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[V5] The Masquerade

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  • [V5] The Masquerade

    So, full disclosure up front, this is a modification of an idea presented by Jon Munger in his blog that I happened to find while looking around at some resources online. The objective here is to turn the Masquerade into something of a mechanic similar in effect to Humanity that is tracked by the Storyteller. The real trick is that it works in the inverse to Humanity, in that as more Breaches happen fewer Violations are required to make a serious impact giving a sense of escalation. I liked the general premise and most of the composition of the idea, but as with most things in games I ended up tweaking it to my own liking and for my own purposes. For reference, here is a link to the idea as originally presented.

    Now, on to my version of the concept. Feedback is, as always, welcome - though I can only speak to feedback from my own perspective and based on my variation of the concept as I do not speak for the original creator.

    The Masquerade
    Storytellers monitor the strength of the Masquerade surrounding the Coterie in much the same way that players monitor the strength of their Humanity over the Beast. In this way the system will help to inform the Storyteller just how much pressure the Second Inquisition or freelance Hunters might be applying to the Coterie in the ongoing Chronicle.

    The Masquerade Track is composed of 10 boxes in a similar fashion to the Humanity Track, of which this functions as essentially an inverse to.

    Throughout the Chapter the Storyteller will mark Violations on the Masquerade Track in the same way that players will mark Stains on the Humanity Track. At the end of the Chapter the Storyteller makes a Revelation roll just as players make a Remorse roll. If the roll fails, the Masquerade has experienced a Breach.

    This provides an abstraction of the concept of the Masquerade within the core mechanics of the game, while keeping it confined to the Coterie allows it to be more easily managed by the Storyteller. With that said, Storytellers should still consider the actions of other Kindred in their Chronicles and the impact they might have on the pressure the Coterie might feel as a result. This can be reflected in providing dice pool modifiers on Revelation rolls based on background actions happening in the city.

    Violation
    Not all Violations are of the same magnitude. Chatting on the internet about Kindred affairs is one thing, an exsanguinated body in the morgue is another altogether. Mark Violations from right to left on the Masquerade Track using a slash (/). If during the Chapter the players ever run out of blank spaces and commit another Violation it is treated as an automatic failed Revelation roll (the characters have simply done too much without taking efforts to cover their tracks for it to not be noticed). At the discretion of the Storyteller extreme or overt Violations may be treated as an automatic Breach, though this does not reset the Violations like in a Revelation roll.

    Examples of some of the more common actions considered Violations and their degree of impact are, but are not limited to:
    • Alter local politics or media (+1 Violation)
    • Unsecured communication of Kindred affairs (+1 Violation)
    • Revealing Kindred nature to unreliable witnesses (+1 Violation)
    • Revealing Kindred nature to credible witnesses (+2 Violations)
    • Feeding without precautions or to satiation (+2 Violations)
    • Using Kindred powers in public (+3 Violations)
    Breach
    Not every Violation is followed up on or even acknowledged as a Breach, many simply falling through the cracks mistaken as more mundane events unrelated to the supernatural. The Second Inquisition, an organization labored by limited resources, gross understaffing, and political posturing, has to be able to filter the truth from the background static, prioritize the situations it commits to, and work through bureaucratic red tape. As the Coterie causes more and more Violations causing more and more Breaches they draw increased Attention from the Second Inquisition, who quickly become more and more willing to devote those resources and staffing to their location and eradication.

    The total Breaches determine how aware the Second Inquisition is of the Coterie, and that level of Attention dictates what they are likely to do in response.

    Breaches begin at 0 when the Chronicle starts, adding to the starting Breaches for each statement that is true:
    • Character has Flaw: Known Corpse (+1 Breach)
    • Character has Flaw: Known Blankbody (+2 Breaches)
    For each Breach, fill in a box on the Masquerade Track starting from left to right. A Breach occurs whenever there is a successful Revelation roll.

    Revelation
    At the close of each Chapter, roll a number of dice equal to the blank spaces on the Masquerade Track plus any bonus dice acquired from conducting Cover-Ups. If any successes come up, the Second Inquisition either didn't catch wind of the Coterie, incorrectly perceived the Violations as being mundane in nature, or some other Kindred took steps to cover their tracks removing all current Violations from the Masquerade Track as these details are lost to the static noise of the World of Darkness. On a failure, remove all Violations, add a Breach, and check to see what the new Attention level is for informing potential future actions the Second Inquisition might take against the Coterie.

    As previously noted, Storytellers should also take into consideration the Coteries relationship to other Kindred in the Chronicle and how those relationships could impact the chances of the Second Inquisition taking notice of the characters. This can be reflected in dice pool modifiers applied to the Revelation roll at the conclusion of the Chapter, where actions taken by other Kindred that draws the eyes of the Second Inquisition to the Coterie being reflected by a reduction to the dice pool and actions taken to directly divert the Second Inquisition can be reflected in bonuses to the dice pool.

    Attention
    When the Second Inquisition move against the Coterie, how they respond depends on how much Attention the Coterie has attracted. Every 2 boxes equates to an Attention Level from 1-5, representing the general level of response the Second Inquisition will devote to the Coterie moving forward. This is mostly a guideline to help inform the Storyteller of how much pressure the Second Inquisition would apply to the Coterie, and as an abstraction does not cover the broad swath of approaches these levels might actually entail.

    The general levels of Attention are as follows:
    • Level 1: Unconfirmed Reports - This represents the Second Inquisition being passingly aware of some anomalies, but is otherwise undisposed or uninterested in exerting resources or staffing to the situation. At this phase it is unlikely that there are any active Second Inquisition agents in the area.
    • Level 2: Active Investigation - The Second Inquisition begins to look into the Coterie. They are not aware of who or where the Coterie members are, but will deploy a few investigators to the area who will make use of local police in an attempt to establish the Coterie's composition and location. At this phase it is unlikely that agents will engage the characters as they likely lack the information needed to reasonably do so.
    • Level 3: Targeted Disruption - The investigators have established a reasonable assessment of what the Coterie is involved in and will manipulate local police and government to disrupt any activity in an effort to further identify the supernatural threat. Direct engagement is highly unlikely still, but they will capture, interrogate, or destroy a straggler if the opportunity presents itself.
    • Level 4: Direct Action - Using paramilitary police forces, local talent, and the occasional agent, the Second Inquisition begins actively hunting the Coterie. This consists of surgical strikes against the Kindred and their assets. Capture and interrogation will still be used if the opportunity presents itself, particularly with assets for the purpose of extracting further information.
    • Level 5: Escalating Measures - At this point, the Second Inquisition has decided that the Coterie needs to be destroyed by any means necessary. Instead of the local ringers the Inquisition previously employed, hit squads of special forces soldiers and agents, briefed and prepared for blankbody neutralization, are deployed. The Second Inquisition will continue to escalate force from small hit squads to arson if necessary, and will not stop until they believe the Coterie and their assets are destroyed, captured, or the collateral damage is deemed too extreme.
    While the primary purpose of the Masquerade Tracker is to assess the role the Second Inquisition should be taking in a Chronicle based on the actions of the players (and partly the actions of the Kindred NPCs), Storytellers should also keep in mind that other Kindred will likely be highly displeased with characters who routinely harm the Masquerade. It can strain associations and relationships at best, and could cost the characters their very unlives at worst (even the Anarchs, and to some degree the Sabbat, understand the importance of the Masquerade - and with another Inquisition burning through the ranks it is more understood than it has been in centuries).

