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Working on a Bloodline: Sons of Judas

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  • #31
    In any case, you should really define what a sin is. Is being rude to your parents a sin? Is getting a tattoo a sin? Divorce? Round haircuts? Wearing polyester? All of those are prohibited by the Bible, do they trigger the sin detector? Is a sin anything the subject feels guilty about? Is a sin anything the vampire would feel guilty about?

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    • #32
      I agree, and I would say that a sin is generally defined by the individual's culture. For Christians and Jews, it would most likely come back to the Ten Commandments and societal mores. For Muslims, the Hadith would have a say, etc. In general, though, as the Sons' Mandate is about uncovering sin and exposing it, it's enough to know that a sin has been committed. If only to bring it to the attention of the one committing the sin, as they may not be aware they're doing it. Exposing them publicly is also an option, which helps to lead to their nickname of Betrayers. More so for those that feel inclined to punish the sin of someone close to them and who didn't see it coming.

      ​I guess the gist of it would be to have a "hierarchy of sins" along the line of what's expected with the Code of Honor Merit, a loose list of what's acceptable, what you'll let go, and what you just won't abide, kind of thing. In the greater write-up I've got a better handle on the Sons and what, in general, is considered venal, cardinal, and mortal as far as sins are concerned, though I don't really call them that.

      ​To give you an idea, the Sons used to be very strict, but as times have changed, the bloodline has had to change with them. Otherwise, they would stand out and become targets for mortal hunters. So, they tended to let go of simple things like Levitical laws about shellfish and mixed fabrics to focus on greater crimes against the will of God, like murder, theft, and cheating for gain. Recently, with the upheavals in the Western world, they've come to abandon practices involving vigilantism against sexual sins like promiscuity, homosexuality, and adultery, though some will still act against perpetrators when they can. Most, though, focus on those that practice sins that materially harm others against their will, including rape, sexual abuse, incest, etc. Sometimes, it can be a fine line where the particular Son will draw the distinction between a sin that he will address and one he will not, but it's up to him (and his player) to recognise whether or not it's a sin.

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      • #33
        I think it would be much more fitting if what was a sin was relatively stagnant to the Vampire. Its much more horrific and plays up the war of ages. Do you as a neonate accept your elder who's going around murdering people for wearing blended fabrics?

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        • #34
          Lian, I get where you're going, and I can see it as a viable option. I just don't know for the whole bloodline. I can see it work for a single elder being hidebound and strict, but the whole group of them going off every time they see prepared pork just seems a little off somehow.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Vikken View Post
            Lian, I get where you're going, and I can see it as a viable option. I just don't know for the whole bloodline. I can see it work for a single elder being hidebound and strict, but the whole group of them going off every time they see prepared pork just seems a little off somehow.

            Christianity was very quick to give up dietary requirements, circumcison etc. The blended fabrics, prepared pork etc is probably going to be super rare in a fairly unusual bloodline. I would expect more things like the rights of people, gender identity etc these sorts of things. I Mean having to deal with an elder who wakes up and goes all 7 on a domain seems pretty interesting plus this sort of thing.

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            • #36
              Yeah, and I guess it makes sense that older vampires would cling to older traditions, but the bloodline as a whole (at least with the influx of younger, hipper neonates more savvy to the ways of the modern world) would move with the times. As for the elder waking up and going house, you also have to remember that it wouldn't necessarily be a bloodbath. The Mandate is more a "discover and expose" thing than punish, and even those that choose to punish do it on a commensurate basis, not necessarily assigning summary executions for every little peccadillo.

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              • #37
                If your goal is to publish a bloodline that might sell, consider your audience. If someone is actually buying a bloodline online instead of either designing one of their own or figuring out a way to fit this bloodline's concept into an existing group, they are the sort of player looking to bring something novel to the table without hours of effort.

                What your audience is most emphatically not, are people who want to spend hours debating what exactly counts as a sin in the context of this game. If the folks here, in the universe's center of over-analyzing game-line minutiae, are finding your discipline to use an overly broad, overly vague definition of the term "sin", you can assume that it will be entirely unusable for the more casual end-user.

