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  • V5 Players Guide is out

    If you have preordered a physical copy of the book you got access the pdf this week and I have it!

    So, the book starts with a section on some general roleplaying-tips for playing vampires and it's two pages but I think it could have been even less. It's because there are three points where I'm not sure why the same point is addressed again and again:

    Control: Vampires influence. They are manipulators, not dictators. Vampires can’t even control their own Hunger. Fundamentally, control indicates a complete power over something. You control your car or a character in a video game. Could anyone truly control a police force or the local media? Unlikely, but it’s possible to have significant sway over those institutions. Influence. That’s a better word, and it also allows for degrees and nuance.

    Manipulate: We just said that vampires manipulate, but they (or at least you) should narrow it down a bit: they manipulate everything
    they can, after all. What, in this conversation or this context, did they just manipulate, and how? Don’t just say “the Prince manipulated the protesters.” Did she have agents provocateurs in the crowd? Did she pay their organizing committee? Did she suborn a local cop into doing something outrageous that she knew the protesters would riot over? Even if the Prince keeps her own counsel, others can see the ripples she left.

    Corrupt, Corruption: Like “manipulation,” corruption seems like a default setting for vampires.
    Thus, the word means means ... well, nothing in this context. Who corrupts whom, and for what? Does corruption come from outside: a cop on the take? Or from inside: a casino manager skims? Or from the system that only allows access with clout? Think about who the vampires need to out-bid and in what currency.​
    You also might have noticed under "Corrupt" it says "means means". That's how it is in the book. And I only mention that having read this first part and the Clans-chapter, I already saw a couple editing-mistakes. Someone who has the first H5 supplement also told me that it has similar issues. So I don't know if these early-release pdfs will get corrected when they get a wide release. One can only hope so.

    Now onto the Clans-chapter...

    It starts with a graphic giving an overview of the Clans. Each Clan comes with a bunch of verbs (I guess we all know why they are there) and symbols for their three Disciplines. I'm not sure if I had gone with depicting Obfuscate by simply giving it no symbol whatsoever. But it's stylish (each Clan-name is in a different font) and overall a good overview.

    Now as to the Clan-writeups: Salubri, Ravnos and Tzimisce are 90% copy-paste. With Ravnos the paragraph they added was a paragraph that repeats later in the write-up, though. Banu Haquim, Hecata, Lasombra and Ministry all got fully new intro-writeups. The Compulsions and and Banes are copy-pastes, though. The write-ups are all slightly different. I think the Ministry has gone through the most changes in that write-up, I think.

    I will write more when I finish reading the next sections.

  • #2
    That's quite a word count for a simple point. Is it all written like that?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Ragged Robin View Post
      That's quite a word count for a simple point. Is it all written like that?
      Kinda... The next three points after that is "Serves, serving", "Serves The Clan" and "Clans". The first three ("Life, Lived etc.", "Daytime" and "Human") also could be summarized as one point. I don't think it's very good in establishing some core-facts about vampires and vampiric life.

      Comment


      • #4
        Onto the Clan-Bane variants. What I especially like here is that it doesn't just drop all these alternative Clan Banes on you but rather adds short comments on when you should maybe consider switching to these and/or what elements of a V5-game they highlight. Like the Ministry one for example:

        Ministry: Cold-Blooded
        Often compared to that of serpents, the Blood of the Ministers runs cold in more ways than one. Without fresh, warm blood in their veins they find it impossible to mimic the breath and heartbeat of a mortal, and even then the act requires considerable effort. A vampire of the Ministry can only use Blush of Life if they have recently fed from a living vessel (in the same scene or up to roughly an hour ago, at the storyteller’s discretion), and when they do it requires a number of Rouse Checks equal to their Bane Severity rather than just one.​

        Social and subtle chronicles where smooth interaction with mortals is at a premium can add tension to this variant.​
        Balancing doesn't really seem to be a factor, though, as some are definitely worse in terms of impact than others (the Hecata: Decay one is fine as a concept but the mechanics to express it are quite harsh). But with the context of the short little comment you kinda know in what sort of campaigns these Banes might be applicable. The only one that sticks out a bit is the Toreador one:

