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Can Thallain be Heroic/"the good guys" in C20?

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  • Can Thallain be Heroic/"the good guys" in C20?

    This one is a bit of a doozy. Back in 2nd or so, Thallain had two Unseelie Legacies, while C20 gives them a Nightmare Primary, but the choice of a Secondary from either court.

    Combined with some of the Nightmare legacies not necessarily being completely antagonistic, and it almost seems like with the right combinations, you can have these so-called "Advance Fomorians" be anti-heroic if not outright heroic. (And let's be honest: Chances are you've wanted to play an Ogre who goes HULK SMASH! when Invoking the Wyrd).

    What sort of experience do you have with this? Would you allow some Thallain over others on a case-by-case basis, or do you work extra-hard to have players make Thallain who can "pass" as Kithain. ("Me troll. Lost horns in Chimerical rice-picker.").

  • #2
    C20 states that thallain will always have their Nightmare legacy as their primal legacy, they're bound to nightmares and can use their second legacy merely to circumvent the taboos their nightmare legacy imposes on them. This means, their second legacy would only be a personality flavour on the nightmare-archetype they represent.

    Personally, I still don't like how thallain work in C20. The fluff states that thallain are a great threat and sometimes it seems like they could move freely in changeling society, but then they are so obviously different than their kithain cousins and some kiths even have ways to smell out their thallain versions (looking at you, Nasties).
    My idea was to not use the thallain kith at all, rather making them members of the "normal" kiths and adding the nightmare legacy. This way they are not obvious, so they can be really effective antagonists.

    As for making them the heroes/protagonists, I wouldn't encourage this. The thallain are meant to be the most antagonistic force in Changeling. They are the reason humanity shields itself with banality and the puppeteers behind the shadow court. Even less high-ranking thallain are still dangerous, as they would follow inhuman urges without any regards to morality and ethics. Thallain are beings of nightmare, of uncontrolled fears and insatiable hunger.

    As I read your post, I also thought about what to do with the "thallain kith" and I had the idea to still use them ingame, but rather as kithain who were touched or cursed by the dark thallain powers (or nightmare glamour) on their chrysalis. Rather than becoming their original kith, they evolve into this twisted, sick version of themself (maybe just for this lifetime, maybe forever?). While some can still hold on to their original personality, some may adopt a nightmare legacy like the thallain, becoming even more monstrous than the nightmare fae themselves.

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    • #3
      The big problem with Thallain will be their banality triggers. A Thallain childling can only go along with new things or see new places in pursuit of their nightmare legacy's urges. A Thallain wilder cannot pass up an opportunity to indulge their nightmare legacy's urges. Grump is less of a problem but there's always going to be an implication that they used to be one of the others.

      A Thallain Grump Omega might work as a member of a heroic group, but just remember they're following you because they need direction, not out of loyalty. Plus if they're captured by another group they can't resist unless either there's another prisoner to latch on to or their secondary legacy gives them an excuse. Without either of these things, they will need a leader and their captors are the only candidates.

      That said, I'd say that calling the secondary legacies 'flavour' is understating it a lot. An Omega/Paladin would not be affected by the situation I just set out because it's a challenging obstacle, so they can face it alone. For that combination, being released among a group of enemy satyrs would be much more effective. Nothing truly challenging, just a lot of people wanting to lead you astray, all of them good at it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Daniel Knight View Post
        That said, I'd say that calling the secondary legacies 'flavour' is understating it a lot. An Omega/Paladin would not be affected by the situation I just set out because it's a challenging obstacle, so they can face it alone. For that combination, being released among a group of enemy satyrs would be much more effective. Nothing truly challenging, just a lot of people wanting to lead you astray, all of them good at it.
        That's basically what I meant. The secondary legacy flavours the primary, so characters behave in different ways. An Omega would still be an Omega, but they way this is expressed depends on the second legacy.