    Cover-Up
    The best course of action for characters is to take the steps and precautions required to ensure that a Breach does not happen to begin with. The best way to ensure this is to not commit any Violations, but the life of the Kindred will likely lead to it sooner or later, so what happens when Violations have already been committed? This can be addressed by actively working to Cover-Up the Violations before there is a chance for Revelation by trying to obscure and bury it through any means necessary, though this carries the potential to make the situation categorically worse than before.

    Once per Chapter each character has the ability to conduct a Cover-Up in order to gain bonus dice when the Revelation roll is made. Storytellers should encourage players to describe just how their character is attempting to conduct the Cover-Up. This requires the character to invest an hour of downtime plus 1 additional hour per Breach on the Masquerade Track, and perform a roll at a Difficulty equal to the current number of Violations. The exact roll will be determined by the course of action being taken in the Cover-Up based on Storyteller discretion.

    The following effects will be applied based on the result of the roll:
    • Messy Critical results in the Violations increasing by 1 and bonus dice on the Revelation roll equal to the Margin
    • Win and Critical Win results in bonus dice on the Revelation roll equal to the Margin
    • Failure results in no change to the number of Violations or bonus dice
    • Complete Failure results in the Violations increasing by 1
    • Bestial Failure results in the Violations increasing by 2
    Conspiracy
    Once the Second Inquisition catches the trail of the Coterie and realizes they are worth knowing about, it can be hard to deter them. Massacring an assault squad might make them back off temporarily in order to regroup, but it won't mitigate the Attention they pay to the Coterie in the long term. Remember, though, that the Second Inquisition has to move resources and personnel around to focus on the Coterie. Conspiracies are used for convincing them that the Coterie is destroyed, has moved on from the area, there is a more pressing threat elsewhere, or other tactics which can strengthen the Masquerade by throwing the Second Inquisition off the scent as represented by reducing the number of Breaches on the Tracker. Whatever the method, it isn't easy and requires care, planning, and execution - the Second Inquisition doesn't just let targets go.

    Conspiracies are the webs of deceit woven by Kindred for many purposes, in this case to restore the damage done to the Masquerade by past Breaches in order to divert the Second Inquisition away from the Coterie. This is best handled through the system for Projects as detailed in the core rules (which, as an aside, should have been called the Conspiracy System). Players and the Storyteller should work together to detail what steps the characters will need to take in order to strengthen the Masquerade surrounding them. As a general rule of thumb, the Scope of the Project is equal to the number of Breaches the characters wish to remove, and will have an Increment of one month (with the Project culminating in roughly 1 year). The Stake that is used for this, as it does not have a Background gain associated to it, will be based on player and Storyteller discretion and should reflect the approach taken.

    Unlike many other Projects, these cannot be performed in Memoriam. The Second Inquisition may, however, launch an Opposition Project against the characters to try and prevent their repair of the Masquerade if Attention is at Level 2 or higher.

    Going Global (Optional Additional System)
    While this system is primarily designed around the Coterie, some Storytellers may wish to expand this concept to a more "Global Scale" to further account for the actions of the NPCs in the Chronicle and how that might impact the overall aggression seen from the Second Inquisition (as they are likely to apply much greater force in a situation where an infestation of Kindred has been uncovered through continued Breaches). While this will require a bit more record keeping, the Storyteller can opt to track the Masquerade as it pertains to each Coterie in the city (thus allowing every Kindred to play a role in the overall scheme of things). Much of this will be based on fiat since it is related to background details that are not played through directly, but like with many things the Storyteller can do a general pass of how many Violations the other Kindred may have committed in their transgressions, decide if they have taken steps to perform Cover-Ups, and then make subsequent checks.

    This will provide the Storyteller with a general assessment of the number of Breaches in play across their Chronicle. They can apply this situation to a secondary Masquerade track consisting of 5 blank boxes. Take the total of all Coterie Attention Levels and divide by 2 (rounding down) and this is how many levels of the Global Masquerade Tracker will become filled in from left to right (updated at the close of every Chapter). This will correlate to an overall Aggression Level exhibited by the Second Inquisition, primarily the level of danger they are willing to place Bystandards, as based on the following:
    • Level 0: Condition Green - Area is considered to be clear or contains unconfirmed but highly suspicious activity. Information gathering and verification may begin at this point through Investigators. Agents and Hunters not yet dispatched in the area making minimal to nonexistent chances for direct conflict between the Second Inquisition and Kindred, Assets, or Bystandards.
    • Level 1: Condition Blue - Some verified Blankbody activity has been confirmed within the area and active investigations have begun. Multiple Investigators dispatched to the impacted area working with local police and government, and potentially a small number of Agents and Hunters to begin containing the perceived isolated threat. Bystandard casualties are not risked at this time, and Assets are handled cautiously since many are likely unconfirmed still. Direct conflicts between the Second Inquisition and Kindred will be rather rare but may begin to happen at this point.
    • Level 2: Condition Yellow - A minor infestation of Blankbodies has been confirmed in the area, resulting in additional Agents and Hunters being dispatched to the area. As the overall threat is still perceived to be minor in scale, Bystandards casualties are still not risked at this time though some more drastic measures have potentially been authorized in regards to Assets. Direct conflicts between Kindred and the Second Inquisition are becoming common enough to be a topic of interest in Elysium.
    • Level 3: Condition Orange - By this point the infestation in the area is considered to be of true concern. Even more Agents and Hunters are diverted to the area, and increasingly risky actions are beginning to be authorized. At this point Bystandard casualties will potentially be risked, but will still be avoided in most cases. Assets are now certainly directly in danger as connection to Blankbodies in the area are verified. Direct conflicts with Kindred at this point becoming a focus of the story. Note, no single Coterie has the ability to push the Global Masquerade to this point or higher, so it is always a conscious choice of the Storyteller to make the Second Inquisition a focus of their Chronicle.
    • Level 4: Condition Red - The infestation in the area is deemed to be nearly the worst they've seen. Risks are becoming more common place, though Bystandards are still considered to some degree in that operations will be organized to give the lowest potential for innocent deaths. That said, things happening in the moment are certainly going to be overlooked. Assets and Kindred are in grave danger when coming into contact with the Second Inquisition by this point. Operations that achieve this Aggression Level are bound to make national headline.
    • Level 5: Condition Black - All bets are now off, and the Second Inquisition will risk many innocent lives to ensure the massive infestation of Blankbodies is eradicated. The area is about to become the next Vienna, and many Kindred lives are likely to be lost. Bystandards are not even considered at this point when actions are taken.
    This can allow for a Storyteller to really tweak and scale the overall scope of how the Second Inquisition will be handled in the Chronicle, using the context provided by the two Trackers to give a more refined and likely more accurate depiction of the Second Inquisition. Despite the more accurate results this approach is likely to provide, it is not recommended for most Storytellers and very much considered an Optional Advanced System being stacked on to another Optional Advanced System.
    Last edited by Red Eye; 10-11-2018, 05:46 AM.


