August 31st, 2010


New editions: a question

A brief discussion came up with an acquaintance recently, about how much he hated WotC for creating the Essentials line. He exclaimed that he had now wasted hundreds of dollars supporting 4e for nothing, just like he was a fool to waste money on 3.5.

"It's not like your old books are being disintegrated. They're still there. You can still use them."

But he would not be calmed, explaining that he couldn't bother with them anymore because they were no longer supported.

So, this is some goddamn moon logic to me.

Maybe it's because I started my geeky hobbies not with pen-and-paper games, but with writing and reading fantasy novels, watching anime, and playing video games. When a video game or book series comes out, 4 times out of 5, that's the last product of that there'll ever be. If you got to the end of Final Fantasy 7 and wanted to see more of the adventures of Cloud and company, you either went looking for fanfic, or wrote it yourself.

So my feeling is, if a gaming system isn't being supported any longer, so what? You've still got the product. You can still use the product and create more from it. Roleplaying games are all imagination anyway; it shouldn't be too hard to find or create the community you want for it and have everybody churning out new villains and monsters and adventures.

Is there something I'm missing about this?
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  • tashiro

Probability and Magic

A friend of mine is in the throes of world-building, and is looking over magic.  While replying to something in his post and some thoughts I had, I began to take a serious look at 'fate magic' and divination magic, and the sheer terror that someone could inflict using both of these and some creativity.  This is, to some extent, built on the foundation of statistical psychology and probability.

1)  A divination spell which regards individuals in the region and their current actions.  It combines with a limited form of psychometry, 'reading' the events of the people and objects up to a certain point 'backward'.  The goal is to get an accurate reading of what has happened in a location and who was involved in it.  Get a large enough sample of individuals and objects, and you get a clearer image of what has happened in the area.  This is good for reconstructing events and scenes, and finding out who was doing what.

2)  Flipping this the other way, the more you observe a group, the better you can predict how the group will act.  The longer the observation, the more you can break a group down to find out what section is responsible for certain decisions, and what sections respond to what stimuli.  Given even more observation, you can start predicting the behaviour of individuals in these sections and get an inclination of their personalty types and trends.  Now... enhance this awareness with magic.  You'll be able to predict the actions and reactions of a group with more clarity, will be able to predict the actions of sub-groups, and even individuals.  Want to know how a kingdom is run and who the real power is?  This spell might be able to tell you.  Want to know how organized the local thieves' guild is?  This will do it for you.  An excellent example is from Legion of Super Heroes -- look at Brainiac 5, and how he can predict things with startling accuracy.  Same principle, only fuelled by magic rather than genius.  It isn't precognition, but it's pretty close.

I could see this working to terrifying effect in Mage: the Awakening (or Ascension), and even in Shadowrun.  It might need a little more work for D&D though.  I do love mixing magic with science and psychology though.  The outcomes are pretty nifty at times.
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Voodoo Dolly
  • tashiro


I remember having a conversation about vampires (specifically from V:tM and V:tR), and the discussion about the emotional capacity of the Kindred.  One involved someone playing the game, and the other involved someone GMing it.  Both involved the same rule mentioned in the books:  A vampire doesn't feel emotions, they feel the echoes of emotions.  The best way I could understand it is that a current experience is associated with an earlier event in the vampire's life, and the emotion of that event is echoed to the current experience.  If the vampire has not felt an emotion, they can't echo it -- it doesn't exist for them.

This was fine for my V:tM character -- he had encountered a full range of emotions during his mortal life time, including absolute hatred, brotherly love and loyalty, and the yearning to be free and live and love.  All those good, primal emotions which served him well when he was embraced into the Gangrel.  Made him a pretty fierce person, and worked well when he became the companion to a Toreador over the centuries.

When I discussed this idea with a player, they objected.  Seriously objected.  'That's not how vampires work!' I was told.  He explained that vampires are tragic figures, watching the world spin off ahead of them, aching to be a part of it, etc, etc, etc.  This guy, apparently, was very much in the Louis camp of vampires.  (Personally, I'm in the Gabrielle camp, Lestat's mother is an awesome Gangrel.)  Just recently, someone else mentioned that vampires should be monsters -- they're only playable once they hit Humanity 0 (!) and are free of anything like 'morality'.

The second time I encountered this was with a V:tR game master.  I built my character -- a monster hunter for the Ordo Dracul who investigates strangeness then 'deals' with it for them.  This guy's mortal life saw a lot of hopping from military base to military base, and his mother was the only person he actually cared about -- he'd never established bonds with anyone else.  This lack of social contact made him a pretty 'down to basics' type of vampire -- someone who goes out, gets the job done.  He had a sense of humour and a smart-aleck attitude because this is what he'd picked up on the various bases he lived on.  It also meant he was incapable of romantic love, and ... that somehow bothered the game master.  She had designed the Prince and the Prince's daughter to be following a forbidden Coil of the Ordo Dracul tied to the character's Humanity, and had some plan of having the daughter try to seduce the character to her way of thinking.  The campaign never even started, which was a bit of a shame, but she also couldn't comprehend the idea of 'echoes'.

What's your take on it?  I think the concept is good, simply because it helps emphasize that vampires aren't human anymore, and never will be human.  They're predators, and can mimic humanity to an extent, but it is mostly an 'act' or an echo of what they might have once been.  For me, part of roleplaying is the experience of making something that is 'other' and trying to get into that headspace.

Elves for example.  I can't comprehend the idea of an elf as a 'pointy-eared leaf-eating human'.  For me, they can't be human.  Their world-view is alien to something that only lives a fifth or an eight of their life span.  An elf is someone who doesn't normally comprehend 'hurry'.  Life might be plotted out over decades or centuries, or an elf may not even be able to hold onto memories that long, and lives mostly in the 'now', treating everything as transitory, leaving only nature as anything of importance because it is a constant.

I can understand players not wanting to delve into this kind of thing with their own characters, but I find it a bit surprising when they object strenuously to someone else looking into this (or roleplaying with this in consideration).    I'm even more bemused when something like this is laid out in the rulebooks and a player sees it and protests against it -- I had one player object to Werewolf: the Forsaken because the werewolves there weren't 'noble savages' (ala W:tA) but were more beasts struggling to survive and prone to bouts of violence and loss of control.

Anyone have their own stories along this vein?
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