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Crossover Chronicle: Balancing Characters

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  • #16
    I'm going to more or less echo what many people have said above: a superfriends-esque free-for-all where everyone can play whatever kind of character they want is rough. No matter what choices you make, someone is going to be unhappy because the character type they wanted to play is got the shaft in order to make the game more fair for the other players. And it will probably be the mage player. Having said that, it will help to get your player group first, and then work backwards from the players you have to construct your game. In other words, do not go into this with any preconceived notions of the story you're going to tell (unless it's some kind of freewheeling magical romp through various fantasy worlds--like One Piece but in the Umbra,) because the odds are that you're just going to have to take scalpel and some duct tape to whatever your vision was in the first place in order to make it fit disparate capabilities you end up with at your table. And if you insist on starting with your story and then making it work for your players, I would institute a limit on how many of XYZ supernatural you can have, or a system by which having X number of one kind of supernatural means that you can't have even one of another type.

    I will note that even though mages are probably the most likely to get nerfed in service to fairness, they are the easiest kind of character to crossover from a story-perspective. Admittedly, I am a Mage stan, but the fact is that a mage can be built to basically go anywhere or do anything--which, mind you, is different from going "everywhere" and "everything". In other words, you could make a mage that makes a lot of sense in-story to be hanging around with vampires, and you could make a mage that makes a lot of sense in-story to be hanging around with shifters (of whatever kind,) or changelings, or mummies, or Kue-Jin, etc. etc. But all those mages would look vastly different from one another. Other supernaturals are a little more difficult to build-for-purpose. Having said that, I think mages and werewolves go together very nicely. If they didn't, White Wolf wouldn't have had to spend so much ink in so many books across both lines confabulating reasons for not crossing over mages and werewolves willy nilly (i.e., all those times the books are like, "sure, it may seem like certain mages and Garou would get along for this that and other reasons, and it may seem like it makes perfect sense for them to work together against the Wyrm and/or Nephandi... but they definitely don't. For reasons.")


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    • #17
      My general plot concept is that there are various underlying secrets and conspiracies related to the prophesied end times of the gamelines: Gehennna, the Apocalypse, etc. This is explicitly not a Time of Judgment chronicle but rather a look at the myths of the supernaturals regarding the end, the origins and nuances of supernatural eschatology, and what secrets lie under the facade of the world ending. It's easy to accept the world is ending after all, plenty of people do. It's harder to accept that there may be no end in sight, or the end is not an end or even a new beginning. Beyond this, however, I've intentionally written nothing else. The players all know that the core theme is supernatural mysteries and deep-lore conspiracies, as well as cross-splat interaction.

      I will have a Mummy, by the way. For the Mage, they're a Hermetic explicitly interested in other supernaturals (the player picked something from Mage where the Awakened explicitly wishes to reach to and understand the other splats). They're also a Kinain Mage, and will personally have known the Changeling character prior to the formation of the crossover group. The Hunter will be following one of the Mercy Creeds.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Khef_Ka_And_Ka-Tet View Post
        My general plot concept is that there are various underlying secrets and conspiracies related to the prophesied end times of the gamelines: Gehennna, the Apocalypse, etc. This is explicitly not a Time of Judgment chronicle but rather a look at the myths of the supernaturals regarding the end, the origins and nuances of supernatural eschatology, and what secrets lie under the facade of the world ending. It's easy to accept the world is ending after all, plenty of people do. It's harder to accept that there may be no end in sight, or the end is not an end or even a new beginning. Beyond this, however, I've intentionally written nothing else. The players all know that the core theme is supernatural mysteries and deep-lore conspiracies, as well as cross-splat interaction.

        I will have a Mummy, by the way. For the Mage, they're a Hermetic explicitly interested in other supernaturals (the player picked something from Mage where the Awakened explicitly wishes to reach to and understand the other splats). They're also a Kinain Mage, and will personally have known the Changeling character prior to the formation of the crossover group. The Hunter will be following one of the Mercy Creeds.


        Honestly when people say "mages are a problem" they mean "mages are a problem.. for Vampires" and probably haven't had much experience with C20. You have a pretty good setup for people with strong niche protection. There is very little that's useful that a Vampire can provide that can't be done by another splat(the abiltiy to make ghouls and more vampires being.. not someting that's going to come up). Changelings have an amazingly flexable powerset that can rival mages and definately shines in way that spheres do not banality CAN be an issue but ultimately how much access they have to glamour matters.

        I would say your BIG issue for having someone being a BMX bandit is the Hunter. Their powers are explicitly meant to run lower and be less consistant so that PCs from other gamelines might be group threats. They are very close to being a Ghoul/Kinfolk tier.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Lian View Post
          Honestly when people say "mages are a problem" they mean "mages are a problem.. for Vampires" and probably haven't had much experience with C20.
          You're not wrong. Frankly, the biggest problem for crossovers is that Vampires have a LOT of restrictions that the other splats just don't. In some ways, a Wraith is EASIER to incorporate than a vampire (provided at least one other person in the group has a means of interacting with said wraith).

