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  • Thoughts of a new Storyteller

    Hey all!

    So tonight i ran my very first Chronicle of Darkness game and i just have to get my thoughts out for it.

    For starters, i thought i was well prepared. I was wrong lol. I had used the Nightmare on Manor Hill as a basis for this one night story. 10 scenes, some optional, with the intent of running it all in a 3h30 hour session. I planned breaks and ambiance music and setting, the scenes and tried to keep the rules in mind all for this one night of introducing me and my friend to CofD.

    Lets start with the bad: i was not expecting the jokes and the giggles. We all knew this is a horror themed game but i think my group just wanted to have fun and roll dice. Which im ok with but was not expecting. I will be ready for it next time and see if i can find a way to still keep them immersed without having the train get off the tracks.
    Second was my own time management...we did 3 or 4 scenes...i was shocked by how fast time was flying by! Shocked!
    Third, the ambiance music failed on me. I decided pretty quickly to drop it when it failed as the jokes pretty much set the tone for the night we were going to have.
    Finally my own lack of experience showed. No matter how much you prepare there will always be other things getting in the way...i still want to improve on this...setting, tone, rules...much improvement to be had on all accounts!

    The good: fun was had by most even me! The system and freedom is great! I cant wait to know it well and be confident in it. Most of my group wants to play again soon which is a good sign and once i get over my hickups i think ill want to play often too.

    Any other stories you have had from your first times?

    -Matt

  • #2
    It's been a long time since the first game I ran but yeah, prepping can go a long way but I can't think of any times when everything I've planned has gone off exactly as scheduled and everything ended right on time. Usually things go short, or long. It has to have happened once or twice just based on the numbers.

    I ran Mage once or twice during the early days of first edition and our player group (same people for the most part) didn't really have good memories of it, but I convinced them to try second edition. They got used to the spellcasting pretty fast but I had put them up against two mage antagonists, one a character creation level guy and another, who popped up afterwards, a magnitude more powerful than them. It was one of the first times Tilts really, really came into play and at a point the area they were combating in, sort of the first floor of a house and its basement, with the most aggressive of players on the stairway between, by the end most of entire house was engulfed in darkness, icy with frost, and silenced, which made things a lot more slapsticky than I had thought they'd be. Mage armor came into play to a silly degree, too, and when one of the PCs decided to grapple and subdue the weaker mage antagonist (an old man) he ended up not being able to do damage past their armor, and I recall between that and bad rolls everyone having a laugh as the cabals' combat specialist repeatedly tried and failed to do simple bashing damage to an insane elderly man they had grappled.

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    • #3
      After 13 years of running games on Storyteller, I find good rule of the thumb is 'Planed number of scenes = Planed hours of game - 1' -> For the most party's, players need first hours to chill out, run jokes and immerse really in characters. With experienced players ones you can re-focus to this taking only about half an hour - but it will show up, again and again.


      My stuff for Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E & BtP
      LGBT+ in CoD games

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      • #4
        Don´t try to force the personal horror , the jokes and laughts are great in fact they are good feedback (you and your players are having fun) the personal horror will happen naturally the more they love the world you build for them becuase they will start to care about what it´s in it.Now about the time thing is something that happens to all ST and players.When you are having fun the time goes too much fast and no matter how much you prepared the session scenes will always take more or less than what you expect becuase players are improvisating all the time and that forces the ST to improvise and change things.

        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        About my first session let´s say it started near 2,5 years ago as Vampire:The Hangover

        It was a very improvised session becuase my friends wanted to try the masquerade after talking about it in a manga convention they created their characters: a conservative brujah , a Chemist tremere who is a little bit sadist and piromaniac and an ex-anarch Ravnos looking for his sire.The session started presentating some characters in the elyseum and learning how to feed but the brujah and the tremere ended drugged and drunk becuase of drinking from the wrong vessel and they had some problems gettting back to their havens (A botch roll wich was played for laughts)

        They made a contact , an anarch brujah living at the docks who proposed them winning millions by stealing from a ship full of toreador art that will really help them archive their objetives. The mission went south when the contact fucked things up and one of the members of the coterie ended in debt of a Malkavian who belives to be a troll nosferatu elders who likes to sing the pink panther song in stealth missions.The contact abandoned the PCs and while running made a masquerade breach so the prince ordered the members of the coterie to hunt their contact who acted as the first fight of the game.After that the ravnos was acepted in the city by the prince and the players recived a clue to archive their objetives.

