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That which I dislike the most about V5: The absence of the Elders

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Growls View Post

    This is by no means a dig at you, or any playstyle you choose to play, so I ask this with the most respectful of intents.

    What sort of game did you run? It is clearly not a personal horror game, despite Vampire saying it front and center?
    Political Horror? Splatterpunk? Highlander with politics? I'm very confused and would like to understand what sort of game that you actually play.

    Highlander with politics would be the closest definition. Trenchcoats, Katanas, and Political Intrigue.

    Comment


    • #32
      While there are many things I love about V5, there are many problems with putting the Elders on a bus.

      First, removing the Elders weakens the Camarilla at the same time that Thin-Bloods and Caitiff are given more narrative focus. This isn't just a problem because I like the Camarilla, but because I like the Anarchs. I like them because they used to be the plucky band of outsiders fighting the good fight against a calcified establishment. The more even sharing of both in-game power and out-of-game narrative focus leaves the Anarchs as the default, middle-of-the-road option. This frames the Anarchs as the moderate, middle-class, compromise faction of vampires. Their motto might as well have become: "We're neither as elitist and feudal as the Camarilla, nor as down-and-out and disorganized as the Thin-bloods. So, join the Golidlocks faction, because we're, you know, the least extreme of the bunch." This milquetoast role does not advance the Anarchs' themes and mood at all.

      Second, I have a problem with how the Elders were nerfed. Had Ancients awakened to eat the Elders, or driven the elders into uselessness by massively increased clan flaws (eg Ravnos), it would have been heavy-handed, but it would have fit the previous meta-plot. Instead, they are removed from the story by sending them somewhere no one ever goes, no one ever returns from, and with which communication is impossible. It's arbitrary, unexplained, and closes off a whole big chunk of the world to play. Did your sire move to Saskatoon, Auckland, or Capetown? Well, she's going to remain an integral part of the story through telecommuting and ordering around pawns. You had better keep doing her bidding or she is going to tear you apart when she gets back. Did your sire move to somewhere obscure and unreachable like Dubai, Istanbul, or Karachi? Oh, man, sorry for your loss. Nothing ever returns after passing the event horizon of the Bosphorus, so she's gone forever. Best to wait a decent time for mourning, then divvy up her holdings.

      Third, for those who say, "Well, not all the elders left. Keep the ones around you need for your story". Okay, fair enough for individual npcs. Except, not for the community of Elders as a whole, because the entire mechanics of how you gather and spend blood has been changed, and these changes remove much of the advantage Elders had in the form of a big blood pool. Also, the Blood Potency system removes the old VtM assumption that more powerful blood is by definition a better thing than weaker blood. Some of these changes may have been great ideas for their own reasons, but they did have the impact of nerfing Elders with the mechanics. If an ST strips out these two nerfs, and places a bunch of elders back in their setting, umm, well, then why not just leave well enough alone and keep V20?

      Fourth, is the way changes were written into the meta-plot, or not. Okay, within the story there was lots of lore-batting. (Thanks, PMárk, for the new term!) Vienna blew up, Hardestadt got killed, and Theo Bell finally lost his sense of irony. These events happen, characters react, and it becomes part of the story. This is as it should be in a meta-plot heavy gameline. But, somehow, vampires who previously could survive on animal or bagged blood find themselves unable to do so, and everyone just acts like this is normal. In V20, a vampire with Animalism 2 could summon their dinner more or less at will. This was the go-to feeding method for several clans, notably Gangrel and Nosferatu, and allowed them to exist without humans at all, either deep in the sewers or in the wilderness. This was true even among the most powerful of the clan. Surviving on animal blood (with, perhaps, the occasional human on special occasions) shaped and defined clan cultures. Now, that factor has disappeared, but the clan cultures remain unchanged. Weirdly, nobody seems to notice this change, in-world.

      Lastly, it serves to reduce story options rather than increasing story options. Do you want to run a game in V20 which focuses on street-level, young vampires. Just rule that the city has few or no powerful elders, and adjust starting freebie points at chagen. Do you want to run a V20 game that focuses on Elders? Just give extra freebies or xp at chagen, and create lots of powerful npcs. Everything you need to play any power level from Ghouls and Thin-blood, to Methuselah is in the corebook. But, do you want to run a game with elders in V5? Get ready for some major house-ruling to achieve that type of play. Remember, there will be players who have only read V5, and have never heard of a bloodpool. They'll need to start from scratch. Why would V5 remove story options from the game, rather than increasing them?

      A charitable interpretation of nerfing the Elders would be that the folks who made V5 truly believe that a low power game works better and everyone should be doing it. Turns out, we were having fun wrong all along. So, they removed the option of playing Elders for our own good.

