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Changing What You Don't Like, or Missing the Point

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  • Changing What You Don't Like, or Missing the Point

    I've been noticing a trend on the various ChroD Forums: it seems that just about every gameline has developed an alternate fanbase that dislikes some core aspect of the gameline and proposes hacks to change the gameline in question. Meanwhile, there are fans of the game as written who consider such hacks to be missing the point of the game. This is an attempt to catalog this phenomenon.

    Note: I'm trying not to pass judgment. Some of these, I like; others, I don't. That's not the point of the catalog. If you want to advocate for one side or the other on any of these points, I won't try to stop you. But let's at least complete the catalog first, OK?

    Vampire: I'm not familiar enough with the gameline to know, nor do I visit the forum frequently enough to have picked up on anything here. Anyone want to help me out?
    Werewolf: There are those who dislike the animism baked into the gameline, and have explored ways to strip it out.
    Mage: I'm not as familiar with this gameline's dissidents; but I know that there are some who try to stretch Mage to handle magic user concepts that it isn't designed to handle.
    Promethean: This is an easy one: there's a vocal faction that doesn't like the game's focus on becoming human.
    Changeling: There are some who want a more traditional concept of “changeling”: a fae thrust into mortal society and trying to fit in.
    Hunter: some would like to see Hunter support Heroic Mortals: not people with access to Endowments, but hunters who are nevertheless a cut above your average mortal. This ranges from traits designed to mitigate the uneven playing field regular mortals have to deal with all the way to giving hunters a power stat.
    Geist: I don't know if this qualifies, but I've seen a general misperception of this gameline as “Zombie: the Walking Dead”.
    Mummy: non-Iremite Arisen.
    Demon: scrapping the tech- overtones.
    Beast: I don't know. If there's one gameline with which I'm less familiar than Vampire, it's this one.

  • #2
    I'd argue that the Changeling one is "I want my character to have had a pleasant Durance" and/or "I want to shirk the abuse metaphor entirely."

    Remi. she/her. game designer.


    • #3
      Yeah; that's probably a better way to phrase it.


      • #4
        Not wanting to take this thread off track, I'll keep this note short. For me most "missing the point" arguments are themselves missing the point. Table top RP is a flexible medium, the first rule in every single splat-book is the Golden Rule: Change What You Don't Like.

        Not certain how to add to this thread constructively, but since I'm a prime offender in the changing shit category I suppose I'll list what I like to change and why.

        General: X-Splats, I remove them where possible in favor of Z-Splats or 0-Splats.
        • I think they are good for getting people started, and hopping into the game, but become increasingly restrictive the more you play. For instance, I find Bloodlines more interesting than Clans, and think Sin-Eater has enough character variety with the different Geister that Thresholds are wholly unnecessary.
        General: Supernal Population, I tent to think the books paint a world with too many enormouslypowerful supernaturals. I try to reduce the count of "big-splats" in favor of the little ones (revenants, wolf-blooded, thaumaturges, etc.)
        • This might be a running crossover thing, but I find it hard to run "big" stories in a city in which there are 50+ Mages, or one hundred some odd vampires. Cutting down on the big splats also lets me make all of those present stand out, the PCs feel a little more special, and keeps the big players tightly focused around the story.
        General: Human villain splats (Seers of the Throne, The Pure, Heroes, Alchemists, etc.) my hate for them runs deep.
        • This one runs deep, and is definitely a personal preference, but I find "bad guy groups" fairly unnecessary. They are frequently used either as mustache twirling evils, or as (in my opinion) poor strawmen through which to poo-poo existing groups (1%ers are a popular one now days). I prefer the GRRM approach, a world of people with complex motivations who are heroes in their own tales and villains in others. Weird cosmic evils also aren't my thing. Or, rather, I prefer my cosmic entities so alien that applying the concepts of good and evil to them is a stupendous waste of time...actually, just toss out the ideas of good and evil altogether, that'd be nice.
        • There is a near 100% chance some one is going to go for my throat for saying this
        Werewolf: Freer access to Gauru, less punishing Kuruth.
        • Ever notice how all the Forsaken art has Uratha running about doing not fighty things in Gauru? As a person who is a strongly visual thinker this bothers me a lot. The Kuruth change on the other hand, that's mostly for crossover, and the fact that no one really likes going into Death Rage save when it's really, clearly appropriate.
        Mage: More limits, more style.
        • Mages are a tad on the powerful side for my liking. I find the constant slinging of such a wide variety of spells without clear narrative limits (those being limits that are easily displayed without explaining game mechanics) to be destructive to individual character variety. It's a preference thing for sure, but I favor Mages who have clear niches in which they are terrifyingly potent, and clear limits which even the unawakened might exploit.
        Promethean: Less explicit focus on becoming human.
        • I'm not one of those who dislikes the Humanism of Promethean, but I do greatly dislike how the game handles it. Prometheans learning to be human, and to live within the world is great. Prometheans actively intending to become human, and having a mechanical, built-in drive by which they can approach it sours me greatly. So when I do approach the New Dawn, I do it much like the Mummy Storyteller section, secretly, without clarity, and wholly individual.
        Demon: Less God-Machine focus.
        • I'm not one who dislikes the God-Machine, or tech Demons, but for crossover Demons are a hard inclusion. They almost inevitably bring in story elements that may have nothing to do with the setting. So I refocus around Glitches and let their cover breaches sort themselves out within the context of the existing narrative.