          The moment you add a vampire to the group suddenly you have to account for one of the members of the group being unable to go anywhere where even indirect sunlight is present and which basically turns into a useless lump during daylight hours. Depending on location and time of year that could mean they're playable for only 8-10 hours of a 24 hour day. Throw in time needed to hunt and making non-specialized travel impractical (a werewolf, mummy, changeling and a mage can fly commercial all over the world or hop in any old car/truck and drive to wherever the plot takes them. The vampire needs lightproof travel arrangement unless you can guarantee their return to shelter before daybreak) and vampires as written are generally more trouble than they're worth.

          Hell, even within their own little corner it can be problem. In one game I'm playing a Dhampir while everyone else is a full vamp. You know what sort of difference being able to go out in daylight and take action 18+ hours of every day with "hunting" consisting of "I go to the grocery" or "I hit a Mickey D's on the way" vs. being limited to 12 hours a day (where part of that is just making yourself presentable for the day and hunting/feeding) makes in terms of story focus?

          A LOT. Like a "some nights it may as well be two separate games" difference.

          There's a reason why just about the only successful crossovers I've seen involving vampires started by wiping out a bunch of their problematic weaknesses. Our default has been "only direct sunlight burns, can be active during the day and, must have a source of blood bags so feeding is just going to the fridge not spending an hour hunting."

          Basically making the restrictions more in line with more modern interpretations (ex. Buffy, TVD, Blade).

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          • #20
            As someone who actually did this in the past some ideas from me:

            1) put in limitations. Mages will likely be around "sleepers" all the time if vampires and garou etc. are present in the group making it much harder for them to do their magic. Also modern day era works way better than dark ages when mages were still way more powerfull

            2) dont let characters steal each others spotlight but make them complementary. Maybe get a Fera fighter, a kainite social character, a mage knowledge character, a fae nature & wilderness character ^^

            3) do not play in one area or city. You likely will have to move around quite a bit

            4) be sure to have a damn good explanation ready why these things cooperate. A mage and a Tremere working together can happen, Gurahl might be able to stomache Salubri and Gangrel, Demons are kinda getting well along with Baali (depending on the types) etc. You could also do an abomination.

            5) an "evil" campaign may actually work best. demons, nephandi, black spiral dancers, Baali...those function together without too much lore violation

            6) make sure to account for individual weaknesses. Some vampires can rather easily hide in the day, maling them way more practical than others. Is the vampire allowed to feed alittle from group members? Is the fera going crazy at full moons? Does the mage have a solid source for his powers and can replenish them?

            7) if you want to make characters about equal in power you have to let the vampire start as elder and the mage with about 4 dots in arete. You cant freshlings run around together and expect balance. A better choice would be that each character is particularely good in one area where the others suck at so they stick together for problem solving and each one has his area of expertise.

            8) you also may turn adventures more into a Dungeons & Dragons direction as the normal settings in WoD dont make very good campaigns. Just imagine if a Garou is found out to cooperating with a vampire and the consequences for both
            Last edited by Orkar; 12-11-2020, 02:41 PM.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Chris24601 View Post
              The moment you add a vampire to the group suddenly you have to account for one of the members of the group being unable to go anywhere where even indirect sunlight is present and which basically turns into a useless lump during daylight hours.
              I have to say: When we did this, there was the unwritten assumption that we were all nocturnal people for some reason :P

              Originally posted by Orkar
              5) an "evil" campaign may actually work best. demons, nephandi, black spiral dancers, Baali...those function together without too much lore violation
              There's also the often forgotten posibility of playing a troupe of outcasts. An Orphan, a Ronin and a Caitif enter a bar...

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              • #22
                I was intending for the game to be somewhat mobile with the caveat that there's one or two "headquarters" where everyone can go for supplies or a safe place. I am working on mechanical balance while trying to ensure that everyone can fulfill their niche. That is actually part of why I started this thread, I wanted advice on the mechanics of giving everyone the ability to fulfill their role.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Orkar View Post
                  1) put in limitations. Mages will likely be around "sleepers" all the time if vampires and garou etc. are present in the group making it much harder for them to do their magic. Also modern day era works way better than dark ages when mages were still way more powerfull
                  I assume this is meant as a house rule for the crossover campaign.

                  Because, RAW, "Night Folk" do not count as Sleepers for the sake of Magick. This applies to both major splats (Vampires, Werewolves, etc.) and minor splats (Ghouls, Kinfolk, etc). If a character accepts the existence of the supernatural, by definition they are not a Sleeper, and thus do not proc Paradox.


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Khef_Ka_And_Ka-Tet View Post
                    I am working on mechanical balance while trying to ensure that everyone can fulfill their niche. That is actually part of why I started this thread, I wanted advice on the mechanics of giving everyone the ability to fulfill their role.
                    Well, that would depend on what role each player wants to fulfill. I would recomend a session to determine how each one it's going to build their characters. We can argue generalities and meta, like "Werewolf Fight...rrarg", but the particulars of your table migth require special attention.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                      I assume this is meant as a house rule for the crossover campaign.

