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Ancients Awaken- the Old Ones Chronicles (Changing Breeds. Discussion, Brainstorming)

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  • Ancients Awaken- the Old Ones Chronicles (Changing Breeds. Discussion, Brainstorming)

    In a way, this is the most ambitious project of mine among the Weekly Projects, for it require to analyze the Changing Breeds and rework them, from fluff to mechanics and make sure that everything works ok. My idea is to take the Eco-terrorists which are presented in the book and make them into something.. else. Something which would be more than "we hate civilization" and "our mechanics are built around the ones of other templates". And so, instead of humanity, I present you a new antagonist- the Old Ones.

    The Old Ones are presented in the small paragraph in the beginning of the first chapter. They are things which have came from before the First ones, before the very first beasts and man. While they seem to be hinted to be the dinosaurs, it isn't the first time rumors have been proved to be false. For this project's premise, the Old Ones are proto-beasts, things which are natural disasters in physical form. They are chatonic beings, like the Python which sleeps under Delphi or the Nidhog which sits at the bottom of the World's Tree. They are the enemies of all life, gathering cults around them and shape their surroundings.

    On the other side, there is humanity, which sometimes mess up with things they shouldn't and harms the world. But in the end, Nature always wins, and if humanity will keep in its destructive way Nature will take care of them by herself. Humanity is not, and never was, a threat for Nature, in the same way that an ant is not a threat to a man. Those Changing Folk who try to stop pollution and fight against the destruction of the landscape do so for humanity's sake. After all, the Changing Breeds exist in order to bridge between humanity and Nature. The Old Ones, however, work against that balance by their very existence, and as such they should be hunted down.

    Except of reversing the fluff, mechanics will also be updates. breeds will be turned into a real X splat so all of the changing breeds will feel like they belong to the same template, and accords may be changed a little. Virtue and Vice may be replaced with something which represent their inner beasts, and so does Harmony and Feral Heart. Favors and Aspects will be reworked, especially Beast's Magic and those which allow buying Gifts and/or Numina which will be replaced in a new "sorcery system". Connections to the Shadow and the spirit world, both mechanically and fluff, will be removed, making the changing breeds based purely in the world of flesh. Forms will also be fixed, although that is in the bottom of the list.

    Oh- and anyone who wish to join and contribute is welcomed. Really. Anyone. Anyone?..

    so... what do you think? (..anyone?..)


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  • #2
    Well, I for one am very interested.


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    • #3
      *taps chin* I personally would like to see the whole Man vs. Nature thing not even mentioned, or explicitly repudiated, because I'm a child of the 90s and it's so overdone as to make me twitch. Different strokes for different folks though, so I won't extend that.

      The other thing that comes to mind is that if you look around the forums and the other White Wolf books, there are actually several quite good sets of shapeshifters as is. War Against the Pure has the Colony of Werecats, the were-roaches, everyone's favorite sad fishmen... you can find selkies, werespiders, and were-horse-fish (kelpies!) in my signature. Leliel had some quite awesome Kushtaka (Tlingit were-otters) on the old forum, no clue if it's still about. Skinchangers had Leopard Men and Bouda, both quite awesome. (As far as CB breeds go, most are atrocious, but the bird and ape breeds are pretty solid, as a matter of fact). So I feel that a really good CB revision would take those kinds of things and utilize them and put them together.

      I'm also a little 'eh' on Old Ones. Why? Too big. As a GM, I always find that what I really want are monsters and antagonists who are modular, easy to insert, and low maintenance. A campaign really only needs one "Great Big Horrible World-Rending Monster", if it needs even one, and there are already plenty of things vying for that title. Plus, those things require infrastructure in the sense that they need membership rolls for their cults, beliefs, etc. If I want to use such a thing in my game, I need to figure out where the cult is, what it does, why it hasn't been wiped out yet, etc. On the other hand, most common foe in my games? Ghosts, because they're very easy to use (someone died tragically, bam, ghost exists and wants something, even if that something is to murder everything), versatile (the range of human experience, lots of literary backup), and come in a range of power levels (I can even use a ghost against my dubiously-competent werewolf PC). Strix from B&S are similar, in that they're basically a gang of wandering psychos. All I need to do to use many of the Strix is say "this Strix wanders into your territory and starts mucking about."

