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thoughts on how V20 disciplines should work when targeting Garou in a W20 game

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  • thoughts on how V20 disciplines should work when targeting Garou in a W20 game

    Consider a W20 game, where all the PCs are Garou, and there are NPC vampires that the storyteller has created with full V20 character sheets. Are some of the V20 mind-affecting disciplines overpowered when used against W20 Garou in a WtA game? Keeping in mind that the V20 rules were written for a VtM setting, do you think some disciplines should be more difficult to use against W20 Garou in a WtA setting? I'm thinking specifically of Presence and Dominate, most especially of Presence, which in my opinion is game-breaking when a vampire targets a WtA Garou with it.

    These reviewers seem to share my opinion about these disciplines being overpowered in the VtM setting:
    https://guidetothemasquerade.weebly.com/presence.html
    https://guidetothemasquerade.weebly.com/dominate.html

    Caitiff Prince's opinion expresses my sentiments exactly, but I'm coming from a WtA game where the mind-affecting disciplines used against werewolves with the exact same effectiveness that they have against the user's fellow vampires.

    In the spirit of offering a solution, not merely a complaint, here's my suggestion: give the PC Garou in a WtA setting a roll to resist the effects of mental disciplines uses against them by vampires, even where the VtM rules as written declare that the discipline simply works, no chance to resist.

    I justify that change in the VtM RAW when used in a WtA setting by calling attention to the visceral HATRED that Garou have against vampires. Presence, which manipulates the target's emotions, should be FAR more difficult to use against a species of half-spirit creatures who harbor a deep, ancient hatred and commitment to KILL ALL LEECHES than it is to use against relatively weak-minded mortals or other vampires. Majesty, in particular, I've found to be particularly scene-breaking: the targeted Garou gets NO chance to resist becoming totally enthralled by the vampire, even when he knows it's a vampire, and he's instantly reduced into a fawning puppy who's happy to lick the vampire's feet. Presence can even pull a frenzied Ahroun out of frenzy and into its thrall. It's literally an "I win" button that doesn't even have to be rolled to activate. Dominate isn't nearly so broken, at least at lower levels, since there are ways to avoid being "caught" by it if you see it coming, and since its effect is to redirect the target's mind, rather than to force the target to literally love you. I still think a Garou, specifically, should be given the opportunity to resist the Dominate effect with some use of Willpower.

    But what do y'all think? Should V20 disciplines apply towards W20 Garou PCs in a WtA setting as they are written for the VtM setting?

  • #2
    Well, the Presence write-up completely skips that anyone can use (with difficulty) WP to at least temporarily overcome it.

    Both Disciplines are incredibly good... unless your target has a lot of WP (which is cheap and easy to get all things considered).

    There's small issues like what do you do with Dread Gaze (since it targets a trait Garou don't have), but forcing them to roll at zero is probably not the right rules call (even humans have at least Courage 1).

    The biggest problem with these things is the way Gifts are gated based on Rank and are all over the place rather than in distinct lists. If you wanted to, you could spend all your freebies and make a starting vampires with a 5 in a Discipline. There's no way for Garou to start with Rank 3 Gifts like Shell. While activating Shell has it's drawbacks, as written, a vampire with Dominate 9 still automatically fails trying to mess with that Garou's head.

    The Garou also have plenty of their own mind-whammy powers, many of which are harder for vampires to deal with because vampires don't have a "protect mind from supernatural powers," Discipline. Persuasion is one of the best social powers (though depends on ST interpretation) in the WoD, and most Garou can get it for a mere 3 XP (and the rest for just 5 XP).

    So... it's situational in the end. Dominate and Presence can go from insanely powerful to pathetically weak depending on what Gifts are on the table, the Garou's Rank, access to Rituals and Fetishes, and their Totem's bonuses. You're not going to kill a W20 game by using V20 RAW powers, but don't expect a group of Cliaths to walk into the room with a Toreador Elder and expect to shrug off having Presence thrown at them. Likewise be prepared for when the Garou figure out they're up against vampires, and start buying stuff that helps them in these situations.

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    • #3
      Yeah, I ultimately agree with Heavy Arms.

      I agree that Dominate and Presence are powerful disciplines - and I have a pet peeve about losing character agency because of them - but from a narrative, setting, or mechanical level I do get it.

      The Garou are combat monsters and have a vast spectrum of advantages they can draw from spirits, gifts, totems, and fetishes. Their hellish to deal with. I can get then why, from a counterbalance perspective (as opposed to a pure balance perspective) it's fair that vampires can harness Dominate, Presence, and Thaumaturgy as their own advantages - particularly in their own chosen arena as Social Monsters.

      That said though I do have two there things.

      I do agree that the mechanical distinctions between the gamelines needs something to work then out. I agree that it's probably best done on a case-by-case basic but also that STs might want quick references to help out. For me than I basically see two options: alternative traits or phantom traits.