        There, hopefully that counts as constructive, if it doesn't I'll remove it. As Dataweaver said, please lets not argue about the "correctness" of house rules. If you must excoriate me for "missing the point" I've got a whole hub thread for people to yelling at me.

        Edit: Some other Mage ones, not mine, but I've had to mod discussions on the following topics more than once:
        • Atlantis, and how much some people hate it.
        • Non-Hermetic Magic, and how some see Awakening as "Order of Hermes: The Too Damn Narrow"
        • Arcadia, and the game of crossover terms.
        Last edited by PenDragon; 06-05-2016, 02:32 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by PenDragon View Post
          Not wanting to take this thread off track, I'll keep this note short. For me most "missing the point" arguments are themselves missing the point. Table top RP is a flexible medium, the first rule in every single splat-book is the Golden Rule: Change What You Don't Like.
          Again, this isn't intended to be a criticism of either side of these debates. At one point or another, I've been on both sides; and it's not as simple as telling the “missing the point” side that the “change what you don't like” side has the right of it, or vice versa: quite often, both sides have valid points to make.

          EDIT: Oh yeah; Mage. I can't believe I overlooked this one, given that I myself have been one of the loudest voices criticizing it: the sheer harshness of 2e's handling of Sleepers and the Sleeping Curse.
          Last edited by Dataweaver; 06-05-2016, 02:49 AM.


          • #6
            I'm conflicted because I'm a diehard thematic purist (these games were meant to be personal horror and shoukd remain as such), but then there are entire gamelines that I basically just ignore because they don't fit what I want from things. Ultimately, your table is your table, but the problem with coming into dedicated forums like we have here and coming at people who are ostensibly fans of the games the way they are makes discussion of alternatives incredibly difficult.

            I had a thread about this ages ago where it was "which gamelines exist, which ones don't, and ehich are heavily modified in your own canon?" and I think maybe it should come back. Lemme try and find it.

            Remi. she/her. game designer.


            • #7
              I've noted in both Werewolf and Vampire that there's a lot of people who want aspects of Apocalypse and Masquerade in them, from the more familial clans and generations to the war against the Wyrm. Focused more on Requiem, there's people wanting vampires to be less inimical to humans. This tends to range from things like removing the Beast to not having to drink blood. There's some people who like the concept of werewolf but, for whatever reason, don't like the 'werewolf' part. This too has multiple forms, with some wanting the 'spirit police' angle of first edition available to humans, or keep the shapeshifting but be a variety of other animals, werebears, weredeer, and so forth. Some people seem to want a more clear good versus evil view in Hunter and don't want the cancer cells, corruption in the conspiracies or morally ambiguous protagonists. There's a lot of different things people want from Geist, usually with a tendency towards a particular game or show that's popular at the time. I don't think it's really fair to say these are alternate versions so much as hopes for second edition.

              The people who want different things from Beast seem to want either to be actually able to play the Horror without having to get your Inheritance to do it, and playable and less reprehensible Heroes. I think they managed to get them to be less hateful monsters in the rewrites but its way down my list of things to check.


              • #8
                My personal beef is primarily with Mage, which I've always argued has something of a thematic disconnect with the rest of the CofD; in a world about horror and mystery, having godlike power and focusing on finding answers seems to somewhat miss the point. They're the line with the least drawbacks, and while one can warn about the dangers of hubris or point to all the scary Abyssal beasties they, it stands to reason that Awakening is gonna be a straight upgrade from mortal life for most people. Look at the "Who are you in the CofD?" thread and see all the people excited to have magic powers.

                That's not to say it isn't a fantastic game - it is! - but it feels like one of dark urban fantasy more than anythig else. Wizards aren't a classic monster archetype like vampires or mummies, so their inclusion has always felt odd, whether in oWoD's "steampunk space battles in Jupiter's orbit" or in CofD's "you get to see the Truth everyone else is blind to," and I think that really hurts it.

