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[2e Update] Builders and Burrowers - the Caporetti and the Telamones

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  • [2e Update] Builders and Burrowers - the Caporetti and the Telamones

    This one is going to be a little different than the last two. Instead, the bloodlines I've touched up my updates for have something in common, setting them up for conflict should you use both in your game. To keep things tidy, I'm going to first present each bloodline in their own posts, and then use a third post to outline some optional rules. Now, without further ado, here is probably my favorite bloodline:

    CAPORETTI
    THE ONES YOU FEEL IN YOUR BONES

    Nickname: Shivers, Caporetto [singular], Molemen [derogatory]
    Parent Clan: Nosferatu
    Bloodline Bane [The Hoarfrost Curse]: Malevolent cold spills out of a Caporetto, suffocating any heat in her presence. This supernatural chill intensifies if she dramatically fails a roll due to the Lonely Curse, inflicting the Extreme Cold Tilt on her surroundings and capping all Larceny, Stealth, and Obfuscate rolls by her Humanity dots.
    Additionally, her presence might adjust the severity of any extreme environments present in a scene at the Storyteller’s discretion.
    Favored Attributes: As with parent clan
    Disciplines: Celerity, Nightmare, Obfuscate, Vigor

    Bloodline Gift
    The Caporetti’s reputation was born along the avalanche-stricken slopes of the Isonzo, where their peculiar gifts gave them a distinct advantage against war-weary prey. Burrowing through towering snow drifts and bloodstained stone, Shivers pulled screaming mortals into labyrinthine caves and frigid snow banks. Clambering over perilous glaciers and stark peaks, Molemen dragged their victims up cliffs and into spiralling grottos.

    Every Caporetto benefits from the Wall Crawling and Hooked Hands Protean adaptations at all times. These gifts do not actually stem from Protean, and do not count toward a Moleman’s total number of adaptations should he somehow learn that Discipline. Instead, upon joining the bloodline, a Caporetto’s body simply changes. Her hands become spade-like claws, or her nails horrid black talons… and her Requiem becomes that much lonelier.

    NEW MERITS

    Excavator [•]
    Prerequisites: Celerity or Vigor ••, Caporetto
    Effect: Your character is a powerful burrower, capable of moving far more snow and stone at once than her peers. When burrowing with her bloodline gift, your character moves at her full Speed and can move volumes of earth of up to twice her Size each turn.

    Frostbitten [•••]
    Prerequisites: Stamina •••, Caporetto
    Effect: No Caporetto is hampered by the aura of supernatural cold that surrounds him, but this protection doesn’t extend to the chill of natural environments. Normally this isn’t a problem; the elements harmlessly slide off a vampire’s dead flesh in all but the worst conditions, and even when they don't, distress is minimal.
    Your character holds the cold closer than other Caporetti. He suffers no penalties or damage from the Extreme Cold Tilt, cold extreme environments, or the Frostbitten Tilt. Any supernatural attempts to hamper him with the same have no effect. This does not make him any less prone to slipping on ice or suffering other wintery hazards. Likewise, while he cannot be harmed by supernaturally cold temperatures or freezing bolts, a conjured icicle will still cut his flesh.

