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  • Need some help with Aspirations and Character

    So in my current game I am lagging behind with XP and beats - I think it has to do with me picking long-term aspirations instead of short-term. Could anyone help me out with this? I think I need to break them down further, but I am not sure how.

    What I have currently -
    Aspirations:
    * Establish a true Haven
    * Meet the Prince
    * Drink blood of Daeva with Majesty
    * Investigate Hospital for the Kogaion



  • #2
    There are a couple of questions that come up from these, because it doesn't necessarily seem like your aspirations are that long-term. Now: they could still be broken down into steps. What is your plan to achieve them?

    1. Establish a true haven
    a. secure rights to part of a secure, shared space
    b. establish feeding rights
    c. identify a good haven location
    d. acquire location ownership
    e. acquire recognized domain in location
    f. fortify location as haven

    2. Meet the Prince
    a. Establish positive relationship with local domain owner
    b. Meet local domain political boss
    c. Meet regional domain political boss
    d. Gain invitation to city-level event
    e. Establish positive relationship with top-level connected individual

    3. Drink blood of Daeva with Majesty
    a. Locate a Daeva with Majesty
    b. Establish relationship with Daeva
    c. Gain a favor from Daeva or owe favor large enough to call for limited bonding

    4. Investigate Hospital for the Kogaion
    a. Gain access to city architecture files on Hospital
    b. Review city newspaper archives on Hospital
    c. Review city council meeting minutes on Hospital
    d. Create reference web on details, individuals connected to Hospital
    e. Cross-reference individuals with locations on city map.
    f. Locate habitual user of LSD or appropriate mind-altering substances. Lure to lab.
    g. Paper-mache all the corners in the lab. Circles only. Only circles!
    h. Consume LSD-laced victim. Place victim in beanbag.
    f.2 (addendum) Find and purchase comfy beanbag
    I. While under influence, carefully glue Vitae-dipped colored yarn to map, connecting individual locations to each other using Hospital as focus of circles (no fixed diameter).
    I.2 (note) Vitae ideally from a Mekhet, but anyone will do in a pinch. Try to avoid having to embrace LSD-laced victim.
    I.3 (note) Plan ahead! Do you know where you're going to get colored yarn while high at this time of night? Hit the crafts store or have a lackey do it, early. Yarn also excellent for knitting while listening to Covenant meetings.
    J. Cackle madly as the sweet secrets of the spheres are revealed through the Hospital.
    ...
    Z. Profit!


    This helps, I know.

    --Khanwulf


    PS. If you're lagging in XP/Beats, consider what the other players are doing that you are not. Are they succeeding critically at rolls? Are they taking dramatic failures? Are they taking Conditions and resolving them? Are they resolving ambitions?

    If you trust your GM--and I hope you do--then make it clear that you're going to bumble along and play dangerous, trusting that he or she isn't going to punish you beyond story fun for doing so. Then go to town with those rolls and Conditions. They're meant to reward you for being dangerous.

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    • #3
      Are you taking Beats for making progress on long-term Aspirations rather than only when you complete them?


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      • #4
        Khanwulf - That's pure gold - thank you!

        Tessie - No, I haven't gotten any beats for progress. Mistake on my part.

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        • #5
          I'm personally of the opinion that aspirations should lay the foundation for a dramatic scene, perhaps even an entire dramatic arc. I'm personally not a big fan of aspirations like "meet the prince" and "establish a haven".

          As I told my own players, "I want to get a glass of water" is not interesting, it isn't dramatic, but "I want to get a glass of water while stuck in a desert" is very dramatic!

          So I always advice my players to "put the desert in their aspirations", so to speak. That gets me excited as a Storyteller, and makes me much more eager to give my players aspiration Beats on the regular.

          So "meet the prince" would become "blow up the haven of the prince's rival to draw the prince's attention and hopefully get invited to a meeting",
          "establish a haven" would become "beat the living shit out of that gangrel punk to establish dominance, then take his territory and haven as my own",
          and "drink blood from a daeva with Majesty" would become "find dirt on this one daeva, then blackmail her into giving me vitae and teach me Majesty".

          Just to show you some examples of the types of aspirations that my players could take to make me, the Storyteller, really happy. Maybe this can help you as well, because these types of aspirations are guaranteed to lead to drama and conflict, and will probably net you a lot of Beats as a result.
          Last edited by Ventrue Life; 02-05-2019, 10:43 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post
            So "meet the prince" would become "blow up the haven of the prince's rival to draw the prince's attention and hopefully get invited to a meeting",
            "establish a haven" would become "beat the living shit out of that gangrel punk to establish dominance, then take his territory and haven as my own",
            and "drink blood from a daeva with Majesty" would become "find dirt on this one daeva, then blackmail her into giving me vitae and teach me Majesty".
            These are all needlessly specific.

