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  • Modern Games and their difficulty

    Hey guys,

    I have recently gotten back into vampire after a long long break. As in, I played vamp the masq back when it was released and most the games run back then were either 1900s or dark ages. I Have moved to now start storytelling vamp the req 2nd ed.

    I have tried to run two games recently. One set in modern Tokyo and one set in modern Australia.

    I find it really difficult with all the technology and how it ca; n really make it hard to make the characters work or have some depth in the story. This may just be my lack of imagination but Iam constantly being railed by modern capability. For example:
    *CCTV cameras everywhere, like how would it be that supernatural stuff isn't seen so regularly, floating weapons or whatever it is.
    *Mobiles, they just google search or text the problems away
    *Hacking and computers - The reality is, if you have the dots and lots of time, they can pretty much do anything. Need to find that NPC? No worries, you have 5 dots in computers and can spend 1 week making a program that can use facial recognition around the city. Or better yet, hack the cities hub mainframe.

    This is just an example of some of the stuff I find hard to deal with as an ST in modern games. I will be trying a game in the dark ages, but eventually I want to run a modern game again.

    Any tips from other STs who run games and how they deal with modern technologies and ease they offer or difficulty they provide?


  • #2
    CCTV cameras aren't a problem. The Beast makes a Vampire impossible to identify (though not invisible) in them. Depending on your interpretation of the CofD and VtR core books, pretty much everyone does encounter the supernatural at some point in their lives. People just try to forget and don't talk about it, or they rationalize it away. The Masquerade is more about covering up the things that couldn't be ignored if found out, not every little possible leak. People want to tell themselves the monsters don't exist.

    As for Google, it can't solve supernatural problems (or, at the least, it involves rolls where the ST sets the difficulty and thus isn't 'easy'). It can't solve physical problems. For mental problems, I'd probably have it count as a blueprint and make a roll Rote, but that won't help you much with building a trap to keep out a Vampire Hunter if you have no Craft skill. Even that would probably take an Academics or Computers roll to find good information in the sea of bad online. Probably won't help social problems. I mean, does a phone with access to Google solve all your problems in real life? I really doubt it. Sure doesn't mine.

    Hacking? Sure, that's one solution. But how often do you really have the luxury of waiting around for a week when something needs done? In that one week of time, maybe the NPC is gone. Or killed by a rival vampire. The world doesn't sit around waiting for the PCs to solve problems like it's some video game. This also isn't science fiction. Making a program like that would take a full team of individuals and researchers years, and you'd have to hack the entire CCTV network, and it still wouldn't get anywhere the cameras don't cover.

    For most of these problems, just look at the real world. The best programmer in the world can't program that, so why could a PC? Google hasn't solved all the world's problems, so why would it solve all of a PC's? Technology presents as many problems for a vampire as they do solutions.

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    • #3
      CCTV video quality is crap.
      Facial recognition programs are foiled by an infrared pointer I use to entertain my cat.
      You consider Google and Twitter a reliable and unbiased source of information that can’t be tampered with by every asshole with a political or financial agenda. (Their owners for one.) Really?
      Hackers love to screw and one-up other hackers.

      You can always change how the deus ex machina hides supernatural activities from technology. Dresden Files has the presence of wizards to cause technology to malfunction spectacularly. You can say obviously supernatural occurrences and entities simply aren’t documented or that the recording quality looks patently faked to humans. Vampires show up black and white in an otherwise color video, (or in color in black and white footage) werewolves are cartoons in a live stream feed. You see the supporting wires on floating weapons held by “invisible” attackers.

      Assign a super faction that has their fingers in everything and say they intercept any and all information before it appears on the internet, radio, TV etc.

      Play it that their existence isn’t a secret.

      Orchestrate some kind of massive national or global level event that retarded technology from advancing quite to that point. Maybe the globalists’ wish that some disease wiped out 2/3rds of the human population occurred in the 80s and technology advanced medically, not electronically. A solar flare incinerated satellites and scorched the Earth’s atmosphere. The planet has electromagnetic pylons located at key points around the globe to shield from radiation but prevents digital communication to the furthest reaches of the planet without government controlled signal boosters.

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      • #4
        My group just plays in a world where technology stagnated in the 80's. It allows us to play a modern game without the constant surveillance of smart dust.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by andyroo View Post
          Hey guys,

          I have recently gotten back into vampire after a long long break. As in, I played vamp the masq back when it was released and most the games run back then were either 1900s or dark ages. I Have moved to now start storytelling vamp the req 2nd ed.

          I have tried to run two games recently. One set in modern Tokyo and one set in modern Australia.

          I find it really difficult with all the technology and how it ca; n really make it hard to make the characters work or have some depth in the story. This may just be my lack of imagination but Iam constantly being railed by modern capability. For example:
          *CCTV cameras everywhere, like how would it be that supernatural stuff isn't seen so regularly, floating weapons or whatever it is.
          *Mobiles, they just google search or text the problems away
          *Hacking and computers - The reality is, if you have the dots and lots of time, they can pretty much do anything. Need to find that NPC? No worries, you have 5 dots in computers and can spend 1 week making a program that can use facial recognition around the city. Or better yet, hack the cities hub mainframe.

