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  • Elder Games

    Any STs with experience in running Elder Games? I mean characters with high Age, not necessarily low Generation. Are there any special considerations that have to be made RE balance and theme? From what I can see, Elder Games may lend themselves better to a subtle chess match between player characters and NPCs, with less well-defined sides, where they can see the Jyhad's Machinations a tad more clearly.

    Right now I'm thinking:

    - 15 dots in Backgrounds
    - 5 dots in Disciplines
    - Normal for everything else, Abilities, Attributes, Freebies
    - Additional EXP added to sheet after Character Generation equivalent to age, all Player Characters are in a roughly equal age bracket. A PC can go for a younger age in exchange for some potent upsides (merits or powers that normally wouldn't be allowed) or a greater age in exchange for some potent downsides (crippling supernatural flaws, additional Clan Weaknesses from past Diablerie, a long list of enemies from centuries of existence, a crippling drop in Path/Virtues). Obviously the ST needs to keep an eye on this and balance sensibly, since it would be dumb if someone gained Age by sacrificing a tonne of Humanity and Virtues, and used that EXP to get the points back and then-some.

    As for themes... Paranoia? Detachment from a Changing World? Your core values being undermined slowly over time? Fear of the young by the old?

  • #2
    I've been running the Giovanni Chronicles as a pbp-game, and have reached the 3d book, where the players portray 400 year old elders. What I've learned (and wish I'd known from day one) is this:

    ​* Allow your players to succeed more often than fail at the little things. When you've been one of the Kindred for four centuries, you should not have to roll Dominate/Presence/Whatever against mortals, ghouls and neonates. Just assume they succeed. Part of the elder experience is the feeling of being powerful. Save the rolls for the confrontations that matter, such as fellow elders, and uppity ancillae.

    ​* Have NPCs treat your players with respect. Elders are the movers and shakers of Kindred society. Neonates and Ancillae should be coming to them looking for favor, Harpies should hang on their every word at Elysium. Other elders should at least give them gruding respect, even if they are older. Having survived for centuries, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that is part and parcel of Kindred existence, means they're the real deal. The only NPCs who would thumb their noses at them should either be ignorant of their true power, Anarchs, or the bitterest of rivals.

    * Consider having the players create two characters. The first is the elder. The second is a pawn/childe/loyal retainer. These secondary characters do all the stuff that is beneath the elders. Say you need the hospital records stolen, or a shipment of drugs intercepted. No elder worth his salt is going to deal with it directly. Instead, they will send their minions to do the dirty work.

    ​* Not really advice, but more of a suggestion: In my own game, I added an influence minigame, where PCs and rival NPCs could stake their Backgrounds against each other in order to attack one another's influences in mortal society. The year is 1848. Let's say Gillespi Giovanni wants to strangle Aurel the Ventrue's imports/exports company in London. His goal is to remove as many of Aurel's dots in Allies as possible, so that the Ventrue will find himself without mortal aides in the nights to come. Gillespi and Aurel will make a contested Influence roll. To increase his odds, Gillespi burns his Ally in the London Times to give himself an additional die to his Influence pool. His avenue of attack is linking Aurel's business to Serbian Anarchist/Seperatist groups within the Austria-Hungarian Empire. The player and the ST roll the dice, with the ST coming up with two more successes than Aurel's player. Aurel loses 2 dots of Allies for the rest of this chapter, as they don't want to risk the scrutiny of the London press. Next chapter/act Aurel's dots in Allies will be restored, but until then he will have his efforts hampered.

    ​This mini-game of course works both ways, with the PCs being able to stake their own Backgrounds to temporarily eliminate the reach of the NPCs. Aurel could have his Ally in Scotland Yard rounding up Gillespi's Contacts on trumped up charges. Or perhaps he sends his Retainer out to burn down Gillespi's capital assets in an effort to limit his Resources. Mainly, the idea behind the mini-game is to represent the Jyhad that the elders play at.

    ​* Finally, I'd say go with the elder character rules from Elysium: Starting Generation: 10; Attributes: 10/7/5; Abilities: 20/12/8; Disciplines: 10; Background: 15; Virtues: 7:Starting Generation: 10; Freebie Points: 20. Don't be afraid to let your PCs be powerful. What you will need to do however is scale up the threat level. Have them face rival elders, the shadowy influence of a Methuselah, secret Gehenna cults, brilliant Ancilae, Archons etc. But again, don't forget to feature some conflicts where the outcome is a given for the players. They're elders. Most nights, they're the biggest fish in the pond. Let them enjoy it.


