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[WIR] Beckett's Jyhad Diary - The Big book of Metaplot

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  • [WIR] Beckett's Jyhad Diary - The Big book of Metaplot



    So, who loved Beckett's Jyhad Diary? It wasn't just my favorite V20 book, it was my favorite Vampire: The Masquerade book period. Maybe Chicago by Night 1st Edition is as good but even that doesn't quite pull it off. It managed to combine all of the craziness of 20 years of Vampire: The Masquerade into one volume and expand on a lot of plots I'd completely forgotten. I thought I was a master of obscure V:TM minutia but this is really a book that remembered everything and made it all coherent.

    Why do I love it so?

    Metaplot.

    I love metaplot.

    Yet, I have no remorse. I love the way the books continue dangling new plot threads in front of the readers and gradually have the world move around the player characters rather than remain permanently still. Your world wasn't just your player characters' city but things they could react to and interact with. So here we're going to do a chapter by chapter read through on Beckett's Jyhad Diary by Alan Alexander, Matthew Dawkins, Steffie de Vaan, Joshua Doetsch, Renee Knipe, Matthew McFarland, Neall Raemonn Price, Myranda Sarro, Malcolm Sheppard, and Monica Valentinelli.

    I hope everyone enjoys.

    Chapters

    Chapter One: Carna's Rebellion
    Chapter One: Carna's Rebellion notes
    Chapter Two: The Split City part 1
    Chapter Two: The Split City part 1 notes
    Chapter Two: The Split City part 2
    Chapter Two: The Split City part 2 notes
    Chapter Three: Shadows Coalesce
    Chapter Three: Shadows Coalesce notes
    Chapter Four: War Across Dixie
    Chapter Four: War Across Dixie notes
    Chapter Five: London Falling
    Chapter Five: London Falling notes
    Chapter Six: Schism
    Chapter Six: Schism notes
    Chapter Seven: The Anarch Freefall part 1
    Chapter Seven: The Anarch Freefall part 2
    Chapter Eight: The Blood Matures
    Chapter Eight: The Blood Matures notes
    Chapter Nine: The Spark of Civil War
    Chapter Nine: The Spark of Civil War notes
    Chapter Ten: Hands of Darkness
    Chapter Ten: Hands of Darkness notes
    Chapter Eleven: The Dead Walk
    Chapter Eleven: The Dead Walk notes
    Chapter Twelve: Planting the Eye
    Chapter Twelve: Planting the Eye notes
    Chapter Thirteen: The Freedom of Libertalia
    Chapter Fourteen: Transvaal Nights
    Chapter Fifteen: The Price of Hospitality
    Chapter Fifteen: The Price of Hospitality notes
    Chapter Sixteen: The Deaths of Baba Yaga
    Chapter Sixteen: The Deaths of Baba Yaga notes
    Chapter Seventeen: The Fall of the House
    Chapter Seventeen: The Fall of the House notes
    Chapter Eighteen: Carthago Delenda Est
    Chapter Eighteen: Carthago Delenda Est notes
    Chapter Nineteen: The Eye Opens
    Chapter Twenty: The Giovanni Chronicles V
    Chapter Twenty: The Giovanni Chronicles V notes
    Chapter Twenty-One: The Third Eye Opens
    Chapter Twenty-One: The Third Eye Opens notes
    Chapter Twenty-Two: Azhi Dahak
    Chapter Twenty-Three: The Madness of Jerusalem
    Chapter Twenty-Four: The False Caine
    Chapter Twenty-Four: The False Caine notes
    Chapter Twenty-Five: Dreams and Nightmares
    Chapter Twenty-Six: Death has Many Faces

    Analysis

    The Long Game (Essay)
    The State of the Sabbat (Essay)
    Sexism and House Carna (Essay)
    Anarchs, the Camarilla, LA, and V5 (Essay)
    Vampires, Evil, and Love (Essay)
    Malkavians (Essay)
    The Master of Ravens' Identity by Undead Rabbit

    Grumpy RPG Reviews notes

    Chapter 1
    Chapter 2
    Chapter 3
    Chapter 4
    Chapter 5
    Chapter 6
    Chapter 7
    Chapter 8
    Chapter 9
    Chapter 10
    Timeline of V5 vs. BJD
    Chapter 11
    Chapter 12
    Chapter 13
    Chapter 14
    Chapter 15
    Chapter 16
    Chapter 17
    Chapter 18
    Chapter 19
    Chapter 20
    Chapter 21
    Chapter 22
    Chapter 23
    Chapter 24
    Chapter 25
    Timeline of BJD
    Chapter 26
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 08-24-2019, 02:47 PM.


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

  • #2
    Chapter One: Carna's Rebellion

    We begin our story with Beckett being contacted by Carna via a letter that already makes references to obscure bits of vampiric lore like the Edenic Order of Groundskeepers that first made an appearance in the Elysium handbook. Carna is, of course, a character from Milwaukee by Night that I considered before this book to be a fairly obscure but well-written bit of vampiric lore. It was a bold choice, in my opinion, to open the book up with a chapter about the state of Milwaukee but it caused me to pick up a copy of that from Drivethrough RPG as well as make it one of my new favorites.

    Carna is an interesting character as a lot of her backstory in the original MBN is stuff that has since been retconned. She was supposed to be one of the, if not the, first female Tremere but we know Merlinda and many other female Tremere date back to the Dark Ages.

