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Crossovers and Splat Comparisons

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  • Crossovers and Splat Comparisons

    I have had minimal exposure to the nWoD/CofD up until now (I did do a fair bit of classic WoD stuff back in the 90s, but that's a long way from having mastery over a semi-related system two decades later), but am now - perhaps foolishly - considering running a crossover game using it. Obviously, I'd like to know what sort of pitfalls to look out for generally, and more specifically, how to avoid some splats simply rendering others moot, or common snags in ways that powersets interact.

    Oddly, I could not find a thread on this from within the past five years - most of what I found was from around 2006, and concluded that vampires and werewolves were both laughably underpowered - but I know they have both been rewritten (and conventional wisdom seems to be that werewolves, at least, grew far stronger). So, has that changed at all? Should I expect any difficulties running older splats such as Sin-Eaters or Changelings under the reworked rules, when they themselves have not been altered? How do Demons fit in with others?

    (I take it for granted that Mages are still godmode, and have little personal interest in Beasts or Prometheans, but notes on those things are welcome as well, to help others get the broadest information available.)

    "For me, there's no fundamental conflict between really loving something and also seeing it as very profoundly flawed." -- Jay Eddidin

  • #2
    There is a book planned that should be all about crossover games. There's mentions in the Pack about how werewolves deal with other splats in their packs and helps with some of the sharing of duties. Honestly, I don't think crossover is a great idea, at least not the whole 'everyone is something different.' Two splats can be easily meshed but once you start having third and fourth splats things can get clunky in terms of motive.

    In terms of power, yes, vampires have gotten an upgrade and their covenants, the social organizations, each have a power set that can easily be added upon with customizable home brewed things. Werewolf, too, got a really nice power up and also has systems that allow for easy additions of powers. I think they embraced the toolbox approach further with the second editions. I always felt vampire and werewolf went the best together. Both are predators, though admittedly from different angles, both are concerned with the Masquerade, both are territorial, both were once human and are now 'traditional' monsters and are going to spend the rest of their time dealing with that and the new hungers it brings.

    EDIT: I think there's more than enough differences in second edition that playing a first edition game in a group with people playing second edition games would be such a hassle as to be not worth it. A lot of people have made their own conversions but even then.
    Last edited by nofather; 06-08-2017, 08:05 AM.


    • #3
      I could talk for days about the potential and aesthetics of crossover Chronicles, but it sounds more like you're interested in some numbers more than anything.

      So my advice is to stick purely to material that's 2nd Edition compatible. Specifically if you're going to do crossover then limit the players to:

      Vampires (VtR 2nd Edition)

      Werewolves (WtF 2nd Edition)

      poooossibly Mages (MtAw 2nd Edition) just be ready for asymmetrical storytelling and embrace the fact the Mages will complicate things for everyone (and especially themselves)

      Prometheans (PtC 2nd Edition) but be warned that their interactions with others WILL color the events and tone of the Chronicle

      Changelings (OP's Open Development for CtL 2nd Edition has enough beta rules to run Changeling as a 2nd Edition game)

      Demons (DtD was released already as a 2nd Edition game despite it being it's 1st Edition technically) disguised as mortal characters (lots of fun to be had there)

      Beasts (BtP was also released compatible to 2nd Edition) although if you are a numbers person then I can tell you right now this game will absolutely drive you up the wall.

      And finally Mortals (CofD, formerly known as the God Machine Chronicles), yes Mortals. Every splat has their Mortal followers and often they can be the glue that keeps an otherwise viscous group of monsters from ripping each other apart.


      • #4
        This thread has some ideas for crossover themes.

        "I hope you will have a long and happy life, if only so you can realize how stupid and wrong you are."


        • #5
          In my POV it's better to talk about particular crossover mix than general trends, like vampires & werewolves or prometheans & changelings. It's better then to highlight themes of both games and to talk about various inner powers of splats. So what monsters you want to talk about, Chejop?

          My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
          LGBT+ through Ages
          LGBT+ in CoD games


          • #6
            Mages got stronger than they were before in a lot of ways. They're even more laughable and don't play well with others in my experience. The game is deliberately designed in such a way that only mages can stand up to other mages. Which has lead to a lot of anti-magic powers creeping into other games to say nope! Mages tend to bring out the worst in other games, I notice.

            Prometheans... don't play well with others. By default, everyone hates them and tries to control or kill them or something. Don't recommend.

            Vampires, changelings and werewolves are all powerful in their own sphere of influences. I personally lean towards changelings being strongest of the three. Beasts I actually think of as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I consider them weakest of all the full supernatural splats.

