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Modern Bygones - Alternative Feeding Methods

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  • Modern Bygones - Alternative Feeding Methods

    Bygones get overlooked a lot in "the WoD discourse". While part of that is probably just a result of getting very little book support (they got fewer supplements than Mummy, for crying out load). And because some people may find it weird to run a serious urban fantasy campaign while playing a dragon.

    But what also doesn't help is that, once you leave the Sorcerer's Crusade time period, you start seriously running up against Disbelief and the need for Quintessence. When Reality itself is hostile to your very presence, becoming a Thaumivore seems basically inevitable in the modern day, if you want to stick around in the material world. The Familiar rules in Mage assume this from the outset. Indeed, gaining a steady supply of Quint is one reason Bygones may elect to become a Familiar.

    What if the Bygone player didn't want to deal with this? How does a Storyteller allow Bygone PCs to operate in the modern day, without shackling them to a Mage or a Node/Cairn/Freehold?

    (I mean other than just hand-waving or giving them all-purpose Quintessence Scrounging.)

    As I see it, there are two possible methods a Bygone could employ to dodge paying a Quint tax.

    1. The Shapeshifter Advantage (Merit? I don't recall) allows a Bygone to assume another shape. It's relatively cheap, freebie-wise, if you only have the one alternate form. It also doesn't have a cost to use, nor specify a maximum length of time you can maintain that form.

    As such, if one of the Bygone's alternative forms can pass for mundane, a ST could argue they might be absolved of needing Quint so long as they are in that form. With the caveat that if you assume the unnatural form, you have to pay the Quint cost for that day. And, depending on how the character was built, being in a mundane form prevents the character from using any powers/advantages of their native form. A dragon that walks around as a human can keep that up all the time and never worry about Quint, but can't fly or use claws or breathe fire, because those are all tied to its dragon form.

    Probably the biggest issue with this method is that not every Bygone does (or perhaps should) have the Shapeshifter advantage. It's as much a character creation tax as the Quint one. On the other hand, Bygones capable of living on Earth are a self-selecting group, and it makes sense that ones capable of blending in would have an easier time surviving. It worked for the Changelings.

    2. Instead of taking Quint in its raw or Tass form from specific source, a Bygone might tug on the Mythic Threads for sustenance. Engaging in activity that evokes its tropes might satisfy its requirements. An intelligent, talking dog hangs out with meddling kids. Dragons hoard gold and burninate the countryside. Satyrs party all the time and get wasted. A scary skeleton spooks some fuccboys. The usual kind of thing.

    Now, CoD fans are probably thinking, "Wait, isn't this just Beast: The Primordial again?". And you wouldn't be wrong, it's the same basic idea. A supernatural creature whose continued existence is predicated on their ability to adhere to a folkloric script. The difference being that unlike Beasts, Bygones aren't obligated, as a rule, to "be assholes about it". Unless their particular nature or archetype mandates it, of course. Beast is designed around the specific idea of them being horrible monsters, that spread fear, dominate the weak, etc. Bygones just need to be true to themselves, whether that's bad, good, or neutral.

    Aside from being sort of a cop-out on the idea of Reality being hostile to their very being, the main issue with following this path is that supernatural beings tend to have archetypes that don't blend well with polite society. Wage slaves may have replaced peasants in the "exploited by the ruling class" scheme of things, but no one likes their roofs being burninated, thatch or no. A dragon just existing in the world has a hard enough time keeping a low profile, let alone while indulging its very draconic urges (that are mandated by Reality, in return for benefiting from the Mythic Threads).

    Also, even the Mythic Threads have their limits. Being seen for what one is outside of specific contexts (the skeleton could get away with brief encounters with the odd fuckboy in a spooky mansion) is probably grounds for being Disbelief taxed, even when following the Mythic Threads otherwise. For some, wearing obscuring clothing might be enough. For others, there's no getting around in broad daylight and full view on onlookers without causing a scene (Reality-wise). Even in Mage's Familiar rules, they get charged for Quint for being seen, if they're unnatural in appearance. I don't think it's out of line to demand circumspection from Bygones, both from a lore and thematic perspective.

    What does anyone else think?

  • #2
    While I admit that I wouldn't necessarily jump to using Bygones for Player Characters, I do agree that their is an interesting place for them in portraying the World of Darkness as an Urban Fantasy setting.

    While I wouldn't necessarily put them in everywhere... the idea that *perhaps* a local arson was caused by a drake reaching across the veil and torching a farm house to harvest energy (quintessence) and to slink away before the authorities arrive and 'seal up' the gap between the mundane and ephemeral realities.


    • #3
      My own rule of thumb is that certain modern urban legends derive a certain amount of Quintessence from the stories told about them, as well as from myth-specific feeding habits or other behaviors. I was once in a game that had a modern day dragon who derived Quintessence from it's horde, which was part of why it defended it so fiercely, as well as from kidnapping "damsels", which in this case was young gay men whom he desperately wanted to have fall in love with him in some sort of weird Stockholm syndrome way. (This was ultimately resolved by one character's House Flambeau Hermetic declaring that he would date the dragon and eventually becoming his tsundere boyfriend.)

      I'd really enjoy seeing more done with modern day bygones on STV, especially stuff like the various Bigfoot variations, surviving dinosaurs, escaped science experiments, sewer mutants, and aliens.

      What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
      Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)


      • #4
        Yeah, that makes sense to me; the idea that basically every bygone will essentially feed by being able to create the circumstances to propogate their concept.

        A bygone Bloody Mary might get ambient energy every time a tween slumbering party invokes her legend but she'll get a much sweeter vein of quint if she manifests in the mirror to scare a kid half to death.

        You might also have Sasquatches wandering the forests in bands who gain ambient energy everytime someone genuinely considers the notion of their existence but gets the best quint from the cat and mouse games they play to evade cryptozoologists.

        Furthermore while a bygone may take months to develop online, if there story is spread often enough and creates enough genuine energy around it... perhaps someone somewhere will see a bizarre figure off in the distance that has a head eerily reminiscent of a siren...