        At the end of the session my players learned that the WoD is a place where you just don´t trust everybody and that sometimes saying NO is the good idea.The Chronicle still continues.


        Hunger pool

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        • #5
          I ran Hill House a few months back. Something that's not obvious until you play that style of scenario is that the tension can ramp up very quickly, and it's not necessarily all that related to how seriously the players are taking it. You basically need your players to not want to die and that's all, the tension comes from them not really knowing what's around the next corner. Jokes can be frustrating for a ST but they can often be a sign that the tension or emotional tempo of the scene is getting a bit much for the players.

          Speaking of Hill House, when I ran it, the PCs kept interrupting the ghost magician when they were trying to explain themselves, so I had them stop trying and just order the players around. Also, when the spectre of the maid and the portrait of Barnes and Hill appeared, the players just ran away. Twice. At the end of the scenario they were basically none the wiser as to what happened.


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          • #6
            Awesome stuff guys and gals! Ill be reading more as i get the next chronicles going so do keep sharing!

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            • #7
              Something else came to mind about Hill House. The scenario is written with a kind of video game logic to it. You need a key from the maintenance office to open Sullivan's penthouse.

              Or you can just smash the door in, bypassing a chunk of the scenario.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Michael View Post
                Something else came to mind about Hill House. The scenario is written with a kind of video game logic to it. You need a key from the maintenance office to open Sullivan's penthouse.

                Or you can just smash the door in, bypassing a chunk of the scenario.
                that's what my players ended up doing, due to time i let them smash it in without any interference from the posessed residents but I so wanted to throw 10 or 20 of those at them for smashing the door in XD

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                • #9
                  Game 2.
                  Different group. Thede guys had never really roleplayed before but wanted to get into DnD so i threw in a sales pitch for CoD and got a "well i guess we will try this".(keep reading it gets better)

                  We did some character creation and the vice and virtue aspects of the game won them over! So i prepped a little 3 scene intro story just to wet there whistles and get me another shot at this. It went magnificiently! They were into it from the get go and i was able to stretch some muscles while we played. Sure one or two got pulled and are a little sore from ill use but they will heal and get stronger(combat related mostly...its not and intuitive system for me yet)

                  However i absolutly BEAMED when we got to the resolution of the game and had both my players say how much they wanted to find the real killer even though they knew they couldnt. Had to give them tough choices afterall! But they even enjoyed that and look forward to resolving that aspiration in a future tale.

                  Speaking of: our next session will be friday april 19th. Wish me luck!

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                  • #10
                    So a question to those of you with more experience with the combat system...it states that the roll to attack should be Brawl+Strength-Defense. But if a character has a very high defense, like say the "quick" beat cop character in the antagonist section with a defense of 6, and my players have Brawl+Strength of 4, does that mean they are always fighting this guy on a chance die?

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                    • #11
                      It means your players should use Willpower points in combat - that's why they exists in system. Each WP spent is +3 to one dicepool.


                      My stuff for Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E & BtP
                      LGBT+ in CoD games

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                        It means your players should use Willpower points in combat - that's why they exists in system. Each WP spent is +3 to one dicepool.
                        Thanks Wyrd! that would still give them 1 die against that guy though lol so I'm thinking some more reasonable combat situations would be preferable.

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                        • #13
                          Willpower points, all-out attacks, the gradual whittling away of Defence via the multiple attackers rule, and so forth, are all means by which characters can get past high Defence. Not to mention that werewolves can change shape to boost their Strength significantly.

                          A WP point and all-out attack is giving you +5 dice before factoring in any reduced Defence on the target from your fellows also attacking them.

                          I'd say Def 6 for a beat cop is probably a bit high, to be honest; I'd envisage most police probably having defence somewhere in the 4-6 region, with 6 being particularly talented and fit individuals.


                          - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

                          ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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                          • #14
                            1 dice is better than 0 dice in Chance Roll. With 1 dice you have (circa) 30% of success - with Chance Roll, only 10% is then.


                            My stuff for Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E & BtP
                            LGBT+ in CoD games

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                            • #15
                              There's all-out attack as well. Drop your defence to get 2 extra dice on your attack.

                              Plus, you can aim for the arms/legs etc. those can impose tilts that can radically alter the fight.

                              Finally, the characters defence drops by 1 each time someone attacks in a round. So, you're probably loosing against the beat cop if it's a one-on-one, but a group of PCs are probably going to win.


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