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[WIR] Chicago by Night 5th Edition

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  • #61
    Nerissa Blackwater

    Type: NPC

    Synopsis: 7000 year old Caitiff...or maybe a deluded neonate.

    Review: It's interesting how the game got rid of the vast majority of Methuselahs in the setting via the Beckoning and Gehenna War, including Menele as well as other Elders, only to introduce another one who may be more powerful than most. Actually, not necessarily as we see her stats aren't overwhelming (but more on that later).

    One of the best ideas Matthew Dawkins' team had (I think this is actually Matthew himself here but I've been wrong before) was the Drowned Legacies. I'm not sure about the naming convention but basically the idea of there being a bunch of non-Cainite mythology Bloodlines in South, Central, and North America. I'm definitely more a Laibon, "I prefer all of the world's vampires to be Cainites. Hate-hate the Kuei-jin" but that doesn't mean they should not have their own cultures and Clan variants.

    Nerisaa Blackwater is a Native American woman (predating any existing tribe) who has awoken from a 500 year long torpor to find out the country is utterly covered with Europeans and Cainites (who she recognizes no kinship with). Nerissa, especially, hates Helena as she can tell that Helena is nothing more than a pawn for another more powerful Kindred and a source of pestilance as well as decay. Likely potential masters for Helena are Arikel (obviously) and potentially the Baali Moloch.

    Depending on how much you want Menele to be the "good guy" the corruption of Troile by the Baali may be something that he's violently repressed or it was Helena who was on the side of the infernalists. My take on the subject was Helena actually had a good reason to turn on Carthage and had high enough humanity to be repulsed by the Baali. Menele has regained his humanity (actually, Path of Entelecy) but was fully enslaved by his sire there.

    YMMV, of course.

    Basically, Nerissa is the ultimate wild card for Chicago as you can't really deal with a phenomenonally old ancient rising from the Earth with completely alien values. About the only thing she recognizes as familiar is the worship of Lilith. However, she gives a pretty terrifying summary of just how alien and horrifying her worldview must be because she says the Bahari have a "whitewashed" view of her history.

    Then again, maybe she only knows the Bahari from the Blood Disco, which would be like learning the heart of Christianity from a coke fueled orgy version of Veggie Tales. Okay, that was a weird analogy even for me. Either way, the House of Lilith in the Blood Disco is probably the nicest bunch of Lilith worshipers you'll find outside of a Lilith Fair.

    I've actually already used Nerissa Blackwater in my games but I modified the character significantly. Specifically, my version is straight up the Gangrel Antediluvian. Yes, she's Ennoia, either possessing Nerissa's body via Auspex/Dominate or actually her body created from the soil. The player characters managed to remove Nerissa from beneath a Garou caern where she'd been imprisoned for 500 years trying to "burn away" the corruption in her brain with Garou holiness. She spared the PCs' lives, Dominated them into being unable to speak of it, and promised she'll give them some sort of reward eventually (possibly sparing them again when she smacks around the world).

    I modified her stats in my game to be, "She wins at whatever she wants." Some NPCs don't really need stats as they're plot devices and I think this is the case here.

    One thing that DOES confuse me is why she has a Humanity of EIGHT. Yeah, I'm calling bullshit on that. Maybe if she was described as Path of Lilith (in-universe or not), I'd buy it but as is, I'd say a Humanity of 4.


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

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    • #62
      Anyone got any favorite characters so far?

      I'd be interested in how people like the Anarch vs. Camarilla set up.

      Also, what they think of the changes.


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

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      • #63
        How long, on the average, are the character descriptions ? Are they similar in length to the ones in the Revised books ? Do some characters get considerably longer descriptions ?

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post
          How long, on the average, are the character descriptions ? Are they similar in length to the ones in the Revised books ? Do some characters get considerably longer descriptions ?
          Well, you can see for yourself in the previews. There's a dozen character examples.

          The previews are identical to what is in the book.


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

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          • #65
            Caitiff Thoughts

            + I really appreciated the treatment of the Caitiff in this book as we get some more insights into things. It provides a sense of how the Anarch Movement really is the home for Caitiff because even those who would be more comfortable in the Camarilla are Anarchs by default.

            + Maldavis is a character who is less sympathetic than she was in previous editions. In addition to losing 2 points of Humanity, we also note she's apparently not quite as capable as previous editions implied. She is trusting Portia too readily and attempting to manipulate Anita Wainwright into being her catspaw. There's also the fact she's ignored the Anarchs save as a power base and is considering leaving the Movement for House Carna.

