a smattering of faith-based magics including Mithrasism, Gnostics and Christians.
- Cult of Ecstasy is ecstatic practices descended from the Indian Dervishes.
- Dreamspeakers were indigenous shamanic practices.
- Euthanatos are a Cthonic Mystery Cult based who work magic through spiritual union with god-forms.
- Order of Hermes are, naturally, hermetics whose practices they trace back to Hermes Trimegestus.
- Sons of Ether are Mad Science.
- Verbena is pre-Christian European paganism.
- Virtual Adepts are modern chaos theory and attempting to build a Reality 2.0 inside the digital realm.
- Ali-Batani is Islamic mysticism.
- Taftani are pre-Islamic Middle Eastern mysticism.
- Solificati are medieval alchemists.
- Hollow Ones are New Age/Victorian mysticism.
- The Technocracy as a whole are super-science, but with specific fields like social conditioning (NWO), cybernetic systems (Iteration-X; note this includes classic cybernetics... i.e. the science of system organization not just implants and the like), financial theory (Syndicate), genetics (Progenitors) and space exploration (Void Engineers).

Similarly the original Vampire clans were essentially specific vampire archetypes;
- Brujah were Lost Boys style vampires.
- Gangrel were the shape-shifting, commands animals vampires.
- Malkavians were your obsessive-compulsive must count every grain of rice vampires.
- Nosferatu were your ugly monstrous vampires.
- Toreador were your Anne Rice vampires.
- Tremere were your extremely magical vampires.
- Ventrue were your Vampire Lords.

Its the same for werewolves, ghosts and fae. It wasn't until they started getting into hyper-specific splats like Mummy, Hunter the Reckoning (vs. generic Hunter's Hunted where there was plenty of diversity) or Kindred of the East that you started to see mono-cultures in relation to the splats.

The later additions got ever more specific because there's only so much you could do with the generic "must suck blood, burns up in daylight" limits they established; but you can see the whole "magical styles" setup right there from the start.

The WW games have all sorts of arbitrary idiosyncrasies that get in the way like consensus reality, the Cain myth, Gaia, Oblivion, banality, blah blah blah. In order to really understand this, you need to consume fiction that isn't by WW and isn't strangled by it.

American Vampire (the comic) and Dresden Files are good starting points.

I'll give a more specific example of what I mean: in my imagined vampire example setting, a party could consist of a fallen angel, a succubus, a ghost, a genie, and a mad scientist's experiment. They have wildly different origins. Their strengths and weaknesses would be wildly different, not a common template with slight deviation. What they all have in common is that they predate on humans, thus being under the vampire umbrella.

That's the sort of magic styles I'm talking about, if that makes sense.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 01:47:12 PM by BoxCrayonTales »

BoxCrayonTales

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Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #91 on: July 17, 2020, 02:09:51 PM »
Maybe GURPS Blood Types and Shapeshifters are better comparisons. Or The Lords of the Night: Vampires by Bottled Imp Games, Out for Blood by Bastion Press...

The WW games don't do a good job of showing monster concept diversity outside a few exceptions like Mage: The Ascension (after you throw out the Ascension War and do your own thing), Changeling: The Lost, or Hunter: The Vigil.

In fact, few to none of the splats within the fatsplats represent widely recognized archetypes except maybe the seemings in Lost. Most of the time WW was just taking characters from specific books or movies and spinning them into character classes. Overall, each splat isn't actually all that diverse within its fatsplat aside from cosmetic elements. Which I find a huge missed opportunity.

To expand on the example I gave earlier for vampire variety:
  • The "fallen angel" is a fallen angel/divinity/giant/primordial whatever (whether they're a Canaanite malakh, Hindu asura, Athabaskan wechuge, or whatever is up to the player) who has been incarnated with a hunger for human flesh/blood.
  • The "succubus" is a dream so powerful that it has become a person and feeds on the emotions of human beings.
  • The "ghost" is a folkloric vampire in one of the Balkan traditions. Rather than a physical entity, it is a ghostly presence that drains the life force from its victims.
  • The "genie" is a palis, an Arabic ghoul that drinks blood using its long pointed tongue.
  • The "experiment" is a previously normal person who received an experimental graft that caused them to develop a hunger for blood and other body horror stuff.

That's the sort of diversity I'm talking about.

What do you guys think?
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 04:41:52 PM by BoxCrayonTales »

BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #92 on: July 27, 2020, 01:21:16 PM »
Quote from: Chris24601;1139727
Similarly the original Vampire clans were essentially specific vampire archetypes;
- Brujah were Lost Boys style vampires.
- Gangrel were the shape-shifting, commands animals vampires.
- Malkavians were your obsessive-compulsive must count every grain of rice vampires.
- Nosferatu were your ugly monstrous vampires.
- Toreador were your Anne Rice vampires.
- Tremere were your extremely magical vampires.
- Ventrue were your Vampire Lords.


