Monday, September 15, 2014

LARP Organisation - Financial Costs or Why We Have Membership Fees

One of the things rarely mentioned in the various Create a LARP web-links I've found is the actual nitty gritties of the boring stuff that must go on in the background.  If you're in a litigious society, especially one where venues require public liability insurance and offer discounted rates to registered Not For Profits, you'll need to do quite a bit more to run a campaign LARP than simply hire a place and offer tickets.

You see, an event LARP can afford to pay the higher rates for a venue so long as it's relatively prop-lite / uses props already owned.  People will generally pay a higher ticket cost for something that has so much extra prep-work going into it than the more self-sufficient (but still time intensive) campaign LARPs where players must shoulder some of the burden in character creation, goal setting and interaction.  I think it's also partly because an annual event also feels more special than a monthly one so people can justify to themselves spending a little more (i.e. $15 instead or $3 - $5).

Generally private venue hire includes public liability insurance coverage (at least in South Australia) where your event can come under the venue's own insurance contracts.  Most venues have a limit of, say, four hires per year where you can do this.  This is basically a 'Private Hire' and explains how people can hire such places for birthday parties and other celebrations without having to take out event insurance ($250 a pop).

If you wanted to run a campaign LARP under the private venue hire rules in South Australia, you could still do it using the higher hourly rates but you'd need to change the venue every fifth time in a year.  True, you could run it as an unincorporated association (i.e. informal club) but very few organisations / councils recognise them and insurance companies certainly don't.

In Adelaide, the average meeting room has an hourly rate of $10 - $20 for a private hire.  Larger spaces like halls tend to sit between $40 - $75 an hour, especially on weekends (Friday night to Sunday night).  If you want meeting rooms on top of that, you have to pay the combined rates.

Generally Not For Profits get to pay half to a quarter of that rate - sometimes meeting rooms will be free though halls rarely are unless you get really lucky.  They do need someone to contribute to the cost of the building's overheads and all that.  (Increasingly venues won't offer reduced rates on weekends due to a lack of funding from other sources - so even as a Not For Profit you need to shop around).

Therefore becoming a real Not For Profit can save you a lot of money.  I don't yet know the cost of public liability insurance (which covers damage to property and passersby) for a dice LARP but boffer LARP insurance can cost around $1800 for $10 million insurance.  That boils down to $150 per session if you run 12 a year - which compared to $250 for event insurance for each game for a private hire, is a saving of $100.

Of course, very little is free these days.  Not only does a Not For Profit require a constitution and a committee, but there's an incorporation fee (currently $181) alongside other sundries such as cash boxes, ledger books, occupational first aid kits (potentially sporting first aid kits), and rubber stamp.

Then when running the actual events, there are venue fees that will generally range between $10 to $20 an hour if you're clever and lucky, insurance that could reach up to $1850, and a bond for the events that can range from nil (rare), $250 (less common) to an average of $500 and a high of $1000.  That's a lot of money to put up front for an event and it's likely to come out of the organiser's pockets and you don't get the bond back until after you stop using that venue.

This is the reason why most LARP organisations charge some kind of membership fee on top of the actual session fee.  There are a lot of costs and if you want to get to the point where you can pay deposits and bonds as well as purchase props without digging into the organiser's pockets and reimbursing them later on, then there also needs to be a small profit per event.  This profit can also help the game survive if there's a small slump in either members or attendees.  If you're barely breaking even then even one player dropping out can put you in the red.

There are alternatives naturally but in Australia you have all the legal responsibilities (as an unincorporated association) but fewer protections, can't apply for grants, can't open a bank account for the organisation and will likely need to run the game out of your own house.  There are also convention LARPs which normally involve a single event run using the insurance provided by the convention itself.  Either option can work for some LARPs and not for others.

So ... any thoughts?  Any queries?  What's it like in other countries?

(Also, let me know if this article isn't very clear.  There's a lot of details in there and it's easy to make it over convoluted and confusing.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Elder Scrolls Meets Demon the Fallen (Adventure Prelude)

At least they aren't summoned into Hermaeus Mora's realm.  (Skyrim picture)
The players each receive their blank character sheet that is akin yet different to the regular World of Darkness sheet.  The main differences are that they have no "Power Stat" but they do have a "Magicka" bar that begins with a cap of 10 but can become much higher. 