                As a storyteller, I would never allow this bloodline to enter a campaign, either as an npc or pc, just because of the possible headaches of definition it would cause. (cf: Try searching for the debates on this board about how Humanity handles the killing of pedophiles. It gets complicated.)

                Personally, I am not a big fan of niche disciplines, so I may be biased. But, try a thought experiment. Imagine you absolutely could not, under any circumstances, use a custom discipline for this bloodline. How would you build it then? If you can devise a way, then use that, for purposes of conservation of detail if nothing else. Would the concept still hold without the custom discipline? If no, then, is this a bloodline that needed a custom discipline to fulfill their themes, or was it a kewl discipline in search of a bloodline? If it's a bloodline that has fully developed themes aside from it's niche discipline, but the discipline helps advance those themes, fine, go for it.

                Consider the Giovanni. They could work as an incestuous, insular, corrupt, untrustworthy, family-oriented clan that has Dominate, Potence, and, umm, Auspex, maybe? They don't need Necromancy to be cool, but, the Necromancy advances their themes of rotten apples falling from a rotten tree. They don't exist simply as an excuse to invent Necromancy, and you can build an interesting and thematically appropriate character without Necromancy. Necromancy improves the clan (as a story device and part of the setting) without entirely defining it.

                OTOH, consider Quietus. Especially for the Viziers and Sorcerers, it feels tacked on and pointless. Why in the world would sorcerers (who can learn some very deadly paths), and viziers (who are hyper-focused on one, usually non-violent obsession) need a zone of silence, plus four ways to poison people? The publishers seem to agree since they re-wrote it to give these two lines their own, tweaked versions of the discipline. For the original concept of Middle Eastern Assassins, maybe. Even in it's earliest incarnation, though, the clan felt like an excuse for a kewl power, not an awesome idea for a clan that, as a bonus, got a kewl power.

                I think another useful thought experiment to decide if the mechanics of a bloodline help advance the themes are the drive-by embrace.

                If a Ventrue, say, performs a drive-by embrace and successfully creates a new Ventrue, built with all nature and no nurture, what do you get? The abandoned fledgling might not even know the word "Ventrue", but they have disciplines that make influencing mortal power structures second nature, and could give someone a slightly inflated view of themselves. Presence creates fawning strangers, Dominate makes your opinion seem like gospel, and Fortitude effortlessly (and unconsciously) soaks up damage, making you think you're a natural born bad-ass. The feeding limitation makes the drive-by Ventrue be careful about maintaining some stable supply of blood, not just grabbing a random stranger. In other words, the mechanics would tend to make anyone Ventrue-ier, even with no training or clan culture whatsoever.

                Is that true for your bloodline? If a random passer-by were embraced and abandoned, would the mechanics encourage the natural development of the themes you want to highlight? If a drive-by fledgling only had the three disciplines and the weakness, would they naturally develop into a reasonable approximation of a bloodline member? If not, then there is a mis-match somewhere, or maybe just conflicting themes.

                PS: Sorry, but to be blunt, unless you have an amazing and vitally important thematic reason for it, lose the red hair thing. It has unfortunate implications without adding anything to the bloodline's narrative.

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                • #38
                  Thanks, Nosimplehiway, for the input and the insight. It's all definitely stuff to consider. It's becoming clearer and clearer that I've got a lot more work to do on this before finishing, and I'm not sure what all to tweak, and what to throw away.

                  ​As to what constitutes "sin," would you suggest I use the Ten Commandments or some other brief, codified list, or would it be easier to list it in the writeup? Or, is there another way to succinctly define sin that would make it easier for use that I'm just not seeing? Suggestions?

                  ​As for the niche Discipline, Mortification was originally intended as a vehicle for the bloodline's perceived mandate to uncover and possibly redress the sins of others. It would be possible to go without, but thematically, the intent was to have a potentially divine tool for a potentially divine mandate.

                  ​I suppose I could retool the bloodline, concentrating more on their reputation as betrayers and have them focused less on the sins of others than on their own creator's role in the killing of Jesus. I don't know. The sensitivity to crosses and silver seems thematically appropriate for that. Have to work on it, I guess.

