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  • Advice for Second Pass at Demon

    I'm thinking of running a new Demon the Descent game, and here are some problems I ran into in my previous game. I'm sure you experts already have a solution now that the game has been out for a while! These are NOT criticisms of the game. I'm sure there's something horribly wrong with me or my players :-)

    1. Everyone ended up taking the same cool powers, so they didn't seem cool anymore.

    Example: pulling things out of pockets, downloading and editing people's memories with tentacles (I obviously can't remember the names)

    Ideas: house rule to make them default abilities, house rule that it costs more outside your splat, etc.

    2. We always had to look up stuff in the book, since there were lots of special powers, and nearly every rule / special power has at least 3 extra bits to remember (e.g., Dramatic Failure, Normal Success, Extraordinary Success). Coming from (Classic) WoD) where there are fewer powers (e.g., Vampiric disciplines), and the rules for everything are pretty much = "here's what happens if it works."

    3. Players were annoyed / confused by beats. I'm sure there's a better way to manage them at the table that you've figured out.

    4. It did not feel very Espionagy. We all wanted it to feel Espionagy, but I wasn't able to make it feel that way.

  • #2
    1: The easiest way to fix this is to have your players focus largely on the Embeds that match their Incarnations. Let your Destroyer take up most of the Cacophony powers and have everyone else focus elsewhere.

    2: You can always just copy down the relevent Embeds on the back of someone's character sheet so the Storyteller isn't forced to remember/reference every single one.

    Also, every single Discipline had an entirely different effect per dot rating. It's just as complex.

    3: Look into the "Group Beats" option, where they're awarded equally to everybody at the session's end.

    4: You'll have to elaborate on this, as Demon has a lot of stuff in hand to enforce the espionage theme. One of the everpresent aspects of Demon is Cover (and the associated compromise); were you properly hounding player characters for not living their Cover and threatening them withbeing tracked and exposed by the God-Machine?


    Call me Remi. Female pronouns for me, please.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Archivist View Post
      I'm thinking of running a new Demon the Descent game, and here are some problems I ran into in my previous game. I'm sure you experts already have a solution now that the game has been out for a while! These are NOT criticisms of the game. I'm sure there's something horribly wrong with me or my players :-)

      1. Everyone ended up taking the same cool powers, so they didn't seem cool anymore.

      Example: pulling things out of pockets, downloading and editing people's memories with tentacles (I obviously can't remember the names)

      Ideas: house rule to make them default abilities, house rule that it costs more outside your splat, etc.

      2. We always had to look up stuff in the book, since there were lots of special powers, and nearly every rule / special power has at least 3 extra bits to remember (e.g., Dramatic Failure, Normal Success, Extraordinary Success). Coming from (Classic) WoD) where there are fewer powers (e.g., Vampiric disciplines), and the rules for everything are pretty much = "here's what happens if it works."

      3. Players were annoyed / confused by beats. I'm sure there's a better way to manage them at the table that you've figured out.

      4. It did not feel very Espionagy. We all wanted it to feel Espionagy, but I wasn't able to make it feel that way.
      1. Character creation can be a group endeavour, which can help to avoid this being too much of a problem, Demonic forms are often overlooked as cool powers, and I can't believe people will go too similar on those. Talking about it helps, too. Oh, and be wary of Fungible Knowledge.

      2. Atamajakki's onto something, but there are lots of other bits that only come with time and experience, sadly

      4. I think mindset helps a lot. My players went in knowing there was an espionage feel and embracing it - they infiltrated, they spied, they lied, they used demonic powers to bug people... To train them into this mindset perhaps try to base your early sessions around information gathering, spycraft, conspiracies and heists (I don't know how sandboxy you are - I generally open with a more linear story that opens out into a sandbox).


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

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      • #4
        Can you be more specific about what your players disliked about Beats? There are a handful of common gripes with them I've seen that can be delt with in different ways. For instance, a lot of people don't like asynchronous character advancement, and this can be solved by using the Group Beats option. On the other hand, some people don't like the way that Beats are awarded as carrots to encourage actions that could be detrimental to the character, finding it too far on the narrativism side of the gsn spectrum, and Group Beats don't really fix that, but awarding Beats the same way you would hand out exp in 1e or WoD might. With more specific details I can give more specific advice.


        Onyx Path Forum Moderator

        My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

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        • #5
          1. You create the Ciphers. Assuming that the players are interested in completing their cipher, (and they should be, as it's the most efficient way to increase Primum early on) than you have the ability to set 3 embeds and 3 interlocks unique to each player to start the ball rolling.

          b. start the campaign off with an antagonistic Agency (the Moscow soul collectors are suitable loathsome), and use the opposition to showcase the coolness of embeds and exploits the players aren't using. For instance, a enemy demon walks into a police station, there's a burst of gunfire, the enemy walks out (Merciless Gunman). When the players say "We want to do that" say, "you can. "

          c. Give the players an friendly Agency that pays with one-term use gadgets that showcase embeds and exploits the players have overlooked.

          2. Use and abuse the "it works" rule. DtD Pg. 124 says that if you (the storyteller) need an embed roll to succeed to advance the story, than it succeeds, right then and there. If looking up embeds is slowing you down, just say: "It works, moving on."

          3. Emphasize that Beats are rewards for participating in the story. Most RPGs punish failure. CoD games rewards failure because it means that the player is making a contribution by adding complications to the narrative. Success is it's own reward. That said, you can use group beats if your players don't like individual beats.

          4. Eremite's advice is worth following. Read or watch some classic espionage media, and dissect it to find out what makes it work. The storyteller's guide has some good advice. Interview your players to find out what kind of spy fiction they like (Burn Notice, Person of Interest, Le Carre, etc) and work from there. Whenever you make a NPC, ask yourself "why is this person untrustworthy?" Whenever you describe an environment, no matter how mundane, describe it as a spy would see it: "The grocery story has 44 security camera staring down at you, the parking lot wasn't designed for anyone to leave in a hurry, the cashier in checkout lane seven hasn't taken her eyes off you since you came in."

          b. Use images and motiffs to set the stage: Broken mirrors, men playing chess, figures in smoke, etc.
          Last edited by Agentwestmer; 07-29-2016, 11:56 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Agentwestmer View Post
            1.

            b. start the campaign off with an antagonistic Agency (the Moscow soul collectors are suitable loathsome), and use the opposition to showcase the coolness of embeds and exploits the players aren't using. For instance, a enemy demon walks into a police station, there's a burst of gunfire, the enemy walks out (Merciless Gunman). When the players say "We want to do that" say, "you can. "
            .
            In what book do the Moscow Soul Collectors appear?

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            • #7
              I don't know how say this (and won't be able to answer back till later), but do your players have trouble not only with the espionage, but reconciling it with the idea of being a demon? That could help some to blend the aspects together and show why they work

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              • #8
                Sorry - mine was a necromantic post, reviving a discussion from 2016. I just wanted to know the publication in which the "Moscow Soul Collectors" appeared. The OP might not be here to answer your questions.

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                • #9
                  Ahh ok my bad, won't be posting here then for now

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