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

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  • #91
    By and large I agree with @CTPhillips assessment of both the Anarchs and L.A. by Night – however, he is more forgiving of this chapter than I am. Frankly, I found this chapter and the original L.A. by Night to be fairly dull and home to a lot of missed opportunities.

    For one thing, generally more notable here than in the London Chapter, the city possesses no local flavour. There is no sense of L.A. film making, finance, or the local culture. The only “LA” thing present is the harbor and the gang – both of which appear in other cities. Further, the gangs are all pretty uniform – it would be difficult to tell one from another. Also, this might just be me, but I found most of the NPCs to be uninspiring as well. I don’t give a damn about Garcia, Rodriguez, MacNeil, and so on. They are a bit like Jeremy Renner – rather beige and just kind of there. Jiefie Li strikes me as a bit of a Londo Molari character – she got the assignment because all the other Wan Kuei were savvy enough to avoid it. That the entire invasion is a bad idea strategically doesn’t stop it from being interesting in a narrative sense.

    As a result of no noticeable culture, and no compelling characters, I find it difficult to engage with any of the supposed plot hooks or narrative. The exception is the Wan Kuei invasion – I am almost always down for this kind of game-change to the status quo. That said, even that lacks teeth as V5 apparently wiped away most of this plot development and may have done away with the Wan Kuei existence entirely.

    Edit: With no disrespect to anyone involved, I've never been a fan of recorded games, either as podcasts or on Youtube. They simply bore me. So, the LA by Night show does not interest me. That said, it does a better job of presenting LA in the World of Darkness than does this chapter, or for that matter the original LA by Night book. There is a lot more to LA than the gangs, including finance, universities, movie production, porn production, class warfare, and occult strangeness. Yet these other aspects are generally ignored.
    Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 07-18-2019, 02:47 AM.

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    • #92
      Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
      I like Beckett and Ramona's relationship. It was (mildly) controversial when Beckett wasn't the star of the Gangrel Signature novels but Ramona. Personally, I think Ramona was a better choice as those books were saturated with Elders but Beckett was sorely missed. Certainly, he would have made a good addition elsewhere. Seeing those two interact is quite entertaining.
      This was sort of my problem with the Clan Novels in general. Way more focus was put on "cool" Elder characters than on providing viewpoints from Neonates or Fledglings.

      1) Toreador: Leopold gets the first act to himself, but much of that segment of the book is spent on getting new readers up to speed about the very premise and mechanics of Vampire: The Masquerade. This is followed by him being completely sidelined in Act 2, when the book becomes the Victoria Ash Show. (As an aside, the novel doesn't do much to portray the night-to-night battle for dominance in a city as anything more than glorified, petty high school politics). Leopold doesn't do very much at all for the rest of the book, and then proceeds to turn into a non-character vessel for the Eye of Hazimel from then on.

      2) Tzimisce: Not really an examination of Clan Tzimisce, so much as a plot-heavy rundown of the Sabbat's crusade to take the East Coast. There's like one younger Tzimisce who has a subplot, and gets some minor "wins" by Diablerizing some Camarilla Elders. But that character has to compete with The Plot, various Sabbat packs attacking the East Coast, a few minor Cam vampires who perish the scene they were introduced (to show things were Super Serious), some Cam characters from the Toreador novel who die, multiple Elder Lasombra characters, and the REAL star of the show, Sasha Vykos. And Vykos - a Methuselah - gets the lion's share of the "screen" time. It would have been nice if we'd had, like, a shovelhead Tzimisce who could be introduced, that characters could explain Sabbat stuff to, and who in being dragged through all these battles comes to understand the Clan's primary gift (Vicissitude) first hand. Maybe even realize they enjoy the power and personal gratification it provides. But alas, the novel was crowded enough as it was, we couldn't do that.

      3) Setite: I loved this novel - Hesha is a great, coldly amoral character - but it's a shame that the one who was basically being groomed to become a Setite, Elizabeth, only actually became one at the very end. And that she spent the whole of Clan Novel Ravnos (which I also liked) chained to a couch, barely getting scenes where she discovers what it means to be a vampire, let alone a Setite. Elizabeth deserved better.

      It's this sort of thing that go through the whole Clan Novel series. The writers obviously caring more about getting across big metaplot shifts and showing how cool their Elder characters are, than about showing the Clans as their junior members (the ones new players are meant to play) see them.

