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What are your ST Hacks to Enhance Gameplay?

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  • What are your ST Hacks to Enhance Gameplay?

    Every ST has their own style for running a game. Many add their own caveats to alter the mode of play to suit their players.

    I've been in a group where the ST had everyone write a list of 3 specific temptations that our character could struggle with during play.
    For example, a Nosferatu in our group felt constant jealousy toward normal-looking people. When his Willpower waned, his Beast would whisper to him how ugly he was and why did they deserve to look normal if they were ugly on the inside. If he frenzied, he'd horribly main the faces of any victim he could get his hands on.

    Having little character-specific issues crop up made the struggle against the Beast more personal and added to the gothic horror theme of the ever-present monster lurking in our shadows.

    I've asked a group to give me a list of ambitions or goals for their character. I wanted 2 immediate goals (things that needed to happen soon/ in the span of the Chronicle) and 1 long-term goal - since kindred tend to plan long-term. I tried to add in moments for each character to accomplish something personal and moments when they had to choose between their own ambitions and the best interests of the coterie.

    Have you or a ST you've played with added any other quirks to character creation or even after to advance gameplay?

  • #2
    Good ideas, I especially like the three temptations. I have a hard time getting players to do stuff like that, though. They're pretty lazy. Do you reward that sort of thing with XP, or just use ST fiat?

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    • #3
      I use a different combat system than the one used for cWoD in my games. I also hack the Morality system so that it hurts more to lose Humanity/Path. In general, I concern myself with improving the game mechanics and trust my players to get on with the role playing.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Faradn View Post
        Good ideas, I especially like the three temptations. I have a hard time getting players to do stuff like that, though. They're pretty lazy. Do you reward that sort of thing with XP, or just use ST fiat?
        Players in that group were very motivated and enthusiastic. I can't imagine enjoying a game with people who aren't. Certainly one could use an XP incentive, but if they're too lazy to create 3 temptations, then they're likely too lazy to pursue them in-game.

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        • #5
          The main things I ask are:

          Detail the NPCs in their "supporting cast" (anyone that should be included as part of their Backgrounds, but sometimes others that aren't game mechanic worthy).

          I ask them to detail their "routines" - basically what their character does in downtime unless the player specifically mentions they are doing something different. It's what their character normally does if they weren't on all these whacky ST adventures. Not only does it help flesh out their character, it also enables me to start scenes and not have to ask, "what are you doing right now." I simply take one of their routines and start from there ("You are at Delmonico's with one of your herd" or "You are doing your daily run through the swamp" or whatever).

          I ask them for their "sets" - known locations where they frequent and can stage scenes. It could be their vampire haven or werewolf pack lair. It might be a restaurant their kinfolk operate, an unused warehouse they own, or a room in an abandoned motel. But the idea is when they need to meet to discuss their plans, or require a place to do something, they can utilize one of these standard places rather than needing themselves or me to come up with something new all the time. I usually ask them to give me at last three.

          I also sometimes ask them to come up with opponents or rivals that they cannot or do not want to defeat through combat, death, etc. They'd need to be encountered or defeated in another way. Often these are normal humans. For example I had one vampire PC who had his own construction business, but one of his old employees left to start his own firm and became a big competitor. The guy was a major reason for the PC's original success, and the PC had to prove to himself that he didn't need him. Since the game went decades in game time, eventually the guy's sons and grandsons took over and they still bid against each other. Despite the use of Dominate and other things, the other firm was a constant thorn in his side. I think the player had more fun with that than any real plot I did.

          Originally posted by Faradn View Post
          I have a hard time getting players to do stuff like that, though. They're pretty lazy.
          Truer words were never spoken. It is so hard to find players who really want to dig into that kind of thing. Those that do usually become GMs!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by IreneGrayle View Post
            Certainly one could use an XP incentive, but if they're too lazy to create 3 temptations, then they're likely too lazy to pursue them in-game.
            Agreed.
            Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
            Truer words were never spoken. It is so hard to find players who really want to dig into that kind of thing. Those that do usually become GMs!
            ...yea. Fun, isn't it? I haven't gotten to be a player in over a decade.


            More on topic, I try and get my players to find/submit a character pic, a short bio (even just a paragraph or 2 sometimes) and at least 1 long term goal and a couple of short term goals. Then every few months realtime, I try and revisit their goals list and update things. I've generally resorting to giving out bonus XP for each thing as player motivation. For WoD systems it's usually 1 for each category (2 or 3 for an longer bio that gives me plenty or story threads).
            Last edited by idpersona; 01-17-2017, 10:45 PM.


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            • #7
              Getting people to list goals so they can work to achieve them is good, but sometimes is like pulling teeth. Too many players simply want to react, or just want their goals handwaved into accomplishment.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                Getting people to list goals so they can work to achieve them is good, but sometimes is like pulling teeth. Too many players simply want to react, or just want their goals handwaved into accomplishment.
                Yep. Players like that sometimes make running game a chore. Where the entire game is put on the shoulders of the ST rather than being shared between the ST and players.

                Right now, my group consists of about 1 1/2 players that have character goals in mind and 3 1/2 that have literally said they are just here to go along with whatever the party decides (but will still argue decisions if they don't like them). At least I have a group to play though, so it could be worse.


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