                      Because, RAW, "Night Folk" do not count as Sleepers for the sake of Magick. This applies to both major splats (Vampires, Werewolves, etc.) and minor splats (Ghouls, Kinfolk, etc). If a character accepts the existence of the supernatural, by definition they are not a Sleeper, and thus do not proc Paradox.
                      Though, the rite of summoning is capable of summoning Paradox-spirits, which could cause problems if an antagonist group of Garou or Fera use it on the PC mage (and likewise, PC Garou or Fera could cause some serious problems for STC mages).

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                        I assume this is meant as a house rule for the crossover campaign.
                        .
                        Yes it is, if you have PCs from multiple different settings you will need house rules. A fresh werewolf can tear apart mages and vampires alike no problem, an elder vampire will be about their power level. A mage is more difficult. mages are comparatively useless at first, so you gotta give them a heat start, Arete 4 or 5 should do. However at that level of power you also have to limit them in some wayor else they are OP.

                        Basicly an elder vampire is a match for a garou. A methusela can hunt down garou. A decent mage can solo an entire caern of garou and im not even talking archmage level ^^

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                          I have to say: When we did this, there was the unwritten assumption that we were all nocturnal people for some reason :P
                          Even if you are all nocturnal, there's still a HUGE difference between;

                          -Human Nocturnal: Awake and active for 16 hours a day regardless of time of year, just with the nighttime hours fully a part of that time.

                          -and-

                          -Vampire Nocturnal: Doesn't awaken until the sun is actually down. Can't go anywhere there's a window until about the point you've reached astronomical twilight. Has to seek shelter the moment pre-dawn sunlight starts illuminating the sky. Falls into unconsciousness and is difficult to awaken the moment the sun is above the horizon.

                          So let's take Chicago as an example.

                          The longest night of the year lasts 11 hours, 31 minutes. Astronomical twilight (sky still slightly lit, but stars are visible) adds 34 minutes to either side for a grand total of 12 hours and 47 minutes where the sky will not burn them.

                          The shortest night is just 4 hours, 22 minutes long. Astronomical twilight adds 53 minutes to either side for a grand total of just 6 hours and 8 minutes where the sky doesn't burn a vampire.

                          At the equinoxes its 8 hours, 32 minutes of night and another 28 minutes of astronomical twilight to either side for about 9 hours, 28 minutes.

                          * * * *

                          Basically, even if keeping a nocturnal schedule, all the non-vampires are going to get approximately 50% active time than the vampire PC if they choose to use it.

                          Boston has roughly the same day/night lengths as Chicago and it was almost obscene how much more I, playing a dhampir, could accomplish with an extra 5-10 hours a day in a vampire campaign and that's not even taking into account the mortal ability to pull all-nighters (all-dayer's in this case) when needed (which between a good Stamina and a dot of Fortitude isn't all that difficult).

                          Basically you have to either artificially limit the non-vampires to just fractions of a normal person's awake time (16-20 hours for an adult human depending on their health and habits) or the vamp player spends a third of each game "night" out of action because the sun comes up.

                          Which, again, is why we removed the 'turns into a lump during daylight hours' and 'takes damage even from indirect sunlight' from vampires for any crossover games. It lets them be active as long as the rest of the PCs each day and allows them to even travel a bit as long they keep to shadows (and places that are regularly overcast like Seattle improve their mobility too).

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post

                            Though, the rite of summoning is capable of summoning Paradox-spirits, which could cause problems if an antagonist group of Garou or Fera use it on the PC mage (and likewise, PC Garou or Fera could cause some serious problems for STC mages).
                            I say it's good to have such a tool in your ST arsenal. But don't overdo it.

                            Most Fera don't know enough about mages to understand what kind of spirit they would have to call. Garou believe Paradox means either: "Gaia it's angry with the proud monkeys" or, closer, "The Weaver it's angry at the proud monkeys". But practically all Weaver spirits aren't Paradox spirits, to the point where the relation between the forces it's little more than theory. And Gaian spirits would be like *wut?* if asked to unleash Paradox uppon mages.

                            I think that's enough to not make it a recurrent danger, but more a special occasion thing. Somethig a dangerous, knowledgeable, antagonist would pull off - that has the added advantage of making some mage shenanigans harder to keep things interesting

                            And for the PC causing problems to NPC: It's a rite, it needs time to prepare. It has it's risks when you're buddies with a mage that likely has caused Paradox at some point. It allows creative use of the Lore to solve a problem. I would say to allow it.

                            Fera influence in the spirit worlds could also be used to *appease* such a spirit - albeit this would likely take much harder negotiation than just releasing one to "correct" some mages

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Orkar View Post
                              As someone who actually did this in the past some ideas from me:

                              1) put in limitations. Mages will likely be around "sleepers" all the time if vampires and garou etc. are present in the group making it much harder for them to do their magic. Also modern day era works way better than dark ages when mages were still way more powerfull
                              7h
                              Not particularly. Coincidental magic is a thing. There's no "masquerade setting" for potence. While there are Veil protecting gifts and fetishes it does limit what they can do. Normal people are a serious hinderence for vampires and fera.

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                              • #30
                                I would like to thank everyone for their advice and input, but ultimately I will not be running the chronicle for a variety of reasons.

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