Thursday, 22 March 2018

Royal Monsters: Notes for a Game of Vampire the Dark Ages

These notes are unfinished, please feel free to take 'em and do whatever you want with them.

The premise of the game is that a group of Tzimisce have just lost their sire/master, and now have to deal with the issues he had, whilst holding their own against their siblings. Part of the requirements for the game will be that PCs have an additional supernatural weakness, in addition to the clan weakness.
Using the idea of pooling backgrounds, and having some freebie backgrounds in there too - which will allow them to buy some decent stuff without cutting off their noses to spite their faces so to speak.

So the game will be naturally fractious - lots of backstabbing whilst at the same time dealing with enemies - of which there are many... the Tremere, in alliance with a Hungarian Ventrue are pressing hard against the western border, a motley group of Nosferatu, Gangrel and other low clans are trying to assert some sort of independence, even trying to carve out their own demenses in some cases. That's before you add in other Tzimisce who are looking to expand their territory or a group of renegade revenants who've run off to the nearest Elder with their tails between their legs.
So, lots to do but not necessarily in the traditional 'dungeon bash' line.
As there's a lot of map stuff on Roll20, I'd need to come up with some of those. Off the top of my head, I'd want numerous maps for the castle (to account for each floor and wing, as well as the chambers that are cut into the mountain itself). An overland, 'big view' of the domain (mountains, forests, towns and so on) would be good too, as well as 'lair' maps for the various holdings and so on that constitute the territory.
I probably need some forest glades and so on to reflect Lupine presence (a canny Gangrel might well try to engineer a war between the Lupines and the Brood).

Issues I can see with this:
1) It's not a linear setup - the PCs are basically going to be dropped into the middle of events.
2) There are conflicting issues - known threats assail them with others waiting in the wings/under the surface... does this mean the game is set at too high a level and players might feel overwhelmed? I appreciate that there's an element of staging but I've been stung by that before). So the scale might be too big, even if its tied to a very small area.
3) Is it too limiting to say that characters of one clan are allowed? The Fiends are pretty, um, flexible, what with Kuldonic Sorcery and so on and there are a number of concepts they can tap into. One downside is that the characters would have to be the same generation (unless they've committed diablerie), which tightens things up again.
4) Is it too much of a responsibility for players? It's cutting against the 'plucky adventurers with no ties' thing that gaming thrives on.
5) I think it's going to take a very specific group of players /type of player to enjoy this...
6) Is there a six? Cultural dissonance perhaps?
Characters

  • Voivode - Stelian. A huge man, a very masculine man, Stelian lives up to his name. He's a warrior, a soldier and a monster. His childer have been recruited to fulfil other functions, though he has one that's another soldier. Bizarrely upon his death his body doesn't waste away but remains, huge and horrible to moulder in the castle (the Tremere 'thoughtfully' returning it to there). 
  • Seer - caged Malkavian - Alaina - Boleslav believes she's a seer, in fact, she's lucky with a high Auspex rating. She is agoraphobic and hates going outside.
  • Advisor - Cappadocian - Dmitrios - A typical Cappadocian in many ways, he is the most loyal of Boleslav's group. He has been part of the defence of the domain, raising zombies to fight the Tremere's forces. Greek
    • He has a Lamia bodyguard, Daciana
  • Legbreaker - Gangrel (who will betray them) - Dragos - A wild man and a hunter, who is sent out to undertake solo missions. He is ambitious and proud, he serves Stelian because he defeated him... he will not serve his childer.
  • Narcissa: A 'bride' - a Tzimisice who has become like Dracula's brides.
  • Luca - Nosferatu spymaster. An animalism master, he has a network of animal spies, as well as keeping close contacts amongst the 'low clans'. He also has a childe embedded in the large town. On the Road of the Devil, he delights in corrupting those about him.

Revenant servants, who'll break once the Voivode is dead.

Forest
Gangrel

Dragos (after and if he betrays the PCs)
Cristina - Dragos' secret childe. A woodcutter's daughter who fought off a too amorous man and then fled to the forest. She survived on her own for long enough that Dragos was impressed an embraced her. She is an illegal embrace though and as a result, seldom leaves the forest.

Werewolves?

A small Shadow Lord sept is based in the heart of the woods. Or, just Lupines, mad creatures without reason.

