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[V5] The Sabbat in V5

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  • Originally posted by CaptOtter View Post
    I'm interested to find out what Humanity 3 behavior your player considers "perfectly moral" -- I don't want gruesome details, but are we conflating enemy combatants killing each other (even from ambush,) within the ambit of a war or other period of openly declared hostility, to be a Humanity 3 thing?
    Short version; they don't distinguish war vs. peacetime. If they decide you are an enemy they feel it is perfectly moral to do anything necessary to end you as a threat. Steal, destroy property, premeditated homicide; you name it, its justified to achieve your goals. If your CO orders you to bomb the village full of people to take out a suspected terrorist, you blow up the village to take out the suspected terrorist and chalk the women and children up to collateral damage.

    Something of note that I think is actually a valid understanding of human psychology is that the Humanity hierarchy of sins doesn't make a distinction in terms of who you're killing. The reason I think that's accurate is because studies have been done by the military (one of the most extensive being during WW2) and as late as Vietnam it was found that fewer than 20% of all armed combatants (on BOTH sides) would actually try to hit their targets, even when under direct threat to their own life. By contrast, acts of bravery in the face of extreme danger to SAVE the lives of comrades were found in the study to be quite common; so it wasn't cowardice; it was a genuine aversion to taking another human life. There are anecdotes going back to ancient times of fewer than 1 in 10 soldiers actually having the stomach to kill (which basically amount to 90% of your army is just there to get you the nine guys who will actually do the job and one truly exceptional one who'll do as much as the other nine put together).

    This got even more pronounced once ranged combat became norm and it was super easy to just aim a little high or a little off to the side (there was apparently a test when a full company of men equipped with muskets fired on a section of wall the same size as another company of men at 100 yards and there wasn't a single square foot that didn't have a musket ball in it... yet the same volley at the same distance against real men would typically only fell one or two men per volley). Even the distance of firing from an aircraft or striking using a drone did not diminish the degree of stress humans feel at the thought of taking another human.

    Honestly, it gives me hope for humanity that, contrary to a lot of crapsack fictional settings say about us, in real life, humans are generally both strongly averse to killing each other and incredibly brave in risking their lives to assist others.

    Which is why, since the end of WW2, the US military has worked hard to change their training doctrines to essentially break a recruit's innate resistance to killing and indoctrinate them to kill without a second thought when ordered (the move from conscription to all volunteer helped immensely and newer methods have been so successful that the numbers were at 95% willing to kill by the Gulf War and are basically 100% today). The actual process basically turns a soldier into a sociopath who doesn't even regard the targets of his missions as human.

    Which is why its no wonder that so many of our troops have a lot of problems when it comes to reintegration into non-military society. You can't break someone down and rebuild them into a remorseless killer and then just flip a switch to reverse that process when you're done using them. A pat on the back and congratulations doesn't do squat to fix what our military efficiency experts broke inside a lot of soldiers.

    To bring this back to the game... killing IS dehumanizing, even when its completely justified. Ordinary people have to be broken down and rebuilt to be able to do it without a lot hesitation and remorse. The current military process is not unlike the process described in how you abandon Humanity and pick up a Path of Enlightenment. The result of the process is either a mess with low humanity (in game terms probably 3-ish) or someone who finds an alternate system of morality that makes killing in the name of a higher cause something worthy of respect so they remain a functioning member of society.

    So, again, I find humans being able to take Honorable Accord to be a much better handle on a lot of modern military psychology because the alternative is that most in the armed forces of any rank are sitting on the lower end of the scale (ordering a drone strike on someone and writing off a half-dozen innocents blown up as collateral damage is not something I could ever see a person with normal levels of humanity doing).

    I tend to agree mostly that Humanity isn't that great a model for a lot of humans, but there are some discipline powers that specifically target humanity so they need some type of score for those and the fact that no matter how low a human sinks they can't lose their last dot means that humans are, in general, capable of functioning at far lower levels of humanity than a vampire could ever safely maintain.

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    • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

      I don't recall him rapping.

      Guy saves you twice and may successfully take over LA. He's also a Great Depression survivor so knows the score.
      He specifically says that he doesn't rap. Although, honestly, I don't know what "rap" means in that context or MWIS's post.

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      • Originally posted by Spencer from The Hills View Post

        He specifically says that he doesn't rap. Although, honestly, I don't know what "rap" means in that context or MWIS's post.
        To talk or chat in an easy and familiar manner. However it was often used to obfuscate intent by its casualness. Hence why he doesn't want to rap.

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        • Frankly, I've always felt that the Humanity system not making significant defenses against killing in self-defense or protection against others to be something very anti-gaming.

          I'd make an exception like Bloodlines.


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          • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
            Frankly, I've always felt that the Humanity system not making significant defenses against killing in self-defense or protection against others to be something very anti-gaming.