    Gravefrost Touch [• to •••, Style]
    Prerequisites: Medicine or Survival •, Occult •••, Caporetto
    Effect: The cold air swirling around a Caporetto is anything but natural. Some have discovered ways to weaponize it, frost spilling from their hearts and across their fingers. The weakest provoke shivers, but in time they learn to coat their victims in creeping ice or threaten life and limb with hypothermia.
    To use Gravefrost Touch, your character must first stoke the unnatural cold that spills from her heart. This requires her to spend a point of Willpower, which allows her to use any technique she knows for the rest of the scene. She must touch a victim, rolling Dexterity + Athletics - Defense if targeting an unwilling victim. Rolls to activate techniques are reflexive.
    Shiver [•]: Your character bestows a ghastly chill with a touch, provoking chattering teeth and shivering limbs in mortals and Kindred alike. She rolls Manipulation + Occult contested by Composure. If she succeeds, her victim no longer benefits from 10-again for the rest of the scene. This happens regardless of ambient temperature.
    Chill [••]: Your character may now drive warmth from her victims’ bodies, plummeting core temperatures and provoking unnatural hypothermia. She may roll Manipulation + Intimidation while using Gravefrost Touch, contested by Stamina. If she succeeds, her victim suffers the Extreme Cold Tilt for the rest of the night, which starts at a -1 penalty. He also takes the Confused Condition, which does not resolve if he begins to take lethal damage from the Extreme Cold. This only affects mortals and other living creatures.
    Freeze [•••]: Dirty hands erupt from the snow, spreading icicles with a touch, locking joints and turning skin cold and blue. Your character may spend a point of Willpower to roll Manipulation + Intimidation - Stamina when using Gravefrost Touch. If successful, she inflicts the Immobilized Tilt on her victim for a number of turns equal to successes, and the rapid temperature change deals 1 lethal damage. Her victim can do nothing but occasionally shiver, and cannot attempt to end the Tilt prematurely. This is equally effective on the dead and the living.


    DESIGN NOTES:
    So, the elephant in the room. They don't have Protean because it doesn't feel like they should to me? That's pretty much it. Nothing feels particularly, er, protean about them, if anything, they almost feel the opposite. So it doesn't feel appropriate to give them an entire Discipline because they happened to have two Devotions in 1e that are now standard effects under Protean in 2e. I concede a better approach might be to make two merits that are Caporetto-only, one for stone cling and the other for burrowing, and allow characters to choose one upon induction into the bloodline. Then let them buy the other later. But I love these guys so I gave them both for free. My only defense is that burrowing is a really niche power [it is very good, but I have rarely seen someone other than me get excited about the ability to burrow].

    Now, fun fact, this was actually the first bloodline update I ever completed. It was something like a year ago, I think? Anyway, it has gone through a lot of revisions in that time, and nothing has changed more than Gravefrost Touch. Originally, it was a pretty faithful translation of the various "freeze you" Devotions that the Caporetti had in 1e, though I think I replaced any Willpower costs with Vitae. However, as time went on, it sort of dawned on me how those Devotions form a pretty clean progression. Not clean enough [or interesting enough] to form the base of, like, a new Discipline ladder, or even a Discipline Merit like Psychognosis, but still clean enough to make them seem a little weird as a bunch of separate Devotions.

    So I turned them into a weird Fighting Merit, which had a lot balancing changes before I arrived at the current version. I like it [obviously], although I'm still unsure about some of its finer details, such as the point of lethal on the three dot technique. Anyway, next up are the Engineers!


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  • #2
    Really cool bloodline. I like these guys.


    “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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    • #3
      TELAMONES
      THE ONES WHO BUILT ELYSIUM

      Nickname: Engineers, Molemen [derogatory]
      Clan: Nosferatu
      Bloodline Bane [The Catacomb's Curse]: In addition to the Lonely Curse, Telamones cap all mundane rolls by their Humanity dots while the sky is visible overhead. So much open air makes Engineers nervous.
      Favored Attributes: Intelligence or Strength
      Disciplines: Animalism, Nightmare, Obfuscate, Vigor
      Upon induction into the bloodline, all Engineers gain the Acute Senses Merit for free. Characters who have already purchased the Merit are refunded the Experience spent.

      NEW MERITS

      Just As You Built It [•• or ••••]
      Prerequisites: Crafts ••, Telamones
      Effect: The Engineers have long sold their services as craftsmen for other Kindred, building underground Elysia to rival the necropoli of the Camarilla. As the world changed and Kindred began to increasingly lair aboveground, whether in castles or skyscrapers, the Telamones followed. And they have always built weaknesses that they can exploit should their clients displease them.
      Once per chapter, the player may declare her character helped build a location used by domain officials. When she does so, she may suggest a beneficial secret structure she was instructed to add, or included on the sly, subject to Storyteller approval. This could be a secret passage, a crawlspace that leads to the sewers, or even a hidden sprinkler system. Once this Merit has been used for a given location, additional uses may require further justification.
      With the four dot version, your character also knows any place she helped build as intimately as her own Haven. She benefits from any Safe Place, Haven, or other location-based Merits in locations she helped build, as if she were their owner. This does not apply to changes made after construction was completed, including most Safe Place traps.