      (A big culprit here is the Lasombra novel, with Lucita. I won't say she's actually a Mary Sue, but she has shades (pun intended) of Mary Sue-ness within the bounds of that book, but virtue of never really being challenged. She is unstoppable and makes no errors and "isn't she just so badass!?". I don't mean to say that anyone is wrong for liking her, I'm just saying I liked her better in other books, including Beckett's Jyhad Diary.)

      Beckett proceeds to stay at the Ocean View Hotel which is apparently still haunted so either the PC gave the amulet to Jeanette or their attempts to exorcise the place have proven to be futile (or maybe they got rid of one ghost and more moved in--which is entirely possible with Wraiths and Haunts).
      Technically, there were two Wraiths (possibly more) in the Ocean View Hotel. The hostile spirit of the murderer/father, and the benign spirit of the wife and/or child. It's the benign spirit(s) that lead(s) the Player Character to the locket, while the hostile one (probably a Specter) tries to kill them. Presumably, when the hotel was being exorcised, the exorcist either didn't notice the benign spiritual presence, or chose to focus on the Wraith that was the actual problem.


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      • #93
        Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
        By and large I agree with @CTPhillips assessment of both the Anarchs and L.A. by Night – however, he is more forgiving of this chapter than I am. Frankly, I found this chapter and the original L.A. by Night to be fairly dull and home to a lot of missed opportunities.

        For one thing, generally more notable here than in the London Chapter, the city possesses no local flavour. There is no sense of L.A. film making, finance, or the local culture. The only “LA” thing present is the harbor and the gang – both of which appear in other cities. Further, the gangs are all pretty uniform – it would be difficult to tell one from another. Also, this might just be me, but I found most of the NPCs to be uninspiring as well. I don’t give a damn about Garcia, Rodriguez, MacNeil, and so on. They are a bit like Jeremy Renner – rather beige and just kind of there. Jiefie Li strikes me as a bit of a Londo Molari character – she got the assignment because all the other Wan Kuei were savvy enough to avoid it. That the entire invasion is a bad idea strategically doesn’t stop it from being interesting in a narrative sense.

        As a result of no noticeable culture, and no compelling characters, I find it difficult to engage with any of the supposed plot hooks or narrative. The exception is the Wan Kuei invasion – I am almost always down for this kind of game-change to the status quo.
        Well, this chapter isn't meant to substitute for Los Angeles by Night but update the metaplot for the Anarch Free States that had been something of a confused mess. It also had the somewhat unenviable task of handling not only LA but San Fransisco, San Diego, and Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines. It was a big order to fill and there was perhaps too much to really get into even with Beckett staying a couple of chapters.

        I do have some complaints about the setting as a whole that aren't related to this chapter, though.

        1. Macneil and Salvador always bothered me due to the fact that the rest of the Anarch Movement effectively disappeared around them in supplements. Whenever discussing its leadership, it always seemed one or the other were the only leaders people remembered. Folk like Maldavis or Edward Scott who should be equally legendary in their own way were ignored. I think V5 is correcting this with the increased role of Tyler and introduction of new leaders like Rudi as well as Agata Starek. Plus the mention of people like Isaac Abrams.

        2. Salvador being a traitor is something that I do think was never really explained but it did move him a bit from being "generic Anarch hothead." While it's probably good they retconned it away, I feel like some more depth would have been better if it had given him a reason why.

        3. Part of the issue with the Anarch Free States as a whole was that without the Camarilla, they'd all turned against one another so they didn't seme very ideologically motivated at all. Putting the Camarilla among them gives them a target and shows the alternative. So I do approve of putting a Prince there. However, I'm not sure what Vannevar thinks of it.

        4. I feel it was a missed opportunity not to have Beckett interview Jiefie Li and surprising given his devotion to chronicling such things. I like the Londo Mollari comparison.

        That said, even that lacks teeth as V5 apparently wiped away most of this plot development and may have done away with the Wan Kuei existence entirely.
        I don't think Paradox Games will get rid of the Wan Kuei because much of their love of the setting is based on Bloodlines and the Kuei-Jin were an integral part of that game in an "Affectionate Parody" sort of way. The Chinatown section of the game was silly and overthetop but so was all of LA. My Hong Kong friends wished they could make vampires like Yuki the Demon Hunter.

        However, I wouldn't be surprised if the Wan Kuei ended up being retconned as the name for the Kindred sect of China. Mostly because I think while well-intentioned, the issue of the Kuei-Jin isn't necessarily the stereotyping (though that didn't help) but the fact that they're an entirely new Splat.

