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Designing Methuselahs

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  • Designing Methuselahs

    I am currently running a Pathfinder game for some friends of mine, and it is in its later stages and will likely be over soon. As a change of pace, I will probably run a Vampire game next, which got me thinking.

    I will probably need two 5th gen Methuselahs for my game concept, one embraced in the 12th century, the other from the 22nd or 21st century BC (so, essentially pre/the dawn of history).

    Unfortunately I've never really found any consistency in published materials for statting these kinds of characters. I was thinking of using Al-Ashrad from the wiki page as a template for my 12th century fellow... but Al-Ashrad is over 1000 years older than him.

    My question is, what method do you all use for generating sheets for these ancients?

    I also understand that, especially for my 2100 BC character, I could just not use stats at all. For peace of mind, however, I like to have one on hand to at least have an idea of what they can do. So I would appreciate it if "Just have them do whatever you want" type comments could be kept to a minimum.


    My W20 Play-by-Post Game

  • #2
    I suggest you don't bother with stats, other than a Discipline spread for reference. The general rule for it is they get as many dots as the square root of their age, which at advanced ages quickly becomes pretty ridiculous amounts. But, honestly, Methuselahs tend to be more akin to plot devices than characters, so I suggest you go easy on them. They tend to be far, far more effective when working from behind the scenes, through a hundred proxies, and show their heads only rarely.

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    • #3
      I always the NPC creation rules from Children Of Night. So for instance for the number of Discipline points I take the square root of the number of years of undeath.

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      • #4
        The Children of the Night creation rules is a nice start, but really when I do Methuselahs I just give them the stats I want them to have. So I think how powerful I want them to be and make sure to have stats that emphasize that, and I think what are they weak at, and make sure to have stats to represent that. And I use other Methuselahs as points of reference. So for instance I made a childe of Baba Yaga with Dur-an-ki. Now Baba Yaga has insane stats, but she is 7k years old. And a 3k year old Childe, who is 5th gen can be weaker notably then than Baba Yaga, yet still have insane stats that would dominate a coterie of elders in their chosen fields.


        It is a time for great deeds!

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        • #5
          There is "Elysium"
          I would like to play an edler table myself.

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          • #6
            Regarding Children of the Night, does it present rules for designing NPCs, or is the square root of age rule just an extrapolation for the pre-made NPCs presented in it? I've never read the book as I don't use too much metaplot.

            The square root of age seem reasonable for discipline dots, but again it is not very consistent. The version of Al-Ashrad (5th gen, roughly 1900 years old) that I know has 100 dots of disciplines, the square root method would get my Hittite (~4000 years old) only 63 dots.
            Last edited by Formosus; 05-19-2017, 02:57 PM.


            My W20 Play-by-Post Game

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            • #7
              Al-Ashrad's a blood magician though, those always seem to get twice the recommended discipline dots so they can have the Path of Everything Under the Sun at 5.

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              • #8
                Al-Ashrad was a mage for ~1000 years before his Embrace, which I suspect was the designers' rationale for his higher-than-average Discipline spread.

                Children of the Night also says the following:

