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[V20] The weirdness of multiple opponents

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  • [V20] The weirdness of multiple opponents

    I dislike Vampire's combat system in general, but that being said, I found one particular bit that really perplexed me.

    I often hear about epic fights where entire groups of player characters are facing a single powerful elder, and the rulebooks, too, often allude to such - for example, Guide to the Camarilla back in the Revised edition says a single Anathema is too grave a threat for a group of player characters. The same was apparently true in the clan novels, where I remember a scene with the methuselah Lazarus easily vanquishing a whole group of Giovanni...

    However, in V20, on page 276, there's a rule called "Multiple opponents", that goes completely against all this, because it states that for every additional opponent someone is facing, the difficulty of their close combat and defense rolls increase by +1 (up to 10). So a methuselah facing five neonates would have a difficulty of 10(!) on all his rolls. In other words, the neonates could easily vanquish the methuselah. (Some of the neonates would even get extra dice for Flank and Rear attacks against the methuselah, as stated on page 274). This rule seem to have been present in Vampire for a long time, for I find it in my old Dark Ages first edition book, too.

    Am I somehow misunderstanding this rule completely? Or has people just been ignoring it always? Why doesn't it seem to be represented at all in the official fluff?
    Last edited by Natsymir; 03-04-2019, 08:05 PM.

  • #2
    I think the thing here is not so much the weirdness of the rule as that a methuselah's power here isn't that they have more brawl dice than the five neonates. They also may have say, enough celerity to take 8 actions per turn, enough potence to totally obliterate an opponent in a single strike, enough dominate to simple tell everyone in the room to die, enough presence that those five neonates start weeping at the very notion of hurting them. A methuselah who says "let's just slug it out" is probably going to get merked, because five on one is still pretty bad odds even if you have 16 brawl dice or whatever, but no methuselah is going to do that because they have so much more power to bring to the table.


    • #3
      As Tubect said, a lot of it is that big bad old vampires are going to whip out non-combat Disciplines that aren't impacted by that rule and then pick better ground to fight from if they want to even bother.

      The game suggests that it's possible, but difficult, for less powerful vampires to gang up on and take down more potent ones through surprise and luck. That rule helps make that somewhat true.

      When you remove "the PCs manage to completely surround the big bad NPC, who is also alone" and then remove that penalty, the PCs tend to get their asses kicked pretty hard.


      • #4
        Take for example Kemintiri. If a group of PC's up and decided they were going after her, this is how I would respond as an ST.

        With elder-level Auspex, she'd sense she was being hunted, and have enough in Obfuscate, Dominate, and Presence to work her magic on the city's Cainites and figure out who's after her -- that is, if the PC's are being subtle about it. If they're not, one can skip the information-gathering bit since she'll be able to figure it out on her own quick enough.

        She whacks one of the PC's allies, and uses her Obfuscate to hide as that vampire and work her way into the PC's confidence. Between her mastery of Dominate, Presence, Necromancy, and Obfuscate, it would be a simple enough matter for her to "convince" the PC's that the vampire Kemintiri is really masquerading as, is...oh, say, the Prince. Not that Kemintiri has ever pulled that stunt before.

        Meanwhile, Kemintiri sets to work on the Prince, also masquerading as a Primogen, childe, favored ghoul, or something. She convinces him/her the PC's are plotting against them. Because, well, at this point they are. Satisfied the problem will work itself out, Kemintiri sits back with a big old bag of popcorn to watch the fireworks. Of course, by this time rumors Kemintiri is in town are probably flying, which means Alastors are soon to show up.

        This is Kemintiri's cue to just move on, because whoever wins in the PC-Prince scuffle, the Alastors are more likely than not to put the victor to Final Death anyways, because anybody could be Kemintiri, especially the people who swear they aren't Kemintiri but were the ones hunting her in the first place.

        That's the first, fastest, easiest path from point A to point B I thought of in about thirty seconds with the vaguest glimpse at her character sheet. An enterprising ST could get a lot more devious than this, especially with her ludicrous discipline spread. Obfuscuate 9 is pretty much a "fuck you, I win" button in and of itself.
        Last edited by Theodrim; 03-05-2019, 12:09 AM.


        • #5
          Completely agree, Natsymir. It's bizarre. Which is why you gotta homebrew the rules to make the fights you and/or your players want (indeed, to make the game you want). Players are, as a rule, VERY SMART and they will respond to rules just like any intelligent creature responds to incentives and deterrents.

          For instance, I take it as true that in a straight up fight with no strategic considerations, a 1000-year old vampire should be able to wipe the floor with even eight or nine neonates (unless the neonates get VERY lucky). So I changed the rules to make it thus. It involved giving some extra "oomph" to some high level disciplines (particularly Obfuscate, Auspex, Fortitude, and Celerity), and changing around the multi-player rules so that it didn't affect super-high dice pools as badly as it affected low dice pools. It still matters -- quite a bit -- but difficulty 10 makes a fifteen dice pool effectively as good as a three dice pool, which is ridiculous.

