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  • Elders: How do you stat them?

    This is a question that I don't think there is a correct answer. It will change from game to game, from location to location, but I still found it a hard question to answer. According to the core book an Elder starts with 25 bonus exp. While that's a nice amount, it'd hardly all that an elder. It takes 15 Exp alone to master 1 in clan discipline from 0 to 5. And that's not considering blood potency, merits, skills etc. The Thousand Years of Night is a fantastic book, and it certainly deals with vampires with a lot more Exp.

    So my question is more how do each of you like to stat elders? What do you see, or in vision an elder as? To me it seems that either you stat them low and have a lot of them, and they are really just the mover and shakers of todays night, or you stat them high and you only have a few of them, ruling as ancient kings of the modern era. Either way has its own strengths and flaws, so as I said, I am curious, how do you like to do it?

  • #2
    For NPC elders I ignore the books entirely. I set their attributes, skills, disciplines, merits etc. at a level that makes them an appropriate resource, ally, or antagonist to the PCs, their covenant, and the prince. Very few of them “rule overtly” as they’ve typically grown bored with the Byzantium vampire politics that universally conclude in themself or someone they know getting knifed in the back and sent to Final Death or very long torpors. Most of the domain movers and shakers owe them favors from “back when soandso was x”. They’ve usually entrenched themselves in a network of kindred or various supernatural creatures of different influence levels to where screwing with them too much will independently invite retaliation from one or more of those variables long before the elder themself may feel a need to act personally.

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    • #3
      Similar to tsusasi, I have them where I think they need to be, which is usually more powerful than the books suggest. To me, there is power in age, so an older vampire is physically formidable -- even shorn of contacts, resources, and retainers, a 500 year old undead should be able to go toe-to-toe with a small group of neonates. I don't usually stat the NPCs completely -- just note where they are exceptional. It isn't unusual to give someone who has a couple of centuries under their belt a 6 in an Attribute.

      I have included three or four truly ancient Kindred (1000-5000 years old) in my games in the last decade or so. Usually, they are left to do their own thing, and their mere presence makes even the elders nervous. Often, they have two or three Attributes above 5, and usually the same for skills. I may also add some extra power -- look around for fan-based elder or Methuselah powers to give you ideas. Some of these ancients can be interacted with by the PCs, and others might eat you if they see you. But to justify their inclusion, they have their purpose in the story as well.

      In my setting, Embracing costs one Blood Potency, so a neonate will only create revenants; a 250 year old Kindred will be tempted to thin the blood by an Embrace, and everyone in between must weigh the pros and cons of Embracing. So in a mature city, there are a number of elders, and younger Kindred Embraced in pulses of half a century more or less. In more open or less regulated societies, the Neonates band together largely to defend themselves against the machinations (or outright violence) of the Elders.

      It probably comes down to how you want the players to fit in (and how they want to enjoy it). For a city with a significant number of established Elders, the PCs could 1) try to find a Elder patron to protect them from other Elders while they go about their business, 2) act as freelancers in proxy-battles between Elders, or 3) have little contact with Elders, who mind their own business and ignore the youngsters unless they make trouble for the Elders. Alternately, you could have the Elder population much reduced by hunters, VII, or infighting, to the point where young vampires almost never even interact with the old undead unless they dare to ask for lore or resources.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Corrigan View Post
        Similar to tsusasi, I have them where I think they need to be, which is usually more powerful than the books suggest. To me, there is power in age, so an older vampire is physically formidable -- even shorn of contacts, resources, and retainers, a 500 year old undead should be able to go toe-to-toe with a small group of neonates. I don't usually stat the NPCs completely -- just note where they are exceptional. It isn't unusual to give someone who has a couple of centuries under their belt a 6 in an Attribute.

        I have included three or four truly ancient Kindred (1000-5000 years old) in my games in the last decade or so. Usually, they are left to do their own thing, and their mere presence makes even the elders nervous. Often, they have two or three Attributes above 5, and usually the same for skills. I may also add some extra power -- look around for fan-based elder or Methuselah powers to give you ideas. Some of these ancients can be interacted with by the PCs, and others might eat you if they see you. But to justify their inclusion, they have their purpose in the story as well.

        In my setting, Embracing costs one Blood Potency, so a neonate will only create revenants; a 250 year old Kindred will be tempted to thin the blood by an Embrace, and everyone in between must weigh the pros and cons of Embracing. So in a mature city, there are a number of elders, and younger Kindred Embraced in pulses of half a century more or less. In more open or less regulated societies, the Neonates band together largely to defend themselves against the machinations (or outright violence) of the Elders.

        It probably comes down to how you want the players to fit in (and how they want to enjoy it). For a city with a significant number of established Elders, the PCs could 1) try to find a Elder patron to protect them from other Elders while they go about their business, 2) act as freelancers in proxy-battles between Elders, or 3) have little contact with Elders, who mind their own business and ignore the youngsters unless they make trouble for the Elders. Alternately, you could have the Elder population much reduced by hunters, VII, or infighting, to the point where young vampires almost never even interact with the old undead unless they dare to ask for lore or resources.
        First off, the idea of charging a dot of BP is intriguing and creates some mechanical incentives for higher BP vamps to go out and sire, even as they have acquired enough resources and influence to supposedly become cautious of disruptive newbies close to them. Bravo!

