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  • Ventrue

    The final of the clans to cover in my re-read of Vampire: The Masquerade. The Ventrue clan were always one of the largest clans in Chicago By Night's many editions. Under a Blood Red Moon removed the majority of these (some for good, some for bad) and the losses have continued.

    The loss of Al Capone is something I'm very interested in how THE CHICAGO FOLIO and LET THE STREETS RUN RED addresses. This was put up for sale in the Kickstarter so it could be anything. He could be dead, diablerized, become a prisoner of the Second Inquisition, or decided to live out his dreams as a Las Vegas Lounge Singer named Tony Trombone.

    Al Capone's absence is something that I have mixed feelings about. Al Capone has always been both a ridiculous character (being a vampire made from someone that famously had his twilight years and death well-chronicled) as well as an awesome one (being surprisingly well-handled and three dimensional in his motivations). His removal is probably a good thing, at least from the main book, because it means players as well as STs are likely to take the setting more seriously.

    Even so, the fate of Capone is probably one of the big things people are looking for. I mean, while a lot of fans will want to know about the fate of Maxwell (which I hope people like what I did with it), no one is really too concerned about the fate of Eletria.

    I'm also a bit iffy about the removal of Lorraine who is a character that has a long non-canonical history at my table. Lodin's mistress is the sister of one of my longest running players' PCs. I always liked the fact an upper crust drug-addict party girl was also a capable professional and Lodin's secretary who knew all of the Old Prince's secrets. Honestly, I wish they'd put up the fates of Lorraine, Corbin, Modius, and Bryan since I would have tried to buy all of those as well.

    Joseph Peterson is kind of a weird absence and I'm hoping that he will show up in one of the two aforementioned supplements. I always felt Joseph was a kind of expendable and ridiculous character with none of the gravitas that other NPCs had. However, he had a role in the preservation of the Masquerade and I really am fascinated in how they'd update his character.

    The fact he's not here despite being "exiled" is kind of a bummer.

    Kevin Jackson

    Type: NPC

    Synopsis: Prince of the City

    Review: Kevin Jackson becoming Prince of the City was one of the best ideas of CBN5E. Kevin Jackson manages to have all the appeal of Al Capone as Prince without any of the silly. This includes the crime, personal army, and mafia-like atmosphere a Prince should always have. They manage to update the character from a bit of a 90s stereotype (complete w/ Kid and Play haircut that had a dollar sign shaved into his head) into a genuinely respectable as well as terrifying figure.

    I like Kevin Jackson's expanded backstory as well given that it gives him a nice "fallen hero" sort of origin. Both his parents wanted something far better for him than what he accomplished and while he's become incredibly powerful as well as wealthy, it's also at the expense of the values they held. Worse, he's brought his brothers into vampirism and it'd be interesting to see how they've reacted to the action.

    I think his treatment may be a little TOO sympathetic since he's been peddling drugs, guns, and violence to the community of Chicago for decades. So, the idea he ever seriously contemplated getting rid of the organized crime in the city is unbelievable. It also contradicts his Humanity score as Humanity 5 vampirs may have MOMENTS of regret and decency--they're still among the worst of humanity.

    I like the character write-up explains that he's very fond of his three brothers that he has operating in different parts of the country. However, I think it would have been better to have them in Chicago because it would allow the complicated relationship of family dynamics to be explored. Are his brothers a weakness or a strength? Honestly, even now I think it'd be fascinating to see what happens when one of them succumbs to the Jyhad.

    Some interesting things in his write-up include that he is banking on Maldavis starting a revolution to lure out all of his Anarch enemies so he can kill them. This is partially Helena's plan but it's a gawdawful stupid plan. Maybe Helena's degenerating to wassail or just bored but Maldavis is the worst person for a loud, angry, obvious revolution. He's also planning on possibly killing Balathazar and Sweetie Pepper--which is a good idea no matter what.

    Another notation is that Kevin Jackson's stats are unreasonably high. I don't mind the idea that some Kindred are much more powerful than others (let's face it, I have lower stats than a similarly aged 38 year old Special Forces operative). But it is somewhat noticeable for Kevin Jackson.

    Some notes:

    Attributes: 35 points with his lowest being two 3s in Charisma and Intelligence (which are weird ones as you'd think they'd be his highest). Honestly, I'd alter these and make his physical his lowest and up his Charisma and Intelligence.

    Skills: 51 points with two specializations in Leadership and hilariously, Politics (Tyranny)

    Disciplines: 10 Points

    Backgrounds: 21

    It's doubly funny because he has a note that he's "lacking in power." Man, what?


