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[V20] The search for "Ancient Secrets"

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  • [V20] The search for "Ancient Secrets"

    In v20, a lot of Clans and Bloodlines are said to be on the search for "Ancient Secrets" of various varieties.
    Setites, Tremere and Baali are always on the prowl for "Ancient Secrets".
    Cappadocians who left their crypts were more often than not searching for Ancient SecretsTM.
    Kyasid and True Brujah spend a majority of their time poring over books, hoping to find Ancient Secrets.
    The entire Tal'Mahe'Ra and Inconnu are basically dedicated to finding their own brands of Ancient Secrets.


    My question to the forums, and especially the Storytellers among you, would be if you have ever run one of these characters searching for Ancient Secrets? What Ancient Secrets did they find? How did you handle that story? And most of all, how did all these Ancient Secrets end up where you wanted them to?


    Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

  • #2
    I really want to run a Setite Mystic plumbing the depths of the Umbra and ancient Ruins on Earth. Never got to yet though. Love me these Ancient Secrets hooks even though its overdone and never really explored beyond stating that they are totally searching.


    It is a time for great deeds!

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    • #3
      It's a good question... I have run games before where I tried to include some sort of Metaplot/cannon information that could be classed as Ancient Secrets, and unfortunately the response from the players was largely a resounding "So?" When they found the information. They immediately became more concerned about how much it was worth and how this effected them in the here and now rather than any larger thematical or ethos changing way.

      In my case the information was largely revolving around Kaymakli and the events of Nights of Prophecy (House of Lies)

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      • #4
        Ancient SecretsTM is one of those things that can have a huge amount of power in the setting or none at all.

        For instance an Ancient Secret in the dark ages or even the old west could be something like the Baghdad Battery, the recipe for greek fire, or the Antikythera Mechanism. Simply put it can be technology that was originally discovered centuries or millennia ago, then lost to history, only to be rediscovered and in many cases perfected or at least refined in the modern age. Vampires are in a unique position to be walking archives of lost archeo-tech, forgotten languages, etc.

        An ancient secret can be something utterly inconsequential to 99% of the world, but have huge ramifications if that 1% find out about it. For instance if you are a necromancer you might summon a ghost who knows something relevant to a group of elder vampires. Consider the trope scenario where a couple find out one of them cheated just before the wedding, sure that won't summon a demon or give a power boost, but if you can prove that bit of information to the half of the couple who didn't cheat, they will be too involved in arguing to move against your characters. I am thinking along the lines of that one episode of Supernatural where the Winchesters get caught up between two witches having marital strife. Really this is more of a secret that the trope "ancient secret" but given how many centuries this can go back or more accurately considering how many centuries worth of backlog arguments this can unleash, ancient seems appropriate.

        Lastly you get the Ancient Secrets that actually give power just by knowing them. Such as knowing true names, the locations of hidden artifacts, the alchemical formula, etc. These are much more straight forward, but the catch is that once these exist in game, you have to contend with the notion that the Players will use them. I mean sure having a group of vampire lore seekers steal the spear of destiny sounds like a cool game idea, until you realize you have to either make the item a fake or explain how the item works and why no one elses has made off with it until now.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Thoth View Post
          Ancient SecretsTM is one of those things that can have a huge amount of power in the setting or none at all.

          For instance an Ancient Secret in the dark ages or even the old west could be something like the Baghdad Battery, the recipe for greek fire, or the Antikythera Mechanism. Simply put it can be technology that was originally discovered centuries or millennia ago, then lost to history, only to be rediscovered and in many cases perfected or at least refined in the modern age. Vampires are in a unique position to be walking archives of lost archeo-tech, forgotten languages, etc.

          An ancient secret can be something utterly inconsequential to 99% of the world, but have huge ramifications if that 1% find out about it. For instance if you are a necromancer you might summon a ghost who knows something relevant to a group of elder vampires. Consider the trope scenario where a couple find out one of them cheated just before the wedding, sure that won't summon a demon or give a power boost, but if you can prove that bit of information to the half of the couple who didn't cheat, they will be too involved in arguing to move against your characters. I am thinking along the lines of that one episode of Supernatural where the Winchesters get caught up between two witches having marital strife. Really this is more of a secret that the trope "ancient secret" but given how many centuries this can go back or more accurately considering how many centuries worth of backlog arguments this can unleash, ancient seems appropriate.

          Lastly you get the Ancient Secrets that actually give power just by knowing them. Such as knowing true names, the locations of hidden artifacts, the alchemical formula, etc. These are much more straight forward, but the catch is that once these exist in game, you have to contend with the notion that the Players will use them. I mean sure having a group of vampire lore seekers steal the spear of destiny sounds like a cool game idea, until you realize you have to either make the item a fake or explain how the item works and why no one elses has made off with it until now.
          One of the ideas I came up with a while back was for a Ravnos Combination Discipline power (Chimestry + Auspex) that can "record" what the user sees and "play it back" on command. A tool that would be used by Ravnos messengers, in the era before technology would be used to record messages. Because sometimes, a Kindred absolutely, positively MUST be able to tell another Kindred "in person" that they suck (or for more "practical" reasons, I guess).

