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I think KotE may be salvageable for a 20th Anniversary run...

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    As a follow-up to Chase Variant’s post, I’d strip out much of the Oriental terminology from the mechanics, and revise the cultural aspects of the game to be more nuanced. Such things can be salvaged; and the Onyx Path crew strikes me as having the right mindset to do a proper salvage operation — or to leave it on the ocean floor if they can’t do it right.

    I think we could.

    But really, one of the biggest problems is, no matter what we do, it won't be enough for everyone in either direction. As this thread has shown, people have some absolutely passionate but contradictory opinions. If we do something beyond just a copy/paste of the old material, some people will be upset. If we change a lot of things, some will be upset. If we only change a few things, some people will be upset.

    Finding that balance is really, really challenging.


    David A Hill Jr
    Freelance Writer
    Independent Game Designer

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    • #62
      Originally posted by Chase Variant View Post

      I think chih-mei, ghūls, and any other form of hungry undead that may exist in world folklore should be all the same thing and be a global phenomenon. Certain cultures have access to rituals or techniques that awaken them into the equivalent of the Gui Ren, so their prevalence in Asia would be a function of cultural knowledge, rather than a special cosmology that only works for Asian people in Asia.
      If you're using Wade-Giles, it should be ch'ih-mei. Chih is the equivalent of pinyin zhi, rather than chi.

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      • #63
        Originally posted by MachineIV View Post


        I think we could.

        But really, one of the biggest problems is, no matter what we do, it won't be enough for everyone in either direction. As this thread has shown, people have some absolutely passionate but contradictory opinions. If we do something beyond just a copy/paste of the old material, some people will be upset. If we change a lot of things, some will be upset. If we only change a few things, some people will be upset.

        Finding that balance is really, really challenging.
        It's not as difficult as you make it out to be. Since V20 has already established that there are other different Undead in Asia, I'll roll with that instead of globalizing them while still leaving easy options for individual ST's to globalize them in their games.

        Asia had suffered greatly in the past as powerful spirits, Mages and other powerful beings did irreparable damage to it's spiritual landscape during the Mythic Ages. These beings range from all around Asia but they do have one thing in common they all desire human souls, even if for different reasons. Some wanted them for more altruistic reasons to fulfill their purpose, like some spirits of punishment who wished to be better able to do their jobs while others wanted souls for the power inherent in them. Another common point between them was their great power which they used to rip the spirit worlds asunder and build their own realms of punishment, the 1000 Hell's. Being from Asia these beings used the local spirit worlds in their creation of Hell's and connected them to their own homelands, Lanka is tied to India and Sri Lanka, Wicked City is tied to Japan etc. As time went by and their power grew they created new connections outside of their home lands slowly building greater and greater net of influence until slowly it encompassed most of Asia. They are not finished. Should they have their way their influence would encompass the whole world.

        But Human souls are powerful things, so powerful in fact that not even the Lords and Ladies of the Hell's are able to draw them against their will, unless they are weighted down by their sins strongly enough to cleave their Shadows out of them, it is these Shadows the darkest corners of the Human Soul that the Lord's and Ladies of Hell have dominion over. Still Human souls have power in them and remain as fickle as ever even if ripped into two halves and so some exceptionally strong and wicked Shadows sometimes succeed in the impossible and escape. These half souls return back to their bodies finding their Psyche's still bound within and merge back into something resembling a single whole, but one cannot so easily undo the damage done and the soul will remain ever divided. Apart from being restricted to the Shadows Souls of the wicked the Hells are also restricted by their ever increasing connections, currently they are able to only draw in those souls who faced death in a place connected to them. Currently this means Asia but their influence is growing daily and they have no compunction about where the Souls come from. Asia covering almost half the world has populace of humans from around the globe and all are susceptible to the draw of Hell provided they are wicked enough.

