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  • Making an elder vampire...

    So I picked up Thousand Years of Night and I've skimmed through it - so I want to create a 800 - 1000 year old vampire, like blood potency 7 or 8, probably 100 XP...

    Short of making them from the ground up I was hoping for some examples to give me some idea of the ballpark they would be in. I go to Chapter 5 in Thousand Years of Night and there are a few fleshed out examples of some antagonists, but the closest ones seemed lacking. For example, Ann Harlow has BP of 8, but doesn't seem to have the complexity of merits (she has only 2) or otherwise, it looks like they just dumped all her XP into super high attributes and disciplines. I want to see a vampire from one of the covenants, like a Prince, with a ton of status, retainers, resources, etc.

    So my question is, could I see some examples of maybe Princes or other elder vampires you have used in your games just to get an idea of what they would look like? Or maybe some better ideas of generating an elder vampire besides just telling me here are 100 XP?

  • #2
    Ignore the xp. Think about when the vamp lived. When s/he was embraced. The general lines to the many lives s/he’s lived. When was the last time she woke up from torpor? What happened between then and tonight?

    Fill out the sheet to capture all of this. I’m going to giess you’ll end up with a lot more Experiences spend. But that’s ok.

    Comment


    • #3
      Step 1, max out his in clan (or bloodline) Disciplines and raise any Skills or Atributes needed for rolls he would commonly make use of to 4+. All Atributes should be at least 3, Skills and Atributes he has been making regular use of should probably be maxed out and Skills needed to get by (likely including Politics and some form of combat) shoud be at 3+.
      Step 2, assign skill specialities, merits and additional Disciplines (since he needs to feed from kindred he's probably already under Vinculum to someone and probably has that vampire under Vinculum to him to avoid abuse so he doesn't need to worry about learning other clans exclusive Diciplines) that he would have developed including Devotions and ask yourself if there's any reason not to give him all the Covenant merits you can find? (Sometimes there's a very good reason for him not to have taken them so don't just give an elder Secret Society Junky because he's in the Ordo)
      Step 3, revise his background and the setting to make sure you're happy then fine tune.

      Comment


      • #4
        Oh yeah, and personally I go over the top with skills specialties, in favour of skills and even attributes. Throw i. Some interdisciplinary specialty merits to round it out. I feel it personalizes them better, I abhor the idea of Elders bein hominii universalii anyway.

        Never underestimate the power of specialties, I once played a str 2 bra 1 character with 8 dice for kicking people in the crotch. Unfortunately zombies care little about their nuts.

        Comment


        • #5
          Can you do the number crunch for that, Howalt?

          Comment


          • #6
            Strength +2. Brawl +1. Brawl Specialization (nut shots) +1. Vitae expenditure +2. Willpower +3 -1 for a called shot penalty

            2+1+1+2+3-1= 8

            Of course things like defense, armor, additional brawl specializations like in making called shots, front kick style etc. can cause other number fluctuations.

            Comment


            • #7
              Ok... first, realize that Thousand Years' "guidelines" for making elder characters are a shining example of developer meta-gaming to tamp down expectations at your table. In other words, they were deeply concerned about the effect of players reading the book and going "oh cool I'l make an elder with a bajillion xp! Woo!" And... what that would do to your campaign as an ST.

              I'm extrapolating while saying this, because they did not include any helpful sidebars to otherwise explain--for example, why it would take all XP from several hundred years to purchase a single career package.

              Step back and think about this for a moment. What is 100 XP? What is your rate of beat awards during a given session? How many sessions do you play in a real year? If you average 1 XP per session, five beats, from all sources, that would be roughly two years of weekly play--a college-level game, and roughly where I *think* most players will be calibrated for their advancement rate. Some will want to go faster, but if slower then you will have precious little advancement. How much in-game time have you covered in your action? It varies, fine.

              Now. If you're a 1000 years old, 100 XP represents a beat every two years. On average. "Playing by the rules" that means your elder only ever risked a roll often enough to actually fail dramatically once every two years, OR encountered something new enough to learn and add a beat, OR suffered a side-effect from one of many Conditions that awards beats for complications.

              In other words, on average, your elder has hid themselves in a hole in the ground for most of their millennia. Literally or figuratively.

              This flies directly in the face of the stated tone of Thousand Years, in that they wanted to undo the picture of the moldering elder, replacing it with vampires who are active, dynamic and constantly reinventing themselves in order to stay relevant and hold onto their humanity with increasingly boney claws.

              THAT is why I say that the XP suggested table MUST be an attempt at meta-gaming, and I ascribe the most benevolent of motivations to it that I can think of: protecting you, the ST.

              Toss that table in the trash. Determine how many years your elder has been active, and on average how many beats they should get per year based on their personality, willingness to accept risk, and other obligations. If you want, chop up the periods of their life into phases of "woke, coasting, and tiring" to march them up to torpor, and then give different beat awards for the years spent in each phase. Give them the templates to help block out their activities; my suggestion is that the XP cost for a given template should be met in roughly 70 years of activity--an average human lifespan in other words.

              Let your story drive the character.

