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[V5] The Sabbat in V5

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  • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post

    How many times have we been through this? When the original concept of Vicissitude is a set of abilities that is more like a disease than a normal discipline, and "fleshcrafting" is just a side effect of the infestation, of course Vicissitude is going to be framed as a very bad thing. You might as well be asking: "Why does Cthulhu have to be inimical to all human life? Why can't Cthulhu be a good guy? You just want to make Cthulhu evil!"

    The Elder God Kthanid, created (ironically enough, considering the topic) by Brian Lumley, proves that obviously you can make a good guy Cthulhu. Just like you can easily turn Vicissitude into a generic "plastic surgery" power. However, at that point you've drifted so far from the original concept that I fail to see what the end result adds to the setting. Why does Vampire: The Masquerade need a generic plastic surgery power? Why is the existence of some form of Vicissitude in the setting taken for granted, and it's only the original implications that ought to be removed?

    Protean has you covered when it comes to traditional vampiric transformation powers. What's the point of a generic set of powers called "Vicissitude" that has been stripped of all the context that was the sole purpose why it was added to the game in the first place?
    1. Oddly enough, Brian Lumley and I both are published through Crossroad Press and he was a big influence on my Cthulhu Armageddon books. Gave me some solid advice.

    2. The thing is that making Vicissitude "evil" is damned silly when you're ALREADY a vampire and everything you use your powers is fueled by the blood of the innocent. It's like creating Double Dog Dare Damned vampires. Disciplines are already evil so why is this EXTRA-evil?

    3. The difference between duking it out with Space Fascists and Souleaters is the latter aren't nearly as cool or as fun. Black Hand's biggest to me was that it seemed to have "Vampires fighting Formor and other Wyrm critters" which is not vampire.


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

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    • I take the middle path

      Humanity is there to encourage a happy place. On one hand it's there among other things to discourage you from slaughtering your way through your problems like a bunch of DnD terrorists. On the otherhand, you're basically never going to become a wight unless you try for it or the ST straddles you with addiction and derangements like meglomania (note, I'm not especially familiar with 1e, so perhaps humanity rules are more brutal there than the later games I'm thinking of) MRH in an interview linked recently stated he would give players humanity back but didn't want to add it in the rules because, y'know, players would cheese that, but I was kinda happy to hear that because that was something I was doing in my own games. Players having to act moral also adds to the whole idea of the Masquerade, since you know the players are the bloodthirstiest psychos you've ever had the mispleasure of sharing a room with and yet they have to pretend to be "normal". Plus, like, vampires are metaphores for elites, and though dairy farmers, landlords, accountants and publishers are all extremely evil, you don't see them rip human throats out (often).


      Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
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      • Viscititude as a disease was, I think, an attempt to inject cosmic horror into the setting (along with Obtenebration, when the Abyss was a mystery, which it no longer is), but Dirty Secrets utterly wrecked that theme, it's far better when Vis acts like a disease in some ways, when Obten links to..well we don't know, and calls hungry...things sometimes, than oh it's basically The Thing and oh it's weird Necromancy.

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        • Like I said, the problem with cosmic horror in vampire is the fact that you're the monster, not the squishy human. I'm not saying it can't be done but I feel like one's wires are crossed if you try.

          I also think it's a little too, "These guys are WORSE!" that the Tzimisce and Lasombra have EVIL powers.
          Last edited by CTPhipps; 09-23-2021, 04:32 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 monteparnas View Post
            Apples and oranges, and not totally true. First that it wasn't the first concept presented to players, the very first iteration of the Discipline have nothing to do with it being a disease.
            Presented to players? Are you talking about the brief preview of Vicissitude without mechanics in the Storytellers Handbook, tucked within the writeup of one NPC antagonist? I have a hard time taking seriously the idea that this was most people's first contact with Vicissitude. The discipline received its first real writeup in the Players Guide to the Sabbat, and the opening paragraphs about it already spell out its unique nature: "Vicissitude is a strange Discipline, and in many ways is more like a disease." The infestation angle is absolutely a part of the concept from the beginning. This shouldn't surprise anyone who is familiar with Lumley's Wamphyri, the primary model for the original Tzimisce, since they work exactly as described.

            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
            Second that Vicissitude being a "disease" that may affect the mind as described in Player's Guide to the Sabbat, as much as it probably was, in fact, in the original concept of the Discipline in the devs' heads, is a very different animal from Vicissitude as the Soul-Eating Body-Snatchers From Space presented in DSotBH.