        Toreador: Agonizing Empathy
        The curse of the Toreador is that they feel too much — sometimes literally — of the sensations around them. Especially in intimate moments such as feeding, a Diva physically suffers the agony they inflict on a mortal, damage to their dead bodies mimicking the harm inflicted on the vessel. When a Toreador vampire feeding causes damage to a mortal, the vampire suffers similar (usually Aggravated) damage in return, though a single feeding cannot cause more damage than their Bane Severity. The damage takes the form of involuntary internal bleeding, the vampire exhibiting vivid bruising in whatever spot matches the bite location on the victim.​

        With the regular Toreador Bane being subject to a lot of Storyteller adjudication, this variant can fit troupes that desire stricter systems.​
        "Players desiring stricter systems" sounds more like something the ST can address at the table by clarifying the process of ST-fiat-moments in the game to the players. And it isn't like the Toreador-Bane is the only thing in V5 requiring "Storyteller adjudication".

        Chapter Three: Characters starts with a handy character-creation-summary together with a visual explainer of the char-sheet. All useful and good additions. A bit strange that the character-creation-summary doesn't mention Loresheets but later on in the book there's a whole section on Loresheets, so I guess it isn't that big of a deal.

        It then goes to "Instant Vampires" which is one of those package-character-creation-processes (the last time I encountered that one was in Eclipse Phase 2E). You have three steps: Playstyle (How do you approach problems?), Motivation (What drives the character?) and Embrace (Why did your Sire pick your character?). And with each step you get a bunch of "packages" of stats to choose from. The first two are kinda self-explanatory and seem like good starting-points (although offering only three options to pick from for each seems a bit low, I think). For the third one it's all tarot-themed. I have no idea how players would react to that. It looks like this, for example:

        The High Priestess
        I was to be their strong left hand, hidden but deadly. I must stay strong and prepare to strike.

        Clan: Lasombra, 13th Generation, Blood Potency 1
        Disciplines and Powers: Potence 1: Soaring Leap,
        Potence 2: Relentless Grasp (p. 79); Oblivion 1:
        Shadow Cloak (p. 85)​
        From a writing-standpoint, this part did actually do a good job of choosing these short sentences that fit the tarot-card and turn it into a character-detail.

        Next come the Discipline-powers and there are a ton... I only wish that it would be clearer in singling out the Clan-specific ones. With Viscissitude the Tzimisce are mentioned but the Ministry aren't mentioned for Eyes of the Serpent and Ravnos aren't mentioned for Chimerstry, for example. With so many Discipline-powers in one place, there should be some way of pushing players of these Clans to their specific powers.

        The section on Predator-types starts with an interesting notion that the characters' Predator-types are more important than their Clans because they hunt every night without ever encountering anyone else from their Clan. Kudos, though, for addressing how not every Predator-type might fit your campaign and the ST should give the group extra points for their Coterie-creation (there is an expanded Coterie-creation-system later in the book) and/or XP.

        Next up are Backgrounds, Mertis and Flaws...

        Comment


        • #5
          The alternate banes were top on my list of curiosity with the PG. I feel like there are some decent ideas in there but ai must say some feel like they’d fit better with a different clan.

          For instance, the Ravnos alternative seems more of a Tremere theme, with True Names being a magic thing. The Toreador alt feels more Salubri to me. The Gangrel alt is sort of a Brujah variant. Nosferatu alt feels more Baali (though Baali don’t exist in V5 so that’s moot). Hecata alt makes me think of Dracula’s castle and coupled with the weird servants thing could also sit well with Tzimisce. And the Ministry one is rather similar to old Cappadocian.

          Some of the others are kinda weird, but I do like the Malkavian alt, though, especially as opposed to watching people trying to roleplay mental health issues.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm still reading, and it's my lunch break, so I'm just making a few observations so far.

            The opening terminology stuff is copypasta from the beginning of the Revised PG. I read it this morning and thought I recognised it, so cracked open the Revised book and saw it on the first page I turned to (pp.9-10).

            In the verbs section, "persevere" is misspelled. Some of the six verbs given are just iterations of the same thing, too, which makes many of the clans seem a bit too "one note".

