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Rewriting The Chaos Factor so it doesn't suck

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  • Rewriting The Chaos Factor so it doesn't suck

    I have an addiction to trying to redeem bad modules. I also love V:TM modules and have done many of them differently than they were written up from Under a Blood Red Moon, Ashes to Ashes, Blood Bond, Alien Hunger and other works. Now I intend to tackle the holy grail of bad modules: THE CHAOS FACTOR.



    The premise of this deranged adventure is the following:

    Samuel Haight, infamous joke NPC, has managed to gain True Magic while retaining the powers of a Werewolf as well as ghoul. He has headed down to Mexico City in order to find an Antediluvian that he has tracked down with dark magic. He plans to diablerize the vampire and become all-powerful because he's basically the Kurgan in terms of personality. The PCs, being good guys, head down there to stop him. The Antediluvian is actually the Baali known as Shaitan and is the one summoning Haight to him. The Baali needs Samuel for some reason and is also in control of the Regent of the Sabbat, Melinda Gailbraith. Competing against the PCs is a corrupted Dreamspeaker who inspired Quetzalcoatl and believes Shaitan to be the Aztec Sun God Huītzilōpōchtli.

    It is a SPECTACULARLY silly premise but I think there's something salvageable here.

    So I'm open to suggestions for helping me rewrite this to be something interesting. I'm thinking of doing it as a Technocracy Reloaded adventure but it could also end up being a rare case of Traditions and Unionists cooperating.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

  • #2
    Adapting Samuel Haight

    Obviously, the first place that I think needs to be fixed is the joke character himself.

    1. Samuel Haight is a Werewolf: Samuel is just a artificial werewolf made with black magic and skinning five werewolves. He's a powerful Theruge and has killed a bunch of Garou as well as mages over the years. He's something of a werewolf serial killer and that alone is enough to make him terrifying. Less is more. Samuel Haight may have his own reasons for wanting to find the Antediluvian but is probably not planning on getting the Embrace from him or diablerizing him.

    2. Samuel Haight is a Marauder: Samuel Haight awakened as a Kinfolk decades ago and gained the power of True Magic. Becoming a Werewolf actually is just a reflection of his powerful Life, Prime, and Spirit Magic. This is the source of his terrifying power as Garou and others mistake just what he can do. He may have created the Skindancers with True Magic but he is no more werewolf than any other mage.

    3. Samuel Haight is a Gangrel: Samuel Haight is actually a tragic version of the Lupine Impersonator of the Gangrel Clan Book. He's utterly insane and a diablerist many times over, with his Humanity at a very low level (1 or 2) with wightdom just around the corner. He's a fairly powerful Dark Thaumaturge as he's mastered Wyrm-based rituals that he believes were taught to him by the Wyrm but are actually just Shaitan teaching him more mudane blood sorcery via dreams. The Skindancer tribe doesn't exist in this universe and he's just a 6th or 7th generation vampire seeking to diablerize a being beyond his comprehension.

    4. Samuel Haight is dead: Samuel Haight died decades ago and is basically just a ghost story. The player characters are following a group of people that have superficial similarities to him, maybe a group of Skindancers, that are utilizing his legend. Just the memory of Samuel Haight is enough to scare the shit out of people who should otherwise be rationale about threats. In-universe, he's not a joke but an urban legend.

    5. Samuel Haight is Technocracy construct: All the legends about Haight are actually the result of a Union weapon that escaped and went on a rampage or has been secretly doing their business the entire time. That's why he doesn't seem to obey any rules or laws of traditional supernaturals.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

    Comment


    • #3
      Honestly the chaotic part of me loves the notion that Samuel Haight is the modern form of a figure represented distinctly on different veils of reality.

      That said, in a hypothetical Chaos Factor (Revised) I would personally go with SH as 'just' a kinfolk turned Skinwalker and a Garou Nation horror story, although I think that the option of having any of them be valid, similar to Future Fates, would make sense.

      Comment


      • #4
        My idea for the plotline is that it is actually a pretty straightforward plot idea:

        1. Samuel Haight wants to find the tomb of an Antediluvian that exists in an extradimensional pocket space somewhere in Mexico City. He's managed to acquire through means both Uncharted and Tomb Raider the coordinates to find it [actually helped along by Shaitan who wants to be found].

        2. Shaitan is currently inside his tomb and trapped in torpor by the weight of ages. He's a 4th generation Baali and dates back to the Second City. His awakening would be of apocalyptic bad news, albeit perhaps not quite as much as an Antediluvian awakening.

