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  • Ponderings

    Disclaimer: what follows is a kind-of semi-coherent thoughts of mine. I have no particular goals with it, just my mind wandered around those thoughts lately and I figured it might not do harm to share them and maybe listen to other people's thoughts too.

    So, it happened again. I watched the new season of Sleepy Hollow and thought: man, there's a ton of inspiration for a WoD game. Then I thought, okay, but it's not really fit into any of the WoD lines. At best, it would be a Hunter, or Hunters Hunted one, but not really. If anything would be more of a Vigil kind-of game. Nothing new, I always come to that realization that WoD just don't do the "mortals encountering the supernatural and fighting back with just wits and courage and tools and sheer stubbornness" theme very good.

    And that lead me to the recognition: I love WoD, I really do. I love the gothic-punk aesthetics, I love the themes of the games, the setting, the history, all of it, with all my heart. But every time I want to do anything different it shows it's limits. It also has the blessing and the curse of a well-defined setting, namely that there's no much room left for genuine mysteries, "oddities", things like NWoD had in the blue book line, because everything is well-categorized. Everything is "something" and in turn part of something greater. Yes, I could come up with something new, but it feels alien to the setting and sticking out. With CofD I could reproduce the last show or novel, or comic that got my interest, with my own twists, conspiracies, mythology and whatnot, while with WoD I could reproduce... well, WoD.

    Paradoxically, but not surprisingly, it's also the other way around. Every time I got enthusiastic about CofD, after a while I start missing the elements and aesthetics of WoD I love and those are quite big elements, for sure, like entire gamelines, or distinctive elements of them. It's like, when I'm looking at WoD, I see a great setting, but it's also constraining in a way and when I'm looking at CofD I see great bits and pieces, some genuinely fantastic gamelines and the potential to build a great and unique setting with more freedom, but on itself, it's a jumbled, some might even say incoherent mess and something that just can't suck me in, long-term, the way WoD can, which have a coherent setting and story. I know, it's nothing new, it got written down a million times that in a way those are exactly the points of the two games. It's just, it would be great to get what I want from one, without sacrificing what I love in the other (which I know isn't really possible, but one could dream). It would be great to read, for example more ongoing stories/novels from CofD, but I'm aware that'd come with the calcifying of the setting and the losing of the freedom it provides.

    Moreover, it's interesting to see how the two lines approach parts of the games. Styles of play for example. I always felt that the WoD has bigger room for wildly different playstyles and chronicles. CofD is much more focused on certain themes and modes of play. So, again, paradoxically, CofD has bigger freedom in what I want to play but I feel it's more restraining in how it want me to play it, while WoD is a more closed setting, but has greater freedom within that setting, if that makes sense.

    Anyway , that was a bit ramble-y, I know and some chewing of old bones, but if any of you want to add anything to it, please, do!


    If nothing worked, then let's think!

  • #2
    I never terribly liked CoD. I played CtL, VtR, and WtF, but I could never get over the fact that it felt like a hollow copy of cWoD. The characters were weaker, the powers were weaker, the stories were smaller, etc. I know cWoD backwards and forwards, I know what I can change to make any story work, and I know which rules to change to make cWoD sit up and bark. With CoD, the system works too well and, because of it, is too inflexible, so I cannot customize it to my satisfaction for my games. I either end up going back to cWoD or, if I want to customize every part, GURPS, which I have been playing since for longer than I have been playing cWoD.

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    • #3
      My consideration for not liking the CoD is that the human investigator core book of the CoD went a bit against the WoD's direction of being the game where you play monsters, and this is the default assumption that it works with. Just about every other game in or out of the genre of horror assumes human PCs, so why should that be the primary focus of the monster games?

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      • #4
        Forsaken is certainly not bad compared to Apocalypse. I like the old myths about Father Wolf and Pangea, and I really like some of the elements driving the Pure. I don't like how combative the spirit world is towards the Uratha. I feel like as a GM I can get more mileage out of the various Fomori and mockery breeds than I can the spirit hosts.