        If you're an Asian or Asian American V:TM fan then you want books that can work with your existing love of the game. The Kuei-Jin are a wholly different kind of game than the politics-heavy Anarchs vs. Elders vs.Sabbat thing that they've probably come to play like everyone else.

        Kuei-Jin are about Demon Hunting Revenants and very much their own thing.
        Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-18-2019, 07:36 AM.


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

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        • #94
          Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
          This was sort of my problem with the Clan Novels in general. Way more focus was put on "cool" Elder characters than on providing viewpoints from Neonates or Fledglings.
          I just agree 100% so not much to add here.

          (A big culprit here is the Lasombra novel, with Lucita. I won't say she's actually a Mary Sue, but she has shades (pun intended) of Mary Sue-ness within the bounds of that book, but virtue of never really being challenged. She is unstoppable and makes no errors and "isn't she just so badass!?". I don't mean to say that anyone is wrong for liking her, I'm just saying I liked her better in other books, including Beckett's Jyhad Diary.)
          Speaking as a writer and fan of Lucita the character (I am the world's 2nd biggest fan of her after Dixie from Onyx Path), I think there's another half of the traditional Mary Sue label and that's the Escapist Character. They're related because of the fact that many Mary Sues are created as Escapist Characters but fall into the trap of well, not being very good. Typical Escapist characters include James Bond, superheroes of nearly all stripes, and Lestat over Louis.

          Her book was big and comic booke-y and unapologetically so. Like Blade if she was played by Penelope Cruz. I'm currently working on some fixes for the Clan Novel w/ Crossroad Press and quite enjoying it.

          Technically, there were two Wraiths (possibly more) in the Ocean View Hotel. The hostile spirit of the murderer/father, and the benign spirit of the wife and/or child. It's the benign spirit(s) that lead(s) the Player Character to the locket, while the hostile one (probably a Specter) tries to kill them. Presumably, when the hotel was being exorcised, the exorcist either didn't notice the benign spiritual presence, or chose to focus on the Wraith that was the actual problem.
          This is the most benevolent interpretation. Another, more horrifying one, is that they exorcised the wrong ghost. DUN DUN DUN.


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

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          • #95
            Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
            If I do have a (small) criticism of LONDON FALLING, Grumpy RPG Reviews it is the fact that this chapter is more about the metaplot of Mithras' resurrection as Coven than it is about London in general. This isn't a bad thing but I think some more hints about what's going on in the city would have been better.

            Still, it's pretty similar to Washington D.C. that is all about the return of Marcus Vitel.
            That would be my criticism as well: It's essentially the same, at least in broad strokes. Mighty methuselah, thought to be dead, sets plans in motion to recapture his capital-city. Whereas the details are quite different, the overall plot is the same - which is not that big of a problem, because most coteries won't play in London AND D.C., i guess. But still...
            Sidenote: You mentioning the Rubicon got me thinking: There are, in fact, some similarities between Caesar and Vitel, aside of the obvious origin: Traitor against an old institution, who rules the (known) world (senate/inner circle), using an army of war-hardened soldiers (against Sabbat/Gaul), there may be more.

            Returning to London Falling: A minor point, as a german native speaker, it seems ridiculous how Gotsdam inserts german words in order to sound german, even though they are basically translations of english figures of speech. I never say "my friend", but I often hear it used by english-speakers in american TV-series. And I'm not sure why someone, who is clearly fluent in english, should address Beckett as "Herr". But that's trivia.
            Also trivia, but I liked that one: Mithras letter mentions Veddartha as his sire, but leaves the question open, if this Veddartha is of the 3rd or 4th generation, thereby addressing the issue of Veddartha actually being the Ventru-progenitor or not.

            Like both of you I liked the handling of Mithgomery (*g*), because it's a much more interesting take on these "diablerizing an ancient"-stories - I'm not sure if I like the plot-hook where Coven tries to perfect the Diablerie of ancients by finding suitable high-generation diablerists.

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            • #96
              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
              This is the most benevolent interpretation. Another, more horrifying one, is that they exorcised the wrong ghost. DUN DUN DUN.
              An amusingly dark thought, but unlikely. From the context of Beckett having stayed there, it's presumed that whatever spiritual problems were so dire that they interrupted repairs, forcing Therese to get the PC's aid in Bloodlines, were solved in the intervening time. Otherwise, the hotel wouldn't be open for business.


