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Starting a Demon game for CofD newcomers, could use some ideas.

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  • Starting a Demon game for CofD newcomers, could use some ideas.

    Hello everyone.

    As the title suggests, I'm going to introduce several new people to the Chronicles Of Darkness and, after hearing my pitch for a game, they pretty much all fell for Demon. The fact is, I'm trying to come with little stories that highlight the setting and themes of Demon (which can be really useful, since it's a beautifully weird one and they're not familiar to it at all) so they can get to know the game and get used to it before we delve into more complex storylines, but it seems my creative fire won't ignite this week. Might be because I never ran Demon or because I'm also trying to write my stuff and my brain refuses to focus on something else. Perhaps it's just a bad week.

    Anyways, I'm here kindly asking for some help. Any ideas, suggestions and/or plot hooks you think would work? I have a greater story in mind and I'm the kind of Storyteller that also tailors some stories around the characters but, for now, I need something to introduce them to things like the God-Machine, Angels, Infrastructure, pacts, espionage and the core Demon narratives.

    The game is set in Las Vegas and surroundings, if that can give you ideas.
    Last edited by Cinder; 09-01-2017, 07:13 PM.


    Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
    Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps".

    Hopes to write about monsters, shapeshifters and soulless abominations someday. If you have criticism that can help me improve, I'm always here

  • #2
    For Demon more than any other game I've played, I feel it's important for the characters to have pre-existing relationships and interrelated backstories that lead to them wanting (or having) to spend time together. Otherwise it's very easy to end up with a split party because cell phones exist and demons have every reason not to get tangled up in each other's lives.

    As for actual plot hooks, Vegas is chock-full of stuff that could be Infrastructure. The gigantic, black glass pyramid with a spotlight pointed at the stars, for starters. Surely that's a beacon of some sort? And there's the gambling, of course. The mechanics of dreams, probability and moving cash could easily be an occult matrix in itself, but there's lots of potential. For instance, casinos often have neither clocks nor windows, so it's easy to lose time. Where is the God-Machine storing all that lost time, and what's it planning to do with it? Or maybe the gambling thing is just coincidental. There's something else in Vegas that the God-Machine wants to protect/extract/contain, and it's keeping control of the city by placing cultists in charge of the casinos, both to reward them and to give them the temporal power they need to serve It.

    Oh, and did you know Las Vegas isn't actually in Las Vegas? All the "Vegas" stuff is actually located in Paradise, an unincorporated territory that is explicitly not part of the City of Las Vegas. The place is literally called "Paradise", there has to be some mileage in that.

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    • #3
      I keep meaning to write up a summary of my own ideas for Vegas. Long story short a Demon Ring invented a device in the 1950s that harnessed the latent "sin" of Vegas and used it against the God-Machine. Basically it "recorded" the desperate, manic desires of humanity hoping to win and the despair of those who have lost and broadcasted those emotions on the same frequency the GM uses to direct the Angels. In effect, it was a Angelic jamming device, using the chaotic and petty will of a million greedy, sinful human to blot out the singular all-mighty will of God. If an Angel gets within the radius of the device (which the Demons call The Beast, since it resembles a roulette wheel whose numbers add up to 666) that Angel will eventually Fall due to the signal-to-noise ratio unless it is an Exile (and thus already cut off from the GM). You would think that this was a good thing, but you'd be wrong. True, the God-Machine has to play a subtler game in Vegas, using pawns and Exiles and generally being the one who has to go underground and carefully infilitrate an area for a change. But It is still there, watching and waiting and kidnapping careless demons when the mood strikes. More of a problem is the established Agencies in the area. A safe-haven from the GM means lots of Demons want in and those already there want to keep what they have claimed. Turf wars and power struggles and double crosses are a way of life now. Worse, all the Matrixes in the city were shut down long ago by The Beast and the Aether has either been exhausted or hoarded by those powerful enough to control it. Demons either have to venture beyond the city, get in real good with the local big shots, or steal Aether for themselves Ocean's 11 style.

      Other ideas:

      Hoover Dam practically screams Infrastructure of one variety or another. Maybe the GM is putting something in the water worse than fluoride. Maybe the dam is intended to collapse one day and bring down a flood of biblical proportions. Maybe Lake Mead was used as a Elimination Infrastructure to drown something the God-Machine needed destroyed. I know there's a town or two that got flooded as a result of the dam. Or maybe its just a Angel summoning facility. Those two Angel statues at the top certainly imply something is looking over the place.

      Las Vegas is, relatively speaking, close to Nellis Airforce Base and the ever so famous Area 51. In terms of weirdness and spying, you can't do much better than that. What's REALLY out there?