Their mental skills include Academics, Alchemy, Folklore, Investigation, Magical Sciences, Politics, Smithing, Science while their physical skills include Athletics, Brawl, Archery, Larceny, Staff (magic), Sneak, Survival and Weaponry.  Their social skills are much the same as in any World of Darkness game.

The players must first select a fallen name for their Aedra.  If they can't immediately come up with one, using a random generator for god names, angel names and demon names will help. 

Then the game itself starts with the characters lost and adrift within darkness with dim memories of being partially responsible for the creation of a sterile and breathtaking universe alongside the other Aedra where all was perfection and stasis.  Lorkhan saw that it was sterile and convinced a number of the Aedra that the world needed to be set in reality and gifted to creatures that could explore and wander at it.  While most of your kind were repulsed by the very idea, Lorkhan's words proved very inspirational to some.  You were one of those many Aedra who sided with Lorkhan and helped remake the world.  The other Aedra warred with you.  Many fell.  Some were destroyed by their acts of creation itself.

Each Aedra who bought into Lorkhan's plan came to specialise and fall within a few small realms.  At this stage the GM should offer seven keywords and ask the PCs to pick the one they like the most which describes their starting concept: Leadership, Protection, Construction, Comprehension, Inspiration, Evolution and Solace.  Once a term is selected, read out the three sub-houses and have the player pick their favourite.

For those players who want a less whimsical character creation, simply go straight for reading out the below information and have the players choose at the end.

Either way, each sub-house provides a bonus to an attribute, provides a magical discipline dot and a single spell.  The discipline dot represents what level of spell that PC can learn.  1 dot: Novice.  2 dot: Apprentice.  3 dot: Adept.  4 dot: Expert.  5 dot: Master.  The free spells are from the Mage: the Awakening core rulebook except for Alter Voice which simply allows the fallen to change their voice for a scene.  Each Novice spell costs 1 Magicka to cast.  They don't get access to the usual Demon: the Fallen lores and may only select 4 points worth of apocalyptic form traits (more will be unlocked in future).

Leadership

The Namaru (+1 Presence and Resolve) were those who concerned themselves with enhancing the Magicka of others to achieve the will (Bel), who used such Magicka from light to forge the flame within the world and who pierced the sky to allow in Aetherial light in the form of the suns and star (Nusku) and who kindled sentience in the minds of certain races to elevate them from a beast's instincts (Qingu).

Bel = Alteration (Dispel Magic) - Presence + Magical Sciences
Qingu = Mysticism (Sense Consciousness) - Wits + Empathy
Nusku = Alteration (Control Heat) - Presence + Science

Protection

The Asharu (+1 Dexterity and Wits) were those who understood how to bring life to form to separate matter for existence (Dagan), who spoke within the minds of those made sentient to give them guidance (Anshar) and who spread air upon the land to separate the heavens from the worlds themselves (Elil).

Anshar = Mysticism (Sense Life) - Wits + Investigation
Dagan = Restoration (Healer's Trance) - Wits + Science
Elil = Alteration (Influence Sound) - Presence + Expression

Construction

The Anunaki (+1 Strength and Intelligence) were those who had sculpted some of the sterile matter and now they gave themselves to crafting the laws of the worlds to make them traversable to the living things (Antu), to building into the weave of items the properties of magic that would allow one to gift one's favourites with power (Mummu) and who played with the soil and rocks to make an intriguing landscape capable of giving forth life (Kishar).

Antu = Alteration (Angle Paths) - Wits + Survival
Kishar = Mysticism (Detect Substance) - Wits + Smithing
Mummu = Enchanting (Analyse Enchanted Item) - Wits + Magical Sciences

Comprehension

The Neberu (+1 Wits and Intelligence) were those who were set to divine the reactions of the Aedra (Ninsun), draw down the magicka from the sky and turn it into light so that all might see (Shamasha), and to open the Ways between places that were otherwise set into traversable lines so that one could - if one needed - leap from one place to the next in an instant (Nedu).

