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  • #46
    I'll get back around to the other stuff, but I want to take a note while, disturbing as the self evisceration was Cam, it didn't actually answer the question I originally posed. It's kind of a dodge.


    Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
    The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
    Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.
    Out of Nation from 5/22 to 5/29

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    • #47
      For what it's worth, I'll add my two cents on the strix and how I'd advice to run them. I'm not sure if it will change Camilla 's mind, but hopefully this will be useful for someone who reads this:

      The strix, I feel, are the types of antagonists best handled as singular entities. When I look at the example strix NPCs in the core 2e book, I notice there is almost nothing they have in common, other than a universal hatred for Humanity (with an upper case 'H', though I'm sure they hate humanity as well, but specifically for what makes us humane). But look at each individual strix NPC, and you will see a whole bunch of additional motivations that drive this individual strix, motivations that are not necessarily shared by the rest of its kind, but still motivations that will set events in motions and cause entire chronicles to happen.

      ​As Heavy Arms pointed out, the strix seem to be motivated by their Vice. One could even argue that they are their Vice. But how that Vice manifests itself and how it drives the strix, is different for each individual strix.

      Anna Red, for example, embodies Wrath by brutally slaughtering humans in very Ripper-esque ways, for no other reason than to torment entire boroughs, human and vampire alike. It's not just her wrath we're talking about here either, but the wrath she inspires into the people of the city or borough she plagues. There is a certain methodology to her actions and she constantly makes a fool out of the police and Kindred she eludes. The general population becomes angry at the police for their perceived incompetence. The police becomes angry at the journalists who's publications on the serial killer cause outrage, people all across the city shout "conspiracy!" and "cover-up!", the Irish are certain the killer is a Jew, the Jews blame the gypsies and the gypsies blame the Irish. And the vampires? They're at each other's throat in much the same way. Simply put, when Anne Red is doing her work, the people around her will start to embody fear at first, but it will quickly turn into anger, rage, wrath.

      Mother, on the other hand, she is without purpose and she knows that, which bothers her to no end. So she gave herself a purpose, a very ambitious one. She wants to create a new vampire clan. She knows the strix of old created the Julii, and that is just the most recent example. The other clans were likely created by her cousins as well. Perhaps Mother herself once took part in the creation of a vampire clan, but has lost her way. Even she doesn't know for sure, but what she does know for sure, is that she will rekindle her old purpose and create a new vampire clan... tonight. The fact that so far every attempt resulted in the creation of utter abominations and multiple masquerade breaches, well, that is but a small price to pay for her ambition. In the same way, the monsters she spawns are ambitious themselves, deciding to take the Kindred head on in an all-out turf war. If it isn't obvious already, Mother's Vice is Ambition.

      The way I handle the strix in my chronicle, is that I give each individual strix an entire story arc to himself. I will look at the Vice the strix individual embodies and what his modus operandi is, and then build an entire story with that particular Vice becoming the central theme of the story.
      During the majority of the story's chapters, the players will never interact with the strix. They will only deal with the fallout instead. They will feel the ripples the strix is causing, and go on an investigation to figure out what is going on. At this point, the players don't even know they're dealing with a strix yet (because not all my stories revolve around a strix, just some of them).
      When the players made some good progress on their investigation, they might draw the attention of the strix, and get to interact with him. The strix will appear in the body of a player's friend, colleague, rival or enemy, with the players being none the wiser.
      After this point, it's fine if the players find out that they're dealing with a strix. In fact, you want them to find out, because if you played your cards right, the players who know a bit about how the strix operate (possessing vampires and humans alike), will become immensely paranoid. They will no longer know who to trust, and that is a truly horrific feeling.
      While all this is happening, I also try to have the players experience and deal with the Vice the strix embodies. If they're dealing with Anna Red, I want my player's characters to experience wrath, if they are up against Mother, I want to have them deal with ambition, etc. This is not necessary for a good strix story, but I think it's cool.
      Eventually the players will either defeat the strix by thwarting the strix's modus operandi, by chasing it off, making it flee the city, or by actually killing it. This victory should never come easy and always come with a feeling of dread. Perhaps the player characters had to kill their best friend to stop this strix. Perhaps the players did something far more monstrous to stop this strix. The player characters should be asking themselves whether the victory was worth their sacrifices. For example, if the players acted extra wrathful when dealing with Anna Red, have them reflect on that, throw in a hint that they aren't necessarily that much better than the monster they just defeated.
      Sure, you could end your story on a more positive note if you prefer (and I won't be able to stop you if you do), but come on, this is the Chronicles of Darkness, this is Vampire the Requiem, a game where you play as blood sucking monsters, and monsters don't deserve a happy end, do they?
      Last edited by Ventrue Life; 04-02-2019, 08:43 AM.