    It's also notable that Carna was on the verge of wassail in the original supplement with a Humanity of 1. She routinely fell in love with mortal men only for their flaws to drive her to frenzy so she ended up killing them. It's interesting to note that she's an ex of Beckett's in that case. He seems to have a habit of dating dangerous women.
    The opening letter talks to Beckett about finding The Book of the Grave-War that will prove to be a big Macguffin throughout the rest of the book. This book apparently details matters related to Gehenna but also possesses the unique power to break Blood Bonds as well as potentially Dominate. Doctor Moritus apparently translated the book and I've always been fond of him because he was the Son of Ether Tremere and goofy-fun back when V:TM wasn't afraid to indulge in a bit of it. Sadly, Moritus is later indicated in the chapter to have been killed by Jacob/Esau.

    Beckett, always interested in a new bit of Noddist lore, heads to Milwaukee and finds that he has to go to the city by plane. Amusingly, they have Beckett actually arrive via coffin and inspected there. Glad to hear it wasn't in a sunny place. We find that Akawa of the Anarchs and Mark Decker have formed an unusual bond with the former being the Sheriff while Decker being the new Prince. [Note: It turns out that he's been Prince of Milwaukee since Gangrel Revised--my bad.]

    Decker is a pretty good choice for an unconventional Prince and it's nice to have a warrior. Unlike, say, Edward Scott, there's also something really good about Decker-he's is an asshole. The essence of a good Prince is that he's someone who is someone that can be the Big Bad of a Chronicle but not necessarily someone the PCs want to overthrow to begin with. Like David Xanatos, he's your enemy but trying to take him down Rebel Alliance style isn't a matter of just going to his home and killing him. Decker is the kind of guy who is holding the Sabbat and Lupines at bay in the city but he's also the guy who, in MBN, enslaved a prostitute/hitman as his mind-controlled sex slave.

    My inclination is that Decker is a man who less cares about Anarch vs. Camarilla versus personal loyalty. It's just convenient to go all Camarilla for now.
    But yes, Milwaukee is improved by making it a conflict between not just the Lupines and Camarilla but the Anarchs/Camarilla/Sabbat/Lupines. I don't think the Lupines work as a consistent antagonist because they don't have the numbers for an always Underworld-esque game. You need some variety and I think adding the Sabbat to the city makes it a lot more believable as the kind of Los Angeles, "This is a constant never ending gang war."

    There's some good little random bits that I think foreshadow changes for V5 like the discussion of how the Camarilla is using the NSA and Department of Homeland Security to fight the Sabbat (idiots) as well as the rise of Noddism among the young (which Decker thinks the Camarilla should use). I enjoyed Beckett's conversations with Decker at a baseball field as opposed to the usual mansion. We also find out that Parovich is still in power as the Sabbat Nosferatu is either the Seneschal and Primogen or just close to the Prince.

    Is House Carna Anarch or not?

    Apparently, Carna and a massive number of Tremere in the region went rogue for the Anarch Free States despite not being Anarch themselves. This is a big blow to the fight against the Sabbat and leaves Decker disinclined to like her. There's some question whether Carna and her bunch are Anarchs are not. My inclination is that they're not officially pledged to the Anarchs (and would probably prefer not to get involved with them) but the Ivory Tower is very much on House Tremere's side so they will be eventually forced into it. Carna and their people are almost certainly going to be primarily in Anarch domains when they're found.

    But that's just how I'd run it.
    We then shift toward Jacob and Esau that is handled very well as a Methuselah running a Jyhad against himself. I didn't much get an impression of the man when I first read MBN but he's run as genuinely creepy as well as hints of outright terrifying here. We also get him as implied to be (just short of outright confirmed) that he's the sire of Therese and Jeanette Voorman. This notably makes them both 6th Generation and pretty damned powerful in blood.

    There's a nice nod where Jacob mentions that the Sabbat are using the King Brewery (Pentex's version of Budweiser) as the base. He also references Anatole talking about Beckett, which annotations on the side that he's never met either of them. That's the Malkavian Madness Network for you.

    I have a similar opinion that Isaac Abrams is probably the childe of Christopher in Los Angeles. I like the weaving together of concepts like this and while I understand (this is second-hand so don't take it as gospel) that there was some question over who owned what with the material from Bloodlines when this book was written--it's now all under Paradox and usable now.
    Beckett also encounters a burial chamber near the Hiawatha forest while investigating an Abomination (who I presume to be Harold Goodstone) which is apparently dedicated to some Pre-European Kindred of immense power. There's a lot of blood magic and Kindred vitae. I'm not sure if this is meant to be Drowned Kindred or a tomb of Menele. I'm inclined to lean toward the former but wouldn't be surprised if it's the latter.

    Adventure Hooks and Ideas

    One thing that I really love about this book is that at the end of each chapter is a collection of write-ups of adventures and possible alternative explanations to
    the most obvious ones presented to the books. You can have Carna as a genius, a pawn of the Antediluvians, or a love-struck seducer of Beckett. I appreciate this kind of freeform spitballing and think it's superior than just presenting ideas and saying, "This is how it is."

    What do I think?

    I think this is a fantastic opening to the book and already provides a bunch of potential plothooks that could serve either a Milwaukee game or visiting the city for a short time. I'm intrigued by the Book of the Grave-War as an alternative to the vaulderie but there's hints that the book isn't necessarily freeing Kindred but merely turning their forced loyalty to the Antediluvians themselves.