        Still as said some Shadows do escape. These escapees have a few things in common. First their Souls are forever divided into two halves, the Psyche and the Shadow, the reasoning self and the dark urges one possess. As they first escape their Shadows are in control and they are little more than animalistic beasts that gain sustenance from the flesh of the living, being a starting point for many legends about ravaging ghouls and other cannibalistic beings, but in time they regain some equilibrium, or are helped by others of their kind to find it, and their rational selves emerge. With their Soul-halves now in precarious balance they gain new power from rationality and mystic insight provided by such union of cleaved soul parts allowing them to feed upon the blood of the living in addition to flesh. Such are the first steps on a long road towards self-realization and ascension to a greater state of being. Paths or Roads towards that goal are manifold, some seek to strengthen their Shadow selves becoming more like the Devils that once imprisoned them, some seek to strengthen their Psyche's to overcome their own wickedness and seek redemption from rigid traditions while other see k to live a thousand different lives and to experience both the sorrows and pains as well as the happiness and pleasures that life can provide in their search for ascension. Meanwhile others delve further into their undead state and the energies of the Underworld to become one with death and others plunge head long into life and passion questioning their undead status. While other claim that that the true answer are found in becoming Divine, believing themselves God's and feeding on the prayers of their followers. While others seek balance with the world of Spirits and some seek to find their enlightenment from their mortal life and family. The roads are manifold, their power unquestioned as those who find enlightenment slowly rise above the rest of their kind most obviously seen in their habit of leaving such crude feeding as blood aside and first drink the breath of the living and later still that of the world itself.

        These Undead gather in Courts of their own making for mutual protection and for games of power and influence. These are wicked beings after all each deserving Hell in one way or another. They are forever at war with the Hell's they escaped as well, the Lords and Ladies of Hell are loathe to let even a single soul slip through their fingers. They also seek to curb the influence of these Hell's seeking to stop their growth lest the whole world be swallowed by them. [Box] Should ST's wish they could also widen the influence of the Hell's into reaching the western world though do take notice that then the Hungry Dead become a global phenomena which will cause the balance of power to shudder in the western world. If using the Hungry Dead besides the Cainites it is notable that most of them are likely to align themselves with either the Anarchs or Sabbat due to their inhuman Roads towards Ascension although some might fit well in the Camarilla as well, like those following Rising Phoenix and certain members of the Cranes or even the Dragons and Whispers. Or they could form their own Courts in the west. [/box]

        Their Courts are divided by regions China, being as it is huge, holds several Courts within it, while Japan has only one major Court divided as it may be. Likewise the South-East Asia holds the manifold Courts including those held by the Hungry Dead that gave forth the stories of disembodied heads and intestines flying in search of victims. India being a melting pot of cultures and a huge swathe of land besides likewise holds manifold Courts within though they are galvanized together by the war between them and a different species of Undead that has lasted for a millenia. These Ravnos and their allies claim descent from a being called Zapathasura whom they claimed was gifted with the power of Undeath to fight the Demons that rise in the corpses of men, the Hungry Dead. Stories of this War have traveled far and wide amongst the Hungry Dead and is perhaps one of the greatest reasons for current hostility between the Hungry Dead and Cainites, naturally though sharing a common prey is also an issue here as is shared people of origin especially between the Ravnos and the Indian Kindred and the Hungry Dead. The Latter see themselves as creations of their own deeds and destiny seeking to ascend into something more all the while fighting the influence of Hell and are understandably horrified by the ability of the Ravnos, and the rest of their kind, to infect other with their Curse. The first then see the Hungry Dead as Demons possessing bodies of those who have passed, some being perhaps mortal friends and relatives of the Ravnos. This is made no easier by the fact that some Hungry Dead return with a lighter hold on their own bodies or with no bodies of their own at all and so end up possessing other corpses.

        There you go KotE with all things offensive removed, no eastern terminology, nothing to suggest that only Asians can become one of their number yet still tied to a some rough geographical boundaries so as to remain consistent with already published material, still keeping what made KotE the great game it actually is, that is it's search for enlightenment, it's connections to the spirit worlds and it's unique, actually less than unique when you look at Wraith, traits. It shows that there are manifold Courts within the huge geographical areas in Asia instead of anything like the unified concept of Middle Kingdom. You have all the freedom you need to make your Chinese Courts Chinese, Japanese Courts Japanese and Malaysian Courts Malaysian. Nothing prevents that from happening, never actually did, but your own perceptions. This keeps the whole KotE setting largely as it was but without the perceived insults.