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      • #48
        Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post
        Sure, you could end your story on a more positive note if you prefer (and I won't be able to stop you if you do), but come on, this is the Chronicles of Darkness, this is Vampire the Requiem, a game where you play as blood sucking monsters, and monsters don't deserve a happy end, do they?
        I'm gonna save time and just point out that this is definitely not Cam's jam.


        Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
        Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.
        Out of Nation from 5/22 to 5/29

        Comment


        • #49
          Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post
          For what it's worth, I'll add my two cents on the strix and how I'd advice to run them. I'm not sure if it will change Camilla 's mind, but hopefully this will be useful for someone who reads this:

          The strix, I feel, are the types of antagonists best handled as singular entities. When I look at the example strix NPCs in the core 2e book, I notice there is almost nothing they have in common, other than a universal hatred for Humanity (with an upper case 'H', though I'm sure they hate humanity as well, but specifically for what makes us humane). But look at each individual strix NPC, and you will see a whole bunch of additional motivations that drive this individual strix, motivations that are not necessarily shared by the rest of its kind, but still motivations that will set events in motions and cause entire chronicles to happen.

          ​As Heavy Arms pointed out, the strix seem to be motivated by their Vice. One could even argue that they are their Vice. But how that Vice manifests itself and how it drives the strix, is different for each individual strix.

          Anna Red, for example, embodies Wrath by brutally slaughtering humans in very Ripper-esque ways, for no other reason than to torment entire boroughs, human and vampire alike. It's not just her wrath we're talking about here either, but the wrath she inspires into the people of the city or borough she plagues. There is a certain methodology to her actions and she constantly makes a fool out of the police and Kindred she eludes. The general population becomes angry at the police for their perceived incompetence. The police becomes angry at the journalists who's publications on the serial killer cause outrage, people all across the city shout "conspiracy!" and "cover-up!", the Irish are certain the killer is a Jew, the Jews blame the gypsies and the gypsies blame the Irish. And the vampires? They're at each other's throat in much the same way. Simply put, when Anne Red is doing her work, the people around her will start to embody fear at first, but it will quickly turn into anger, rage, wrath.

          Mother, on the other hand, she is without purpose and she knows that, which bothers her to no end. So she gave herself a purpose, a very ambitious one. She wants to create a new vampire clan. She knows the strix of old created the Julii, and that is just the most recent example. The other clans were likely created by her cousins as well. Perhaps Mother herself once took part in the creation of a vampire clan, but has lost her way. Even she doesn't know for sure, but what she does know for sure, is that she will rekindle her old purpose and create a new vampire clan... tonight. The fact that so far every attempt resulted in the creation of utter abominations and multiple masquerade breaches, well, that is but a small price to pay for her ambition. In the same way, the monsters she spawns are ambitious themselves, deciding to take the Kindred head on in an all-out turf war. If it isn't obvious already, Mother's Vice is Ambition.

          The way I handle the strix in my chronicle, is that I give each individual strix an entire story arc to himself. I will look at the Vice the strix individual embodies and what his modus operandi is, and then build an entire story with that particular Vice becoming the central theme of the story.
          During the majority of the story's chapters, the players will never interact with the strix. They will only deal with the fallout instead. They will feel the ripples the strix is causing, and go on an investigation to figure out what is going on. At this point, the players don't even know they're dealing with a strix yet (because not all my stories revolve around a strix, just some of them).
          When the players made some good progress on their investigation, they might draw the attention of the strix, and get to interact with him. The strix will appear in the body of a player's friend, colleague, rival or enemy, with the players being none the wiser.
          After this point, it's fine if the players find out that they're dealing with a strix. In fact, you want them to find out, because if you played your cards right, the players who know a bit about how the strix operate (possessing vampires and humans alike), will become immensely paranoid. They will no longer know who to trust, and that is a truly horrific feeling.
          While all this is happening, I also try to have the players experience and deal with the Vice the strix embodies. If they're dealing with Anna Red, I want my player's characters to experience wrath, if they are up against Mother, I want to have them deal with ambition, etc. This is not necessary for a good strix story, but I think it's cool.
          Eventually the players will either defeat the strix by thwarting the strix's modus operandi, by chasing it off, making it flee the city, or by actually killing it. This victory should never come easy and always come with a feeling of dread. Perhaps the player characters had to kill their best friend to stop this strix. Perhaps the players did something far more monstrous to stop this strix. The player characters should be asking themselves whether the victory was worth their sacrifices. For example, if the players acted extra wrathful when dealing with Anna Red, have them reflect on that, throw in a hint that they aren't necessarily that much better than the monster they just defeated.
          Sure, you could end your story on a more positive note if you prefer (and I won't be able to stop you if you do), but come on, this is the Chronicles of Darkness, this is Vampire the Requiem, a game where you play as blood sucking monsters, and monsters don't deserve a happy end, do they?
          That's some damm good advice on running the strix.

