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  • Salvaging the Nictuku

    I have problems with the DAV20 treatment of the Nictuku. Here are my major complaints:

    - We get a quote FROM them. No. They're the boogey-man. He doesn't give comments to the press.

    - We get a picture OF them. No. They're the boogey-man. They don't get caught on camera.

    - We get their Disciplines. No. They're the boogey-man. Their powers are unknown and mysterious.

    - We get their Weakness. No. They're the boogey-man. You find their weakness yourself, if you're very lucky.

    The Nictuku are a HORROR element. They're one of the few things in VTM which can actually be shit-your-pants scary, not "I just ate my father-in-law and my wife will be home in 10" or "oh god what have I become" scary. A Personal Horror game which is slightly lacking in serious horror (save for some things like the Body Horror of the Tzimisce) needs things like the Nictuku to go bump in the night.

    When I first read about them I got... chills. Something unknown. Something that is to Nosferatu what Nosferatu are to humans. And then DAV20 goes ahead and pulls back the curtain, shows us Jaws, shows us the Alien, and gives us a run-down on all of their weaknesses and motivations and culture. No.

    Nictuku

    "Carter's the third one this month. The Prince told the whole court to be on the lookout for Hunters. He always was an optimist."

    Picture: A Nosferatu and another Vampire stand back to back, one holding a sword and stake, the other a lamp. The Nosferatu's vascularity is pressed up against his skin, while his partner clutches a small crucifix. Shadows surround them and beads of blood cover their skin. There is a palpable sense of terror, not towards them, but towards what has instilled such horror in them.

    Disciplines: Obfuscate and two or more powers of ST choice. Even Blood Magic is on the cards. Unique powers which make them the perfect predators and kindred-hunters are entirely plausible.

    Weakness: Any or none of the following (or something not in this list at all): Can only drink Vampire blood, hideously ugly, burnt by all light, semi-sentient Wights after the embrace controlled by Animalism of some Methesulah (or Antedeluvian?), burnt by human blood, weak to all folklore-based banes (wild rose, garlic, running water).

    Appearance: As the coterie enter the haven, they find the Nosferatu on the ground crumbling into ash

    Organization: Birdsong grows louder in the distance

    Embrace: "SUSAN!? Oh god... please, sir, have you seen my little girl?"
    Last edited by 11twiggins; 03-19-2017, 06:29 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

    When I first read about them I got... chills. Something unknown. Something that is to Nosferatu what Nosferatu are to humans. And then DAV20 goes ahead and pulls back the curtain, shows us Jaws, shows us the Alien, and gives us a run-down on all of their weaknesses and motivations and culture. No.

    I didn't. "Oooh a fourth Gen Deus ex machina I've never seen this before!" Nosferatu aren't Super Predators who slip in and out of society with ease. They are Lepers. They are the Homeless. They are the marginalized group that you need because they have something you want. Nothing about the Nituku was ever frightening. Nos aren't a particularly less humane clan than say the Tzim or even the Ventrue. They are the clan that has to be on the outside looking in. They are pitiable.

    Something that is as the Nos are to Humans to Nos would be even more pitiable.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Lian View Post


      I didn't. "Oooh a fourth Gen Deus ex machina I've never seen this before!" Nosferatu aren't Super Predators who slip in and out of society with ease. They are Lepers. They are the Homeless. They are the marginalized group that you need because they have something you want. Nothing about the Nituku was ever frightening. Nos aren't a particularly less humane clan than say the Tzim or even the Ventrue. They are the clan that has to be on the outside looking in. They are pitiable.

      Something that is as the Nos are to Humans to Nos would be even more pitiable.
      Vampires are horrific, tricksy predators. Just because the Nosferatu are marginalized among Vampires doesn't stop them from being monsters. Now, their familial bonds and odd honour systems make the pitiable and identifiable... which makes something killing them, trying to wipe them out, arguably scarier. Nosferatu are terrifying. They're invisible, they know everything, they're ugly and don't have much to lose compared to other Vampires. Something that scares the Nosferatu on their own turf has to be intimidating.

      And you probably don't like them because they've never been handled well. Most of their write-ups are terrible. My imagination was caught up by the concept "goes bump in the night, eats Nos" and I did my own thing with that... and then I thought it would be good to have a write-up that does that for any ST that wants to use them. Gives tiny little hints, but nothing solid. Evokes a feeling, a narrative concept, rather than giving you the bio of a group. It's also a break from the convention of Clan Layouts in books, which I like.

