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  • Crossover Chronicle: Balancing Characters

    Hello, I'm looking for advice on ideas and assistance with balancing for a crossover chronicle between the various World of Darkness gamelines, from VtM to MtR. I'm wanting something more specific than general guidelines, like suggested Freebie Points and XP to provide per each kind (vampire, mage, etc). I understand the issues with lore, flavor, theme, etc and broader issues with balancing a crossover of multiple lines, but I moreso would like help with the mechanics of how to keep relative parity within a potential party of the various supernaturals.

  • #2
    Running a crossover campaign right now.

    Rule One: NO MAGES!

    Seriously they will break the game over their knees once they have any xp under their belt.

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    • #3
      Otherwise i have done some rebalancing. I made Kuei jin disciplines cheaper and made some changes to how they work, allowed Mummies to buy the equivalent of Fortitude, Potence and Celerity, and made some changes to Demon Lores suggested by a friend of mine.

      The important thing is not to balance the splats relative to each other, but to protect their niches, and make sure players are on board with that. Werewolves are combat and spirits, Vamps do social manipulation, Kuei-jin are a bit jack of all trades, Mummies are sorcery and suicide missions. Etc.

      I'm feeling around for issues that may crop up otherwise, and we're at a low enough power level so the differences arent that noticeable.

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      • #4
        It depends on what creature types you want to combine together and what kind of chronicle you want to run. Playing with a lot of combat will require a different sort of rebalancing than playing one with lots of social interactions. Mages can, but always, be overpowering because of the versatility of spheres, while werewolves can be too powerful in combat. Vampires having to sleep during the day can also be a major issue, assuming that other characters might want to do stuff during the day.

        One change I make with crossovers, at the minimum, is allow most creatures to soak aggravated damage with Stamina if there is going to be a werewolf in the group. It allows other characters to participate in a combat that might actually challenge a werewolf without dying with one hit. Letting vampire players play a ghoul character during the day could also help.

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        • #5
          Run multiple interweaved chronicles rather than ONE BIG mix. That is to say Run a vampire game. Its actions effect other games and vice versa. There may be some crossover events but generally its a shared world.

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          • #6
            I'm running a crossover game, but focused on the "secondary" creatures of each splat. I've made this, probably will not help much, but who knows.

            Tier 1: Possessed (Kami, drone, Formori, etc) and Hedge sorcerer
            Beings that are very versatile and have almost no drawbacks. They also have the potential to be very powerful. They get no extra benefits.

            Tier 2: Revenants and kinain.
            They are limited by a energy source, but they produce this energy themselves, they have acess to powers but in a more limited way.
            They get +5 bonus points if in the same game as a tier 1.

            tier 3: Ghoul and kinfolk
            Very limited energy source and powers.
            They get + 5 PB if in the same game as a tier 2, and +8 PN if in the same game as a tier 1.




            I think however that crossover between main creatures biggest problem is the vampires sunlight problem, which make them useless for a lot of time. My take in this situation is to make the vampire players play as their ghouls.

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            • #7
              I don't know MtR.

              For vampire/ghouls, using pre-revised soak rules (ie can soak agg with their stamina unless its F/S/TF) balances them better against Werewolves or formor, and against other vampires.

              I think though, that running differently balanced splats is... kinda great? like, WoD is primarily a story game, not a mass murder simulator. A ghoul doesn't need to be a Khan.


              Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
              There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                I don't know MtR.

                For vampire/ghouls, using pre-revised soak rules (ie can soak agg with their stamina unless its F/S/TF) balances them better against Werewolves or formor, and against other vampires.

                I think though, that running differently balanced splats is... kinda great? like, WoD is primarily a story game, not a mass murder simulator. A ghoul doesn't need to be a Khan.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFuMpYTyRjw

                This is the real problem its not just "Who can win in combat" its.. a khan will have half a dozen tricks that Ghoul won't have. A khan could also go into the umbra(Either at appropriate level or by merit) can buy up a between 3 and 8 gifts for the price a Ghoul buys up a single discipline. This is the most extreme example.. but Even a full vampire vs Fera has the umbra, lack of versatility etc.. This is why I suggest going with what the books sugest Troup play. Engage in the story from different levels. A vampire game can also have ghoul episodes. A Mage game vampire episodes and so on. Occasionally one character might crossover and vice versa but having to work on keeping the whole story making everyone equally useful can be hard.

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                • #9
                  If a Mage is anywhere near this game, be more of a stickler about the player working within their character's Focus. While Mages, as a whole, can do theoretically anything, an individual Mage is limited in how much of their Spheres they can actually use, based on their beliefs and ability to justify their Effects. A witch might be able to use Entropy to lay hexes on people, but be helpless to affect the stock market. Individual Mage characters have a wheelhouse, and should be expected to stay within it.

                  In a crossover game, getting the player to work within their Paradigm and Practice is all the more important. That way, they aren't going completely insane in a way that non-Mage characters can't compete with.


