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  • Vincent
    started a topic How much do you adhere to the books?

    How much do you adhere to the books?

    Greetings,

    This is not an attempt to deem one approach better than the other - merely something I'm curious about.

    When creating a setting for your players, how much do you adhere to the books in terms of the city's NPCs and Vampire demographics?

    I play Victorian Age, and though I very much liked most of the contents of the books, I found 'em lacking in terms of a thorough setting and description of both vampire and mortal life and society. So, I ended up ignoring most of what the books contained and simply started from scratch when creating a London setting. This is not a criticism of the authors, and maybe I would do my own version anyway. However, I'm curious as to how my fellow STs out there go about it? Do you use a setting in cities that are more or less well covered in the books, or do you create your own setting?

    V

  • Ventrue Busboy
    replied
    The Ravnos do have a distinct 'caste' bloodline---the Furi Dai, who are descended from the Clan Brahmin back in the subcontinent. While they may not have a specialized warrior bloodline, in V20 at least access to Fortitude has always meant to me that no Ravnos should ever be underestimated when it comes time to trade blows.

    I suppose likewise I've always had a feeling Set---the WoD character---was a warrior, and had a certain pride in his own way. The 'warrior' bloodline honestly feel more apropos to me as his brood than the [very judeo-christian] archetypal tempter/seducer most Setites are supposed to be. As for the Assamites---it makes sense to me, in that they have always been somewhat set apart from the other Clans due to their role as "judges" over the other Cainites---they have always (for thousands of years) been virtually a Sect unto themselves and have developed a broad spectrum of specialties to reflect this [in addition, ofc., to being the o.g. blood sorcerers, having that shit on lock from the heyday of Babylon].
    Last edited by Ventrue Busboy; 11-26-2021, 06:09 AM.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    If they're making a whole Caste system tied to lineage out of it? Yeah.
    See: Assamites
    Also see: warrior settites.
    If you really want (honestly I think it's a bad example) you can look at Gargoyle breeds as some versions of the game give them different options.

    Sure, anyone can be a great warrior with mundane skills, but A: Warrior-class supernaturals should fight other warrior supernaturals, and since those folks will have both great mundane skills and ideal powers for combat, your Ravnos warriors aren't going to live so long. And B: I think you're kind of ignoring the mystical mutability of the blood established by other caste-system clans by keeping the Ravnos the same.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    MyWifeIsScary, have you ever considered that a warrior caste can base their status as warriors on mundane training, access to weaponry and military resources, and even things like hoarding sources of OoC Disciplines?

    I personally think it a weird design choice, to say the least, to have In Clans to change based on someones' role in the clan, as I see then a mystic ties to the blood. It would be like developing a DNA for yourself to better fit your job.

    As a somewhat self-sufficient society the Ravnos need soldiers. If they're not "born" with your preferred set of Battle Disciplines, they'll do with what they have and learn ways to compensate. That's it, and they can get as efficient at that as the author wants to, because In Clans are just a starting point, not the end of the line.

    Having a Caste System for this may be useful and may be bonkers depending on several factors, I don't think they should scrap the Ravnos, they should look up for good Indian developers, which isn't that much of an extra effort or cost, just as much as any other instance of looking for third party writers, a staple of the market.

    That would make for a good starting point for the clan, as most other clans also have starting points. Roman Ventrue, Carthaginian Brujah, Balkan Tzimisce, Italian Lasombra, Scandinavian Gangrel, Russian Nosferatu, French and Spanish Toreador, and although they're not bound to a single place the Malkavian are bound to a huge marginalized population. So, what's the problem of using a starting point in India to make the clan have a history and culture like the others instead of being limited to "clan of thieves"?

    By the way, gimmicky or not Chimerstry is one of the most versatile Disciplines out there. If they can't develop martial techniques around it, they have a serious problem.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
    Uh, actually with Prowess from Pain, Fortitude is now a very viable warrior option.
    If you're bad at fighting, sure.
    The Ideal result from a fight is usually "Overwhelming victory, first round, opponent has no chance to fight back". Prowess from pain might be great when you want to show off or survive a gank, but vampires don't want to show off, there's a whole masquerade thing they've got to worry about, and as for ganks, well, if you're smart you can avoid them. Prolonging a fight is really, really bad for vampires. Having a fight go loud is also, in densly populated cities, really bad, so you want a fight to end without a shot going off.

