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  • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
    If the writers want to highlight powers such as these as particularly damaging to one's sanity or morality, that seems to me like a perfectly justifiable rather than a strange choice. I certainly can't agree that it's a sign of "weak" writing at all.
    I've got to disagree with you on this, that certain powers are innately evil and that using them makes you evil. It's an overly simplistic approach to morality (see examples here: Bad Powers, Bad People - TV Tropes), and prevents any interesting nuance from becoming a story.

    As an example compare the one ring in Lord of the Rings with the Dresden files cursed coins. Everyone in LotR treats the one ring like toxic waste and anyone who uses it inevitably pays for it. Whereas in the Dresden files the cursed coins are treated by everyone as toxic waste, but when Harry picks one up we have a several book 'struggle against temptation' story that ends really well.

    Enforcing that certain powers inevitably corrupt their user takes away player agency, and to me, a good story comes from giving players the agency to struggle with the moral nuances of powers that could corrupt them.

    See alos: Evil Makes You Ugly - TV Tropes
    Last edited by Dogstar; 05-22-2022, 05:57 AM.

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    • The idea that WoD has always depicted Necromancy as evil is false. Mage: The Ascension has a whole Tradition - the Euthanatos (Chakravanti) - that are all about death magic. Yet they, among other Mage groups, show the complicated facets of death arts, and how Necromancy doesn't need to be adversarial or malicious. It's only bad if the Necromancer chooses to use their powers in a way that causes harm or forces ghosts to do their bidding.

      (Yes, this is the same Tradition that has ritualized murder as one of their cornerstones. But even then, their killings are done with noble intent. Showing a nuanced approach to ethics that the World of Darkness is interested in exploring.)

      Bringing us back around to Vicissitude, I think while flesh-crafting is uniquely squicky and open to abuse, this does not require that it must be an evil Discipline. It's only our preconceptions that designate it so. It's to presuppose they are uniquely transgressive, and then work backwards from that conclusion. It's the WoD equivalent of early D&D designating the use of Poison as a categorically Evil aligned act. It's all arbitrary, and frankly limits what we can do with characters.

      Once again, the existence of Tzimisce that use flesh-crafting exclusively for evil, or obeying deeply anti-social ethical codes, is not a bad thing. That's fine. I take issue with this being the only mode one can take with Vicissitude, or any other Discipline for that matter. Baking a moral judgement about the Disciplines into their supernatural make-up, in-universe, doesn't meaningfully add story possibilities. The fucked-up applications of Vicissitude can stand perfectly well on their own, without adding to it a spiritual corruption inherent to its very use. The latter only subtracts the number of stories that can be told about Vicissitude.

      And, as I've said many times over the years, my contention is that, all else being equal, more potential stories is better than fewer.


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      • In the earlier editions of VtM at least, Necromancy was always given a fairly negative light. Though to be fair vampires are more monstrous than Mages, so most vampiric powers tend to be presented as more monstrous or spooky or evil than Mage powers. And on top of that, by far and away the most common practitioners of Necromancy are the Giovanni, who are especially messed up, even by Vampire standards. Their Necromancy tends to focus more on the enslavement of ghosts and this tended to color the presentation of Necromancy (which, by default, was coming out of the D&D tradition where Necromancy already had a pretty negative coloring).

        Beyond the Giovanni we got a few bits and pieces about Setite Necromancy, but it's generally not much better. And Nagaraja were maybe worse than the Giovanni in some respects. And then the Cappadocians weren't horrible, but they practiced Mortis which was kind of puesdo-Necromancy and they were extinct by the modern nights. Really the "nicest" Necromancers in the modern VtM setting were the Samedi, as the books went out of the way to note that they tended to view their ghosts as valuable partners rather than slaves like the Giovanni. But Samedi were pretty darn rare and definitely not the typical users of Necromancy.

        It wasn't until Dark Ages Revised, where we got an expansion on Necromancy to make it comparable to Thaumaturgy and Mortis/Thanatosis got rolled into Necromancy, that Necromancy finally got a wide enough net to have expanded past the Giovanni and it stopped being a mostly creepy/evil Discipline. And then V20 started to expand on that, giving Necromancy to the Kiasyd and others.

        These days I feel that Necromancy isn't much worse than Dominate or Presence or other Disciplines but I believe it's also the Discipline that has evolved and changed the most since its' original introduction.

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        • Originally posted by Dogstar View Post

          I've got to disagree with you on this, that certain powers are innately evil and that using them makes you evil. It's an overly simplistic approach to morality (see examples here: Bad Powers, Bad People - TV Tropes), and prevents any interesting nuance from becoming a story.

