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High-powered template combination for fun and profit

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  • Satchel
    Didn't you do almost exactly this thread premise already?

    Like, cheers for getting to the point faster, but this is still a pretty dull and mechanically overinvolved way to ask the personality-quiz question of "What's your preferred way to play a me-against-the-world dropped-in-at-the-deep-end-of-setting-weight story about a Unique Monstrous Specimen that would probably be in an extremely niche Night Horrors book if it weren't a PC?"

    If I'm to engage at all with the premise that this nightmarish mashup is mechanically equivalent to overlapping two different character sheets and adding a benefit that, bonus XP aside, draws from a short list of answers to "Which category of major narrative device do you want to completely remove from these games about monsters with weird occult quirks and limits?" then I'm going to take the extra Experiences and put them into being a Begotten-Bound with a well-stocked Lair, a dense library of Ceremonies, and a solid brood/krewe hybrid backing my claim as Apex of a mid-sized town with suspiciously good Wifi, because I'm not interested in picking between juggling five different Integrity analogues and completely removing them from consideration.

    I'll take the hit of having to address a lot of awkward questions from Sin-Eaters about suspicious immortality because I have no say in that aspect and it's orthogonal to my interests, but I don't need the other three template slots to make an interesting concept out of characters from the skeleton game and the crossover drop-in friends getting smushed together around a core of common magic.

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  • EndlessKng
    So I had actually been playing with some similar concepts of late... far more broken, of course (I was curious what happens if you take a mortal character through the first four steps, and then add in just about every 2E major and minor template, and some of the 1E ones that haven't been translated, save for a few of the Hurt Locker ones - basically the ones that aren't Atariya and Psychic Vampire). I also had a similar idea surrounding just doing the Minor templates and seeing how that turns out (it's... weird). Also, the whole "slots" thing and how some are a bit "bigger" than others is kind of cool to me - reminds me of the .hack//G.U. games, where the Adept Rogue was a Red Mage-style class that could have multiple regular classes, but advanced in each more slowly, and each took up a certain number of slots so that the most you could get was 3, and that's if you didn't take any spellcasting classes (of course, the main character already has his three decked out, but still).

    So.... hmmm... let me break it down by types and weight things.

    There are THREE ways I can easily think of that could possibly make Mummy work. One is the one I was using in MY experiment: you've achieved Apotheosis. No higher level Utterances, Sekhem 1, pretty low level... but you can take all the Pillars you want (and depending on how you do the rules for Apotheosis, you already should have at least two at 5). The other is from a LARP that ran until a couple of years ago in the Mind's Eye Society, called Accord. It was... sort of what Contagion Chronicle looks to be - all the playable supernaturals of the time (this was late 1E, so the main lines all existed, plus splat-tied Minor templates, Second Sight, Inferno, Changing Breeds, and a few other things) were in the Accord to fight something called "The Truth," which was infecting reality. Knowing about the Truth made you a Believer, which meant that if you died you powered the Truth. It was gonzo in every sense of the word (it also made the MES realize that the next time they did crossover settings, they should probably leave a few splats on the cutting room floor so that the ST only had so much to deal with (the addenda/org house rules for Accord were rivaled only by the ones for the old MET Werewolf game happening at the same time, which incorporated MET Werewolf AND MET Vampire and Mage as Antagonists [including all the Clan and Tribebooks], and they did that. So the game I run now "only" has Vampire, Werewolf, Beast, Mage, Changeling, lesser templates tied to those groups, psychics, and Stigmatics... but at least only like three of those games have supplements thus far? But I digress.) To help Mummy out, they said that the presence of the Truth had disrupted the standard cycle; all mummies were built standard, so Sekhem 1, Memory 7, and everything else at base, and you bought up Sekhem like any other power stat. The third way is to have a really loyal cult that calls you back to help with minor but persistent stuff every time you fall asleep (look, if I know the rules I'm playing by, I will get a Cult that will wake me up to keep trying to get Firefly back on the air as my First Purpose).

    But, not sure I would go with Mummy or not anyways. Only ONE of those options promises long-term power without heavy drawbacks, not enough to be worth two slots likely.

