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Clan Ravnos Metaplot Rehash: The AGE of Nightmares

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  • Clan Ravnos Metaplot Rehash: The AGE of Nightmares

    Over in another thread I was questioning why V5's changes to the metaplot (the Beckoning, the Second Inquisition conquering Berlin and London and Vienna, the Sabbat mostly leaving for the Middle East, etc) weren't events happening now, as ongoing things, rather than being over and done with. (And in that thread, I noted that the obvious reason was that NuWW didn't actually care what the events were, only that they lead to a setting where everything is street level and personal horror, because that's the game they want to make now).

    But it got me thinking about the last time sudden changes happened to completely reorder the World of Darkness: the Week of Nightmares. When [Ravnos] became woke af, fought some Wan Kuei, and then died to nukes and orbital lasers. And as his last action, induced his Clan into a frenzy of violence and diablerie, decimating their numbers and leaving them a shell of their former selves.

    In that other thread, I wondered if V5's events in the recent past couldn't be made active, ongoing elements (like those cities being under prolonged sieges, etc). So it got me thinking: what if you went back and redid the Week of Nightmares, but not as a sudden decimation of the Clan?

    I have no idea if this is a good idea or even necessary, but hear me out.

    [Ravnos] bites the dust as originally happened, but his dying act is not to make Clan Ravnos kill itself in a wave of self-directed violence. Instead, he uses his Plot Device levels of Chimestry to create illusory assassins, that persist after his demise. They are "living" illusions, whose sole function is to hunt down and destroy Ravnos. I think they ought to be killable, though not easily. The point is to throw a threat at Clan Ravnos that will lead to the demise of many members. Just, you know, slowly. They're hardly infallible or unerring in their quest to find Ravnos.

    Suddenly, what was once a hand wave to explain why Clan Ravnos is no longer around in large numbers, it becomes an active, ongoing plot point. Beings that serve much the same purpose as the Nictuku do to the Nosferatu, except it's a new threat, rather than a millennia old one (so the Ravnos are currently adapting to it, rather than being long resigned to hiding from them). Moreover, it makes Ravnos more likely to get involved in Kindred plots, as they look for allies and knowledge about how to fight a threat that doesn't, technically, exist. Sabbat Ravnos, meanwhile, become more militant and active, as they rally Sabbat vampires to fight a lasting threat created by the Antedeluvians.

    My general ethos when it comes to RPGs is that, all other things being equal, it's better to lean on the development that can foster more stories, rather than fewer. And I like to think that a Week of Nightmares that comes and goes, with all the decimation already done, is less interesting or prone to stories than one that actively hangs over the Clan.

    Thoughts?



  • #2
    So, in a way, it was already originally presented that way. Firstly with options for playing through thecWeek of Nightmares, as a Ravnos, as a Sabbat Pack, or as a Thin Blood. Secondarily, it wasn't so much a one-and-done event, but rather something that progressed a bit, and could have gone further if the end of the line had not come. Some of the Sabbat Ravnos realized that neither the Lasombra or Tzimisce Clan had a Week of Nightmares event, and began to question. There was also the building concept of what do we do now?


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    • #3
      What Beckett said.

      As for your idea, hey, go for it. For players into those kinds of stories, it sounds like a good way to help bridge this jarring gap between V20 and V5, help add back a familiar element. Those might be the kinds of homebrew metaplot elements people will come up with moving forward.

      But I don't think Week of Nightmares was as glaring as V5 for a few other reasons:

      1) From what I understand, though I wasn't around at the time, Week of Nightmares was written as a direct response to fan backlash against the clan. A majority of players who were fans of the gameline in general weren't reacting well to the stereotypes that the Ravnos portrayed, it was broadly agreed to be one of the worst aspects of VtM, and so the Week of Nightmares was conjured up to give (most) fans what they wanted in terms of that specific aspect of the game.

      In contrast, V5, got rid of...well, a majority of things about VtM that didn't bother the majority of fans at all. Sure, there were a handful of players here who didn't really like this one thing, and a different handful there who weren't crazy about that other thing, but where the devs should have used a graceful touch, picking out the worst mechanical/metaplot aspects that created consistent problems for fans, they instead swept an arm across the whole table.

      2) The Week of Nightmares didn't actually affect the gameline as a whole, if you think about it. It was used as another portent of Gehenna, one more thing that could be used to drive the plot in that direction, but the only real difference afterwards was that a single clan wasn't present anymore. Even then, it is/was very easily homebrewed out for any players who still wanted to use the Ravnos in their games - it's as easy as saying, "Nah, the Week of Nightmares never happened." Even BJD, for supposedly being part of the Week of Nightmares world, has a whole chapter dedicated to Ravnos society, plot lines, and characters, so this change to the VtM metaplot, as colossal as it may seem at first, is still in fact very flexible in allowing you to tell whatever story you want, however you want. In your words, it fostered the possibility for more stories, not fewer.