      Necropolis Architect [• or •••]
      Prerequisites: City Status •, Nosferatu Status •, Telamones
      Effect: Engineers often use their projects to expand the local necropolis, often without their client’s knowledge. Your character adds her dots in City Status to the pool of points used to construct the local Nosferatu necropolis. With the three dot version, she adds her Covenant Status as well.
      Note: This Merit assumes you are using the Necropolis rules from the Nosferatu Clanbook largely as written, and is subject to change should I eventually make my own version [or find a version I like].

      House Telamones Initiation [• to •••••]
      Prerequisites: Dynasty Membership •, Invictus Status •, Telamones
      Effect: The large majority of Engineers masquerade as a noble House, tracing lines of descent through various families all the way back to Rome and the Camarilla. But their genealogies are fabricated half-truths, designed to keep their monopoly on the architecture of the Damned. And to disguise a darker secret that goes back to their very founding…
      • The youngest House Telamones workers are taught the bloodline’s great history and purpose. Gain either an Academics Specialty in the Camarilla, or a Stoneworking Specialty in Crafts.
      •• Contractors make up the bulk of the House, and do most of the actual construction work. As such, they become used to moving rock, dirt, and concrete. Gain a dot of Demolisher, ignoring prerequisites.
      ••• Wrights draft the designs the workers below them construct on behalf of the House’s clients. Gain a dot of Crafts.
      •••• The supervisors command the House craftsmen and negotiate with domains on behalf of the Overseers. Take the Invested Merit, and use the higher of your Invictus Status or House Telamones Initiation to calculate its benefits.
      ••••• The Overseers of House Telamones come to power through a long tradition of diablerie. They may purchase Praestantia as an out-of-clan Discipline without drinking the blood of another vampire who knows it.

      NEW DEVOTIONS

      Rat in the Walls [Animalism 5, Vigor 2]
      The Engineers know when you change something, and they will kill you for it. At least, that’s what the rumors claim. In truth, the Telamones often do keep tabs on their creations long after they have built them, but they rarely resort to killing. They simply send someone to strongly discourage you from changing anything else.
      Cost: 2-5 Vitae and 1 Willpower
      Dice Pool: None
      Action: Instant
      The Engineer anoints the edges of a complex with her blood [included in the cost], giving her a sense of its state and structure for a number of weeks equal to her Blood Potency. A complex can be anything from a building to a large swath of sewers, so long as it is no larger in diameter than 5 miles. While this power is active, she knows when the complex has been damaged or altered, gets a general sense of what has changed, and where it happened. Additionally, she cannot get lost in the complex, and any supernatural attempts to force her to or alter her perception of it provoke a Clash of Wills.
      This Devotion costs 3 Experiences to learn.


      DESIGN NOTES:
      Not as much to say here. I significantly changed their bane, but as one of my friends put it: "Stealth and Larceny are hard for anyone in well-lit places. Don't sneak in a floodlight."
      Aside from that, I mostly tried to make them a more attractive player option, and give them some interesting merits that build off of their chosen role as [the only] architects of the Damned. I'm not super confident about the Vitae cost of the new Devotion, but it's not gonna break anything. I want to set up easy tension between them and the burrowing Caporetti, should both exist in the same domain, anyway. And we'll see a [minor] tool to push that tension into direct conflict in the next post!


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      • #4
        Well, I'm not much of a Vampire buff, so the fluff these mechanics build on is unknown to me, but the Caporetti seem very cool. Alpine ice-monster molemen is a good hook, though I don't know how well they could fit into a game not set in the Alps during WWI.

        That would make for a boss game setting, though.