            One is a viable power with drawbacks and interesting story options. The other is a single story to be told, and that have been already told and Sigourney Weaver won.
            I doubt I'll ever understand the distinction that most Vampire players insist on making between the Players Guide to the Sabbat and Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand writeups of Vicissitude. They were written by the same person mere years apart, and like you suggest, it's almost a certainty that Steven C. Brown intended for Vicissitude to work as described in Dirty Secrets from the beginning. What I can't for the life of me understand is why do people say that there is only one possible story to be told when Souleaters are in play. When you play a Tzimisce in early 2nd Edition, you are infected with a Souleater from the beginning. Your mortal self was already consumed from within when you were Embraced, before you even begin play! The parasite absorbed the memories and personality of the mortal host, and you are now a truly alien creature walking around in a meat suit. This is how Lumley's Wamphyri work! But you play the character, not the GM. There are a hundred different directions for your little alien monster to take.
            Last edited by Elphilm; 09-23-2021, 06:16 PM.

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            • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
              I doubt I'll ever understand the distinction that most Vampire players insist on making between the Players Guide to the Sabbat and Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand writeups of Vicissitude. They were written by the same person mere years apart, and like you suggest, it's almost a certainty that Steven C. Brown intended for Vicissitude to work as described in Dirty Secrets from the beginning. What I can't for the life of me understand is why do people say that there is only one possible story to be told when Souleaters are in play. When you play a Tzimisce in early 2nd Edition, you are infected with a Souleater from the beginning. Your mortal self was already consumed from within when you were Embraced, before you even begin play! The parasite absorbed the memories and personality of the mortal host, and you are now a truly alien creature walking around in a meat suit. This is how Lumley's Wamphyri work! But you play the character, not the GM. There are a hundred different directions for your little alien monster to take.
              Which is pretty much something a huge number of vampire fans don't want to play. Also, unless they're paying Brian Lumley for the idea, they shouldn't use it.

              A guy wants to fleshcraft without the idea he's a Formor, he should be allowed to.

              It's also weird to have the idea that you're an alien soulless parasite and probably still on the Path of Humanity or following the laws of Caine that are in direct defiance of God's will.

              The stuff doesn't work with anything but the Path of Metamorphisis, which isn't that interesting compared to a wide variety of mortal moralities.

              But YMMV.


              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
                Like I said, the problem with cosmic horror in vampire is the fact that you're the monster, not the squishy human. I'm not saying it can't be done but I feel like one's wires are crossed if you try.
                “There’s always a bigger fish.” - Qui-Gon Jinn

                That’s where the Baali get half their mystique from… trucking with things more wicked than normal vampires. A vampire just wants to eat you; a Baali wants to corrupt your soul before they do it and Vicissitude can take away a mortal’s very identity and trap them in an endless body horror.

                One of the most common tropes for stories involving villain protagonists is them having to deal with a bigger bad. John Wick is by no means a good guy, he was an utterly ruthless murderer… but they made the antagonist someone even more vile so that we would root for John as he murders his way through dozens upon dozens of guys whose only crime relative to John was getting in his way.

                That’s where a Baali or Vicissitude mad scientist can really work because they’re not just garden variety evil, they have access to extra twisted mooks and others.

                Bottom line for me is that there’s only so many times you can tell the same story with the same adversaries, particularly sequentially. Neonates vs. Elders while struggling with your Humanity is a solid story, but gets stale if that’s the only story the game offers.

                Having tools for Vampions, Sect Wars, Cosmic Horror, etc. in addition to the vanilla option keeps the game fresh… especially if you’re someone like me where I’ve literally been running and playing for decades. If every campaign boiled down to batch 23 of neonates vs. batch 15 of asshole elders I’d not keep coming back.

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                • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                  Like I said, the problem with cosmic horror in vampire is the fact that you're the monster, not the squishy human. I'm not saying it can't be done but I feel like one's wires are crossed if you try.

                  I also think it's a little too, "These guys are WORSE!" that the Tzimisce and Lasombra have EVIL powers.
                  Considering the post apocalyptic Mythos genre with people turning into monsters and still fighting the (insert greater mythos power here), which you have written in, it is strange that you feel that way.