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              • #97
                Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                An amusingly dark thought, but unlikely. From the context of Beckett having stayed there, it's presumed that whatever spiritual problems were so dire that they interrupted repairs, forcing Therese to get the PC's aid in Bloodlines, were solved in the intervening time. Otherwise, the hotel wouldn't be open for business.
                True, though it's strange the "benign" presence includes smells of blood and ominous feelings as well as the occassional scream.


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

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                • #98
                  Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

                  True, though it's strange the "benign" presence includes smells of blood and ominous feelings as well as the occassional scream.
                  1) That could have been the malicious presence, telling intruders to fuck out of the Specter's territory.
                  2) The benign presence could have been trying to scare people away, so they wouldn't be in danger.

                  Either of these are possible explanations.


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                  • #99
                    Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
                    A lot of the problems with V5 Camarilla, and to a greater extent V5 Anarch, is simply bad editing and planning.
                    The Camarilla guide at least had some useful information. Yeah, 70% of it was pretty basic stuff you'd typically have gotten from the older core rulebooks, but there was some new. The section on the Second Inquisition was long overdue. The information on the Assamites was good and how they deal with things int he modern nights. My issues with it mainly come from all the Requiem stuff being arc-welded onto the organization (ancestor worship, vampiric christian church faction, etc) and the editorial gaffes.

                    The Anarch guide was unforgivable. I'm so glad I didn't spend my own money on it. My roommate, who loves V5, bought it and even HE says it was a waste of money. The only reason to own that book is to have the updated information on the Ministry. That's it. It's an overpriced short-story collection. I'd recommend *any* other edition's Anarch guide over the current one.

                    I've never seen Day-One DLC in book format before, but that's what that guide felt like. It was like they intentionally cut a couple sections out of the core rulebook, and padded it out with short stories and artwork.
                    Last edited by Barachiel; 07-18-2019, 12:26 PM.

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                    • Mostly I was talking about how flat it all falls for me, which is consistent from LA by Night to BJD. I didn't expect BJD to fix all the setting problems, but I also thought it might make the overall situation interesting. For me it did not.

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                      • Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post
                        Mostly I was talking about how flat it all falls for me, which is consistent from LA by Night to BJD. I didn't expect BJD to fix all the setting problems, but I also thought it might make the overall situation interesting. For me it did not.
                        I actually found BJD quite inspiring, for the most part. There were so many ways to take its ideas. Anything I didn't like could be wrapped up off-screen and resolved with barely a whisper. It was kind of why V5 hit me so hard with the disappointment. It took only a handful of ideas from BJD and seemed to do a very uninspired take on them. The rest hasn't been mentioned, so I assume it was all discarded.

                        It didn't help that I read BJD and V5 two weeks apart. Talk about mood whiplash. To go from a globe-trotting book filled with intrigue and factional upheaveal to "the humans are hunting us, but this time its serious; the Camarilla kicked out the Anarchs, the Sabbat went East and has faded into shadowy bogeyman" was just... jarring.

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                        • Originally posted by Barachiel View Post
                          I actually found BJD quite inspiring, for the most part. There were so many ways to take its ideas. Anything I didn't like could be wrapped up off-screen and resolved with barely a whisper. It was kind of why V5 hit me so hard with the disappointment. It took only a handful of ideas from BJD and seemed to do a very uninspired take on them. The rest hasn't been mentioned, so I assume it was all discarded.

                          It didn't help that I read BJD and V5 two weeks apart. Talk about mood whiplash. To go from a globe-trotting book filled with intrigue and factional upheaveal to "the humans are hunting us, but this
                          time its serious; the Camarilla kicked out the Anarchs, the Sabbat went East and has faded into shadowy bogeyman" was just... jarring.
                          I don't think that we've actually lost many of the ideas of Beckett's Jyhad Diary, quite the contrary, I was pleased that they added a bunch of foreshadowing for the events of V5. I also think that not that many plots were really lost.

                          Here's a short list:

                          * The Assamites have joined the Camarilla. (The Camarilla)

                          * Vannevar Thomas vs. The Anarchs with MacNeil leaving. (LA By Night)

                          * Washington D.C. is now under Emperor Marcus Vitel (The Camarilla, CBN 5E)

                          * The Duskborn have a huge role in V5 as well as their organizing. (V5)

                          * The Lasombra discovering their Antediluvian w/ Beckett's help is alive is part of why they left the Sabbat (CBN5E)

                          * The Drowned Legacies are started to rise (CBN 5E)

                          * The Giovanni and other factions are merged as the Hecata. They had one of their meetings in BJD (Cults of the Blood Gods)

                          * The Fall of London is a direct follow up of things involving Monty Coven retaking power (The Fall of London)

                          * House Carna plays a big role in the new setting (V5)

                          * I wouldn't be surprised if the Milwaukee chapter is followed up in LET THE STREETS RUN RED.