        Originally posted by SomethingFishy View Post
        Bloodline Gift
        The Caporetti’s reputation was born along the avalanche-stricken slopes of the Isonzo, where their peculiar gifts gave them a distinct advantage against war-weary prey. Burrowing through towering snow drifts and bloodstained stone, Shivers pulled screaming mortals into labyrinthine caves and frigid snow banks. Clambering over perilous glaciers and stark peaks, Molemen dragged their victims up cliffs and into spiralling grottos.

        Every Caporetto benefits from the Wall Crawling and Hooked Hands Protean adaptations at all times. These gifts do not actually stem from Protean, and do not count toward a Moleman’s total number of adaptations should he somehow learn that Discipline. Instead, upon joining the bloodline, a Caporetto’s body simply changes. Her hands become spade-like claws, or her nails horrid black talons… and her Requiem becomes that much lonelier.

        [...]

        DESIGN NOTES:
        So, the elephant in the room. They don't have Protean because it doesn't feel like they should to me? That's pretty much it. Nothing feels particularly, er, protean about them, if anything, they almost feel the opposite. So it doesn't feel appropriate to give them an entire Discipline because they happened to have two Devotions in 1e that are now standard effects under Protean in 2e. I concede a better approach might be to make two merits that are Caporetto-only, one for stone cling and the other for burrowing, and allow characters to choose one upon induction into the bloodline. Then let them buy the other later. But I love these guys so I gave them both for free. My only defense is that burrowing is a really niche power [it is very good, but I have rarely seen someone other than me get excited about the ability to burrow].
        I think you made the right call here.

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        • #5
          And here's a grab-bag of optional rules I came up with. I hope you've liked my take on these two bloodlines!

          NECROPOLIS WARS
          The Engineers are defensive of any Kindred [or mortal] edging in on their business, so it should not be hard to drive them into conflict with Caporetti characters [or vice versa]. However, if you want to make the Caporetti a greater threat to the Telamones' interests in a necropolis heavy game, considering allowing the take the following Merit:

          Cold, Dead Catacombs [•]
          Prerequisites: Feeding Grounds •, Nosferatu Status •, Caporetto
          Effect: Give a Shiver a year, and she will pepper her hunting grounds with an impenetrable warren of tunnels through earth and stone. Your character has connected her territory to the local Necropolis, and adds her Feeding Grounds dots to the pool of points used to construct the local Nosferatu necropolis.
          Drawback: Other Haunts move into your territory freely, going about their nightly Requiems. If one of them decides to poach your turf, it will be difficult to stop them.
          Note: This Merit assumes you are using the Necropolis rules from the Nosferatu Clanbook largely as written, and is subject to change should I eventually make my own version [or find a version I like].


          OPTIONAL MERIT
          The following Merit is not suitable for most chronicles, but offers a way to mechanically represent the Shivers’ gory reputation. It may be taken by any vampire depraved enough to try similar tactics.

          Larder [• to •••••]
          Prerequisites: Medicine or Survival ••, Safe Place •
          Effect: The Caporetti are famous for their dark pantries, and your character has been inspired. He has stolen people too sick, weak, or injured to properly resist and sequestered them someplace dark and cold, draining them until they die from exposure or neglect.
          Your character may draw on a number of Vitae equal to three times this Merit’s dot rating each week. This requires no roll, only a brief interlude. He can take more, sacrificing the long-term viability of his larder by fatally draining some of his stock. When he does so, he takes five times the Merit’s dots in Vitae that week, but permanently reduces his Larder rating by one [which is refunded under Sanctity of Merits as usual] and makes a breaking point at Humanity 2. Taking more Vitae from your Larder than your character’s safe or unsafe weekly allotment requires normal hunting rolls, and a dramatic failure reduces its rating as above.
          This Merit is an alternate form of Herd, though it does not always count as one. In the event an effect targets Herd dots, the storyteller is the final arbiter of whether or not your character’s Larder dots qualify.
          Drawback: Keeping prisoners too weak to resist, yet healthy enough to provide your character with blood is tricky and time-consuming. The larder requires extensive upkeep, and if ignored will quickly become useless or vacant. Additionally, an effective larder remains exclusive, and if a competitor discovers it, your character’s stocks may dwindle. A pilfered Larder only gives out double its dots in Vitae each week safely, and triple unsafely, and may inflict unwanted Conditions such as Leveraged or Embarrassing Secret. Finally, keeping a larder at all is a breaking point at Humanity 2, and the conditions your character’s prisoners are kept in may provoke additional breaking points at storyteller discretion.