          As an example compare the one ring in Lord of the Rings with the Dresden files cursed coins. Everyone in LotR treats the one ring like toxic waste and anyone who uses it inevitably pays for it. Whereas in the Dresden files the cursed coins are treated by everyone as toxic waste, but when Harry picks one up we have a several book 'struggle against temptation' story that ends really well.

          Enforcing that certain powers inevitably corrupt their user takes away player agency, and to me, a good story comes from giving players the agency to struggle with the moral nuances of powers that could corrupt them.

          See alos: Evil Makes You Ugly - TV Tropes
          ...Are you holding up The Lord of the Rings as an example of weak writing without any interesting nuance?

          The entire point of the One Ring is that it can only work on what is already there within each person. Every character, from the greatness of Galadriel to the humility of Samwise Gamgee, has a wish list of the changes they would like to see in the world. If the Wise treat the Ring like 'toxic waste', it's only because they understand most deeply -- through millennia of bitter experience in the case of the Elves -- that the act of imposing your individual will upon the world is almost indistinguishable from the act of imposing your will upon other creatures. Sauron is simply the end point of that path, but even he was not created evil. He is the natural desire to organize the world according to one's personal preferences, given mythic proportions. Tolkien himself was an anarchist, and was of the opinion that more or less anyone who wants a position of authority is unfit to hold a position of authority. Although JRRT was not the kind of writer to put his political views front and center in his works, and 'cordially disliked' allegory, his legendarium is nevertheless deeply concerned with questions of morality and moral agency.

          In addition to its linguistic complexity and mythological depth, The Lord of the Rings is a mature work about power and the desire to wield it. The popular conception that the book is nothing more than a simplistic black-and-white morality play says more about the attentiveness of most readers than it does about the book.

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          • Originally posted by Dogstar View Post

            I've got to disagree with you on this, that certain powers are innately evil and that using them makes you evil. It's an overly simplistic approach to morality (see examples here: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BadPowersBadPeople"]Bad Powers, Bad People - TV Tropes[/URL]), and prevents any interesting nuance from becoming a story.

            As an example compare the one ring in Lord of the Rings with the Dresden files cursed coins. Everyone in LotR treats the one ring like toxic waste and anyone who uses it inevitably pays for it. Whereas in the Dresden files the cursed coins are treated by everyone as toxic waste, but when Harry picks one up we have a several book 'struggle against temptation' story that ends really well.

            Enforcing that certain powers inevitably corrupt their user takes away player agency, and to me, a good story comes from giving players the agency to struggle with the moral nuances of powers that could corrupt them.

            See alos: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvilMakesYouUgly"]Evil Makes You Ugly - TV Tropes[/URL]
            Sam gandhi use it and didnt paid anything

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            • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
              ...Are you holding up The Lord of the Rings as an example of weak writing without any interesting nuance?
              That may have been a bad example and I agree, yet you're just avoiding the criticism.

              Setting aside that the One Ring has a completely different story function from VtM's Disciplines, we must evaluate such properties within the context of the game, an RPG about "damned" monsters with themes of the relativity of morality and the error of believing in absolutes.

              As an RPG it must be open to many stories, by many people. Stating some powers as intrinsically malignant instead of just leaning to corruption greatly limits how many stories you can tell with them and how many distinct characters you can build with them. More than that, it eliminates the morality dubiousness, making for a situation where right and wrong become evident because they're power-coded.

              It doesn't matter how much this kind of coding works in Tolkien (and I'm a HUGE fan of his work) or in Necroscope, it isn't even necessarily a bad thing for a given VtM chronicle, you sure can have an awesome game built over the premise that some powers are inherently damning, beyond and above being a vampire. What's a problem is building it in the setting as an unavoidable truth. That limits game in ways you're only ok with because you are not interested in not referencing Necroscope when the Tzimisce appears, but sucks for everyone that grew tired of this trope.


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              • Originally posted by blailton View Post
                Sam gandhi use it and didnt paid anything
                Samwise Gamgee used it for an extremely brief time and his greater character quality was that he had few to no strong personal desire, much less at that moment. For the entire time Sam held the Ring, his thoughts are about others and his anguish is that he's sure he'll fail. He isn't sorry for himself, he doesn't wish praise or comfort, he only misses not knowing what's the right decision for him to make, to continue or to stay with Frodo's corpse. He's the most sincere and pure member of the Fellowship (if not without his flaws, flaws that arguably damned Gollum), also the most humble, so the only one to truly have no desire for the Ring.

                Even then it must be pointed that while Sam didn't resisted Frodo taking the Ring back, there was a moment that could be hesitation. And while Sam could live long years in the Middle Earth after the other Ring Bearers parted to Valinor, he too grew tired before his years (102, advanced, but not uncommon for a Hobbit to reach and still have some years to spare), something even rarer among Hobbits than humans, and as was his right went to the Undying Lands. So it can be said the price took time to show, but he paid nonetheless.


