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  • Keep Feeding and Hunting For Blood Exciting

    I have a couple of questions, which I originally wanted to post in the 'simple questions' thread, but I think this deserves its own thread.

    How do you keep feeding, or hunting for blood, risky and exciting?

    It seems like once you have a decent feeding strategy and get a decent dice pool for it, and you're allowed to use Willpower on a feeding/hunting roll (are you allowed to do that?), even for a freshly turned neonate, getting blood just isn't an issue anymore, it's not the struggle the lore implies it to be.

    Say for example you're a sneaky Mekhet neonate, you have 3 dots in Wits and Dexterity, 3 dots in Stealth, 3 dots in Obfuscate but no feeding grounds. Lets assume that because the Mekhet doesn't have a feeding ground, he's going to get the -2 penalty from poaching most of the time. But this Mekhet often tries to take at least 2 hours to hunt for prey, and isn't particularly picky with his prey, so hunting for 2 hours adds +2 to the dice pool and cancels out the poaching penalty. Lets say the Mekhet often hunts in a poor criminal neighborhood, so I add the crime spree penalty as well, which is -3. But to counteract that, the Mekhet spends 1 Vitae to add 3 dice from Obfuscate to his dice pool. He also really wants to do this right, so he also spends a Willpower for another +3 dice.

    His total dice pool is 3 + 3 - 2 + 2 - 3 + 3 + 3 = 9 dice.

    With 9 dice, there is about a 4% chance the roll fails. So a 4% chance something exciting will happen (because adding the Obfuscate dots to his dice pool makes any failure automatically a dramatic failure). But if the Mekhet does not add his Obfuscate dots, then his dice pool is still 6, which gives him only a 12% chance of failing the roll, but in that case it's just a regular failure, with no dramatic consequences, just 2 hours wasted, so nothing exciting about that.

    ​I had ideas to keep feeding exciting and unpredictable, like having someone walk in on the feeding affair, or have the feeding target die rather quickly after a shallow feeding, or have the feeding target be an actual vampire hunter, or have it turn out that the player character is poaching on someone else's feeding ground, and have the owner of the feeding ground show up mid-feeding. But according to the book, all these ideas are listed as things that happens when you roll a dramatic failures on your feeding/hunting roll, so it wouldn't be fair to throw these things at the player when he got a success on his feeding/hunting roll, would it?

    So how do you keep feeding an exciting and unpredictable core part of your game at your table?
    Last edited by Ventrue Life; 03-06-2019, 12:32 AM.

  • #2
    do you want advice from storytellers only? my groups storyteller gives us beats if we allow such things to happen on a success (and allows story books to happen from feedings)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
      do you want advice from storytellers only? my groups storyteller gives us beats if we allow such things to happen on a success (and allows story books to happen from feedings)
      Advice, ideas, tips, opinions and sharing your table's experiences is welcome coming from anyone!

      And I like your storyteller's idea! Going to write that down.

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      • #4
        How much vitae are you allowing to take per victim? My victims suffer from the drained condition after losing 3 vitae. At 4 they may pass-out on a failed stamina roll, and I star rolling Resolve + stamina - toxicity for disease (anemia). I gave Anemia a 2 toxicity (2 lethal) per day. So my victims could die very easy, especially if they were assaulted. This isn't very exiting after your players learn how to properly feed but it does take more rolls. This gives them more opportunities to fail, restricts their resources and wastes their time before dawn. Additionally, the more hours they hunt and poach, I roll to see if they are discovered. It isn't an automatic discovery like with a dramatic failure but it's a reasonable one. Also, remember to pay attention to what they're wearing. Dressing wrong for the hunt is a -2 penalty. You could also introduce other penalties. I personally like a -1 per unresolved masquerade breaches in territory, this enforces the masquerade and a general dislike for poachers and those who feed violently.

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        • #5
          As an ST, any time a Vampire is being played for it's first arc, I typically make sure to walk through a few feedings in some detail, just because how a Vampire feeds is very much part of their character.

          After that, I kind of only care about feeding if it is dramatically important; if there aren't any time constraints or other issues, then I just let them feed however much they want to feed (within reason). If there is something dramatic going on, like being on the run or needing to feed very quickly, then rolls are made. If there's a Hunter Cell after them, then it's more of a contested roll than anything else.

          I've run quite a lot of Vampire I don't think I've used the chart more then 3 or 4 times (not to knock it; use it if you like it).

