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  • Customizing Revenant Disciplines and mechanics for solo campaign

    *So.*

    After many years of hemming, hawing, and apologetically c**k-teasing my girlfriend with the prospect, I am finally preparing to run a solo VtR campaign for her.

    I don't have a great deal of experience ST'ing, and I'm opting for a slightly unorthodox approach to her character's eventual vampiric development, so I'm doing her a respect by consulting the Onyx Path hivemind about my narrative plans, for suggestions to implement, and pitfalls to avoid.

    Being a borderline paranoiac perfectionist, down the road I'll probably ask for advice regarding the setting at large as well, but for the time being her experiences will be fairly mundane life, and then night-to-night survival.

    The player has opted to play as herself. Given that she has been disabled for about half of her adult life, her stats are somewhat lower than they would be otherwise. I'm letting her cannibalize and shuffle unused Attribute, Skill, and Merit points, and any unused points will be available for later use in lieu of early Experiences purchases.

    Until she Rises, she'll have the Sick, Chronic Agony, and/or Lethargy conditions, which I will almost certainly have to tweak a little to represent her RL problems.

    After death, she will be beginning her Unlife as a spontaneous-Embrace revenant waking up in a morgue drawer.

    Yes, the cards *are* stacked against her. The beginning Tone is Scrabble to Survive, and the Theme is Evolve or Die. I know it's brutal, but it won't be forever, and trust me, if there's one constant with this woman, it's that she makes *great* lemonade😁

    The advice I'm most eager for, though, is on her early in-and-out of character Vampiric development. The player was a huge fan of Masquerade, so she knows the older conventions (we both agree she translates best as a Daeva,) but to maintain uncertainty and emotional verisimilitude for both the particulars of her condition and the more ephemeral gameplay mechanics (Breaking Points, Humanity, Anchors, Banes, etc) I'm keeping as much fluff and crunch from her as possible until it arises in play.
    She's starting with no disciplines, but when she finds herself under stress, her abilities will begin to manifest spontaneously. At periodic intervals I'll be asking her questions along the lines of "how would you handle this?" or "how would a vampire handle this?" to get a set of data points I can use for which Disciplines will manifest, and as a sort of Rorschach test to determine the nature of her Beast.

    (She has final say once her powers start getting firmly established, of course; I wouldn't saddle her with choices she found unsatisfactory.)

    Given that she's starting play with no resources no allies, no knowledge of her condition, and at a disadvantage physically and supernaturally, I'm no doubt going to be cushioning the blows behind the ST screen. In particular, she'll be retaining a small amount of her blood pool upon waking, in defiance of Revenance. Given the trauma and desperation of her situation, the breaking points are going to be coming hard and fast, too, so I imagine I'll have to provide small bonuses to avoid early Degeneration (especially since this player is already predisposed towards blowing off Breaking Point scenarios.)
    Also, given that she's playing a solo Neonate, I'm also considering beats or experiences bonuses just to beef up her versatility and strengths enough to hang with default-power printed threats.

    So. Any clarifications, questions, comments, concerns, please pitch them. Advice, admonitions, outright ridicule, knock yourselves out.

    What do you think, sirs?

  • #2
    Not sir, lady.

    My first advice is to not cheat her just 'cause it is such a dire situation, unless she really doesn't know what she's getting into, and it seems like she knows even if she isn't used to the specific rules system. She also knows how to adapt to her condition better than you, so expect her to already know how to get around it in the game.

    Instead of cushioning things, let her explore a mundane environment early on. Her first battle is against herself, her new condition and Hunger, so it will be desperate without any real danger to the Health Track. Let her break the secrecy and have others deal with it, then find in a few sessions that the consequences will come sooner or later.

    Giving her extra beats may be an idea, although the possibility of XP spending on-the-spot is already a big boon. It seems to me that the only tweak you may really need on top of this, though, isn't to make Humanity harder to lose, but easier to recover, at least at first, so she can learn the system and then have the means to get up on her feet. Also keep in mind the rules on acquiring supernatural weaknesses to inure yourself against a given BP, she may want to use it.

    On another note I'm more concerned with a inexperienced ST trying a solo game. On this note my main advice is to give her a source of non-constant advice. Only a part of the challenge in a solo game is the lack of other actions/Health sacks. The other big difference is the lack of other ideas going around. A single player can easily become stuck without others to parse ideas. One way you can go around this is to have her Beast actually be a force she can consult on. It isn't the best source of advice nor it should be, what is important is that she will have a thing that can converse with her about situations and present her with different views or ideas. This helps a lot. NPCs may also do this in several ways.


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    • #3
      With all those persistent Conditions, character advancement may not be much of a problem.

      No starting Disciplines at all? Still, you might want to make an exception to Chary, the Revenant-only Discipline that helps with Vitae management.