            + Bennet Steadman is a good low-key rival for the player characters. He's a good "face" for the Cult of Lilith as well as a good guy to be involved with the criminal underworld while not being fully a criminal himself.

            + Francois Mamuwalde is a character who is certainly going to be memorable. The most interesting element, though, is that she is a person who rules over a substantial Caitiff population and I wish that was better detailed. They could easily be their own power in the city but they just don't want to be--because they already ARE a major power, just one who has been invisible until now.

            + Sweetie Pepper is a character I don't quite have a handle on but works wonderfully as a nightmare for Elders. Just a guy who can wreck the gameboard by maybe stealing a grenade launcher and going after Critias one day with no warning.

            + Mercy Valdez is a great character who hates the Anarchs but the fact is that she is screwed if she ever contacts the Camarilla. Whether she ends up getting murdered or rescued will be entirely dependent on people she'll probably offend.

            + WHO is Nerissa Blackwater? What does she represent? We'll have to see.


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

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            • #66
              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
              Anyone got any favorite characters so far?
              Blackwater - I like the dangerous mystery she represents.

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              • #67
                Gangrel

                The Gangrel are like the Malkavians in my opinion. They are basically characters for designing characters who don't actually have a place in the world. Like the Malkavians, Gangrel are people who dislike large groups of people and have no set social order. Basically, they're depicted as the antithesis of the kind of characters that would thrive in a social game. They aren't even particularly good combat monkeys because they have one combat discipline to go along with two very good "survival" disciplines. It's also Fortitude, which is the redheaded stepchild of combat disciplines.

                Nevertheless, Gangrel, like Malkavians are characters which are direly benefit from 5E. The Gangrel going independent of the Camarilla never made sense because while the Camarilla denied the Antediluvians existed, cutting off their support (however tepid) wasn't going to benefit things. If they joined the Sabbat, maybe. Instead, having them join the Anarch feels like a much better call for the organization.

                The Gangrel have always been independent, completely able to survive on their own, and skeptical of authority. Indeed, they're much more likely to thrive among the Anarchs than the Brujah. The Brujah, for all their talk of FREEDOM like it's Braveheart, are a clan that needs and thrives in a pecking order. Indeed, I'm 90% sure the Sabbat only have packs because it was the Brujah Antitribu contribution to their organization. It certainly wasn't the Lasombra or Tzimisce who yearned for the camraderie of their fellow undead.

                Gangrel don't NEED the company of their fellow Kindred but don't disdain it either. It means they're perfect in the Anarchs as they are capable of looking after themselves and if things go south, moving on. They also have enough loyalty to their friends that they will look after them even if they have any nationalism and that forms something of a chain. In simple terms, The Camarilla and Sabbat no longer can beat the Anarchs period. The Anarchs can't necessarily beat THEM but any attempt to destroy the Anarchs will fail just because there's going to be those guys backing up the crazy Brujah with guns (and now the Setites watching for sneaky shit from the High Clans).

                V5 has also dramatically increased the importance of Animalism. Previously, it was a nifty but not especially important discipline. Now, with the fact it means animal blood becomes potable for lower generation Kindred, it means the difference between life and undeath. In my games, the Second Inquisition has hit the Wolf clan the least. Gangrel don't NEED as much human blood as any other clan but the Nosferatu so they can maintain much higher populations than other Kindred clans. A city of a 100 Gangrel will have as many human deaths as a Kindred city of 10. They still love human blood, mind you, but it's a meal they can plan for. V5 also reduced their flaws to, "stay inside the trailer for a week eating rats and watching Netflix" rather than permanent disfigurements. They have no need for the Camarilla, really.
                Chicago is the WORST place to illustrate this.

                For whatever reason, Chicago's Gangrel have always been heavily invested in the system. They were a pack of Loyalists through and through. So it's interesting to see how the city dealt with their withdrawal and then outright rebellion.

                Rosa Hernandez

                Type: NPC

                Snyopsis: A lawyer obsessed with killing Lupines.

                Review: I'm going to say something: I always felt Rosa Hernandez was the worst character in Chicago by Night 1st and 2nd Edition. She's amazingly a character I have never used and that's impressive since I've used damn near every other character in both books on multiple occasions. I always felt the fact a vampire animal rights activist sounded like a bad joke, doubly so with the fact she was perfectly okay with killing humans.