          This is just an example of some of the stuff I find hard to deal with as an ST in modern games. I will be trying a game in the dark ages, but eventually I want to run a modern game again.

          Any tips from other STs who run games and how they deal with modern technologies and ease they offer or difficulty they provide?

          It's surely very different from a dark ages chronicle. I'm currently running a 2ed requiem game with Dark age Costantinopolis setting (appropriately modified) coming from a Requiem for Rome setting. But before I've always run modern setting.

          1) CCTV Camera is not really an issue. As per core book, vampire are not invisible to cameras (or pictures), they just always come unconsciously with their backs, face turned, overexposed etc. So they are not recognizable but neither do they appear as supernatural.

          2) Are you able, in your real life, to find every information on google? I've good google skill but still there are things I can't find or worst, discrepant information. Which one is right? Just think when you go (and you never should do it - personal experience XD) to search for any symptom you have in google hoping to figure out what you are having. Most of the time you'll to think you are going to die badly XD. Furthermore, for important or particular research, I would always ask for a computer/academic roll (with a +2 bonus for google tools maybe). Technology helps for sure, and it's right in this way. This is what really distinguish dark age from modern age. But still you need to be able to use it and to know how to search. Google is just a tool like a lock pick. My mother is not able to find almost anything and she's always asking to me to look for something. And this could be represented by Computer 0-1.

          3) Hacking and computer: Well if a PC of yours has Computer 5, he is one of the most skilled IT/Hacker in the world, so I don't see why he shouldn't be able to create a program like the one you say. Then, you, as master, have to set a difficulty (according to which kind of instrument does he have (a powerful pc with all the best hacking programs +3, a normal laptop +0, an old Pentium -1) and the number of success to achieve (a program that for the faces recognition could require 20+ successes maybe. Furthermore you need to set the time for each roll and, this kind of roll, could require a week each roll (you need a database etc etc). You could also split this action in different rolls (not just computer): maybe you could set a minor quest since you need to acquire a database, programming several subprograms, test it with your and other faces etc. If you consider everything you will notice that it's not so easy to do this. Think to a normal programmer (computer 3 int 3. How many weeks, research would he require to accomplish it?

          EDIT: Furthermore you can just roll a number of time equal to Attribute+skill before to consider the action failed. So could also happen that your PC is not going to achieve his goal
          Last edited by Marcus; 07-06-2018, 06:22 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by andyroo View Post
            *CCTV cameras everywhere, like how would it be that supernatural stuff isn't seen so regularly, floating weapons or whatever it is.
            You could simply not answer the question. There's subtle implications in some parts of the book that there's some kind of mystical element to the Masquerade that means that the general populace just don't notice.

            Also, CCTV networks can be pretty massive. I'd guess Tokyo is going to have tens of thousands of them. I'd guess that most of it doesn't get looked at if there's no reason to.

            *Mobiles, they just google search or text the problems away
            Without some examples, it's difficult to know what to recommend. What kind of problems have they gotten past?

            *Hacking and computers - The reality is, if you have the dots and lots of time, they can pretty much do anything. Need to find that NPC? No worries, you have 5 dots in computers and can spend 1 week making a program that can use facial recognition around the city. Or better yet, hack the cities hub mainframe.
            Why is that not a legitimate solution? I mean, your player has built themselves a hugely powerful tool that they can use to further themselves politically.

            Also, I don't think that's how hacking works. You can't just google for 'CCTV hub login'. You're going to need to do some social engineering of some kind.


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            • #7
              Well these so called "problems" are what you make of them. As a ST that's almost only running modern games in CofD I might have some input.
              First, as other points out, the supernatural is out there, but people ignore, rationalize and forgets and go about their life as if nothing, both by supernatural means and both sociological and psychological reasons.

              Most common, mundane and basic information is for the most part easily available online. This works great to get some basic information into the PC's hands, but remember, you as a ST is the sole adjudicator for what information is available online. As a basis heuristic of what the PCs' can find, what can you find with a basic search.

              Also I treat internet connection as a +1 equipment bonus for most things, search engines are seldom as good or get's the information that you really require, it's often flawed and way to basic to be of any real use.

              Instant communication between PCs' and NPCs' are also a tricky thing, and it's just poor drama to always have "bad connection" just to hinder it. Remember time differences between PCs' in split parties, have PCs' decline calls (even from allies) if they are in an important meeting or such, remember their surroundings, no one is going to hear their phone ring when at a night club. My own group started to have some boring interactions with each other when they always texted one another instead of regular communication, so we agreed that all PCs texts are to be written by the player on a note ( this is also great for memory and fun to read later on), this has had good implications around our table. Texting takes a little time so usually only smaller messages are being sent, not whole novels, and it allows players that are not in the scene to plan around or do stuff while it's not their turn so to speak.
              Also remember that NPCs might not be fond of other people calling them all the time asking trivial questions and such. More eldritch individuals and societies might have strong reasons to not use instant modern communication. Vampires usually communicate en masse with the cacophony and some individuals might scorn modern technology for whatever reason. Hidden messages, drop boxes, servants, letters and old school spy things are good tools for communication for secret socialites with individuals that are very much against being found 24/7. In my mage game, the guardians of the veil only communicate by face to face (or should we say mask to mask), drop boxes and letters delivered by ghost pigeons.