      A more cynical view would note that by not having Elders in the corebook, they create a demand for whichever book has the Elders return, likely the Camarilla book. This is not entirely without precedent. Revised corebook didn't have elder disciplines; for those you needed to buy the supplements.

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Beckett View Post
        That is correct, though I would argue even the Ravnos was not that invasive, as White Wolf made it rather clear at the time that they where goung to leave the percentages largely in each ST's hands.
        The funny thing is that right now, it looks like the same is happening with the Beckoning. Just like with the Ravnos, the exact percentages are up to the ST.
        Want to play a classic chronicle? The Beckoning got maybe two or three elders in your city, the Camarilla is fully intact. And those vacant estates are just one more thing the other elders send hapless neonates to secure against their rivals …
        Want to play one with far less elderly oversight? The Beckoning got almost all the elders, the rest are in hiding and the young kindred are suddenly free to fill the power vacuum. Until maybe something more powerful turns up...
        Want to play one with a really heated War of Ages? The Beckoning took out part of the elders of the city - enough to make their power structure look at least a little vulnerable. The others try to maintain draconian order, but they also need to stave off the Beckoning's effects by gorging themselves on younger blood, finding ever more excuses to call out blood hunts on neonates. Until the kettle boils over...

        In many parts, the core book reads as if it described a standard Camarilla city of 2nd/Rev/20. There are descriptions of Princes, Sheriffs, Harpies, Elysiums and all the rest that we're familiar with.

        Comment


        • #34
          Not played since V:tM, but couldn't you have some Elders or even Antediluvians basically increase in generation so as not go to the other side? We used to have diablerie, but couldn't that work in reverse too? It wouldn't actually change their generation, but more like they stay under the radar and not take in too much power, but they'd still have all but their physical dots at whatever they had before, and could only use higher disciplines at risk.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
            Second, I have a problem with how the Elders were nerfed. Had Ancients awakened to eat the Elders, or driven the elders into uselessness by massively increased clan flaws (eg Ravnos), it would have been heavy-handed, but it would have fit the previous meta-plot. Instead, they are removed from the story by sending them somewhere no one ever goes, no one ever returns from, and with which communication is impossible. It's arbitrary, unexplained, and closes off a whole big chunk of the world to play. Did your sire move to Saskatoon, Auckland, or Capetown? Well, she's going to remain an integral part of the story through telecommuting and ordering around pawns. You had better keep doing her bidding or she is going to tear you apart when she gets back. Did your sire move to somewhere obscure and unreachable like Dubai, Istanbul, or Karachi? Oh, man, sorry for your loss. Nothing ever returns after passing the event horizon of the Bosphorus, so she's gone forever. Best to wait a decent time for mourning, then divvy up her holdings.
            Um, did I miss anything? Where is it written that the Gehenna Wars aren't absolutely part of the setting? We don't know what happens there because it's not the focus of the core book. But that thing is already written up so large that I absolutely expect some supplements about it in the future.

            Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
            Third, for those who say, "Well, not all the elders left. Keep the ones around you need for your story". Okay, fair enough for individual npcs. Except, not for the community of Elders as a whole, because the entire mechanics of how you gather and spend blood has been changed, and these changes remove much of the advantage Elders had in the form of a big blood pool. Also, the Blood Potency system removes the old VtM assumption that more powerful blood is by definition a better thing than weaker blood. Some of these changes may have been great ideas for their own reasons, but they did have the impact of nerfing Elders with the mechanics. If an ST strips out these two nerfs, and places a bunch of elders back in their setting, umm, well, then why not just leave well enough alone and keep V20?
            An elder's blood pool may not be directly larger (even though they've actually made it so that you lose more Hunger from elder blood than the elder gains), but a 7th generation elder who lived through 400 years can spend one rouse for four dice in a Blood Surge, can heal 3 superficial damage for one, adds three dice to all of his disciplines and spends half the blood on all disciplines powers level 4 and below. That's between two and three times as effective as the blood of a neonate. In previous editions, gen 7 gave you a blood pool of 20, so twice that of a neonate.

            Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
            Fourth, is the way changes were written into the meta-plot, or not. Okay, within the story there was lots of lore-batting. (Thanks, PMárk, for the new term!) Vienna blew up, Hardestadt got killed, and Theo Bell finally lost his sense of irony. These events happen, characters react, and it becomes part of the story. This is as it should be in a meta-plot heavy gameline. But, somehow, vampires who previously could survive on animal or bagged blood find themselves unable to do so, and everyone just acts like this is normal. In V20, a vampire with Animalism 2 could summon their dinner more or less at will. This was the go-to feeding method for several clans, notably Gangrel and Nosferatu, and allowed them to exist without humans at all, either deep in the sewers or in the wilderness. This was true even among the most powerful of the clan. Surviving on animal blood (with, perhaps, the occasional human on special occasions) shaped and defined clan cultures. Now, that factor has disappeared, but the clan cultures remain unchanged. Weirdly, nobody seems to notice this change, in-world.
            First of all, most new editions reshape the game world. Some do fine by explaining stuff, with others I would have preferred them going "it was always like this, nothing to see here!" over the cringey explanations they chose. Now, regarding the feeding problems: No, the most powerful of the clans couldn't subsist on animal blood - not once the Methusaleh's Thirst kicked in. But those of a less venerable age still can use animal blood up to Blood Potency 4 - just take Animalism 3, Animal Succulence.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by The Gentleman Gamer View Post
              There are many elders and Methuselahs still around, but the departure of others provides vacancies player characters can fill.

              As examples of elders who didn't feel the call / have resisted it, you have Marcus Vitel, Lucinde, Karl Schrekt, among others.
              I think many of us hopes that, as books keep rolling out and the setting expanding, it'll turn out that it's not that radically different from the WoD and VtM we loved as it seems now.

              If it isn't, we could, at least use the setting and metaplot, even if we stick with the earlier systems, for whatever reason.

              At least that is how I'm thinking about it.


              If nothing worked, then let's think!

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              • #37
                Originally posted by JezMiller View Post
                The first thing I'd point out is that not every elder has been beckoned. Carna and Karl Schreckt haven't, for a start, although admittedly their Antediluvian(s) are in Europe. The Gentleman is narrating an elder who hasn't in his video series. Elders are still a thing.

                The second thing is that the V5 core... isn't. Not in the same way that Revised and V20 are. A better analogy would be Fantasy Flight's Star Wars games. The V5 "core" is primarily for Edge-of-Empire characters, the Fringe. The Anarch book will be for Age of Rebellion vampires. And the Camarilla...er... well... adventure, excitement, they seek not these things.

                Elders are downplayed in the new "core" because it's primary milieu is young, often street-level vampires. Tenth-generation ancillae are the "power players" here, just as mid-level gangsters are the power players in Edge of Empire. That doesn't mean the Grand Moffs and Sith Lords aren't out there, just that the characters aren't likely to meet them very often.

                But sooner or later they're going to be publishing rules for elders, and a one page sheet saying "Your character is summoned to the middle east and becomes an NPC. The End" ain't going to cut it when they do.
                Although that was the core theme and introductory playstyle of the Revised core too. It's just, the world istelf was bigger and those things were around and the book discussed them, as setting elements, but they became "playable" later. But they were firm and profound elements of the setting.



                But while V20 was aimed at a specific demographic - established Masquerade players who loved the setting as it was - with V5, they are attempting to reach out to a larger audience with more concerns about play balance.
                I think we all heard that a few times already, in the past.

                Since I fall into the V20 target demographic, I am very sympathetic to those who don't like the removal of the elders, and I'm inclined to agree. But I think V5 will eventually meet those concerns at least halfway.
                Let's hope.



                If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Leandro16 View Post
                  I must confess i also dislike the Beckoning becuase it feels like a poor excuse to eliminate the Elders , the Sabbat and buff the Anarch akin to what happened with the Avatar Storm. I get the same feeling with Carna rebelion an event with the purpourse to allow people to be an Tremere and an Anarch without being an Antitribu in the line of what V20 rites of the blood already did by given thaumaturgy to all.V5 is taking or decreasing the consecuences of the players decisions and thats boring

                  The sad thing about this is that what make the anarch fun was the underdog against the system vibe if they are equal or similar in power level/options then , well being of one faction or another doesn´t matter that much.Also the thing that made the Anarch Fun is that their fight isn´t fair becuase their enemy is more powerful than what they are by far but they have a chance of winning due the fact that they are risking their lives while their enemys not.The fact that they can lost everything they have won or not having nothing to lost gives them an strengh that the conservative and slow paced strategies of the elders of the camarilla have difficulties dealing with and that is their strenght along the skill to win simpaties from the opresed in the domain.

                  War of Ages is the core theme of the Anarchs without Elders Anarchs feel more like rebels without a cause.
                  Forget war of ages, it's now just the repressed masses against the privileged few. Contemporary social narrative, instead of gothic themes mixed with modern problems.

                  Yeah, I liked the older approach more.