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      • #4
        I don’t know that much about VTR but this sounds like a great project and I’d love to hear more about it once you guys start playing. Are you gonna give her a chance to be uplifted from revenant status and become a full member of the Daeva clan?

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        • #5
          Gonna point out that a solo Tier 0 game is going to be rough to run at the best of times and also that you're effectively going into an extended Prelude, which is naturally going to hamper the use of the book as written as guidance material.

          Is she going to be effectively the only vampire in town or is she just going to be coming into an established domain as a complete outsider?


          Resident Lore-Hound
          Currently Consuming: Demon: the Descent 1e

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Satchel View Post
            Gonna point out that a solo Tier 0 game is going to be rough to run at the best of times and also that you're effectively going into an extended Prelude, which is naturally going to hamper the use of the book as written as guidance material.

            Is she going to be effectively the only vampire in town or is she just going to be coming into an established domain as a complete outsider?

            Ironically, i once did a "Tier 0" style game before the concept had migrated from HtV to Requiem - PCs where pretty much the only kindred in the city, everything else being Draugr and Larvae prowling alone or in packs, according to the words of their "shepherd", a slightly older lone vampire in a self-imposed mission to catch those beasts in human form and coralling them back into self-awareness, to give them what he found on its own, after an uncertain number of decades as a mindless monster before self-upgrading into full vampire.


            Now with the PCs' in varying degrees of baffled, confused or determined support - "drafted to serve as bloodthirsty catchers of the zombie pound" in the players own words back then. One coterie against dozens (or hundreds) of their more bestial brethren, racing against time for a haphazard self-taught concept of Masquerade to downgrade the body count and a rising tide of incipient hunter cells and cabals.


            (Actually, there were "true kindred" in the city but barely not all that many - the actual "court" being barely larger than their coterie - but only met much later on, while the PCs did their own stuff and bit by bit pieced together the story behind the metropolis sorry unnatural state during night hours)
            Last edited by Baaldam; 08-31-2021, 04:07 PM.

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            • #7
              Thanks so much, everyone, for your responses. I'll be getting to the rest of them in a little while.
              I owe y'all.

              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              Not sir, lady
              Sorry, I'm dictating from my phone, so hypertexting to MST3K is a drag

              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              Instead of cushioning things, let her explore a mundane environment early on. Her first battle is against herself, her new condition and Hunger... Let her break the secrecy and have others deal with it, then find in a few sessions that the consequences will come sooner or later.
              This is absolutely already the plan. My goal is to keep tensions as high as I can without actually endangering her Unlife, considering her lack of backup.
              Death during character creation is for Call of Cthulhu.

              I know I can Rule Zero away any mishaps, if she accidentally gets in over her head and roles of dramatic failure, I'd prefer her to get out of it herself rather than accidentally letting her see the Ex Machina up my sleeve.

              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              the possibility of XP spending on-the-spot is already a big boon
              To expand on that- the points are just unspent until after the Embrace, so she's just catching up with the curve. Also, the things she can fast-acquire will either be either Merits and the reasonable Sanctity thereof, or instinctive vampiric powers or foci- Investigation: Bloodscent, Brawl: Feral, Acute Senses, Kiss of the Succubus, stuff like that. Anything else she'll actually have to take the time to learn or train up.


              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              (Don't) make Humanity harder to lose, but easier to recover, at least at first
              I hadn't considered that. That's a really good idea, especially since she'll be able to see the (mostly) drawbacks first hand.

              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              Also keep in mind the rules on acquiring supernatural weaknesses to inure yourself against a given BP, she may want to use it.
              I was thinking in that direction, too.
              On a related note, has anybody used compulsive self-harm as a Bane?

              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              my main advice is to give her a source of non-constant advice.
              As luck would have it, she already has the Common Sense Merit.😁 I could let her spend Willpower for each use after the first.

              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              have her Beast actually be a force she can consult on. It isn't the best source of advice nor it should be, what is important is that she will have a thing that can converse with her about situations and present her with different views or ideas.
              "Oh, but I *like this.*"
              I'm going to have to digest that for a while, to consider how best to manifest it.
              Maybe I'll watch Venom again 😁

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              • #8
                I have some experience running solo games, coincidentally most of them to my wife. The lack of peers for conversation impacts problem-solving severely, much more than it appears to. And it is that simple, just having "someone" to strike a conversation improves things a lot. Preferably not someone that would always be right, or always be wrong, or stir the game in the direction you want (because that'll show sooner or later and won't be good), but a character you can picture their position in the world well enough to figure out what that person would reasonably say. Offer commentary, advice, critique, anything, by exchanging ideas and offering fresh perspectives she'll have an easier time thinking through things.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
                  No starting Disciplines at all? Still, you might want to make an exception to Chary, the Revenant-only Discipline that helps with Vitae management.
                  To clarify, I'm not going to strip her of Discipline access entirely. I just want the effects to be reflexive and unpredictable enough that she won't fully understand, and can't utilize them reliably or tactically, at first, to keep her new state of existence as alien and unguessable as possible for a little while.
                  Plus, I'd like a benchmark of which disciplines she would be most likely to spontaneously adopt.
                  She'll work them out, just not *immediately.*

                  That said, while she's learning them I probably *should* give her access to Chary, maybe all three dots she's entitled to.
                  Thanks for reminding me, I'm still in the preliminary planning stage and I hadn't got around to rereading Half-Damned yet.

