World of Darkness Blog
Created 1 years 2 days ago
Gamer, Singer, Trainer, Storyteller, and all-around swell cat.
Been playing WoD since the original VtM came out back in 1991, though I've been into RPG's since the D&D red-box in Grade 6.
First book I ever read: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (I have the hots for sinister female leads thanks to this novel)
Favourite Movie: The Sound of Music
Favourite Computer Game: Any adventure game by Sierra On-Line, particularly the Gabriel Knight series.
Merit: 6 Flaw: 0
Welcome to the first in a series of blogs in which I'll analyze the 6 vampire Traditions from an MMO perspective.
Let's get the basics out of the way: the Traditions are the 6 Laws that all Camarilla Kindred are expected to abide by. The Laws can change slightly in wording or enforcement from city to city, but are essentially always the same. Princes can and often do add additional laws/traditions of their own, but the root 6 are always enforced.
In mordern nights, always first in the list is the Tradition of the Masquerade - the law which states that vampires will not allow their existence to be discovered by or revealed to mortals. Despite their vast power, Cainites know they are seriously outnumbered by kine and wouldn't stand a chance of survival if the mortal population rose up against them (as evidenced by their near extinction at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition in the Dark Ages). Violation of the Masquerade is punishable by Final Death, "or worse".
It is the most important, inviolable law of Camarilla society (and the Sabbat sort of abide by it too, sort of) and, as such, should be extremely important in the MMO as well. Or should it? As a purely RP-driven staple of the pen and paper RPG, is it even possible in an MMO? Enforcement of the Masquerade without some form of game mechanic-assisted checks and balances will be impossible. Will most players care? Absolutely not. That is a very big problem. Certainly the other side of the coin is that most of the player-base will be extremely unhappy with the Masquerade, but to those I say "The MMO is based on the RPG. Don't like it? Then this is not the game for you."
What consititutes a violation of the Masquerade?
The easy answer is "Any use of vampiric power in plain sight of mortals." More specifically, this usually only includes those vampiric powers which have overtly physical manifestations:
- fangs and claws
- red eyes
- punching a hole in a cement wall or a car
- lifting a truck
- moving inhumanly fast
- getting shot and walking away from it unharmed
- feeding on blood
- healing severe injuries
- turning into a wolf or mist
- suddenly becoming invisible or appearing out of nowhere
- being Nosferatu
- most of the Thaumaturgical paths
- losing a limb and then showing up a few days later with it fully restored
- spontaneous combustion in sunlight (though if this is happening, you probably don't care about the Masquerade anymore)
And so on and so forth. This is obviously a very long list, which contains most of the things that make it fun and cool to play a vampire character.
So how can the Masquerade work in an MMO?
The easiest cop-out from an MMO enforcement perspective might be to say that the Masquerade only applies to actual players, not NPC's, so it can only be breached in the presence of players of mortal characters. This would ruin the game for me, and for most of my fellow RP'ers out there I imagaine.
Then again, I suppose the easiest cop-out would be to do away with rhe concept of the Masquerade entirely, but I really don't see that happening.
In the brilliant CRPG - Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, those checks and balances took the form of a 5-point scale that autmatically increased any time a player violated the Masquerade in the presence of a mortal NPC (I believe from a coding perspective, it may have been area-specific). The more points you brought on yourself, the more likely you were to be hounded by an increasing number of progressively stronger NPC authorities, and if you hit a rating of 5 - game over. With a little tweaking, I think this would be perfect for the MMO. Even though such a mechanic would remove the fun of self-policing roleplay and enforcement, when dealing with tens of thousands of players (hopefully hundreds of thousands or even millions!), it may be unfair to expect the handful of players in control of a city to be able to keep track all on their own.
Perfection of this, for me, would be to have a similar automatic game response to Masquerade violations. However, instead of a statistic increasing by one and NPC authorities hounding you until you lower the stat back down or get killed, an in-game email or text message gets sent to the Prince/Sheriff/Scourge/Hounds reporting a description of the incident and a physical description (no names) of the offender. They would then be responsible for discovering who the offender is (which they should be able to figure out if they know their constituents) and punish them accordingly - or it might let them know that a stranger is in town running rough-shod.
