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  • 1000 years of night, the game.

    So I have taken to beginning to design a game where the PC's will begin as freshly embraced during the Roman period and will navigate their requiem through the ages, eventually reaching modern nights as power elders and methuselah.

    I'm just looking for some good ideas and tips for running a game with such a massive scope. Any input would be appreciated!

  • #2
    Why not go all the way to cyberpunk and infinite macabre times? If you do that, allow the projects the elders worked on in the modern nights to affect the way the future turns out.

    in a related vein, let the PCs projects, and you should encourage the elder PCs to have their own projects that they are working on. have minor effects on history. whether it is a poor mortal family becoming powerful due to the PCs shepherding them, or some tiny Ruritania type nation that falls (or survives) due to them. also, let them witness, or be, the truth behind some historical mystery, but don't overdo it lest the players feel like they are playing Vampire Forest Gump.

    Also, fourth turning theory may be pop sociology bullhonkey, but it is useful for 1000 years of night purposes, and I have found it useful for comparing the pop culture of different generations, so maybe look into that.


    My Savannah Setting for CofD can be found here

    My heroes as monster tamers rules for BtP can be found here

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    • #3
      Cool, ok. Mine starts in the mid-5th century so I get to call it a "Thousand Years of Knights" with a straight face, but the challenge is similar: what is a person doing with eternity, and how are they coping with the pressures of monstrosity?

      The interesting divergence between the Masquerade and Requiem is that as vampires age Masq assumes they get more and more staid and immobile. They become like ossified fixtures until the world moved around them in visible and invisible ways. This has... obvious problems, but for the Storyteller the biggest is that players are most of the time not looking to role-play furniture. Requiem, on the other hand, assumes that if you are capable as a vampire of surviving you are either a) an incredibly lucky draugr (i.e. monster), or b) capable of holding your humanity together long enough for the basic human adaptation tendencies to kick in.

      Thus, the core common factor along long-lived elders is the fact that they have and continue to reinvent themselves over time. They do NOT sit still (figuratively at least), but as the Red Queen told Alice: “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” When a vampire fails to keep moving, to at least keep up with the humanity around them, they get eaten or the daylight catches them. This means that building a stable network which could let you sit in the center as a fat spider is really, really hard, and you have to juggle the factors: effective/extensive, stable, and low-maintenance. Pick two.

      Thematic point, great. What does that mean for actually crafting a game? Well it means you can prepare yourself and players for an experience that keeps moving. Moving through time, moving through the events of history, and moving through relationships. Vampires rarely can run fast enough to get out in front of history far enough to move it the way they want. They can get out far enough to ensure they aren't run over by history. Sometimes... part of the time. And if not? Then they either run and hide, or go into torpor and wake up later having to reinvent themselves as their own culture and society is literally dead and buried in the meantime.

      All this is actually freeing, believe it or not. It means you can spend quality time with Google researching obscure history and know that you can either hit the PCs with it, or hit the PCs with being responsible for it. Real history is written in the shadows--what we know is only the tip. Vampires, of course, live in the shadows....

      So do what? Pick a time-frame, pick a place, and build a timeline that paints in broad strokes where you're going. Then, as play progresses and you find new, cool tidbits or inferences, color in things more and more until you start identifying NPCs and hidden societies and statting those out.

      Try to reuse NPCs as much as possible. I call this the Principle of Conservation of Characters. If your players interact with an NPC, that NPC will either have the will to slide along through history as well, or their weakness and failure is used to illustrate the point of survival. Or, if mortal, the NPC illustrates what the vampires lost by achieving a kind of immortality; they age, live full and triumphant lives, and die amidst their children and grandchildren (or, on their knives, but whichever).

      Resist the impulse to spend much time in-game highlighting all the cool stuff not happening to the PCs. This is the Principle of Where You're At Is Most Important. Sure, Alaric just sacked Rome and put a stake in 900+ years of history, but the Vandals crossed the Pyrenees last year and may at any moment consume Tarraco where you've made your home for two centuries! Screw Rome! As vampires age their tendency to take longer and longer views of history, and say "Meh!", will increase and help you with this.

      A few timing-specific comments: take a look at some of the early Roman Republic events and consider starting during them. First Punic War in particular could be interesting (~250 BC)... this is the period of Rome struggling into itself, before the dark days. Before the Empire! *cough* (Before the decay set in....)


      --Khanwulf

      PS. PM me if you're interested and I can share my timeline, such as it is.


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      • #4
        Hi, i am in a similar position.
        I've just started a game set in Venice in 1205 and i plan to take it all the way to present days.