            I'd make an exception like Bloodlines.
            I’d make a note that self-defense doesn’t have to mean killing; particularly given that vampires have Torpor.

            Once the other guy has a -5 wound penalty and you just need to run away or is unconscious or incapacitated or in torpor, then that’s generally enough if all you’re doing is self-defense.

            Likewise, if you’re playing opponents at all realistic, unless they are fighting for their lives, most opponents are going to run or feign unconsciousness/death as soon as they realize they’re outmatched and/or take one good hit. Better to fight another day unless you’ve got a deathwish or just completely don’t understand the situation.

            The idea that majority of mooks would fight to the death against overwhelming odds of their own free will without a really good reason is almost more unrealistic than vampires.

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            • Originally posted by Chris24601 View Post
              The idea that majority of mooks would fight to the death against overwhelming odds of their own free will without a really good reason is almost more unrealistic than vampires.
              Excepting the fact that vampires are significantly empowered with numerous incredibly dangerous abilities that are very easy to kill with and plenty of people the PCs will face will be mind-controlled and/or drug addicted with something that makes them fantastically loyal.

              Or monsters themselves.

              Just Super-Saiyin.


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              • Humanity rolls ultimately is the call for the ST. Its completely variable on what each ST would call a Humanity roll for. The Hierarchy of Sins is more of a guideline than an absolute, YMMV.


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                • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

                  Excepting the fact that vampires are significantly empowered with numerous incredibly dangerous abilities that are very easy to kill with and plenty of people the PCs will face will be mind-controlled and/or drug addicted with something that makes them fantastically loyal.

                  Or monsters themselves.

                  Just Super-Saiyin.
                  There’s a reason I noted “of their own free will.” The fact that a lot of mooks might be mind-controlled and have no true desire to hurt you makes using lethal force against them even more horrific.

                  Likewise, just because you have an extremely deadly attack doesn’t require you to use it against a sapient target.

                  Non-lethal self-defense, even if you’re inflicting injuries in the process doesn’t require a Humanity check if you’re a 7 or less. You only need to roll if you actually kill someone and, for a lot of people, accidentally killing someone when acting in self-defense is the sort of traumatic event that a check for possible humanity loss (i.e. disconnection from your humanity... a common trait of PTSD) makes sense to have happen.

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                  • Chris24601, you got most of it right on the psychology of killing. But that doesn't necessarily mean Humanity or Paths are the best mechanic for humans.

                    First, even soldiers broken to the point of apparent sociopathy aren't in a situation that can be measured by a Hierarchy of Sins. Things that are still above cold killing in their psychological impact may still affect them, and even the killing isn't exactly not being felt.

                    It is a complex process, but in game terms its best simplification are Derangements, not a Humanity/Path score. Soldiers and other people that go through similar processes develop a lot of symptoms and coping mechanisms, but they're still fundamentally human even when those mechanisms make them seem like sociopaths. For example, continuous self-justification that killing with a reason isn't a big problem is a way to deal with packed stress and trauma from the things they may have done, a coping mechanism, but this stress and trauma are still there and will come out as other symptoms.

                    Someone doesn't turn into a sociopath or psychopath, those are inborn conditions. There are lots of ways for a person to develop symptoms that seem like that at first glance, but those solders would be far better if they really could acquire Stable Personality Disorders instead of all the shit they're really getting.

                    CTPhipps, I understand your point on being anti-gaming, but I disagree. It is extremely fitting to the purpose of the mechanic, that is to make your character feel the consequences of their monstrosity. Realism aside, if you risk killing because you're inhumanly strong, then its on you controlling your strength anyways. If you risk killing because your powers are that dangerous, its on you not using them against living people. If you kill, then its on you contemplating what you did, and learning that the Beast can use even your necessities or sense of duty against you.

                    Chris24601 already explained the realism aspect, but realism isn't the concern here. Even then, though, not giving respite under defense of self or another is quite in the theme of the game. If your table is combat-heavy and killing is unavoidable, or otherwise isn't felt by your group as something worth self-examination, then by all means you should talk to the ST to work it a little differently.


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                    • "I don't lecture, I don't rap, I'm no bureaucrat"

                      (also the part where he "rescues" you from the sabbat? Total showboat. It's not cool if you're obviously putting effort into acting "cool".)

                      ...and Tung said he was charismatic. Maybe it's the Not-so-serious style of the game that exaggerates everything to comedic proportions, IE LaCroix is a clown and all the Sabbat talk with cartoonish villain voices. But other than Jack, only the Baron of LA comes across as an Anarch who knows what he's doing, and he's basically Prince Light. The Cam on the otherhand? Everybody but the prince and malkavian primogen seem like they knew what they were doing.


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                      • Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                        "I don't lecture, I don't rap, I'm no bureaucrat"

                        (also the part where he "rescues" you from the sabbat? Total showboat. It's not cool if you're obviously putting effort into acting "cool".)