              --Khanwulf

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
                Can you do the number crunch for that, Howalt?
                I think it was something like: Strenght 2, Brawl 1, Dirty tricks, kicking, below the belt, crotch... and... above the shin? Maybe? I don’t know, it’s a long time ago. Something silly and juvenile, but it was a great laugh in any case.

                And the point is more: you can apply the same principle with a little less tongue in cheek. Specialty plus the interdisciplinary merit is what, 3 XP? Right bang in the middle of a Skill and an Attribute.

                I think it’s better form, more interesting from a narrative perspective, to have an elder with 1-3 skill dots across the board, a handful at 4 and maybe two at 5, and then finishing the character by dunking 20 specialties and about 5 interdisciplinary.

                You have to realize that people can spend a litteral lifetime honing their skill and barely reaching the equivalent of a fifth dot. In fact, I’d argue that most people only reach the fourth. And that means sacrificing time that could've been spend practicing other skills. Sure, an Elder has had a few if not several lifetimes to do whatever, but that means s/he’ll have a few and maybe several skills at 4-5 and that at the cost of neglecting, say, Disciplines and Devotions

                YMMV and what not, of course
                Last edited by Howalt; 03-26-2018, 11:48 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
                  Ok... first, realize that Thousand Years' "guidelines" for making elder characters are a shining example of developer meta-gaming to tamp down expectations at your table. In other words, they were deeply concerned about the effect of players reading the book and going "oh cool I'l make an elder with a bajillion xp! Woo!" And... what that would do to your campaign as an ST.

                  I'm extrapolating while saying this, because they did not include any helpful sidebars to otherwise explain--for example, why it would take all XP from several hundred years to purchase a single career package.

                  Step back and think about this for a moment. What is 100 XP? What is your rate of beat awards during a given session? How many sessions do you play in a real year? If you average 1 XP per session, five beats, from all sources, that would be roughly two years of weekly play--a college-level game, and roughly where I *think* most players will be calibrated for their advancement rate. Some will want to go faster, but if slower then you will have precious little advancement. How much in-game time have you covered in your action? It varies, fine.

                  Now. If you're a 1000 years old, 100 XP represents a beat every two years. On average. "Playing by the rules" that means your elder only ever risked a roll often enough to actually fail dramatically once every two years, OR encountered something new enough to learn and add a beat, OR suffered a side-effect from one of many Conditions that awards beats for complications.

                  In other words, on average, your elder has hid themselves in a hole in the ground for most of their millennia. Literally or figuratively.

                  This flies directly in the face of the stated tone of Thousand Years, in that they wanted to undo the picture of the moldering elder, replacing it with vampires who are active, dynamic and constantly reinventing themselves in order to stay relevant and hold onto their humanity with increasingly boney claws.

                  THAT is why I say that the XP suggested table MUST be an attempt at meta-gaming, and I ascribe the most benevolent of motivations to it that I can think of: protecting you, the ST.

                  Toss that table in the trash. Determine how many years your elder has been active, and on average how many beats they should get per year based on their personality, willingness to accept risk, and other obligations. If you want, chop up the periods of their life into phases of "woke, coasting, and tiring" to march them up to torpor, and then give different beat awards for the years spent in each phase. Give them the templates to help block out their activities; my suggestion is that the XP cost for a given template should be met in roughly 70 years of activity--an average human lifespan in other words.

                  Let your story drive the character.

                  --Khanwulf

                  There was an idea in 1e that I really liked when people talk about XP for experienced vampires. I think it was the 1e equivalent of Thousand Years.

                  The idea is that there are "passive" and "active" vampires, and many vampires go through stages of each. "Active" is, more or less, what players do. Going out there, doing things, building up their resources and connections. Passive is staying back and pulling the strings, being in Torpor, etc. Naturally, "active" are taking a lot more risks and doing a lot more things to gain beats. Passive are minimizing risks and gain very little beats. They probably aren't rolling at all, since you only roll when there is a reasonable chance of failure (you don't roll Drive in normal driving conditions, for example). They probably aren't working on any Aspirations, except maybe to achieve them incidentally. They aren't coming head-to-head with other supernaturals to worry about Conditions.

                  Any vampire that stays in a PC-like "active" phase for decades is not going to live to be an Elder. That's how you die early. I imagine the XP rates in the book are for vampires who play it safe and under the radar for the hundreds of years it took to get that far. I imagine most vampires that make it past "Neonate" are the passive type. When you enter play, that is your passive vampire entering their active phase and becoming a PC. If they had periods of activity in their past, they were probably balanced by periods of torpor while the heat died down.

                  It doesn't take metagaming to explain the "low" XP values.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm just going to point out that the two Julii characters in Thousand Years of Night has approximately 259 and 209 XP, respectively, after I've subtracted the starting dots available to all characters. I've also not included the extra BP dots since they could've come from age rather than XP.

                    The XP table is just a joke, imo. The book itself has characters with over twice as much XP as the highest tier on the bonus XP table.
                    Personally I find even that somewhat low since my current character has 386 XP spent on him, from just 15 bonus XP at the start of the campaign. It's certainly an atypically long campaign (average is probably once per week since Blood & Smoke was released) with higher XP gain than average, but even a more sensible campaign can start approaching what the book recommends for 1000 year old characters.