          My PCs are currently in the middle of concocting a VERY elaborate, very unfair plan to try to take out a Sabbat elder in the next city over. They've spent three play sessions planning this attack and traveling the world trying to gather intelligence about her. She's a 1400-year old Toreador, and the PCs are absolutely terrified. So terrified, in fact, that they're seriously considering abandoning their plans and trying to negotiate with her instead, see if they can talk her back over to the Camarilla. They are keenly aware that an elder with Celerity 6 and a full blood pool is going to destroy them in anything like a fair fight. So they have ruled that out as an option.

          Because that's how the rules under which we play function.

          It's all about incentives. The RAW V20 rules you talk about incentivize dogpiling. That's what you're going to get more of.


          • #6
            You don't really need to change the rules to get that effect though. A methuselah with high level disciplines will already wipe the floor with neonates, they're just not going to do it by rolling strength + brawl repeatedly.


            • #7
              Well, you need house rules if you want to have group of PCs vs. single big bad foe in a stand up fight instead of them pulling something like using Majesty to just walk away from the fight.

              You don't need complex house rules (a combo Discipline that reduces/removes the multiple opponent penalties is home brew and would put a big damper in neonates ganging up on ancient vampires).

              Using the already existing Threshold rules instead of allow the difficulty to go to 10 is also a viable option. Diff 9 and requiring an additional successes vs. Diff 10 is still makes massive dice-pools look kinda sad... but it's less punishing.


              Of course there's something to consider aside from the white-room numbers:

              Which of the neonates is ready to die? The dog pile might be really bad for the ancient, but a combat maxed out one will probably still kill one of them in a stand up fight.

              Consider something like a Potence 7 vampire grappling you. Seven automatic successes to initiate the grapple, and they can bite you the next turn and deal a minimum of 7 Agg damage, all then need to do is withstand enough damage so their healing can carry them through. And if you're a neonate without Fortitude yet? You're dead. Maybe your sacrifice is enough that your allies win in the end... but you're still ash.

              Dealing with 'real' characters means convincing them to take that risk.. which is a pretty big ask. The Sabbat's whole cult-structure is designed to convince younger vampires to be willing to do this through massive amounts of indoctrination and a ritual that mentally bonds you to the group instead of individuals so you'll act for the greater 'good.'


              • #8
                So to add more confusion cause i ran into this...what do you do when one of the players throws up majesty. They tried to justify that their antagonist could no longer fight, yet they could still attack (just no the player with majesty).


                • #9
                  I only have the V5 rules in front of me, but I suspect that the Methuselah would be able to make their roll against Majesty from a neonate.


                  • #10
                    Majesty is worded openly, but it affects everyone around you equally unless they resist it. If 'fight for me' doesn't count as rude for the Majesty user's friends, it shouldn't count for the rest of those in the crowd either. It's always important to consider that Presence is emotional control, not mind control. Majesty makes people supernaturally scared of offending or harming you, it doesn't force them to stand there and let other people attack you since it's clear you're not offended by violence.

                    Of course, it's worth remembering that sufficiently low Generation vampires can shrug off any Presence power from those of higher Generation for a simple WP expenditure anyway. Trust in Majesty at your own risk if you're going after Methuselahs and Elders... they might just not care.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
                      So to add more confusion cause i ran into this...what do you do when one of the players throws up majesty. They tried to justify that their antagonist could no longer fight, yet they could still attack (just no the player with majesty).
                      Yeah, No. Majesty means that the targets can't attack the person with Presence 5. It normally drops when their (un)life is in danger. But even if it didn't, the enemy could still target the Presence Master's friends. And those friends are affected by Majesty as well usually.


                      • #12
                        In V20, Presence isn't very effective in a combat scenario, because anyone can ignore any Presence power for a scene by spending a Willpower point and succeeding at a Willpower roll (difficulty 8); with 6 or so Willpower, a success would be relatively likely.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Natsymir View Post
                          In V20, Presence isn't very effective in a combat scenario, because anyone can ignore any Presence power for a scene by spending a Willpower point and succeeding at a Willpower roll (difficulty 8); with 6 or so Willpower, a success would be relatively likely.
                          True. Though that also means one less Willpower point the character can employ in a fight. Per person. A single Willpower point can make all the difference in the world.


                          • #14
                            Yeah. I emphasized that using presence can dwindle opponents willpower to the presence monger.

                            It’s a bit chaotic trying to let multiple people fight.

                            Celerity actions get hectic too. If someone is zipping around non celerity are they honestly flanked anymore? Semantics.


                            • #15
                              As on another current thread, Action Economy is a significant difficulty in the system, and multiple attackers is an issue for the same kind of reasons.

                              Some have mentioned that it's the high level non-combat powers that really challenge a group of neonates taking on an Elder, and for the most part that is true; but also physicals above 5 or combos could negate all those regular issues with the core "rules/penalties" of being mobbed.