                How do vampires come to be? How many dots should a
                Sabbat priscus have? How strong is the prince? White Wolf
                has an established system for creating setting-specific Vam-
                pire Storyteller characters, and we’ll let you in on the secret.
                The formula, such as it is, for creating a vampire of a
                given age is quite simple. For Abilities, start with the standard
                battery of 7/5/3 dots and allocate two more dots for each
                century of age the vampire has achieved (between all Abili-
                ties, not each section). Vampires older than a few hundred
                years should receive only one additional dot per century after
                the first five or so — when you’re that old, it’s very hard to
                improve your timeless body.
                Abilities should accumulate in like manner — start with
                the basic 13/9/5 dots and add five dots for each century of
                unlife the Kindred manages to survive. With Disciplines,
                take the square root of the time the vampire has spent undead
                (which again reflects the difficulty of learning new things
                when one has been dead for more than a millennium) and
                distribute that many dots wisely among the character’s pow-
                ers. Concerning Backgrounds, Virtues, Humanity (or Path)
                scores and Willpower, consider the character’s role in the
                story. Is the character a powerful prince? Stock up on Back-
                grounds. Is the character an ancient wanderer? Set her
                Humanity very high or very low and add a significant Will-
                power Trait. Is the character centuries old and weary with the
                sins of unlife? Keep all of the aforementioned Traits low.
                Elder characters who might be expected to have strings of
                derangements may instead have none, as part of their back-
                stories involve overcoming those dangerous mental states.
                (It’s also worth a mention that the act of adopting a Path of
                Enlightenment may sometimes have the same effect as a
                derangement, as any Path’s precepts are so radically different
                from the cultural norm. Who’s in a more precarious mental
                state: the Malkavian with blackouts or the Lasombra who
                believes it acceptable to flay his ghouls and make them fight
                for their skins? This is not an encouragement to players to seek
                Paths instead of derangements; rather it is an indication that
                characters’ psyches have far greater depth than simple lists of
                Traits.)
                Naturally, there are exceptions to these rules of thumb.
                Children of the Night contains several characters with
                potential far beyond that suggested by their periods of unlife.
                Some archons have spent almost all of their unlives in
                vigorous training, whereas a given priscus may have devoted
                centuries toward cultivating a strong network of Backgrounds.
                Certain paragons of vampiric terror may have developed a
                fearsome array of Disciplines. That’s just how it is.
                How does this formula reconcile with the players’ char-
                acters’ power levels? Quite easily, given a bit of consideration.
                First, the frenzied activities of the modern nights as
                Gehenna approaches is a recent development. Whereas it
                might be common now for a vampire to engage in a firefight
                or other unlife-threatening activity almost weekly, most
                elder vampires have led (by comparison) relatively inactive
                existences. Vampires who brawl nightly in the streets and set
                each other’s havens on fire don’t make it to elder status —
                they die amid the flames or with looks of horror on their faces
                as the sunlight greets them in their prison cells (explain that
                to the prince, arrogant anarchs). The wise — and old —
                vampire chooses his fights carefully. The static unlives that
                most elder vampires lead involve fairly little commotion,
                which means they garner experience slowly in game terms.
                Second, elder vampires spend a good deal of time in
                torpor. Whereas a young (say, 120 years old) vampire might
                have learned 10 dots worth of Disciplines in a century, a
                slumbering Methuselah might have learned only one. This
                comparison is slightly misleading, however — the Methuselah
                may have learned his eighth level of Dominate in that century,
                so don’t take him lightly.
                Third (and finally), experience becomes harder to gain
                and expend the older a vampire gets. A veteran of a hundred
                sword duels (assuming he survives them all) isn’t going to
                learn much from those confrontations unless he continues to
                fight people better than him. Little insight can be gained from
                trouncing yet another upstart, as the vampire will have little
                call to test himself to his limits, which is a requisite for
                improvement.


                Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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                • #9
                  Methesulah? Give them whatever dots they need to be the threat level you want. Make it OBVIOUS that just running headfirst at them will kill you; demonstrate this "on-screen" if necessary.

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                  • #10
                    Methuselahs (as in a 5th generation Kindred with 1000+ years of experience) might as well be demigods. With the eighth level in a half dozen Disciplines, they can do whatever the ST wants them to do. With Potence 8, Methuselahs can punch satellites and drop kick attack helicopters, and that is a pretty weak example of an eighth level power.

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                    • #11
                      More than dots though, the Methuselahs should act like Methuselahs.

                      ​In other words, if they have survived for so long it means that they have the mentality to adapt to new situations, the ability to learn new things, and never act like a neonate unless they are actively putting on an act.

                      ​Think more Xanatos and less Mother of Darkness. In short you never really understand the true extent of their powers, influence or perceptions. You just count yourself lucky that the game they were playing only involved you temporarily, or at least you hope that is the case.

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                      • #12
                        Thank you for the advice, I will probably be using the method described in Children of the Night.

                        You also need not worry about me dropping these fellows in the game like a random encounter. Likely one major sub-plot will revolved around someone (I'm not sure who yet) attempting to revive the 4000 year old one from deep torpor; meeting him would likely trigger a failure state for the PCs (to put it politely). Perhaps a bit cliche but I consider it one of the classic V:tM storylines. The younger one might meet the PCs in person eventually, but like any good elder he will work through ghoul proxies and maybe one or two of his much higher gen descendants.

                        I never underestimate PC's desire to hit things with swords, however, so having stats on hand is useful and, IMO, more fun than just waving my hand and saying "You lose."


                        My W20 Play-by-Post Game

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Formosus View Post
                          You also need not worry about me dropping these fellows in the game like a random encounter. Likely one major sub-plot will revolved around someone (I'm not sure who yet) attempting to revive the 4000 year old one from deep torpor; meeting him would likely trigger a failure state for the PCs (to put it politely). Perhaps a bit cliche but I consider it one of the classic V:tM storylines.
                          One of the fun things about Vampire is the potential to meet a bit of walking history. Consider for a moment the potential fun of waking up 4000-year-old history and it being *grateful* for the helping hand. Now, gratitude isn't everything, and probably ends life-as-PC-knew-it, but your new god-friend thinks he's been gracious and swell! Kinda like adopting that puppy you found.

                          --Khanwulf

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                          • #14
                            Way back when I made a calculator that did all the work for the children of the night formula... The website is gone but the wayback machine continues on...
                            https://web.archive.org/web/20071124...rces/calc.html

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                            • #15
                              Well, I do not think that a proper Methuselah (4th or 5th generation Kindred with more than 1,000 years of active existence) should have understandable motivations. The chance that a neonate could understand the motivations of 4,000 year old Methuselah should be around the same likelihood as a 1 year old infant understanding the motivations of a 80 year old stranger. The fact that the 4,000 year old Methuselah might have superhuman intelligence makes it even more unlikely that any neonate could understand their motivations.

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