              CCTV cameras and the like are more a problem in tv-fiction then in real life, they are usually of very poor quality and not nearly so much everywhere as people might think in most places. Many splats don't show up, neither does some of their tricks so there is a start. Vampires are extremely well adapted to not being caught on cameras if they don't want to.

              And hacking then. First thing first, you'll need to establish a theme of hacking in your game and at your table. Do you want instant scene TV/Movie/video-game hacking that takes a few minutes to a scene or do you want something more realistic that can take hours, days, weeks or even longer? Use extended rolls, don't be afraid to set the bar extremely high if you think that it should be. A master hacker might be able to do something, but it doesn't make it easy or quick. Give out conditions if failed rolls and they continue ( this is for extended rolls over all, my favorites for research and investigation rolls are Misinformed or Conspiracy Theorist, and for hacking Surveilled and Watch-listed, homebrewed ones but you probably get the theme of what they do). For easier things and such you could make use of the building equipment rules for both hacking and research purpose (and more).

              Also, remember that even if the information is online, sometimes you need to know specifics about it's whereabouts before making an attempt. Also, more or less no real occult secrets should probably be online for the players to get their hands on in quick manner. Also, even if you get your hand on the right thing, telling right from wrong might be really hard if you don't have the right skill set. It's the same about a library, even if i went to the university library and picked up a dozen books on advanced math, i could't use that equipment modifier to help me solve a math problem, i just don't have the perquisite skills. For this, common sense is going to get one far. For instance, a character with 0 or just 1 dot in occult, would't be able to get much use of the esoteric knowledge about the Kindred metaphysical place in the dharmachakra and it's connections with the prana from the library of the ordo dracul member that specializes in that field of study.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Poseur View Post
                ghost pigeons
                Best idea I've heard all day.


                Comment


                • #9
                  Am I going to the wack-job in the thread and point out people in real life experience supernatural events, yet banal secular materialism is the predominant western paradigm? In real life you have stuff like alien autopsies on FOX with people scoffing more as it increases skepticism and disbelief in the extraterrestrial and supernatural?

                  People do NOT want to believe the world is an insane place ruled by forces that can't understand or defend against. People don't want others to think they are crazy or risk their social standing. Real life, not just game. Think of this, how many times have you seen a homeless person and pretend you didn't. or avoided eye contact with the gibbering person on the street? All of reality is like that but on a larger scale, Chronicles of Darkness mere expresses uncomfortable truths and embellishes with artistic license (at least it does if the game is run well done).

                  Precinct 13 expresses this beautiful. It isn't a conspiracy to cover up the vampire murder because the vampires make you do it, it's the fact that if you listed vampire as the cause of death you'd lose all credibility and likely take a step or leap towards losing your job as nut case. We all know there is no such thing.


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

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                  • #10
                    Why is hacking a problem? Are all vampires Embraced in your game hackers? That's absurd

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Shawarbaaz View Post
                      Why is hacking a problem? Are all vampires Embraced in your game hackers? That's absurd
                      They didn't say that. They said one of their characters had 5 dots in computer and it was a problem.


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                      • #12
                        Few people know the amount of time it usually takes to expertly map some system's vulnerabilities, from weeks to months (particularly if you're doing it all on your own), assuming you aren't attacking a documented, and frail system.

                        Hacking into the proverbial Pentagon within minutes or hours as if you had proven N = NP Complete is a disservice.

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                        • #13
                          The specific computer issue seems like it could be changed by taking away from the CSI sci-fi levels of ability.

                          But it could also be brought down to Earth by just having it work as a normal investigation. You're at the computer and using Computer skills the way you would use Investigate or Persuasion on the streets. You can even vary it up by requiring some other rolls like if you need to do some social engineering. All that said, as someone noted above finding an NPC isn't as easy as applying facial recognition software to every CCTV in the city, which in itself is a big job. Vampires instinctively avoid cameras, and other supernaturals have ways to avoid or disable them as well. And even if you do manage to find out that mortal John goes to the ATM on Main Street at noon every day, as a vampire you're limited by not being able to grab him at noon on Main Street due to your delicate environmental allergies.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Michael View Post

                            They didn't say that. They said one of their characters had 5 dots in computer and it was a problem.
                            I see this as a character creation flaw rather than a problem with the game or setting in and out of itself. I personally can't see what this superhacker character can bring to a story whatsoever.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Shawarbaaz View Post
                              I see this as a character creation flaw rather than a problem with the game or setting in and out of itself. I personally can't see what this superhacker character can bring to a story whatsoever.
                              Sounds like a character flaw rather than a character creation flaw to me.

                              'Lacking imagination' maybe?

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