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Should Chronicles of Darkness broke 'Grand Masquerade' trope in it's history?

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  • Should Chronicles of Darkness broke 'Grand Masquerade' trope in it's history?

    To understand 'Grand Masquerade' trope I mentioned in topic title.

    In recent weeks I run a big discussion on 'logic' of Scion 2E setting and portrayal the Gods involvement with mortals. I point that I wanted to run Scion the way of CoD, without any real changes to history. And again, and again I got responses there that CoD setting should take other ways of history. Like this one:

    Originally posted by Thrythlind View Post
    "Why does history look the same?" is a question that takes apart every urban fantasy that assumes things are more or less the same as our current world. Dresden Files, Marvel, DC, Sanctuary, Chronicles of Darkness, World of Darkness....in none of these settings should the world have countries and cultures recognizable to us. History should have gone off in very different directions but it didn't. The only urban fantasy I can think of that gets away with this is Shadowrun, barely, by having magic absent for all of recorded history up until the awakening.

    The Masquerade and the broad strokes of history remaining are both equally silly. For that matter, having a Masquerade does nothing to fix the problem with history.
    I got simple ideas how CoD - as setting - was in-build in the games it's logical. Few examples, on top of my head:
    • Vampires are not captured on digital media and can use Blood to act physically as humans.
    • Werewolves ( Uratha ) create Lunacy that makes you forget them.
    • Mages ( Awakened ) magic makes you forget it ( or even erase it in the first place ).
    • Beasts powers are only 'dream-like' to target.
    This mechanics and in-setting desire of monsters to stay hidden simply ensure 'Masquerade', yes? In-games factions wars simply not make possible for monsters to win themselves and humanity new states ruled by monsters, yes?
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 12-23-2018, 11:15 PM.


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  • #2
    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
    This mechanics and in-setting desire of monsters to stay hidden simply ensure 'Masquerade', yes? In-games factions wars simply not make possible for monsters to win themselves and humanity new states ruled by monsters, yes?
    Maybe. There's a recurring feature that characters in-setting point out that the Masquerade shouldn't really work, but it does. It's in some respects the biggest background mystery in a setting of mysteries. Additionally, CofD quite often goes with something that isn't really a Masquerade in the traditional sense and into something closer to gnosticism. The Supernatural isn't something external to humanity that needs to hide, it's deeply integrated into it. That people don't notice the God-Machine isn't a sign of how hidden it is, it's a sign of how deeply compromised humanity is.

    Further, it's not straightforwardly true. I mean, it's suggested that most people have experienced something. The problem is that Humanity as a whole isn't aware of the Supernatural in a coherent manner. Lots of individuals and organisations know some stuff, bits and pieces.

    Fundamentally, I think that statement is looking at the setting backwards. It only matters if you're thinking of the setting from a God's eye view where you know everything and the history of everything, and we don't. Even the books aren't really written that way.


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    • #3
      The core book points out that people know the existence of supernatural stuff, they just try to avoid mentioning it lest they become the victim of some attempt to stifle the Masquerade, or draw other evil attentions. Keep in mind 'supernatural things exist' does not automatically mean 'vampires, werewolves, mages, and Promethean the Created' exist. Just because you once stayed up all night because a ghost was singing at you from outside your window does not mean you have all the knowledge in the corebooks.. From there you have the vampire issue. You may be sure vampires exist, but that doesn't mean you know Gary your neighbor is a vampire. And for the most part, since the average person doesn't dig into possible supernatural things, you may never know.

      But if you want a 'broken Masquerade' game, Vampire is coming out with a shard for one. 'Shattered Masks: A Shard where the Masquerade comes down. What effect does this have on a world of darkness where vampires are suddenly real, and among us?'

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      • #4
        I also never said that the Masquerade was broken. My statement was not made with the idea that the Masquerade was relevant to the situation at hand, which is that the presumption that supernatural powers are real and have been around for longer than written history means that the chances history developed in a recognizable way are infinitesimally tiny. To incorporate the Masquerade, which is a very recent policy in terms of historical activity, at most 1500 years back, the very act of maintaining said Masquerade should have forced history on a different path than it went. To borrow my example from the other thread, the vampires aren't going to be trying to both maintain their secrecy AND make sure William the Conqueror reaches England in 1066. As our real world history developed without the influence of supernatural powers, as far as we know, the addition of supernatural powers should have seen history play out in entirely different ways such that things like Egypt, China, Sumeria, and so on never existed but were instead replaced with some other culture that developed in their wake.

        This doesn't get into the fact that the Masquerade didn't exist during the formation of the earliest civilizations, so the chances that things would develop in such a way that a Masquerade would be needed is also unlikely. The only reason a Masquerade exists is in order to justify the concept of "like our world but secretly their are vampires and werewolves" at least some degree. It's enough of a crutch to allow for shoving the other questions of alternative history off the table thus both reducing the workload of the authors and keeping the world setting recognizable as Earth rather than something else entirely.