      Vegas forms the southeastern edge of a so-called "Nevada Triangle" which supposedly swallows up airplanes the way the Bermuda Triangle swallows ships. As per the God-Machine Chronicles there are those in the WOD who believe this type of geometric pattern imprisons things and people the God-Machine wants to lock away. And it just so happens that one of the famous indian tribes in the area, the Anasazi, suffered a mysterious calamity that ended their civilization fairly abruptly. Also of note is the legend of local Pauite tribes that speak of giants with red hair that some have likened to the Elohim of biblical legend.

      America's largest toxic waste facility is in the Nevada area. Name escapes me, but the God-Machine might be using it as an Aether storage facility. Or maybe one of those famous Angel holding Vaults.

      Howard Hughes was a tech savvy business man, germaphobe, and eccentric billionaire that remade Las Vegas by buying thousands of hotels. Did he do so as a businessman, a mad whim, or was he guided by the voice of an Angel (or Demon)?

      Mormons were among the first non-native american settlers in the area. The God-Machine often co-ops existing religions to serve its purpose. It wouldn't surprise me if there was a church or two of former Mormons turned Machine cultists somewhere in the desert. One prominent symbol of the faith is the beehive. Bet dollars to donuts the GM would take that symbol to a literal extreme and build a monstrous Hive beneath a church were his drones can harvest vital essence from collected offerings.

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      • #4
        I got a totally new to CofD group started with Demon once before, and my advice would be to ease them in slowly. Imagine that you're doing a mortals game with their Covers. Some of the most fun I've ever had in WoD-like settings is just playing a strange but mundane situation with a supernatural character, you don't need to start by going big. Like "your friend Mister Black wants you to attend a meeting of a new church and bring back some of their literature, and because you are a good friend, you agree. The three of you are sitting in a diner right now. What do you ask him about the favor?"

        And then let them just spin out how they're going to scope out the place, who's going in, what powers to use, etc. Keep it low-key, the equivalent of starting a Vampire game with "so how are you gonna feed tonight?" You can decide when or whether to introduce the inevitable stigmatic cult as you go.

        You know what would be a cool start for a Demon game? Check out a few episodes of the show The Booth at the End, it's on Youtube. Your PCs, or someone they're helping, want to know whether this guy/girl is a demon or an angel or an exile or what, so they each individually go in for an interview about their heart's desire. Open the session with their individual interviews, maybe cut between them to keep the players invested, and then give them a task to complete, and let them decide how to proceed once they reunite. Their mission is to find out who this person(?) is, maintain Cover, and maybe get something out of it themselves.


        2E Legacy Updates
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        • #5
          I'd second the "starting small" advice. Have them live their Cover for a bit, building up background characters, simple motivations, and Aspirations. So when the weirdness strikes, they have a face, Contacts of use, and a direct reason to involve themselves.

          Another thing to keep in mind with Demon, you can have backstory elements, then change them without worrying too much. With time revisions and even just the ability for Unchained to lie, what was stated could have been false once you need it to be (provided there isn't solid evidence).
          Last edited by Vent0; 09-02-2017, 01:47 PM.


          Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
          Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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          • #6
            I might also add the question: what made your group bite on the Demon hook? What about your pitch seemed to excite and interest them about the idea of the game? Always tailor to your audience; you may not necessarily want to start out quite as slow, for example, if your players are excited about the notion of being machine-devils restraining an explosive might to release at dramatic moments.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the replies and the ideas.

              Yeah, Vegas inspired me for some of the plot ideas you mentioned (though others are new and quite welcome). Definitely gonna work on those. Will also check The Booth at the End.

              Indeed, I think that the thing they liked the most about my pitch was the idea of having to fight a secret war against the God-Machine. They like the aesthetics, the themes and the undercover guerrilla aspect. They all seem to be really fascinated by the God-Machine and its brand of "sufficiently advanced technology", but I think they'll all gonna embrace the fight against It wholeheartedly. I was not sure they'd like the espionage side, considering they're used to more direct games, but that seems to be a selling point as well.

              I barely mentioned the power and the Demonic Form, because they were all already sold by then.

              I do think that, at least for the introductory story, they expect something showy and messy. Probably gonna start with a seemingly innocuos plot and then escalate with some good 'ol God-Machine weirdness, just to give them a taste. Perhaps by showing them the mechanics one after the other.

              After that, I'll follow your advice and scale it down for a little, giving them the change to become familiar to Covers, characters and their reason to be. Not to mention how insidious Angels and Infrastructure can be.


              Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
              Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps".

              Hopes to write about monsters, shapeshifters and soulless abominations someday. If you have criticism that can help me improve, I'm always here

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              • #8
                You might also think about starting In Media Res, then doing a more sedate flashback to establish some background of how you got there.

                Post mission, you can then examine the repercussions of it on those met in the flashback(s).
                Last edited by Vent0; 09-02-2017, 06:08 PM.


                Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
                Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
                  You might also think about starting In Media Res, then doing a more sedate flashback to establish some background of how you got there.

                  Post mission, you can then examine the repercussions of it on those met in the flashback(s).
                  You know, that might be a cool idea. It's been a while since I used that trick and all players except one are new to me as a Storyteller, so that's gonna surprise them for sure.

