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

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  • Maybe I should do a WIR of Eternal Hearts...

    yahh! stop throwing things at me it was only a joke!

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    • IT wasn’t so much what Giovanni said but how he said it.

      I had never really thought of Venice as a haunted place, or a place of horror. It has a deeply violent history, but that is not the same thing as associating it with horror in the here and now. However, White Wolf manages to sell the concept in the World of Darkness material.

      This is, as noted, a long chapter. It is also one relatively short on action but home to a lot of casual cruelty and intrigue.

      A passage appears in the chapter (pg. 453), and appears written by Beckett; “You are brave to return after what you unleashed on A.G. If these photographs interest you, click on the chat.exe program.” It does not make sense for Beckett to write this to himself, as he does not refer to himself in the third person. Presumably, it is actually a note that comes with the memory stick.

      The crux of the chapter involves the Isabel Giovanni meeting with representatives of the families that serve the Johns, and maneuvering them to infiltrate the other vampire groups. My own response to this is – what took you so long? I am surprised the Necromancers did not try this centuries ago. The real answer to this is that previous writers and develops never pursued that as a narrative possibility. That it is done here feels like a welcome course correction – albeit one likely undone by the situation in V5.

      In response to learning the Giovanni are attempting to infiltrate all the other sects and calls, (pg. 454) Anatole writes “We’ve suspected the Giovanni of this for a long time, of course, but the Promise forbids our taking action against their agents.”

      What? Really? The legal letter of the law, and spirit of the law, has never stopped the Camarilla before – why did it stop them in this area?

      There is some subtle maneuvering going on here. Some of the feuding by the Cappadocian survivors (Cappadocians, Harbingers, probably the Samedi, etc.) is an illusion, presumably to lull the Giovanni into a false sense of security as the survivors make a move. Further, they do not attack Isabel until they are in Alexandria, which is a long ways from the Giovanni center of power. What the Serpents gain from holding Isabel, and attempting to brainwash her, remains to be seen.

      I’ve attempted to establish a timeline, and posted it above. The short version is this occurs near the end of BJD, both in terms of presentation and the timeline. By this time, the reader knows the Giovanni are attempting to destroy the world! By comparison, what the Cappadocian survivors do is welcome.

      That Isabel begs for rescue from Beckett – after repeatedly calling him an animal and threatening to kill him – is darkly funny. The woman must be truly desperate. That Beckett so causally throws her under the bus may make you dislike his character. At least until you remember she is a Giovanni, at which point you would probably be fine with backing the bus up for another go.

      There are a lot of interesting possibilities this chapter lays out.

      Also, yes, Beckett send his copy of the Book of the Gravewar to Bindusara – who apparently turned around and sold it on Vampire Ebay. Not only is Beckett utterly untrustworthy, so are most of his friends and associates.

      Lastly, when Beckett cut off Hesha’s hand, grabbed it and ran off, I hope he made Curly Howard “woob-woob-woob” sounds.



      Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
      A lot of attention has been paid to the destruction of Vienna by the Second Inquisition while everyone just sort of ignores the Mausoleum was also sacked by the SI with Augustus Giovanni going missing/probably destroyed.
      That is an odd fan reaction. Maybe it comes from the fact the attack on Vienna has been somewhat detailed, allowing fans a chance to try to desperately pick it apart. By comparison what happened in Venice and to the Giovanni remains an open question. We will be getting some answers in Cults of the Blood Gods, though.
      Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 08-23-2019, 04:55 AM. Reason: Lia made me do it.

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      • Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
        I had never really thought of Venice as a haunted place, or a place of horror. It has a deeply violent history, but that is not the same thing as associating it with horror in the here and now. However, White Wolf manages to sell the concept in the World of Darkness material.
        I agree, they manage to capture the city's mood and dial it down to make it feel more like the SInking City rather than just a popular tourist destination.

        This is, as noted, a long chapter. It is also one relatively short on action but home to a lot of casual cruelty and intrigue.
        It's very good for emphasizing the Giovanni are a scummy bunch of monsters. Ironically, Isabel seems like the least awful one among them or maybe she just has an exaggerated sense of family loyalty.

        The crux of the chapter involves the Isabel Giovanni meeting with representatives of the families that serve the Johns, and maneuvering them to infiltrate the other vampire groups. My own response to this is – what took you so long? I am surprised the Necromancers did not try this centuries ago. The real answer to this is that previous writers and develops never pursued that as a narrative possibility. That it is done here feels like a welcome course correction – albeit one likely undone by the situation in V5.
        It amuses me that you're correct, their names are the Johns and that's actually a decent nickname given the uses of that name in English.

        As for the rest, I'm inclined to think that this isn't entirely unrealistic. The Giovanni started with almost nothing in terms of resources after they destroyed the Cappadocians. Unlike the Tremere, they didn't seem ready and willing to take on the entirety of the vampire world so they instead spent the next few centuries accumulating resources quietly. Now, it's only when they have a huge reserve that they have something to offer to start integrating into greater vampire society. By then, of course, it's too late and their old enemies have returned to their own alliances and power bases (like the Followers of Set and Tal'Ma'Ra).