        I'm tempted to substitute a pure Aztec vampire like Mictlantecuhtli for Shaitan because a 4th generation Gangrel is nothing to sneeze at.
        3. Shaitan can't awaken on his own for whatever reason, perhaps because his tomb was cursed with spells by Aztec priests centuries ago who sacrificed themselves to bind him into eternal slumber. So he needs someone like Samuel Haight to remove the various wards on his tomb. Another, more simpler reason, is that he needs the powerful blood of Haight to awaken himself.

        4. The player characters are Technocrats and/or Traditionalists that have been given a mission to find Samuel Haight and eliminate him. They also have the mission of finding Shaitan. Investigators found out a rough idea of his mission before getting killed and the Technocracy doesn't want another Ragnarok scenario. Either way, that will allow cooperation between various factions that wouldn't normally happen.

        5. Opposing the PCs are potentially other factions like Baali, Garou [who don't know what the PCs are up to], Sabbat, Sabbat Infernalists, or the Second Inquisition. I like the idea that there's a bunch of people who have had omens and prophecies about the rising monster but they're all unwilling to work together or assume the others are helping with the monster's rising. They also might actually have been infiltrated by Shaitan's cultists.



        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

        Comment


        • #5
          While the idea of Haight being a Marauder is certainly interesting, I prefer the interpretation of him being a Kinfolk who invented the Skinwalker ritual and became a werewolf, and his powers are mostly Theurge-related. He bullied spirits into teaching him Gifts, or derived corrupted rites from lore stolen from magicians (mortal and vampire alike). He's still a Ghoul, because he's been chugging that Vitae, causing him to become more than a little unhinged (moreso than he already was, being a serial killer and all).

          His "True Magick" solely comes from having gotten his hands on some Wonders. Mostly Charms (Wonders, not spirit powers), that by Chaos Factor he's almost entirely burned through. Part of his haste to go to Mexico is motivated by running low on magical tools and not having opportunity to get more. There's also the classic staff, a Talisman with a number of potent Rotes built into it. In the haze of Vitae, mundane drugs, exhaustion, and social isolation, he's convinced himself that he has obtained True Magick.

          His eventual doom via the staff is merely the Talisman being used too often and accruing too much Paradox. If he isn't killed outright by the PCs (which they should be allowed to do, if they can manage it), the Talisman will catch him in a huge backlash, destroying both staff and Samual Haight.


          Speaking of Haight's demise, I'd recommend reading the W20 adventure Skinner, if you haven't already. It's very much a post-Chaos Factor adventure, with the potential for Haight's resurrection, but it could give insight into how the character might be rehabilitated as an antagonist.


          Comment


          • #6
            Thinking on the staff some more, it gave me an idea.

            Assuming it's a Talisman, you could make a little game out of its use in the adventure. Establish a rating from 1 to 10, representing points of Paradox held by the Talisman. This doesn't indicate its actual total, which is irrelevant. It represents "the last ten points before the staff goes boom".

            Start the staff at 1 (or 0, whatever). Then, while the PCs are pursuing and encountering Haight, there are opportunities for Haight to use the staff, which he will do if he's ever cornered or threatened with death. If the PCs can manage to do so, Haight will get away, but must accrue a point of Paradox to do so. Combine this with a handful of points Haight will accrue automatically, as a result of advancing his plan (ex: using the staff to magically unseal Shaitan's crypt or whatever), and we have a measure of how long he can last in the inevitable final showdown.

            If we assume Haight uses the staff at least once per round in that fight (using werewolf speed to keep up with the action economy in other ways, of course), he will accrue Paradox at that rate. The better the PCs were at hunting Haight down, the faster he'll take the staff over the tipping point. Which is good, since the fight with Haight should be a dangerous one.


            Comment


            • #7
              The Chaos Factor sounds like an 80s sort of action horror B movie... I think my friend had a copy. Now I gotta go rummaging through his stuff, god rest his soul.

              Comment


              • #8
                During my friend's games, when (and cause) he knew Samuel Haight only from "When will you rage" story, SH was a very powerful sorcerer, with Shapeshifting as his "main path".
                Last edited by Nail Eater; 06-12-2020, 02:57 PM.


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

                Comment


                • #9
                  I favor the "kinfolk who used black magic to make himself a werewolf by sacrificing other werewolves" option, because it's largely the plot of the George R.R. Martin novella "The Skin Trade," which I thoroughly enjoyed. I'd cut out all the ghoul/thaumaturge/mage/walking node twinkery that got tacked on to him over the years and just have him motivated by the desire to become immortal after age starts catching up to him, hence his search for a sleeping blood god that could give him the biggest head start on eternity. He would be unaware that the embrace would turn him into a depressed, suicidal thing hated by all other supernatural creatures (not that ostracism would matter to him) if it didn't kill him outright—the far likelier outcome.