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

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    • So excited about the fact THE CHICAGO FOLIO and LET THE STREETS RUN RED is now one step closer to being read by us fans!



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

      Comment


      • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
        So, the idea he ever seriously contemplated getting rid of the organized crime in the city is unbelievable.
        I think that is supposed to be a Michael Corleone "We're going to be completely legit in a few years" thing. It is something that never happens, and in many ways the character is worse and more damned than their predecessor (Vito and Lodin).

        Comment


        • Having Kevin Jackson as prince was an AWESOME move. I always saw him as basically Stringer Bell from The Wire. He's a smart and capable guy, but the circumstances of his birth only really gave him one possible avenue for advancement--and he's still done a bang-up job rising above them.

          He does feel just a little too perfect for me in some ways, though. There's a great moment where Stringer Bell gets conned by Senator Davis, who takes advantage of the fact that for all of Stringer's education and desire to improve himself, he's still a newcomer to the white-collar business world he hopes to enter, and can't understand its nuances as well as someone who's been born and raised in privilege. When Stringer realizes he's been conned, his instinctive response is to place a hit on Davis--and Barksdale mocks him for acting like any other angry gangster. Reading Adam Smith hasn't lifted him up as much as he thought.

          I don't want to see anything quite like that for Kevin, since he has spent the better part of twenty years as a Ventrue, a.k.a. Stringer Bell the respectable real estate developer. He's gone legit and knows his way around that world. I guess it's more his presentation that I have issue with. As you observe, his bio whitewashes the fact that he's continuing to peddle drugs and violence under the rationale that it's going to happen anyway, and if he doesn't benefit from it then someone else will. His "education for everyone and a chance for success" creed rings pretty hollow when he's still complicit in turning the residents of his old neighborhood into dope fiends and drug enforcers.

          There's a lot of rich potential for drama there. His activist parents would still be ashamed of him, as Kevin is essentially a hypocrite who still perpetuates the flawed system he was born and Embraced into. He might paint himself as the future of Chicago, but to a lot of people he's just another Lodin.

          I guess this is where I feel like the writers could've done a better job. They paint him as an unmitigated success story rather than a tragic lesson in just how tainted "success" can be for Kindred. I feel like this is part of a broader trend in RPGs, where there's a desire to make empowered characters who inadvertently get their flaws whitewashed or minimized, but that's its own topic.

          I do LOVE Kevin as prince, though, and my issue is more with the presentation than the idea. Prince Jackson is better than any of the CbN 2e contenders.


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

          Comment


          • Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
            Having Kevin Jackson as prince was an AWESOME move. I always saw him as basically Stringer Bell from The Wire. He's a smart and capable guy, but the circumstances of his birth only really gave him one possible avenue for advancement--and he's still done a bang-up job rising above them.

            He does feel just a little too perfect for me in some ways, though. There's a great moment where Stringer Bell gets conned by Senator Davis, who takes advantage of the fact that for all of Stringer's education and desire to improve himself, he's still a newcomer to the white-collar business world he hopes to enter, and can't understand its nuances as well as someone who's been born and raised in privilege. When Stringer realizes he's been conned, his instinctive response is to place a hit on Davis--and Barksdale mocks him for acting like any other angry gangster. Reading Adam Smith hasn't lifted him up as much as he thought.

            I don't want to see anything quite like that for Kevin, since he has spent the better part of twenty years as a Ventrue, a.k.a. Stringer Bell the respectable real estate developer. He's gone legit and knows his way around that world. I guess it's more his presentation that I have issue with. As you observe, his bio whitewashes the fact that he's continuing to peddle drugs and violence under the rationale that it's going to happen anyway, and if he doesn't benefit from it then someone else will. His "education for everyone and a chance for success" creed rings pretty hollow when he's still complicit in turning the residents of his old neighborhood into dope fiends and drug enforcers.

            There's a lot of rich potential for drama there. His activist parents would still be ashamed of him, as Kevin is essentially a hypocrite who still perpetuates the flawed system he was born and Embraced into. He might paint himself as the future of Chicago, but to a lot of people he's just another Lodin.

            I guess this is where I feel like the writers could've done a better job. They paint him as an unmitigated success story rather than a tragic lesson in just how tainted "success" can be for Kindred. I feel like this is part of a broader trend in RPGs, where there's a desire to make empowered characters who inadvertently get their flaws whitewashed or minimized, but that's its own topic.

            I do LOVE Kevin as prince, though, and my issue is more with the presentation than the idea. Prince Jackson is better than any of the CbN 2e contenders.
            I appreciate this read on the character, because it's exactly what we were going for. It's possible we could have been more clear, but you've read between the lines exactly where we want you to. As far as I'm concerned, that's good work on the part of the author.