        In response to learning the Giovanni are attempting to infiltrate all the other sects and calls, (pg. 454) Anatole writes “We’ve suspected the Giovanni of this for a long time, of course, but the Promise forbids our taking action against their agents.”

        What? Really? The legal letter of the law, and spirit of the law, has never stopped the Camarilla before – why did it stop them in this area?
        As the Cappadocians found, the Camarilla will often do nothing if it means not having to risk themselves. It's partially why the Anarch Free States still exists, IMHO. It's not that the Anarchs in California were a threat, it's just most Elders knew they weren't a threat to THEM.

        There is some subtle maneuvering going on here. Some of the feuding by the Cappadocian survivors (Cappadocians, Harbingers, probably the Samedi, etc.) is an illusion, presumably to lull the Giovanni into a false sense of security as the survivors make a move. Further, they do not attack Isabel until they are in Alexandria, which is a long ways from the Giovanni center of power. What the Serpents gain from holding Isabel, and attempting to brainwash her, remains to be seen.
        I took it as a full on plan of brainwashing Isabel to turn her into a Manchurian Candidate against the Giovanni. Kindred having access to Dominate, Presence, the Blood Bond and more makes me surprised we don't see more NWO "Re-Conditioning" style events,

        I’ve attempted to establish a timeline, and posted it above. The short version is this occurs near the end of BJD, both in terms of presentation and the timeline. By this time, the reader knows the Giovanni are attempting to destroy the world! By comparison, what the Cappadocian survivors do is welcome.
        It was Cappadocius' original plan to unite Heaven and Earth so it's not like they don't have their own horrible plan, it's just the Giovanni's plan is difficult but pragamtically possible versus Biblical. The difference being trying to trigger the Second Coming and trying to trigger a nuclear war.

        That Isabel begs for rescue from Beckett – after repeatedly calling him an animal and threatening to kill him – is darkly funny. The woman must be truly desperate. That Beckett so causally throws her under the bus may make you dislike his character. At least until you remember she is a Giovanni, at which point you would probably be fine with backing the bus up for another go.
        Isabel: I refuse to betray my family!

        *every single other member of the family throws everyone else under the bus*

        It's like loyalty in House Lannister with even more incest.

        Also, yes, Beckett send his copy of the Book of the Gravewar to Bindusara – who apparently turned around and sold it on Vampire Ebay. Not only is Beckett utterly untrustworthy, so are most of his friends and associates.
        Beckett really should have seen this coming.

        That is an odd fan reaction. Maybe it comes from the fact the attack on Vienna has been somewhat detailed, allowing fans a chance to try to desperately pick it apart. By comparison what happened in Venice and to the Giovanni remains an open question. We will be getting some answers in Cults of the Blood Gods, though.
        Honestly, I think the Society of Leopold could pull this one off on their own. They have an entire division of Wraith-focused folk and anti-magic folk. The best way to destroy the Giovanni is just break their hold on their spirits.

        Easier said than done, perhaps, but possible.


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

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        • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
          There's also Dante Rosselini who claims to be an Embraced Revenant. I don't think that he's actually a Giovanni Revenant but wouldn't be surprised if he had a sire from a Rosselini woman seducing a Grimaldi or other Revenant to birth him--the Giovanni are tricksy that way.
          There are Rosselini revenants (made from ghouls and Necromancy) according to p103/288 of Lore of the Clans - so they do exist in canon.

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          • Originally posted by MalleusXXIII View Post

            There are Rosselini revenants (made from ghouls and Necromancy) according to p103/288 of Lore of the Clans - so they do exist in canon.
            I stand corrected.


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

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            • I think, you two/three basically covered all there is to say on the "Many Faces". I actually looked up the "Cults of the Blood Gods" - and I didn't do that for any other V5-product, as my current ST-group is stuck in 15th century Transylvania since April - because I liked the concept of bringing the different Bloodlines/Clans together. I even like the fact, that the Harbingers and Lazarus' offspring are two different groups, although I usually am more of a structure and clean cuts kind of guy, at least plot-wise. So, not that much to say, but this time I managed to read the two following chapters as well :-)

              So to "A Brief History of Beckett". It basically is a collection of different parts of Beckett's personal relationships - and the products who feature him in Victorian Age:Novels, WWII-graphic novel, Book of Nod and so on. It is interesting, all right, but I think it's addressed to people, who actually read all those pieces mentioned above. The different ideas for Beckett's Sire - and the Freud-Masquerade-Breach for Geoffrey Leigh is quite funny - and the revelation of Beckett's real desire to ascend to sth. greater which is given by Anatole are great, but it remains a collection of unlinked ideas - and I think it was meant to be that way.