            Demons, much like mages, are super powerful, and, in general, the only thing that stops a demon is another demon or the God-Machine. Mage + Demon seems like it might be fun, and its possible to do a God Macine Is An Exarch story, but the mechanics involved can make challenges for one end up seeming trivial for the other, which makes plots difficult. Especially when you sicc mages against angels and they ahve the right arcana. Trivializes a lot of things.
            Last edited by MCN; 06-08-2017, 03:02 PM.


            • #7
              Originally posted by MCN View Post
              Mages got stronger than they were before in a lot of ways. They're even more laughable and don't play well with others in my experience. The game is deliberately designed in such a way that only mages can stand up to other mages. Which has lead to a lot of anti-magic powers creeping into other games to say nope! Mages tend to bring out the worst in other games, I notice.
              I think Mummies can keep up with Mages well enough, especially soon after they wake up. Mummies don't play.

              That said, I think having a Mage in a game can actually make it a lot more interesting. They make really good "outside context problems." They can play around with nearly any supernatural phenomenon, in ways that other splats often can't, but are rarely as well-informed about those phenomena as the other splats unless they've spent most of their careers studying it.

              Back to the main topic, I usually don't worry too much about power level in crossovers, and I prefer to cross games that have a thematic overlap. Mage/Mummy as a study in hubris from both sides of it, as well as the ethics of power; Demon + Mage for lots of supernatural gnostic investigations (maybe a game of cat-and-mouse between a nearly untrackable spy and a nearly omniscient investigator); Any of Vampire, Werewolf and Beast for the predatory nature of the splats, as well as their differing takes on family and interpersonal interaction (Vampires see social groups as power structures, Werewolves are more tribalistic, and Beasts are familial); Mummy and Sin-Eater both deal with death and the afterlife (and supernatural knick-knacks for that matter) in fundamentally different ways, so they can make some neat contrasts; Changeling and Beast as a contrast between beings who broke out of a narrativist otherworld vs. things that are a proud part of a similar world, etc.

              That said, I agree with a lot of people who have said that it's not a great idea to have a wide variety of major splats in a player group. Though, with Beast, you can mimic a lot of other splats and stay in comparable power levels, and it looks like Deviant may be similarly flexible.

              Genius: the Transgression 2E is a thing that's being worked on.


              • #8
                Mummies aren't even a 2e game yet. You can't judge them to mages as things stand.

                If your experience is different from mine, sure. Go for it. But my personal experince with mages is that they are the worst in crossover.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MCN View Post
                  Mummies aren't even a 2e game yet. You can't judge them to mages as things stand.
                  Well, we kinda can since there have been rules written about it...sorta.

                  In the Dark Eras Companion book, we have an era that's a crossover era with Mage and Mummy in "Princes of the Conquered Land". Which contains a bunch of new rules and mechanics involving Mages and Mummies interacting with each other. Such as what happens when a Mage attempts to interact with the Pillars and likewise with a Mummy interacting with Mana. And overall defining what Mages and Mummies can/cannot do to each other.

                  Granted, there is the caveat of having to purchase the entire Companion book to get to the rules and having to deal with the other CofD supernatural splats you may/may not care about...
                  Last edited by tasti man LH; 06-08-2017, 04:54 PM.


                  • #10
                    Its a half-hack that's based on things that may not exist in 2e. I mean, hells. With the changes Changeling is going through, the 'ling stuff in Dark Eras is outdated.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MCN View Post
                      Its a half-hack that's based on things that may not exist in 2e. I mean, hells. With the changes Changeling is going through, the 'ling stuff in Dark Eras is outdated.
                      There's enough information(beyond the fact it's the ONLY information and your method of pointing that out is disingenuous at best) for smart people who know their systems to make a judgement call on Mage/Mummy crossover play. With the chapter in the DEC assisting in that endeavour.

                      Not returning to the forums, just stopping in for a moment.


                      • #12
                        Beast is the most crossover friendly splat, and the only one with several core mechanics to explicitly enable it. They're powerful enough and versatile enough to fit in with most groups without being flat better than anybody.


                        • #13
                          Thanks for all the info so far!

                          I understand the tendency to advise people not to sweat the numbers and just focus on themes. However, I find that an unhelpful outlook. It is very rare for me to run any game without significant tweaks to the setting and its underlying assumptions - and since I view those things as mutable, if an issue arises in play, it's usually easy to reach an agreement on how to change things. However, I have had several games in multiple systems run into trouble when the rules did things that the players didn't expect, and making systemic changes to them is frequently both harder and more likely to cause unintended side effects. I would not call myself a "numbers guy," but I was primarily asking a numbers question. If I were to decide that, say, Mages are too powerful and the God-Machine isn't a setting element that I want, but Demon concepts are rad and so I repurpose Demons into mortals who have become aware of the true nature of reality (and Cover with a Paradox analogue, and so forth)... a discussion of how Demon's themes interact with those of Vampire probably won't mean much to me, but saying "Demons die easily if caught unprepared, with with a little forethought, can trivialize most challenges a Vampire engages with" definitely does. Or what have you.

