Wednesday, September 14, 2016

[Esoteric Order Duets] Neon Masquerade (Classic World of Darkness) - Episode Ten: Everything Turns Grey

Aaron's attempts to settle back into a normal unlife in Los Angeles are thwarted at every turn as he is drawn deeper and deeper into vampiric politics...and tangled matters of the heart. Love triangles and quadrangles abound.

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The campaign wiki can be found here.


  1. Managed to get comments to work, and left my comment for this episode, on the previous one. Apologies, but you can look there for your weekly dose of rambling thoughts.

    1. Welcome back to the comments section! :)

      Your point about farmer demography inspired me to look up some statistics. Interestingly, the percentage of Kansans who were also farmers reached an all-time low right around the time that Aaron and Dawn were born (11 percent), but was rebounding in a big way by the 1980s. This surprised me, as I associate the 80s with the death of the small family farm--Farm Aid and all that.

      I talked with Des about it, and she purposely chose a farming background for Aaron in part because of that decline. She wanted him to come from a rapidly-disappearing part of America's past. I later made a connection with the Kents--what if Superman had grown up to become a vampire? Of course, that gets us dangerously close to Vampions territory...

      I had Dawn come from a farming background for purposes of plot rather than as a statement on typical Kansans, but I know you already knew that. ;)

      (Interestingly, my great-grandfather *was* a Kansas farmer now that I think about it...)

      We record our sessions a week before I post them, so I'll just say that next week's installment actually highlights the Kansas background even more. I believe there's even a part where Aaron and Dawn bond over the improbability of two Kansas farm kids meeting up in the Big City.

      Excellent point about the confluence of time and place conspiring to reinforce certain tired-out tropes.

      And yeah, we were just talking about how Vampire really pushes the "deep character background" approach through its very nature. That was one of my biggest barriers to running VtM for many years. In most games, you only need to really develop about, say, 20 percent of your NPCs and adversaries and just rely on combat stat blocks for the other 80 percent. In VtM I'd say that ratio is just about reversed. So there's a lot more prep involved--you're either coming up with a ton of rich NPCs on your own, or familiarizing yourself with a dozen or more out of a sourcebook. (I recently ordered a copy of the Encyclopedia Vampirica to help me in my research.)

      (Incidentally, on the subject of the 1:100,000 ratio of vampires to mortals--have any of the history-centered Vampire games like Dark Ages or Victorian Age stated what ratios were like then? I'd imagine the disparity was narrower, particularly prior to the Inquisition and the beginning of the Masquerade.)

      Re: larger blood pools--again, in the upcoming session Aaron ends up burning through his blood very quickly at one point due to Discipline use and other factors, much to his chagrin. I actually love this element of the system...but then I also like Sanity mechanics and level-draining undead, so I acknowledge I'm a weirdo. A quick Google search turns up quite a few interesting house rules for blood pool and blood point usage. I imagine house-ruling the system is an inevitability at some point.

      And never fear! Desiree is so hooked on VtM now, it's all but assured that there will be more duet chronicles to come. She's even promised to run one for me... =^.^=

  2. The "having to master the cast of NPCs" thing: that's one of the points where they had clearly put some thought into it from the beginning.

    The introductory setting for the first edition was Gary, Indiana, and I think that was not a bad way to model how a beginning Storyteller might start out. Begin with a place where the cast will be a handful of vampires, but a place close to somewhere larger so that you can expand the cast as you go on. The downside was obviously that, in the pre-Internet days, acquiring information about Gary would hardly be easy, and it's not as if the average person who's not from the area is going to be able to run a campaign set in Gary without doing some research.

    Still, the idea of starting small was a good one. And it really did impress me when Chicago by Night came out and detailed every single one of the vampires in the city, with charts showing how they related to one another.

    Except that one of them was Al Capone. Sigh.

    1. My introduction to VtM was via GURPS: Vampire, which makes zero concessions to meta-plot or large casts of NPCs. The sample adventure included there even assumes the PCs are out of town visitors! So it came as quite a surprise to me when I started buying WW setting books a couple years later to find TONS of NPCs all over the place...

      Regarding historical personages as vampires, and to quote Spinal Tap: "There's such a fine line between stupid and clever."