              "Drowning Rasputin". I won't summarize that one, that's CTPhipps part, so let me skip to the review.
              I'm mixed on that chapter. The dialogues/scenes with Vykos and Beckett are great, funny and witty at the same time, I especially liked when they did a bad cop, badder cop with a captive and Beckett is actually the badder on. The whole concept of the drowned legacies is intriguing and even though I had some difficulties, when I first read this chapter - what about the whole OT-info-boxes? - it's actually way more fun to overlap information with fluff-parts about these new additions. If I'd ever ST a game in South America, and if i were to use these, I'd really enjoy playing with players expectations of well known powers, clans, weaknesses and so on - I mean, a unknown vampire attacking through mirrors, great horror right there.

              Now to the part I've got issues with. Rasputin. Maybe it's smart to not tackle his identity head on, to let the mystery stay and it certainly is smart to link the mysterious Wraith-Vampire-Mage of the old world with the "new" mystery of the new world, being the legacies. But I'm not that fond of his secret society membership, moreover that his secret society seems to be basically unknown and a new addition, with veeeeery little information. I get that a secret society in some mountain fortress wouldn't be mysterious anymore, if you'd give away to much about them, but the way it's handled here, I'm kind of glad, that the legacies seem to have seriously crippled there power. Maybe I'm missing something again, but at least for now these two mysteries combined is one mystery too much.
              Oh and, why didn't they actually kill Rasputin in the end?
              Last edited by Athanasius; 08-23-2019, 12:19 PM.

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              • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                Honestly, I think the Society of Leopold could pull this one off on their own. They have an entire division of Wraith-focused folk and anti-magic folk. The best way to destroy the Giovanni is just break their hold on their spirits.

                Easier said than done, perhaps, but possible.
                "Just a single exorcism in the right spot, and then watch what the Venetian water table does to that skyscraper of theirs…"

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                • Originally posted by Draconis View Post

                  "Just a single exorcism in the right spot, and then watch what the Venetian water table does to that skyscraper of theirs…"
                  To be fair, the Campanile di San Marco is 350 feet tall, which is just under the 400 feet tall that is the minimum requirement for a skyscraper. The big question is what idiot thought it was a good idea to make the tallest building in Venice the secret headquarters of your evil family of incestuous banker wizards? I mean, seriously, no vampire is that stupid in how they advertise their havens.





                  https://vtmb.fandom.com/wiki/Venture_Tower

                  ...

                  Caine dammit La Croix.


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

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                  • Augustus Giovanni: No! How did you find me??
                    The Society of Leopold: Well, first, you're in the tallest building in Venice, and it doesn't blend in in any way whatsoever. Second of all, we saw the street signs…

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                    • Next to my house.



                      We also have a bunch of mob traffic and smuggling in my area plus some Civil War battle sites. Hmmm.

                      Mind you, my headcanon is this is how La Croix made his millions rather than real estate or coal or whatever Ventrue normally make their money at.



                      Every vat has a drop of vitae!


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

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                      • Apologies again for the lengthy reply. My habit is to do this in one big batch usually than multiple smaller. If it's inconvenient I can change. I included one Chapter 16 comment in between the more recent updates (and a past reply) which is partly to blame for the size!

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        Not at all. I appreciate all commentary and thoughts. You did a great job here.
                        Thanks! Thank you btw for all the clarifications you provided to my questions. I just wanted to note that even though I omitted specific quotes to keep this streamlined.

                        I do think Christof may be lying about the Ainkurn Blade here because, of course, Christof is about 400 years older than Dracula. It's also mentioned in the Encyclopedia Vampirca as well as Transylvania Chronicles III in addition to the game. The Dracula sword was actually owned by Dracula's father prior to him and was a family relic passed down among the Basarab family before eventually landing in Kindred hands where it could be properly utilized (as it's magic could only be properly wielded by a vampire). We are in D&D territory, though, where we're talking about magical blades.
                        Possible. Given Beckett he may not want to go advertising himself. Not just because of Dracula, but also the Tremere. If they stole Dracula's blade, I'm sure they'd go after Ainkurn also. Assuming, of course, it isn't a fake blade like you suggested below.

                        Also possible. It's also possible and this is just a possibility that the sword Christof is using isn't the Ainkurn Blade in this chapter but a replica after he lost the original or isn't carrying it around for whatever reason. This one could be, for example, a replica made by Aisling Sturbridge and just a sword with some Wards against Vampires on it.
                        Quite possible as well, since it would be reasonable for Christof to avoid the attention of Dracula or the Tremere. It's not as if VtM (nevermind other systems) didn't have a number of ways to make non-artifiact magical weapons. Hell you can do it with sufficiently advanced Potence.

                        We can also surmise that the picture may have nothing to do with Ainkurn or the Kilij in BJD - it may just be a random image from some other point. Christof does seem like the sort of person who would collect swords, magical or otherwise.

                        This leads to another interesting speculation if we go with 'Ainkurn equal or better than Dracula's sword'. Given Christof may have fought at least 1, possibly several, Methuselah (however weakened), he has a LOT of Methuselah blood either locked in the blade, or injected into him depending on how you think it worked. That alone has some... interesting implications for him as well.

