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Power Scaling in 5th Edition: Broken, or Not?

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  • #31
    Nyrufa

    Blood Lost is a brilliant chronicle. It's entertaining. It's well-acted. It's fast-paced without seeming rushed.

    It's not as polished as some other streaming V5 games, but more fun than most of them put together.

    Fuzzy Freaks as "Florence" is at turns hilariously funny and disturbingly intense, often in the same scene. She has managed to put the "personal" back into "game of personal horror". Every VtM gamer should watch a few episodes, just so Fuzzy can show that you can't have personal horror, unless you are playing a three-dimensional person. If anyone is putting together a streaming game, put her on it! Now.

    The rest of the cast all do a decent job. Even Delphron (who plays "Nate Ruairc", possibly the most narcissistic pc ever), turned in a surprisingly complex performance for someone who had never played a ttrpg before. He deftly balanced playing a "little shit" with the need to keep things fun for the other players.

    Josh, aka Gaming FTL, does a serviceable job as ST. As you watch the episodes, you can see Josh grow from an ST who is learning the system slowly, to one who masters it sufficiently to allow the mechanics to fade into the background. (I give him extra points for his patience while explaining to Delphron for the umpteenth time that, no, you cannot use Dominate to interrogate someone. Patience of a saint!)

    The chronicle was refreshing in it's lack of a script. I know, I know, in theory all streaming games are unscripted, but some also feel a bit over-prepared, over-polished, and can even border on the railroad-ey. (Looking at you, LA by Night!) On Blood Lost, Byzantine plots seemed to bubble up weekly, only to be tamped down just as quickly. The troupe, faced with an overly difficult (or just boring) turn of the plot, never hesitated to shrug, admit this was beyond their pcs' capacities, and move on with other stories. In the moment, it felt quite real and, in the long run, kept the pace brisk.

    And, of course, if nothing else, the series finally answered the all-important... and very British... rules question: "In V5, how does one brew a proper pot of tea?" The answer, obvious in hindsight though it was the only one of Josh's rulings that elicited a heated rules debate among the players: Dexterity+Etiquette, and Bob's your uncle!

    All that said, Blood Lost is not the best way to learn how to play V5.

    For one thing, it's based around thin-bloods, who have a whole new mechanic in V5... one that feels like it's still deep in beta. As you note, where TBs will land on the power-scale is still an unknown.

    Thin Blood Alchemy is vague at best, and stripped down looks like what Hero System would have called a Variable Power Pool which raises all soerts of balance problems. Given some time, and a liberal ST, they can get nearly any power. Given no prep time, or a strict ST, it is nearly worthless. How do you measure TBA, for game balance? You playtest it dozens or hundreds of times, and see where it lands. That's an experiment that's in-progress.

    The biggest unknown with TBs is the Resonance/You Are What You Eat rules. In theory, this should make vampire powers unreliable for the TBs. In Blood Lost, once DaddySheepDo smartly found the Bloodhound merit, the whole game changed. Need to go to Elysium? Go feed on a charismatic person and get Presence. Expecting combat with mortals? Start a bar fight with the right guy, and get Potence. Sneaking around? Find a recluse, and turn invisible. ST Josh allowed the players to choose the exact power the blood gave them, which increased TB power again.

    Besides, the TB thing, STJosh ran the chronicle with a different tone than is standard for V5. It wasn't the grimdark, crapsack world the designers want you to play in. Josh ran it as a rollicking, absurdist adventure. Most of the horror and angst content arose from the pcs falling flat on their face, often literally. The horror was not from the deeply serious nature of the world. If the chronicle were a film it would have been a joint production of Monty Python and the Coen Brothers.

    Happily, there is word from Onyx Path of a forthcoming guide for using different tones in V5. Hopefully, the developers will watch Josh's masterful storytelling for a chapter on madcap, campy fun.

    This style of game led to lots and lots of handwaving of rules. (How did Florence manage what looked like high levels of Animalism?) It was more like a homebrew game, vaguely inspired by the canon rules. In fairness, the troupe was quite transparent about this. They spent the first few sessions complaining about the book's lack of organization, learnability, or, ummm, basic cogency, then agreed to muddle through as best they could.

    Soooo, if you would like to play V5... or understand V5 well enough to discuss it at length... may I suggest buying the book?

    Would it be too forward for me to ask, is there a specific reason you have not?