    -Red
    V20 Content: Age & Potency
    V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor
    Community & Project Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

  • #2
    I really like this and am wondering if I should adapt something akin to Bloodlines' Masquerade Violations system for my game.


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

    Comment


    • #3
      Truth be told, Bloodlines Masquerade Violations has always made me want to do this. Seeing the concept presented in V5 terms pushed me to go ahead and flesh it out some more and tweak it to my liking.

      I did just make a small tweak in the OP relating to the Cover-Up stuff, specifically I don't have it reduce Violations anymore but rather add bonus dice to the roll the ST makes. I think this simulates better what a Cover-Up actually is, obscuring the truth in misinformation as opposed to making the issue truly go away (doing that would have prevented the Violation to begin with).

      All in all I think this strikes a nice balance between what was seen in Bloodlines and the way V5 has approached mechanics (as well as drawing some stuff out since that is normally suitable in tabletop compared to videogames).


      -Red
      V20 Content: Age & Potency
      V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor
      Community & Project Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

      Comment


      • #4
        It's good to see a mechanical system for tracking masquerade exposure. With the resurgence of the Inquisition, it makes sense to develop a predictable and fair way for an ST to run this element of the game.

        Your system is well-done, but I do have a few concerns and questions. None of them are bad enough to make me not use this system in a game had it been published in the core, but it does drop my reaction, from "wow, this is great" to "hmm, I might be willing to give this a shot".

        Please do not read this as nit-picking or shouting down a new idea. I hope these questions serve as the start of a constructive dialogue which can improve your idea.

        The Premise

        I'm not sold on the ST rolling for determining the fallout of character actions. It feels like getting on the SI's radar or avoiding notice should be rolled by the players. I know that most npc reactions are rolled or decided by the ST, but this feels like a good place to emphasize player agency. If attracting the attention of the SI could lead to a pc's destruction, the players should probably be the ones rolling.

        OTOH, I'm not entirely certain it should be a randomized event at all. Are the SI appropriate as a "wandering monster", or should it be reserved for planned encounters? The pcs' drawing the SI's attention could change the entire premise of the chronicle. That's the sort of thing an ST shouldn't be railroaded into by a dice roll. I suppose the ST could decide to disregard an outcome which tanks the chronicle, but then the ST is rolling dice to decide something they have already decided.

        Style Details

        Why are the "stains" marked from right-to-left, which is the opposite of the writing system commonly used in VtM products? In the case of stains against a Tenet, it's because they are balanced against, and potentially crowded out by, Humanity. What do the empty spaces to the left of the meter represent when there are no violations filling them? Are you saying there are filled-in spaces tracking the Masquerade part of this, and slashes and x-es marking violations. If so, what is the starting Masquerade (ie the analog to the Humanity dots read from left-to-right) set at? Because bad things happen when violations bump up against the Masquerade spaces, that means the higher the coterie's secrecy was initially, the more likely they are to have problems arise because they drew attention. This seems counter-intuitive.

        Math of Starting Breaches

        So, the coterie starts with 2 breaches for every pc who is a "known blackbody"? If all six players take this flaw... which is not inconceivable since V5 requires two initial dots in flaws... what does that look like? If they roll at the end of the first session to remove the violations caused by "known blackbody", what happens? They still have the flaw, right? Or, do they somehow convince the SI they aren't a bb, and lose the flaw? If the flaw doesn't go away, is it reapplied each session? If not, why did "Known Blackbody" create a violation this particular week of the vampire's life, but not others?

        Status Offenses

        One problem with this mechanic is that it assumes the problem the SI has with vampires is their behavior. As people who live in modern, western democracies (Or, at least I think I do. I haven't read the SCOTUS blog yet today, so maybe yes, maybe no.) it's easy to assume that punishment arises from actions of the punished, rather than from the punished's simple existence within a certain demographic. We assume, "If a vampire exists quietly not bothering anyone, the SI will let them be. If they exist openly and flagrantly, the SI will break out the pitchforks and torches."

        This may be partially true in as much those who aren't noticed won't be targeted, but once a vampire is discovered the SI will not file them in a "friendly neighborhood vampire" file and ignore them forever. If the violations mechanic indicates the coterie is noticed and triggers a Level 2 reaction, the SI will eventually get around to Level 5 sooner or later. This will remain true whether the coterie has further violations or not, since vampirism is not a crime of commission beyond simply existing as a vampire. No matter how well the dice roll, once the coterie is identified they will be hunted eventually as resources become available.

        One corollary of this is that some vampires are committing violations continuously rather than as discrete actions. How many city streets can a Nosferatu walk down with their hoody pulled all the way forward before a cctv camera catches a glimpse of their monstrousness? How many people must drive past a sign advertising an Osiris predator's store-front church before somebody gets suspicious there are vespers every night, but no daytime services? How many years can a vampire live in the same apartment without aging before a violation is applied? And, for all these, how often are violations are applied?

        Metagaming

        Let's say the players have read V5 and know the SI is a major danger. They take precautions, because their characters rightly fear the SI.

        Except, then your mechanic goes into effect. Maybe the ST rolls in secret, but this raises problems with player agency. It also raises the question of whether the mechanic is needed at all if the ST will do what they want to anyway.

        If the ST rolls openly, the players now know how much attention the SI is giving them. When those dice fall, they know whether the SI is a threat or not. If the ST rolls "no", but the SI shows up, the players will rightly be angry the ST broke the rules. If the ST rolls "yes", but the SI doesn't show up, the players will begin to doubt if their dice-rolls and actions make any difference in the chronicle. Yes, yes, some players and tables are too awesome to ever use meta-knowledge to make decisions, but, let's face it, many aren't.

        Gambling v Gaming

        Is there a skill component to this system? Or, is it just completely random? I know you mention cover-ups, but that's already present in the system. Shouldn't some vampires be more skilled at hiding themselves from the SI than others and get a better chance on the roll?

        Edge Cases and Grey Areas

        How does this work for a nomadic chronicle? If a minor violation appears on a cctv camera in Portland, Maine, and two days later a Siren has her fangs seen by her latest vessel in Jacksonville, Florida, why would the SI connect the dots?

        This is coterie-based, but coteries aren't stable, easily defined social units, in-world. Oh, we on this forum understand it to mean all the players' pcs as a group. In-world, it's a lot fuzzier. If the Malkavian primogen (an npc) has made a few deals with the players, do her violations stack onto the players? If a player doesn't show up for the game one week, the ST handles this by saying the pc had personal business to attend to, and the group fails their roll, is the absent player's pc discovered by the SI?