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        • #5
          Just to clarify, you do know what fiction is?

          It's not real, so you don't need to explain why William the Conquerer's actions weren't changed by vampires. The answer is, for 99.99% of games, is 'you don't know'.

          It's enough of a crutch to allow for shoving the other questions of alternative history off the table thus both reducing the workload of the authors and keeping the world setting recognizable as Earth rather than something else entirely.
          It's not a crutch, it's the central point of the game.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Thrythlind View Post
            ...which is that the presumption that supernatural powers are real and have been around for longer than written history means that the chances history developed in a recognizable way are infinitesimally tiny.
            Not significantly more than the chances of history playing out the way it did are already infinitesimally tiny. Since the speciation of Homo sapiens way back went to now, there have been an incalculable number of events that had they gone differently, history would have be noticeably alerted.

            As well... none of this is actually up to chance. The CofD is a fictional world where history played out as the authors say it did. It doesn't matter how slim the odds are that our timeline and the CofD's timeline would line up. The CofD exists in a setting where that's what happened, just like we live in a timeline where everything the lead up to now happened the way it did.

            To incorporate the Masquerade, which is a very recent policy in terms of historical activity, at most 1500 years back, the very act of maintaining said Masquerade should have forced history on a different path than it went.
            There is no should or shouldn't. Just did or didn't. It didn't

            To borrow my example from the other thread, the vampires aren't going to be trying to both maintain their secrecy AND make sure William the Conqueror reaches England in 1066.
            Either the supernatural didn't get involved, and it played out like our history did.... or the supernatural got involved but the net impact of the supernatural influences resulted in no significant change from our history. Besides the fact that vampires can absolutely be trying to maintain their secrecy and influencing human events around them for other reasons since neither is an all-consuming activity, William the Conqueror reached England in 1066 because that's what happened. The existence of vampires in no way necessitates it playing out differently, it just adds to the number of possible outcomes that didn't happen (which is so large that it approached infinity anyway).

            As our real world history developed without the influence of supernatural powers, as far as we know, the addition of supernatural powers should have seen history play out in entirely different ways such that things like Egypt, China, Sumeria, and so on never existed but were instead replaced with some other culture that developed in their wake.
            Again you say "should" as if statistics create some sort of real world inertia to events. Where is this "should" coming from? As long as the probability of something happening isn't zero, no matter how unlikely, it's allowed to happen.

            While not precisely the gambler's fallacy, it's the same problem in thought. If I flip a coin 99 times, and got 99 heads in a row, the odds of me getting 100 in a row from that point is 50%. It doesn't matter how small the odds of flipping a100 heads in a row is in the abstract. The 100th flip after 99 heads is just as likely to be another heads as it is a tails. But most people think I "should" get a tails because of how unlikely the 100 in a row is abstractly; even though that's not how probability works.

            The only reason a Masquerade exists is in order to justify the concept of "like our world but secretly their are vampires and werewolves" at least some degree.
            I mean,does anyone actually disagree with this? It's a genre convention... so what?

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            • #7
              This whole idea that the world would develop differently is based on the premise that everything started exactly the same with the exception of the supernatural stuff that would've caused a divergence that would build up until nothing is recognizable. That's just not what CofD is. CofD describes an alternate version of our world that has different elements. It didn't diverge from our history. It developed in a manner similar to our history. That it managed to develop a similar history is a convention for the players to have a recognizeable world, but as pointed out it's not actually any less plausible than any other history that could've developed instead.
              So no, no vampires made sure William the Conqueror reached England to follow a history that they could know nothing about. William the Conqueror did that on his own. Or perhaps he did have some supernatural help that coincidentally made him follow our history. Or perhaps he never did and it was all a cover story for other events that coincidentally matched our history. Or perhaps it never happened at all because the PCs got involved and prevented the whole thing during a historical game. CofD doesn't really have a set history anyway since it's a toolbox and it's just the default assumption that history followed the same path (as far as most people know).


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              • #8
                You're actually arguing my point

                The original poster on another thread in the Scion forums was trying to argue that without a masquerade it didn't make sense for Scion to look like the normal world and implying that the existence of a masquerade would fix that, despite that game not being built with a masquerade in mind at all. He presented the "but the world would look so different" argument with the implication that masquerade would fix that.

                I put forth the commentary that masquerade or not did not change how improbable and illogical the world looking basically the same was so the argument he was making for a masquerade allowing scion to make more sense did not hold water. I used several other urban fantasies including CofD and Marvel as examples of world settings where the existence of the countries and history we know just shouldn't exist as they do.

                He misread me as saying that the masquerade in CofD had broken so he started this thread and and started pointing out all the ways that vampires and such had to keep the masquerade in place, basically arguing against an point I hadn't made and either ignoring or not seeing the argument that I had made that his complaint was as applicable to a setting with a masquerade as one without.