            And yes, the Stringer Bell feel was deliberate. I love The Wire. But there's also a little of Juan from Moonlight too. As you describe it: no matter how much he may want to (or appear to want to) raise others from the streets, he's still a gangster.


            Matthew Dawkins
            In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing


            Website: https://www.matthewdawkins.com
            Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/matthewdawkins

            Comment


            • "Most of the Wall Street jackasses that I bust, they're to the manor born. Their fathers are douchebags, just like their fathers before them. But you... you, Jordan, you got this way all on your own."
              -The Wolf of Wallstreet

              I'd also like to add the inspiration for Kindred has always been one part The Godfather, which was inspired by the Borgias anyway (and influenced real life mobsters to class up their act), as well Anne Rice and The Lost Boys. Kevin Jackson can't go legitimate because Kindred society and the Camarilla IS just another gang.

              If I may use Grand Theft Auto V as an example, you can actually see a little bit of Franklin in the situation. Franklin is ambitious and sees the chance to move up in the world with Michael De Santa (let's call him Lodin in this) but the fact is that Michael De Santa is still "just" a criminal who is doing exactly the same thing that Franklin did, just at a higher level. Later in the game, Franklin also sees that Michael is just as vulnerable to falling into the same traps as Franklin did when he meets a higher level player of the game (just as Kevin will see as he deals with the upper ranks of the Camarilla).

              Being the Prince of the City means that Kevin will be required to keep the city a bloody mess as he has to make sure he kills whoever threatens the Masquerade, prevent the homeless problem from getting better, kill anyone who tries to make things better, and probably send up a good chunk of his money to the Camarilla above him. Indeed, he may well be making less money as Prince than he would as Lodin's subordinate.

              (Lodin was the Golden Boy of the American Camarilla and no one tried to preserve his legacy or care for him, no matter how many visits to Queen Anne he made)

              There's also the question of just how precarious his position is due to his age. Right now, he has near-absolute freedom due to the fact Helena doesn't want to Dominate him but she can change her mind at any time and there's not a damn thing Kevin will be able to do about it. He'll go from being a rising star to Helena's mouthpiece just like Lodin did for the Primogen. Critias is one of the most accomplished vampires of all time but he was just Menele's puppet. Because the Jyhad means everyone is a chess piece of someone else save the Antediluvians (and maybe not even them).

              Kevin needs supernatural protection or a patron to protect him from that but disdains the Tremere and tries to avoid the esoteric from all we've seen. Also, it may simply not be possible to avoid the Jyhad while playing it.

              Not just Helena either as Annabelle, Critias, and a few others are powerful enough to turn on him. I also liek that Kevin is certain his position is secure but he's making a huge number of enemies who will simply not care about his power and influence. Lodin was assassinated by Lupines, Anarchs, or Sabbat but all three of them simply went to his haven and shanked him. The fact he's still alive doesn't mean much to that "player character logic." One part of Jackson's biography is that he's debating just sending some Hounds to kill the werewolves hassling his vampires.

              As if it were that easy.

              Going after the Anarchs seems like a good move except the fact is the Anarchs WERE fairly subdued in Chicago (mostly because Tyler kept Juggler on a leash who kept them ineffective). Now he's murdered so many of them between Critias school and Damien that he actually could provide a rallying cry and it won't be the locals who rise up, they'll invite a small army from outside and Jackson may have himself fighting a war. The Movement has changed from Lodin's time and it's a dragon seeking prey.

              Plus there's things like Nerissa that can simply walk through whatever defenses he has and kill him if they're inclined (say if Kevin tries to wipe out a "superstitious Lilith cult.")

              Kevin is up for several rude awakenings but the questions are which ones will hit him first.
              Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-01-2019, 04:48 PM.


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

              Comment


              • His precarious position is intentional. It would be very dull to release a book with a goody two shoes perfect Prince, unassailable and without enemies.


                Matthew Dawkins
                In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing


                Website: https://www.matthewdawkins.com
                Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/matthewdawkins

                Comment


                • Originally posted by The Gentleman Gamer View Post
                  His precarious position is intentional. It would be very dull to release a book with a goody two shoes perfect Prince, unassailable and without enemies.
                  Well you know my opinion on Princes.

                  ANARCHY
                  ANARCHY



                  Jackson is a great tyrant to oppose while also being effective if you....don't....want to oppose him.


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

                  Comment


                  • What Kevin really needs is a strong primogen like Lodin had.