      Comment


      • #4
        I just write it out of my head. Nictuku as a fully fledged bloodline is just asinine. They're tasked by Absimilliard to kill all Nosferatu - last thing they'd be allowed to do is create more Nosferatu. If they were capable of doing otherwise, Absimilliard would have destroyed his Get right away after the fall of the Second City.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Hideamuro View Post
          I just write it out of my head. Nictuku as a fully fledged bloodline is just asinine. They're tasked by Absimilliard to kill all Nosferatu - last thing they'd be allowed to do is create more Nosferatu. If they were capable of doing otherwise, Absimilliard would have destroyed his Get right away after the fall of the Second City.
          There are plenty of reasons for them to embrace, as long as they stay under Absimilliard's control; no need for them to be common, but there can't be just 10 of them and they can't all be 4th Generation since that makes difficulty scaling nigh impossible. And a GOOD write-up for them, a good lore, would never actually give a solid answer as to their origins. Maybe they're a Nosferatu bloodline, maybe not. The only real information presented to readers should be some scraps of evidence which might not even be true as you can't trust the validity of witness statements.

          Comment


          • #6
            To be honest, while I agree with you that the DAV20 description of the Nictuku isn't useful (to me that is, others' mileage might vary) what you've written here really isn't useful either, because it's so customizable and mysterious that it doesn't actually flesh out the high-concept in any way.

            People should either do what you did - just take the concept "goes bump in the night, eats Nos" and do their own thing with it - or make a full write-up (like DAV20 did, except hopefully more interesting) that actually goes somewhere specific with it and accept it won't be for everyone.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Schleiermacher View Post
              To be honest, while I agree with you that the DAV20 description of the Nictuku isn't useful (to me that is, others' mileage might vary) what you've written here really isn't useful either, because it's so customizable and mysterious that it doesn't actually flesh out the high-concept in any way.

              People should either do what you did - just take the concept "goes bump in the night, eats Nos" and do their own thing with it - or make a full write-up (like DAV20 did, except hopefully more interesting) that actually goes somewhere specific with it and accept it won't be for everyone.
              The point of this is to present "goes bump in the night, eats Nos" in the chapter on bloodlines that every player reads. It's a way to pique people's interest and deliver the concept in an exciting way. A side-bar in the middle of a chapter made of fluff? Eh. A full page drawing which defies a rule EVERY clan/bloodline drawing has had (the clan/bloodline in question is the one shown)? With a quote that doesn't come from them, but from someone else?

              The point is to tell people, straight up "this is a concept which is ripe for Golden Rule. Here are some ideas. Go crazy". Like 1st Edition Sabbat, who were Mysterious but might be Elder-worshipers or Elder-haters or Infernalists or freedom fighters etc. Give people a list of teaser clues and Ideas. Possible weaknesses, possible powers, possible story threads.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                Salvaging the Niktuku...
                I prefere a well-defined, if disappointing entry to leaving things vague and up to ST/player interpretation and imagination. My imagination sucks, frankly. That's why a) I went into mathematics [/obligatory self-depreciation humor] and b) what I pay writers of roleplaying supplements to do for me by buying their books in preparation of running and playing games.

                As such, I don't really have a problem with the Nik as presented in DAV20. But if you must throw the boogey-men at the Nosferatur, how about this...

                [From a voice memo recovered from a water-damaged cell phone]

                There are no Niktuku. How do you explain the deaths of Nosferatu in the tunnels and warrens and sewers, then? It's obvious when you think about it. The explanation is so simple. You'll kick yourself for not coming to the conclusion sooner.

                Yes, Abismillard hates us, childe. Hates all of us, to the marrow of our bones. He thinks, in his madness and his denial, that he can wipe away his sin and earn reprieve from his curse by killing us all. Maybe he's right. But why on God's black earth would he complete this mission by making more monsters like the ones he's trying to kill?

                There are no Niktuku. Abismillard never Embraced again after being twisted and deformed. So then, why do we die and go missing?

                Mmm...here's the truth. He's in us. Our ugliness is his ugliness. Our shame his shame. Our bodies, his bodies. When he stirs from his twisted, tormented sleep, he reaches out for a ripe, fertile mind and a body that pumps with his slick, black blood. We're all part of him, and he's part of all of us. Any Nosferatu you look at, do you know for certain who...what...is looking back at you from those rheumy eyes?