This could also be turned into a "farmable" statistic for those in charge of the city - a Background called "Spies" or "Informants" that you'd have to purchase and add dots to with experience points. The more dots you have in Informants, the more likely you are to receive a text message or email. Maybe the dots correspond to neighbourhoods - no informants in that area of the city? No reports. Not a perfect idea, I know, but it only just came to me as I was crafting this blog and I thought it worth including in the hope of encouraging conversation and discourse.
Finally, two other things I hope CCP are keeping in mind when it comes to making the Masquerade work in the MMO-
1. Failure to stop, or report, a breach of the Masquerade is considered by most to be equal to committing the breach yourself. How would this work in the MMO? Could it?
2. Ghouling a mortal is also technically a breach of the Masquerade, though the assumption is that the domitor of the ghoul(s) had permission to do so and has taken steps to ensure everything their ghoul(s) says or does will not violate the Masquerade. How would this work in the MMO? Could it?
These are vital considerations, in my opinion, for an accurate representation of Kindred society as set forth by White Wolf. I'm interested to hear the thoughts and opinions on this subject from all of you wonderful people. Stay tuned for my next blod when I tackle Tradition 2 - Domain...
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362 days ago
The Masquerade is Absolute. Even to the prince, and all Kindred. But there are loopholes that can be used in Public or in specific areas where the number of mortals are lower than the Kines or at least somewhere where one or two kine would have no problem of hiding their nature while upholding the Masquerade.
363 days ago
I would like to see it as an in game mechanic with player input interaction and player response possible. The questions for me is if it is in game will there be a mechanic whereby players who violate the masquerade can some how redeem themselves and call of the hounds/ hunt etc.? If there is and its purely an ingame mechanic then this will for sure be exploited by some who will break the masquerade repeatedly and then grind redemption points back in a continuous cycle. While possibly fun and in character for some. It would be somewhat open to abuse.
1 years 1 days ago
Honestly, I feel that masquerade enforcement will be a mechanic within the game much more than a player-operated mechanic. I don't think it can work as a player-controlled system, it would have to be programmed into the game for NPCs and NPC forces to react to breaches in the proper fashion. Now, I believe there can be a player component to it: for instance, the Prince can call a blood hunt on someone . But what if the Prince isn't doing his duty? Should the game allow the person to go on unpunished? No. I would say that they could have players or NPCs in higher-level positions which would in-turn punish a prince for not enforcing the masquerade on his subjects; just as with tabletop. But there would need to be systems in place to record and monitor masquerade violations and/or to punish them automatically. I feel that the humanity and 'masquerade violations' systems will work a bit more like security does in EVE; it will work to keep certain areas relatively 'normal' and safer, while letting other areas descend into supernatural combat.
1 years 1 days ago
I think I mentioned it in a thread somewhere that I was hoping that to successfully uphold the Masquerade, we need an interactive built in system. That is If an individual vampire breaches the Masquerade, then the whole kindred community suffers for it (via scarce blood dolls, active more numerous tougher NPC hunters\law enforcement agencies patrolling the streets, hostile NPC kine, loss of global resources and etc). I believe that will give even the most hardened non-RPers a reason to uphold the masqurade. What about the trolls, griefers and the like? We all start off as kine. Kine cannot break the masquerade. CCP has stated that To become a Kindred, we must be embraced by a Player Kindred.This I think will be an active "troll" filter. Nobody in their right mind would embrace a "xxxTrollz4Lolzxxx". And if the trolls do somehow become Kindred, if there is a system which tells the Prince who sired the said troll(so the source can be held responsible and repeat offenders culled), an active "tracker system" for the Kindred community while hunting for the "Blood Hunted" (like a bounty hunter system or something) and an autofix of the global penalty after the breacher is dead, things should be fine. Well I am thinking somewhere along those lines...