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    • #32
      Nosimplehiway First of all, thank you for that in depth explanation. I feel it put things into more perspective.

      As for the question of why I haven't bought it yet, I'll say that a major factor in my hesitation stems from the political controversy surrounding the game. Namely the idea that the World of DARKNESS was being "toned down" to appeal to a more sensitive audience. Shit like Rudi, and systems for "trigger warnings" being in the game scared me off. But that was all OOC type stuff.

      The other major factor that has me concerned is how the game decided to back peddle on 25+ years of fluff, lore and content in order to revert the game back to a different setting / tone than the one I had become familiar with up to that point. There were way too many changes going on all at once, from the deletion of Schrecknet, to nerfing Blood Sorcery (like Herr Meister pointed out, why did the Assamites lose their paths, too?), to the Camarilla deciding to take themselves off the electronic grid, to the Lasombra deciding to abandon the Sabbat and join the Ivory Tower, and even to the Second Inquisition appearing to have replaced the Antedeluvians as the biggest threat to vampires while Gehenna is taking place.

      It's proven to be a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
      Last edited by Nyrufa; 06-12-2019, 06:18 PM.

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      • #33
        Over at RPG.net, they have charted out the V20 to V5 Metaplot storyline.

        https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?thre...taplot.847898/

        I think you might find that enlightening regarding lore and fluff.

        One of the posters agreed with my assumption that it's not that the V5 metaplot doesn't make sense, it does, but it was not put in a nice little "History" section for veteran gamers.


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

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        • #34

          Aaaand thank you for that link.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post


            Aaaand thank you for that link.
            Feel free to share your opinions on the metaplot.

            I always enjoy getting people's reactions and insights as I'm a big defender of the metaphor.


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

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            • #36
              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

              Feel free to share your opinions on the metaplot.

              I always enjoy getting people's reactions and insights as I'm a big defender of the metaphor.

              Well, from what I read on that link, it seems like 5th edition was kind of a retcon to the meta plot, rather than a continuation of it. I know that might be a bit difficult to agree with, considering the End Times metaplot actually had multiple ways you could go about doing it. But that's the only way I can describe making everything after the WoN no longer part of the canonical story.

              I'm still very nervous about my beloved Sabbat, though. Since it sounds like they're trying to do to them, what Requiem did with Belial's Brood. Which is to say, they're gonna make the Sabbat a faction that is meant to serve exclusively as antagonists, rather than playable characters. I'll wait for more information about that to come out. But right now, things aren't looking good for them.

              Still doesn't explain why the Assamites, and all other blood sorcerers lost their magical diversity at the same time the Tremere did. I was under the impression they followed completely different forms of Blood Sorcery, and the Tremere's power was affected because their leaders and elders were destroyed.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                Well, from what I read on that link, it seems like 5th edition was kind of a retcon to the meta plot, rather than a continuation of it. I know that might be a bit difficult to agree with, considering the End Times metaplot actually had multiple ways you could go about doing it. But that's the only way I can describe making everything after the WoN no longer part of the canonical story.
                Given that the canonical Old World of Darkness ended with the End of the World and all vampires destroyed, any continuation of the setting would be a retcon by that logic.

                There wasn't much that happened after the WON anyway aside from the Assamite Schism and that happened in the new timeline too, just differently.

                I'm still very nervous about my beloved Sabbat, though. Since it sounds like they're trying to do to them, what Requiem did with Belial's Brood. Which is to say, they're gonna make the Sabbat a faction that is meant to serve exclusively as antagonists, rather than playable characters. I'll wait for more information about that to come out. But right now, things aren't looking good for them.
                Honestly, it seems the Sabbat have broken up more than changed. The New Anarchs, Church of Caine, Gehenna Crusaders, and probably other groups are each a different part of the Sabbat as we knew them.

                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                Still doesn't explain why the Assamites, and all other blood sorcerers lost their magical diversity at the same time the Tremere did. I was under the impression they followed completely different forms of Blood Sorcery, and the Tremere's power was affected because their leaders and elders were destroyed.
                I don't think they've lost magical diversiity so much as we haven't gotten any books on how the old stuff works in the new system.

                Edit:

                As for the "World of Darkness" and adult thing, generally my impression of 5th Edition is exactly the opposite of it being softballed. The irony is that it is a progressive game because it allows gays, straights, blacks, and whites to get together (See my article: The Social Satire of Vampire: The Masquerade) but that angry horrific edge has not been dialed down. Indeed, it got blasted from both sides erroneusly. The Angry Left believed it was being too edgy and gratituously dark while the Angry Right hated that it was still the same inclusive game it always was.