                  Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
                  With all those persistent Conditions, character advancement may not be much of a problem.
                  Good point. While that's true, I should point out that IRL she does have medications that can negate the effects, (sometimes, at certain times of day) and after Rising, probably they won't really apply unless she's using the Bush of Life.

                  For reference, she suffers a comorbid medley of conditions dominated by myofascial pain and an undiagnosed sleep disorder which results in heavy fatigue, microsleeps, and diminished healing.

                  Even given that daysleep isn't supposed to be particularly refreshing, believe me, for her it would be a vast improvement 😔

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                    The lack of peers for conversation impacts problem-solving severely, much more than it appears to. And it is that simple, just having "someone" to strike a conversation improves things a lot. Preferably not someone that would always be right, or always be wrong... a character you can picture their position in the world well enough to figure out what that person would reasonably say. Offer commentary, advice, critique, anything, by exchanging ideas and offering fresh perspectives she'll have an easier time thinking through things.
                    Thank you, I would not have guessed this would be such a potential problem. It's just as well, I guess; I need practice at displacing my perspective for NPC motivations, anyway.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Amethyst View Post
                      Are you gonna give her a chance to be uplifted from revenant status and become a full member of the Daeva clan?
                      Yes.
                      I was originally planning on her sire tracking her Sire down, or vice versa, fairly quickly, but as long as she doesn't get too frustrated or resentful about it I think now it might be fun to let her scamper around beneath notice between the skyscrapers for a while.

                      Also, her uplifting is going to be a little... odd. The way I had it planned, her sire was going to be flabbergasted when he uplifted her and she manifested a *different clan."

                      Actually, I should probably get this part peer-reviewed as well...

                      The narrative goes thus; he had encountered and fed subtly from her about a decade and a half ago, ran into her purely by coincidence in a completely different city, and, remembering that he had sensed something a little different about her-

                      (" I just had a *feeling* you'd look good in Red)

                      -secretly fed her Vitae and stalked her for a while. He was intrigued with the turns her life had taken, and impressed with how well she'd weathered her conditions, and the given that certain something he had tasted in her years ago, was casually batting around the idea of Embracing her.

                      Imagine his surprise and irritation to discover that she had fallen victim to a suspicious life-threatening accident, died in the hospital, and ran off, while the hospital claimed she was mistakenly cremated before her loved ones could collect the body.

                      He *could* track her down, but he wasn't even sure he wanted another mouth to feed anyway, and being impressed by her self-reliance so far, decides if she makes it to him before getting dusted he'll make the call whether to educate and uplift her then.

                      What he doesn't know is that due to her nature, personality, experiences, and local background occult factors, she was only a hair's breadth from rising spontaneously as a Daeva *anyway.*

                      The Vitae just cinched it.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                        Gonna point out that a solo Tier 0 game is going to be rough to run at the best of times and also that you're effectively going into an extended Prelude, which is naturally going to hamper the use of the book as written as guidance material.
                        Undoubtedly. Hence my concerns☝️.

                        Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                        Is she going to be effectively the only vampire in town or is she just going to be coming into an established domain as a complete outsider?
                        I've gone through some revisions regarding that.

                        Given that the game will take place in Toledo, Ohio-

                        (pop. ~275k, basically Normal, Illinois meets Gary, Indiana)

                        -there's not a lot of room for a diverse Kindred population, so I was considering having the city be empty of vampires except for a couple Draugr, on account of it being an unusually strong draw for the Strix. Basically an empty sandbox with a couple of razor blades buried in it.

                        Thinking more about it, though, I wanted to give her character more breath of experience, more access to blood sorcery and other Disciplines, more ideas to fool around with. More COMPANY.

                        My current rough draft includes about a dozen vampires, divided evenly between Clans and Covenants, which I think is above average for a city of that size, so I reasoned that the hunting grounds are supplemented with a stored-blood distribution network stolen from the RL human trafficking route passing through the region.
                        As for the current inhabitants, the population is stable due to natural selection and variable control; there was a purge in the city about 70 years ago, which has slowly been replaced largely by "desirable" out-of-towners, the prince discourages the Embrace with a whimsical and unpredictable sense of justice, the majority of kindred are extremely self-involved, and the status quo is very stable. Occasional Nomads pass through on their way to Detroit or Chicago, and occasional undesirables and rabble-rousers come down from Detroit or Chicago to try to carve out personal territory (the majority get disgruntled by the lack of expected support/cooperation or fall victim to mysterious mishaps, and leave or vanish.

