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[V5] The Masquerade

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post

    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."

    So, to be sure that I'm following this correctly, you're proposing having the city level situation have an actual mechanical feedback into the Coterie level Masquerade tracking as opposed to the other way around as I currently have it laid out? That might actually be a better way of going about it, actually, as it would still leave a lot of the background to GM fiat (which it realistically is anyways), and just had that filter down to the Coterie. I'll probably fiddle with this idea some soon.


    -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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    • #17
      Originally posted by PMárk View Post
      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!
      Hey, that is absolutely respectable, and much the reason for considering this to be an "Advanced Optional Rule" to begin with - much more a tool to be available if the ST feels like it could help them out, but easily tossed out the window if it isn't your cup of tea.

      That said, thanks for the overall compliment. I'll be testing it out soonish when I run my next V5 session, so don't be surprised to see some tweaks happen too.


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

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        I like your system here a lot.
        Thanks very much.

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        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.
        That is a perfect way to actually make use of this system. As noted, overt violations should be treated as automatic breaches (or more) - it is 100% for those situations where there is a chance that even if the characters don't really take steps to cover their tracks after the fact (or be smart enough to take steps to avoid a violation to begin with) you can truly leave the results up to chance rather than being completely fiat based. I enjoy taking this approach often in games, but I'm really good at rolling with the punches as it were.

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        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.
        This is typically a factor for me when I approach designing game mechanics, so yea, I agree completely here. Additionally, the system nudges the players in the direction of what they should be doing to try and fix their mistakes as opposed to simply saying "if you make mistakes you'll need to fix them" as a player who isn't making that connection outright probably needs things spelled out a little more. Finally, it serves to add mechanical weight to a core theme of the game which is something that I generally find to be of benefit when approaching design work.

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        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'll be honest, I never got around to playing Demon, so I wasn't aware of that mechanic. That said, what you describe sounds pretty interesting and I'd love to hear more about it if you want to get into any further detail on it. If not, no biggie, but it does seem like a slick approach to the premise.

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        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.
        Awesome - I'd also love to hear about any tweaks you end up making to the system. Who knows, you might well inspire me to make tweaks on my own end directly.

        Also, yea, that was a big focus with this - keeping it in line with the mechanical nature that exists in the game already. It needs to feel like it was always supposed to be there, otherwise I don't think it has any business being brought to the table.

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        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.
        Ha! I was wondering when someone was going to call me out on that. To be honest, that is a byproduct of the fact that I did this whole thing pretty quick and dirty like. I'll probably keep touching it up here over time, but being a "for fun" project it does get pushed off to the backburner pretty quickly. Still, I would like to toss down a few examples like I did with violations and such as context can be a big help (not to mention how that wraps back to what I was saying about providing players with a sense of direction).

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        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.
        Yep, I believe I gave that a brief mention in the write-up (or I intended to at least, so if it isn't in there it will be). That said, you're on point here in that I didn't feel like the system needed to account for that side of things. That isn't to say that it couldn't, of course, just that it wasn't my focus when setting out to design this. Maybe when I go through and toss in some examples for the Cover-Ups and Conspiracies I will kick in some details about the Kindred society side of the coin as it pertains to damaging the Masquerade. That just opens up a bigger can of worms as I kind of feel it will require at least a review of the Camarilla, Anarchs, and Sabbat responses to these things since there would probably be a bit of variation there.

        We'll see.

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        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.
        Yep, that is basically what I was getting at with the Violations list. I figure it is unreasonable to expect a list covering every single possible context that would call for a Violation to be added to the Tracker (and if anyone out there doesn't think that, well, too bad cause I'm not doing one), but I wanted to be sure to give enough context up front that STs can easily slot in other actions and situations with a reasonable degree of confidence relating to how that should be interpreted in comparison.

        Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
        Awesome job with this. It'll get a lot of mileage with my group.
        Thanks again, and very awesome to hear. Always cool to know something is getting use outside your own table. Let me know how it works out for you.


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

        Comment

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