                        Christof is honest to a fault but I wouldn't be surprised if Kindred society has started to wear down on him. He's lost his True Faith from his immortal days and tried to serve the Prometheans like he did the Church but both of them proved less than stellar causes. On the other hand, Christof has no end of genuinely supernaturally evil Kindred to serve and arguably the modern Camarilla and Anarchs are not that much worse than Medieval feudalism--so progress.
                        If Matthew Dawkins ever did a write-up of Anezka, I imagine she'd be a Low Humanity Brujah Blood Sorcerer Embracing someone you love never works out. Death in the service of a higher cause was her only salvation and Christof took that from her.
                        Christof does have an 'endless wanderer' vibe about him, which again is a contrast to Ecaterina. Which would explain the air of mystery about him and lead to alot of interesting plot hooks as well. Especially if we take Anezka as a less than happy ending as you suggested.

                        There's also the somewhat less grandiose answer that Vukodlak just woke from torpor minutes ago and might not have had a chance to feed much (if at all).
                        Quite true. I can recall at least two precedents for that: Huitzilopochtli/Shaitain from Chaos Factor, and Tiamat from Diablerie Britain. Although that does make the 'diablerize Vukodlak' idea more likely I think.

                        All possibilities, though V5 makes it the case that a straight up fight between Methuselahs and Neonates isn't impossible anymore.
                        I could see Ecaterina doing that for survival if she's on the run from the Camarilla and Sabbat. Christof would join because they're the closest to Prometheans that still exist. And I could totally see Christof becoming a hero of the Anarchs as well. Ecaterina might just leverage that status of her childe to her own advantage.
                        The interesting thing with V5 is that alot of the changes they made (the Beckoning, etc.) create a situation where Christof could become just that kind of 'heroic leader-figure'. Although it leads to questions about whether someone/something might draw him into the growing conflicts too. Or several somethings.

                        The question is whether she's Beckoned to Troile's side as a soldier or as food.
                        Could be both? I mean Ravnos snacked on Methuselahs but he had just woken up and wasn't totally himself. I guess it depends on Troile's exact state.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        When the book landed, I feel it was almost totally overwhelmed by the presence of the Tzimisce Antediluvian in its Shoggoth King form and had maybe two Signature Characters that were worth pursuing. Calebros and Ailsing Sturbridge for that matter. I literally remember nothing about the book except maybe a Boss Tweed-esque Brujah, a Scourge who was actually a Neonate stuck with a shit job that was eroding his humanity, and the fact the Prince to be was the childe of the previous one. I'm not insulting the writing, just saying it wasn't my bag. I also felt the small size of the book (demanded by the low selling nature of the city books) prevented it from properly paying NYC credit.
                        An aside here since it was brought up and I'm not terribly familiar with V5 yet: How did they reconcile some of the Antediluvians being in places like the US with the Beckoning? If they didn't, then maybe that's why it gets such short shrift in BJD (well that and there's a ton of stuff to cover so you can't focus too deeply on any one thing.)


                        I think one of the most memorable moments about Revised for me was the Gehenna Scenario where you just flat out have an anime brawl with the Tzimisce Antediluvian (except it's his mindless Cathedral of Flesh body from the sewers) in the middle of fucking Times Square, are expected to kill the thing in a gloriously Final Fantasy: Advent Children fight and then realize that you have broken the Masquerade permanently. Because it's on national TV and people have been introduced to vampires as fucking literal superheroes -- a premise that ONLY works if you have specced your heroes like Dante from Devil May Cry and ENOUGH PLAYERS DID that it was one of the most used scenarios.



                        And I'm going to be honest...

                        ...

                        It was fucking awesome.

                        No, seriously, like Ur-Shulgi, I confess to the fact that as much as I hate the concept of fighting the ooze monster/Godzilla from a Resident Evil game, I've used the Tzimisce Antediluvian "on camera" more than any other of the Antes. I'm a huge hypocrite and proudly fond of my big epic cinematic momments. One of my most interesting scenarios to me was when one of the player characters actually communicated with the Flesh-Shoggoth and learned some valuable truths about the universe before having its mind-wiped. It's not personal horror vampire but it doesn't have to be. It's alien and it's weird and that's not always a bad thing.

                        The book here takes that silly concept and makes it pretty dang good with the idea of the player characters encountering something a bit more manageable than an Antediluvian with a warren of old as shit Tzmisce pondering the stuff left behind.
                        A topic I've been discussing elsewhere concerns this idea too. One of the few things I never agreed with in the 'Old' WoD setting was their handling of 'cinematic' stuff (which included crossover/hybrid characters, etc.) Which is odd, given how many opportunities for that you could have. Some writers handled it better than others (Dark Ages Mage was very self aware in this regard). It also baffles me considering that WoD borrowed a fair bit from anime, and a great deal of anime can handle cinematic and narrative without either suffering.

                        That disconnect could partly explain Gehenna. The other part is likely expectation - I remember reading all the 'endings' stuff when it happened and being underwhelmed because it didn't feel 'epic' enough, it promised answers but left too many loose ends, etc. I suspect as well that the cascade of retcons might have hurt them as well (something similar happened with the TV show Babylon 5 during its 5 year run.) But given a 15 year or so absence from WoD and the changes that I've seen, I also find myself more forgiving because Gehenna really isn't an 'ending' now. More a transition, or perhaps an interruption. The challenge is how you fit it into some larger narrative without disrupting suspension of disbelief for a large number of people.