        Banality Triggers are another problem I haven't yet thought about. But sure, they could make things difficult for Thallain who want to be members in a more "classical" kithain motley. So only certain types of Thallain would probably even consider doing this. A childling searching new places to sully them, new things to break them. A wilder searching for new ways to indulge in their urges, etc. There are ways to set this up, but it is difficult.

        With that being said, Thallain were never designed to be player characters but antagonists. They were not even considered to be support characters in most cases. Personally, I like settings where there is no "definite evil power", but that's exactly what nephandi, thallain and others are. In my games these NPCs tend to be very rare and when they show up, it's always in a very tragic way. Beings lost in their own pain, without a way to escape their demons.

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        • #5
          I'll concede that I can't see a heroic thallain adventuring party working.

          Still, I can see how a significant minority of thallain might be employed in a manner that serves the greater good by a non-thallain, or even non-fae, adventuring group. But it wouldn't be something to approach casually. Rather like vampires, every thallain has a monster lurking inside them.

          As an aside, what exactly is Dark Glamour? If that means ravaging and/or rhapsody then I'd add that all wilders are right out.

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          • #6
            Just looking at what the Thallain represent and how they operate, I don't think it's possible for them to play the role of hero without quickly succumbing to Banality.

            The Fomorians and their descendants are born from the dreams of a more savage time in human history, before the Tuatha showed mortals how to be more civilized.

            Behaving like civilized beings runs contrary to the very essence of what spawned them in the first place.

            In the best case scenario, I can see the Thallain becoming dark (incredibly dark) anti-hero figures. For example, a Ghast might take inspiration from Hannibal Lecter and slake their hunger for human flesh by eating other serial killers.

            Or in the case of the Sevartal, they might take after Lex Luthor and refuse to share the spotlight with anybody else, even if that means devoting your life to destroying potential rivals to your fame and glory.

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            • #7
              I looked over the Seemings, Legacies, and Thallain types, and certain combos seem better-suited to playing "heroic/anti-heroic" rather than others. The Alpha, Brute, or Strategist come to mind compared to others, while even something like the Black Widow could be used to do, say, a James Bond archetype (for all the values dissonance that implies).

              The Ghast I see being mixed in with Dexter, or perhaps some other murderous character. I think this conversation will get more interesting as one muses on it.

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              • #8
                An alpha wilder has to beat up the homeless or be claimed by banality.

                Which raises the question of whether we're considering seeming shifts in determining whether someone can be reliably heroic. Shift to wilder and the alpha is a monster while the brute is Leroy Jenkins. Strategist is still interesting but would probably work best as the creepy one people only work with because he's the best at what he does.

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                • #9
                  Alpha is a nightmare legacy. Its taboo is to "not take orders," so you're basically the edgelord ally of the week, or the token 6th/Green Ranger. Its urge is to prove superiority...which can mean many things. A Perturbed Alpha could easily be a Bear Grills sort of minmaxy scenario, where you explore unfamiliar concepts or lands to prove your superiority over them...

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                  • #10
                    FYI, new player here, not in any way an expert, but I have run a game where a player was a Thallain and it worked. I would like to preface this that that game was run with a "everybody is an asshole, you're only the protagonists because you are the least bad" mentality.

                    When combining Seeming Banality triggers, urges, and legacies... it's possible, but it's an uphill battle. Understand that they are findamentally forces of destruction. They are flat-out antithetical to Changeling society at large, because Changeling society is comprised of Children of the Tuatha, while the Thallain are Children of the Formorians. If they follow their INTENDED purpose, it doesnt work. However, as is always the case with White Wolf, there are exceptions. We have all succumbed to urges, making decisions we know are bad and regret later. As a character like that, working as an anti-hero, yeah, maybe it could work as stated above. I'd also like to posit that House Balor is a house that can in fact be a part of your Motley and can also work with Thallain. There is a number of ways to make this situation work, and I personally recommend combining these. So here's my thoughts on how this could actually work:

                    * First, make Kithain bad guys. Have groups like the Beltane Blade around, making the core antagonist of your Chronicle the worst possible interpretation of Seelie conduct. Sidhe can make FANTASTIC facists here, giving 0 f*cks about their retainers or the commoners left out in the cold.