        I am also a bit of a grognard and don't like playing scrabblegrams with all the names of the Auspices and Tribes... Ahroun are called Rahu, Philodox are Elodoth... screw it. I can barely remember where I leave my rulebooks around the house, let alone an entirely new language of pseudo-Ugaritic werewolf terms.

        Edit: oh, and I really dislike the dice-rolling conventions and how nWoD does combat in general.
        Last edited by The Laughing Stranger; 02-08-2017, 03:41 AM.

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        • #5
          My relationship with CofD has undergone a complicated evolution. When Requiem first came out I, like a lot of Masquerade fans, despised it. Like, it-killed-my-dog kind of despised it. You know, in that entirely mature and reasoned way that nerds engage with the things they like. Moreover I was pretty miffed at what seemed like a transparent money ploy by making people buy the core bluebook in order to play any of the individual lines, offended even.

          Then over the next decade some funny things happened.

          Forsaken and Awakening came out and I... was much less offended by them. I even liked parts of them better than Apocalypse or Ascension. Admittedly I was never as into either Werewolf or Mage as I was Vampire so it wasn't really screwing with stuff I had a lot of investment in. Meanwhile I was finding myself getting more and more use out of the corebook for mortal games. What I originally thought of as a begrudged purchase ended up becoming a dog-eared fixture of my bookshelf, to the point that I even got a second copy.

          Then Promethean, Lost, and Vigil all dropped like a three hit combo and collectively sold me on NWoD as an enterprise. Promethean was a fresh game that didn't really have a direct analog in OWoD, which let it avoid the traps that the big three had fallen into. Changeling and Hunter were by the same token almost totally different games from their older counterparts, something which I think is to their advantage. I love Dreaming and Reckoning, and I also love Lost and Vigil, but comparing them is really apples and oranges. Promethean, Lost, and Vigil remain my favorite CofD lines to date, and are on my list of favorite games period.

          I was never really grabbed by either Geist or Mummy, but during that time is when Requiem started its Clanbook cycle and released stuff like Danse Macabre. That group of supplements basically constituted a Requiem 1.5 and went a long way towards making me actually like the game.

          Then the second editions started up, which I feel has started to fix the problems that Requiem, Forsaken, and Awakening had as games in their own right by moving them further away from the baggage they were carrying by virtue of originally being "successors." Since O/C/WoD is also being published again this is pretty much a win all around.

          Overall I would say I agree with PMark's assertion that CofD supports "mortals" play better than WoD does. This is in part due what Saur Ops mentioned in that playing mortals isn't really the point of WoD. While I wouldn't say that mortals are the default mode of play in CofD, mortals were considered in the macro-line's game design from the beginning and support for that mode continues to be robust as a result.

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          • #6
            Edit: attention! Wall of text follows. I didn't intend it to get so out of hand...

            Originally posted by Caitiff Primogen View Post
            My relationship with CofD has undergone a complicated evolution. When Requiem first came out I, like a lot of Masquerade fans, despised it. Like, it-killed-my-dog kind of despised it. You know, in that entirely mature and reasoned way that nerds engage with the things they like. Moreover I was pretty miffed at what seemed like a transparent money ploy by making people buy the core bluebook in order to play any of the individual lines, offended even.
            Interestingly, I didn't have the seething hate a lot of WoD fans had toward NWoD in general and Requiem in particular. I found parts in every NWoD line I liked, for example the switch to blood potency. They had, naturally parts I didn't like in the least, like the fog of ages (and good riddance to that!). I liked the concept of a really viable mortal line, unified rules system, based on mortals and all the things the blue book made possible (and I liked the visual aesthetics of the corebook and the line in general). more on that later.