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          • #6
            After the 5th plus failed hunting roll and Weekend at Bernies antics for concealing and disposing of a corpse, feeding ceases to be exciting and becomes a chore. If they, as players went out of their way to accumulate those merits, it's glaringly obvious to me that they DON'T want to spend hours upon hours roleplaying their characters as date rapists or guttercrawling muggers.

            I'm more like Enokh in this regard, once characters have their hunting pattern established. I don't care about feeding scenes unless there's an immediate in game reason for me as an ST to care about it. As a player, establishing an efficient hunting routine and jumping through the hoops to gain and maintain herds and feeding grounds is ample demonstration that the Humanity rating is eroding.

            You want ideas on hunting incidents to occur to stir up possible melodrama without failing rolls:

            There is a distinct taste to the blood of all vessels from a specific area that isn't directly drug or vitae related. Make the cause whatever you want. You can turn it into a global warming, pollution screed . You can say Bloodline Q is doing a social or physical experiment in the area. Ancillae Z is engendering paranoia into Coterie Y by contaminating some of their vessels with a benign substance in the water.

            Have them run into a vessel immune to all vampiric powers but will allow the vampire to feed from them to full if they can successfully intimidate or persuade them with a mundane roll.
            When they finish feeding, the vessel disappears. They see this vessel again the next month (or later) This time, they tell the vampire to use a predatory aura (using in character terminology) on them. If it's successful, again they allow feeding to full but with the caveat that they are not to communicate to anyone about their existence or document the encounter. If they break this agreement, they'll never show up again. No exceptions, no second chances. Details of the encounter can't be pried out of the participant by others' use of powers but deliberately allowing or suggesting someone to attempt to do so constitutes telling someone about the encounter. Assuming there's a next time, they'll want to see the application of a discipline powers (again using in character terminology). You can go on indefinitely with sporadic arrivals of this "whatever" and have it reveal piecemeal or not as much or as little as you want about itself.

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            • #7
              I'm with Enokh on this as well. Feeding scenes are handy at start as new vamps settle into what's expected, and when you move domains or circumstances, but otherwise it's a chore. Just as, I might add, shopping, cooking and eating food daily is (along with bathroom stops). It's an analogous investment of energy, but you wouldn't bother with such scenes in any other game, book or story medium unless the setting was important to the story.

              Same here: I'll go back to feeding as the setting when it's important for tone. So to instantly put the PC (or NPC) at a disadvantage you catch them "cooking dinner" or, God forbid, eating. Or disposing of the consequences. I mean it's kinda embarrassing to walk in on someone's private moment as humans, so pay attention to the reactions and use that accordingly when making Humanity rolls for the scene.

              And again, Merits are taken to simplify the process and save nightly time. So they reflect the will of the player in what they want to emphasize at the table, expressed through the character's purposeful action in ordering their life. A herd investment isn't just for safety, it saves hours of hunting time (plus the travel time, which can be significant) and permits the vamp to attend to other affairs, sooner.

              And this last point is one that you can use to jazz up feeding as well: that 2+ hours the Nos took to get 3/4-1 blood? That's coming out of his nighttime budget and he may or may not make the meeting on time, may or may not have to speed to do so, may or may not have made a mistake in the cleanup that gets noticed by others, etc. Everyone has to eat, but leaving spaghetti and sauce all over your sleeve is gauche. This becomes a more acute problem in the summertime when the nights are shorter and, frustratingly, people are out more and available.

              --Khanwulf

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              • #8
                I tend to run feedings in detail (without the abstracted system) whenever it's dramatically important: the PCs escaped from a fight with no blood left and only an hour left in the night, what do you do now to avoid going into torpor?

                If there's no time pressure or dramatic pressure, it doesn't have to be particularly exciting. They make a roll, get some blood, and carry on with their night. But there should be pressure, sometimes, and that's when it's important to play it out.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the replies everyone:

                  Basilistik I indeed usually allow players to take only 2 or 3 Vitae if they don't want to risk giving the Drained Condition to their victim. Taking 4 or more will almost always result in Drained, which doesn't necessarily mean the victim passes out and dies, but he might. Especially when feeding in poor neighborhoods during the cold winter nights in Victorian London (we're playing in 1888 London currently, with the player's haven being in Whitechapel), I usually roll a d10 to see how many wounds the person in question already has, or sometimes I roll a d4 and add the resulting number as lethal wounds before the feeding scene has even started. This means the victim might be in a really bad state when the player has fed on him. But I don't do this too much, only when it makes sense, because otherwise it starts to go into dramatic failure territory.
                  Sometimes I have the feeding target be drunk or be a kid, which means the player can feed and gain the Intoxicated Condition (which I don't just allow to be flushed with a single Vitae expenditure because I'd rule the vampire might not be in the right state of mind to do so), or in the case the target is a kid (Victorian London had plenty of child gangsters as seen in Oliver Twist) the feeding will result in a Breaking Point.