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                  • #10
                    The Plotline

                    The biggest problem with Chaos Factor is that it doesn't have much of a plot despite its apparently very obvious plot of "stop Samuel Haight from awakening Shaitan!" Seriously, there's a real sense the book was written solely with the premise of killing off Samuel Haight because it lists all the ridiculous things he's done and then says at the end, "No matter what the PCs do, Samuel Haight must die." This actually feels like an enormous waste as there's a lot of interesting stuff going on in this book. However, all of it is more or less perfunctory until the PCs reach Shaitan's cave and then find Samuel Haight's magical staff ticking down to the mother of all Paradox explosions.

                    Indeed, as I understand it, it really was an adventure made by people sick to death of Samuel Haight and wanting to kill him in an ignominious way.

                    Really, the biggest flaw of the game is there's very little actual ROLE-PLAYING opportunity in this game as the game is just a ticking down of combat sequences with various factions like Marauders and Nephandi until you reach the Final Boss. So, a good way of dealing with this is giving the characters the chance to meet with other people hunting Samuel Haight along the way as well as also potentially talking with Samuel Haight himself.

                    Some suggestions:

                    1. Dead Man's Party: The player characters get invited to a Day of the Dead celebration by Melinda Galbraith. Yes, the player characters are invited to a vampire party by the Sabbat. They are basically like the film crew in What We Do in the Shadows. They have to be on their best behavior or they'll be attacked and even then might have to kill a few of the Sabbat. Melinda wants to know what Haight's game is and potentially feel the players out as pawns for them. My view would be that she is a Path of Evil Revelations follower but doesn't want Shaitan to awaken because she gets a lot of benefits from him as a torporous ancient but will just be a slave if he truly awakens.

                    2. Samuel Haight as Freddy Krueger: Samuel Haight knows how to visit people's dreams as a werewolf and may actually show up in the player character's dreams to speak with them. Contradicting the usual portrayal of him as the Werewolf Jason Voorhees, Samuel is actually quite chatty and perfectly sane. He wants to awaken the Baali Methuselah for the power he'll get and is willing to share it (within reason). He might even send them after the other people after him or lie about his plans. "What, you think I want to AWAKEN the Antediluvian? No, I want to kill it!" Alternatively, instead of dreams, he could just talk to them on the phone. For a more down to the Earth game.

                    3. Big Brother is watching you: The player characters may get intercepted by Men in Black at some point as Quetzacoatl (former Dreamspeaker turned Technocrat--probably just delusional) is monitoring their movements. Possibly after they find the aftermath of one of Samuel Haight's rampages. The Technocracy in Mexico City is hopelessly corrupt, compromised by reality deviants, and ineffective but it's still generally opposed to the End of the WorldTM. Quetzacoatl doesn't trust his own people and may attempt to make them offers to work as his agents against the ancient evil. Quetzacoatl could be a source on Shaitan and that the Methuselah is, not remotely, an Antediluvian--he's something much worse.

                    4. Skin Dancers: A pack of Skin Dancers, maybe the ones from Skinner are following Samuel Haight and may seek out the player characters. The Skin Dancers aren't necessarily Wyrm Tainted but are aware they're beyond the pale in Garou society, even if they only killed Black Spiral Dancers. They are scared of Samuel Haight's insane plan and think maybe mages will stop it. They're very loyal to Samuel but think this is insane.

                    5. Shaitan as Freddy Krueger: Shaitan might visit their dreams if Samuel Haight doesn't, appearing as a horned serpentine beast man and basically offering them all the world if they help in his resurrection. He is about as morally absolute a piece of crap as you're going to get but may make the proper claim that the World of Darkness is doomed and it's best to start over or to rule the ashes.

                    I'm open to more encounter suggestions.
                    Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-13-2020, 11:05 PM.


                    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As far as I know every Skin Dancer is Wyrm Tainted. It's not about themselves, their actions or motives, it's the way they acquire the skins. And the only way not to be Wyrm Tainted is to have five neccesary skins give volountarily.