                          * Critias Entelecy School is now a focus of his character in CBN5E.

                          * Talley joining Marcus Vitel is part of the Camarilla-Lasombra defection.

                          There's a huge amount of foreshadowing done in this book that V5 has followed up on.

                          I mean, Matthew Dawkins The Gentleman Gamer is writing a lot of stuff for V5 so it's not exactly like any of this should be a surprise that he ties it all together.

                          Basically, I feel EVERY plot of Beckett's Jyhad Diary WILL be followed up on eventually but it wasn't the focus of the first couple of books.

                          Originally posted by Barachiel View Post

                          The Camarilla guide at least had some useful information. Yeah, 70% of it was pretty basic stuff you'd typically have gotten from the older core rulebooks, but there was some new. The section on the Second Inquisition was long overdue. The information on the Assamites was good and how they deal with things int he modern nights. My issues with it mainly come from all the Requiem stuff being arc-welded onto the organization (ancestor worship, vampiric christian church faction, etc) and the editorial gaffes.

                          The Anarch guide was unforgivable. I'm so glad I didn't spend my own money on it. My roommate, who loves V5, bought it and even HE says it was a waste of money. The only reason to own that book is to have the updated information on the Ministry. That's it. It's an overpriced short-story collection. I'd recommend *any* other edition's Anarch guide over the current one.

                          I've never seen Day-One DLC in book format before, but that's what that guide felt like. It was like they intentionally cut a couple sections out of the core rulebook, and padded it out with short stories and artwork.
                          I actually preferred the Anarch Guide to the Camarilla book despote how much I enjoyed the stuff about Ancestor Cults and Religion (which seem strange given the Camarilla was so ardently anti-Noddist before--but there were always Gehenna Cults in the background and Salons). The Anarch guide wasn't as great as Anarchs Unbound but it had a lot of really interesting stories that I think showed the diversity of the Anarch cause.

                          I also liked the "Take that, Us" of the Red Question where the Anarch Guide had the other Anarchs point out that John Gault and Randian Silicon Valley ethics weren't that appealing to the vast majority of people without computer schools or internet access.

                          I also sometimes feel I'm the only person who loved Rudi and Agata Starek.

                          Agata talking to Salvador about how much she wants to fuck Theo Bell remains one of the funniest damn things ever and is worth the price of the PDF itself.

                          My only regret was there was no Chicago or Gary Anarch section.
                          Last edited by CTPhipps; 07-18-2019, 06:22 PM.


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

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                          • Almost everyone one of your BJD points was actually expanded on in another book/medium down the line. When it first came out, V5 was *VERY* barebones on, well, EVERYTHING. It took the Cam guide and LA by Night bring most of that back into play. So at the time of first reading, that was my reaction.

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                            • Originally posted by Barachiel View Post
                              Almost everyone one of your BJD points was actually expanded on in another book/medium down the line. When it first came out, V5 was *VERY* barebones on, well, EVERYTHING. It took the Cam guide and LA by Night bring most of that back into play. So at the time of first reading, that was my reaction.
                              While true, should V5 have followed up on BJD when it's meant for new gamers making a fresh start?


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                              • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

                                While true, should V5 have followed up on BJD when it's meant for new gamers making a fresh start?
                                There's a difference between mirroring the Big Book of Metaplot and being the most threadbare core rulebook this line has ever seen.

                                Also, people trotted out the "how else are they supposed to bring in new players?" line when D&D 4th Edition came out, and ticked off the older fanbase. Shortly thereafter, WOTC was reminded that 'older players are the ones who typically bring in the newer players" and if they aren't happy, then they aren't going to do that. There's a reason why 4E didn't sell nearly as well and D&D 5E took back all the most egregious ideas of 4E. And note, 5E wasn't a slavish return to 3.5. It was a new game, but it kept faith with the old, while working in the stuff that *did* work from 4E, and as a result D&D is no longer being trounced on the market by Pathfinder.

                                I'm honestly expecting VTM to do much the same in about 5 or 6 years. Of course, with White Wolf now dissolved and new material being done by licensees, its possible it'll course correct without changing editions. The rules themselves are solid. There are a few tweaks I'd make, but its all easily house-ruled stuff. Most of my irritation comes from the content and layout of the books themselves.
                                Last edited by Barachiel; 07-18-2019, 10:32 PM.

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