          TWIST OF THE BLOOD: FOUNDER ENGINEERS
          The story goes that the Camarilla asked their slaves to build their necropolis, and to do so unseen. So the Engineers built the Camarilla's necropolis. When the Camarilla fell, the Telamones were spared its fate, slinking through secret tunnels to escape the burning of Rome. The Engineers, who had slaved under the Julii’s feet for so long, were finally free.
          But what if that story is a lie?
          What if some Julii, desperate to escape the owls and fire, fled into the dark, seeking their silent, squirming slave worms? What if, when these Founders found their slaves, they did not bid their servants to lead them from Rome, but instead descended upon them, obscuring their royal blood in thick layers of rotting grave worms? What if they followed their victims memories out of Rome, hidden amongst so many squirming Haunts?
          It would be no wonder they so fear the sky.

          Julii Telamones use the same rules as above, with the following changes:

          Clan: Julii or Nosferatu
          Bloodline Bane [The Necropolitan Curse]: The Engineers suffer from both the Strigid Curse of the Julii and the Lonely Curse of the Nosferatu. Additionally, whenever exposed to bright light above ground, Engineers must roll Humanity or do everything in their power to flee underground.
          Favored Attributes: Intelligence or Composure
          Disciplines: Animalism, Obfuscate, Resilience, Vigor


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          • #6
            Originally posted by The MG View Post
            Well, I'm not much of a Vampire buff, so the fluff these mechanics build on is unknown to me, but the Caporetti seem very cool. Alpine ice-monster molemen is a good hook, though I don't know how well they could fit into a game not set in the Alps during WWI.

            That would make for a boss game setting, though.
            Yeah, I'm pretty sure the really evocative writing on the Caporetti in Ancient Bloodlines [and to a lesser extent Ancient Mysteries] is half the reason they're my favorite. Those sections just paint such a vivid picture!

            As for playing the Caporetti outside the Alps in WWI, they're definitely not an easy fit in most domains. They can probably find a home in most northerly or mountainous places, but they'll still have trouble fitting in. Not only have they "adapted" to a lonely, inhospitable place [as far as bloosuckers are concerned], it has built them for brutal ambush hunting, which is frowned upon by most sensible, Masquerade-upholding citizens. Though, they might make good enforcers and bugbears for that very reason, especially with Gravefrost Touch. A grim mercenary with a dreadful chill and frostbitten skin sounds like a pretty memorable antagonist [or friend].
            Still, I probably wouldn't drop them in a domain unless someone was interested in actually playing one.

            Or I wanted to pit the Telamones against a brood of them, of course. ; )


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            • #7
              SomethingFishy I love both these bloodlines! I especially like the Twist of the Blood with the Telamones. And I agree with you and LordHeru about not giving the Caporetti Protean.

              Also, although the Caporetti are geographically limited and were created during the Great War, there’s no reason the bloodline couldn’t continue to exist into the modern nights.


              “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Penelope View Post
                SomethingFishy I love both these bloodlines! I especially like the Twist of the Blood with the Telamones. And I agree with you and LordHeru about not giving the Caporetti Protean.
                Thank you! The Julii Telamones were an errant thought I had while organizing my notes, and I just couldn't let it go. It feels appropriately vile, and has delicious implications for the Overseers' ancient tradition of diablerie now that the fog of ages is gone. Really, the only reason I kept it a Twist of the Blood, rather than making it the "default", is because the Licinii already exist as a combination Founder/Haunt bloodline [albeit a very different one].