Nedu = Mysticism (Spatial Awareness) - Wits + Survival
Ninsun = Mysticism (Finder) - Wits + Investigation
Shamash = Alteration (Influence Light) - Presence + Magical Sciences

Inspiration

The Lammasu (+1 Wits and Manipulation) were those who knew that living beings would require a changing world and so they cast weather and water to change the lands (Adad), provided clues and hints and whispers that would inspire the living to find their own answers (Ishhara), and to best inspire them they learned ways of walking among them unseen so that they appeared as any other living thing (Mammetum).

Adad = Restoration (Sense Poisons & Drugs) - Wits + Alchemy
Ishhara = Mysticism (Aura Perception) - Wits + Empathy
Mammetum = Illusion (Alter Voice)* - Manipulation + Expression

Evolution

The Rabisu (+1 Stamina and Intelligence) were those who took the desires of the other Aedra and made them into whole creatures so that the worlds could be overrun with species of every kind, both plant (Ninurtu) and animal (Zaltu), and who then turned their designs to shaping those given sentience by the Asharu so that they could be better shaped to use such minds (Aruru).

Aruru = Restoration (Forego Rest) - Stamina + Survival
Zaltu = Restoration (Analyse Life) - Intelligence + Alchemy
Ninurtu = Mysticism (Pulse of the Living World) - Wits + Survival

Solace

Finally for life to exist, so must death, for without the latter no change is possible and all is doomed to sterility, so the Halaku (+1 Resolve and Composure) came forth to take on this sacred task by reclaiming the matter from the dead so that none may puppet them in death (Namtar), providing solace to the dead souls before returning them to this world in forms anew (Nergal), and crafting underworld landscapes for temporary afterlives in keeping with the needs of mortal minds so that there would be respite between life journeys (Ereshkigal).

Namtar = Mysticism (Forensic Gaze) - Intelligence + Investigation
Nergal = Conjuration (Speak With The Dead) - Resolve + Expression
Ereshkigal = Alteration (Shadow Sculpting) - Dexterity + Folklore

The darkness widens into a purplish light and a feminine voice commands them to come and they do, drawn out into the ancient bastion of Moonshadow, a place lit in bright lilacs and purples, with glistening white crystal stoneworks forming the bulk of the buildings.  They may roam its silent halls and rose gardens for a short while before Azura's voice speaks to them once more and commands them to fill the bodies of those whose souls have been stolen by soul gems.

Azura draws them via a silvery-violet light into a Great Hall filled with niches where statues of the various races stand around them.  The players may choose their race from the core ten.  Once chosen, they merge with the individual and disappear from this realm to enter the other world (see Khenarthi's Roost adventure). 

NB: I have a document filled with the races and their racial bonuses.  I may post up the information at a later date if there's much interest.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Demon: Lore of Wilds

Wilds gives control over nature's glories.  (Skyrim picture)
Wilderness Sense
You have a full mental map of the plants and animals located in an area equal to Faith in miles across and may make a Wits + Survival roll to scrutinise that mental map for higher minds (i.e. humans and supernaturals).  Success locates their general vicinity (within 50 feet) but only discriminates between type if the animals would be particularly stressed by the supernatural type (i.e. could be used to discriminate between changelings, mages and mortals on the one side and vampires, werewolves and certain claimed on the other, but couldn't discriminate within those groups).  This cannot be used to detect mystical obfuscation / invisibility powers that would work against animals.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can force a clash of wills against obfuscated or invisible creatures within the air  by linking your mind more directly and forcefully with the general wilderness.

Quicken Growth
You can provide sustenance to all flora within miles equal to Faith as though they had been recently fertilised OR you may instantly revivify a single plant you touch which has recently died causing it to bud new leaves before one's very eyes OR you can cause a single plant or tree to bear fruit or some other seasonal product within seven rounds.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can damage all flora within miles equal to Faith as though you had recently sprayed a weak pesticide upon them OR you may instantly kill a single plant you touch causing it to wither and die OR you can cause a single plant or tree to bear fruit that appears healthy but is actually poisonous (Toxicity 3 poison).