                        In other words, her character won't get Blood-Hunted unless she goes out of her way to step on toes, and any radicals that might recruit her don't have the influence to bother weaponizing her against the status quo. Her only likely Kindred antagonist will be the Ordo hematologist whose morgue she might wreck and whose local cold blood supply she might glug.
                        Last edited by Hastur00; 08-31-2021, 09:56 PM.

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                        • #13
                          The plot seems good, I personally have nothing against it. One of the good things in solos is that you have a lot more of leeway into making the PC really unique without worrying about it being too "snowflake-y", so to speak, since there is no other PC for comparison and PCs should by all rights be more special than NPCs anyway.

                          Originally posted by Hastur00 View Post
                          Given that the game will take place in Toledo, Ohio
                          There are other ways around it, and generally I would avoid giving such a huge stable population in comparison with the city's mortal population. Almost 1 vamp per 23k inhabitants means the city is somewhat pressed, and that brings consequences, with disputes for territory probably being fierce. And, with each faction being small, instead of shy people would probably get bolder, as they know their rivals also don't have that much allies to draw on.

                          Instead, think on the bigger picture. Toledo is just the center of a bigger metropolitan area with more than 600k inhabitants, and a commercial hub. This means that a lot of vampires may pass through the city without keeping residence, but they can keep in contact, and some may be regulars or just live near enough for her to pay a visit. Moving through the metropolitan area and getting back home in time to sleep probably isn't a big challenge, and there are vampires visiting even through the port.

                          Don't try to cram every possible Discipline in the locals and risk sacrifice the local setting because of this. She'll have plenty of opportunities to keep in contact and learn with other vampires. Toledo may be crowded, indeed, because of its central position in the area, but it may also be mostly devoid of permanent residents. Focus on the experience you want to deliver as the place she lives in. Make it have the clans and factions you want, the amount of vampires you want, and let access be corrected by the bigger picture.

                          Even on-line forums for vampires may exist, with some means to prevent mortal tampering.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            generally I would avoid giving such a huge stable population in comparison with the city's mortal population. Almost 1 vamp per 23k inhabitants means the city is somewhat pressed... Instead, think on the bigger picture. Toledo is just the center of a bigger metropolitan area with more than 600k inhabitants
                            Ugh, what a rookie mistake. I MEANT the Toledo GMA, I just didn't Google it properly.

                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            And, with each faction being small, instead of shy people would probably get bolder, as they know their rivals also don't have that much allies to draw on.
                            I was also trying to shy away from heavy political intrigue, as my player isn't super into that. I didn't want to spend energy plotting against myself for little gain.

                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            a lot of vampires may pass through the city without keeping residence, but they can keep in contact, and some may be regulars or just live near enough for her to pay a visit. Moving through the metropolitan area and getting back home in time to sleep probably isn't a big challenge
                            Hm. True. I remember now that movements between cities isn't as unusual as it was in Masquerade. I'll have to consider more frequent visitors.

                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            and there are vampires visiting even through the port.
                            ... and I hadn't considered that at ALL. Hello, Canada By Night😁

                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            Don't try to cram every possible Discipline in the locals and risk sacrifice the local setting because of this.
                            The only power I really think is mandatory to have around is Dominate, for memory manipulation, and for an available This Happens Now button.
                            I'm not a huge fan of Bloodlines anyway, so I won't have that whole salad bar around.

                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            Toledo may be crowded, indeed, because of its central position in the area, but it may also be mostly devoid of permanent residents.
                            I'll have to consider the differences for a while.

                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            Even on-line forums for vampires may exist, with some means to prevent mortal tampering.
                            That reminds me; did Schrecknet ever get an update to Requiem?

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                            • #15
                              On a complete aside probably of no relevance to the down-to-earth, more personal scale of this particular game, but I imagine the Great Lakes as a whole could serve as something of an interesting "border/neutral zone", and springboard for action of sorts, to kinds of all secret shenanigans, mundane or supernatural, in the large number of cities touching on it, on their own.

                              Who knows what comes and goes from the lake to city unseen (or at least unnoticed), not to mention secrets or unknowns hidden in its depths - or across multiple cities/domains, states or countries. They have almost 1/10th of the surface area of the Mediterranean Sea and serve as "water buffer" in part of the border of two among the world's largest countries.

                              That's quite a lot of territory for a water basin (or more precisely, several interconnected ones) to cover and be explored, so to speak, in games.
                              Last edited by Baaldam; 09-01-2021, 07:47 PM.

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