    We also get the revelation that Carna invited Vykos and the Sabbat to Milwaukee alongside Beckett, which is a very interesting plot seed as well--particularly if the number of Sabbat killed by Decker's Anubi is what resulted in Washington D.C's defenses weakening enough for Marcus Vitel to take it back in the latter chapters.

    IT'S ALL RELATED.



    I am interested in seeing what, if any, of these plots are picked up for the Milwaukee section of Let the Streets Run Red. But yes, overall, one of my favorite chapters in the book.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-10-2019, 04:11 PM.


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

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm sure this will be interesting! Minor correction though: Prince Decker's first name is Mark. He was first mentioned as Prince in Clanbook: Gangrel Revised.


      Matthew Dawkins
      In-House Developer for Onyx Path Publishing


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

      Comment


      • #4
        Whoops! Thanks for the correction.



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

        Comment


        • #5
          Matt Decker is a Commodore aboard the U.S.S. Constellation NCC-1017

          Comment


          • #6
            Carna is quickly becoming one of my favorite canon characters. She's fascinating.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by zee PaTrick View Post
              Matt Decker is a Commodore aboard the U.S.S. Constellation NCC-1017
              As a Trekkie, I believe that's probably where I got it.

              Originally posted by Frontline989 View Post
              Carna is quickly becoming one of my favorite canon characters. She's fascinating.
              I admit that I never thought much of her before and am stunned she's gone so much up in my estimation. I didn't dislike her before and thought she was interesting but she shot up with her revision. The same thing happened with Kevin Jackson. He was an okay character but not one of my favorites?

              Now? Love him to death.


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

              Comment


              • #8
                Chapter One: Carna's Rebellion Notes

                1. I feel like the "Balkanizing" of the Tremere w/ House Carna was a good decision Metaplot wise because there's always been a bit of an issue with how regimented and controlled the Tremere are. That's part of their appeal but if you wanted to rebel against them, you were pretty much screwed. Also, plenty of female LARPers I know have always loved playing witches but the Tremere have the feel of an old boys club even if you don't think they were especially sexist. Making the Carnaable to be the Verbena-esque Witches (and the Loresheet for Carna in V5 indicates they're very much in the "Sexy Witch" mold) was a good decision. I'd actually love to see more Houses break away from the mainstream Tremere and go full Order of Hermes feuding houses. Like Harry Potter except R-rated and all of them are Slytherin.

                2. I'm very curious about what's going to happen to Edward Scott in the Milwaukee Chronicle because he was a "Good" Elder and that's something that can be useful or frustrating depending on what kind of Chronicle you're running. If he's still alive then he's a likely rival for/target for Prince Decker. However, as "The Black Prince" he's not someone who will go down easily and could probably be the National Leader of the AnarchsTM Jeremy MacNeil refused to be. You know, if he wanted to be. Decker vs. Scott would be a pretty good Jyhad with Milwaukee as the prize to whoever wins.

                3. Parovich is a Sabbat infiltrator and normally that's something the Black Hand are very tolerant of taking time. After all, Phillipe Riguad was an infiltrator of Chicago for 5-10 years at the least. However, the book implies Parovich has gotten a little TOO comfortable with his position and I can certainly see that with being a Primogen as well as potentially Seneschal. There's also the fact that if your job is to undermine a city then Mark Decker as Prince is a CATASTROPHIC FAILURE. A War Prince that potentially costs you however many resources it takes that you lose Washington D.C. is a death worthy offense, even before the Gehenna Crusade when all those resources could have been sent to fight the Antediluvians. My inclination is he's gone native and full Camarilla as the character from MBN isn't the type to want to raise anchor and risk himself in a holy crusade.

                4. Akawa joining the Camarilla doesn't strike me as all that unbelievable as he's in the absolute worst sort of position for an Anarch. He's a guy who utterly despised his sire and then found out his sire is the biggest Anarch of them all (barring MacNeil). He's also a guy who was described as power-hungry and was pretty damn old for an Anarch. So, him being a Sheriff makes sense even if I'm not sure he's actually listed as such. De-facto Sheriff is how I'd put him, if not the actual one. I am inclined to think Akawa is the kind of guy who is fully intending to kill and replace Decker if he can. Akawa is also old enough to do it--he's probably interested in the Drowned Legacies himself, even if he's descended from European vampire blood.

                5. I like the inclusion of Pentex in all of my World of Darkness chronicles. Strangely, I'm not a huge fan of actually having evil plots by them like Werewolf (which I admit sometimes feels like a furry Shadowrun when I try to use them). I just kind of like them as an omnipresent symbol of corruption and corporate greed that lets the players know (even if the PCs don't) that they're surrounded and doomed. The thing is, Milwaukee as described, is the sort of place you could have vampires vs. Pentex First Teams, Fomori, and Black Spiral Dancers without it being insane. There's a lot of crossover potential there.

                6. Much like I don't think Montreal in the WOD is anything like Montreal in the real world, I tend to think Milwaukee is very different in the WOD. It's the kind of place where there's reported a few hundred extra disappearances every year and people blame the drug trade or bears or something that. It's a crime-ridden hellhole just to justify the fact it's a place where the Masquerade is paper thin and the locals know a war is going on constantly among them. It's the sort of place where you can put the Second Inquisition into full-play and could be an interesting chronicle with black helicopters, SEAL teams, and more entering one night.