                      As for encounters let's go from the beginning:
                      1. Childe of this Tremere he killed before PCs first met him seeking revenge and allies in that. Alternatively it could be a group of Tremere wanting to get the books Samuel Haight stole from this killed Tremere. To add a little plot twist they could want not to kill him but capture and reveal the secrets of the Ritual of the Sacred Rebirth for themselves.
                      2. Leslie Thomas "Kela" (from Valkenburg Foundation), chief veterinarian who wants to avenge their wards killed by Haight.
                      3. Ischin - an orphaned incarna mentioned as Wyrmish from Storyteller's Guide to the Sabbat 1st edition (especially if it was thrown back by Bane Tenders) could offer help to PCs.
                      4. Anyone he pissed of from Chicago (and he was propably there, because a) in the Amazon one of the NPCs from Blood Red Moon helps him, b) so many skins couldn't go unnoticed c) he needed blood from 3 different vampire clans to pay the Technocracy for the clone and what better moment could he dream of).
                      5. Black Furies from El Dorado, maybe with bastet who lived there seeing revenge.
                      6. Troy Crombey, maybe with Cecilia Crombey, who wants to get him for destroying their home chantry.
                      7. Friends of Orphans whose chantry was destroyed and its inhabitants killed.
                      To get a little darker
                      1. Gabriel White who wants to thank him for saving his life and ask him to become his mentor.
                      2. A Kinfolk, who likes to hunt supernaturals for the thrill of the chase. And to help Gaia. Basically it's Samuel Haight 2nd. edition who doesn't want to become like him. But if PCs don't allow him to join them they could end on his hitlist (he assumes that they are stupid not wanting his help and Gaia doesn't need stupid defenders). Basically it's Kraven the Hunter from Spiderman
                      3. A nutty Children of Gaia who preaches about free love. He says that every Garou should mate at least 2 times before "marrying": first time with another garou to ensure Gaia will have defenders here and now, even if a little flawed (he also tries to convince that metis should be equals) the second time with wolf because there's a greater chance from litter to get a full blooded Garou than from one human child. He also sees Haight as something between Jesus Christ and God of Recycling because he allows garou to be reborn not only in Spirit but in flesh and he allows it now, when it's really needed. And for that Samuel Haight should be praised not hunted.
                      And for a little comic relief
                      1. A Fianna Ragabash who is a swaggerer. He is an adrenaline junkie who sees himself as a luckiest man on Earth (in my games he really is) and wants to meet Samuel Haight to fight him and lives to talk about it. He will opose any actions against Haight (to the point of warning him) before he could challenge him to a good 'ol bare fist fight.
                      2.DFG accountant/HR who assumes that PCs are private detectives who know where Samuel Haight is and is seeking help on his important mission: deliver the termination of the contract to Haight because he didn't show at work for so long. And the papers should be in order.

                      Basically there are not so many creatures that Haight didn't meet and offended. So basically PCs could encounter, as Norman Stansfield said, "EVERYONE!!!"

                      I'm more interested in the clone's fate after Chaos Factor.
                      Last edited by Nail Eater; 06-14-2020, 07:30 AM.


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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Personally, I like the Chaos Factor for what it is; an artifact of its time and cheesy good fun in the vein, as someone previously mentioned, of an early 90’s B-tier action flick.

                        I’ve never run it directly myself, but I’ve certainly borrowed elements of it; both the Nephandic Hive beneath Mexico City and Shaitan have featured in my long running Mage game (mostly centered on Chicago, but it’s had periods of globe-hopping over the years).

                        I’ve also have always considered Shaitan and the material on him from The Chaos Factor to be THE definitive Baali origin in any Vampire game I’ve ever run as it was my first exposure to the concept.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I always thought Haight was a 'joke' that kinda backfired. A large part of it - to me at least - reflected a certain disdain that some of the WW authors had for certain styles of roleplaying. But because of the open-ended and adaptable nature of the Storyteller system (And their own emphasis on 'its your characters') they kinda undermined themselves. Encouraging maximum creative freedom kinda undermines their efforts to discourage certain things (which is the problem with freedom: People are going to do things with it you may not like.) If there is any detriment to Haight and the stuff he showed up in it was likely that bias creeping in that hurt it (that's usually the case IMHO where WW stumbles. Great ideas, sometimes the execution needs work.) 'Lack of Plot' would be a big part of this because the whole HE'S A JOKE gets in the way.

                          I really don't think Haight needs much fixing character wise, since in a sense he was meant to be a combination of intentional crossover
                          powergaming loopholes. I mean he must already be a sorcerer of sorts to have made himself a shapeshifter (whether he's true Garou or something else.) Sorcerer Revised had the 'Struggling awake' merit that gave you some limited access to True magic (apparently that barrier between linear and dynamic magick isn't as ironclad as it seems) and you could argue any true magick he had stemmed from that (or as Bluecho mentioned he's got access to certain devices that simulate those powers. Heck if you really wanted to his 'shapeshifting' is just another magical device too. I feel its more a 'YMMV' thing and how it fits in with your narrative. Some may need it changed, but it's not really necessary since the real problems lie elsewhere.