          And with that idea, you could have a plot development where a Prince is visited in her court by a Ravnos messenger, who apologizes for having accidentally been trapped and in torpor for a few hundred years, which is why they are so late delivering their message. The message, of course, being from a Kindred who was very important to the Prince, and is also long dead. Moreover, the message reveals some information that, had the Prince known about it in a timely fashion, would have induced her to take a radically different course of action than the one she ended up taking. The resulting revelation being absolutely devastating to the Prince, and leading to all sorts of things that become everyone else's problem.

          That's the kind of effect Ancient Secrets can have. In nights long past, getting information from one place to another was difficult and uncertain. Crossing vast distances was time consuming and hazardous, even for mortals who don't need to worry about blood supplies, Lupines, or sunlight. With the Jyhad, it mattered a great deal how well information could be shared or delivered, and the failure of a message to get through can have considerable ramifications.

          As can the sudden discovery of information that was lost, since it could recontextualize long ago events or motivations. Calling centuries of resulting Jyhad activity into question.


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          • #6
            My definition of "Ancient Secrets" would be any knowledge that has relevance or importance to Kindred, but which has been lost to them as something that is popularly known. Things it would include would be:

            1) the location of sleeping Methusalehs
            2) knowledge or artifacts about the antedeluvian world
            3) any knowledge similar to that revelaed in Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand (True Brujah exist, there is a True Black Hand, Vicissitude is a deep umbral disease, etc.)
            4) any of the lore or secrets held by the various Gehenna cults
            5) lost Paths or Rituals of Thaumaturgy/Blood Magic that the ancient vampires once had, or magical artifacts created by such lost knowledge
            6) anything concerning the Book of Nod, Revelations of the Dark Mother, or similar extant or reconstructed tomes
            7) stories concerning the Antedeluvians, their childer, and other elder vampires which could be useful in understanding the Jyhad
            8) information concerning the non-vampire actors of the Jyhad - creatures like Horus the Mummy or the Secret Masters the Ventrue elders are concerned about
            9) prophecies concerning Gehenna
            10) first hand accounts of important events in old vampire history before the Common Era - the Second City, Carthage, the slaying of the Ventrue antedeluvian, the travels of Saulot, etc.
            11) lost Roads/Paths that were once used, but haven't been witnessed in a long time

            These are things that automatically sprung to my mind. I could likely come up with more if I wanted to spend more time thinking about it.

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            • #7
              Transylvania Chronicles famously uses the search for ancient secrets to retcon the metaplot to make it more to what was then the current developers’ liking. A Storyteller who wants to homebrew some tweaks to the history of some clan of other could introduce their ideas in similar fashion.

              To use one of my favorite headcanon ideas as an example, maybe the Ventrue Antedeluvian used Dominate to fake his death, giving people false memories of an assassination that never happened. To borrow an idea that another poster mentioned in the Beckett’s Jyhad Journal thread, maybe Saulot and Malkav were the same person. An adventure where the players find a written account of this is where you could introduce the idea, instead of just dropping a lore bomb on them the night they create their characters.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                One of the ideas I came up with a while back was for a Ravnos Combination Discipline power (Chimestry + Auspex) that can "record" what the user sees and "play it back" on command. A tool that would be used by Ravnos messengers, in the era before technology would be used to record messages. Because sometimes, a Kindred absolutely, positively MUST be able to tell another Kindred "in person" that they suck (or for more "practical" reasons, I guess).
                Oooh I like that a lot. What level disciplines did you decide this would need? I am so stealing it for my game.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jeevesosiris View Post
                  Oooh I like that a lot. What level disciplines did you decide this would need? I am so stealing it for my game.
                  I don't remember what I original idea was for levels (if I even pinned down exact values), but I'd probably say Chimestry 3 (to create moving illusions of all senses) and Auspex 1 (to give sufficient sensory ability to the user to "capture" the scene they are recording). Just potent enough that it requires the Ravnos to be mildly experienced, but not so much that such messengers couldn't be relatively common.

                  For this Combination Discipline to work, it assumes that the messengers were of a bloodline variant that has Auspex in-Clan, as some Ravnos do. Though the power has a low enough Auspex requirement that even regular Ravnos could reasonably learn it out-of-Clan.

                  It basically works like a video recording, except in 3D, and the message captures even smell. You know, for what that's worth. In the modern day, its utility falls off a bit, unless the spectacle itself is part of the intended effect. In earlier eras, though - such as the Dark Ages or Victorian Age - it can be useful as a social tool.

                  EDIT: It occurs to me that certain intellectual Kindred would consider this an invaluable asset in Kindred academics. Consider that a Ravnos with this ability could perfectly recall and recreate a lecture performed by someone, such as a notable Kindred philosopher or teacher. A lecture that could be replayed over and over, in various locations. Imagine Brujah inviting such Ravnos to their debates, so that the results could be displayed in many realms.

                  Or how, if a Ravnos particularly wanted to, they could hang on to a "moment" they've witnessed, even for centuries of time. Which opens up new avenues for a chronicle, as the coterie looks for a Ravnos who witnessed an event and could recreate it. Suddenly, the players are running crime scene investigation, picking up on clues even the Ravnos isn't conscious of "recording".
                  Last edited by Bluecho; 08-16-2019, 06:03 AM.


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