Command the Wild
You can cause a single woody plant or several bushy ones within yards equal to Faith to grow in size and thickness, creating cover that has armour equal to successes for yourself OR you can cause a single seed to sprout and gain size equal to successes OR you can make a tree or similarly large plant move a limb in an attack that deals bashing damage whose dice pool is equal to your successes.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Survival + Wild ( - Defence).
High Torment: You can attack others using a tree limb as a reflexive action.

Possess Plant
You can enter any plant that you are touching and pass through their root systems from plant to plant and tree to tree.  You can travel anywhere within miles equal to Faith in this manner anywhere that has enough plants (i.e. tree-lined streets and lawned gardens would do, sandy deserts and largely bitumen and tarmac wouldn't).  If you have previously cast Wilderness Sense, you can then use your regular senses as though you were standing in the place of a particular plant (as in a manner of speaking, you are).  If for some reason you must pass through a reasonable distance of dead plants, you may do so with the expenditure of a willpower point which will revivify them (giving them another shot at life).
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can cause the vegetation you pass through to wilt and begin to die but until then those you nominate (up to Faith in number) will suffer a -2 environmental penalty to any rolls made while traversing plant-filled areas (including garden lawns) which can cause mishaps that have their own damage dice pool equal to your successes on the roll (i.e. tripping over a tree root and landing on a garden gnome).  This dice pool is only bashing but as the damage / troubles last for a day it can certainly add up.


Mutate Plant
You can enter change any of a plant's characteristics on a genetic level - spending successes on increasing / decreasing it's size; changing the colour or shape of a leaf, petal or general branch configuration; changing the chemical qualities and purity within the plant; changing the taste and nutritional content of its fruit; and changing how it draws in nutrients (i.e. plants that live off air, plants the dissolve meat).  Such changes must be plausible within a living plant unless the Rabisu is content to keep it alive using lores.  This can be performed on lichen, moss and fungi.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Survival + Wild.
High Torment: You can give the plant greater mobility and reaction times so that it can either attack those not wearing the right pheromone with a limb or root OR grapple them OR move to connect with their skin to release a damaging toxin or skin irritant.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Elder Scrolls Adventure Set

Elder Scrolls Online: Such a beautiful game.
I will be running a few adventures set in the Elder Scrolls universe with some Demon: the Fallen mingled in using a thoroughly mongrelised system using The World of Darkness.  To help prepare my players I went and used The Same Page information tool so they have some idea what to expect game-wise.  I'll post up a few of the adventures and some of the character generation and mechanical considerations in later articles but this one is mostly focused on player points.

Should I play to win?

-ish.  It's assumed that you will succeed in your endeavours but the definitions of win / lose and success / failure are vague and subjective so more like an RP-heavy Pathfinder game than typical World of Darkness.
Player Characters are:

expected to interact with each other as a group alongside the NPCs, taking an interest in each other as much as the NPCs, and generally working together unless there's a pressing reason for a major conflict that should have been worked into the tale beforehand during character generation.
The GM's role is:

The GM preps a series of scenarios, using the map and other resources from the game world as a backdrop and additional filler, and highlighting different quests as they come up, while remaining flexible to player choices and decisions with regards to the how / what / when / why and even if they will get involved (bearing in mind that players shouldn't unfairly ignore a plot without good in-character justification).

The players' roles are…

…to engage with the game world and each other, making meaningful decisions and occasionally bashing down the door to take down monsters dungeon-style - basically a fantasy world adventurer simulation - play the world, play the personality, play the social environment, but also cut down the monsters and take the loot.

Doing the smartest thing for your character's survival…

…is generally what the average person would do and therefore fits well into the simulationist adventurer scenarios though sometimes themes of self-sacrifice and martyrdom may arise -- it's really up to you how you handle that.

The GM's role to the rules is…

…to invent sub-systems as they come up but once the house rules are agreed upon, they should be reliable without modification unless serious errors become apparent.

After many sessions of play, during one session, a player decides to have her character side with an enemy.  This is…

…where the character becomes an ST-guided PC (somewhat independent NPC) and will only last until the other PCs find out and do something about it.  It should therefore be quite rarely done and only for the most meaningful and powerful of reasons.