    Malkavian Madness Forum - Your pbp fix. Be it nWoD, cWoD, CoC, D&D or something else entirely, come over here and get your game on

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    • #3
      InfernalGoose Thanks! That was all really cool. I'm avoiding the Elysium rules since EXP is a better reflection than Free Dots and Freebies. EXP scales with level, so being proficient at 100 different things costs the same as being EXPERT at 10, if you see what I mean. Using EXP means that having Celerity 7 at start is POSSIBLE, yes, but it will also mean sinking the majority of your EXP (and probably giving your character a nickname like "the silver death"). In a "here's 10 dots" and "here's 100 extra freebies" system (exaggerating but you get the gist), it's easier to abuse things IMO, and I'd like to balance those who go for expertise in a few powers against those who want to be decent at everything. So one PC might have 5 in their in-clans and 1 level 6 power, while another might have 3-4 points in every Common Discipline and some higher-level Abilities (haven't done the calculations, not sure how it would actually work out, but I'm sure you get the idea).

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      • #4
        Remember that Elder Backgrounds cost much more than normal Backgrounds (as well as increased cost for Humanity and Virtues). In addition, Elders have lots of enemies because they have lots of time to piss off other Kindred. Fortunately, the majority of other supernatural entities tend to die of old age, so Elders will tend to not have significant Garou or Mage enemies unless they manage to piss off an entire Faction.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post
          Remember that Elder Backgrounds cost much more than normal Backgrounds (as well as increased cost for Humanity and Virtues). In addition, Elders have lots of enemies because they have lots of time to piss off other Kindred. Fortunately, the majority of other supernatural entities tend to die of old age, so Elders will tend to not have significant Garou or Mage enemies unless they manage to piss off an entire Faction.
          I've already got some Enemies in mind for the PCs. For example, the Giovanni had a love tryst with this Samedi (over 100 years ago) who she didn't actually realise was a Samedi because of her Deathsight weakness. The net result was mutual heartbreak and now they're bitter, bitter enemies. They're both Master Necromancers, and the idea is to stop her from dominating the Necromantic landscape of London. He's an Assassin by trade, and he's attempted to kill her decoy several times. Her nightly habit is to use a Bone 5 Dominate 5 Combination Discipline to possess a preserved corpse of a prostitute with a stunning resemblance to her (expensive in terms of EXP), since that way she can't be killed by conventional means ;-)
          Last edited by 11twiggins; 03-02-2017, 12:15 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post
            Remember that Elder Backgrounds cost much more than normal Backgrounds (as well as increased cost for Humanity and Virtues).
            That a rule I would ignore, since it is imo opposed to the idea of playing more powerfull characters.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aahz View Post
              That a rule I would ignore, since it is imo opposed to the idea of playing more powerfull characters.
              I would make certain things like Virtues and Path rating more expensive with age. So for Elder PCs Path is 3x current level, for Methesulahs it's 5x current level. Same with Virtues.

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              • #8
                11twiggins Fair enough the Freebie system is far from perfect after all. Also, as a personal preference, if you can sneak a mummy companion into the game, do it. But that's me loving my friggin mummies.


                Malkavian Madness Forum - Your pbp fix. Be it nWoD, cWoD, CoC, D&D or something else entirely, come over here and get your game on

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                • #9
                  I've ran an Elder game in the past and the only wisdom I can share is - make sure there's a reason these Elders are gathering together in a coterie. Elders fucking hate each other. They are grouchy old stray cats. Every other Elder is a threat to their power. They are a danger to their territory. They are prepared to stake their dearest "allies" at a moment's notice. No one but such a cunning monster could survive the centuries.

                  What could possibly be so important that a group of Elders drop all of their paranoia towards each other and unite?

                  By creating such a potent enemy, you also give the Elders a chance to show off their power, which is the only real reason anyone wants to play an Elder game. :P

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                  • #10
                    Well, a Pretender Elder campaign avoids the natural antipathy of Elders. Another alternative is just having a campaign set in large metro areas. NYC has a metro area of 18 million, so it can support 360 Kindred easily. Of that number, twenty-five percent are probably Elders by the definitions in Elysium (around five percent would be Methuselahs).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RomulusGloriosus View Post
                      I've ran an Elder game in the past and the only wisdom I can share is - make sure there's a reason these Elders are gathering together in a coterie. Elders fucking hate each other. They are grouchy old stray cats. Every other Elder is a threat to their power. They are a danger to their territory. They are prepared to stake their dearest "allies" at a moment's notice. No one but such a cunning monster could survive the centuries.
                      See, blanket statements like that baffle me. Vampires, even elder vampires, are not cookie cutter conformists to a mold. Sure, there are SOME elders that hate each other. And there are other elders that get along great with each other. There are elders who have been seeing the opening of the Shakespeare COmpany's fall play every year for the last 60 years. There are elders that meet up for Friday night chess and debate and to hang out because they've been the only constant elements of a long life in which they've seen entire mortal generations waste away and die. These two elders are friendly with one another because they both hid from the Blitz in the same tunnel in the London underworld. This elder is in love with that elder. These other elders worked together to take down a corrupt, tyrannical prince when they were all neonates and have hung together ever since. These three elders were shovel-headed in the same Sabbat war campaign, and have learned to depend on one another for mutual protection and survival since the 17th century. This elder is a community oriented statesman who believes that mutual cooperation and support makes the Camarilla stronger. This elder believes in the Golden Rule and will help another elder at the drop of the had because that's what she'd want another elder to do for her.