      This isn't to say Big Horrible World-Rending Monsters are bad! But since they require more investment and are fewer, they tend to be more designed by the GM, and I feel benefit less from having other people write them up. My game's BHWRMs are a gang of corrupted Qashmallim, for instance.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by NeoTiamat View Post
        *taps chin* I personally would like to see the whole Man vs. Nature thing not even mentioned, or explicitly repudiated, because I'm a child of the 90s and it's so overdone as to make me twitch. Different strokes for different folks though, so I won't extend that.
        actually, my first thought was to remove any reference to Man vs Nature, but I thought that maybe people would not like it. Anyway, the idea was that those changing breeds who fight against pollution and such do it for the same reason people do- they don't want to see animals go extinct and don't want humanity to die out because of some "global warming" or a new ice age. It really isn't something central about the changing breeds- what that is important is to stop thing which really ruin Nature. Humainty is simply not important enough.

        The other thing that comes to mind is that if you look around the forums and the other White Wolf books, there are actually several quite good sets of shapeshifters as is. War Against the Pure has the Colony of Werecats, the were-roaches, everyone's favorite sad fishmen... you can find selkies, werespiders, and were-horse-fish (kelpies!) in my signature. Leliel had some quite awesome Kushtaka (Tlingit were-otters) on the old forum, no clue if it's still about. Skinchangers had Leopard Men and Bouda, both quite awesome. (As far as CB breeds go, most are atrocious, but the bird and ape breeds are pretty solid, as a matter of fact). So I feel that a really good CB revision would take those kinds of things and utilize them and put them together.
        I'm aware of both the shapeshifters and of your work (which is amazing :P) but I'm not sure if they fit my vision. I want to make the Changing Breeds as fleshy as possible, cutting any connection to the Shadow and make them into a single "race". Again, it needs work.

        I'm also a little 'eh' on Old Ones. Why? Too big. As a GM, I always find that what I really want are monsters and antagonists who are modular, easy to insert, and low maintenance. A campaign really only needs one "Great Big Horrible World-Rending Monster", if it needs even one, and there are already plenty of things vying for that title. Plus, those things require infrastructure in the sense that they need membership rolls for their cults, beliefs, etc. If I want to use such a thing in my game, I need to figure out where the cult is, what it does, why it hasn't been wiped out yet, etc. On the other hand, most common foe in my games? Ghosts, because they're very easy to use (someone died tragically, bam, ghost exists and wants something, even if that something is to murder everything), versatile (the range of human experience, lots of literary backup), and come in a range of power levels (I can even use a ghost against my dubiously-competent werewolf PC). Strix from B&S are similar, in that they're basically a gang of wandering psychos. All I need to do to use many of the Strix is say "this Strix wanders into your territory and starts mucking about."

        This isn't to say Big Horrible World-Rending Monsters are bad! But since they require more investment and are fewer, they tend to be more designed by the GM, and I feel benefit less from having other people write them up. My game's BHWRMs are a gang of corrupted Qashmallim, for instance.
        yeah, I wasn't clear enough.. the Old Ones are not something horrible from beyond existence which bend minds and eat the souls of thousands. They are something you go out and KILL. They are fleshy, just like the Changing Breeds. The strongest among them are godlike, but there are many who you could fight face to face. They can, by an act of will, change the environment around to a certain degree, which usually makes the world more primal and dangerous, creating abnormalities in nature- like, making a jungle in Antarctica or changing a lake into acid. The idea has came to me from the Dragon Overlords of Dragonlance, and while they are still an idea in the corner of my mind, you are supposed to be able to kill them. They are less of Eldritch Horrors and more of magical dinosaurs.


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        • #5
          Hrm. I think we may be getting ahead of ourselves, a little.

          Okay, first and foremost, there is the question of why. Why should we play Changing Breeds: Old One Chronicles? What does this offer to the player that the player cannot get from Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Demon, Mummy, Changeling, Geist, Hunter, and Promethean? What makes it distinct and interesting? What's the elevator pitch from the GM wanting to run this to prospective players?

          Once you've got that, you can figure out what the big themes of the game are, and what the general style of play should be (Vampire lends itself towards various backstabby intrigues, Mage is about exploring and uncovering occult oddness, etc). Then you can start thinking about the role of nature or the Old Ones or whatever, because you can pick your Great Big Antagonist Type based on what emphasizes the key concept and playstyle.