        You are also free to give each region its' own tales of origins for the Hungry Dead. The only constant being that they know for a fact that they have been wicked enough to be drawn into Hell and that each one of them escaped from there. The philosophies which help them to find their way towards enlightenment depend upon their region but most have spread far and wide since they seem to work and as such have been spread far and wide to help guide the way, not to mention that two Hungry Dead from different regions may have found similar enough paths that they both may be called Devil Tigers despite having in many other matters completely different between them, even most likely their mortal religions. Common experiences of Hell do wonders in unifying people, but still each takes his own lessons from it.

        As a final note, what then makes them different from Risen? Especially in a global scenario where the influence of the Hell's spans the world?
        That is easy one actually. The Hungry Dead have two major differences to Risen. One they were never Wraiths, nor Spectres, as both Wraiths and Spectres still consist of both Psyche and Shadow. The Hungry Dead have been truly divided their soul halves ripped apart in their deaths. The other difference being that the Hungry Dead have gone through literal Hell their Shadows tortured there to draw out the souls energies to further empower that Hell's master, and that they have escaped and returned back to their other soul halves thus forming one soul once more. The Risen on the other hand are Wraiths, and while their Shadow have gained considerable strength it still has never been a thing apart form the the rest of the soul and in addition to that the risen remain Wraith just permanently possessing their own Corpses, though the Risen have the option to leave their bodies and to return into the Shadowlands should they so wish. Risen still feed on emotions and Passions while the Hungry Dead need the life energies of the living to continue from night to night.

        While there is common ground they are still different beasts altogether.

        I do have the audacity to think this kind of solution would be acceptable to both KotE fans and those who were driven from it by the issues discussed in this thread. Does this mean I'm weighted down by Hubris? Probably but still I believe that the solution is something like what I have concocted above, keeping those things that made KotE it's own thing while loosing those things found insulting. The Balance is there and I do not believe for one second that it is so hard to achieve as you propose.

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        • #65
          Originally posted by Father Enoch View Post
          My two cents; First of all, there may not have been an official Inquisition in China, but
          there were witch hunts.
          .e?

          2. Downplay (don't eliminate) the hostility to the West, while slightly emphasizing (within
          reason
          ) tensions between undead of different Asian nations. ...

          3. A code of secrecy like the Masquerade should be more important in the East, or at the
          very least no less. Did I mention that most East Asian countries are dictatorships? India
          may be a democracy but China certainly isn't. ..
          4. Regarding how East Asia is supposedly impenetrable to Western Kindred? I have one
          answer to that: 废话. Great Britain conquered India and forced China to let them deal opium.
          ..
          5. Instead of an Invasion of America by Eastern Kindred, make it a diaspora. ...

          6. Kine mix, Kindred will be no different. Give them a chance to mingle with Ventrue or
          Malkavians without being on a war footing (which could always become a possibility).
          But don't just stop there, or even just with Asian joining Western Clans. Here's my craziest
          (and possibly dumbest) idea; RARE Western Wan Kuei. ....
          .

          I skimmed through the whole thread and found this post makes the most sense.
          If you were to "salvage" the KotE lineup, I think this is the only way to discard some moronic settings and maintain the 'gaming' aspect at the same time.

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          • #66
            Originally posted by MachineIV View Post

            That's the problem. It's going to alienate people regardless. Do I alienate people that thought it was the best thing since sliced bread? Or do I alienate people representing those cultures, who felt hurt by the portrayals? It's a really challenging line to walk, and there are no right answers. If I developed a new version of KotE, I would want it to be something I could sell at my local game shop without being laughed at. I would want to be able to proudly hand it to my Asian friends without making them feel insulted.

            Umm... As I'm an Asian WoD player currently residing in one of the East Asian countries, I believe not many Asian readers were insulted by KotE as "it is just another Tuesday".
            The matter is not that it is against political correctness, but the setting, especially that of KotE, sounds unappealing to many Asian players, period. It is starkly contrasted from other 'Year of the Lotus' lineups; I've heard of many teams running Hengeyokai chronicles nearby, but rarely heard of any team interested in KotE any more than making mock of it.

            The translated version of V20 will be published shortly in my country, and there is a reason why many WoD players in Asia desert KotE setting as a whole and employ V:tM with some minor twists (as mentioned above; adding bloodlines etc) to delineate their 'XX by Night'.