      You can't say that about V5. The changes it introduces are hardwired in, not flexible at all to V20 lore. It is, as you said, a new world that's over and done with, and our only options are to move forward with it as is or resign ourselves to V20/Revised forevermore. Or to homebrew the new metaplot to the point that your game would be incomparable and incompatible with anyone else's, unless future supplements help ease things up.


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      • #4
        Bluecho

        I really like this idea. It's creative, original, and, best of all, potentially horrific. If the attackers are illusions, essentially Tulpas, then they can take the form of anyone or anything, allowing the ST to take the story in some interesting directions.

        That said, I do have a few questions about implementation.

        Does this count as a double clan weakness, or does it replace the behavioral flaw of the Ravnos?

        Do you have mechanics drawn up for this? Both for the Tulpas themselves, and for determining how often they find a given Ravnos. Usually, a "Hunted" flaw will have a probability of the hunter encountering their prey, so the whole game isn't attack-defend-attack-defend-repeat.

        Are the Tulpas just straight-up bitey monsters, or do they have more subtle means, like blackmail and sabotage?

        What is their lifespan? I mean, is there one for each Ravnos, and when it's defeated is the Ravnos then safe? Or, is there one for each Ravnos and as Ravnos are killed the Tulpas gang up on the survivors... eventually ending in a zerg rush against the last Ravnos?

        How do the Tulpas handle bystanders and the Masquerade? Are they visible to non-Ravnos?

        Might this actually nerf the Ravnos out of existence more than the Week of Nightmares? I mean, in canon, if a Ravnos survives that week, they pretty much are back to normal. With this, it seems like an ongoing threat. Or was clearly removing the clan your goal?

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        • #5
          *sigh*

          I actually like the Ravnos, and none of my Ravnos characters I played were Romani stereotypes or even Romani at all. Most of them were Irish-American or Scots-Irish and one was a Japanese-American gambler.

          The Week of Nightmares was not created out of a fanbase backlash, the fandom's widespread hatred of the Ravnos largely came into play long after the Week of Nightmares. Hell, the Revised corebook even downplayed any connections to the Romani and instead focused more on the clan's Indian roots.

          Actually, the decimation of the Ravnos was because some of the writers at WW at the time (including the head developer for Vampire) had a hate-on for the Ravnos and decided to use the metaplot to police the setting of elements they did not like such as the Ravnos, Stargazers, and Camarilla-aligned Gangrel (to say nothing of the infamous Avatar Storm), and overall they used the metaplot to dictate a "One True Way" to play VTM, similar to what NuWW is doing with V5 only not as severe because the Ravnos were still in the corebook and the Gangrel were still listed as Camarilla in the corebook, so it was easier for an ST to say "I'm not using the metaplot" and actually run a game in the style they wanted as the mechanics were largely untouched.

          Unfortunately, V5 was a lot more severe and ham-fisted in their dedication to the metaplot and personal horror, even dramatically rewriting the mechanics to force the players into NuWW's preferred style, whereas old Revised WW would just leave snide remarks in the text of their books to tell them that anyone who went against the metaplot was "playing the game wrong".

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
            Bluecho
            Does this count as a double clan weakness, or does it replace the behavioral flaw of the Ravnos?
            No more so than the Nictuku are a weakness for the Nosferatu, or that the emnity of the main clan is a weakness for Lasombra Antitribu. It's a plot device, used to create a threat to the Ravnos, if the Storyteller wants to implement them. Some Ravnos may never encounter the Tulpas (for the sake of simplicity, we'll use your name for them). Nothing changes about the Clan's usual weakness spread, because it may not come up for a given Ravnos, or only come up once in their entire unlife (whether that ends their unlife is another matter).

            Do you have mechanics drawn up for this? Both for the Tulpas themselves, and for determining how often they find a given Ravnos. Usually, a "Hunted" flaw will have a probability of the hunter encountering their prey, so the whole game isn't attack-defend-attack-defend-repeat.
            No actual mechanics, though I have a rough idea. I'm unsure of how "physical" I want them to be - how you'd run them as characters in, say, a fight. [EDIT: As you'll see, I kind of invent the mechanics as I go along with this post.]