        The one thing that springs to mind is that i really want to try a way to showcase the difficulties of keeping with the times.
        What i plan to do is to be less and less forthright with how much time passed since last session. I really want to come to a point where the pc is shot and the player looks at me and goes ''Wait, what year is this???''
        hopefully things will go as planned (or near enough).

        I don't have much else to say for now but i will be following this thread attentively.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by The young man in the cafe View Post
          Why not go all the way to cyberpunk and infinite macabre times? If you do that, allow the projects the elders worked on in the modern nights to affect the way the future turns out.

          in a related vein, let the PCs projects, and you should encourage the elder PCs to have their own projects that they are working on. have minor effects on history. whether it is a poor mortal family becoming powerful due to the PCs shepherding them, or some tiny Ruritania type nation that falls (or survives) due to them. also, let them witness, or be, the truth behind some historical mystery, but don't overdo it lest the players feel like they are playing Vampire Forest Gump.

          Also, fourth turning theory may be pop sociology bullhonkey, but it is useful for 1000 years of night purposes, and I have found it useful for comparing the pop culture of different generations, so maybe look into that.
          Yep. And, at some point, you may just want to look at the table and say, "if this works at all like you're intending, history will be quite different, are you ready for that?" And then sail the ragged survivors of Hastings to Prussia.

          In many respects, if you're playing vampire Forrest Gump you're doing it right....

          Anyway, this is firmly YMMV territory, but my PCs are and will be working hard to keep the applecart of history on its rails, against the influences of individuals and forces that would very much like for it to be upset in a fashion of their choosing. This means end-o'-the-world kind of stuff--subtle or otherwise, and I get to show the alternatives through either playable dream sequences (forward AND backward), divination, or flat-out time travel ("fixing" a loop, for example). Or maybe they end up responsible for the Black Death, who knows?

          --Khanwulf

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
            Cool, ok. Mine starts in the mid-5th century so I get to call it a "Thousand Years of Knights" with a straight face
            You could start one in the Islamic Golden Age and call it "One Thousand and One (Years of) Nights."


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
              You could start one in the Islamic Golden Age and call it "One Thousand and One (Years of) Nights."
              Also awesome! Bonus points for taking the PCs through the tales themselves....

              --Khanwulf

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              • #8
                Khanwulf I would definitely dig that timeline. Do you want me to write it up like I have the other ones in the timeline project?


                CofD booklists:
                Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
                  Khanwulf I would definitely dig that timeline. Do you want me to write it up like I have the other ones in the timeline project?

                  I'm not presently remembering the timeline project, but I'll PM you. My material of course is both customized and contains historical and supernatural elements, though for sanity I color-coded...

                  --Khanwulf

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                  • #10
                    Khanwulf That sounds pretty great! I'd appreciate a PM with those details!

                    How would you handle shifting the years? I am trying to figure out the best way to move forward in the time line without making it to jarring, and also how to handle what the players will be doing during this "time shift"

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post


                      I'm not presently remembering the timeline project, but I'll PM you. My material of course is both customized and contains historical and supernatural elements, though for sanity I color-coded...

                      --Khanwulf
                      Behold my crowning glory work in progress aka the only thread I've made that has gotten pinned.


                      CofD booklists:
                      Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire

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                      • #12
                        Another idea that I think could be interesting is, after a couple in-game centuries, roll up new characters, so that you can show several generations of the same dynasty interacting with the world. The previous PCs wouldn't have to die, they could simply go into torpor, or leave for new hunting grounds, or send their childer off to new domains, up to their own plans and struggles but capable of dropping in when their childer need a hand. Or leave it as an optional thing, so that players who want to role-play a neonate growing up to be a millennium-old Methuselah can do that, and those who get tired of a character or don't really have any more goals for them can retire them and keep playing.


                        Haberdasher's Requiem Conversions and Homebrew

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Haberdasher View Post
                          Another idea that I think could be interesting is, after a couple in-game centuries, roll up new characters, so that you can show several generations of the same dynasty interacting with the world. The previous PCs wouldn't have to die, they could simply go into torpor, or leave for new hunting grounds, or send their childer off to new domains, up to their own plans and struggles but capable of dropping in when their childer need a hand. Or leave it as an optional thing, so that players who want to role-play a neonate growing up to be a millennium-old Methuselah can do that, and those who get tired of a character or don't really have any more goals for them can retire them and keep playing.
                          And of course, you can always go back to the elder if they become interesting again, thus causing trouble for the childer.

                          Originally posted by Heroofthemists View Post
                          Khanwulf That sounds pretty great! I'd appreciate a PM with those details!