                The thing about 5th Edition was that the developers clearly wanted to emphasize the Personal Horror element and went full Black Dog. They talked at great length about how vampires weren't heroes, talking about the horrors of feeding, slavery of ghouls, and so on. This repulsed a lot of gamers who forgot this was part of the appeal in the 90s. The art also emphasized it was a dark and edgy game with its heavy BSDM and horror overtones.
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 06-12-2019, 07:52 PM.


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

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post

                  That's why I'm trying to find out more information about it. I'm undecided about whether or not to buy 5th edition, and I'm seeing an awful lot of people openly mocking the game and berating the changes that were introduced in 5th edition. Heck, I've seen multiple saying something along the lines of "thank God I still have v20!"

                  In other words, most of the people I've seen who have looked into 5th edition have a lot of scorn directed towards it. And that has so far put me off to the idea of buying it without getting more information first.
                  Take a look back at all the prior discussions you even participated in and decide if it's the kind of Vampire you would want to play, or not. It's not that hard, because it wears what kind of game it wants to be on the cuff. If you want to play VtM the way the writers wanted, you'd love it. If not, better off with V20. If you like the setting as it was and the things of older editions, like powerfull elders, Sabbat, Anarchs in the Cam, Paths, etc. better off with V20. If you was bored with the old setting, would want a total upheavel, want to concentrate on Anarchs vs. the Cam, want to concentrate on nightly survival, human relationships and want to emphasize a lot more the losing of the self to the monster and the blood addiction than the old system did, you'd be better off with V5.

                  Truly, in my eyes, that's it, in a nutshell.



                  If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                    Nosimplehiway First of all, thank you for that in depth explanation. I feel it put things into more perspective.
                    I just want to take a moment to point out that Nosimplehiway is one of the great treasures of these forums, and posts like that are the reason why.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by PMárk View Post

                      Take a look back at all the prior discussions you even participated in and decide if it's the kind of Vampire you would want to play, or not. It's not that hard, because it wears what kind of game it wants to be on the cuff. If you want to play VtM the way the writers wanted, you'd love it. If not, better off with V20. If you like the setting as it was and the things of older editions, like powerfull elders, Sabbat, Anarchs in the Cam, Paths, etc. better off with V20. If you was bored with the old setting, would want a total upheavel, want to concentrate on Anarchs vs. the Cam, want to concentrate on nightly survival, human relationships and want to emphasize a lot more the losing of the self to the monster and the blood addiction than the old system did, you'd be better off with V5.

                      Truly, in my eyes, that's it, in a nutshell.

                      Right, I can understand the appeal of wanting to see a change to the overall narrative of how the game goes about doing things. But I felt like if that was what people were looking for, then Chronicles of Darkness fits that bill. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thought so, since those same people who have been speaking against V5 also seem to be in agreement that V5 is trying to become more like Requiem.

                      And while I don't necessarily hate Requiem (I bought it's book, before I bought Masquerade), I enjoyed that both settings had different aspects to them. To me, Requiem plays more like a sandbox version of the game, where the Story Teller is free to make up whatever plot they want, and the players take it from there. While Masquerade had an overall narrative that was driving it forward. A narrative that seems to have been almost completely discarded in order to replace it with this new version.

                      Because everything has been so dramatically altered, I also basically have to relearn how the game's mechanics work now. I bought V20 to avoid that exact problem.


                      I liked the idea in Masquerade that the Elders were semi-invincible. Because it actually made them intimidating, and gave some credence as to how they were able to retain their office for centuries without being dethroned. How can I expect to take their authority seriously, when the only real difference between Generations now is how much blood you can spend at a time? Like I said, a bunch of new Thin Bloods coming in and taking down 2 of the highest ranking kindred in the city makes the Camarilla power structure into a complete joke.

                      I'm also not a fan of the idea that Methuselahs and Antedeluvians have access to secret, 6+ discipline powers just because "the plot says so." That comes across as lazy writing to me. If they wanted those powers to remain in the game, they should have just left the idea of advanced disciplines in to begin with. As I recall, you needed to be 7th Gen or lower to even use them in the first place, so it's not like stripping them from the game had any impact on a modern night's chronicle, where the average generation is 13.