                7. Jacob/Esau is a vampire old enough you can use him as a source of lore on Noddism, ancients, Drowned, and just about any sort of subject while also having him as someone putting them to stir shit up among the various factions. He's a one-man Jyhad and probably why Milwaukee is such a hellhole in the WOD. With the Beckoning it's interesting to wonder if he'll have a way of staving it off like the Book of the Grave-War, diablerizing younger Kindred on a regular basis, or just his dual personalities giving him a resistance. I think he's an ancient that very much is the kind of person the destruction of is a worthy Chronicle end.

                8. The Children of Isis weren't mentioned in my write-up but are mentioned as a Bahari cult that looted House Carna's chantry after she departed the place. While this is perfectly serviceable, I think it might be more interesting to have this be the place where the Children of Osiris bloodline have parked their hat. They were never mentioned, as far as I know, outside of The Hunter's Hunted and while a bit goody-goody, I feel like putting them in the middle of Milwaukee is a decent enough place with the Ministry's recent rebranding.
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-10-2019, 04:45 PM.


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

                Comment


                • #9
                  (About the Children of O.) In modern time, they indeed are not mentioned much, but they have a interesting write up in Dark Ages 20 ^^

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Chapter Two: A Split City part 1

                    The opening of this chapter is hilarious and one of my all-time favorite Lucita moments (which makes it an all-time favorite V:TM moment--I'm unhealthily obsessed like some comic book fanboys with this particular fictional character). The book opens with Lucita stealing Beckett's private jet and using it to go to Montreal. Beckett doesn't even have time to react before she's telling him she's "borrowing" it.

                    I actually named an Italian cyborg assassin after her in my cyberpunk novel Agent G: Infiltrator. She didn't have many qualities in common other than being beautiful, European, and an assassin though.
                    Honestly, that just makes me curious what she was doing in Milwaukee to begin with and barring a concrete answer, I'm going to assume she was hired by the Sabbat to kill Carna only to find her already fled. Admittedly, I wouldn't be surrpised if the authors of this book actually have an answer later on. So Beckett has to take a Gangrel Taxi Service to Chicago. [Note: Unlicensed cabs used to be known as "gypsy" cabs, which is an interesting coincidence about a word I don't use but has an unhealthy history with V:TM, the Gangrel in particular, and Fleetwood Mac]. This is because travel between Chicago and Milwaukee is positively lethal for Kindred.

                    This is a holdover from MbN but I always wondered why travel was so lethal for approximately two hours and no minutes (92.4 miles) via I-94. The answer in my games was that the werewolves of Milwaukee actually have a compact with the Highway Spirit of I-94 and have a Glass Walker/Bone Gnawer pack with it as its totem. The "Highwaymen" (real original guys--said the guy who created them) have one job and that is to monitor the highway between Chicago and Milwaukee for Kindred.

                    When a Kindred tries to pass the road, the Highway Spirit does its best to break down their car or divert it or sabotage it. Dozens of Kindred have met their end on what is normally a very simple trip. They also love terrifying Kindred before they meet their ends--sometimes to their doom.

                    Just thought I'd share this as my explanation.
                    Beckett is picked up by Malcolm who I am going to guess is a Matthew Dawkin's chapter critque because it's an amusing post-modern look at a classic 1st Edition character (of sorts). He is, after all, the V:TM Sample Character created to show how you make one. I was actually surprised to find out he was canon when I saw his name in CBN1st Edition.

                    Beckett proceeds to meet up with Xavier the Gangrel ex-Justicar and Clan Leader for all intents and purposes as well as Inyanga who has always been a favorite character of mine. Beckett mocks Xavier's mistaken identity about Leopold as an Antediluvian. This almost gets Beckett killed as while he's no weakling, I'm putting my money on Xavier able to take him down.

                    Beckett has a very player character-esque quality about him that he can't stop making fun of Xavier even when it's potentially dangerous to him. This is a quality that will be displayed throughout the book to his detriment. Beckett can't take the idea of Noddism seriously despite (or because) he's an expert and enjoys poking holes in the pretensions of the powerful--which is suicidal when you're around Ancients.

                    Inyanga calms Xavier down and Beckett picks up she's not a Gangrel but a Laibon.

                    I will say that I actually enjoyed the Beckett-centric novel, Gehenna that had him witness the end of the world. I'd argue its well worth the Drivethrough RPG price and is some of his best characterization. Plus, he gets to meet Caine.

                    Oh and the Clan Novels with Leopold are out again via Crossroad Press: https://crossroadpress.com/product-category/white-wolf/
                    Beckett kinda makes fun of the fact that Gehenna didn't happen in this section, which is a nice nod to the fact that V20 is a retcon that vampiredom just went on. I wasn't a big fan of Warhammer Fantasy destroying the world to remake it and things like the Spellplague so, "Life just goes on" is a twist that I enjoyed.

                    Inyanga discusses one of the most important qualities of this book, which is the introduction of the Cyclical Gehenna (actually introduced by Jacob/Esau ut I missed it among the Malkavian noise). Basically, that the Antediluvians routinely wake up, diablerize a bunch of Kindred, and go back to sleep. It's a very interesting idea with a lot of setting implications as it explains how the Antediluvians can keep coming back as we know they do in the history of the game.

                    I've always liked the whole myth of Gehenna and the threat of the Antediluvians but I also think it's something that we did the storyline behind so there's not much further need for it. The Gehenna Wars, Cyclical Gehenna, and the idea of it being something the player characters can survive THIS cycle but not necessarily the next is a good build up.

