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Hooks for bringing a feral Gangrel into a game

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  • Hooks for bringing a feral Gangrel into a game

    I'll start by saying this hasn't actually been a problem. Players want to play, so even if they make the sort of Gangrel who realistically would wander the forests and swamps and never mix with them city vamps and their silly city politics, they'll jump on whatever thin storyhook has them work with the party.

    That said, the ST in me has always disliked how inorganic this often feels. I don't like being so completely dependent on the fact that players wanna play, so they'll let a lot slide.

    What are some reasons for a feral Gangrel to work with city folk that feels organic?

  • #2
    The city is coming to them; thanks to urban expansion and development, their haven is now in the middle of a planned suburb or industrial district.
    Last edited by Father Enoch; 06-15-2022, 06:02 PM.


    • #3

      As feral as they are, they need food, and animals aren't exactly an infinitely abundant and easy to get food source, no matter how much Animalism you have. Anything that makes the presence of large game around you dwindle, like just Winter, will force you to deal with cities either to fight the problem at its source, find some needed help to deal with it, or take on greener pastures.

      The city is, at the end of the day, the prime ecological niche of a vampire.

      On top of that, just going by lore you can implement a general rule that any vampire not on a Path that requires isolation needs social interaction, at least with their own kind, or risk developing or worsening Derangement. The books frequently state that one of the paradox of vampiric existence is that they're as much lone predators as social creatures, and the Sabbat is no exception.

      In this take, you can still have any NPC you want being isolationists and crazy to some degree (at your discretion), but you also have all the justification you need for any exception.

      She/her pronouns


      • #4
        Not sure what you mean by "feral", but it seems like you just mean a Gangrel whose character concept puts him outside the city - either rural areas or the wilderness.

        I'm also interpreting your hook requirement to mean "what's an elegant/natural/unobtrusive way for generic rural Gangrel to become involved in a generic city based chronicle." That being so, I won't comment on changes to the setting itself (urban areas have recently developed in an area once the wilderness, for example) as those changes might not be helpful depending on what city you are setting the game. I think you want hooks that can be easily transplanted to any city.

        That leaves us coming up with reasons for individual characters. I'll try to keep them as generic as possible in this post, as each could have many different variations.

        1) The PC's sire, mentor, or other important figure asks him to pay back or perform some boon for him that takes him into the city. The boon is preferably something that will take the character some time to achieve. That gives him the time needed in game to develop additional reasons to stay after that boon is completed. It may not be difficult to perform the boon. It doesn't even need to involve vampire society. It could be quite mundane. Hell, it might even be from someone from their mortal days that still love and respect. It just needs to keep him in the city long enough so the PC and ST, working together, can establish more reasons for him to stay in the chronicle.

        2) The PC must travel to the city because he is looking for someone who has disappeared there. The person could be a mortal or a vampire. It could be part of their backstory (a sister or cousin has runaway or disappeared), their backgrounds (one of their Contacts or Allies had disappeared, perhaps murdered), an element the ST created as part of the PC's Prelude, or anything else. Perhaps the NPC has fled because he is trying to get away from the vampire PC, or some other "twist" reason. Maybe an online/social media friend - whom they never met in person - is the one who vanished. Maybe it is someone she wants to kill out of revenge. The difference from #1 is that a) the PC should be self-motivated to enter the city (she isn't doing it on behalf of another person), and b) the ST needs to figure out some sort of story. Again, whatever this is, this should take the PC sufficient time to establish new and ongoing reasons to stay once it's been resolved.

        3) The PC needs to access a resource that is only found in a city (perhaps even only that city). This depends on knowing what motivates the PC, and will require more collaboration between the ST and PC to figure out the hook. Maybe some strange poison or disease is affecting the wildlife there, and the expert he needs to consult is in one of the city's universities. Or maybe there is a strange creature that has appeared which can threaten the PC, and he needs to speak to some expert at a museum, at his home, at his office at the Weekly World News, or whatever. Maybe he found some strange item or treasure, and he needs to find out more about it (because it's cursed, because other people are after it, because it is obviously a clue to some other mystery), etc. In this case, the PC needs to go to the city to a) meet the individual, b) explain the situation, c) convince the person to help or provide knowledge. The PC needs to stay in the city for a long time for any one of a variety of reasons - the person he seeks is in trouble, and the PC gets swept up by it; the person will take a long time convincing and the PC (and others) lack the means to compel him to help; the expert needs a long time to work on the problem and he can only do it if the PC stays around to assist. Maybe the resource isn't a person, it's a thing. He starts off asking experts on where to find the thing (conveniently it'll be in that city), but he has no means of getting it on his own. Maybe it's lost and he needs to hunt it down. Maybe it's buried in some museum archive somewhere. Maybe it is now in the hands of an unknown individual. Now, in this case it could become very easy for the PC to somehow figure out a means to get the resource quickly and eliminate the reason for doing this in the first place. That's why it is best to collaborate with the PC and the two figure out something that will keep him in the city long term.