                    I mean, sure, he was their puppet, but so was everyone. They helped Lodin squash the Anarchs once Maldavis' rebellion had served its purpose, and despite three major Anarch uprisings over the course of his praxis, none of them actually managed to dethrone him. That took the Lupines, who were an X-factor outside of any vampire's control. Politics in Chicago would have seemed like a shell game to anyone who knew about the primogen but didn't know about the methuselahs.

                    I'm not sure Kevin would be willing to abide by that arrangement, though, however efficient it might be. He's been another Kindred's lapdog before and it'd grate his pride to surrender that freedom now, even if he is giving lots of Kindred lots of reasons to reconstitute a primogen council more like the old one.

                    Too bad, really. He's got a sleeker image than Lodin and could be an equally ruthless tyrant. Give the kid a hundred years and he could've gone places...


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

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by The Gentleman Gamer View Post

                      I appreciate this read on the character, because it's exactly what we were going for. It's possible we could have been more clear, but you've read between the lines exactly where we want you to. As far as I'm concerned, that's good work on the part of the author.
                      That is groovy to hear it's what you guys intended. And I'll he repeat he makes a pretty bang-up prince!


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

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
                        What Kevin really needs is a strong primogen like Lodin had.

                        I mean, sure, he was their puppet, but so was everyone. They helped Lodin squash the Anarchs once Maldavis' rebellion had served its purpose, and despite three major Anarch uprisings over the course of his praxis, none of them actually managed to dethrone him. That took the Lupines, who were an X-factor outside of any vampire's control. Politics in Chicago would have seemed like a shell game to anyone who knew about the primogen but didn't know about the methuselahs.
                        I disagree to an extent in that Maldavis' rebellion was an object lesson that Lodin was EXPENDABLE to the Primogen. Maxwell was overthrown for the same reason--he just didn't realize it until it was too late.

                        I'm not sure Kevin would be willing to abide by that arrangement, though, however efficient it might be. He's been another Kindred's lapdog before and it'd grate his pride to surrender that freedom now, even if he is giving lots of Kindred lots of reasons to reconstitute a primogen council more like the old one.

                        Too bad, really. He's got a sleeker image than Lodin and could be an equally ruthless tyrant. Give the kid a hundred years and he could've gone places...
                        I think Kevin Jackson is very likely to sink himself because he wants to make strategic alliances but his choices reflect the idea he'll rule as an autocrat. He's rightfully untrusting of most other Kindred (because most Kindred are untrustworthy) but he may be in a spot where he simply can't rule the Second City with his current alliances.

                        Frankly, his best ally among the Ventrue was probably Capone but Jackson certainly tried to eliminate him. Then he sent away the Wolf Pack which removes 4 of the most powerful allies in the Camarilla he has.

                        I'm also of the mind that Balthazar will at some point just make a suicide run at him and has a decent shot at taking him out (or crippling him). Add the fact that he is waging war on the Anarchs and you have a really juicy set of plots to run.
                        Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-01-2019, 09:10 PM.


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

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

                          I disagree to an extent in that Maldavis' rebellion was an object lesson that Lodin was EXPENDABLE to the Primogen. Maxwell was overthrown for the same reason--he just didn't realize it until it was too late.
                          Oh, sure. The rebellion started because Lodin wanted to rule as a tyrant who could ignore the primogen, and they felt the need to remind him of his place. Once he fell in line and agreed to be their puppet again, they called off their dogs.

                          Kevin's fallen into the same trap that Lodin did. He also wants to rule as a tyrant but he isn't personally strong enough to pull it off, even with most of the really old elders taken off the board.


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

                          Comment


                          • Horatio Ballard

                            Type: NPC

                            Synopsis: Impoverished Patrician

                            Review: I've got a lot of thoughts regarding Horatio Ballard. I shared the pieces of fiction from CBN1st Edition that portrayed him as a predator on his family's children. He was originally Humanity 0, a grossly obese (let's say 500 pounds as a vampire and 600 pounds as a human) as an example of vice rather than food-related mental illness ala real life, and a guy who destroyed the American Steel Industry back when it was a vital part of the country in living memory. In short everything about him was to make him a cariacture monster that the player characters are meant to hate. Tvtropes.org would use the term "Hate Sink."

                            One of my favorite Ballard moments is the description that he has a restaraunt that he doesn't own but patronizes that he goes to, orders mountains of food and then proceeds to VOMIT IT ALL UP afterward. It's a deliberate homage, IMHO, to Monty Python's Flying Circus and this NSFW skit. That was the kind of guy he was that he got off on the disgust he engendered and also the dependence the poor owners had on his largess as well as forcing them to clean up the results.