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            • #67
              I'm of the camp that thinks KOTE had some very interesting things going for it that could be possibly be salvaged. It would definitely be a large undertaking to purge the nonsensical Orientalism mishmash from the game. But a good starting place would be to have neutral core mechanics. As someone pointed out earlier, use Wraith's lingo of Psyche/Shadow and Pathos/Angst or something else along the lines. Then provide a rundown of what terms are used in various countries, how the vampires of those areas see these aspects of their condition (even if their philosophy is wrong when compared to the mechanics) and go from there. Things like the term "Kuei-Jin" are obviously flawed and awkward and possibly offensive, so do away with them in favor of their local flavor.

              Or do what Masquerade did. Every culture that the Kindred operate in have their own myths for the undead and their own terms for vampires. However, the game uses the term Kindred and assumes all vampires to be the same, even if it's at odds with the culture of the area. Vrykolakas, Strigoi, Upir, ghuls, Cihuateteo, and Soucouyant do not all have different stats or even radically different terminology. They are governed by a vampiric society that was created in medieval Europe and thus use the terms and, for the most part, culture created there. This is true from Paris to Appalachia to Santiago, even though regional "flavor" exists. Isn't it plausible that the Chinese courts established the primary society throughout several countries centuries ago? Or that ancients from India codified the terminology and some of the practices that are used? As long as some of the offensive Yellow Menace and fetishizing of "Asian enlightenment" are done away with, I don't see an issue with having, say, a predominantly Chinese background for vampires in Thailand or Japan, as long as it's established that the Chinese equivalent of the Camarilla conquered the undead of those lands at some point and forced their culture on them. Hell, that would make for some interesting stories as, say, the Gaki fought back against what they view as their oppressors. Instead of the Camarilla versus the Sabbat, it would be the Quincunx versus a thousand small, local cells of freedom fighters. That could even be the overarching plot point: for whatever reason, the grip of the ruling vampires has weakened in this decade and the undead of these various countries have decided to seize the opportunity. Instead of the Great Leap Outward, all of the conflict would be focused inward.

              These arguments could be used for having them simply be variants of the Kindred as well. Six of one, I suppose...

              And, even if you did retool it in the easiest way like I presented above, it's *still* a different game from what was published before, even if it's just that the setting has been updated. Definitely a tricky nut to crack.
              Last edited by BradHodson; 07-13-2014, 02:21 AM.


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              • #68
                Originally posted by create_this View Post
                It is starkly contrasted from other 'Year of the Lotus' lineups; I've heard of many teams running Hengeyokai chronicles nearby, but rarely heard of any team interested in KotE any more than making mock of it.

                The translated version of V20 will be published shortly in my country, and there is a reason why many WoD players in Asia desert KotE setting as a whole and employ V:tM with some minor twists (as mentioned above; adding bloodlines etc) to delineate their 'XX by Night'.
                This mirrors a lot of my experience, actually.


                David A Hill Jr
                Freelance Writer
                Independent Game Designer

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                • #69
                  At first, I was curious about KotE. I even picked up the core book online (with the Tshirt!) when it was first released via pre-order online.
                  At the time, Anime was becoming popular in the United States, and some artists (Josh Timbrook, for instance) were already heavily influenced by the styles in their artwork, and so it felt only natural to cash in/use the South-Eastern Asian culture for a new flavor not really explored in the game up to that date.

                  Unfortunately, cracking it open, the setting, concepts, and rules were so alien unlike anything "Kindred" that I abandoned reading the rest of the book.
                  I had expected some "oddities", but I was not prepared for an entirely different game mechanics (I was expecting something based on V:tM since the title used the term "Kindred". I'd expected at least some sort of origins/shared rules), as well as completely alien concepts and setting. The creatures didn't appeal to me, seemed very confusing, and uninteresting. The proper uses of word-origins and such are the least of the things that would ever make KotE20 appeal to me.

                  However, let's face it, X20s aren't really about bringing new people into a game, but rather giving the fans of that game a fun, invigorating nod in their direction with some updates/corrections. They won't get a brand new game, but it will retain many of the warts that give it its (sometimes polarizing) character that made it what it was. KotE20 won't be a game for me, but that was never its purpose anyways.

                  If there's one word that I would change from the game, it would be to remove "Kindred" from the title of the book, but that's just my opinion.

