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Reading the Tide of Death - How Deadly Are Your Chronicles?

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  • Reading the Tide of Death - How Deadly Are Your Chronicles?

    Having recently finished a reread of Slasher, the question of how big an event a killing is in the average setting's been on my mind lately. Different gamelines obviously impose different internal consequences on player characters,* but it feels salient to the process of worldbuilding to have a solid understanding of how much of the jacked-up missing persons statistics occasionally alluded to as one of the differences between reality and the Chronicles setting is owed to murder and supernatural mishap as compared to less lethal disappearances.

    So, that being said, the question is in the title: How much does death tend to color your chronicles?**

    * Vampire and Mage's respective desensitization-based Integrity analogues obviously put a bit more weight on their protagonists' ability to commit murder, while Werewolf and Deviant sometimes necessitate the death of another character for the sake of Harmony and Stability, to say nothing of Demon having an Embed for killing multiple mortal extras at once or Beast's changes from the KS draft specifically including "we should probably have fewer serial killers making up the sample characters" in the adjustment process.

    ** We can open a sidebar here for analogous fates, like soullessness or being trapped in a hostile dimension or turned into something that probably won't turn back into anything like a human or whatnot, but "how much death is happening onscreen or being talked about in the background?" is the core issue.


    Resident Lore-Hound
    Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

  • #2
    Pretty tired, but I'll say how it goes in Hunter (and please correct me if I misunderstood the thread and answer in the wrong fashion.)

    In our hunter games, things like murder tend to be upped enough in peaceful areas enough to where it isnt enough to elicit a "GASP" from local residents (the only place we really have deaths be gasp worthy is in the country side with very small populations).

    In those places that are big (or have bad murder rates in real life), its tragically common to the point where hunters can get away with killing monsters as long as they arent publicly well known (basically, they wont need to worry about investigations as it would be "just another murder").

    But since you mentioned the book, slashers tend to always be noticed for their murders. Even in those areas with tons of em.

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    • #3
      I tend to completely ignore it and treat the world as essentially identical in appearance to the real world.


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      • #4
        In my games it varies heavily, but by and large I dislike playing violent characters.

        My Changeling games have almost no killing whatsoever, and though violence plays some part it’s almost always against hobs or Huntsmen. Even when it occurs, it rarely has a positive result beyond delaying some other bad things from happening. The few times players have incited violence against mortals, it ubiquitously ended badly for the Changeling for one reason or another.

        My Demon games, however, are a mixed bag. In one story, I had to defend my suborned Infrastructure from Cryptids spawning in and around it, and both times the gory details were deliberately hushed up by the ST when I noted I was uncomfortable with them (which was impressive given that one of the players was a werewolf). Even when the players’ Agency went to war with another Agency thanks to one of the players, actual killing didn’t seem to be on the docket as much as pilfering information and gadgets was... at least until one enemy Demon went Loud at a picnic featuring most of the Agency to get the God-Machine onto us. (genuinely don’t remember what lead to the decision for the “company picnic”, just that the ST was lackadaisical in reigning in one player’s leading the Agency in spite of not being the head of it. It was a serious derailment of the game that the Going Loud segment helped get back into order, funny enough)

        In another Demon game, though, the other players were far more prone to violence and revenge, such as going through a God-Machine cult/gang and casually murdering the entire apartment in response to one of the players’ cult members being killed and organ harvested off-screen. I am somewhat ashamed to say it was easy to get caught up in the energy for that. It didn’t help that in that game, though, the events of the world were less a story and more an MMO where one player could dramatically affect other games to their detriment just to make sure the affecting player wasn’t denied their fun. Another game had the ST give a player an interlock that allowed them to basically make someone hurt themselves by not noticing what they were doing while being distracted by the player’s beauty. Upon getting it, said player found a very occupied bar, turned it on and walked through it - the carnage that followed resulted in every single person inside the bar dead and it on fire, and the other players were just laughing from it. It was the point I left that game, though that was more the straw that broke the camels back given other issues.