To be entirely fair, none of those are vampire archetypes. We have specific works of fiction or bits of folklore to use as bases, but these are not the same as archetypes. Vampires do not seem to actually have archetypes in the literary criticism sense. That is why most vampires in fiction have been more or less carbon copies of Dracula.

The vampire itself is typically thought of an archetype unto itself, not multiple archetypes. My google-fu might be weak, but the Mary Sue once came up with a list of vampire archetypes and they were completely different from those used by Mark Rein-Hagen. I assume the difference is because they are based on actual critical reading of vampire fiction, rather than making distinct classes for a game. These were:
  • Dark Lord
  • Nosferatu
  • Zombie Vampire
  • Sexy Vampire
  • Romantic Vampire
  • Teetotaler
  • Sire
  • Private Detective
  • Child
  • Parasite


I think I mentioned this in a previous post.

Quote from: Chris24601;1139727
Its the same for werewolves,
Nope. The WW game has absolutely nothing to with werewolf fiction at large. The tribes are completely made up with zero basis in folklore or mythology (beyond cool names like "fenris" or "wendigo" that have been stripped of any cultural significance). Most of them are bizarre ethnic stereotypes.

Jonathan S. Coolidge wrote an essay in 2006 going over the real literary archetypes they could identify. The archetypes were medieval, cursed, diabolical, heroic, and sympathetic.

Again, I think I mentioned this in a previous post.

Quote from: Chris24601;1139727
The later additions got ever more specific because there's only so much you could do with the generic "must suck blood, burns up in daylight" limits they established


Yeah. So why have those limits in the first place? Dracula didn't burn in sunlight, and psychic vampires don't suck blood.

BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #93 on: August 06, 2020, 12:41:11 PM »
Here's a blast from the past since I can't think of anything to add right now:

Quote from: BoxCrayonTales;881201
Here are the source links for reference:

https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/world-of-darkness-merits-generic-and-specific/
https://mobunited.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/phantasm-home-of-storytelling-lite/
https://mobunited.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/fast-darkness/
https://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?607861-My-Own-90s-Heartbreaker-Qwixalted-Style
https://www.scribd.com/collections/2653023/Opening-the-Dark
https://www.scribd.com/collections/5739341/Vampire-RPGS
https://web.archive.org/web/20130328233807/http://tailkinker.contrabandent.com/rpg.htm
http://aakin.net/wiki/doku.php?id=qwixalted

Some of the links don't work, but mobunited should be available through wayback machine (EDIT: ST Lite and Fast Darkness) and the blood-beast-man hack on scribd (EDIT: here).

Later I'll try to discuss something someone else told me about how it seems unnecessary for the various mage games to include magic attributes that are questionably necessary.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2020, 12:48:12 PM by BoxCrayonTales »

BoxCrayonTales

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« Reply #94 on: August 06, 2020, 01:40:43 PM »
Anyway...

The Mage games and their relatives and derivatives use a syntactic magic system. In Ars Magica this is the Noun-Verb form (or Technique+Form in in-game jargon). The Mage games all use a variation of realm-based magic, but additionally add a special magical attribute: "Arete" (Mage: The Ascension), "Foundation" (Dark Ages: Mage), "Gnosis" (Mage: The Awakening). Opening the Dark calls this stat "Art." To perform magic, one adds their magical attribute to a magical skill: e.g. Arete+[Sphere], Foundation+[Pillar], Gnosis+[Arcanum], Art+[Praxis].

During a chat somebody informed me that they felt the magical attribute was redundant, unnecessary, and an experience tax. Magicians should just roll the magical skills alone or roll them in tandem with the non-magical attributes.

I think this is a fair criticism.

What do you think? Do you think the magical attribute should be deprecated? Do you think it could be made more useful to justify its existence?

For example, this Risus hack suggests that the magical attribute could be used to perform "coincidental" magic all by itself.

Do you think this complaint could be expanded to similar "power stat" statistics, like a vampire's "generation" or "blood-potency" statistic in various editions of Vampire and The Everlasting?

I'm quite interested in hearing different points of view.

EDIT: Furthermore, why do superpowers sometimes rely on the character's mundane skills? For example, the vampire's domination powers rely on their mundane charisma and persuasion skills rather than bypassing them entirely. Wouldn't the superpower ignore such limitations, you think?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2020, 03:23:25 PM by BoxCrayonTales »