[The Lords in the Shadow] A Vampire-Hack for Otherkind

Started by scramble, January 03, 2011, 03:34:31 PM

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I recently read Pretender by Kirt Dankmyer (published in the No Press RPG Anthology). For all of you who are not familiar with this game, Pretender is an urban fantasy game, with vampires, werewolves and other supernatural critters as PCs. It uses the Otherkind Dice mechanic, but not in a way I'd have used it were I to write a game about vampires. And that's fine, because Pretender is much more than vampires, it is pretty free-for-all when it comes to PCs; it allows faeries and aliens and whatnot. But it got me thinking how you could make a game that is only about vampires.

Specifically, a game that is like the Vampire: The Masquerade chronicles I'd always wanted to play, but which always degenerated into games about fanged superheroes.

The game should be about:

  • newly created vampires
  • getting sucked up into age-old power machinations
  • possibly fighting against an epic world-threatening plot
  • all the while trying to preserve their ties to their human friends and loves ones
  • and not succumbing to the Beast inside of them

I actually think the last two bits are the most important ones. In comparison, I'd sum up Otherkind like this:

Otherkind is a game about:

  • Faery creatures
  • trying to preserve sacred places and items from the humans
  • losing their connection to life among the way
(Sorry Vincent, I know I'm not doing your game justice here.)

I think you can see the similarity. That's why I was so surprised there is no "Life" die in Pretender. In my game, I'd simply replace the "Life" die and stat with a "Humanity" die and stat. As a PCs Humanity stat declines, he becomes ever more jaded and inhuman, maybe unable to retract his teeth anymore, unable to look alive etc.

It might also work well for werewolves, sorcerers and the like. Especially sorcerers.

So far it's a straightforward Otherkind hack.

The game should have two plot levels:
The overarching, world-shattering plot about an evil vampire sect, dark gods and whatnot. This helps draw the PCs together and forces them into action.
The personal plot about the PCs and their human loved ones. The main plot will make it increasingly difficult for them to retain their relationships.

These two should be in constant balance. PCs who want so succeed in the "main" plot will have to use their Humanity die as the "dump stat", which will make them lose Humanity and create complications in the personal plot.

I've got some more ideas about collaborative setting design, genre tropes and the like, but I'll wait for some answers to this post first.

Oh, one final question to Vincent: Can I just use the Otherkind Dice mechanic in a game of my own (with a big "standing on the shoulders of giants"-type disclaimer, of course) or is there more to it? How did Kirt do it?


  Funny, my version of the same thing (Vampire version of Otherkind, except my is Victorian Era, not modern) is at the editors now, you can check it out here:
  The big thing I changed was to make the otherkind dice a versus. Once I got that in my head, the mechanics spun off in a whole new direction.
  There are several games that draw inspiration from Otherkind. Psi-run, Bliss Stage are two others I can think of off the top of my head.
  Do you have a draft I can see?

  Also, I have an e-mail address for Vincent if he doesn't see this (PM me if you need it).
Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo

David Shockley

Annalise uses Otherkind based resolution rules, and is about vampires. Well, about a Vampire and the people it impacts, more accurately.



Steampunk Crescendo looks like a hugely cool game, and also like a hugely... huge one. Its impressive how large an Otherkind-derived game can turn out, but as far as I can see it's mostly setting, not system. I for myself certainly don't aim at a 3-digit page count. I will need to get a copy of Steampunk Crescendo as soon as it's out, it seems like there is lot of material I can use in the Puddle-powered Steampulp game I'm running right now.

As for my game, I'll see how fast I can cook up a presentable draft of the mechanics. It shouldn't be too much fuss, as it's really a stright rip-off of Otherkind. The meat will be in the game's GM section, where I plan to put notes on themes, tropes, campaign structure etc.

Funnily, my game is not aimed to be anything like Steampunk Crescendo or Annalise. Maybe this helps:

You are a vampire struggling with vampire politics and stuff. You are teamed up with others like you. Together you battle forces even more vile than the lot of you (Or are they?). And you have some mortal friends and loved ones you'd hate to lose. One of them is called Annalise.