                  For that matter, it's fully within the ST's rights to tie a character's ability to do an Effect not just to Spheres, but to Abilities. The character must know what they're doing before they can pull off the kind of shenanigans creative players are known for. You know that classic exploit Vampire blood sorcerers have, where they use the Path of Conjuration to create things like bombs or whatever? Well a Mage with Matter + Prime could do that...but make sure they have sufficient dots in Science, Technology, etc to justify their ability to do it.

                  Furthermore, M20 introduced the idea of Minimum Ability Prerequisites, wherein an Effect that uses certain Instruments/Foci will be tied to relevant Abilities (or sometimes Backgrounds). Your Virtual Adept character can't hack the planet if their Computer skill isn't equal to the level of the Effect they're trying to cast. This will go a long way towards keeping a Mage character from vastly outpacing their non-Mage compatriots.


                  Take Paradox seriously, even moreso than you might in an all-Mage game. Other splats have their own costs for doing what they do. The Mage has Paradox. Use it as the Storyteller tool it is.

                  (On the other hand, don't be so restrictive that the Mage ends up being unable to compete with the other splats. There is such a thing as over-correction).
                  Last edited by Bluecho; 11-14-2020, 01:31 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lian View Post
                    Run multiple interweaved chronicles rather than ONE BIG mix. That is to say Run a vampire game. Its actions effect other games and vice versa. There may be some crossover events but generally its a shared world.
                    I agree with that. Interweaved chronicles would be safer. Remember, werewolves generally hate vampires (and vampires with humanity below 7 activate their Wyrm Sense), don't trust mages (Caerns could also be used as Nodes) and faeries (except Fianna and maybe a few more). Mages generally don't like vampires (remember, Tremere was one of the Order of Hermes houses once), on British Isles are allied with fae. Saying that most others Fera don't like Garou is an understatement of the year. I don't know much about the relations of other supernaturals with Wraiths except that Silver Fangs have a camp who is very interested of them, Silent Striders are also linked with them and Giovanni, Samedi and the remnants of Cappadocians have contact with them (usually making them their slaves). So if your PCs don't have a very good reason for working together they will likely end at each other throats.

                    You won't also need the balance. As the character's interactions will be occasional the level of power is irrelevant. You could let one of your players play 800 years old, IVth Generation Malkavian. He still doesn't have much chances against your PCs pack and two more allied with them.

                    If you don't have so many players to form enough packs/coteries/motleys etc. you could allow them to play a few characters (just like during Wraith games, a player could play the Psyche of his own character and the Shadow of another PC). Just remember that they shouldn't let your players create characters that will likely help each other (it one of your players create a Children of Gaia who loves everybody create a vampire who killed his Kinfolk sister/brother/parent and wasn't caught to give this PC a reason to hate vampires). Otherwise you would spoil the interactions. Also remember that any contact between different kinds of supernaturals will likely be a Dark Secret flaw and their brethrens will no take it lightly if they find out. If this pack/coterie/motley meet each other let the players decide which character will they play and for that moment get rid of the characters that won't be played (send Ventrue on a business trip to London or a Changeling on a holiday trip with his parents to Bora Bora). I once run a Werewolf chronicle where one of the characters had a Cainite mother (she was Embraced after the divorce but before the First Change of this character; they don't have contact) and had a vampire and mage friends (which się didn't knew, both the Embrace and the Awakening happened after her First Change), another one who has an Eshu sister (he knew about that, she underwent her Chrysalis a few years after his First Change), a Wraith friend (they have occasional contact; this friend also died after his First Change) and a Cainite friend (they don't have contact) and the last one has Gurahl Mentor (they met each other once; ocasionally that character payed a visit to his Mentor). These other characters were NPCs and mostly there wasn't any interactions between them. It ran very smoothly. Another time I created a pack where Shadow Lord was one of the (canonically) dead Danislav, Fianna was a Psychic (after a trip to Flux Realm) and had a drop of fae blood in his veins, Uktena was a Sorcerer, Wendigo's father was a Spirit and Silent Strider was Romani using some of their powers (I know that this sourcebook is considered racist but that was a long time ago when I was a teenager). This time it wasn't so easy. And the funniest thing is that, considering canon and rules, most of that was "legal" (except maybe the Danislav). It was during the time when me and a friend of mine were trying to bend the rules not breaking them during the process as a pure intellectual challenge. We tried most of the characters created that way but generally they were unplayable.

                    As inspiration I reccomend the story of Samuel Height (how to involve various characters), Under a Blood Red Moon (how the conflict between werewolves and vampires will likely end) and Midnight Circus (how to involve various characters and how the story could go by).
                    Last edited by Nail Eater; 11-19-2020, 12:22 PM.


                    Warrior of the Rainbow
                    Saint among the sinners
                    Pure among the dirt
                    Loser among winners

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                    • #11
                      People point out the Mage problem but honestly Mages have INTEREST in engaging with other Nightfolk. Vampires for example don't(and it probably violates the Masquerade/Silence of blood) for all the power difference even more you're going to need to justify "WHY" if you're running a straight crossover. Vampires don't care about ascension. Werewolves don't care about Vampire politics. Wraiths can barely interact with the physical plane. There are some splats that engage outside their standard setup.. but they aren't particularly common there's no "Genetic WOD" plot... For all the mechanical issues story issues are probably more extreme.