                    * Second, make Unseelie good guys opposing opposing these groups. The Unseelie here can be very anti-heroish, robin hoods stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. That type of character exists even within fairy tale lore already, and they provide excellent NPC's in this regard.

                    * Third, make victims of the Sidhe. Have the Players find the commoners left out in the cold and watch them slowly fade and die, all while the Sidhe party it up from their warm and cushy Freeholds.

                    * Fourth, make regretful Thallain. Make them be people who have the urge to destroy and have trouble holding that urge back without falling to slumber, but have them already experience what it is to lose someone/something they care about because of their destructive nature. I've absolutley known who felt entirely justified in every slight they committed, but still miss their partner after the relationship dies. That type of person, someone who realizes that fundamentally they have a PROBLEM and trying to deal with the consequences of their own vitriol could make an excellent story, if told by a sensitive and respectful Storyteller.

                    In short, make "Good Guys" who are only pretty on the outside and abuse their power, counterbalanced by people that are WORTH saving, and make sure that the Thallain players are either anti-hero in nature, or reforming bad guys (think Prince Zuko type narrative arch).

                    This formula worked excessively well for me. The Chronicle ended when the Thallain player (arguably the protagonist) officiated a contract wherein he would willingly sacrifice his own life in order to eliminate the local Sidhe tyrants, and did it in such a way that the Commoner's themselves became the Holder's of both new Titles and Freeholds. It was a massive political web, but it was enforced by the dreaming, and he willingly got down on his knees, letting a commoner pick up the Sword of Supreme-Tropedom and plunge it through his chest, while his friends murdered the Sidhe lord. It made the Commoners heroes, and left a power vaccuum allowing them to socially ascend, inheriting the rights of the slain nobles, despite not even knowing that was the entire plan. Yeah, its possible. Just be sensitive.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RigelJ View Post
                      I would like to preface this that that game was run with a "everybody is an asshole, you're only the protagonists because you are the least bad" mentality.
                      Good, you understand how fairies work!

                      EDIT: As for your approach on Seelie being potential villains and Unseelie being potential good guys, you're right on the mark. Just because the Seelie Court insists on sticking to tradition, while the Unseelie Court goes against tradition does not automatically mean one is good and the other is bad. Remember, a lot of those traditions are from the medieval ages and simply do not apply to modern society anymore. While balking against tradition is the purview of visionaries and free thinkers who can push society towards a brighter future.

                      Whether or not one court is good or evil is pure propaganda, and those with a more open mindset can easily spin both courts in either direction.
                      Last edited by Nyrufa; 09-23-2019, 02:51 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post

                        Good, you understand how fairies work!
                        Thank you! I've been asking some questions about vampires on a reddit thread and recieved notable vitriol for what I felt was a pretty surface level discussion on the subject. Validation feels nice.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RigelJ View Post

                          Thank you! I've been asking some questions about vampires on a reddit thread and recieved notable vitriol for what I felt was a pretty surface level discussion on the subject. Validation feels nice.

                          What kind of questions? I'd be happy to answer what I can. At least in the way that I've come to perceive / understand them in setting.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post


                            What kind of questions? I'd be happy to answer what I can. At least in the way that I've come to perceive / understand them in setting.
                            I found what I believe to be satisfactory answers, but insight is always useful, and I believe it to be a nuanced issue. So, Thinbloods; they are ubiquitously hated throughout kindred society. Sabbat, Cam, Anarchs, all of them want to kill Thin-bloods. I found that strange, why would these factions, so different in beliefs, agree on this? My confusion comes from a few facts. I can understand why the Sabbat would hate thin-bloods, seeing them as portents of Gehenna. Sure, kill the Thinbloods, they're harbingers of the end times. However, the Cam flat out denies the existence of Antidiluvians; their entire philosophy is founded on the idea that the Camarilla elders are the supreme power to be obeyed, that there is never/will never be anything beyond them. In this regard, Thin-bloods should not be an existential threat. To say that the Cam is scared of Antidiluvians is like saying "I'm an athiest who is going door to door telling you to prepare for the rapture". The other core reason's given against thin-bloods are that they are