          I think the best thing about them as an antagonist is that they are a lot more an insidious threat than a lot of other antagonists. Typically an antagonist will be tough to take down initially either because of their sheer power (like an idigram) or because they're well protected (like a vampire prince). The strix are neither, they're just very hard to find and very hard to kill (if not necessarily to defeat) and that makes for a much more shadowy threat than something like a rival vampire can achieve.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Kargle18446 View Post

            That's some damm good advice on running the strix.

            I think the best thing about them as an antagonist is that they are a lot more an insidious threat than a lot of other antagonists. Typically an antagonist will be tough to take down initially either because of their sheer power (like an idigram) or because they're well protected (like a vampire prince). The strix are neither, they're just very hard to find and very hard to kill (if not necessarily to defeat) and that makes for a much more shadowy threat than something like a rival vampire can achieve.
            Thank you!

            In a way, the strix are forces of nature more so than characters. Or more accurately, they are forces of drama. Their entire existence causes drama and revolves around drama. I think that's why I love them so much. They are such great tools for horror and drama, and they are relatively simple to use as antagonist once you understand that a strix isn't a person in the traditional sense, but a force of nature, a vice personified.

            A strix doesn't need a reason to do what it does, it isn't motivated by anything other than the Vice it embodies. The strix just does what it does simply by existing. It exists, and that alone is reason enough for the strix to do the horrible things it does. They are utterly alien and incomprehensible to a human mind, but that doesn't mean the strix has to be incomprehensible to the Storyteller. As long as the ST understands that the strix is a force of nature solely motivated by his Vice, simply by existing, the ST will hopefully understand that the strix are actually extremely easy to use as antagonists, and can be extremely terrifying when the ST uses them correctly and the players have sufficient buy-in.
            Last edited by Ventrue Life; 04-02-2019, 02:16 PM.

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            • #51
              Hey folks. Just stating for the record that Carmilla has been permanently banned for their ongoing pattern of disruptive posting behavior.


              Onyx Path Forum Moderator

              My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post
                Sure, you could end your story on a more positive note if you prefer (and I won't be able to stop you if you do), but come on, this is the Chronicles of Darkness, this is Vampire the Requiem, a game where you play as blood sucking monsters, and monsters don't deserve a happy end, do they?
                So, while I in general agree with your usage of the Strix, I just wanted to comment on this bit here. When I first began running my Requiem game (a game that started about three-ish years ago and only ended recently), I focused a lot on that darkness bit and didn't really plan for a happy ending. However, after about three years I think I figured out something about happy endings. So here goes my two cents on the matter.

                So first off, I think any good chronicle requires a bit of happiness at the very least. Sure the stories are ultimately about horror, but without anything good the dark stuff becomes sort of meaningless. There's only so much bad stuff without good before you cross the line of "if everything is going to be bad anyway, what's the point of actually trying". That was something I encountered about a year in, I think. My players eventually stopped caring since everything was so dark, and it kind of showed considering how apathetic they were all things considered during that part of the game. Actually getting them to work towards goals was next to impossible because they believed I was their enemy, and I would just screw them over at every turn.

                Now, this isn't to say happy endings should just be given. That's where I've found that the darkness of Chronicles works really well. Things should be hard, the players should be concerned for what happens next, and they should be worried that everything they want to protect is destroyed. The challenge should seem insurmountable, but ultimately it really shouldn't be. Now can there be consequences for how they go about things? Certainly. That's part of the conflict to make things interesting. Conflict and struggle are the heart of every good story. If things are just given, then ultimately their achievements feel worthless.

                I would also like the say just say, while the characters might be monsters, my players rarely are. I feel like people generally have enough to worry about in their daily lives. So, suppose I can be called a bit sentimental in the fact I want to see them succeed and earn their happy ending.

                But hey, there's nothing wrong with tragic endings as well. I think that's the best thing about all these games. Ultimately, every table can change the game to suit their purposes.