    Looking at just the templates mentioned... I'd almost certainly go with Mage. It takes two slots, but it's also really, REALLY good and helpful and it should take up two slots. Probably go Guardian of the Veil to get Masques if I can avoid them wanting to dissect me (best Order merit in the game, IMO, and top five contender for just best merit). Probably would focus on Fate, Mind, and Life magic (Mind and Life for buffs, Life for Life extension in case I don't end up with a splat that makes me immortal, since at the time I'm writing this I'm torn, and Fate because HAVE YOU READ FATE?), with Time and Space in there when possible (and eventually get all of them). Death, Forces, or Matter would probably be my Inferior choice... Forces probably most likely, if not for the fact that it would allow me to ignore the weather when it's annoying (and the level 4 attainment just gives any Environmental Tilts the finger - it is, for instance, a hard counter to Firestorms), and because of... well, you'll see.

    (As a side note, even if Minor Templates WERE on the table, I would probably give Proximus a pass. Unless I could find a large supply of Imbued Items and Artifacts, their magic is almost impossible to use without risking serious consequences in 2E. If I HAD to pick one, I'd probably pick Essers, because they actually don't have a "Greater" Curse to trigger with Paradox as written).

    Sin-Eater and Changeling both feel like they're calling to me... but the version of Sin-Eater could make a difference. First Edition, I would not hesitate (I took a look at the Synergy sins recently and tried to imagine how bad it would be for me if I was a Sin Eater... I think I figured I could stay around Synergy 8 unless someone close to me died and tempted me to bring them back, or shit just got weird). I'm less sure about 2E Sin-Eater, but that's also because I haven't read it as thoroughly. I mean... I probably WOULDN'T say no, but they definitely feel different and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

    Changelings, OTOH, have a lot of cool things to them. Many of the contracts are awesome, their fuel stat is easy to replenish (even with the new difficulties and side-effects added in, it's probably still flat out the easiest). Plus, Mantle and Goodwill are both really, really handy, especially with Mantle being a 1-5 and Goodwill giving you Mantle benefits. And Sealing... mmm... I love me some Sealing. But, I'm a bit concerned about Clarity. Further, if I AM a mage, many of the Contracts are things that I could eventually emulate. Admittedly, that can be said for just about anything, but it does make me a tad bit hesitant. Also, Oaths ARE really hard to deal with in this system if they get tricky around you, which could be a deterrent. But... very high on my list. And they are probably the least likely to bat an eye if you do weird shit unless it's shit the True Fae do.

    Beasts... hmmmmmmmmmmmm.... REAL tempting as well. The only issue I have with taking Beast is that, on an OOC level, I am not actually real sure I get some of their mechanics with regards to Lairs and how their feeding draws Heroes. If we're playing it as written, where *I* am the one going into the Chronicles universe with my knowledge, I'd be real hesitant to take on those aspects for that reason. On the other hand, though... Atavisms are broken and really, really awesome. Eye of Heaven: get to know secrets about anyone you look at, no roll, no cost (though, my interpretation tells me that this also means I would read any false versions instead unless I had a way to tell if there was magical deception... the power doesn't say it triggers any clashes, so that also means it probably doesn't GET to clash with a liar's effect. But that's also fixable with, say Pierce Deception). However, this crossover thing does create a little loophole - since you create each template as a separate character, that technically means you could Family Ties yourself two or three times (unless you go Demon/Mage/Beast and then you can only do it once). This means Kinship Nightmares, but also Family Dinner. And Beasts do have a LOT of awesome merits. Further, the Beasts aren't really going to care that you're an unholy abomination, except maybe if one of those things is Demon. And speaking of which...

    Demons are also tempting... but the God Machine and it taking two slots makes it a bit costly for my tastes. If I went Demon, I'd probably go Embed-focused Inquisitor, with a Dual Agenda into Tempter. Collect all the Beats from the Conditions and Resolutions thereof. With Embeds as a focus, especially Mundane Embeds, I am far less likely to draw attention from the big GM. I would probably keep my Primum low, never above 5, and work to get lots of little bits from Pacts over time to build up patchworks in the background. And again, several cool Merits to pick up, plus Demonic Form and Interlocks... mmmm.... Demon is a definite maybe. At two slots it feels too expensive.