      To use Dread Gaze (Presence 2) as an example, it's difficulty is based upon Wits+Courage. Many gamelines such as WtA, MtA, and CtD don't use the virtue system by default. So then, what does a vampire roll against a member of those splats. The idea of having their Courage rating be 0 obviously doesn't feel right to many. So you have to replace that with something.

      Whether Honor renown, Gnosis, Arete, Rank, or even something that everyone has like Willpower, it doesn't really feel right. Maybe there's a solution in the replacement category that I'm not seeing, but the best option I see is just calling for Willpower as difficulty.

      The other avenue, which I prefer, is the 'Phantom Trait' method. Garou, obviously, do not have Virtues. But hey, let's suppose one did. Let's say Erikk Wyrmrender, friendly neighborhood ahroun, is a young berserker with several confirmed kills to his name. He doesn't technically have any courage on his sheet as a virtue, but if he were made by Mortal or Vampire rules, I'd probably give him 4 courage as ST. So, when a vampire PC wants to Dread Gaze him, the difficulty is 7 - 3 (his actual Wits) + 4 (his Phantom Courage).

      That's just me though and in fact, speaking of personal preference and the golden rule, here's what I think is the most important thing: do what's best for this specific game.

      Are you playing Vampire and you want to showcase the nocturnal mesmerists as lords of the night? Well then of course the Ventrue bigshot is throwing around his Dominate and Presence to cowe the lupine savage and sent it back to the outlands where it belongs. The Ventrue may fear the sudden ambush strikes of lupine packs in the forest, but the city is his domain, where force of personality beats force of arm any night.

      Are you playing Werewolf and want to showcase the honor-bound frenzy of Gaia's Champions? Well then of course the noble Shadow Lord rends aside the leeches petty tricks and slaughters the Wyrm-dumb fool where it stood. The machinations of vampiric elders may drain the Shadow Lord's kinfolk's business but pity the poor wyrm-spawn whose cornered by the Balkan Lord's pack.

      It ultimately comes down to what story you're trying to tell at the end of the day. A story for vampires is allowed to favor them, a story for werewolves is allowed to favor them, and a story for them both is allowed - if not expected - to favor them both equally.

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      • #4
        I think permanent Rage usually gets substituted for Courage when it comes to crossover powers. It's not a perfect substitute, but it makes sense.

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        • #5
          I actually like Primal-Urge for VtM/WtA crossover to replace Virtues, since Primal Urge serves a similar purpose in being how in touch with, and how in control over, a Garou is with their instincts. Primal Urge is also already a minor version of Awareness; making it a natural space for noticing that powers are in use rather than normal intimidation.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            I actually like Primal-Urge for VtM/WtA crossover to replace Virtues, since Primal Urge serves a similar purpose in being how in touch with, and how in control over, a Garou is with their instincts. Primal Urge is also already a minor version of Awareness; making it a natural space for noticing that powers are in use rather than normal intimidation.

            ...That's pretty good actually. I might do that.

            Other than that, I had the idea that Werewolves should just have invisible starter virtues (default willpower of a tribe suggests what courage to use) and then add +1 to everything (using gnosis or rage would mean a most garou would be weaker than mortals)

            If you, A Garou, want to avoid Dominate/Presence
            1: Kill the leech before he has a chance to use it
            2: Have high willpower.
            3: Hope that the leech will give a command that's at +2 difficulty and needs 5 successes... and doesn't succeed.

            That's the best I can give.


            Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

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            • #7
              It’s fair to argue if we’re using phantom traits garou would have courage 5 instead. They fight BBEG Cthulhu type monsters like a mundane Tuesday routine.

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              • #8
                I substitute Gnosis for Conscience/Conviction, Rage for Courage and Primal Urge for Self Control. Yes, Garou are that insanely brave at my table. Conflict is what they live for.

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                • #9
                  I think treating the Garou as default brave (esp. in a W20 based game) is a bad idea. They aren't more or less brave than anyone else in the same essential circumstances, and Rage can provoke fox Frenzies, not just berserk Frenzies. Do they fight horrific things on the regular? Well the PCs do sure, but the game is clear that there's a significant number of Garou that can't hack it (which gets them dumped into the Bone Gnawers who tolerate them as back-line supporters), and the Garou still have to go through their own version of basic training which is designed to psychologically prepare them for war not just train them in combat skills. It's also easy to be "brave" when you can flip on Crinos and rip most things in the WoD to shreds.

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                  • #10
                    Werewolf: the Dark Ages (not DA: WW) suggested using Willpower or Rage for Courage, Gnosis for Conscience and Humanity, and Willpower, Gnosis, or Primal-Urge for Self-Control.

                    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post


                    ...That's pretty good actually. I might do that.

                    Other than that, I had the idea that Werewolves should just have invisible starter virtues (default willpower of a tribe suggests what courage to use) and then add +1 to everything (using gnosis or rage would mean a most garou would be weaker than mortals)
                    But the Fianna are known for being recklessly brave and have a lower starting WP because of the same reason (i.e. low self-control, which W:tA also figures in as a low WP thing).

