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How Do You Motivate Vampires?

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  • How Do You Motivate Vampires?

    So, my group is thinking of doing a Vampire game with me as the ST and the rest of the group has been playing around with character concepts. However, we're not clear how I'm supposed to motivate the group to do anything since, unlike the other WoD groups, vampires don't have much in the way of built in unified goals. I've come up with several plot ideas but I've had to discard them when I realized there's no reason for them to get involved.

    The standard Power Grab plot is tricky because it requires all the players to be able to benefit from a unified goal. For example, one character might want to overthrow the Prince and put their own covenant in charge but the players that aren't a part of that covenant won't be so keen.

    The whole Superheroes With Fangs thing only really works if the group has a reason to care. The standard vampire response is to ignore the issue until the Prince deals with it and none of the group has any connection to the leadership of the city that would result in them getting ordered to help out.

    How do you deal with this?

  • #2
    I'd start with thinking with whom the PCs individually have relationships. I mean, at the very least they're going to want to stay 'alive' to see their loved ones like Touchstones.

    To do that they're going to have to suck blood every night from strangers most likely, and I don't need to tell you how that might turn into an interesting or dangerous night. One unknowingly sucks the blood of a cop, the other trespasses in a higher ranking vampire's territory, and the other witnesses their Touchstone doing something they shouldn't.

    If that's not enough then maybe you can have a traitorous agent of the Prince frame them for leaving the Prince's childer out to burn in the sun!


    • #3
      Woo boy, you ask the hard question; "how do I make my players actually care."

      As I've observed from running my own vampire games a vampire finds motivation to do anything because of the NPCs around them, and theit covenant in general provides the vampire with a purpose; that's essentially the primary purpose of any covenant beyond their grandstanding.

      So, make NPCs that the players will care about, and hopefully the rest should follow. Vampire, above all games, is the game about social interaction.

      Oh, and pray that the PCs will actually try to interact with each other, otherwise it'll be a bigger headache on your part.


      • #4
        Don't stick with genres as a motivational technique. When it all boils down you have the stick and carrot. Or with vampires the stake and the...carrot. Blood? Blood bag? Surely there's a word that begins with c.

        Anyways, the stick. A threat to their lives or well-being can push them in one direction. This does not have to be an angry mob that knows all of their secrets and carries flamethrowers with them, but even something as little the person who owns the building their haven is in sold it, forcing them to move or otherwise act, can help. A stick can be as simple as a sire demanding something of them, knowing that to fail lead to the one who brought you into the world being disappointed.

        The carrot is basically finding out what the players and their characters are interested in. It can go a long way. If Player A wants to become head of his covenant and Player B's character wants to found a bloodline you have some direction right there. Dangle some opportunities for promotion and esteem in front of Player A, some unique sorcerous path for Player B's character.


        • #5
          Indeed, Touchstones, Touchstones, Touchstones. The alternative to neglecting them is becoming a ravenous fast zombie with kewl powers in a near future.

          Show them what happens when they neglect their humanity. Display revenants hunting in their turf, close to their loved ones, or heretic vampires that try to take over the domain not with rhetoric, but by force.

          Make them care about upholding the masquerade, because the ones above them in the totem-pole will make them care about it.


          • #6
            Welcome to the board!

            Start by discussing it with the players. Vampires can have Aspirations, but their players can also have Aspirations for things they'd like to do or experience - often at odds with what their characters would want. "My character would like a nice quiet unlife, but I want him to get unwillingly dragged into adventures and find reasons to care about others."

            Some groups formalise connections - such as the Storyteller asking each player in turn "how do you know X's character?" and pointing to the player to their left - and others play it loose. It can be a good way to start for a new group, discussing ideas before anyone makes a character.

            The Storyteller can help with this too, making suggestions, and bring in external factors like a major threat, an elder nobody likes who has a hold over all of them, or a mutual hunting ground. You can propose a strong theme - for example, my first time running Second Edition had the characters as refugees from a city attacked by the Strix, working together for mutual safety and investigating any hints that the enemy were coming to their new location - or a less defining one like their sires all owing a favour to a local elder and sometimes calling on them to help.

            Craig Oxbrow
            The Trinity Continuum freelancer


            • #7
              Originally posted by nofather View Post
              When it all boils down you have the stick and carrot. Or with vampires the stake and the....

              The Stake and Claret.


              • #8
                The fact that they have no connection to the Prince and leadership of the city just makes them eminently deniable and expendable. Have someone in power quietly pull them aside and set them on a task that nobody else wants to do because half of the vampires in the city don't want it done, then set them scrambling to get their heads off the elder's chopping block without putting it on someone else's. Sticking some unconnected newbie to take the heat for an unpopular task is old hat for politicians.


                • #9
                  Touchstones are the obvious way, but they'll only work for so long. Avoiding detachment because you don't see your touchstone often enough is a SLOW process, and as long as you drop by occasionally to have a few words, it's going to be okay given how the mechanic works. Holding the touchstone hostage to make the plot go forward is... kinda cheap. It works, and at the right times, it's just the perfect plot hook (or kick in the butt to push the PC forward), but you're not gonna get away with doing that every other game session who ever the PCs' touchstones are are the unluckiest people in the world.

                  Plus, well, I don't know your players, but if it were me, after one or two months of the basic neonate squabble and worrying about whether your touchstone is doing drugs, I'm gonna expect something a bit more... interesting from my GM. And in that regards, unless what they propose is really uninteresting or it would be contrary to my character's interests, I'm going to be a good sports and see how I could get involved. Because, like, I don't come to games with the intent of refusing plot hooks and hide in a corner (although I've seen players act sorta like that, never got it).

