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Direct Confrontation (Theorycraft Query)

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  • Direct Confrontation (Theorycraft Query)

    A suitably prepared supernatural or hunter is nearly always one step ahead of antagonists, at least in the vacuum of theory. One of the most common recommendations for a vampire, hunter, or werewolf who finds themselves up against a powerful foe is to ignore them; hitting connections, contacts, and community seems to be the 'easiest' method of dealing with something either too big or too smart to face directly. I get that vampires can be ambushed, werewolves can be betrayed, and hunters are meatbags. I get that mages are nigh-gods, and demons have a finger on the nuclear option.

    How would you suggest any group, of any combination of templates, take down an equal or more powerful group with access if not interest to the same tools, equipment, and powers?
    Is it always best to smoke'em out, ambush and trap, is it always best to fight dirty? Or can you think of a scenario (perhaps inspired by War Against the Pure or Hurt Locker) where open conflict is the preferred option? Just looking for thoughts and opinions.

  • #2
    Who says they wont turn the tables around on you? That is always something to consider: I use my connections, but he can override mine, Maybe Even End them For good! E.g. I ask the friendly detectives To Look Into the case despite it being closed. His guys find out, rat them out to the chief, who suspends them... Now I dont have my cops to use, and Gained nothing.
    Maybe this is about more than our rivalry/fight. We need to show we are strong, and cunning, to our "allies", otherwise the next challenger is waiting for his Chance already, studying our powerbases.
    Maybe I am on a deadline, and the save way simply takes too long. (E.g. Sister dying of curse/power, need his blood for the cure)
    Maybe Isolating them just wont cut it, because we have something to prove, to our elders/superiors, to another force (spirits, clan, troupe, group, organization etc.) whose support We are courting and who demand a Show of power/ test of character.

    Stuff like that, I guess.

    Edit: We want their total eradication, no one must escape... and they are holding a meeting soon, Full attendance. It's dangerous, but striking now is a seductive chance to be done with them
    Last edited by Wormwood; 03-16-2017, 04:19 PM.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Necrophear View Post
      How would you suggest any group, of any combination of templates, take down an equal or more powerful group with access if not interest to the same tools, equipment, and powers?
      Is it always best to smoke'em out, ambush and trap, is it always best to fight dirty? Or can you think of a scenario (perhaps inspired by War Against the Pure or Hurt Locker) where open conflict is the preferred option? Just looking for thoughts and opinions.
      This is extreme theorycraft, can you narrow it down?

      Some splats are better at going head to head, some situations warrant it more. Some are better at social or outside of the box thinking. A werewolf has enhanced senses that are going to keep it alert and, set in first edition, don't need to sleep as much. A vampire is 'generally' entirely incapacitated during daylight hours. A Moros mage can likely stop a Sin-Eater in their tracks, but the same Sin-Eater could destroy an Acanthus, and that same Acanthus could be a Death master, bringing it back to the original problem. Incorporating a mix of every splat against a mix of every splat, without any context, leads to infinite possibilities.

      Short answer, no, it's not always best to limit yourself to one option.


      • #4
        You're already answering the question :P
        I'm asking about hypotheticals where open conflict and direct confrontation would be ideal. That means not striking for the weakness, like rooting out a Cover, or hitting a vampire nest in the day: no contest equals no challenge equals not valid in this particular vacuum. Social combat isn't the question or answer, it's the negative space in which the question is framed.

        In short, if you want it narrow: open warfare, even sides, no guerrilla conflict. No ambushes, no hitting their stores or supply lines, just a clash on a single battlefield.

        It's probably not ever a thing that would happen, given that about half of each splat is devoted solely towards avoiding exactly this kind of conflict. It's still a useful set of hypotheticals which, if nothing else, can be used as a threat of insanity.


        • #5
          The big one is obvious. If there is a leader or controller who is behind all the combat, where destroying them would 'cut the head off the snake' and end any further hostilities, or at least severely weaken the others, you would have good reason to directly confront an opponent. In werewolf, it's not unheard of to attack an enemy's totem, keeping it from giving them spiritual backing. If you are a spiritually strong, but physically weak pack, it would probably be a great idea, providing the other pack is spiritually weak and cannot gather together a new totem, or their totem isn't wildly powerful.

          Similarly with vampires, but really any splat that is known to work in groups. If a bunch of ghouls or 'flunkie' vampires is causing trouble, but solely because of one mastermind, killing the mastermind may cause the trouble to stop.

          Idigam and strix are probably good examples of this. Not much can stop them beyond direct confrontation, idigam can recreate new power bases with great ease, and strix can move from host to host, becoming more and more of a threat. These antagonists are not easy to confront, but if they are not, they will simply grow into more pervasive threats.