            For how the Tulpas find Ravnos, I have a kernal of a idea that uses of Chimestry set off a sort of beacon that the Tulpas can sense from a distance (maybe 1d10 miles per dot of Chimestry used in the power). Like attracts like, and so uses of Chimestry will let a Tulpa know the direction of the user at the moment they use it. (Obviously, this also creates the possiblity of Tulpas being attracted to non-Ravnos who learned Chimestry out of clan). Whether the Tulpa can then track the user is the next question. Chimestry just gives the assassin a trail to follow. If a Tulpa is around when the Chimestry-user uses the Discipline a lot, it can create potential danger of the vampire being easier to track. I see the beacon as more of a pulse that goes off and then fades, requiring the Tulpa to navigate to where it last sensed it. Rather than being a constant beacon that they track effortlessly. I would prefer the Tulpa/Ravnos conflict to be a game of cat and mouse.

            Are the Tulpas just straight-up bitey monsters, or do they have more subtle means, like blackmail and sabotage?
            They way I see it, the Tulpas have one goal: Kill Ravnos. Period. That is the mission their creator - the Ravnos Antedeluvian - charged them with, and it's the mission they will follow by the most expedient path possible.

            That said, how intelligent the Tulpas are and what methods they can use might vary. In the early stages after the death of [Ravnos], they were probably feral beasts. As time passes and the Tulpas explore the world in their attempts to find their targets, they may grow more intelligent. Craftier. More individualized. Their chief goal is to kill Ravnos, but Tulpas may develop personalized methods, preferred tools, and attitudes towards their duty. Some might see the job as a job, to be complete with expedience so the Tulpa can move on. Whereas another might come to enjoy the chase, and like tormenting Ravnos before coming in for the kill. One Tulpa may decide that, after the glut of Ravnos killing, they need to slow down and enjoy the hunt; take their time, because there's only so many Ravnos left. Some Tulpas might collaborate in pairs or small groups, whereas others want a kill all to themselves. Another might be extremely conservative, wary of attacking unless it's sure it can get the kill, because it fears destruction. More on that later.

            Naturally, being "living" illusions, the Tulpa can take or change forms on the fly, and that opens up a great deal of opportunities for stories and set pieces.

            What is their lifespan? I mean, is there one for each Ravnos, and when it's defeated is the Ravnos then safe? Or, is there one for each Ravnos and as Ravnos are killed the Tulpas gang up on the survivors... eventually ending in a zerg rush against the last Ravnos?
            There are probably a finite number of Tulpas. If there was one for each Ravnos, there's no reason why [Ravnos] wouldn't just make them appear right next to their corresponding Ravnos and attack them then and there. Which would defeat the purpose of having the Clan be hunted.

            The exact number is unimportant, but I'd ballpark around a couple dozen Tulpas at the outset. By the powers of [Ravnos]'s Plot Device level of Chimestry, they will persist indefinitely until all users of Chimestry are dead, or the Tulpa is destroyed. Assume that maybe a dozen were destroyed in the initial wave of killings, when the Tulpas were young and dumb. They took a great number of Ravnos with them, of course, because the Clan didn't expect them or know how to fight them. So a dozen or two Tulpas are around, spreading out from India (where they first appeared and killed lots of Ravnos) to look for more quarry.

            How do the Tulpas handle bystanders and the Masquerade? Are they visible to non-Ravnos?
            Good questions. My conception of Tulpas is that they are chimerical, in the Changeling: The Dreaming sense. Most of the time, they hang out just on the other side of the division between the material world and the Dreaming. They only step over when in the presence of a Ravnos. Or, better yet, only when Chimestry is used, which provides them a wave of illusory power they can ride into normative reality. Then they run around trying to find their quarry, until a certain amount of time passes and they fade back into the Dreaming. (This also means that a vampire with Chimestry might remain in the "presence" of a Tulpa in the Dreaming for some time and not trigger an attack, if the vampire doesn't use Chimestry.)

            Most of the time, they aren't a factor in the Masquerade. But when they appear, they appear as whatever they want. That could naturally cause Masquerade issues, which could lead to sects like the Camarilla having even more issue with Ravnos because of the beings who hunt them.

            Might this actually nerf the Ravnos out of existence more than the Week of Nightmares? I mean, in canon, if a Ravnos survives that week, they pretty much are back to normal. With this, it seems like an ongoing threat. Or was clearly removing the clan your goal?
            Removing Clan Ravnos was not my goal. I didn't really like that aspect of the Week of Nightmares. My goal is simply to create the potential for more stories, plot hooks, and drama. Add a dimension to the Ravnos that could be incorporated into games, either with Ravnos NPCs or as a threat posed to PCs.