                            *Not true Vampires
                            *Hard to control
                            *Different (capable of walking in daylight, eating food), and therefore to be feared or jealous of, and destroyed

                            My problem is that all of those are both surmountable issues, and identical to Ghouls. Thin-bloods are, by definition, at least one step blood bonded to their sire at creation (just like Ghouls), blend in with humans almost seamlessly (just like Ghouls), cannot reproduce (just like Ghouls), and are only a threat to the Masquerade insofar as the person that created them chooses to leave them unsupervised (just like Ghouls). Essentially, Thin-bloods on an existential level are equivocal to Ghouls. The biggest difference is that a Ghoul needs a Domitor for food, while a Thin-Blood needs only Kine. This issue is surmountable however, when one considers the effects of the blood-bond; just feed them your blood 2 more times, and they will be just as dependent on you as any Ghoul. So my confusion comes from the disparity in reactions. Ghouls are seen as useful tools/slaves, worth using and not any more inherently dangerous than any unattended Fledgling. A Thin-Blood is almost identical in form, but is treated with a "watch closely/engage with extreme prejudice" mentality. I can understand how, if someone believes in Gehenna, that makes sense, but as is, the above reasons (jealousy, fear, lack of control, weakness) are all issues exhibited by Ghouls and not seen as negative. The only other problem is that they suggest that thin-bloods are created thoughtlessly, and left unattended, but literally any Kindred of any generation can do that, and frankly, a newly embraced 9th gen is a much greater threat that a newly embraced 15th gen.

                            tl;dr
                            Ghouls=good slaves
                            Thin-bloods=kill on sight
                            This is true for EVERY sect, REGARDLESS of philosophy
                            why?


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                            • #15
                              I don't remember where I heard this quote, but I think it sums up the Camarilla's viewpoint on Thinbloods quite nicely.

                              "A skeptic does not deny the existence of proof. A skeptic demands the existence of proof." - The Camarilla does not deny the existence of Caine and the Antedeluvians. The Ventrue actually pride themselves on being able to recite their lineage back through as many generations as possible. What the Camarilla denies is the possibility that these godly ancients would still be around in the modern nights. Ironic that creatures as immortal as vampires have a difficult time believing any of them could still be around after 10,000 years. Regardless of this stance, however, those who have studied Noddhist lore and the Gehenna prophecy will undoubtedly be concerned with the idea of Thinbloods running around unchecked. Since one of the signs of the end times is "the time of thin blood."

                              Left to their own devices, Thinbloods could invoke a mass panic throughout kindred society, as well as discredit the Camarilla's claims that everything is fine and they won't be devoured by their clan founders any time soon. Whether or not the Camarilla actually believes in the prophecy isn't as important as making sure that some degree of order and stability is maintained. And if the emergence of Thinbloods poses a threat to that stability, then the Camarilla's only recourse is to suppress and destroy them whenever the opportunity arises.


                              I'm not sure the Anarchs outright hate the Thinbloods, since the Anarchs are largely about the idea of vampires being allowed to rule themselves, rather than bowing to the whims of an elder. But many Thinbloods also turn out to be Caitiff, who are almost as feared and hated as the Thinbloods themselves. An uneducated vampire poses a threat to the Masquerade, and most kindred aren't charitable enough to try adopting somebody else's discarded childer. If their sire didn't want to put forth the effort of training them properly, then what was even the point of embracing them in the first place? It may as well have been an accident at that point, if not an act of blatant cruelty on their part.


                              It all may sound rather cruel, but vampires are selfish creatures by their very nature.

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