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Modern Games and their difficulty

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  • #16
    Originally posted by lnodiv View Post
    Sounds like a character flaw rather than a character creation flaw to me.

    'Lacking imagination' maybe?
    Maybe, hacker archetypes are very cliche.


    • #17
      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.
      They didn't tell us anything else about the characters, so I don't know what you're basing this on.


      • #18
        Allowing PCs with Grandmaster level skills (5 Dots) is its own derail, somewhat mooted by the fact it's not tough to get EQ bonuses of +2/+3 for most skills anyway.

        Re: Modern Setting - I've kept the 'Gilded Cage' concept from 1E in that each Domain is much more isolated and local-focused, as opposed to the inter-connectivity of the real world. This means it is very easy for municipalities to control what kind of active security measures are ongoing. For Domains controlled explicitly by Vampires, political Kindred with juice can push privacy laws to get rid of stoplight cameras, CCTV in public spots, throw up roadblocks to cellphone GPS tracking - and on the other side, pro-Law enforcement methods of no Body-Cams, criminalizing filming the police - all in service to the Masquerade. Combined with the inherent ability of the beast to sense and avoid cameras, it lets me ignore what might be the real-world risk, but in service to the setting where monsters can run around without having to worry that any slip up might end up in a database.

        Part of that reasoning for me is the fact that I've seen / played dozens of Cops-raid-Elysium and similar Masquerade threats that it's lost its pizzazz. I much prefer personal Masq breaches which affect specific relationships more than institutional Masquerade threats. I also specifically increase the distrust between local and federal Law Enforcement such that they don't actively work together, and many real-world federal crimes (kidnapping, serial killings, drug trade) fall to local precincts instead. And then that combines with a societal distrust of law enforcement in general, so that messed up footage or weirdness in media proffered by the cops is going to more likely be seen as a cover up of police corruption than proof of the supernatural.

        I do have a 'hacker' aka a coder PC, and as others have mentioned, I toned down the more Hollywood use of the skill. Mainly, I allow it to be used in Research/Investigation efforts without needing to go to a specific library. Or direct conflict with traditional computer systems - getting employee records from a modern HR. Medical info from a hospital database.

        I avoid things like hacking the feed of police-interrogation room cameras or Mr. Robot levels of hacking a car's On-Star system unless it's a very dramatically appropriate moment and I think the story progress is interesting.

        But yeah, I don't treat the Computer Skill like cheat codes in computer games. But letting good rolls generate the informed condition or act like Encyclopedic Knowledge for a general topic, or even letting the player access Wikipedia at the table for info on an historical figure or RL location still makes it very versitile. But, my table is more intrigue and less high action, so that skews things too.

        Currently one of the PC's plot arcs involves a race with a Carthian computer pro, both trying to figure out how the cacophony expresses over the internet, and whether that in turn can be manipulated through code and algorithm. The PC is in essence trying to create the foundation for InBoard - which I think was teased but left out of Secrets of the Covenants. While the Carthian antagonist is a social media guru, who is trying to discover if the populace in a given vampire's hunting grounds change the way they engage with social media depending on what Kindred controls the territory they live in - and how the Movement might use that information.


        • #19
          First off people are only interested in you once you prove interesting, anonymity is your first line of defense. Cameras can record every second of your life, government databases can immortalize every thing you do, say or think but they are doing the same to thousands of other people who aren't you. Until someone has a reason to search you out you are just a needle in a needle stack and they can't see the trees for the forest, you can wave and smile at the CCTV cameras and it won't harm you. Remember even facial recognition requires someone to program the system to look for and recognize your face.

          Google and the internet are just equipment bonuses, little different from the public library and newspaper archive (if usually faster). Your research roll is now recognizing the information you seek from the 10,000 unrelated results. Try doing a name search, you are far more likely to find page after page of celebrity and lawyer listings than your are the name of the guard watching the door.

          Pulling a trigger is an instant action but many activities aren't and the ST decides how much time each roll attempt represents and the length of that time isn't always so straight forward. For example I once had to replace a seal in my car, it was a thirteen dollar part that took less than five minutes to replace but before I could spend that five minutes I had to spend hours tearing down half of everything under the hood and pull the transmission to get to that seal, followed by hours of putting it all back together. One roll may get your character past that obstacle but if that roll will require an hour of play time you may need to find another alternative least the creeping doom catch you.

          When hacking don't forget there are limits to what can be accomplished, the best hacking roll in the world won't do anything to the purely mechanical lock on the door (unless you are extremely creative, in which case you should be rewarded with success). Then there is the question of whether or not the system you want to hack is even accessible from the internet, an isolated computer sitting on a desk will require you to gain physical access to the computer before you can try to hack its hard drive and information has to be downloaded to the web before your searches can find it. Just try to look up government records that are more than fifteen years old if you don't believe me. There are reams of microfiche that have never been entered into a computer out there.