        Second, while the specter of VtM elders looms large, Requiem 2e has taken a very different tact, presuming that if you are "elder" and active (versus, oh, in a voluntary torpor for forever) you do so because you are constantly reinventing yourself and interacting with the world. That means rubbing shoulders with people instead of sitting, ossified in your chair waiting for the next move of your 37 concurrent chess games to arrive by carrier pigeon (or bat).

        To me, this implies that elders might be encountered as easily (if more rarely) as a powerful local personality. They might well disguise themselves as weaker than they really are, in order to avoid provoking jealousy, or surround themselves with visible and invisible layers of protection, patronage and debts. They might chose to step aside from the limelight of Kindred politics simply because that's "last century", and spend their time energetically pursuing projects that the city administration has been warned away from; in exchange, they don't buck the status quo.

        And yes, they'll have the physical and social might to bend everything around them if they choose to flex. Otherwise, they're just older ancillae, right?

        --Khanwulf

        PS. In my game there are quite a few elders about, active and doing their things. It's also dark ages Britain, so embraces have been spread out over time and maintaining a fiefdom and herd for very long periods of time is socially acceptable regardless of allergies to sunlight.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post

          Second, while the specter of VtM elders looms large, Requiem 2e has taken a very different tact, presuming that if you are "elder" and active (versus, oh, in a voluntary torpor for forever) you do so because you are constantly reinventing yourself and interacting with the world....

          To me, this implies that elders might be encountered as easily (if more rarely) as a powerful local personality. They might well disguise themselves as weaker than they really are, in order to avoid provoking jealousy, or surround themselves with visible and invisible layers of protection, patronage and debts. They might chose to step aside from the limelight of Kindred politics simply because that's "last century", and spend their time energetically pursuing projects that the city administration has been warned away from; in exchange, they don't buck the status quo.
          That's something I love about the VtR setting.


          There are two big components to how I create an elder for my games. First, I try to think of elders (conceptually) as just dudes who survived a long time in a fucked up situation. Then, there's the fact that I'm aiming at creating an NPC for my game. And when actually implementing an NPC for a chronicle, I have a metagaming purpose for introducing the character (advance some plot, act as a foil, be an ally or antagonist, etc).

          So my very first question before statting is, what is this character's role in the story? The second is /how did this dude survive all the trauma and stress? Third question (thanks Apocalypse World) is what does this person want?

          The meta-level reason for introducing the character is going to give you the stats you're most likely to use. You need the character to be somewhere and to do a thing - so just give the character the stats to do it. You'll figure out why they have those stats in the next step. How this person survived and coped over the centuries rounds things out. It interprets the stats you made and adds interesting side facts. You don't need to write a whole biography, you're just sorting out in broad strokes how the character fulfilled their material needs and their emotional needs. This will tell you what sorts of resources are available to the character, and how they might respond to the actions of the PCs. Then, by figuring out what the character wants, you'll give yourself a guide on what direction the character is likely to do as the story progresses.

          The process I use to get anchors:

          When figuring out how the character survived, I make the sketch of a human - Concept, Virtue, Vice. Maybe a reason for why they were embraced. Then, I think of the first time they killed when feeding. How did the character react emotionally? How did they deal with the cleanup process? (Maybe they dealt with it themselves, maybe they called for help, maybe they just left the body in a bathtub and left town.) Then, how did they convince themselves that not to commit suicide or go into torpor afterwards? (Maybe they found religion, or are deluded, or are the rare psychopath, or maybe they swear to become a force for good, or maybe they're scared of dying and get numb to the pain they'll cause.) Going through this process is going to probably give me the character's Dirge, maybe their Mask, possibly their Touchstone and Covenant.

          Once I have those set, I decide on a Clan, and add in some Merits that make sense. I might add two dots in skills per 50 years. They probably had major changes every 50 years, so if you want to go into detail, figure out what those changes were (change job, move cities, get new Touchstone), and stat accordingly. Dealing with BP, decide how much you want/need them to have. You probably don't need to figure out how many times they've gone into torpor over the years, just figure out the most recent one.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post

            First off, the idea of charging a dot of BP is intriguing and creates some mechanical incentives for higher BP vamps to go out and sire, even as they have acquired enough resources and influence to supposedly become cautious of disruptive newbies close to them. Bravo!

            Thank you. It seems simple enough to bleed off that BP, but (at least to my mind), the beast might be loathe to give up any power even for a rational reason; also, Childer are a complication at best and have a better-than-average chance of becoming competition or even a dire enemy down the road. So I still have Kindred take voluntary dirt naps.


            Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post

            To me, this implies that elders might be encountered as easily (if more rarely) as a powerful local personality. They might well disguise themselves as weaker than they really are, in order to avoid provoking jealousy, or surround themselves with visible and invisible layers of protection, patronage and debts. They might chose to step aside from the limelight of Kindred politics simply because that's "last century", and spend their time energetically pursuing projects that the city administration has been warned away from; in exchange, they don't buck the status quo.
            Indeed. To finally get to the point where you are powerful enough to pursue interests rather than splashing around in the shark tank. That was a revelation when, after playing my first Vampire campaign as a neonate, I played my 2nd as a 7th generation child of the Prince. I could have amiable conversations with interesting vampires without constantly fearing for my unlife.

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            • #7
              I assign them a BP to whatever level I feel appropriate.
              Then I give them +2 Attributes, +4 Skills, +1 Specialty, +2 Disciplines (1 must be in clan), +4 to 8 merit dots, +1 Devotion for each BP point above 1. This generally creates fairly appropriate characters with some weaknesses


              My Bloodline conversions
              My House rules

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              • #8
                The below is more general advice on statting an NPC, but it applies to Elders, too.

                Firstly, I think it depends on whether or not you're running a one-shot, a mini-series, a full-on chronicle, or a sandbox game. The reason I say this is that you need to take into account that your NPCs need to be statted appropriately and proportionally to your PCs. In a one-shot or mini-series, this is easier due to XP being such a short-lived commodity that there's very little chance of power creep entering your game. In these games, NPCs can be very straightforward to design, IMO. Personally, I think it's easier to simply give them dots and merits that feel appropriate and not worry too much about XP limits at all, especially when designing older vampires. Are they freakishly strong? 5 dots in Strength. Are they incredibly slow and sloth-like to react? 1 dot in Wits. Are they clumsy as hell? 1 dot in Dexterity. You still have to take into account their totals compared to PCs, though. In the same way you don't want your average mortal having stats more numerous and far better spread than your PC's starting stats, you don't want to make your Elders too weak to be believable or avoid giving them a weakness to make them uninteresting ST-pets. Let a starting character's stats inform you on what's appropriate and what's not. Sometimes you play an NPC and add and subtract things as you play them, too. Don't be afraid to tinker with their stats after the fact, that's my philosophy. An NPC could be more or less Intimidating than you envisioned after play, or possibly more Manipulative, or are craven and less Composed than originally envisioned. It's good to reflect actual play with what's on the sheet, IMO. Feel free to get some feedback from your players and ask them what they think certain NPC stats should be as they play. You might get some surprises.

                It gets more complicated in full-on chronicles and sandbox games, though. Power creep is a real thing in these games.

                I've toyed with the idea that NPCs can earn XP in longer games. A short-hand system. Say, an amount equal to the PC XP total divided by the number of PCs for a main NPC, maybe further divided for weaker NPCs, or even multiplied for NPCs you want to keep far out of reach for PCs. Then spend that XP to upgrade them. Maybe it's easier just to screw XP, increase stats as the game evolves and as you fee fit, though. Spit-balling here.
                Last edited by Jack; 08-01-2019, 06:52 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jack View Post
                  I've toyed with the idea that NPCs can earn XP in longer games.
                  I've been thinking of giving some humans XP that they put into their resistance traits. If you keep mind/emotion controlling the same character, eventually they're going to catch on. Without a supernatural resistance trait, they won't win the majority of rolls, but I think it could add some interesting consequences in play.

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                  • #10
                    Only in jest with big handfuls of dice :-)



                    Roleplaying not Rollplaying or Ruleplaying
                    Current Focus
                    Storypath & Storypath to Run CoD, VtR, WtF, MtA
                    Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

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                    • #11
                      Consider giving them Elder Transmutations.


                      Let Him Speak.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GibberingEloquence View Post
                        Consider giving them Elder Transmutations.
                        Or for particularly ancient Kindred, some variation of the suggestions on this thread

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                        • #13
                          In Requiem I´d normally would give an Elder at BP according to their years active BP +1 for each 50 years.normally at least BP 4. Sometimes lower if they had some longer time of torpor.
                          The biggest decision is always for me: Does the elder have BP 6+? Because it changes a lot of things.
                          Then I think of two things: Does the elder still have at least 1 Touchstone?
                          Are they a paragon of their clan, covenant? or a pariah?
                          Then their most important relationships: Friends, Enemies, Frenemies.
                          What are they known/cherished/feared for? is it connected to a skill. An elder in my games will alsmost always have mastered at least one Discipline, if a physical one is the only one they will possess a rare devotion for it.
                          Attributes: At least one at 5 at BP 4, one more at 5 for each point of BP or an attribute of 6+ after BP6+.
                          Skills: almost the same, but i refrain from skills above 5.
                          I always give them specialities for which they are KNOWN for.





                          Emigrated successfullly from the "old" to the "new" sandboxy World of Darkness. Mostly playing Requiem, Awakening and the Lost.
                          Likes cheesecake

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