    Fortitude is primarily a survival/resource saving method (Vampires can take a few gunshots, Fortitude mostly lowers the cost it takes to heal) The Best use of Fortitude in combat is when you lead teamfights and get to inspire the people with your bravery and indifferent response to danger... which isn't most fights. While Ravnos can utilize a swarm of beasts, they're also known for not having too many allies.

    Potence and celerity let you win fights quicker, they also aid in mobility and thus help you choose your fights better. Granted Potence isn't what it used to be in V5 (it doesn't stack with weapons, it doesn't help land a grapple..) but Fortitude... the way damage works is now something you can totally just avoid. Just have better mundane skills and you'll never take a hit.

    (also, like, what level is PfP? )

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  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    I know, right? The fact that the old Dark Ages "Jati" weren't brought into the modern day in some form is one of the big missed opportunities with the Ravnos.
    [snip]
    The existence of Dark Age Ravnos groups persisting into the modern day would be an opportunity to break them out of their old mold. Instead, they decided the whole Clan needed to be nuked. Disappointing.
    Agreed.

    My own head canon has long been that the Phaedymites played on their ties with the Toreador (especially the Courts of Love) to quietly join the Camarilla, with more than a few pretending to be Toreador for various socio-political reasons. In the 20th century, they'd evolved into members of academia (especially history and the humanities) and the entertainment world (usually more behind the scenes types), as well as high society and politics.
    The Alexandrites are (were) evenly mixed between the European Camarilla, the Ashirra, and Independents, having long parlayed their mastery of etiquette and manners into being skilled traders, merchants, diplomats, and negotiators. (And they universally consider being referred to as "Bay't Mujrim" or "Mujrimin" to be deeply insulting.)
    The Bashirites, especially those who took part in the strife that led to the formation of the Camarilla, tended to join the Sabbat. Most probably follow the Path of Cathari (or at least something close to it), with smaller groups following the Paths of Caine, the Feral Heart, Power & The Inner Voice, or one of the variations of Redemption, all of them with a lot of apocalyptic Christian overtones blended in. There are likely still some of them in the Middle East as Independents following their apocalyptic Christian version of the old (Western) Path of Paradox. As a Christian(ish) group, they aren't really part of the Ashirra, and probably prefer to be referred to locally as Banu Bashir or Banu Yahudha.
    The Sybarites are/were mostly Independent, though a few may have ended up in the Sabbat (following the Path of Cathari) or the Camarilla (just being general scum).
    The Yoryari (who I admit to barely ever using) still cling to existence as a small cult, mainly in parts of Western Europe and some of the Americas.

    And just for my personal games, I refer to the Romani Ravnos as the Atsinganoi Jati, and they've always been a much smaller presence than in any of the sourcebooks. As vampires, they are outcast from any mortal kin, save those that've been enslaved either via threats or blood bonds. As a result of this, many of them - especially elders and ancilla - had a bad habit of clinging to ideas of racial purity and arch traditionalism, and trying to force those things on neonates of the Jati. They've always insisted on remaining as Independents, though some younger members rejected this in the 20th century, joining the Camarilla or sometimes the Sabbat. The Ashirra has traditionally referred to them as the Bay't Zott, though this term is considered contemptuous by many. (Again, this is all head canon.)

    My own head canon about India's vampires is here. (I like to think that about two-thirds of the Hindu Ravnos follow the example of Vibhishana and the other third follow the way of Ravana.) The Eastern Path of Paradox is, at least in my personal WoD, a small cult/sect within the Hindu Ravnos.

    And I much prefer to treat the bloodline with Auspex in place of Fortitude as Seer Ravnos rather than naming them after a specific caste (or worse, a Romani term for grandmothers).

    I've toyed with a few new Jati over the years, especially a group of Scandinavia Seers based on regional stories about seidr witchcraft. Also fiddled with organized crime families, pirates, ninja, hippies and bikers.



