V5 Preview June 2018 Review
- The first section is an exerpt from the Dossier of the Damned section and a chunk from the Second Inqusition. So the first section opens with a Second Inquisition medical examination of a vampire, and the notes/commentary of a vampire who has gotten ahold of it. It's an interesting way to redo the 'here is what makes up a vampire, fire kills you, etc.' There's some fun to be had here, like the vampire who was staked during their 'Hawthorne stake through the heart' test just... staying being dead and vivisected, probably in hopes of escaping. No idea. There's also government speak about vampires called Blankbodies. There is a follow up page with a vampire's presentation on the history of vampires, who also seems to have Nod and Erciyes fragments as well as notes and publications from other vampires like Beckett.
- The second section is Concepts, which is standard 'what is vampire and the World of Darkness'.
- The third section is Fashion, which kinda reads more tongue-in-cheek, but it talks about why vampires wear dark clothes (hint: it's so you don't show blood you've spilled). It talks a lot about 'wearing clothes that hint at their naure' and clothing being sort of like the flower codes (like a Brujah in an all-white track suit screams 'I don't spill a drop mang') and doing things that hint at your nature (like wearing a modern piece of clothing with a cut similar to that old style). Seems like it could be interesting from a flavor perspective.
- Next is the Brujah section. It talks about the Brujah, gives some examples of Brujah Embraces and such. A lot of the Brujah stuff talks about drawing from rebellious and counter individuals, with listings from a vampire who things he's alt-right to a lawyer who fights against the system by doing pro-bono work for the little guy. All in all, there's a wide variety of things and it is really reminding me of what I love about building atypical characters in Requiem and Masquerade. The Clan Bane is detailed, which is reducing the number of dice to resist Frenzy by the Bane Severity. So it's not just a flat modifier, it fluctuates with how much your Beast is fucking with you apparently. Mayhaps it ties into the finished Compulsions version.
- Next is the Toreador section. Their whole 'speech' portion bears copy/pasting here:
- * you have fed, it is time for introductions. My name is Carmelita Neillson. I am a doctor. I use that word because you probably won’t know what an archaeologist is. I serve my clan – your clan – in unearthing sleeping ancients such as yourself and introducing them to the world as it is tonight. You seem surprised that a member of the Clan of the Rose would dirty her hands with excavation and study. Let me guess: you thought our clan more suited to parlors, admiring mortal singers, dancers, and artists? It is true, the face of our clan is one of superficial beauty, but we have not lost our core. At its heart, Clan Toreador is the clan of creation. The sculptor dirties her hands with chisel and stone. The painter will accumulate all manner of stains. My calling is in bringing the torpid back to us and asking for their stories. It is my art form. Clan Toreador has not missed a step since you fell into torpor. We still ride high, leading a sect known as the Camarilla alongside our peers among the Ventrue and Tremere. Do not believe we take second or third place in that triumvirate. We are the voice, the inspiration, and the soul that binds the sect together.In these nights, the Toreador are the burning hope for all clans. We are proof that Kindred can be more than slaves to their Beast. Others come to us for guidance and seek to emulate our devotion to beauty and innocence. We teach, but none will master the arts as well as we.For every true artist, innovator, and great mind in our clan, we have a sycophant, amateur, and vapid beauty. It is as it should be. Everything is beautiful, old one, including the duality we represent. While the others mistake us for preening fools, we work our wonders to make all of Kindred society a better place.Welcome back to Clan Toreador. The night is ours.*
- The section is flowery and well-written and talks about the artistic portion (and posits a death for Arikel absorbed by her own beauty in a mirror and unable to tear herself away from the reflected dawn). It gives some archetypes like the gadabout, l'artiste and the thespian spy. Their Bane is to lose focus and dice based on the Bane Severity from Disciplines in areas that aren't aesthetically pleasing to the Toreador (as determined by the ST in relation to the Torrie's aesthetic). So it's got some narrative stuff to go with it, and they point out that 'even those who ascribe to the Ashcan School will never find perfect streets' hinting that it's a give and take. Interesting.
- The next section is about Beliefs, which seems to be parts Humanity and parts chronicle guidelines. It talks about Convictions, which are tenets from your mortal life you cling to in undeath, listing things like 'thou shalt not kill' or 'kill only the unworthy/unbelievers/in fair combat/in self defense' or 'always keep your sworn word' and such things. It mentions a mechanic called Stains, and incurring Stains in accordance to your Convictions mitigates some of the Stain, and violating a Conviction can incur Stains at the ST discretion. It also talks about Chronicle Tenets, which are overall 'this applies to everyone in the game' and can be used to tailor a chronicle to your liking. It mentions explicitly that it applies to all PCs even if they don't have that belief personally and the struggle between self and society. It also talks about leaving out things that might be traumatic to players in your group.
- Touchstones are covered here and they are pretty much the same as in the pre-alpha; a person or thing you cling to, with examples like a human descendant, a human related to someone you killed early in your unlife but swore you didn't have to killl because you aren't a monster, not really; and such. It also covers Ambition and Desire, which are an explicit long term gaol (examples are 'I want to liberate Chicago from the Camarilla' or 'I want to reach Humanity 10' or 'end the Gehenna War in the Ukraine') and sets some goals and things for your ST to play with. Working towards your Ambition gives you a benefit at the end of a session as you recover one Aggravated Willpower damage. No context on that though. A Desire is a short-term goal, less than Ambition but more than fleeting momenary wants. Each session they can choose a Desire and when they definitively act towards it, or accomplish it, they recover one point of Superficial Willpower damage. Again, no context for the concept of Willpower damage. It talks about Desires needing to involve someone on the relationship map (oh noes, one of the things I hate from many narrative-focus games, but for example, 'I want to drive a cherry Maserati' is not a Desire, but 'I want to drive Cytherea's cherry Maserati' is). The last section mentions sponge free willpower, so I wonder if Aggravated is a lessening of permanent willpower and Superficial is willpower points?
