The Underlying Question...



  • For me, D&D is surviving to the end of the story. Not necessarily living through the end, but meeting it.

    In V20, we didn’t HAVE to have a connection to humanity, so our characters could become a bit grim. In V5, we are trying to hold onto our humanity and not let it seep all away. Having touchstones offers STs more story-hook-fuel. It also gives us a reason to not go on murder sprees.


  • Hilt

    @Scarecrow You nailed it for me. Totes.

    In previous iterations, meaning and joy were rare and difficult to achieve, with a constant temptation and pressure to take the easier route of dying a little more inside. There were tiny, fragile sparks of it in the world, and they were always under threat. Holding onto one required risking everything, and so those sparks were precious beyond measure.

    In V5, meaning and happiness are completely impossible, and even the illusion of them is impossible. There are no sparks. Zero. So it’s just a time to come be miserable together, both for the player and for the character.

    As an example: Nik’s response was great. And while I’m basically putting words in his mouth here, his response articulated the only possible motivation (both for player and for character) being that of Ambition. The absolute height of good our character’s can feel is ruthless and successful. There is no other meaning beyond being the best abuser. We’re gonna compete, ic aND ooc, and whoever is best at hurting people gets to feel like the best abuser for awhile.

    V5 feels like sludge to me. Like it’s a world where there is actually nothing but sludge. And not just for the character. For us players too. Let’s play a game where we cover ourselves in feces. “Why?” To experience and portray what it’s like to be covered in feces. “Oh cool, and then every day we’ll cover ourselves in something else so we can experience all kinds of things and cherish all of them for their intensity?” No, it’s gonna be feces every day, with no hope of anything but feces.


  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    Wow. Forgive me, James, but I have to ask- why are you playing then? I certainly don’t want to hold anyone to playing a game that they feel is going to be like spreading shit all over themselves.

    I don’t even know how to respond to that other than to ask why. I myself was super excited to see this all in play and see what people do. But at the moment, I feel like all of this work is for nothing because y’all are like, “Well, this game you wrote is shit, the chars are shit, you are shit and it is shitty.”

    I know that sounds defensive but I am kind of feeling defensive right now. We didn’t write the game. We were excited to play it. Now…dunno.


  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    PS: We didn’t write it. Just sayin’



  • I cannot speak for James but I do not believe he was trying to suggest that the game or story or anyone’s efforts are shitty. I believe he is attempting to construct a metaphor with an unfortunate focus on fecal matter.

    In essence, I think he may be saying that it is difficult to appreciate darkness without a little light. We are, all of us, playing a monster but ones that are still attempting to hold on to their humanity. The touchstones are supposed to be that: their link. On the one hand, we are encouraged to play our characters as we see them; on the other it feels as though we are actively discouraged from seeking any kind of a redemption arc.

    That’s just my take-away.



  • @jess “Redemption arc” could and may include achieving Golconda.



  • @malevolence said in The Underlying Question...:

    Wow. Forgive me, James, but I have to ask- why are you playing then? I certainly don’t want to hold anyone to playing a game that they feel is going to be like spreading shit all over themselves.

    I don’t even know how to respond to that other than to ask why. I myself was super excited to see this all in play and see what people do. But at the moment, I feel like all of this work is for nothing because y’all are like, “Well, this game you wrote is shit, the chars are shit, you are shit and it is shitty.”

    I know that sounds defensive but I am kind of feeling defensive right now. We didn’t write the game. We were excited to play it. Now…dunno.

    I don’t think at any point James was saying ‘the game you guys wrote is shit’ more reflecting on V5 as a whole and the current ST vision of it. For a few examples, going above and beyond the book you guys have eliminated humanity 8 from Farmer to fit your current ‘darker’ version of the same presented in the book as well Coteries you are doing, which sounds interesting and at least we could look to our coterie for support and at place safe from the shit slinging. Except you guys have as well added your own twist to the game and incentivized people to also screw over their coterie. Meaning that even that one hopeful port in the storm of mud is also just another place to be slung mud on. Maybe even more so as there is a reward built into it.

    I think people are just saying that we don’t expect wine and roses all the time but they feel maybe 100% dark and gritty all the time might make it just depressing to show up knowing even my friends might toss me under a bus for 2xp. Since it’s a coterie I didn’t get to pick that seems dark even for this. I actually thought at first hearing the coterie idea that it was interesting because at least characters would have one place to turn at game start that they could trust.


  • Hilt

    @malevolence I apologize. Eff.mal. Seriously I was wrong to have posted that. I very much regret having hurt you that way, snd for having shit on all your hard work and care and friendship. I intend to be a better friend/player/community member going forward.