            Aspirations are supposed to be reasonably general and there's a substantial difference between getting a glass of water and getting an audience with the ruler of your domain or a safe place where the sun can't reach you.

            Process should only be part of the goal if it's important, and then usually as a blocked option; "Steal that Gangrel punk's territory" or "Learn Majesty without getting bent over a barrel" establishes a basic "wrong way" to pursue the Aspiration, but multi-step Aspirations are more properly a chain of Aspirations from a character who's maybe using their short-term Aspirations to chart a course toward their long-term one.
            Last edited by Satchel; 02-06-2019, 12:11 AM.


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

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Satchel View Post
              These are all needlessly specific.

              Aspirations are supposed to be reasonably general and there's a substantial difference between getting a glass of water and getting an audience with the ruler of your domain or a safe place where the sun can't reach you. Process should only be part of the goal if it's important, and then usually as a blocked option; "Steal that Gangrel punk's territory" or "Learn Majesty without getting bent over a barrel" establishes a basic "wrong way" to pursue the Aspiration, but multi-step Aspirations are more properly a chain of Aspirations from a character who's maybe using their short-term Aspirations to chart a course toward their long-term one.
              I respectfully disagree.

              I think the OP's aspirations are too vague. If my players come with aspirations like the OP's, it means I as the ST have to put in extra legwork to come up with ideas to make the aspiration dramatic. My players might not necessarily like my ideas. So I would rather have them come up with their own ideas for how they want to make it dramatic. Hence the more specific aspirations.

              Since aspirations can be changed, you can always change the aspiration if you come up with a new idea, a better idea or your current idea failed. If you reach your aspiration goal but the path you took towards your goal ended up being different, that's fine, I'm not too stringy with that, and I will still give the player a Beat. I'm just asking for more specific aspirations so I have an idea what kind of drama my players are looking for.

              And I quote from the VTR core rules book:

              • Aspirations should help to guide the chronicle. If you can’t
              find a dramatic way to introduce the players’ presented goals,
              ask them how they’d like to see them addressed.


              Emphasis placed by me. That's essentially what I'm doing. If aspirations like "meet the prince" works for you, that's great. But it's apparently not working for the OP and his ST. So hopefully my advice works for him.
              Last edited by Ventrue Life; 02-06-2019, 12:28 AM.

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              • #8
                Different strokes for different folks. Reading the OP aspirations tells me there are some implied elements. Not necessarily the ones I'd pick, but the implications are there. Expanding on why these aspirations are, well, aspirations could also help specify things better.

                Or not. "Meet the Prince" could be anything from "meet the Prince so I can blow myself up gloriously--viva la revolution!" to "meet the Prince and impress her into giving me a shot." Or, "meet the Prince so I can personally pass on the info engraved on my soul by my late sire."

                True Haven implies official Domain, arrangements and even alliances, which isn't necessarily a matter of Princely bestowment, but that'd help!

                Etc.

                Anyway, context always helps.

                --Khanwulf

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post

                  I respectfully disagree.

                  I think the OP's aspirations are too vague. If my players come with aspirations like the OP's, it means I as the ST have to put in extra legwork to come up with ideas to make the aspiration dramatic. My players might not necessarily like my ideas. So I would rather have them come up with their own ideas for how they want to make it dramatic. Hence the more specific aspirations.

                  Since aspirations can be changed, you can always change the aspiration if you come up with a new idea, a better idea or your current idea failed. If you reach your aspiration goal but the path you took towards your goal ended up being different, that's fine, I'm not too stringy with that, and I will still give the player a Beat. I'm just asking for more specific aspirations so I have an idea what kind of drama my players are looking for.

                  And I quote from the VTR core rules book:

                  • Aspirations should help to guide the chronicle. If you can’t
                  find a dramatic way to introduce the players’ presented goals,
                  ask them how they’d like to see them addressed.


                  Emphasis placed by me. That's essentially what I'm doing. If aspirations like "meet the prince" works for you, that's great. But it's apparently not working for the OP and his ST. So hopefully my advice works for him.