                They've done an amazing job turning the character around. Making her the Primogen of the Gangrel in Chicago (with Inyanga Beckoned and the Wolf Pack gone--meaning she's Primogen of almost no one) is a great idea. Especially since Rosa clearly believes in the Camarilla and apparently did SOMETHING during Under a Blood Red Moon that causes her to believe she needs to make up for it by being a good little soldier. My inclination is that she shared the havens of her fellow Kindred or tried to meet with the Lupines under a flag of truce only to be ambushed because Garou honor is "situational" (especially when dealing with non-Garou. Sort of like Klingons).

                Either way, I really liked her conversation with Rudi and how she desperately wants to represent the Gangrel in the Camarilla despite that ship having completely sailed. It makes her probably the only sympathetic Camarilla-supporter in the book because she's actually abiding by its stated goals and rules. You know, what no actual Camarilla Elder would do. It's also tragic because Jackson wants to replace her with a Banu Haqim or Lasombra because the Gangrel aren't doing anything for him--an irony since she's porbbaly the only Primogen other than Critias "loyal" to the Prince.

                Rosa is still a die-hard enemy of Lupines, which I don't think we need since we have Anita Wainwright and it's a hard thing to believe you can have too many Kindred interested in because it's such a lethal pastime. I do wonder (again The Gentleman Gamer) if she has contact with Mark Decker, though. Rosa being of his Clan and also a Camarilla loyalist. On the other hand, I can't help but think Rosa is far too mainstream for him if he's running a Milwaukee Police State.

                I'm inclined to think Kevin Jackson also kicked out the Lupines from Chicago not just because they were threats to his power but as part of his plans to remove Rosa from the Primogen as they seemed to have been loyal to her as local Clan Head and being every bit as devoted to the Ivory Tower as themselves.

                I appreciate the idea she's a trained lawyer now as well as that increases her credibility even if her law firm, yes, is primarily devoted to animal rights. Then again, I love pit bulls and advocate for them so I'd be on her side as well.
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 01-30-2019, 11:37 AM.


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

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                • #68
                  One thing that I do not like about Rosa is that they write:

                  Sniff out the Lupines: Rosa has developed an ability to sense kinfolk and Lupine through a mix of Animalism and Auspex.

                  But she does not have Auspex. I would rather see her have 1 in Auspex and have Sniff out the Lupins as an level 1 amalgam power of Auspex 1 and Animalism 3 or something like it.

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                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Little_Miss_ Serneholt View Post
                    One thing that I do not like about Rosa is that they write:

                    Sniff out the Lupines: Rosa has developed an ability to sense kinfolk and Lupine through a mix of Animalism and Auspex.

                    But she does not have Auspex. I would rather see her have 1 in Auspex and have Sniff out the Lupins as an level 1 amalgam power of Auspex 1 and Animalism 3 or something like it.
                    That is a very interesting point. I assume you COULD do a Protean power that allows literal sniffing powers but that's a weird possibility and makes me assume she can only sniff out Kinfolk and Lupines in Wolf form.

                    Auspex does seem like something they should have thrown in.


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

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                    • #70
                      Lester Knife

                      Type: NPC

                      Preview:

                      Lester Knife

                      Synopsis: A Native American caretaker who controls a haunted building.

                      Review: I'm quite fond of Lester Knife but he seems like a NPC that requires a very specific sort of story to tell and I'm not sure the book necessarily provides all the information you require in order to run the kind of adventure you're going to do. In a very real way, I might do a Call of Cthulhu adventure regarding Lester before I do him as a V:TM NPC.

                      The premise of Lester Knife is that he is a Native American man frequently in and out with the law who discovered a man named Ernie was abusing local women, drug peddling, and more.

                      His attempts to do the right thing resulted in him getting exiled from his community. He complained out and got turned into a ghoul by the Wolf Pack who later Embraced him. From there, he discovered an old freemason hall and the horrifying THINGS that live under it that he must attend to.The creatures underneath the building are never really named, though the book seems to imply they are vampires of the Drowned Legacy. It's just these vampires don't seem to want to get up and do anything while are content to receive blood sacrifices by Lester. This opens a lot of questions to me.

                      * What kind of vampires are they? What are their goals, are they coming out of torpor, and how do I simulate them?
                      * How does Lester offer sacrifices to them? Are they corpses or living people?
                      * Where does he get his sacrifices? What sort of people are they?
                      * If he regularly gives them human sacrifices, how does he have a Humanity 6?

                      Weirdly, I think this story hook would probably work better if they weren't vampires and poor Lester had stumbled onto a Baali Hive which had been abandoned. That way the Wolf Pack's advice to keep feeding the monsters could provide to be a HORRIBLY BAD ONE. That his fifty years of giving them offerings means they're about to wake up.