A fistfight breaks out in a bar!  The details of where everything is - tables, chairs, where everyone is standing is something that…

…is important though generally there won't be anything but the most rudimentary and quickly drawn maps and miniatures (and then only sometimes).  Clever players can gain dice bonuses or inflict dice penalties for using the terrain to their advantage  - such modifiers will be determined on an ad hoc basis but will generally reflect the World of Darkness rules.  This may be tied into a quick and easy merit sub-system but that remains to be seen.

In order to really have fun with this game, the rulebook is something that…

…is spread over so many different books and inside my own head that I wouldn't really bother with it beyond what you already know about the World of Darkness mechanics.  Even character creation will happen in-game.  Please try to remember the rules as they come up, though.  Most of them are quite simple.

Further details:

You don't need to know the Elder Scrolls universe.  If you would like to discover it in-game, your character's death can be caused via severe head trauma leading to total amnesia.  You will begin the game as one of the major races of the Aldmeri Dominion, i.e. a Khaijit (catperson), Altmer (high elf) or Bosmer (wood elf) unless the concepts of the second tier (easily workable but non-core groups) really flare your imagination.  These include Orsimer (wood orc variety), Maomer (sea elf - think pirates rather than mermaids as they can't breathe underwater), and Argonian (lizard people, generally refugees).

Friday, August 29, 2014

Demon: Lore of Fundament

Manipulate Adhesion
You can walk up walls or along ceilings at your usual speed for up to a scene.  You must maintain contact with the surface at all times with at least some part of your body the size of your hand - thus if you run or jump you lose your adhesive effect and will fall.
Action: Reflexive.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Athletics + Fundament (versus Stamina + Power Stat for High Torment).
High Torment: You can cause a person you touch to have an adhesive effect on the floor causing them to move at half speed.  This doesn't allow them to climb walls or ceilings but does slow them down.


Manipulate Gravity
You may manipulate the gravity beneath your feet to allow you to leap tremendous distances (yards equal to speed x Faith) or fall a certain distance (successes + Faith x 10 feet) without suffering any harm.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Strength + Athletics + Fundament
High Torment: You can cause a wild fluctuation in gravity within a distance of yards equal to Faith that inflicts a -2 penalty on everyone else's physical dice rolls (as well as minor poltergeist-like effects that may disturb the mundane).

Manipulate Cohesion
You can alter the density of matter which allows you to walk on water (or a similar liquid) and ignore your successes worth of Durability or mundane armour when attacking an object or person in melee for turns equal to Faith.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Fundament
High Torment: You can use this power on people or objects within a range in yards equal to Faith which allows you to use bows, firearms and other ranged weaponry to take apart objects and people with ease.  This still lasts only for turns equal to Faith.

Manipulate Inertia
You can throw objects over tremendous distance (times regular throwing distance by Faith) and do your lore's successes in lethal damage (plus any damage bonus from the item) OR you can give yourself a force shield that provides an armour bonus equal to successes for scenes equal to Faith which stacks with mundane armour (including enhanced armour) and provides no initiative penalties.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Dexterity + Athletics + Fundament - Defence
High Torment: Your lore use's variables are determined as though your permanent Faith were three points higher (increasing throwing distance or armour duration).


Manipulate Acceleration
You can move blindingly fast.  This either grants you a bonus to your defence equal to successes while allowing you to move at Faith + successes x speed per turn for a scene OR allows you to add your successes as additional damage to all melee or thrown attack rolls for the scene (damage is automatically lethal).
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Dexterity + Athletics + Fundament - Defence
High Torment: Your speed is so intense that you deal an additional 2 aggravated damage on top of any other automatic damage - this includes if you use the increased speed bonus version to charge an enemy (see core World of Darkness rules).  This bonus also lasts for a scene.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

But It Hurts So Good

Elder Scrolls Online ... plots that hurt so good.
A recent article I wrote about an intense Changeling moment sparked some neat discussion in the comments about where the line between punishing scenes and dramatic scenes really sits.  In truth there are plenty of times when game masters cross the line into doing something that actually screws over the players and such times are gaily recounted by annoyed players the world over.  But isn't conflict the source of all story?  Are they really playing these games just to have everything be a push over?

Well, no, but as always the devil is in the details.