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

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                    • #11
                      Well each to his own right and so. But i feel that the table in a 1000 years are a artifact from the advanced character exp dump thing and the different names in the rackets are just fluff and nothing to do with actual elders. I usually never dot npcs with exp in mind and I'm surely in the upper classes of over-stating 'elder' characters in this as well as other CofD games. But I'm more of the line of stat what gives the character and setting the right feel and try to back it up with numbers. Remember to give flaws and weak spots, can't be a master of all no matter how old and powerful.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tessie View Post
                        I'm just going to point out that the two Julii characters in Thousand Years of Night has approximately 259 and 209 XP, respectively, after I've subtracted the starting dots available to all characters. I've also not included the extra BP dots since they could've come from age rather than XP.

                        The XP table is just a joke, imo. The book itself has characters with over twice as much XP as the highest tier on the bonus XP table.
                        Personally I find even that somewhat low since my current character has 386 XP spent on him, from just 15 bonus XP at the start of the campaign. It's certainly an atypically long campaign (average is probably once per week since Blood & Smoke was released) with higher XP gain than average, but even a more sensible campaign can start approaching what the book recommends for 1000 year old characters.

                        Holy bananas! Nice about the chronicle! Could you just tell us some about your character and please post a picture of your character-sheet, or remake it a print screen it over a interactive sheet from mrgone if you would, please ? =) I wan't to see a 400 exp beast!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Poseur View Post
                          Holy bananas! Nice about the chronicle! Could you just tell us some about your character and please post a picture of your character-sheet, or remake it a print screen it over a interactive sheet from mrgone if you would, please ? =) I wan't to see a 400 exp beast!
                          Nobody wants to see my nine page, colour coded, note filled monstrosity of a google document. Not even my co-players wants to look at it.


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

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Maina that was, in fact, my point: that you can model your target character's activity level to obtain a better benchmark and more actionable estimate of XP with which to stat him/her/it out, than these clearly arbitrary value bins provided.

                            And I'd argue that if you are statting a 1000 year old vampire, you get to decide if they did so riding the edge of an ever-breaking wave of chaos, or hid in a tomb summoning rats and brushing off the mold from their disintegrating anachronistic clothing. PC are the standouts--if that is your campaign premise--and they are going to take extraordinary risks and gain greater XP by pushing their limits. That said, there will always be a bigger fish; another vamp who is older, just as daring, and willing to go that extra mile to constitute a challenge to your PC. If not? Retire: you won vampire!

                            As ST, if I want to stat out someone who's been at the edge of every barbarian horde since the Collapse of the 9th Century BC, he's going to have the world-destroying attributes to prove it and reflect his character. If I need a Council of Five to serve as the collection of 5-century old elders who run the Five Boroughs... and do nothing except talk and sip expensive imported blood dolls, then I'll stat them differently. One of these groups is going to be real trouble based on their personal attributes; the other by virtue of Merits, probably.

                            And as Tessie points out, even the book doesn't hold to its own guidelines for statting characters of a given age. What are we to make of that other than that these are purely PC-focused "guides" for how an ST may demand the table build itself? My disappointment is not that they are guidelines, but that there is no discussion of these ways to benchmark out the activity of NPCs/PCs and use that to more intelligently stat.

                            Howalt you're right about the skill levels, as well: I had an experienced PC come into my DE game and we realized that he's among a literal handful of characters in all of Europe at his level in a certain skill (5, plus specialty). Rising further (in dice) would take either Merits, Specialties, or the investment of a great deal of additional in-game justification combined with elder BP. Challenging him in his niche is not wise... but as I think 1000 Years' quips, "taking on the swordmaster of Charlemagne's court head-on with a blade is not a good idea."

                            All this, however, makes me ponder as well the limitations of human memory, the need for constant attention to maintain high skill levels (not modeled in CofD), and the deluge of distractions that any elder would be under. Few even who live so long would have the discipline to excel in more than one or two areas--but fear those who do!

                            --Khanwulf

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
                              Maina that was, in fact, my point: that you can model your target character's activity level to obtain a better benchmark and more actionable estimate of XP with which to stat him/her/it out, than these clearly arbitrary value bins provided.
                              It's almost like the book comes right out and says as much and your tone is needlessly hostile on the matter in light of that, yes.

                              The ages listed are approximate and Storytellers should feel free to adjust based on the kinds of elder stories they plan to explore; the exact number of years doesn’t matter as much as the relative influence and power the characters wield compared to everyone around them.
                              My Changeling playtest game hit about 20 Experiences in a period that narratively covered about a week, but even ignoring the part poor pacing played in that I am not going to make the claim that a period of exceptionally high activity in that freehold is representative of how rapidly a character could normally expect to advance in a decade; a Vampire game covering hundreds of years hits on the same issues, and the use of flashpoints and similar devices is not just there to keep players from getting bogged down in the minutia of their centuries-long backstory.
                              Last edited by Satchel; 03-26-2018, 03:52 PM.


                              Resident Sanguinary Analyst
                              Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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