                        One example would be the breaking of the Masquerade you mentioned. A different approach to the V5 'second inquisition' might follow on from such an event (and which has other, interesting implications. Does this represent the Technocratic consensus breaking down? If so, we might see a resurgence in magic, which up til this point was often portrayed as dying out in various forms across various systems (the Withering may be one such manifestation.) In that sense Gehenna is a situation where Vampires become mythical creatures like Mage's Bygones (vampires feeding on vampires is an effort to avert this, obviously, since vitae is a kind of tass). If magic returns, Gehenna is averted. But with it comes a return of the dangers of supernatural creatures as well... including the Antediluvians.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        My own views on the Salubri are they are perfectly fine characters with the Healers being very interesting but they're also characters that should be used very carefully. I have the same view of them that I do about Thin Bloods. Salubri should be generally used as characters the PCs should try to protect at great personal risk to themselves. You might argue that the Salubri don't have a place in a game of personal horror since they're goody-goodies and remove the horror of vampirism but I have the general view that having a little light in the center of the darkness makes the actual evil all the creepier. Basically, the reverse of the usual.
                        I've always liked the Warrior Salubri but I don't think they particularly fit into the Sabbat. Really, I think they fit more like what the Children of Osiris in THE HUNTERS HUNTED were implied to be but didn't really fit. If you had a Salubri of the Warrior caste show up, they were probably there to murder you and burn you at the stake as a monster. Basically, I have occasionally used the Warrior Salubri as the VII organization from Vampire: The Requiem. They're vampires who kill other vampires to protect mortals--something I think the Web of Knives have kind of moved away from.
                        I don't think vampires of a normal bent can be "good" but I also don't think you need to make every campaign as dark and monstrous as possible either. There's varieties of gamestyles after all with LA BY NIGHT by Jason Carl being one of the lighter and softer FOREVER KNIGHT or ANGEL-esque games while others go full NEAR DARK. I think its perfectly permissible to have vampires who are anti-heroes and attempt to use their powers for "good" even if it's largely doomed and/or pointless. The tortured vampire is the most interesting vampire. It's why I approve of Touchstones because they do give the Gamemaster something good in their lives to care about even if the vampire's relationship with them is unhealthy.
                        I'll be honest and that I always liked the Salubri, the Children of Osiris and similar aspects in WoD. It's probably another reason I'm so fond of Redemption as well. To me you need to have 'sufficient' Good to contrast the evil, and maintain a sort of tension. Its a 'resource' you expend, and if you lack enough 'good', or if you don't let it build up you risk unbalancing said narrative by grimdark. I've had similar feelings WRT Warhammer 40K, which has many of the same issues. And the WoD has always felt like it struggled with finding that 'right' balance between 'sufficient good' in a fundamentally dark world.

                        On the other hand, one thing that I can see creating distaste for such concepts is how they are handled. Alot of concepts in WoD (at least initially) have sometimes suffered from lack of nuance (at their worst becoming stereotypes - or worse) Salubri and the Children both could do with more nuance. Perhaps the Salubri antitribu (and Warrior Salubri by extension) were such an effort, but suffered in execution. Much like the True Brujah, I suppose.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        My view is that the 2nd Generation of vampires are probably not any more powerful than the Antediluvians on a one-to-one basis. The difference in the power levels between the Antediluvians and other vampires is less about generation more about age. Marcus Vitel is ridiculously powerful compared to other vampires and able to work terrifying miracles with his Disciplines, including Roman Numina. So much so Theo Bell, a team of Archons, and Christof plus 30 ghouls couldn't kill him. An Antediluvian, by contrast, is 13,000 years to his 2,000 years.
                        My view of the Antediluvians is they are "theoretically vulnerable."
                        In a rare game that an Antediluvian is encountered, when I'm going for "cinematic Marvel universe" vampire, they're plot devices. You can speak with an Antediluvian but there is absolutely nothing you can do to them as a vampire.
                        My view is the Antediluvians actually do succeed 99% of the time in their schemes but their schemes are blunted by the other 12 (11? 9?). The Jyhad is, at least in my games, a battle between the Clan founders and all of their various pawns as well as minions. They each have Oracle levels of powers and the ability to effect potentially the whole of humanity (Dominate 10 was used by Ventrue in a game to end the Second Inquisition) but can't override each other. There's also bigger fish than them with the Archdemons and Gods. A vampire, no matter his power level, is still a mortal.
                        In Dungeons and Dragons terms, Antediluvians are 30th level wizards. Gods are gods.
                        This is a good point to note that 'power' as a concept can be a complex and deceptive thing, especially in context of how it is usually handled in a game. Like you I think that in terms of direct, physical power (one on one conflicts) there's more overlap between generations (possibly not even Caine.) This is why you can have old Methuselah's at least put up a fight against other third-generation (Set vs Osiris for example.) Younger vampires in numbers and with modern technology is another example (like your reference to Bell.) Not all older vampires understand tech or appreciate its uses in the way younger vampires who grew up with it did.