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  • CajunKhan
    replied
    Uh, actually with Prowess from Pain, Fortitude is now a very viable warrior option.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    The Caste system on Ravnos is only racist in the sense that it's a terribly applied, dunning-krueger type thing. The Bad kind of cultural appropriation, where you're not just taking something from someone else's culture, you're doing it in a wrong and stupid kinda way and making that culture look bad as a result. It's kinda like... "Chi" in disney's recent Mulan movie. Yes, Chinese heroes utilize "chi" to perform superhuman feats, but nobody's born with the power to use chi, they spend years of intensive study and cruel training to use chi. To have Mulan have strong chi powers from birth is a horrendous misappropriation that laughs in the face of cultural values like hard work=self betterment. A Ravnos Caste system, at least one mimicking mortal society, doesn't make sense because Vampires are socially above 99% of humans and any former untouchable can easily enslave a few scholars/businessmen/warriors. Such an arbitrary distinction when all Ravnos are, baring age, equally capable of accumulating vast amounts of power is just a recipe for social unrest. It doesn't work on a societal level. Imagine you're the prince of mumbai and you have a portion of the vampire population that are just seething with resentment because they have a label that bars them from any promising position. If you pushed them into this possition because you didn't trust them, that'd be all well and good, but these people are in this possition because... tradition? It's not smart for a Prince to preside over a territory where powerful individuals are arbitrarily marginalized and thus likely to be radicalized. It's just socially irresponsible and bad for a ruler.

    A caste system built around vampires might work. The Ventrue are the ultimate Authority on X, The Nosferatu are the ultimate authority on Y, anyone who breaks Z rule will become an untouchable for 20 years. But ultimately this is going to be a prince/regional thing, not a "all of India" thing.


    RE:
    No, Fortitude isn't fighty enough. Handy? Yes. Against mortals. But with just Fortitutde alone: against a Vampire or another supernatural with strength or speed, you're just prolonging your death. Fortitude will not get you out of a grapple. It will not prevent your enemies from running away or aid you in chasing them down. Fortitude alone is simply not suited for Warriors, at least when there are better options out there.
    Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 11-24-2021, 10:39 AM.

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  • Vincent
    replied
    I probably shouldn't do this ... but what the hell.

    Ascribing the Indian caste system to the British is treating culture and history in a rather creative way. A way I know is gaining popularity, but can we please keep it a bit objective - particularly if we want to add the term "racist" to the debate. The castes existed for millenia before the British came to India and are even described in vast parts of the Rig Veda. The British cared little about which Indian was cleaning their toilets - the fact that only a few from the Indian population was allowed to do so (the Untouchables) was very much an Indian notion. If you wanna see full-blown hard core racism (apart from the British towards Indians) then take a historical look at how the darker skinned Tamils in the south of India were treated by the Indo-Iranians long before the British came.

    My point is that WW's use of the caste system may be considered irrelevant from a vampire point of view (though many of the same class system markers in Europe are used in a similar way), but it's hardly racist.

    V

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  • Bluecho
    replied
    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    3: Caste system. Tim, They're fucking Vampires . They're all elites. Why do you need to bring ugly mortal social structures into the society of the undead that live above mortals? Not to mention the casts don't make sense. The Ravnos aren't a fighty clan, they don't have fighty disciplines, why would they have a fighty caste that hasn't even bothered to change disciplines? And are they really going to snub a 700 hundred year old Ravnos because he's from the untouchable caste? Not likely
    First, vampirism is metaphorical for the ruling class of any society. And what kind of unjust hierarchy would it be if it didn't stratify even those at the top of the hierarchy into its own unjust hierarchy? If those in power love anything more than power, it's building coalitions to accomplish their goals and then breaking those coalitions when no longer needed. In this way, those in power creating bullshit categories to slot people into, for the sake of limiting social mobility and maintaining autocratic control, is just par for the course.

    Second, default Ravnos have at least one explicit combat Discipline: Fortitude. It's hardly flashy or powerful, but it lets them take hits and keep coming. Moreover, if you can't find some combat advantage from the ability to weave illusions, you kind of deserve to bite it.