    Vampire is... this is probably the most conditional of any of them. The conditions being that: a) I'd probably need to emphasize in Death and Forces magic or have another form of regeneration and/or damage reduction; and, b) it would depend on how likely I am to be able to infiltrate the Covenants. On one hand, Death is not one of my favorite Arcana; on the other hand, though, it could be used to achieve Life effects on me if I'm already dead, so the benefits of Life are less immediately useful (though still handy for philanthropic purposes). Similarly, I'm not a big fan of the general Forces Arcanum (I like some of the ideas and effects, but not when Paradox and Disbelief can cause me to fall out of the sky), but the Forces 4 attainment and some of the other spells also could be better than an SPF 1000 sunblock.
    But. Vampire has a lot of really good temptations. Although Disciplines are really static effects, they also are really powerful in 2E. 2E Auspex 1-3 are major innovations on the fairly standard versions of those powers from not only 1E but every version of Masquerade. And the physical disciplines get a major upgrade from 1E (though WoD Celerity and Fortitude may be preferable, I'm cool with these versions). Add in Praestantia, and they can make you really kick-ass and not even need to worry about buffing yourself physically with Arcana (though you probably still need Death 2 and 3 to heal up). Further, VtR2E has more supplements than the other game lines save for Demon (which technically came out BEFORE the rest of 2E), and with it comes all sorts of cool merits (can you tell that I like Merits?) Of course, you'd probably need a constant Alt ID to infiltrate the Covenants, and you really need to infiltrate the Ordo to get Coils (especially Zirnitra, which lets you then buy Psychic merits, which technically could include Atariya). And infiltrating any other group is potentially helpful if you can avoid getting caught.... the Invictus merits are especially handy things to have (Travel Agent is especially a favorite). So, ultimately, it would depend on how likely it is that I can avoid being picked out by others and turned into a science experiment.

    Promethean is... hmmm... 2E Promethean is a marked improvement from 1E, don't get me wrong. I would not want to be a Promethean usually, but if I had to pick, 2E any day of damn week. And they have two merits I love - Vivid Dreams (love me more Aspirations and visions), and Driven (because FIVE FREE POSITIVE CONDITIONS IS REALLY GOOD, Y'ALL). But the drawbacks, plus the fact that it will end one way or another, unless I can come up with more roles than the book provides, makes it not really worth it for me.

    And then there's werewolf. Again... hmmm... Kuruth CAN be a problem. On the other hand, it's kind of the only problem? Oh. No, it isn't. There's one more:
    Werewolves are XP guzzlers. Like... if Experiences were fuel, werewolves would make Hummers look like Prius'. You need to buy five renowns, PLUS a Power Stat, and as far as Power Stats go, it's definitely not my favorite. Like... I play one in a game right now, and I am thinking MAYBE Primal Urge 3, since I am already at 2, but not any higher. Now, if I could draw upon some 1E merits as well, it'd be a bit more promising (especially Chronicler's Guide - there's the "Lone Wolf" section in there that gives you a Personal Totem and the ability to take Spirits as Retainers). And 2E Lodges ARE really sweet, especially if you get one with Lodge Sorcery. But you're also likely to end up as viable prey to a minimum of two tribes. But also, if you are in a Pack, that may dissuade others (except those assholes in the Lodge of Garm), especially if they are an open minded pack that already embraces the Other. So they're not off the list altogether, but they are a bit iffy.

    Okay... so looking at what we have here, we're discarding two of the three (and a half) of the dead guy templates. Gut feeling says these are the rankings:
    1. Mage
    2. Beast
    3. Changeling
    4. Vampire
    4 (tied). Demon
    6. Werewolf
    7. Sin Eater

    Okay... let's go ahead and take SE off the list too. We do have 2E rules for them now and those are what we'd be using in this scenario. So that leaves us six, but two of those are 2-slot templates.