                      The time frame of the character is also a bit confusing as Ernie Head is apparently his Touchstone and still alive. However, Lester Knife still has ties to the Native American community. This despite fifty years having passed in the real world. So is Ernie in his 80s? 90s? Has Ernie been ghouled by Lester Knife as a way to get his revenge on the man? Is Ernie the pawn of some other undead? Or is Lester angry and seething at a mortal who will last only a short time left?

                      Despite this, the entire story of Lester and company is extremely well done and I love the character. Having the player characters step from Gothic Horror over into Cosmic Horror is a great idea and I've always been fond of demonic, eldritch, and Wyrm-ridden kind of horror intersecting with our traditional vampire stories. I wouldn't mind a Drowned Legacy character but these feel a little too alien to really scratch that itch for me. My interpretation of the Drowned generally just being, "Native American vampires."

                      Anyway, I feel this is a really well-researched character too and makes use of local history as well as RL racial history well. Edu-tainment!


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

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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        Lester Knife

                        Type: NPC

                        Preview:

                        Lester Knife

                        Synopsis: A Native American caretaker who controls a haunted building.

                        Review: I'm quite fond of Lester Knife but he seems like a NPC that requires a very specific sort of story to tell and I'm not sure the book necessarily provides all the information you require in order to run the kind of adventure you're going to do. In a very real way, I might do a Call of Cthulhu adventure regarding Lester before I do him as a V:TM NPC.

                        The premise of Lester Knife is that he is a Native American man frequently in and out with the law who discovered a man named Ernie was abusing local women, drug peddling, and more.

                        His attempts to do the right thing resulted in him getting exiled from his community. He complained out and got turned into a ghoul by the Wolf Pack who later Embraced him. From there, he discovered an old freemason hall and the horrifying THINGS that live under it that he must attend to.The creatures underneath the building are never really named, though the book seems to imply they are vampires of the Drowned Legacy. It's just these vampires don't seem to want to get up and do anything while are content to receive blood sacrifices by Lester. This opens a lot of questions to me.

                        * What kind of vampires are they? What are their goals, are they coming out of torpor, and how do I simulate them?
                        * How does Lester offer sacrifices to them? Are they corpses or living people?
                        * Where does he get his sacrifices? What sort of people are they?
                        * If he regularly gives them human sacrifices, how does he have a Humanity 6?

                        Weirdly, I think this story hook would probably work better if they weren't vampires and poor Lester had stumbled onto a Baali Hive which had been abandoned. That way the Wolf Pack's advice to keep feeding the monsters could provide to be a HORRIBLY BAD ONE. That his fifty years of giving them offerings means they're about to wake up.

                        The time frame of the character is also a bit confusing as Ernie Head is apparently his Touchstone and still alive. However, Lester Knife still has ties to the Native American community. This despite fifty years having passed in the real world. So is Ernie in his 80s? 90s? Has Ernie been ghouled by Lester Knife as a way to get his revenge on the man? Is Ernie the pawn of some other undead? Or is Lester angry and seething at a mortal who will last only a short time left?

                        Despite this, the entire story of Lester and company is extremely well done and I love the character. Having the player characters step from Gothic Horror over into Cosmic Horror is a great idea and I've always been fond of demonic, eldritch, and Wyrm-ridden kind of horror intersecting with our traditional vampire stories. I wouldn't mind a Drowned Legacy character but these feel a little too alien to really scratch that itch for me. My interpretation of the Drowned generally just being, "Native American vampires."

                        Anyway, I feel this is a really well-researched character too and makes use of local history as well as RL racial history well. Edu-tainment!
                        Yep, Ernie is ooold and Lester will be feeling it when he eventually expires. His unpleasant relationship with the man is about the only thing allowing him to retain Humanity. He clings to that grudge.

                        And who says it's not a Baali hive?


                        Matthew Dawkins
                        In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing


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

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                        • #72
                          It reminds me a bit of 13 by Peter Clines.

                          Peter Clines is something of my professional rival (we used to work at the same company) and he did the Ex-Heroes novels.

                          13 has the protagonist hired as a caretaker of a building full of somewhat dumb apartment dwellers and they don't realize the place is meant to keep SOMETHING HORRIBLE IMPRISONED.



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

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                          • #73
                            Duncan MacTavish

                            Type: NPC

                            Synopsis: A badass SAS soldier who works for the Anarchs.

                            Review: I love when there's characters who are both simultaneously out-of-genre and yet also fit into the greater fun of the setting. Lester Knife fulfills this role to an extent, being a kind of Call of Cthulhu protagonist (antagonist?) trapped in a vampire game. Duncan MacTavish manages to one-up him, though, with being a Call of Duty protagonist back from the time when the games were still good.