                        ...and Tung said he was charismatic. Maybe it's the Not-so-serious style of the game that exaggerates everything to comedic proportions, IE LaCroix is a clown and all the Sabbat talk with cartoonish villain voices. But other than Jack, only the Baron of LA comes across as an Anarch who knows what he's doing, and he's basically Prince Light. The Cam on the otherhand? Everybody but the prince and malkavian primogen seem like they knew what they were doing.
                        The thing is that Isaac Abrams and Theresa Voorman are ALSO Barons of LA.

                        And even in Bloodlines it's deliberate that Isaac Abrams is a decent Prince of Hollywood but he's a Baron and the difference is negligible.


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                        • Therese has Cam sympathies and tries to become a prince if you help her. Besides that, I don't think "Baron" means "Anarch leader of free territory" it just means that the prince has granted you more autonomy in your domain. This is actually going to be necessary for Camarilla cities with large and messy vampire populations. A teacher isn't supposed to manage more than 30 students in the class, and the Prince can't govern the whole city alone, because those things are huge. Just like in history, Kings couldn't manage huge territories alone, which is why they split the land up and had dukes, earls, counts, barons etc. The population of vampires isn't so great that all these ranked titles are ever going to be used, but some of the principle stands.

                          Note that the Voormans also really support my argument. Therese? Competent. Wants to be Camarilla prince. Jeanette? Couldn't manage a piss-up in a brewery. Anarch.


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                          • Baron can entirely mean Anarch leader of free territory. That's been the case for a solid chunk of the gameline. There are (were) cities with Anarch barons with next to zero Camarilla presence. The main difference between a baron and a prince is that a city can have multiple barons sometimes, all squabbling for dominance. Baron is a self used Anarch thing whose use comes as much out of Anarch leaders realizing those they hold power over would become infuriated by the idea that they'd call themselves a prince.

                            Did you ever watch that episode of the Wire where Stringer Bell learns about and uses rebranding?

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                            • Yes, yes, the prince can call himself whatever he or she wants, so long as it's not "king".
                              But in a city with a single big figurehead, anyone else with a title has that title because the Prince allowed it, or at least hasn't gone to war over it. In the case of LA during bloodlines, Both Therese and Isaac are present when the player's sire is executed. They Acknowledge the primacy of LaCroix, even if they don't like it. They no doubt have deals in place to keep their territories, or at least LaCroix doesn't see much advantage in sending his Gorilla to kill the upstart barons.

                              The main thing is that it's not really stated if the voremans are anarchs, only that they own that part of the city.


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                              • Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                                Therese has Cam sympathies and tries to become a prince if you help her. Besides that, I don't think "Baron" means "Anarch leader of free territory" it just means that the prince has granted you more autonomy in your domain. This is actually going to be necessary for Camarilla cities with large and messy vampire populations. A teacher isn't supposed to manage more than 30 students in the class, and the Prince can't govern the whole city alone, because those things are huge. Just like in history, Kings couldn't manage huge territories alone, which is why they split the land up and had dukes, earls, counts, barons etc. The population of vampires isn't so great that all these ranked titles are ever going to be used, but some of the principle stands.

                                Note that the Voormans also really support my argument. Therese? Competent. Wants to be Camarilla prince. Jeanette? Couldn't manage a piss-up in a brewery. Anarch.
                                Well in this case it definitely means "Anarch leader of Free territory" because Isaac Abrams repeatedly shits on the Prince and the Camarilla in your short speech with him and Theresa is the local Anarch leader. Why? Because the Camarilla isn't the Big Dog in Los Angeles.

                                Mind you, it's not WEAK by any stretch of the imagination either and it's why La Croix is showing he CAN execute people at will in the big show at the beginning. It's just he doesn't want to push it completely.

                                Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                                Yes, yes, the prince can call himself whatever he or she wants, so long as it's not "king".
                                But in a city with a single big figurehead, anyone else with a title has that title because the Prince allowed it, or at least hasn't gone to war over it. In the case of LA during bloodlines, Both Therese and Isaac are present when the player's sire is executed. They Acknowledge the primacy of LaCroix, even if they don't like it. They no doubt have deals in place to keep their territories, or at least LaCroix doesn't see much advantage in sending his Gorilla to kill the upstart barons.

                                The main thing is that it's not really stated if the voremans are anarchs, only that they own that part of the city.
                                I feel this is making an extremely huge assumption, especially as Isaac Abrams flat out denies La Croix's authority in his domain. He's attending the party, not kissing the ring. And before you respond, I should point out that Nines is ALSO there. Ironically, the biggest acknowledgement on display is that La Croix is being tolerated by the Anarchs.

                                He has enough oomph that the Anarchs are tolerating his praxis over downtown LA despite it being a stone's throw from Nine's territory.
                                Last edited by CTPhipps; 08-31-2021, 06:04 AM.


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

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