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                • I am 100% with the OP. I my games Vicissitude has also disappeared as a Discipline and Tzimisce run with Koldunic Sorcery or Protean instead (using a caste like system). Vicissitude has remained as a Koldunic Sorcery Path, only affecting the caster's own body, removing it more grotesque uses. So now the Tzimisce is able to change their appearance, mimic some other person or even become a combat monster if they wish so, but vozdhs, human shaped screaming chairs and the like are out of the picture

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                  • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                    ...Are you holding up The Lord of the Rings as an example of weak writing without any interesting nuance?

                    says more about the attentiveness of most readers than it does about the book.
                    Don't think I didn't notice you having a couple of digs in there...

                    Anyway, my point wasn't at all about the quality of the writing but about the use of a trope on one hand and it's subversion on the other, and, as Monteparnas eloquently puts it, how that trope is possibly overused in the game system we're all involved with

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                    • Originally posted by Dogstar View Post

                      Don't think I didn't notice you having a couple of digs in there...

                      Anyway, my point wasn't at all about the quality of the writing but about the use of a trope on one hand and it's subversion on the other, and, as Monteparnas eloquently puts it, how that trope is possibly overused in the game system we're all involved with
                      I have had that person blocked for over half a year now, so however eloquent their arguments, I cannot see them nor comment on them.

                      Regarding your earlier post, I simply found that contrasting an aspect of The Lord of the Rings with a similar plot device in The Dresden Files did not support your argument at all, because the One Ring does not in any way prevent "any interesting nuance from becoming a story", as you put it -- far from it. If my post contained a 'dig' at someone's expense, it was directed toward the kinds of people who have only done an extremely surface level reading of The Lord of the Rings and are convinced that there is nothing else to the book. I did not assume that you personally fall into that category.

                      I am not a huge fan of how roleplaying games tend to move from specific and highly flavorful ideas toward the most generic and flavorless implementations of those ideas, typically with each new edition update. Wresting Vicissitude from its original context and throwing all the lore behind it into the trash in favor of turning it into a safe and friendly 'plastic surgery power' is just one example of the phenomenon. I will grant you that the latter may be more useful for a larger number of players, but that is only a virtue if you think that every idea in a roleplaying game should be as open-ended and flavor-free as possible.

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                      • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                        I am not a huge fan of how roleplaying games tend to move from specific and highly flavorful ideas toward the most generic and flavorless implementations of those ideas,
                        This
                        Personally I loved the idea of Vicissitude was something... different
                        Loved the Shadow Crusade idea of the Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand, and how a careless Deep Umbra explorer ancient. Andeleon accidently brought back something... horrible, even more terrible than the cursed monsters already tormenting Humanity. Something that was worse than them. Not to mention it was a nice tie-in for some crossovers, not only it was a bit similar of the Lhinanna's Ogham power-source, a fragmented nature spirit, as the Souleater was a fragment of a spiritual entity (most likely a Bane from the brood of the Eater-of-Souls), but reverse, it became stronger with every infected, it was a nice ground for mixed chorincles.
                        Loved the idea, when they tweaked it a bittle and made Vicissitude optionally an Infection, a disease that can infect anyone that comes into contact with tainted blood. Infection is necessary for learning Vicissitude, and the degree to which one is afflicted influences the difficulty of learning levels of the Discipline. Instead of taking over a practitioner's mind, however, the disease makes it more likely those infected gain derangements.
                        Loved the Idea, Vicissitude WAS the Tzimisce Antediluvian
                        When The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal'Mahe'Ra came and introduced the Asakku option, I was fascinated by the idea
                        The idea, Vicissitude and Obtenebration was basically a manifestation of a Qlippothic Sphere was unique and awesome!
                        Heck once I even made the Tzimisce Antediluvian an escaped/survived experiments/superweapon from the War of Wrath, when the Fallen line came out, making it/him the creation of the Rabisu, the Sixth House, their Lore of Flesh that bacame sentinent, Venom-like and slipped away in the final days
                        Vicissitude had so much depth and uniquness, even if you took only the "like how God shaped man from clay, the users defile this Godly act and shape the body to their own twisted immage" kind of relegious explanation...
                        Vicissitude made the Tzimisce Clan different, not just run of the mill bloodsucker (okay, vicissitude and Kuppala)
                        It was sad to see it, like Seprentis to become lesser, and basically Protean-light
                        Last edited by Shadeprowler; 05-24-2022, 01:45 AM.

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                        • Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                          but that is only a virtue if you think that every idea in a roleplaying game should be as open-ended and flavor-free as possible.
                          That's rather an overly dramatic point of view as far as I'm concerned.

                          There's nothing in the V20 rules preventing you from adding as much squick as you can tolerate to your personal flavour of campaign, it's just that many people in these times are no longer entertained by 90's style excesses, so rules systems that are agnostic about how players play a game are in many ways better than ones that proscribe forced behaviour. That's something the White Wolf crew never seem to learn.

