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Author Topic: Vineyard of Blood  (Read 16642 times)
TonyLB
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« on: November 02, 2005, 04:53:01 AM »

Over here on RPG.Net AndyK pointed out some similarities between DitV's Commencement mechanics and Vampire 1st ed.'s Embrace scene, and it got me thinkin'.  Vampire protagonists (at least in the Anne Rice books) are ... well ... not to put too fine a point on it, they're a judgmental lot, aren't they?  And the old V:tM game was pretty concerned with stability of the social structure, and like that and ... well ...

IsolationA monster I am, lest a monster I become, wankety wank wank.  Vampires are isolated by appearance, by nature, by choice (living in the sewers), by power (the Prince doesn't mix with the caitiff), by politics, by being just that much cooler and angstier than mortals.  Rather than being part of society they create reasons why they can never have peers.

Isolation leads to EnvyYes, I have riches, power and imortality, but that homeless syphillitic vagabond can watch the sun rise.  Vampires envy mortals all their mortal stuff, they envy other vampires their vampire stuff, they envy the dead, the envy their progeny, they envy their earlier selves.  Rather than focussing on what they have, they focus on what others have that they do not.

Envy leads to InjusticeAll I want to do is roam the night in peace.  Why must they torment me so?  Vampire society has many roles, and an equal number of ways to deprive others of their ability to fulfill those roles.  Bog-standard DitV Injustice.

Injustice leads to ThirstI smell the blood and fear ... she wants me to take her, or she wouldn't be running, her heart racing like a delicious, savory trip-hammer, calling to me.  When society ceases to function, vampiric thirst (for blood, for power, for knowledge, for money) rages out of control.

Thirst leads to Perversion.

Perversion leads to Monstrosity.


I'm not sure yet about the Escalation-ladder.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2005, 05:45:46 AM »

Escalation:

This is problematic, beyond the first level, because what harms humans doesn't harm vampires, and vice versa.  I don't think it should be as explicit as "guns".  instead:

Words
Physicality, focused more on posturing, maneuvering for position, and intimidating displays
Weapons, including guns
Magic (humans with no access to supernatural powers would get no dice when this level is brought in)
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2005, 06:00:40 AM »

The setting idea is intriguing.

On escalation, here's a possible basis for consideration:
1. Talking
2. Physical, Minor Supernatural (usually attacks that usually last no more than a scene - the Hard Stare of a vampire is easily equivalent to a physical attack)
3. Weapons, Drinking Blood, Major Supernatural Attacks that can last longer than a few scenes (Domination)
4. Attacks that can cause Aggravated Damage

And I am so stealing this quote for a vampire in my fantasy game:
she wants me to take her, or she wouldn't be running, her heart racing like a delicious, savory trip-hammer, calling to me
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2005, 06:13:49 AM »

Aggravated damage?
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2005, 07:11:48 AM »

What about an escalation ladder like this?

Normal
Uncanny
Supernatural
Horrifying

That would actually explain those fights in Angel where he goes through half the fight looking normal, then Vamps-Out when things get really rough.
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dunlaing
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My name is Bill


« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2005, 07:27:41 AM »

It seems to me like the top of the escalation ladder should be Wooden Stakes.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2005, 08:06:29 AM »

Aggravated damage?

A World of Darkness technical rules term for "injuries of a type that can actually destroy a supernatural being," e.g. for a vampire being hacked with axes is just plain ordinary vanilla damage that can incapacitate but not "kill," but being staked through the heart or burned is potentially terminal, hence Aggravated (and aggravating).

Thing about wooden stakes is that in vampire stories, it's not just anyone who can pop out a wooden stake or a crucifix and have an effect (though some Buffy episodes come close); only certain people know what to do. E.g. Van Helsing's only "superpower" in the original Bram Stoker novel is that he is the only character whose vampire lore approaches that of, well, anybody who's ever read a vampire story; the other characters haven't even heard the term "vampire". Obviously people in a halfway realistic modern setting will all know vaguely who Dracula is and that sunlight, garlic etc. are good anti-vampire defenses, but you can still argue that only people who really know that stuff is real will have the wits and willpower to use it in a real crisis.