                Certainly in fiction we can go back and arrange the alternate history to account for both powers and still developing the same way and we do so all the time. It doesn't make it any more plausible a result. It's just a weird situation where instead of something being just a little bit improbable making suspension of disbelief more difficult, the situation is so vastly improbable that we just dismiss it out of hand because we want our superheroes and urban fantasy.

                So I was responding to him in context of his arguments on the other thread and wasn't considering the lack of context to anybody else.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Thrythlind View Post
                  You're actually arguing my point
                  This that's the case... I still think your specific argumentation could use hefty refinement in presentation.

                  I put forth the commentary that masquerade or not did not change how improbable and illogical the world looking basically the same was so the argument he was making for a masquerade allowing scion to make more sense did not hold water. I used several other urban fantasies including CofD and Marvel as examples of world settings where the existence of the countries and history we know just shouldn't exist as they do.
                  But none of this logically holds up.

                  A masquerade doesn't make sense in Scion because the existence of the supernatural as fact in that setting actually has an impact on how the World is different from our reality. The only question is if Fatebinding is truly a sufficient force to nudge events to have the World be as close to our own as it is. Probability and 'illogical' don't factor into it.

                  And you're back to the "should" thing. There is no "should" established here.

                  It doesn't make it any more plausible a result.
                  Only because everything in the grand totality is so implausible in the first place that any changes have no discernible impact on the likelihood of history playing out in a specific way.

                  This is still in the gambler's fallacy realm of thinking. Looking at history in the way you are is pointless because nothing is "plausible" on that scale (plausibility isn't even a functional concept on that scale). It ignores how plausible individual events actually are once the past has already occurred. You're looking at things in the lens of "100 coin flips resulting in heads in a row is insanely unlikely to the point where it 'shouldn't' happen in a sample size of 100 flips." And ignoring that if 99 heads came up in a row, 100 heads in a row becomes just as likely as not. Once now happens, the probability impact it has on the future becomes 1; it's no longer uncertain. It doesn't remain X% to calculate into the odds of future event happening.

                  It's just a weird situation where instead of something being just a little bit improbable making suspension of disbelief more difficult, the situation is so vastly improbable that we just dismiss it out of hand because we want our superheroes and urban fantasy.
                  We dismiss it out of hand because probability isn't the appropriate argument to be making about the history of a fictional world.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                    To understand 'Grand Masquerade' trope I mentioned in topic title.

                    In recent weeks I run a big discussion http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/main-category/main-forum/scion/1274898-everyday-life-with-gods"]on 'logic' of Scion 2E setting and portrayal the Gods involvement with mortals[/URL]. I point that I wanted to run Scion the way of CoD, without any real changes to history. And again, and again I got responses there that CoD setting should take other ways of history. Like this one:



                    I got simple ideas how CoD - as setting - was in-build in the games it's logical. Few examples, on top of my head:
                    • Vampires are not captured on digital media and can use Blood to act physically as humans.
                    • Werewolves ( Uratha ) create Lunacy that makes you forget them.
                    • Mages ( Awakened ) magic makes you forget it ( or even erase it in the first place ).
                    • Beasts powers are only 'dream-like' to target.
                    This mechanics and in-setting desire of monsters to stay hidden simply ensure 'Masquerade', yes? In-games factions wars simply not make possible for monsters to win themselves and humanity new states ruled by monsters, yes?
                    I don’t think Scion and CoD translate in this regard because they’re striving to capture different genres. Scion is trying to capture epic mythology (just with cars and smartphones), in which the numinous may be rarely witnessed by most people but the reality of its existence is an accepted fact. CoD is striving for gothic horror, in which the truth being hidden in shadows is part of the point.

                    Now obviously there can be alternate settings in both cases worth exploring in supplements! But the default settings are right where they should be for their genres.

                    Anyway, keep in mind a lot of what keeps the supernatural clinging to shadows in CoD isn’t necessarily fear of mortals (though they shouldn’t be underestimated!) It’s fear of even scarier supernatural predators.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                      This is still in the gambler's fallacy realm of thinking. Looking at history in the way you are is pointless because nothing is "plausible" on that scale (plausibility isn't even a functional concept on that scale). It ignores how plausible individual events actually are once the past has already occurred. You're looking at things in the lens of "100 coin flips resulting in heads in a row is insanely unlikely to the point where it 'shouldn't' happen in a sample size of 100 flips." And ignoring that if 99 heads came up in a row, 100 heads in a row becomes just as likely as not. Once now happens, the probability impact it has on the future becomes 1; it's no longer uncertain. It doesn't remain X% to calculate into the odds of future event happening.
                      Exactly, the original poster's argument was that the existence of a masquerade avoided the plausibility issue, and I was pointing out that, no it didn't and you're still dealing with the same scale of plausibility.

                      I thought about pointing out that mundane history was also as implausible at one point and decided not to. Oh well.
                      Last edited by Thrythlind; 12-24-2018, 08:24 PM.

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