                  The Tremere have blood magic, the various Necromancers have...well Necromancy, Dominate and Presence are horrific when considered, Vampires are awash with evil powers, that's the point of them, Obten is no better or worse than Thaum or Necro on the list of squicky powers, Viscititude is no better or worse than either. Cosmic Horror, Body Horror, the lose of self and will that Dominate and Presence embody, the destruction of sanity that Dementation and Chimestry represent...the utter helplessness of a mortal faces with Potence or Fortitude...all of those things hold horror, all of them are evil powers, we are talking type of horror, not degree.

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                  • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                    2. The thing is that making Vicissitude "evil" is damned silly when you're ALREADY a vampire and everything you use your powers is fueled by the blood of the innocent. It's like creating Double Dog Dare Damned vampires. Disciplines are already evil so why is this EXTRA-evil?
                    Original variety Vicissitude is no more evil than COVID-19 is. Or, to use a literary parallel, no more than the Colour Out of Space is. Souleaters are described as "more like a sentient disease than a species." What does it mean for a disease to be sentient, and is some form of sentience enough to ensure that human morality even applies to the situation? Sure, when Souleaters come into contact with terrestrial life, the results are horrific for the latter, but does Vicissitude infect hosts because it is evil, or simply because it is following its biological programming (or whatever the alien equivalent of it would be)? Vicissitude may be very bad news for us, but I reject the idea that it is "extra evil." The entire point of cosmic horror is to expose how inadequate humanocentric ideas about how the world works are in the face of a truly uncaring cosmos. The most horrific thing about the Souleaters may be that they're not twirling their fleshy mustaches while cackling with evil glee, but that they might not even be aware of terrestrial creatures as anything more than hosts for the propagation of Vicissitude.

                    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                    3. The difference between duking it out with Space Fascists and Souleaters is the latter aren't nearly as cool or as fun. Black Hand's biggest to me was that it seemed to have "Vampires fighting Formor and other Wyrm critters" which is not vampire.
                    That's exactly what Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand is. "Vampires fighting fomori and other Wyrm critters" is just about the snappiest description of the book I can think of. It's completely fine not to like it! But Steven C. Brown was big on Vampire-Werewolf crossovers from the beginning. Honestly, you could argue that the entire reason the Sabbat even exist as a playable option in the World of Darkness is because Steven C. Brown wanted vampires who acted more like Garou than Kindred. Out with Humanity, in with the ultraviolence. And then he doubled down on crossing the streams by putting Abominations into the game in Under a Blood Red Moon, explicitly marketed as a Vampire-Werewolf crossover. And then by writing Dirty Secrets, the most outrageous crossover-palooza in the history of the World of Darkness.

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                    • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                      Also, unless they're paying Brian Lumley for the idea, they shouldn't use it.
                      Should White Wolf also pay George R. R. Martin for cribbing the concepts of Humanity and the Beast from Fevre Dream, or Anne Rice for... stealing just about everything from her? If Lumley wants cash, he can get in line. It's a little convenient that you would trot out this line of reasoning when it comes to an obscure idea that has already been banished from official products, but are more than happy to ignore the greater thefts that Vampire: The Masquerade continues to commit to this day.

                      Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                      It's also weird to have the idea that you're an alien soulless parasite and probably still on the Path of Humanity or following the laws of Caine that are in direct defiance of God's will.
                      Read the passage you yourself bolded again. The parasite absorbed the memories and personality of the mortal host. Why wouldn't the Tzimisce still hold onto ideas from their mortal life? In most cases, the Souleater-infected vampire will not even know that they are no longer the creature they were in life. This is certainly true for most Wamphyri in Lumley's works.
                      Last edited by Elphilm; 09-23-2021, 06:14 PM.

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                      • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                        Should White Wolf also pay George R. R. Martin for cribbing the concepts of Humanity and the Beast from Fevre Dream, or Anne Rice for... stealing just about everything from her? If Lumley wants cash, he can get in line. It's a little convenient that you would trot out this line of reasoning when it comes to an obscure idea that has already been banished from official products, but are more than happy to ignore the greater thefts that Vampire: The Masquerade continues to commit to this day.
                        Speaking as an author, it's not plagarism to take inspiration from other sources but acknowledgement is important and I do think that Lumley's take on vampirism is very different from the others.