                          (That was an off-the-cuff example with no real forethought. I am not trying to turn this thread into a discussion of its many issues.)

                          Likewise, I kept my question very general because (1) I do not have a complete idea of what my game may be yet, (2) I would need to see what splats interest my players to know which ones in specific will be involved, and (3) since I found so little discussion of this question, I was hoping for general advice so that other people could use the same thread. It seems odd to me that the only opinions I could find are a decade out of date.

                          Broadly, my favorite uses of worlds of an ill-lit nature are as a setting for political intrigue and a backdrop for exploring vast and ancient secrets. And I like relatively powerful PCs. So, think along the lines of a Vampire or Changeling-style "secret court" mixing trappings of feudalism and organized crime, probably rules primarily by either vamps or changelings, but with one or two other types of supernatural as major players, and a few more than that around the edges, shadows even within the world of shadows. And the PCs as experienced, "power stat" 4-5 figures with a lot of clout on a city-sized level (generally, I find that PCs buy into political intrigue much more and movers and shakers than as pawns), but increasingly aware of deeper powers or ancient conspiracies of some kind.

                          One potential advantage of such a setup is that you can use greater indirect power to compensate for some differences in personal power. If, say, Vampires are still seen as far worse than most supernaturals, throw them a bunch of extra dots to spend on money and followers and call it a day. But, of course, actually implementing that requires some a priori knowledge of how those imbalances work.

                          "For me, there's no fundamental conflict between really loving something and also seeing it as very profoundly flawed." -- Jay Eddidin


                          • #14
                            Alright, off of pure mechanics:

                            Demon, Mage, and Mummy are arguably three of the most powerful, and can fairly easily blow through a lot of things other splats might have trouble with.

                            Demons are hard to catch, can lie so perfectly it can fool even supernatural means of detection, and have an extremely broad array of powers that can short-circuit the problems of other splats.

                            Mages are extremely versatile, and can do nearly anything with enough time and effort put into their Arcana, and especially when dealing with their preferred Arcana. Few things can hide from a Mage for long, due to not only their Unveiling spells, but just their plain and simple Mage Sight sussing out supernatural things with relative ease. They are also the least directly hampered by their condition, as they can pretty much pass for mortal to most eyes.

                            Mummies are immortal demigods who can survive the destruction of their body, can doe stuff like pull a meteor out of the sky onto your head, and can wreck pretty much anyone, especially if they're not prepared. If you can get them to fall back asleep, you might have a shot for a while, but they also have cults and often Sadikhs to contend with who could just raise them again later, and can be a pretty mean force in and of themselves.

                            Prometheans pose the issue of Diquiet and Wastelands screwing with other splats, since most other splats don't do a huge amount of travelling, so having a Created around is liable to cause some issues. They're not excessively powerful, but the unique nature of their condition can throw an entire area out of whack rather quickly.

                            The splats least likely to destabilize other splats' games are, in my opinion, vampires, werewolves, beasts and sin-eaters. Their powers are on a fairly manageable scale, they don't to have relatively focused domains in which they're powerful, and in the case of Beast, it was explicitly designed to mesh into other splats' worlds.

                            Changleings can work in other splats' worlds, although it looks like 2E is putting more of a focus on Courtly politics and evading the agents of the Gentry. So if you are willing to toy with or excise some of that stuff and slightly lessen the significance of the Freehold (or make the Freehold more open to other splats under the right circumstances), Changeling can fit in pretty well with other splats.

                            Hunters can be made to work without too much trouble (most of the conflicts between what Hunters do and what other gamelines say is impossible are largely fluff), but don't send Hunters in against Mages unless they're at least Sleepwalkers, and don't send them in against a Mummy that's already awake. Hunters could reasonably handle a Demon if it's not got too much of a foothold in an area and they are very very smart about it. I'm talking bordering on Batman, but it's doable. Hunters are at a pretty stiff power disadvantage much of the time, though, so if you want to bring them into a game, they'll need either a boost, or access to more prep time and supplies than they might usually get.

                            Here are splats that I think go well together, taking power imbalance into account:

                            Werewolf/Vampire: Their powers are different and complementary enough to make a mixed group work decently well. Vampires have political manipulation and moving among humanity in their bag, and wolves are generally better at fighting, but there's enough overlap in both arenas to keep one side from dominating either field entirely.

