I’ve spent the last few hours writing up notes on the NPCs for my Changeling one-shot; I don’t want to post too much up at this point (although I do intend to put all the material up via Google Drive links after the game has run) so as not to spoil anything for my players but below is a taster of the sort of notes I’ve been making.
As many of you may be aware, I’m currently prepping a Changeling: the Lost one-off game; I’ve just got to the point in my planning where I’m starting to actually put the stats down for the NPCs.
One of the things I like about Fate (okay look, I’ve done well, I got a whole sentence out before I mentioned it ;)) is that important NPCs are genned up like normal characters, but minor characters have a quicker method of creating NPCs where you basically note down a couple of descriptive terms for them and then jot down a few things they are good at and a couple they are bad at. Everything else they are considered to be average at.
I wondered whether this could be applied to NWOD; the corebook defines attributes and skills like this:
So for the game I’m running (certainly for minor NPCs) I’m going to use the following dice pool ratings:
Bad at: dice pool 2
Average at: dice pool 4
Good at: dice pool 6
This should hopefully allow me to quickly create some minor NPCs without needing to have a cribsheet for them all.
Corrupt Beat Cop
Description: Uphold the law, willing to look the other way for the right incentive.
Good at: Shooting, driving
Bad at: Resisting a bribe, working out when they are being tricked, resisting mental coersion.
The NPC will be assumed to be ‘average’ at anything not mentioned in the above description (dice pool 4).
You may have seen my recent post about the pre-genned characters that are going to be used in my one-off C:tL game in a couple of weeks (if not you can find it here); this evening I’ve finished writing out the backgrounds for each of the characters and have posted them out to the players (who have already selected which characters they are going to be).
You can read the backgrounds using the following links:
- Blaze BG
- Bones BG
- Hare BG
- Sway BG
- Wolf BG
I’m preparing for the Changeling: the Lost one-shot that I’m going to be running in a couple of week; in the game the five players are going to be using pre-generated characters, I’ve just finished creating them, anyone interested can find details below:
You were once a promising sports star at NYU, the local newspapers called you the “shining light of the football team”; a small ligament injury caused you to briefly lose your edge but some of your team-mates said they’d
scored something to help you get it back so you arranged to meet them at Central Park. Unfortunately it turns out something else has seen your light and it took you and your team-mates to a land of cold and pain where you burned to light the way for inhuman things, somehow you lead some other captives to a way back, they’re your team now.
As a mortician attached to the NYPD you eventually started to put the pieces together, every 10 years a dozen people disappeare from the blocks surrounding Central Park but it appeared as though someone was covering
it up; you poked a little too deeply and one night as snow began to fall and you investigated one of the disappearance scenes the Horned God came for you, spiriting you away to his land of night where your skills were put to use preparing his kills, some of whom cried out in all too human voices; then one day you found the key to free the burning man from his prison.
You used to work in Central Park, sure you’d heard the rumours about how the previous ranger had disappeared almost 10 years before and that they’d been unable to find a replacement, but you loved your job and weren’t going to let any urban legends spoil it. So one night when you heard a sound like
an animal in pain you rushed out only to see a young woman being snatched away but a horned creature sat atop a demonic horse; without thinking you tried to prevent the abduction and were rewarded by being
taken to a land of ice and snow where you became the prey they hunted.
You were one of the finest dancers touring with the NY Ballet when one glorious winter night your fiancé popped the question you’ve been waiting to hear just outside the entrance to Central Park; horns sounded in the background and for a moment you thought Mark had hired them, but it was not only Mark who your beauty had captivated, and your new suitor
spirited you both away to a land of beautiful madness. You never saw Mark again but in time you were able to use your whiles to discover the location of the key to help free yourself & some of your fellow captors.
As a bouncer working outside the clubs in the districts surrounding Central Park you normally knew when to keep clear of trouble, you could almost smell it; you never knew why when you heard the young red haired man being taken that you tried to interfere but the next thing you knew you were bounds and shackled, little more than a hunting hound. Somehow you managed to survive; holding on to your humanity and your sense of
self until the young man appeared again, now burning like fire and lead
you back to the human world.
One of the things I really enjoyed when playing the excellent NWOD games run by Amy Williams at the recent UKGE (you can read my post about that here) was the condensed/simplified version of the NWOD rules that were used; these worked great for a one-off session and are something I was keen to carry forward myself.
Since i’m going to be running a Changeling: the Lost one-off soon I decided to have a go at putting together a condensed NWOD cheatsheet to give to my players (very few of whom have played NWOD before).
