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

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  • Originally posted by Zorin001 View Post
    I raise Christopher as I just find it odd he's never reappeared since 1994, not even an oblique mention in any edition since. Weird since I'd probably put him just behind Menele and Helena as Methuselahs who helped define the 4th and 5th Gen in setting.
    In my LA by Night re-read I assumed Christopher was actually meant to be something of a deconstruction of the all-seeing all-controlling Methuselah concept and not an entirely welcome one. He is, after all, a eternally precious 15 year old prone to crushes on handsome older men that exude danger. So, literally, the entirety of the Anarch Free State experiment and its continued existence depended on a bored teenager being entertained by the violent badasses in leather fighting out around him. Indeed, the Camarilla might have smashed the Free States just fine if not for the fact that it has a protector capable of shoving out anyone who annoys him.

    The fact he's a 5th generation vampire who can destroy entire courts of vampires makes the critique all the more crazy as you are dealing with an arrogant spoiled child that can demand anything from you. If you are looking for the secret master of America's second largest city, though, he's bound to be something of a disappointment to those who want a more "serious" take on the Jyhad.

    Honestly, I don't think there's anything wrong with Christopher's concept because there's nothing inherently ridiculous about child vampires--they can be and usually are terrifying. Nicolai was one of the best characters of "classic" Chicago by Night and one of the most unsettling.

    But I did think the way he was presented in LA by Night was always meant to carry the whiff of the ridiculous. Like, "the mastermind of LA is not some Doctor Doom genius. Not in the slightest. He's more like the mall ninja kid waving around a internet ordered katana and talking about his latest obsession. Only he has the powers of a god."
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 08-17-2019, 05:25 PM.


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    • Berlin

      As CTPhipps notes the original Berlin by Night has come in for a great deal of criticism. It is widely considered to be one of the “so bad its good” books from the early run of White Wolf, much like Dirty Secrets. For every decent or even good idea, there is at least one WTF idea in each book. For example, that Cold War era Berlin would have two princes is a solid, and highly plausible, idea. That the Berlin zoo is housing vampiric animals is a WTF moment.

      In anycase, as CTPhipps writes, this chapter does a good job of updating Berlin into something playable, at least until the time of V5. And there is still plenty here to use in an Anarch game set in the city. Characters such as Ulfrike, Strohmann, and Gunther may all have survived, to make unlife interesting. And in my head Gunter is always pronounced Goonther and he acts like the Mike Myers character Dieter.

      This chapter does manage to feel a bit like a homage to Cold War era spy movies set in Berlin. An outsider (Berlin) comes into town, he cross the (location of) the Wall, gets involved in local power structures, deal with local women, there is a violent confrontation and even a car chase. There is a bit of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold to this chapter.



      Of course, this is Beckett we are talking about so perhaps it is closer to Top Secret.



      This chapter also does a solid job of depicting the local Kindred and the (then) current political situation, and interesting locations across the city. In the latter category, it is better than the chapters set in New York and London. The recovery of a copy of the Book of the Grave War gives it a position in terms of the time line, later in the narrative and before Beckett turns it over to Bindusara for repair and restoration (and Bindusara immediately sells it).

      Marie

      This character gives a dark patina to ever section in which she appears or is mentioned. BJD is hardly a comedy – aside from the joke CTPhipps and I make at Beckett’s expense – but it does manager to hit a lot of different tones. Horror, thriller, action, intrigue, and so forth. Except when Marie appears, because she gives everything at least a low revulsion.

      As WWII progressed, the Nazi high command increasingly brought in women to many positions otherwise occupied by men. This freed up the men to fight and participate in the war, and meant women worked to support the Nazi apparatus of state.

      Marie herself was probably a member of the SS-Helferinnenkorps (Women Helper Corps). Members were assigned as administrative staff and supply personnel, and served in command positions and as guards at women's concentration camps and participated in Nazi atrocities during the war.

      I choose to see her as Beckett’s opposite. He is a Noddist scholar, with the occasional good impulse and circle of friends despite himself. She likely destroys everything she touches, and never stops putting the flame to vampires, their history and anything remotely decent about vampire society. As Nazi NPCs go she is more legit than members of the high command or the Tzimisce SnM asshole, Doktor Totentanz.

      As an aside, she almost appeared in Hunger from Beyond, where her last name would have been Von Juntz.
      Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 08-17-2019, 04:11 PM. Reason: Dieter made me do it.