                Wht especially calls my complaints into focus is the existence of Unknown Armies, a game about... people in the modern day driven by obsession who use magic powers. That's a game where obsession and magic break down individual's sanity and their ability to relate to normal people, and they destroy themselves in their pursuits of power and desire to reshape reality. That's personal horror in a game about secret wizards, and makes Mage look all the sillier for it.

                Remi. she/her. game designer.


                • #9
                  Some of my observations from years and years of (mostly) lurking.

                  VtR - At least during the first few years of the NWoD, the biggest complaints i can remember was that it wasn't Masquerade.No Malkavians,No Tzimisce, and other familiar VtM elementswere left out of the new version and quite a few people were rather salty about it.More recently I have seen the threads pop up where the intent was to remove some of the more horrific elements of the setting (especially the abuse, addiction and sexuality metaphors).

                  WtF - The complaints I saw here were mostly mechanical; players wanted the Uratha to be the same type of full bleed bad-asses the Garou were in WtA. While 2nd Edition bridged alot of this gap, a player expecting the same raw power from a uratha as they got ffrom a Garou is going to be disappointed. I also see alot of requests to make the Pure a less directly antagonistic faction. While the Anshega are nearly always described as violent, hateful zealots, many players enjoy giving the devil his due and would prefer their antagonists to be more sympathetic(sometimes more sympathetic than the so-called protagonists).

                  MtAw - Atlantis and Edition War. The idea of Atlantis being presented as a setting fact did not sit well with many. While I always assumed the story of Atlantis was a parable, others felt they were beholden to a concept that carries a lot of real-world pop culture baggage. Probably after that, the most common concern was that paradigm was no longer a important part of magic. Many players like being able to define their "truth" and change the world with it, rather than the truth being an absolute thing that they had to uncover. Related was the distinct lack of Virtual Adept/Son's of Ether style enlightened science. I think the fan game Genius the Transgression was essentially born out of the desire to restore Enlightened science to the setting.

                  PtC - Transhumanism and such. This one is contentious. The argument to seemed to be a degree a cognitive dissonance. A Promethean is a powerful, almost unstoppable being. The idea that anyone would give up such might to be just a regular Joe Monday seemed flat out wrong to many players, who would rather explore the limits of their condition than to look for ways out of it. While I personally like the humanist themes (after playing many, many games where the players become world crushing titans crackling with raw power, the idea of just wanting to be A Person was amazingly refreshing).

                  HtV - What I have seen here is mostly mechanics for giving hunters more of an edge. Even an experienced hunter can't wade into a room full of vampires, guns blazing and expect to walk out with their organs intact, and for some that inability to truly go head to head is a missed opportunity.

                  CtD - Didn't pay enough attention to Changeling to see what the biggest cracks in the base were, but I have run into people who liked the idea of Changelings who were forced out of Arcadia rather than escaping.

                  GtSE - Didn't learn enough about the setting, but I did hear there were numerous mechanical issues with the main power set.

                  MtC - The tightly focused settings and themes were both a blessing and a curse. Some enjoyed the history and mythology of Irem. Others would have preferred something more global, where they could play a mummy from one of the many other cultures that practiced mummification.

                  DtD - The Techno-Gnostic themes and aesthetics seem to be off-putting for many who were expecting a more traditional heaven vs hell experience. Never mind that it utterly ignores the material in the popular and well-received Inferno source book. As others have observed, DtD is probably the hardest material to incorporate into a pre-existing campaign or cross - over game.

                  BtP - While I don't recall all the specific issues, there were enough of them that the text had to be revised after the first draft was released. One I do recall was the presentation of "Heroes" - the title being ironic and a little mocking for what were presented as disturbed and unstable murderers didn't sit well with some. There was also some desire for them to be presented in a more sympathetic (and perhaps playable) light.
                  Last edited by Reighnhell; 06-05-2016, 03:18 AM. Reason: oh yeah - Demon

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                    Again, this isn't intended to be a criticism of either side of these debates. At one point or another, I've been on both sides; and it's not as simple as telling the “missing the point” side that the “change what you don't like” side has the right of it, or vice versa: quite often, both sides have valid points to make.
                    Oh, certainly. Though, at least from a mod perspective, I find it more often the case that both sides are arguing entirely different things. The purists are arguing how the game is intended to be, and the hackers are arguing about what they want it to be. The arguments flare up when one side is unwilling or unable to accept that the other desires to change/retain some aspect of the game. Seriously, if more people could look at a post and say, "Welp, this one's not for me" this forum would be a much nicer place (for me).