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        • #5
          I usually run things in Miami, where until recently two months hadn't gone by without a murder in over 50 years. There's plenty of other places that are more or less "dangerous" but supernaturals tend to not have the fortune to live lives untouched by violence. Law enforcement obviously has a presence in these games, and there's a tendency for supernaturals and those who commonly associate with them to have a sort of nebulous legal existence that can find ways to label a murder something else. The setting's not more evil than our own world, but a backdrop of secrets and mysteries is an easy place to put things like unsolved murders or bizarre deaths.

          In the games I've run, player characters have generally avoided killing humans, with a couple impassioned exceptions. But I have a tendency to make antagonists more out of monsters than regular people. So in our vampire games, while they might avoid killing humans and ghouls, other vampires aren't exactly 'okay' to kill, as the act still has some pretty heavy gravity among a society of immortals-who-want-to-stay-immortal, sometimes the Prince (or PCs) might decide a vampire deserves it. It's not an easy thing to do, because a tyrannical ruler theoretically inspires rebellion (something I may remove from the game given recent experiences that suggest that's more fantastical an expectation), and even if vampires just leave piles of dust there's still other vampires who might investigate.

          Hunter had our most PC deaths. The monsters they hear about are truly monsters, those that urban legends have or would have sprung up around about why people don't go into the Narrows, or why so many missing persons cases have popped up around that canyon. If you've taken up the vigil, you know this, if you're new, it's been hammered into you. Many monsters 'kill' humans to form or feed (azlu, vampires, etc), and our setting has a storied legacy of the hunter compacts that have risen and (inevitably) fallen when they became famous enough among the supernaturals to become the prey.

          I've thought about it off and on over the years, how if you have persistent occasions of inordinate amounts of deaths in the world, you either have less population, or you start with a higher baseline population, and it's 'like our world, but bigger' which has its benefits. I think in the end it's easier to not get too worried about that sort of statistic except regarding a specific area you're playing in as part of the background (like Hong Kong, in Hunter second edition, where there seems to be a rash of new slashers), or as a reaction to events in the game, where law enforcement or some other group has decided to act. In one of our last long-lived games I played a werewolf of the Iron Masters who preferred hunting and killing humans and his target of interest was specifically a criminal organization. Even with supernatural abilities to assist in getting rid of evidence and muddy the memories of bystanders, as the game went on we were dealing with law enforcement, hunters, even other supernaturals as part of the repercussion for these and other investigations. Death has more of an impact than in the real world (what with ephemeral consequences), but it's still a fact of life most would balk at inflicting.

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          • #6
            I dislike violence and try to avoid it unless absolutely necessary, at least in Onyx Path games. I much prefer social or mental challenges to combat.

            One of my female friends and a few of my guy friends enjoy combat a lot more than I do, but they usually try to tone it down when they play with me.
            Last edited by Penelope; 09-09-2020, 07:29 PM.


            “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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            • #7
              Opening chapter in my DtD had cryptids killing an NPC, and then cultist/simularum killing a witness.

              Sixth chapter had a Demon kill the psychopathic hitman hired to kill his Cover.

              Twelfth chapter was the finale. Demons released something that ate an angel and its cultists that were trying to create an occult matrix.

