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  • Newbie politics

    I figured wheeling and dealing was just innate for everyone playing this game. But I have players who I assume cause they’re hack n slashers aren’t getting hyped. How can i incentivize them to get involved? Is there some custom home brew system you’ve used that I can implement to make them intrigued? Maybe I’m missing something or haven’t talked it up enough.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
    I figured wheeling and dealing was just innate for everyone playing this game. But I have players who I assume cause they’re hack n slashers aren’t getting hyped. How can i incentivize them to get involved? Is there some custom home brew system you’ve used that I can implement to make them intrigued? Maybe I’m missing something or haven’t talked it up enough.
    Generally, it's best to do baby steps on this sort of thing.

    Give them a either or choice to become involved in how to do a political intrigue and make them have the option of improvising.

    Here's a dozen or so plot hooks that way:

    Easy Neonate Vampire Politics

    * A vampire owes you a favor because you gave him a ride home and a place to crash an hour before the sun. He wants to repay you by giving you information on any other vampire in the city's dirty secrets. You can use this however you like as he's a Nosferatu or Malkavian with a lot.

    * The player character is asked by another vampire to help them in a blackmail scheme. They have photos of another Kindred doing something horrible (breaking the Masquerade, feeding on children). The vampire offers them half of a $50,000 pay off. When the Kindred ambushes them with ghouls, do the players take it to the authorities or try to up the payment?

    * The players are asked to "take care" of a Thin Blood problem. There's six of them on the docks, chilling, and potentially violating all manner of Masquerade or worse politics. The players can kill them, blood bond them, enslave them, or educate them.

    Just get them taken care of before they do something stupid.

    * The players are asked by an Elder to seduce and blood bond a young neonate who doesn't know about Blood Bonds and use them as an in to the Anarchs. The Elder will pay handsomely for this. The players can choose, instead to have her play along.

    * The players are asked to judge a dispute between Kindred as a disinterested party. Both sides offer to briibe them. They can also screw them both over. It's a first taste of being a bastard scenario. Example: Both Kindred want this young beautiful vessel who they've been trying to seduce and blood bond as a ghoul. She's a singer at the local Kindred nightclub and very rich. The players can do it themselves.

    * The players hack and slasher quality get political. The players are asked by a local Brujah gang of Anarchs to help them in a dust up with some Gangrel Deputies. The Gangrel then ask for the same and promise Camarilla help.

    * A newspaper reporter contacts the players and tells them he knows they're involved in organized crime (shows them photos of meeting Kindred) but believes they're not terrible. He has evidence of a human trafficking ring and wants the help of the mob to shut it down. It's actually a local Kindred running it and the players can murder all the ghouls there guilt free.

    But they'll make an elder angry.

    * The PCs are asked to straight up murder a vampire who killed a Ventrue's favorite vessel/mortal descendant. They know where he is and it's out of town so if they kill him, it's not a Blood Hunt offense. The vampire begs the PCs to let him go and offers them a bribe but you find out he's itchy and has had other frenzies in the past few months--he's got the low humanity, low self control and he's a Brujah.

    But he claims he's going to get better and maybe seek Golconda or something. What do they do?
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 10-06-2018, 12:26 PM.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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    • #3
      There’s enough plot hooks to turn this into another hell raiser movie. The thing I see is they aren’t pulling the strings.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
        There’s enough plot hooks to turn this into another hell raiser movie. The thing I see is they aren’t pulling the strings.
        Well then my advice is not follow up the plot hooks but just have them make a either or choice.

        Like Mass Effect.

        Have events step up to them and then make them choose.


        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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        • #5
          Politics tends to be an issue for "hack n slasher" types because they have difficulty seeing how things interconnect and thus don't see how things can be manipulated.

          If a player says "I bash it with my axe", they understand what an axe is, which end goes into the enemy, and if shown a picture of raw hamburger they have a general idea of what the enemy will look like after its use. The damage mechanics and stats interactions take over once the decision has been made to bash something.

          When I run into a group with people like this, I try to create simpler scenarios where the players can try out flexing their manipulation muscle. I also usually add an advisor NPC whom is trust worthy enough that the PCs can follow their advice without too much threat of betrayal.

