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  • Aspiration advice

    So I running into a situation where my players are choosing ridiculously easy aspirations like going to buy something or doing things like gorging themselves. There's no conflict, story or real achievement with these types of things that i would consider worthy of a beat. So what are some guidelines to recognize a worthy aspiration vs some seemingly mundane task? If stuff like this is legit I don't want to cheat my players either.

  • #2
    Promethean had a system where players got xp for discovering things that highlighted what they were or significant insight toward becoming human. Have you explained that aspirations are supposed to be long term goals to work toward throughout several sessions, not benchmarks signifying a descent into monstrosity?
    Last edited by tsusasi; 09-04-2017, 09:33 PM.

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    • #3
      First of all point out that Aspirations are things the players want to see happen with their characters; not the characters' own goals. I have to say they're a really dull bunch of players if they honestly want grocery shopping to be an important goal in their character's personal arc no matter how important it actually is for the characters to get supplies.
      But for actual guidelines, Aspirations generally fit into three types:
      * Aspirations that they know or strongly suspect will trigger a conflict
      * Aspirations they don't yet know how to achieve (as in they require research or exploration which gives you ample opportunity to add conflict)
      * Aspirations that will negatively affect their characters in a dramatic fashion


      Bloodline: The Stygians
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      • #4
        Originally posted by tsusasi View Post
        Pronethean had a system where players got xp for discovering things that highlighted what they were or significant insight toward becoming human. Have you explained that aspirations are supposed to be long term goals to work toward throughout several sessions, not benchmarks signifying a descent into monstrosity?
        Only one of the Aspirations are intended to be long-term. The other two should, if possible, be stuff that could happen within one session.


        Bloodline: The Stygians
        Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
        Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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        • #5
          Are they doing that to gain beats for cheap ? I mean, aside from trying to game the system, I don't really see why they would pick such mundane stuff for aspirations. Maybe they're new players, and this is their first game so they fuck around with the system a bit ? Yeah, I don't know. If that's the case, then, I imagine they'll grow out of it after two or three sessions, once they realize it doesn't serve any purpose. As long as you provide an engaging story on your side, they should follow once they're done buying groceries.

          Otherwise, try to talk to them and ask them why they are so insistant on doing that. If they're just doing it for the lulz, then, you can ignore that, or, if you're up for it, play their game and make their super boring aspiration an epic goal. They wanna go to the grocery store to buy canned food (that they're not even gonna eat ?), have the Lancea Sanctum and Circle of the Crone show up to have a gang war inside the store. Now, the player has to find a clerk who hasn't fled, force him to check their items and pay them. For extra drama, maybe the credit card machine eats a bullet and the player has to pay with cash, or worse, check. As they take out their coins, a sanctified gangrel directs a swarm of locusts to fill the place, causing the player to drop their money, and one coin rolls under a big shelf that holds flammable goods. What if the clerk dies and the player has to embrace them so they can complete their shopping ? They'll be too freaked out to comply, the player asks to speak to the manager. Turns out the manager is a pack of Werewolves who then join the fight.

          Or if things are really unmanageable, you could just scratch the aspiration system. Basically, all it is is a space on your sheet where you write down the kind of things you tend to talk about with your GM when you want something to happen to your character.
          Last edited by S. Brechen; 11-16-2016, 06:33 PM.

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          • #6
            Or advise them to write at least one Aspiration as want of Beast in them if they not have better ideas - yeah, you heard it right. Beast. Let one need to hunt in time of play. Let other to engage in Blood Bonds on him. They are one short scenes, but add drama to vampire life, is it not?


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            • #7
              Honestly I don't even think of them as long term and short term.

              *I want my character to gain political influence.

              -steps I could take:
              1) befriend other kindred, if a player devotes time to improve his impression rating with other kindred (regardless of success or failure of dice) gain a beat. Most kindred have allies and enemies, befriending this kindred could gain him enemies.

              2) show up at social events, and voice his opinion (regardless of dice rolls gain a beat). He could gain support or make other kindred angry, adds to the story.

              Aspirations can be meta.

              I want my character to learn this weird esoteric devotion.

              *steps

              1) Research common devotions whether through social interaction or actual occult studies.

              2) burn through lots of blood with the discipline in question forcing lots of feeding. Plenty of interesting story fodder here.

              Aspirations don't have to benefit the character.

              My ally wants to be the sheriff and I will help him.