    Seeing your response I realize I meant something else.

    Can I try again?

    I now see that my post was akin to a request for help, though I clearly tried to do that by being a bully and stabbing people, snd that’s not ok.

    So I would be grateful to anyone, especially ST’s and Stef in particular, if you cold talk about what you/we as players/ST’s expect you will get out of the experience. Not what our characters’ will get out of it, but us as people.

    Cuz I know that one thing is community, right? Like I think y’all are super people and I love doing things with you and hanging out and stuff.

    If you could share what else you’ll get out of V5 in particular, I’d be grateful.



  • Well… This thread went to a real weird place.

    Everyone take a step back.

    Please remember - none of us have played this game - … you don’t know what it’s going to turn out to be.

    This reminds me of characters. You have an idea of what it’s gonna be like, but then you play a couple times and it’s kinda weirdly taken a life of its’ own, and is slightly different from what you imagined.

    Personally I’m liking the idea of this game and the unknown coteries we’re going to be put in (because of complimenting builds, or whatever the reason is that we’re being put together). I get the concern that it’s gonna all be dark, but let’s all remember; we’re human beings. We get scared of the unknown. Give the game and the ST’s the chance to show us what they’ve been so excited about.

    As for the ST’s: Thanks for all the effort you’ve put into this. It’s appreciated, and we know you’re doing a great job. Also please remember that players are afraid of unknown territory (lol) - I played VTM for 20+ years and now it’s all gone topsy turvy, but I’m excited to try and see what all this new stuff is about.

    The idea of playing a grittier and more about the personal horror game is incredibly interesting to me. I just don’t want my character to die in the first five minutes of starting. LOL



  • @duh

    Yes, most of this. 🙂


  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    I think this comes down to the kind of game you want to play or not. The last game was supposed to be a lot like this one, so when I say mature, I mean it grew up. They tightened a lot of things up, and no I do not think ‘grittier’ necessarily means mature. But keep in mind even Shakespeare had King Lear. Othello. Numerous characters who had an underlying lack of humanity, characters that struggled to ever be happy. Even with Shylock put firmly back in his place (lets leave aside the problematic nature of some of this), Antonio’s underlying unhappiness of unrequited love sat around the edges of a supposed happy ending. Not everyone grew and many times there was supposed to be a morality to it, which is rooted in the times of playhouses and the religious situation then.

    VTM isn’t a ‘nice’ game. You’re a thief, a murderer, and a liar. That is how your experience almost always begins. Now can you ‘win’? Well I never think anyone ‘wins’ in RP, but let’s run with it. I think yes, you can, because it comes down to achievement. It comes down to a set of goals, aiming at them, and having fun with how you develop. If the yardstick is how humane and nice I can be, then it really isn’t the game for it. But if it is… I want to protect these people so they have a better life and I have people I can feed off, use to fight for me, and who can keep me safe in the day. Kind of win/win… except not entirely because you are still totally using them. Vampires tell themselves many pretty little lies to sleep better in the day.

    This puts me in mind of a time when one of our characters wanted a Herd who came to them as mental patients and he fed off. Then expected to still be able to shoot after high humanity and was upset when it was taken down and hard to bring back up. Vampires aren’t nice at all, they have to do many shitty things to survive. That has always been the case, and just being easier to ignore doesn’t make it a better system.

    But ultimately we are still all talking about something we haven’t tried out yet. We need to get to grips and feel it out, but many of us have played long enough to have a decent gut feeling. For me, it has been overwhelmingly a positive one. I’m excited to play in this game, and excited to do so at the same level as everyone else.



  • I feel like some of the posters are trying to express a concept that is difficult to communicate. Vampire has always been a dark and gritty game, but solace could be taken in the small victories. @Jess put it well I believe when she said “…it is difficult to appreciate darkness without a little light.” Victory in Vampire the Masquerade has always been fleeting, and mistakes have always been punished, but the way V5 is written, “victory” or success is not just fleeting-- it is pyrrhic.

    Allow me to use the example of humanity, for now ignoring the changes to the Farmer Predator style. We are asked to create 1-3 convictions and an equal number of touchstones; however, the more we have of these, the more quickly we can lose humanity. Beyond this, the very act of trying to be human with our touchstones (such as letting them grow up, have a life, be a person, change their mind) is punished with a stain (or stains) while acting like a monster to “maintain” humanity is outright encouraged. How did it become that acting like a human should actually causes you to be less human?

    I do not blame the STs, and I think White Wolf has come up with a very interesting setting. The focus seems to have changed from trying find a balance between humanity and beast, or even maintaining humanity, to fighting with every ounce to not degrade.