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                • #53
                  This thread is weird, if someone doesn't like the Strix, just don't use them. They are an optional antagonist. Personally I find them interesting, but usually not as the main antagonist, but more weird entities, with dark secrets to impart, at a price.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Ever Professional View Post

                    So, while I in general agree with your usage of the Strix, I just wanted to comment on this bit here. When I first began running my Requiem game (a game that started about three-ish years ago and only ended recently), I focused a lot on that darkness bit and didn't really plan for a happy ending. However, after about three years I think I figured out something about happy endings. So here goes my two cents on the matter.

                    So first off, I think any good chronicle requires a bit of happiness at the very least. Sure the stories are ultimately about horror, but without anything good the dark stuff becomes sort of meaningless. There's only so much bad stuff without good before you cross the line of "if everything is going to be bad anyway, what's the point of actually trying". That was something I encountered about a year in, I think. My players eventually stopped caring since everything was so dark, and it kind of showed considering how apathetic they were all things considered during that part of the game. Actually getting them to work towards goals was next to impossible because they believed I was their enemy, and I would just screw them over at every turn.

                    Now, this isn't to say happy endings should just be given. That's where I've found that the darkness of Chronicles works really well. Things should be hard, the players should be concerned for what happens next, and they should be worried that everything they want to protect is destroyed. The challenge should seem insurmountable, but ultimately it really shouldn't be. Now can there be consequences for how they go about things? Certainly. That's part of the conflict to make things interesting. Conflict and struggle are the heart of every good story. If things are just given, then ultimately their achievements feel worthless.

                    I would also like the say just say, while the characters might be monsters, my players rarely are. I feel like people generally have enough to worry about in their daily lives. So, suppose I can be called a bit sentimental in the fact I want to see them succeed and earn their happy ending.

                    But hey, there's nothing wrong with tragic endings as well. I think that's the best thing about all these games. Ultimately, every table can change the game to suit their purposes.

                    Thanks for explaining this. I 100% agree with this. Darkness-induced audience apathy is a thing I'm well aware of, and it was never my intention to suggest that CofD Storytellers should always throw grim-dark tragedies at their players. I was actually suggesting bitter-sweet tragedies.

                    What I said was that victory should never come without a price, especially when up against the strix. The way I see it, the player characters more than likely will commit monstrous atrocities or adapt an end-justifies-the-means mindset when dealing with bigger monsters, I find that just comes natural in a vampire game. When that happens, I always make sure the player characters see their own monstrous behavior reflected back at them, either by creating a foil rival character, or by using their Touchstones as a foil, or sometimes, other more creative ideas.

                    I also believe that it's possible to have some positivity in a Vampire story without the player characters directly benefiting from that positivity. Perhaps the vampire might not get a happy ending himself, but he made sure his Touchstone got a happy ending! Maybe, in the end, the vampire sacrifices his own life to save the life of his Touchstone?
                    Perhaps the local All Night Society becomes a cloister due to a strix invasion and eventually collapses entirely at the end of your chronicle, but that's actually a good thing for the humans in your city, including the your Touchstones? Perhaps it also means the player characters now have the opportunity to build a new All Night Society on their own terms?
                    I always make sure to point these positive things out. Even when a player character is an evil monster who deserves nothing but suffering, the world around them isn't evil and doesn't deserve suffering. And while vampires typically add to the suffering of the world around them, there are also those rare moments where the vampires have a positive influence on the world around them. I will always highlight those moments and cherish those moments in my chronicles.

                    For example, one of my players is trying to play a high-Humanity neonate, and as a reward for helping to end Jack the Ripper's terror (who turned out to be the strix Anna Red in my chronicle), she was rewarded with £500,- from the vampire Prince. Five-hundred British pound sterling! That was a lot of money back in 1888. This high-Humanity neonate however, decided to donate the entire amount to a poor family in Whitechapel who took her in before she became a vampire (this family is also her Touchstone now). This money would be enough to put at least one of their kids through college and not having to worry about making ends meet.
                    I, as the Storyteller, could just have glossed over this, I could have handled it as a downtime thing, or a side-session. I didn't. I made sure to get a good, juicy, heartwarming, tearjerker of a scene out of this, and to show, on screen, in front of all my players, how this act of charity positively affected this family.
                    I strongly believe that by spending time on heartwarming scenes like this, the dark and tragic scenes that will come later will have even more impact, which is what I want because I'm a dick and I love to see my players suffer! Muahahahahahaha!
                    (that was a joke... kinda...)