                Also, although the Caporetti are geographically limited and were created during the Great War, there’s no reason the bloodline couldn’t continue to exist into the modern nights.
                Oh, absolutely! It is just that their appearance and demeanor often make them walking Masquerade violations. They either require significant support from a herd [difficult for a Nosferatu] or have to make other vampires turn a blind eye. The latter is helped by the fact that they can make themselves very useful bullies or enforcers, and I think Ancient Bloodlines even says as much. But a Caporetto could theoretically turn up anywhere the mountains are cold and nobody notices the occasional missing hiker.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by SomethingFishy View Post

                  Thank you! The Julii Telamones were an errant thought I had while organizing my notes, and I just couldn't let it go. It feels appropriately vile, and has delicious implications for the Overseers' ancient tradition of diablerie now that the fog of ages is gone. Really, the only reason I kept it a Twist of the Blood, rather than making it the "default", is because the Licinii already exist as a combination Founder/Haunt bloodline [albeit a very different one].



                  Oh, absolutely! It is just that their appearance and demeanor often make them walking Masquerade violations. They either require significant support from a herd [difficult for a Nosferatu] or have to make other vampires turn a blind eye. The latter is helped by the fact that they can make themselves very useful bullies or enforcers, and I think Ancient Bloodlines even says as much. But a Caporetto could theoretically turn up anywhere the mountains are cold and nobody notices the occasional missing hiker.
                  I’m glad the Fog of Eternity is gone. I never liked that rule.

                  What do you think about a high Blood Potency Caporetto who makes their lair in the frigid Rocky Mountains, maybe near one of the ski resorts, and attracts the attention of a local Uratha pack?


                  “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Penelope View Post

                    I’m glad the Fog of Eternity is gone. I never liked that rule.

                    What do you think about a high Blood Potency Caporetto who makes their lair in the frigid Rocky Mountains, maybe near one of the ski resorts, and attracts the attention of a local Uratha pack?
                    I'm pretty neutral on it tbh. I do think its role in the game is better accomplished by simply acknowledging that living for centuries is going to slowly erode the details of most people's memories. No need for a magic amnesia curses when your brain is overwriting its own save file.

                    As for the hook in the Rockies, my first question is what does "high Blood Potency" mean here? Relations between the Caporetto and the pack are going to differ if they're "merely" BP 4 and can feed on the occasional tourist, or are BP 6 and must hunt other Kindred [or the werewolves]. It really depends on the story you want to tell.
                    But there is nothing stopping a Shiver from lairing in the Rockies, and I believe they're even explicitly said to after WWI passed and they spread abroad.


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                    • #11
                      I was thinking maybe BP 4. And okay, that makes sense.


                      “No one holds command over me. No man, no god, no Prince. Call your damn Hunt. We shall see who I drag screaming down to hell with me.” The last Ahrimane says this when Mithras calls a Blood Hunt against her. She/her.

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                      • #12
                        Well, Better Feared dropped, and I found some Necropolis rules I liked, which means it is time for new versions of Cold, Dead Catacombs and Necropolis Architect!

                        Frigid Catacombs [•••]
                        Prerequisites: Feeding Grounds •, Nosferatu Status •, Caporetto
                        Effect: Give a Shiver a month, and her hunting grounds become an impenetrable warren of tunnels. Your character has connected her territory to the local Necropolis, and gains free dots in the Honeycomb Merit equal to her Feeding Grounds dots, even if the local Warren does not normally grant it. Furthermore, she ignores Honeycomb’s drawback.
                        Drawback: Other Haunts move into your territory freely, going about their nightly Requiems. They may also purchase the Honeycomb Merit, regardless of whether the Necropolis offers it, and may steal from your Feeding Grounds in the same way they can steal from the Necropolis’ Heart, without suffering the Necropolis Pariah Condition for failure.

                        Necropolis Architect [•• or ••••]
                        Prerequisites: City Status •, Nosferatu Status •, Telamones
                        Effect: Engineers often expand the local necropolis without their clients’ knowledge. Your character has participated in such projects, and divides dots equal to her City Status between the Honeycomb and Home Turf Merits. If the local Warren already grants Home Turf, she ignores its drawback. If the local Warren already grants Honeycomb, her hidden exits can lead to Safe Places purchased by other characters, so long as she helped build them. With the four dot version, she gains additional dots to distribute between the Merits equal to her Covenant Status.


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