                Let me put it to you this way, childe. You came with me, off the normal paths and ways we carved for ourselves in the Catacombs. We're just the two of us, all alone in the dark. Now why do you think I wanted to do that, with the Niktuku on the loose?


                [A moment of silence, followed by a singl, meaty pulp and and a thick, gurgling sound. Then silence again again.]


                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

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BenjCano View Post

                  I prefere a well-defined, if disappointing entry to leaving things vague and up to ST/player interpretation and imagination. My imagination sucks, frankly. That's why a) I went into mathematics [/obligatory self-depreciation humor] and b) what I pay writers of roleplaying supplements to do for me by buying their books in preparation of running and playing games.

                  As such, I don't really have a problem with the Nik as presented in DAV20. But if you must throw the boogey-men at the Nosferatur, how about this...

                  [From a voice memo recovered from a water-damaged cell phone]

                  There are no Niktuku. How do you explain the deaths of Nosferatu in the tunnels and warrens and sewers, then? It's obvious when you think about it. The explanation is so simple. You'll kick yourself for not coming to the conclusion sooner.

                  Yes, Abismillard hates us, childe. Hates all of us, to the marrow of our bones. He thinks, in his madness and his denial, that he can wipe away his sin and earn reprieve from his curse by killing us all. Maybe he's right. But why on God's black earth would he complete this mission by making more monsters like the ones he's trying to kill?

                  There are no Niktuku. Abismillard never Embraced again after being twisted and deformed. So then, why do we die and go missing?

                  Mmm...here's the truth. He's in us. Our ugliness is his ugliness. Our shame his shame. Our bodies, his bodies. When he stirs from his twisted, tormented sleep, he reaches out for a ripe, fertile mind and a body that pumps with his slick, black blood. We're all part of him, and he's part of all of us. Any Nosferatu you look at, do you know for certain who...what...is looking back at you from those rheumy eyes?

                  Let me put it to you this way, childe. You came with me, off the normal paths and ways we carved for ourselves in the Catacombs. We're just the two of us, all alone in the dark. Now why do you think I wanted to do that, with the Niktuku on the loose?


                  [A moment of silence, followed by a singl, meaty pulp and and a thick, gurgling sound. Then silence again again.]
                  Liking for the latter content, however I dislike the assertion that leaving things up to ST imagination is a bad idea. Yes, the books exist to create a setting for us to use, and a well-defined morality for the Sabbat, Baali etc. is a good idea. BUT, the Nictuku are an exception to this rule. They are specifically built as The Other, the thing you never play as, the hunter, the devourer, the things that go bump in the night. There is no need to give an official canon for them because they aren't FOR players, they're for STs (at least most of the time).

                  Now, let's talk about horror. Alien's first cut had a scene with shots of the Xenomorph crossing the room and being fully revealed to the camera. It was cut, thank god, because that one little scene ruined the film. Jaw originally had a mechanical shark which would be on screen throughout the film. It didn't work, thank god, because it would have ruined the film.

                  We fear the shark in Jaws, and the Alien in Alien (but not really Aliens, which was more grim and gory action than horror) because we cannot see them. We're working without much information, and we're scared for the same reason we're scared when we're in the dark or in murky water. We fear the unknown, and that's one of the primal tenets of horror. Alien is scarier than Jaws because not only do we not know where the Alien is or what it's going to do, we don't know much about its biology apart from some hints. We see a mouth with a mouth-tongue inside of it and we fill in the gaps with all of our childhood nightmares. Alien made people vomit in cinemas because it was novel.

                  The Nictuku can BE like that. You just need to remove the certainties. And one great, terrifying explanation is the one you posit, Another is a "bloodline" of animalism-controlled Wights who kidnap children, degrade their humanity for 10 years, embrace them and turn them into weapons to hunt Vampires, who are burnt by bright lights and are scalded by human blood. But now that I've TOLD you all of that, are you really that scared of them? The suspense and mystery of it is lost in the process of informing you, the player, of the details.