        Since violations are added together from all members of a coterie, the larger the coterie, the greater the risk. A coterie of ten vampires is very likely to be discovered. A single autarkis who avoids all other vampires and humans is likely safe. The rational choice for vampires is to stay home as much as possible and avoid all other vampires. Is this a good incentive structure for encouraging players to get involved with one anothers' pcs and the plot of the chronicle? It's one thing for natural caution to justify a "refusal of the call". It's another to make this refusal an ongoing assumption for a chronicle.

        How does this system interact with the Cobbler trait? If you create a whole new identity, does it throw the SI off the track, or draw attention? Can a Cobbler create an identity for someone that includes Known Blackbody, thereby triggering this system going forward? Can this be done to a normal human?

        How would one coterie go about using this system against another?

        Will the ST make similar rolls for all the coteries in the chronicle city? If there are five coteries all at "level 2" and they all attend a party at the same nightclub (ie Elysium), is that a violation? Once they do so, does the SI consider them all one target forcing everyone present into one "coterie" for purposes of this mechanic? What if half of them up and leave town part way through the game session? Who keeps the violations meter?

        Is there a way to model when the SI messes up? No one is perfect. Might they not burn down the house at 123 Oak Lane, when the communal Haven is at 123 Oak Road? Do the pcs bear some responsibility for this sort of thing?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          It's good to see a mechanical system for tracking masquerade exposure. With the resurgence of the Inquisition, it makes sense to develop a predictable and fair way for an ST to run this element of the game.

          Your system is well-done, but I do have a few concerns and questions. None of them are bad enough to make me not use this system in a game had it been published in the core, but it does drop my reaction, from "wow, this is great" to "hmm, I might be willing to give this a shot".

          Please do not read this as nit-picking or shouting down a new idea. I hope these questions serve as the start of a constructive dialogue which can improve your idea.
          Fear not on that, I'm happy to have it. It is very much a derivative work, as noted in the OP, and also something I cobbled together in my free time rather than professionally developing it - certainly don't anticipate it being perfect. Heck, I didn't even playtest it.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          The Premise

          I'm not sold on the ST rolling for determining the fallout of character actions. It feels like getting on the SI's radar or avoiding notice should be rolled by the players. I know that most npc reactions are rolled or decided by the ST, but this feels like a good place to emphasize player agency. If attracting the attention of the SI could lead to a pc's destruction, the players should probably be the ones rolling.
          That is absolutely fair, and I think it would be reasonable for an ST to allow that. I also don't think this is something that should be hidden from the PCs, they should be well aware of the state of the Track at all times, much like they are with their individual Humanity Tracks.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          OTOH, I'm not entirely certain it should be a randomized event at all. Are the SI appropriate as a "wandering monster", or should it be reserved for planned encounters? The pcs' drawing the SI's attention could change the entire premise of the chronicle. That's the sort of thing an ST shouldn't be railroaded into by a dice roll. I suppose the ST could decide to disregard an outcome which tanks the chronicle, but then the ST is rolling dice to decide something they have already decided.
          The railroaded by dice, for me, is a non-issue as this is something that could be applied to any random chance thing in a roleplaying game. Like anything in game that relies on randomness I think you are always in the right to disregard the random nature of things in any instance where it would be detrimental to the game, be it a Skill Check, Save Throw, or anything else. If the result would truly railroad you, then bypass it and work in the confines of the story.

          The point of this system is, of course, to allow the SI to play a role in the Chronicle when they aren't decided to be the focus (or honestly adapted to reflect other points in time when the SI isn't the issue). It is also meant to be more of a guideline than something to directly railroad you. This is why I noted in there you have some wiggle room, such as treating egregious violations as immediate Breaches.

          If it comes across as railroading then clearly the language could use some cleaning up to make it feel less confining as to how the ST might use the details it derives. I'd also dub this more of an "Advanced Mechanic" making it entirely optional, so if you really just don't want to get into it with a mechanical structure and want to run a tight narrative you simply ignore the system. It very much should be seen as optional for games where it actually makes a positive impact.

          As an example, I generally run pretty freeform games with a vague direction in mind, just going off of how I think the world would react to both player activity and events I have playing out in the background mixing together. Sure, I start with an idea, and that idea usually still comes to fruition, but the how and why of it all are up for grabs. This works great in that context specifically, thus why I took the stab.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Style Details

          Why are the "stains" marked from right-to-left, which is the opposite of the writing system commonly used in VtM products? In the case of stains against a Tenet, it's because they are balanced against, and potentially crowded out by, Humanity. What do the empty spaces to the left of the meter represent when there are no violations filling them? Are you saying there are filled-in spaces tracking the Masquerade part of this, and slashes and x-es marking violations. If so, what is the starting Masquerade (ie the analog to the Humanity dots read from left-to-right) set at? Because bad things happen when violations bump up against the Masquerade spaces, that means the higher the coterie's secrecy was initially, the more likely they are to have problems arise because they drew attention. This seems counter-intuitive.
          I don't think I'm quite following you on what you're getting at here, and I apologize for that. I can't really constructively respond to this since I'm not really sure what you're really getting at. You made reference to the slashes and x-es on the Tracker, which is only part of the system as proposed in the blog post which I have nothing to do with and can't comment on the authors design choices - I just linked it since this is based on that work. But, let me try and address this as best I can hopefully.

          The Violations being marked right-to-left is working in tandem with the Humanity track in V5, so it is no longer unprecidented. If you actually are asking about Stains which line up with Humanity, that is part of the RAW and I can't speak to the authors of the core games intent when taking this approach. I went with it to stay in line and keep it similar to existing mechanics to make it easy to integrate and wrap your head around.

          Empty spaces on the Masquerade Track essentially represent the potential for the Violations to be lost in the background noise of normal mortal acts that still need to be looked into, chances for it to be disregarded as a likely rumor or too weak of evidence, and so on. It is the representation of the fact that the SI is not infallible.

          The size of the track is noted in the details, so starting Masquerade is 10, with potential Violations applied for the Coterie being composed of individuals who are likely to draw attention or are previously on record in some way. The Blankbody aspect can butt up against some of the Attention descriptions, but when you recall those are guidelines it is easy to modify and see how it could be playing out.

          I have no idea at all what you are talking about regarding the Coterie applying more secrecy causing them more problems and can't conceivably see how you came to that conclusion with what is presented in my rework. You'll have to elaborate for me to speak on this any further.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Math of Starting Breaches

          So, the coterie starts with 2 breaches for every pc who is a "known blackbody"? If all six players take this flaw... which is not inconceivable since V5 requires two initial dots in flaws... what does that look like? If they roll at the end of the first session to remove the violations caused by "known blackbody", what happens? They still have the flaw, right? Or, do they somehow convince the SI they aren't a bb, and lose the flaw? If the flaw doesn't go away, is it reapplied each session? If not, why did "Known Blackbody" create a violation this particular week of the vampire's life, but not others?
          So, if you had a Coterie with 6 players all going Known Blankbody you would have a full Tracker of Breaches which would mean you have an SI heavy game on your hands. That would have been the case, however, even without the Tracker as 6 members of a Coterie all being on the SI lists already is gonna make it impossible for the Chronicle to focus on much else and the ST would know this going in as they still have a say in the types of characters in their games - so by opting to let all players do that they made a conscious choice. This all goes back to the first point that narrative trumps mechanics, so if you're going this route you probably don't need the Tracker - you've made some clear choices on the story you want to run.