          Last but not least don't forget that many actions will have a 'living' opponent working against you. If you are hacking a major corporation or government entity then the odds are there are one or more people whose sole job is to watch for and counter such actions and he/they will have the advantage, they are working with a system designed over months or even years to work with them and against you. This also means that while each roll you make represents an hour of game time, each of their rolls may represent fifteen minutes of the same. If you are competing on an extended roll this gives them a major advantage. Also their rolls are added to the difficulty inherent in the system, making even an inferior opponent a worthy adversary.

          In the end the goal as ST isn't to eliminate the ability of players to use these skills to solve problems, but to make using them a rewarding part of the game.
          Last edited by 2ptTakrill; 07-10-2018, 04:40 PM.


          • #20
            Originally posted by lnodiv View Post
            Sounds like a character flaw rather than a character creation flaw to me.

            'Lacking imagination' maybe?
            That's not OK Inodiv. It counts as a personal attack, please don't do it again.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Shawarbaaz View Post

              Maybe, hacker archetypes are very cliche.

              So are vampires.

              But I would argue that vampire hackers would be quite rare. I like the anachronistic nature of vampires. And unless a PC is a recent turn, it is highly unlikely that hacking will be a thing for them. Not that they are incapable of learning, it is just that they wouldn't tend to think of it as a thing in my opinion. Much like back in my youth, my dad would have me program the recording schedule for that brand new VCR we got. Sure, he could have learned how to do it, but that kind of technology just wasn't his thing, and it was much easier and simpler to have me schedule it to record the A-Team every week.

              But if a PC made a vampire hacker (by whatever means), being a super 1337 hakzor dood wouldn't be the golden easy button that they, and Hollywood, imagine. So the PC is a hacker? Do they believe they are the only one in town? Do they believe they are the only ones with such FORCES at their disposal? They may be able to use the internet to find stuff about normies who put their stuff out there on the internet. If the PC thinks it is valuable to know what bar Jo Schmoe went to with his buds last Friday night, more power to him. But if the information isn't put on the internet by someone, there is no finding it through the internet. How many vampires are going to be using instagram to document their doings? Police records? Sure, IF those records are actually input and aren't altered or erased by someone. Remember, the PC is not the only hacker in town, nor the only vampire.

              CCTVs? As others have mentioned, their quality and coverage are shady at best. But even if the PC could make a program to recognize a particular face that could be captured using the CCTV network (such that it is), and they could afford and put together the supercomputer with enough processing ability to manage such a program, they would only be able to find their target IF the target took no measures not to be found, and IF the target actually moved through an area with CCTV coverage, and IF there are no random obstructions of that face when they are moving through that CCTV coverage area, and IF no one else was introducing any chicanery to the situation. Does the PC think that that Spider isn't going to have his domain locked down? There are entire groups, conspiracies, and even some government agencies dedicated to making sure the general public never learns "The Truth". Remember, the PC is not the only hacker in town, nor the only vampire. And vampires are not the only splats with abilities and concerns in town either.

              Cell phones? Who in their right mind in the CoD will carry around such a security risk. Imagine what can be done now in the real world with the technology and the Patriot Act. Now imagine all of that in the World (Chronicle) Of Darkness.

              Google? I guess. If you want to know how to lose weight fast without working out or if you want to enlarge your penis size. For actionable information, especially for supernatural topics, it is very limited in value. Computers are not thinking machines. You put garbage in, you get garbage out. And the internet is full of millions of people dumping all kinds of garbage into it. There are numerous reasons that Wikipedia is not an allowable source for academic research.

              So I for one don't worry about the invasiveness of technology into a vampire (or any other CoD) game. It doesn't become a problem unless the ST decides to make it one.


              • #22
                Originally posted by andyroo View Post
                Hey guys,

                Any tips from other STs who run games and how they deal with modern technologies and ease they offer or difficulty they provide?
                - CCTV - as mentioned by others. Alsmost a non-issue for vamps
                - mobiles/cell - more a liability than helpful among the kindred. In my games many carry only cells (and these swapped often and aquiered by non traditional means) for their mortal affairs, but would never tell any kindred, as there are enough vamps with a pull by the police and thus maybe the ability to use silent SMS to track a phone.
                - computers/hacking: even young kindred get outdated quickly as they are now intensily involved in the danse macabre, where even a young kindred of only might be similiar in tech savvyness as your actual granma and grandpa. also in the tech industry if you are not constantly up to date it´s sometimes not even worthwhile to aquire these skills.

                The kindred use computer & pcs mostly for their mortal contacts but keep these strictly apart from their kindred. Also due to the masquerade most vamps try not to leave any paper or data trail.

                Gamelines: Requiem, Lost, Awakening, Trinity Continuum: Aeon, some V5.
                Likes cheesecake (quark-based)


                • #23
                  Originally posted by figurehead View Post
                  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.
                  Why don't you just have it set in the 1980's?


                  • #24
                    One time in a Hunter game I ran, my players ran into a cult of a being using the name of an Assyrian God. During a car ride one of the googled that name and I just read off the opening of the wiki entry. It was pretty amusing.

                    Just a related anecdote.


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Aristarkos View Post

                      Why don't you just have it set in the 1980's?

                      The games start that way. But time marches on in vampire games. Styles, music etc change, but technology stagnates

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