              1) discredit the current sheriff in social circles. (Helps to have actual dirt but not needed. Gossip is good too) I guarantee interesting story hooks here.

              2) petition the powers that be on his behalf. (Helps if you have clout or numbers)

              3) building off 2 convince others to petition on his behalf.

              Many of these steps can be used multiple times. Some are limited by social impression. The rest no more than once per game anyway.

              The important part is most of these can lead to interesting story, ask them what they want to take away from the game; great stories or stories about their character shopping for pet treats.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RobWolf View Post
                ridiculously easy aspirations like going to buy something or doing things like gorging themselves.
                Gorging themselves how? If they're going for Blood Beats by shameless overfeeding, remind them that consistently treating their territory like a six-block Big Gulp comes with consequences. Also, if other vampires find out they'll probably catch flack for being overindulgent and/or irresponsible.

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                • #9
                  Like most new story-mechanics in 2E, Aspirations are supposed to be dramatic things.

                  Sometimes the aspiration itself will be obviously dramatic. "Overthrow the Sheriff who wronged me." "Blackmail the Harpy" "Learn the secret about my Grandsire that my Sire doesn't want me to know."

                  But sometimes the aspiration won't be obviously dramatic, and that's where you come in. "Spend more time with my Touchstone" - On the surface, what a nice double-dip! Beats and Willpower refreshes for the same scene. And that's where you step in to make things dramatic as the ST. The touchstone can't spend time with the PC until this terrible problem is solved. Or, because I've just fallen in love and am in the honeymoon phase. Now the PC has to make some dramatic choices of their own.

                  On some level, it doesn't matter what they put down, because whatever gets put down, you should be thinking of ways to make it dramatic or conflicted.

                  No free lunches. And if you need help thinking how to spin something dramatic/interesting that seems boring, we're here to help.

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                  • #10
                    I agree with Holy. Aspiration Beats should be acheived *through conflict*. Obviously I don't mean just punching faces.

                    "Show up the vampire who embarassed me at Elysium" is conflict.
                    "Find out why my Sire abandoned me" also is.
                    "Go shopping for a new fur coat" isn't. Unless it's made from a Werewolf, and owned by a vampire who doesn't want to part with it.

                    There ought to be a force of opposition. An adequately powerful force.

                    Beating up the leader of the Carthians? Sure.
                    Beating up a newborn baby? No. Unless the baby is....

                    What are the *specific* worst examples of players choices of Aspirations, or attempts at gaining Beats?

                    The thing to do is cut the cheap ones off before they ever get started.
                    "I have an Aspiration to go shopping"
                    "Well, if you do, you're going to have to explain to me how there's any realistic conflict or opposition there. Because I'm not giving you a point for shoe shopping at Macy's. Not in this lifetime."
                    "Oh, OK then. How about..."

                    There is nothing wrong with it being a negotiation with the player. And remember: they're not the final arbiter of what constitutes an Aspiration or Beat. You are. Let them know that, so they know where they are. Then be firm (if needed), but fair.

                    I think aspirations are there primarily for two reasons:
                    - to allow the player to guide you towards what they'd like to do.
                    - to help you to create scenes of dramatic conflict.
                    Last edited by FutureBondVillain; 11-18-2016, 08:28 AM.

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                    • #11
                      I don't really think Aspirations need to be so strict. They basically replace the two freebie XP you got in 1e (attending and learning something or whatever it was).

                      Remember that two of the three are meant to be accomplished in a single session. I don't know about you, but I don't have time to give every single player in my group two "conflicts" to be resolved every session, let alone do so while still providing progress with the main plot and providing feeding scenes.

                      As long as it engages the players and provides you some hint as to where they want to go with their characters, it's good enough for me.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RobWolf View Post
                        So I running into a situation where my players are choosing ridiculously easy aspirations like going to buy something or doing things like gorging themselves. There's no conflict, story or real achievement with these types of things that i would consider worthy of a beat. So what are some guidelines to recognize a worthy aspiration vs some seemingly mundane task? If stuff like this is legit I don't want to cheat my players either.
                        You have veto powers on stupid aspirations like "Drawing in another breath" or "having a piece of candy" (barring narrative situations in which those aspirations have a gravitas and are compelling, like being confined to submarine depths, or without supplies in the middle of a desert). Exercise it.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Maina View Post
                          I don't really think Aspirations need to be so strict. They basically replace the two freebie XP you got in 1e (attending and learning something or whatever it was).
                          Frankly, no they don’t. Beyond the fact the entire metric of XP award and cost has changed utterly, you already get one “free” beat per session (that has nothing to do with Aspirations). You don’t need to replace it because it’s still there.