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                          • Originally posted by Dogstar View Post
                            There's nothing in the V20 rules preventing you from adding as much squick as you can tolerate to your personal flavour of campaign, it's just that many people in these times are no longer entertained by 90's style excesses, so rules systems that are agnostic about how players play a game are in many ways better than ones that proscribe forced behaviour. That's something the White Wolf crew never seem to learn.
                            The current topic of discussion started when it was argued that it is not only strange but also a sign of weak writing to have powers in the game that are especially perilous to use. I disagreed, and argued in favor of respecting the original intent behind such additions to the game. This is particularly relevant in the case of Vicissitude, since the only reason the discipline is even in the game today is because Steven C. Brown had a very particular idea about connecting one of his creations for Vampire: The Masquerade to the then-brand-new Werewolf: The Apocalypse and one of its antagonist factions.

                            It's a bit disingenuous to suggest that if I don't care for the trend of turning specific ideas into generic ones, I can always Rule Zero away such developments. It should go without saying that each GM has the power to homebrew stuff as much as they want (and their players can stomach), but the same logic applies to each side of a discussion like this, which is why I generally prefer not to argue along those lines. To wit: if you don't like how the use of classic Vicissitude or V5 Oblivion is framed as especially damaging to the user's psyche, there's nothing preventing you from stripping away the offending flavor. Problem solved, right?

                            I would only add that it is always easier to remove parts of a game that you don't like than it is to add specific ideas to areas of the game that the players expect to be generic. It is extremely easy to say: "In this chronicle, Necromancy is not evil!" It is quite another to pitch something like: "So, in my setting, any use of Fortitude carries a heavy risk of corruption, because I have these particular ideas about the demonic influence behind Fortitude that you are just going to have to figure out ingame." The truth of the matter is that the development of ideas in roleplaying games only ever goes in one direction, away from the specific and toward the generic (or, if you prefer, agnostic). You can take that as a sign of the superiority of your preference, if you like.
                            Last edited by Elphilm; 05-24-2022, 04:04 AM.

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                            • Originally posted by Shadeprowler View Post
                              Vicissitude made the Tzimisce Clan different, not just run of the mill bloodsucker (okay, vicissitude and Kuppala)
                              It was sad to see it, like Seprentis to become lesser, and basically Protean-light
                              Different and repetitive. See again all the character concepts Bluecho exemplified that simply can't be done with those takes on Vicissitude being canonical.

                              You can have Vicissitude being any or all those things in your game, and you can put forward in lore as many theories about it being specially damning as you want, to achieve the same effect.

                              But the problem is the proscription of behavior. To say that the games move from specific to flavorless or that you either have this power be Extra-Evil or not as a canonical truth is a fallacy. The game may present theories and options without making them a certainty. The game can present three ideas on how a given Discipline may be Horrible-Evil-Power, three on how it may be Path-To-Salvation, and then explore how those ideas affect the setting regardless of being true, because there are people that believe in then, and let the ST chose which option is the truth for their chronicle.

                              Elphilm's argument that RPGs always do this movement disregards completely the nuances of how a game evolves over time, bringing and managing ideas to help groups tell their own stories, and sometimes having to drop things because they had a bad effect on the game. Saying that is basically stating that if a big chunk of the public didn't liked an element being brought into it, they should just suck it up and go seek another game.

                              Almost no one likes Vicissitude as a disease. Because those people had other ideas for the Discipline or the clan, and this one makes them non-viable or adds unwanted details that hurt the theme they thought of. This isn't about the idea not being good, it is about people actually liking the clan and the power and having ideas on how to use them, and this concept squashes them for very little gain.

                              Very little gain, I repeat. The result may be a flavorful concept, but that generates a clan of repetitive character concepts that most people are uninterested in. It is the same reason they never gave a lot of space to the Salubri, my favorite clan, period: most people are uninterested in them, giving them more space would be for very little gain. I'm torn by this fact, yet I understand. Likewise they never gave space to that theory again, but news flash, it isn't an impossibility and you can still use it, it still exists.


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                              • Originally posted by Microcuchon View Post
                                I am 100% with the OP. I my games Vicissitude has also disappeared as a Discipline and Tzimisce run with Koldunic Sorcery or Protean instead (using a caste like system). Vicissitude has remained as a Koldunic Sorcery Path, only affecting the caster's own body, removing it more grotesque uses. So now the Tzimisce is able to change their appearance, mimic some other person or even become a combat monster if they wish so, but vozdhs, human shaped screaming chairs and the like are out of the picture
                                Me, too. I ended up giving them Protean, Animalism, Presence, and Obfuscate. (All clans have 4 disciplines in my games.)

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