          Example #1: Finding a different kind of axe
          Have the PCs try to take over or gain massive influence in a niche Service or institution. A good example is city maintenance, this way the PCs can slowly learn how to use a political resource like a weapon. For example they could change the budget to ensure the area surrounding the Toreadors night club area is well lit by streetlights and has loads of security cameras, this in turn makes the club utterly useless as a hunting ground. Thus the city maintenance section is a weapon against ones enemies, while the reallocated budget means you can overlook maintaining those same services in other areas to make them better hunting grounds for people you want to owe you favors. Alternatively by increasing all that security in an area you can help promote a given place to the status of Elysium.

          Example #2: Wheeling and Dealing
          Make sure to craft your stories with the options of altering the outcomes by just having a conversation. A lot people tend to think with "video game logic" in that the main enemy eventually ends up as a boss fight. Encourage the PCs to look into what their opponents want, encourage them to get their first, then open the possibility of using that to trade with the opponent, rather than being a boss fight unlock requirement. I mean if you are in control of a bank and you are on unfriendly terms with the local brujah biker gang, you could try to make lots of donations to the cops to ensure their gang is shut down or you could offer to launder money for the gang for a percentage.

          Example #3: Setting a trap, inviting the enemy, and stealing the cheese
          There are two kindred who are running for mayor of a given city, one you don't like and one you want to owe you a favor. Offer to throw the Kindred you don't like a fundraiser to gain votes. Have the kindred you do like give a speech about needing to curtail gang violence in the days leading up to the fundraiser. When the fundraiser is happening, make sure the kindred you don't like will give a speech. During that speech have some fake gang members crash the party and publicly shoot and "kill" the mayoral candidate and then rob the attendees. Since the Kindred you didn't like just "died" in public, they will have to leave the city for the good of the masquerade or at least stay very hidden for a couple decades. This hands the election to the Kindred you like, and since they publicly made a fuss about gang violence, the public should rally behind them. So the new vampire mayor owes you a couple favors for getting them elected and removing a rival, the deposed kindred owes you a favor for attempting to help them with a fundraiser for their political gain, and chances are that you now have a well funded gang with some serious street cred who owe you for making them infamous.

          As you can see each example increases in complexity, but at the same time is straight forward with its intent for using methods other than a "boss fight" to finish a problem.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
            I figured wheeling and dealing was just innate for everyone playing this game. But I have players who I assume cause they’re hack n slashers aren’t getting hyped. How can i incentivize them to get involved? Is there some custom home brew system you’ve used that I can implement to make them intrigued? Maybe I’m missing something or haven’t talked it up enough.
            Make an elder run them around like fools,
            make clear they can't hack n slash him or they will get the short stick...
            Then maybe they will realize (or an helpful Ancilla will tell them straigtforward) that they can hurt him without touching him or even getting the blame,
            just searching around for the rival of that elder, and helping her.
            Help a rival of your enemy get power -> hurt the power stance of said enemy -> Ehi, this is already politicking

            I don't remember easier approaches than this...


            Dark Shores: Lineages of the Great Lakes

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
              I figured wheeling and dealing was just innate for everyone playing this game. But I have players who I assume cause they’re hack n slashers aren’t getting hyped. How can i incentivize them to get involved? Is there some custom home brew system you’ve used that I can implement to make them intrigued? Maybe I’m missing something or haven’t talked it up enough.
              Meh. While Vampire is usually a game of Byzantine politics, why not just let them play the game they want to play?

              If what they want to do is axe goblins.... ahem, I mean ash shovelheads... let 'em! In more traditional rpgs, like D&D, politics eventually arise as higher level characters establish a personal power-base.

              You're there to have fun with your friends, not to scold them that they're "having fun wrong".

              If, for your enjoyment, you need some politics in the story just give them a political option alongside and equally effective combat option. As in the real world, the political option should be less painful and messy. The players will learn the path of least resistance on their own.

              But, resist the urge to railroad them. That will kill your game.

              For example, let's say the pcs are tasked by the Prince with silencing a witness who happens to be the daughter of a mafia boss. They face two basic choices, which you should make obvious to them. They can kill her and start a messy street war, or they can ghoul her, bribe her, or otherwise get her on their side. Which one has less fall-out?