            E.g., Banu Haqim: "Judge, adjudicate, punish, esxecute [sic], discipline"

            Why not mix in some nuance? So: judge, enforce, hunt, mediate, preserve. And that's not even a very thoroughly thought out list, but it already gives you more options to play with (and factors in all three castes).

            Brujah: "revolt, protest, fight, oppose, resist"

            Consider: challenge, record, imagine, inflame, resist.

            I also noticed the repeated paragraph in the Ravnos write up, which must be a copy-paste error.

            The alternate Banes don't seem balanced to me, and I suspect most people won't use them as they seem to me to be simply too harsh or need additional clarification. I may need to playtest them to be sure.

            Some are also super restrictive in some areas but will rarely come up in play -- except, when they do come up in play, they'll undermine the clan's "archetype". Others are too open to interpretation.

            E.g.: "Hecata vampires suffer additional dots in Flaws equal to their Bane Severity divided as they see fit among Retainer, Haven and Resources Flaws. These can either be taken at character creation or “bought off” by paying twice the amount of Background dots. In addition, purchasing dots in these Advantages costs an additional amount of experience points equal to Bane Severity."

            Does that mean every dot costs ([3 x new rating] + Bane Severity), or just the first dot? If it's the former, that's ridiculous. Either way, this Bane conversely punishes taking traits that are part of several core Hecata concepts -- you're punished for taking wealth as a banker or merchant, or for ghouling family members, or for having family estates and holdings, etc.

            Take, also, the new Nosferatu Bane. It incurs a penalty of -(2 + Bane Severity) to dice pools relying on concentration in your own haven, which is going to come up rarely but will have a disproportionately negative impact when it does.

            But also, if you stay in any enclosed place for a scene or longer (such as if you're spying on someone) the penalty crops up there, too, at -(Bane Severity). And it's not just the Nosferatu who incurs the penalty, but everyone around them, too. Wow!

            So not only is the Nosferatu potentially the worst spy and infiltrator (concentrating while staying put or concentrating while slowly proceeding through a secure location may both trigger their flaw), they're also a bad luck charm for anyone else who's a spy or infiltrator -- since now, you all suffer a penalty and you're overrun with critters.

            "Scene" and "location" are vague enough terms that there could be wildly differing interpretations of how frequently the penalty could come up. A scene is often described in terms of location, for example. So is every room in a house a new scene at the same location? Or does a scene only end when you change locations, in which case the Bane never kicks in, by definition?​

            Wouldn't the Requiem flaw have just worked much better here? Instead, they've given a version of that flaw to the Malkavians, which I can sort of understand, but which is less satisfying overall, IMO.

            More to follow.


            Writer, publisher, performer
            Mostly he/his, sometimes she/her IRL https://adam-lowe.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Garygeneric View Post
              The alternate banes were top on my list of curiosity with the PG. I feel like there are some decent ideas in there but ai must say some feel like they’d fit better with a different clan.

              For instance, the Ravnos alternative seems more of a Tremere theme, with True Names being a magic thing. The Toreador alt feels more Salubri to me. The Gangrel alt is sort of a Brujah variant. Nosferatu alt feels more Baali (though Baali don’t exist in V5 so that’s moot). Hecata alt makes me think of Dracula’s castle and coupled with the weird servants thing could also sit well with Tzimisce. And the Ministry one is rather similar to old Cappadocian.

              Some of the others are kinda weird, but I do like the Malkavian alt, though, especially as opposed to watching people trying to roleplay mental health issues.
              I also thought the Nosferatu Bane would suit the Baali better, but your swaps make sense to me, TBH.


              Writer, publisher, performer
              Mostly he/his, sometimes she/her IRL https://adam-lowe.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
                I'm still reading, and it's my lunch break, so I'm just making a few observations so far.

                The opening terminology stuff is copypasta from the beginning of the Revised PG. I read it this morning and thought I recognised it, so cracked open the Revised book and saw it on the first page I turned to (pp.9-10).

                You're right! Now it also makes sense why the tone of the section clashes so much with the rest of the book. What a strange decision...

                Although at least we were spared lectures like:

                Dark: Talk about overused! Once a time existed to when this word could be used to describe unwholesomeness and unsettling, intangible evil. Now, however, the word has been robbed of all meaning by its ubiquity. Better descriptors exist for those other things - "dark" means a lack of light.