                          How would you handle shifting the years? I am trying to figure out the best way to move forward in the time line without making it to jarring, and also how to handle what the players will be doing during this "time shift"
                          Torpor during the parts of history that you aren't planning to visit, or maybe let them spend exp on the archetypes from the Thousand Years of Night book to show how they grew during the downtime and show what they were up to.
                          Last edited by The young man in the cafe; 10-06-2017, 07:57 AM.


                          My Savannah Setting for CofD can be found here

                          My heroes as monster tamers rules for BtP can be found here

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                          • #14
                            Thanks Second Chances!

                            Originally posted by Heroofthemists View Post
                            Khanwulf That sounds pretty great! I'd appreciate a PM with those details!

                            How would you handle shifting the years? I am trying to figure out the best way to move forward in the time line without making it to jarring, and also how to handle what the players will be doing during this "time shift"
                            I like timelines. I like timelines entirely too much, but that's my problem and I try to only selectively foist it on others. I like timelining the dead space between adventures, researching what my character is/was doing in that deadspace and weaving in NPCs and other PCs as appropriate. You can find the damnedest things in obscure corners of world history, and then define how they connect with the Darkness and get some really compelling story out of it--even if it's never played through at the table.

                            It's also a bunch of work to do that, so is not for everyone.

                            You have several options for making time-jumps easier:

                            * Use the archetypes from Thousand Years of Night--that's why they're there, to let you pencil something into the blanks. I suggest posing the players a few key questions to help them wrap their minds around literally a whole lifetime being hand-waved:
                            1. Why did you start this archetype?
                            2. Why did you keep it up for so long?
                            3. What is one person during this time who influenced you?
                            4. How did they influence you?
                            5. What happened to make you stop/change?

                            * Torpor--voluntary or involuntary. Things tend to fall apart for the PCs during such long dirt-naps, however, making recovery afterwards the first priority, so:
                            1. What is the first thing you do after waking up?
                            2. How do you re-integrate into the local power structure?
                            3. What is one thing the people you counted on did right while you were away?
                            4. What is one thing the people you counted on failed at badly while you were away?
                            5. Who benefited the most from your absence?

                            In both these cases you can present the time-jump at the end of a session, and give a sheet to the players to take home to think about these items (or, email). If that doesn't work for your group, then there are other options to resolve things. Take a look at the Mythic GME online tool--the essence is that you ask it a question and it gives you an answer. In the case of the questions above, you could punch "create an event" and under Meaning take the two-word result and interpret it at the table, letting everyone weigh in on how that result and the question define an answer. Or, just do it yourself away-from-table to save time. (Personally I like making players do work. History-spanning chronicles are hard enough as-is. But we're all busy and your favorite players have lives too.)

                            * Ignore the time-jump. This is when you want to get back into the action, you've decided that what happened in-between is not significant to today's story, and even the character impact can be hand-waved away. This approach is of course easiest, and it leaves "holes" in the background that you can fill with flashback sessions. That kind of storytelling is exactly how, for example, the Highlander television series handled things.

                            Haberdasher raises an excellent point as well: essentially "playing the dynasty" as time passes. The original characters may or may not be active (see archetypes, above), or in Torpor (ideal), but for the focus of defining what is going on during a given time period or session you can shift the focus onto another character within the dynast-holder's circle. This could even be a mortal or ghoul, as well as a childe (or, vampiric sibling). The net effect is similar to the Pendragon RPG, which provides a sandbox of ~100 years in which players are expected to pick up the thread of a noble family (knights, mostly) and wrestle as much with inheritance as they do conflict; who you marry with what children, and who you honk off, are equally important. The advantage of dynasty-play is that you're more about the dynasty impact than the individual characters as personal elements; the disadvantage is that you're less about personal elements. But at the same time, you can have a character die horribly and the game goes on!

                            Last comment: don't be afraid to run sessions with characters of widely divergent power (XP) levels, so long as your table is mature in how they handle interactions. You can get excellent role-play out of these arrangements.

                            --Khanwulf

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
                              * Torpor--voluntary or involuntary. Things tend to fall apart for the PCs during such long dirt-naps, however, making recovery afterwards the first priority, so:
                              1. What is the first thing you do after waking up?
                              2. How do you re-integrate into the local power structure?
                              3. What is one thing the people you counted on did right while you were away?
                              4. What is one thing the people you counted on failed at badly while you were away?
                              5. Who benefited the most from your absence?
                              I kind of want to take a crack at a Dynasty elder game one of these days: the players are members of a cyclic dynasty. All very good questions here.


                              Haberdasher's Requiem Conversions and Homebrew

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