                    Now, to make this post productive:
                    • Vampire: A lot of people don't like the decent into monstrosity, and want hacks/bloodlines/spells/coils that allow them to skip out on the entire humanity side of the game altogether. The same can be said of each Covenant, especially the Order of the Dragon (so many "Coils of Humanity")
                    • Werewolf: I said this in my post, but I said a lot there. Less restrictions of Gauru. Some want to run around in furry murder ball mode, others (myself included) would just be happy if the text matched up with the art.
                    • Beast: Some, myself included, think Heroes are immensely boring antagonists and would love to see them beefed up and/or made slightly more complex.

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                    • #11
                      Vampire: The biggest one I've seen is disliking Humanity and the themes of struggling against the Beast. The strongest dissenters seem to want it to be easier - or even just a given - that vampires have an emotional balance with what they are as the default. VtR 2e generally makes this worse because the new Humanity system is meant to be even more present and the struggle to maintain it much more central.

                      Promethean: Also has a lot of people that don't like the Disquiet side of the game and the themes of isolation it stems from.

                      Beast: A few here. First, there are people that don't like the Beast/Hero relationship because they've painted various real world analogs on to it and the implications of doing so are always messy. The game focuses strongly on a cycle of abuse rather than one way oppressive conflicts, but a lot of people seem to want it to be less muddled as beasts abuse and in the process create those that abuse them in return. Second, there's the, "I want a monster true form," group that doesn't like that beasts remain human looking instead of turning into creatures of legend. There's also people that really don't like the inherent and explicit crossover intentions of the game.


                      • #12
                        Nofather is close to my thinking. I think there's a lot of baggage from previous incarnations of these game, where applicable. One thing that characterized the old World of Darkness was its arching oppressiveness. Vampire characters struggled against the pyramid of Cainite power, steered by the hands of sleeping giants. Werewolves fought the encroaching doom of the Apocalypse. Mages were crushed under the heel of the Technocracy's jackboots, Oblivion, Banality, yadda, yadda. When there wasn't clear cut good and evil, there was at least a force devouring personal agency, which was where the punk aspect of the games came in.

                        And then what we now call Chronicles came, and those divides and bright lines narrowed and dimmed. And some of us embraced it wholeheartedly, and others with one hand. All of which is fine. But I think those doubts are part of "missing the point". Now vampires aren't dragooned, they're complicit. Werewolves aren't fighting the lost cause, they're murdering on the monthly because that's what they do. Mages lose sight of their humanity rather than trying to exalt it. And for some, that's a downer.

                        This is a hobby for die-hard fantasists. I don't know how many people are coming to the Chronicles from D&D or similar works, but they will bring their preferences with them. They might open up to the horror aspect, or they might want to poach a system they find mostly suitable to their needs.

                        LFP: Foreign Bodies (Deviant: the Renegades)


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PenDragon View Post
                          Not wanting to take this thread off track, I'll keep this note short. For me most "missing the point" arguments are themselves missing the point. Table top RP is a flexible medium, the first rule in every single splat-book is the Golden Rule: Change What You Don't Like.
                          However, it's usually not phrased that way. More frequently it's as whatever feature being broken/self-evidently awful and I have come to fix it. That tends to be the thing people take issue with.

                          Further people often are missing the point, and can benefit from having large parts of the game broken down and explained. It's happened to me more than once.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                            Promethean: This is an easy one: there's a vocal faction that doesn't like the game's focus on becoming human.
                            As I'm many times pointed as one of those - I'm more a bit dissapointed with that games do not explore others answers to the question what should be New Dawn for Prometheans. Is becoming human bad? No, for some characters. Hell, I'm the first one to play Aurum one Created if I can, aiming for being human! But I advocate for free ending of Pilgrimage for all Prometheans, not locking those that are not studying to become humans in to Centimani. Looking for other Pilgrimage ending should not mean that you are cracking monster.

                            Still, after seeing how Promethean 2E is developed I can agree that my POV is all hack and respect that at this stage. Does not mean I will not end posting them on forum - just that I mark as all with my hacks: 'Don't like basic idea, do not write in topic - you will save nerves yourself and us all that are interested in it.'

                            Basiclly what PenDragon wrote - if topic is Hack and you do not like premise - just move away from it.

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                            • #15
                              Vampire is a complex one in terms of its themes, even the different editions of Masquerade and Requiem have a different thematic focus. Regardless of what the author intended theme is though, it always gets stripped out for the same thing, blood-powered superheroes. The is the most common altering I've seen across Masquerade and Requiem.