                  As per your own quote, Aspirations don't have to be dramatic. They just have to help guide the chronicle. "Meet the prince" or "found a true haven" both guide the chronicle. Also per the quote, if you don't find them dramatic, ask the player how they want to see them addressed. Again, they don't have to be dramatic. Aspirations exist, per the book, as a way for players to communicate to the ST where they want to see their character go. I only disallow Aspirations that don't involve the character going anywhere narratively (such as getting a glass of water). Meeting the Prince is going somewhere narratively, even if it isn't necessarily dramatic. More implicitly (due to the Beat rewards), they exist to encourage players to be proactive rather than passive. Along these lines, I only recommend a player rework their Aspirations if they're an Aspiration the player doesn't seem keen on actually working towards.

                  mikerand As stated by others, it's important to remember that long-term Aspirations gain beats even when you just make progress towards them, not only when they are completed. Still, it's a good idea to have short-term. I typically recommend (and I think the book does, too) two short-term and one long-term at any given moment.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Maina View Post


                    As per your own quote, Aspirations don't have to be dramatic.
                    Euhm, no? That's precisely not what it says.

                    As per my quote, Aspirations should be dramatic. Aspirations should help guide the chronicle. A good story/chronicle has drama. Without drama, there is no story. Getting a glass of water is not a story. Getting a glass of water in a desert is a story. If the Storyteller fails to introduce the player's aspiration in a dramatic way, he should ask the players how they would like to see their aspirations introduced in a dramatic way. That is what the quote says.

                    At any rate, I already said that if your table is fine with aspirations such as "meet the prince" and your ST knows how to work with that, and everyone at your table is happy, then who am I to say you should change it? Which is why I'm not saying that at all. Do what works for you. I'm doing what works for me, and suggesting to the OP to give it a try too, maybe it works for him too.

                    If one of my players comes with a "meet the prince" aspiration I would immediately ask that player "okay, how do you plan on making that happen? Any ideas? What is your character actually going to do to get an audition with the prince?" and then he'll probably come with something like "I'm going to blow up the haven of the prince's rival to draw the prince's attention and hopefully get invited to a meeting", and then I really understand as an ST what the player actually wants to see happening, and then we actually have something solid going on with some immense dramatic potential.

                    mikerand what the others say is correct, you should get Beats for making progress on aspirations, and you should remind your ST when you think you deserve a Beat. But also consider what I said. The best way to get your ST showering you with Beats is to get the ST excited about your aspirations. If your aspirations are so juicy that even the ST is salivating at them and can't wait to play them out on screen, then you know you're doing it right and I can promise you that you'll be showered in Beats as a result.
                    Last edited by Ventrue Life; 02-06-2019, 03:08 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Aspirations should help to guide the chronicle.
                      This is the only place where your quote says that Aspirations should or should not be anything. The only thing they should be is something that helps guide the chronicle.

                      If you can’t find a dramatic way to introduce the players’ presented goals, ask them how they’d like to see them addressed.
                      This only says that if you cannot find a dramatic way to introduce the point, then you should ask the player how they would like to see them introduced. It doesn't say the point has to be dramatic, it just advises you to talk to the player if you're struggling.

                      Let's take another quote which talks about what Aspirations are, rather than ST advice for when someone is stuck:

                      On the surface, Aspirations do two major things: They tell
                      a Storyteller what you want to see in the game, and they give
                      you a motivation
                      even when your character might not have
                      an immediate hook to the story. As it stands, they’re mostly
                      open-ended
                      players can do with them what they please.
                      It's worth noting that your quote is from a section of the book for STs who want advice in dealing with the particulars of VtR. So, again, it's about talking to your players if you struggle to fit the Aspiration in the game, not dictating what kind of Aspirations players are allowed to have. Because, again, players can do with them what they please.

                      Normally, I would just let this pass without responding, but I find this to be a really harmful way to run the game and it shouldn't be recommended to others as standard behavior.

                      Why?

                      Because I have run this game for multiple groups of completely different individuals, and in almost every group there is at least one player who really struggles with thinking up Aspirations. Making them "dramatic-only" has two really strongly negative impacts on the game.

                      One: it slows down the beat flow the game is intended to have. It's harder for players to think up new Aspirations, and it's harder for a ST to fit one or more Aspiration opportunities in a session for each character when they all absolutely must have dramatic impact.

                      Two: it can really wear out and discourage those players who aren't quite that good at this particular aspect of the game. In my experience, even the ones who don't have a problem with it can struggle with constantly inventing new Aspirations.

                      So again, they don't have to be dramatic by RAW, and forcing them to be dramatic can negatively impact your game. If your group is good with it and you're all comfortable with the system, you do you, but I absolutely would never advocate this particular house rule. It's much better to let your players pick dramatic Aspirations because they want to and are invested in the game and have a cool idea they want to see come to fruition, not because they have no other choice.