          The Flaw also causes initial Breaches, not Violations. Working off those Breaches, as implied in Conspiracy, is more about convincing the SI the Blankbody has left the area or has been killed, or that there are much more pressing matters to attend to somewhere else. No retroactive stuff needed. Yes they still have the Flaw, and that might incline the ST to view more things as a Violation or even immediate Breach when dealing with this character moving forward. Getting rid of the Flaw is another matter entirely, and as with getting rid of any Flaw would require a story of its own, and probably involves somehow disappearing the records the SI has on the character.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Status Offenses

          One problem with this mechanic is that it assumes the problem the SI has with vampires is their behavior. As people who live in modern, western democracies (Or, at least I think I do. I haven't read the SCOTUS blog yet today, so maybe yes, maybe no.) it's easy to assume that punishment arises from actions of the punished, rather than from the punished's simple existence within a certain demographic. We assume, "If a vampire exists quietly not bothering anyone, the SI will let them be. If they exist openly and flagrantly, the SI will break out the pitchforks and torches."

          This may be partially true in as much those who aren't noticed won't be targeted, but once a vampire is discovered the SI will not file them in a "friendly neighborhood vampire" file and ignore them forever. If the violations mechanic indicates the coterie is noticed and triggers a Level 2 reaction, the SI will eventually get around to Level 5 sooner or later. This will remain true whether the coterie has further violations or not, since vampirism is not a crime of commission beyond simply existing as a vampire. No matter how well the dice roll, once the coterie is identified they will be hunted eventually as resources become available.
          This is overlooking how the removal system works. The characters are taking active steps to get the SI off the trail or making them need to place their focus elsewhere due to perceived threat, not that the SI is deeming them a friendly vampire. The Breaches never go away unless the characters actively work to make that happen. So, it is the act of vampiric deception and hiding in general that is what is going on.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          One corollary of this is that some vampires are committing violations continuously rather than as discrete actions. How many city streets can a Nosferatu walk down with their hoody pulled all the way forward before a cctv camera catches a glimpse of their monstrousness? How many people must drive past a sign advertising an Osiris predator's store-front church before somebody gets suspicious there are vespers every night, but no daytime services? How many years can a vampire live in the same apartment without aging before a violation is applied? And, for all these, how often are violations are applied?
          For this, a lot of it is the realm of ST discretion. No mechanic is going to perfectly cover every possibility, so some arbitration will be required more than likely based on the specifics of circumstances. And, as always, the ST can decide to jump to an immediate Breach rather than going with Violations for some of these things. But some of them you could also potentially apply what is dictated in the write-up (such as revealing Kindred nature to witnesses in the case of the Nos). The point of the options listed is to provide the ST a sense of how bad some things might be viewed within the confines of the mechanic if they use it so they can gauge circumstances that exist outside of what is presented.

          As for how often, I would say every Scene opens up new potential for Violations, so every Scene in which they conduct the action that causes a Violation.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Metagaming

          Let's say the players have read V5 and know the SI is a major danger. They take precautions, because their characters rightly fear the SI.

          Except, then your mechanic goes into effect. Maybe the ST rolls in secret, but this raises problems with player agency. It also raises the question of whether the mechanic is needed at all if the ST will do what they want to anyway.

          If the ST rolls openly, the players now know how much attention the SI is giving them. When those dice fall, they know whether the SI is a threat or not. If the ST rolls "no", but the SI shows up, the players will rightly be angry the ST broke the rules. If the ST rolls "yes", but the SI doesn't show up, the players will begin to doubt if their dice-rolls and actions make any difference in the chronicle. Yes, yes, some players and tables are too awesome to ever use meta-knowledge to make decisions, but, let's face it, many aren't.
          Well, a lot of systems fall apart when people Metagame, and I don't design to prevent that per se. If that is what they want to do, who am I to tell them that is the wrong way to play. I would point out, though, that since all this provides is some guidelines it would be foolish to think that knowing the current Breaches and Violation counts means you know exactly what the SI is doing and if they are a threat. This is background SI stuff, and it is on guidelines. For instance, maybe at Level 1 the SI does know who someone in the Coterie is (despite the fact the description implies otherwise - the SI doesn't know the rest of the characters so it is still mostly accurate and in line with the implied guideline). The ST might also have a specific NPC SI agent they are running in their plot, unknown to the players, who operates outside of this tracker as they are a noted NPC.

          Of course, if people want to treat it as concrete and metagame the system, by all means. It still means they'll likely engage in stuff like Cover-Ups and Conspiracies which means their meta behavior translates into thematically appropriate behavior of the characters. Which is what I think the goal of many V5 mechanics are.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Gambling v Gaming

          Is there a skill component to this system? Or, is it just completely random? I know you mention cover-ups, but that's already present in the system. Shouldn't some vampires be more skilled at hiding themselves from the SI than others and get a better chance on the roll?
          Sure, but there are some many variations I just left it open. Of course an ST should consider things like this, like they should any time they are dealing with just about any system. There are always extra factors to consider beyond the scope of the written text because of the freeform nature of tabletop gaming. So, outside of the slightly more defined Cover-Ups and Conspiracies the ST can absolutely consider other things the characters are up to and have that make an impact on the state of the Masquerade.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Edge Cases and Grey Areas