                    I also like that Inyanga starts broadening the world by alluding to the fact there's potentially other clans and being a Laibon isn't just, "African versions of the 13."

                    Back in 1st Edition, the world of the Camarilla seemed a lot larger so you didn't have problems with things like Vietnamese Ventrue or Inyanga being from Africa and almost 1600 years old. Retconning her as a Laibon is a clever little fix but I always kind of liked the global Kindred view and I appreciate that coming back in a limited form with multiple sects and more interaction between them.

                    You have to wonder how many Kindred missed that the Methuselah from Africa isn't a normal Gangrel, though.
                    Beckett proceeds to go to talk to Critias. This will be a multi-part review because, as most people who follow my posts knew, I am a huge Chicago by Night fan.
                    Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-11-2019, 12:19 AM.


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

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Chapter Two: The Split City Notes part 1

                      1. Lucita is a character who has some basic appeal for being a badass action girl, Lasombra antitribu, and also a sympathetic story with her relationship to Moncada. More or less the Blade or Selena (Underworld) of the setting. I admit I was not a big fan of the Lasombra Trilogy that had her seemingly turn into a generic Lasombra as well as a child murderer on the Path of Night. I much prefer the antiheroic Lucita who at least keeps a little shred of her humanity (accent on shred) with Anatole possibly as her conscience (and isn't that sad). I'm also fond of her relationship with Fatima and like the unique relationship she has in their little unconventional love web.

                      2. The original Malcolm was kind of a "this is a character who would star in his own USA series or other 90s cable genre show" with the premise of being a vampire who drives around in an old Blues Brothers decommissioned cop car and feeds on drug dealers. This isn't a bad thing, btw - Highlander and Forever Knight 4 Ever. The treatment of drug dealers and users have changed in the public perception a bit from Reagan and Bill Clinton's "Always Chaotic Evil like orcs" to "people like anyone else." So, it's interesting to have Malcolm come to the same realization. Amusingly, if he's not Caine, Malcolm as the Cab Driver from Bloodlines is possible if unlikely.

                      3. I've always liked Inyanga but I've also felt she was one of those characters that had to go for the power balance of V:TM to be reset. She's a Humane(ish) Elder that at Humanity 6 is pretty much a saint by Methuselah standards. It made it way too easy for the player characters to get things done if they had someone reasonable to appeal to during a crisis. On the other hand, as an elderly black woman and savvy political player--she was very nonstereotypical as well as non-American in a time when those were rare qualities in a game.

                      4. Xavier is a character I like but am a bit iffy on because I'm not sure really what he's been up to since getting the Gangrel out of the Camarilla. The fact he's either been Beckoned or killed since then saddens me because I think he'd do well among the Anarchs. Perhaps another reason why he's gone as he'd do what MacNeil (or Edward Scott) wouldn't. Interestingly, in his Loresheet, it's indicated that he actually found out about the Antediluvians by merging with the Earth and experiencing "something." Also, he has been confirmed to have met the Final Death (as much as such things can be in a fictional world). I'm inclined to think he was killed by Nerissa from Chicago by Night 5E. [Note: AGAIN, I am wrong! He was killed in the third novel of the Brujah Clan Trilogy by an infernalist! Man, this is just exposing my ignorance all around.] Theo Bell and Xavier also apparently staked Karsh and threw him in the ocean. Man, Theo Bell and Xavier are worse enemies to the Camarilla than the Sabbat.

                      Actually, while Xavier is dead, I'm not sure if the Brujah Trilogy is canon or not. I think TV tropes has a page called "Broad Strokes" where the basic shape of things are still canon but necessarily perfect details. Bloodlines is obviously canon but the Kuei-jin might not be anymore. Maybe Ming Xiao was a Nagaraja or Chinese Tzimisce in the new canon--or maybe it's still canon but just not going to be brought up anytime soon.
                      Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-11-2019, 12:35 AM.


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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I do not have time to engage in a full WIR, so I will defer to @CTPhillips on this WIR.

                        But I will do is address some other bits of business.

                        Beckett: This is essentially a PC having adventures allowing him to meet the big names among the settings, and visits all the hot spots. The character has not been fully statted, but his abilities are not entirely beyond those of an elder player character; enough resources to own his own jet, a ghouled retainer, and some solid disciplines. More to the point, Beckett never stops acting like a PC; smug, entitled, never acknowledges he is in over his head, insults almost everyone he meets, and would die except for Storyteller fiat.

                        During the run of BJD he never stops acting like a PCs. For all of that, he is not the proverbial Mary Sue, insofar as he gets his ass kicked and is embarrassed on multiple occasions. This quality stops him from becoming entirely unbearable.

                        Milwaukee: That this city is a kindred hot stop is a bit interesting – it is not the state capital of Wisconsin, is only the 32nd largest city in America, has only a little pop culture presence aside from a few sitcoms from the 70s and 80s. (The Fonz pops in, his motorcycle leaning against the refrigerator, he says “haaaaayyy” and gives everyone a thumbs up). Nonetheless, it works. And @CTPhillips is right, King Breweries has probably replaced the Schlitz brewery. Basically, MbN points out the vampire menace all the cities they can menace, even mid-sized mid-west cities.

                        Jacob-Esau: This is one of the more interesting Malkavian characters in the World of Darkness, in the way the story and setting deal with his insanity. Specifically, he’s got multiple personalities, the two hate each other, and much of the entire jyhad in and around Milwaukee is based on this character at war with himself. An interesting thought is, what if only one personality is Beckoned?