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      • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
        In my LA by Night re-read I assumed Christopher was actually meant to be something of a deconstruction of the all-seeing all-controlling Methuselah concept and not an entirely welcome one.
        This is why I like the character of Christopher – there is a lot of “take that, me” quality to the character. And hopefully it should force a reflection on the actions of other elders and what they do.

        Why do we afford respect to characters like Hardestadt? He is (A) not even Hardestadt, (B) prone to temper tantrums, and (C) often acts like a petulant teen who doesn’t want the wrong kids sitting at the cool kids table in the cafeteria. That is to say, his own elitists attitudes about who can join the Camarilla.

        Why do we afford respect to characters like Helene and Menele? They spent 2000+ plus years chasing each other around in a bull shit quest for revenge that destroyed entire cultures.

        Christopher’s age just hangs a lampshade on similar behavior by all vampires of age and power.

        I hope he returns.
        Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 08-17-2019, 04:08 PM. Reason: Christopher made me do it.

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        • Originally posted by Zorin001 View Post
          Another one I would have liked to have seen in BJD was Dark Selina, Roman Perndragon and the invasion of New England which is a plot that seems to have disappeared down the memory hole.
          The last canon anything that I can recall seeing on New England was Cock Robin’s entry in the “Creatures of the Night” who’s who book. This is the first appearance of Cock Robin, to the best of my knowledge, but the entry describes his rise to prominence as an Archon as he fights alongside Petrodon and Prudence Stone (from the original Nosferatu Clanbook) to break Stanford Warwick’s hold on Providence, Rhode Island.

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          • I used a Salubri with the ONE TRUE WAY OF GOLCONDA in my running of THE SACRIFICE last night.

            She handed the Tremere character it as a bonus gift while trying to persuade the Tremere to sabotage the Lasombra negotiations with the Camarilla.

            I'm inclined to think she knew it was a trap for the childe of Erichtho.


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            • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
              Part of the issue of New York City is that I don't think it's a terribly interesting place Kindred politics wise. Which is weird because it is the place for most series in the world. Because the city is newly acquired from the Sabbat, there's no real ability for many Kindred to have the kind of lengthy personal connections to the city that vampires in Chicago have.
              The writing of New York by Night came at a certain point in the publication history of Vampire: the Masquerade in which the notion of place was discarded. In the earlier books in the line there was a strong notion that travel between cities was dangerous, and that the Kindred population of a particular location was tied to that place. In part this was a literary device, to write about place through people, in a sense, a form of prosopography. So, the characters in, say, Chicago by Night are designed to reflect the history of the city. Tyler's line, for instance, is a chronological run through the stages of political protest in the city over its existence. Even the characters which didn't live their natural lives within the city often link to Chicago in thematic ways.

              The problem with New York by Night is that by around the year 2000, the books being written for Vampire: the Masquerade envisage the game as being about undead jet-setters, fighting notionally important conflicts tied into the metaplot. There are many consequences of this, but one is that places become set dressing, backdrops to geopolitical struggles. Read New York by Night with this in mind is revealing, as it is a book in which the writer doesn't show that much interest in New York as a place.

              (An even worse example of this in action can be seen in London by Night, where the writers are not just not interested in writing about the city, but also are distinctly uninterested in the period in which the book is set.)

              This is the reason why, despite all its flaws, Berlin by Night feels, despite all its flaws, to be a more engaging book, one which is more distinctly part of the setting. As crass as the vampire Nazis are, they do say something about the history of the city. The dual, competing princes may seem contrived, but, on a metaphorical level, speak to the position of the old Kingdom of Prussia as a state feeling the pull of both Eastern and Western Europe. There is a lot which I dislike about Berlin by Night, but it feels like material I could work with should I chose to set a chronicle in the city. With New York (or worse, London or San Francisco), I suspect that I would be inclined to start from scratch.


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              • Originally posted by James_Willoughby View Post

                The writing of New York by Night came at a certain point in the publication history of Vampire: the Masquerade in which the notion of place was discarded. In the earlier books in the line there was a strong notion that travel between cities was dangerous, and that the Kindred population of a particular location was tied to that place. In part this was a literary device, to write about place through people, in a sense, a form of prosopography. So, the characters in, say, Chicago by Night are designed to reflect the history of the city. Tyler's line, for instance, is a chronological run through the stages of political protest in the city over its existence. Even the characters which didn't live their natural lives within the city often link to Chicago in thematic ways.