                  But if I've learned anything, it's that no matter the plot hook (and unless the players play paladins or something), it's going to speak to the PCs on a personal level for them to get involved. It doesn't have to BE personal or directly about them, but it should make them uneasy enough that they'll end up having to get involved to be consistent with themselves. That's the hard part because it requires your players themselves to make a character that has their own ideas of what is should and shouldn't be, and actually play them accordingly. And then, it requires you to understand those characters and their motivations, how it is that they work. Admittedly, the mask and dirge should give you an idea of what to expect. It's easier for some characters than for others. One of my players in my last game played a vampire who acted mostly as a mercenary. He defined his mask as "mercenary" and dirge as "loyal". This was mostly easy as he generally wouldn't refuse a job if people paid him enough for it and would act if he felt someone he considered a friend or that he owed something to needed help.

                  But usually, you're going to have to be a bit more subtle and if the players are playing game and made a character who has a reason to care about some stuff, in the end, it's a matter of saying a few magic words and seeing the uncomfortable look on their eyes as they're trying to confirm if this is what they think it is. There's no perfect formula. Know the characters, know what makes them tick, exploit that, twist it. More than that, if possible, know your players. Find out how they think, what they hate and what they like, and use that to drive them to want to make their characters act (push your players enough that it's stimulating for them, but not so much that it becomes uncomfortable and too personal, this is gaming, not therapy and you're not their doctor). They made their character for a reason, because something in them interests them, so there should be something to use. If not, maybe they're just not involved with their character, in which case, you should discuss it and see why that is. Sometimes, the right plot can bring out things the player didn't see in their character at first, and sometimes, they just didn't think things through, thought they had a cool concept and then ended up getting bored with it a few game sessions in, and the best solution is just to change character (or the character, even if they didn't die ran their course or found themselves in a situation that makes the player want a fresh start).

                  Also, well, last thing is, player interaction. That takes time, though because interesting (and predictable enough that you can work with them) ties between characters are created through play. You want to end up in a situation that when something affects one player, it's going to affect others in some way. That can be because they're close enough friends that they'll want to stick together, because they share enough contacts that whatever happens to one character's sphere of what they care about is going to affect another's (maybe not in the same way, and so they might want to tackle the issue in different ways), because the character who is directly concerned know they can't solve the problem on their own and need someone(another PC)'s discipline or influence (and then, that will be given freely because friendship, or in exchange for favours and now you have a reason to get the first PC involved when the second has a problem). And of course you can incite infighting. Give conflicting interests, watch for the characters to be torn, for the situation to escalate faster than anyone could have forseen, and then disaster and drama. Just, make sure players aren't going to hate each other for that, make sure it's what you really want (because PCs may die, and a game may just end as a result), and if you've started it and want to de-escalate, watch out for players who are like "I will roleplay the fuck out of my character, even if it means totally refusing to de-escalate anything" and, just like you had to find a way for their character to take action, try to find a way for them to stop taking action.


                  • #10
                    Remember that it's at least as much on the players to make their character motivable. Ask them what would make them care.


                    • #11
                      Of course, there's also the idea that not everybody has to benefit together, nor even be on the same side. There's always the possibility that the Coterie is an alliance of convenience, in which the members would not have any reason to work together unless they weren't faced with a common threat. While they're trying to resolve that issue, they could be focusing their efforts on ulterior motives that the rest of the group might not agree with.


                      • #12
                        Think of what your characters wanted as humans, it would probably carry on after their Embrace. Those with no ambition would probably find themselves entrenched into other vampires' plots. Remember, manipulation and backstabbing is the name of the game in the All-Night Society, and even the characters who think they are fulfilling their own goals are unknowingly doing someone else's dirty work. Always.
                        Last edited by Shawarbaaz; 08-11-2017, 12:57 PM.


                        • #13
                          Worse comes to worse you just look your players in the eye and tell them "this is a plot hook, if you don't bite the game is over", then ask them to figure out why their character would care.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 2ptTakrill View Post
                            Worse comes to worse you just look your players in the eye and tell them "this is a plot hook, if you don't bite the game is over", then ask them to figure out why their character would care.

                            or reverse engineer that and say: What do your characters care about? Then proceed to make your plot hooks about those things and slap your hands together evilly and say "the game has begun!".

                            (Hint the players have already told you what their character care about, look at their Aspirations and Touchstones)
                            Last edited by Pale_Crusader; 08-11-2017, 02:32 PM.

                            “Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.” ~ Aristophanes
                            "Virescit Vulnere Virtus" ~ Stewart Clan Motto


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pale_Crusader View Post

                              or reverse engineer that and say: What do your characters care about? Then proceed to make your plot hooks about those things and slap your hands together evilly and say "the game has begun!".

                              (Hint the players have already told you what their character care about, look at their Aspirations and Touchstones)
                              If the players know what the character wants. I have a few players who don't know what they want from a game until we are about ten sessions in.

                              So my suggestion is also to let the group grow organically and not drop any massive plot bombs until they feel comfortable in their spot and know what they want from a game.

                              It also might be slightly manipulative, but also keep your players in mind when trying to motivate them. Sure, the character might be motivated, but if the player doesn't care then what's the point.

                              So, play on the player's soft spots and their personalities in general.