    I don't mean to imply that the game using "castes" as the default way to structure the Clan from India is a good idea. It's stereotypical at best, and racist at worst. Especially since, if I recall correctly, the Real Life caste system in India was far less rigid prior to the subjugation of the subcontinent by the British. The latter enforcing the caste system by law, for their own imperial convenience. Since Clan Ravnos would predate such systems by millennia, it's not sensible that they should follow it.

    Not unless we assume Ravnos elders already enforced a more rigid caste system than the mortals did. Or took advantage of British enforcement to tighten the leash on their own progeny. Either is not beyond the realm of possibility for vampires.

    I'm especially annoyed by the use of "Jati" even in the context of western Ravnos, namely during the Dark Ages where a "caste system" a foreign concept. Then again, European feudalism was kind of like a caste system, in a broad sense. But that's not the sense in which "Jati" was used in Dark Ages, in relation to the Ravnos of Europe. The European "Jati" were distinct and geographically removed subcultures, not social classes within the same culture.

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  • James_Willoughby
    replied
    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    As much as I absolutely love the whole svadharma thing the ravnos have got going (samsara path of paradox is easily in the top 3 paths) The Ravnos becoming "An indian clan" is only half as bad as them being "A gypsy clan"

    1: Giving the clan of thieves to India specifically is an insult to India. I don't think I need to go into detail here.
    2: This fetishization of india as a spiritual, tolerant place is a fucking Yoga ad. REAL india is a rapidly developing nation with a history of temporal wealth and power. Actual indians make fun of the foolish white tourists that come to India to "find themselves" or "go on a spiritual journey" when the only actual spiritual journey they'll go on is an introspective commute on an overcrowded bus that's usually 15 minutes late(source; My indian students). Spiritual india is a white fever dream, a patronizing way to assert dominance over a "backwards" country while directing it on a development path the people don't want and are trying to move past. The Ravnos getting respect here because they're also "spiritual" is just racist cancer. Sure they fight other monsters (Cathayans and Changelings?), but they could do that in a lot more places than just india.
    3: Caste system. Tim, They're fucking Vampires . They're all elites. Why do you need to bring ugly mortal social structures into the society of the undead that live above mortals? Not to mention the casts don't make sense. The Ravnos aren't a fighty clan, they don't have fighty disciplines, why would they have a fighty caste that hasn't even bothered to change disciplines? And are they really going to snub a 700 hundred year old Ravnos because he's from the untouchable caste? Not likely
    Pretty much this. One of the notable points of the "Indian clan" approach is that it seems all about obscuring the problems of the original Ravnos, without actually addressing them. This version of the clan swerves away from one set of racial stereotypes, by supplanting them with a different set of racial stereotypes. The collection of jati were thrown into the clan so writers could spend time talking about competing factions, without addressing the question of whether a collection of factions were required (factions without a specific purpose are always a sign that the writers don't really know where to go with their writing). And then we have caste, without really thinking about the degree to which "caste" is a very westernised description and definition of Indian society.

    One of the massive problems with the Ravnos is that it was decided (with good reason) that the clan needed to be fixed, and then ever writer, in every book, decided to fix the clan in their own different way, ultimately creating a chaotic mess.

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  • Vincent
    replied
    Without going into the whole "racist-cancer-debate" (being ignorant doesn't equal being racist) I would agree with some of the points MyWifeIsScary makes. If you want to make the place of origin of the Ravnos in India (or it's neighbour countries) you should look way back and treat them as Indo-Iranians (that way you also include the Romani aspect without calling them Gypsies) and treat their culture and religious outlook accordingly. Early Hinduism was not the patchwork of spiritual beliefs that we see today, but a religious setup akin to Greek and Norse religion and society in its hierarki and warrior inclinations.

    To me, at least, that would have been a much more interesting approach to the Clan, and the descriptions of them in the books is probably the main reason why I rarely include them in my games.