                        Some third generation may actually be physically powerful gods of battle, but others more than likely get by on versatility of disciplines, a long time being able to plan and prepare, accumulated knowledge, etc. And secrecy. Plans within plans, tons of fallback positions, countless pawns, avatars and other ways to exert their power without necessarily exposing themselves. Or because they learn other sources of power (Lasombra, Tzimisce, etc.) to bolster their own. 'Godlike' can also mean inscrutable and mysterious in the 'We don't know if a miracle occured or not and would we remember it if it did' way.

                        A reference to mages is actually a good analogy, although I thought of it more in terms of MTA archmages with no paradox rather than DnD myself lol. Alot of the 'impossible to defeat' stuff is likely to come indirectly and from a distance, but even if you did manage to get up close and personal and beat them... you might not actually 'destroy' them for good because you don't know all the failsafes and countermeasures they have.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        Berlin by Night is one of those supplements that often gets put onto the trashfire list but I think of it as very much akin to Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand. It has some terrible ideas, some of the worst in the entire gameline (Himmler--oh and Goering too because one member of the Nazi High Command as a vampire isn't enough! Snake vampires!).
                        This sounds like it is just begging for a Hellsing/WoD Crossover. Although given how long I've been out of touch with WoD god knows how many of those might exist now...

                        ****

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        Chapter Sixteen: The Deaths of Baba Yaga
                        Beckett ends up with a vampire named Angus and explores the woods of Russia until they find a huge chunk of Nosferatu vampires related to Baba Yaga and in torpor due to magical means. He then later finds Angus killed, some iron teeth around him, and a mysterious message from Absimiliard. Beckett believes that Baba Yaga might or might not still be dead due to the iron teeth around him but wouldn't that be a sign she IS dead?
                        Depends on what you mean by 'dead?' High end low-generation Methuselahs in alot of ways can be like how you described Antediluvians, and I think Baba Yaga would be one of the most prominent examples there. You might beat her in combat, but does that mean you actually killed her? If anything this little detail is perhaps the one thing I liked most about this chapter, because it gets me speculating about all the ways it MIGHT play out. That said the 'iron teeth' seems a bit odd given Nights of Prophecy kinda implies Baba Yaga's 'ogress' image was more or less illusion. The idea that she's wearing some sort of metal prosthetic teeth - whilst kinda amusing in a way - doesn't easily jive with that.

                        I was much less fond of the implied 'Baba Yaga is dead but alot of her minions and tools are around' because it felt too much like the pre-Disney Star Wars Expanded Universe where Palpatine was dead (until he wasn't at one point) and you had a sucession of remnant forces coming back as 'Villains of the week' in successive novels.

                        This chapter leaves me cold, I'm going to be honest. It's still steak and well-done steak but it's a little too well-done and not my favorite in the work. I appreciate the follow-up to the silliness of the Shadow Curtain and the willingness of the book to touch EVERYTHING metaplot related but this is entirely my own issues here.
                        The chapter isn't badly done by any means but the chapter essentially feels like, "Yeah, that was a thing that happened, wasn't it?" I think this may more thoroughly erase Baba Yaga's legacy than nuking Enoch did the Tal'Mah'Ra.
                        I feel like they really wrapped up everything in the whole RaR book and it feels kind of disappointing as that doesn't leave many plot threads to follow up on or to tell a more Vampire-esque story. Which is a shame because I felt Revised wrapped it up poorly with ending a Werewolf plot with TO GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE WE GO, an adventure that canonically ended with any Nosferatu being killed with no possibility of survival.
                        I think it's a fair assessment, but one based more on execution than idea. The ideas are good but not fully developed, and as you note they leave out alot of details like the Zmei. It feels more like an 'under-done' steak than over-done (lack of detail rather than excess of detail.) To be fair Nights of Prophecy did much the same thing I feel and with much more finality.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        Chapter Sixteen: The Deaths of Baba Yaga notes2. I feel like Baba Yaga is a great werewolf character in that she's the perfect "final boss" for a pack of werewolves to be the ones to destroy at the end of a campaign. Either with a Fetish maguffin or magical binding or just through tooth and claw. That's a game with a strong emphasis on combat after all. However, I always felt "she's randomly murdered by some Nictuku" was a really poor way of ending her storyline. Her storyline was a very "on rails" storyline that didn't actually require the PCs at all. It suffered from a common NIGHT OF PROPHECY problem where the PCs don't affect events, they just witness them.
                        This I definitely agree with. Arguably moreso than some other stories. Alot of the 'Chronicles' for example had that same 'witnessing history' as well, but not quite so 'on the rails'. Possibly because many of them had multiple books to flesh it out over, rather than being one plot in a single book (which applies to NoP AND BJD) That said the 'ideas' part of BJD is still a saving grace, and at least leaves people the potential to develop it in their own ways. It doesn't completely excuse the lack of execution, but it still salvages it all the same.