                            Vampire/Changeling: This is with the caveat that 2E Changeling is not yet out, but Changelings could make for a fresh new face for vampires to deal with and vice versa. Vampires are good at manipulating others, but Changelings are paranoid enough that manipulation becomes tricky. Changelings and Vampires both have their own specific forms of intrigue to deal with, and trhusting one into the other, or causing them to collide, could put both off-balance. It can be especially interesting to consider what Vampiric society might do in response to intrusion by the Gentry, or what Dragons might do with a place that literally rewrites itself according to the will of those present, or how a Changeling might respond to a capricious immortal who feeds off the living and is emotionally dead inside, but isn't Gentry.

                            Sin-Eater/Vampire: They're both (technically) undead, but in radically different ways. When pairing Bound and Vamps, it's easy to draw contrasts between them. Sin-Eaters are living, but tied intimately to the world of the dead. Vampires are clearly dead, but remain relatively ignorant of the world after death. It could be neat to watch a Sin-Eater take an arrogant vampire down a peg, or watch a vampire shrug off the assault of a Sin-Eater that mistakes them for a lesser form of undead. Not to mention how the vampires might mistake them for Strix-possessed, or Sin-Eaters might try to treat a Strix like a ghost and fail horribly.

                            Mage/Demon: These two are interesting because they kind of approach the same idea from opposite directions. They are both plugged into a sort of "root-level" access to reality's inner workings, but while Magi are trying to connect deeper, most Demons are deliberately trying to disconnect. Demons have the benefit against Mages of being nearly inscrutable, able to literally become a different person when things get too hot, but Mages have a knack for putting their noses places they shouldn't, and so they're going to end up running into Demons anyway. If you strip out the God-Machine from Demon, then you get punky Matrix-type enlightenment, clashing with upper-crust classical-type enlightenment, La Résistance vs. the 1%. If you want to put them together and strip out some of the fluff aspects, their knowledge could well come from the same source, with Demons having stolen what they know in order to use it, while Mages were gifted with their wisdom from (what they believe to be) some higher power.

                            Beast/any of Vampire, Werewolf, Changeling or Hunter: With the former three, the Beasts can act as a wild card, being either dangerous competition, a destabilizing element, or a valuable ally, on an individual basis, as well as being an easy way to bring in a representative of another splat without worrying about the rule-bending imbalance they might carry. Against Hunters, it can make for a pretty obvious Hunter become Hunted scenario, although who was originally Hunter may change depending on your wishes. If you want to get really sly, you could try to bring in some Heroes, and maybe place the Hunter in a situation where they have to choose between helping a monster, and helping a different monster that just happens to seem more human.

                            Genius: the Transgression 2E is a thing that's being worked on.


                            • #15
                              Alright, so I have generally tiered the different games when it comes to mechanics, and seeing as most people have gotten the themes down, I'll just focus on the mechanics of it.

                              Tier three entities are Mages, Demons, and Mummies; these guys are the most powerful of the group, and by extension their powers have the most risk and consequence. For mages they will be causing paradox often based on my experiences playing mage. Demons will also be causing blips on the God-Machine's radar, and in general it's a bad idea to be big and flashy in a game about secrecy. Mummies have biblical powers, and those get noticed real fast. These entities also have the most dangerous enemies of the splats typically, and that's another reason why they have to be cautious in their abilities. The advantage of tier three entities is how strong their powers are.

                              Tier two entities are Werewolves, Beasts, and Sin-Eaters; these guys can be scary out of the box and their powers can take them pretty far. Werewolves have their transformations, spirit powers, spirit allies, and their pack at their disposal. On the other hand werewolves don't have many social structures to call upon beyond human ones. Beasts have quite a few scary powers, and they can quite easily befriend most of the other splats. However they focus on their Lair trait for most of their abilities. Sin-eaters have ghosts they can call upon, and all their ghostly powers. However, from what I'm aware they don't have a large social structure either. Some of the advantages of tier two entities is that they often have another realm at their disposal full of interesting things they can call upon, and the fact that their smallest groups tend to be quite tight-knit.

                              Tier one entities are Vampires, Changelings, and Prometheans; these are both the weakest of the splats and some of the strongest. They have many tricks to survive, but their offensive powers really depend on certain factors. Young vampires are typically not that much scarier than your average mortal, but they do have tricks to survive against the other splats. However, elder vampires are terrifying in the abilities they can call upon and just how deeply entrenched they are in mortal society; an Elder vampire against a cabal of mages can easily defeat them via having a judge issue an order to the local police department to have a swat team raid their shared hallow. Changelings, from what I've seen, are largely dependent on their Kith in terms of combat capabilities. However, every changeling is an escape artist that will be unmatched by just about anything. Prometheans in general are survivors, however their ability to call on social structures is typically horrendous with very few exceptions. However a Promethean has to be killed at least twice, and their powers are nothing to balk at. The advantage of tier one entities is their variability, and having some of the best survival mechanics.

                              Hunters will vary in capability on their three tiers as well.