                  Also, I just can't come to terms that it's not "gothic-punk" any more. It described the setting perfectly and I loved how the book practically started with discussing that and setting the mood for the whole. I feel it's absence sorely.
                  Last edited by PMárk; 08-07-2018, 07:05 PM.


                  If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post

                    Of course. I understand why it was done, but the counterargument needs to be made too.

                    I think it's interesting that MET did some market research into why some people prefer oWoD to CoD, and that kind of effort wasn't repeated. VTM fans who stuck with that game instead of VTR didn't want balanced or streamlined rules. They wanted oodles of metaplot and signature NPCs.

                    I wonder what a similar survey now would reveal?
                    That would be interesting indeed. Many years passed, the 20ths weren't heavy on metaplot, WoD novels and such were mostly absent. I think never fans have a larger disconnect with it, which is sad, although I think the fans, who were there, at least for the end of Revised, would still want that, at least most of them.

                    Thing is, and this is my overall oppinion on these things (metaplot, signatures, novels, etc.), people on the forums everywhere always hated it. Hated it in D&D, in WoD, in Shadowrun. Guess what the majority liked and got hooked with the game? Yeah, exactly because of those things. Why is that? Because the folks who frequent forums are usuall the very dedicated GM types, who are very oppinionated and usually want to do their own version of the game.

                    For the average fan and player, those things are cool and inspiring and help to maintain interest. To the above mentioned minority, they are shackles.

                    But there's the conondrum: there are lot more people in the first group. That's why the most succesfull rpgs are the ones with detailed setting and usually metaplot and that is why they are prime material for video games and stuff. WW knew that, this is why they choose WoD, even if they prefer CofD as a game. Then they blew it up. It's strange.


                    If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Camilla View Post


                      Highlander with politics would be the closest definition. Trenchcoats, Katanas, and Political Intrigue.
                      There is something you'd like in v5,It's called Memoriam,it gives mechanics weight to the Highlander element you like.

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                      • #41
                        I like how V5 handles elders because it makes them mysterious again, like they seem to be in older editions.

                        It's no longer walking into Elysium and seeing 8 elders chatting about the Victorian era. Now if they PCs walk into Elysium and see an elder it's a plot point. Why are they here? Did we do something to piss them off? Are they really an elder, I thought they all left?

                        It opens more doors than it closes in my opinion. Granted you can't play an elder focused game (though those sourcebooks are probably in the works) but it makes playing a neonate more interesting in the vein of older books like New York by Night in that you can actually do stuff as a neonate. It also brings up a more interesting avenue for the old vs young conflict because if a neonate works their way up, becomes a prince or baron of a city, only to have an elder come back and be like "Oh? Thanks for watching my city for me, I'll take it from here because I'm older and better than you.". There is a lot of potential and I think V5 is an improvement all things considered.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post

                          Fourth, is the way changes were written into the meta-plot, or not. Okay, within the story there was lots of lore-batting. (Thanks, PMárk, for the new term!) Vienna blew up, Hardestadt got killed, and Theo Bell finally lost his sense of irony. These events happen, characters react, and it becomes part of the story. This is as it should be in a meta-plot heavy gameline.
                          You're welcome!

                          Also, yes, "Realms Shaking Events" are a thing. Metaplot always indicates that there will be changes, in the status quo, to keep it fresh.

                          Problem is, when you're not shaking the Realms, but braking it with, oh, dunno, with a magical apocalypse. It's mostly about walking the tight rope between advancing the story and changing the established order, but not too much to excessively altering what people liked in the first place. V5, IMO, haven't accomplished in that, it clearly went for the "change it radically and see what happens" angle.


                          If nothing worked, then let's think!

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Beckett View Post

                            Hold up a sec. With the exception of the Avatar Storm, and the four books that ended the line, Revised is the edition that opened up all of the avenues of play by presenting different groups and styles in internally consistent and reasonable options.
                            That doesn't make the Avatar Storm good. The improvements were solely the result of White Wolf having gotten better in general. (Objectively, yes, Revised was the best edition at the time from a Quality standpoint.) The Avatar Storm was still a bad idea, and it still virtually locked off entire portions of the original material in order to force people to run street level games.

                            And it threw away Masters and Archmasters - great engines of storytelling potential - in an attempt to make younger mages seem relevant. Just like V5, throwing the baby out with the bath water. At least with Mage, there wasn't a whole Central Conflict being disposed of with the loss of the Masters and Archmasters. Vampire is built on its conflict between young Kindred and Elders.