                  Enokh I get where you're coming from. I guess what doesn't sit well with me is how easy feeding seems to be for just about everyone in my group pretty much from the first day their characters became vampires. One really doesn't need a feeding ground or a very specialized strategy to get blood reliably. Yet the lore and fluff of VtR wants us to believe that feeding and getting blood is a real struggle for neonates. I just don't see that being the case in games where the players have the slightest bit of know-how. That seems to be my biggest hang up.

                  tsusasi and Khanwulf Which Merits? None of my players have any merits related to feeding. That's precisely my issue. I don't mind if feeding becomes easier with the right Merits. That makes sense. My issue is with how trivial and easy feeding seems to be for even the newest neonate without any dots in Feeding Grounds or Herd.
                  Also, how does getting Feeding Grounds and a Herd erode your Humanity? Did you turn getting or using those Merits into Breaking Points in your games? Hmmm, maybe that's a good idea. I do think it makes sense for those two things being Breaking Points. If joining a Covenant is a Humanity 5 Breaking Point, then what do you think getting a Feeding Ground or Herd would be? Also Humanity 5?

                  I do think I have some new ideas now though, so thanks guys! That being said, keep these awesome tips and ideas coming! The more the merrier! Hopefully it can help other Storytellers out as well!

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                  • #10
                    Well, if every vampire is allowed to go to any strip club, dance hall, whorehouse, frat rush, hotel, concert, opium den, crackhouse, bar, or party they want and hunt without owing favors to vampires with hunting rights or subinfeudation rights and they don't care about poaching, then the herd and feeding grounds merits are useless in your setting.

                    I played in a setting where "every" street and public locale was allocated to a vampire or group of vampires. If you were caught poaching or scabbing (disrupting the feeding schedule of known racks) you could be torpored or placed under vinculum to the owner. And since reporting poachers and scabbers was a lucrative venture for younger vampires, the likelihood of being caught was higher.
                    While most settings weren't regulated that extremely, the norm is that access to the "easy" hunting grounds wasn't free.

                    As for the Humanity erosion. Maintaining a herd is literally an exercise in managing humans like livestock. You can't feed too much from them or they will literally become sick and possibly die. If you don't give them attention regularly they will stop coming around. And feeding grounds have to be maintained, either through violence or the performance of tasks of dubious integrity (possibly to include violence) to a landlord who gives hunting rights.

                    If you want players to buy herd, you could also play up the acquisition and possession of a herd as a status symbol or rite of passage.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tsusasi View Post
                      Well, if every vampire is allowed to go to any strip club, dance hall, whorehouse, frat rush, hotel, concert, opium den, crackhouse, bar, or party they want and hunt without owing favors to vampires with hunting rights or subinfeudation rights and they don't care about poaching, then the herd and feeding grounds merits are useless in your setting.

                      I played in a setting where "every" street and public locale was allocated to a vampire or group of vampires. If you were caught poaching or scabbing (disrupting the feeding schedule of known racks) you could be torpored or placed under vinculum to the owner. And since reporting poachers and scabbers was a lucrative venture for younger vampires, the likelihood of being caught was higher.
                      While most settings weren't regulated that extremely, the norm is that access to the "easy" hunting grounds wasn't free.

                      As for the Humanity erosion. Maintaining a herd is literally an exercise in managing humans like livestock. You can't feed too much from them or they will literally become sick and possibly die. If you don't give them attention regularly they will stop coming around. And feeding grounds have to be maintained, either through violence or the performance of tasks of dubious integrity (possibly to include violence) to a landlord who gives hunting rights.

                      If you want players to buy herd, you could also play up the acquisition and possession of a herd as a status symbol or rite of passage.

                      Of course poaching is not acceptable in my setting, and there will be grave consequences for poaching. But that isn't reflected in the mechanics. Poaching is only a -2 penalty on the roll, and RAW you only run into the owner of the territory if you roll a dramatic failure.