                        4. But speaking like Kupala, Baba Yaga is the kind of character that should never actually show up in gaming even if her agents do. You can theoretically kill Helena, even if it's very very fucking hard. Baba Yaga is a character that should be one of those, "You die." The only way to take her down would be Russian fairy tale style like finding her soul in an egg somewhere. In fact, I was kind of hoping for more concrete evidence she might have survived and gone into hiding from her sire.
                        Weirdly, I take back what I said. There's a bit where Harry Dresden meets Grandmother Winter and its basically Baba Yaga. You CAN have the PCs meet Baba Yaga--they should just never think they should fight her. I could also see her showing up in Changeling or child Mage games.
                        Agreed. I think really powerful Methuselahs and Antes (and above) work better more as 'elemental' forces in a setting. Something you feel the influences of, but you may not directly challenge or defeat. I think Baba Yaga has the potential to transcend her 'just a vampire' background in the same way some of the Antediluvians did, and if we figure she's trying to defeat her sire then that becomes a reasonable outcome. At that stage 'phyiscal' power (in the sense of 'PCs fight a character' is only a small portion of their overall power (unlike, I think, for player characters.) In Baba Yaga's case, I think it would be most obvious in the potential scope of the magical abilities she developed (in my thinking, far beyond just blood Thaumaturgy of any kind. She's a good candidate for Koldunic sorcery as well, IMHO.)

                        I think she could still fit an 'Ur-Shulgi' level of character too though, it's just a matter of preference and lack of limits at that level it's not a binding distinction IMHO.

                        Having re-read Nights of Prophecy recently, it struck me that they could have handled that entire scenario very differently, and in a way that allowed more flexibility than they gave players (having to have Vasilia accompany them was un-necessary. Simply meeting her once and spending a bit of time would have sufficed.) Also, they could have greatly expanded Durga Syn's role since she was Baba Yaga's primary nemesis for ages. No reason she couldn't appear to 'save' the coterie at an opportune moment, get defeated... then you drop the Nictuku into the picture.

                        Even more epic might have been to tie this into a crossover alliance where various factions (Durga Syn and her allies, the Garou, etc.) cooperate to take out Baba Yaga, which would be a great way to incorporate some of the Zmei AND Baba Yaga's remaining armies. And that scenario still allows for Nicktuku manipulation to be a factor here, and that 'shock' twist reveal.

                        5. I feel like this chapter doesn't give nearly as many possible answers for the mysteries presented in the book as they could. In other chapters, we get six solutions for "What is X?" It even carries over to Chicago by Night with the origins of Nerissa Blackwater being a half-dozen possibilities. Here, things happen but we don't have an explanation for any of it like "why are the Nosferatu all torporous?"
                        I mean, an answer could be the Werewolves did it. "We bound all of Baba Yaga's spawn to an eternal sleep." But I'm not sure why all of her childer being wiped out is that great of a story to begin with--and why the PCs would care.

                        6. What happened to the dragons?
                        So, yeah, it's not a bad chapter but it felt like an epilogue than a new beginning.
                        Agree. Again this may be inevitable due to space limits but perhaps that also means BJD would have worked better in terms of 'fewer, more in depth concepts' rather than trying to cram everything into one book. More space could allow more development about the missing dragons for example. Another lack I felt that could have been worth developing was Durga Syn and her activities (Something that also was minimized in Nights of Prophecy!) because she had so many plots she was involved in across various books. I could see tying some of the Transylvania chronicles to Baba Yaga and Russia, for example (Dracula as Durga Syn's pawn against Baba Yaga, perhaps.)

                        To be fair this is also a 'hindsight' judgement that assumes more leeway/knowledge than the writers actually had, so I'm trying not to be too critical either.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        There's also Dante Rosselini who claims to be an Embraced Revenant. I don't think that he's actually a Giovanni Revenant but wouldn't be surprised if he had a sire from a Rosselini woman seducing a Grimaldi or other Revenant to birth him--the Giovanni are tricksy that way.
                        To expand on what MalleusXXIII noted, the idea of revenants getting embraced has been there as far back as Ghouls: Fatal addiction as I recall (at least one throwaway line that Tzimisce ghouls don't get embraced unless they're one of the Revenant families.) I do know Dark Ages had several examples from extinct famiilies: The Basarab were wiped out after one of their own (Dracula) engineered his own Embrace (yes by some sources it seems Dracula was a revenant, not a ghoul. go figure.) The other was the Danislavs (Kinfolk-Revenant hybrids who revolted after getting access to Garou Gifts and were wiped out when one of their number betrayed the family in order to become a vampire.)

                        Revenants used to be supposedly rare, but more and more sources crated additional families (almost two dozen now I think?) and you can even have families created by specific old, powerful vampires in extreme cases. And V20 has the Salubri power 'Gate of Heaven' resurrect a mortal as a revenant (instead of a ghoul as it was originally) so there are other options too (The Cult of Osiris had a power in Bardo that could protect people from the Embrace but resulted in them being ghouled. That got dropped later as humna, but you could surmise it would be another way to create revenants I suppose? Its not like the vitae would just vanish...)

