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Author Topic: Hacking the Storyteller System  (Read 7760 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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Hacking the Storyteller System
« 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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Hacking the Storyteller System
« 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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Hacking the Storyteller System
« 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 »

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #95 on: October 21, 2020, 03:43:06 PM »
Hey again.

I recently remembered why I made this thread in the first place.

White Wolf, or whoever owns the rights now, is horribly mismanaging the IP. There are dozens of tabletop games that are extremely difficult to keep track of, as opposed to something simple like a unified rules system with a bunch of campaign settings.

Not only that, but there are also the edition wars. The fandom is constantly arguing over which version of what game is better. If you like X game, then you can expect people will insult your taste and say that Y game is better because Z arbitrary reason. (I am guilty of this and for that I am sorry.)

I'm horribly sick of it. I haven't touched a WW game or talked to fans in years.

Normally I'd just move on to another game that suits me, but there's a problem here. The WW games exert a monopoly stranglehold over the urban fantasy tabletop market. That's the only way they can afford to maintain all these competing games at once. Unless they can't actually afford it and are running into the same problem that killed TSR in the 90s...

Does anybody have advice? Do you wish there was an alternative to the worlds of darkness? What would you want to see in an alternative?

trechriron

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #96 on: October 21, 2020, 05:01:27 PM »
I think you are over-feeling this. I really dig the Chronicle of Darkness Storytelling System. I also am liking what I'm reading of the Story Path system (similar with some clarifications). They both have Content Creator programs on DTRPG. The Facebook group for Storyteller's Vault is very helpful, with cool people. Most of the stuff I read in the forums and elsewhere are just enthusiasts talking up their game.

You are very particular. And you spend a lot of your energy shit-bashing WW stuff because you don't like it. This is going to create controversy and people will feel compelled to disagree if they like what you're shitting on. You're trying to win over the world with your angst. People are not attracted to angst, they are attracted to ACTION.

Here's my suggestion:

1) Find something in one of the current game lines you REALLY like. A campaign or setting you want to run.
2) Setup a campaign. Prep it solidly.
3) Form a group and start running the game regularly. Focus on the play. Focus on making the game fun for those players.

Once you are knee deep in the game, you will gain a different perspective. Sure, the game you choose matters in some regards, but honestly it's about 25% of the equation. The other 75% is PLAY - attitude, enthusiasm, participation, excitement, and fun.

Do you want to be published?

Because hitching on to an existing property is a good way of building a name for yourself. Designers using DMs Guild are getting a lot of recognition for good work. Personally, I really like how CoD/STing system works, and am working on a supplement for VtR. Content Creator programs are great because they eliminate all the perceived barriers to freelancing. The provided templates and art packs are also a GREAT way to learn layout while making gorgeous books.

After you gain some enthusiasm for PLAY, and are having a good time with one of the game lines, I feel that your path to being published will get much clearer.

You have a great imagination, you like to write, and you have enthusiasm for the genre. You have all the attributes to make a great designer. You just need to let go of whatever stoked your butthurt and move forward. Once you establish your chops and make a name for your work - spinning up your own thing will be much easier. TL:DR - Let go of your butthurt. It's getting in the way of your success.

Just my two cents...
Trentin C Bergeron (trechriron)
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BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Hacking the Storyteller System
« Reply #97 on: October 21, 2020, 10:10:31 PM »
Classic World of Darkness fans told me countless times over the decade I devoted to it that Chronicles of Darkness 1e sucks, and vice versa whenever I expressed an interest in the former. I took part in flame wars that now seem childishly stupid to me. That does not positively incline me toward this fandom or anything they like.

Even if I didn't have bad experiences unconsciously buried deep in my psyche, the general level of WW game design leaves so much to be desired. It can basically be summed as "one step forward, one step back." Every time a new game brings a new useful innovation, it also brings bad design choices.

I don't like either Storytelling or Storypath task resolutions because both have this horrible Catch-22 problem that really gets my goat: ST only requires only one successful die to achieve a successful action but requires sharing all dice pool modifiers in a metagaming disaster, whereas SP allows the GM to conceal modifiers from players but requires way more complicated tracking and adjudication of dice results. The CoD2e dodge mechanic is an unnecessary exception to the way that contested actions normally work because the designers wanted to give the players the illusion of agency when it would have been simpler to have players make dodge rolls instead of the GM make attack rolls. The V5 discipline rules are the best published so far, but have some idiosyncrasies that need addressing (e.g. giving Tremere access to Quietus powers, giving Hecata access to Obtenebration powers, certain amalgam powers making no sense at their stated levels) and would really benefit from taking a bit of inspiration from VTR2e's devotion powers that can be in multiple disciplines at once (e.g. Summoning is available to both the Dominate and Majesty trees). The Classic World of Darkness name etymologies are ridiculous much of the time (e.g. Lasombra translates to "Theshadow", Bruja to "witch", Glabro to "bald," Hispo to "bristly").

I can't stand the fluff or rules unless I make so many changes that I might as well be writing a new game anyway. I don't want to deal with that headache. I wish the WW games never existed.

Whistlepunk's Feed game already provides a great alternative to the WW vampire games. It has immense flexibility when it comes to designing vampire strains (since the writer designed it due to dissatisfaction with WW vampire games) and the humanity mechanic neatly avoids the superhero problem afflicting WW. Even better, the way it's designed means that you can fairly easily adapt a Masquerade or Requiem campaign to use those rules instead: make a Cainite/Kindred strain, make clans/bloodlines sub-strains of that strain, make VTR bloodlines sub-sub-strains of sub-strains. Easy peasy.

The only flaws I see with Feed is that there isn't any material for it beyond the core rules. That includes takes on other supernatural characters like werewolves, wizards, ghosts, or fairies.

What do you think of me writing and presenting WoD/CoD conversions to Feed? Although there lots I dislike about both, there's still bits I like about both and I don't want to choose between one or the other.