READ THIS FIRST

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READ THIS FIRST

Post by Chris Shaffer on Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:48 am

Before we get started, a little introduction/gaming resume for people who don't know me well. My name is Chris Shaffer. I've been role-playing in some form or another for over 20 years. I've been LARPing locally for over a decade. I've played in several games and have either run, co-run, or assisted in running a handful of others. I'm also an occasional freelancer at Onyx Path, having contributed to Mage: The Awakening, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the upcoming Trinity Universe reboot, as well as other stuff coming down the pike. Not trying to impress anyone but just getting some basic credentials out of the way.

And now we come to some of my rules, guidelines, and expectations. Some of it's going to come across as confrontational and I apologize for that. But running games has been an activity that, while generally wonderful, has also ripped my heart out. So I'd rather lay down the law now than let people run wild and have to clean up the resulting fallout. The next post will have stuff related to character guidelines.



1. This rule is probably the least important but will also be the most strictly enforced. So here we go: USE YOUR REAL NAME AS YOUR FORUM NAME. It doesn't have to be your legal/birth certificate name, but it at least needs to be whatever name you'll be going by out of character when we interact. At the very least, I'm asking for your first name and last initial or vice-versa. It will be easier to communicate on here if we don't have to look at each others' posts and go "Wait, who's that?" Yes, some of us will need to learn each others' names at the game but forcing everyone to decipher a 'net handle that only has meaning to you isn't going to help.

2. This game and associated forum are to be treated as a Safe Space. If the way you get your jollies is by harassing or abusing people (whether real, like other players, or imaginary, like NPCs) based on their gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, etc., then you can do it elsewhere. And if you feel like you're being harassed or singled out by other people at the game for those same reasons, you can come to me and I'll have a word with the individual if you don't think you can do it yourself. I can't promise I'll tear them a new one in front of the group or otherwise make a scene unless it's something egregious, but I'll at least have a chat with them. I can't guarantee they won't be a jerk afterwards (some people aren't prejudiced, just rude), but I'll do everything I can to sort everything out before having to bounce someone from the game.
Corollary to this point: If what you want to do is play a character with unattractive biases and -isms for the sake of roleplaying challenge or something like that I won't go out of my way to stop you. But I will suggest treading very carefully because when tensions get high it becomes hard to separate IC from OOC feelings and reactions and it would be very easy to make people really uncomfortable.

3. The previous rule leads into this one but I think it deserves its own entry. If there's something going on at the game that's causing a major problem and you don't think you can trust me enough to talk about it, then it might be for the best that you not attend this game. In my personal experience, trust is the most important element to the relationship between a player and storyteller and I do my best to cultivate that. So it really bugs me if a misunderstanding leads to out of game accusations, or finding out after the fact that someone quit because of something it would have been my responsibility and within my capability to fix. Stuff like that is the sort of thing that makes me not want to run games. I know that not everyone is necessarily going to know me well already, so all I can ask is that I be given the chance to earn that trust. Because once I have it, I promise I'll do what I can to make this as fun an experience for everyone as I can.

4. The World of Darkness, at heart, is a horror setting. Which means it's going to touch on a lot of mature subjects and themes. In the games that I've run in the past, I've done my best to keep things to within the bounds of good (or at least reasonable) taste while still maintaining that. This does mean, though, that certain troublesome subjects might come up either as a result of my stories or NPCs or interactions with other players or all of the above. But if I touch on a subject that's legitimately and sincerely troubling, such that it might tempt you to just take off and not come back, let me know and I'll do what I can to try and tone it down. If the issue is with another player, tell me (as per #2) and we'll try to sort it out.

5. Last bit of my lecture, dovetailing with the 'mature subjects and themes' thing. Namely, that attendees of this game are going to be expected to act like adults. This means that if you have personal issues with other players, you'll be expected to deal with them if you're going to attend. You'll be expected to swallow tantrums, be discreet with any 'necessary' venting, and interact maturely with players you might not like. If something goes wrong at game and it negatively impacts you, you'll be expected to advocate for yourself and not just hope the problem fixes itself. Act like someone worth taking seriously by speaking up as respectfully as you can rather than waiting for someone else to fix it and getting pissed when they don't. If you need a minute for things to cool down before you speak, just say "Folks, there's a bit of a problem and I'm kind of pissed. Can I have a second to collect my thoughts so we can get on the same page and work it out?" It costs little to speak up and get my attention. Being passive-aggressive about it can ruin friendships and fracture games.
This game is a live-action roleplaying scenario for people interested in exploring human nature filtered through inhuman urges and hungers. It's not a high school lunch room of cliques and bickering and childish glaring (at least, not OOC -- who knows what'll happen ICly). Every single one of us is in some way responsible for whether the other people at the game have fun (including myself), and I'm hoping that the people at this game can be mature and self-aware enough to keep that in mind.