            Tulpas aren't meant to be unstoppable, just frightening and dangerous. A bit hard to kill, unless you know a trick for doing so. Making a Sword of Damocles over the heads of all Ravnos seems less interesting than having a threat they can fight and potentially prevail over.

            How does one fight a Tulpa? A couple possible ways. They are beings born of illusion, so Chimestry seems like a way to fight them. Mortal weapons do nothing, but an illusory blade or flame ought to do something. Or perhaps not, since it would raise the question of why the Tulpas didn't all perish at the hands of Elder Ravnos in the opening weeks. So put this under the "maybe" category.

            Since Tulpas are chimerical in nature, perhaps Cold Iron and/or Banality can harm them, like it does Changelings or Chimerical beings. Depending on how you define "Cold Iron" it might be tricky, easy, or almost impossible to arm themselves with such a weapon. The Storyteller would need to decide how many hoops a Ravnos would need to go through to get one. Banality, meanwhile, is a more esoteric means of combating Tulpas, forcing the Storyteller to define that and the player to bend their thinking around concepts more alien to a Vampire game. I don't see this as a negative, but as an opportunity to throw non-standard problems at a character. It might mean leading the Tulpa through a cubicle farm to sap its strength, or come down to a Ravnos beating the illusory assassin in the face with a dry technical manual. I would leave this idea open, so players and storytellers can get creative.
            Last edited by Bluecho; 08-08-2018, 07:33 PM.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Camilla View Post
              The Week of Nightmares was not created out of a fanbase backlash, the fandom's widespread hatred of the Ravnos largely came into play long after the Week of Nightmares. Hell, the Revised corebook even downplayed any connections to the Romani and instead focused more on the clan's Indian roots.
              I stand corrected.

              Originally posted by Camilla View Post
              Actually, the decimation of the Ravnos was because some of the writers at WW at the time (including the head developer for Vampire) had a hate-on for the Ravnos and decided to use the metaplot to police the setting of elements they did not like such as the Ravnos, Stargazers, and Camarilla-aligned Gangrel (to say nothing of the infamous Avatar Storm), and overall they used the metaplot to dictate a "One True Way" to play VTM, similar to what NuWW is doing with V5 only not as severe because the Ravnos were still in the corebook and the Gangrel were still listed as Camarilla in the corebook, so it was easier for an ST to say "I'm not using the metaplot" and actually run a game in the style they wanted as the mechanics were largely untouched.

              Unfortunately, V5 was a lot more severe and ham-fisted in their dedication to the metaplot and personal horror, even dramatically rewriting the mechanics to force the players into NuWW's preferred style, whereas old Revised WW would just leave snide remarks in the text of their books to tell them that anyone who went against the metaplot was "playing the game wrong".
              Man, that sucks. Just all of that. Certainly the part about V5, since it's relevant to right now, but the rest as well. I will say that at least the damage from those earlier changes ended up being minimal, despite writer efforts. V5 is definitely worse about it.

              Btw, I love Ravnos, too. They're such a dynamic clan and hard to pin down, like the mythological Trickster figures they emulate. So much fun.


              Comment


              • #8
                Bluecho

                I like all of this, and it actually has me kind of psyched about Ravnos after years of filing them away as just "meh".

                Just a thought, but would one way to run this (in V20, anyway) be the Haunted flaw? Could it just be easier to re-skin that flaw to be a chimerical being rather than a wraithly one? Or is that not as directly violent as you imagined?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                  Bluecho

                  I like all of this, and it actually has me kind of psyched about Ravnos after years of filing them away as just "meh".

                  Just a thought, but would one way to run this (in V20, anyway) be the Haunted flaw? Could it just be easier to re-skin that flaw to be a chimerical being rather than a wraithly one? Or is that not as directly violent as you imagined?
                  Maybe something more like Enemy or Hunted. Haunted implies something more regular and less directly harmful. The Tulpas would be occasional threats of a great level, since they are (usually) less interested in tormenting the Ravnos and more interested in just killing them.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                    For how the Tulpas find Ravnos, I have a kernal of a idea that uses of Chimestry set off a sort of beacon that the Tulpas can sense from a distance (maybe 1d10 miles per dot of Chimestry used in the power). Like attracts like, and so uses of Chimestry will let a Tulpa know the direction of the user at the moment they use it. (Obviously, this also creates the possiblity of Tulpas being attracted to non-Ravnos who learned Chimestry out of clan). Whether the Tulpa can then track the user is the next question. Chimestry just gives the assassin a trail to follow. If a Tulpa is around when the Chimestry-user uses the Discipline a lot, it can create potential danger of the vampire being easier to track. I see the beacon as more of a pulse that goes off and then fades, requiring the Tulpa to navigate to where it last sensed it. Rather than being a constant beacon that they track effortlessly. I would prefer the Tulpa/Ravnos conflict to be a game of cat and mouse.