          How does this work for a nomadic chronicle? If a minor violation appears on a cctv camera in Portland, Maine, and two days later a Siren has her fangs seen by her latest vessel in Jacksonville, Florida, why would the SI connect the dots?
          Because this can happen with any type of real world tracking of people. It is possible for the SI to still track a nomadic group of Kindred. I don't see any issues here.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          This is coterie-based, but coteries aren't stable, easily defined social units, in-world. Oh, we on this forum understand it to mean all the players' pcs as a group. In-world, it's a lot fuzzier. If the Malkavian primogen (an npc) has made a few deals with the players, do her violations stack onto the players? If a player doesn't show up for the game one week, the ST handles this by saying the pc had personal business to attend to, and the group fails their roll, is the absent player's pc discovered by the SI?
          This would be up to the ST really, and to what degree they think the actions of the Primogen would be reflected on the Coterie in regards to the SI. This can be done with various possible checks, fiat, or other options. The system could have been designed to account for NPCs, but it would have required more record keeping and would have also pushed the control the PCs have over it way out into the aether. Sometimes you have to make exceptions with mechanics for the sake of sanity, and that is essentially what I was going for here.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Since violations are added together from all members of a coterie, the larger the coterie, the greater the risk. A coterie of ten vampires is very likely to be discovered. A single autarkis who avoids all other vampires and humans is likely safe. The rational choice for vampires is to stay home as much as possible and avoid all other vampires. Is this a good incentive structure for encouraging players to get involved with one anothers' pcs and the plot of the chronicle? It's one thing for natural caution to justify a "refusal of the call". It's another to make this refusal an ongoing assumption for a chronicle.
          To be honest, I think the game in the RAW and fluff already kind of already treat it that way. Kindred are generally solitary, but come together for an assortment of purposes. This leads to the formation of culture over time, which is where we find the Kindred of the WoD. Those removed from said culture are generally less likely to be impacted by it, but it comes with unique risks that being in the culture would not normally bring. I think this is sort of core to the game in general, in most cases it would be best for Kindred to just live isolated but the part of them that is human drives them together. The desire to not be bored, doing nothing but existing and subsisting. That darn complex human brain is the motivator, always has been really. I don't think this changes that, and since characters can actively work to alter the outcomes of the Masquerade track I think it gives them more of the world to directly engage in more than anything.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          How does this system interact with the Cobbler trait? If you create a whole new identity, does it throw the SI off the track, or draw attention? Can a Cobbler create an identity for someone that includes Known Blackbody, thereby triggering this system going forward? Can this be done to a normal human?
          Good question, probably something that should be addressed since it does feel directly ties to this system in context. Do you have suggestions personally, or just want to see what I cook up on it?

          As for can the Cobbler create a Known Blankbody identity, sure, I believe the RAW already states as much. Can it be done to a human, I don't see why not, though I think there are more effective ways to get a human dealt with for Kindred.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          How would one coterie go about using this system against another?
          That is ST narrative, this system is focused on the Coterie for simplicity of record keeping and not making this insanely cumbersome (and nearly entirely out of the players control). I considered a broader approach, but saw it growing complicated pretty fast. As such, this isn't a perfect abstraction of the concept, but I think it is the most reasonable way to give it some mechanical backing and taking it out of the realm of has to be strictly narrative since there are no mechanics.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Will the ST make similar rolls for all the coteries in the chronicle city? If there are five coteries all at "level 2" and they all attend a party at the same nightclub (ie Elysium), is that a violation? Once they do so, does the SI consider them all one target forcing everyone present into one "coterie" for purposes of this mechanic? What if half of them up and leave town part way through the game session? Who keeps the violations meter?
          This basically ties into the point I already brought up regarding the intent of the system.

          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
          Is there a way to model when the SI messes up? No one is perfect. Might they not burn down the house at 123 Oak Lane, when the communal Haven is at 123 Oak Road? Do the pcs bear some responsibility for this sort of thing?
          Probably, but I didn't tackle that when doing this. It would also add to the complexity a moderate bit more than likely, which for me is undesirable for this mechanic or the general V5 approach to things (which this is obviously designed for). That said, I might take a stab at it and at least provide something for it in the OP at some point.

          Pretty busy with multiple professional projects at the moment, so we'll have to see if I get a chance to broach some of this further.


          -Red
          V20 Content: Age & Potency
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          Community & Project Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

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          • #6
            The system sounds great and it seems solid , the only thing i would said is that I think that the SI or hunters attacking the player should be up to the ST becuase it can be disruptive storywise and WoD system rotates around narrative but for a chronicle centered around the SI is great and also a call back to bloodlines.I would recomend as an optional system.

            Also I would like to say that the second Inquisition doesnt care about you being a good neighbourhood vampire , when hey detect one they can follow it and use it to make a map of all havens to make a finish move with fire.They percive vampires as an unknown menace , they are in war , a holy war that isn´t fair.

            PD:To contribute three years ago I did a mechanic similar for a dark ages campaign about the first inquisition called "Hunter Presence" with substracted dice between (1-10) for hunting rolls.Failing the roll doesnt mean that you don´t feed just that you are detected.The objetive of the mechanic was to reinforce the idea that the masquerade is not strong in all domains and that there are dangerous domains.I only used it for that campaign but it seemed to work well.

            I doubt i will use this as I prefer the system to be more narrative but I am thinking about mixing my old mechanic with the new one proposed
            • You have 5 health levels in masquerade that represent the notoriety you have from hunters.At level 5 you are seen by the others vampires as a menace and you have some enemys behind.To keep the masquerade low you must cover your actions as described above.
            • You have also have a 5 hunter presence health bar that measures how dangerous is the domain.It varies acording to ST decision.
            The number of dots that you have filled in masquerade and in Hunter presence subtract dice to hunting rolls making feeding more difficult.The idea is making hunter chances of attacking the players higher but still letting the ST the decision of if the SI/Hunter attack or no.It also allows to give the feeling that the masquerade is something comunal due to the fact that if you mess things you increase the hunter presence and the other vampires don´t like that.


            Hunger pool

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Leandro16 View Post
              The system sounds great and it seems solid , the only thing i would said is that I think that the SI or hunters attacking the player should be up to the ST becuase it can be disruptive storywise and WoD system rotates around narrative but for a chronicle centered around the SI is great and also a call back to bloodlines.I would recomend as an optional system.
              Oh, I agree, the implications of attacks in the guidelines are more that the ST should be considering getting things to this point - not that they need to drop an Encounter right out of the gate. As noted above, it is meant to inform the direction you should be leaning based on how things have been playing out (and essentially the bad behavior of your PCs as it pertains to the Masquerade and lack of trying to cover up the issues they cause). Truth be told, an ST who is on point with things will probably do everything this system describes naturally without the need for a prompt - but it is now something that is available if this is a facet that an ST overlooks without meaning to (not uncommon with many concepts mechanics).

              This at least gives a general sense of scale, which is basically all it is there for.

              Originally posted by Leandro16 View Post
              Also I would like to say that the second Inquisition doesnt care about you being a good neighbourhood vampire , when hey detect one they can follow it and use it to make a map of all havens to make a finish move with fire.They percive vampires as an unknown menace , they are in war , a holy war that isn´t fair.
              Indeed, this system isn't meant to imply such a sentiment that the SI is just letting the Coterie be, but that also doesn't mean that the Attention Levels described have to equate immediately to outright attacks - even on the attack based levels. The SI is smart, if small and stretched thin, so when they do latch on you best view it as having limited time to get them back off your tail.

              Originally posted by Leandro16 View Post
              PD:To contribute three years ago I did a mechanic similar for a dark ages campaign about the first inquisition called "Hunter Presence" with substracted dice between (1-10) for hunting rolls.Failing the roll doesnt mean that you don´t feed just that you are detected.The objetive of the mechanic was to reinforce the idea that the masquerade is not strong in all domains and that there are dangerous domains.I only used it for that campaign but it seemed to work well.
              Sounds like an interesting mechanic.