- The next section is the full writeup of Celerity. And boy has it changed, for the better in my opinion. The fluff writeup is from a SI report referencing 37 separate instances of Celerity usage and how there is very little defense against it. To the point where a self-destructive microbomb killing the SI agent to kill the vampire is a worthwhile tradeoff. The SI are not fucking around. Celerity seems to now have multiple powers at each level. Based on the wording in a Level 4 power, it seems like they're bought separately, so no two vampires with Celerity would be the same all the time. It also lists some contexts for Celerity: Type (Physical), Masquerade Threat (Medium-High, which is nice to see), and Blood Resonance (which seems to tie into the feeding system and the potential bonuses from some humans; it's listed here as Choleric. Fear and utter terror, runners, athletes, amphetamine and alkaloid users, habitual players of first-person shooters and other twitch games.)
- Level 1 has Cat's Grace (Cost: Free. The user automatically passes any Dex or Athletics-based roll needed to keep balance; does not allow them to balance on support that cannot take their weight) and Rapid Reflexes (Cost: Free; suffer no penalty to defense pools for lack of cover against Firearms; can also take a minor action worth up to 2 dice per turn, such as readying or reloading a weapon, for free).
- Level 2 is Fleetness (Cost: One Rouse Check. Flash-time reactions. Add Celerity to non-combat Dex tests for one scene; once per turn they may also add it to their Dex + Athletics defense roll).
- Level 3 has Blink (swiftly close on a for or flee in the blink of an eye. Cost: One Rouse Roll, Roll for Discipline: Dex + Athletics. Move in a straight line towards a target covering up to 50 meters of distance while still being able to perform an action in the turn; hazardous terrain requires dex + athletics roll to avoid being stopped, and ST can impose other contests. Vampires engaging with the power act as if already engaged with the target at the beginning of the turn; there's an example of Blink; lasts one turn) and Traversal (speed allows them to Flash-run on any surface including liquids and vertical, though it doesn't provide supernatural traction; Cost: One Rouse, Dice Pool: Dex + Athletics vs variable successes needed based on what you're doing and where you're going. Rough guidelines is anything more than 30 stories (!) up or 60 meters over water is outside the range of the power).
- Level 4 is Draught of Elegance (vampire puts some of their Celerity into the blood and passes it to those who drink it. Cost: One Rouse, drinking a Rouse Check worth of blood from the donor grants half the level of Celerity, rounded down, and all non-Amalgam powers that the donor has). Amalgam is covered briefly here, referencing Auspex 2 as an Amalgam called Unerring Aim (so Combo Powers). Amalgam Unerring Aim (Auspex 2: Flash-time for throwing and shooting. Cost: One Rouse Check. Use before making a ranged attack. The target makes no roll to dodge or defend; make the attack at Difficulty 1. An opponent possessing Celerity 5 can nullify this power by making their own Rouse Check, allowing them to defend as normal). Recall from the alpha that Difficulty 1 is the # of needed successes.
- Level 5 is Lightning Strike (move faster than the eye can follow, same mechanic as Unerring Aim but for Brawl/Melee) and Split Second (You are The Flash; ambushers find their target standing BEHIND them, etc. Cost: One Rouse. The player can supersede the Storyteller's narrative within reason, such examples include moving through a door before it closes, circumvent an ambush after it's been triggered, or roll out of the way of an explosion. the action must be reasonable and not take more than a few seconds in real time, ST determines any necessary contingent checks).
- Next is the section on Loresheets, which are described as a mechanical way that a character can interact with the lore and metaplot and story.
- The first Loresheet is Theo Bell connections, which goes over some of his background (and his defection to the Anarch Movement?! But the way they present it is really good!) and then 5 dots worth of Theo Bell Loresheet to buy, ranging from 1: Rebel Cell (a three-dot ally that will do a dangerous task for you per story), through to 5: Sect Neutrality (loyal Brujah to your personal vision; spend 5 dots among Contacts, Haven, Mawla and Retainers).
- Second loresheet is Descendant of Helena which is (naturally) limited to Toreador only, and represents being a descendent of the Methuselah Helena. The ranks range from 1: Skin Deep (name drop Helena to other Toreador or vamps who know her and increase your Status by one dot) through to 5: Succubus Club Fanchise (Helena is confirmed to succumb to the Beckoning and off to fight in the Gehenna War; as long as the club remains open the Chasse rating of your coterie's Domain increases by 2 dots. No context on Chasse. Also divide 4 dots among Resources, Fame, and Status among all Kindred).
- The third and final Loresheet is The Week of Nightmares. You can guess what this one is, you're a Ravnos survivor of the Week of Nightmares (which has many theories, so the Thin Blood version isn't exactly canon). Level 1 is Oral History (you've heard and told the tale of the Week of Nightmares all over, and often invited to speak as a historian. Add three dice to Performance to tell the story) to Level 4: The Red Star (you see Anthelios; once per story reudce Hunter to 2 or gain a die to the pools of one Discipline for one night by staring at the star) to Level 5: Blood of Zapathasura (Mage lasers are canon apparently; you own a vial of the Blood of the Ravnos Antediluvian).
- I must say, I REALLY like what I've read. The combination of Touchstones and Convictions and Chronicle Tenets really seems like it'll be a good way to flavor and flow a chronicle. Celerity is quite nice, and thematic, without extra action bloat. Loresheets are really nice story and mechanical benefits.