I've been accused of being an "evil storyteller" on several occasions, not in connection to anything but just as a vague reference.  While I've always found the phrase distasteful, they actually mean it in a complimentary manner in connection to my dark fantasy and horror vibes and assure me that it's because my campaigns hurt so good.  Since I have no actual horror players among them, I still eye the title with caution and don't wear it with pride (as some others do), but I mention it here since "hurts so good" is the name of the game and I thought I'd mention my rules of thumb in keeping my players happy with the pain.

So whenever I have a nasty plot twist or intense piece of drama in mind, I quickly pass it through a few tests on a semi-conscious level before fielding it.  Then tests include:

Does It Add Anything To The Story, Really?

You'd be surprised by how many things can fail this litmus test.  You might think that kidnapping a PC's child and leaving a ransacked room behind will add to the tale but in reality it might not.  Are you really prepared to weave a story out of that kind of tragedy?  Or are you using it as a cheap hook when any stolen stereo would do?  Worse still are when a beloved NPC is summarily killed off for drama but unless the next few adventures are going to involve funerals, shockwaves through the community, and changed relationships between the various characters, you're really just killing story options rather than creating them.

 If you have any punishing story element that doesn't go anywhere, you're not adding to the tale.  And yes, that includes mugging the PCs for an overpowered loot item and then having the thief get away.  If there's no thrilling What-Happens-Next element, it's pointless story-wise.  This can involve putting it through a television show test ... if the target audience would rage at it's inclusion, then it's probably not a good inclusion.  Figure out something else.

What Do The Characters Get Out Of It?

There should always be an upside to any punishing event.  It may not be equivalent in overt value, but it should give the suffering meaning.  The less inclined your players are toward horror and tragedy, the greater the upside.  If you steal away their sword, ensure that following the thief will take them to a treasure hoard.  If you give them a disapproving sire who downplays their every achievement, dangle the opportunity for either revenge or redemption in that sire's eyes.  If there is no joy to the situation, and no escape, then expect to have a very small target audience that probably doesn't involve your players.

Oh, and if your players are smart enough that they do something which would undermine or remove that great big negative, let them.  Don't just flex your godhood to keep things on the tracks.  If they would catch and knock down that thief, then preventing it through GM fiat will not be worth all the treasure chests in the world.  Let the players have their wins. 

Ensure that every dark spot has a bright light at the end, and the players will crawl toward that light secure in the knowledge that it will be worth it in the end.  Naturally this means that the carrot must be visible and occasionally grasped pretty frequently for most players lest despair and apathy set in.

If you're anything like me, you can spend freely with your good elements and moments of happiness because when you're dealing with the darker genres, the light enhances the shadow anyway.  Without the light, it all becomes irrelevant and you're just punishing your players for playing.

Would Your Players Actually Enjoy This?

When in doubt, leave yourself an out.  If the player grows stony-faced or visibly upset when their PC starts walking through their ransacked house, looking for their missing child, then rework reality and have their kid creep out from a hiding spot in a laundry cupboard.  Yes, the players might have eventually come to enjoy the kidnapping plot but often the little twist and the relief that comes with it will foster more attachment and a better storyline.  Who wouldn't love such a resourceful kid? 

Certain obvious triggers are best left to an out-of-character conversation and a little common sense.  Some players don't deal with frustration and uncertainty well, others loathe tragedy.  If something would stoke an emotion they're not ready to feel in-game, then approach them out-of-game first and ask them if they would be cool with that.  Yes, this does sometimes involve spoiling the surprise but if they were going to have a heavy reaction to an unexpected twist, odds are they'll still feel it when it happens to them, they'll just have more time to prepare.

Remember, too, that the uninvolved players should also have some say in it.  One player might writhe with glee at the carthartic sense of terror that comes from a potentially triggering event but including an alien pregnancy caused by a monstrous rape of a PC affects all party members, not just the one you target.  Ensure everyone is cool with it and don't just assume consent to those details just because it's the World of Darkness, or even Kult. 

If you subscribe to the theory that joining a game like Kult (or the equivalent) means accepting all kinds of nastiness, then fine, but list out those types of nastiness to new players because they might not know what that actually means.  While you're thinking in terms of rape, domestic violence and paedophilia, they're thinking body horror and occultism.  Make sure you're actually on the same page.