                        And then you have dhampir who are functionally revenants in all but name and background/origins.

                        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                        To be fair, the Campanile di San Marco is 350 feet tall, which is just under the 400 feet tall that is the minimum requirement for a skyscraper. The big question is what idiot thought it was a good idea to make the tallest building in Venice the secret headquarters of your evil family of incestuous banker wizards? I mean, seriously, no vampire is that stupid in how they advertise their havens.
                        They're looking for the soul of Cappadocious to make into a giant spirit-eyeball to put on top of the towr, obviously.






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                        • Originally posted by CTPhippd
                          One big section of this book which I was super-excited about was the decision by the Orthodox Followers of Set to join the Camarilla. They bet heavily on the Camarilla to go against the mentioned polytheism and "Clan of Faith" elements that oppose them. As we find out with V5, the Orthodox Typhonists really screw the pooch here as the Camarilla breaks their word and they have their delegation assassinated either by the Camarilla's agents themselves or by the Banu Haqim.
                          I'm actually not a fan of this. I think anyone so foolish as to break their word so publically is going to see a lot of backlash. After reading v5 CbN I've decided that instead of Helena running into an Ashirra delegation in Tunisia when she was first beckoned she ran into the Ministry delegation and with no survivors the Setites chose to blame the Camarilla since they were the only ones who know about the delegation's existence.

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                          • Originally posted by Vendrin View Post
                            I'm actually not a fan of this. I think anyone so foolish as to break their word so publically is going to see a lot of backlash. After reading v5 CbN I've decided that instead of Helena running into an Ashirra delegation in Tunisia when she was first beckoned she ran into the Ministry delegation and with no survivors the Setites chose to blame the Camarilla since they were the only ones who know about the delegation's existence.
                            The question is whether anyone's strong enough to actually stand up to the Camarilla.

                            Consider, America's broken hundreds and hundreds of diplomatic agreements, including every single treaty the government ever signed with the Native Americans/First Nations. But if America says they no longer care about the treaty…well, what are you going to do about it? The other parties of the treaties generally don't have the military force to stand up to the US, so they just have to go with it and take whatever comes.

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                            • Originally posted by Vendrin View Post

                              I'm actually not a fan of this. I think anyone so foolish as to break their word so publically is going to see a lot of backlash. After reading v5 CbN I've decided that instead of Helena running into an Ashirra delegation in Tunisia when she was first beckoned she ran into the Ministry delegation and with no survivors the Setites chose to blame the Camarilla since they were the only ones who know about the delegation's existence.
                              I think it's a reminder the Camarilla are not honorable and will break their word if they think they can get away with it. If they actually kept their word consistently then they wouldn't be the reprehensible douchebags they have the reputation of being.

                              I'm reminded of a discussion of EXALTED on RPG.net.

                              Poster: I think of Dragonblooded honor as this, "They look down upon peasants but would heroically sacrifice their lives to save a village because it is theirs."

                              Developer: Actually, no, the Dragonblooded would consider it the peasant's duty to heroically sacrifice themselves to protect them. Their system of honor is whatever benefits the Dragonblooded.


                              But Helena accidentally destroying the Camarilla is kind of hilarious by itself.
                              Last edited by CTPhipps; 08-23-2019, 09:17 PM.


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

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                              • Originally posted by Draconis View Post

                                The question is whether anyone's strong enough to actually stand up to the Camarilla.

                                Consider, America's broken hundreds and hundreds of diplomatic agreements, including every single treaty the government ever signed with the Native Americans/First Nations. But if America says they no longer care about the treaty…well, what are you going to do about it? The other parties of the treaties generally don't have the military force to stand up to the US, so they just have to go with it and take whatever comes.
                                I'm inclined to think that the Camarilla chose to break their word with the Followers of Set out of slightly more justifiable reasons than just to be assholes (though I'm sure they were). There's also a question of whether the Camarilla themselves assassinated the Setite delegation or whether it was the Banu Haquim.

                                Either way, it was the Assamites making it clear that they weren't going to join the Camarilla if they allowed the Typhonists to join and the Camarilla needed Blood Sorcery, soldiers, and Middle Eastern money more than they needed a bunch of people they didn't actually want to join in the first place.

                                They chose to burn the bridges in a spectacularly violent manner but it may have been meant to intimidate the Setites--backfiring by them joining the Anarchs instead. The other way might be the Banu Haqim did it to make sure the Camarilla could either back the Banu Haqim (and sever any future ties with the Setites) or the Setites (and lose the Banu Haqim--which means they were never steady allies to begin with). Obviously, the Camarilla would resent being backed into a corner but the Banu Haqim were the better horse to back.

                                Also, this is the Banu Haqim Vizier song by Busta Rhymes.



                                It's not as flashy a power as Blood Sorcery or Web of Knives Quietus but cash has its appeal.
                                Last edited by CTPhipps; 08-23-2019, 09:16 PM.


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

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