                        Carna: Despite nominally setting the entire plot of the book in motion through her letter to Beckett, she is literally a non-presence in the book. All the characters have to deal with her absence and the consequence of her actions. This makes her oddly compelling. I’ve read elsewhere that people find her irritating, which is odd. To me, between her impact in BJD and her appearance in Milwaukee by Night, she is a fine character and stretches the possibilities of the Tremere. Basically, she is a noir femme fatale as a Tremere character, and that is pretty cool. The traditional noir femme fatale is, at best, an amoral survivor seeking to get out of a bad situation or better her situation at the expense of others. In BJD, Carna tempts Beckett with the Book of the Grave War, in an effort to exploit Beckett to get out of a bad situation (her bound position to Clan Tremere) and better her situation. In this case, she simply flew the coop, so to speak, before Beckett arrived on the scene.

                        Bearing in mind that these are vampires, and they are all bad people, a noir femme fatale who is also a blood wizard, is a perfectly fine character. It is disappointing she doesn’t actually appear in the book. But maybe we have a chance to learn more about her in the future.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
                          I do not have time to engage in a full WIR, so I will defer to @CTPhillips on this WIR.
                          Thanks for joining in!

                          But I will do is address some other bits of business.
                          Great thoughts.

                          Beckett: This is essentially a PC having adventures allowing him to meet the big names among the settings, and visits all the hot spots. The character has not been fully statted, but his abilities are not entirely beyond those of an elder player character; enough resources to own his own jet, a ghouled retainer, and some solid disciplines. More to the point, Beckett never stops acting like a PC; smug, entitled, never acknowledges he is in over his head, insults almost everyone he meets, and would die except for Storyteller fiat.

                          During the run of BJD he never stops acting like a PCs. For all of that, he is not the proverbial Mary Sue, insofar as he gets his ass kicked and is embarrassed on multiple occasions. This quality stops him from becoming entirely unbearable.
                          Beckett's globetrotting adventures have the feel of an Indiana Jones movie despite the fact that he actually gets into relatively few combat events or action scenes (or visits few tombs). He's traveling around the world and talking to people primarily, though these are sometimes in circumstances where he has to run away. Beckett's irreverance is both his most charming and exasperating quality as he's a character who clearly believes in no sect's ideaology so he has a certain freedom of movement but he's also someone that fully believes he's the smartest vampire in the room. A key part of what makes him avoid being insufferable is the fact we know he's dead wrong about a lot of his conclusions in the book--at least regarding the Antediluvians and Gehenna.

                          I think one of my favorite moments is where Beckett confronts Helena and its pure octane horror in how she toys with him like a mouse. Beckett is the kind of person who when confronting Hardelstadt actually attempts to blackmail the guy (or just is trying to let him know he knows his darkest secret) that immediately results in him becoming a marked man.

                          Beckett just can't help dangle "I know what you don't want me to" in front of them -- which I know some players have done with Hardelstadt or tried to have thei PCs know.

                          Milwaukee: That this city is a kindred hot stop is a bit interesting – it is not the state capital of Wisconsin, is only the 32nd largest city in America, has only a little pop culture presence aside from a few sitcoms from the 70s and 80s. (The Fonz pops in, his motorcycle leaning against the refrigerator, he says “haaaaayyy” and gives everyone a thumbs up). Nonetheless, it works. And @CTPhillips is right, King Breweries has probably replaced the Schlitz brewery. Basically, MbN points out the vampire menace all the cities they can menace, even mid-sized mid-west cities.
                          Funny fact, my current game is taking place in the massively metaplot important (for our world at least) city of Jacksonville, Florida.



                          The very small size of the city makes it a place White Wolf was willing to be a bit more experimental about it. It's a bit silly to think that so much violence and destruction can be taking place without mortals being clued in but the city's importance is not in the mortals but the supernatural shenanigans going on as you can have anything you want happen. It's a design philosophy I used in my M&M Canada games.

                          "It's not about the crime rate in RL Canada, it's about the aliens and monsters in the fictional ones."

                          Jacob-Esau: This is one of the more interesting Malkavian characters in the World of Darkness, in the way the story and setting deal with his insanity. Specifically, he’s got multiple personalities, the two hate each other, and much of the entire jyhad in and around Milwaukee is based on this character at war with himself. An interesting thought is, what if only one personality is Beckoned?
                          Random aside, I sometimes stated that both personalities were afraid of an even older Malkavian called Abraham. It was up to the PCs to guess whether he was their sire or another personality pitting them against one another.

                          Carna: Despite nominally setting the entire plot of the book in motion through her letter to Beckett, she is literally a non-presence in the book. All the characters have to deal with her absence and the consequence of her actions. This makes her oddly compelling. I’ve read elsewhere that people find her irritating, which is odd. To me, between her impact in BJD and her appearance in Milwaukee by Night, she is a fine character and stretches the possibilities of the Tremere. Basically, she is a noir femme fatale as a Tremere character, and that is pretty cool. The traditional noir femme fatale is, at best, an amoral survivor seeking to get out of a bad situation or better her situation at the expense of others. In BJD, Carna tempts Beckett with the Book of the Grave War, in an effort to exploit Beckett to get out of a bad situation (her bound position to Clan Tremere) and better her situation. In this case, she simply flew the coop, so to speak, before Beckett arrived on the scene.