          Slashers, too. You might be able to bait them into a more favorable situation through some manipulation and research, but in the end you're going to have to deal with them or let them go.

          Werewolf has a lot of this, as does Hunter, both being more focused on violence. It's not to say you can't do other things, and other things won't help or make a confrontation more advantageous, but because in the end it's about something you must do. A hunter can't keep making phony 911 calls to break-up vampire gatherings, and a werewolf won't get anywhere against the threat of hosts unless violence is on the table.
          Last edited by nofather; 03-16-2017, 05:25 PM.


          • #6
            So, lemme see if I understand: You want to theorize in which kind of setting would supernatural, shadowy predators would blatantly display their unnatural state with the kind of damage to their surroundings to rival scenes from Man of Steel? Not many. They're that: supernatural predators. They make a living out of hiding and preying on the unfortunate, and generally, such bold displays are more trouble than they're worth.

            But some examples could include war-zones (African ones don't really get media coverage). Or places of natural disasters. Thinking about it, how many Haitian refugees would be believed when they state in shell-shocked, broken English that their warlord was a honest to goodness werewolf that proselytized about his lost hunter's paradise and could will seemingly napalm strikes with bit of meditation and an ugly snarl?


            • #7
              Collateral damage is irrelevant to the question, as is the masquerade. If you like, a battlefield in a forest, in the mountains, in the fictionalized/foreign-to-many versions of sewers that could contain a battle. I'm not interested in the implications of the aftermath: I already acknowledged that this is unlikely to ever occur in a rational game*. If you choose, instead, you could also consider this a theoretical foray into the implementation of a Mirrors-esque alternate setting.

              Setting it directly in a warzone, though... fantastic. Given peripheral experience, and second-hand experience with everything from Iraq to WWII, that might even be possible to do. I'm sure a couple of vets I used to game with wouldn't blink at a vampire having been beside them :P

              Werewolves and Hunters do seem the big two here, motivation-wise - I wonder what it would take for Vampires to get off their sanguine asses. Mages are... not sure how to make a fight 'fair' there, and the "even sides" thing kinda negates Changeling's chief advantages.

              In terms of power, the most likely I can think of is Sin-Eaters fighting alongside Werewolves, possibly with Hunters as shock troops. A total of ten to twenty on each side would be a good-sized skirmish. I wonder how other splats would fit in.

              *Open warfare is a confirmed possibility in a game I'm playing in, owing in no small part to the essential magical pacts keeping the peace in a small town in Pennsylvania being in the ancient ledger owned by one Maxwell August, a xenophobic ex-priest Hunter/Gutter Mage who is planning an assassination of the local political and vampiric hierarchy. This all with the express intent of exposing vampires by using rescued sex/blood/red room slaves retrained as Vampire Hunters, thus far completely unknown by the rest of the party and meticulously hidden from the supernatural community.
              Last edited by Necrophear; 03-16-2017, 09:17 PM.


              • #8
                Warfare seems big in vampire when you have the two antagonistic covenants with power and hunger. The Carthians and the Invictus, the Lancea et Sanctum and the Circle of the Crone are diametrically opposed. While the Carthians will play for diplomacy and the Invictus will mostly try to shift power through other means, the books are full of times the LS and the Circle went head to head or someone decided to purge the other side.

                Culture clashes are also pretty big, but this goes with the covenant struggle. Someone believes something, someone else believes something else, and there's no room for a middle ground. One of the fun stories in the, I think, Nosferatu clan book was about an 'average' vampire who happens to bump into some ancient native American vampire that had just been unleashed due to construction, and for whatever reason thought he was some sort of abomination. While some vampires are basically living conspiracies, others are so detatched from the human experience they are just a monster.

                I'm guessing Malus was being glib when comparing a situation to Man of Steel, but when things get really nasty they put that movie to shame. In the linking story in the Werewolf core, the beshilu hosts have an entire city under quarantine, thousands are dead by disease which threatens to escape the place and the werewolves are the only ones who can do anything about it. It's resolved with bombs and deals with ancient spirits and self sacrifice. During one of Dave Brookshaw's actual plays, there's an ochemata laying siege to a sanctuary with tons of Seer minions, and in another something similar seems to dominate the entirety of Washington DC. One of the idigam, Messughana, has appeared as a swarm of locust thirty miles in diameter, and it was no doubt joined by its Srizaku of the Brotherhood of the Locust, great locust men hopping and skipping and devouring the life from the world. And while it's easy to dismiss idigam as some sort of always 'final boss' level threat, the Claimed are malformed beings that sometimes grow to colossal size, and can often make a twisted parody of comic villains. I believe one of the examples is a man who has been Claimed by a spider and is depicted as climbing up a wall. One of the first Hive-Claimed was a man Claimed by an alliance of seven fire spirits that were trying to kill Winter by setting the city on fire. The scenes of confrontations with these things can be huge and explosive to the world and its bystanders. That's why there's things like Lunacy.