                  ​Considering a drive-by embrace, I still like the idea of the three-day waiting period and coming back with the conviction that they're there for a purpose. In the original conception of the bloodline, a drive-by either wouldn't happen, as the sire would have to be really serious about creating childer, or they'd wake up as a full-blown Son with the Mandate fully ingrained through the process of the three-day Embrace. Doesn't seem like that flies with all you guys, though.
                  ​Again, I'm still in love with the three days. Call me silly, but it sets the bloodline apart, and it's a little thing that doesn't really hurt anything that I can think of, other than possibly actually increasing the likelihood of a drive-by. In that case, I would say the childe might come to with the typical hankering for blood, but a proclivity to notice and want to do something about the wrongs that others perform. As for Disciplines that enhance this, Mortification would have been choice to start with, but if we're dropping it, we'll go with others. Auspex to notice what's off about situations and people, for one. Dominate second, to get to the truth, whatever it might be. Finally, Obfuscate to avoid others for what they themselves might have done. Avoiding silver and crosses would be taken as simply part and parcel of the vampire package.

                  And, yeah, I can drop the hair thing.

                  Lemme know what you think.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Vikken View Post
                    Thanks, Nosimplehiway, for the input and the insight. It's all definitely stuff to consider. It's becoming clearer and clearer that I've got a lot more work to do on this before finishing, and I'm not sure what all to tweak, and what to throw away.
                    Writing anything takes time and work. You have a really good kernel of a concept. I would not throw it away, because there are some really good ideas within it. Maybe, just try to strip it down to the most essential elements, then build it back up with details that advance those core elements.

                    Originally posted by Vikken View Post
                    ​As to what constitutes "sin," would you suggest I use the Ten Commandments or some other brief, codified list, or would it be easier to list it in the writeup?
                    The Ten Commandments could work, especially for a small bloodline focused on a narrow religious background. There are still considerable differences in how the Abrahamic religions interpret them, but it's a good start toward tighter definition.

                    Originally posted by Vikken View Post
                    ​Or, is there another way to succinctly define sin that would make it easier for use that I'm just not seeing? Suggestions?
                    There is another way to define it, and it already exists within the game. It's not a perfect barometer of morality, but the game does ship with it's own karma meter: Humanity. In fact, it's one of the most distinctive features of the game system. Is there a specific reason you don't want to use "Humanity below x level" as the definition of a sinner? Not using it seems like re-inventing the wheel.

                    Originally posted by Vikken View Post
                    ​As for the niche Discipline, Mortification was originally intended as a vehicle for the bloodline's perceived mandate to uncover and possibly redress the sins of others. It would be possible to go without, but thematically, the intent was to have a potentially divine tool for a potentially divine mandate.
                    Having a discipline that detects and punishes sin seems reasonable enough for this bloodline, but the mechanics get a little vague when you avoid Humanity. Maybe you could have low levels simply detect a subject's Humanity/Path score, and what sin caused their most recent drop. Or, scan a crowd for the lowest Humanity score. Maybe a level two power that grants easier feeding on low Humanity vessels?

                    Mid-levels might let you find the closest subject with a low Humanity, allowing you to find sinners you didn't even know were there. There might even be a level that allows you to examine a subject's aura, and learn what was the most recent action taken against them by a third person that caused that third person to be required a Humanity roll... then reveal either the location or description of that perpetrator.

                    Capstone powers could go a lot of different directions. Maybe a curse of some sort that can only be used against subjects with low Humanity, that does some form of symbolic direct damage like aggravated wound stigmata, or an effect that causes bystanders to attack and work against low Humanity individuals. Maybe an ability that makes it easier for subjects to avoid actions that would risk their Humanity, like requiring the subject to spend willpower before being able to risk their Humanity. Maybe even an ability that buffs the Son of Judas in some way if they drain a low Humanity subject completely. One decent capstone ability could be not having to risk your own Humanity to kill or maim someone of lower Humanity; if it's a sinner, it's a karmic freebie.

                    In any case, if you include a niche discipline, at all, then by the top levels, the dark, avenging angel concept should be baked into the cake.