        4) The PC finds himself compelled to go the city for reasons he can't understand. Maybe there's a strange dream involving someone else, and he recognizes the city skyline or something he sees on a random TV screen. Why does the dream keep repeating? Or maybe it is a more obvious supernatural compulsion similar to Summon, but not exactly - demon, sorcerer, ghost, etc. Maybe it's a result of a fortune telling that tells her she has a destiny in the city. Easy to ignore - but the same fortune keeps coming up in various ways, so it stopped being easy to ignore. Maybe the PC is part of some cursed bloodline (either vampire lineage, or actual family curse), and she must resolve it by returning to this city as her relatives are there (or the old family house is there, or whatever). Maybe there is some strange artifact that is targeting the PC (and others like her) because of whatever personal characteristic is in scope for the artifact. Maybe if it is ignored, bad things start happening to the PC - the dreams become nightmares, the fortunes/visions become worst, etc. So not going does not seem to be an option. This option will take a lot more work by the ST and may require the PC to pick up some kind of Merit or Flaw. The initial reason should be vague, and the ST will not only need to determine the real reason, but clues that act as breadcrumbs. Ideally, the PC learns something early enough that it justifies to her why she is there, but does not provide enough clues to the location or resolution.


        • #5
          Maybe they were forced to come to the city. Perhaps someone found the feral Gangrel roaming the woods or swampland and dragged them back to the city in fear of a potential masquerade breach, but didn't feel it was right to kill them. Maybe the city needs more vampires to deal with the camarilla/anarchs so they are forcefully conscripting, or someone wants to learn protean and they are forcing the Gangrel to teach it to them. Perhaps the prince/baron believe their sect needs more Gangrel and wants the feral to sire more and teach them how to use their in clan discipline, that's of course after the feral proves his loyalty and that they can be civilized/sane enough to live in a city.

          I will admit it's kind of a weird thing to do, but if you're playing V5, which I'm guessing you are, a lot of vampires are either dead or missing thanks to the SI and the Beckoning, so it kind of makes sense to forcefully build up numbers.

          If you're playing V20, the Gangrel left the Camarillas, and even though they help out the Anarchs here and there it would be a stretch to call them full-fledged members. Both sects would probably like to have a larger gangrel population, so you have a motive there. As long as they stay low key about it, they could potentially smuggle a feral Gangrel in to the city for they're own nefarious ends. And since the Gangrel are the least organized clan, it's very unlikely the other Gangrel will find out.


          • #6
            As much as I have mixed feelings about v5, why not use the SI? Make it so that SI agents have captured, or are in the process of capturing, the feral Gangrel? The higher ups in the SI want to release the subject into an active Elysium after nearly starving them of blood. The players could rescue them, and the Gangrel can aid the group in pursuit of revenge.


            • #7
              While he didn't added it to the OP, it may be relevant to say that, AFAIK, CajunKhan only STs Sabbat games. That changes the context of the question a lot.

              She/her pronouns


              • #8
                Honestly, if it comes to that, talking to the player. If a character feels shoehorned in, talking to the player to mold the concept into something that works is probably better than forcing circumstances upon the character, and ruining the concept they had in mind.

                If you have the "silent loner" type character that still has no issue jumping in on the first available hook, it seems like there would be it would be some more underlying reasons why they've chosen to stay away, and why they chose to involve themselves. If you can probe and do something out of this, you could probably even find some ambition or goal to work towards, or something that bothers the "silent loner" and they will make sure to stay away from, and with that depth, the character should feel more natural.


                • #9
                  The character is tracking someone who's hiding out in the city, and animal spies only go so far in helping root them out from afar. Could be personal or a job. At some point you have to get in there and start talking to the locals to get the lay of the land, sit on your heels, potentially for years, or give up the hunt.


                  • #10
                    Honestly I think that coming up with a premise for a chronicle and characters who are appropriate is a Session Zero collaborative effort with shared responsibility among Storyteller and players. Meaning that it isn't necessarily the ST's job to hook in the player's character concept; the player has some responsibility here too. Some character concepts may not be a good fit.