    V
    Last edited by Vincent; 11-24-2021, 05:43 AM.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    As much as I absolutely love the whole svadharma thing the ravnos have got going (samsara path of paradox is easily in the top 3 paths) The Ravnos becoming "An indian clan" is only half as bad as them being "A gypsy clan"

    1: Giving the clan of thieves to India specifically is an insult to India. I don't think I need to go into detail here.
    2: This fetishization of india as a spiritual, tolerant place is a fucking Yoga ad. REAL india is a rapidly developing nation with a history of temporal wealth and power. Actual indians make fun of the foolish white tourists that come to India to "find themselves" or "go on a spiritual journey" when the only actual spiritual journey they'll go on is an introspective commute on an overcrowded bus that's usually 15 minutes late(source; My indian students). Spiritual india is a white fever dream, a patronizing way to assert dominance over a "backwards" country while directing it on a development path the people don't want and are trying to move past. The Ravnos getting respect here because they're also "spiritual" is just racist cancer. Sure they fight other monsters (Cathayans and Changelings?), but they could do that in a lot more places than just india.
    3: Caste system. Tim, They're fucking Vampires . They're all elites. Why do you need to bring ugly mortal social structures into the society of the undead that live above mortals? Not to mention the casts don't make sense. The Ravnos aren't a fighty clan, they don't have fighty disciplines, why would they have a fighty caste that hasn't even bothered to change disciplines? And are they really going to snub a 700 hundred year old Ravnos because he's from the untouchable caste? Not likely
    Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 11-24-2021, 05:26 AM.

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  • Resplendent Fire
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    I know, right? The fact that the old Dark Ages "Jati" weren't brought into the modern day in some form is one of the big missed opportunities with the Ravnos.

    The probably explanation is "these groups did not survive the Dark Ages", but I find that profoundly wasteful. You had multiple entire subcultures within the Clan, and they just get discarded. I know that they were probably excluded because they weren't in the original depiction of the Ravnos in modern times. But neither were the Ravnos in India, and it's not like the Clan hadn't already experienced serious retcons from 1st edition.

    The existence of Dark Age Ravnos groups persisting into the modern day would be an opportunity to break them out of their old mold. Instead, they decided the whole Clan needed to be nuked. Disappointing.

    I wonder if they were excluded because of the Week of Nightmares. Like so much history but so little repeated material from the DA book.

    Actually there's just plain a lot of gaps.

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  • Bluecho
    replied
    Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post

    Time of Thin Blood just says they have a +2 difficulty to resist frenzy during the battle, and for the three nights after its destruction, they have to make a Frenzy check (with fairly ludicrous difficulty) when waking each night and when encountering others of their clan. It never says anything one way or the other about using or not using Animalism 5 to dump that frenzy on someone else (such as a hapless mortal retainer you've got chained up). Or elders using Animalism 7's Conquer the Beast to enter or leave frenzy at will. (The entire thing is likely an Animalism 10 "plot device" effect, but it never specifies.)

    Honestly, if I'd been running a game with Ravnos in it back then when the book came out, I wouldn't have used it without discussing it with my players - especially those playing a Ravnos - first, and I would've preferred to fudge things to insure their survival, and going forward have them as the likely new leader of that area's surviving Ravnos if the player wanted that.

    I still wish they'd waited until after the revised Ravnos clanbook came out to do Week of Nightmares, as I would've much preferred a book that looked at the clan before that event, including what had happened to the various Dark Ages Jati and how they'd evolved into the modern nights (including the Phaedymites and Alexandrians who might've joined the Camarilla, and the groups like the Sybarites and Bashirites among the Sabbat), as well as any new ones which might've sprung up over the past millennium.
    I know, right? The fact that the old Dark Ages "Jati" weren't brought into the modern day in some form is one of the big missed opportunities with the Ravnos.

    The probably explanation is "these groups did not survive the Dark Ages", but I find that profoundly wasteful. You had multiple entire subcultures within the Clan, and they just get discarded. I know that they were probably excluded because they weren't in the original depiction of the Ravnos in modern times. But neither were the Ravnos in India, and it's not like the Clan hadn't already experienced serious retcons from 1st edition.

    The existence of Dark Age Ravnos groups persisting into the modern day would be an opportunity to break them out of their old mold. Instead, they decided the whole Clan needed to be nuked. Disappointing.

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