Nosferatu clan members

A small hermitage has grown around the 'martyr in the rocks'. A few Nosferatu live amongst them, fearing the worst (but there's nothing there).

Town - held by Prometheans

A market town, with large stockyards where pigs and sheep are slaughtered. Wool industry

It sits about twenty miles away from the castle, far enough to feel independent but close enough to be protected. Lucian holds 'court' in the local governor's house, 

  1. Lucian: Toreador Elder who wants to be Prince. He sees himself as civilised, a direct contrast to the Fiends. He wants to have an Elysium, officers of the court, a sense of justice... not just wild thugs in the night and rule by the iron fist. He is easily led by his heart, his ghouls are pretty boys, catamites. Adam was one of them; he now regrets embracing him.
  2. Adila: Assamite Scholar. A young woman from Damascus, she fled the city when the Baali overran it and ended up... here. Now she doesn't really know what to do for the best. She has become one of Lucian's allies, advising him and encouraging him to take a stand against the local Tzimisce (who she treats with scarcely disguised disdain).
  3. Cesar: Brujah soldier. Once part of the castle's guard, he disobeyed an order and was whipped for it. Unrepentant he refused to bow to the PCs and this attracted the attention of his sire, Erzbet, who embraced him. Now, he serves as Lucian's muscle, willing to do the things Lucian won't in order to make things work. He has a number of ghouls in the local guard and is grooming one of them to be his childe.
  4. Dorin: Nosferatu beggar. A newcomer, Dorin has fled the Omen War elsewhere and found his way to the town. A committed Christian, he's established his haven in the church's crypt. He has made a friend in Clara, not realising that she intends to make him a thrall to her sire.
  5. Clara: Nosferatu pilgrim (Luca's childe, he embraced her when he found out what sins she had committed). She was tortured by Luca, convinced that this was God's punishment and that she was not worthy to follow the Christian faith. Luca bound her through a 'sacrament' that involved drinking his vitae from a chalice. 
  6. Adam: Toreador beauty - a young adonis (Lucian's childe). A beautiful young man, if a touch empty headed. Adam is the childe of Lucian and resents his sire's control over his life. He has taken up with Gamil in an attempt to create his own identity. Strong, and able to use an axe (what would be called a poseur in later centuries). 
  7. Gamil: Follower of Set, young blood/merchant (hot-tempered, fiery - borderline caitiff?). With links to Constantinople and the Mediterranean Gamil is an immigrant, one who only came north after he was embraced. In reality, he is a pawn of his sire, sent to gather intelligence about the area, and particularly about the Tremere. Adam and Aurelia are 
  8. Aurelia: A Ventrue Knight, an envoy who is waiting to meet with the Voivode and who Stelian ignored for years. She brought her family with her, they maintain a small manor house outside the town. Publicly they are the model family, but when they are alone she rules the roost openly. Her husband is her willing slave, long since drugged through her blood into being unable to think for himself.
  9. Raluca: A Tzimisce who has deserted her sire. She is a secret Furore, and seems to be one of Lucian's closest supporters. In reality she is hoping to depose him when the time is right. 
  10. Iolanda: A young Gangrel who is hanging around, and is frightened of Dragos. Gamil has taken her under his wing and is teaching her... She is currently only feeding on animals.
Locations

Castles
Caves (connected to castle)
Villages
Towns
Monastery
Forest
Mountains
Hermitage

Plothooks

  1. Castle: An assassin hidden in the castle
  2.           A curse, related to conquest and stealing of land.
  3.           The Lady of the Manor
  4.           Exploring home - how much has been walled up and hidden over the centuries
  5.           Chalice of Blood
  6.           The Voivode's body (riffing off Castle of Otranto)
  7. Freedom - what dangers does it bring.
  8. Wolves attacking travellers, what's causing it
  9. Punishing upstarts (town)
  10. The growth of the Prometheans
  11. Enforcing a new order (generally)
  12. The Seer's visions
  13. Assault - Tremere battle
  14. Sabotaging a Tremere base
  15. A Ravnos score - breaking into the castle to steal something that belonged to Stelian. 
  16. Hunters/mortals who are driven into action after they're whipped up by something (a vampire being indiscreet)
  17. The sacrifice - a human close to the vampires is abducted by the local witch/a cult working for an old, pagan vampire.


Themes

Upstarts and rebellion against the proper authorities (and improper authorities).