                      Again, you do you, but I do take issue with people presenting their house rules as RAW. Especially when those house rules make a difficult part of the game (for some players) even more difficult.

                      Oh, and one of the ones you dismissed was an actual example in the character creation chapter:

                      Don’t be afraid to take at least one Aspiration without
                      immense challenge or risk. For example, “Find a safe haven” isn’t
                      an unreasonable goal, and it gives you something to do during
                      the first session if you’re struggling to find a place for your
                      character.
                      Last edited by Maina; 02-06-2019, 03:52 PM. Reason: typo fix/adding another quote to the end

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                      • #12
                        Maina The parts of the book you're quoting and what I quoted and my interpretation of that quote are not mutually exclusive. To me it's pretty obvious that aspirations are supposed to be at least somewhat dramatic, and "Don’t be afraid to take at least one Aspiration without immense challenge or risk" only strengthens that notion, because it implies that usually aspirations are supposed to be dramatic, but it's okay to take one or two aspirations without immense challenge or risk if you currently struggle to come up with anything dramatic.

                        To say that my advice is harmful is hyperbole at best, and somewhat ridiculous (actually, it's really ridiculous), especially because I'm not at all advocating that my way is the only way, I'm just giving the OP my perspective, he can do with it what he sees fit. if it works for him, great. If not, well, feel free to ditch my idea. I don't understand why you have to be so incredibly difficult about that.

                        I've seen my method do absolute wonders at tables. Players often struggle with aspirations, that's true, but believe it or not, it's often not because it's difficult to come up with ideas, it's because it's difficult to come up with exciting ideas. Over past 12 years I've been doing roleplaying, storytelling, writing and worldbuilding, I've so often seen people not knowing what to do with their characters because every idea they come up with doesn't spark any passion or enthusiasm in them. It often boils down to "ugh, I can't come up with anything exciting for my character". My advice is to help players make their ideas exciting. It helps them to put the desert inside their quest to get a glass of water, so to speak.

                        Good stories are told when a character wants something, but has difficulty getting it. Aspirations that incorporate both the wants and needs of the character/player, as well as the obstacle that might prevent them from getting it, immediately sparks excitement and makes an aspiration a lot more tangible and easier to comprehend. "I want to meet the prince" can mean so many things and in itself doesn't really tell you much of anything. Okay, so you want to meet the prince. Why? What do you plan on doing when you have that meeting? How do you plan on getting that meeting? These questions need answering if you want to get a better picture of the story ahead of you and get excited about it. Without answering those questions, "I want to meet the prince" is just some vague concept that doesn't mean anything and doesn't really get anyone excited. I can guarantee you, if you just stick with "I want to meet the prince" and you literally just give your player that, without anything else, just a meeting with the prince, without any obstacles, and without any consequences, he or she is likely going to be disappointed. It also wouldn't be worth a Beat.

                        Let me ask you something. Would you allow "I want to leave my haven" as an aspiration? Why (not)? How about "I want to use Mesmerize on someone"? How about "I want to have fun"? Yes, I've literally seen these come up in games in the past, including the "I want to have fun" aspiration, and if I was the ST in those games, I would not have allowed any of these (although I suppose at least with the "I want to Mesmerize someone" -aspiration there is some potential for drama).

                        The idea that having your aspirations be dramatic is going to take up too much time and not give your players enough Beats is nonsense. The opposite is true. Dramatic aspirations will shower players with Beats, because dramatic aspirations naturally lead players in situations where they get to roll frenzy checks (potential Beats), Breaking Point checks (Beats), gain Conditions (Beats) and gain wounds (potential Beats). And we both already know that an ST can and should reward players Beats for making progress on an aspiration, not just when the player finishes the aspiration. If my players worked with me to create some juicy juicy drama and they made some progress on their aspiration, no matter how much progress, I'll reward them with Beats.

                        By asking your players to think about what sort of drama they want to see and weave that into their aspirations, you're going to have a much easier time as a Storyteller (because your players are technically doing the heavy lifting for coming up with dramatic story arcs) and the players are likely going to be much more excited because they have a clear goal and know exactly what to do.

                        I want to stress though that if your players seem incapable or unwilling to do the heavy lifting, you should help them, turn it into a back-and-forth brainstorm session between the ST and player, together you're more likely to come up with juicy stuff than either party by themselves.

                        Clear cut aspirations are much more likely to be resolved or at least progressed on each session than vague aspirations like "meet the prince". They're also much more likely to shower the player with lots of Beats. I'm speaking from experience here.