                            This version of Horatio Ballard is a "Lighter and Softer" portrayal that really shaves off a massive amount of his most repulsive qualities. He's still Humanity 4 (i.e. typical "stable" Elder) but he's treated sympathetically in a way that would never have flown in previous editions for the embodiment of Robber Baron capitalism. I'm of mixed feelings about this as I very much run a Gothic PUNK game that draws from the anti-capitalism themes of cyberpunk.

                            Generally, that my Horatio Ballards have always been like Pentex executives in they were "kill the poor and gloat over the rotting dead in the streets from their ivory tower" types. Previously, he was the embodiment of the worst of the Ventrue and now he's...not. More "typical Ventrue elder" to me.

                            This isn't to say this Ballard is cute and cuddly by any stretch of the imagination and I think there's some hints that he was inspired by Vincent D'onofrio's Kingpin from Netflix's Daredevil. He dominates his mortal family and abuses them but doesn't need to feed solely on children. He's also a murderer, (white collar) crime lord, and heavily involved in the Camarilla's shady business as well as real estate but that's just normal for a vampire. We also get some context for his worldview including the fact that Ballard suffers a lot of existentialist dread about the universe that vampirism allows him to cope with.

                            Weirdly, his financial situation is one of the few areas I was really intrigued by. Basically, this Ballard is a "broke millionaire" and we have a bunch of those in Apallachia. Not to get into politics here but it's something Trump was accused of being several time. Basically, very rich possession and property wise but heavily in debt and requiring large amounts of regular cash infusions to keep the whole house of cards from tumbling down. Ballard is in this version a one man Enron who presumably must still keep his regular payments going to Kevin Jackson, the Camarilla, his companies stockholders that he "borrows" from (and now have electronic records), and other Bernie Madoff style white collar crime.

                            It's an interesting use of present day economic issues and totally believable that even with Dominate 4 and Presence 4 that Ballard would have to do a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep his whole network from falling apart. I'm now inclined to think Bobby Weatherbottom, Ballard, and the PCs could have a really cool adventure based around the Gerald Cotten Bitcoin controversy. I could easily have Ballard Embrace Cotten on the offer of both of them dividing the money between themselves. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nat...225501940.html

                            Ballard wants to make a Schrek.net 2.0 but the game says this is incredibly stupid and risky but (bluntly) we already know a Thin Blood undoubtedly has his name and every other Kindred in Chicago so it's more the fact that it's easily strikable. To continue with the "Kingpin" comparisons, Ballard is listed as having Brawl 4 so its entirely possible that he's capable of having the kind of Spiderman/Kingpin fights that comic books used to celebrate. He even has Potence 2. I also like how WEIRD he's described as being, "fingers like sausages" a man made of "frozen lard."

                            Last edited by CTPhipps; 03-02-2019, 06:21 AM.


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

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                              Ventrue



                              Another notation is that Kevin Jackson's stats are unreasonably high. I don't mind the idea that some Kindred are much more powerful than others (let's face it, I have lower stats than a similarly aged 38 year old Special Forces operative). But it is somewhat noticeable for Kevin Jackson.

                              Some notes:

                              Attributes: 35 points with his lowest being two 3s in Charisma and Intelligence (which are weird ones as you'd think they'd be his highest). Honestly, I'd alter these and make his physical his lowest and up his Charisma and Intelligence.

                              Skills: 51 points with two specializations in Leadership and hilariously, Politics (Tyranny)

                              Disciplines: 10 Points

                              Backgrounds: 21

                              It's doubly funny because he has a note that he's "lacking in power." Man, what?

                              That is approximately 4.3 xp per year he has gotten since 1991. Compared to a Player Character it is not much and he has bootstrapped himself quite a lot since the "angry, back kid that dealt drugs" to "prince jackson" He was also quite ypung and younger Kindreds feel more driven to change than elders.

                              Comment


                              • It's kind of funny that I originally considered Kevin Jackson taking over the Anarchs in Chicago at one point for a plotline. Basically, because he is the perfect guy for being a Baron. Modern, intelligent, ruthless, and capable of leading a street gang that is organized into a pure machine of financial as well as political power. He would have seized the Barony of Chicago and proceeded to illustrate why age wasn't a factor when you had technology to compensate.

                                (As one player pointed out, "The biggest game changer to Kindred society in the past 100 years wasn't democracy but automatic weapons and Molatov cocktails.")

                                So watching him become the dire enemy of the Anarchs is fascinating.

                                It's a similar feeling for Matt Decker.


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

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