                Of course there's also other worlds to take the fights to, the Hisil and Underworld where gods and monsters right out of legend dwell, and places like the Dream and Astral where the combatants aren't even limited by the laws of physics.


                • #9
                  Another thing to keep in mind: not being ready for direct confrontation because you focus on destroying their power bases/(un-)lives could go badly if they decide you've hurt them enough and they need to make a hit on you.

                  Imagine a typical bonepicker: using ghosts to 'haunt' places and things he wants, then coming along as the great medium that is able to take the cursed posession off of you. Except he goes further than others, willing to kill to get what he wants ("I will lift the curse, all I want is being included in your will, getting this house someday!" --> "Well, you see, I wasn't there officer, I was in that nice expensive restaurant on the other side of the side, a thank you dinner one of my clients insisted on, you see.").
                  Now, you can ruin his reputation, destroy his esteem, have newspapers feature a "Phony local medium unmasked!" article etc., basically guaranteeing he won't be able to do that shit anymore.
                  But that will piss him off. Tremendously. Who says he won't try to go and end YOU before you force him to give up his comfy lifestyle?


                  • #10
                    Again, it's pretty well-travelled that hitting someone's reputation, contacts, and other resource-types is the preferred method for dealing with others.
                    Hence, this thread asking that we avoid the temptation to go for the indirect alternative.

                    However, it's a good point that to them: you're the antagonist! You're the thing they research a bit then come at, guns blazing/teeth bared/flesh rippling. If we accept that the accelerated scale of escalated violence so common in PCs is a realistic mode of action, it follows that there'd be some NPCs who could be murderhobos too.

                    "Berserk monsters prowling the sewers, a Verge on the brink of opening into a Wound, and the normie military screaming and bleeding right on top of the powderkeg. Shit, all we need is for that Krewe to show up again."


                    • #11
                      So much depends on how your characters are built. CoD as a system allows for an incredible diversity of characters, and depending on how experience is allocated it's quite possible for a more 'powerful' character (measured by powerstat and/or total exp value) to be outclassed by a less 'powerful' one. I've seen some absurdly powerful combat twinks who can outfight sample antagonists intended to challenge much more experienced characters. If that's the kind of character you built, you're going to favor just punching the big bad in the face whenever feasible.

                      A good specific example is one of the Incarnates from Conquering Heroes. Incarnates are big, scary monsters, and this guy is no exception, but he's primarily a social predator and his stats reflect this. He has minimal combat dots and his Atavisms are mostly defensive. His major offensive abilities are all Nightmares, which require him to make eye contact. I can think of a couple of ways Beasts with only 15 or so exp in the right places, maybe less, could kill him in a straight fight because that's not what he's good at.


                      • #12
                        Of course, certain x-splats often have an advantage when it comes to physical fighting, which should be kept in mind. Careful: generalizing statements following!
                        Generally, Gangrel have more offensive output than lets say Ventrue, especially with something like Claws of the Unholy in addition to Protean. One lucky roll could be all it takes to take care of someone supposedly more powerful, especially if that someone lacks defense mechanisms. As HelmsDerp pointed out, if your enemy doesn't favor physical fights, but you chars do, they might be able to take him on despite him being technically 'more powerful'. In fact, that would even be the smartest option in that scenario: don't box against the boxer, don't kick with the kicker, don't wrestle with the wrestler!

                        In other news, packing tons of heat, adding some grenades, and just blowing them the hell up can solve a surprising number of problems, and is pretty effective across all splats (maybe not THE most effective way, but pretty effective). The only question is whether the consequences are worth it and whether you can pin it on anyone else (Unchained can, quite easily so even).


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Necrophear View Post
                          However, it's a good point that to them: you're the antagonist! You're the thing they research a bit then come at, guns blazing/teeth bared/flesh rippling. If we accept that the accelerated scale of escalated violence so common in PCs is a realistic mode of action, it follows that there'd be some NPCs who could be murderhobos too.
                          "Muderhobos" is probably the best description of a typical group of PCs as I've ever heard.


                          • #14
                            I can't take credit, it's a phrase my mother used while teaching me Dungeons & Dragons in eons long past, and she probably got it from elsewhere.