    This feeling of V20, to me at least, was one of going against the odds. The feeling of V5, again to me at least, is one of destitution. There are incredible opportunities however, if you can manage them. As the Storytellers said, there are many fewer restricting factors about this setting, and Branton is rife with opportunity! With everyone working against you and no support system of your own, like a sect and barely a semblance of a clan, it really is up to you to make it on your own. If you can do that, then more power to you and your character!

    I have my concerns about V5, but I am also interested to see the Chronicle that the STs have put together. You all do an excellent job, and my concerns with V5 do not extend to your storytelling abilities. Like has been said before, this is a 3-month trial run. We may be entirely wrong and pleasantly surprised about the V5 setting, and I am willing to give it a chance. I think players are staying around despite their concerns because they are willing to give it a chance as well.

    Additional Note: Touching on Gaining Humanity
    From the V5 book p.241 “Vampires can only increase humanity by selflessly involving themselves in human life and human concerns. Increasing humanity should be a major story arc, involving (at least) the gaining of a new touchstone and the deliberate turning away from Kindred society.” and it continues on “…Storytellers might not allow experience points to purchase Humanity at all.”

    -If- regaining humanity is allowed, then it requires gaining touchstones, which would once again indicate a benefit for starting the game with only one touchstone. Again, players are punished for making more human (or even just involved) characters at creation.



  • I don’t think anyone is saying they won’t give it a chance. I don’t think anyone has suggested that the community leaders haven’t worked really hard to get everything ready, including hyping the player base, for what’s to come.

    I do think this was intended to be an open discussion or at least a request for clarification. Nik has more or less addressed that. As launch day gets closer, people may be examining their uncertainties and trying to address them so they know where they stand when this thing kicks off. That’s where I’m at anyway. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to give V5 a good college try.

    More than anything I want to play with all of you – STs included. If I have reservations going forward, my desire to write with this community, and my belief that there is a support network in place for when I’m feeling doubtful, overwhelms that by a huge margin.



  • @aarkon said in The Underlying Question...: For a few examples, going above and beyond the book you guys have eliminated humanity 8 from Farmer to fit your current ‘darker’ version of the same presented in the book as well Coteries you are doing, which sounds interesting and at least we could look to our coterie for support and at place safe from the shit slinging.

    LOL don’t get me wrong here, but for me, it takes LESS humanity to drink/feed/kill a freaking animal. Honestly. Most people nowadays seem to have more empathy for animals than for humans, anyway. That’s just me, though.



  • @duh Good point! Had not considered that previously.



  • @jess said in The Underlying Question...:

    @duh Good point! Had not considered that previously.

    The idea of putting my cat down soon consistently brings me to tears. He’s got cancer, and I know it’s gonna have to happen soon. I think only sociopaths could kill animals so easily.


  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    @Isaac The touchstones are just the tool you use to maintain your convictions. If they die and unable to transfer the conviction to a new touchstone, you lose that conviction. However you can never have less than 1 conviction which means less than 1 touchstone. We are discussing whether or not it will be roll until you get one hooked or we will just say it happens and you will have one. And there is a benefit to having more than 1 conviction. If you need to do a humanity check for breaking a chronicle tenet, but you got your stain from or while upholding your conviction, it reduces your difficulty to maintain your humanity. So if you have 1 conviction, it’s less of a chance of being able to say that you were upholding it as opposed to having three. They are your armor to your humanity.


  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    Humanity being a bit un-tethered from your convictions broadens out the ability to live in a way that is morally appropriate for your character. The problems with humanity 8 are mechanical, in terms of walking in the day and so forth. That isn’t an aspect we wanted to bring in, which we think is fine and works well with the fact convictions now play a much greater role of personal prominence over the more generic humanity, which effects everyone.


  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    @Duh
    you’re right, one of the hallmarks of being a sociopath (I think it is sociopath, may be psychopath) is the killing of animals. Even if you subsist purely on rodents like rats, you have to kill A LOT- at least 12 rats, 3-4 cats) to slake only 1 hunger. It makes no sense to for it to be humanity 8 and be allowed to daywalk and have sex and whatever else it says. So yes, we decreased it to better fit our game.



  • @malevolence said in The Underlying Question...:

    @Duh
    you’re right, one of the hallmarks of being a sociopath (I think it is sociopath, may be psychopath) is the killing of animals. Even if you subsist purely on rodents like rats, you have to kill A LOT- at least 12 rats, 3-4 cats) to slake only 1 hunger. It makes no sense to for it to be humanity 8 and be allowed to daywalk and have sex and whatever else it says. So yes, we decreased it to better fit our game.

    I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you on this ruling.