                      And no the PEntex/Sabbat/Nephandi Legion of Doom is not.. good story to help them all see they are on the same side. It just blurs things and ignores the nuances and concepts of each game. That being said showing the contrasts on occasion can be wonderful having crossover characters show up as crossover special events rather an a presumed "Every game we have a vampires, a wraith, a werewolf". There are also some splats that DO care about other plot and can make some interesting story. Any variation of a Necromancer in a Wraith game. Shamanic Mages in a primarily werewolf game. Some of the more Glamourous bloodlines in a primarily changeling game..but if that's the case you should probably blue book most of their "Primary" genre interaction.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lian View Post
                        And no the PEntex/Sabbat/Nephandi Legion of Doom is not.. good story to help them all see they are on the same side.
                        I don't agree with you. It's one of the best ways to make them cooperate. For example: imagine Consolidex Worldwide (one of Pentex subidiaries, an investment firm) starting to spoil global economy. That would certainly be spotted by Syndicate which sends a team of operatives to meet the Garou who also try to stop CW. Players don't want to play Technocracy? Make some mages (NPCs) attack the operatives. When they find out what they've done they call the PCs for help. I remember at least 2 templates from Mage sourcebooks and at least 2 more from Werewolf sourcebooks who are linked to Wall Street and could be used to tie the stories of Mages and Garou. In one of the early W:tA stories there was a vampire owned foundation which invests in Pentex owned construction. In "Loom of Fate", regardless of what PCs do, the Cataclysm will be stopped, propably by Uktena from a nearby Sept.

                        Too complicated? Use my idea: a rock band in which a Garou was one of the musicians shared the studio with other bands. One of them signed a minor contract, released an album, played a few concerts and then broke up. After that one of the musicians from this band returns to his hometown only to be Embraced. And later the Cainite and the Garou meet each other. What will the werewolf do? On one hand he should kill the Cainite as a Wyrm creature, on the other hand the leech has comes contact in the music industry which could help the Garou promote his own band (pro ecological rock, so technically this leech will help Mother Gaia). And maybe the vampire will join his band. Add RAW (Wyrmish talent agency from "Freak Legion") and you could give them a common enemy. Or my other idea: one of the NPCs is a very talented football player. He signed a contract with a team owned by a Cainite who enforces loyalty of his key players by Blood Bond. If there's a truce between vampires and werewolves in the town where this team plays killing either a Cainite (just for being Cainite) or the Garou (as a traitor, he's a rising star in Premiership so quite famous, the press, Instagram and Facebook will notice his absence) won't work. The pack will have to deal with vampire enemies of the team owner to save the young Garou. For inspiration you could flip through the pages of Tribebooks/Clanbooks/Tradition Books, look at the iconic characters or templates and search for common elements.

                        Or the "random" way: the vampire business plans are ruined for some time. Just like his enemies know his every move ahead. Then he spot a good looking, well dressed teenager with an old Nokia in his hand instead of a new smartphone. If he decides to talk with this teenager he will talk to a young Glass Walker who knows that certain smartphones are wyrmish tools of invigilation (and this vampire bought one of them recently). Pentex is just interested of one of the vampire's firms.

                        And remember, in Pentex HQ there is/was at least 2 BSD and at least 2 (some time ago 3) Cainites. So there's your common enemy. I believe that there are also Mages, Fae, maybe Wraiths.
                        Last edited by Nail Eater; 11-20-2020, 04:03 PM.


                        Warrior of the Rainbow
                        Saint among the sinners
                        Pure among the dirt
                        Loser among winners

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'd like to thank everyone for the insight and advice, it is very helpful. I do have a few clarifiers:
                          • I do have a story concept that does tie them all together, and it goes beyond just "they can crossover so why not". I have written a large, multifaceted conspiracy that crisscrosses the World of Darkness, and the individual members of the party all also have interpersonal ties that have allowed them all to meet too.
                          • I don't seek so much for each supernatural to be "equal" so much as they all have the ability to be both capable and able to fulfill their niche. I don't want a situation where one or two players feel that they're not able to actually contribute to the story and group.
                          • There will be a Mage, but I will be consistent and clear with Paradox and Paradigm, and the Mage player is very familiar with the rules and dedicated to equitable play, and I trust them to help with balancing.

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                          • #14
                            I'm interested in what the story is, actually.

                            If it does turn out the Mage is a balance issue, there could be a Sorcerer instead.


                            I am extremely literal-minded and always write very literally. If I don't say something explicitly, please never assume I implied it. The only exception is if I try to joke.
                            Exalted and cWoD book list. Exalted name-generators, Infernal and 1E-2.5E homebrew from many authors.

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                            • #15
                              Do you have any Mummies involved? If so, reducing Sekhem costs for the more expensive Hekau and making Sekhem easier to replenish will allow them to be useful contributors.

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