                Ghoul: Avoid the use of the word ghoul as a verb. It's awkward and metagamey and just plain odd in a vague, unsettling way. Kinda like using Shatner as a verb.
                In the verbs section, "persevere" is misspelled. Some of the six verbs given are just iterations of the same thing, too, which makes many of the clans seem a bit too "one note".

                E.g., Banu Haqim: "Judge, adjudicate, punish, esxecute [sic], discipline"

                Why not mix in some nuance? So: judge, enforce, hunt, mediate, preserve. And that's not even a very thoroughly thought out list, but it already gives you more options to play with (and factors in all three castes).

                Brujah: "revolt, protest, fight, oppose, resist"

                Consider: challenge, record, imagine, inflame, resist.
                Yeah, I don't really see any value in the whole verbs-thing to begin with. Maybe when you're working on the concepts and outline of a game, it could be helpful as a way to structure your ideas but nobody else needs to hear the verbs. They aren't a good tool to give roleplaying-guidance and not any kind of adequate replacement for a writeup when it comes to the characterization of a Clan.

                I also noticed the repeated paragraph in the Ravnos write up, which must be a copy-paste error.
                I hope this won't become a trend with Renegade and they leave themselves time to fix the mistakes. I mean, this year alone they release the H5 supplement, the V5 Players Guide and Blood & Sigil. And both the H5 supplement and this book could've used another look to fix those errors.

                And yet at Renegade-Con they were talking about how they were already working on the first W5-supplement. So I guess, we'll see how this turns out.

                The alternate Banes don't seem balanced to me, and I suspect most people won't use them as they seem to me to be simply too harsh or need additional clarification. I may need to playtest them to be sure.

                Some are also super restrictive in some areas but will rarely come up in play -- except, when they do come up in play, they'll undermine the clan's "archetype". Others are too open to interpretation.

                E.g.: "Hecata vampires suffer additional dots in Flaws equal to their Bane Severity divided as they see fit among Retainer, Haven and Resources Flaws. These can either be taken at character creation or “bought off” by paying twice the amount of Background dots. In addition, purchasing dots in these Advantages costs an additional amount of experience points equal to Bane Severity."

                Does that mean every dot costs ([3 x new rating] + Bane Severity), or just the first dot? If it's the former, that's ridiculous. Either way, this Bane conversely punishes taking traits that are part of several core Hecata concepts -- you're punished for taking wealth as a banker or merchant, or for ghouling family members, or for having family estates and holdings, etc.

                Take, also, the new Nosferatu Bane. It incurs a penalty of -(2 + Bane Severity) to dice pools relying on concentration in your own haven, which is going to come up rarely but will have a disproportionately negative impact when it does.
                Yeah, the Hecata one was the moment where I thought "Oh, they haven't thought about balance and playability at all, have they...?".

                Comment


                • #9
                  The verbs thing just seems like an English second language student is overly pleased with buying a thesaurus.


                  Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                  There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                    The verbs thing just seems like an English second language student is overly pleased with buying a thesaurus.
                    Sounds more like a creative writting thing to me, which seems to mesh with v5 design philosophy it's not a bad idea to get noggin jogging after a solid explanation of the clan. They just need to lean on it less

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                    • #11
                      The verbs are there for benefit of the newbies,they're meant to give you a idea of what the clan is commonly about as quickly as possible

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Verbs don't really add that much for beginners, either, I think. Maybe if the verbs were more carefully chosen - but they aren't.
                        Two reasons:
                        • For a lot of Clans the verbs reflect a theme and guess what, as a quick summary of what the Clan is about there's an even quicker way right there. Rather than reading four verbs hinting at something, you can just read the nickname. "Judge, adjudicate, punish, esxecute [sic], discipline" are needlessly listed there because the nickname for the Banu Haquim is "The Judges". And most of the clans have a perfectly fine first-impression-kinda nickname reflecting what they're about. The verbs aren't needed in those cases.
                        • The ones that can't be derived from the nickname are either odd choices (like "seduce" for Salubri, for example) or they're hinting at concepts that the player really should be reading the Clan-writeup for. "Spy, hide, lurk, investigate, observe" for Nosferatus who are called "The Monstrosities", for example, doesn't really make sense just by looking at that entry in the overview.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The alternate bane for the Lasombra sounds better. The technology thing never fit a High Clan. The Settite bane doesn't really fit a seducer. I can see its root, though: it sounds like the weakness of a Snake-Person. It fits if you want the Settites to almost be "the other Gangrel"; animalistic in a reptilian way rather than wolfbat way. I think I might actually use that for the Serpents of the Light in my Sabbat games.