              Originally posted by Leandro16 View Post
              I doubt i will use this as I prefer the system to be more narrative but I am thinking about mixing my old mechanic with the new one proposed
              • You have 5 health levels in masquerade that represent the notoriety you have from hunters.At level 5 you are seen by the others vampires as a menace and you have some enemys behind.To keep the masquerade low you must cover your actions as described above.
              • You have also have a 5 hunter presence health bar that measures how dangerous is the domain.It varies acording to ST decision.
              The number of dots that you have filled in masquerade and in Hunter presence subtract dice to hunting rolls making feeding more difficult.The idea is making hunter chances of attacking the players higher but still letting the ST the decision of if the SI/Hunter attack or no.It also allows to give the feeling that the masquerade is something comunal due to the fact that if you mess things you increase the hunter presence and the other vampires don´t like that.
              Yea, I leave the spreading it to the bigger picture to the ST in my system. But, I would think that if the PCs are doing enough to merit pulling in the SI they have likely started to annoy their fellow Kindred. Still, I'd love to see your take on the idea fully fleshed out - might well like it more than my own.

              EDIT: I went ahead and updated the OP a little bit, trying to make a few things a little more clear up front since it seems a couple points of contention were unintended and perceived by multiple readers. Hopefully the tweaks help a bit.
              Last edited by Red Eye; 10-11-2018, 03:29 AM.


              -Red
              V20 Content: Age & Potency
              V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor
              Community & Project Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

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              • #8
                Ok, added a small extra bit to the whole deal - a method for the system to be expanded to a "global" view in a Chronicle if a Storyteller wants to get into that. I consider it an Optional Advanced System staked on another Optional Advanced System, so certainly not recommended by any stretch of the imagination.

                I'll put the main system into effect in my own campaign in the next session, so once I playtest a bit you might be able to expect a few more tweaks. I don't think I'll touch the "global" portion any further as I don't intend to use it myself, but if people have suggestions for it I can amend it still.


                -Red
                V20 Content: Age & Potency
                V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor
                Community & Project Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Red Eye View Post
                  I don't think I'm quite following you on what you're getting at here, and I apologize for that. I can't really constructively respond to this since I'm not really sure what you're really getting at. You made reference to the slashes and x-es on the Tracker, which is only part of the system as proposed in the blog post which I have nothing to do with and can't comment on the authors design choices - I just linked it since this is based on that work. But, let me try and address this as best I can hopefully.

                  The Violations being marked right-to-left is working in tandem with the Humanity track in V5, so it is no longer unprecidented. If you actually are asking about Stains which line up with Humanity, that is part of the RAW and I can't speak to the authors of the core games intent when taking this approach. I went with it to stay in line and keep it similar to existing mechanics to make it easy to integrate and wrap your head around.

                  Empty spaces on the Masquerade Track essentially represent the potential for the Violations to be lost in the background noise of normal mortal acts that still need to be looked into, chances for it to be disregarded as a likely rumor or too weak of evidence, and so on. It is the representation of the fact that the SI is not infallible.

                  The size of the track is noted in the details, so starting Masquerade is 10, with potential Violations applied for the Coterie being composed of individuals who are likely to draw attention or are previously on record in some way. The Blankbody aspect can butt up against some of the Attention descriptions, but when you recall those are guidelines it is easy to modify and see how it could be playing out.

                  I have no idea at all what you are talking about regarding the Coterie applying more secrecy causing them more problems and can't conceivably see how you came to that conclusion with what is presented in my rework. You'll have to elaborate for me to speak on this any further.
                  Sorry, I was unclear. I, myself, am confused on what this system looks like on the page, and some of that came through in my post.

                  My confusion arises from what seems to be four traits tracked in this mechanic: Masquerade, Breaches, Violations, and Attention. (My confusion may also arise from my being slightly dense at times.)

                  Reading the following line made me suspect the Masquerade trait was noted in the boxes, in the same place as Humanity. This made it look like boxes were to be filled from left-to-right with Masquerade (players' good behavior) and right-to-left with Violations (players' bad behavior), which work together to fill the track and trigger an auto-fail Revelation roll.

                  The Masquerade Track is composed of 10 boxes in a similar fashion to the Humanity Track, of which this functions as essentially an inverse to.
                  On re-reading, it looks like Breaches are noted in the boxes from left-to-right. (Are these boxes filled-in, x'd like agg damage, or what?) Then each Violation places a slash in a box from right-to-left. When they meet, there is an automatic fail on a Revelation roll. Is this correct?

                  So, where are the values for Masquerade and Attention noted? With the most recent edit, where is the color-coded Global Scale score noted?

                  I think this a good system which would greatly benefit from a visual aid... at least for the dense among us, like me.

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                  • #10
                    It's always better to roleplay these things out than leaving it to dice.

                    But the dice certainly spice things up.


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

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                      Sorry, I was unclear. I, myself, am confused on what this system looks like on the page, and some of that came through in my post.

                      My confusion arises from what seems to be four traits tracked in this mechanic: Masquerade, Breaches, Violations, and Attention. (My confusion may also arise from my being slightly dense at times.)

                      Reading the following line made me suspect the Masquerade trait was noted in the boxes, in the same place as Humanity. This made it look like boxes were to be filled from left-to-right with Masquerade (players' good behavior) and right-to-left with Violations (players' bad behavior), which work together to fill the track and trigger an auto-fail Revelation roll.
                      Well, yea, I can see how that would be confusing if you interpreted it that way.

                      Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                      On re-reading, it looks like Breaches are noted in the boxes from left-to-right. (Are these boxes filled-in, x'd like agg damage, or what?)
                      Correct - you fill in the boxes from left to right to represent Breaches.

                      Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                      Then each Violation places a slash in a box from right-to-left. When they meet, there is an automatic fail on a Revelation roll. Is this correct?
                      That is correct. If there are no empty boxes left on the Tracker and another Violation happens it is an automatic fail on a Revelation.

                      Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                      So, where are the values for Masquerade and Attention noted?
                      The Masquerade is the whole of the system. You can view the blank boxes as being the static noise of the World of Darkness (the terrible stuff not related to vampires but rather caused by other mortals normally or the BS Kindred come up with to throw the SI off), the filled boxes are the breaches (the bad activity that has been noticed by the SI), and the actions that could lead to being noticed are the violations. So, the Masquerade itself isn't a value, it is still a concept that is based around balancing these facets of Kindred existence to keep the humans from coming for them in the dawn (or, the whole Tracker and everything denoted in it composes the Masquerade if you will).

                      As noted, the Attention Levels equate to every 2 boxes on the Tracker from left to right. So, to lay that out:

                      Attention Level 1 = 1 or 2 boxes filled in with Breaches
                      Attention Level 2 = 3 or 4 boxes filled in with Breaches
                      Attention Level 3 = 4 or 6 boxes filled in with Breaches
                      Attention Level 4 = 7 or 8 boxes filled in with Breaches
                      Attention Level 5 = 9 or 10 boxes filled in with Breaches

                      Hope that helps to clear this up for you.