                    Edit: I also want to add that, at least for my players, playing a character who has a life that is ten times worse than their own life in real-life, can be a cathartic experience. It makes the players (or at least my players) feel that their own lives aren't so bad after all. One of my players in particular is a big fan of operatic drama and tragedies, he loves opera and tragedies, and he loves to see that style of storytelling in a Vampire the Requiem game. I'm more than happy to provide.
                    Last edited by Ventrue Life; 04-03-2019, 09:19 AM.

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                    • #55
                      Ventrue Life Can't disagree on how fun bittersweet tragedies can be in some cases, but I know that's not necessarily something that'll work at my table all the time. For example, in a chronicle I was recently in my character had the Cursed merit since character creation and most of the players only learned out of game in the second to last session. My character died, but he died saving everyone else so that's what made it bittersweet (this was a mortals game). Now, I also know that isn't something that'd work at my table all the time (goes back to the whole different methods for different tables idea). My players are generally pessimistic and cynical about life, so I try to introduce a bit of hard earned happiness in my games, including vampire. That itself can be cathartic in its own way; reinforcing that age old idea that if you work hard enough you might be able to earn your happy ending. Yeah, it doesn't quite always work out that way in game for them (bumpy rides and all), but the idea that they can keeps them trying to actually earn their happy endings in game.

                      I also think it's a bit of kneejerk reaction on my end to how a completely cynical attitude annoys me to no end. Nothing's wrong with preparing for the worst if you aren't automatically assuming the worst will happen.

                      For example, one of the character's stories in my game was about how he never had a father figure in life, and that kind of made him a social wreck in death. His sire is jokingly said to set the bar for sires, but that's mostly due to his own fatal flaw being that he'll protect anyone he considers his family at whatever cost, even if it meant switching off with a Strix who happened to believe they were basically the same person at the end of the night (they weren't, the Strix just mostly liked to claim that to mess with people and because he'd been on and off possessing the sire for their entire requiem). The chronicle ended with the childer and the sire leaving the city with the sire's mortal(ish) family as a way to fix the social wreck of a childer because he'd been suicidal-ish since night one. Yeah, they didn't fix every problem the city had (nor did they get rid of the Strix), but it was ultimately a positive ending for the character. At least as positive as you can get with kindred.

                      So yeah, back to the strix anyway. I've never really seen them as an enemy to toss at the players with like an army of them. The Strix have pretty much always functioned more as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in my games. I also think people forget that Strix have a lot more banes than any kindred, which makes them more vulnerable to weird mystical weapons like church bells or plumbing. And if a Strix is currently in a host body, there's always burning the body as a solution. It'll probably kill anyone inside, but it doesn't kill the Strix.

                      In other parts of my game, my players generally tried more humane approaches to dealing with their problems. Like when a former coterie mate was sent to kill one of them, they torpored him and eventually used an Ordo scale to free him from his blood blond. They didn't really know he was a monster without the blood bond (monster as in really bad person), but they still tried to deal with the situation in a humane sense. Could be that my players wouldn't make very natural vampires though. ;p

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                      • #56
                        Ever Professional looks like you and I are on the same page for the most part, our opinions might differ on the minute details, but I actually agree with almost everything you said. The ending you described for your player character with daddy issues is what I'd describe as a "bittersweet" ending. Certainly more on the sweet than the bitter side, but not so overtly sweet that it doesn't belong in a Vampire the Requiem game.

                        I think one of the best portrayals of vampirism and how I approach it in my games, can be found in the somewhat obscure movie Only Lovers Left Alive. It's a tragedy and some of you might call it "emo", but I think it captured the mood I'm going for in most of my VtR games pretty well. I'm not always going for such an "emo" mood though. Sometimes I want to throw some Machiavellian politics at my players, sometimes I want to throw some classic horror at them, and sometimes I like to add some comedy too (the mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows is a great source of inspiration for how to do vampire comedy right). But I think there is a lot of satisfaction to be gotten out of a VtR game if you treat it as a deeply personal and deeply spiritual journey that ultimately ends in a tragedy. I don't always agree with the saying "it isn't about the end, it's the journey that matters", but I definitely think that's true about the type of VtR games I run. A good example of that is the Netflix anime series Devilman Crybaby. Even when it all comes crashing down in the end, it was still a cathartic experience and a good watch.

                        But I digress.

                        You can find a really good review of the Only Lovers Left Alive movie here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3e39y199aM

                        And here's a good review of What We Do in the Shadows, in case you are unfamiliar with that movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z9efYaNk7s

                        And one for Devilman Crybaby too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6vJzrAbcq0
                        Last edited by Ventrue Life; 04-03-2019, 02:45 PM.

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