"Imagine you're a vampire. Imagine you're hit by a shotgun blast. What is the worst thing that could happen?"
"I could die from the wound."
"No, that's not the worst thing that could happen. Imagine the wound drives you into a feeding frenzy. Imagine you live through it, knowing you sucked your best friend dry in order to survive."
"That's awful!"
"Imagine you sucked your best friend dry and, try as you might, you don't care about it."

Like a Vampire: The Masquerade campaign in fast-forward, with tragedy hardwired into the system.

Marco M.

Hardwired in a way that it's unavoidable or hardwired in a way that the players need to struggle to prevent it? Your idea sounds really interesting, but people tend love games most which leave them a chance to win in all or most challenges, even if it makes the game a lot harder. The careful balance between gaining enough vampire powers to succeed and not overstressing this aspect to remain somewhat human could be the heart of your systems challange. If I didn't misunderstand you, you might want to have an extra eye on balancing this point :)


I concur. The whole problem of balancing your humanity/friends/loved ones against your power fantasies/vampiric nature/save-the-vampires-plot hould be in fact the main point of the game.

I've whipped something together for you to look at, but it's not much yet. In its current state, the document won't make much sense if you're not familiar with Otherkind, so consider yourselves warned.


I'm wondering if I can somehow merge the Basic traits and the Color dice...


Quote from: scramble on January 03, 2011, 03:34:31 PM
Oh, one final question to Vincent: Can I just use the Otherkind Dice mechanic in a game of my own (with a big "standing on the shoulders of giants"-type disclaimer, of course) or is there more to it? How did Kirt do it?
There's no more to it than that. My blessings!



  Yeah, the mechanics part is maybe 40 pages. the rest is just cool materials for people to get into the setting.
  I skimmed your draft, it looks like you are going in a cool direction, good job man!
Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo


Finally, the first draft is almost complete. The GM section is still missing some setting creation bits, but you could just assume the setting is something like the World of Darkness.

Since my last post, I've dropped the color dice in favor of generic bonus/penalty dice á la TSOY, transformed character creation into a creative writing excercise and drifted some ideas from Microscope and Archipelago.

But somehow the game now feels like I couldn't decide if this is supposed to be "high concept" kind of game where the GM really screws the players over or a friendly, collaborative story-building game. I don't have any idea if this could actually work. Could somebody please tell me if I'm on the right track?


Darn...I was planning to generate a vampiric expansion for my game FUBAR which is Otherkind based...now that hardy seems like an original idea at all.

I guess I'll move it down the priority list...
A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.


Since when are vampires original exactly? Especially with the "Taste Of Blood"-Anthology in the making there will be a flood of vampire games coming out in the near future. And funnily, they all have different stories in mind.

As far as I understand it FUBAR also has a very particular situation and narrative arc as its basis. So, FUBAR + vampires = original. Mostly because of FUBARs premise, but anyway. I'd play it :)


I guess that's true.

You're probably right, A FUBAR vampire story would be very different...

Something akin to...

"You are a circle of vampires, hunters have just broken down your door. You've got interesting powers (but if you use them you' really show how much of a monster you are)...what do you do?"


"You can feel the elders awakening, you know that they have transcended the mortal word to such a degree that human blood no longer sustains them. You have been hunting humans for a long time...but now you must quickly learn how to avoid become food for creatures even darker and more monstrous than yourselves."

You just wouldn't have time to be angsty and cathartic...otherwise you'd be eaten/staked/dismembered/or something worse.

Maybe I shouldn't move it too far down the priority list.
A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.


OK, it's done. I'll call the current version 1.0. That said, it's still completely unedited and unplaytested.

I've had a lot of different ideas while writing the game, so I just hope it doesn't feel like a grab-bag of Stuff The Author Finds Cool.

Some feedback would be more than welcome.