                            And no, saying "some Elders are still around" doesn't change this baby-with-the-bath-water problem, nor make me more likely to adopt V5. If I want to use Elders in V5, then the ones I'd use would still be around. Meaning, for all intents and purposes, my particular Vampire city would be functionally identical to the previous editions. It wouldn't matter that Elders are gone everywhere else, they would be around "here". On the flipside, if I ever wanted to have Elders disappear in V20 so the Neonates and Ancillae could grab influence, I never needed the Beckoning in order to do that. I could just have the Elders disappear or lose power through any number of organic story beats. It didn't matter to any city-level campaign if Elders were still around elsewhere, because on the local level the Elders have left a power vacuum.

                            So, again, V5 has nothing to offer me that I couldn't make for myself just as easily with V20.
                            Last edited by Bluecho; 08-07-2018, 04:00 PM.


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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Beckett View Post

                              So... VtR. Is not the exact point for Requiem and the CoD?

                              I think the main problem is that that larger audience basically doesn't exist. One of the main design philosophies behind V5, officially or not, seems to be to have taken "the best parts" of VtM and VtR and put them together, except for a lot of people, the best part of Masquerade was it was not Requiem, and vice versa..
                              That might or might not be true for the existing fanbase, but when you see the franchising operation they're trying to put together, the existing fanbase isn't the limit of their ambition.

                              But trying to break it down, what is not-Masquerade about the new edition?

                              - The stats? Using the Requiem ones puts a dent into backward compatibility, true, but any concept you could create with the old stats, you can create with the new ones. That's not a threat to the essence of Masquerade

                              - The metaplot changes? A big change to the setting, to be sure, but they don't throw away everything that went before. There have been big changes in the past - the Gangrel leaving the Camarilla, the Ravnos Antediluvian getting nuked - without stopping it from being Masquerade. All the elders haven't gone. We're about to get a two thousand year old ancient Greek Methuselah in Chicago, for instance. It's just that enough of them have gone to make the traditional old-versus-young struggle less one-sided, and the player characters more active participants in events rather than spectators. The richness of the setting is still there.

                              - The Hunger? (Not the one with Catherine Deneuve). Debatable. Basically, power and immortality have a cost in blood whether you use Blood Pool or Hunger Dice. The Hunger Dice are more intrusive and skew things towards a personal-horror game style which the writers seem determined to impose on every player, so that, yes, to a degree, but you can ignore or fudge that.

                              - The new Humanity rules? Variant Roads and Paths are nothing new, this just makes humanity more easily tailored to a given game

                              - Touchstones? Okay, there you have me. Someone on the GenCon panel said something about a humanity system that was actually about connecting with humanity. The trouble is, Humanity isn't actually about connecting with humanity. Like any other Road or Path, it's an internal mechanism to maintain a vampire's mental integrity against the Beast. It was an expression of a vampire's mental strength. Touchstones are the opposite - vampires created using the new rules are supposed to be morally weak and dependent on mortals to maintain their sense of self, and that sort of... Twilight-y... concept just doesn't appeal to me

                              I am backing Chicago when they run it, because - as a long-time player who prefers Masquerade to Requiem, despite enjoying Requiem - I still like the new edition enough to want more of it. It is still Masquerade enough for me, and in many places, better Masquerade.

                              {sigh} I just wish they hadn't done bloody Touchstones. That's something that really would have been better confined to Requiem.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by JezMiller View Post
                                - The metaplot changes? A big change to the setting, to be sure, but they don't throw away everything that went before. There have been big changes in the past - the Gangrel leaving the Camarilla, the Ravnos Antediluvian getting nuked - without stopping it from being Masquerade. All the elders haven't gone. We're about to get a two thousand year old ancient Greek Methuselah in Chicago, for instance. It's just that enough of them have gone to make the traditional old-versus-young struggle less one-sided, and the player characters more active participants in events rather than spectators. The richness of the setting is still there.
                                The line between getting rid of enough Elders so that the Setting is different but not too many and cause it to become unrecognizable is a fine one indeed and I would hesitate before stating that we are balancing on it, either precariously or comfortably, rather than having stepped off it.
                                The impression that I got from reading about the Camarilla being rudderless or how 8th and 9th Generations being now Elder by default, is that it was too much. Further books may prove me wrong, of course.

                                Still, I think it'd be hard to claim that we didn't lose some toys to play with or richness as it were. Based only on V5, I certainly couldn't imagine running a game featuring a conflict between the Sabbat and the Tal'Mae'Rah like Beckett's Diary did. Again, I understand that there are only so many pages in a book, but the focus seems to be mostly; mostly, not entirely; on street level horror, Anarchs, Camarilla neonates, etc.

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