And remember escalation in Dogs is not simply about escalating to whatever weapon in the setting does the most damage, but about assigning the maximum damage to whatever weapon in the setting has the most moral significance (as I argue in this post: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16808.msg178596#msg178596). So I think Tony's escalation to "horrifying" is onto something; it just doesn't work both ways -- that is, monsters can escalate to "Horrifying" but the human counterpart (at least the good-guy human counterpart) has to be something equal-and-opposite.

Perhaps escalation in a horror setting is revealing the true nature of things? The elderly Count climbs up a sheer castle wall like a spider and bears vampiric fangs; that nice Doctor Jekyll turns into Mister Hyde; the mild-mannered neighbor turns into a wolf; and, conversely, Doctor van Helsing points at some subtle sign and says, "see! The mark of the wampyr!" and tells everyone just what to do.

P.S.: As a Christian, I've long thought that the reason that folklore insists a crucifix, and no other generic "holy symbol" (D&D aside) is particularly upsetting to vampires is that nothing else so emphatically says to a daylight-phobic bloodsucker, "You call that life after death? [shing] Now this is life after death!"
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TonyLB
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2005, 08:15:50 AM »

So I think Tony's escalation to "horrifying" is onto something; it just doesn't work both ways -- that is, monsters can escalate to "Horrifying" but the human counterpart (at least the good-guy human counterpart) has to be something equal-and-opposite.
That's a fine point, which I hadn't considered.  Having considered it, I will say three things.  One:  I don't care about what normal individual humans can bring to the table.  They're props.  In Anne Rice and World of Darkness your conflicts are with other monsters, or with human society as a whole.

Second, I think that humans in groups can achieve any of these levels of escalation very easily.  And I think that would be really cool.  The purpose of the torches and pitchforks isn't as armament ... it's because they help turn a group of Normal villagers into Horrifying mob of ravening beasts. 

Third, psychologically exceptional individual humans (i.e. non-supernatural monsters) can also hit these heights, in ways that reinforce theme.  The Nazi war criminal who is performing dissections on still-aware vampires in order to create a race of invincible undead supermen ... that guy gets his Horrifying dice, IMHO.
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Neal
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2005, 08:21:48 AM »

Interesting idea.  Here's a thought.  Treat aggravated damage as you would treat Ceremony in DitV: each form has its assigned Fallout dice.  You could also stipulate that all normal weapons inflict Fallout one die-size smaller than usual, so it's very unlikely that a vamp will "die" from normal weapons.  Or anti-vamp weapons inflict Fallout one die-size higher, or something like that.  

Blessed weapons gain a die of some appropriate size?  Sunlight inflicts d10 fallout?  A stake is like a gun, with an extra d4 to represent how tricky it is to use properly?  I dunno.  It could work.

Folks with some kind of Numina (or other vampy know-how) could be treated like the Possessed in DitV, with Viciousness letting their attacks inflict larger die-size Fallout.  All other mortals are just hemoglobin on the hoof, though they can still give the vamp pause if they get lucky enough.

The consequences of getting thoroughly jacked up by Fallout might be different, too.  Dying takes on a different meaning when you're undead, and seeking medical attention just isn't going to cut it.  I could see "feed and rest" as an alternative to "seek medical attention."  And for short-term consequences, leaving the scene for a while could take the form of wandering off to brood poetically about how tragic it is to be immortal and nigh-unstoppable.
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dunlaing
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My name is Bill


« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2005, 08:43:33 AM »

P.S.: As a Christian, I've long thought that the reason that folklore insists a crucifix, and no other generic "holy symbol" (D&D aside) is particularly upsetting to vampires is that nothing else so emphatically says to a daylight-phobic bloodsucker, "You call that life after death? [shing] Now this is life after death!"