                    Originally posted by Vikken View Post
                    ​I suppose I could retool the bloodline, concentrating more on their reputation as betrayers and have them focused less on the sins of others than on their own creator's role in the killing of Jesus. I don't know. The sensitivity to crosses and silver seems thematically appropriate for that. Have to work on it, I guess.
                    It's not really an either/or choice, if you accept that it can be a yes/and situation, the line could gain more depth. How would you make them both punishing sinners and betraying their comrades?

                    Remember, in scripture, Judas only has dialogue with Jesus three times. Once, when Judas denied the betrayal. Once, after the betrayal. And, perhaps, most tellingly for your purposes, when Judas complained to Jesus that luxurious ointments were being used, by Mary, to anoint Jesus; this wasted money that could otherwise be used to help the poor. Jesus blew him off, but Judas was (it could be read) calling Jesus out on his own hypocrisy. Now the section of gospel has a line that tries to explain this away as Judas wanting more money in the coffers so he could steal it, but when you read it, it looks like a tacked-on explanation for Jesus' hand-waving away Judas' concerns.

                    If, either because their niche discipline makes them hyper-conscious of sins, or their line's weakness forces them to expose even the slightest sin, it could certainly look to allies of the Sons of Judas like they both punish "major" sin in others, and betray their allies for "trivial" sins. (Nearly everyone's differentiation between "trivial" and "major" sins is whether it's a sin of our own or of others.)

                    Originally posted by Vikken View Post
                    ​Considering a drive-by embrace, I still like the idea of the three-day waiting period and coming back with the conviction that they're there for a purpose. In the original conception of the bloodline, a drive-by either wouldn't happen, as the sire would have to be really serious about creating childer, or they'd wake up as a full-blown Son with the Mandate fully ingrained through the process of the three-day Embrace. Doesn't seem like that flies with all you guys, though.
                    ​Again, I'm still in love with the three days. Call me silly, but it sets the bloodline apart, and it's a little thing that doesn't really hurt anything that I can think of, other than possibly actually increasing the likelihood of a drive-by.
                    The three day thing is fine. More importantly, if you, as a writer, believe in your gut it's central to the story you're telling, then keep it. It's a nice detail that fits the themes. There is even something similar among Malkavians where some of them are full dead longer, and have psychedelic visions in that time. Maybe Judan fledglings experience hell during that time, and so genuinely know that by fighting sin they are helping people? (Of course, it could all be a hallucination...) It does make it more likely that a sire would be unaware of an accidental embrace. This makes it doubly important that the disciplines and weaknesses enforce the themes.

                    Just make sure to put it in the actual weakness section, so it's mechanically enforced, and not just fluff. Putting it in the discipline power is awkward, because most discipline powers don't impose a weakness on the user, then immediately give the means to overcome it.

                    Originally posted by Vikken View Post
                    ​In that case, I would say the childe might come to with the typical hankering for blood, but a proclivity to notice and want to do something about the wrongs that others perform. As for Disciplines that enhance this, Mortification would have been choice to start with, but if we're dropping it, we'll go with others. Auspex to notice what's off about situations and people, for one. Dominate second, to get to the truth, whatever it might be. Finally, Obfuscate to avoid others for what they themselves might have done. Avoiding silver and crosses would be taken as simply part and parcel of the vampire package.

                    And, yeah, I can drop the hair thing.

                    Lemme know what you think.
                    Having a niche discipline is not in-and-of-itself bad. The mechanics just need some serious cleaning up, and it needs to be more focused on the themes. And, there needs to be something compelling about the line other than the niche discipline.

                    A few nit-picks with the Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate combo... the Dominate Malkavians already have it, and there's a tradition of not poaching discipline sets. Also, Dominate feels a little heavy handed. Forcing people to stop their sinning doesn't actually change anything in their soul. Though, since there is a school of thought that Judas was just a victim of predestination... but that's a whole other set of themes.

                    How married are you to the silver weakness, which tends to be associated with lupines in this game? A feeding weakness that only allows feeding on sinners, or if low Humanity individuals trigger frenzy (anger, feeding, or fear), or if the Sons of Judas have a compulsion to reveal sins, or requiring a willpower roll to refuse taking a bribe to betray allies, or Judans can only spend XP to increase the Road of Heaven... there are lots of other options.

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