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          • #6
            thanks- and because it is a weekly project, I have a full week to think about that :P

            you (and others) are more than welcomed to present ideas, suggestions and flaws in the original design of the Changing Breeds


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            • #7
              Flaws in the original Changing Breeds... uh... everything? (How I wish I were joking)

              As for ideas and suggestions. *taps chin* Some broad thoughts then.
              <> Customize. People will want to play variant shapeshifters. Everyone's got species they're especially interested in. I'd love to play a were-fox, someone else might be interested in a were-elephant, and I'm certain there's a guy that'd play a were-nudibranch. So mechanically, the system ought to be vigorous and modular (I actually think War Against the Pure manages this pretty well)
              <> Localize. Because of the sheer diversity of these things, I think that one shouldn't have Great Big Global Changing Breeds, or at least they should be quite few and far between. Rather, each specific Changing Breed emerges out of a specific part of the world. If you want to play a were-kangaroo, then that CB emerges from Australia, a tiger, probably from Asia, a coyote would be American Southwest, etc. Now, the danger here is that you end up with WtA Captain Ethnic, so you'll want to come up with a way around that (I would emphasize origins, but also make it possible for people of other cultures or ethnicities to be X shapeshifter -- perhaps take a leaf out of Skinchanger's book and make it not hereditary but somehow acquired).
              <> Globalize. If you've got a lot of small, local groups of shapeshifters, that's your X-splat for inherent stuff. So the place to go big is the Y-splat of "chosen faction", your Covenant or Tribe equivalents. My strong suggestion here is to give these things actually ideologies and belief systems. Vampire does this well. Werewolf, not so hot.


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              • #8
                Cool concept, but the Old Ones will always be Lovecraftian concepts to me.


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                • #9
                  Just so you know, I actually did port Kushtaka to the new forums.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nyxian Hollow View Post
                    Cool concept, but the Old Ones will always be Lovecraftian concepts to me.
                    I'm not disagreeing with you. Although I tend to think of Old Ones as sufficiently advanced aliens, a la First Ones. Some of whom may have even gone into higher dimensions.

                    A nice twist was from Savage World: Rippers, is that the Old Ones were just Atlanteans that had to adapt to life on the ocean floor as such many became cephalopods of some description.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NeoTiamat View Post
                      Flaws in the original Changing Breeds... uh... everything? (How I wish I were joking)

                      As for ideas and suggestions. *taps chin* Some broad thoughts then.
                      <> Customize. People will want to play variant shapeshifters. Everyone's got species they're especially interested in. I'd love to play a were-fox, someone else might be interested in a were-elephant, and I'm certain there's a guy that'd play a were-nudibranch. So mechanically, the system ought to be vigorous and modular (I actually think War Against the Pure manages this pretty well)
                      <> Localize. Because of the sheer diversity of these things, I think that one shouldn't have Great Big Global Changing Breeds, or at least they should be quite few and far between. Rather, each specific Changing Breed emerges out of a specific part of the world. If you want to play a were-kangaroo, then that CB emerges from Australia, a tiger, probably from Asia, a coyote would be American Southwest, etc. Now, the danger here is that you end up with WtA Captain Ethnic, so you'll want to come up with a way around that (I would emphasize origins, but also make it possible for people of other cultures or ethnicities to be X shapeshifter -- perhaps take a leaf out of Skinchanger's book and make it not hereditary but somehow acquired).
                      <> Globalize. If you've got a lot of small, local groups of shapeshifters, that's your X-splat for inherent stuff. So the place to go big is the Y-splat of "chosen faction", your Covenant or Tribe equivalents. My strong suggestion here is to give these things actually ideologies and belief systems. Vampire does this well. Werewolf, not so hot.
                      Coyotes cover basically the entire continent.

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                      • #12
                        so, a week ago I was left with a question- why should one want to play the Changing Breeds Chronicles? What kind of game it is, and what does it offer to the player?

                        After giving it a lot of thought, this is the answer I came to- in this version, the Changing Breeds is a game about evolution. Evolve or die, so to speak. After all, if I'm focusing on the splat as "fleshy and physical", than I think it should be pretty direct. The Changing Breeds are, in my mind, the manifestation of change, of evolution, of turning from one kind of thing to another. But in order to change, one must always test himself, to push himself to the extreme. People don't change if they are comfortable, after all. People change only when they must- and the Changing breeds must to evolve.

                        But why? Because the world is changing. Our world is experiencing an urbanization, turning more and more technological. Traveling has became a lot more simple, thanks for cars, ships and airplanes. Actually, people don't even need to go out anymore, and it is possible for a person to live all of his life while using the computer and cellphone. The Changing Breeds, which were part of an older world, are not needed any longer in this new world.. right?

                        No. The Changing breeds simply needs to adapt. To become part of the new world. Some, like those whose inner beast is a rat or a crow, find it easier to adapt, while others have some harder time. The idea is that you are lost in an whole new world and must to find your place in it. Find a way so you won't be redundant. To evolve, so you won't die.

                        According to that vision, the Changing Gift was once given by Nature to Man in order to help him to live his life in the wilderness. During that time, the Changing Breeds were used as both wise men and hunters. They knew the ways of the world, how to track down a prey, how to treat poisons and plagues. But nowdays, those skills are no longer needed. Food today isn't simply grown in farms, but is actually industrialize. Doctors treat diseases and poisons. People don;t move from place to place, but hide in the cities. You are simply not needed.