                          Remember that two of the three are meant to be accomplished in a single session.
                          Where does it say this? Because in CoD it says precisely “you should aim for accomplishing about one Aspiration per session” (p. 28)

                          I don't know about you, but I don't have time to give every single player in my group two "conflicts" to be resolved every session, let alone do so while still providing progress with the main plot and providing feeding scenes.
                          Well, I can totally understand that. I think group size has a great bearing upon it; the bar would probably have to be raised or lowered depending on that. I have a two PC group, so I can sort of work on a more focused, individual basis. And again, it's “about one conflict”. Two would be impossible.
                          Also there’s no reason AFAIC that they can’t, at least at times, have Aspirations that tie in with the main plot in some way or other (tangentially, at least).

                          As long as it engages the players and provides you some hint as to where they want to go with their characters, it's good enough for me.
                          I think, in narrative discussion, “conflict” is often (incorrectly) assumed to mean something almost always over dramatic. A goal that requires “real (not necessarily excessive) effort” can be said to be achieved under conflict.
                          “Finding somewhere safe to sleep for the night” works. If the character has to make an effort to do it, say because the neighborhood’s rough, there's environmental factors, or they have to be careful because someone's hunting them.

                          But if it’s “I rent a hotel room, and put the ’Do Not Disturb’ sign out”… Yeah I’m not giving you one for that. Unless some problem arises…

                          I love Aspirations, but I want them to be meaningful. To provide focus and direction. Not to be used to get a cheap pseudo-XP-point by going shopping every week. That does not help the game at all.

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                          • #14
                            I advise looking at the storytelling section. Think it's called will to achieve. I love this twist. It forces the players to want to have interesting aspirations they can delve into.

                            This option may not work as well for short games. But if you want a very sandbox long run game I think it is amazing.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FutureBondVillain View Post

                              Where does it say this? Because in CoD it says precisely “you should aim for accomplishing about one Aspiration per session” (p. 28)
                              Pg. 79

                              "Lastly, Aspirations make for great fodder for quick and easy
                              goals
                              . Don’t be afraid to take at least one Aspiration without
                              immense challenge or risk
                              . For example, “Find a safe haven” isn’t
                              an unreasonable goal, and it gives you something to do during
                              the first session if you’re struggling to find a place for your
                              character. Look at easy Aspirations as story hooks. In play, try
                              to involve the other players’ characters in accomplishing them.
                              "

                              Overall pg. 274 also mentions that you don't have to achieve the goals of meaningful Aspirations to get a Beat, and they can even be meta, like 'lash out at a defenseless human" or "learn a new skill/discipline/whatever" or even "use discipline in some cool way".

                              "• It’s important to remember that grander Aspirations can award
                              Beats any time the character takes meaningful steps toward
                              resolution; don’t punish players for taking lofty goals.
                              "

                              "• Aspirations can be “meta.” The player knows them; the
                              character doesn’t have to
                              ."

                              An interesting thing from that page is this;

                              "As it stands, they’re mostly open-ended — players can do with them what they please."

                              They really are supposed to be constantly providing their Beats and driving the story forward. Of course the ST can and should veto overtly silly stuff if that will subtract from the plot, but overall you should let your players decide on where they want to go with them.

                              So be fast and loose with them. As long as the players, including you, are having fun and the Aspirations are driving the story forward, its all good.

                              They wanna get supplies, make the store they choose to stop at be someone else's territory they accidentally invade. Gorging themselves is a fine aspiration. Dead bodies are stories. And gluttonous Kindred quickly slide in Humanity and may attract even more evil shit or the victim's families/protectors/friends/lovers/owners/whatevers. Make them inadvertently dry up someone's ghoul. Or if you're into throwing other monsters in, kinfolk, proximi or whatever else. That stupid beefcake was a Mafia prince, and you are the last one seen with him before he died.

                              Remind the players that their Aspirations are supposed to be hooks for you all, together, to develop into stories. They are not MK's "Test your Might!". It doesn't matter if they are difficult. It matters if they are interesting and provide creative fodder for you all to work with.
                              Last edited by TGUEIROS; 11-18-2016, 10:15 PM.

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