Finally, the question is also of value when thinking in terms of rewards.  For one player, the approval of their in-game father might be the best reward in the world.  For another, it's fame and fortune.  See what makes *them* light up, what they spend their time talking about, and give them their glory the way they most want to receive.

What's your advice?

Naturally these aren't the only rules of thumb you can use but they're the most visible to me and they generally steer me in the right direction.  What would you do?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Demon: Lore of Frequencies


Control Sound
You can increase or decrease the volume of sound or amplify sound waves near you so that something that occurs quietly thirty feet away can be clearly heard by yourself and (if you choose) anyone within a radius of up to yards x Faith of you.  This can last up to a scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Frequency (versus Stamina + Power Stat for High Torment).
High Torment: You can cause a loud and vicious burst of sound by increasing the ambient sound around a particular individual which causes one bashing and a -2 penalty to all hearing-related perception checks for minutes equal to successes.  This power can be used once per round.



Soundscape
You can create elaborate soundscapes around yourself that appears to centre on you or a space within yards equal to Faith.  If you wish to duplicate a particular voice, you need to also successfully roll Manipulation + Subterfuge to duplicate the cadence of their voice.  These sounds could range from a musical performance (additional Expression checks required to make it sound any good) to a jungle setting (requires some knowledge and perhaps other checks if you wished to make it convincing to zoologists).  A soundscape can't remove independently generated sounds but it can mask them (much as any good stereo may do).  This soundscape can be manipulated for up to a scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Expression + Frequency
High Torment: You can instead adapt and change the quality of people's voices, underlining them to give them either an intimidating or seductive quality that provides a bonus to a single Intimidation or Persuasion roll.  The targeted individual must be within yards equal to Faith of you.  Since this doesn't affect them, per se, but the sound leaving their mouths it cannot be warded off using protection from mind control.  This bonus lasts for up to a scene.


Tune In
You can listen to sub/supersonic frequencies, including radiofrequency (RF) waves (a form of electromagnetic energy that falls between FM radio waves and microwaves) alongside the usual FM and AM radio waves.  You can use this to either send of receive mobile phone calls or listen in to one.  While it's easy to tune into the right radio station, it is more difficult to find the right mobile phone call (as there are so many bouncing about in most places) unless you can see the mobile phone in question (if not, suffer a -5 penalty on the roll to find the right one).  This can last for up to a scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Science + Frequency
High Torment: You can circumvent all radio frequencies within an area who radius is equal to 10 times Faith in yards which prevents the use of radios, Wi-Fi and mobile phones in that area (at least in terms of receiving and transmitting information).  This doesn't affect landlines or broadband internet.  This can last for up to a scene.


Transmission
You can use Control Sound and Tune In concurrently to send messages as though you were the speaker, effectively high jacking a mobile phone conversation and playing both sides against each other by maintaining two conversations in a way that leaves both parties unaware.  Due to your ability to capture previously used words and syllables from the conversation, or to simply warp current syllables to change the context, you gain a +3 bonus on any subterfuge rolls made to give this increased credibility.  This power can alternatively be used to warp any radio transmissions in a 100 yards x Faith radius of you so that those within that area who are tuned into the radio hear what you want them to hear (this can be broadcast seemingly across all radio bands - you may choose to exclude police and military frequency bands).  This can last up to a scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Science + Frequency - Composure.
High Torment: You can bombard individuals within Faith in yards with all of the frequencies that are rushing around them, increasing them to auditory range and giving each a depth of importance that causes the brain to be unable to block the content.  This provides a penalty to all mental, social and hearing-related rolls equal to successes for minutes equal to successes.


Empowered Voice
You can blast an enemy with an overwhelming and powerful hit of sound that internally bruises them, potentially causing massive internal bleeding and organ rupture, which can deal aggravated damage equal to successes to a single living target. 
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Wits + Expression + Frequency - Stamina.
High Torment: Your empowered voice can also cause the knockdown effect if the target fails their Stamina roll.  If knocked down your target is also pushed back a number of yards equal to successes.  If this would lead them to hit an object, wall or person, they and the object will take an additional two bashing damage.