                      I go on, but you get my point. There is no one "elder's hate...." statement that can apply without reducing them down to base caricatures.


                      I seem to have acquired a site for running play by post games. This is unexpected and frightening and come watch either the glorious play or the magnificent train wreck:

                      The Malkavian Madness Network

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BenjCano View Post

                        See, blanket statements like that baffle me. Vampires, even elder vampires, are not cookie cutter conformists to a mold. Sure, there are SOME elders that hate each other. And there are other elders that get along great with each other. There are elders who have been seeing the opening of the Shakespeare COmpany's fall play every year for the last 60 years. There are elders that meet up for Friday night chess and debate and to hang out because they've been the only constant elements of a long life in which they've seen entire mortal generations waste away and die. These two elders are friendly with one another because they both hid from the Blitz in the same tunnel in the London underworld. This elder is in love with that elder. These other elders worked together to take down a corrupt, tyrannical prince when they were all neonates and have hung together ever since. These three elders were shovel-headed in the same Sabbat war campaign, and have learned to depend on one another for mutual protection and survival since the 17th century. This elder is a community oriented statesman who believes that mutual cooperation and support makes the Camarilla stronger. This elder believes in the Golden Rule and will help another elder at the drop of the had because that's what she'd want another elder to do for her.

                        I go on, but you get my point. There is no one "elder's hate...." statement that can apply without reducing them down to base caricatures.
                        I mean, yes, sure, but I always saw those relationships tinged with the paranoia of the Beast. Two Elders may play chess in the park and they could see plays together and they may certainly mourn if the other one met Final Death (maybe even meet the Sun) but it's still like stray cats. They are, at the end of the day, threats to the other's way of life. There'd still be a sense of satisfaction in ruining the other's night. There's a subconscious desire to isolate oneself, even as your conscious desire is to be social.

                        I guess I'm not trying to reduce Elders to caricatures, so much as their Beasts.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RomulusGloriosus View Post
                          I've ran an Elder game in the past and the only wisdom I can share is - make sure there's a reason these Elders are gathering together in a coterie. Elders fucking hate each other. They are grouchy old stray cats. Every other Elder is a threat to their power. They are a danger to their territory. They are prepared to stake their dearest "allies" at a moment's notice. No one but such a cunning monster could survive the centuries.

                          What could possibly be so important that a group of Elders drop all of their paranoia towards each other and unite?

                          By creating such a potent enemy, you also give the Elders a chance to show off their power, which is the only real reason anyone wants to play an Elder game. :P
                          The setting's social events demand the attendance of the Great and the Good. And among Vampires that includes some Elders. Now none of them are what a Methesulah would consider and Elder, they're between 300 and 500 years old, but they have low generation and they are IMPORTANT. One is the Prince's go-to Necromancer, and a sweetheart of the Giovanni. Another is the Childe of "London's Other Queen" AKA "The Prince's Aunt", who is considered to effectively run London (much to the Chagrin of the Prince). Another is the only Vampire in the city who is on good terms with pretty much everyone since they are simultaneously charming and genuinely nice (giving Neonates non-manipulating advice that actually helps them, taking "charity childer", advising new arrivals on the Court's layout).

                          I don't really want any of them to be the Monstrous Vampire who sits in their coffin 24/7 while using Dominate the Descendants or a fleet of Dominated Childer.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BenjCano View Post

                            See, blanket statements like that baffle me. Vampires, even elder vampires, are not cookie cutter conformists to a mold...
                            I agree with you that making a blanket statement about all Elders isn't going to apply to every single one of them, but Elders, more than neonates or ancillae, are going to have a tighter grouping of strong personality traits that have enabled them to survive for hundreds of years in the first place. A kindred who isn't at least a little paranoid probably isn't going to make it to 500 years, for example.

                            So I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of Elders are, for example, paranoid, have an eye for long term planning, etc. Otherwise they would have gotten hit by a bus centuries ago.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Zanos View Post
                              So I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of Elders are, for example, paranoid, have an eye for long term planning, etc. Otherwise they would have gotten hit by a bus centuries ago.
                              Point of order. Being hit by a bus isn't fatal to Kindred.


                              I seem to have acquired a site for running play by post games. This is unexpected and frightening and come watch either the glorious play or the magnificent train wreck:

                              The Malkavian Madness Network

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