Last edited by Chris Shaffer on Tue Jul 01, 2014 8:54 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: READ THIS FIRST

Post by Chris Shaffer on Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:57 am

Expectations for Characters:
(specific character creation guidelines will go in a different post)

First, player characters at this game are going to be vampires. Ghouls and revenants may be an option down the road if the game runs long enough. And if the game grows to a particular size I might even be willing to explore some non-vampire options.  

With that out of the way, I'm expecting/hoping for characters who are young-ish up and comers with no more than a few decades under your belt. You could certainly be older, or you could be only a few months undead. I'm flexible there, but part of the idea is that you can't establish your own niche in Charleston proper and you're taking advantage of an opportunity to get some breathing room in Morgantown. If you have a great story as to why you're an older vampire who doesn't have this niche, I'm more than willing and curious to hear it.

Oh, and before I forget to mention it, everyone's starting at Humanity 7. Earlier editions have allowed for reducing starting Humanity in exchange for experience, but that's specifically been removed from the Blood and Smoke rules and I'm agreeing with that choice. Besides, there are systems in play for earning experience via the struggle to retain humanity.

Now in actual terms of character planning and building, I'll have explicit guidelines elsewhere but here's a few basics:

I'm looking for Invictus player characters first and foremost. I'm allowing a limited number of Lancea et Sanctum and Ordo Dracul characters as well. The way I'm handling this is that I'll accept requests for Sanctum and Dracul characters until they make up a total of half the player base (rounded up). This'll be on a first come, first serve basis. So if I have 8 players, 4 can be Sanctum or Dracul. If I have 11, a total of 6 can be Sanctum or Dracul. If players wind up having to pull out of the game such that it lowers the number of Invictus characters below that threshold, then I'll simply stop accepting requests for Sanctum or Dracul characters until the numbers even out one way or another. If the game grows to a certain size or simply lasts long enough, I may expand this further but I make no promises.
(In case someone asks, I am willing to allow unaligned characters. There aren't a lot of great reasons to play one, but I'm willing to let someone sell me on a concept. They'll take up the same slots as Lancea et Sanctum or Ordo Dracul.)

I'll have a full and detailed list of which Merits will and won't be appropriate for the game, but a couple of basics here. Your characters will be competent but not fully established yet, and you won't exactly have your full hooks into Morgantown yet. What this means is the Allies Merit will be restricted at character creation (for now, assuming nothing above 2) until certain requirements are met. Feeding Grounds will have to be earned in game, and Resources is capped at 3.

See, part of the story of the game is your characters' takeover of the city. You want to establish Feeding Grounds for yourself? You'll have to claim the territory. You want to increase your influence on certain mortal institutions or personal wealth? You'll have to stroll into the right parts of the town and take what you need either by blood, Disciplines, or just being a terrifying and hard-to-kill vampire. I'll explain this system in more detail elsewhere, but that's the gist.

Also, as you won't be fully established, there will be some limits on the various Kindred Status Merits. You won't be able to purchase City Status at character creation -- those will be earned in-game. Covenant and Clan Status will be capped at 2 at character creation. Invictus characters, before they can take the second dot of Covenant Status, will have to have at least one established Oath. There will be NPCs available that could theoretically fulfill either the liege or vassal role under the right circumstances (almost certainly the former), if you haven't already worked out an arrangement with someone. An Invictus character could also, if they wish to spend the Merit dots, start at Covenant Status 3 -- but only if they are also a Notary (which I'm counting as an Oath for these purposes). Approvals for those are going to be extremely rare, however, and as of this writing I already have someone volunteering to invest the five merit dots required to play one.

And because they can only do so much from Charleston, the Mentor Merit is capped at 3. I'll have some established NPCs available as Mentors or we can create our own.

Another thing. Each of you will be getting a private forum. The forum can and should be used to manage downtime activities (so as to cut down on time spent working on it at game). On a related note: in this edition of the game, vampires have Touchstones -- things that remind them of their humanity and keep them centered. Ideally, these Touchstones should be a personal relic or a mortal they could bring with them from Charleston. It could also represent a vampire's faith -- tied to a congregation in town, for instance, if they actually attend church (to the best of the vampire's ability). Perhaps it's even something stationary but tied to Morgantown -- maybe you lived here as a mortal and your family is buried in a local cemetery, or your childhood home is still here or whatever. But things can and will happen to your Touchstone, and I won't always have the ability to work it into a plot or resolve it during a session. So there will be times when we'll handle basic stuff during the week on the forums. This is a 'when,' not an 'if.' If I post something about your Touchstone to your private forum and you don't respond in a reasonable amount of time (and haven't warned me ahead of time that you'll be away from the computer or whatever), Very Bad Things can happen to your Touchstone and you won't find out until your Humanity starts dropping like a rock at the game.

Incidentally, if your private forum doesn't appear within a couple of days of signing up or if you can see private forums you shouldn't be able to, please immediately let me know. There's no good reason why it should happen, but just in case.

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