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What is your labyrinth?

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  • What is your labyrinth?

    LA by night has the labyrinth located beneath the city. It's a weird construction the defies easy explanation. Chicago by night has the weirdness that is chinatown. In your campaigns do you have any equivalents? A weird location that defies the ordinary rules of vampire and yet has something to offer those brave enough to explore it?

  • #2
    Usually I try to give all of my games an 'underworld' of some kind, usually deep and labyrinthine sewers, even in places where they don't make much sense (like that one game in Florida lol). Of course right now I'm running a Chronicle in Chicago which already has a bizarre and confusing underworld in our reality, you can imagine what it's like in the WoD. One of the books gave the Nosferatu the power to command giant Cthonic worms that burrow deep on the Earth (think Graboids from Tremors), so I can assume that such things are/were canonical. Labyrinths were mentioned in the first Dark Ages rulebook, though I'm not sure if they were ever expanded on (basically to give the vampires dungeons to explore, not unlike Erciyes). One time there was a Resident Evil style Technocracy lab under a seemingly innocent suburb. And I've been doing a lot of weird stuff with Goblin Roads, abandoned stretches of road in rural and less developed areas where all kinds of oddness can occur, like cryptids or even UFO's.


    • #3
      I totally forgot about goblin roads! Those fit in perfectly!


      • #4
        Originally posted by RadioFreeDeath View Post
        I totally forgot about goblin roads! Those fit in perfectly!
        There's an interesting link through older Werewolf lore that the 25 Years of VtM guys picked up on regarding the Goblin Roads.


        • #5
          I have two labyrinth like structures in the city that hosts my chronicle. I converted it from Masquerade Revised to 5th Edition recently and I was surprised at how few times I had to shoehorn something to fit. I used to poo poo Vampire 5th Edition, but LA by Night made me give it an unbiased look and I'm glad I did.

          The first is a series of tunnels and chambers under an historic Cathedral in the downtown area. In the latter part of the 1700s the kindred made their havens in these tunnels (I followed the Fall of Rome Requiem supplement down an alley and mugged it for this bit of set dressing) for several decades, but no one has been in them in quite a while. These tunnels all descend down several levels and the accepted bottom is four stories down, but that's as far as anyone is really comfortable going. There's a padlocked chain link gate that blocks access to a set of roughly cut stairs leading further into the darkness, but the padlock keeps getting broken. The Keeper of Elysium has a heck of a time chasing daring neonates and lost mortals out of the tunnels because kindred and kine sometimes disappear from there, even in the upper levels. He makes arrangements with the PC coterie to do tasks down there for minor favors, cash, and other considerations. It has been a great tool for slow periods or for those times when we are missing one or two players and still want to play.

          The second is a proper labyrinth of twisting tunnels that starts in an underground area frequented by Nosferatu and thin-bloods and covers about six city blocks and two levels of seemingly shifting passages, carefully hidden turns, and abrupt dead ends. There is heavy magic on the place that drains off a little blood from everyone in the labyrinth and uses that to feed the wight(s) that stalks the labyrinth. At the end of the labyrinth is the place where the old prince liked to keep his enemies. He would stake them and mount like butterflies in this underground vault. Political enemies that were too dangerous to destroy, kindred that made him angry enough to "punish" them, and rivals for Praxis all ended up on display in this vault. After the Prince was destroyed word got out about the vault and it quickly became known as the Tombs and took on a life as part urban legend, part mystery quest. No one is really sure where the labyrinth is located, but there are a few educated guesses that are very close to being right. The aforementioned wight found the labyrinth a about a decade before the game started and went looking for the Tombs with diablerie on her mind. She got lost, starved, and then frenzied. Eventually she became a wight and the labyrinth keeps her fed just enough that she's constantly hungry, but can go great lengths of time before she runs into a person or another kindred.


          • #6
            If I ever do anything set in New York City, I tend to borrow pretty liberally from the following:
            • Mimic (1997)
            • CHUD (1984)
            • Ghostbusters II (1989)
            • John Skip & Craig Spector's The Light at the End of the Tunnel
            • Christopher Buehlman's The Lesser Dead
            • Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child's Reliquary
            • Clive Barker's Midnight Meat Train (also its 2008 film adaption, even though it has been moved to LA)
            • "The World Below" from Beauty & The Beast (1987 - 89)
            • The Morlocks from the 70s and 80s era of Marvel's X-Men
            • The hidden Masonic treasure vault from National Treasure (2004)
            • Teun Voeten's Tunnel People and Jennifer Toth's Mole People
            • Dark Days (2000)
            Basically, it's a world all its own, including populations of homeless and other subterranean dwellers, including communities that've been there for a century and some that may not be entirely human anymore, it's own vampire domains and power circles, lost subway stations and bomb shelters, forgotten lairs, mysterious labyrinths, strange monsters, and ancient gods.

            What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
            Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)


            • #7
              I have these in two general categories.

              The first are things that vampires themselves create. Typically there are special structures created by the Nosferatu under the city to serve as housing or amenities for them. Then there are special constructs for the other clans of the Camarilla - typically secret areas designed to be a grand Elysium - but these tend to be limited to only the greatest cities in the world where the clans have access to sufficient resources to provide for them. The last category would be special places devised by the Sabbat or Independent Clans usually for occult purposes, but they lack the resources that the Camarilla does so they are smaller in scale.

              The second thing are strange structures created by other supernatural creatures. Typically, these are things more likely to be encountered in Werewolf or Mage, but are possibly encountered in Vampire as well. (I'd like to note that the strange things in Chicago Chinatown first mentioned in Vampire was later detailed in the early Mage product, The Book of Chantries. These strange places are usually inspired by supernatural horror stories. No One of Consequence's list are along those lines. If I utilize any kind of extradimensional space, they tend to be some sort of Wyrm creature (fomori or something else) with access to a Wyrmhole Domain in the Penumbra and the Gauntlet can be non-existent in some of these underground places (especially at certain special times if not always) so that creatures without Gnosis can enter them inadvertently. I created a version of Barker's Midnight Meat Train using that principle. I also consider the existence of Mage Chantries and Faerie Freeholds to be in this category.

              When I originally ran Vampire, I was very much a purist in the sense I only had vampire NPCs and concepts in my chronicles. Now I am more familiar and comfortable with the other game lines, and I like presenting a unified setting. I rarely proactively push these elements in my chronicles, but if the PCs' actions cross into these spheres I have them respond. I often mention them in the chronicles using euphemisms or urban legends that reflect how ordinary mortals or vampires interpret their encounters. I like using the fomori concept a lot for many supernatural creatures not obviously in one of the other game lines, so vampire PCs usually encounter these fomori (though I never use that term, but something more specific to that particular fomori type) as opposed to the more well known supernatural types of the WoD.


              • #8
                I need to dig out my copy of Wraith's Midnight Express book. For some reason I seem to recall something about it sometimes showing up in the Skinlands on rare occasions, though that may just be some old head canon of mine.

                I will mention that my above list is mainly for just Vampire and mortal/Hunters Hunted/etc. game setting. Werewolf would likely amp up the spiritual/Dark Animism factor with wererat warrens, sewer monsters, Worms of the Earth shout outs, and even some Hollow Earth type stuff. Changeling would almost certainly have this Neverwhere by way of Jim Henson vibe to it. Wraith's NYC necropolis underground leads into the Labyrinth. Mage would take full advantage of Master level magic, especially Correspondence but also Matter, Spirit and the rest, to do the full Big Trouble in Little China hidden worlds below our feet thing.

                What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)