                            The premise is he's a former Special Forces operative that his sire recruited along with three others and gave a daring obstacle course to go to GARY, INDIANA. The four of them had to eliminate the others and Duncan MacTavish is the winner. The implication by the article, though, is that the other Special Forces realized what a bum deal this was and used their skills to slip away with Duncan keeping their dog tags as well as ash samples (severed hands?).

                            I absolutely love the fact the writers chose to give the Anarch Movement their own particular version of the Terminator. The kind of character who wouldn't just walk up, Blade style, and kill everyone in the building. No, Duncan MacTavish is very much the kind of guy who would blow up Elysium and snipe any burning vampires that fled out of the building from a mile away. Really, he's the most Assamite character in the book without being an Assamite.

                            Interestingly, the write-up also makes it clear he's an agent of JUGGLER. Which is something I just can't wrap my head around because Juggler is the embodiment of an Anarch who is "all hat and no cattle." I could believe it if Duncan MacTavish were the creation of Patricia Bollingbrook (Juggler's master) but this seems like the kind of plan which is a bit beyond a guy who is most famous in-universe for creating a zombie movie that mocked the Camarilla. He didn't even make the movie himelf either as it was a Giovanni production.

                            Mind you, this book has done an amazing job of rehabilitating characters which I thought were some of the weakest in V:TM. Marc Levensque and Rosa Hernandez are not my favorites of all time even their revised form but they've gone from being ones I actively disliked to ones I may use in my game. So I'd really like to know what Juggler is up to and what his relationship to Atlacoya is in THE CHICAGO FOLIO/LET THE STREETS RUN RED. You've created a surprising mystery, The Gentleman Gamer and in the words of Django Unchained, "You had my curiosity before. Now you have my attention."

                            There's a lot of interesting subtext to the character of Duncan as well. He's someone who absolutely hates the Blood Bond but he's fanatically loyal to the Anarch cause and his sire despite the fact, well, they really screwed him over. Is that because he's Blood Bound, Presenced, or Dominated? Or is it the more prosaic "he's a man trained to follow orders and after saving his life, he transferred his loyalty to her cause"? Some combination of both? Remember, the Blood Bond works best when it's enhancing pre-existing feelings.

                            It's also interesting and appropriate that a man as devoted and fanatical as he is, is working for the Anarchs. He's the kind of guy who would fit in well with the Sabbat's Black Hand because, well, he'd never fit in with the rest of the sect. However, he's not the sort of guy who would work well in the Camarilla because that depends on both a combination of Divine Right mixed with Objectivist "enlightened selfishness."

                            Basically, no one serves the Camarilla out of loyalty save maybe Theo Bell and we saw how that worked out. The Anarchs, for all of their many flaws, genuinely believe they're making a better world and that feudalism is balls. As a 20th century patriot, Duncan fits into their world much much closely.

                            Duncan is an interesting "secret weapon" for the Anarchs should things turn out to be all out war. Damien is very good at wiping out Thin Bloods and Neonates but he's not the kind of guy who can defeat a stealth-based soldier. Nathaniel Borduff is shown as the kind of guy who can and then it's "Magic vs. Modern Special Forces techniques--who will win!" I confess I was surprised to see Bobby Weatherbottom listed as one of his few friends but can easily imagine the two working together well like Solid Snake and Otacon.

                            The bit about Maldavis surprised me -- does he know she's Tremere?
                            Last edited by CTPhipps; 01-31-2019, 12:11 PM.


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

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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                              The kind of character who wouldn't just walk up, Blade style, and kill everyone in the building. No, Duncan MacTavish is very much the kind of guy who would blow up Elysium and snipe any burning vampires that fled out of the building from a mile away.
                              It's good to have at least an NPC thinking strategically about fights. Too often the game is shaped by movies, where two characters duke it out - even if that makes no strategic, or tactical sense - or even little narrative sense. So in the game the players are limited in their thinking. If they can't slap some elder around in a fist fight, they just knuckle under. Rather than sniping with incendiary rounds, or using bombs, etc. Having at least an NPC operate that way is cool.

                              Also, I wrote "fish fight" until I reread the post.

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                              • #75
                                Here's the thing, it's good that MacTavish answers to Juggler rather than Maldavis or Anita.

                                Because, if he showed up in the final act of a certain chronicle.... brr... I think my players would rebel in frustration when they get fucked up by a black-ops soldier with Earth Meld and Metamorphosis.


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