                    If you, A Garou, want to avoid Dominate/Presence
                    1: Kill the leech before he has a chance to use it
                    2: Have high willpower.
                    3: Hope that the leech will give a command that's at +2 difficulty and needs 5 successes... and doesn't succeed.

                    That's the best I can give.
                    Resist Temptation exists as the first option for more active resistance at Rank 2; Stargazers are the primary users, but it's a common Beast Courts Gift. Alternately, one might wear many layers of gasoline-soaked clothing and use Master of Fire in the hopes that the vampires won't want to try to meet your gaze if you're fully immolated (a sun mask fetish, among other spiritual items, would probably be a better choice, but not everyone has one of those).

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                    • #11
                      I have no objection to werewolves using a trait that goes above 5 in place of Courage, but a substitute for Self-Control in a species highly prone to impulsive self-sabotage and violent outbursts is another ball of wax entirely. Though the starting Willpower value based on tribe looks appropriate. And I'd think starting Gnosis should be inversely proportional to Conscience.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Matt the Bruins fan View Post
                        I have no objection to werewolves using a trait that goes above 5 in place of Courage, but a substitute for Self-Control in a species highly prone to impulsive self-sabotage and violent outbursts is another ball of wax entirely.
                        It can go to 10 because Garou and Fera aren't spiritually empty blood addicts, even if their culture encourages them to act first and think much later. Meanwhile, vampires are only really calm if they're topped off on the red stuff. Any other time, and, well...



                        Though the starting Willpower value based on tribe looks appropriate. And I'd think starting Gnosis should be inversely proportional to Conscience.
                        That's a hard sell on both counts, there. Starting Willpower is like a soup of two or three different Virtues that can't be readily divided into discrete parts, and Gnosis doesn't compel you to be an asshole like Conviction, which vampires often use as a numerical "equivalent" to Conscience in many capacities. Gnosis is also what Garou worry over if they get embraced and it takes, so there's that mechanical intersection to keep in mind as well.

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                        • #13
                          Frankly, house ruling VtM is probably the better approach here, esp. in a W20 based game, rather than trying to make WtA fit to it; esp. since VtM is worse about targeting traits other splats don't use without any guide for what to do instead (CtD obviously targets Banality a lot, but there is a guide to assigning Banality to characters that don't use Banality as a trait).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                            Frankly, house ruling VtM is probably the better approach here, esp. in a W20 based game, rather than trying to make WtA fit to it; esp. since VtM is worse about targeting traits other splats don't use without any guide for what to do instead (CtD obviously targets Banality a lot, but there is a guide to assigning Banality to characters that don't use Banality as a trait).

                            No way. WTA is way worse for that. At least with VTM you can bullshit someone's Virtues. With WTA, many of your opponents explicitly do not have Rage or Gnosis, yet that's what you're targeting. (and rulling that you use difficulty 5 if they don't have rage is ,story wise, total nonsense: Because of course Joe Bloggs is a more resiliant individual than our Theurge, of course.)


                            Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

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                            • #15
                              Whether you like the mechanics of a given Gift or not (and it's clearly evident you feel a specific Gift* should be house ruled on its own merits not because of crossover rules issues), if a Gift keys off the target's Rage or Gnosis, it only works on Garou/Fera/Spirits/etc., or it has another option. I'm sure there' an exception or so, but that's clearly an error as the default is for such to be the case because WtA assumes you will deal with characters without Rage or Gnosis, while VtM doesn't assume you'll face characters without Virtues.

                              "Bullshitting," Virtues isn't hard (though as this thread illustrates, doesn't have a simple single answer), but if you're running WtA, why should you bend to VtM's rules instead of bending VtM to WtA when you have to resolve a mechanical conflict? If I'm running W20, and a PC Ragabash sneaks up on a vampire successfully, they get a -2 difficulty on their rear attack, not +2 dice on a rear attack because that's how V20 does it. Likewise, even if I'm using VtM stated vampires in my W20 game, if a Discipline targets a trait Garou don't have, I should change the Discipline to fit WtA, not WtA to fit the Discipline.

                              If we're talking about a bigger project of crossover play or just a general unified WoD20 ruleset that eliminates these sorts of inconsistencies? I'm more than happy to be less one-sided in my perspective.

                              ---
                              * - AFAIK, the only Gift in W20 Core where low Rage makes you inherently easier to target than a normal human is Mother's Touch... which is a good thing for the low Rage less combat focused Auspices, not a bad thing. There's no default "if they don't have Rage, the diff is 5," as most of the time this occurs the Gift just targets Rage or Willpower. The only even remotely screwy Gift in W20 Core in this regard is Infectious Laughter, and that's not because normal humans can be harder to target than Garou.
                              Last edited by Heavy Arms; 07-31-2020, 07:58 AM.

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