                  It's also quite cinematographic and a big part of my ideas for the game rely on heist and thriller movies, so that would set the tone perfectly.


                  Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
                  Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps".

                  Hopes to write about monsters, shapeshifters and soulless abominations someday. If you have criticism that can help me improve, I'm always here

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Seems to me starting with a big, Ocean's Eleven style casino heist is a great way to bring the Vegas setting and espionage-centric action into focus and engage with your players. There's something of huge value in the vault (or somewhere else; the vault is the distraction) or something a gambler might be convinced to place into the middle of the poker table when he's drawn a Flush. Demons, armed with abilities like Authorized, Bystander Effect, Cause and Effect, Tower of Babel, Four Minutes Ago and Hush could pull off things no human theives ever could. Oh, and they have literally perfect poker faces.

                    Example MacGuffins: A library of Covers collected by a deceased demon, an angel's intact corpse, a lambda or other amazing Gadget(s), intel on Machine agents in the Unchained community, the innocuous linchpin of an occult matrix (a poker chip, perhaps, identical to its fellows except for an odd misprint), abandoned Infrastructure...

                    As people have mentioned, Vegas is a bizarre place full of bizarre structures everyone accepts. It's got a tiny native population and, I'm told, is very, very different once you leave the Strip and touristy parts. It's a place where gambling , excess and 'sin' frowned upon, legally and morally, in much of the US are wantonly glorified. It's a hostile place that captivates you, takes your money and spits you out. It's a place where, maybe, an impossible dream can come true. Frankly in a Demon game Vegas is probably one giant piece of Infrastructure filled with Exiles, angels, demons and smaller Infrastructure and occult matrices, it's a damn compelling setting.
                    Last edited by Eremite; 09-02-2017, 09:48 PM.


                    Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras
                    Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
                    After the Fall: Bonus Material

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Eremite View Post

                      As people have mentioned, Vegas is a bizarre place full of bizarre structures everyone accepts. It's got a tiny native population and, I'm told, is very, very different once you leave the Strip and touristy parts. It's a place where gambling , excess and 'sin' frowned upon, legally and morally, in much of the US are wantonly glorified. It's a hostile place that captivates you, takes your money and spits you out. It's a place where, maybe, an impossible dream can come true. Frankly in a Demon game Vegas is probably one giant piece of Infrastructure filled with Exiles, angels, demons and smaller Infrastructure and occult matrices, it's a damn compelling setting.
                      It's been stuck in mind since those early images of in-development Demon Rose talked about. I remember some developer (might have been Rose herself) mentioning a Demon clinging to a radio tower speaking in eldritch frequences. Always imagined it happening in a Mojave-like desert and I said to myself "If one day I ever run Demon, it's gonna be set in Vegas". Turns out the place is just a perfect place for Infrastructure. Going for the low-hanging fruit, but hey, it works.

                      Thanks for the plot and MacGuffins ideas as well. Definitely helping me with the introduction to the game, both from a storyline point of view and the little opportunities it offers.

                      Again, thanks everyone. The thread is proving quite useful.


                      Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
                      Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps".

                      Hopes to write about monsters, shapeshifters and soulless abominations someday. If you have criticism that can help me improve, I'm always here

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        And for a heist with a flashback period, you could even tie in the unspoken plan - end the first session's action with a cliff hanger, and one character saying "all according to plan", then the ending of the flashback can establish the plan that gets them out of the "future" situation.

                        Also remember: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. I don't know if those could be made into arc words, but it might be another useful inspiration.
                        Last edited by Vent0; 09-03-2017, 06:29 AM.


                        Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
                        Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
                          Also remember: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. U don't know if those could be made into arc words, but it might be another useful inspiration.
                          Could work well for splinter timelines? Which can tie in very well with visiting the famous history of New Vegas and the construction of landmarks/Infrastructure.

                          Also, if you don't do something with the whole Elvis conspiracy, or at least have an Exile as impersonator, then you've missed an opportunity.


                          Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras
                          Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
                          After the Fall: Bonus Material

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Eremite View Post
                            Also, if you don't do something with the whole Elvis conspiracy, or at least have an Exile as impersonator, then you've missed an opportunity.
                            Hmm. Speaking of impersonators, the Demon core book has Reptilians as sample Cryptids. Maybe a convention of Reptilian Elvis Impersonators?


                            Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
                            Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
                              Hmm. Speaking of impersonators, the Demon core book has Reptilians as sample Cryptids. Maybe a convention of Reptilian Elvis Impersonators?
                              Having "Elvis Impersonators" as a whole Cryptid species with its own powers and that can only express in famous Elvis quotes, gestures and mannerism is another option. Choices, choices...



                              Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub
                              Currently writing: "Dark Era: The Forest That Weeps".

                              Hopes to write about monsters, shapeshifters and soulless abominations someday. If you have criticism that can help me improve, I'm always here

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