                The problem with New York by Night is that by around the year 2000, the books being written for Vampire: the Masquerade envisage the game as being about undead jet-setters, fighting notionally important conflicts tied into the metaplot. There are many consequences of this, but one is that places become set dressing, backdrops to geopolitical struggles. Read New York by Night with this in mind is revealing, as it is a book in which the writer doesn't show that much interest in New York as a place.

                (An even worse example of this in action can be seen in London by Night, where the writers are not just not interested in writing about the city, but also are distinctly uninterested in the period in which the book is set.)

                This is the reason why, despite all its flaws, Berlin by Night feels, despite all its flaws, to be a more engaging book, one which is more distinctly part of the setting. As crass as the vampire Nazis are, they do say something about the history of the city. The dual, competing princes may seem contrived, but, on a metaphorical level, speak to the position of the old Kingdom of Prussia as a state feeling the pull of both Eastern and Western Europe. There is a lot which I dislike about Berlin by Night, but it feels like material I could work with should I chose to set a chronicle in the city. With New York (or worse, London or San Francisco), I suspect that I would be inclined to start from scratch.
                I agree with this and it puts into words something I hadn't really been able to figure out until you state it. For me, the biggest flaw of New York City By Night is the fact that so much flavor went into things like Chicago By Night and its vampires reflecting mortal trends that it feels like the city is very arbitary. Given the fact New York City is the kind of place that has such an immense history and its citizens have their own famous connection to it, it felt like a massively wasted opportunity. The Tzimisce Antediluvian being the centerpiece of the city is also something that just isn't as interesting as the rest of New York City as a whole. Given New York City is such a pop culture centerpiece, it's also disappointing it's so lacking in flavor. Again, I don't think it was badly written but it's focus on Tzimisce and relative small size hurt the supplement IMHO.

                London by Night is almost hilarious in its inaccuracies (I strongly recommend the RPG.net review of it) but the big thing about it is that it doesn't even apply any of its status in-setting to its write-up. It's a city full of Neonates and Ancilla when it should be one of the homes of Ancient powerful and terrifying vampires under Mithras' control. Europe was supposed to be a place where the Neonates were under the thumbs of brutal ancients who had divided up the territory among themselves while America was still something of a Kindred Wild West. Later books like NbN and LbN tried to drastically reduce the power level like V5 did with the Beckoning and Anarch revolts but did so without really justifying it. I also felt the characters didn't really resonate with the big personalities that made so many early characters memorable.

                As for San Fransisco by Night, I felt that also came from the design philosophy of the city being just a set piece for the Kindred politics. The idea was creating a Kuei-Jin run police state where the vampires were running a resistance against it to "take back their city" as best I could tell. I'm hesitant to call out writers but that just doesn't feel like it fits at all with Kindred power politics, relationships, personal horror, or the city of SF itself. It also is, "oooo, those evil Kuei-Jin vs. us heroic Cainites!" - which, what? Given the city was one of the first ones to have any metaplot in V:TM and the setting of K:TE, it also felt like a waste. I always felt it would also be the perfect "iconic" city for Mage: The Ascension too.

                I also feel like, for all of Berlin by Night's flaws, it certainly had PERSONALITY.
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 08-18-2019, 07:53 AM.


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                • Updated the index. Keeping track of everything for ease of reference is something I feel to be essential in these threads.


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                  • Again, several notes on Jerusalem and New York/the Founder.
                    Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
                    There are several statements about the Founder which are deeply interesting. One is that it does not want to be alone – which it an interesting way to describe the creature. Until that statement, assuming it is true, it was reasonable to just think the Founder was eating everyone and everything like the Blob. Basically, because it was hungry rather than because it was lonely.
                    Terrific thought. Made me think about two possible implications:
                    1) Does he/it need to diablerize/consume other vampires in order to communicate with the rest of the world? Would be rather ironic for a master of Auspex, but kind of fitting as well.
                    2) Does he/it change - and therefore turn to Ilias and save Beckett - because he diablerized all the other, less monstrous Kindred and thereby improved his humanity?

                    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                    A part of me was initially kind of iffy about her blonde, white haired pretty girl appearance then I remembered this was really stupid of me.
                    Maybe I missed something, but is nobody "iffy" about the "Sabrina teenage witch" reference in her picture (as well as in her infernalist-connection)?
                    Last edited by Athanasius; 08-18-2019, 11:45 AM.