                          Bearing in mind that these are vampires, and they are all bad people, a noir femme fatale who is also a blood wizard, is a perfectly fine character. It is disappointing she doesn’t actually appear in the book. But maybe we have a chance to learn more about her in the future.
                          The Book of the Grave-War serves as the Maltese Falcon of the story to an extent in that Beckett would very much like to get his hands on it but never does.

                          Carna is a character that is a great mover and shaker. I think she has really broadened the scope for Tremere and set the stage for multiple houses plus much-needed shake-ups. Certainly, I love the House Carna Tremere on Jacon Carl's LA By Night with Eva being a character I'm particularly fond of. At least two of my players have also incorporated her into their backstory so she's appealing to them as well.

                          However, I agree with you that she seems to stick in the craw of certain characters. Some of the arguments presented seem to be that they dislike the accusations of sexism toward their favorite Clan and othes seem irritated by the fact she's able to challenge the entirety of it without being smashed down. In this respect, I actually think V5 does help her storyline even if it was made well before the events of Vienna's destruction.

                          It's a helluva lot easier to have a rebellion against the Evil Empire when Coruscant is blown up. I am inclined to think with the BOTGW in hand and her new purpose in life (and the new rules how Humanity works) that Carna may have actually gained humanity in recent years--which is almost unprecedented for elders in my games.

                          Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-11-2019, 04:59 AM.


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

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                          • #14
                            Chapter Two: The Split City part 2

                            We get to the actual "meat" of Chicago's update and there's some good information here as well as stuff that has since been superceded by the information in Chicago by Night 5E. This is understandable because a good chunk of that book is the characters reacting to the changes of 5E (it's in the name) while BJD is more the "Calm Before the Storm" in retrospect. Chicago is a contrast to Milwaukee and most of the rest of the book in that it is a fairly stable city, at least as events in the setting go. It's not that different from its status quo at the end of Chicago by Night 2nd Edition. There remains no Prince of the City with Chicago actually being run by an oligarchy in the Primogen.

                            Much like the later New York by Night and the Chronicle of Milwaukee by Night, CBN2E was a book based around the premise of the Prince being dead. It was a strangely common trope across a lot of the By Night books and always seem to have the implication, "Your player characters could be the Prince!" Which is fine for a goal but I think the Prince as an antagonist is such an easy plot hook that I'm surprised it's something so many books wanted to throw out.

                            It's also something that I've never found terribly fun running. Victor the Undisputed Baron of the Valley is great but that's because he's surrounded by enemies and challenges. The actual business of running a Princedom is something I don't think would be terribly fun.
                            Beckett sits down with Critias and talks about his Path of Entelechy School, Carthage, cycles of Gehenna (which Critias doesn't mention but is old enough to have potentially witnessed a couple), and the futility of mourning Carthage versus rebuilding it here (in Chicago). We also get some nods to Al Capone, Ballard, and Kevin Jackson as the three front runners in the race to be Prince. Ballard, however, has recenlty been knocked off due to the scandal of his being caught naked (except for a flasher coat) in a porn theater due to Son's blackmail. That's not detailed here but was actually a story that popped up in another supplement (Anarchs Unbound?) before being a part of his write-up in CBNV5.

                            It's interesting to note that Critias is at his most "classical" Critias-like here with a slightly snobbish and hypocritical attitude (looking down on Balthazar as a Caitiff Brujah because of his betrayal of the Anarch cause when Critias is a Camarilla pillar) but overall benevolent. It's a fascinating contrast to what he'll later become in Chicago by Night 5E once Menele's influence is off him.
                            Beckett gets in touch with Nicolai with Critias' help, only to have a horrifying and humorous scene where Nicolai causes a man to mentally die over and over again by suffocation in Beckett's presence. This is the first warning that Beckett gets this chapter that he's in over his head and it's not ENTIRELY ignored but it takes a bit to sink in. We also get notes from "A" who I initially took as Anatole but was actually Aisling Sturbridge (the Signature Characters are apparently all friends -- which is strange but vampiredom is a small circle). Nicolai sends Beckett to his childe Erichtho.

                            Beckett contacts Erichtho for information on House Carna and finds that she was a member of Carna's cabal. Erichtho then proceeds to bargain with Beckett for investigating Helena. It's kind of a disturbing conversation because Beckett assumes Tracy Graves (a adult woman of about 20 in appearance) is jealous of the affections of a 10 year old being passed to another woman--that implies Beckett is keeping some sick company even among Kindred. Yes, I mean you Jan Pieterszoon. Beckett guesses she's Blood Bound but is intimidated into silence.

                            Beckett sleeps in Graceland Cemetary when Ublo-Satha leaves an amulet for Beckett, explicitly at the behest of Menele.

                            Beckett then goes to the Succubus Club where he meets Helena. He's subject to massive mental manipulation that causes him to hallucinate the Succubus Club as a vibrant pulse-pounding location instead of a decaying ruin. Helena forces him to let her eat his fingers with Presence then leads him down into the ruins of the Labyrinth to diablerize him. It's a spectacularly horrifying scene but he escapes due to the amulet he's wearing that allows him to terror frenzy and escape.

                            He gets the fuck out of Chicago that very night.

                            One of the most effective horror scenes in vampire with a Methuselah I've read.
                            Adventure hooks and Ideas

                            This section focues on things like the fact that Capone, Ballard, Balthazar, Jackson, Maxwell, and Dusable are still the "final Democrat Primary contenders" for the Praxis of Chicago some decade later in a race that has already been called off. There's some good notes here like the fact Marc Levensque is back from the dead before his more detailed resurrection notes in CBN5E. It's also interesting to note that Dusable still wants to be Prince here when he didn't earlier. Of these various Kindred, I've always felt Maxwell and Jackson were the best choices to be Prince and Jackson winning was probably for the best.