                      Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                      With the most recent edit, where is the color-coded Global Scale score noted?
                      This would require an additional Tracker to be added to the mix. It was the best method I could think of without having book keeping get completely out of hand. I'd love some feedback on how to possibly better approach this since it wasn't my intent to have the system be used at a "global" level when I designed it, and it was more your mention of the idea that prompted me to take a stab at making it possible to do.

                      Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                      I think this a good system which would greatly benefit from a visual aid... at least for the dense among us, like me.
                      I agree 100%, sadly I'm not big on design work. I can layout like a mofo when I am handed the pieces, and I can develop content pretty well, but the artistic side of things is normally beyond my scope. That said, I can see about making some very crude imagery to elaborate this some more.


                      -Red
                      V20 Content: Age & Potency
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                      Community & Project Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        It's always better to roleplay these things out than leaving it to dice.

                        But the dice certainly spice things up.
                        I generally agree. My plan for this, from a usage perspective, is to simply keep it around to help remind me about things I should be considering based on player action. It is nice and loose, so I can deviate as much as needed, but it helps to keep large picture details in perspective as the water gets more muddy.


                        -Red
                        V20 Content: Age & Potency
                        V5 Content: The Masquerade, Tzimisce and Vicissitude, Loresheet: Chicago, Resonance Flavor
                        Community & Project Manager, Developer at Hunters Entertainment

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Red Eye View Post
                          This would require an additional Tracker to be added to the mix. It was the best method I could think of without having book keeping get completely out of hand. I'd love some feedback on how to possibly better approach this since it wasn't my intent to have the system be used at a "global" level when I designed it, and it was more your mention of the idea that prompted me to take a stab at making it possible to do.
                          Maybe the simplest way is to fold it into the tracker you already have. At character gen, the ST needs a base score for each pc's Masquerade Score, right? You have them all start at 0. What if they just start at a higher level based on what local city conditions are like? If they relocate, their score adjusts to the local conditions.

                          Presumably, the SI data-mines for people who only make and receive phone calls at night, utility customers whose day time electric use is near zero, license plates that are only identified on traffic cams during night hours, and so forth. I assume they do this more diligently in areas they suspect have more vampires. (Makes me wonder how many human night-shift workers and insomniacs receive a knock at the door during the day followed by a face full of holy water.)

                          If a city has multiple vampires with many Breaches, the Global scale would increase and non-flagrant vampires will be more likely to be discovered. Even a vampire who has arrived in the city only a few weeks earlier may find they gain a handful of Breaches simply by living in a suspect area.

                          This may also lead to some interesting role-playing situations. Storyteller: "Okay, you know that Nosferatu ancilla you guys all share as a mentor. Well, she's a movie fan and the cineplex just installed better security cameras. The SI has picked her up on their face recognition software. Every vampire in the city gains... ummm, 2 Breaches."

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                          • #14
                            I have a certain aversion for measuring things like this numerically. I guess the same reason I don't like social combat or investigation minigame sub-systems. These things are okay in a video game, or in a boardgame, but in an rpg, they're just immersion-breaking for me.

                            Nevertheless, your idea seems well thought-out and quite convincingly developed, so good work!


                            If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                            • #15
                              I like your system here a lot.

                              The fine details of maintaining the Masquerade have played a large role in my current game, and I've found there are a lot of situations where it comes down to ST fiat if there's harmful fallout from PC actions. If a PC uses Protean to transform into a bat in a crowded bar, sure, they've broken the Masquerade and will be in hot water. If a PC murders someone in the privacy of their apartment, steals the TV, and drops it in a dumpster several blocks away to make the murder look like a botched burglary, does a witness notice at any point and dial 911? Do the police make much headway in their investigation? The PC's cover-up isn't perfect but it's conceivable they could still get away scot free. Just a few other "could go either way" situations I've run into have been stealing blood from hospitals, leaving large sums of cash in the pockets of homeless vessels, and anonymously paying the hospital bills of patients who came in with neck wounds and significant blood loss. STs can decide at any point, "Your actions have drawn attention from hunters," but with the right turns of happenstance they might not. The Second Inquisition isn't omniscient and it would strain disbelief for every single one of those incidents to draw heat from government hunters. So, for those "could conceivably go either way" situations I like to decide by rolling some dice.

                              Codified systems like this also have the benefit of helping players make informed choices. While there's much to be said for exercising common sense ("seriously, don't leave every bum you feed on with so much money"), a system like this gives players a clearer sense of the consequences their actions can cause. That's always good.

                              I came up with a similar system to this using a modified version of the Cover rules from Demon: The Descent. Whenever players broke the Masquerade, they'd roll a pool of dice (with bonuses or penalties for things like how public the breach was, the nature of the breach, nature/number of witnesses, etc) to see how much notice the breach attracted. If they rolled well enough, there was no need for a cover-up. If they rolled worse, they could perform a cover-up with some time and dice rolls. If that failed, they'd attract notice from hunters, which would get incrementally worse if they'd broken the Masquerade previously.

                              I think I'm going to adopt your system, with some tweaks, as I particularly like how you've quantified that "degree of Masquerade broken-ness" on a 1 through 5 scale. It makes Masquerade a trait like Humanity and gives STs a clear sense of how much heat PCs should be taking from hunters at each level.

                              I've found that PCs who can't cover up a Masquerade breach on their own will sometimes turn to other Kindred for help, effectively outsourcing the clean-up. Your system of "exact roll will be determined by the course of action being taken in the Cover-Up based on Storyteller discretion" allows for this, but might benefit from citing examples tied to various dice pool combinations. I've found that I usually call for Intelligence or Wits + Investigation or Subterfuge for "do it yourself" clean-ups (scrubbing blood off the floors, disposing of cars and bodies without being seen, etc). Convincing other vampires to help is usually a Social roll of some kind, and doesn't determine how good a job they do (STs can roll for that or just assume they succeed) but how sizable a favor they hold over the PC's head for bailing them out.

                              It's similarly worth noting that other vampires, not just hunters, can catch wind of a PC's Masquerade violations and give them hell for it. Not sure if that needs a mechanic. STs can simply decide the sheriff notices their activities rather than the Second Inquisition, if that seems more interesting, or just roll a die.

                              It looks like you've divided Violations into three separate grades. One of my players did that as a conceptual exercise not tied to any game mechanics. His system had overt or "first degree" breaches (obvious supernatural occurrences around mortal witnesses; ie, turning into a wolf in a bar, being caught feeding), potential or "second degree" breaches (non-supernatural occurrences that draw unwelcome attention on vampires; ie, dead bodies being found in one's haven, being caught by the IRS for tax evasion) and potential potential or "third degree" breaches (attention-drawing activities not immediately connected to a vampire; ie, dead bodies being found in a dumpster, feeding victims having their hospital bills anonymously paid). I'll probably use that as the base guideline to determine how many Violations a given action is worth, with modifications for factors like unreliable witnesses.

                              Awesome job with this. It'll get a lot of mileage with my group.


                              Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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