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                    • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                      Chapter Twenty-Four: The False Caine
                      I'm not that fond of that Chapter. Sure, there are some nice things (Becketts childe, fe), but I don't know why the Sabbat has to be in East-Berlin. Rather cliché. It kind of reminded me of our school trip to Berlin, 20 years ago, where we stayed in a youth hostel in the eastern part of the city and everybody was sure that it would be dirty and possibly dangerous. Or maybe that's a leftover of the original BbN?
                      Also, here is one of the (half a?) dozen times that someone gets staked in this book. It's supposed to be difficult, but it always happens when someone is needed for a discussion/to survive.
                      Maybe it is because I read this when I was tired, but I didn't get the overall arc of that chapter. Strohman, Ulfrike, Dylan, Vykos, Wolffe - and why is it called False Caine?

                      Different thought: I wonder, is it possible to "knit" all the Book of the Grave-war-chapters together, as a guideline to establish a timeline?


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                      • Originally posted by Athanasius View Post
                        Different thought: I wonder, is it possible to "knit" all the Book of the Grave-war-chapters together, as a guideline to establish a timeline?
                        I'm working on that, actually. I will update a timeline later in this WIR.

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                        • Originally posted by Athanasius View Post

                          I'm not that fond of that Chapter. Sure, there are some nice things (Becketts childe, fe), but I don't know why the Sabbat has to be in East-Berlin. Rather cliché. It kind of reminded me of our school trip to Berlin, 20 years ago, where we stayed in a youth hostel in the eastern part of the city and everybody was sure that it would be dirty and possibly dangerous. Or maybe that's a leftover of the original BbN?
                          The Brujah Council were in charge of East Berlin there. I assume the Sabbat are in EB because the Camarilla is in charge of WB and the latter lost its original inhabitants. You could have put the Anarchs in EB instead but a thing that was emphasized in this book is the Camarilla is not the "good guys" so its less of an issue.

                          Also, here is one of the (half a?) dozen times that someone gets staked in this book.
                          I'm just assuming Marie has Potence.

                          Maybe it is because I read this when I was tired, but I didn't get the overall arc of that chapter. Strohman, Ulfrike, Dylan, Vykos, Wolffe - and why is it called False Caine?
                          Basically, it's about moves and countermoves in a Cold War thriller over an object, which is really just a lure to bring Beckett to his doom.

                          I didn't even try to explain it because there's no fucking way to get all the countermoves and moves. You just have to read it.
                          The best I could do would be:

                          * Marie has the book to lure Beckett to his doom.
                          * Marie contacts the Sabbat or is part of the Sabbat for help.
                          * Vykos tells Beckett that his childe Marie has a copy of the Book of the Grave War.
                          * Beckett goes to Berlin.
                          * Gunther pretends to be his sire, Strohmann to let Beckett know he'll tell him where Marie is.
                          * Gunther wants Beckett's maps to the lair of Eiggerman, a 4th generation Ventrue under the city.
                          * Beckett goes to Gunther and Gunther fucks it up by telling Beckett where Marie is before he gets what he wants.
                          * Beckett tries to leave without paying for the information
                          * Gunther jumps Beckett.
                          * Beckett is rescued by the Camarilla/Anarchs. Beckett then tells them where Marie is and says they can rescue him if they track him to Strohmann's haven.
                          * Beckett goes to visit Marie, is ambushed and staked with Dylan Bruce, Red Lister, helping. He gets the book.
                          * Gunther plans to shake down Beckett for Eiggerman's location
                          * Beckett is rescued again by the Camarilla with the book now in his possesion. However, Strohmann's haven is not located


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                          • Adding to the list of moves and counter moves is that Gunther and Beckett apparently set up the staking so Beckett could get the book. I'm not entirely certain what Gunther got out of the situation. But everyone in the story has an agenda and everyone in the story lies to everyone else in the story.

                            Add to that keeping the city split at this point - half Camarilla, half Sabbat-Anarch, whatever - allows for the back and forth tension of the two dueling sides. Again, like a Cold war era story with an East and West Berlin.
                            Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 08-18-2019, 03:35 PM. Reason: Gunther made me do it.

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                            • Originally posted by Athanasius View Post

                              Maybe I missed something, but is nobody "iffy" about the "Sabrina teenage witch" reference in her picture (as well as in her infernalist-connection)?
                              No connection there, and she was written before the newest version of the show was announced. I took Serenna from VTES and gave her cats because very few vampires seem to have pets.


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                              • Come to that, there should be a crazy cat lady Malkavian somewhere.

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