Liu Jen Hao wrote:
1) I proposed the bonuses/penalties for honorable/dishonorable behavior due to VERY bad past experiences with the cynical/dark/gothic Emo-crowd who INSIST on playing nihilists who do NOT behave with AN honor, decency or even basic kindness unless it interested them. You know, the kind of leather wearing father-hating Marilyn Manson fas who SCREAM at you to start enjoy killing children because "it's a dark world, stop being such a prude." The WORST are avid players of the DELIBERATELY evil Sabbat from Vampire The Masquerade: BY BUDDAH am I thankful never hang around that group again.
Here is another suggestion: DON'T give bonuses for honorable behavior, as this is what is EXPECTED of heroes to be able to turn undead in the FIRST PLACE. Instead, STILL penalize them for murder, stealing, lying bullying and raping. Remind them that NOT every role-playing game has to turn into a singing-dancing-and-laughnig happily-and-cynically baby killing session of Game of Thrones, that Good Decency and Kindness is meant to be PROTECTED, NOT EXPLOITED.
And if any player decides to sink to crap like torturing and raping children just to get information with the excuse "I'm just accurately role-playing my Chaotic Character who DOSENT care about ANYONE period", take away his ability to turn-evil.... f><k it, just kick the bastard out of the gaming group for good.
Sorry, just too bitter about watching role playing games, which was once about celebrating hope, heroism and idealism, get warped into a tool for lionzing cruelty, apathy and cynicism.
Sounds like you've had some pretty bad experiences with the V:tM crowd.
I'll qualify my statements by pointing out that I ran a Vampire LARP for over a year whose attendance went upwards of 50 people. I also helped run a Vampire LARP in a different city for a couple of years as sort of an "Assistant Storyteller". So I've got experience managing all sorts of players from the "I'm just here because my boyfriend likes it when I dress up like this" to the hardcore "I'm secretly a member of the Sabbat with a trenchcoat made out of human skin". Not to mention the full spectrum of both nightmare players and nightmare DMs from decades of playing D&D and other RPGs.
Whether or not putting a mechanic in a game to enforce behavior towards one direction or the other is a good/bad thing, let me just say that I don't think TA/TG is in danger of being overrun by this type of crowd. It's just not that type of game. There's really no challenge to slaying scores of "civilians" or committing heinous crimes on the villagers in TA/TG. It would be boring. And mildly sociopathic. And while I'd think the latter would not be a limiting factor, the first one would be. It would be like going from 1st level to 10th level doing nothing but killing rats. It would take forever. And wouldn't be terribly effective.
Part of that is because of the way alignment works in TA/TG -- which is similar to DCC but with a twist. Being "Lawful" means your character is invested into the system -- The Church, the government, the ruling classes, etc. While being "Neutral" takes a humanistic view of things. Right and wrong are taken in relative terms with a Neutral character. They gauge things less on "rules" and more on justice and fairness. "Chaotic" means that a character has a bit of a mercenary bent with a nod towards acquiring personal power. This varies from class to class. What motivates a Chaotic Hunter might not motivate a Chaotic Polymath. And the system a Lawful Half-Breed is bought into is going to be very different from the rules a Lawful Valiant follows.
That said, TA/TG doesn't force any moral code on characters. It argues pretty strongly against it. Sometimes characters are going to be in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes they might choose to do something that isn't quite heroic. In TA/TG, this might
cost a Luck point (or 2 or 3) -- see below. But I think a mechanic that forces people to conform introduces unnecessary friction. Moreover, in my experience it doesn't dissuade players from attempting to repeat those actions. If anything, it creates an internal challenge for them to do it just because.
But one might wonder if I would allow characters to run roughshod over the 0-levels in TA/TG. And, well yeah, I guess they could. But I'd actually encourage a player to try that. Just please oh please just once. Preferably in a gypsy settlement. Because they'd do it once. Only once.
TA/TG is set in a fairly detailed setting. And characters never know who they're dealing with or who that person may know. Do something against the Gypsies and it could land you a gypsy curse. Believe me, you don't want to go around collecting those. Moreover, a family of someone a PC harms could "pay" a gypsy to curse a character. If the character's actions were heinous enough, the Gypsy would get the same efficacy as if that act were committed against one of their own. And that chart. Sucks. It drains the life out of anything worth min-maxing. Really it does. Try swinging a Two-Handed Sword when you lose 1 point of Strength permanently every X days. That's the kind of slow death that could make a darkgrim sociopath go muster up an apology. If only to stop having to roll 1d10-3 damage.
In addition, NPCs have families and communities. It's good to have those people on your side. If for no other reason than parties in TA/TG go around collecting Adversaries and Rivals. And the less help those groups get, the better a party does. Think about the rival archaeologist in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yeah, you don't want the villagers running to THAT guy to get away from you.
And then there's ghosts. Nope. Not talking about the 3-5 HD creature that can be turned/controlled/destroyed. TA/TG has legit Hauntings. And if the PCs are nasty enough, those will start to add up as well. Sure, a party could try to Exorcise those in game. But those are resources that won't be going to fighting those who are trying to kill you and take your stuff.
The PCs also need help from the people of Transylvania. If a party has a seriously bad rep, they won't get information. They won't get maps. They won't get medical assistance. Did I mention there's no magical healing? They won't get SUPPLIES.
Sure, they may (at significantly high level) just burn a village to the ground and take what they want. But that is legitimately unsustainable. A 10th level character will have maybe as many as 60 hit points or little more than a dozen. While supermen compared to a single 0-level villager, a 10th level TA/TG character is simply not strong enough to take on armies. Especially armies with muskets. No matter what level a character is, 36 points of damage could potentially kill them. A musket in TA/TG can do up to 36 points of damage.