                    They way I see it, the Tulpas have one goal: Kill Ravnos. Period. That is the mission their creator - the Ravnos Antedeluvian - charged them with, and it's the mission they will follow by the most expedient path possible.

                    That said, how intelligent the Tulpas are and what methods they can use might vary. In the early stages after the death of [Ravnos], they were probably feral beasts. As time passes and the Tulpas explore the world in their attempts to find their targets, they may grow more intelligent. Craftier. More individualized. Their chief goal is to kill Ravnos, but Tulpas may develop personalized methods, preferred tools, and attitudes towards their duty. Some might see the job as a job, to be complete with expedience so the Tulpa can move on. Whereas another might come to enjoy the chase, and like tormenting Ravnos before coming in for the kill. One Tulpa may decide that, after the glut of Ravnos killing, they need to slow down and enjoy the hunt; take their time, because there's only so many Ravnos left. Some Tulpas might collaborate in pairs or small groups, whereas others want a kill all to themselves. Another might be extremely conservative, wary of attacking unless it's sure it can get the kill, because it fears destruction. More on that later.

                    Naturally, being "living" illusions, the Tulpa can take or change forms on the fly, and that opens up a great deal of opportunities for stories and set pieces.

                    There are probably a finite number of Tulpas. If there was one for each Ravnos, there's no reason why [Ravnos] wouldn't just make them appear right next to their corresponding Ravnos and attack them then and there. Which would defeat the purpose of having the Clan be hunted.

                    The exact number is unimportant, but I'd ballpark around a couple dozen Tulpas at the outset. By the powers of [Ravnos]'s Plot Device level of Chimestry, they will persist indefinitely until all users of Chimestry are dead, or the Tulpa is destroyed. Assume that maybe a dozen were destroyed in the initial wave of killings, when the Tulpas were young and dumb. They took a great number of Ravnos with them, of course, because the Clan didn't expect them or know how to fight them. So a dozen or two Tulpas are around, spreading out from India (where they first appeared and killed lots of Ravnos) to look for more quarry.

                    Good questions. My conception of Tulpas is that they are chimerical, in the Changeling: The Dreaming sense. Most of the time, they hang out just on the other side of the division between the material world and the Dreaming. They only step over when in the presence of a Ravnos. Or, better yet, only when Chimestry is used, which provides them a wave of illusory power they can ride into normative reality. Then they run around trying to find their quarry, until a certain amount of time passes and they fade back into the Dreaming. (This also means that a vampire with Chimestry might remain in the "presence" of a Tulpa in the Dreaming for some time and not trigger an attack, if the vampire doesn't use Chimestry.)
                    If I may add my 2 cents of Fairy gold to this

                    I see the creation of the Tuplas being a part of Ascension of Zapathasura, the clan Founder.
                    He was destroyed, but a part of him lives on with the Chimerical - surge in the clan was his first attempt to come back, but no one was strong enough to craft him into reality again because the elders were busy fighting each other with the Blood rage caused by his destruction

                    So he crafts Tulpa. One at a time, or all at once; it doesn't matter - his essence continues and can do it again if needed.
                    When elders fight the Tulpa, they rely on Chimestry, but since they are an extension of Zapathasura and Chimestra itself (or the level 10 power) they turn all lesser uses against the creator.

                    The Tulpa aren't trying to "Kill" other Ravnos, They are trying to devour them; Diablerie through Proxy so that Zapathasura can reform again. I think they would hunt the blood, but also get distracted by members of other clans that use Chimestry, and they'd make a nice snack.

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                    • #11
                      Illithid I like that a lot.

                      Here's another one:

                      When I'm trying to think of a plot idea for the WoD, I ask myself what would happen next if this were a tragic opera written by Lovecraft.

                      Considering that the Path of Paradox is concerned with taking things with a great deal of mystic energy, and dissipating that energy back into the cycle again... what if there was a being of vast power that the Ravnos ante was holding in stasis until he could figure out how to destroy it? With Zapathasura's destruction, that Lovecraftian Abomination is unlocked, and soon will awaken.

                      The Tulpas were created to fight the LovecrAb, and are reclaiming the blood to empower themselves. This would force Ravnos who resist into the position of saying, "No, I refuse to be destroyed, even if it means the unleashing of something that will destroy the world."

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