                      Of course I do think it makes sense that if the players poach often, someone will eventually notice and report them to the authorities, even if the players constantly roll successes on their feeding rolls. The question is: do you think that's a fair way to handle it? Do you think it's fair if I make them deal with the repercussions of poaching even though they never rolled a (dramatic) failure on their feeding rolls?

                      I mean, we're dealing with Victorian London in my game, the single most crowded and densely populated city of the 19th century, including Kindred. In my game there are technically too many Kindred in London, not because of rampant embracing, but because so many Kindred migrated to London. A lot of them came from Paris during the French Revolution. Some of them arrived more recently, coming from countries like India or other European cities where the elders are even more old-fashioned and oppressive. These neonates and ancilla hope to find a better life with more opportunities in London. Of course London is an ancient city and the elders are old. They aren't happy with the influx of ancilla and neonates, and thus they're becoming a bit more authoritarian when it comes to feeding rights and feeding grounds, and are calling for a immigration ban for all Kindred still trying to come to London.

                      So the question is, how do I translate that bleak reality of my version of London to actual game mechanics and gameplay?

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                      • #12
                        New Condition: Poacher
                        Your character has poached on another Kindred's feeding grounds and have gotten away with it. However, sustained hunting in the same region will draw attention from those who hold feeding rights for the area as well as reduce the availability of the fearful Kine. Whenever you make a hunting roll in the same territory take a cumulative -1 penalty to the roll.
                        This Condition fades after not poaching in the same territory for a number of months equal to the penalty, without granting a Beat.
                        Resolution: Being confronted about the poaching
                        Beat: n/a

                        Edit: Once resolved, depending on how the confrontation went, you can grant a Known Poacher (Persistent) Condition to represent new obstacles for hunting rolls.
                        Last edited by Tessie; 03-06-2019, 07:02 PM.


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                        • #13
                          By RAW, there is nothing requiring you to run into the territory owner to get caught poaching. On a dramatic fail, in my games that would be along the lines of not only did the territory owner catch you red handed but you were punished on the spot.

                          A player could be witnessed poaching by 20/20 Charlie Mekhet, who happens to know the poached vessel is part of Bob Nosferatu’s herd that he reserves for the sole purpose of paying his monthly rent to Charlene Daeva, which is due tomorrow. Except now, he can’t pay her because PC Poacher dumped the unconscious vessel in some trashy motel on the other side of town. Bob Nosferatu may spend the next three nights playing a shell game with his other vessels and other debts. Two weeks later, Bob sends Legbreaker Jim the Gangrel to bury PC Poacher in a crypt for three months while 20/20 Charlie gets feeding privileges at Bob Nosferatu’s speakeasy two nights a week for three months.

                          If they have the opportunity to obtain a herd, feeding grounds, and hunting privileges and opt to steal anyway, yes, I do think it’s perfectly fair to let the consequences of players choices catch up to them. They chose to “steal” instead.


                          Have feeding rights and hunting grounds rigidly enforced. A reasonable accusation may be enough for punishment to drop. Install cumulative penalties for poaching successively. They WILL eventually get caught.
                          Add penalties for kindred overcrowding.
                          Increase the chance of detection. If your player is in Whitechapel in 1888, there are increased police and neighborhood watch patrols at night.
                          Scotland Yard also showed up to investigate and randomly interview people about Jack the Ripper, the Torso Killer and numerous other grisly murders going on at the time. If the player went out hunting, then every time they did there is a chance that someone “remembers seeing” the player with the latest victim and provides an accurate description.
                          Last edited by tsusasi; 03-06-2019, 07:58 PM.

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                          • #14
                            New Condition: Immigrant to the Blood [Persistent]
                            Your character is a recent arrival from foreign domains with different customs, come in seek of greater safety and opportunity. While the rulers of your new home have recognized you, you have not yet been formally accepted and your fellow Kindred seethe with resentment at sharing their bounty. Take a -3 penalty to social rolls with Kindred holding one or more points of City Status. With Kindred in the city who share this Condition you gain +1 to social rolls. You also receive a -2 penalty to hunting rolls.
                            Resolution: Gain a dot of City Status
                            Beat: n/a

                            Notes: this is intended to model newcomers in a crowded environment. It could be applied to a fledgeling vampire as well in such conditions, though perhaps with a bit of renaming. Ideally the player will choose to dramatically fail more often and accumulate the Beats for purchasing City Status.
                            Last edited by Khanwulf; 03-26-2019, 05:55 PM.

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