And without access to records, archives, private vaults, libraries, it really won't matter how many levels a group has. If they don't have access to the community, they will be facing every Adversary at full power.
And they will die. Research is how parties level the playing field between themselves and this vile monstrosity over here. Burning down villages tends to limit how much a character can look through books and archives. Investigation is a HUGE part of this game. If the priest won't let you in the archives, you're kinda screwed. Remember, Transylvanians held off Huns, Turks, Szeklers and many other invading armies
by holing up inside their churches. What's 4 PCs compared to that?
And with a significantly bad reputation, that's what a party would start to encounter: empty villages with villagers holed up in their kirchenburg after being warned by the ghost of some poor villager they'd gruesomely slain. And the villagers can stay in there for years. Could magic help the party? Maybe. Once. Or twice. Before the villagers get wise and just shoot him. I'll gar-OHN-tee a 10th level Theorist won't stand up to a full on musket ball. And some towns even have rifles!
Taking it further, it wouldn't be too long before some survivor of the PC's atrocities gave soul or life to the Big D or an Old Thing to stop the PCs. And let me tell you, Dracula doesn't like competition on his home turf.
A 10th level party taking on Dracula after serious investigation might bring him down with zero casualties with a lucky shot or two. We're talking Epic rolls. Then again, they might just make him mad.
But facing the Big D cold? Or with a Gypsy curse on your head? Or with Hauntings that are messing with you?
Yeah, Dracula would kill them. Maybe toy with them a bit. I mean, Dracula's bad enough as it is. I couldn't imagine facing him with dozens of villagers armed with pitchforks and a handful of them with muskets backing him up. And that would make things that much worse in Transylvania as a whole. Because now Dracula would have a groundswell of support amongst the mortals. Soon Dracula's cultists become an open Army. And then the next campaign, things look a lot like the setting "Midnight" by FFG.
Another good reason for not "going dark" in the setting is there is no power gain. Dracula is LORD of the Vampires. To be a vampire is to be one of his thralls. He makes you (even indirectly). He unmakes you. Being a Werewolf is painful. You don't get to run around with superpowers. Nope, you wake up naked in some random hex after X days have passed with blood all over you. And you have to find your way back. Cue random encounters. It's like the worst GM intro ever: "You wake up naked and all your stuff is gone".
Unlike the White Wolf games, being a "monster" isn't part of the fun. Because monsters lose the one thing that players almost universally value: protagonism. The power to choose what their characters will do. It legitimately sucks (pun intended) to "go to the dark side" in Transylvania. I mean, what good is a Hunter who is a Vampire if Dracula can remotely decide that you shouldn't wake up for another 25 years? And we haven't even mentioned the other Adversaries in TA/TG.
Things also happen to the characters outside of the game. They make connections, friends, lovers (that they don't have to assault) and become assimilated into the world to the greatest degree possible (or should). They even get XP for this. It's pretty important. And when those people are hurt, things are not nice for the character. Being in a loving relationship and having something happen to that person or relationship negatively affects the character. While being loved has a positive mechanical effect that no other spell, potion or otherwise offers. So there's that too. The more community support you have, the better off you are. Just use the charts and stuff like this happens. And players have seemed to enjoy it (thus far).
But even if this wasn't the case in TA/TG, DCC has the Luck stat to help enforce genre behavior. Just as healing a Chaotic Thief might cost a Lawful Cleric a Luck point, slaughtering those you are meant to protect could have a negative effect on Luck as well. Even the darkest of Chaotic classes in TA/TG know that the common enemy is the forces of darkness. Some might want to gain part of their power. But each knows that giving themselves over to Evil is losing their power of choice. It's like being an addict or a kleptomaniac or having a really over-bearing boss.
And nobody likes that.
TA/TG allows players the choice to do what they want in the setting. But just like anything else, choices have consequences. If they walk up and kill the Town Boss and start raping tavern girls, the villagers flee into the kirchenburg. The party doesn't get directions. The party doesn't get a map to the dungeon. The party doesn't even know what's in the dungeon.
And that's a legitimately bad thing in TA/TG. Not to mention if a character's fiancee hears about it and is scandalized or decides to break it off with the character. That's the kind of legitimate bad news that keeps hurting until a character can fix it.
I guess being in love (or falling out of love) is a bit like a Gypsy curse. Hmm, hadn't thought of it that way.
Liu Jen Hao wrote:
2) Just wondering: I keep seeing the term "cold iron" pop up everywhere in any articles about fairies: just what the heck DOES make iron "cold"?
Changeling the Lost defines a cold-iron sword as a lump of UN-melted iron hammered into a sword with a lot of time and a lot of patience. But that's just darned silly however you look at it.
Since both your hero's starting iron sword and plate mail AND their cold "cold iron", what does make an iron "cold" that enemies like Maleificent and the Queens of Hearts should fear you for having one?
Not sure "cold iron" will be a part of TA/TG. It's part of folklore, for sure. But the source material for TA/TG distinguishes silver items more than other varieties. The fae will be featured in TG but the likelihood they'll let you get near them with anything made out of iron or silver is about as high as Dracula going sunbathing. Not saying he couldn't. It's just not likely he'd want to.
And no one has plate mail in TA/TG. It went out of fashion about 2 centuries ago. It's really expensive. Hard to find. Bulky. Not helpful against firearms.
If using TA/TG rules in a fantasy setting, there's a possibility it might pop up. But I think characters would be more inclined to run around in a loincloth.
I know I would.