                          Plot wise... the real issue is WHY Haight happened. I mean from what I recall it was (Apart from the 'joke' factor) really a bunch of randomness. But what if it *wasn't* random? What if Haight was helped along because he was a pawn of someone (or something) else? What he is a pawn of would probably depend on the exact game setting you used him in, but there's alot of possibility there. Either his actions were meant to distract/neutralize certain threats, or perhaps they fufilled the requirements of some supernatural ritual. Maybe Haight himself was seeking power but ultimately would become the vessel (victim) of whatever was using him (he was being 'prepared' as an Avatar of another being). Or if you want to go the fractured cosmos route Haight was actually some sort of entity that existed in multiple dimenisons and each aspect had a different power (one a Garou, one a mage, etc.) and the conflicting dynamics was tearing them apart (Haight's 'soul' for lack of a better term couldn't juggle all those different powers reshaping it like silly putty, and like a piece of metal that gets fatigued if you bend it too much it simply gave out.) The exact reasons could be anything but the point is there still needed to be some larger purpose driving him that served a specific narrative that is more than 'let's laugh at the powergaming joke' which really got tiresome after awhile.)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mister_Dunpeal View Post
                            Plot wise... the real issue is WHY Haight happened. I mean from what I recall it was (Apart from the 'joke' factor) really a bunch of randomness. But what if it *wasn't* random? What if Haight was helped along because he was a pawn of someone (or something) else?
                            Given that we're discussing The Chaos Factor, I think Haight ultimately being the pawn of the demon in vampiric skin called Shaitan would be appropriate.

                            There's a whole chunk of The Chaos Factor that deals with a cross splat Nephandi/Black Spiral/Sabbat (back when they were demon worshippers... so Baali in a rewrite?) hive in Mexico City and they're all ultimately the pawns of Shaitan.

                            So take it a step further and re-write Haight's ascension from appearances all over the world to in and around Mexico and make each step of power be something needed to actually rouse Shaitan from his torpor (he's got enough Auspex to pull the 'aware and able to influence others even in torpor" thing going on, but he wants to be AWAKE). He dates back to the Second City so something akin to the Methuselah's Thirst where he needs particularly potent blood (say werewolf blood boosted by quintessence with a dash of vitae in the mix to make it technically count as vampiric) to actually awaken might be a good starting point.

                            Alternately something involving the use of massive ritual magic from back when the Conquistadors arrived sealed Shaitan up in his tomb with a ridiculous number of successes needed unless you could acquire the nearly impossible thing the spell required as its loophole to break... say, someone with both werewolf blood and Vitae wielding Verbena blood-magic to transform themselves into the key; but werewolves can't do true magick and vitae is from a third type of supernatural so it was thought impossible.

                            Weave in the Nephandi/Baali/BSD Hive as the cult trying to awaken/free Shaitan and manipulating events for centuries to try and meet the requirements. There have been others like Haight they've sponsored in the past... but Haight is the first time they actually think they've finally got what they need... their magical loophole. Now his getting this wild combo of powers isn't an accident, its a plan and its something that the cult has tried again and again, each time making corrections until now its finally right.

                            This then sets Haight up as the penultimate challenge... his death being what actually opens the lock/feeds Shaitan and allows him to rise as the final challenge to be overcome.

                            So it's still an 80's Action B-movie... its just one that's got a little bit more cohesion to its themes.

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                            • #15
                              Well, ultimately Haight's purpose and motives would be up to the storyteller and serve the particular narrative. And that's kinda of the point. Whether he's a Marauder/Nephandus, a tool of the Antediluvians, or an agent of the Wyrm (or something else entirely) his value is determined entirely by how he's used. Again, the conceit of the storyteller system and its 'canon agnostic' approach is that any idea can serve narrative or thematic roles in crafting a good story - if you're willing to work at it and be flexible. But treating Haight as if the core concept is the problem (rather than how it is used) because I feel it fundamentally betrays the strengths of the system. And it likewise inhibits the ability to encourage people to engage with different ideas because on some level the authors express distrust in the abilities of the players (because they might be using ideas in ways they didn't expect or aren't comfortable with. Some authors are REALLY aggressive in pushing that idea, which is part of the 'execution problems' I spoke of earlier.)

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