                        But again, that's just my opinion based on my experience. And again, I'm just telling mikerand to give this a try. If it works for him, fantastic, happy to help. If it doesn't work, that's fine too, at least you tried and now know that this method I propose doesn't work for you, and you should feel free to try other ideas.
                        Last edited by Ventrue Life; 02-06-2019, 07:33 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ventrue life
                          Would you allow "I want to leave my haven" as an aspiration? Why (not)? How about "I want to use Mesmerize on someone"? How about "I want to have fun"? Yes, I've literally seen these come up in games in the past, including the "I want to have fun" aspiration, and if I was the ST in those games, I would not have allowed any of these (although I suppose at least with the "I want to Mesmerize someone" -aspiration there is some potential for drama).
                          Actually, I’ve played or run settings where all of those would have been valid aspirations.

                          Sneaking out of his home undetected is a recurring/ongoing issue for Scott Lang in Ant Man and the Wasp. And there’s plenty of movies and novels about characters sneaking out of their house without their parents knowing or bullshitting them about where they’re really going to rip off or pervert.


                          I want to have fun. That’s simple since I have characters list hobbies or interests that aren’t designed to augment disciplines. A session pursuing those can lead to other encounters or stumbling across details of other events going on in the setting.

                          Mesmerizing someone, when you don’t have Dominate, is a valid pursuit. Having Dominate and mesmerizing someone “too well”, unintentionally, or the “wrong” victim can also lead to “drama” by ticking someone off, or “rescuing” someone from someone else’s machinations.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tsusasi View Post

                            Actually, I’ve played or run settings where all of those would have been valid aspirations.

                            Sneaking out of his home undetected is a recurring/ongoing issue for Scott Lang in Ant Man and the Wasp. And there’s plenty of movies and novels about characters sneaking out of their house without their parents knowing or bullshitting them about where they’re really going to rip off or pervert.


                            I want to have fun. That’s simple since I have characters list hobbies or interests that aren’t designed to augment disciplines. A session pursuing those can lead to other encounters or stumbling across details of other events going on in the setting.

                            Mesmerizing someone, when you don’t have Dominate, is a valid pursuit. Having Dominate and mesmerizing someone “too well”, unintentionally, or the “wrong” victim can also lead to “drama” by ticking someone off, or “rescuing” someone from someone else’s machinations.

                            Yes, you made all those aspirations valid aspirations by adding extra requirements or prerequisites to them. You essentially added "the desert" to these "I want a glass of water" aspirations. You turned "leave my haven" into "l want to sneak out of my parents' home to get some blood, without waking up my parents to avoid drama and questioning" which is indeed a solid, juicy aspiration with high potential for drama. Which precisely proves my point.



                            Edit: Also, to clarify, this person who used "I want to have fun" as an aspiration meant it as "I want to have fun as a player". He basically used it as a cheap way to get a Beat at the end of every session by saying "hey ST, I had fun this session, can I have my aspiration Beat now?" Would you allow that in your games? Why (not)?
                            Last edited by Ventrue Life; 02-06-2019, 08:22 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post
                              Yes, you made all those aspirations valid aspirations by adding extra requirements or prerequisites to them. You essentially added "the desert" to these "I want a glass of water" aspirations. You turned "leave my haven" into "l want to sneak out of my parents' home to get some blood, without waking up my parents to avoid drama and questioning" which is indeed a solid, juicy aspiration with high potential for drama. Which precisely proves my point.
                              Your point is that the existence of complications in the way of achieving an Aspiration somehow necessitates specified processes for what is in realistic terms a stated goal.

                              If I want to get a Beat for going to the supermarket to restock my pantry, I do not need to specify the nature of any hurdles I might encounter along the way to communicate to my ST that I want to dedicate narrative camera-time to the journey to and/or through the supermarket.

                              If I want to specifically accomplish the outcome of restocking my pantry without leading anyone back to my safe haven, I can specify that limitation, but the fact that I put it on my sheet means I am trusting the ST to make that pursuit worth the time, be that purely on their own discretion or with input from me on the particulars.

                              Edit: Also, to clarify, this person who used "I want to have fun" as an aspiration meant it as "I want to have fun as a player". He basically used it as a cheap way to get a Beat at the end of every session by saying "hey ST, I had fun this session, can I have my aspiration Beat now?" Would you allow that in your games? Why (not)?
                              No, because although Aspirations are an out-of-character element that can steer the narrative in a direction the character might not want, they are still statements of what the player wants for the character.

                              If he's playing a character who has fun no matter what they're doing, that has an impact on the narrative (maybe leading to a change in Dirge), but generally Aspirations are fairly concrete in terms of accomplishable goals.
                              Last edited by Satchel; 02-07-2019, 04:01 AM.


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

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