1 years 1 days ago
I'm a little iffy about making it a bounty system. They had that in Star Wars Galaxies, and bounty hunters quickly became the most broken spec. I think the "quality control" aspect should be a little more official, through the office of the Sheriff and whatnot. For Blood Hunting, I figure the only difference you have to make is set "FinalDeathToggle=1" once the vote goes through, and then just wait for the character to be found and attacked. It would really suck for the hunted, and make things too easy for the hunters, if you had a big game alert that says "THIS VAMPIRE IS NOW UNDER BLOOD HUNT. HIS CURRENT COORDINATES ARE..." (In SWG, you could "hack" terminals and have probe droids to hunt down your target for you. Too easy.) Make the Prince have to actually announce the thing first. I also don't think the damage should be automatically fixed, otherwise the Blood Hunt is just going to be the "I Won the Masquerade" option. The damage has already been done; the death of one perpetrator isn't going to fix it.
1 years 1 days ago
Actually, that's an excellent point - Having becoming Kindred completely dependent on being Embraced by other players would solve not just the griefer/douchebag problem, it would potentially solve the non-RP'er problem too....
1 years 2 days ago
This can be player enforced possibly by reporting a series of breaches by one player, akin to the five strikes system used in Bloodlines as you mentioned, to the city's Prince. As part of their governance the Prince could be given a range of preset choices. For example: 1. Call a Blood Hunt on the accused, resulting in True Death. (Recommended only for serial offenders) 2. Strip the criminal of a percentage of their total territory; effectively delivering a political blow and reducing their standing in the city. This is obviously only applicable to land owners. 3. Alternatively a reperational payment of blood could be paid to the Prince's own pocket, which could be interpreted as a bribe or as an official punishment. This is not to say the human players who may have witnessed the breaches could not act accordingly as well.
1 years 2 days ago
This is what I'VE been wanting to know. Believing in the Masquerade and its function is one of the bigger things to ask players of an MMO to believe in. We're used to suspending disbelief about magic and dragons and vampires, but ask players to actually give a damn about secrecy and subtlety? Pff. Good luck with that. I think players policing - and attempting to break - the Masquerade can still work, but it will have to be done without a lot of mechanical backup. A vampire player does something fishy, like transforming into a wolf in the middle of an art gallery. A mortal player notices this. This mortal player sends a message to the Chief of Police, who is also a player. The Chief of Police launches an investigation of the wolf-vampire-player, and discovers that they are, in fact, a vampire. Now they can launch an attack to rid society of this menance... or they can capture the vampire, suck out its blood, and become 'rogue' ghouls. Or they can get to know this vampire so it will introduce them to the rest of the vampire community, and take them all down in one fell swoop. Or they can just take a bribe from the vampire(s) on the promise that they WON'T attack them with all the mortal players they can get ahold of. However, without some sort of mechanical backup, there's nothing stopping players from simply attacking everybody out there, separating the vampires from the chaff. The game would descend into open war almost instantly. This is not abiding by the Masquerade. So I'm thinking your idea of some sort of mechanical backup has to be in place. I like the list of potential Masquerade breaches you name, but I think we can squish it down into whole Disciplines and powers: every Discipline but the social and mental ones (Dominate, Presence, Obfuscate, Dementation) and Celerity levels 1-2 is a Masquerade breach. Healing in pubic. Feeding in public. In any case, there's got to be some sort of counter going on behind the scenes so that the game knows how to respond appropriately to the vampires in their midst. I'm still proposing a global tracker. I'm not sure the email to the Prince should be automatic, however. It should be up to players - either mortal or vampires - to report on one another. If nobody is reporting, then there's no problem, and a Masquerade breach has only occured in the most technical sense. For making players care about the Masquerade, I'm guessing that mortal players should have some sort of reward for finding and reporting breaches. Maybe that's how they get experience. Then, vampires will want to report on other vampires to suck up to the Prince, remove rivals, AND keep the mortal population oppressed. Ghouls, I'm thinking, will lose the ability to report vampire players, as they are now supernaturalish creatures themselves. "The MMO is based on the RPG. Don't like it? Then this is not the game for you." Hoorah!
1 years 2 days ago
I still think there needs to be some form of serious repercussion for violating the Masquerade, otherwise why bother including/enforcing it? Reward people for reporting breaches, absolutely, but the violators still need to be prosecuted somehow as well