                        Read the passage you yourself bolded again. The parasite absorbed the memories and personality of the mortal host. Why wouldn't the Tzimisce still hold onto ideas from their mortal life? In most cases, the Souleater-infected vampire will not even know that they are no longer the creature they were in life. This is certainly true for most Wamphyri in Lumley's works.
                        Which is not V:TM. That is Necroscope. It's very different themes being explored.

                        But I accede that in fact it is as you so and submit to your reasoning. That it would work exactly as you say.


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

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                        • That's not Necroscope, either. The leech heavily influences the person it inhabits, but it is made clear that they are ultimately individuals, not meatsuits for the leech.

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                          • Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            I totally dig this guy!
                            .
                            He was quite the compelling dude origionally a stick up man who targetted drug dealers ala Chopper or Omar from the wire-he got mistoken for street muscle and shovel headed His firm code of honour and familiarity with gang life meant he climbed quite quickly through the Sabbat and Bloodline. Nobody noticed he despised the sect, resented him embrace as a devoit Muslim and was biding his time and calculated when he could feel comfortable going his own way until the siege force his hand earlier than he'd have liked. He eventually 'defected' to the Anarchs in an ally of conveniance sort of way and effectively re-founded the Warrior Salubri, probably going to make the red list eventually. hell of a player, never gave indication anything was amiss aside from slipping notes to the Gm, spraying Justice4saulot on walls and genrally coming across as an anti-villain type.

                            So yeah running humanity aa Sabbat is a fine option for roleplay, My current lasombra hovers around 4-6 with her big ass concience pool, she's violent and ruthless but also deeply conflicted as an unwilling embrace. The idea of going path terrifies her.
                            Last edited by Ragged Robin; 09-23-2021, 08:26 PM.

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                            • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                              The discipline received its first real writeup in the Players Guide to the Sabbat,
                              Unless my copy of it have some problem (not impossible, tell me if it is), the PGttS have no write-up for the Discipline whatsoever. It has a section called "Vicissitude Revisited" in page 37 (title in page 36) with the idea of the disease and the rules for infection, but no write-up for the Discipline proper. It has write-ups for Mytherceria, Spiritus, Dark Thaumaturgy and Demonic Investments.

                              Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                              This is how Lumley's Wamphyri work!
                              But no matter how much the Tzimisce are based on the Wamphyri, they are not the Wamphyri and they are not from Starside.

                              The concept of it being a disease, as a possibility, is interesting. Extremely. And you can use it to go as far as you want in making them Wamphyri. But people who don't want to don't have to. And STs that have other ideas on how to work it are free to. That's the good in the PGttS's take on it.

                              So, yo want to know why we go back to this again and again and again?

                              It is because everyone's here to play Vampire: the Masquerade and not Necroscope, but DSotBH said you can't use Vicissitude without playing the later.

                              Originally posted by Ragged Robin View Post
                              So yeah running humanity aa Sabbat is a fine option for roleplay, My current lasombra hovers around 4-6 with her big ass concience pool, she's violent and ruthless but also deeply conflicted as an unwilling embrace. The idea of going path terrifies her.
                              I've already played as a Tzimisce with a similar concept, but I managed to keep a solid 7. He imposed himself as boss for the pack and kept weaving grandiose tales of his own ambition just to justify things and hide the true reasons behind his strategies and his courage. Things like ghouling a werewolf we managed to submit "for it will be a powerful asset", then later letting the shapeshifter go because he was actually just refusing to kill an innocent (that werewolf was just protecting his turf and we were the invaders).


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                              • Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
                                That's not Necroscope, either. The leech heavily influences the person it inhabits, but it is made clear that they are ultimately individuals, not meatsuits for the leech.
                                Unless it is a licensed IP game (like for Marvel comics or Smallville, etc) then an RPG is always a mix of influences. It would not take Necroscope material directly, but some bits of VtM can be influenced by the series. And Vicissitude as the disease was introduced in Dirty Secrets, a notoriously strange book which does not mesh well with the rest of VtM and the WoD. All these bits of business are added to the game over the years and it is up the gamers to make something useful out of it.

                                I like the idea of Vicissitude being something malign, and not entirely under the control of the vampire using it. But then I tend to view all gaming material as a kind of buffet; assemble the meal you want and ignore the rest. If someone want's Vicissitude to be malign and even a disease, cool. If they don't, that is cool also. So long as each side lets the other game as they choose. The hobby is not helped with proscriptive attitude about having fun the right way.

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