                      I feel like this is starting to divert from my original question and turn into a mini-rant. So I'll just stop it here, before I derail my own thread.


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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post

                        I liked the idea in Masquerade that the Elders were semi-invincible. Because it actually made them intimidating, and gave some credence as to how they were able to retain their office for centuries without being dethroned. How can I expect to take their authority seriously, when the only real difference between Generations now is how much blood you can spend at a time? Like I said, a bunch of new Thin Bloods coming in and taking down 2 of the highest ranking kindred in the city makes the Camarilla power structure into a complete joke.
                        Using the rules as written, characters of Elder Generation/high Blood Potency can be insanely powerful, but have to be played like Elders should be -- smart and savvy. And even if pushed to a direct confrontation, a character with BP6 can heal 3 Superficial damage per round, adds +3 dice to all Discipline activation and resistance rolls by default, can add +3 to any one Attribute roll (not just the Physical Attributes anymore) in a round, among other factors. What you're seeing is, as many others have said, how that group played their game. If an ST isn't having an Elder use those capabilities (or their other capabilities, which would be masses of connections via Allies and Contacts, Retainers, Influence and Status to head off the physical conflict) that's on the group, not the system.
                        Last edited by elmerg; 06-16-2019, 02:04 PM.

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                        • #42
                          If Elders are invincible, why do they need to hide?


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

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                            If Elders are invincible, why do they need to hide?

                            In a conventional fight, they DON'T need to hide. The thing that scares vampires is being outnumbered, not overpowered. Remember that before the First Inquisition, vampires didn't care if mortals knew about them. Because they knew small bands of rebels posed no threat to their rule. If you can dodge bullets, punch through solid rock, and laugh off a shotgun blast to the gut, then even the world's greatest professional is going to be more of a casual annoyance to you than a true threat. But if that professional brings along 10 of his co-workers? All of whom are packing top quality firepower? That's when they start to become a threat.

                            When a younger vampire used subterfuge and guile to bring down an Elder, it was because they needed to do so. They recognized that they couldn't bring them down in a fair fight, so they had to get creative with their approach.
                            Last edited by Nyrufa; 06-16-2019, 02:38 PM.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post

                              In a conventional fight, they DON'T need to hide. The thing that scares vampires is being outnumbered, not overpowered. Remember that before the First Inquisition, vampires didn't care if mortals knew about them. Because they knew small bands of rebels posed no threat to their rule. If you can dodge bullets, punch through solid rock, and laugh off a shotgun blast to the gut, then even the world's greatest professional is going to be more of a casual annoyance to you than a true threat. But if that professional brings along 10 of his co-workers? All of whom are packing top quality firepower? That's when they start to become a threat.

                              When a younger vampire used subterfuge and guile to bring down an Elder, it was because they needed to do so. They recognized that they couldn't bring them down in a fair fight, so they had to get creative with their approach.
                              I admit, this is literally the opposite of how I've played Elders since First Edition. I posted this in one of the Werewolf versus Elder threads.

                              "Elders do not fight you. This is not an absolute rule but it is close to one. An Elder who pulls out it claws or sword is an idiot and unworthy of anything but destruction. Elders hide behind armies, ghouls, slave Ancilla, slave Neonates, and catpaws. An Elder will not get to be over a hundred years old if they do not learn never to fight on the front lines but in the rear. Most will run if they can but the best will never been seen at all."


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

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post


                                In a conventional fight, they DON'T need to hide. The thing that scares vampires is being outnumbered, not overpowered. Remember that before the First Inquisition, vampires didn't care if mortals knew about them. Because they knew small bands of rebels posed no threat to their rule. If you can dodge bullets, punch through solid rock, and laugh off a shotgun blast to the gut, then even the world's greatest professional is going to be more of a casual annoyance to you than a true threat. But if that professional brings along 10 of his co-workers? All of whom are packing top quality firepower? That's when they start to become a threat.

                                When a younger vampire used subterfuge and guile to bring down an Elder, it was because they needed to do so. They recognized that they couldn't bring them down in a fair fight, so they had to get creative with their approach.
                                Yup, that.

                                Being a lot more stronger than mortals/neonates doesn't equal being invincible. I agree elders feared numbers, not individuals far below them. They sometimes misjudged it and horribly so, but ingeneral it worked and made sense.


                                If nothing worked, then let's think!

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