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Story Telling Help

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  • #16
    I don’t think you should bother making loot tables or the like. VtM isn’t equipment-focused like D&D is, and your players will (need to) soon learn this. There’s no Heavy Pistol +1 waiting in the police evidence locker, and there’s no Riot Gear of the Octopus. If your players are dead-set on looting, it’s easy to come up with things on the fly if you consider what an average locale of that type would have. Police station? Computers, contraband in the evidence room, weapons, riot gear, and maybe a couple of police cruisers. Hospital? Computers, prescription drugs, medical supplies, medical instruments, blood bags, etc.

    Only bother with “loot tables” if the location is special in some way, and even then, you’ll still want to supplement with the generic items above. Maybe the precinct office has forensic evidence of a coterie member’s botched hunt. Maybe the hospital has a sample of vitae. If the place is supernatural, such as the local Giovanni’s estate, you’ll want to go more in-depth. Obviously, you only want to include these items if they’re relevant to the plot, because the players will focus on oddities, which can and will derail your game.

    Touching on a couple other things from your post:

    Don’t give them a list of “available locations”. It’s a city. The players should be able to assume any decently sized city will have certain services and amenities available in it. Don’t tell them there’s a gun store unless you want to get bogged down in gun store shenanigans. Do let them find a gun store if they bring it up, however, and draw from real-world knowledge/experience regarding how such things will play out. Most gun stores in the US will allow a 16yo handle a gun if their parent/guardian is with them. No, they won’t let the 16yo buy a shotgun, and they won’t let the parent/guardian buy it for them, either (it’s called a straw sale, which is a federal crime). Gun stores will have a lot of security, from heavy doors to heavy locks to security cameras. Think through the natural consequences of actions. Dominate the clerk into giving you a gun—what are the other patrons going to do? The other clerks? What will show up on the surveillance footage?

    One of the marks of a good storyteller is the ability to improvise on-the-fly. I once ran a session where a PC botched a hunting roll. As the game was set in 1988 East Berlin, I decided they accidentally killed a guy—and were spotted by a Soviet soldier. The player decided to attack the soldier. He killed him, but not before the soldier’s backup arrived. The character was gunned down, incapacitated but not dead, and the entire rest of the session revolved around the other PCs cleaning up the masquerade breach. They had to find their friend, break him loose, alter memories, destroy evidence, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if they remember all that more than the actual plot I was running, which leads me to ...

    You’ll want story hooks, but don’t plot out big, elaborate scenes that require the players to do A, then B, then C. Say the characters are looking for the missing Toreador whip. You ought to know where they are, if they’re dead or not, and how they got there. If they were kidnapped, who did it, and why? If they were killed, who did it, and why? etc. Then think about how they might learn this information. Maybe they know the whip’s haven, and they find evidence of a struggle. If a PC has the Spirit’s Touch, they might use it on something the attacker left behind and learn some valuable information that way. Failing that, maybe they were on the phone with someone when the kidnapping went down. Maybe there was a witness. Might the local Nosferatu know about the whip’s business dealings? And on and on. Think of multiple means for the players to find the information, so they aren’t totally stuck if they don’t find that one crucial clue wedged behind the third book on the left on the top shelf of the bookcase. And again, don’t be afraid to improvise, because players can and will think of things you didn’t.

    As for how to start the game, that’s up to you and your group. From your posts, you might best be served, at this point, in introducing a plot hook to all players at the same time, D&D style. As you get more comfortable with the game, you can get more creative, but start simple for now. If you have a player who says “nah, I don’t follow the obvious plot hook,” you can always politely tell them to retire the character and make a new one that will. That should be an absolute last step, but remember that you are all there to play the same game, and a certain amount of buy-in is necessary. Some players might need to be reminded of that.


    • #17
      Originally posted by Damian May View Post
      You've already got a ton of good advice but I would honestly set it either in your hometown or a nearby town that you all know well, that removes like 70% of the world building a new ST needs to do straight up.

      Anyone who attempts to eat a public figure is getting sanctioned: Cam won't stand for it, Anarchs don't need the attention and even Sabbat realise that causing that big a scene is going to end badly for everyone.

      The pope ones funny for a whole bunch of reasons....I'd back the Swiss Guard against a fledgling vampire any day of the week and the sheer number of folks with True Faith ( probs not the Cardinals, Bishops etc. but there are a LOT of faithful in Rome) in that area is gonna make life super interesting for a vampire even moving through the area,
      And let's not forget that if the game is set in V5, the Society of Leopold is back in the good graces of the Catholic Church which in turn means that going after the Pope like that is a sure fire way to get the Second Inquisition on everybody's ass in Rome. If they don't get you, odds are the other Kindred will for being so utterly stupid.

      Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.