            However, Requiem just felt... empty after Masquerade. Not just in the sense of lacking material, because at that time my main base for comparison was just the revised corebook and ST's guide. Requiem even got novels at the beginning. In the end, it just left me more or less cold as a setting and it was true for all the big 3. I just didn't find as much great background history, things/characters/stories to relate and interesting concepts as in WoD/Masquerade. I know some of it is unfair, being an entirely new game at that time and I know it got a lot of good material since that. Still some of it is still stands, because of the basic concepts of CofD, aka no metaplot/official setting, and ultimately the whole sandbox approach (however I'm on the side of NWod did overdo the thing and suffered from it. It's not surprising the 2es curbed it back somewhat). It's really a blessing and a curse. It makes room for more options and unique stories, like I mentioned in the OP, but to me it makes it more hard to connect an less interesting to read about. It's a great gaming universe, but a less catching fictional universe. It could have great stories, even ones building on it's strengths, like Three Shades of Night was with the crossover approach. I particularly liked that book, one of my favorite novels from both universe, in fact. The supplements and the anthologies have some real gems in them too. However, in the end, I suspect it will never get "true" fiction WoD has/had/will have because, as I mentioned, it'd mean the calcifying of the setting on the long run.

            I also think NWoD overdid the whole "splats not based on 'offensive stereotypes'" thing too. At large it made it a lot less connected to the real world in my eyes, with splats based on abstract concepts. It's something I'm willing to admit got better over time, but first impressions are hard to change. Moreover it played strongly into things like Awakening's backstory and universe and Werewolf's too, which i didn't like. Interestingly, I had a much less or no problems with Requiem. I missed the clans, but I was okay with the clans as vampiric archetypes and bloodlines as, well, bloodlines concept, it made sense. However, Mage, it just felt wrong after Ascension, with all the Atlantic story and Exarchs and supernal realms, watchtowers, paths and orders and felt totally disconnected from real-world magical traditions (even said that those are flat-out lies). In Ascension, everything felt grounded on real-world things, while Awakening felt a totally fantasy universe with a backdrop of a modern setting. It got a lot better over time, too, but some of the concepts are too hard-coded into it, I'm not sure I will ever like it nearly as much as Ascension (although I'm currently giving it a second chance with 2e and Dark Eras).

            Werewolf... It just left me cold after Apocalypse. I liked Apocalypse's themes and story. I could appreciate the approach not based on, well, an apocalypse, but overall it felt disconnected as Mage and even directionless. Hate me, but I was among the people who liked Changing Breeds, it brought back a lot from what I liked in Apocalypse.


            Then Promethean, Lost, and Vigil all dropped like a three hit combo and collectively sold me on NWoD as an enterprise. Promethean was a fresh game that didn't really have a direct analog in OWoD, which let it avoid the traps that the big three had fallen into. Changeling and Hunter were by the same token almost totally different games from their older counterparts, something which I think is to their advantage. I love Dreaming and Reckoning, and I also love Lost and Vigil, but comparing them is really apples and oranges. Promethean, Lost, and Vigil remain my favorite CofD lines to date, and are on my list of favorite games period.
            Never got the itch to play Promethean. I have no problems with it, it's just not something I'm interested in, just like Wraith. Lost is very good, I agree, I don't have a clear preference between Lost and Dreaming, both are great but with an entirely different take on the same trope and I love both. Loved the visual aesthetics of Lost too and I'm a bit worried that we'd get the now-usual photographic illustrations in 2e, I think it'd be a great loss, but I guess i1m just not on the same page as aesthetic preferences goes as the majority of the current OP team.

            Vigil...Now, to me, THAT was when the NWoD got into it's own. I might add I never really separated Vigil from the blue book line. To me both are essentially about humans fighting back, Vigil is just the upper-tier, organized, specialized one, where the blue books are about strange oddities/general information, for example about spirits, or demons/first contact encounters with the supernatural.
            I liked Vigil a lot better than Reckoning from the get-go. I always felt that Reckoning shot itself in the foot. It's premise is also everyday humans fighting back, but for doing that of course they have to get some special powers from an undefined (but we all know what is it really) Power. It's an okay concept and it has some very neat ideas to ponder, but for me, Mage, sorcerer and the half-splats covered the humans-with-powers niche and in a more interesting way.
            Moreover I felt it even offending, that while WoD had things like the Arcanum, instead of making it more applicable to every line, or making it and the other mortal hunter group into their own line instead of a Vampire offshoot, it had to bring in Buffy style hunters to fight the supernaturals (and don't get me wrong, I like Buffy).