              If all else fails, run a street-level Sabbat game.

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              • #8
                I agree with Nosimplehiway. Remember that this is a game and your players are there to have fun, first and foremost. There's no reason to enforce upon them a game-style or limitations they won't enjoy just because that's how the game should be.

                That being said, their taste might change once they realize what is more powerful in the game's mechanics. Fighting is just not efficient. It takes a ton of stats to be a good fighter (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Wits, Brawl, Athetics, Melee, Alertness, Firearms?, Stealth?, Potence, Celerity, Fortitude, Serpentis 3, Vicissitude 4, Protean 2...) and those stats don't let you do much else. By converse, social and mental manipulation can be done with fewer stats and each represents a different viable style of politics. Combining multiple political or knowledge stats opens new fields of action for the player (ex.: Politics, Law and Finance are three stats that can be used each on their own by 3 different political characters or combined by one to have fun while gaining control in more than one way, to avoid boredom), unlike combat stats which are simply a tax to be able to survive a round of combat.

                Most importantly, political stats lets them control more pawns to whom they can delegate fights and move around like an RTS (real-time strategy) game. Maybe they'll enjoy that.

                Another option is to let them create and roll for their pawns, like ghouls purchases through Retainers. This way they can either have a political vampire with military ghouls, or a fighting vampire who uses political ghouls to meet his needs for masquerade coverage, money expenditure, weapons acquisition, daytime surveillance... Since they'll be running more than one kind of character and roleplaying all of them, they will eventually see that politics suits VtM more than hack and slash and opens more funny options.

                If they still decide to create a combat-oriented vampire with Retainers 5 representing 5 combat-oriented ghouls, just let reality play itself: sooner or later they'll meet harder opponents they can't smash (WoD is full of them, anyway), the ghouls are gonna die or run away, and it's gonna be hard to get them back without social stats to inspire them or to find another equally qualified crew. Professional assassins don't get recruited by fellow Hulk-smashers after all. They prefer to follow someone with money or influence who can secure their dreams in exchange for combat services. Militia usually looks for a cause and an inspiring leader, or someone who can lead them to strategical exploits to get the maximum booty from their raids. There are just many good real-world reasons why being the best fighter does not make you the leader of the world, but being the guy who can bankroll the best fighter or manipulate him does.

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                • #9
                  So I put it into simplistic game terms. It worked out well. I meticulously laid out an election candidacy. Didn’t say who was actually running, just possibles. Have them obvious known stats like influence, how many kindred were in their clan.
                  Then reset and ran elysium. Laid out the regulars. Then specific ones who were related to side quests.
                  Told the players to make a carousing roll and rewarded them with a chance to talk to X NPCs. Then for each NPC they could make a social roll to connive them or get a rumor or question answered. They liked that a lot.
                  For the one whom had nothing in carousing at all simply played the fly on the wall and I let the nossie roll to eavesdrop on conversations. Sunk good plothooks that way.
                  A much better elysium session as a result. Dice = successes = rewards, seemed to be the formula I needed.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
                    There’s enough plot hooks to turn this into another hell raiser movie. The thing I see is they aren’t pulling the strings.
                    Not pulling at the strings would be the only way to get the "Good" ending them.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
                      So I put it into simplistic game terms. It worked out well. I meticulously laid out an election candidacy. Didn’t say who was actually running, just possibles. Have them obvious known stats like influence, how many kindred were in their clan.
                      Then reset and ran elysium. Laid out the regulars. Then specific ones who were related to side quests.
                      Told the players to make a carousing roll and rewarded them with a chance to talk to X NPCs. Then for each NPC they could make a social roll to connive them or get a rumor or question answered. They liked that a lot.
                      For the one whom had nothing in carousing at all simply played the fly on the wall and I let the nossie roll to eavesdrop on conversations. Sunk good plothooks that way.
                      A much better elysium session as a result. Dice = successes = rewards, seemed to be the formula I needed.
                      That makes sense. Glad it worked out in the end. The way politics work may be a bit counterintuitive for players after all, given VtM's roll mechanics and abilities.

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