                          What is the alternate Gangrel bane?
                          Last edited by CajunKhan; 03-29-2023, 01:01 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ragged Robin View Post

                            Sounds more like a creative writting thing to me, which seems to mesh with v5 design philosophy it's not a bad idea to get noggin jogging after a solid explanation of the clan. They just need to lean on it less
                            IE it's a silly ritual that is questionable as an exercise for the design board and baffling as something that makes it in the final product. Imagine reading a novel and seeing something like "David: seduce, joke, Inject" It's so cringe it might someday loop around to being genius, but it's pretty firmly cringe in it's current state.


                            Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                            There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                            • #15
                              I was actually looking forward to the alternate Clan Banes when I heard they'd be included, but the ones listed here do not impress. Well, the Ministry/Setite one isn't all that bad as a general concept for a Bane, but I agree that it's a rather awkward fit for a clan of seducers and corrupters, to say nothing of the fact that it obviously makes more thematic sense for the Hecata despite the cold-blooded/reptile connotation (I thought they were trying to move away from the monolithic snake cult deal for them anyway). The actual Hecata Bane just encourages players not to invest in Backgrounds so that it's a non-issue, and such heavily restricted/impaired access to them directly undermines recurring themes for the Dunsirn, Giovanni, and so forth as was already mentioned; beyond that, though, it makes predator types even more unbalanced than they already are, since a Hecata who does want Backgrounds is suddenly saving dozens of points of experience by choosing certain types over others.

                              The Nosferatu claustrophobia Bane sounds pretty badly designed in general, but even at a conceptual level, I'm not sure why they'd associate it with the Nosferatu as opposed to the Brujah (their blood rebelling against confinement/stagnation) or the Ravnos (as inveterate wanderers/nomads). Besides that, throwing around Bane Severity as a straight-up penalty to dice rolls has always seemed lazy and short-sighted to me. It encourages player avoidance of the affected areas rather than interesting complications, and even when it can't be avoided, "ok, so I fail spectacularly" as a nearly foregone conclusion seems like it'd have a fairly limited shelf-life as far as contributing to the richness of stories is concerned. I suppose it's somewhat manageable at the lowest levels of Blood Potency, though, and they've more or less explicitly stated that they don't care about anything beyond that.

                              The Toreador Bane is so ridiculously bad that I'm surprised that it even made it past the draft stage due to how healing Aggravated Damage works in this system: only one level of it can be healed at the start of each night, requiring three Rouse Checks on top of the usual Rouse Check for waking in the first place. For the trouble of taking so much as a sip, an unlucky roll could send you way up to Hunger 5 with bad rolls the next night, and since minimal feeding becomes a necessary (if counterproductive) survival strategy, simply falling into torpor outright becomes increasingly likely. Forget the viability of long-term survival, Toreador fledglings could easily end up in Torpor within less than a week after being Embraced, and even that's only if their likely aversion to feeding doesn't lead to constant hunger frenzies and them being snuffed out earlier to avoid all the trouble that would entail. To be fair, neonates at least could get around this completely by feeding on bagged blood and corpses, but this hardly seems on-brand for the clan as an enforced playstyle. Toreador elders with this weakness would simply be laughable; imagine Helena fainting after sucking a fledgling dry (edit: I forgot that this only applies to humans, so replace the preceding with "snacking on Prias" and it's still a bad joke). I find this particularly unfortunate since I didn't care for their original Bane either: "you suck at using Discipline powers in places that you don't find pretty" just doesn't work for me even in the context of a clan of (often self-proclaimed) artistes.
                              Last edited by Paramecius; 03-29-2023, 11:48 PM.

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