You can view the sheet by clicking on the link below:
I’ll shortly be running a Changeling: the Lost game one-off (using a streamlined version of the rules); in order to get the players into the mood of the game I created the video below:
In my previous post about streamlining the New World of Darkness I talked about condensing skills, this got a lot of interesting comments that make me think about the logistics of it a bit more and whether doing so would make the game too generic/less detailed; those of you who’ve been keeping up with my blogs and video posts will be aware that i’ve recently got back from the UK Games Expo, a large RPing convention that takes place over her in the United Kingdom. During the convention I played in two NWOD games games ran by Amy Williams, one was a mortals based game and the other Werewolf: the Forsaken; both games we very enjoyable and, by necessity due to the time-limits imposed by a convention slots, used a streamlined version of the NWOD rules.
I was absolutely blown away how the few minimal tweaks that Amy made actually made the dice-rolling/rules side of the game far quicker to play and, like any good GM, resolved to steal the ideas to use in my own home games.
So how did the method work?
Well keep in mind that we were playing pre-genned characters in a convention scenario, but basically there were a few things where dice-rolls are normally required that we were just allowed to do without recourse to a roll; the two main examples that jump out in my mind are entering the spirit world and changing shape in the Werewolf game.
I loved this because it not only reduced dice-rolling and sped up the game but it also meant you didn’t have that slightly deflated moment when you’re at a dramatic part of the game and you attempt to do something cool that is in the nature of your supernatural type only to be stymied by a poor dice-roll.
The other thing was that our gifts/supernatural powers were more loosely defined than they would be normally; basically if you had a group of powers that involved manipulating darkness, you’d simply say what you wanted to do and then make a dice-roll, success being based on your result.
One other aspect of the game that wasn’t really used in the tournament was the morallity mechanics, I’d like to keep these in the game somehow but will probably have to put more thought into how to streamline them (if necessary).
Using this method in Future
Okay, so below are my current thoughts for how i’m going to run a streamlined NWOD game:
- Use existing character sheets with various attributes + skills.
- Willpower expenditure adds 3 dice to a roll as normal.
- Health works as normal.
- Merit dots add to any roll where they are relevant and can be used (rather than the normal effects).
- Supernatural powers: Players describe the effect they are attempting to achieve based on the purview of the power, they then make an attribute + skill + level of dots in the power roll to determine if they succeed.
- Supernatural strength stats (blood potency, etc) can be added to rolls to resist the application of supernatural powers.
- Werewolves can add reknown dots as extra dice to any appropriate rolls.
- Changes or effects that are inherently part of a supernatural creatures make-up (as opposed to acquired by a power) do not require dice-rolls (ie. werewolves entering the spirit world, changing form).
I’m sure this will require some additional testing outside of a convention to make it work more in a campaign framework, but I think this is a great solid foundation to begin on for building a more streamlined WOD system.
One of the things I talked about in my previous post was desire to condense the attributes and skills system of the WOD down to a more manageable form; whilst thinking about this i’ve been looking at the Fate Core skill list:
I think that this is a very neat list that covers an awful lot of the stuff that people commonly do in RPGs and it’s designed to work well in a number of different settings but i’m not sure if i’ll use it as is for my WOD conversion since I want to keep the feel of the game rather than write a Fate hack.
WOD has always had that whole attributes + skills thing going for it and I want to condense down the attributes as well; I considered using the Power, Finesse and Resistance groupings from NWOD, but to my mind they aren’t particularly evocative of what attributes they cover so i’ve decided to fall back on a more simple grouping cribbed from the old Minds Eye Theatre live-action WOD games:
Because I want it to be obvious which skills generally go with what attributes i’m planning to group the skills under their respective attributes (something that NWOD actually does already) – I want there to be a roughly equal number of skills for each attribute.
Below is the list of skills from Vampire: the Requiem along with my notes and alteratons:
- Athletics – the skill can be kept as is.
Brawl– this will be amalgamated into a single fighting skill.
- Drive – this skill can be kept as is.
Firearms– this will be amalgamated into a single fighting skill.
- Larceny – this skill can be kept as is.
Stealth– the areas this covers can be covered by Larceny. Survival– not keen on keeping this skill but unsure what to replace it with. Weaponry– this will be amalgamated into a single fighting skill.
- Academics – this skill can be kept as is and can cover a wide range of areas, representing more book-learned knowledge.