Really? You don't think the reason is simply that the folk involved were christian and that's the main christian holy symbol?
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Frank T
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2005, 08:50:25 AM »

I think "thirst" is not working. It's a defining feature of all Vampires. The loss of control is the real issue. Injustice leads to loss of control.

Also, I think a game about vampires should be about your own thirst as much as the thirst of others. Really, this whole thing seems kind of awkward to me. It's like: The justice part is nice, but what happened to the rest that being a vampire is about? I don't really think this will work very well.

- Frank
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2005, 12:07:08 PM »

Not to get too tangential, but....

P.S.: As a Christian, I've long thought that the reason that folklore insists a crucifix, and no other generic "holy symbol" (D&D aside) is particularly upsetting to vampires is that nothing else so emphatically says to a daylight-phobic bloodsucker, "You call that life after death? [shing] Now this is life after death!"

Really? You don't think the reason is simply that the folk involved were christian and that's the main christian holy symbol?

Oh, obviously, that's a huge part of it; but:
(a) The folk involved" in rural Europe were often barely Christianized, and the vampire myth clearly has pagan origins, so if they were willing to make a Christian symbol so central (as opposed to all the happily pagan garlic), it presumably meant something in particular to them.
(b) If it's that simple, why doesn't the folklore insist that the sign of the cross also repels, say, werewolves, or witches, or all those man-eating ogres that haunt French and German fairy tales? That strongly suggest to me that some of the underlying symbolism of the vampire is about right and wrong ways of confronting human mortality and the fear of death.

Which (to wrench myself round from the theological tangent, happy though I would be to spend all day sermonizing) is all to the point that, especially in a horror story, the threats and vulnerabilities of the monster have to mean something. As with superheroes, we're in a realm of symbolism rather than physics and biology.
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Danny_K
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2005, 01:25:46 PM »

I think the proposed progression of sins and escalation hierarchy both seem very workable, and would actually be *really neat* in that they actively encourage the grand guignol horrific action which Vampire games promise but don't always deliver. 

The question I have, is that Dogs seems designed around the premise of wandering protagonists who encounter one complicated field of tensions after another.  I'm not sure how you would handle this in Vampire, where traditionally vamps stick around one city for substantial amounts of time, building up their secular and magical power.  How would you use the town creation rules for a setting where the characters remain in the same place for a longer period of time?  Or would you simply find a premise which involves vampires moving from town to town?  If you're running a one-shot, it's not an issue, of course.

I've had an idea kicking around my head for a long time about a vampire game set in Auld Transyvania, with the PC's as junior vampires trying to actually "rule the night" the way they're supposed to in horror movies.  This might be the perfect way to run that game -- the various White Wolf vampire games are definitely not it.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2005, 02:38:51 PM »

I think "thirst" is not working. It's a defining feature of all Vampires. The loss of control is the real issue. Injustice leads to loss of control.
I think Thirst is the VoB (Vineyard of Blood) equivalent of "Demons."  It's omnipresent, but there are only specific stages of the hierarchy that are about it (just like only Demonic Influence and Sorcery are about demons directly).  Is that more palatable?
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Mark Woodhouse
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2005, 02:44:05 PM »

The question I have, is that Dogs seems designed around the premise of wandering protagonists who encounter one complicated field of tensions after another.  I'm not sure how you would handle this in Vampire, where traditionally vamps stick around one city for substantial amounts of time, building up their secular and magical power.  How would you use the town creation rules for a setting where the characters remain in the same place for a longer period of time?  Or would you simply find a premise which involves vampires moving from town to town?  If you're running a one-shot, it's not an issue, of course.

I'm not familiar with the new cosmology, but there's ready-made Dogs-analogs in the old WW setting. Dogs are either archons (and the heirarchy of town creation culminates in Masquerade breach and peasants with pitchforks), or Black Hand (and the heirarchy culminates in the rise of an Ancient or in diabolism). Kind of neat, actually.
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