                        The Changing Gift is a relic, a vestige of a much more primal world. The Changing Breeds were meant to help humanity, but humanity doesn't need them. hat means that each Feral must find a way he or she could both fulfill their inner beast while adjusting to the "new world". Some try to find a place where they are close to the wild for one side yet still help humanity. Others seek for a way they could use their bestial skills in human life. Few decide to deny the urban world and run to the wild, either living by themselves as animals or seek after tribal societies where they could still have their place. This is a game about old vs new, about something which isn't needed any longer, about adjusting yourself while still being true to your heart.

                        This is why the Old Ones could be a good antagonists. As their name says, they are old- magical dinosaurs, like I've said before. They shouldn't exist- they were supposed to be extinct thousands of years ago. But they aren't they are still alive, and instead of them changing in order to adapt to the world, they terraform the world so they won't have to change. They are a constant remainder for what could happen to the Changing breeds if they will not change- how they may look like thousands of years in the future if they won't evolve.

                        So- a good direction or searching for a new one?


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                        • #13
                          Yes and no. As a theme for the game, I think it's excellent, and fairly original. "You used to be a protector of humanity, but guess what -- obsolescence! Now what do you do?" Is definitely good. It's interesting, has room for a lot of conflict, and to the best of my knowledge hasn't been done too much (Changeling the Dreaming wandered around these areas I think)

                          That said... I love White Wolf dearly, but there is such a thing as overthinking things, you know? When I asked, why Changing Breeds, I wasn't asking for a philosophy of the splat. I was asking what makes it fun as a game, and what makes it stand out above the competition?

                          I mean, ultimately we do this stuff because it's fun. But game systems and settings are also an investment, because you need to buy it and you need to learn it. This is free, so the first falls away, but it still needs to justify the mental exertion and time spent I would need to familiarize myself with the system and setting. So, a way to put the question might be that at the end of reading this, the reader says "Man, I am glad I read and learned this thing, because now I can do _________________________, which I couldn't do before." Or, to reframe the question yet again, for you to tell me, "Hey, you should play Changing Breeds: The Old Ones Chronicle because it lets you _________________, and that's awesome."

                          Am I making sense?


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                          • #14
                            goddamn it.. well, that's a bit more complicated. After all, it is not like there is no competition- unlike making a new splat, people already have alternatives for playing a werebeast (Forsaken, Skin thieves, shapeshifters, etc)..

                            well.. than what about a survival game? Not something about a mechanical "waiting death" like it was in Dreaming, but about a game which is based on testing your abilities to the edge? Like, you play a Changing Breeds: the Old Ones Chronicles in order to play in extreme environment, or something like that..

                            Sounds ok?


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                            • #15
                              Whatever made you think it would be easy? For what it's worth, I'm not convinced survival game is a way to go, mostly because I feel like that would be too restrictive a frame.

                              Personally, I think there's two ways to make something like this stand out. One is to make it unique. Consider Deadlands. It's a solid game, but it also benefits from the fact that "Magical zombie/vampire/demon horror in the Old West" is not a niche overflowing with competition. The other approach is to make it better. Sure, there are other _____ games out there, but none are as deep/rich/mechanically solid/fun/awesome as this one (delete as appropriate). VtR, for instance, is not the only vampire game I can think of, but it's the best.

                              So, you probably can't make it unique. But you can make a case for it being better. So, look at your competition and ask yourself "what do they do well, and where can we improve?"
                              --Forsaken. Well, aside from mechanical issues, all werewolf. Also, spirit cops. (There's a lot of hard-working people on the Werewolf forums who work to make it better, mind you)
                              --Skin Thieves/WatP. Good, but they're more a "random thing you can make" and not a whole culture. The were-cats and were-roaches do not interact in any way.
                              --CB Original. You've got a whole culture, it's just... astonishingly awful.

                              Looking at that, what this suggests to me is that you have building blocks. You just need to take them and expand them into a kind of complete game. Personally, I think "You can play a bunch of different shapeshifters" is an underfilled niche. So, take the tools of Skin Thieves/WatP and make them not so much "random weird one-offs" but a global, or at least, city-wide network of "shifters".

                              You might embrace the multinational nature of these things by making games which are explicitly global in scope. "A squad of shapeshifters from across the world, travelling the globe, kicking ass and taking names" is a pretty solid core concept for a game, if you ask me. All you need to do is come up with a lot of sample shifters, and come up with who are they beating up and why (which means figuring out who are they working for).


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