- Crafts – this skill can be kept as is, representing more hands-on knowledge; I may look at renaming it, I think this would neatly cover the previous survival skill as well.
Computer– this skill can be got rid of and what it covers folded into academics.
- Investigation – this skill can be kept as is.
Medicine– the skill can also be folded into academics.
- Occult – the occult is an important part of the WOD so i’ll keep this.
Politics– the skill can also be folded into academics. Science– the skill can also be folded into academics.
Animal Ken– I will get rid of this, perhaps it can be covered by backgrounds or folded into the new crafts ability.
- Empathy – I might keep this since it represents acquiring knowledge about people based on understanding them, rather than actual interaction.
Expression– I plan to get rid of this.
- Intimidation – I want to keep this since, along with socialise it represent the two opposite ends of socialising.
Persuasion– I plan to get rid of this.
- Socialise – I want to keep this as is.
Streetwise– I plan to get rid of this. Subterfuge– I plan to get rid of this.
So our finished skill list (after tweaking) looks like this:
- Academic Learning
- Hearth Wisdom (renamed crafts)
- Occult Knowledge
The list is looking pretty good for a work in progress with almost all the skills that we would need; I may take a leaf out of Fate‘s book and attempt to convert some of the things that had previously been covered as background (resources, haven, etc) into skills that can be rolled rather than static ratings that give you a flat bonus, but i’ll cover that in future posts.
For now i’m pretty happy with the cut-down list, any comments are of course welcome.
As you may have seen from our previous post I was in a Google Hangout last evening with Marko, Rufus and Chepé; the crux of the Hangout was that I wanted to run a world of darkness game in the future (probably either the V2 NWOD version of Werewolf: the Forsaken or the V2 version of Changeling: the Lost (when it’s released)) but that I feel the rules for the game could do with a real streamlining. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the rules but I don’t feel as though they’ve been majorly altered/re-worked since they were created (understandable since the publisher doesn’t want to alienate their core market) but have just has sub-systems piled on top of the existing rules, making it a little unwieldy in my opinion.
Whilst the discussion on the Hangout turned into something a little more like “how could Fate be used to run World of Darkness“, I very much want to use the core WOD system (or something like it) in a game.
So i’ve decided to create a list of things that I believe will need to be dealt with in my streamlined version of the game:
Things that I want to get rid off
- Conditions: One of the newer mechanics that I am not that keen on, I love the idea of having conditions that apply to a character and encourage RP but i’m going to be looking for a different way of representing them (perhaps taking a leaf from the Fate aspect system).
- Humanity/morality score: I’ve never really liked the idea that humanity was tracked on a scale like it is in WOD so i’m going to look for a different way of doing that.
- Altering the number you need to roll on dice: Certainly in OWOD the GM could alter the number you needed to roll on a dice to make it a success (as well as the number of successes you needed per roll); I don’t think this is as prevalent in NWOD but it’s something I want to get rid of.
- The massive skill list: One of the things I thing Fate does well, and that i’m taking inspiration from, is that they shortened the skill list dramatically, I think that the list of WOD skills can be condensed down.
- Merit & flaws: After a suggestion by Marko I think that i’m going to get rid of merits/flaws and have them represented by either something akin to Fate aspects or incorporate them into the background system somehow.
- Different types of damage: I think this is unnecessary and can be dealt with by just varying the damage level instead or common sense (if a werewolf can’t soak silver damage then just don’t let them, for instance).
Things that I want to keep
- D10s and the attribute + skill style mechanic: D10s are very much linked with the WOD so I want to keep them and I like the whole attribute+skill mechanic although I may not have it as a dice pool, i’m considering reverting to an attribute+skill+dice roll vs opponents roll/difficulty level style system just to make things a little quicker and less dice intensive.
- The background system: I love the backgrounds in the WOD, however over they have odd and arbitrary rules attached to them, i’d like to see them incorporated into the dice pool/total; so you might be rolling attribute + skill + background + dice roll.
I’ve also been thinking about the things that i’m going to need to cover in my WOD hack:
- Supernatural powers: There needs to be some method of representing these that keeps the essential flavour of the powers without unnecessary book flipping.
- Supernatural weaknesses: Things like a vampires need for blood or a werewolves vulnerability to silver will have to be represented somehow.
- Morality: Despite me not liking the current rules system, morality is an important aspect of most WOD games and so it will need to be dealt with somehow.
Over the new few weeks/months i’m going to put up a series of posts that discuss my tweaks to the WOD system and hopefully some playtesting as well.