            Then, enters the blue books and then Vigil from the left and suddenly I got everything I wanted from a mortal hunter game, in the line of Hellblazer, Supernatural, Exorcist, Stoker's van Helsing and lately, Sleepy Hollow, the series.

            I'm still hoping we'll get something similar for WoD under 5e.


            I was never really grabbed by either Geist or Mummy,
            Geist is interesting to me in a way wraith never was. Mummy, I never felt much inclination to play any iteration of the game, but admittedly, I never delved deep into any of them for the same reason. To me, they are more like unique NPCs than player material.

            but during that time is when Requiem started its Clanbook cycle and released stuff like Danse Macabre. That group of supplements basically constituted a Requiem 1.5 and went a long way towards making me actually like the game.
            As above. Yes, those books are good. It comes back to the dichotomy of CofD, that I like a lot of ideas and approaches, for example in Danse Macabre, but they never got elaborated further because the sandbox approach, but again, without that, it'll lose the merits of that approach.

            Then the second editions started up, which I feel has started to fix the problems that Requiem, Forsaken, and Awakening had as games in their own right by moving them further away from the baggage they were carrying by virtue of originally being "successors." Since O/C/WoD is also being published again this is pretty much a win all around.
            Agree, it's a win-win. I like some of the directions Requiem 2e, and all the 2nd editions in general went, although not all of them. Visual style is one thing, some aspects of the rules another, it's a mixed bag, truly, but yeah, it made some really good steps and I'm curious about the future of it.

            Overall I would say I agree with PMark's assertion that CofD supports "mortals" play better than WoD does. This is in part due what Saur Ops mentioned in that playing mortals isn't really the point of WoD. While I wouldn't say that mortals are the default mode of play in CofD, mortals were considered in the macro-line's game design from the beginning and support for that mode continues to be robust as a result.
            Going back to Vigil, I always felt that playing mortals should be a viable option among the other options and I agree it was a good step on NWoD's side. From a rules-standpoint, it really made possible the greater unification of the rules and settings, thus made crossovers easier, which is a big plus to me, since I like crossovers.

            So, to sum it up: life would be much easier (and time more manageable) if one line would be distinctly "better", but "sadly" both have great points and not-so-great ones. I consider myself more of a WoD fan, largely because I read more books from that and some of my all-time favorite gamelines are WoD ones, like Ascension. I also maintain my opinion that it's the better fictional universe to read about and I'm reading a lot more than playing. It's not because WoD is objectively more interesting or whatnot (although I really like the grounding in real-world phenomena nature of it and the gothic-punk aesthetic is something I can't really have too much of), but because CofD is intentionally not cohesive enough to be a great foundation for long-term fiction. I understand it and I like the freedom the sandbox approach provides, but it's still somewhat sad.

            On the other hand, WoD really starts cracking when I don't want to go with the built-in premises, conflicts, backstory, etc. Yes, you could focus on local things instead of the big ones, but it's not the same as building your own setting. WoD is really great if I want to play WoD, not so much if you want to do something different, because it's just not so modular.

            Really, two sides of the coin and you can't have the steak and the cow too and all that. It's just sometimes frustrating to keep up with both of them.

            Edit 2: I might add, I1m not really a fan of the God-Machine and Demon. Not because they're bad concepts, actually I liked the setting part in the 2e corebook on it's own. I just feel it's totally out-of-sync with everything else in the CofD world. It's more mutually exclusive for me with the other lines than anything in WoD usually claimed as such.
            Last edited by PMárk; 02-08-2017, 08:41 PM.


            If nothing worked, then let's think!

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