                  Much like "Hunter: the Reckoning", I expected something different than what was delivered (I was hoping for more along the lines of Hunters Hunted than having magically imbued super-powered humans.) For KotE, I was hoping for more along the lines of the "Gaki" or "Bushi" line of Cainites/Kindred.
                  Last edited by Torakhan; 07-14-2014, 11:21 PM.


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                  • #70
                    For what my opinion is worth, I would also like to see a "KotE done right", but I appreciate the challenges present in doing this.

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                    • #71
                      I've found KotE to be a micromangement of gameplay. It's a pain in the butt for a small benefit. I'd be fine with the whole mechanics being changed to account for a simplification of the rules. KotE also has a huge problem of being murder machines but with little to no defense against their own powers. A human with a gun can kill them with pretty simple ease compared to a Cainite who can all innately blood buff their Stamina. I mean it gives a bigger difference between the two.

                      As an ST, a lot of people who join my VtM games join after playing VtM:B which paints the Kuei-Jin as similar yet different. If OPP were to redo the KotE books, basis them off of how Troika did them in that game. Similar but way different traditions and powers, and with some simpler rules. God damn those chi balances are complex and a pain.

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                      • #72
                        I'd love to see a 20th Anniversary edition of KotE. Hope it happens...


                        PENTEX SUCKS.

                        I'm a gamer. I'm conservative. We exist.

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                        • #73
                          Originally posted by MachineIV View Post


                          Absolutely that. And, mind, not just Asian Americans. I've been talking a lot with my actual Asian friends (Japanese mostly and quite a few Indians/Sri Lankans, some Chinese, some Korean, so admittedly not a holistic representation by a long shot), and most have shared similar opinions. They feel that a lot of this stuff looks like Americans fetishizing and homogenizing parts of their culture, with no real nuance.
                          So they figured out it was a World of Darkness game? Because shallow fetishized concepts iwth no real nuance is pretty much par for the course. I'm a Pole I've seen how Masquerade and Dark ages treat Eastern Europe. I know any and everything is going to be bad and based on horrible stereotypes. And I won't even start about Caine and the bible


                          Hell the KOTE line portrays greater political diversity in CHINA by itself(much less Japan) than the Entirety of the Masquerade Line.
                          Last edited by Lian; 07-17-2014, 09:33 AM.

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                          • #74
                            ^At this point it is more matter of inaccuracy. Seriously, the Anarch centre of Poland is in Kraków? That region is one of more politically conservative here in general. It makes more sense for Łódź to be the hotbed of Anarch activity, given its history of worker movements, and its young age for a major city. But, seriously horrible stereotypes are holdovers from earlier editions, not something consciously implemented by V20 writers.

                            My experience with WoD is not even a year long, so I might try to write something on my vision of Poland in WoD when I get more experience, but there is nothing wrong either in going by books strictly. Each to their own.


                            “I am absolute, I am perfect, I am supreme. I shall be eternal. My tragedy, is that there is no other fate for me. My powerlessness was that I couldn’t subjugate my journey to the gods, while dreaming of rebirth at the end of distant time, like other pharaohs.” Ramesses II, Fate/Prototype: Argent Fragments.

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                            • #75
                              Originally posted by Katsura View Post
                              ^At this point it is more matter of inaccuracy. Seriously, the Anarch centre of Poland is in Kraków? That region is one of more politically conservative here in general. It makes more sense for Łódź to be the hotbed of Anarch activity, given its history of worker movements, and its young age for a major city. But, seriously horrible stereotypes are holdovers from earlier editions, not something consciously implemented by V20 writers.

                              My experience with WoD is not even a year long, so I might try to write something on my vision of Poland in WoD when I get more experience, but there is nothing wrong either in going by books strictly. Each to their own.

                              I'm saying that CWOD is pretty foundationally built on fetishized stereotypes and stuff just taken from media. Completely kicking over KoTe and rebuilding it as foreigners with delusions and culturally appropriate hats(and yes that's pretty objectively how Ravnos and Settite creation myths are treated. Objectively wrong in setting) is as big a jump as going requiem.


                              And complaining about homogenized culture when all of the Western world falls into "anarch, Sabbat, and camarilla" is pretty damned funny if you ask me.
                              Last edited by Lian; 07-17-2014, 08:15 PM.

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