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Learning Rituals But Not Paths

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  • #16
    "Munchkin" is such a meaningless word. It just means "play I don't approve of" most of the time it gets tossed around.

    As long as you charge XP (and it should be very nearly as much as a Discipline power would cost) for Rituals, it's by no means unbalanced to let characters learn them without first learning Thaumaturgy. After all, friggin Obtenebration has Rituals. And it wouldn't need them if Rituals existed independent of Disciplines.


    I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

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    • #17
      I would suggest learning alchemy as the primary path, and the having the rituals off of that. it would be thematically appropriate really. you could possibly learn from anarchs...

      alternatively, pick a non-magical discipline, and then build your blood magic rituals around it. this already happens with obten, so it could possibly work with others.

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      • #18
        I agree with Telgar. Cries of "Munchkin!" are done almost reflexively these days, regardless of whether the activity being decried is necessarily bad.

        So your player has spent some of their XP buying a very particular Ritual. That's XP they could have spent on anything else, but they decided to spend it on a single, possibly very situational power. It's the same sort of thing that is allowed RAW with Combination Disciplines and the like (hell, even regular Discipline powers). It's not exactly overpowered to give a character the ability to wake more easily during the day, or crawl along walls like a spider.

        The way I see it, more options and flexibility in how the system works will lead to more potential stories that can be told. And, at least for my money, all other things being equal, more story possibilities is better.

        When any random vampire can learn individual Rituals by rote, that creates space for story hooks, or reinforces certain themes. Do the Tremere not have a greater need to police blood magic, if it could proliferate in more small ways? Would it not be thematically appropriate for an Old Clan Tzimisce - the bloodline of Dracula - to mimic that legendary figure and crawl along walls, even if they have no other powers? Don't the Malkavians have a greater deal of strength as the Kindred world's seers if members of that Clan can pull out Rituals devoted to obtaining information?


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        • #19
          Borrow from Rites of Blood - have rituals costs level of the ritual x4. Limit learning by Willpower rating (yeah, most players will have Willpower 10. But some won't).

          Cheers!


          If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
          'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.

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          • #20
            Obviously, the Golden Rule applies. It's your game, your table. But, for me, I would be hesitant to allow rituals without knowledge of the underlying Thaumaturgy.

            Through the various editions of the game, all of the common disciplines have been tweaked for both game balance and combed through for hidden bugs. (Who remembers the Animalism power that operated off an Appearance-based dice pool, with Nosferatu having Animalism?) The buggiest disciplines tend to be the most obscure ones at this point simply because they have not been play-tested at thousands of tables over decades of play, and been patched to fix most major problems.

            Rituals are often written as one-shot extras, sometimes without fully examining from every angle how this will impact both play balance and the setting. This is only natural. If a writer is primarily writing a city or clan book, she might include a ritual as a bit of lost lore. She relies on the fact that rituals are tightly controlled by the ST, since they are gained through rp rather than xp. She also assumes that a level five ritual has a prerequisite of knowing Thaumaturgy 5, of the appropriate school. This is no small prerequisite. The first level alone costs 10xp, of course. Then with all the level raises... well, Thaumaturgy 5, primary path, costs 60xp in-clan and 70xp out-of-clan.

            So, rituals tend to be more... flexible... in terms of game balance. Except for the very most common rituals, most of them are still, in effect, in beta testing.

            Take Defense of the Sacred Haven, as an example. It provides a safe haven from the sun, for a whole group of people, in any improvised room. It could be a cheap motel room, a friend's guest room, or even an old school-bus abandoned in the woods.

            It seems innocuous enough. Suddenly, though, travel becomes much simpler. The Haven background becomes much less valuable. Sabbat packs need less logistical work for entering a new city. Anarchs can use any old crash-pad to hide from the Prince. Would Gangrel even bother to learn Protean 3, anymore, given that a simple level one ritual has a vaguely similar effect, that's easier to learn and shelters a whole group?

            I'm not saying DotSH is over-powered. I'm not even saying it should be a closely guarded secret, but I am saying that opening up rituals like that changes the setting. It might be in small ways, it might be in large ways, but any single ritual, carelessly distributed, could have wide-reaching consequences on the setting.

            Normally, we might say, "Well, most vampires won't know it. It can't change the setting that much!" But, why wouldn't they know it, if any vampire who knows it can teach any other vampire at less than half the cost of learning Celerity 1 or Auspex 1? Why wouldn't every coterie have someone who knows this ritual?