              Lots more sneaky stuff in DtD than outright killing in my game. Death draws unwanted attention.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by nofather View Post
                I've thought about it off and on over the years, how if you have persistent occasions of inordinate amounts of deaths in the world, you either have less population, or you start with a higher baseline population, and it's 'like our world, but bigger' which has its benefits. I think in the end it's easier to not get too worried about that sort of statistic except regarding a specific area you're playing in as part of the background (like Hong Kong, in Hunter second edition, where there seems to be a rash of new slashers), or as a reaction to events in the game, where law enforcement or some other group has decided to act. In one of our last long-lived games I played a werewolf of the Iron Masters who preferred hunting and killing humans and his target of interest was specifically a criminal organization. Even with supernatural abilities to assist in getting rid of evidence and muddy the memories of bystanders, as the game went on we were dealing with law enforcement, hunters, even other supernaturals as part of the repercussion for these and other investigations. Death has more of an impact than in the real world (what with ephemeral consequences), but it's still a fact of life most would balk at inflicting.
                I assume a higher birth rate and people going undetected and undocumented.
                My games have a low death rate probably due to my players knowing I would have the police investigate a dead body and not being the sort to escalate things if they can avoid it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nofather View Post
                  I've thought about it off and on over the years, how if you have persistent occasions of inordinate amounts of deaths in the world, you either have less population, or you start with a higher baseline population, and it's 'like our world, but bigger' which has its benefits. I think in the end it's easier to not get too worried about that sort of statistic except regarding a specific area you're playing in as part of the background (like Hong Kong, in Hunter second edition, where there seems to be a rash of new slashers), or as a reaction to events in the game, where law enforcement or some other group has decided to act. In one of our last long-lived games I played a werewolf of the Iron Masters who preferred hunting and killing humans and his target of interest was specifically a criminal organization. Even with supernatural abilities to assist in getting rid of evidence and muddy the memories of bystanders, as the game went on we were dealing with law enforcement, hunters, even other supernaturals as part of the repercussion for these and other investigations. Death has more of an impact than in the real world (what with ephemeral consequences), but it's still a fact of life most would balk at inflicting.
                  I also thought about this for quite a bit because to me it always was something that significantly rubbed against my suspension of disbelief, but because of it I also came up with a few important considerations as well.

                  It is worth noting that while the supernatural might cause a net loss of people, this net loss may actually be smaller than expected. People will be murdered by the supernatural or end up as collateral damage, yes. However, people will also be saved by the supernatural.

                  Consider the person who in our world would have ended up as part of a statistic of muggings-turned-murder, but here is the Touchstone of a stalking Mekhet. If that vampire is capable of restraint, the murderer-to-be may even get away with just a few weeks of hospital. Consider the kidnapping victim who was found in time through the sharp noses of an Iron Master. Consider the terrorist attack that kills dozens in our world, but in the Chronicles the bomb luckily turned out to be a dud and the attacker is safely apprehended. Clearly that has nothing to do with the weird stranger at the scene. Consider the lethal accident who comes back as a Sin-Eater or simply did not die at all because of their strange nature.

                  So we know the supernatural sometimes preserves lives. Aside from that, it may also create existences that did not come to be in our world.

                  Consider the many and varied breeding programs managed by various conspiracies. Consider the mummy who is worried about the future of her cult and so blesses her followers with improbable fertility. Consider the enchantress obsessed with her bloodline who takes the seed of specific men because she believes their children will inherit her gifts.

                  Last but not least, the supernatural can also create replacements which prevent the public from realizing the deaths and disappearances.

                  Consider of course the fetch replacing a stolen Changeling. Consider the corpse possessed by otherworldy powers, still paying his taxes. Consider the occult matrix which creates clones to take the place of victims of the supernatural (who may be sleeper agents of a yet greater working).

                  When you combine all of these factors, the baseline population does not actually need to be significantly larger to have a believable world. Some of the births caused by the supernatural may even be off-the-record so they do not inflate the birth rate statistics too massively, but still maintain population levels.
                  Last edited by saibot; 10-13-2020, 01:45 PM.


                  Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.

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                  • #10
                    I don't treat death and murder as any more or less common in my setting. Instead I just implant the supernatural into the deaths that are already happening, for example it isn't just criminal gangs fighting a street war, it is criminal gangs run by vampires.
                    The biggest difference in my games is that the characters of the players are more aware of this than normal people. Their supernatural natures make them more like the homicide detectives investigating the murders in the city then the people who just read about it in the papers.

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