Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Vicissitudes of V5

Buy the PDF here and I get a few bucks back!
OK, time for some nerdiness again.

I was asked to join an online game of Vampire: the Masquerade recently. Here's the short version of events:
  1. Someone who knows my work at OBS contacted me on Facebook looking for information. 
  2. During the process of informing him, I found out he lives in Orlando. 
  3. I asked him if had been at Orlando Pride. 
  4. He said no, and regretted not being there, because if he had been he'd have brought a Dungeons & Dragons book for me to sign. 
  5. Puzzled, I asked him "Why D&D"? 
  6. He said "Because I read your blog and I know you're into roleplaying games."
  7. Then he mentioned he was currently running a Vampire game over Discord. 
  8. This promptly kicked over my geek box as I have a long and well-documented love for the original game (not that new Requiem crap) and I mentioned to him that back in the day my Werewolf tribal name (long story there) would have been "Owns-All-the-Books."
  9. I then became a geek resource for him as he asked me for details about the game setting as I literally got in on the ground floor with it back in 1991 and stayed with until White Wolf Studios got tired of making money and ended their entire game line in 2004. (They came to their senses in 2011 and began releasing 20 year anniversary editions of the games, which did well, and now Modiphius is publishing the 5th edition, aka V5. 
    • In case you were curious, that numbering goes 1e, 2e, VRev (3), V20 (4) and V5. 
  10. I was lonely and bored on Halloween because it's supposed to be a spooky event and I had nothing spooky going on, so I asked if I could join his game and he gave an emphatic "Yes!"
So I have a lot to say about V5, but at this moment I don't have enough experience with it to give it a proper review. I'll hit the highlights with a more in-depth review later. 
  • The useless "Appearance" attribute is gone and is replaced with Composure, which is basically a stat for self-control and remaining calm under pressure. 
  • The "Perception" attribute has become a skill under a different name (Insight) and replaced with Resolve, which is a mental toughness. Pair it with Composure and that's your Willpower rating. 
  • Blood Pool is gone and replaced with an abstract Hunger mechanic which is nifty but difficult to explain. The short version is that the "leaky gas tank" type vampire is gone and with a few bad rolls you could end up really hungry really quickly. The best way to explain it is to imagine D&D but instead of Hit Points you rolled a Fortitude save each time you were hit to determine if you were knocked out or not. 
  • Willpower is a wound track, meaning that you can take mental damage from social attacks like intimidation, frustration, humiliation, etc. 
  • Speaking of wound tracks, there's no such thing as wound penalties any more. I'm not sure how I feel about this but there hasn't been much combat in this game so far. Hopefully more on this later?
  • In general, the mechanics have been.... re-vamped (hah!)... and overall I like it. 
There is, however, one tragic oversight. You see, while the core rulebook included the obligatory 7 Camarilla clans plus the Caitiff, and other books included independent clans like the Banu Haqim (née Assamites) and the preciously-renamed Ministry (née Followers of Set) and even the "Surprise! We're part of the Camarilla now!" Lasombra (the Sabbat has kinda... gone away. I haven't yet read all the fluff because honestly, there's a lot of it and I'm busy, but I'm cool with this because I thought the Sabbat was rather dumb) and whatever the Clan of Death is calling themselves these night (Hecata, actually, though I'm not clear on why).... 

... wow, that was a long sentence...

... I found myself incensed because one of my favorite clans was not represented. They had the gall to update the Setites but not the Tzimisce, the clan of Dracula? FILTHY PEASANTS! 

[Rage! Frenzy! Excessive scene-chewing!]
And so, in cooperation with Adrian, my GM, I bring you this V5 version of the Fiends. It will of course be eventually eclipsed by canon, but who knows when that will be? Until then, you are of course most welcome to use mine. 

I translated the discipline into V5 as best I could, with Adrian making sure the terminology was correct. He and I collaborated on the clan weakness (now called a Bane) and their corresponding Compulsion. 

Oh right, before I go, a quick explanation:  V5 seems to be trying to do away with what I call KND Syndrome. KND stands for Kewl New Discipline, and anyone who played in previous versions of Vampire knows exactly what I mean by that even if they haven't heard the term before now. And so in an effort to reduce KND, the writers have been trying to consolidate the disparate clan abilities into as few disciplines as possible. For example, the old Assamite discipline of Quietus has been subsumed into equal parts Obfuscate and Blood Sorcery (née Thaumaturgy, and I don't know why they changed that name); the Malkavian discipline of Dementation has been folded into Dominate; etc. 

So when it came time to write up Vicissitude, I folded it into Protean (both powers are about changing shape, after all) and I did it three ways to give flexibility to GMs:
  1. I made it a 3-power system so that it became a variant fork of Protean;
  2. I made it a traditional 5-power system so that people who wanted all of the old powers Vicissitude could get them;
  3. and then I just added some more details, removed the amalgam prerequisites, and turned it into its own discipline. 
Yes, this way means that Gangrel can get access to what was once the province of only the Fiends, but I'm okay with that, because first of all they're both clans of shapechangers and it's thematically appropriate, and second because I'm tired (and I've been tired for a long time) of people who play a clan just to get access to their unique power. This way, only the people who want to play the Tzimisce will choose to play them.

Also, it gives the Fiends access to more nifty powers too, which is always acceptable in my book. 

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