                            We also have foreshadowing of some other changes for V5 like the fact Khalid is already disappearing in this version and soon to be replaced (by Cedrick Calhoun as we'll later discover).

                            Helena is in the Tremere Chantry in this version and using it as her haven. Frankly, I'm not sure why Helena doesn't either mind-zap or kill Erichtho in this version. It's not like Nicolai could resist even if it were possible.

                            What do I think?

                            It's unfair to compare this section of Beckett's Jyhad Diary to the upcoming manuscript of CBN5E that I've already read. However, I will say there's some great characterization here and it's a reminder of when Chicago's problems were the relatively pedestrian ones of "whether we need a puppet prince" and exposing Helena when she had a relatively good(ish) Kindred like Menele against her. This is a stable and happy(ish) Chicago that is not nearly as close to utter disaster as so much else of the book shows.
                            Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-11-2019, 03:13 PM.


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

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                            • #15
                              Chapter Two: The Split City notes part 2

                              1. Is Chicago actually without a Prince with Critias on the Council? Isn't he effectively "Chairman" of the Primogen and thus Prince by default (not necessarily something that he would dispute--or draw attention to)? Wasn't the Prince in Chicago designed to be a lightning rod from the Primogen themselves? Personally, I think that it was a good thing to put Jackson as the Prince for the fact that Critias is both simultaneously too powerful and his CBN 1&2 persona too affable to be an effective Prince (read: villain).

                              2. I've always liked Al Capone as a vampire but he's a character that requires a certain sense of humor about the setting whereas a strictly "realistic" V:TM game probably would end up like V5 where Jackson kills Capone as a threat to the Masquerade. Alphonse Gabriel Capone as a vampire isn't necessarily a threat to the Masquerade. Alphonse Gabriel Capone in Chicago, running the Chicago mafia directly, and dressing like he used to is--he'd have been much better off in Miami, Atlanta, or Baltimore. In my games he also looks like the old syphaletic man he was than in his prime.

                              3. I think it's a good idea to have Critias (and Menele) on the Road of Entelechy versus Humanity, not just because it doesn't make sense for them given their actions but also because of historical reasons. I like the implications that prior to the Camarilla, Humanity was just the "Judeo-Christian Morality" Road and there was a lot more diversity in the Roads prior to the decision to fit in with the Kine. The Road of Entelechy is something I imagine is fine with slavery and other hypocrisies of the Greeks as long as its done in the name of the "greater good." Which explains why they can participate in the Jyhad. Critias' school also becomes much darker in V5. It becomes a trap for him to murder "underperforming" students that he kills out of rage or humiliation. You know, what all academics desire of their students if my teaching days are any indication.

                              4. It's funny but Beckett is genuinely scared during his conversation with Nicolai (well before the horror show of Helena). There's the bit with the man suffocating to "death" over and over again but also the fact Nicolai puts a show on with his gargoyle. Given that Beckett started by saying, "Nice teddy bear." I think Nicolai felt the need to put the archaeologist in his place--and it was actually effective for once. Beckett knows a Tremere with a Gargoyle still enslaved to him is either insane, formidable, or both. I think Nicolai getting recalled to Vienna to die in the Fall of the Vienna Chantry is a shame but he is a bit too powerful for Chicago while Dusable works much better.

                              5. An interesting note that I think is deliberate is that Erichtho is actually lying in her conversation with Beckett. Erichtho promises him the world in order to get him to investigate Helena but she's still Blood Bound to Nicolai and also probably Dominated as well. In other words, she definitely didn't read the Book of the Grave War like she's claimed. Maybe she's using exact word terminology like, "I saw the book [but didn't read it]." However, if she actually had read it, she'd almost certainly be part of House Carna.

                              It surprises me she's not a card carrying member in V5 as she seems exactly like their sort. I wonder if it's because she's not used to the idea of a Tremere community (and in fact hates the clan). The idea that there were dozens, if not hundreds, of long-suffering Tremere women and the occassional man is something that would probably rock her sense of self. Erichtho has always defined herself as "Me against the Tremere" and the fact she's not alone would mean she's misjudged her clan's base for a century.
                              6. Beckett's conversation with Nicolai has nothing on his conversation with Helena, though, as it's really one of the most effective horror scenes in V:TM in my humble opinion. Helena just utterly owns Beckett's mind during their conversation and her control over him is absolute. The eating his own fingers part is a perfect illustration why you are completely at the behest of your Elders in the game. It's also something that I often use when describing why female Kindred are not subject to the dismissal they are in historically sexist societies--power is power as Cersei Lannister would say.

                              7. The Succubus Club still being in ruins disappoints me and I have to wonder why Helena left it that way since you'd think she'd have let it be redeveloped or something. Then again, it could simply because because Victoria Ash had bought the franchise and it's only around the time the Vermillion Wedding that the rights returned to its previous (fake) owners. Helena may be powerful but even she won't mess with copyright lawyers. If you want to humanize(ish) Helena, you could also say it required her a couple of decades to get over the place where Prima died. Alternatively, it's where her murder-dungeon for diablerizing young Kindred women is so that's another reason to keep it a decaying ruin. Choose your poison.


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

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