            For that matter, if level one rituals are fairly cheap, why wouldn't ghouls and revenants be built almost entirely around them? Have you really considered what ghouls having multiple cheap rituals will have on the setting?

            Having the requirement of a Path puts a throttle on all that. It buys the ST some breathing room to really think about the impact a ritual's availability will have on the world.

            If I were dead-set on having rituals more available, I suppose a system in which the Primary path, purchased as usual, could be composed of five rituals, arranged in levels from one to five... ideally with some unified theme, like wards or curses. This would open up rituals a little, while maintaining appropriate xp cost levels.

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            • #21
              When it comes to rituals, a key factor that helps in game balance is the necessity of ritual ingredients. While many of the Level 1 or 2 rituals require a few mundane ingredients, the ones for higher-level ones are quite rare, so that it can be quite a quest to track them down. Thaumaturges will carry quite a few components in inside pockets and whatnot, but that only takes you so far.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Telgar View Post
                "Munchkin" is such a meaningless word. It just means "play I don't approve of" most of the time it gets tossed around.
                My meaning was more like "play made to fulfill the player's frustrations". In that sense it's kinda similar to ERP, actually!
                Raising the power level means raising either epicity of the game or the weapons availlable to the player. In the first case you're pushing Vampire into Exalted, and in the second you're just following the idea that stronger makes a better tale. So no, thank you, "munchkin" is not an empty word.

                As long as you charge XP (and it should be very nearly as much as a Discipline power would cost) for Rituals, it's by no means unbalanced to let characters learn them without first learning Thaumaturgy. After all, friggin Obtenebration has Rituals. And it wouldn't need them if Rituals existed independent of Disciplines.
                You're still making confusion on what a blood magic ritual means. Rituals tied to Obtenebration are rituals that require the ability to manipulate shadows and interact with the Abyss to work; you're talking about it as a meaningless rule when it's instead a prerequisite, and that's the same for Thaumaturgy, Necromancy and Kouldun rituals. Most of the rituals are split in thematic areas based on knowledge because it would be silly for you to master a complex Necromancy ritual without having ever talked with ghosts or looked into the underworld, yet you assume it's something that anyone could do with the knowledge of an high school goth.

                When any random vampire can learn individual Rituals by rote, that creates space for story hooks, or reinforces certain themes. Do the Tremere not have a greater need to police blood magic, if it could proliferate in more small ways? Would it not be thematically appropriate for an Old Clan Tzimisce - the bloodline of Dracula - to mimic that legendary figure and crawl along walls, even if they have no other powers? Don't the Malkavians have a greater deal of strength as the Kindred world's seers if members of that Clan can pull out Rituals devoted to obtaining information?
                Tremere are already enforcing Thaumaturgy police, Malkavians are already quite able to find hidden informations (information is the currency of Nosferatu though, not Malkavians) and I see no real reason to have the Old Clan mimicking the Dracula of literature, not when the WoD Dracula is such a different figure; also, you could achieve the same resoult by duplicating the thaumaturgy ritual to koldoun sorcery without messing up the whole magic system.

                Should rituals be availlable everywhere, to be fair, it would mostly make any kind of magic policy worthless, since you can't purge the whole city just because they keep teaching each others two rituals, and will thin both the difference between the several types of Blood Magic and the one between clans with magic traditions and the other vampires, resulting in a general loss of characterization. That, then again, is generally a pretty bad idea.

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                • #23
                  There are thaumaturgists in every clan, including the Malkavians, the Gangrel, the Nosferatu and the Ravnos. For these clans, however, developing Thaumaturgy involves very long experimentation and questing after knowledge. They are generally unwilling to share their knowledge or even make it known to others, often retreating into seclusion where they can perform twisted experimentation - for the process of developing Thaumaturgy is indeed evil and twisted. There's a great example of a Malkavian thaumaturge in Victorian Age Vampire, in one of the books detailing the vampires of London. He's on the Path of Power and the Inner Voice, and generally somebody you should stay far away from.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post

                    and I see no real reason to have the Old Clan mimicking the Dracula of literature, .
                    You have been clear from the beginning you don't approve of learning rituals independently. It's your opinion and not canon, and I understand and respect that. But if you aren't for it, why are you pursuing this?

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by g3taso View Post
                      You have been clear from the beginning you don't approve of learning rituals independently. It's your opinion and not canon, and I understand and respect that. But if you aren't for it, why are you pursuing this?
                      Mostly because the forum keeps giving me updates on the topic. :P but you're right, I think I wrote enough on this.

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