                  Hunters Hunted ll actively recommends that the ST make changes to how Vampires work in order to shock the players, especially if they're Vampire veterans. It's the same idea.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I kind of like the idea of the Niktuku not being associated with the Nosferatu antediluvian at all, but actually monstrous strains of proto-vampires predating Caine that were driven into the wilderness/underground by his progeny. Nosferatu are their victims because they're targets of opportunity, hidden away from the sight of the human world to a far greater degree than most other vampires and far easier to identify as vampires and catch than Gangrel.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Nictuku are monsters, the writers never intended them to be anything but monsters, and I really do not think we need to get all fuzzy about a bunch of ten thousand year old 4th generation Nosferatu who are so repulsive their Appearance makes other Nosferatu vomit. The idea of a frightening underground that predate Caine is interesting though, but they would have to be something different than either the Kindred or the Kuei-jin. I would modeling them on the Dökkálfar of Norse Mythology and leave the Nictuku the nightmares that they are.

                      So, it the case of the Dökkálfar, we would need to make them threatening to the Nosferatu because they share the underground world. Like the Kindred, they would suffer aggravated damage from sunlight, meaning that they would prefer to stay within their underground tunnels. While they are Immortal, they would replace their numbers by breeding with mortals, with the resulting children becoming Dökkálfar when they reach the age of fifteen. The transformation would start when they were twelve years old, and they would feel the pull of the underground with each passing day. Just a thought...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

                        But now that I've TOLD you all of that, are you really that scared of them? The suspense and mystery of it is lost in the process of informing you, the player, of the details.
                        No. But I wasn't scared of them before. I don't read horror novels, watch horror movies, or even play horror roleplaying games because they scare me. To be totally honest, the last horror novel that actually made me uncomfortably scared was the Shining, and I had gotten to the end and there's a scene where maybe you think that Dick Holloran is going to kill Danny and Wendy because he went into the shed....it was the first Stephen King book I'd read, and I didn't know if he was going to kill the kid after the false hope, so I got a little anxious. I don't play Vampire for the horror. I don't find it horrifying. I enjoy the setting and I love vampire books, movies, and stories. THAT'S why I play.

                        Anyway, I digress. I read mystery novels too. Murder on the Orient Express didn't get less good once I learned who the killer(s) was/were. Part of why I enjoy a good mystery is trying to see if I can figure it out before the detective's reveal. Unless the reveal is disappointing or poorly thought out, I'm not unhappy after several hundred pages learning who the killer is. People debate whether or not Agatha Chrisite played fair in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. SPOILER WARNING. She had the narrator, who was the murderer, deliberately omit details in the narration and use ambiguous language when describing the murder and cover-up afterward. The debate is whether or not Ackroyd is a fair play mystery where the reader had a chance to figure it out before Poirot. They debate the METHOD, but not the principle of the reveal itself. No one says, "She shouldn't have told the reader who the murderer was because the suspense and mystery gets lost by informing the reader of the details."
                        Last edited by BenjCano; 03-20-2017, 09:54 AM.


                        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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BenjCano View Post
                          Stuff
                          A good idea. Sadly, this is the Tzimisce to a T.

                          The Nicktuku are, in-universe, the closest thing we have to an actual tool of the Antediluvians eating their childer. They ought to be the introduction to the great horror that is "our Fathers rise up and devour us wholesale for the sin of existing".

                          I fully agree with Twiggings in that they should never have been started. All the other bogeyman bloodlines have an in-universe reason for embracing and becoming more politically active. The True Brood of Abissimilard has none.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The horror of something like the Nictuku is the simple fact that no one ever sees them coming (with Obfuscate 9, nothing playable should see them coming). After they kill, the only evidence that they should leave is a footprint or a smear of blood (video surveillance should only reveal a robed figure). When they attack someone the PCs are guarding, a swarm of rats distract the PCs for a moment and, when they turn back, they see a headless Nosferatu they were guarding because the Nictuku used Strength 9, Dexterity 9, Brawl 9, and Potency 9 to rip of the head of their target in one motion before drinking them dry.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post
                              The horror of something like the Nictuku is the simple fact that no one ever sees them coming (with Obfuscate 9, nothing playable should see them coming). After they kill, the only evidence that they should leave is a footprint or a smear of blood (video surveillance should only reveal a robed figure). When they attack someone the PCs are guarding, a swarm of rats distract the PCs for a moment and, when they turn back, they see a headless Nosferatu they were guarding because the Nictuku used Strength 9, Dexterity 9, Brawl 9, and Potency 9 to rip of the head of their target in one motion before drinking them dry.
                              This is why I like them being a "bloodline", as it stops them from being Generation 4 in all cases. And the DAV20 writeup doesn't even give them Obfuscate, which I think is a travesty.

                              I think the average Nictuku antagonist should be around 7th Generation; very powerful, but not unbeatable.

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