    Let's also consider the special effects, since two of them may call out enough to make me decide to forgo another slot:
    1. Really, REALLY useful. (As a side note, I love how the rules for simulating a Mage without the Mage rules in Thousand Years of Night was "Just make an Elder Vampire with everything except for Devotions).
    2. Oooooooohhhhhhhhh... I like this one. Especially with Beast and Vampire (and really, all of them except maybe Changeling).
    3. Hmmmm... this is useful, but if we're assuming again that *I* am the one going into this world, I could likely come up with ways to mitigate those effects if not eliminate them altogether. See Forces/Death Mage helping save the Vampire. Similarly, I'm likely to avoid triggering Paradox whenever possible, so it's less of a worry for me.
    4. So... This is a really good one. I know that some of the Integrity things are easy to avoid if you know what you're doing and are willing to be a cheeseweasel (and if I'm living this, I am going to be a cheeseweasel). On the other hand, that also means a lot fewer Beats. And, with Beasts being a leading contender for a Template, this does become marginally less useful (since it's one less thing to need).

    Okay... I am going to go to bed and this may change by tomorrow. But I think my lists are as follows:

    Option 1: Mage, Beast, Vampire. Special Options 1 and 2. This lets me "Feed" without having to feed, preserving my Humanity and possibly Wisdom (and lessening the need for option 4) and making Blood Potency less of a problem overall. The biggest issue here is the chance of discovery, since both Mages and Vampires have really intraconnected societies and it'd be tricky to navigate both. I would need to go into Alt IDs and join the Orders and Covenants alike - at least Ordo 1 for Coils and Guardians 1 for Masque, and probably Invictus 2 on that side as well (but also possibly Carthian 2, so you can then buy Right of Return and get more benefits... but then, you're more scrutinized so that is a problem). Thankfully Family Resemblance would keep me well hidden. The higher Experience level is needed to be able to buy up the Coils and Arcana I need to survive, and then flesh out the rest later. Arcana probably are Death and Fate Ruling, and a lot of Forces on the side to start. Disciplines would probably be Praestantia, Auspex, and... I'm not sure on the third. Possibly something Bloodline specific. Then again, it does say I can ignore any canon limitation, which would allow me to pick three disciplines to be my in-clans, but learn any others. But the utility of that would depend on if we're counting 1E bloodlines and/or 2e Bloodline gifts as options. If we WERE allowing 1E Bloodline disciplines to be purchased in this mess, I'd also buy Nahdad - the ability to just call up Havens on the fly is not to be discounted.
    Option 2: Mage, Beast, Changeling. Options 1 and 4. Being able to ignore mental issues is super helpful in this build. You still need to feed your Beast, but your ability to Harvest Glamour plus Family Dinner means it's far easier to manage. And all that Experience makes you a good candidate for Apex and Incarnation.
    Option 3: Mage, Beast, Demon. Option 4. Option 4 is appealing because it keeps your Cover safe from all but the worst of the worst Compromises. You'd have less Experience to start, but you could move around fairly safely - Spoofing and Family Resemblance both mean that you can better hide what you are from prying eyes, making it less likely that you'll be on the run. Also, these three are fairly efficient in Experience terms - you get four Embeds/Exploits (so probably 3 Embeds and 1 Exploit), six dots of Arcana, two Nightmares, and two Atavisms. This gives you access to a lot of neat abilities that help fill in the gaps with each other - Demon and Beast provide Paradox-free powers, Mage provides a lot of flexibility in powers that all other templates lack; all three have powers that let them hide their true natures, which could create interesting stacks of protection from detection; and, you can get a real good selection of Merits around. You also only have to worry about infiltrating ONE supernatural society this way (though, with Beast, you could tie into others as you find them). And, this gives you three cults potentially - a Primordial Cult, a Demonic Cult, and a Mystery Cult (two, if you buy both Initiation AND Influence). Also, you could use Show of Power to emulate the powers of the other splats as you encounter them, and without risk of Compromise to boot.
    There's one weakness to this: of all the options, this is the most Fuel-heavy build. Even if you aren't regularly spending mana, you'd need to find sources of it and fast. This doesn't give a real way to "Family Dinner' unless you count oblations as feeding, so you may have to prey on others. And though Compromise isn't an issue, you still need to deal with the God Machine to acquire Aether sources (it's less important if you stick with Embeds... but you still need it).

    Will need to consider this...

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